BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Tests End and the Kill Begins, Well Reaches Static Condition - and Open Thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on a http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6813.

Update Wednesday Morning: BP announced that the well had reached a static condition, a 'significant milestone', and it was able to stop pumping mud into the well.

BP announced today that the MC252 well appears to have reached a static condition -- a significant milestone. The well pressure is now being controlled by the hydrostatic pressure of the drilling mud, which is the desired outcome of the static kill procedure carried out yesterday (US Central time).

Pumping of heavy drilling mud into the well from vessels on the surface began at 1500 CDT (2100 BST) on August 3, 2010 and was stopped after about eight hours of pumping. The well is now being monitored, per the agreed procedure, to ensure it remains static. Further pumping of mud may or may not be required depending on results observed during monitoring.

The Washington Post reports that everything is not over yet. A couple of comments:

"You want to make sure it's really dead, dead, dead. Don't want anything to rise out of the grave," Energy Secretary Steven Chu told The Washington Post.

"We've pretty much made this well not a threat, but we need to finish this from the bottom," Allen told WWL-TV.

Heading Out's original post below the fold.

Overnight Monday night there was a second set of leaks detected in the BOP assembly sitting on top of the Deepwater well in the Gulf, however these were successfully stopped by Tuesday morning and the flow testing of the well began. Oil was pumped into the well at several different rates, starting at 1 barrel/minute and ending at 7 bpm. During this series of tests the pressure in the well was monitored, and the results were sufficiently satisfying – “Textbook”, as Kent Wells noted, that the well is now in process of being killed as mud is fed into the well at a slow, but steady rate.

Admiral Allen described the plan, before the testing began on Tuesday morning. Somewhere at the bottom of the well oil has been flowing into the well, and before it was capped, out into the Gulf. To fill the well with mud, the oil that is in the well has to be pushed back through the flow passage into the rock it came from. There are some different flow dynamics involved in the flow back down the well, but given that the well has been flowing at rates of more than 20 barrels a minute, there was little reason to doubt that the flow could be reversed, as it was.

Increasing the flow up to 7 bpm allowed the engineers to monitor the increase in pressure that was required as the flow rate increased. The increase comes both from the higher resistance to flow as the oil moves down the tubular passageways to the bottom of the well, and in the increased resistance as the oil/natural gas Is forced back into the narrower passages in the rock itself.

The equipment has been fitted with pressure transducers to measure the pressure at different points along the flow (though none beyond the BOP at the top of the casing). Admiral Allen described how this occurs.

We have three different sites where we're going to be taking pressure readings. And those pressure readings will be transferred every 12 to 15 seconds by wireless modem to their ROVs that are down there. And they'll be transmitted up into the control room here in Houston and be monitored continuously.

In addition we have what we would call an analog or a traditional dial-type pressure meter. And an LED readout that the ROVs will actually have a camera on and be looking at. So there are potentially five different pressure gages we will be reading to monitor the pressure.

This tells us a couple of things. It tells us the capacity of the system to absorb a volume of oil or mud. It tells how much pressure we are exerting when that volume goes in. We've established a maximum pressure inside the capping stack of 8,000 PSI. That will guide how much pressure is being used to push that mud in. Excuse me, the base oil.

And in the conclusion of several hours of doing that we will have a profile of how the mud will flow, how the well will react to the volume, and what kind of pressures we can expect to be generated. And then there will be curves established for if – we're filling the mud just into the casing, or the casing in the annulus. How we can expect how much mud will needed because there is more of this wider diameter, and the type of pressures we can expect based on that diameter and that volume. And then we will track the actual mud as it goes in during the static kill against those pressure versus volume lines. (Edited to note that the instrument is a Light Emitting Diode (LED) display and that the vehicles are Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) and not as transcribed).

The tests were successful, and Kent Wells reported on the success of the oil injection at 3:30 pm. BP also put out a press release, noting that they were beginning to inject mud into the well.

Based on the results of the injectivity test, BP started pumping drilling mud today at 21:00 (UK) and 15:00 (CDT) as part of the static kill operations. All operations are being carried out with the guidance and approval of the National Incident Commander.

The aim of these procedures is to assist with the strategy to kill and isolate the well, and will complement the upcoming relief well operation.

At this start of the injection it is not clear which paths the mud will flow down the well, but as Admiral Allen noted, by the time that 200 – 300 barrels have been injected, then the changing pressure in the well will tell where that mud is going. As I noted yesterday, the reason for this is in two parts. Firstly the oil flow has established a flow path from the reservoir up to the BOP, and outside of that flow channels where the oil is not flowing will remain full of oil, but largely unable to accept the mud as it is injected into the well (because fluid can’t be injected into a passage if there is no way for the fluid already there to escape). So the mud will push the oil back down the flow channel. But at the start of the process no-one knows if that channel included flow down through the production casing, flow down through the annulus around the production casing, or both.

Section through the well showing with the light yellow color the channels that the oil might flow through up the well, and which will be filled with mud.

Had the well integrity remained as it was planned, there would only be oil (the light yellow) in the center of the production casing after the well was brought into production by firing small shaped charges through the cement at the bottom of the well. There should be no oil in the outer annulus between the production casing and the rock. Obviously oil has been flowing up one or the other, or both, but no-one is sure which is the case.

However when the mud is added, then it will only flow down the well back along the path that the oil was taking. This will thus help tell which channel is being filled with mud. As a given amount of mud is introduced, then the weight of the column of mud will lower the pressure at the top of the well necessary to keep injecting the mud. (Which is sensibly the pressure in the reservoir less the weight of the section of the column which is oil and that which is mud). For a given volume of mud injected, knowing the length of the mud column from the change in the pressure value at the top of the well, it is relatively easy, knowing the cross sectional areas of the three options, to establish which of the channels the mud is flowing down through.

The mud is being injected relatively slowly, at about 2 bpm, but the channels are not that large so that within a few hours (in fact they should already know before I post this piece) they will know which path the oil is flowing through, and therefore where the leak at the bottom of the well is likely located. This will then help in the planning of the relief well. For although the injection of the mud should kill the well, so that there will be no flow into the Gulf, it will only be when then bottom of the well (and ultimately the top) are sealed with cement plugs that the well will be considered dead. Admiral Allen wants that to be clearly understood.

The Static Kill will increase the probability that the relief well will work. But the whole thing will not be done until the relief well is completed. The Static Kill is not the end all be all. It is a diagnostic test that will tell us a lot about the integrity of the casing. And the wellbore will tell us about the tolerance for volume and pressure. But in the long run, drilling into the annulus and into the casing pipe from below, filling that with mud and then filling that with cement is the only solution to the end of this.

And there should be no ambiguity about that. I'm the National Incident Commander, and that's the way this will end. It will be end with the relief wells being drilled, and the annulus and the casing being filled with mud and cement being poured.

And that, Hurricane Colin and other tropical depressions behaving, should be in the next couple of weeks.

Does anyone have an estimate how many centuries the cement plugs are good for? Is that even a consideration, a worry? Anyone ever done any formal analysis on the longevity of the plugs? When a well is killed "for good," how long is "for good"? Is it a geologic span of time or more a human span of time?

bs -- I've never seen such an anlysis. But cmt actually gets harder (but very slowly) over the first 100 years or so. If there is going to be a problem with the cmt it will likely show up very early on. Actually the cmt failing over time isn't the greatest risk IMHO. The steel csg can corrode and cause leaks. But the leaks that do the worse damage are salt water flows going into shallow acquifers onshore. That wouldn't be much of a problem offshore since no one has water wells out there.

P&A wells that encountered no hydrocarbons represent no risk offshore, of course. Wells that do cut oil/NG rservoirs have a more stringent plugging protocol. But nothing works right all the time. With all the reports of little oil seeps around the GOM I won't be surprised if the feds do commision some sort of study of abadoned wells. I also won't be surprised if that survey doesn't prove anything one way or the other.

"With all the reports of little oil seeps around the GOM I won't be surprised if the feds do commision some sort of study of abadoned wells."

Rockman - Feds already do so :

I think that since this is a proven reserve, once the mess has been sorted out, BP will drill a new well and produce from it until it's economically empty. At which point the plug in the broken well will be irrelevant, there will be nothing to contain.


air -- Actually due to the high overhead cost of producing a DW field even when the field has been "depleted" a well could still flow a couple of hundred bbls of oil per day. Not just the blow out well but any production well. This is one of the recent concerns over the integrety of previously abandned wells.

I do not think they will ever produce from this oil source again. They may sell it to someone else to produce but they will never do it.

Remember that more layers are being deposited in the GOM. These structures will get buried deeper and deeper. In locations that are subject to weathering the reserves would weather out, eventually, anyway.


I initially misread you as saying that many more lawyers are being deposited in the GOM.

I initially misread you as saying that many more lawyers are being deposited in the GOM.

Actually a fantastic idea Alexander!

oil & LAWYERS both ! That will really make a mess

oil & LAWYERS both ! That will really make a mess

The lawyers won't notice any difference; they tend to be rather oily to begin with.

Good job I let my Florida Bar card lapse before y'all knew me, lest my persona be non grata here'bouts (which would hurt my feelin's).

Dang, not a bad idea at all.


Some of the original cement/mortar still remains intact in the Roman Coliseum and it is no where near the quality of todays specialized products!

Sounds like a "Mission Accomplished" moment to me.

Perhaps this leak is in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency in to our ocean.

I've been thinking more along the lines of Ding Dong the witch is dead!

Agreed Raiyday -- even more. I've heard pundits say that BP stands for Biblical Proportions. To that extent I'd say that killing this wild well is equal to Killing the Dragon -- Fafner from the fable of old.

A bit of musing here, but how will this story be told in a hundred years? Even better, a thousand?

Our history, the history of humanity, is young by any other standard. Geological history? A pittance. Biological history? Not much more. Political history -- there is the rub. Humans are the only political creatures.

So today, there are heroes who have tamed the dragon -- brought him under our control. And I solute them, as well as the elevan souls who have fallen. But this dragon today originates from our own greed -- our want for power and energy and that has not ended. We want more power, more energy. There will be more dragons of our own making. Wanna bet? This ain't the last spill/disaster of our times.

This oil industry of ours is but a hundred years old (order of magnitude). Think back to Spindletop. Not that long ago. I can see my grandkids that far into the future. And unless dramatic change happens here and NOW, their future will be compleat with Chinese blessings -- interesting if nothing else.

mei - Perhaps a tad premature. I don't want to put the gris gris on it but but dead wells have been known kill. As long as they maintain the ability to keep pushing more of the kill pill down they probably won't have a problem. But any oil/NG that might leak back into the csg would cut the mud weight and allow more oil/NG to leak in. It's your basic bad feed back loop. But remember what the mission is: to permanently seal the reservoir from the surface. We're still a long way from there. Probably more appropriate to say we've won the kill battle but the plug and abandon war is still being waged.

Rockman and all the knowlegeable and patient engineers, geologists, oil men and women of all stripes...thanks for doing a huge service to the public at large during this. I plan to hang around even after this is calmed down -- so much to learn on energy. But I will always appreciate your willingness to share and your openness to us newbies who asked the same questions over and over. You are the best!



Many thanks for all the up to date info here at TOD on the oil spill/kill efforts. And for all the excellent articles and great group of professionals and interested lay folk who gather here.

As for this killing of the wild well, I will celebrate only after the relief wells have also cemented it from the bottom. I'm no expert but it seems that caution is in order till that happens.

caution is in order

I'm with you on that, TheraP, and also very glad to see you back. Been missing your contributions to the conversation.

I've read and tried to keep up, and seen your many comments, but haven't had much to contribute that wasn't being said by others.

Greetings! Your role here has become invaluable!

Me? Role? Invaluable?

Well, I'm very happy you think so, but as I see it, I'm just garden-variety chatty.

lotus - I actually thought Thera was talking about me at first. Obviously one of our egos is out of control. Unfortunately it's probably not you. LOL.

[Delivered in the style of Pancho (in case you remember him)]

Awwww, Rock-man. Haw haw haw.

I'm votin' for all three of yez.

But youse ain't the only ones, neither. This jernt has an astonishing abundance of invaluable members.

Wull, you high on my list of 'em, so there, SL.

Amen! Oh, it's a love fest! ;)

Oh, it's a love fest! ;)

Group hug! Group hug!

Pancho from The Cisco Kid? (I've listened to my share of Old Time Radio!)

The very one.

Rockman, I certainly and totally would say that of you! Yes, indeed, you are extremely valuable: For your expertise and your patience I nearly venerate you! And Lotus (I think you would agree) is valuable for excellent questions and astute observations.

This place works due to many good people! It has tolerance. It has information. It has excellent discussions. And it has people willing to give of themselves. It's a unique place.

Totally agree -- +10

I would like to add my thanks for the contributions of this outstanding group. Has anyone heard anything from Alan From Big Easy? I knew he get a new job a couple months ago.

TOD even its own "resident shrink," for when people get tired and cranky.

I hug, too. Thank you all. When the drama has shipped on out, I am going to hang in and ride the wake.


I thought this might be a good time to jump in. I’ve been lurking reading this blog every day for months, and would like to send a big thank you to all contributors. TheraP nailed it: Thank you for your expertise, time, and patience. The humor’s a nice touch, too. :)

Rockman, et al., I certainly agree with TheraP. The site is slow for a bit in the aftermath of the static kill. I'd like to finally thank the experts here (you know who you are) for the fantastic education you provide about the oil industry. I have nothing to offer technically; so I rarely comment. I also thank the wackos for the amusement they provide, but worry about their influence on the less educated. My family, a Toxicologist & student in Marine Engineering, will be glad to get me back after this well is dead and only the cleanup remains. From the minute Daily Kos alerted me to this disaster, I have been glued to the computer with the irrational fear that if I left the Oil Drum unattended another setback would befall. Using this same magical thinking, I hope my presence here has helped. I certainly have tried to dispel others misinformation with the knowledge I gleaned from your site.

Allow me to also get in on the group kadoos to all. I'm just the fly on the wall learning more about oil drilling than I could ever use in my remaining years.

A heartfelt thank you even to the doubters who without them a lot of information would not have peen posted here.


Likewise, thanks for the education and the patience. Without meaning to slight anyone, particular shout-outs to Cheryl_Rofer, bignerd, and Rockman for clear and patient explanations of the technical issues.

While a significant battle may be won but the war still rages on, I too want to voice my thanks for this place and the people here. TOD has helped a lot of us newbies understand what is happening. Learned things that I would have never gotten from the MSM and otherwise would have had to waited until the books about DWH started coming out.

TOD is a special place!

It is a good day and perhaps we turned the corner (... he said with cautious optimism ...) on ending this event.

O--M--G ... it just dawned on me ... new crisis ... the end is near! ... set up a new national command center ....

What are all of us ROV watchers going to do now?

Feeds are going to last a while but probably tame stuff.

The end is near ... oh the horror!

What are all of us ROV watchers going to do now?

Don't know about you, but I've got about a thousand unread E-mails in my inbox.


not to worry,

all mine were from sumdood in Nigeria who really needed to make a bank transfer.

darn, I was hoping that highspeed link had been permanently FUBAR.


Yes, group hug to all!

I don't know how I would have gotten through the Gulf Oil Spill without TOD!

Nice to hear from you again, TheraP!

I agree with you 100 percent -)

TheraP and Rockman are correct, we are not to the party time yet. After cement is injected by top kill operations, and then again into the bottom by the relief well(s), then we can hoist a cold one, and share in relief that a huge geological formation filled with petrochemical substances didn't pop open like a giant boil on the bottom of the Gulf.

bssmythe has a wonderful question. How long is cement, 5000 under the ocean's surface, going to last? Forever is a very long time.

In my experience working with shallow wells in the Appalachian Basin, most plugged wells seem well plugged with layers of mud (where there are aquifers) and cement, everywhere else. Of course, we can't know how well the plugging crew, hired on the basis of being the lowest bidder, followed the company's geologically based plugging plan. Mud is probably cheaper than cement, as delivered concrete-based products have become quite expensive as energy prices rise.

As erosion takes place, which it does quite noticeably in the Appalachian Mountains, and the geologic surface lowers, obviously first to go will be the monument marking the presence of the plugged well. Then cement in the top of the well bore will be exposed to the weather.

Freeze and thaw will work around the edges of the cement plug. Eventually the mud will be exposed and will erode more quickly, unless over the ages it has hardened into rock itself.

Under the ocean, the geologic process is different, Instead of erosion, sedimentation is occurring, and new rock is forming below the newly deposited sediments, as clays and sands become shales and sandstones (or perhaps quartzites, depending upon the nature of the sands). Soon (geologically) the top of the well is buried in soft sediments, which then harden into rocks eventually. [This sedimentation is corollary to the erosion occurring in the mountain ranges both east and west of of the Mississippi River basin. We still don't know how well executed the plugging plans are executed by the lowest bidder contractors.]

