BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Bonnie's Expected Impacts; Industry New Containment Plan - and Open Thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6779.

With Tropical Depression Bonnie dissipating, the slow process of getting all of the boats back in place and workers back to work is now beginning. Much of the discussion at Admiral Allen's press conference on Saturday, however, was about the expected impact of the Bonnie. NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco was present to explain the impacts. She indicated she expected a number of positive benefits of the storm:

  • It will spread the surface slick out and thereby lower oil concentrations.
  • It's expected to break tar patches and tar mass into smaller tar balls which means faster weathering and faster natural biodegradation.
  • It will also cause more natural dispersion again lowing the concentration of oil in the water and making it more available to the natural bacteria that are in the water that do this natural biodegradation.
  • Some waves generated by Bonnie may act to flush the beaches and redistribute oil and tar balls that are on the beaches. Some of those tar balls may be dispersed, some may move back out to sea. In some cases, the beaches may look cleaner as a result of this redistribution.

Dr. Lubchenco wouldn't quite go as far as say that she expected the storm to be a net benefit, though. She said it would depend on where you are. Some places might be better, but others might be worse. In some places, oil might be pushed farther inland, although with little storm surge, this would be a relatively smaller problem. The storm wouldn't have any impact on the deep oil mixed with the water.

Admiral Allen mentioned that it had been possible to keep two vessels on the scene, so they were able to be with the ROVs overnight. Thus, they were able to continue monitoring pressure readings. Pressure readings continue to slowly rise (6,891 psi at midnight last night), showing evidence of integrity at the well head.

New Oil Spill Containment System Planned by Chevron, Conoco Phillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell

I thought I would shift gears and show some information about the new oil spill containment system that the four other major oil companies are working on, which you have probably read about in the news.

The information I am quoting and the image are from the Containment System Fact Sheet. Further information is available on a Press Release.

According to the Overview:

This system offers key advantages to the current response equipment in that it will be pre-engineered, constructed, tested and ready for rapid deployment in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Its primary objective is to fully contain the oil with no flow to the sea. The system will be flexible and adaptable. It will be responsive to a wide range of potential scenarios, deepwater depths up to 10,000 feet, weather conditions and flow rates exceeding the size and scope of the current spill. Once constructed, the system components will be fully tested to ensure functionality and will be maintained in a state of continuous operational readiness. In the event of a future incident, mobilization to the field will start within days and the system will be fully operational within weeks.

Subsea components:

• A newly designed and fabricated subsea containment assembly will create a permanent connection and seal to prevent oil from escaping into the water.

• The assembly will be equipped with a suite of adapters and connectors to interact with various interface points such as the wellhead, blowout preventer stack, lower marine riser package and casing strings, including any well design and equipment used by the various operators in the Gulf of Mexico.

• The assembly will be designed to prevent hydrate formation and blockage.

• Capture caisson assemblies will also be built for use if required to enclose a damaged connector or leak outside the well casing. Once installed, these assemblies will create a seal with the seabed to prevent seawater from entering the system.

• The oil would be captured by the subsea containment assembly and flow through flexible pipe to a riser assembly. Riser assemblies are made of a seabed foundation, vertical pipe, buoyancy tanks and a flexible pipe specifically configured to connect to the capture vessels.

• The subsea system will be supplied with the necessary hydraulic / electric controls and chemical injection (such as hydrate inhibitors) through an umbilical.

• A manifold will distribute the oil from the subsea containment assembly to multiple riser assemblies if more than one capture vessel is necessary.

• Riser assemblies and umbilical will be designed to quickly disconnect from capture vessels so that all subsea equipment stays in place in the event of a hurricane. An additional system component will be available to inject dispersant into the subsea containment assembly if required.

There are also surface vessels, which I won't describe. The fact sheet indicates that the initial investment is expected to be approximately $1 billion. The new system is targeted for completion within 18 months. ExxonMobil has been designated to lead the engineering, procurement and construction of the system components. The companies behind this endeavor will form a new non-profit organization, the Marine Well Containment Company (MWC), to operate and maintain the system.

Prof. Goose's comment:

Welcome--modified 21 JUL 2010

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Hi HO and all,

HO has provided an overview of the $1Bn not for profit initiative by 4 of the majors to alleviate the damage of future blowouts. Thank you HO.

Paradoxically this blow out was always going to occur, somewhere, and has done but nobody noticed. Re Ixtoc inter alia. ttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ixtoc_I_oil_spill.

The purpose of this post is to suggest that in my assessment, the plan is simply that of a BOM, that is to say a Blow Out Management (BOM) solution.

ROCK and our other experts assert that a BOP is a last resort and are not a part of the system. If you need it then all was lost anyway, and it might save lives. Fair enough, but now it is going to be part of the system.

So now we have a new paradigm, and a new level of risk management. The TOD is in a position to add value here.

Over to the experts.


I'm sure they will be a fine supplement to go alongside the half-billion-barrel oil skimmers that were available on twenty-four hour call.

The new spill/leak response system (after its 18-month construction period) could start to be mobilized "within days" and could be operational "within weeks". Will only ONE of these be constructed and available? Two? Three? A dozen? Will the start of mobilization "within days" be something like a week or two? Will the start of operations of the system "within weeks" be up to 12 weeks? I'm not too thrilled with this solution offered, and would hope that these systems would be parked nearby and ready to go in any region where they might be needed. The attachments and gizmos that are planned as attachments and capabilities to meet various needs sound interesting and nice, but the availability (number) of systems that will be available at any one time, their locations, their transit to the scene, the timing of mobilization and operation, and the general sense that these companies think this will cover all contingencies are not convincing to me.

Why is there a dispersant injection system again? I swear it seems that the industry wants to maintain a certain PPM of this stuff globally. Maybe it will make the fish grow big and strong. You would think they would leave that element out of the publicly released design.

Edit: Also how hard is it to get hydraulic power down there? Couldn't you sink a collapsible tank filled with fluid at the surface and let the pressure at depth provide the hydraulic power? I would think the power available would be limited by tank size and design.

On the same note of hydraulics... shouldn't BOP's in the future be designed with manual (local) hook-ups for hydraulic power to cycle the shears in case of remote failure?

I would think the next generation shear ram should use explosives and a diamond edge blade. Maybe incorporate a wire saw design. Whatever it takes, I want a shear ram that could 'damn near cut diamonds.' Offer Cameron or whomever $250,000,000 to do it. Have a 'best' design wins competition. We would have a prototype by Christmas.

It worked for the areospace industry. SpaceShipOne won the $10 million X-Prize

Don't forget the cut has to take place inside a pressurized blow out preventer stack, I imagine explosives will create a shock wave and blow it up (the explosion gases have to go somewhere). If you blow the stack, then you got a real problem.

In general, the best solutions are those which keep things as simple as possible, so they are easy to maintain and work nearly all the time. I'm going to doodle some possible solutions and let you know later (I'm traveling and I can't devote so much time to Oil Drum Engineering Concepts).

Explosives can be used without destructive shockwaves.

I instantly imagined a system with a smoothbore cannon barrel and a piston connected directly to the shear ram.

Use gunpowder to accelerate the ram over some yards. You won't need much pressure, if you just get the mass to move fast enough. Size the charge and barrel such that the gases can be fully contained. After firing, just let the pressure out through a valve.

This would not be one-shot, as one could still engage hydraulics to push the ram back, and another gunpowder charge could be loaded into the barrel, even automatically.

The BOP would be subject to enormous recoil, unless two rams were fired from opposite sides at the same moment.

How do you test it?

The same way you test a nuke, very, very throughly. You do not test every single one, but when you test it works every time. You set up a test jig and prove it can work 1000 times out of 1000 tests.

I bit of reading, according to the Wikipedia article (not my preferred source) the largest Cameron BOP blind shears exerts 1,000,000 pounds of force over a 19" gap. That is 2.2MJoules. Gunpowder is 3MJ/kg. So we don't need all that much. A kilogram or two. (Depends what you think a small amount is - that is about a thousand rounds of 45g ammunition.) A single stick of dynamite is about the right energy too. But with other issues we would probably need two or more.

However there is a trap in the analysis of the idea. We must at least exceed to ambient pressure of the water before the piston moves. We don't have any water pressure on the explosive's side of the piston, so it is operating against the water pressure as well as the load. (Hence why I quietly doubled the amount of explosive.)

We actually don't need an explosive. We don't need to close the rams in a millisecond - and indeed the shears would likely fracture if you tried. We can simply use any controllable chemical reaction that produces enough energy as a high temperature gas generator. However gunpowder is not a bad start. One might actually tweak the composition to get the right rate.

However a few thoughts to compare energy densities. 2.2MJ is about the same energy as ten laptop batteries or one car battery holds. In fact the energy density per unit weight of gunpowder is not much different to a laptop battery.

My objection to any of these systems is that they are needlessly complex, and thus failure prone. A passive energy storage device, preferably one that stores mechanical energy ready to use is the best. A compressed gas accumulator can contain enough energy to drive the shear rams a number of times. My worry is that they can slowly leak, and over time need service or repressurising. One option I noted was that a large spring would actually work rather well. A Belleville spring might be perfect for the job. With some tweaking a Belleville spring can have a close to constant force over a reasonable length of its stroke, and they are inherently compact and suited to taking very large loads.

I do like this. I featured it just now on More Best of Wikipedia

On your larger points, I think designing a new system, when the fault is in the system maintenance, is a bad, or more properly a recursively futile, idea. Because the failure of system maintenance will just migrate to the new design.

Exactly. I'm not an ME or hydraulics guy, but I doubt anything proposed thus far is simpler or more reliable than a relatively quick-connect to an external hydraulic source. Be that as it may, it's not your important point, nor Juan's. Because what we have here is yet another engineering solution to what appears to have been yet another management problem.

I hope it is not for nothing the president's Spill Commission is so top-heavy with management typos. Not wishing to jump the gun, but *if* when all is said and done, the investigators conclude systematic management mis-practice -- and by extension lax or insufficient regulatory oversight -- significantly contributed to the Deepwater Disaster, then any engineering bandaids will be of no avail until the underlying non-engineering human issues are fixed.

I think a "failsafe" containment system of the sort proposed in the article is required. But if it becomes cheaper for any operator rely upon such a system than not to, then it will be used. And eventually fail.

A flaw here is that you are forgetting that the gas produced by the explosion is under that pressure because it is hot. Once it cools - its pressure will decrease and there is a chance that the pressure differntials will open force the ram open again.

Another thing you have to consider is that another term for an explosive eompletely encased in metal is: 'a bomb.'

Unfortunately that would only give ambient pressure. You need 3kpsi over ambient for the hydraulics.


I was trying to picture this in my head. If I filled an airplane rubber fuel bladder full of hydraulic fluid at sea level, then sank it to mile depth, would I not have the difference available for work less heat loss etc. Assume I could put a tap and run a line to an actuator. Would I not be able to move the actuator. I know I am missing something, but it keeps moving in my head.

I know you have one more edit available...LOL

I read that three times and each time it was different...

Just for clarity on the English. I hope I made the basic idea clear. I try to put the edit tag if something really changes or is added. It seems like a simple concept.

Edit: It's locked in now. Final Jeopardy bell time.

The other side of the ram sees exactly the same pressure. So no net force occurs. Imagine taking a bladder full of water to the bottom of a swimming pool. Open the end - does the water jet out? No it doesn't. The pressure at the orifice is identical to the pressure on the skin.

You could take a pressure vessel full of nothing - for which air at atmospheric pressure is a good approximation down there. A nice steel sphere would do. Say a steel sphere of one cubic metre. It would need to weight a ton just to be neutrally bouyant, and need to be able to cope with the external pressure. Couple to the hydraulics - you would have a one shot accumulator.

There are a lot of issues to cope with. Explosives would be a bad idea. Explosives don't even contain all that much energy. And they are one shot devices. Diamond is hard, but also brittle. An explosive cutter made of diamond would very likely simply shatter.

I don't think new technology is the answer, in fact I rather feel it is exactly the wrong thing to use. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the current BOP systems in terms of principles. What was wrong was that the use cases had exceeded the design limits, and no one had really noticed. The best answer is likely to be a big dumb BOP. Making them simply bigger beefier, more redundant and avoiding any neato unproven technology. The metallurgy of shearing drill pipe isn't anything new. Hydraulics are one of the most proven technologies we have.

The requirements of a new generation of BOPs isn't new technology it is proven to work technology. The main requirement is that the designs are validated and tested properly with real world use cases and real world worst case tests cases. It that that was missing.

They need to work with the heavy metal press industry. Those guys cut and bend metal many times stronger than any drill pipe. 2nd your points on explosives and diamonds with 1 caveat. Could a shaped charge be used as a leader for a shear ram, cut or weaken with the charge and seal with the ram?


I suspect a shaped charge could be used. Again, it is a one shot device, which may not be a good thing.

However one thing about explosives is that they are not something most engineers are comfortable with as safety devices. One of the most dangerous and deadly devices in a fighter aircraft is the ejector seat. Over the years they have killed and maimed more than a few airmen and maintenance crew. Validating and testing an explosive cutter in a BOP is far greater than proving it can cut the DP. By a huge stretch the biggest issue would validating and testing it, and its control system, to show that it won't ever fire at a time when firing can cause an accident far worse than it is designed to prevent. Once it fires you must know that the rams will close. You must know that maintenance operations on the wellhead can't accidentally trigger it, which will probably lead to systems that disable it under certain circumstances - and then you get into the issues about the disable mechanisms and validating them. And so it goes.

The nice thing about the shear ram is that it is a combined device. It cuts and closes. You know that even an uncontrolled operation of the ram will end up with a safe system. (So long as the wretched thing is capable of cutting - but assume we design the ram to be able to cut a joiner of the heaviest DP, and stack two rams anyway.) It is an expensive and nasty problem if it operates, but one that is retrievable. An unexpected explosive cut of DP at just the wrong moment could be very bad indeed.

Vehicle airbags used initiators to trigger sodium azide's ability to rapid generate nitrogen gas, so I suspect similar systems could be designed using explosives. However, explosives fail the KISS test.

One problem with the proposal of the other companies is that it's an industry kneejerk reaction ( to prevent oversight and to encourage restart of drilling), and essentially assumes something similar to BP's tragic event will reoccur, whereas the next event could be quite different, eg a blowout.

Somebody needs to systematically HAZOP the whole process, compare than with history ( including near misses ), and then design new structures/procedures. Perhaps mudloggers should have dead-man handles or better automation, and flow barriers should be validated before assuming they fully comply with specification. Perhaps more "show me", rather than assuming.

I also like ROCKMAN's concept of on-site Gods with absolute power for safety/environmental decisions, along with a corporate "three strikes" policy.

The motivation to improve - BP's rapidly-disappearing tens of billions of dollars, along with the drilling moratorium.

One problem with the proposal of the other companies is that it's an industry kneejerk reaction ( to prevent oversight and to encourage restart of drilling)

That was also my reaction when I first read of their plans.

You sure about that? I was imagining a 'closed' system where the actuator contained the 'slave' cylinder. I would think there would be no real opposing force on the slave reservoir from the ambient pressure. The actuator case would stop the pressure. Inside th actuator, the power from the fluid would then be transferred to a piston and a thin rod. I just keep thinking about a rechargeable portable self contained near buoyant hydraulic power unit.

I didn't mean diamond blades. I meant diamond coated tungsten steel or the best stuff they have for the application. Explosives have all the power you need.

This would be a 'one shot' deal. Just like an ejection seat. Make it easy to replace with an Rov, but design it so it could cut it all even if it were solid steel, no steel, or anything in between.

Wire saw whatever. The shear ram can be made much stronger and effective, just kick the engineers in the tail and start testing. Offer the bosses money. Test, test, test.

Instead of "imagining" what to do, I went into my "Rolodex", as suggested by Chris Matthews, and put TPTB in direct contact with the Chief Engineer here http://www.parker.com/portal/site/PARKER/menuitem.75b3c0354ff8851afa93eb...

Seems a bit more helpful n'est pas?

who is TPTB?

who is TPTB?

The Powers That Be.

Then I will venture into the same waters of "I don't think new technology is the answer, in fact I rather feel it is exactly the wrong thing to use." in regards to the electrical control systems. (In reference to the bypassed alarms on the DWH rig)

I worked for a company for many years that designed and built custom control systems for companies with older "hands on" processes that wanted to move to the "21st century"

We used GE FANUC PLC's with a HMI (Human/Machine Interface) program on a Windows NT platform (Factory-link was the name of the program).

NT was very stable for this application (until the control room guys tried to multi-task with internet and porn at 3am... and NT would crash)

My company then started moving towards a software based system at a major brick manufacturer installation. The entire system was full of weird bugs and problems that we couldn't figure out. Afte 6 months of trouble-shooting we installed a few PLC's and changed the HMI and it ran like silk.

Sometimes new fangled technology might no be the answer

PLCs are exactly the right answer in so many systems. You can often formally prove correctness. Which does leave the specifications and requirements as a great source of problems, but at least you don't have a whole slew of uncontrolled and uncontrollable system interactions.

I work in fire protection.

You difinatly do not want any new fangled technology. I am sure the bp stock holder did not think their stock would lose 100 billion dollar in such an accident. Everyone will want to know and understand the risk they are taking.

Taking a tip from fire suppression systems they start with a compressed gas cartridge which cascades into larger pressure tanks that pushes the agent out. One could do the same with hydraulic tanks.

But one also needs to look at the collection side of things. If they had the tools to collect every bit of leaking oil from the beginning. no one would have noticed. One might do this by adding pipeline connection to the BOP which a super tanker could hook up to.

Maybe one needs to look at a riser shear near the surface. In this case it would have ended up as a blow torch which would not have been so bad.

"But one also needs to look at the collection side of things. If they had the tools to collect every bit of leaking oil from the beginning. no one would have noticed."

Good idea.

Even if we develop improved shut-off mechanisms, it would be good to have a good collection system in place.

Then if accidents happen, the environment might escape harm AND the run-away oil might be harvested.

What is that sports saying? No harm, no foul?

Maybe "no blood, no foul"?

How bout "no oil, no spill"?

Tongue totally in cheek here..........

NT was very stable for this application (until the control room guys tried to multi-task with internet and porn at 3am... and NT would crash)

Doug, I think you've just solved the "blue screen of death" problem on the Deepwater Horizon

I've asked this before but the question keeps getting lost in thread changes or overlooked due to changes in the current situation.

Does anyone know if the BOPs on the relief wells are "proven" to be capable of cutting the drill pipe being used on those wells? The infamous BOP we’ve been staring at for the last few months was not tested with the drill pipe that was in use. I read here months ago that Cameron had done some calculations, which indicated that, theoretically, that model of BOP should be able to sever the pipe but no tests were done.

It would be of some comfort to know that, even if the actual RW BOP had not been tested on the actual drill pipe in use, a BOP of the same design had successfully severed a piece of drill pipe identical to, or stronger than, the drill pipe in use.

I realize that, at the moment, the RWs (I still think they should be referred to as “intervention wells” and not “relief wells”) are outside the reservoir but, once they penetrate the blownout well, they will be in direct communication with the reservoir and must be capable of doing what BP’s infamous BOP could not.

For one thing, the relief well will be attempting to cut casing, not drill pipe. For another it will be using a mill bit to machine away the material a chip at a time, as opposed to trying to cut thru it in one shot with a knife edge.

No, I'm not talking about the RW cutting through the casing of the blown-out well, I'm talking about the RW's BOP being able to cut through the RW's drill pipe when once the RW is in communication with the reservoir through the blown-out well.

The shear rams are supposed to work. Can't test the system in the well with a piece of pipe, because it may get a little complicated.

But I'm sure they are very confident they'll work. They can do this by testing a similar piece of equipment on a similar piece of pipe. Do you think this is ok?

That would be great . . . IF it was done. I read on TOD months ago that a test was NOT DONE on the model of BOP we are currently watching on the ROV cams. Supposedly, an engineer at Cameron did some calculations which predicted that the BOP should be able to sever the drill pipe they were using but, obviously, it could not. Does anyone know if the model(s) of BOP in place on the RWs has (have) actually been tested to prove it (they) can cut the thickness of drill pipe that is being used?

Downstream, IIRC the RW ships do NOT have BOP's that can cut through both casing and DP. OTOH, they will NOT be doing ANYTHING REMOTELY STUPID, unlike DH. Also I won't be surprised if they have a casing design that is substantially more robust, as well as using a LOT more cement than DH did. In other words, like the guy in the Shell video, the BOP is a last resort that should not be resorted to anytime soon. Before they even THINK about displacing mud with seawater you can bet they'll know to the gnat's eyebrow how well their cement bonds are holding. IMHO

A one shot self powered ram design. No explosives required!

At the surface, with the ram piston retracted, close off the topside of the rams piston by installing a normally closed valve. Allow air at 1 atmosphere to fill the working side of the piston via a valve, then close that valve. The result is nothing on the head of the retracted piston, 14psi air on the other side.

To actuate the ram under water, simply open the valve on the head side of the cylinder; thus allowing seawater at pressure to compress the air by moving the ram. Size the piston for the required force.

To get full ram travel, add a small pressure container on the air side; size it for the pressure differential desired. This allows for a space to hold all the compressed air outside the cylinder when the ram is fully extended.

The ram can be manually retracted by having both valves open; applying a hydraulic force greater than the seawater pressure on the bottom of the piston will retract the ram. But again, this is a one time shot unless the ram can be brought topside and "recharged" with air. (NO, a vacuum pump will not work to recharge it while underwater.)

If I filled an airplane rubber fuel bladder full of hydraulic fluid at sea level, then sank it to mile depth, would I not have the difference available for work less heat loss etc.

Unlike gasses liquids are pretty much uncompressible i.e. their volume does not change when you squeeze them, so sinking a bag full of liquid to depth is not going to change it in a useful way i.e. the volume displaced by the bag will not change and there will be no pressure difference created between the inside of the bag and the outside, so no potential energy to do work.

But do I not start with sea level pressure on both reservoirs in my 'hydraulic' system. Then I increase the pressure on only one. If I used a thick balloon and hooked up a bicycle pump to it and dove into a pool, would the handle not move up?

Edit: Air pocket in top of pump. Don't the hydraulic laws apply allowing mechanical advantage to the force on the bicycle pump piston? I know it is spelled balloon, too hard to correct picture text with caching.

So why do you need a balloon for this? The handle will go up regardless as you lower the apparatus into the Gulf.

And what happens if the seal between the piston and rod leaks?

A bigger balloon would give you more force, no? If the seal leaks between the rod and the case, it just stops working.

Jumping in because this always shows up as [new].

and now yours will too.. don't include the bracket "new" close bracket in comments like this.

I might have misspelled a word or answered an earlier statement. If I misdirect you, my apologies. It is nothing intentional. I still have not figured out how to refresh pictures. Thanks.

If I'm understanding you correctly, I think you could only achieve at most water column pressure plus 14.7 psi, leaving only 14.7 psi available to bleed off.

I was thinking maximum theoretical available force was 152 ATM at depth - 1 ATM sea level = 151 ATM or about 2200 PSI, no?

Edit: Calculated @ current GOM depth @ Macondo 252 +- depth @ location

Couldn't you sink a collapsible tank filled with fluid at the surface and let the pressure at depth provide the hydraulic power?

Hydraulics need a Pressure differential to do any work, If you have a Hydraulic Tank Pressurized 2250 psi and outside that tank is also 2250 psi the pressure differential is Zero. So it would not be able to perform any work.
Be a bit like just removing the hydraulic leads on the BOP and expecting the seawater pressure to operate the Ram Shears.

The slave reservoir is in the actuator and it should also be at sea level pressure, no ? The actuator case should be able to withstand this, no?

It's MUCH MUCH more fundamental than that. Like from basic thermodynamics. You can't get work from any engine unless there is an energy difference to exploit.

Regarding useful differential pressure at depth, the typical way to get around that is by using a balanced shuttle valve similar to those used in an automatic transmission. Both ends of the shuttle valve are exposed to the surroundings, making the assembly unaffected by ambient pressure.

This one is a low pressure type but shows the concept:

A higher pressure type (the black part slides inside the big hex nut part):

If both ends of the shuttle valve are the same size, ambient pressure has no effect. Actuation happens when fluid is admitted to the space between a shaft seal and the center piston. In this way, all applied hydraulic pressure is fully usable to generate working force.

Sadly, of the documented failures of BOPs, the vast majority were due to a shuttle valve malfunctioning. It really seems we need ultra simple.