So perhaps these plugged wells are permanently plugged throughout a geologic cycle, until an uplift occurs and the seabed becomes a mountain range following a tectonic event, hundreds of millions of years in the future?

I am willing to call that permanent. We won't be around to worry about them.

As erosion takes place, which it does quite noticeably in the Appalachian Mountains, and the geologic surface lowers, obviously first to go will be the monument marking the presence of the plugged well. Then cement in the top of the well bore will be exposed to the weather.

Personally, I think you all should be most worried about all the thounsands of old P&A wells in coastal LA areas that are now being eroded by the sea. On the North Slope of Alaska there are a number old exploration wells that were drilled on barrier islands along the Beaufort Sea coast. Coastal erosion is now eroding these islands. [Many people blame the erosion on global warming causing incresed melting of permafrost which makes the islands more susceptable to erosion.]

To make matters worse, back in the bad old days many of these wells had old reserve pits and other nasty stuff left laying around, which is now being eroded into the ocean (Post well cleanup is much more stringent nowadays). A good deal of money has been spent cleaning up some of these sites before the ocean gets them. [Some of the wells were industry, and some were drilled by the government back in the old NPRA exploration phase in the 40's through the 70's.]

On the North Slope we are talking about perhaps a few dozen such wells at most that might be eroded. In LA, I suspect the number might be in the thousands.

Hmmm, then what happens when the sea level rises due to global warming? Sounds ominous.


Yes, in the long term it is ominous. Just one more reason to be real damn sure that all abandoned wella are properly P&A, with multiple GOOD downhole plugs. Also a good reason to take global warming seriously IMHO.

Is there documentation on the exact configuration of each abandoned well?

In Alaska in general the locations are fairly well documented. A few of these early wells date back to the Navy NPRA exploration phase during WW2, so the locations are all pre GPS accuracy. The downhole condtion of some of the older wells (what plugs were set at what depths, etc) may not be as well documented. Wells from the later goverenment exploraton era (USGS directed with Husky as operator) in the 70's are reasonably well documented, as are most of industry wells. As I noted above, there has been some money spent and work done to remediate the worst of these. I haven't been involved with that so I would have to research the details. Like I said, up here in Alaska we are talking about perhaps a few dozen old wells that might be in immediate (now and next few decades) danger of being eroded.

For coastal LA, TX MS etc the history of drilling goes back further. Not having worked that part of the world for a long time, I have no idea of how many wells might be at issue, but I suspect they number in the thousands. I also have no idea about what documentation exists, but I suspect it varies tremdously. I also don't know what if any remediation efforts have been done. Rockman or one of the other Gulf Coast hands could probably elaborate on that?

Is there documentation on the exact configuration of each abandoned well?

I think passaloutre in comment http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6810#comment-694503 has provided an answer for the Gulf Coast.

Thank you both.

Why??? As the sea level rises, so does the base level, so the coast will see an increase in deposition. Of course, the barrier islands will migrate with the sea level changes, but they have always migrated.

Regarding base level, coastal migration, and deposition. It ain't quite that simple. Anthropogenic global warming implies a quite rapid rise in sea level. In those situations deposition can't keep up (at least initially) with the increased "accomodation space" created by rising sea level. In those situations the coast line moves very quickly a long ways inland. In the geologic record that might be marked by a marine shale almost directly on top of non marine coastal sediments. Over time, deposition will fill it in and the coastline will move back out.

I should perhaps have been more clear, but the Alaskan example is somewhat of a special case. The North Slope is almost entirely underlain by permafrost. Onshore there in most places, if you dig down a few inches to a couple of feet you will find permanetly frozen ground. Typically this extends down to 1-2000 feet or so.

At the coastline, the permafrost extends under the water ofshore, but in a gradually thinning wedge. For the coastline itself, the frozen ground makes it resistant to the normal effects of coastal erosion. Also, because the ocean is frozen much of the year, there is no wave action except in the short summers. Even then, because the ocean further offshore is ice-covered even in summer, there is little "fetch" for the wind to develop big waves. Thus the normal processes of coastal erosion are much subdued relative to most of the worlds coasts. Many of the "barrier islands" on the Beaufort coast probably haven't moved much if at all in a very long time.

However, global warming has led to more rapid melting of the permafrost, making the coast much more suceptible to erosion. A larger ice free area in summer makes for more wave action. There are native villages on the northern Alaskan coast that have been in the exact same spot, right on the beach, for many centuries. Some of those villages are now being eroded away at a rapid rate. Graveyards with remains of current resident's great great grandparents are being taken by the sea. Archeological remains of even older dwellings in the same villages are also disapearing.

Down in coastal LA the problem (as I understand it), is more related to overall gradual subsidence compounded by erosion. RM has talked about this in some other posts. However, note that in either case, rapid sea level rise (by geologic standards) due to global warming greatly exacerbates the problem both in Alaska and Lousianna.

With respect to the original point of this thread, the immediate problem is that there are old wells, which may not have been properly P&A in the first place, being exposed to marine erosion. As I eluded to in an earlier post, there are also old mud pits and some other potentially nasty stuff left with those old well locations. Stuff most of us would probably prefer not to go into an already highly stressed marine environment.

Edited to take out some incorrect terminology due to typing too fast! "I thought I made a mistake once, but I was wrong."

BP has a press release reporting the well is dead and being monitored after 8 hrs of pumping mud. Decision will be made whether to pump cement after a period of monitoring.

What is going on on Skandi Rov 1 right now. Sure looks like leaks that they are spraying with dispersant.

I think they are pressure washing the stack prior to some underwater spray painting and waxing to make the stack look squeaky clean upon retrieval.


Tell those ROV guys to lay off.

I see Chu is trying to spin the Washington Post as he bitterly clings to the tatters of his reputation http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/04/AR201008... Too bad the WP failed again to ask him to confirm or deny that New York Times story that reported he unilaterally stopped the top kill before its completion. It seems he has learned what to look for on this, the second attempt. So at least he is teachable, if not knowledgeable. Now is he honest enough to own up to his mistake?

As Nimitz asked radioed Halsey, "...The World Waits".

Bruce -- Even with the success of the top kill yesterday I don't think I would be very critical of Dr. Chu calling quits on the first attempt. If anything, I would be critical of them trying it in the first place. I think it was more of a PR stunt that risked making matters worse IMHO. With the hole in the BOP shooting most of the kill pill into the GOM and that fact that AFAIK there has never been a successful top kill on a flowing well I saw virtually no chance of it working.

ROCK. Can the relief wells be used as production wells after they have been used in the bottom kill procedure; or, are they constructed differently? Have you seen any shots from the ROVs of this LED pressure gauge that is supposed to be down there?

acorn - very unlikely they would use RW 1 since it's so close to the blow out well. They might be able to side tack out of it up shallow and make a producer out of it. But I wouldn't want to try to produce any well that's any closer than at least 1,000' from the blow out hole. The RW 2 would be easier to drill away from the original location since it was suspended shallower.


A quick question. Why the 1000' lower limit? Is that something that can be calculated or is that a guess based on experience? Since BP already has so much invested in both RWs, it would make sense to try to turn one or both into production wells.

Karma - just my seat of the pants guess but I would expect the high flow rates to have caused some reservoir damage and altered the pressure profile in the reservoir to some degree. But the 1,000' exclusion zone won't be a probelm if the field is big enough to be commercial. I've have seen a dimension of the field offered by anyone but it would have to be at least 10,000' to 20,000' feet wide at a minimum. The reservoir is only 60' thick so to have as much oil recoverable as I've seen offered it has to cover a fairly large area. If there is still enough recoverable oil there won't be any problem find a few good drill spots.

But because the csg is set so deep in RW 1 they're just too close to the blow out...essential right on top of it. The RW 2 might be able to be drilled far enough away given it has csg set shallower.

I would expect RW1 to sidetrack, not try to produce from its current hole. Maybe the casing would prevent that. If the porosity and perm are as high as they appear from the blowout I would expect the localized pressure gradient to recover quickly. Other reservoir damage is another matter, but even that may be highly localized. They need at least one new hole anyway to get some new reservoir data, including a new pressure reading. Otherwise their economic decision on field development become a bit more problematic. I guess RW2 would be a first choice. If the field is big enough probably it won't matter if they stay at least 1000' away from the blown out well.

Just to clear up the questions about the RW or WW becoming production wells, this question has been put twice to BP and denied flatly. The last occasion was 2nd of August on Kents technical conference call. There was an earlier question put to BP where they stated the that all three wells will be Plugged and Abandoned once the flow has been stopped. I just could'nt find it when i took a quick look just now.

Joel Achenbach:

Yes, hi, Kent. Can you for a moment detail the differences in the way that the Macondo well was designed and drilled and cemented and the way the relief well was designed and cemented and so on, just so we have a sense of the differences there? And what will happen ultimately to the relief well? Would it ever be converted to a production well down the road?

Kent Wells:

Yes, so, first, the relief well was very specially designed to start from roughly about 3,000 feet displaced horizontally at the surface of the sea and also at the sea floor, to go down vertically, and then to be directionally drilled over, and then be sent up to be in a position where we could do this intercept.

And so we've been very careful to sort of follow its trajectory, get the casing in place, get it cemented as you've just seen going forward. So it's a very different design. There is no intention for us to convert these relief wells to producers or the Macondo well itself. Each has a set purpose. The relief wells were to intersect and kill the Macondo well.

Bruce -- Even with the success of the top kill yesterday I don't think I would be very critical of Dr. Chu calling quits on the first attempt. If anything, I would be critical of them trying it in the first place.


Absolutely. I m sure BP is well aware at this point that the May "top kill" was mostly a waste of time. The cofferdam was also a waste of time and so was and plan B, C, D etc. They are now well aware that getting a cap on ASAP should have been the focus of the plan of attack.

The reality is the so called "top Kill" in May and the various other attempts only made sense if BP was convinced the well bore was damaged and leaking and therefore couldn't stand to be capped. Thad Allen said at a press briefing in May that putting another BOP on top of the original was considered but the idea rejected because the well wouldn't hold pressure. I'm sure it wasn't Allen who thought up the idea that another BOP would not work because the well lacked integrity.

The assumption that the well lacked integrity was the base assumption that was driving the response to the blow out. It took about another 50 days after Allen made that comment that BP finally realized that the underlying assumption they were using as the basis of their plan of attack was flawed.

I'm sure it wasn't Allen who thought up the idea that another BOP would not work because the well lacked integrity.

He may not have thought it up - there are very many people participating in the committees involved in the decision making on this operation, some of whom are in BP, many more of whom are not. However, he's made it as clear as drilling mud that he's the man in charge, not some executive in BP. For all you or I know, it was some person outside BP that decided that we had to make the assumption that the well bore was compromised. Thad Allen signed off on that. Maybe we'll know in 50 years who made the recommendation that Allen listened to, though I somehow suspect that we won't.

We will now see a great clanking as the Noise Machine targets Chu and Obama for some new fault, now that the oil flow is stopped.

I personally glad we had that level of expertise, and NOW we have to continue educating on Global Warming from Fossil Fuels. I see that the Nissan Leaf Electric car nets out at about $20,000 after all the rebates.

Please seriously consider a smaller vehicle, folks, and a much smaller carbon footprint. We're personally down to 550 square feet for two people, and an average fuel mpg for two vehicles of 55 mpg. Double pane windows and solar hot water heating. It adds up.

Remember the starfish?

Little boy walking along the beach at low tide flinging starfish back into the water before they die from the sun. Cynical adult says to him "You can't make much of a difference here, boy. There are thousands of them."

The little boy responds "It sure made a difference to this one!"

"Please seriously consider a smaller vehicle, folks, "

I have to fit two adults, two infant sized car seats, a double stroller (folded up it is 25' x 40") plus the groceries we went out to buy in one car.

Can you name one 55 MPG car that can do this? (BTW - I will only put my wife and kids in a car with a 5 star crash rating.)

And can anybody tell me which is worse - the landfill area required for disposable diapers or the carbon produced by the requirement that we wash 20-30 cloth diapers Every Day?

You just go and live in your perfect little world - I have to live in the real world.


I hope you drive better than you read. I said "average" mpg".

I drive a Honda Helix, @70mpg, freeway legal, two-up maxi-scooter, and my wife drives an Echo, 40 mpg over 125.000 miles in ten years. The Echo has a huge trunk, AC, auto, 4 doors, and yes, it has airbags. I don't know the crash rating, but I'm sure it's OK.

Nothing perfect about it. I'd swap it for a Scion Xb, at only 35mpg, if I needed more room for groceries. I did my homework.

I'm no utopian, but I'm also not looking to excuse myself. My goal is a carbon footprint that would work for 6 billion people.

Fair's fair. People is people, the world over.

Different people have different needs. The sad thing is that social pressure (or imagined social pressure) makes many people think they need the biggest monster rig they can get. An example, a couple of years back I spent a (thankfully) brief time down in Houston. One of my co-workers had a car for herself, one for her husband, and a humongous 2WD Suburban. They had one infant kid. Aside from the fact that I think a 2WD Suburban makes about as much sense as near beer or decaf coffee, the big rig for them was just for show, near as I can tell. The 2 of them plus infant would take the suburban for casual drives. What a pointless waste.

I live in Anchorage where we have cold, snow, and ice much of the year, and I lead a very active outdoor lifestyle year around (active as a geezer my age can be). My wife and I have two AWD vehicles, but both are about as small and effieciant of that type of vehicle as is available. My point is that we can all take at least baby steps to reduce our energy consumption, even if we don't all drive electric cars or ride bikes to work.

We should not only try to reduce our oil consumption but find other sources that can make our dependency on oil only related to products.

a double stroller (folded up it is 25' x 40")

Well I would start by getting a smaller stroller ;) I would suggest you start by looking at the MPG figures for European vehicles, then you will realise how far behind American vehicles are. I don't know what your current figures are but look towards making a sizeable improvement even if 55 MPG seems out of reach for now. Are you justifying a SUV by specifying 5 star crash rating, I would prefer relying on 5 star driving.


There is no such thing as a double stroller that is both small and practical. And I have had one trafficident in my life - in 1985. However I always assume that the other drivers are idiots and no matter what I do the keep the idiots from hitting me - somebody will just figure out how to be a bigger idiot.

IMO - relying solely on '5 star driving skills' is like relying on '5 star drilling skills' and operating without a BOP or an emergency evacuation plan.

You need that final layer of safety to mitigate the damage if everything goes south.

BTW: there are two types of double strollers, side-by-side and tandem. Everybody I talked to (before I chose mine) who bought a side-by-side stroller hated it and wished they had bought a tandem. Everybody who bought a tandem stroller hated it and wished they had bought a side by side.

You need to read the bit I quoted on strollers a little more closely ;)

Relying on the 5 star resistant vehicle is precisely like the BOP and look where that got us. People didn't pay attention to the drilling because they thought the BOP would save them and driving is just the same. I am sure accident rates would plummet if driver's side air bags were replaced with claymore mines. Drivers hand off safety from their own awareness to the alleged safety features of the vehicle. As for the stroller issue how about dual papooses? :)


Honda Fits is not 55mpg but not bad and DOES fit your list of stuff. If you want something more substantial, Jetta TDI Wagon will do nicely. 55mpg is a problem from a physical standpoint of cars having frontal area that has to be pushed through air and mass that has to be accelerated.

But a <2001> Jetta 1.9 TDi was not too bad at 40mpg city, 50mpg highway :-)

Sorry but a Honda fit can only 'fit' one infant car seat (in the middle). Remember that infant car seats are rearward facing and require 24' of clearance between the backs of the two seats. You can get smaller ones - but in so doing you lose a lot of the protection. (The seats I got were the ones that Consumer Reports gave their top safety ratings to.)

When compared to the most of the rest of the world -- our gas prices (petro) is relatively cheap. The odd few will make a commitment to the environment and will support Hybrid and Electric vehicles --- but until gas prices exceed $5.00 -- people will continue to drive their SUV's. If all the peak oil projections (combined with current administration desire to drive up gas prices) are true - it won't be long before gas prices begin to influence car purchase behaviour.....

Statistically Americans begin to curtail when gas prices hit $2.78.

A Prius will almost do that. My son's MPG is 50+ with only one person in the car, and with the air conditioner on. I don't know the crash rating, though.

"Gonna buy me a Mercury and cruise it up and down the road...."


Bruce, I have questions three:

1. What's your basis for concluding that the top kill was successfully forcing mud down the well bore?

2. If they were successfully forcing mud into the well, how close were they to reaching the tipping point where the mud density x column height would balance the upward pressure of oil?