Just in case, it's better to have it. Don't forget, 2/3 of experts recommend dispersant rather than letting the oil get to the surface.

You should have a unit ready. You just do not put it on the drawing you release. It is too much of a distraction.

"...2/3 of experts recommend dispersant..."

I can't resist. That's sounds like the House and Senate. Forget what the other 1/3 say, we have the majority... of those in the House and Senate. Perhaps the tax paying citizens should have a voice? My guess is the dispersant simply saves immediate liability to BP and of course, dollars. But then, I'm with the 1/3.

It is like the body bags we send on a deployment. You have good ones ready, but you do not write a press release about it. If someone asks, you tell them. You do not hide anything, you just do not promote it either.

Hmmm... I'm not sure I fully undeerstand your point, however, here's one way I looked at it. War sucks, dead warriors, their families, and the people who support them suffer. (humbly bows as warriors and their families parade by - thanks!)

It's bad all the way around especially war with questionable purposes. I see it kind of the same way with BP and the others in the oil industry who caused this preventable disaster. We the people and our environment must suffer. If the management of BP and others were responsible we wouldn't even be talking about dispersants. So either way, we lose.

My point was the jury is still out on dispersants for the next time. Why release the picture unless we were more sure we would use it? It just riles folks up. Keep doing the science, just go easy on the PR until we know more. TinFoil.

Good point. Seems like many are asking but TPTB won't release the information leading to all kinds of opinions per your original post. I suppose the same argument could be used for testing biologicals on unsuspecting people and not tell them in case it riles them up and wait and see if it is something to be used in the future.

Personally, I would like to know what is going on. Secrecy is suspicious IMHO.

No, it is not like Miss Ever's boys.
Avoiding unnecessarily riling folks up is not like what happened here or in Germany. I never said hide the truth, I just said do not advertise the negative if it is a true unknown. Wait until the data is more clear but proceed with the design with caution. What happened in Tuskegee was near Nazi evil.

Tin Foil as usual you speak well and make good points. You're right.

IMHO in some ways either the gov't knows it is completely safe to combine Corexit 9500 with oil and won't release the information proving it, or they either don't know or won't release information showing Corexit 9500 is harmful and to what extent. I simply want to know the honest truth.

Heck, most here would like TPTB to release well data, etc. and TPTB simply will not do it nor are they transparent IMHO.

We have access to much of the data TPTB have save for the 'might cause national attention' stuff. I have some of that data now. It is raw excel stuff. I would have to write a database to start to work on it then I would need a specialist for the science. Most of the the truth will come out with a few lies. There is too much money to be had. It might take years, but too many different groups are working on it. Good observations. Keep posting. TinFoil.

Gulf Oil Dispersants Unlikely to Be Endocrine Disruptors and Have Relatively Low Cell Toxicity, Tests Find


So then, you are accusing these government scientists of lying?

Scientists do not lie. They just have limited experiments. As long as the limitations are explained, no problem.

But isn't that your initial premise? Everyone in government is lying?
They ran their experiments, found that this stuff kills everything. And still report that it is pretty much harmless.
When will Matt Simmons pick up on it?

Exactly which reports have you determined are lies? That will be interesting to read.
And your evidence that proves the lie will be great to read for the exposure it will get here on TOD.

Hi, everyone. I'm new here. May I ask what kinda experts who prefer using dispersant? Are they more concerned of environment impact or something else? Why it's better to have it? Remember (with all due respects), occasionally, some experts may be wrong too. That's one reason that we see more innovations.

Every expert is wrong sometimes--that's why you need to listen to more than one. Around a month ago, the government convened a panel of experts to evaluate the use of dispersant and specifically injection of Corexit 9500 at the wellhead. They concluded that doing that would probably increase damage to sea life in deep water, but would reduce damage at the surface and at the coastline. They decided the tradeoff favored continuing to use dispersant. Oil on the surface kills marsh grass, pelicans, dolphins, whales, turtles, and the eggs/larvae of fish and shrimp that spawn near the coast. At fairly low concentration, dispersed oil spread out below the surface can kill plankton and fish eggs. There are likely some other bad effects we don't know about, but oil on the surface is certain to have very bad effects.

They stopped using dispersants 10 days ago.

The oil and gas industries insistent use of dispersants without consideration of alternative methods demonstrates the serious lack of innovation that is typical of a culture in decline. While the post here on the oil drum http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6724 shows that a culture of bacteria is more effective when dispersants are used, it totally fails to address the effect of various bacteria, and the effect of artificially increasing their concentration. Instead this post dismisses the subject with a single sentence:
Managed addition of particular oil-degrading organisms has often failed to improve biodegradation, either because factors other than the presence of particular organisms is important or because the organisms added are poorly adapted to the field environment and thus have poor survival.


What does that mean? We need more development of technique?

Right now China is doing it. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Global-News/2010/0723/Oil-eating-bacteria...

So I guess we will get to find out if there would have been any benefit to our Gulf Coast Residents when China finds out.

The thing is that not all spills are created equal. We should have resources for skimming and means of adding bugs as well as dispersant addition capabilities and we should develop our technology to protect our environment and health.

Open your mind to possibilities.

A report in the most recent Science indicates that dispersant breaks hydrocarbons down into more "bite-sized" portions for naturally occurring microbes and may thus speed recovery. So, inclusion of a dispersant injection system may be worthwhile.

Sticks, just saw your reply in the previous thread:


Muchas gracias, makes perfect sense. The gas bubbles would be moving up through the oil at somewhere around one foot per second, plenty of time for what you describe. Neat calculator.

Further on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6773/687121.

Thanks for the responses.

Unfortunately I missed the deadline to respond to rightsizedglass's comments, so here goes, then I'm for bed.

You certainly don't offend by inserting your comments in (not intruding on) the conversation.

While you've already drawn some push back, I see (while I was composing a brilliant response to your comment which was unfortunately lost through a combination of a bad connection and foolish behavior on my part), I have little doubt that your response will resonate with a lot of people.

As i've grown older (and, I wish, wiser), I've become aware of some ever present factors about which I've been blind much of my life. Our actions have consequences and, more importantly perhaps, hidden and/or potential consequences not only for ourselves, but often for those who care about us and, directly, or indirectly, often many others of whom we may never be aware.

I doubt that any of the people who had any connection with Deepwater Horizon had any thought for the possible consequences for either family or strangers of their individual actions. That is why safety procedures (and things like speed limits) exist. They are developed with the kind of consideration and input which is designed to take into account possible risks and potential consequences, developed not in the heat of the moment, but with plenty of time to factor in, and thoroughly evaluate, as many issues as possible.

Your comment about the motorcycle reminds me of two clients. One was driving on a back road he knew well, with no other traffic, at a high rate of speed, when he hit a patch of gravel on a curve, and barely avoided getting killed, but was left with injuries that required much painful surgery, more painful rehab, and he is now disabled and in constant pain. Those were the consequences for him, but what about the consequences for his family, for other people who buy motorcycle insurance, the volunteer EMT's, etc., etc.

Then there's the other client who gauged a curve wrong, again at a high rate of speed, ran into a tree, and killed his best friend who was a passenger in the car. He survived, but he has to live with that the rest of his life, as does his family and his friends family.

Procedures, speed limits, and other controls are designed after an evaluation of risk and incorporate a margin of safety which will anticipate reasonable foreseen, and unforeseen, perils. We ignore them not only at our own risk but at the risk of others, many of whom did not choose to be at risk, and about whom, if we're lucky we will never know.

I'm reminded of my rock climbing "incarnation," when I engaged in a futile attempt to recreate the rush I experienced after my first climb by free climbing a rock face. I just now realized that i never thought about the risk to which I subjected other climbers below me.

As for law enforcement and other controls, until we become more proficient in helping people internalize a culture of safety, we are likely to continue to employ an inherently flawed and inadequate system of enforcement.


For the sake of full disclosure that is not me on the motorcycle. My limit is around 150.

Thanks for the reply.

Accidents happen. The surest way to kill a group of climbers is to rope up. The first falls and then it is likely they all fall. The people below you should not be in a position to be hurt if you fall or whatever. Google big Mt. Hood climbing accident sometime. A roped up group of climbers fell and took out the roped climbers below them.

People die or create heartache everyday. Why live in fear? My point is rules will be broken no matter what the law says and there is no man made solution to the individual lawbreaker other than a quick capital punishment. For example, look at the repeated failures of BP and the lack of enforcement (MMS?) prior to this latest "accident". Look at the legal and moral failures of our legislators and leaders.

I would suggest if TPTB want people, especially kids, to obey laws, rules, and regulations then it should start with TPTB as an example. I'm powerless and therefore exempt. :)

We all know this. Frankly, we are in a society requiring people to voluntarily obey laws and it appears to be breaking down. It seems to me the only deterrent, the only solution, is to personally follow a higher moral code, one enforceable for all eternity.

But then again, it seems to me most scientists or people for that matter don't sufficiently believe in a God of moral absolutes. If we truly are the product of evolution, of natural selection, then those who pursue less risky adventures or choose to surround themselves with less risky people should live and thrive longer. Stupid and dead does seem to enhance the gene pool long term. :)

ps- I obey far more laws than I break. I'd say: A- ... which relatively speaking is prety good.

pps- the older I get the more I realize time is running out.

edited for spelling, grammar, readability, and because I could. Again, edit for spelling and of course, gramma

I subscribe to the general thrust of your points (I'm sure you're much relieved to hear that ;) ! ).

As I said before I'm not much on moral code. I'm inclined to pursue the enlightened self interest route.

But perhaps that's the root of my general point. When i use enlightened self interest to guide me, that requires that I consider consequences as far out as I can reasonably see them (and then perhaps a little further - something about "reach exceeds grasp?). Then I need to take responsibility for my actions and my influence on the actions of those around me. That, it seems to me, is the fundamental component of a culture of safety. It exists when I take responsibility for not only thoughtful consideration of consequences, but also the competent execution of my actions. If, on the other hand I let, or require that, others set the tone or define acceptable behaviors for me (as differentiated from employing oversight and accountability to increase the likelihood of good choices of behavior, without diminishing my responsibility), I'm not really taking responsibility for my actions, I'm following the "mob," and depending on them for cover if anything goes wrong.

So how do we encourage people to take responsibility? First, by not punishing people beyond appropriate and usually natural consequences. It is paradoxical but true that punishment has a detrimental effect on future behavior, in that it instills fear more than it stimulates reflection, and often turns the offender into a victim, which undermines the whole intent of the punishment.

Much more effective is to help the actor understand what went wrong, why that was problematic, and how they could change their decision making process to improve the chances of making healthier choices that would better meet their needs.

Almost all harmful behavior stems either from ignorance or fear and related anger. When people feel truly safe (a very difficult state to broadly achieve in our society, but achievable in the part of the environment for which I am responsible) they are far less likely to engage in harmful behavior and, perhaps more importantly, be receptive to the alternate, healthy, behaviors that will always better meet their needs.

While I agree in general to your excellent points, especially on enlightened self interest, the problem is such interest breaks down when the 'self' is an entity that is bigger than one single person, eg in a corporation. While a corporation may appear to have some type of corporate 'personality' in reality different parts of the corporation (and different persons in it) are often driven by conflicting imperatives eg costs vs safety, toeing the line vs speaking out, agreeing to standards below one's comfort (moral) level vs risking a highly lucrative career.

The fact is, the corporation is not a static nor closed system. People choose to enter or leave all the time. If, for whatever reason, a corporation, or even an industry, has developed a risky set of 'norms' by which members are expected to conform, then when push comes to shove individuals are only left with 2 choices - stay and toe the line, or leave. From there, it's a short step to creating a self-selected group of individuals* who share similar levels of comfort with risky behavior in return for lucrative rewards. Working with each other day and night, they also reinforce each other in their attitude towards risk/reward, and may further install a general sense of invincibility in workplace culture.

(*In fact, such self-selection can happen very early on. I know of a young graduate who recently, on a whim, applied for a job in a lobbying firm. One of the first interview questions was, what kind of company would you NOT lobby for? Since she could immediately come up with a number of examples in her head, she knew there was no point in continuing the interview...)

This is where/how the 'enlightened self interest' approach breaks down. I have a suspicion/hypothesis the general business model as practiced today, has a tendency to create such enclaves of self-reinforcing risk-taking behavior, UNLESS senior management has enough long-term vision to ACTIVELY counteract the skewed risk/reward equation. However, management is subject to shareholders' wishes. There may be a range of willingness to create 'ethical' management cultures at a cost to shareholders, but I suspect that in general, the bigger and more publicly traded the company, the less likely that costly changes in safety culture will meet with the approval of the markets. In fact, the opposite may be true - in the short term, the market is likely to PUNISH companies that admit to the need to improve safety/ethics, creating incentives for management to HIDE the problems. Enron comes to mind...

As for the long term, in market terms, in the long run, we'll all be dead...

Therein lies the tragedy, of the system.

Your description of the current state of most corporations' culture is virtually identical to (though better stated than) my understanding of it.

Where I differ is that I believe that it is possible, with relatively little little change except in relation to the full and sincere commitment of management, and the institution of relatively modest changes in training methods, to create a culture of safety and personal responsibility in corporations without impairing their functioning or profitability.

It is the belief in, commitment to, and relentless pursuit of that goal by management that makes the difference. Without the belief in, and commitment to a culture of safety and personal responsibility at the very top, it is virtually impossible to for it to permeate through the whole organization unless it is presented in such a compelling fashion that it infects each employee to which it is presented and supplants any previously extant subversive drives. Does a snowball's chance in hell convey the right tone regarding that likelihood?

Nevertheless I have seen this work in the corporate world, at least in part. Enough, I would contend, to establish its probable efficacy IF management is committed and provides the appropriate support as it is tested by events.

I think of several examples, including certain policies at Sears, the commitment of most power companies to safety, the implementation of bottom up policy making at places like Saturn and Xerox, and even my tutoring in rock climbing where it was drilled into me to never rely on someone else's installation of safety measures without a careful, in-person, confirmation of its sound implementation before I committed my life to it. None of these is perfect, but the question is can we make breaches the exception rather than the norm.

Many would argue that the present culture is adequate and point to the relative dearth of disastrous consequences of corporate activity. I would suggest that a closer examination of reality might diminish some of that sanguinity,

Hiver and David, thanks for your insights. You both are very eloquent.

My question then is, what is it going to take to learn and change the culture of the oil industry? ValdezIxtoc, etc. apparently hasn't done it. Macondo? Where does the strength to change come from ... or do we the people have to wait until the corporate pain is so great they must change?

How do we the people "never rely on someone else's installation of safety measures without a careful, in-person, confirmation of its sound implementation before I committed my life to it." Isn't that why we have gov't, MMS, etc? Thanks

I guess protests are one answer but I haven't heard of any million person naked truth marches.

Here's a smaller naked truth protest I found:

Good questions. Unfortunately right now I'm short on time, but briefly I'm pessimistic on relying on human nature (as I said, enlightened self-interest may be a self-selecting trait, having a tendency to be selected out in high-value AND high-risk industries, just for instance) or corporate self-governance. I'm not even sure that laws are much good because they are only as strong as the weakest link, which would be government, which right now is weak in both executive and judiciary branches, with regards to protecting public safety against corporate interests, although it doesn't seem to be for want of trying with the current administration. But they are limited by time, and political realities.

Due to said time constraints, I'm reluctant to say anything that might ignite a flame war but I'd say if I take a very long view backwards (50 years or so) then I detect an increasingly efficient process of institutionalized concentration of power in a very small elite (business PLUS politicians) while the vast majority of the public are increasingly locked out. We're losing social mobility, wealth is increasingly concentrated in a diminishingly small population, families are barely getting by even with both parents working full time, etc etc.

This disturbs me a great deal. I don't have clear answers at this point; the more I look, the more I see problems and patterns. I do see a little silver lining, and that is the kind of personal 'power' that the internet gives to individuals, eg people can come to TOD and join in the discussion irrespective of interests or expertise. They can learn and get their voices heard, in however small ways. Sometimes they can affect change. What I hope to see (if there's a fairy godmother) is for government to evolve to a form that is much more responsive to the concerns of NON-AFFILIATED citizens, ie those who do NOT belong to any organized group or LOBBY. Officials are humans too, and Washington is a weird place. It takes tremendous will and stamina to REMEMBER the 'little people', and THEN it takes more effort to set up institutional channels via which the concerns of the 'little people' can be gathered and addressed.

I'm not expressing myself very clearly, partly for reasons of time, partly for lack of clarity. Hope at least it stimulates some thought. And, btw, the 'little people' is not meant to be derogatory, rather I deem it an accurate reflection of current power balance.

I see an interesting parallel between being responsible while drilling an oil well, and being responsible when setting up, or reorganizing, a corporation.

To the extent that either of them is dependent upon external controls, e.g.: Blowout Protectors or Laws and Penalties, they have already failed to do the job, because that invites all sorts of opportunities for deviating from the responsible path of operation. Each opportunity, as we have seen in both cases, eventually will align with or join with others (it's just a matter of time), in a cascade of failures which present a disaster which the established controls are not designed to contain.

In the case of corporate responsibility, as we saw at the end of 2008, it only takes a few very marginal operations to fail for there to be a domino effect on even innocent bystanders.

In the case of oil wells we are still witnessing the aftermath of that phenomenon.

No set of external controls can be designed to handle this kind of disaster effectively. That becomes clear when we examine corporate behavior and see how quickly it adapts to and circumvents new controls placed upon it.

The corporate culture has to change. We need a few visionaries like Martin Luther King, or Ghandi, or Jesus of Nazareth, or Mohammed, to lead a cultural revolution which will inspire enough believers to develop the principles and spread the word until it infects a critical mass of society who then demand change.

The best assurance that this will someday happen is that truth is immutable. Regardless of how often it is distorted, suppressed, denied, or countered, it remains accessible to those who want to know it.

Edit: My apologies, I meant this to be inserted at the end of this subthread. Obviously it's a problem with the "controls!" :)

Perhaps the greatest problem with corporate management today is that the management rarely has a large personal stake in the company it manages and thus does not have the same interest in the company as the shareholders. Shareholders, if they are not speculators, are interested in the long-term value. Directors, however, unless they have a large personal investment in the company, likely care only about the next quarter's result or at least the results to be achieved in the next year or two before their term in office comes to an end, i.e., the results that determine their bonuses and stock options. If policies that create a small but significant risk of destroying the company can sharply increase short-term profit and hence management benefits, then management has an incentive to take those risks even thought they are contrary to shareholder interest.

So it seems to me the real problem with a company like BP is how do you give someone like Tony Haywood an incentive to act in the shareholder interest, i.e., with the aim of maximizing long-term returns. As the owner of around 50,000 shares, Haywood likely had a much greater interest in his share options and bonuses, i.e., short-term returns than in the long-term value of the company. Sure, things have turned out badly for him, but before the blowout, living with a risk-prone corporate culture that maximized short-term profit at the risk of destroying the company would have seemed a reasonable bet.

One solution, perhaps, would be to pay directors in shares that cannot be sold during their life time.

In reply to the well previous considered posts:

In addition to what Lucretius suggests, perhaps we could hold executives personally liable, financially and criminally, for preventable disasters (over say a $75K floor) made under their watch equal to the percentage of revenue they have earned as executive. If they can benefit financially from profitable production then they can be expensed financially, or criminally, when their charges recklessly or preventably screw up.

It would be similar to requiring a person pay a ticket, or go to jail, for simply riding a motorcycle 220 MPH (see above link :))

If it is civil charges they will arrange it so their bonuses or contractual guarantees cover it. If criminal, perhaps prison for them would help the rest of us indeed. In fact it's legal defacto now to purposefully wreck an entire industry, make megabucks on the shorts, and stay out of jail.

Yep. Wreck an industry, ruin people, destroy other businesses... and retire wealthy. Sheesh ... maybe MS has it right?

RSG - It's been a long time since I rode two wheels, but is that speedo really in MPH? My gut says KPH, where 220 KPH = ~140 MPH . . .

Outer ring MPH, inner ring KPH.


Re dispersant, many people do not like it for its toxic property. Why not stop using it. It would be easier to catch more oil without dispersant too. If necessary, use dispersant on water surface, the total dispersant usage would be less and less harm to all concerned.

About how much of oil will be floating on the surface if no dispersant be used? Any rough idea?


The containment system is shut in now. All lines are clear of any connections. If they try to hook up various vents to collection pipes, it may cause oil spill.
There must be some ways to make the connections without any significant oil spill. What would be the best options?

How do you hook up high pressure hydraulic hoses that are under pressure. Is beer and Coke about as high a pressure such fittings are practical?

I just did a quick google on 'High Pressure Dry Break Couplings' and it appears most of these 'High Pressure' Couplings are only rated at a couple of hundred psi.

That is what I thought, beer and Coke.

if you're talking about sizes like you'd find on a tractor or something like that, Parker has
"high pressure, non-spill, push-to-connect quick couplings" rated for 10000psi

Thanks for the responses. I enjoy reading the posts by all of you. Well, if you mean the extreme high pressure will make the hook up too hard to accomplish, there is a solution. Don't resist it, let it go naturally. In other words, you use a Y adapter, one end to the existing vent, the opposite end to a pipe connecting to a container of proper size, and the third end to the collection riser. No fighting against the high pressure oil flow. If the vent has a proper connection design which may fit the adapter well, a closed valve may be opened after the adapter is connection is made. There are other factors to be included in the adapter. For now, just leave them alone.
That is the basic idea. Could someone describe what is the outside end of each vent and the cap is alike?

A LOT more oil would be on the surface if there's no dispersant use. Seems to me the anti-dispersant crowd is irrational. It's as if there were groups of people in front of hospitals protesting about the use of chemotherapy in cancer patients. Chemotherapy makes you feel bad, but it's a hell of a lot better than dying of cancer in 3 months shot full of morphine.

To follow with your analogy
When we choose chemo to treat cancer we have a long history of knowing what chemo does to people. We do not have that with Corexit. And individuals make that choice for themselves. Some do not choose chemo, some do and die just as painfully but it takes longer, and some choose it and gain extra years of life. But they choose. The people of the Gulf get no choice and were they to get one they would have scant info with which to choose.

from the CDC site among other effects "Repeated or excessive exposure to 2-butoxyethanol may cause central nervous system depression, nausea, vomiting, anesthetic or narcotic effects, injury to red blood cells (hemolysis), kidney or the liver, and a metallic taste."
More at http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/oil_spill/dispersants_hcp_info.htm
BP is controlling the treatment of workers so we don't get to know how sick they are - but I have heard of bleeding problems, especially bleeding from the rectum. Not nice.

There seems to be this idea that 2-butoxyethanol is some sort of special chemical specific to Corexit, and that workers are being unduly exposed to it. If you go to your houeshold cleaning cupboard there is a very likely chance you will find products that contain it. You almost certainly get exposed to greater concentrations than clean-up workers in the GOM when you clean your kitchen or bathroom.

[edit] And I forgot to add, there isn't any in Corexit 9500 anyway. Windex Blue is however between 0.5 and 1.5% 2-butoxyethanol. If you really believe all the psuedo-scientific doom mongering about 2-butoxyethanol, go petition your local supermarket.

So all those people in Louisiana getting sick is caused by what then? Flu? Colds?

Along that same line, I came across this link and was wondering what people think of it:


Morning, tiny.

I'm not an MD and didn't see all their symptoms, but from what I've read, sounds to me as if a combo of petro-fumes, heat, and stress got to those folks.

Yes, somebody brought Wathen's latest in here yesterday or the night before. Good news and bad, huh? Less oil, but also no animals visible this time. I'll be very glad when he gets his fondest wish: that the clean-up can take center focus at last.

Have you seen his earlier videos? The first ones were absolute heartbreakers.

I've been spending a lot of time looking into what Riki Ott has to say. I find her very credible with no hidden political agendas or monetary gains. She is a woman who really cares about whats happening. JMHO

Add: you can download a copy of her book Sound Truth on her website for free (rikiott.com). Just started reading it myself.

The problem with Riki Ott's polemics is that they don't include times, names and places and thus cannot and have not been verified by anyone else.

I find this lack of verification reduces credibility.

Specifically, where? If you go to www.rikiott.com/spillinfo.php you can download, free of charge, her book Sound truth & Corporate Myths, which is extensively documented. Same with Not One Drop (not posted, but extensive documentation.) Most of her blogs have photos accompanying them that illustrate the point.

I concur. Her books are exhaustively referenced, and I have checked enough (many) of these references myself such that I'm comfortable saying I find her work credible. Whether or not you agree with her approach in explaining the issues to the public or where she stands on compensation, the science itself is solid, at least for the parts that I checked.