3. If a gambler decided to make a poor bet, but beat the odds and won anyway, would you conclude that he made the correct decision?


I'm not an oilfield expert like Rockman, but I am a marine scientist and do understand the basic concepts behind much of what's been going on here. So to try to answer your questions:

1) The top kill can be considered successful, in terms of stopping the immediate flow and forcing the oil back down the well shaft, when the pressure reading at the well cap is zero (relative to ambient water pressure). That zero reading means the mud, which is denser than the petroleum, has forced the oil back down the shaft to the point that the weight of the mud--which is the pressure it exerts at the base of the mud column--is equal to the upward pressure of the oil. When the mud weight equals the oil's upward pressure, then the mud doesn't need the strength of the cap, or the force of the pump, to overcome the oil pressure. The mud's own weight will then be doing the whole job.

2) How close BP is to the mud balancing the upward pressure of the oil--and I think they've reached that point already--is mesured by the pressure at the well cap. Zero, relative to ambient water pressure, means they've reached it.

3) In the long run, the gambler will have made a bad choice, because if he lays long odds repeatedly, he'll lose far more often than he wins. For that one time, it's hard to say he made the wrong choice. If you're likening it to the current scenario, I don't think the analogy is all that fitting, since the gambler (generally, unless he's cheating somehow) has no control over the contest he's gambling on. In this case, the static kill is working much better than the earlier top kill because there isn't nearly as big a leak at the top of the system. So the odds were much better, to say the least. Between the top kill and now, BP was able to significantly alter the situation--the odds of the game, so to speak.

Nice description of the current situation, but my three questions were directed entirely at the previous attempted top kill of the flowing well.
Sorry, I should have been clearer.

The top kill can be considered successful, in terms of stopping the immediate flow and forcing the oil back down the well shaft, when the pressure reading at the well cap is zero (relative to ambient water pressure).


That isn't actually supposed to be true. There should still be some pressure in the well based on calculations before the Kill. The point where the pressure is equal to the water column is higher up.

I haven't heard any reports on what the measured pressure is now.


I don't want to sound like a nitpicker but from my understanding I believe you misspoke regarding well cap pressure. Seems to me that there is still some confusion about what a mud column does in this situation, i.e. a successful top kill, and what the pressure reading mean. I write this mostly to help those that understand this stuff even less than I to make sense of at least one small (but important) part of the pretty arcane concepts, procedures and outcomes surrounding the Macondo blowout and its aftermath.

With BP's current configuration, the only place they can inject kill mud into the well is through one of the lines attached to the cap from the surface. Neglecting all of the second order constants and variables, there are only a few starting conditions we need to know: distance from surface to sea floor, distance from sea floor to bottom hole, surface air pressure, sea water pressure at sea floor, and bottom hole shut-in reservoir pressure. All of these starting conditions were known prior to the blowout.

We want the well to be in a static, non-flowing condition. We want to achieve that in a way that we do not need to use any primary mechanical pressure containment devices. In other words, by achieving those we can say that the well is successfully killed. We can use a combination of drilling mud of the correct weight (more properly, density) and plain old gravity to achieve them. We also need to decide where in this mud column we want the mud pressure to equal the pressure of the surrounding environment. That is the point where we need no mechanical pressure containment. I will call that the top balance point. There are really only two meaningful choices, 1) the seafloor/cap or 2) the surface.

Now you can start calculating. I’m not going to, but anyone who has a mind to can jump in and do it. We can reason out relative pressures at various points in the mud column without having to calculate actual numbers. My understanding is that BP wanted to achieve the kill condition with the top balance point at the surface. They figured that 13 ppg mud would do it. I recall that sea water is somewhere over 7 ppg. When they fill the pipe from the surface to the cap with 13 ppg mud there will be more pressure inside the cap than what is outside the cap due to the density difference between mud and sea water. That is where I disagree with agramante. This same 13 ppg mud at bottom hole will exert a pressure equal to shut-in reservoir pressure. So, their 13 ppg mud has zero (ambient air) pressure at the surface, a pressure greater than seawater pressure at the cap, and a pressure equal to shut-in pressure on the bottom. The well is killed.

To kill the well with the top balance point at the cap they need heavier mud based on Macondo starting conditions. You would not want to do it, but if that was the top balance point you could remove the entire BOP stack and the well would not flow.

I bet the oilfield old timers here have answered this question a million times and have grown tired of it. I’m just a chronological old timer. However, I’m still excited enough about discovering TOD and the expertise that it brings to the table that I don’t mind repeating yet again some information that a lot of the uninitiated struggle with over and over. With that said, I sure hope I got all the facts right.

Dave -- you seem to like pressure calculations so here's a handly tool if you haven't seen it already: Pressure (psi) = 0.052 * mud weight (#/gallon) * column height (feet). So if you do the math the pressure at the cap from the mud is about 3,400 psi vs. the 2,300 psi water pressure at that depth. The reservoir pressure was initally measured (MDT tool) at 11,900 psi (12.6 ppg). I'll let you do the math for an 18,000' and 13,000 column of 13.2 ppg mud. Enjoy!

See that? I knew somebody would jump in. But you were supposed to fill in the details.

So, rounding off if you assume a top balance point at the surface you get, as you stated, a cap pressure due to 13 ppg mud of 3400 psi. Pull off the hose at the cap and and the loss of mud through the hose likely will be a bit obscured by the well blowing out again.

Assuming a top balance point at the cap gives by my reluctant calculations a mud weight of 14 ppg and a cap pressure equal to the water column outside. Pull off the hose now and you will drain mud from the hose but the well will not blow out.

What I forgot about is that you want a closed system by shutting the valve at the cap with the 14 ppg mud in the hole so you isolate the well from the mud in the hose. Otherwise you have to add the column of 14 ppg mud from the cap to the surface.

If I am right do I get a star? If I am wrong...well, I don't even want to think about it.

No offense taken, darmadave--that's why I stated that I'm not an oilfield pro (and haven't had access to streaming video for a while to see the configuration). I realized that in my description, the well cap was kind of a dead-end top to the pipe, with the mud being pumped in from the side. If that's not the actual case, then I did indeed characterize it wrongly. But my basic understanding is that the mud is dense enough that the weight of the mud column will eventually equal the upward pressure in the oil, due to the static pressure on the oil-bearing strata from the crust above.

It was obvious you knew the physical principle involved. Concerning the deal about pressure inside and outside the cap on the sea floor, just look at all the comments about it on this thread alone. Bottom line is that once the well is killed those details quickly become not so important.

Nubs. I am unsure from the stuff coming from the media, that the well is hydro statically balanced from sea level or at sea bed level. If sea level with 13 pound ??? mud, via the rig pipework, that is different to 5000 feet of seawater at 8.6 ppg. What I am saying is if they disconnected the BOP now; would we get a gusher?

Kurt Wells was quite clear yesterday that they were going for zero psig at the top of the mud column (on the surface).
[Edit] I'm no oilman (OILPERSON, as we politically correct Oregonians prefer to say], but if I understand the principles of pressure correctly, yes, a gusher would ensue if the BOP were removed right now.

I'm a little puzzled too why they wouldn't use heavy enough mud to achieve 0 psig at the seafloor level.

Hmmm.. maybe they did. I was assuming that they didn't want to overbalance the well that much, to minimize the chance of damaging the rock at the bottom.

I guess we need ROCKMAN for this one.

Don't you think they must have built in some safety factor with respect to mud weight, to avoid the embarrassing possibility of filling the well with mud and still not reaching balance? All they would need is an extra 1500 PSI or so to achieve 0 psig at the sea floor. So maybe they do have sufficient mud density to balance at the sea floor. They just need to close the valve through which they were injecting mud at the BOP and open the valve on the capping stack to see if anything comes out....Just a thought, not actually suggesting that they try it.

We don't always have an abundance of accurate information from the media and gov, do we. ;-) I do have confidence that they know how to do the calculations for the MW. I'm just not sure what their intentions are.


Just out of curiosity, why were you thinking that they might want to achieve balance at the sea floor? To be safe in case the BOP and all that hardware attached to it sprung a big leak, especially if they had to leave the site for a hurricane?

Tell me you're not thinking about popping off the BOP and going fishing down the hole before cementing at the bottom.

I thought rockman was pulling our legs when he suggested that.

FOR ALL: My best guess - I'm still looking for official confirmation but I gather they used 13.0 ppg mud to kill the well. That would give them a 12,200 psi BHP (bottom hole pressure). That should stop the flow from the 11,900 psi reservoir even if pressure hasn't decreased. So the well is dead...as long as they don't disconnect from the riser system. If they do then they'll have only a 13,000' column of 13 ppg which would yield a BHP of only 8,800 psi. You would still add about 2,300 psi from the water column so the total BHP would equate to 11,100 psi. Or still less han the reservoir pressure if it hasn't declined. And the well would completely unload and the entire flow would return if they couldn't shut the cap in. One matter I'm uncertain about: can they disconnect from the cap without letting the well flow? If not then they are stuck until the next storm forces them off location. And I doubt they can force a heavier mud weight down the well. I'm still looking for confirmation that they used a particulate mud and not a clear heavy brine to kill the well. If it's a standard mud then it's actually designed to not be injected into the reservoir. The particulates won't flow into the rock and forms a fairly impermeable "mud cake" against the rock that inhibits injection even more. If it were a heavy 13 ppg brine we could start pumping a heavier brine in that would keep the well killed with only a 13,000' column. The heavier brine could easily push the 13 ppg brine into the reservoir.

They could still displace the 13 ppg mud down the hole if they crank the pump pressure up and fracture the rocks. That would only take about 16.4 ppg equivalent mud weight (ECD). Then they could displace downward with MW high enough to still kill the well with only a 13,000' column. But such high pressures could cause mechanical problems. Perhaps too risky to try.

I think many folks now realize this isn't that complicated a process...at least on paper. It's still damn frustrating to have to keep guessing at the details they still aren't offering.

Re "I'm still looking for official confirmation but I gather they used 13.0 ppg mud to kill the well."

In his July 30 appearance, Wells said "13.2".


This is just speculation, but perhaps they are looking ahead to when the relief well connects.

Seems to me it's preferable to have a path via the WW all the way to the surface so that the mud that is pushed out of the well ahead of the cement can be collected, measured, examined, etc., rather than just dumping it out on the sea floor at the BOP. That means 5000' of mud above the BOP, therefore non-zero pressure in the BOP.

Another consideration might be that it's better to have equal pressures in both wells when the intersection is made, so that neither well experiences a sudden need to pump a bunch of mud to maintain control. Having the mud column reach the surface for both wells, with the same mud weight in both, makes that easier to achieve is my guess.

The only reason I can see to try to obtain balance at the WW BOP would be if they wanted to switch out it's BOP, something that apparently nobody wants to attempt until there's a known good plug or two in the WW.


I have yet to see anyone posting information that would indicate that the original top kill was anywhere near succeeding. If it was not succeeding then why should the attempt not be called off?


Prepping for the BOP test later today, maybe.


In the just-closed thread, you posted a "Prayer for the River" by John Grap from the Battle Creek Enquirer. Thank you. I teared up a bit--and I'm not religious.

Then I went to the link and saw the accompanying photo. Don't know how to post a photo here, but I found the unguarded wording of the caption moving:

Woody Haroff of Ceresco talks with one [of] the geese he brought Circle D Wildlife Refuge in Vicksburg for cleaning on Tuesday.

The photo itself made me weep. Enlarge it to see the details:


Makes me think the human race may be redeemable.

Redeemable. Yes! Here's another photo, in a different setting. But it shows how close attention and caring - to animals, could be people or our environment - is powerfully able to affect not just the one receiving it, but the onlooker as well:


I think that the contributions of many here at TOD also have a similar, powerful effect - for the same reasons.


Aw heck, as long as we're in that mood . . .

[skips out before the old-timers start bellerin']

lotus - I don't think that's very cute. Bad enough the cat assassinates the dog but then uses it as a bed. Now that's just plain cold.

All in eye (or mind) of the viewer, eh? I know...more of my tasteless black humor.

You know what they say, Rocky: cats rool, dawgs drool.

Rock. Pulling us back to reality. Down at the bottom, there is a dead rig that was the Deepwater Horizon. There are eleven guys MIA presumed dead. Does anyone know if there is off media searching going on, looking for these guys?

The rig burned for several days, it's very likely there were any human remains left on it when it sank.

RIP gentlemen.

RIP Indeed. God help their families.

I doubt it acorn. A sad thought indeed but I doubt there are any remains to be found. I'll even skip those ugly details.


Thanks for the really great photo. I saved it as a background, even replacing my LSU tiger pic. I want my wife to see yours. She has a whole green hand when it comes to living things. We have a dog, two cats, eight (pan size) goldfish, and a 27 year old cockatiel. That may be the oldest cockatiel on the planet.

Great, KDave, I hope she'll enjoy it too. Nice little "peaceable kingdom" y'all got going on there. Congratz.

Loren Eisley wrote a famous essay, "The Star Thrower," about the human capacity to feel love across the species boundary.


Gobbet: One of my favorite authors. Was introduced to him in high school long ago and have every one of his books staring at me from my shelf as I compose this.

They are millions of pictures of human kindess. No need to doubt that.
Well I've read the past few threads and I'm glad the death blow was successful at least thus far.
And speaking of the longevity of cement. How fast do you think they can drain this well before it wears out in the far future? Since I assume once it's empty the integrity of the cement wouldn't matter any more.

HOS - I suspect you meant to say drain the reservoir. If so, from above:

Actually due to the high overhead cost of producing a DW field even when the field has been "depleted" a well could still flow a couple of hundred bbls of oil per day. Not just the blow out well but any production well. This is one of the recent concerns over the integrety of previously abandoned wells.

So we may still be looking over our shoulders for sometime even though it's not a likely event.

If it's only a couple hundred isn't that closer to how much oil naturally seeps from the floor per day?
We aren't exactly worrying about a number as high as 60,000.

HOS -- True...not enough to lose sleep over. But Mother Earth is allowed...it's her world. We shouldn't be. It really doesn't cost that much more to do it right.

Two stories from that paper caught my eye. The first one was on all the buyouts from the Michigan Spill Victims and this story. It is gross but it made me feel good. This dog probably saved this idiots life, in spite of his master's best efforts to die.
Dog eats Rockford man's big toe, saves his life

Edit: Remember I am Korean and I will leave it at that.

Didn't know that TFHG. Yes..please..let's leave the dog stories out. I already annoy HOS some with my dark humor...no need to pile on.

I didn't even say anything today...
As for the dog story, its interesting. But we aren't focusing on tht right now are we?
Also what does BP mean when they say most of the oil is gone? Do they mean the microbes ate it, did it evaporate, or was it collected?

A new government report says nearly three-quarters of the oil -- more than 152 million gallons -- has either been collected at the well by BP's cap, burned, skimmed, chemically dispersed, naturally deteriorated, evaporated or dissolved.


I just heard someone on NPR say that the "waves broke it down"!!???
I guess we ought not be mincing words, but newscasters make such an easy target.

Nubs, I didn't catch that bit and don't know who said it, but throughout the spill, NPR's Matthew Harris has been giving the most coherent and accurate reports of anyone in the big media. Waves do help a bit, of course.

It was a female voice, not Matthew Harris. Might actually have been a Gov't spokesperson. I agree that NPR has been generally pretty good, especially his description yesterday of the difference between the static kill and the earlier top kill of the flowing well.

I heard some of that NPR report too. Seems like the name mentioned was Browner: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carol_Browner

I have been wondering what Ocean Intervention ROVs 1 and 2 have been monitoring - anyone know? Thanks.

Several points,
1. The threat from more leaked petroleum seems minimal at this time.
2. Relief well bottom kill is still on schedule AFAIK.
3. The oil and the physical impact from the oil thus far has dissipated faster than most all predictions or models of previous leaks.
4. The financial impact is not over and may never truly be determined.
5. This can be a watershed event, or we can ignore it. As usual, the truth will be in the middle.
6. A tropical event might cause additional petroleum damage this year.
7. No one has any idea when the tourists will return, but there are some signs to be optimistic there as well.
8. The burial of the oily waste in our landfill caused us to implement better practices and get the word out about those practices.
9. The current local projections are two years before we have a full recovery. The number started at 20 years.
10. We are one study or news report away from not being so optimistic. There is so much unknown.
11. I feel positive so far today and I am going to celebrate tonight. Not at Hooters, but at Papa Roccos. My brother likes it better and I like it too.

Since we are all in the mood for heartwarming pictures...

I plan on celebrating later tonight don't know where but I must.

What is up with the frog? Natural look for him?

BPs new mascot, smug in the knowledge that global amnesia can always be relied upon...

Silly as that sounds, it would be up there with the Geico Gecko.