Was just reading some more of her book and came across this and found it interesting (there is more to it in the book, but I didnt want to post pages of this stuff):

A Daubert-like approach to
scientific evidence severely undermines the ability of federal regulatory
agencies to protect public health, because the agencies consider
the totality of evidence in their decision-making process to assess risk,
which is at odds with the piecemeal and fragmented approach
encouraged by Daubert in court. The Tellus report (2003) warns,
“Daubert and Daubert-like challenges threaten to paralyze the systems
we use to protect public health and the environment”

Looks like it. (I'm watching the hearing tape in another window, will watch this next.)

Wathen's latest flyover was on July 19th. Here's the video:

The one you linked is a poorly edited mashup of the July 19th video and an earlier one. Yesterday I falsely accused someone else of making the mashup but I was wrong: Wathen made it himself.

He didn't bother to remove the July 19th datestamp even though much of the footage is from June, when the spill was much worse. He also added a voiceover linking Corexit to acid rain.

So lets see: all those people in LA getting sick? Cite? Where are they? Symptoms? Don't link to doomsday blogs.

I guess it is a government cover-up conspiracy that there really is 2-butoxyethanol being used then?

Do you have any Windex Blue at home? Or indeed any other domestic cleaner cleaner? Simple Green perhaps? Are you sick?

The logic is essentially meaningless, and pretty usual conspiracy nutter stuff. Heck, maybe there is a flu going around. A heck of a lot more likely. But it doesn't run well with the doomsayers, who regard it as axiomatic that it is the fault of whatever big business or government is up to, and similarly axiomatic that denial is actually proof.

Google Kindra Arnesen and Riki Ott. Links are numerous.

Add: Here is the letter she wrote to the DOL: http://rikiott.com/pdf/DOL-letter.pdf

The letter from Riki is very good. Well written, thoughtful and the proverbial good thing. One small problem. Nowhere in the letter does she mention 2-Butoxyethanol - she does mention Corexit 9527 (which does contain it) in passing, but does not contradict the fact that Corexit 9527 was only used for a short time at the start of the spill.

Herein is the problem. By over-claiming the problems you undermine her work. Riki does not claim that 2-Butoxyethanol is the cause of the sickness. But a groundswell of internet mnemes incorrectly claiming that she does, when it is known that there is no 2-Butoxyethanol being used, isn't helpful to her efforts or to the people affected.

I'm just a Grandmother of 2 little boys who live with me and am looking for answers. I do in no way proclaim to be an expert on anything. I'm just looking for facts to base my own opinions on. Yes, I am skeptical of what the Government and BP tell us, but that in no way makes me a doom and gloom kind of person. I just want the facts without all the whitewashing.

Add: My fiancee, a shrimper and oysterman, also works in VOO, so yes health and food safety issues are of major concern to me.

OK, that is a pretty good start. It is a minefield out there, and it really is hard, especially if you don't have the technical background. I guess the hardest thing is to keep an open mind, and realise that there are a heck of a lot of people with weird agendas around. The difficult thing is probably to work out who to trust, even a little.

I rather think that one of the more interesting, and perhaps disturbing aspects of this incident has been the manner in which almost sociopathic people have seized it to essentially just stir things up for their own pleasure.

There is a common mistrust of governments and corporations, but whilst some degree of scepticism is always good, I fear that it has become a corrosive mneme that begins to place some 15 year old kid blogging for kicks at the same level as an experienced professional. It is hard.

My rule on conspiracies is a very old one. Indeed it is sometimes known as the first rule of conspiracies. Never ascribe to conspiracy that which can be adequately explained by incompetence.

The second rule is the application of Occam's razor. The simplest explanation is to be preferred. Where "simple" means you make the least number of assumptions. (Clearly the first rule is a special case of Occam.)

Read, be sceptical, but not unduely so.


tiny, I sure wish safety and happiness on you, your loved ones, and all your near and far neighbors.

After what's befallen the Coast, no wonder y'all's distrust is off the chart. But if you approach everything that comes out about this from a basic assumption of "whitewash (local, state, national, corporate)" -- how would you possibly accept any facts that show "no whitewash"? Wouldn't you automatically reject such facts, even if they are the real deal? Aren't you stuck? How can you ever get unstuck if that's your assumption?

As Francis points out, what we're seeing here is most likely a lot of people busting their butts to deal with something none of them saw coming or had any chance to prepare for. They're getting some of it wrong and some of it right, but in any case, they've taken ownership of the problem. Since they know we see them as the problem-owners, doesn't it stand to reason that their best move is to get everything as right as they can?

(Some of them have a better history of "getting it right" than others, but at this point, fake-it-til-you-make-it would be professional suicide for any of them. Wouldn't it? See: Tony Hayward.)

We live in a small town on the Alabama Coast. Its been making a lot of headlines lately, dealing with the local politics. There are quite a few of us trying to make a change here with the local politics and their doings. When other politicians are looking into whats going on down here, that shows me there is a problem. It's not unheard of for governmental agencies to not tell everything that they know because of fears of panic, or they can't because it's to be used in future litigations, so in essence they are concealing information that we have the right to know. I've watched the EPA hearings, and boy was that informational (sarcasm). The fears and panics come from the unknown, which is why theories abound. I'm a firm believer of the old saying "If it sounds too good to be true, then it usually is". Common sense is the biggest factor in drawing my conclusions.

Amen, from Ft Morgan Road in Gulf Shores.

Why not "If it sounds too bad to be true, then it probably is"?

It's contrary to common sense to assume that people like Thad Allen, Jane Lubchenko, Lisa Jackson, Carol Browner, (etc.), who have long, well-known, and constructive careers in public service and/or science, are all systematically lying, while at the same time one gives credence to disaster scenarios that originate with rumors, anonymous folk, and in some cases hoaxers or crackpots.

(Not attacking you, tinys; I know people on the coast have had plenty to worry about.)

Never said they were lying. They are not being totally forthcoming with information. They release only what they deem pertinent in their minds, leaving everyone out there to fill in the blanks. As to that Simmons guy, I have never read or listened to anything he has to say, but just from reading comments about him on the site, I once again used my common sense and decided not to waste my time. I'm not looking for conspiracies or cover ups, I'm looking for answers to the problems in our area. My searches take me everywhere, as I'm sure it does with most people. There I try to sift thru the tons of information out there and base my thoughts on that using common sense. I'm not going to waste my time on "Let's nuke the well" or" Big Oil Lake discovered in the Gulf" and crap like that. I'm looking for logical information that makes sense to me. I have found this site to be extremely helpful and I have bookmarked tons of links from here. There is relevant information out there, it's just a matter of digging it up.

Like many others, I became aware of the dispersant issue around 3 months ago and, also like many others, was really het up about them spraying a million or so gallons of this stuff around the Gulf. But as a chemist with the usual chemist's exposure to toxicology, as I delved more into the existing reliable information available, sparse though it was, I am now of the opinion that the heavy use of the Corexits is a mixed blessing. Its use has both benefits and negatives. No question that dispersion of the oil accelerates bioremediation, which both reduces the amount of crud that ends up onshore and lessens exposure of benthic organisms to the oil. Clearly negative effects include the fact that dispersants "hide" much of the oil released from direct view, and some information that synergy between oil and dispersants can in some instances cause an increase in toxicity because of enhanced uptake of hydrocarbons, etc., by marine organisms. Among the really bad HCs of most concern are polycyclic aromatics such as benzopyrene, which is a potent carcinogen and mutagen. Fortunately, the amounts of such super-toxins is quite small in most crudes, as far as I can tell.
Now, it is really a shame that more detailed and critical studies of these dispersants and D:O mixtures under lab and real-world conditions had not previously been done. Not to say there is not a large literature, but some of the critical questions that we should know about remain unanswered. For example, many of the studies that have been done are short-term, which means they might miss the effects of chronic exposure of animals over months and years; that is, through several breeding cycles. It appears that the present disaster is finally getting the attention these issues require, and we will in time have a better understanding of the trade-off between the plus and minus side of dispersant use in these situations.
What is clear to me is that there is way too much counterproductive hysteria by the nervous Nellies, on the one hand, and equally unhelpful poo-pooing of concern on the part of the "other side". Fact is, we DON'T KNOW what the long term balance in the good vs. bad equation is going to show. This is not a binary world and the point at issue is not a binary one.
But, for now, we have no reason to believe that the picture painted by some of the extreme alarmists is anywhere near the truth. Direct effects on humans are unlikely to be serious unless they bathe in the stuff.
If this is helpful, good.
The obligatory IMHO at this point.

One interesting comment in the letter was Riki's reference to lawyer consultations. It makes me believe we are going to see a lot of her as an expert witness. Perhaps that is why she is conducting this campaign.

Considering she has been personally dealing with it for over 20 years, I'm glad she will be an expert witness. Just started reading her book and the correlations I see between what happened there and what has and is happening here, makes me think BP took everything straight from Exxon's handbook on dealing with this. Even in the movie Black Wave, no more than 10 minutes into it you hear Exxon telling them "We will do everything to make you whole". Ring a bell?

Yes, it does. And of course it is impossible because you can't completely reverse the effects of an oil spill.

Personally though I find some of the stuff in Riki's videos less than credible. None of it has been picked up by the MSM or verified by other media sources.

The letter to the Secretary of Labor? Does anyone see this as anything more than grandstanding? Surely she can't be expecting an answer.

The proof is that after this, 40 hr Hazwoper training is required instead of the 4 hr. There was a show I watched yesterday, and dang it if I cant remember the name of it where she talks about it. There is also a 6 part series on youtube that I found using a search engine someone posted on here: http://interceder.net/i/corexit

As for credible I don't know what your standards are but here is a link on Huffington post that also includes pictures: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/riki-ott/the-big-lie-bp-government_b_63836...

Doesn't it bother you that the so-called skin rash looks very much like seabather's eruption?


I mean how naive do they think we are?

Those Huffer pics look exactly like insect bites, some people react more than others.


While I'm not a toxicologist I have enough professional background to be able to say, after reading Riki Ott's books (finished one, halfway through the other) that her work is highly credible but the issues are complex and difficult to explain in short sound-bites.

While much of her work is not 'original research' in the traditional academic sense, nevertheless because of 2 decades of intimate involvement in the Exxon spill, AND being a local fisherman prior to the spill as well as a marine biologist, she's able to pull together many strands such that a pattern (at least for me) is discernible. Remember that in many areas of science but particularly in public health, absolute proof of causation is most of the time almost impossible. Rather scientists rely on many pieces of evidence each of which is limited and does not prove anything but taken together, you begin to arrive at a 'preponderance of evidence' that would support or refute causal relationship between exposures and subsequent health effects.

The kind of work that Ott does, there are no short cuts, no easy answers, only many injured people and communities, and long and painful court battles.

... axiomatic that denial is actually proof

Hi, Francis. We might as well save our breath, eh? (But neither side can help itself, we any more than they, I reckon.)

we any more than they, I reckon
Guilty as charged. :-)

Psych 101.

If you want to extinguish inappropriate behavior don't punish or counter it, ignore it.

I don't think it is a government cover-up conspiracy, I think it is just a government burying their heads in the sand situation like they did with the residents and worker illnesses after 911.

That is utter nonsense asking about windex or simple green in the homes of people. You are not exposed to those 24 hrs a day and unable to escape them.

There is a reason BP and Transocean held all those rescued workers on boats for up to 40 hours and refused to let them use phones to call home and made them sign papers stating they were fine after the explosion before they would let them go home. That was the beginning of the cover up and there is no reason to believe it is still not going on to this day.

Simple Green® (Sunshine Makers, Inc.,2002)
Use of product: an all purpose cleaner and degreaser . . .
Ingredient: 2-butoxyethanol (less than 6 percent)
Note, however, that Butyl Cellosolve [2-butoxyethanol] is only one of the raw
material ingredients that undergo processing and dilution during the manufacture
Simple Green®. Upon completion of the manufacturing process, Simple Green® does
not possess the occupational health risks associated with exposure to undiluted Butyl
Cellosolve [emphasis in original].
Adverse effects on human health are not exp ected from Simple Green®, based
upon twenty years of use without reported adverse health incidence in diverse population
groups,including extensive use by inmates of U.S. federal prisons in cleaning
Repeated daily application to the skin without rinsing or continuous contact
of Simple Green® on the skin may lead to temporary, but reversible, irritation.
Simple Green® is a mild eye irritant; mucous membranes may become irritated
by concentrate-mist.
The Simple Green® formulation presents no health hazards to the user when
used according to label directions for its intended purposes.
(Author’s note: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2003) lists 2-
butoxyethanol at the top of its list of ingredients to avoid in its Janitorial Products
Pollution Prevention Program.The EPA web page states products with the listed ingredients
“pose very high risks to the janitor using the product, to building occupants, or
to the environment.” Comments under chronic effects for 2-butoxyethanol list reproductive
and fetal damage, liver and kidney damage, and blood damage.

I think it's all the lawyers that are making people sick in Louisiana. Get rid of the lawyers, and all of the sudden people probably wouldn't feel as bad as they say they do.

I think it's all the lawyers that are making people sick in Louisiana. Get rid of the lawyers, and all of the sudden people probably wouldn't feel as bad as they say they do

So really what we have here is an allergic reaction to lawyers? Where's Syncro when I could tease him?

Let's say I'm Sawyer the Ambulance Chasing Lawyer. I live in the Gulf Coast and begin contacting these guys (not in prison) working on the cleanup. Now I know they only work 20 minutes an hour, and wear full length tyveck coveralls, but that doesn't bother me cause I'm Sawyer the Ambulance Chasing Lawyer (StAC Law). So I grab me a few of these guys, and tell them they could be paid for the rest of their lives by that big rich corporation. I tell them to start pretending they have all these symptoms, which I get from websites and watching many episodes of House. Then I start writing my briefs for that big class action law suit I'm going to file, because I'd sorta like to be paid for the rest of my life by that big rich corporation.

Conspiracy? None dare call it that. ;)

So what do you call it when the people report being sick and don't sue?

The existence of ambulance chasing lawyers does not prove no one has been harmed.

Francis, when I use window cleaner I use it for brief periods of time. Not being a compulsive cleaner I don't inhale window cleaner mist all day. I expect that it would be hard to find even a compulsive cleaner who exposes them self all day long to cleaning products. The folks on the clean up are inhaling all day close hand with no respirators. The folks on the coast are inhaling all day. Surely you know that length of exposure is a factor in toxicity? As you know I am sure salt is a necessary part of the human diet. Too much contributes to high blood pressure. Eat it all day in quantity and you are dead. Dose and length of exposure MATTTER

I use ammonia and water for my window washing. I use baking soda to scrub my sinks and tub.

2-butoxyethanol was in the first dispersants they used until they used up their stockpile of the stuff. They are now using Corexit EC9500A not Corexit 9500. They have released the ingredients except not the specifics on one which is described as a proprietary organic sulfonate. So we are in the dark on that.

The relative toxicity of Corexit and other dispersants are difficult to determine due to a scarcity of scientific data.[3] The manufacturer's safety data sheet states "No toxicity studies have been conducted on this product," and later concludes "The potential human hazard is: Low."


Ah so we can declare it safe with very little scientific data. Funny how the oil companies tout how smart they are with scientifically designed technologies and yet doesn't pursue scientific date when it might not give us the results we want.

Ah so we can declare it safe with very little scientific data.

That's a fairly silly comment. Just because the finished product hasn't been tested doesn't mean there is no data on the ingredients.

Also, what do you think the exposure level to something that is added to the Gulf of Mexico 5000 feet under water?

A whole heck of a lot less than your exposure to Simple Green I bet. Even if you use it less than once a year.

Just because the finished product hasn't been tested doesn't mean there is no data on the ingredients.

Ah so you think if you know what all the ingredients do, you know what they do combined? I know what Chlorox does and how to handle it safely. I know how to use ammonia. Do you suggest I mix clorox and ammonia and assume it is safe. I hope everyone knows that it creates a dangerous gas. Yet we may not think about mixing two cleaning products one which contains chlorox and another ammonia or some other ingredient that mixes dangerously with chlorox. http://www.state.nj.us/health/eoh/cehsweb/bleach_fs.pdf

Unless the whole product, not just the ingredients, are tested you do not know if there is some interaction where something dangerous is created. We also don't know about the interactions of the dispersants and the oil. We are doing one huge experiment on our Gulf and the people and creatures of the gulf. Just like we have been doing a huge experiment in burning oil and other fossil fuels. Lets see how much CO2 and methane we can put into the atmosphere before we make our planet uninhabitable.

Also since one of the ingredients is "a proprietary organic sulfonate" we don't know what ingredients are in that nor if this unknown proprietary compound has been tested.

I say stop using the dispersants and use more skimmers and decent booming (which has been discussed on this site - done right competent boomers say it works).

Ah so you think if you know what all the ingredients do, you know what they do combined?

Having spent 20 years in R&D working with systems like this, pretty much, yes.

Unless the whole product, not just the ingredients, are tested you do not know if there is some interaction where something dangerous is created.

Poppycock. Run it through a LC-GC MS and you will know if there is an interaction or not. Tox testing is too blunt a tool; go after the fundamental structure.

Lets see how much CO2 and methane we can put into the atmosphere before we make our planet uninhabitable.

Arrhenius knew it would be problematic over 100 years ago. Discussions of the issue showed up in chlidren's science reels in the 50's.



The only problem is that people don't listen.

I wasn't aware that spectrometry could tell you what interactive effects a bunch of chemicals might have. So you can run a proprietary chemical through MS and know the ingredients. I in fact had thought that to be true. But why aren't they then telling everyone what those ingredients are? If you did so and revealed what the proprietary ingredient was so scientists could test it would you be violating their patent? There has to be some reason why they refuse to reveal the "proprietary organic sulfonate.[17]" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corexit . If any other company with a mass spectrometer can read what it is, it seems to me that by refusing to reveal it they somehow protect the patent? Or perhaps they just keep it from the eyes of people who might test it but don't have access to a spectrometer. (Or people who already know it is dangerous).

Given that they are spewing this on US waters that belong to the citizens of the US they owe us the info. Explain to me why they are still not telling all if running it through LC-GC MS will tell all?

Also explain to me how spectrometry can tell whether these chemicals in combination can cause any problems for living creatures. I was not aware spectrometry was ever used for predicting how chemicals affect living creatures in current time and over time. I thought that was always done with scientific tests on living creatures or studies of living creatures that had been exposed. If it can why do we do any studies on living creatures at all anymore. This would be good news for bunnies getting makeup smeared in their eyes - no need just run it through LC-GC MS. No more large studies of the latest drug, just run it through LC-GC MS.

Yes, I know about Arrhenius. Spewing this much CO2 is really not an experiment - it was known what it will do, but not the exact timeline or the unexpected side effects (melting permafrost, releasing methane, increasing the speed of warming etc.). But denial allowed us to pretend the knowledge wasn't there and that nothing bad could happen from our extravagant lifestyle. So for most it was an unconscious experiment (kind of like tailgating while speeding isn't thought of as an experiment but becomes one if the car ahead stops suddenly - lets see how fast I can stop going x miles an hour - while that information is knowable many still experiment).

DDT was an interesting experiment in how fast mosquitoes could develop resistance (7 years I have read), same with pesticides and antibiotics (now we MRSA, and nasty e-coli O157:H7) and still we experiment with stronger pesticides and new antibiotics.

There is no good experiment we can do now in the gulf - dispersant or no dispersant is one set of experiments we can try on large scale, and BP has chosen the dispersant experiment. The reason we have no good choice is because the experiment of safely drilling for offshore oil has shown us that the results are that we can't.

There has to be some reason why they refuse to reveal the "proprietary organic sulfonate.[17]" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corexit . If any other company with a mass spectrometer can read what it is, it seems to me that by refusing to reveal it they somehow protect the patent? Or perhaps they just keep it from the eyes of people who might test it but don't have access to a spectrometer. (Or people who already know it is dangerous).

Well let's see there is a lot here to comment on.

1. The proprietary organic sulfonate was revealed. In fact I've posted it here in another comment.
2. The industrial reason for not revealing the information is that the composition is usually the result of a lot of work, and if you reveal it any Joe who might not have the sophistication needed to run a GC MS (like the local paper mill) could whip up a drum from the raw materials. Normally you aren't worried about competitors with GC-MS's because they are paying for the expertise to run them, so they have the same cost structure you do. It's the low end guys that can undercut you that are the people you don't want knowing the composition.
3. I really doubt if Corexit is on patent. It's been in use for decades. Funny how it hasn't seemed to exterminate all life on Earth in that period of time.
4. There are many things under your sink that are a lot more dangerous. Including the Chlorox and Ammonia referred to here earlier.

Also explain to me how spectrometry can tell whether these chemicals in combination can cause any problems for living creatures. I was not aware spectrometry was ever used for predicting how chemicals affect living creatures in current time and over time. I thought that was always done with scientific tests on living creatures or studies of living creatures that had been exposed. If it can why do we do any studies on living creatures at all anymore. This would be good news for bunnies getting makeup smeared in their eyes - no need just run it through LC-GC MS. No more large studies of the latest drug, just run it through LC-GC MS.

Analytical chemistry is the FUNDAMENTAL tool of biochemistry. At one time I worked for a person who won a Nobel Prize for developing a GC-MS technique for analysis of the structure of proteins. His work led directly to the development of protease inhibitors.


We do tests on living creatures because normally we can't afford the in depth work to figure out what is really going on.

As far as rabbit eye tests they have the same problems as tox tests: [Wikipedia]

they will:

* Misidentify a serious irritant as safe: 0-0.01%
* Misidentify a mild irritant as safe: 3.7%-5.5%
* Misidentify a serious irritant as a mild irritant: 10.3%-38.7%

I missed that the proprietary chemical " was disclosed to the EPA in June 2010, as dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate." per wiki. Question, since this seems to be a somewhat safe chemical used in certain quantities (although my gut didn't feel very safe the last time I used that brand of laxitive) why didn't Nalco disclose it sooner? Since a spectrometer could have revealed it why didn't EPA disclose it sooner?

I realize in corporate culture they get so obsessed with keeping secrets that they sometimes do it to their own detriment. But this is absurd and promotes all sorts of suspicions.

As far a chemistry being the analytical tool that is fundamental to biochemistry I am sure it is an important tool. And I am equally sure that it is not only expensive to find out what is really going on in living creatures but I would venture in the end impossible.

One man smokes 5 packs a day and lives to 90, another gets lung cancer from 1 pack a day and dies at 55.

We do large group studies of populace because the humans within them are very diverse in biological make up, other exposures, lifestyle, diet etc. There is no way we can figure out how all those fit together. We can't even figure out why significant percents of people improve with placebos (and even that different colors and shapes of placebos affect people differently). It appears that our beliefs affect our body, no doubt through chemicals they create or tell the body to create. Maybe analytical chemistry could someday figure that out but they can't now.

So we are left with doing studies on diverse groups after first doing studies on animals. Sometimes it is forgotten that things that affect adults one way affect fetuses differently and we have a generation of thalidomide babies.

So what do we know about the chemicals in Corexit EC9500A (is this an improvement on Corexit 9500 or just a slight change to get a new patent as is often done with drugs?). What do we know about them in the specific combination that they are in? What do we know about them mixed with oil. What do we know about them over time?

The Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 had devastated the shore around Prince William Sound, diminishing the marine population. Consequently, the fishery industry in the area faced a sharp fall on their fish catch and revenue. Feeling little had been done to study the impact of the spill, a group of fishermen sailed off to begin a blockade of the Valdez Narrows on August 20, 1993. While tankers must pass through Valdez Narrows to enter the port of Valdez, seven tankers were held off in the three-day blockade.As oil was continuing to pump through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, and tankers were keeping off shore, the storage tanks in Valdez would soon overflow. With the probability in interrupting the oil flow to prevent an overflow, and also facing a growing loss in profits, the government came in to settle the blockade. The blockade was called off after Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt promised to release $5 million of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill restoration funds for ecosystem-wide studies. Comprehensive studies of the effects of the spill toward the ecosystem around Prince William Sound began in the following year.


That is what it took to get comprehensive studies of the effects of the spill going, 5 years after the fact.

What about the workers

ANCHORAGE — You'd think that more than 20 years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, scientists would know what, if any, long-term health dangers face the thousands of workers needed to clean up the Gulf of Mexico spill. You'd be wrong. "We don't know a damn thing," said Anchorage lawyer Michael Schneider, whose firm talked with dozens of Alaska cleanup workers following the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in preparation for a class-action lawsuit that never came.

Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/06/29/96782/health-of-exxon-valdez-clean...

Pardon me if I remain suspicious that we don't know enough about this stuff we are dumping in the Gulf to deem it safe. No one who matters WANTS to know.

"I missed that the proprietary chemical " was disclosed to the EPA in June 2010, as dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate." per wiki. Question, since this seems to be a somewhat safe chemical used in certain quantities (although my gut didn't feel very safe the last time I used that brand of laxitive) why didn't Nalco disclose it sooner? Since a spectrometer could have revealed it why didn't EPA disclose it sooner? "

Actually, unless you are looking for specific chemicals by performing intial separation of formulated products such as Corexit ( reverse engineering ), it's hard to confirm individual structures in complex formulated products. Eg the petroleum distillate may contain many HCs, but is likely to be a named solvent product purchased from an oil company.

Mass-spectrometry, whether preceeded by GC or HPLC, is highly unlikely to identify most surfactants. It's very unlikely the reported components can all be eluted in simple HPLC or GC runs, in which case the Mass Spectrometer doesn't see them.

For those who reported that the EPA has released the detailed formulation because CAS numbers have been provided, I suggest that you recheck, as some ingredients appear to be commercially-available surfactants that are given generic CAS numbers covering the formulation as derivatives, eg "9005-65-6=Sorbitan, mono-(9Z)-9-octadecenoate, poly(oxy-1,2-ethanediyl) derivs."

My suggestion would be that these products are formulated from existing bulk solvent and surfactant (eg Tween xx) products from major suppliers, which each may vary slightly in composition from batch to batch. There are also several suppliers of most common bulk surfactants ( eg "equivalent to Tween XX" ), and each may differ in detailed composition.

It's not simple, and usually doesn't matter, because most dispersants are subject to performance-based specifications, not chemical composition specifications. The are titration purity tests for " Docusate sodium ", because it is used medically, but most surfactants are not. I doubt Nalco is purchasing USP grade anyway, probably cheap bulk technical-grade on the global chemical market.

Toxicity testing has to be biological, and on specific formulations, as chemical composition is not a good predictor of toxicity of complex properties.

Toxicity testing has to be biological, and on specific formulations, as chemical composition is not a good predictor of toxicity of complex properties.

Thank you. I thought as much

looked this up after my last comment. Re the patent on Corexit 9500 (there are lots of corexits)it was in 2001 and has been around only 9 years it would appear.

the supposedly secret sulfonic acid salt was disclosed in the 2001 patent filing US 6168702. The basic chemicaly formula is that of a sulfonic and carboxylic double quaternary amine salt but a range of substituents makes the overall composition quite variable. The patent filing shows a picture of the chemical which conveys its chemical makeup.

Read More http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/05/gulf-dispersants/#ixzz0ujjhw4DV

Patent at http://www.wikipatents.com/US-Patent-6168702/chemical-demulsifier-for-de...

Poppycock. Run it through a LC-GC MS and you will know if there is an interaction or not. Tox testing is too blunt a tool; go after the fundamental structure.

You're off base in suggesting that you can detect relevant interactions via LC-GC-MS analysis. The issue is not chemical interactions, but ones that affect biological activity, which physical analyses won't help you with. For example, ionic and nonionic detergents can sequester biologically active substances within micelles and liposomes and increase their uptake across biological membranes (and are used clinically for drug delivery for exactly that reason). For just one example: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T7W-3TTCHKK-4.... This is undoubtedly the cause of increased toxicity of substances in crude oil when dispersants are present.
If you want answers to toxicological questions, you gotta do the toxicolgy.

I can find more reliable information with LC-GC MS.

As far as tox tests, I don't trust them as they are normally carried out. I think they are very misleading for the following reasons:

1. Acute, not chronic measurements.
2. Unrealistic environment.
3. Unrealistic concentrations.

I did some tox testing of cationic water soluble polymers with rainbow trout once. Killed all of them at very low concentration. What that meaningful? Nope because rainbow trout live in rivers. Rivers have sand, rock etc which adsorb cationic polymers extremely quickly. The trout are not going to be affected while in the tox test they are sitting in a glass bottle.

The fact is that the chemical composition plus a good understanding of the biochemistry is usually far more useful than tox testing.

Thank you. Don't have time to respond extensively to some of the nonsense, but you are absolutely right on this the bottomline: biological activity is different from physical activity. Subtle changes at the physical level may not seem significant when measured by physical means but such changes can alter dramatically the biological effect because of the way specific biological functions (eg membrane interactions, receptor or enzyme enhancement or inhibition) are altered with even very small changes in physical characteristics.

Dispersants by definition change the effects of chemicals on biological membranes. These are known effects. That said, personally, seeing the inadequacy of skimming capacity, I'm still inclined to think that the use of dispersants was justified. It's a tradeoff, a very crude one. It's very hard to calibrate the exact balance sheet, since you're trading toxicity to deep marine ecology (of which we know little) to coastal biota (of which we know quite a bit more and are likely to be more economically dependent, in the short run).

The biggest risk of dispersants for human health lie in exposure for those in the immediate area where they're being applied, in that a) they add to the total burden of toxic chemicals b) dispersed oil are more likely to become inhaled as oil/water mists. In the long run, since dispersants may theoretically reduce the total amount of oil recovered, we can conceive of a theoretical risk of 'total burden' of toxicity in the whole ecosystem. I call this theoretical because no one has done enough work on this aspect for us to be able to tell whether it does or does not have harmful effects that way, but intuitively, I suspect that it's likely to have some adverse effects.

Your arrogance is scarier than any conspiracy theory, STA.

If it's common among scientists we can all just kiss our asses goodbye.


And, no, it isn't common among scientists, not if they are writing in their real names.

Thanks, I didn't think so.

I thought Chaos Theory was all the rage these days.

I did some research on the ingredients http://www.nalco.com/news-and-events/4297.htm

I checked several sources on the ingredients. The source that summarizes the known effects best, I think is http://www.scorecard.org/chemical-profiles/

The environmental and health effects of Corexit 9500 are basically not fully known. The one ingredient that is of known effects is the one also found in Corexit 9527 as Ethanol, 2-butoxy .

So, what Nalco did with Corexit is take out the known bad actor and leave in the unknowns. Is this the kind of science that is employed for environmental health protections?????????

From the EPA dispersant site:


Corexit contains the following. Google the CAS numbers and you WILL find tox info.

57-55-6 1,2-Propanediol
577-11-7 Butanedioic acid, 2-sulfo-, 1,4-bis(2-ethylhexyl) ester, sodium salt (1:1)
1338-43-8 Sorbitan, mono-(9Z)-9-octadecenoate
9005-65-6 Sorbitan, mono-(9Z)-9-octadecenoate, poly(oxy-1,2-ethanediyl) derivs.
9005-70-3 Sorbitan, tri-(9Z)-9-octadecenoate, poly(oxy-1,2-ethanediyl) derivs
29911-28-2 2-Propanol, 1-(2-butoxy-1-methylethoxy)-
64742-47-8 Distillates (petroleum), hydrotreated light

EVERY ONE of these materials has had extensive tox testing.

The idea that this stuff is some big unknown is flat out WRONG.

Toxicity is just one aspect of environment impacts and health effects. Note this listing on scorecard: http://www.scorecard.org/chemical-profiles/summary.tcl?edf_substance_id=...

You can look them up by CAS number. Their health effects are widely unknown.

Local supermarkets offer shoppers the choice of Windex or natural cleaners. Let your conscience be your guide.

Francis you do understand that Corexit contains petroleum distillates. I dont think you will find these in your dishwashing detergent. Think kerosene,mineral spirits or naptha.


I suppose the answer is the exposure won't be repeated or excessive. Chemicals found in your corn flakes can be harmful if you are exposed to an excessive amount. For example, excess folic acid can lead to Vitamin B12 defficiency, which can cause subacute combined degeneration of the spinal cord.

So, in conclusion, the question is whether the amounts people will be exposed to in the future are really harmful or not. Since this is a political hot potato, I think the EPA tests provide assurance it's not as bad as you think.

I don't know what BP is doing to treat workers' hemorroids, but indeed it's not nice to have a proctologist put you on a table to look at your rear end. And I don't know why you think this is related to anything.

The use of dispersant during the Gulf disaster was abusive. BP even featured a video of how proud they were of having airplanes locate slicks and spray them with dispersant. I believe they sprayed it from ships also. There seemed to be this cavalier attitude about it being some kind of cure-all, with disregard to of the negative effects to the people on the receiving end.

Then, furthermore to compound insult to injury, they declined to try adding additional microbes. These could have been sprayed from ships just as easily. And there are microbes on the same EPA listing that Corexit is on. http://www.epa.gov/emergencies/docs/oil/ncp/schedule.pdf

It is simply a lack of willingness to use every tool available to mitigate the damage and spray dispersant on everything like a bunch of hacks, that is just so aggravating to people who are aware of what is available.

Yup, “A LOT more oil would be on the surface if there's no dispersant use.” it also hinders the removal of oil A LOT ! Dispersant does help dispersing of oil to a much bigger space. It could be more than ten thousands times when oil hits the shoreline. However, in terms of true removal of oil, it make the task hundreds or thousands times harder. What happens these hydrocarbons are consumed by living things in the ocean, from microbes to shrimps, fish, and beyond. Remember the accumulative effects of some toxic materials.

with similar oil removal methods like skimmers, booms, etc., how much oil appears on and near the water surface when no dispersant is used? And how much when dispersant is used? What about the effort to remove the same amount of oil? Could someone helps presenting some rough estimations of these conditions?

Perhaps, a much better way of using dispersants should be addressed. What happens in the Gulf is not a good choice at all.

By the way, anyone pay attention to the way BP feeds the dispersant? Their way of feeding the dispersant need much improvement too.

Ok. Using your chemo analogy it seems to me it is like having a hospital of cancer patients and dosing (spraying) the entire state with chemo drugs if you need it (or want it) or not.

Everyone may get sick and all may recover from the effects of chemo drugs... or not.

Economics are starting to come heavily into play. At this point, I and my family are taking prudent measures to protect ourselves and our children from potential exposure to toxins, food chain or environmental. IF and when there's a demonstrable all-clear, then business as usual as far as GOM products-but that will take a bad mamma-jamma demo for my clan. There are enough legitimate studies (many of which have been cited on this board) to make prudence the word of the day in the arena of the Macondo by-products. And that old science bugaboo folk wisdom may be in play on those empty resort areas. I read on another forum a cruel, but accurate comment about parents letting their children play in visibly contaminated water: "Natural selection at its finest." What else can one say? Want to buy a condo?

"...PERDIDO PASS, Alabama -- A group of Orange Beach residents were sunbathing Sunday on a beach at Perdido Pass. Though the sand appeared clear of oil, the group was nearly alone..."

"Seventeen percent of potential regional tourists have indicated they have canceled or delayed a trip to Louisiana because of the ongoing oil spill and pollution problems resulting from the Deepwater Horizon-BP rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a study commissioned by the state's tourism agency..."

I agree with you. I had said something similar about "natural selection" and I didn't intend it as cruel but merely as an observation of the human condition.

As a firefighter I once had to physically tackle, throw over my shoulder, and carry out an older, obese (probably 280 pounds) woman who was trying hard to get back into a fully involved trailer to rescue a mutt I personally witnessed running out when the door was opened. I told her this but she wouldn't listen and wanted in anyway.

Heck, she may have survived too if she was allowed in. Who knows? A little ppatience before knowing the facts may be prudent. Anyway, let them go in early enough and they won't breed I suppose. :)

edit: spelling, add: maybe BP will make whole those they have harmed?

The counter-argument for your proposal is this:

1. Collection efficiency is lousy. Skimmers have to cover a huge area and don't work very well. Once it gets into marshes there is no collection, you are done.

2. 90% of the life is at or near the surface. From phytoplankton to sperm whales the surface is where the action is. A strategy that involves bringing oil to the surface is bringing oil to the place where it does the most harm.

3. Use of dispersant at surface is very inefficient. If you are concerned about toxicity you are placing the dispersant exactly where that toxicity will do the most damage. By the time the oil gets to the surface it is very spread out. For these and other reasons the release point is obviously the most effective addition point.

Is the collection efficiency lousy with and without dispersant? Certainly one would intuitively expect that dispersants would counter skimmer efficiency.

Furthermore, if collection efficiency is lousy, does that not mean that the oil disperses naturally? So, by the same rational that microbes are not added, dispersant should not. Let Mother Nature do it all?

No. Experimental data says not. However, such data for microbes is discounted. Responsible use of dispersants, addition of helpful microbes and skimming should be employed in underwater leaks. Then, as the mess gets to shore, properly installed booms and skimmers should be busy. In between is where the microbes should again be employed. That would help get rid of the oil and dispersant. We need to understand how to use all these things effectively.

Is the collection efficiency lousy with and without dispersant?

In the open ocean, yes. Wave action kills 'em. The Coast Guard has estimated that they have recovered about 120,000 barrels of oil by skimming. That is pathetic.

Furthermore, if collection efficiency is lousy, does that not mean that the oil disperses naturally? So, by the same rational that microbes are not added, dispersant should not. Let Mother Nature do it all?

Yes that is a valid question. If you go back to the early days of the spill when BP started using dispersant at the leaks they were able to convince the EPA to allow use of dispesrants because they were able to show that a lot less oil got to the surface. So while natural dispersion does occur, adding dispersant has very significant additional effect. It is also probably why BP stopped spraying dispersant; after the oil got to the surface it's too late.

Look, I am all in favor of the idea of biological remediation. However I have some pretty fundamental exposure to the field of biotechnology plus practical experience with people selling 'bugs'. There is nothing that makes me believe that in a body of water the size of the Gulf Of Mexico you are going to be able to alter the microbial ecology by spraying cultures around. It is too big and too resilient. It isn't going to happen.

No. Experimental data says not.

You can get data from closed systems that show engineered cultures work. An open ecology? Not so much. There were several attempts to use tailored microorganisms in the Valdez cleanup. There wasn't any evidence of an improvement over nature.

The data presented on the Oildrum link was from experimental conditions.http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6724 Held to the same standard as the bugs, you would not be able to demonstrate such efficacy in the Gulf. And the efficacy demonstrated was not all that impressive.

I do not know what kind of show BP put on for the EPA, but it does not sound like it proved any enhanced reduction in crude oil levels in the water. You either accept data under proper experimental conditions or you do not. This sounds like they accepted the laboratory data on dispersants on the basis of the lack of appearance of oil at the surface. Then they rejected the laboratory data on adding bugs because ...... Beliefs? or Market Shares?

Not science.

This is simply wrong. There are numerous published peer-reviewed journal articles demonstrating that application of specific commercial lab-reared microbes are no more effective at crude oil biodegradation in nature than indigenous microbial communities.

STA, I've read lots of your comments over the last weeks and willingly support some but your comments today come across as your's are the last word.

"In the open ocean, yes. Wave action kills 'em. The Coast Guard has estimated that they have recovered about 120,000 barrels of oil by skimming. That is pathetic."

If you support dispersants then you can't reflect on anything captured through skimming as pathetic. There is nothing in the position to use dispersants that proves it is the best approach. There has been no tests to compare the two methods of dealing with the oil dumped into the GoM. A few years from now your position could have BOGUS in red letters stamped across the cover page. The last well blowout that compares to this wasn't subjected to dispersant use and skimmers were not helpful either based the time frame between blowout and disclosure.

In regard to risk to the GoM topside vs bottom and harm to sea life; sperm whales dive deep along with many of the other mammals and fish species. There is no way to predict the harm done by a ppm or ppbl oil plume. Imagine your health if this was your water source.

Your position comes across as comparing blue sky Montana with gray sky Los Angeles and since the air in neither location exceeds the EPA ppm air quality standards then the citizens of both locations will be equally healthy.

In closing I will say that I have been skimming through the posts and it seems as though there's lots of reinventing the wheel here today. Rather than redesign the BOP take steps to negate the necessity of use. Rather than support the use of dispersants support behavior to undermine it's necessity.

In regard to todays topic I think the monumental hurdle has been crossed in having the four major oil companies commit to having equipment available. I have already stated I think their action is intended to take the edge off the DW drill moratorium but I look at this as positive. With all the finger pointing and blame between the feds and BP with similarities going on here at TOD, imagine the difference in the outcome of this disaster by simply having a plan and equipment available within days or weeks to deal with a blowout.

A quick question here, Why they do not MEASURE the oil flow from the well using certain instrument(s)?
Many people would like have it done and it is an important figure for all concerned.

They stopped using dispersant 10 days ago, according to "current ops" quantities shown on the main rsponse page.

There is no estimate of how much oil has been kept from the surface by dispersants. The turbulence at the discharge point would cause some dispersion and emulsification even without chemical dispersion. The subsea plumes of oil that have been measured so far would contain only a few percent of the spilled oil, but there may be more out there.

Skimming has been ineffective even around the wellhead where oil is thickest. This is not because of dispersant use. Light oil on warm water will quickly spread out to a thickness of 0.1 millimeter and then progressively thinner as you move outward. The slick at one time was thousands of square miles in extent. Skimmers can't make a dent in that.

Just before the Bonnie Intermission, I saw a live feed of the dispersant feed system. They may not have been pumping it, but they sure had some significant leaks.

Well, dispersant is the MAJOR reason to reduce skimming effectiveness substantially. Look at some thick oil patches. That shows clearly the original oil could appear in much bigger chunks and much more would be floating for skimmer to collect. Without dispersant, oil can also be easily being helped by abundant gas in the flow and floats to the surface. Dispersant does make less oil appear on the surface and that is a major reason that BP insisted on using.

These thick oil patches also reflect the result of BP's dispersant feeder in need of much refinements. They received suggestion and purposely overlooked the good intention to increase efficiency and reduce their cost (reducing dispersant usage).

It's hard to believe that this is a new idea:

The companies behind this endeavor will form a new non-profit organization, the Marine Well Containment Company (MWC), to operate and maintain the system.

This is analogous to the innovation called "a fire department" where property owners within a geographic boundary pay to maintain an emergency response organization. It's so much more efficient than everyone owning their own fire truck.

Given the number of wells and drilling rigs in the limited area of the Gulf of Mexico, it's amazing that no one has thought of this before. I guess it sometimes takes a whack upside the head to get things like this to happen.

Now the question is whether this venture will respond to the needs of companies not paying into the consortium. It would be sad if this capability existed but were unwilling to respond to mishaps of non-members. But if it did respond to non-members, why would anyone pay into the kitty in advance?

I recall a fire district in one of the western states that would roll equipment to a fire but not take any action unless the property owner was current in paying his assessment -- or willing to write a check on the spot for any unpaid assessment plus copious penalties and interest.

You could have a fire department, but that is generally a city or a county jurisdictional force. I was thinking of a Naval Militia, or National Guard Navy with NY/NJ, FL, LA, TX, CA, AK as the host states.

TF, your "maritime fire department" idea sounds like this new National Ocean Council's plan for zonal structures (including the Great Lakes).

So: The oilpatch consortium's gear and crews hie themselves to whichever zone is having the emergency, coordinating as BP and Allen do now, and whatever company causes the grief (consortium-member or not) gets the bill. Tidy, yes?

No, for one simple reason. With the Guard, you get existing Guard rules, retirement, protection, and medical care. You also get butt-in-jail obedience WTSHTF. Congress could guarantee no foreign conflict deployments.

I suspect this is little more than a public relations ploy to salvage the industry's now very tarnished image.

There's no way I'd ever trust these jokers to run their own private crisis response.

I hope that in a new regulatory environment government will take the reins and that the industry will be required by law to fund it. The notion of voluntary participation in something so basic is absurd, imoh.

OldBear, the present spill response has been brought to us by a similar corporation with a similar name, created by the industry after Exxon Valdez for similar propaganda reasons. I expect the new corporation to be exactly as effective as the old one.

Mr. TheOldBear:

Three of the companies founding the "MWC" (Shell, Exxon/Mobile, Conoco/Phillips [and maybe Chevron via one of its subsidiaries]) are also involved in CIMA (Channel Industries Mutual Aid [Houston Ship Channel] - web-site: http://www.cimatexas.org/cima/) which was around before i got out of college in 1966. (BP is probably a member too.) True, this is an industrial firefighting outfit but the concept is similar. In CIMA, the members pool firefighting and other emergency response resources while in the "MWC" they would maintain certain resources to contain a deep water wild well. (Note: most refineries and chemical plants have multiple firetrucks of various sizes and crews on had to staff them as part of their assigned duties.)

The part of this "MWC" agreement that i haven't seen is the requirement of a minimum standard of well and/or casing design for all members to comply with so that the chances of a MC252 event from reoccurring are minimized. Of course, i haven't seen all of the documentation on the "MWC", just the press release and what has been posted.

Also, Mr. Rockman's independent inspectors should be part of this. With tongue in cheek i offer that maybe the requirement the MMS inpectors pay for all meals eaten aboard offshore drilling vessels they are inspecting (and double for seafood on Fridays) be added.


With tongue in cheek i offer that maybe the requirement the MMS inpectors pay for all meals eaten aboard offshore drilling vessels they are inspecting (and double for seafood on Fridays) be added.

Your cheek must real hurt from being pressed upon that hard!

Do you believe the TOD readership thinks the international ISO certification agencies (e.g. TUV) work for free? Or here in America that the National Board inspectors that certify manufacturer's ASME test facilites work for free?


MMS inspectors are bureaucrats, not even vaguely in the same class as those inspectors (and it shows).

Hey, there may be a bright side! If we make competent inspectors a government entitlement we could cut prices!!!

Thank GWB for the deregulation and BHO for stimulating employment on Wall Street instead of investing in our infrastructure. That deregulation included improperly funded and staffed agencies to do the inspecting that was needed on the DWH. The first thing GWB did was fire all the scientists and the EPA is a shell of the agency they used to be.

We went from too much to too little regulation as graphically demonstrated by this disaster. I guess it is too much to hope that someone in charge would streamline and update our regulatory systems with proper rules, inspections and enforcements.

Mr. Thompson:

Thank you for being concerned about possible pain in my cheek. There was on pain in either tongue or cheek.

Your following comments puzzle me as i did not make any comment about ISO certification. However, please accept my apologies if my comments in anyway provided the impression that "TOD readership thinks the international ISO certification agencies (e.g. TUV) work for free".


Feinberg says BP hasn't put money in escrow account yet, Dan Murtaugh, Press-Register

"Feinberg said he is leaning toward giving partial payments to companies and people who are indirectly impacted by the spill -- an outlet store in Foley hurt by the decline in beach traffic, for example.

He also said he would do something for real estate owners to cover a decrease in property value. "

Need to build parking garages close to the beach, new and improved boat ramps, and better showers and bathrooms. I would also have a program to sink artificial reefs in about 50-100 ft of water to improve snapper and grouper habitat.

Why not pipe it to shore? "They" talk of flexible pipes and all.. Bring it, I want that reservoir.
Research the natural seeps, put a video feed on one. Eminent D some rigs for vacuum duty, has that been invented yet? Is dispersant collected in tar balls?

Speaking of video, check out the movie CRUDE, available in all the usual places.

This movie is about how Texaco/Chevron showed careless disregard for the native people of Ecuador by running a filthy oil operation there since about 1960.

One scene shows a mother crying because she can't afford the multiple $500 cancer treatments for her very young daughter. She earnestly tried to raise chickens to make some money to pay for the treatments but the chickens died because the water is contaminated.

At 38:30 in the movie it shows a waste pit (one of 167 pits) filled with oil production byproducts from a well closed in 1976. A Texaco/Chevron waste pit still polluting Ecuadorean rivers and streams 34 YEARS later.

At 60:03 the new 44 year old President of Ecuador visits one of the pits and other contaminated areas. According to one of the lawyers suing Texaco/Chevron, it's the first time any Ecuadorean President in the 13 years of the case has ever given a damm about the people.


Thank you watchtower for that post, sure puts a sad perspective on how these bastards operate in other nations. As bad as it is in the GoM, it does not compare to the death and destruction that's been going on for so long in some places, like Ecuador and the Niger Delta.

We need an international "Oil Crimes" tribunal...

YW. By the end of the movie, and just recently, the court appointed expert agreed that Texaco/Chevron should pay $27 billion dollars in damages.

After originally demanding change of venue to Ecaudor, NOW Chevron says Ecuadorian courts are biased and unfair.

With a market cap of $153,829,503,800 they really could just PAY IT!!!!!!!!!