Hm, Heiro, an error message flashed briefly there, but then along came a page with a very funny cat-&-balloon video, so all's cool.

Somewhere in the back of the tiger's mind is the question, "Lunch?"

HOS. Here in the UK we have a guy from a topnotch University saying ... "if the Gulf of Mexico was scaled to an Olympic sized swimming pool; the oil spilt into the GoM would be one cubic centimetre" Not a lot of people know that.

He may be a topnotch prof but what's his point? It's not distributed evenly throughout, for one thing.

Has he told the fauna this fact? How'd they react to that enlightenment?

How about the people whose livelihoods depend on having customers pay to swim in it? Think he'd take his beloved wife and kids to the corner of the pool where it's concentrated and have them play in it?

Has he ever heard of salt marshes?

What if eleven attendants died and someone else killed himself because of that one little cubic centimetre being spilled?


I thought he said "one gram"?

IIRC a cc of water will equal one gram (STP), oil would be lighter of course. I'm suspecting the point was lost on most though. The problem with crude oil is its stickiness, water repellence and harmful composition (like benzene rings). One gram (or cc) of poison in that swimming pool might be pretty repugnant, or if it were plutonium...

The prof was right to emphasize dilutive effects (assuming he did). A ChemE I work with determined the amount of oxygen required to oxidize all the oil considered spilled times a fudge factor of 3 and he calculated there was enough dissolved oxygen in one cubic mile of GOM water to oxidize all of it.

The microbes are having a feast, and the krill and other critters that eat those microbes will soon be having their own feasts. The fish that eat the krill will have feasts, and eventually I plan on having a feast of GOM seafood. The ocean IMHO will do a better job of handling this than the land.

My take on bacteria is about like Rockman's take on the well kill: not quite ready to party, but happy that so much of the oil may already have been eaten.

The various species of bacteria are quite good at metabolizing the more linear chain hydrocarbons (especially smaller molecular weight ones), not so good at some of the chemicals with single rings, and not much can handle some of the PAHs. Petroleum chemists can fill in the details of the composition of GOM oils, but my understanding is that the bulk is composed of the linear chains & such, so the bacteria can easily have eaten the majority of the suspended oil. [Given natural seeps and lots of little spills, there were sufficient bacteria in the water to seed the population explosion and eat the oil, with no need for dumping more in as in the concurrent spill in China.] If we get the right sampling done, we'll even learn a lot about the dynamics of the bacteria & food chain from this "pulse" experiment: my dark horse is that more bacteria may be killed by bacteriophages (viruses) than eaten by larger microbes & zooplankton.l

The down side is that the PAHs and such that don't get broken down by the bacteria are also the more toxic components. My limited understanding is that they break down slowly due to non-biologic oxidative reactions. Will they get mixed enough throughout the Gulf that dilution is really the solution, or will there be local concentrations that can be further concentrated in the food chain, or that get sequestered in surface sediments and can be remobilized and episodically contaminate fish or oysters?

Think of tens of milligrams of pretty serious toxins in that Olympic-sized swimming pool. If its not diluted enough by thorough mixing to not matter, its going to be a difficult problem to detect where it is.

Hopefully, a petroleum chemist will further amplify and clarify, and I especially hope that they won't have to correct too much!

Never did understand why anyone would come up with that analogy other then to pretend like the spill is nothing.

First off because of the currents of the gulf the whole gulf is not effected.

Leaving that aside, he leaves out shrinking all the beaches, the people, animals, fish and businesses that are in contact with that cubic centimeter of oil.

Echoing on the other poster's point. For this spill being only a tiny droplet in the ocean is was destructive.

Probably correct, however it neglects one of the most critical pieces of the picture - things involving oil and water are dependent on surface phenomena. That cubic centimeter amount of oil would cover an immense surface area if it were to spread. And for many biological processes the interactions at surfaces are critical.

There was a wonderful experiment conducted by Ben Franklin that illustrated the spreading power of oil:


And a terrific video dramatization of the experiment:


And of course when one finishes thinking about these questions, it is time to start thinking what can be done to ameliorate these effects in the case of an oil spill. This is where things like dispersants come into the picture.

TFHG: re your #8: "The burial of the oily waste in our landfill caused us to implement better practices and get the word out about those practices."

Please share! What better practices were you able to implement? Thanks-

1. Consider burying of oily waste as a last resort option.
2. To not use the pink hazmat heavy poly bags, but instead collect as bulk material.
3. Ensure vendors such as WM haul the waste safely.
4. Recycle bulk sand and oil mix as road base.
5. Make sure the local community is kept abreast of all efforts on an ongoing basis.
6. Make sure the landfill and solid waste departments have a voice in the collection process.
7. Make sure the community knows the players, aid them where possible, and hold them accountable when they fail to perform with expected standards.
8. To use this event as a positive launching point for a 'greener' relationship between the community and the county waste department.

I just gave the county guys a chance, and they responded admirably. You have to be good at working with people. Thanks and good luck.

Here's a video of the leak that I just recorded (Wednesday morning). If the static condition that Mr. Wells defined yesterday has been achieved (pressure at the top of the mud column = 1 atm), then the pressure difference between the inside of the BOP and ambient at 5000 foot depth is less than 1500 psi. If there is this much leak at such a low pressure, I would worry about trying to force cement into the well. Or maybe they are doing some sort of pressure test.

{Edit] Or maybe they pumping cement now?

It's 1.25 PST and that leak in your video is at least as bad as yesterday. Also, they are using a lot of dispersant in other areas. I assumed the lower pressure would lessen the leak.

It's 1.25 PST and that leak in your video is at least as bad as yesterday. Also, they are using a lot of dispersant in other areas. I assumed the lower pressure would lessen the leak.

If we can believe what has been reported this well is now killed. I do not imply in any way that the job is finished. Even if this leak exists after the well was killed in my opinion it is not significant. If they tried to pump cement they would carefully watch this leak and any others on the BOP stack. The moment anything bad started they would just shut off the pumps. I will stick my neck out a bit and predict that BP will never attempt cement injection from the top. Based on what they and the govt have said in the past I think that the whole commentary about cement has been about keeping their options open, avoiding a detailed commitment on much of anything, and keeping us guessing as much as possible. Remember, these guys are experts.

To think this well could have been stopped two months ago if some bungling bureaucrat had stepped aside, is infuriating. Countless careers have been destroyed, jobs lost and the entire Gulf on hold because of one leadership arrogance. A Nobel prize winner HA. Steven Chu who has only to his credit increasing the efficiency of a refrigerator if he had any integrity, should step down or out. The American people need to take a can of bug spray and spray DC. The bungling list-our undocumented President, Steven Chu, MMS, and USCG.

I don't think it could have, the cap used to cap this was specifically designed for this occasion and several days after this mess began they already started on the relief wells to seal it for good.
What was the real problem here was that they were too busy playing the blame game and being dishonest that the clean up effort ended up being very disorganize.

Also sorry about that the link broke.

Here is the real picture.


I think idontno is referring to the top-kill attempted without a cap. It has been alleged that BP engineers believed that there was a chance of success if the pumping operation was continued but that Chu overruled them and stopped the attempt. I recall a report that Chu admitted that he now regrets this decision. I don't think anyone authoritative has said the top-kill would definitely have succeeded if continued.

RGB--Yes, and more than a statement from someone authoritative, I'd like to see some actual data backing up the idea that the top kill would have worked if they had continued.

Given that all they have to go on is the rate at which mud was being pumped at the surface, the pressure at one or more places in the BOP, and the video of the stuff gushing out, it's hard to imagine what conclusive evidence they could have. In a modeler's abstract mind one can imagine pressure data from multiple strategically placed sensors that would suggest that mud was going down the well, and maybe even at what rate, but there are so many unknowns that thinking about the possibilities rapidly becomes an abstract fantasy.

So even if Chu now thinks he was wrong, I wouldn't necessarily agree with him.

Nubs - You are my hero.

I am arguably not an expert, but I get to play one offshore and people are prepared to go along with the gag and deposit money in my account.

Suggest you take a poll on those commentators that have a current offshore survival certificate that allows them to actively participate as part of the offshore community. Doesn't make you smart, just makes you qualified to work offshore. I got my first one in 1978...

Not sure how you differentiate from there. Some of us have tons of experience, but no degree. Personally, I am somewhat wary of degreed engineers with no experience in this field, but that's just me and 35 years of experience talking.

Mostly, I think Rockman is right, but we disagree very seriously about pumping cement down the wild well. I would pump a kill job of cement down the WW and not even blink. I feel the potential failures in the RW are nowhere near the effort of completing it, and I mean that very seriously having been on a number of them, despite how much Chad Allan wants to beat his chest about being the National Incident Commander. I come at this from a fishing, cementing and wild well and stimulation background.

One of us is right, and its not going to take long to find out whom. Two gallons of Bluebell on the winner?

One of the really cool things about TOD is the diversity of opinion...


Jones, You have made a good point. I agree with you that experience can be just as important as an engineering degree in a lot of cases. Operations in the field is the best example of that.

That said, however, experience is often not the panacea when judgment is required based on facts in hand and assessment of risk.

Given a set of facts and unknowns at a particular point in an operation, and considering what could go wrong with a pending action, and considering the overall impact of something going wrong, and the probability of the bad thing happening, it makes no sense to continue with a high risk event when the alternative is a very low risk action but may take a few days longer.

Top kill was a good example. It was an extremely poor decision considering the risk/rewards. Static kill is another good example. If reducing the pressure on the cap for some some good reason is the goal, static kill can do the job. Following the kill with cement from the top is another matter. It adds considerable to the bad things that can happen when the alternative, the relief well, and cementing from the bottom is only a few days more to wait. Unfortunately, the incessant delays in the relief well completion were not necessary and it should have been ready to pump at the completion of the static kill.

My position can obviously be debated but its based on many years drilling experience, thousands of wells drilled and completed both onshore and offshore, numerous well control problems experienced and resolved, several relief wells required(not from drilling problems but from production operations handed to us for killing underground blowouts etc), managing a well control school, managing a drilling mud training facility, training several hundred well supervisors starting from scratch and including all aspects of rig supervision(Company Men) including BOP inspection and testing, and, last but not least, an Engineering degree.

Hey exdrillmgr: I was wondering with regards to top kill if we really knew yet the parameters and models they looked at to make the call to try it. I am assuming John Wright and his kill fellows would have pushed for it and convinced everyone it was doable. I hope someday the details of the decision making are revealed.
Appreciate your comments throughout this. I was in the exploration side so nice to have a driller or two on board here for input.

ExDrllgMgr, I really appreciate your point of view. I suspect a bowl of ice cream, or a cup of coffee, or a glass of our favorite beverage would resolve out diffenece of opinion in a heartbeat.

I have a problem with scenarios that my clients paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to resolve around the world.

That may be why you don't hear really qualified oilfield opinions here, they simply aren't allowed to speak.

Perhaps, I get away with my opinions because I am a consultant, bespoken to no one.


JTF, I get away with my opinions because I'm retired and have obligations to no one. lol


Aw, shucks...... There's an awful lot of love in the room here today.

I've really enjoyed reading your exchanges with the other experienced folks here. Learned so much. Lots of respectful give and take, sometimes some pushing and shoving.

I figured out in May that this site was like a saloon in the wild American west where patrons are asked to check their guns at the door. Fisticuffs, sure, cowboys will be cowboys. I don't even know or care about most people's political views. But now I'm sounding like some old codger.

I think the one thing that brings us all together here is the belief that we are better off gathering information before coming to a conclusion. Seems like most people prefer to do it the other way around.

As for engineers, I don't have an engineering degree (I'm a biologist), but have lots of hands on experience with electronics. I once worked with a guy who had a PhD in electrical engineering. Had to show him how to use an oscilloscope. Degrees mean little in my book, experience counts, but mostly common sense.

P.S. I'm staying out of the betting on this.

"I once worked with a guy who had a PhD in electrical engineering. Had to show him how to use an oscilloscope."

Had to laugh at that one. I swear every EE that I have ever tried to engage in a conversation about electronics always stopped me with their claim that they are power engineers and don’t know about that small stuff.

BTW, I'm not knocking EEs. I started my college career wanting to be one.

Hey, my Ph.D. is in LInguistics and even *I* know how to use an oscilloscope. What school did that guy go to???

I recall a report that Chu admitted that he now regrets this decision.

I think this is the story folks are (mis)remembering. Chu never expressed "regret" about not going through with the top kill. Quoting:

In early May, he suggested using gamma ray imaging to determine the condition of the well’s blowout preventer, a move no one at the company had considered.

A few weeks later, he overruled some BP officials and ordered the company to stop the “top kill” effort, citing “very, very grave concerns” that it could backfire. ...

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

Dr. Chu said he did not believe that he and his team had made any serious miscalculations in the nearly three months of trying to corral the renegade well, but like everyone involved in the catastrophe, they had been learning as they went along, under intense scrutiny and pressure.

“I don’t want to dwell on ‘coulda, shoulda, woulda,’” he said. “There’s nothing I can really point to that we shouldn’t have done based on what we knew at the time.”

Dr. Chu, former director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said: “When things are unfolding, there are lots of possibilities and false starts. If you knew the right path at the beginning, could it have been done a little faster? Probably.”

And from our old friend "Technician":

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

A lot of people seem to be forgetting that there was grave concern over the condition of the well and what damage a top kill might cause. It is one thing to look back, a few months later, with all the data to hand and say it should have gone on but when things are not going to plan then it takes a strong will to step back and say enough. There was an article, some long time ago and elsewhere, that studied the habits of trying to complete a project that was failing and throwing more and more resources at it to try and finish instead of calling time and stopping it. Chu was in that situation.


RGB, I think you may not be recalling what Chu said quite accurately. He said if he had been up to speed on the engineering earlier, he would have taken a more assertive role in the decision-making process. He said he might have urged attempting the top kill sooner, not that he would have made a different decision on aborting the top kill when it was attempted.

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


No telling whether or not the NYT writer has garbled this account of Chu's reasoning. Who knows, he might have been talking about a reduction of back pressure by erosion in the riser and BOP.

Clearly there are some folks who are determined that this whole mess must be the fault of the federal government, and so ideology requires blaming Chu for the oil in the Gulf.

A very simplistic and inacccurate view, dontno. It's true that Chu stopped the top kill, but it was also pretty plain that it wasn't working--too much mud was pouring out the top of the BOP. The cap they have now took over a month to make. The kill bores, the most reliable means of killing this well, have been in progress almost continuously since nearly the beginning of this whole disaster.

An oil spill of these dimensions has no good or complete solution. Dispersant has its (significant) costs. Mechanical fixes take time, in some cases considerable time.

As to what you expect the Obama administration to do, what are they capable of, specifically? There is not quick or magical way to plug this well. Unfortunately the perpetrators, BP, have the most expertise to address the situation, as imperfectly as they have. The MMS failed in its obligation to the American public, without a doubt--but it was an MMS which was systematically rebuilt (especially under Cheney and Bush) to aid and abet the oil industry in every way conceivable. Rents were slashed, blanket approvals for drilling given almost instantly, safety regulations ignored.

Louisiana's state response has largely been a joke. Instead of booming the most critical areas--the inlets--Jindal ordered the willy-nilly booming of virtually the entire coast, resulting in miles and miles of broken, washed up and useless boom. To be effective, boom must be constantly tended, and the oil it collects must be removed. Boom is not a dam barring oil from reaching the shore--it is a means of gathering the oil for collection. It's not a reliable prophylactic, to say the least. Instead, Louisiana got miles of that, plus some nonsensical berms which have already been partly washed away at least once.

I agree with agramante and Gobbet but would go a bit further to assert that the original "bungling bureaucrat" was a BP employee. To reinforce the latter points re booms and berms, find the video on blanking boom school (now removed from youtube but still up elsewhere), and find last week's nola.com report of 1,200 barrels of oil collected from berms, out of 4,900,000 barrels total. With some effort we probably could compute the $/barrel.

Whoa, worse than you thought. They didn't collect 1,200 barrels of oil, but rather 1,200 "pounds of oily debris," aka 12 cubic feet of oily sand. And this was during two sorties by the Louisiana National Guard, called up to provide evidence for how well the governor's berms were working. I'm sure those boys enjoyed their sunny days at the (artificial) beach in hazmat suits.


Oh my! 12 cubic feet of oily sand. I've probably got that much buried under that old underground heating oil tank that I've been meaning to dig up for the last 20 years.

Thanks for the correction. :)

Is there a link on Jindal's role in the booming strategy?

And regarding the berms--I really wish the government would intervene and take BP off the hook on paying for any more of that ridiculous boondoggle. Jindal seems determined to go through with it. Adm. Thad sounded pusillanimous a couple of days ago when he said it was up to BP and LA. According to earlier accounts, he ordered BP to accept the scaled-down project. I'm absolutely sure he did that only because the White House thought Jindal had the government over the barrel in a political/PR sense.