We need an international "Oil Crimes" tribunal

We do. But where government corruption makes Bush-Cheney's MMS look like an infant Sunday school, said tribunal will be pounding sand.

As Sting sang...... (and he was in the movie too, as co-founder of a Rainforest group he and Unicef got several hundred rain cisterns installed for the affected people so they could have cleaner drinking water)......there is no political solution.

I saw the movie Crude. I've also visited the area this year. Unfortunately the film leaves a lot of information out, and it distorts a lot of what happened, and a lot of what's going on. I can't discuss the details of what I know, but those films tend to have an agenda, and often they do more harm than good.

Statements like this are just as ridiculous as the doomer statements with no facts.

You claim the film leaves info out & distorts. You say you know the truth, but you can't say.

Why should we take your word?

What is the agenda that keeps you silent on the truthful details?

You mean you're not allowed to discuss how the Ecuadorian State OIL COMPANY is CURRENTLY polluting their own country, and blaming it on Texaco who left decades ago? Is that because you did consulting work for them and signed a non-disclosure agreement? They neglected to make my dad sign one, and/or he's dead so it doesn't matter, but I knows what I knows.

Not to worry, they'll just finish nationalizing what they haven't already nationalized and continue to blame the dirty gringos for all the messes they make.

The only innocents in that mess appear to be the people who are stuck living in it.

No matter which producer or government is to blame, I think people in the US need to understand the price innocent people pay for our 'cheap' oil. As consumer we need to demand better.

I thought I would shift gears and show some information about the new oil spill containment system that the four other major oil companies are working on, which you have probably read about in the news.

Hmmm. This "new" containment system somehow seems very familiar... ;-)

Indeed, it shows that the other oil majors think that BP is tackling the spill in the correct way. They are merely suggesting that the capping stack (which they've given a new name so as not to be accused of plagiarism?) should be pre-manufactured to save time. But, in emphasizing this advantage, they're also tacitly admitting to the fact that they wouldn't have had one of these in stock either, had the incident happened to them. So they would have initially been forced to combat the spill with similar stop-gap measures to the ones that BP originally used.

Furthermore, I think BP should have also been involved in coming up with this joint plan. Indeed, BP would no doubt have been able to contribute more than the "it wouldn't happen to us" crowd, because whilst all this is just theory to these other companies, BP has the huge advantage of having already put most of this into practice, and thus would have a better understanding of the difficulties involved.

Certainly this has been asked and answered before, but somehow I’ve missed it. I probably passed over it on one of those many occasions when I resorted to skimming the threads after reaching my limit of reading the “let’s blow something up to fix the problem” comments.

I am part of a team that is called upon to stop and repair refinery leaks (way more numerous than you would suspect) without taking the systems out of service, so I have some idea of what is possible in these situations.

Would someone please explain to me why the current cap was installed using what is essentially (or actually?) a modified Plidco compression fitting rather than simply mating it directly to the flange located a few inches below the current connection?

I remember reading a comment weeks ago that stated the ROVs were not capable of producing the torques required to unbolt that existing flange but I find that comment to be unbelievable. Wasn’t the flange originally torqued-up using the ROVs?

Besides, even if ROVs cannot produce the torques required, a hydraulically-powered nut buster would have quickly solved that problem.

The spool between the new BOP and the old LMRP flange is 2 components. One component is spool tree with pipe outlets for collection and venting/throttling flow (with the BOP closed) and the other component is the hub that the collet connector on the bottom of the BOP latched unto. There is essentially the same quick connect/disconnect device bellow the flex joint and it the bottom of the old BOP.

The reason they didn't just bolt on the entire assembly is the weight, I guess. It was easier and quicker to bolt on what they called the yellow spool which is much lighter and then drop the new BOP on top of that.

The flange was originally installed at the surface. the riser is assembled piece by piece and lowered down until it is long enough for the collet to land on the hub. The original process of latching the riser to the top of the BOP would look a lot like when they dropped the new BOP onto the spool.

They also used the spool piece to contain the pipe(s) within, the drill pipe stuck in the shear ram and the piece that fell within the riser and subsequently got removed, frozen into the methane hydrates, when they removed the previous cap.

Thanks. Not 100% convinced it couldn't have been done, but now see some of the difficulties. I didn't realize that particular joint was made up at the surface. I'd read on here that the BOPs can be removed and serviced so I guess I figured they just unbolted everything down there. I suppose that's what the collet is for, an easier and surer connect/disconnect at depth.

They had trouble keeping the transition spool under control as the ship that was lowering it rose and fell on the swell. This would have been more difficult and the consequences of a slip would have been worse if they'd been doing the same things while trying to keep the much-heavier capping stack in place while running bolts through its flange.

Just how many leaks are official on that contraption down there now?

Has anyone been watching Boa DeepC 2? 2 days ago I thought I saw drops leaking from the section beneath where the obvious leaks are. Tonight I am seeing oil come up from below the camera shot. Anyone else notice this?

I have some screen captures, but may not get them posted until later.

Is there a difference that I'm not aware of between "official' and "unofficial" leaks? ;)

Sorry, I sometimes have a bit of a problem with impulse control. I suppose it's partly the "psycho" half of me overwhelming (hopefully temporarily) the "therapist" part.

Official leaks are ones that have been reported.

Ever think about therapy for that impulse control problem?

Why do you think I've been in therapy for 17 years? We're starting to suspect that it's not so much the impulse control itself but the psycho lurking behind it, for which I adamantly deny any responsibility! As Harry's father used to say on Night Court, "...but I'm much better now!"


That's what I love about therapy...just keep coming back, eventually we might agree about what is wrong with you. Even better if we can determine it isn't your fault.

My GOD... It's the Universal Adapter™..,

If you want innovative thinking and new ideas, how about we stop pretending Corexit is toxic AT THE DISPERSIONS IT'S BEING USED AT.

How about we think about 10,000 feet of water, with its 5000 psi ambient pressure, and how to shear the much stronger drilll pipe needed for the deeper wells proposed.

What I see in this disaster is cutting edge technology up against its limits in materials and human nature.

Combine that with the PROVEN culture of pushing the limits at BP, and they become the rather inevitable ones who get the blowback.

As Rockman has said many times, there was nothing very special about this well in terms of difficulty. What seems to have happened is that too many mistakes were made together: alarm systems, trusting in luck, trying to beat the regulations.

The same thing that happened with the financial system. Too many smart people pushing the system, not enough smart people pushing back for safety.

It doesn't take much thought to see the parallels, and the obvious bottom line: humans are imperfect; the market stresses morality; constant vigilance cuts into profit, so vigilance can't be in the hands of the profiteers.

So really, it's all about stronger regulation, more annoying safety regulations to restore the corrupted safety margins, higher prices to the consumer, whose pockets supply the taxes to make the goods flow.

No externalities, complete honesty in the media about how much consumption really costs. I'd better go to bed. Insanity approaches, eh?

ormondotvos, hardly insane. The "Dirty Energy" guys know their time is limited. They will continue to push the limits, as long as we allow them to. It's an on-going disaster, punctuated by events such as we have been witnessing over the last 96 days.

Within the next few years I think it's likely most of these big operators will be nationalized. Sadly it may require more of these epic catastrophes, wars and sacrifice before we are able to finally change course toward a Clean Engergy future.

If anybody hasn't seen it, the Kent Wells Technical Briefing of July 21st at http://tinyurl.com/26xx6qa is a must-see. Kent explains how the 'Static Kill' operation is going to work in some detail.

He also presents a plot of the observed well pressure that convinces me that the observed pressure increase is due to depletion recovery, and if I have got this html figured out correctly, clicking the thumbnail below should show a screenshot of the plot.

I wish DoE would be more forthcoming with their analysis. The DoE DWH response website hasn't been updated significantly in over a month. I would love to see what the gamma scans of the BOP looked like, for instance. If I was a member of congress, I would love to question Chu under oath about DoE's role in this effort.

Dang, James, ya broke the blog! Can't wait to see where this comment lands . . .

I do not think that is depletion recovery. It is a long way from 9,000 psi. There are several things that could be. One is just slow thermal equilibrium driving mass transfer. If they had shut the well in at it's maximum integrity, they could have observed something similar.

One other less pleasant possibility is that the leak is restricted and building up somewhere. Those guys better get busy on that relief well and plug that hell hole.

Don't miss Stick's post in the last thread about the shut-in pressure:


He mentions that BP might squeeze some benefit from a low pressure. They can ascribe it to reservoir depletion or a "leak" (crossover, that is, instead of a blown casing?) rather than to the reason Stick is offering. In other words, BP will use any reason they can think of to keep to a minimum the maximum possible predicted leak volume.

Its a hyperbolic discounting type curve. The estimates improve over time in the classical behavior.

...if I have got this html figured out correctly, clicking the thumbnail below should show a screenshot of the plot.

So it does...

...still and all, wtf?


Whew. We coo'.

Sadly, sounds as if Bonnie did manage to kill somebody -- an Interior Department seaplane pilot. R.I.P., Jeffrey Dickson.

He died when the small seaplane was flipped over by the wind and he was trapped inside. I wonder if all the reporters and others now flying in helicopters over the GOM are even briefed on how to escape in event of a water landing. A full day class in a swimming pool is not practical for everyone but a two minute brief on the basics would be. I've flown in a lot of helicopters, military and civilian, some over water and was never briefed. I think maybe the pilots either didn't know themselves, didn't want to think about a crash or didn't want to take the time.

See http://www.vancouversun.com/business/Broken+Wings+Part+surviving+water+c...

In the last thread, there was a brief discussion about crisis management.

The boilerplate of a typical BP press release ( Example at http://tinyurl.com/32qwacd ) usually starts out with something like this:

BP continues to work cooperatively with the guidance and approval of the National Incident Commander and the leadership and direction of federal government including the Department of Energy, Department of the Interior, Federal Science Team, Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management, Regulation and Enforcement, U.S. Coast Guard and secretaries Ken Salazar and Steven Chu.

That, In my opinion, speaks volumes about what is wrong with this crisis response team and why it is taking so long in capping the well.

The point man is Thad Allen - a guy who knows a lot about commanding people, logistics, boats, and such, but has no experience with oil wells. His bio is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thad_Allen

The guy calling the technical shots from the government is Steven Chu, and his day job is that he is the head of DoE. A Nobel-prize winning scientist who knows all about how to push around atoms with laser light, but no experience or knowledge of oil wells. His bio is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Chu

Ken Salazar is a lawyer and an ex-politician with no oil well experience - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Salazar

You can go down the list, but it sure sounds to me like this is far from an optimal problem-solving organization.

This crisis has got several major components, IMHO.

  • Stopping the Leak
  • Minimizing the Consequences of the Leak (e.g., skimming, burning, dispersants, cleaning up birds, moving turtle eggs, etc.)
  • Cleaning Up (cleaning up beaches, picking up tar balls, restoring marshes, etc.)
  • Compensation of Victims
  • Trouble is, you got lots of oversight of all these different problems, but seems to me like they need to be split into manageable hunks with competent oversight managers. I don't think we have that now. The only thing Obama has ever managed is a political campaign, and I don't think that management experience is applicable to technical problem solving.

    Hi JRW.
    Nobody could disagree with what you have posted.
    I have commented on HOs original post for this thread. See top of this thread. In my opinion we have entered a new paradigm wherein there will need to be an additional level of risk management in undersea oil production/exploration. That is to say that BOPs must work and that what happens when they do not work has to be part of the new risk management as we develop this further. Anyhow what do you think.

    IMHO, to reduce the likelihood of another huge spill, you need lots of things. I think too much attention has been placed on the failure of the BOP. The BOP is the last line of defense, and should work with a high degree of reliability, but more importantly, the conditions leading to the necessity to activate the BOP need to be lessened.

    I think if one were to do a probabilistic risk assessment on a blowout and spill, it would tell you what accident sequences lead to this condition, and it would tell you how to most cost-effictively reduce the probability of this outcome. It would probably result in findings that you need a rigorous quality assurance program, better training, better instruments, better controls and better procedures.

    Consider the accident sequence:

    Bad Well Design =-> Bad cement job =-> removing drilling mud with seawater =-> not watching mud returns =-> undetected gas kick =-> bypassed alarms and automatic safety features =-> failure of electrical system due to generator overspeed =-> explosion and fire =-> delay in BOP activation =-> BOP failure to close =-> massive oil spill.

    There are several things that could have eliminated this particular accident. If they had done a better job in cementing the well, they wouldn't have had an unexpected kick. If they had noticed the well was kicking, they could have injected mud back into the well and the problem would have been solved. If the alarms and other safety features had not been bypassed, they could have perhaps disconnected from the well and/or closed the BOP. And so on and so on . . .

    JRW Thank you,
    You have my vote. The Oil industry needs a big wakeup call. Their technology and operational systems have been exposed as inadequate.

    This is bed time in my time zone. cheers juan

    If they had noticed the well was kicking, they could have injected mud back into the well and the problem would have been solved. If the alarms and other safety features had not been bypassed, they could have perhaps disconnected from the well and/or closed the BOP. And so on and so on . . .

    Expert testimony by Dr. John Smith was that based on his interpretation of telemetry it is most likely the rig crew noticed the kick at about 9:30pm and at 9:31pm took appropriate action and closed the BOP. Over the next 16 minutes his testimony was that readings were consistent with opening and closing of BOP components and valves/chokes to deal with the kick. Then something disastrous happened at 9:47pm.

    Cameron lawyer asked him "What happens if you manually open the BOP annular when a gas bubble from a blowout is already contained underneath it?" And he gave a graphic and chilling description. All other lawyers seemed a bit stunned what had just been said (first time this possibility mentioned in a public Hearing I believe) and they had no questions. Very shortly afterwards Hearing ended.

    Morning, Undertow. Do you have a link to that transcript (if it's up yet)?

    No transcript yet but video link at http://www.cspan.org/Watch/Media/2010/07/23/HP/R/36012/Coast+Guard+Oil+B...

    Also he said in response to the BP lawyer earlier when talking about how things got out of control: "Suddenly the lights changed. I don't know if someone turned a knob or if there was a power fluctuation or something"

    The Cameron lawyer questioning about this begins at 1:48 in but worth watching all the testimony by Dr John Smith which started in the earlier session and continued through to the evening.

    So possibly (consistent with telemetry) Blowout was contained by BOP successfully until accidental manual opening of upper annular at 9:47pm. No recovery possible after that point.


    Does this question refer to the same annular seal that was reportedly damaged during testing some weeks before the blowout?

    Did I read somewhere on a previous thread about DIERS?

    tow -- I can relate to those lawyers who apparently looked like deer caught in the headlight. Several months ago we sued an operator who was badly managing our wells. Sat for two hours with our lawyers helping them prep. They said “Great…we’re done.” I told them we weren’t close to be done since they didn’t get to the critical issues. They were sure they were ready but fortunately my owner was there and told them to sit down, shut up and listen. After another hour they essentially said they were going 180 degrees from where they needed to go. Lawyers think law…not technology. An example: at one point their lawyer asked me a hypothetical question. I gave a simple answer: “That’s stupid”. He literally stood there for a good 10 seconds not be able to reply. He eventually smacked his pad down on the table and sat down with no response. I was too nervous to make eye contact with the judge...was worried he didn't like my smart *ss reply. But my attorney said he got a big smile on his face.

    And yes…we beat the crap out of them in court and took operatorship away from them.

    Rockman - What do you tnink? If they successfully got the annular closed there would still be a flow path up through the drill pipe. So they have a source to feed the fire. After flowing for two days (with no visible leak at the surface) the fault downhole (the shoe?) erodes enough to increase the flowing pressure at the BOP, which attacks the weakened annular (remember the rubber in the returns) until it fails. Suddenly you've got 1000 to 5000 bpd at the surface?


    Bruce -- Sounds reasonable. Every catastrophic BOP failure I recall did so in the same way: drill pipe not severed. With the right pressure a drill pipe can feed 20,000 bopd and 50 million cf of NG. I'm thinking max failure within hours...not days.

    If the flow at the time was only up the annulus and they closed the annular would there be any flow up drill pipe?

    SPP psi shows pressure never rose above the level recorded at 9:30 until the catastrophic event at 9:47 but I cannot be sure I am interpreting the chart correctly.


    tow -- If you're referring to the DP/csg annulus then yes it would have come up the DP. How bad a flow would be dependent upon having a drill bit on the pipe or not. The jets on the bit are very small compared to open ended DP. It would have still kicked them if a bit were there but they might have been able to divert thru the emergency flare boom. Then they could have pumped a kill pill down.

    I think what the Cameron lawyer was trying to get at was that the only flow at the time was coming up outside the casing but inside the outer annulus - sorry if I don't get the terms right.

    However as there was no further questioning this was never explored further.

    tow - Yeah...annulus isn't too specific. The "well bore annulus" is usually considered the area between the rock and the csg. "Csg annulus" is the area between one string of csg and another. But even in the oil patch we get these concepts mixed. Lots of theories/speculation where the flow is coming up. I think the best proof will be when the RW cuts the well bore annulus. But even with that it will only tell us something about conditions today and not 3 months ago.

    There would be flow up the drill pipe if the leak was in the production casing shoe. The tip of the drill pipe was open to the production casing about 3000 feet below the BOP.

    Having a functional annular BOP also makes it at least "awkward" for the failure to be in the annulus as the mud (particularly the piece of cement) that landed on the service boat's deck would have to flow through the cement job down hole, up the annulus, through the hanger, do a complete 180 and go down 3000 feet and do another 180 back up the drill pipe.

    Occam's Razor suggests that there was a "wet shoe" and the flow went straight up the production casing, into the drill pipe and out at the rig, a straight shot without 180's. The question is at what point in time did the annular fail, as we all have seen flow out of the annular (as well as the DP) when they cut off the riser. There is no absolute necessity that the annular was leaking at blowout and the lack of much oil for a few days (the 1000 to 5000 bpd debate) suggests there could have been separate failures, even days apart.

    In one of the hearings I believe they said they pumped the pill into the well from 8k foot down. Why would they do that? Nobody knew the answer to that at the hearing.

    Having a functional annular BOP also makes it at least "awkward" for the failure to be in the annulus as the mud (particularly the piece of cement) that landed on the service boat's deck would have to flow through the cement job down hole, up the annulus, through the hanger, do a complete 180 and go down 3000 feet and do another 180 back up the drill pipe.

    I don't think anyone was disputing that the final flow to the rig came up the riser. Cameron lawyer suggested that's because it was opened with a gas bubble underneath it and Dr Smith gave graphic account of gas bubble coming up sea-water filled riser.

    Occam's Razor suggests that there was a "wet shoe" and the flow went straight up the production casing, into the drill pipe and out at the rig, a straight shot without 180's.

    If you were fighting a kick and you assumed that though would the remedial action be different than if flow was initially at least only outside casing?

    I don't think anyone was disputing that the final flow to the rig came up the riser. Cameron lawyer suggested that's because it was opened with a gas bubble underneath it and Dr Smith gave graphic account of gas bubble coming up sea-water filled riser.

    Go back and listen again. What he said is that once the "gas" (technically the compressible fluid) is past the BOP it cannot be recalled. Activating the annular BOP once the "gas" is past it is locking the barn door after the horse has escaped.

    The activation of the annular BOP was too late to stop the gas reaching the rig. In effect, he testified that the operators were asleep at the wheel. Human error, not a fault of the BOP. It also means that the BOP was at least somewhat functional (the dead batteries, the hydraulic leak etc are distractions).

    That is a sharp lawyer who just blew a gaping hole through the operators' suits against the corporations. And he did it in a matter of minutes. The widows and orphans don't look so much like they will be receiving jackpot pain and suffering awards (not that they have not experienced pain and suffering, which is real enough) but a few of the hubbys are going to have to shoulder their share of the blame. I remind you all that Rockman has been quite critical of the performance (or more correctly, the lack thereof) of these operators. And compared to the pain and suffering the innocent residents of the Gulf Coast have suffered, I'd think the widows and orphans have jsut been sent to the back of the claims line.

    Go back and listen again. What he said is that once the "gas" (technically the compressible fluid) is past the BOP it cannot be recalled. Activating the annular BOP once the "gas" is past it is locking the barn door after the horse has escaped.

    I believe the gas to surface event was at or just after 9:47pm. He testified that the BOP was in his opinion effectively closed when they finally spotted kick at 9:31pm. Although they never talked specific rams I am thinking he meant that included the upper annular preventer (and from what I think I can understand from the Halliburton telemetry) but due to lack of cross-questioning we don't know. Shortly after the explosion, testimony of Subsea Supervisor Chris Pleasant is that the lower annular was closed and the upper was open according to the bridge BOP panel when he arrived at it.

    But even if an attempt was made to close the upper annular after the gas escape (9:47pm or just after) that leaves open how it was open at that point if it was indeed closed at 9:31pm.

    Note also from his testimony (including info from earlier afternoon session)

    No telemetry consistent with well flow before pressure tests.
    All negative pressure tests failed or were invalid tests.
    First definite sign of well flow that should have been spotted 5:55pm
    Signs so obvious they could not be missed (in his opinion) 9:00pm
    Signs Rig Crew spotted something wrong 9:30pm
    BOP closed 9:31pm
    Actions to deal with kick take place.
    Signs of some kind of major status change (my wording) beginning 9:47pm (is that what he meant when he said earlier: "Did someone turn a knob or was there a power fluctuation or something?")
    Rig telemetry ceases 9:49pm

    Is it possible crew dealt with a perceived pressure build up inside production casing which had actually bled there up the outer annulus then through the BOP down into the production casing? Then thinking after they had taken action and had rebalanced that things were back under control they then re-opened the upper annular (when all along the annulus had been the real major flow path). Is that even conceivable?

    I suppose ultimately what gets at me is that the expert witness did not reply with Rockman's "That's stupid!" when asked about opening of annular preventer with gas bubble contained underneath. Instead he replied in a way that sounded (to me) as though he believed that's what may have happened.

    Opinion by someone in real time who seemingly had legal knowledge of the Hearings on IRC channel was that they were straying into territory they weren't supposed to at this time. As such everyone else involved knew they had to get off the subject immediately and there would be no further questioning on the subject "out of an over-abundance of caution" I think they put it. They were right about what happened next and everyone said "no questions".

    By the way Dr. John Smith pretty much hammered everyone involved in the events of the last day. All the negative tests were total failures or non-tests in his opinion. Another example - vital flow-meter only intermittently showing data on telemetry (although Transocean testimony earlier was that the flow-meter was not bypassed at any time and that it was physically impossible to do so even if they were displacing overboard due to rigs "plumbing" - this discrepancy remains unresolved).

    It seemed clear that Dr Smith intended to say certain things and did so despite objections at times from BP, Transocean, Hallibuton etc.

    His full report although complete on "the last 24 hours" will not be made public until January 2011 so all we heard were extracts of the full report discussed at the Hearing.

    tow -- I take Dr. John was there at the request of the govt and not any of the players? Sounds like it failed in what every lawyer has always said: never ask a question unless you know exactly what the answer is. BP et al better get use to it: they can hire the best expert witnesses on their side and there will still be answers they don't want on the court record IMHO. As far as I'm concerned they've already been proven quilty by the unofficial facts we've seen. IMHO it's just a question of what exact charges are brought and how the guilt is divided.

    Yes expert witness for the government. His brief was specifically to look at the actions on the rig in the last 24 hours. Other experts are working on the full picture but not made public yet. To be honest though I think he hammered Transcoean more than any other company but then his brief was mainly to look at the actions of the final day and that physically involved TO more than any other company. Others are looking at BP's planning, design etc leading up and I'm sure we'll hear from them in time.

    He did conclude that he believed Macondo could have been drilled safely as designed had it not been for "equipment failure and/or human error".

    Hearings Adjourned for 1 month.

    Hearings Adjourned for 1 month.

    Good thing we didn't leave "plugging the damn hole" to lawyers!

    I'm sure Dr John Smith is a fine gentleman and very intelligent but the key statement he made in the hearing was he that he had witnessed only six cement jobs. That's pathetic. I once did six cement jobs in three days (three rigs). I'm not bragging but just pointing out how little hands on experience Dr. John has...He is not an expert IMO. With only six cement jobs under his belt, it's obvious he has spent very little time on a drilling rig. The Macondo Well alone has more than six cement jobs. If a failed cement is the likely cause of the blow out, hire an expert with hands on knowledge of cementing operations. Granted, he has office engineering experience but I don't think that is very useful in this situation.

    I'm thoroughly disgusted with the way these hearings are being conducted. The purpose is to find the cause of the blow out but there is so much extraneous bologna allowed by the panel that the important questions are not being asked:

    *How much fill was encountered on the logging runs?
    *Does the caliper log show? Wash outs?
    *Any indication the caliper log malfunctioned leading to an inacurate volume calculation?
    *How much fill was encountered on the wiper trip?
    *What was the trip gas from the wiper trip? After five days of logging, it must have been massive.
    *Did the casing fall right to bottom or was washing and reaming required.
    *Is there a chance the casing is not on bottom but on fill.
    *Is the casing tally accurate?
    *Were any joints of casing layed down due to bad threads? Are they accounted for?

    The Capt. running the precedings needs to get control of that court room. If the purpose is to find the cause, no irrelevant questions should be allowed. Unfortunately, the Capt is the problem. I'm sure he a fine gentleman but it's obvious he is ignorant of drilling operations. He has yet to ask a relavant question. He actually chastised the Well Site Leader (Company Man) for not dropping whatever he was doing to stand on the helipad and greet his superior when he arrived, saying that is a breach of protocol.


    You probably would not be surprised to see the differences between the USCG "Tiger Team" report, and the one commissioned by Texas A&M Galveston (TAMUG), into the fatal accident involving the sail vessel Cynthia Woods.

    Not surprised, but very disappointed. The USCG is not the NTSB, as is evident from this circus.


    NU -- Vdery frustrating for sure. I'm certain you and I know folks who could turn the witnesses into babbling fools in a matter of minutes. As you say, let the guys who do this work every day and they'll slap down any witness as soon as the BS starts to flow. But the govt seems almost afraid to have any of us practical experts. heck, I know one cmt engineer who didn't graduate high school 30 some years ago and I'd bet lunch he could spend a month teaching Dr. Smith what he doesn't know about real world cmt problems. As you say, Dr. Smith is highly educated. But I doubt he knows the tricks/lies/deception used by many hands.

    Nobody could disagree with what you have posted.

    Not so fast, Juan.

    The Executive Branch is staffed with people whose backgrounds -- politics, military, science, whatever -- match those job assignments as they should. Who wants another American government full of Dick Cheney's oilfield cronies? We had one of those, and it turned out to be the ultimate Ship of Fools.

    Hi Lotus,
    I am not clear on who Dick Cheney is!. I live a long way away, this is bed time for me. Please elucidate, I would like more info because from memory I thought he was about wars and such, not oil wells.
    cheers juan.

    Hi, Juan. Before Dick Cheney convinced Bush to make him vice president, he was CEO of Halliburton. (That would prove extremely profitable to Halliburton over 2001-2009.)

    Sweet dreams now.

    everybody knows this stuff...

    ...well, almost everybody...

    cheney is part of the PNAC/AEI lashup that stated they needed "a new pearl harbor" in september of 2000, just before they were installed in positions from which they could make their "new pearl harbor" happen.

    cheney also acknowledged peak oil, and its implications, in a 1999 speech to the London Institute of Petroleum.

    lotus, your bias is showing. You are still just mad that your idols, ACORN, didn't get the contracts for rebuilding,supplying, feeding, bedding, etc the troops in Iraq, through one of the subsidiaries of HOWCO, who had no reasonable alternatives to it's abilities to perform the job.

    Also, his job at HOWCO was just a short filler assignment,in an extensive career of politics and management, waiting on his ultimate quest for power and world domination as the puppet master for Bush.

    Have a nice day.

    My first good honkin' laugh of the day, EDM -- thanky!

    Nice day backatcha.

    lotus, from his comments below, it looks like EDM wasn't joking. Wonder why he feels the need to defend the draft dodgers (Texas Air National Guard? C'mon) who lied us into the wars that will put an end to the USA. Is he also a DD? Merely a coat-holder? Cindy Sheehan has the answer to the problem:


    Vietnam, '68-'69
    Say no to bullshit

    ExDrllgMgr says... "...his (cheney's) ultimate quest for power and world domination as the puppet master for Bush."

    would that be anything like "benevolent global hegemony"?

    can you explain the benevolence of a project that's already caused the needless deaths of maybe a million people?

    will nuking iran be further evidence of the neocons' benevolence?

    "can you explain the benevolence of a project that's already caused the needless deaths of maybe a million people?"
    Do you have a link for that assertion?
    My question is, what would the world look like today if the jobs of Cheney and Bush would have been reversed? Or, additionally, Rummy in place of Bush?

    you want to quibble about whether your benevolence has killed a million people or a few hundred thousand people?

    Casualties of the Iraq War wikipedia

    blade, I quibble about the term "needless". How many were hard core Al Queda, sympathizers, financiers, spys, supporters, Iranian puppets, Russian activists, drug lords, Saddam lovers, etc., not to mention uniformed enemy soldiers?

    why were those people our enemies?

    what did they do to us?

    looks to me like you're swallowing every lame neocon lie that came down the pike in the runup to the iraq war.

    apparently even the moral imbeciles that are running things know these invasions are just flat wrong...

    why else would they go to such lengths to fabricate lies to justify their actions...?

    And how is this different from your swallowing every lie perpetuated by the antiwar crowd?

    Lies by the neo-cons led to an invasion, which killed many people.

    Is this correct?

    Lie by the anti-war crowd did what? exaggerate the death toll?

    How do you make the assumption that if one does not buy the lies of the war mongers it means that they buy every lie of the other side?

    This is true only if you either 1) assume that all intelligence information is 100% correct and reliable or that 2) anything you disagree with is a 'lie.'

    BTW - the lies told by people like yourself extended the duration of the fighting and the total death count. You _knew_ that the enemy was counting on you to win the war for them - and you knew that they changed targetting stragety in order to increase the civilain bodycount based on reading the op-ed pieces and newspaper accounts of your protests.

    Or are you going to try to convice me that you did not know that the enemy switched to attacks on civilians because you were manipulating civilian deaths in order to push your agenda?

    what makes me sick is that I cared more about the Iraqi people than you ever did.

    "why were those people our enemies?"

    Well, just for starters they were firing missiles at our planes in the no fly zone every day. Just one of those events would have been enough for me to press the button to ramp up again. There's much much more but this is not the place to debate politics, unless you are on my side. lol

    This is a dirty little secret that the anit-war crowd does not want you to know. They deliberately included dead enemy into the 'civilian' death totals.

    Another thing that the antiwar crowd was include the deaths of non-Iraqi al Queda in the 'civilian' death totals.

    And they have the gall to accuse others of 'lies and distortions.'

    BTW - I personally saw the two 'nonexistant' chemical weapons my unit recovered.

    cheney and rumsfeld are PNAC members... jeb bush is a PNAC member, and a questionalble election recount in the state he was governing at the time resulted in the installation of his brother as president.

    from that, we can conclude that the world would look no different today if cheney or rumsfeld had been president... either of them would have pressed on with the PNAC/AEI/neocon project, just as bush did.

    Hmmmnnnn. Still smarting from that election, huh? Have the democrats learned yet how to read the ballot instead of pulling the NO 2 lever where the democrat candidate always was positioned even tho the democrats approved of the new format?

    if you think this neocon project will succeed, good luck to you.

    it's just too damn bad that the rest of the world is catching on... and that's why you need your "nuclear primacy", isnt it?

    if all else fails, you can do nuke first-strikes on russia and china, and that will prove how benevolent your hegemony will be.

    good deal

    Do you realize that at this point the people who served in Iraq are of the opinion that we gave 25 million people a better future despite everything you and the terrorists could do to stop us?

    I watched people defy death threats in order to vote.

    I am fully convinced that people like yourself cared nothing about the Iraqi people and saw their deaths (and the deaths of US troops) as little more than props for your political agenda.

    What people? You say that as though everyone who served there thinks that, which is certainly not true.

    Nice to see yet another neo-con mind-reader.

    A good rule of thumb is anyone who starts off with "everyone knows" or can read your mind is probably full of crap.

    If you are not aware of the serious disconnect between what the people who have served in iraq think and what the people like yourself think - then you need to pull your head out of the sand.

    Does everybody who served in iraq agrre that we did a good thing - of course not.

    However - care to explain why so few people who have been 'boots on the ground' agree with you?

    The fact of the matter is that you were so wedded to a political opinion that you absolutely refuse to ask relevant questions to those of us who were there.

    Yes, I can. Most of them are so wedded to a political opinion that they support anything that group tells them to do. A volunteer standing military promotes a military culture which by definition does not question motives but simply follows orders.

    Mine is not a 'political' opinion, it is a moral one. My only political opinion is that both parties are full of crap, lying theives. I have a thing about invading other countries, especially when you do it on the national credit card.

    Here are my relevant questions:

    1. why are we there?
    2. how many lies were told to get us there?
    3. how do you justify invading a country that has not attacked your country?

    what if neocon ally exxon winds up owning BP's assets as the result of the halliburton cement job?

    that would provide conspiracy theorists with cannon fodder for the next 100 years.

    but, in a time of diminishing oil supplies, how you gonna accomplish your benevolent global hegemony without controlling oil?

    is this part of a change of command ceremony... chatham house to the AEI?

    everything would be so obvious, if exxon buys BP at firesale prices, that it will be a slam dunk for historians to figure out, dont you think?

    ...once you start adding everything up...

    and nevermind that the 9/11 evidence was shipped off to japan or wherever and turned into KIAs and tunafish cans before the dust settled.

    "what if neocon ally exxon winds up owning BP's assets as the result of the halliburton cement job?"

    blade, don't fret. I won't allow a BP takeover proposal in my board room. Except for their Prudhoe assets, that is.

    Why should ACORN or Halliburton get contracts in Iraq? If you military doesn't have the manpower and supplies for an invasion and occupation, maybe you should stay home?

    Nice to see that you are a mind-reader EDM. Now perhaps you could read the minds of the parties involved in this disaster?

    BTW - the real irony here is that the contract that Haliburton went into Iraq under was signed by Bill Clinton - not Bush.

    In 1998 the Clinton Administration signed a contract for 'contingency support operations' with the Brown and Root company. Haliburton later bought Brown and Root (not sure if this purchase was made before or after Cheney retired from Haliburton).

    Another thing to remember is that Haliburton became less 'evil' the closer you became to their operations. The civilian contractors who were there working beside us we taking the same risks we were and very few of them were there for just the money. And personally, I really appreceated things like hot meals, showers, flush toilets, and clean uniforms.

    How is that ironic? Are you under the impression that anyone who dislikes the actions of BushCo supports those of Clinton?

    If these civilian contractors weren't working for Haliburton just for the money, why didn't they join the military? It would be a lot more patriotic to join the service and do those same jobs for less money and not robbing one's own country.

    I'm thinking the gang rapes by employees of KBR was pretty evil, and the corporate protection of those same employees even more evil. The refusal of Republicans in the Senate to bar KBR from future gov contracts because of this behavior is beyond evil.

    "Why should ACORN or Halliburton get contracts in Iraq?"

    Simple. Because B&R was the only company in the world that could muster the manpower, technology, assets, and management to handle the job.

    "Now perhaps you could read the minds of the parties involved in this disaster?"

    I already have. BP execs--damn, we screwed the pooch. MMS-- demand executive privilege, say they never told us. Hayward--Honey, send the sails to the laundrymat. I see a lot of sailing in our future. TO execs-- I sure am glad we are a Swiss outfit with all our accounts secret.Anadarko-- laminate me a wallet size cc of that negligence clause to keep handy in my wallet. Howco-- thank goodness we warned them that slurry suked.

    All kidding aside, I've never had the experience of so many actions/results lined up all in one direction on a well. It's mind boggling.

    I'm not a fan of privatizing war for profit. If you don't have the people, don't start the war.


    It is indeed.

    No disaster movie script has ever included such a complete chain of f*@k ups

    I have very strong feelings about this issue but . . . Gail, Goose, Rockman; how's TOD's signal-to-noise ratio this afternoon?

    Well... define your terms.

    Lotus - You have it backward, Cheney et al picked Bush to be President, not the other way around.


    Lotus says "The Executive Branch is staffed with people whose backgrounds ... match those job assignments "

    Secretary Salazar and Secretary Napolitano are two good examples and let's not forget Secretary Geithner. Perhaps I'm mistaken but I think Secretary Gates was an officer on that so called ship of fools.

    Put another way, I don't think Mr. White's comments were rooted in partisan politics but instead an observation of bureaucracy in action, notwithstanding his final sentence:)

    Who are you kidding? Those BP clowns were running around like chickens without heads after the explosion. Then they were spraying everything in sight with the more toxic formulation of Corexit, trying to hide what was going on. BP has clearly demonstrated a culture of shortcuts and abuses of safety, health and environmental issues. They very clearly demonstrated the need for government intervention.

    Shame on the government that let this happen in the first place. And, no, they do not have the expertise to handle the situation. Apparently no one did. That is why the plugging of the well is taking so long.

    sigh... more corexit is toxic comments. The overblown hype that the media has done around the use of a chemical that is one of the least toxic chemical around is rediculous. The stuff HAS been studied and it HAS been studied when combined with oil. It has a health rating of 1 which is as low a rating you can have without being totally harmless. It has a zero for the other three catagories and is about the least toxic dispersant available in these quantities.

    If you asked the public if Corexit was one of the least toxic dispersants or most toxic dispersants I would bet a stack of money the public would fail and say it was one of the most toxic.

    As far as BP not being part of the 4 companies starting up this new oil leak response company... you logic is sound (BP having experience) but BP has not done this alone. Lots of companies have been lending a hand via engineers to this effort.

    And unfortunately (because public perception shouldn't matter) BP's name added to the list probably would not help with the goal that this company is striving for and part of that goal is confidence in their ability.

    Show me the data. The health effects of Corexit 9500 are unknown and it takes years to develop the data that could demonstrate what you are claiming. BP also used Corexit 9527 that contains a known objectionable ingredient. http://www.nalco.com/news-and-events/4297.htm

    Speaking of fools . . . Bloomberg:

    BP Plc Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward may resign within the next two days as the U.K. oil company prepares to publish its first-half results, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

    Detailed negotiations over Hayward’s severance package have taken place this weekend, the newspaper said, without saying where it got the information. The company’s board is scheduled to meet tomorrow before BP publishes its results on July 27, the Sunday Telegraph said. ...

    BBC: BP chief Tony Hayward 'negotiating exit deal'


    The Sunday Telegraph can also reveal that plans to publish the initial internal inquiry into what caused the accident has been delayed until next month.

    Senior BP sources said that a lack of co-operation from Transocean, which operated the well, and Halliburton, which worked on the cement plug, had meant that BP was unable to give a thorough picture of what happened.

    It was originally hoped to publish the document this week.

    Lotus, I can't help but wonder if Dr. Smith's testimony influenced this postponement.

    Thanks for those alerts, by the way.

    Still listening to it, count, but I see what you mean. (Though I'm sure Transocean and Halliburton ain't beating feet to help out either.)

    My son's thoughts on Hayward and tribute to the 11 men.

    Click for full size.


    Re: "Detailed negotiations over Hayward’s severance packag"

    What's being negotiated? Whether to sever his head or only his hands and feet?

    The Scottish first minister [Alex Salmond] has called on the UK and US governments to publish all of their documents relating to the release of the Lockerbie bomber.
    He said the documents would "vindicate" the Scottish government's actions.
    The Sunday Times has claimed to have seen a letter in which the US administration advised the Scottish government that it would be "far preferable" for Megrahi to be released on compassionate grounds than to jail him in Libya under the prisoner transfer agreement.

    Mr Salmond did not explicitly confirm the existence of the letter.
    But he said: "I think that a fair description of the American government's position is they didn't want al-Megrahi to be released.

    "However, if he was to be released, they thought it was far preferable for compassionate release as opposed to the prisoner transfer agreement...


    One piece of the back-story I'd really like to get at is what Scottish physician(s) arrived at the prognosis (and how) that Megrahi had something under three weeks to live at that point.

    My. That's interesting. Thanks for the link, MOB.

    Let's try this as a new thread rather than burying it in an old one. I've asked this before but the question keeps getting lost in thread changes or overlooked due to changes in the current situation.

    Does anyone know if the BOPs on the relief wells are "proven" to be capable of cutting the drill pipe being used on those wells? The infamous BOP we’ve been staring at for the last few months was not tested with the drill pipe that was in use. I read here months ago that Cameron had done some calculations, which indicated that, theoretically, that model of BOP should be able to sever the pipe but no tests were done.

    It would be of some comfort to know that, even if the actual RW BOP had not been tested on the actual drill pipe in use, a BOP of the same design had successfully severed a piece of drill pipe identical to, or stronger than, the drill pipe in use.

    I realize that, at the moment, the RWs (I still think they should be referred to as “intervention wells” and not “relief wells”) are outside the reservoir but, once they penetrate the blownout well, they will be in direct communication with the reservoir and must be capable of doing what BP’s infamous BOP could not.

    I doubt if the relief well BOPs have been tested on real pipe, just their mechanical/hydraulic function (as I think MMS has recently demanded for all BOPs?).

    But the BOP is not what protects the DDII/DDIII against reservoir pressure- - it's the density of the mud column in the hole. That can be calibrated against the original pressure readings before the Macondo well was suspended, and a current pressure extrapolated from the gauge in the new containment cap.

    Some exploration blowouts happen because the rig is taken by surprise when it encounters a higher than expected reservoir pressure and the mud weight (actually density) is not high enough. Not this one. The well was stable with 14ppg mud in the hole, only when that mud was partially circulated out to seawater and the density of the column decreased did the well blow out. In between they had set a cement plug to hold back the reservoir pressure, but something broke and the rest is history.

    Think of the BOP as a car seatbelt or airbag. An exploration surprise is like driving along the highway at 50mph in the dark, and encountering a washed-out bridge or a tree blocking the road. An enquiry might conclude you were blameless, or maybe you shouldn't have been driving so fast in a thunderstorm, when washed-out bridges or fallen tress are likely. Macondo was like driving along an open road in daylight and having a wheel fall off. Why the wheel fell off is a matter for the enquiries to resolve. Maybe it was metal fatigue, maybe it was badly designed or fitted, but maybe you ignored that rattle transmitted through the steering column. To pursue the analogy, the relief wells will have tested the seat belts and checked the airbag circuitry, but not fired it because it's single-use. The wheelnuts and bearings will have been carefully examined and the road is floodlit so there should be no surprises.

    Quaking -- Good point. Folks need to remember the well originally drilled the reservoir safely before they knew what the pressure was. And I have no doubt that Mr. Wright has as high a confidence level in his BOP as possible. And even if they take a kick the primary control is not the BOP: it's shutting the well in and raising mud weight.

    Granted, the BOP should never have to come into play. Why bother wearing your seat belts, if you drive safety you should never get into a wreck. But why bother stapping yourself in with a shoelace that won't hold your weight and why bother putting a BOP on a well if it cannot cut through the drill pipe being used. I read on TOD months ago that the model of BOP we are watching was never tested on the thickness of pipe needed to drill at this location. Supposedly, an engineer at Cameron did some calculations that predicted that it should be able to cut the drill pipe being used. It couldn't. So, the question remains; can the RW BOPs cut through the drill pipe being used on those wells and how has that been substantiated?

    DE -- Good questions. Early on I read that DW wells use a stronger grade of DP and that may have made the BOP less effective. Even if the RW BOP has the same limitation it can be offset by using the standard grade DP at the top of the string when they make the cut. Thus if needed to shear they would have the easier pipe in the BOP. Short term the weaker DP isn't a problem. The stronger DP would have been developed to aid in DP life.

    DE -- Good questions. Early on I read that DW wells use a stronger grade of DP and that may have made the BOP less effective. Even if the RW BOP has the same limitation it can be offset by using the standard grade DP at the top of the string when they make the cut. Thus if needed to shear they would have the easier pipe in the BOP. Short term the weaker DP isn't a problem. The stronger DP would have been developed to aid in DP life.

    Rockman - IMHO it would not be a good idea to have two different grades of drill pipe on a rig, even if differentiated by markings, shape or even joint thread type etc because it would be too easy to use one in place of the other and keep track of in inventory. I learned that it is bad too have on a JOB SITE two things which look somewhat alike but should be used differently as the folks who install them are not engineers (not that engineers don't have their own faults) and may use them interchangably. For example, if you need say 50% Grade 8 bolts and 50% Grade 5 bolts - best to spend the money and provide all Grade 8. Unfortunately, unless in the Owners specs most contractors will use the cheaper alternative.

    ez - You have a valid point. But in fact all wells are drilled with a combination of various class DP. For instance drill collars are really thick and tough. They are your worse case scenario when it comes to shearing DP. They usually make up the lower part of the drill string. Actually each joint of drill pipe is numbered and measure down to the 10th of an inch. But, as you say, accidents do happen. But DP is racked in the derrick and it's virtually impossible to get it out sequence

    I'm still hunting for the link, but I am sure I read early on that Brazil requires an actual test of the BOP cutting the DP used in that well on each well drilled and that the test can take several days off operations, all at the expense of the contractor.

    That is a question I am also interested in. I searched for an answer but all I could come up with was CYA prevented release of details concerning BOP used for relief well 1 or any of the other wells. The CYA I found was someone who contacted Cameron and requested technical specs for BOP. Cameron said they were directed by BP to not divulge any information concerning BOP's used in Deepwater Horizon incident. I guess only BP knows details of BOP. Perhaps someone else has more details. I think the BOP is closely coupled with drill ship. If anyone has noticed which BOP's come with the drill ships in use, that may narrow choice.

    I have a question related to yours. Does the relief well 1 BOP have two shears or one shear. The reason for two shears is to add redundancy and shear pipe where pipe coupling is in one of the shears. I had read a 3 foot coupling is used to attach sections of pipe. The coupling plus pipe make shearing doubly difficult. Another shear more than 3 feet away would solve this problem.

    Also, others are explaining purpose of BOP. I understand the purpose but I enjoy focusing on details of BOP technical specs, especially if they show pipe cannot be sheared. I also understand the relief well project is under much better management and the probability of need for BOP shears is very small.

    "Does anyone know if ... "

    I think I have seen this question before. Perhaps all the befores were by you. The answer(s), if any, make reference to some other issue that is more important than your question, in the opinion of the responder.
    IMHO, this displays a disfunctional aspect of this list. I suspect that no tests were ever run, but I don't know. The chance that someone knows, AND is following this blog, AND is willing to reveal their knowledge here, in, IMHO, vanishingly small. In my opinion, the answer to your question is probably not available anywhere on the web. And whether the answer is "yes" or "no" depends a lot on what is meant by your word " "proven" ".

    But still, it would be nice to know, whether any tests were run or not. Or some such fact. Even if it is universally believed that it is "unimportant" in some sense.

    I suppose I really didn't expect anyone to know but I hoped (and am still hoping) that the question somehow "bubbles up" to the right people. And by proved, I would simply expect that the model of BOP which is installed has been at least surface tested to show that it can cut through drill pipe as strong as or stronger than the drill pipe being used. That doesn't protect against human error or malfunctioning systems but it's way better than having a BOP that can't even cut the pipe in ideal conditions.

    Let me add my 2cents (marked as CJS) to this.

    NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco was present to explain the impacts. She indicated she expected a number of positive benefits of the storm:

    * It will spread the surface slick out and thereby lower oil concentrations.

    CJS: In open waters. Near shore and coastal is all debatable.

    * It's expected to break tar patches and tar mass into smaller tar balls which means faster weathering and faster natural biodegradation.

    CJS: Agreed but the tar balls are really not the problem its the oil that has seeped into the lower strata of the beds and sands.

    * It will also cause more natural dispersion again lowing the concentration of oil in the water and making it more available to the natural bacteria that are in the water that do this natural biodegradation.

    CJS: Duckspeak and playing word magician. She already said this. All that was added was the natural biodegradation.

    What she did not say was what the destruction time line was with natural biodegradation. As far as bioremediation is concerned this will apply mainly to on-shore and not in open water. It also has many variables. Use the Amoco Cadiz as well as well as the Valdez spill as a reference.

    * Some waves generated by Bonnie may act to flush the beaches and redistribute oil and tar balls that are on the beaches. Some of those tar balls may be dispersed, some may move back out to sea. In some cases, the beaches may look cleaner as a result of this redistribution.

    CJS: Now we get to the real magic of wordsmithing. Yes indeed "look" as in "appearance" of the the water and shoreline surface.

    But the devil is always in the subsurface details and NOAA has a very limited picture of what that really means. The testing of the shoreline and sensitive area sampling protocols and surveys are now just beginning. Testing the protocols....