Thank you.

agramante, I wasn't taking any issue with what you were saying until you said "The MMS failed in its obligation to the American public, without a doubt--but it was an MMS which was systematically rebuilt (especially under Cheney and Bush) to aid and abet the oil industry in every way conceivable. Rents were slashed, blanket approvals for drilling given almost instantly, safety regulations ignored." That's when my internal bullshit indicator started squealing.

There's no argument that the MMS is not, never has been, and probably never will be as effective as a well managed energy company or drilling contractor. I would argue that duplicating the knowledge/capability of industry experts is not their role. They tried that once before when they decided they should go out an drill their own exploratory well before leasing an area to give them experience in costs and operations. That was a fiasco. They lucked out they didn't encounter hydrocarbons and take a kick.

When one looks at what happened on this BP well and the decisions that led to the tragedy, it had less to do with the MMS's role and more to do with decisions on the part of the Operator and Contractor in the day(s) just before the blowout, in my humble opinion.

I doubt that you have the evidence to support any of that diatribe, but you're welcome to try.


Garbage talk. It's been explained many many times why the first top kill OF THE GUSHING WELL was stopped.

You're going off half-cocked.

Feel good about that?

You know I just thought of something. Spilled oil as it relates to the fine. Legally, what is the difference between burned oil and dispersed oil? IANAL (I am not a lawyer), but I would have several top firms working for me trying to figure out how to take advantage of this 75% dissipated number. Burning, collecting, eaten by microbes, what is the difference? You think such a tactic might work?

You think such a tactic might work?

Only for "collected" (therefore, "kept out of the environment"), I'd surmise.

Burning, collecting, eaten by microbes, what is the difference?

All that got loose caused undue grief, effort, and expense, which BP (et, possibly, al.) must answer for.

Perhaps, but I am hearing whispers of support for the $1,000 figure from some industry folks down here. Some folks are at least thinking about it if BP paid right away. I have not thought about it but we are old folks here. Most of us have been to a proceeding or court. $1000 now or $4300 10 years and 3 levels of court later, maybe I take the $1000.

BTW I am not an industry mole. Do not forget I was accused of being a rabble rouser yesterday.

My understanding is that the fine applies, potentially, to any oil which is released or discharged into the environment. Once the oil is spilled, that occurrence triggers both the fine and the legal obligation to clean up the oil. The fact that some, or even all, of the oil was later successfully removed from the environment does not negate the fine. It could, of course, favorably influence negotiations or the decision of a judge or jury, and result in a lower fine actually being paid.

If I were an attorney prosecuting this case, I would indeed be using any statement by BP that "we recovered X amount of oil" as an admission by BP that they discharged at least that amount of oil, and should be fined on that amount (or more, if provable, but certainly not less). I would also be doing some arithmetic based on the amount of Corexit they used--they claim they used no more than was necessary, so if they thought a particular amount was needed, that must have been based on knowing that they had discharged whatever amount of oil they were trying to disperse. Admissions by a defendant can be a particularly powerful form of evidence.

The law may have changed but I have an experience with this. 22 years ago , working in New Orleans, we had a spill of hydraulic oil about 10 gallons but no more than 20. The law requires you to report ANY discharge so I did. We recovered all visible oil with absorbent boom and pads. For this good deed we were fined $250.00. So recovery, burning, evaporation, magic tricks etc do not reconcile you from the fact that you RELEASED it . That is the crime and apparently restitution is not possible.

"Recovered" is unfortunately ambiguous: when BP says they "recovered X amount of oil" they could well be including the oil they gathered through caps and risers (perhaps to make the "recovered" number bigger, which sounds better). And there's a reasonable argument that *that* portion of the oil was never released to the environment, so shouldn't trigger the automatic fines, etc.

In other words, I don't think BP saying they recovered X, necessarily amounts to admitting that they spilled X. It would have to be argued in court.

The new leak discoverd last night on the BOP is still going strong.


I don't know why, but I was strangely reminded of that one scene in, The Exorcist, when Karras discovered the "help me" on Regan's stomach at least I imagined the same sound effects playing during the begining of that video.

As for the tiger, he's nice, so no lunch.

Now back on the subject of oil, does it decompose a the bottom of the sea floor? I've read on another board that people are talking about most of the oil being at the sea floor due to the use of dispersents, so I wonder wondering if the oil on top is being collected and consumed by microbes what of the oil on the floor.

what of the oil on the floor

Well, you know, some folks are adamant government-haters who're determined not to believe a word from any "official" source, but Jane Lubchenco did say that NOAA's research so far leads them to believe very little oil is actually on the seafloor. It's mostly somewhere in the water column, where A. borkumensis and the other bugs are chomping it at a great rate.

If so, I'm guessing that ambient temperature made the biggest difference between the results in the Gulf and in Prince William Sound. The warmer the water, the more active the microbes? Sounds right to me. And all the way down at the bottom, both temperature and the lack of oxygen would slow down hydrocarbon decomposition.

Oil being lighter than seawater will have a hard time hanging out on the seafloor, unless it has little anchors attached. I wasn't aware Corexit included anchor molecules.

If so, I'm guessing that ambient temperature made the biggest difference between the results in the Gulf and in Prince William Sound. The warmer the water, the more active the microbes? Sounds right to me. And all the way down at the bottom, both temperature and the lack of oxygen would slow down hydrocarbon decomposition.

I was totally surprised that GOM depth at DWH was 5,000 feet!!
And that the temps were 40 F!!

Near the shore, GOM is very shallow and warm. Lots of microbe activity and organic matter.

Apparently a widespread misconception--dispersant doesn't sink oil to the sea floor. It helps break the oil up into tiny droplets that have roughly neutral bouyancy because of their size. So some oil from the wellhead didn't rise very far, and some oil dispersed from the surface would mix into the upper water column.

What can sink to the sea floor is tar. Tar is the asphalt fraction left over after evaporation and microbes have removed the medium and volatile fractions. Tar will last a long time. Most of it will probably mix harmlessly with bottom sediments, but heavy concentrations would cause problems.

Appears to be coming from below the swivel joint on the original BOP. Could be the mud or whatever is leaking is of a lower viscosity than whatever was originally was trapped behind the seal or joint.

1. If the current status of the well is static, what accounts for the pressure differential that is producing the leak from the BOP?

2. Is the weight of the mud from the sea surface to sea floor coming into play at this point in the operation?

3. If cementing the top commences, will the cement flow through the manifold on the sea floor before entering the top cap?

That's what I was saying earlier with Nubs. There is 5000 feet of 13 pound ??? mud on the inside of the BOP stack. There is 5000 feet of seawater - 8.6 pound - on the outside of the BOP stack. I make that a pressure differential, at the BOP, of 1144 psi. Also; notice the ROV is looking at the flex joint at the top of the LMRP (I think). These guys are getting clever at not showing us too much.

"These guys are getting clever at not showing us too much."

Or they are only pointing the ROV cameras at the things they are interested in looking at themselves. Remember that the feeds are for them and we are merely piggybacking of off what they are looking at. There is nobody in the control center taking audience request as to where the cameras should be pointed.

I have directed large video gathering operations. It takes one person at almost full concentration on per camera if you want good video on a continuous basis. That is why most studios still have 1 camera per man, although that is finally changing with more advanced software.

I just get annoyed at the people who seem to think that the ROVs are there for our entertainment.

pc -- the pressure exerted at the cap from the 5,000' column of 13 ppg mud would be around 3,400 psi. Or about 1,000 psi greater than the water pressure (2,300 psi). So there is about a 1,000 pressure differential trying to force MUD out of the cap.

"...And that, Hurricane Colin and other tropical depressions behaving..."

I'm sorry - Hurricane *who*?!?!? **HURRICANE**?!?!? Does someone know something the NHC doesn't? The system that was Colin is no more & any re-generation is looking highly unlikely with the upper-level winds as they are forecasted. I kinda think the NHC jumped the gun declaring that system anything more than a depression in the first place with the scant info it had at the time.

Also, what other tropical depressions?!?!?! As of 8-4-2010 12:30 pm EDT, there is *NOTHING* out there.

That statement was made in present tense & is quite inaccurate.

Puulleeeze...stick to talking about oil.


There was a drill pipe sticking out of the top of the BOP when they putting the adapter for the cap on, and I saw a strong flow coming out of it. I don't understand how they would get mud/cement into the drill pipe. If nobody notices, I guess it's ok.

Perhaps if the drill pipe isn't crimped shut by the BOP rams and is still partly open at the top, where sheared, then the higher pressure mud will flow towards the opening in the drill pipe too. It's simply a matter of pressure differential.

If you saw strong flow coming from the drill pipe then it's open at the top and connects with the reservoir at bottom. So the open top is with the space in the BOP + three-ran capping stack. As I understand it, this space was filled by higher pressure mud injected into the BOP kill lines.

Caveat emptor - I'm not an oil expert.

Has anyone else seen this AP article?

Just published in our local paper:
Is it finally over? BP says 'static kill' has plugged well
August 04, 2010 10:22 AM
The Associated Press
an excerpt:

"About a quarter of the oil evaporated or dissolved in the warm Gulf waters, the same way sugar dissolves in water, federal officials said."

My comment:

Oil disolved in water like sugar?? Evaporated? IN WHAT UNIVERSE???


General Description - Brief description of the chemical's general appearance, behavior, and hazardousness.

General Description
A dark viscous liquid. Flash point below 141°F. Less dense than water and insoluble in water. Hence floats on water. Vapors heavier than air.
Air & Water Reactions
Flammable. Insoluble in water.


Government officials said the oil evaporated and dissolved like sugar water? Really?

Oil expert peeps - is this even plausible??

I blame the reporters but if this is coming from government officials than that is sad indeed.

Also what is this Olduvai theory I keep hearing about? How would these blackouts occur.

Gotta work on that reading-comprehension thingie, y'all. The "sugar in water" simile isn't a direct quote but the AP's language, not the government's. The reporters were trying to make a difficult chemical concept clearer for a national audience with a sixth-grade reading level.

this Olduvai theory I keep hearing about


Hence I said it must be the reporters fault but I also made the possibility that the government was being misleading too just in case the first part of my statement was wrong.

I was talking about this. http://www.theoildrum.com/story/2006/3/6/135437/7111

I was reading other pages and found a larged discussion on this theory and wanted to learn more about it since I'm going to be succeeding you guys once death takes you.

Heiro in a previous discussion you noted pessimism. Here is one place I am optimistic. Being almost 62 I am optimistic that I will get a few SS payments, and hopeful an natural death takes me before the crash is in full swing.

Richard Duncan is one of my favorite prophets of doom. Rather than look at Absolute amounts of oil left he looks at oil per capita which has already peaked and been on a long plateau.

His theory fits into Joseph Tainter's Collapse of Complex Societies, which is IMO required reading for anyone looking seriously at what the future has in store.

I think you should be concerned for me, especially since I'll still be alive long after you die dealing with things your generation and the one before it has done. So while you're all cheery that death looms over you, think about those who won't have that blessing.

Myself? I never said anything about my opinion, I just found the article and read up on it. So please have some pity on those won't live the happy life you have.

I'm not really worried about you Syracuse. My generation has spent a lifetime dealing with the missteps of previous generations, just as future generations will have to deal with the problems you leave them.

Trust me, you'll be singing a different song when you become less self centered and finally mature. - From experience comes wisdom.

HOS - To be uncharacteristically serious for a moment I think about that point almost daily. I have a 10 yo daughter I adopted in China. Her youngest relative is an aunt who is 55 yo. Thus no familial support during much of her adult life. I'm 59 yo and have lived longer than any male in my family as far back as the history I have. No matter what the future brings I'm good for as many years as I have left. But for my daughter, and folks of your generation, I do have grave concerns.

As I implied earlier sometimes your only choices are to laugh or cry. Laughter is easier for me.

I thought we'd agree to just call me Heiro it's easier.
All though I don't want to make a fool of myself again I can't help but say, I care, laughter is all fine and dandy until your the victim of a tragedy. You can't find something to joke about when all you're really doing is just self decapetating yourself by saying your problems are meaningless.

I know it's foolish but I care about humanity and its fate. I also care for everyone and don't want see them suffer. So forgive my self centeredness but everyday I'm here I learn how much harder I need to work to fix the future and worst of all it gets to me. As a man less than twenty years of age, I can't fathom doing all this. Whenever I see a glimmer of hope its shot down.

...No matter what the future brings I'm good for as many years as I have left. But for my daughter, and folks of your generation, I do have grave concerns.

As I implied earlier sometimes your only choices are to laugh or cry. Laughter is easier for me.

Well said RM, well said indeed.

I guess they are wise words.
Now I need to know how to combat overpopulation and putting to much strain on resources. This can be acheived by putting pressure on people and companies to scale back a bit compounded with developing multiple alterantive energy sources which can aide us in staying comforable.

As I implied earlier sometimes your only choices are to laugh or cry. Laughter is easier for me.

Agree, I'm the same, if you can't laugh at it you will just go round the bend.
Another site I visit (ZeroHedge) has this line written by their logo:
"On a long enough timeline the survival rate for everyone drops to zero."

Just about says it all

...wanted to learn more about it since I'm going to be succeeding you guys once death takes you.

Thank you for my first out-loud laugh of the day, Heiro.

I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but laughter is good! So laugh and be happy.

Anyway M. I'm sorry I came across as self-centered and immature. But like you I have concerns for the well being of those who came before me and those will come after. I'm aware that every generation deals with the problems of the previous. But reading up on things it sounds like we don't have concerns, I always lived by the philosophy that you create a world you want your children to live in, and I'm sure you don't want your children to live in a world that they'll grow to hate, do you?

I've read up on it already, but thanks anyway. And to make amends for the mistakes of the past. I'll invest in renewable energy.

As for you, just enjoy that you won't have to worry about it.

Blackouts are already occurring. {Pause for dramatic effect} In many cities the use of electricity exceeds the capacity to supply it so they switch off areas, on rotation, for a few hours at a time to reduce the load. ISTR parts of California do this but I am open to correction. It is quite prevalent in several strife torn areas of the world. The UK is talking about the need to do this in the next few years. Also areas are wanting to bring in 'smart meters', the idea is not to meter better and help you see the cost of electricity but to control your use directly. For example your air conditioning may get turned down or off if there is not enough supply.


Exactly how should I take this news?
I try my best not to over use electricty buy using only open windows, but you paint a rather grim future. How much do I need to do to make a better world?

I did reply to you but my reply seems to have disappeared.


Hopefully you write up another one.
I'm still studying peak oil and the Olduvai theory and everything and it be nice if I had some help figuring out a solution. The way I took it was that we either move to renewable energy or scale down to the point of living a midieval lifestyle. But it seems pessimism always wins the day and it looks like our situation will lie somewhere to the latter. Not quite but close.

Heiro--what's your age? If young, you're going to have to solve this, as your elders have clearly failed.

As to solutions, I hope you'll find these public-domain lecture notes helpful:
It's what I'm currently teaching to college students, hoping to show that they can't get what they want but could try to invent what they need (h/t to Mick Jagger & Keith Richards).

I'm seventeen years of age.

And that is an enormous task with no easy answer...but I'll have a go at it, I don't expect to be successful because I lose confidence easily when I get no results.

Oh, you're so screwed. And I would trade places with you in heartbeat - It's good to be 17 -- enjoy life!

I know.
But listening to Louis Armstrongs, wonderful world, makes me feel differently that the future is a place for change, whether is be for better or for worse. And worse seems more likely but we can do soemthing about it by making good decisions.

And whoever sent me this, http://snre.ufl.edu/common/humphrey/projects/Humphrey2010EnergyQuest.pdf
Didn't do a very good job of putting a smile on my face. I know the risk now and each link just keeps adding up to the existing pile. I mean is our resources are depletable and the propose sources are ambiguous than what does that say exactly?

I know.
But listening to Louis Armstrongs, wonderful world, makes me feel differently that the future is a place for change, whether is be for better or for worse. And worse seems more likely but we can do soemthing about it by making good decisions.

And whoever sent me this, http://snre.ufl.edu/common/humphrey/projects/Humphrey2010EnergyQuest.pdf
Didn't do a very good job of putting a smile on my face. I know the risk now and each link just keeps adding up to the existing pile. I mean is our resources are depletable and the propose sources are ambiguous than what does that say exactly?


You ruminate

The way I took it was that we either move to renewable energy or scale down to the point of living a midieval lifestyle. But it seems pessimism always wins the day and it looks like our situation will lie somewhere to the latter. Not quite but close.