    Forget understanding or even having a idea of how 150 million gallons has impacted the shoreline as to vertical and horizontal extent at this time.

    It will be interested to see the next remote sensing picture.....


    Not confronting or in contention with your $.02 worth......

    But,IMO, Amoco Cadiz & Exxon Valdez beach comparisons to the Gulf Coast aren't really valid due to differences in composition (sand v rock, gravel) & the ambient temperatures of both air & water. We seldom, even in the coldest winter, see less than 58-60F for water temp. Current nearshore temps are upper 80sF & will greatly accelerate decompostion & bioremediation of oil.

    I think you're right re tarballs & beaches - some will look cleaner, some will look worse.


    Let me add my 2cents (marked as CJS) to this.

    NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco was present to explain the impacts. She indicated she expected a number of positive benefits of the storm:

    * It will spread the surface slick out and thereby lower oil concentrations.

    CJS: In open waters. Near shore and coastal is all debatable.

    * It's expected to break tar patches and tar mass into smaller tar balls which means faster weathering and faster natural biodegradation.

    CJS: Agreed but the tar balls are really not the problem its the oil that has seeped into the lower strata of the beds and sands.

    * It will also cause more natural dispersion again lowing the concentration of oil in the water and making it more available to the natural bacteria that are in the water that do this natural biodegradation.

    CJS: Duckspeak and playing word magician. She already said this. All that was added was the natural biodegradation.

    What she did not say was what the destruction time line was with natural biodegradation. As far as bioremediation is concerned this will apply mainly to on-shore and not in open water. It also has many variables. Use the Amoco Cadiz as well as well as the Valdez spill as a reference.

    * Some waves generated by Bonnie may act to flush the beaches and redistribute oil and tar balls that are on the beaches. Some of those tar balls may be dispersed, some may move back out to sea. In some cases, the beaches may look cleaner as a result of this redistribution.

    CJS: Now we get to the real magic of wordsmithing. Yes indeed "look" as in "appearance" of the the water and shoreline surface.

    But the devil is always in the subsurface details and NOAA has a very limited picture of what that really means. The testing of the shoreline and sensitive area sampling protocols and surveys are now just beginning. Testing the protocols....

    Forget understanding or even having a idea of how 150 million gallons has impacted the shoreline as to vertical and horizontal extent at this time.

    It will be interesting to see the next remote sensing picture.....

    NOAA did release a summary report regarding subsurface oil on Friday it is an interesting read. More questions than answers but appears to be crafted in a manner consistent with Lubchenco's 'cautious', dare I say political approach.

    JAG formed June 8

    News release July 23

    Summary report July 23

    If you have the time here is a 5 part youtube video of one of Samantha Joye's update sessions, this one is from Tuesday, July 13:

    Pt 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLuUXEsxsIc
    Pt 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5nV7wjZafFs
    Pt 3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtgFUKiOTgg
    Pt 4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOaNc6st9xY
    Pt 5 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clIcKAyH3eA

    and here is John Kessler from June 22:


    I suspect that these two along with some others may have become pariahs for being outspoken on the subject of ...... Plumes (which has become code for everything from methane explosions to all things Matt Simmons instead of the scientific term that it is and the important topic it represents). What's interesting is that in the blogs Joye, Kessler and others have been accused of trolling for grant money yet it would seem they are being anything but politically correct.

    some related reading:

    NOAA Asks for Time Out on Oil Plume Research Cruises

    Gulf Oil Spill: Scientists Beg For A Chance To Take Basic Measurements

    Another Gulf mystery: Who's in charge of oil spill research?

    I saw this report. Yes it opens more questions that it answers. But NOAA's folk are doing a great job. Don't get me wrong. Many are unsung hero's. But like everything else NOAA's leadership is playing politics and spinning.

    What this confirms is that inter-agency coordination along with coordination of the private research sector and sharing information is fragmented at best causing much disinformation as well as public, private and academic circle-jerking...

    My only question is. Where are the adults?

    Subthread from yesterday with comments on the JAG report:

    In my post there, I noted a sharp peak in high oil concentrations between May 30 and June 5, followed by a quick dropoff.

    Regarding the "who's in charge" question, the JAG report seems to reflect effective coordination by NOAA. The various ships used the same spectroscopy technique and calibrations to produce a large set of mutally compatible data--except the Gordon Gunter messed up and wasted some of its observations.

    Here is the technical report from the cruise of the Weatherbird. also released recently and linked yesterday on TOD. Press coverage of this release didn't seen to recognize that this is old news. I'm pretty sure this was the same mission from USF that reported the first evidence of subsea plumes over a month ago with lots of publicity. Observations are from late May:

    The Weatherbird's samples are from the surface down to 400 meters, whereas the JAG report covers plumes at a depth of 1000-1500 meters and implies that's where they tend to develop. John Kessler's concentrations of methane were also located at 1000-1500 meters. If most of the subsea HC's are staying at that depth as microbes gobble them, that sounds like relatively good news for the ecosystem. Isn't that too deep to have much effect on plankton, fish eggs, etc.? (I'm just guessing.) An interesting detail from the Kessler press conference is that methane levels in the surface water at Ground Zero were normal!

    Concentrations found by the Weatherbird were < 0.5 ppm oil, but this was 40 miles from the well and only a month after the blowout. The JAG team found concentrations in the deeper layer, and close to the well, up to 5-7 ppm oil, but again, not since early June..

    To quote ..."There is a reason BP and Transocean held all those rescued workers on boats for up to 40 hours and refused to let them use phones to call home and made them sign papers stating they were fine after the explosion before they would let them go home. That was the beginning of the cover up and there is no reason to believe it is still not going on to this day....

    It is not a "cover up", it is the natural result of having a lawyerized society, which America has become. Lawyers are toxic in the US: in the UK we call them ambulance chasers, and as we know in the US claims lawyers are a prime reason for high health costs in America. Doctors have to cover themselves: so do corporations. Nor will it change. Congress is a lawyers' cabal not a businessmen's club or an engineers fraternity. No sooner do you get rid of one lawyer incumbent than another one pops up.

    What do we have now? Fifteen to twenty years of lawyers churning fees out of the "BP spill". They must feel like grizzlies in front of a honey factory.

    as we know in the US claims lawyers are a prime reason for high health costs in America.

    As who knows? You say this as if everyone agrees. I don't, I think Greed is the prime reason.

    Perhaps people would not need lawyers to sue doctors if doctors were:

    1. more competent

    2. less arrogant

    3. willing to admit mistakes and attempt to make things right directly with the patient. (some big teaching hospital actually tried this method and lawsuits dropped drastically)

    Ask yourself how many people you know who have had a doctor botch things up. Now how many have sued & how many of those have won?

    I can think of about a dozen good malpractice claims in my family alone, including one death. Only one resulted in a lawsuit.

    In the case involving the death, the dr. missed the cancer on the early x-rays. When later x-rays showed the cancer beyond treatment, the doctor told the patient he had 6 mos to live, admitted he had missed the cancer early on and then handed him a paper to sign the x-rays over to the dr. so he couldn't be sued. He then continued to charge the patient (who was a gas station attendant) for treatment.

    Have you had experience with the American medical system? I have had experience with both British and American. I'd take the British system any day.

    There was an interesting study of medical malpractice claims done a couple of years ago, where they found that, when doctors acknowledged mistakes as soon as they became aware of them, and offered to correct or compensate for them, that malpractice claims dropped drastically and it was cheaper for both the insurance company and the doctors.

    Now, if you consulted your lawyer about that they would have a fit and tell you not to say a word.

    I don't think they do that deliberately to make more money, I believe that they've all just bought into a myth that may have no foundation in reality, but which they have no incentive to challenge.

    And there was evidence that patients far preferred that approach (so much for the greedy myth).

    Kind of gets us back to the corporate culture issues addressed in another part of today's thread.

    That is probably the same one I saw. I can't remember what hospital experimented with that approach.

    People don't being lied to. A friend was recently in for a pacemaker procedure and when he came out his face was cut and one eye was red and swollen. When the dr. was asked what happened, he got rude and defensive and tried to dismiss it. He then started making jabs at the patient's wife.

    No one wanted to sue, they just wanted to know what happened, and have it treated. No one would ever admit what had cut his face or gotten into his eye, but after the wife raising hell they gave him antihistamine and the eye cleared up.

    This kind of behavior is what leads people to sue.

    And that people sue is why doctors don't want to tell you.


    Inverse reasoning.

    You're effectively saying that if I mistreat you after the discovery of a problem, and fail to even acknowledge the problem, that when you decide to respond by suing me, it's your fault?

    What I am saying is that it is a vicious circle, doctors don't want to talk because people sue and people sue if they don't like what the doctor says.


    So why not break the cycle by taking responsibility for mistakes and attempting to remediate them. Especially if it saves you money?

    Here is a good article on John Wright's role in Boots & Coots's retention in dealing with spill.

    Note the article states the sale of B&C to Halliburton is still "pending" which is contradicted by this article stating it has already been acquired by Halliburton.

    I have been having the same difficulty although I suspect the H acquisition IS still pending.

    In any case, the Chronicle article is the best lately. Wright and B&C have avoided any spotlight recently. I don't blame them.

    IT seems that everybody is looking for the mystery plumber who supplied BP, the US Coast Guard, and DR. Bea, the solution for the biggest oil spill ever,
    Humbly I present myself the inventor Afif Abou-Raphael Phone number to rich me at any time
    Cell: 613853 2615
    E-mail; afifabouraphael@yahoo.ca
    I have all the evidence and the original e-mail containing all drawings, explanation from the first time I sent the USCG and the following updating according to the actual situation of the well after it was altered by previous BP’s failed decisions.
    This proposition was sent detailed to BP through the USCG because the federal government is in charge of the situation.
    My idea was born in 1979 when in the Gulf of Mexico the well called (IXTOC ONE) was out of control and they couldn’t stop the spill. I proposed to them how to stop it and it was the same idea I proposed to BP’s actual well (Horizon).
    The following is a brief of what I did since the 15th of May 2010.

    Here I would like to tell you that the plug that was applied and that stopped the spill and that is still holding, Is mine, (Inventor Afif Abou-Raphael).

    At first I called BP to offer them the idea free of charge; they referred me to the coast guard.

    Then I sent it to the US Coast Guard on May 15, 2010, and after, I sent them a lot of upgrading following the original that is taken from my patent;


    The updating was sent according to the situation of the Horizon accident that polluted for 86 days that was described on the net with pictures from the site under water.
    Moreover, on May 23, 2010, I sent it as a brief to the White House on the e-mail address of the White House that is on line. I did this when I saw that the Coast Guard is not acting positively on an idea that can stop the spill in hors, and that was proven after all. (See please attached letter).

    Again, when BP’s president, was questioned live in the House of Representatives in May.

    I phoned and I asked the secretary that answered me that I would like to speak to any Representative who is present and questioning BP’s president, in order to ask him why they are not applying my idea that can kill the spill very fast in hours. The secretary told me that she can’t do that, but she promised to send me an e-mail address where they can act fast.

    Again I didn’t receive any thing.

    Even with this ignorance of an effective idea, I kept sending the USCG more updates and information hoping that they would apply my solution to kill the spill.
    I became frustrated, and asking myself, how they are not trying my idea. While the spill was ongoing with the flow they said it was up to 100000 barrels a day.
    I am the father of the top kill. I sent the US coast guard the solution since May 15, 2010,
    Then when they applied as they called it “The Top Kill”.

    I was curious to see what was it, and then I read in a paper the design of the plug that is a 100% what I sent them.

    I was very happy to see that after 61 days (From May 15 till July 15) of more pollution and damages to the gulf area that finally they applied what I always told them that it will work as proven in fact.

    On top of that if we divide 61days over 86 days (From April 20 till July 15) we see that the spill grew about 71%.

    Then my frustration became bigger when I contacted the US Coast Guard asking them recognition for that I am the father of the idea.

    They played around, and then they told me that they didn’t send my idea to the Unified command centre.
    Imagine Mr. More these people who have a lob in Research and development, they don’t send as they pretend a miracle idea where it is supposed to be sent.

    But, I myself sent it on May 15 to the address that they gave me in an e-mail dated May 15, 2010.

    But they probably they are trying to make themselves ignorant about my idea, while they used and they are trying to take the credit for it.
    If I continue to write evidences probably I need more than 200 pages.
    Because of that I would like to send you all the real evident in a PDF file that has copies of all the emails between me and the US Coast Guard. These e-mails prove to everybody that me (AFIF ABOURAPHAEL) is the one who provided the miracle idea that stopped the spill to the team who applied in the end, and that worked after their irresponsible attitude and duty towered the American public and government.

    Please don’t hesitate to ask me for any evidence you would like to see.

    Inventor: Afif Abou-Raphael

    Cell; 613 853 2615
    E-mail; afifabouraphael@yahoo.ca

    Note 1; the following is the Letter sent to the White House on May 23, 2010:
    (And I am leaving it with it original grammatical mistakes).

    Dear Mr. President


    I am the father of the top kill. I sent the US coast guard the solution since May 15, 2010,


    If the oil well's pipe was built originally to receive the device I assure you it wouldn’t take more then a day to stop the spell. Anyway I have sent BP an e-mail a few days ago telling them that I am willing to help them to blocking the well very fast with my device, but I didn’t receive any answer yet. By the way the cost is very cheap, I mean a few thousands, and I am willing to do it if you wish without any remuneration, even I am welling to tell my idea to the engineers on the phone. Why not, consider me a crazy man let somebody talk to me and I will explain to him how to do it and you will see that it will stop the spell fast and completely, then the same well will be re-used without any problem.

    Afif Abou-Raphael
    613 853 2615

    The following is the story behind my invention that was the original to the actual oil spill that is the bigger ever.

    The story behind my invention is (IXTOC ONE) of PEMEX, the Mexican petroleum company.
    If you remember, in 1979 another accident like this one occurred in the Gulf of Mexico.
    It was polluting the gulf water at a rate approaching 30000 barrel of oil daily if I remember it.
    At that time I was working in James Bay. Every time I listened to the radio, the headline news was IXTOC ONE.
    One day I said to myself how they can’t block it.
    I took a piece of paper then I drew almost what is in my actual patent. Then I called to the Mexican embassy in Ottawa, telling them that I have the solution for their problem.
    Their answer was; “If you are serious about it, you should call the Canadian embassy in Mexico City.
    Right away I called the Canadian Embassy In Mexico, and I arranged the visit with the embassy’s commercial attaché. Then, U called my brother in Montreal to bay me a plane ticket.
    Then I flew to Montreal from James Bay, to take another plane to Mexico City.
    In Huston, my plane was delayed, and I had to take the Mexicana Airline the next day.
    I called the embassy’s commercial attaché to tell him that I will be arriving tomorrow rather than today.
    Oh boy, the gentleman was surprised, not because I am not arriving today, but if I am serious that I am coming to Mexico.
    Making the story short, and after I arrived, the man was struggling to get me an appointment at PEMEX.
    Anyway, finally I met somebody at PEMEX, and then I gave them my written proposition with some drawings.
    When I came back to Montreal I saw that PEMEX was not doing anything to stop the spill.
    I called back a few times, asking to speak to PEMEX president by his name.
    Arrogantly, the person on the other line asked me;” how am I to ask to speak to PEMEX president”.
    Because of that, I said to myself let them struggle with it, and I prepared my patent myself then I deposited it at the Canadian patent office in 1980. Then in 1982 I got the patent, the one I used to put together the solution for the present accident.

    Now, if I am fighting to have my idea recognized, partly because I want to go back 31 years to tell the Mexicans and the others who watched that spill for more than 9 months without being able to doing anything before they got to drill two more relief valves. That they missed the train when they probably they didn’t even look at the content of what I handed them.
    I thought it is interesting to tell you how did I get my idea?
    Afif Abou-Raphael

    What a great story.

    I have some technical knowledge but I am also in marketing. Get some hot model to tout your idea as her own until the story breaks. Use carefully worded statements so you do not libel or slander. When the world runs her down, then you can tell the real story. Since it sounds like you have truly tried the normal channels, I think this would pass ethical muster.

    Edit: Fox News does it. That Megan Kelly could get me to write bad checks. She is smart too.


    You are so right - Fox got dem foxes - I'd like to be in charge of "talent development" for them.

    I would immediately hire you as assistant or possibly co-director with me, given your Hooter's connection.

    Since I'm older & therefore likely more "tainted" than you, assistant would probly be right.....

    What does it say about me that I was able to write bad checks without her?


    If you wrote bad checks with her, then what that says about you is:

    ........YOU ARE THE "MAN"........

    With much admiration & jealousy,


    edit; ooops, I missed the with"out" part - but you're still the man

    Sounds like a euphemism for masturbation, Dave.

    Mike Williams testimony: I heard a small part of the Mike Williams session in Kenner the other day. Now I've begun at the beginning of the morning session, hosted on C-SPAN.

    I'm only a little more than an hour in. This is grim stuff. Inhibiting the general alarm system almost seems like a minor detail by comparison with everything else.


    Finally finished that clip, finally able to follow up on a question asked by Lotus yesterday.

    At the end of the clip (@4 hours), responding to a question from an attorney, Williams says that inhibiting the general alarm system not only deactivated the visible and audible alarms, it also disabled automatic activation of Emergency Shutdown systems. Although an ESD could be manually activated by a person who was at the proper station and knew what button to push, Williams specifically said that the engine room air intake louvres would not have closed automatically.

    This does not exactly answer Lotus's question about whether the first explosion would have been prevented. Maybe, maybe not. We know that disabling the general alarm system provided free access of air and combustible hydrocarbon gasses to the engine room. But for a reason or reasons I do not yet know, the engines were operating when they should have been shut down by an overspeed governor - maybe even if the louvers had closed, the running engines would have sucked in the fire doors and the hydrocarbon gas still would have gained entry.

    Edit: listened to that part again. Williams said that when an ESD is activated manually power is cut off to machines in that zone. So, maybe he's saying that inhibiting general alarm prevented automatic power shutoff for the engines? Maybe we're creeping closer to an answer for Lotus.

    New regulations are generated by occurrences like DWH. One will probably be CO2 bottles to inject inert gases into the diesel air intakes in event of a runaway to smother the engine even if methane is being sucked in and the intake door shutters fail or are sucked in.

    see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diesel_engine_runaway

    Williams testified that CO2 was injected into his shack so a CO2 system is in place.

    I would recommend an all mechanical system that does not rely on PLCs or electronics so it can't be inhibited or bypassed without a physical act. Say like fire sprinklers in building which are actuated by the melting of the plug in the sprinkler head in both a wet or dry system, no electronics
    involved. If one is servicing the system and wants to turn it off the water valve has to be turned off and your insurance company notified and called when it is turned back on.

    Williams says that inhibiting the general alarm system not only deactivated the visible and audible alarms, it also disabled automatic activation of Emergency Shutdown systems.

    I'm a totally ignorant layperson; am I out in left field to find this astonishing and appalling just on general principles?

    Yes, you are out in left field.:) The issues with automatic alarms that are heard throughout the installation are legion. Its one thing to disturb a human on duty on the bridge with false alarms. That's one of the functions of that human.

    Its quite something else to wake people off shift repeatedly with false alarms. This does two things at least. People stop responding to alarms period. False or otherwise. Second, you get safety issues because people aren't getting enough sleep.

    The big deal here is not a function of forcing the general alarm system through a human on the bridge, the big deal IMHO is only having an all-or-nothing choice.

    It should have been possible to have some systems activate automatically, like the engine room dampers and ESD for the diesels while still having general alarms filtered by humans.

    Its appears this was not achievable, and that is a bad deal!


    It should have been possible to have some systems activate automatically, like the engine room dampers and ESD for the diesels while still having general alarms filtered by humans.

    I'm not quite so green as I am grassy-looking. ;-) I can understand why the alarms would be deactivated. What I found appalling was the linkage with the automatic emergency shutdown systems. Why on earth wouldn't they be separate systems?

    Why indeed? Sounds like a goofy regulation of some kind, or perhaps the testimony is simply wrong.

    I have a particular problem with believing the over-speed shutdowns are linked into a general gas alarm. My previous experience suggests those systems are normally stand-alone, but who knows?

    To be fair, about the last thing you want on a dynamically-positioned drilling vessel is an automatic unscheduled complete power shut down.

    This would come pretty high up the list of bad things...

    Hence why over-speed shutdowns are routinely per-engine only, or at least they used to be. Cuts down on false activations.


    The smoke detector from my kitchen hallway is in my kitchen junk drawer. It kept going off. There are six more in the place and I test them and keep fresh batteries in them. Sometimes the regulations are just not practical. When the fire inspector comes, he makes me put it back up. Then I take it down next time I stir fry. I guess if I fell asleep in my kitchen with burners on, it is all over :)

    From this morning's briefing by Adm. Allen:

    - all critical vessels are back on site - the remainder should be back by later today or tomorrow at the latest. The smaller number of vessels on site this morning allowed for a seismic run with less chance for interference from other vessels.

    - DD3 is currently lowering riser pipe and expects to latch on the well by midnight CDT tonight. [DD3 arrived back on site some time last night.]

    - well pressure is at 6,904

    - the static kill operation will probably not begin until next week. [having read Allen's 7/24 briefing, I'm not sure how the reporter predicted yesterday it could begin as soon as this Friday.]

    ETA: Transcript now available here, audio here.

    Very good and what's even better is that the psi is expected to rise throughout the week. Though I'm looking forward to how this bottom kill effort will work. Do you think they'll have the ROV's play when they're shutting down the well?

    NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco was present to explain the impacts. She indicated she expected a number of positive benefits of the storm:

    * It will also cause more natural dispersion again lowing the concentration of oil in the water and making it more available to the natural bacteria that are in the water that do this natural biodegradation.

    Does this "natural dispersion" she refers to also apply to the plumes of oil 3,000, 4000, 5000 feet deep? I think not. That oil is out of sight, out of mind.

    Here's the latest report (2 days old) I could find on 'oil plumes.' Out of sight, but not out of mind...


    This is a Readers Digest version of the JAG/NOAA report that has been cited and commented on in this thread and the previous.

    During the same briefing, Dr Lubchenco made the distinction between surface and subsurface oil, saying

    We expect that Bonnie should help dissipate and weather the oil that's at the surface.It will spread the surface slick out and thereby lower oil concentrations.


    Because Bonnie is very fast moving, we don’t expect much upwelling or mixing under the surface. For [contrast] a hurricane may turn up the first 100 or so, the top 100 or so yards of the ocean. And so in this case it will be considerably less than that. And any deep surface oil that is much, much further down is not expected to be influenced by this storm at all.

    You think not? For what reason? Dispersion is dispersion. More surface available is , by definition, more surface available. You don't believe that? What are you trying to hide?

    Here is my idea for a new shear ram. It looks like shear rams do now. Once it is activated, design and structure maintain the gates. Make it a replaceable module. I also have one using DepthDraulics as in previous diagrams. Multiple redundant sensors would ensure availability of DepthDraulics and the explosive is only a last resort.

    How much downtime to reset the system when its accidentally set off?

    Less than 97 days, but I am sure a 12 hour unit could be designed. Probably similar to swapping an Abrahms powerpack eh activated.

    And if the explosive charge is accidentally triggered while the deckhands are prepping the BOP for deployment on the deck of the support vessel? How long will it take to wash the blood and gore off the deck and ship in a new crew of deckhands?

    Another thing -- explosives age and go "bad"; they are after all chemically active compounds. The charges to fire these shears would have to be replaced every few years to ensure high reliability, not an easy thing to do while the BOP is deployed five thousand feet or more under the surface. Explosive charges also only work once -- the hydraulically-powered shears on the original Macondo BOP were reactivated some time after the rig sank and (supposedly) closed a bit more, further restricting the flow out the damaged riser section.

    Use leftover nuclear triggers/ whatever reliability you need. These are self contained units. Think implosion more than explosion. Grams maybe a kilo or two of the stuff. You could stand right next to one, but I would not allow such to be done for kicks. Testing would be done in a suitably safe testing environment including on an actual well and a simulated deep well.

    Oddly enough in my far-distant youth I worked on explosives research for nuclear weapons[1]. We retired such devices after a carefully unspecified number of years in service, swapping them out for freshly-manufactured devices because their projected and carefully unspecified reliability figures dropped to carefully unspecified unacceptable levels (you will pardon me if I don't actually quote numbers on this; there is no statute of limitations for those like myself who have signed the Official Secrets Act).

    Testing is not the problem vis a vis safety, it's that the BOPs fitted with the patented Tinfoil "exploding guillotine" shears would have to be rigged and deployed by regular deckhands on a support vessel, not nuclear scientists in a clean room and the whole Macondo episode is a glaring example of "shit happens".

    "There is no problem however large or complex that cannot be solved by the suitable application of high explosives". This statement is true, as long as you do not care about the condition of the area around the problem afterwards and its infallibility relies on applying larger amounts of HE if previous attempts fail to achieve the desired end. I prefer hydraulics myself.

    [1] The Nuclear Physics guys all thought the site's explosives jugglers were crazy reckless fools. Oddly enough we considered the neutron wranglers to be a swan-strangler short of a six-pack, individually and as a body. I could tell you stories, but then I'd have to, you know...

    The latter part sounds very much like my father's universal rule.

    "If, at first you don't succeed, try a bigger hammer."

    My father's cousin "Uncle" Hugh was a heavy-horse farrier in his youth. His version of that rule was that there was a limit to how hard you could hit something with a small hammer but no limit to how lightly you could hit something with a big hammer and that's why he always used a big hammer. He didn't feel it was worth his time starting with a small hammer and escalating.

    There are plenty of explosives that are insensitive and have long lives. How long have nuclear weapons been sitting on the shelf? Besides, you would more likely need a propellant rather than explosive, like in rocket fuel or the gas generator in the tail of a shell.


    The problem with an explosively-driven system is reliability especially in the long term. If the propellant charge fails or squibs with reduced yield this proposed explosively-driven BOP shear may not operate fully and succeed in cutting the riser and shutting off the flow of oil and gas from the well if it is called upon to do so. Speaking hypothetically and naming no precise figures you could say that a hi-rel gas generator or propellant charge system would be expected to have four-nines reliability (99.99%) after a successful and complete initiation (i.e. the firing impulse reaches the charge initiator at 100 percent energy, not 50 percent or less due to corroded connectors or wire losses etc.) during the first year after manufacture and installation. After two years that might drop to, hypothetically speaking, two-nines reliability. After five years it might be down to 70 percent or less; the initiator is more aged at this point than the main charge and the whole system is more likely to fail to fire at all rather than squib producing insufficient thrust to the shear blade.

    With nuclear weapons cost is no object and they are easy to get at to carry out maintenance procedures. A BOP sited a mile underwater is a whole different ballgame unless you are willing to pay four hundred bucks a barrel for the oil from its well.

    I am more in favour of getting a more robust hydraulic system than using explosives. I thought about an explosively driven system a while back and rejected it as unworkable. Most of these issues could be dealt with. You could load a new charge each time the BOP is deployed rather than using it for years. It would not be fitted by crew but by consultants eg Nojay Explosafe BOP Actuators Inc. Mechanical actuation for firing. TFHG will bite me for this, from one of his previous occupations, but there is already a system for pre-packaged, high energy chemistry actuators that are designed to be handled and installed by unskilled personnel ;) - (TFHG, only joking on that last bit).


    What if you could reload a charge on the fly? I am thinking cartridge start on old jets. Basically a blank artillery shell. Deckhands could load that one easy.

    Edit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffman_engine_starter
    You probably had corporals loading them.

    2nd edit: Must see video of Coffman in action

    TFHG, I appreciate your creativity but the problem lies with making sure the tested and inspected BOP is properly maintained and certified per reg/code. We don't know if the BOP failed because it couldn't do the job (under rated design)or it failed because it wasn't maintained.

    The components needed to do the job with hydraulics are available today. A little more horsepower (PSI) and a little added muscle will do the job if needed and it's available.

    In watching the testimony, there just seems to be so many 'first's, first time that they've done something in a particular way, eg use double the amount of spacer.

    I have 2 questions:

    1) The spacers used were originally made up as LCM (loss circulation material), and as I understand it, are different from the material that one would use as actual spacer, to separate the oil-based mud and seawater. Can someone explain WHY it is important to separate the two (I'm guessing prevent contamination of mud, which can be recovered and re-used), and HOW DIFFERENT is the normal spacer compared to such kinds of LCM? Is it common practice to use up LCM that way?

    2) Why was seawater displaced at a depth of 8000+ft as opposed to the more usual 3-500ft? Seems like everyone is saying they've never done that before but no one is explaining WHY they decided to do it that way. At least I haven't come across it.

    All thanks for any help!!

    I am no lawyer, in fact I am not employed. Seems to me though, if you admit previous instances of deviation from standards of good practice as your defense, not only do you lose but you open up a whole new can of worms. TinFoil.

    I'm not making a judgment (not yet anyway) on these points, just want to know the FACTUAL reasons behind their actions.

    Look at the well diagram and you will see that the drill pipe extends roughly 3000 feet below the BOP, which is itself at a depth of 5,000 feet. The 8,000 foot figure is total depth from the surface.

    Well, yes I can see that. I just don't understand WHY they want to do it this way ie displace at a much deeper level. If they want to displace at 300 or 500ft, they could just pull the DP to 300 or 500ft and then displace from there. Obviously they didn't, and equally obviously various people say that it is not usual practice.

    So my question is WHY? What purpose does it serve?

    Hiver, you have to get the oil-based mud out of the riser, so you are going to at least displace to below the level of the BOP at the mud line. Have to, not optional, before you pull the riser. You don't dump oil-base mud in the Gulf.

    You also have the option of displacing to water in the area you are going to set your top cement plug, hopefully to ensure a better cement job.

    Personally, I would set a bridgeplug on wireline (or even on drillpipe) before displacing the well. That way you have a mechanical barrier.

    Based on what we think we know now, it seems clear that setting the lock ring on the casing hanger is a good idea too.


    A redwood tree can be 200 feet tall. The water going to the top from the roots would exert a hydrostatic pressure of around 85 psig at the ground level. But we know that pressure is not really there. Some type of check valve effect lets the liquid go to the top of the tree. The surface tension and other known natural processes counterbalance the hydrostatic pressure. This takes place outside of (annular space) the wood, inside the bark(rock).

    Chemists can develop a similar check valve substance to put down hole and resist up flow in wells. Just like an upside down tree. Inside production liner would not have this, just the annular spaces.

    Is this a physically impossible MS type fantasy?

    I have a dual balanced shower control. If I get no hot water, ALL flow stops.
    It does seem a similar type of setup that would not let things flow if a pressure hose from above was not maintained would be a good failsafe. You still have to let metal pipes run through your contraption. TinFoil.

    Is this a physically impossible MS type fantasy?


    In the water conducting conduits of a tree, negative pressure, or tension, supports the column of water, which is retained at the top of the tree by capillary forces in the cellulose walls of leaf cells. There is no way you could replicate this to counter the positive bottom-up pressure in an oil well.

    Speaking of opportunities!

    I'm signing up new clients for a new branch of my practice.

    You may want to look closely at your behaviors to identify any PTSD symptoms.

    If you can't find any, don't worry, I'll be able to help you!


    Because I just got word that Ecstasy has proved to be of some value in treating resistant PTSD!

    My rates have yet to be set, but you may need to dip into your retirement savings.

    Oh wait! I'm not sure whether it's the patient or the therapist who's supposed to take it!

    That's OK, though. I could probably make a pretty good case foe either or both to take it.

    Should I flag this as inappropriate?

    Get VA and State/DEA certified and then post.

    If you have only just got word of what Ecstasy can do the I would recommend that you should read TOD as this was discussed 1 or 2 weeks ago. ;)


    I have read something about E as a therapeutic drug. One of the symptoms of PTSD is what looks like withdrawal to folks on the outside and this increases the isolation of the sufferer. E is supposed to make people feel open and trusting and lead to sharing.

    I haven't read any reports on actual results, though.

    Bought MDMA in Gilley's bar in 1986 in a beer for $20. Legally. 2000 folks in there raving out on country music. What a sight. I sure felt open and trusting.

    Got a few questions for the hot shots re: Thursday/Friday Hearings. Some procedure and equipment stuff has been over my civilian head but I been trying to pay attention the past 2 months or so.

    1. On the general conduct of the hearing.
    a) Is it just me or does the Captain have a horrible accent that is difficult to understand?
    b) Does the Captain also have a speech impediment?
    c) Are some of the Captain’s questions incoherent?
    d) Is the sound/video system inadequate (substandard) for this important event?
    e) Where is the board’s legal council to field the myriad atty issues?
    f) Why have the above not been recognized and corrected immediately?
    g) Why are the above questions even required.

    2. On Mr. Williams.
    a) I took 3 major items away from the testimony.
    1) Chair a/b/c op system (Win NT) functionality was faulty leaving a lack of drill deck control at times.
    2) General Alarm in the auto mode was circumvented, necessitating a human monitor at all times.
    3) BOP control panel isolation was bypassed to the manual state. This was TO Fleet wide.

    3. On Dr. Smith.
    a) There were 4 neg tests and all failed for various reasons. Personnel on rig and beach missed this?
    b) The cement job failed.
    c) The casing failed.
    d) The BOP failed.
    e) Well flow occurred for 10 minutes unchecked. Assume no one was watching the returns?
    f) Formacet/formasqueeze is water soluble he says. Are all spacers that way? Why?

    4. On the attys in general.
    a) Only a handful seem to be up to speed. Why is that? They can’t even remember witness testimony.
    b) Why are TO/BP attys underpowered for this exercise? Can’t they afford the best? This ain’t it.
    c) Why is HAL atty the most composed of the bunch? He knows the rest are idiots?

    5. Why is this not on C-Span TV?
    6. What have I missed?


    Don´t know how to quote here from the former thread...

    SaveFlipper said :
    "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."

    May be this is helpful :

    I´ve found a few data about the Ixtoc spill.


    One of the studies is headlined with this words :
    "Researchers hope that data gathered from the ongoing, detailed analysis of the Ixtoc I oil well blowout will minimize the impact of future oil spills."

    LOOOOL ! Researchers are dreamer !!!


    Excellent summary.....Thanks for posting.

    I've listened to most of the hearings but there is so much irrelevant crap that it is hard to gleen the important points.

    On the conduct of the procedings, I couldn't agree more. It's a kangaroo court which is not fair to the individuals testifing under oath. The Capt.running the hearings does not have control of the room so the lawyers out of control. The worst was a lawyer yelling out from the gallery that the Deep Water Horizon Captain was no better than a cab driver or something to that effect. Try that in real court room....you probably land in jail for contempt of court. The Capt. was a poor choice to run these hearings.

    On Mike Williams' testimony; After listening to his 60 minutes interview, I thought he was not credible but he sure gave a clear concise testimony in the hearing. Worth a listen, he gives the most complete version on the incident.

    One thing to add to your summary, with the alarms in inhibited status, the automated engine shut down of air and therefore natural gas to engines was also disabled. The one thing that is certain from all of the testimony is that the engines were running on natural gas and the safety shut downs did not work. Other testimony from hands that were in the engine room confirm this fact. I've seen this happen on rigs. Since there were hands in the engine room at the time of the explosion, the ignition of the fire came from outside of the engine room but the engines over reving may have caused an electrical surge that sparked the fire. Although probably acurate, his statement that the number three engine blew up implies that that was the source of the fire. I think it blew as in threw a rod and was not directly the source of the explosion. The walls of the engine room blew in therefore the explosion came from outside.

    I don't think his comments about rubber in the drilling mud several weeks before the incident is relevant. My guess is they had set the second to last string of casing and were drilling the rubber plug in the bottom of the casing. Eventhough they know by way the rubber drills that they are drilling the plug, a hand is ususally sent to the shaker to watch for visual confirmation of the rubber. I'm guessing that what happened but they didn't explain it to the hand.

    On Dr Smith, I don't think he added anything new but he did give a clear explanation.

    On the lawyers, it is a little odd that they are not more up to speed. I'd give high marks to the BP lawyers in addition to the Haliburton attourney. One of the BP lawyers is excellent but he isn't always on duty. The Transocean lawyer is doing a pitiful job in my opinion.

    On the other hand, BP totally blew it on the centralizer question. The empression was that if you use six centralizers instead of 21 you are going to have a high gas flow potential which is absurd in my opinion. I wonder if there is something complicated on the centralizer question that they didn't want to reveal so they let it slide.


    Nippleup - Good comments but Williams testified that he and another were asked to look into it after rubber was found in returns and found in the electronic records that a slider was activated when the annular rubber was closed causing the block to lift the drill pipe 20 to 30 ft (inferring that this caused the annular to be damaged).

    Some attorneys were engineers before they went to law school and that may explain why some att seem more up than others at times. I have a friend who did and he makes a lot more $$ than I do but money isn't everything.


    I would be embarrassed to have to admit I had any part in the staging of the hearing. Clearly, whoever is in charge (if indeed there is anyone) has no understanding of the requirements of such an event. There could not be a worse choice than the Captain. I have little faith in the gov't process when there is such a display of incompetence at this basic level. I did not see 60 minutes and thought Mr. Williams was credible as was Dr. Smith. True, the inhibited state did not close the engine intake. As you say, it could have been an ignition source. Rubber was not an issue for me. I believe there is an argument for criminal negligence on the part of TO/BP but we shall see. At least tiny Tony the twit won't be around much longer.

    Here is a highly paraphased summery from the fist round of hearings

    MMS Hearings
    I sure didn't hear a smoking gun from the MMS Hearings on the Deep Water Horizon. In fact I think the witnesses made the lawyers and the MMS commisioners look like fools.

    Many hours of hearings....the most relevant is testimony by Hafle (BP), Credeur (Dril-Quip) and Burgess and Ezell (Transocean).


    Considerable focus on Cement-Bond-Logs, Lost Circulation, Nitrogen-Cement, Negative Pressure Tests, Casing Seal, Rig Saver-Engine Governor.


    Cement Bond logs were not run, were not required to be run by the MMS and are almost never run on wells in the gulf except during completion operations.

    BP intended to run CBL logs after the cement plugs were drilled out with completion rig.


    Three lost circulation zones were mentioned. The worst was encountered in a coal zone in the upper portion of the well. About 3000 barrels of fluid was lost near the bottom of the well and a similar amount in another ?coal zone above the final casing string.

    The lost circulation zone near the bottom of the hole was treated with standard lost circulation material and a special mud additive that will travel away from the well bore and gel in the formation.

    This lower zone was successfully healed and no fluid was lost in the five days prior to cementing the final casing string. Sounds like they circulated this well for an extended period before running the final casing string and running open hole logs. The mud weight was around 14 pounds-per-gallon.


    Nitrogen was injected into the cement slurry on the surface casing and the final casing string. Nitrogen is standard on the surface casing in the gulf but not on the lower strings. Nitrogen was used on the final string to lighten the weight to avoid losing the cement into the lost circulation zone near the bottom of the hole.

    All data indicates a normal good cement job was performed.....Full Returns and they Bumped-The-Plug.

    Regulations state that the cement top must be 500' above the pay zone. Since a "minor pay zone" was encountered above the main pay, the cement top is more than 500' above the main pay......extra cushion.


    This is an extra test that is not required and it is not even in the Transocean manual. It was run at the insistance of Transocean's Offshore Installation Manager. There was discussion about whether or not to run this test but due to an incident the Transocean Manager had experienced in the past he was adamant that the test be run......He was not going to budge.

    The initial negative pressure test was not satisfactory......about 15 barrels "leaked". Operations were halted and a second test was ordered.

    The annular was "tightened up" and the test was re-run. The results of the second test were deemed good by all and operations resumed.


    The Casing Seal Assembly which seals the outside (annulus) of the casing was provided and installed by Dril-Quip. All indications are that the seal was successfully installed and passed all subsequent tests.


    The Rig Saver is a governor device to prevent the rig motors from over-reving when natural gas in the air enters the air intake on the motor. This governor didn't work or at least work as designed......the motors were over-reving.


    If there is a smoking gun, it didn't come out in this round of hearings. I'm sure the press will seize on something and run with it. My impression.......the witnesses made the MMS panel sound like total Bozos.

    The questions did not make sense. Many times the witnesses had to explain fairly simple day to day operations that one would think the top regulators in the MMS would know and then re-state the question for the panelist in a form that could answered. Although not with the MMS, the Transocean Lawyer sounded like a total idiot.

    A good share of the damning stories ciculating in the press are true but are from the Marianas Rig that drilled the upper portion of the Macondo Well. The Marianas Rig did have BOP issues and was on standby doing BOP repairs when a hurricane forced it to move off the location. The Deep Water Horizon Rig moved in with another BOP and resumed drilling the hole.

    It's embarrassing that the MMS thought that the falsehoods circulating in the press were true when they must have had the facts in their files.

    Something went horribly wrong on the Macondo Well but its going to be tough to prove it was due to negligence if BP followed all industry standards and MMS regulations.


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    Coal zone, eh? Thanks. Explains the low well pressure.

    Thanks for the write up of the hearings. I'm sure that Secretary Chu will get some advice from some high priced consultants that will allow him to stop all GoM drilling because there is COAL down there. They should just keep those ships plugging the well at least 6 miles away while they continue to "survey" this thing. If they kkep it up long enough they might be able to induce a leak somewhere.

    I expect that there will be created a reason for more oil flow into the GoM to make sure this is the top news headline again. And so that Algore's company Nalco gets to sell more dispersant. Why would a Govt. agency not want to help their no. 1 sponsor? And the consultants told them to do it, for a fee.

    The Admiral is looking and sounding better. Is it just me or is he wearing on me or something?

    With Bonnie threat gone, critical equipment has already returned to Gulf oil well site

    Of course he looks better, he's much less henpecked by TPTB (e.g Marcia "McNumbnuts" McNutt of the President's Scientific Advisory Board). Her credibility is shot after days and days of delays in installing the containment system while she insisted on doing the 3-D MRI of the well thereby forcing him to move all those ships doing the work out of the way for her multiple little parades. She's had her 15 minutes of infamy, it's time to Move On!!!

    Well I like it. If he would only find a Seaman or whatever the Coast Guard has with his shirt untucked, the Admiral would be back on top with just one forceful but retired old man 'dress down'.

    What happened, did she turn you down for a date?

    Visions and revisions . . . earlier today, WaPo's story about Hayward's exit ended:

    ... Another source who spoke on condition of anonymity said that other top executives might also be ousted, but the source close to the company said that decision would be left to the new chief executive.

    Among the executives whose positions are widely considered to be tenuous are Andy Inglis, the Houston-based head of global exploration and production who is also leading the relief well effort; Doug Suttles, the chief operating officer who has played a prominent public role in addressing questions about BP's response to claims and cleanup issues; Lamar McKay, the president of BP America who had no responsibility for the exploration well but who has been given the unenviable task of defending the company before Congress.

    Additional ousters could come of less prominent people further down the chain of command who might have made improper decisions about the design of the exploration well.

    Now it lists Inglis and Suttles as heads-likely-to-roll, but "Lamar McKay, another American and current president of BP America, would probably take over gulf cleanup efforts from Dudley."

    The most interesting passage from NYT:

    And on Saturday, Kenneth Feinberg, the administrator managing the $20 billion claims fund BP set up under pressure from the White House, accused the company of holding up compensation payments to spill victims.

    “I have a concern that BP is stalling claims,” Mr. Feinberg told reporters. “I doubt they are stalling for money. It’s not that. I just don’t think they know the answers to the questions” by the claimants.

    This uncertainty about BP’s future business, its ultimate liabilities and its public relations debacle continue to weigh on the company’s share price, which is down about 40 percent since the spill started.

    “The key issue now is whether investors and BP’s board think Tony Hayward is the right person to move the company forward,” said Matthew J. Slaughter, a professor at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business. “Is this a BP problem or is this a Tony Hayward problem?”

    WSJ's version, focusing on Bob Dudley and referring to "the British company," is also worth a read.

    Maybe the payment delays have something to do with investigating this:

    Scams emerge in wake of BP oil spill

    BP Oil Spill Cleanup Leads to Job Scams

    FTC Warns of Oil Spill Scams

    And this is a very good one
    Fraudsters angle for piece of BP oil spill fund

    Scott Ward, assistant manager of the BP claims office in Boothville, Louisiana, recalls staring at the long, manicured fingernails of the purported deckhand who sat across his desk one day asking for compensation.

    The woman, who was "all gussied up," bore little resemblance to the hardened workers he knew made their living on the water, Ward said.

    "How can you separate shrimp with those nails?" he recalls thinking. "She had the proper documentation so we paid her, but you have to wonder."

    Another applicant was overheard telling fellow claimants in the waiting room she was a stripper on New Orleans' famed Bourbon Street, said Burnell Alessi, the office's manager.

    "Every time we think we've seen it all, there's a new one that comes in," Alessi said.

    BP has so far paid $201 million out of its $20 billion fund to residents and businesses in Gulf Coast states. Fishermen and shrimpers have received $50 million of that pie. But of the 114,000 claims submitted, nearly 54 percent, or more than 61,000, lack key documentation, according to BP.

    Just a playful tweak of the Barristers of Barratry who read TOD. Be careful about using Professors as your expert witnesses, or you might not like the results. I offer for your consideration, from Australia, Timelink Pacific Pty Ltd v Major Engineering Pty Ltd [2006] VSC 288 (4 August 2006)


    Reversed on appeal.

    sorry, off topic but it is a rare occasion when Drudge and Huffington Post have similar headlines - I think the BP Gulf Oil Spill is about to move off the front pages

    I don´t know if anybody has already posted this :

    "As a normal safety precaution, wells are not located on seabed escarpments as these are surface manifestation of many geohazardous conditions such as the Gas-saturated Weak Sub-Formation (GWSF) hazards, deeper beneath the seafloor.
    Any geohazards specialist worth his salt would have strongly advised moving location to a more stable ground."


    The slope at the well site and for several miles in any direction is less than 3%. the information is in the permit application.

    Looks like Skandi ROV2 got its umbilical tangled again (on either the choke or kill davit/bracing, can't tell which one).

    Ocean Intervention III ROV1 depth readout appears to be over 5300 feet, something I hadn't seen before.

    At 8:58 eastern, the OI3 is about 15 or 18 miles SW of the main fleet.

    Looks like she's accompanied by Toisa Pisces. Seems like quite a distance away from the well to be doing surveys?

    I believe I saw the lights from two other ROVs, but it doesn't appear we're getting the feeds from them.

    A recent shot from Skandi2 ROV shows several leaks and growing accumulations of material on the BOP...(7/25, 1815).

    Click the image to see the whole thing.

    It sure would be nice to hear some expert opinion regarding the current leaks around the cap and BOP. Is seems like these leaks are "flying under the radar" and have the potential to be a big problem? Any thoughts on this topic would be really appreciated.
    Thanks in advance

    There is one poster who has been "finding" leaks on the ROV videos for a few weeks. He is a consultant to the government on this matter. Perhaps he will give more opinion in response to your question.

    I thought a few leaks were suppose to be expected, but as for the ones appearing everywhere, weren't they just silt storms and nothing more?

    We got hit with tarballs in Gulf Shores today, but they were few and far between. There was large amounts of seaweed and it acted like an absorbent boom. In fact, it works better than any absorbent boom on the market. How about throwing mats of seaweed on offshore oil? It is a natural, fast growing product that holds together for collection. Pick a indigenous species that will not grow naturally in current conditions and one that grows fast. The tractors on the beach scoop it right up.

    Tractor in action

    Good blimp video from today

    Today's photobucket.

    I am intrigued by that tractor pulling the Surf Rake... not living anywhere near salt water, I had no idea that such things even existed.

    I am puzzled by three details:
    - why such a big tractor? (looks like a John Deere but the JD markings are usually prominent)... they just need something to pull the rake and run the PTO... I guess compaction is not a concern.
    - I see nothing coming out the back end of the surf rake... either it expels below or it must fill up fast
    - you'd think the sand would be very abrasive and that maintenance on the rake would be a chronic pain.

    Thanks for that... your stuff is always interesting.

    The tractor is a brand new JD 7330. It fills up fast, but there is a loader and dump truck nearby.
    The 'fingers' that grabs the trash are made of tungsten steel and covered in vinyl. I imagine it is easy to redip. TinFoil.

    Bonnie does not do oil.


    "...As was briefed by Jane Lubchenco yesterday from NOAA we expect some oil that was there before the storm to be displaced. We also have noticed with our air surveillance based on the movement of the storm and the prevailing winds a lot of the residual oil that was out there that had not been skimmed by our significant effort in advance of the capping stack a lot of that has moved northerly toward Mississippi Sound, the areas around the Chandelier Islands and Breton Sound in southeastern Louisiana , but we are up doing very, very intensive surveillance today to try and reestablish where the oil is at and also redeploy response equipment back into the area so we can resume response operations and be responsive to oil sightings..."