I'm a bit older than you, by a factor of 3.5, and because my father was a realist, neither pessimistic nor optimistic, I've thought about renewable energy for about fifty years.

There a few things I try to keep in mind, all at the same time, when thinking globally:

The solution should be for all humans, not just the whites, or the Europeans, or the technically proficient, or the heavy consumers. That does not mean some of those groups don't have a lead in the progress toward human happiness, but that the solution needs to come to all at once, EVEN if some of the above groups have to adapt their brains to living sustainably.

You may have noticed the snarly reaction above to my suggestions for a reasonable lifestyle regarding houses and transport. Here's what I'm aiming at:

Divide Gross World Product (in Dollars) by World Population.

$36 trillion/6 billion = $6,000

Now we know the target possible income for EACH individual. Families get more, of course. Americans will squawk, of course, but many live at this level already. $12,000 for a couple. Louisiana, for example.

Then you have to think about energy. You got your stored energy, in the form of oil, coal and natural gas (you have to think about EROI of production, of course.) You can consider various forms of nuclear, including thorium, as stored energy.

Then you have your sustainables, limited by solar input, and efficiencies of getting it out in usable forms, like light, heat, electricity.

Then you have the most important, and toughest problem: human nature. I've ranted extensively here and other places about the excessive reliance on merely transmitting technology to the media, and then presuming it will take hold in the common mind. It won't, and it's demonstrable. Best example? Nuclear energy. Ever hear of electricity too cheap to meter? I did. It didn't happen.

So I suggest you study cognitive science, journalism, propaganda, social communications, psychology, sociology, history of government, etc.

The technology is easy. Adopting it is hard.

Only wet babies want change.

According to the California ISO, today's peak electrical useage is around 37,000 megawatts, well below production potential, according to the graph at this link. Not bad for mid-summer heat, as the peak production in recent history has been around 55,000 megawatts, several years go, for California.


Thanks for the link it's good to see people going easy on the eletricity.
Now after effecitvely killing my optimism these past few hours. I want you guys to make a list on what can my generation do to make a better world. You guys have experience and you once made an analogy to college by saying it's purpose is to educate students in four years what great men did in a life time. So any pointers?

Swiped from TearsForGulf:
'The oil spill has changed from "crisis" to a "problem that needs to be solved."'

I don't have a crystal ball but whatever arises, if you can change it from a crisis to a problem and go to work solving that problem, you will make an important contribution to both the Earth and her Residents [including us].

Some guy in the 19th Century said that no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. You always have to change your plans. It will probably be that way in your life, too. Write your plans in pencil and stand ready to make adjustments.

Initially it was a crisis but now it's just a problem. A huge one. Though I'm not sure what to believe I already finished four major articles on this theory and they don't give answers. Because oil cannot be replaced in the sense that although you can change fuel sources you can't use solar energy to make plastics or all the conviences we have today.

Part of me wants to give up and let everything go to waste but another part wants me to overcome this impending "problem"

Though there probably won't be any changes in corporate behavior unless you can show to them in their face the necessity of not straining our resources. As for PO I don' know exactly we always have predictions that it'll run out. But we should still make changes before we are left with no choice but to.

Anyway what does Duncan mean when he says power grids will go out and won't spring back up? I though eletricity was renewable. Can this grim future be avoided if we make efforts to reduce the population? I've read their estimates and I personally think dropping it to 2.3 billion is quiet a bit. The world would be a very lonely place if we lost that many people.

As far as community goes. I think that can be solved along with over population, with less people we have less demand thus less need of infrastructure. Moving to a rural life style seems a bit much.

We should also make way for space exploration, because although we have problems that need attention here on Earth, space will allow us to have access to newer materials and places to store our population.

Though I am just speculating...and should probably be ridiculed just to snap me back to the grim reality you guys painted.

Yep, oil is a very useful feedstock, al sorts of things can be made from it. So what do we do with it? Burn it. We use it in hopelessly inefficient engines to go from A to B in the most inefficient way when most of the time there is no need for us to do that in the first place.

We can certainly get a lot of electricity from renewables. The big problem is the large companies that cannot see beyond what they are doing now for example coal generation which they try to justify by claiming to move to clean coal despite coal being destined to run out at some point anyway (with the loss of another useful feedstock too). Many homes can generate a large part of their electricity from solar PV but there is a lot of resistance to be overcome much of it from the power companies who see it as their right to supply you with the electricity you need even going as far as suing someone for loss of future income when they moved to solar!

Space exploitation is way to far out in the future to help with population growth now. IMHO 2.3 billion is way to high, 1 billion would be more like it and no, the world would not be a lonelier place as you would be able to spend more time with the people who mean something to you rather than struggling against all those others in the rat race. The same number of friends and less 'noise' from those who would distract you.


That's not entirely wise. We need oil but we can reduce our dependency on it by using it for product use only. We can switch our transportation methods with renewables.

I'm also a believer that man will go beyond earth. It's almost destined.

As for your assessment on population I personally think a billion people is absurd and far to low. Agricultural production is dependent on the number of people working on it not vice versa. It's also a bit too malthusian for me, those are people too. What makes you more worthy of life than the countless others?

What makes life worth living is meeting more people, the unpredictability. It will become lonier because in said scenario the chances of meeting you guys here on Theoildrum is so much lower.

Hiero, you will be surprised at the quality of life in small communities. Also remember that the world's population is very concentrated in some places. With less fuel mass agriculture breaks down as does distribution. What happens to manufacturing? I think the model of big city fed by sparsely populated farmland will break down into a more distributed small community model. You will meet more people in your community and on line than you would by participating in the office/city rat race. The quality of those people will be higher.

Oh, what I lost before. You have made the first 2 steps to your future. You are participating here and you are researching. Read around some more, there is a lot to learn.


Thanks for your support and is there any place here I can discuss my concerns more in deph...?

I don't really enjoy your picture of the future, reading this guy's webpage...http://watd.wuthering-heights.co.uk/mainpages/jargon.html
makes me rather depressed (in a more general sense not clinically.) since he seems so insistant on the fact that oil can never truly be repalced due to it's numerous properties.

I don't mind small communities but I'll miss the city life. I also wonder what this will mean for us in the future? Will we be able to move outside the planet and extend our time here as a species? The scientific advancements, without proper funding due to a great reduction in work forces, will they dissappear?

How about the medcine? Smaller communities won't have as much access to them especially if isolated. The sanitation?

All grave concerns.

The only bright side I see in this is that if we can keep ourselves from total collapse than possibly with the reduction in cars. We can go ahead with new-urban planning.

Is the glass half full or half empty or is it time to try a different drink? There is a big difference in how one looks at the future. It is going to happen, resources will dry up. What matters is how to adapt. You are young enough to plan your life to follow a bright future. What you need to do is take notice now and not carry on with BAU. Not gloomy, not depressing just new and different. Please don't get depressed over it and heed lotus's advice.

A few quick questions, please don't be too specific in answers as you must remember that you are on the interweb and visible for all to see. Just so we can gauge the sort of culture you are in. What would help to see your POV is what country you are in, size of town/city also how long have you realised that these issues exist, since you have only been here a week and a half these new ideas may have had a bit of shock value to realise that things will change.

Smaller communities are not always a big issue for medicine, many people are over medicated anyway. Some countries have also used the 'bigger is better' model to bring things all under one roof and applying the , cough, 'economies of scale'. That philosophy seems to work because it reduces the cost of provision but totally ignores the cost to the patients and family. They save by not sending a doctor to the village but insist the village comes to the doctor, they do not have to include the costs of travel and disruption to the whole community. Check back the National Geographic a few months, maybe 6 months or more back. They have an interesting chart comparing the cost of medicine against life expectancy. The figures for the USA are frightening.

I believe that if we start change now then it will be possible to adapt but if we just keep ignoring it then there is a big brick wall awaiting civilisation. It will be important to your generation so the best way of staying on top of it will be to start by planning your life to reduce the need for dwindling resources and moving to a sustainable lifetime. In doing so you will vastly improve your quality of life.


Read around some more, there is a lot to learn

Heiro, here goes with my best recommendation:

Do a lot of your reading offline, with physical books in your hands -- and not just technical books. Read novels and history. Attend plays and concerts. Go to museums and movies. Travel as much as you can. Fall in and out of love at least 2-3 times before you partner-up for good.

That's how best to learn the most crucial part of the equation of the future: what makes people do what they do/always have done/always will do. Focus on pleasure as much as duty and never ever lose touch with irony and humor -- only they can keep you sane.

My experience-based opinion . . .

Well said, sez the resident psycho

edit: that should have read resident therapist

I missed doing those things, every since the spill I've been reading up making sure everything goes a long smoothly.

Though thanks for the advise, I love plays and concerts and I shall attend them once the well is plugged for good. Though I'm an optimist in some cases I'm not really a hedonist. If you say yes to life you say yes to the bad parts as well. Except I'm okay because the bad parts are normal.

Anyway I wonder what kind of classes do I need to take in college in order for me to have a career in renewable energy development.

You might be overdue for a li'l light hedonism, kiddo. (Just to get your shoulders down from around your ears.)

I like selflessness as oppose to being selfish. Though I find balance between the two.
I've now read two whole topics on some survival tips and a bunch of depressed people who hate culture and humanity and want it to die. Thanks for whoever sent me that malthasian forum link.

Hedonism doesn't have to be selfish, just fun.

I live in California and am disgusted at how unprepared we are for predicted energy needs. In the past 40 years we have not upgraded our generating plants nor the transmission infrastructure.

A couple of months ago they installed a 'smart meter' on my house. My electric bill went up by 20% despite my not using any more electricity. I am now being penalized for using electricity in the evening (when I am home), instead of at night (when I am sleeping). And they even decided that if I try to switch appliance usage to the weekends that this is 'peak usage' also.

In effect they changed the billing rates so that I pay most for electricity when I have to use it and the least price when I cannot use it.

And yes, I am disgusted.

I don't follow...

How can we (or I) upgrade these power plants? Do we make them more larger to help supply our citizens or do we put pressure on said citizens to not overuse the electricity provided?

I'm a bit perplexed that you were charged for not using energy during the night..

But for those who followed this conversation. Is this collapse unavoidable or can steps be made now to make our transition from oil to other resources less catostrophic?

Heiro, he is being dinged for energy use in the "evening" when he's active, rather than at "night" when he's asleep. In fact if we look at the energy consumption patterns for California they are very similar to your traffic jam patterns, lagging by about the time it takes those traffic jammers to get home, or just before they leave to jam the roads in the first place.

Ideally, one could use a dishwasher (such as I have, a Fisher & Paykel), which allows you to set a time in advance to run, while you go to sleep. Also since it is the most efficient DW in the world by far, it won't matter much if you don't do it that way. Also my LG washer and dryer (both highest efficiency models) can be timered to run late at night as well. Of course where I live we are hydroelectric and they don't care, but I often set for late at night so things are waiting for me in the morning. I even set the bread machine to cook over night so I am greeted by fresh baked bread just in time for my coffee (also available on a timer) and paper. I have A/C but never use it and have the highest efficiency furnace I could buy (also programmed with a smart timer). My house is slightly larger than Al Gore's and I use less than 1/40th of his power per month, and 1/2 the power of a normal sized house. I have a 10 yr old car with 22K miles on it that gets ~30mpg. I never even think about my carbon footprint, but in my lifetime I doubt I'll produce as much as Gore does in a single year. But then, he's got that Nobel prize...

You're at the right age and on the right track. You can't push the world around, nor should you try, but you can "be the best you can be" and pursue being a positive influence around you. The more self-sustaining you are, the better role model you'll be and the better for it besides. You live where the weather is great year-round. Plant some citrus trees, have fun with it, try grafting different species on the same trunk. You'd be amazed how productive a tiny garden can be in California, some of the best farmland in the world has been converted to asphalt but there's still a lot left in backyards.

Heiro, this may be a "bit too Malthusian" for you but this site is amongst the best I've seen for adjusting, preparing for an uncertain future:

If they're going to die than they might as well do so and decrease the surpluss population!

Have you ever watched the Christmas carol? :)

But seriously not helping, what kind of future am I leaving for my kids. Not than none of you guys ever thought of that but still why does the worst always seem to happen? With PO and prices rising our way of life will be unaffordable and that will have a domino effect which will result in almost all of our favorite things shutting down. No more tv, computer.

It's overhwelming and I wished it will never happen. But the worst always does.

Well now that you linked me this site, I might as well build a nuclear bomb shelter, grow my own gardern, learn to hunt, and basicly live like our ancestors thousands of years ago.

Heiro: Apologies for double-posting from above, but I want to be sure you see this:

HOS - Of course the 'collapse' is avoidable. It is just a matter of buckling down & doing the right thing regardless of what the *pressure* is from the opposition. In my opinion, the obvious electical solution is nuclear. I seriously doubt much electricity is generated directly with oil products (I'm not including natural gas plants or the gas turbine-powered 'peaker' plants run by kerosene). The vast majority are coal or, out west, hydroelectric. Now, I have no problem with coal (with proper filtering for particulates) plants. There is a *whole bunch* of coal out in the Powder River basin of Wyoming (Several hundred years worth I think) & they produce a whole bunch of great, plant-loving CO2. However, coal is a non-renuable resource in the distant future. That's why, for the long term, nuclear is the best.

I have zero faith in the politically correct energy like wind or solar. The electricity needs to be there 100% of the time on demand & wind/solar just don't cut it. Solar doesn't work at night or when it is cloudy so something needs to be there to take it's place. You get the largest temperature extremes (hottest/coldest) when the wind is not blowing so, again, something needs to be there to take it's place. Also, where large solar arrays are, no vegitation can really grow there because the arrays are blocking the light and you need a very large array to produce a large, usable power source for the replacement of conventional power plants. So, asside from the desert south west, there is either the Great Planes or the East. In the planes, wherever there is a solar array, no crops can be planted & in the east (majority is forrests), are they going to cut down large areas of forrest to put in a large solar array? The obvious answer is more of what we already have.

However, when you have the enviro-weenies blocking desert areas from building large solar arrays, enviro-weenies blocking new coal plants, enviro-weenies blocking new nuclear plants because of either a stupid movie (China Syndrome) or a stupid design (Chernyoble) and enviro-weenies blocking a much needed nuclear repository, the powers-that-be choose to make the population suffer by controling their energy usage instead of making more energy available.

Like I said, I like nuclear power as the best long-term solution for cheap, reliable electricity. I'm not a big fan of the current pressurised water reactors (it's the pressure-issue that has caused alot of problems) but it is the popular & standardised design. Lead-cooled reactors have really caught my eye as a safe alternative. It is a natural radiation shield, it does not become radioactive, it has an extremely high boiling point (3180 deg F) and it is not reactive/explosive to water like sodium is. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lead_cooled_fast_reactor


I doubt any federal official said oil dissolves like sugar in water. Perhaps the reporter labels anyone on the beach as a federal official, more likely the reporter elaborated on something illegible in his notes.

[Edit]Yikes, apparently Jane Lubchenco said this!

Lighter oil fractions do evaporate though.

Molecules from the oil dissolve in water. For example the solubility of benzene in water is around 1800 mg/l, but he solubility of asphaltenes is zero.

Yikes, apparently Jane Lubchenco said this!

Yep, heard her m'self at the WH presser as she was explaining how "dissolving" and "dispersing" differ. Used sugar-in-water as an example of dissolving. Shocking? Eh, not so much.

Here is a new NOAA/DOI report just released: http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/PDFs/OilBudget_description_%208...

Reading it myself.

Press releate page (for the short version): http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100804_oil.html

From the report:

Oil Chart

To quote the NOAA news release:

These estimates were derived by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Department of the Interior (DOI), who jointly developed whats known as an Oil Budget Calculator, to provide
measurements and best estimates of what happened to the spilled oil.

The calculator is based on 4.9 million barrels of oil released into the Gulf, the governments Flow Rate Technical Group estimate from Monday.

More than 25 of the best government and independent scientists contributed to or reviewed the calculator and its calculation methods.

This report is being discussed now at the WHitehouse briefing.


The report is pretty brief, only five pages. It does briefly describe their methodology. This is a management-style report and not a scientific paper.

Edit: It appears to be a summary and start on the data with a certain amount of peer review. I would characterize as an inital start on figuring out where all of the oil has gone.

It does NOT say it has all gone. It does attempt to quantify the various fractions.

In the live Whitehouse briefing (going on right now at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/38558382#38558382) the "sugar dissolving in coffee" analogy was indeed used. Talking about literally dissolving not disbursing. It was described as a only a portion and in the same category as evaporated.

Edit: Jane Lubchenco used the "sugar dissolving in coffee" analogy.

Been thinking about the NOAA/USGS report overnight and chatting today with some chemists & geologists to gain perspective. Several of the TOD comments are insightful. The report is administrative in nature, not a research report, but the report authors include excellent scientists. The report understandably presents a view of where the spilled crude first went in a series of complex, dynamic processes, since it's much too early to accurately state the crude's final disposition. The report argues that the fate of the crude will be apparent after the ongoing resarch is completed.

To think down that path, here's a very rough view of the pollutant's fate. 25% was removed (recovered+burned+skimmed). The other 75% was/is subject to physical/chemical/biological degradation in the environment (but see caveat below).

Of the 75% not removed, probably the majority has been or will be broken down in air or water into simple materials that, once degraded, will no longer be toxic. The part that evaporated is not innocuous. Many of the petroleum vapors are toxic. They break down via photo-oxidation and other processes and become smog, greenhouse gases, etc. Some of the crude is indeed water soluble, such as PAHs (polycyclic aromatic compounds, which are moderately toxic). Here's a good summary on PAHs:
The dissolved fraction, labled as water-associated fraction or WAF, were the pollutants tested for toxicity in the 31-Jul-10 EPA report on toxicity of crude and dispersant. It's my understanding that this too is subject to biodegradation (decomposition) by the 200+ genera of microbes known to eat oil. But I see the report doesn't indentify this category as degradable (or it would have an asterisk in the pie chart). So either the report is wrong about this or I am (I try to not be seriously wrong more than once a day).

Of this 75%, some unknown but probably minority portion will be or is in the process of becoming deposited in sediment on the bottom or coast as long-chain hydrocarbons, mostly asphalt, largely inert. In this regard, I've been wondering how to understand the Ben Raines article about stained brown subsurface water layers.
The nearest analog in my experience is "floc" commonly found in polluted freshwater lakes such as Okeechobee, consisting of very small particles of organics, precipitates, and inorganics that are in the process of settling out as sediment. Such floc can be many feet thick, suspended above the mud. We might be seeing a simliar process under way in the Gulf, with the extraordinary amount of fine oil droplets weathering into fine tarry droplets and aggregating in layers and patches. Just my speculation--eventually the analytical chemists will tell us what happened.

But I see the report doesn't indentify this category as degradable

Google searches for biodegradation seawater benzene [or xylene etc] turn up plenty of hits.

NatResDr, I want to thank you for your clear and informative posts.


The report understandably presents a view of where the spilled crude first went in a series of complex, dynamic processes, since it's much too early to accurately state the crude's final disposition. The report argues that the fate of the crude will be apparent after the ongoing resarch is completed.

NatResDr, very strongly concur.

I read this report with great interest because I was also thinking, "There will this oil go?" Was glad to see even this early report.

I did find it interesting that NOAA's Jane Lubchenco emphasized in the Whitehouse press briefing that that they had not yet found HC on the bottom. Of course, we know that this has happened in other events (as tar/asphalt accumulations ) in the past so I'm wondering if it is a process yet to come and if the dispersed nature of such a deep water release of HC minimizes HC on the bottom because the HC will be in the water column longer (an subject the natural process for a longer period of time.)

See http://www.cspan.org/Watch/Media/2010/08/04/HP/R/36556/Static+Kill+Worki...

Rather than tar/asphalt mats (as has happened in other places), your speculation about "fine oil droplets weathering into fine tarry droplets and aggregating in layers and patches" sounds like a logical conjecture. I might further specuate that perhaps spread over a large area but in low concentrations.

Lots of good research left to do.

Edit for clarity.

Patience, it's still early days. We have not seen any data on composition of any weathered oil have we (that would show the course of decomposition)? Not even Samantha Joye's filter discs from 2 months ago. We haven't seen any bottom samples that would confirm or deny heavy oil fractions settling out. And so on. The NOAA missions are really extraordinary, and the eventual published record is going to be unprecedented, if this mission list is any indication.
So speculation such as mine will take us only so far.

Just one example: a federal scientist told me this week that the bottom communities (deepwater corals, etc.) now being sampled for evidence of oil-spill impact have a 30-year data history. The results will be way better than our guesswork.

Limit of speculation noted. This is just chat around the water cooler for me.

As noted elsewhere, the heavy-lifting is now on the biosciences which, IMHO, is harder to do and takes longer (as measured in decades).

Seems like these are preliminary estimates, but it does not even estimate how what went in (whether oil or dispersants) or what remains might affect flora and fauna in the long term.

For my part I await studies to be conducted over time, independent studies by scientists not paid by BP.

It seems to me this is PR at the moment, meant to reassure people. Whether or not it really IS reassuring depends on what level of confidence you might have in an estimated description of what happened to oil that spilled, yet it's a description lacking in info on "effects" and ultimately the effects of the spill are what matter down the road.


TheraP, also concur.

I did note the list of authors and contributors to this report (on its page 6).

Yes, future peer-reviewed science will tell us how much of this was a PR stunt. Some, I'm sure (timing with static kill was kind'a cute.) Also note the .gov patting itself on the back as one would expect from the WH spokesman.

But this looks like a good start on summarizing the data.

In the WH press briefing, Jane Lubchenco was clear that this does not mean it is gone AND that what remains is still possibly dangerous to flora/fauna. The message was (in my words) "situation is moving in the right direction."

I usually don't like WH press briefings but this one had good information in it. The link is in my post above.

My response was in no way a critique of your comment. Just underscoring what was NOT said in today's report. Sometimes what's missing is more important than what's present.

As for the report itself, all they can estimate/summarize, it seems to me, is "where did the oil go". Not what are its long term effects. Here is a little quote from the NY Times, however, on exactly my concerns:

It remains to be seen whether subtle, long-lasting environmental damage from the spill will be found, as has been the case after other large oil spills.

From: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/04/science/earth/04oil.html?src=un&feedur...

So the geologists and chemists may have spoken. But it's too early for the reports of the biologists - at least in terms of long term effects. Effects are what really matter, I think.

Didn't take it in any way as a critique.

Concurring that we don't know many things and lots of science left to do.

Also didn't think this report was the definitive answer to many/most of the questions. I take it only as a first step in answering the limited question, "Where did it go."

Edit: btw, not that I would might critique anyway; healthy thing.

I usually don't like WH press briefings but this one had good information in it

Agreed (on both scores), bbf. Fewer-than-usual doofus questions, more-than-usual crisp answers.

Sadly, too much to expect another one like this any time soon ;-(

Here's how oil dissolves in water like sugar.

As long as the press and government spokespersons sell the idea that it is gone, then nobody has to worry about it.

I'm not an expert peep, but the lighter, volatile fractions of oil can dissolve in water. They could escape from oil droplets on the way to the surface or those droplets stuck in the deep water.

Somewhere on the web there's a scientific paper describing experimental releases of dispersed oil and diesel fuel in deep water (800+ meters) of the North Sea where this stripping of volatiles was observed.

It's not exactly a good thing, since the light fractions are relatively toxic and would evaporate if they reach the surface. But they are biodegradable.

I found it. NOAA. The same government agency that says above it is insoluble in water.


"Evaporation and Dissolution: It is estimated that 25% of the oil volume quickly and naturally evaporated or dissolved into the water column. The evaporation and dissolution rate estimate is based on scientific research and observations conducted during the Deepwater Horizon incident.
Dissolution is different from dispersion. Dissolution is the process by which individual hydrocarbon molecules from the oil separate and dissolve into the water just as sugar can be dissolved in water. Dispersion is the process by which larger volumes of oil are broken down into smaller droplets of oil."

So, which is it?

I think I'm going to buy one of those tin foil hats today.

Buy some sugar, too. Just in case.

although not certain, i do believe any oil jetted through water at a high enough psi will create an emulsified sollution. emulsified oil is obvious by its orange color and its ability to NOT decompose or breakdown in sunlight or through the normal processes being spoken about by the government or reporters. the oil gets trapped in a water sollution that keeps the oil preserved like a butter that can last several months without decomposition. it also makes the oil far more likely to sink than sit on the surface, as it seems to lose alot of the force that seperates oil from water because of its new water casing.

I recently had to go back and refresh my undergrad work in Chemistry in order to teach my 6th-grader about mixtures, solutions and emulsions. Actually a subtile difference to try and teach a 6th-grade science student.

Mixtures: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mixture

In chemistry, a mixture is a material system made up by two or more different substances which are (mixed) together but are not combined chemically. Mixture refers to the physical combination of two or more substances the identities of which are retained. The molecules of two or more different substances are mixed in the form of alloys, solutions, suspensions, and colloids.

Mixtures are the product of a mechanical blending or mixing of chemical substances like elements and compounds, without chemical bonding or other chemical change, so that each ingredient substance retains its own chemical properties and makeup.

Solutions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solution

In chemistry, a solution is a homogeneous mixture composed of two or more substances. In such a mixture, a solute is dissolved in another substance, known as a solvent

Emulsions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emulsion

An emulsion is a mixture of two or more immiscible (unblendable) liquids. Emulsions are part of a more general class of two-phase systems of matter called colloids. Although the terms colloid and emulsion are sometimes used interchangeably, emulsion tends to imply that both the dispersed and the continuous phase are liquid. In an emulsion, one liquid (the dispersed phase) is dispersed in the other (the continuous phase).

So, which is it?

In the phrase "evaporation and dissolution," dissolution means dissolving like sugar in water. Please see my post just above for an explanation. There''s no such thing as a molecule of crude oil, because oil is a mixture of compounds. Some of these compounds are soluble in water. These molecules can leave the oil droplet and dissolve.

Rather than look at the specific actions on the breakdown, I look at like this. I always try to go bigger picture when I cannot resolve something. We have a water/oil mixture in a big pond called the GOM. Every year the water/oil system has X gallons of crude added to it. Every year the system has X +- Y gallons leave the system from different processes. Even this 5X event may not be enough to trigger a detectable change in those levels. What I think we may find out is that even all this petroleum is not enough to remain in the system for a very long period of time. We shall see.

Crude oil is a mixture of many different chemicals, loree. Some are quite small, like methane (CH4), others slightly larger, like benzene (C6H12) and others larger still--a few (but not many) are large and heavy enough to sink in water. Some, like methane and benzene, have very low boiling points and readily evaporate. They're also small enough to go into solution in water.

But to understand why oil behaves like it does in water, you need to know a little chemistry. Water is known as a "polar" molecule, and is therefore a polar solvent. That is to say, a water molecule has slight differences in electrical charge at the tips. Think of H2O as a Mickey Mouse hat, with the oxygen as the hat in the middle, and the two hydrogens as the mouse ears (separated by about 121 degrees). Overall, the molecule is electrically balanced: each hydrogen shares its one electron with the oxygen, which shares two of its electrons with the hydrogens, and they're all happy. But, the oxygen tends to hold onto the electrons much longer than the hydrogens do, creating a slight negative charge (as electrons are negative) on the oxygen (hat) end, and leaving the hydrogens (ears) slightly positive, as the electrons don't spend much time there. Therefore, water attacks other polar molecules, and charged ions in general, and dissolves them readily. (Table salt--NaCL--breaks into positively- and negatively-charged ions, and goes easily into solution.)

Hydrocarbons which consist of nothing but hydrogen and carbon are almost totally nonpolar, meaning, they don't respond at all to the slight electrical charges on the water molecules, so they don't dissolve. The small ones, like methane, do, to a limited extent. But the larger, nonpolar molecules, don't.

Some petroleum chemicals have other chemical pieces on them, which carry slight charges and do dissolve more readily into water. I'm not a chemist so I can't go into great detail on this, but basically, the solubility of a hydrocarbon is a function mostly of its chemical formula (is it polar or not), and to a lesser extent, size (smaller is more soluble).

We now have a casing full of mud, with the heavier mud above the lighter oil in the reservoir. Won't the natural tendency be for the mud to start to drain into the reservoir and be replaced with oil? Or does the mud contain solids that would plug the pores in the reservoir? In any case, I suppose that no time should be wasted in effecting the bottom kill.

I think your question is reasonable and well intentioned. I'm so new here that I have not become bored with helping out where I can, so here goes.

Strictly speaking the answer to your question is, possibly yes. To simplify well conditions, if the 13 ppg mud column achieved a few hundred pounds more pressure than the reservoir shut-in pressure at the same moment that the column reached the bottom, then the mud will want to enter the reservoir. If the mud is anything like a conventional mud the flow into the reservoir will quickly stop because, as you suggested, the wellbore interface acts like a really big filter. As filtrate water flows into the formation a mud cake builds up on the borehole wall. Normally as time goes on less filtrate will pass through and more mud cake will form until no more flow is possible without adding pressure from above greater than the pressure needed to fracture the rock.

I said, possibly yes, because as I believe Rockman point out what they call mud may in fact be heavy brine with no solids in it. Or, I could envision a special mud concoction with little or no mud cake properties. If that were in fact the case then the mud could possibly drain (slowly) into the reservoir, but only until the hydrostatic pressures equalized. IMHO the reservoir oil would not return to the wellbore in any significant quantities.

Sure hope this helps.

Do these events put to bed any or all of Matthew Simmon's methane cloud, etc., "let's blow a nuke" wacko psychobabble? Mr. Simmons credibility should be by now shot - for me, I think it went with wanting to use a nuke and trying to stir enough panic to make it happen. I'd like to see a nuke pop, myself, as long as it's out past the moon!


and let's be CLEAR - Simmons has NEVER been speaking of a gaseous "methane cloud"...THAT has been incorrectly inferred by people who'd rather cherry-pick information and write essays THAN trying to descramble and discern just what insider information the self-admittedly non-technical and unknowing Simmons is trying to second-handedly PASS ON

Simmons' concern for a catastrophic event involves a Hurricane passing over his mile long, 500ft deep "lake" (from floor upwards 500ft) and sucking up the abundance of frozen methane CLATHRATES (his "wet" methane) and then depositing them on the population - just in time to thaw AND THEN displace oxygen AND THEN kill...

technically possible...??? i have NO clue... Simmons has obviously been TOLD - YES...

So the conditions at Simmons' "open hole" are apparently conducive to clathrate formation...BUT there's NO evidence of this "open hole" so lets just forget about it.

BUT...what about the other seeps and weeps AND the MAIN well leak that just gushed for over a hundred days...? Were/are clathrates forming in these locations...? leaving a somewhat concentrated area of dormant frozen clathrates on the ocean floor...? OR has/is the methane remaining gaseous and dissipating...?

I'm not an expert, but here's what I've pieced together about methane from the well. It's not frozen, nor gaseous (depending on definition), nor dissipating into the air. It is dissolved in seawater, mostly at great depth, and being broken down by microbes. Clathrates don't form unless the water is saturated with methane, as happened inside the milk-carton device they started with, but not much to the column of methane ascending rapidly through currents of clean seawater. I gather clathrates are formed primarily within the bottom sediments or in very stagnant pockets of water near the bottom.

Research cruises led by John Kessler and Samantha Joye have focused on methane. They found plumes of dissolved methane at depths of 1000-1300 meters, actually the same plumes that have droplets of dispersed oil. Methane concentrations are very high compared to background, but still only a fraction of saturation levels. Bacteria are reproducing very rapidly down there as they oxidize the methane and oil. Since methane is nearly non-toxic, the main concern is that the bacteria may deplete dissolved oxygen in the twilight layer 2/3 to 1 mile down.

They found normal levels of methane in the surface layers. Apparently no natural gas has bubbled to the surface as it would have done in a shallow-water blowout. So apparently there is no danger from the methane apart from local depletion of oxygen in the depths.

Search youtube for Samantha Joye and watch her very informative press conference from mid July (4 parts).

oy vey - even worse - and MORE complicated... my cousin's a PhD Department Chair Chemist, and off the top of his head he said "Bah - 'Wet Methane' - no such thing..."

How very complex these depths present...

...and peeps laugh when comparisons to NASA and space exploration are made...HELL, 98.7 percent of people i talk to do NOT realize that the DWHorizon was a floating platform!..."Whadda you mean floating" and about half want to challenge me..."That's ridiculous, how you gonna drill a hole straight down blah blah blah..."

Anybody catch Cavnar on KO's show last night? This guy has been one steady source of MSM fear mongering, although subtly.

BP relooping video of oil leak, expert charges
By David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Wednesday, August 4th, 2010 -- 11:11 am

Oil company BP announced on Wednesday that the "static kill" operation to plug its ruptured Deepwater Horizon oil well from above with drilling mud had achieved its "desired outcome" of temporarily controlling the flow of oil. Oil industry expert Bob Cavnar, however, is skeptical of BP's rosy evaluation (snip) When Olbermann asked whether we can be sure that the underwater video feed is legitimate, Cavnar laughed and replied, "It's very interesting. I got up early this morning . ... I was very concerned about this connector I've been talking about for the last couple of weeks. They had a good shot of that so I watched that for a while ... came back about 30 minutes later, and it replayed. And I noticed that the time was an hour and a half behind the current time. So they were relooping some of the video feed, and it was not live."

"I always wondered if they want you to see what they want you to see," Cavnar suggested, "and sometimes if they have something else going on they just loop the tape for a while before they go back to live."


Should not say residual oil is still out there. That is just oil they don't know what happened to. LOL

From the press conf.

Cavnar's not fearmongering, snakehead. That's a simple observation. I've seen the same thing--there are repeats, when the video is looped. Doesn't happen all the time, but regularly enough to be no accident. When old video is looped, either the timestamp is removed or it's clearly old. Cavnar is no crank. He knows his stuff.

I've seen that too and I'm familiar with Cavnar. I've been watching him via KO fairly regularly. He's been skeptical about everything, which is fine with me but he also hasn't really shot down any of the wilder stuff that KO's tossed him. It's been weird.

That's right. It's like Cavnar's afraid he won't be asked back if he debunks anything, so he scuttles around the edge and says stuff like, "I agree with Matt Simmons that BP has been secretive."

Olberman has been terrible, but somehow Anderson Cooper has been even more annoying with his chest-puffing Hero of Truth stance combined with incompetent reporting.

No kidding. He's made Rick Sanchez look measured and reasonable by comparison. Incredible.

Yee-haw, sure makes me glad I gave up teevy for da blogs.

Yee-haw, sure makes me glad I gave up teevy for da blogs.

You too, huh?

Yep, sat myself down and said, "Okay, lote, what'll it be, baloney or filet?"

There's plenty mush gushing at considerable speed out the side of the cap.


Expert opinion?

ps -- based on the reported mud weight the pressure in the cap from the 5,000' and 13.2 ppg mud should be exerting over 1,000' psi greater than the water pressure. Any leaks in the cap should be mud. And they should be able to measure that volumn lost from the rig floor.

What is strange is the leak we have been watching for weeks up on the new cap seems to have stopped but this new one on the old BOP seems to be increasing.

I've only seen close-ups of this leak, so its hard to know where it is. Is it from that inoperative hydraulically-actuated latching mechanism below the flex joint?

Tony gets his life back.

BP (BP /LN) CEO Hayward we remain fully committed to Russia, says will join board of co.'s Russian joint venture TNK-BP

19:21 04-08-2010

- will be ‘quite active’ member of TNK-BP board
- Russia’s Sechin says co. has strategic position in Russian oil sector

Once again, I want to thank everyone for the group hug.

The oil spill has changed from "crisis" to a "problem that needs to be solved."

This is gonna sound real corny, but I needed "closure" from the "crisis mode in my head" and for some reason the group hug provided it.

Nifty how that worked, innit, TFG?

Sorta (((((TOD)))))

Heeheeheeheeheehee. We cute.

Nifty how that worked, innit, TFG?

It sure is.

I was literally “raised” in the oilfields. My father operated some wells and we lived in a house on one of the leases. Very common before WW2. There are actually thousands of well in Texas, Louisiana and I suppose all old oilfields in the US that were never “properly P&A” Plugged and abandoned. And there are no records where any or all these wells are. From personal experience I know where several producing wells were abandoned by the very simple process of pulling what production casing could be pulled and cutting the surface pipe off “below the plow line” And shovel dirt in the hole. No cement plug no record No nothing. The wells I am talking about are now under residential areas of Houston. These wells were in our “backyard” Open country in 1938 Now big shopping mall and subdivisions

During the “oil shortage” during the seventies there was a lot of talk about going back in some of the old Texas “oil boom fields” from the teens and twenties. Such as Ranger Texas the first problem was no one even knew where the wells were or even the limits of the field, Dad worked at such storied oilfield boom places as Sour Lake, Humble, Burkburnet, Ranger, Desdemona, Cisco, Mexia, and Wortham. And on some of the first wells in East Texas Field.

I don't know when The State of Texas started requiring permits to drill a well

Didn't wildcat really mean folks used to squat and drill on other folk's land back in the day. Sort of in the middle of the night on the edge your property affairs.

So far out that they used hoot owls for chickens and wildcats for watch dogs

And used the Law firm of Colt&Winchester

So far out that they used hoot owls for chickens and wildcats for watch dogs

pass, if you've been saving that one (and the earlier part of the story) up, I'm mighty proud I got to be here when you spent it.

Actually the most common legend for the origin of "wildcat" well: many, many decades a well was being drilled way in the back woods of east Texas. The was a wildcat in the area that folks could hear howl from time to time so they would refer to that well drilling out by that wildcat...the "wildcat well". That's my story and I'm sticking with it till someone comes along with a better one.

I couldn't resist, looked for the earliest easy-to-find references to "wildcat wells." Found a bunch of stuff on Google Books from the 1880's when "wildcat well" was clearly in regular use. Earliest mention that I found was from 1873. You will also find references to "wildcat banks" from the 1830's - 1860's "free banking era" and stories that there was a particular bank in Michigan with a wildcat on it's eventually worthless notes which then lent the name "wildcat" to any risky or dubious venture. I like your story the best, but you might have to set it in Pennsylvania in the 1860's rather than E.Texas in the 1930's.

geo - Now that you remind me I think the original story was actually from Penn.

I thought a wildcat well was one drilled where there wasn't known to be oil?

Is anyone here old enough to be able to tell me what an oil 'troubleshooter' did in the 1920's?

Wildcat means an exploratory well. That is one drilled in an untried area or penitrating an untried formation. Also the term rank wildcat is when the odds are really poor, ie not enough information to have good odds of success.

What a wonderful story. I got to Houston in '71, back in the day when folks still would go out for a Sunday afternoon drive around Loop 610 and you always had to take your kinfolk from the sticks to see such a thing. It was the outer limits of Houston back then.

Had a friend who used to hunt quail where the Galleria is now. Times, change and all that. I have roamed a few of those places you mention. Nice to see them in their oilfield context - lots to learn about all this besides how amazing the engineering is and how cute the ROVs are.

With a screen name like that, P a L, I assumed you were from La. Wish I could here some of your Dad's stories. Just now reading "The Big Rich;" good stories about Humble, Burkburnet, Mexia, and E.Texas Woodbine. I don't know how accurate they are, but the Tx RRC has online GIS maps showing well surface locations -- Yeah, I wonder if the people that live in Timbergrove subdivision know that their houses are on top of an old field. Realistically, these old fields were in the shallow hydropressured section, so I think they may be alright, but it makes you wonder. I don't know if you needed a permit in the 20's and 30's, but I've seen old documents from that era with lease lines and proposed locations - seems likely that they were not that accurate or complete. Apparently E.Texas boom in the early 30's was quite wild and wooly with lot's of illicit wells and pipelines as well as "slant drilling" across lease lines - the "hot oil" wars.

I wonder if the people that live in Timbergrove subdivision know that their houses are on top of an old field

Something in PaL's story has been nudging me, and now, GeoNola, you've brought it all the way up. About half my life ago (in 1978), I lived for a few months in a bleak West Virginia town where people told stories of abandoned coal mines that sometimes collapsed as sinkholes. Thankfully, only just before I moved away did I hear from a neighbor that our apartment house had one of those old mines smack under it. Therefore, I only had a couple of weeks, instead of months, of the heebie-jeebies . . .

If you want to bring back the heebie-jeebies from your time in WVA rent or buy on DVD the movie "Silent Hill".

My house is on top of an old mine. Many if not most of the houses is south western PA are on top of old mines. Occasionally houses, schools etc are subsided. You can get state sponsored subsidence insurance - the more the danger the higher the cost.

I know a place in Colorado where there are houses above abandoned coal mines that are now on fire. It's absolutely impossible to put the fires out. There's a constant danger, not so much of cave-ins, but of cracks opening that emit CO and SO2. Very bad situation. And typically, it's a poor area so the people who live there can't afford to move.

Edit to add: It's probably a good thing the coal is high sulfur. SO2 is so irritating that it's impossible to miss or ignore it. If it was only CO coming out, there would probably be dead people every now and then.

Mexia~I didn't think anyone knew where Mexia was LOL. I lived in Hilltop Lakes and then Bryan/College Station and IIRC Mexia is famous for Anna Nicole Smith at Dairy Queen.

On to oil, I found a report somewhere that showed how different types of crude (ie: light, heavy etc) evaporate to some degree and what contibuting factors expedite the evaporation. Any help finding this again would be greatly appreciated.



I, too, thank you for your story. You woke up some long forgotten memories in me. I never would have been here on TOD to read your story were it not for the DWH accident. Just hanging around here for the last few months has been a kick and reading your story was the icing on the cake. My field time in the oil patch in the early and mid seventies was right in the middle of those East Texas places you talked about. I have personally logged a few slant hole wells in north Houston that were within throwing distance of subdivisions and businesses. Now maybe I know what they were doing so close to civilization…not to mention it was nice to know we were only a few minutes away from a hot meal at a decent restaurant if they had to trip the hole. I never logged a dry hole at Humble Light. The road out south of Sour Lake always smelled bad in that low area that passed through the old field. I always figured that’s how it got its name. In my day I roamed all the way from west of Galveston, up to Huntsville, over to Jasper and down to the Louisiana border on the coast. And I think I knew every 24 hour diner in that area except for Houston. My favorite diners in the summertime were the ones that had those electric bug killers hanging out back. There was something very satisfying to watch them get revenge for me. Somebody mentioned permits and the Texas RRC. They were serious about protecting fresh water. One thing they always wanted to know in my day was where the surface casing was set. Occasionally I would have some small operator ask me to write down their version of where it was. My standard reply was that the only thing I could do was indicate, not logged, which is what I would do. I don’t know if anyone ever got in trouble over that, but it sure wasn’t me.

I don’t expect anyone to have any particular interest in my recollections. After all, they are not dramatic at all and certainly not important to anyone else. Speaking just to the petroleum industry experts here, it is easy to forget just how small that club is. When I was in the club I didn’t know or care how small it was because most of my circle of friends and colleagues were in it too. We could talk shop all day long pretty much as equals. Once I left the industry and the area I quickly found that there wasn’t anyone around who knew or cared anything about it. So, the shop talk stopped. For a long time. Here I am now some thirty years later and, due to an unfortunate accident on a rig in the GOM, I am suddenly plugged into a large pool of industry experts talking more shop than I could ever absorb. I must say, it has been fun. I used the archived tutorials on TOD and general knowledge shared in the posts to get up to speed faster than I ever would have imagined. I even surprised myself when I looked at the open hole logs from Macondo that were published online. I could still interpret them. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is thanks to all the experts on TOD for your time and willingness to share what you have learned over many years. Believe me; I know what it takes to do that.

Just for something different, here's a press release updating the sea turtle relocation:

. 135 sea turtle nests have been relocated by government agencies & FedEx from beaches in the path of the oil spill in Alabama, Mississippi and the Florida Panhandle to a secure, climate-controlled facility at Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Fla.
. So far, 2,168 hatchlings have completed incubation and been released into the Atlantic.
. The number of nests relocated will continue to increase over the next few weeks, peaking around August 23, when FedEx will transport over 4,000 eggs per day.
. FedEx is donating logistics expertise and transportation for all eggs throughout the sea turtle season, using air-ride suspension, temperature-controlled vehicles for the vibration and temperature sensitive sea turtle eggs.

[NDR sez: IMO it's always a pleasure to see a corporation doing good. The initial plan was to airlift the turtle eggs, but a scientist advised that aircraft pressure changes and G-forces might harm delicate amniotic membranes. Hence the more-gentle trucks.]

I wish you could see the grin you just put on me, NDR. Now to spread the word around. THANKS.

IMO it's always a pleasure to see a corporation doing good.

YES, three cheers (or more!) for FedEx.

Fitting that an ancient icon of slowness should be rescued (we hope) by a modern icon of speed.

So uh... when those hatchings grow up and it's time to lay their eggs...

Where will they go?

Depends on where they put them.

Though I assume they'll return to the place they were born. I doubt they have a built in GPS telling them where they were intended to be born/

I doubt they have a built in GPS telling them where they were intended to be born

I guess it was on the previous thread, but earlier today, I linked a story or two (but couldn't find the one I really wanted to find again) about how they're carefully packing these turtle eggs in sand from their native beaches. Research suggests that this does imprint them with "GPS" that brings adult turtles back to where they hatched years before. If I correctly recall the original story I can't find now, this proved to work with Texas turtles moved (while still in their eggs) out of the way of the Ixtoc oil.

Well, that the begs the question as to what property of the sand lures them back to the same beach.

Chemical composition? What happens if it changes from the time they were hatched... like having a quantity dispersants now tainting the original sand?

Hmmm. Yeah, must be the chemistry, huh? And what a good question! (Lovely dissertation topic for some biochem PhD candidate.)

When Kent Wells was asked about the RW the first thing he said when telling about the steps they would take now is "we will test the BOP".

Kent wells also said there was an option of pumping cement into the reservoir.

Strangely, there is still something that looks like oil leaking out of the capping stack.

If almost all the fluid in the well is now mud, this must be the residual oil trapped above the mud injection point.

Since the mud weight chosen still leaves ~1.3 ksig (3.5 ksia) pressure in the wellhead, we should see these leakes be replaced by mud as the time goes on.

Anyway I want to know about that leak which someone said wasn't decreasing in pressure.

I'm also curious to see what they'll do next are the relief wells going to be used soon. BP officals said something about delivering the final kill a week after the static kill has ended.

Dimitri -- Are you sure it's oil? With the 5,000' head of mud the cap should be about 1,000 psi above the water pressure. I've also read that some leaks seem to be coming from new areas. Could it be mud squirting out?

Could perhaps the moderators here put up a new thread discussing the various "huzzah, it's all over" type of reports with a synopsis of what the real story is? I'm not a chemist nor work in the energy/oil industry, but from a layman's point-of-view when I read the types of stories in the following links it reeks of "all done, nothing to see".

BBC - Majority of BP spill 'dealt with'

Reuters - Obama says "long battle" in Gulf close to end

Bloomberg - U.S. Says 74 Pct of BP Oil Gone From Gulf Waters

New York Times - U.S. Finds Most Oil From Spill Poses Little Additional Risk

Financial Times - Damage from BP spill is less than feared

No, they don't specifically say the disaster is over, at least not so openly. But there's a strong current of "75% of the oil's gone, just a bit of cleanup left". I doubt the GOM residents would agree, let alone the local ecology. I seriously doubt that the worst oil disaster in US history is all but behind us. From what I understand you can still dig on some beaches and find oil from the Valdez.

Has there really been independent, unbiased verification from credible sources of:

a) how much oil was really "spilled"? No, not taking BP's press statements as gospel.
b) how large was the underwater oil plume?
c) is the plume still there, and if so what size and location?
d) what toxicity samples were taken, from where and what were the results? All of them.

And BP just dumped over a million gallons of Corexit into the Gulf. Not only do we have a right to know everything about its formulation and toxicity, we *need* to know so we have a chance to prepare for the carnage it will surely wreak on the local ecology (ie. the seafood you will eat in years to come).

BP are lifting the carpet whilst the Obama administration and the mainstream media begin to sweep. It's infuriating, shameful and wrong.

BP are lifting the carpet whilst the Obama administration and the mainstream media begin to sweep. It's infuriating, shameful and wrong.

The media have to have a new story at regular intervals to hold onto the eyeballs, and the politicians like to be able to claim progress at regular intervals to hold onto the votes, so the two play into each other.

Once the well has been definitively killed and the self-congratulation exhausts itself, other topics will take over, at least for a while. But we can expect a new wave of stories once the court battles begin, and a whole 'nother wave with headlines like, "Hidden Damage from Oil Spill Emerges" and "Spill Damage Estimates Too Optimistic."

Agree. But the truth will out, over time. Researchers will turn up plenty of oil and toxins in surveys and tests to come. I hope TOD and its many experts and cogent commenters will continue to cover the situation for as long as it takes to reach the truth and to solve at least SOME of the problems this oil spill has caused and its continued residue in the ocean and its many valuable life forms. I will still be reading TOD long after BP has washed its hands of the problem. Thanks TOD for your great service throughout this ordeal -- I am a true fan now, and enjoy reading all of the materials presented.

Ah, the tyranny of the 24-hour news cycle.

It is also the nature of the modern MSM (driven by ratings) to put their own slant on a story that tends to the sensational and dramatic (the tabloidization” of the press). The story will fade from prominence but not go away for some time.

However, "truth will out" eventually as science and history judge current event with the advantage of time that will likely arrive at sound judgments based on the hard work to come.

"truth will out" eventually

Just try to imagine how much fodder this one summer has given how many scholars in how many disciplines for how many decades. Dizzying.

jum - The MSM has a problem trying to cover too much in too little time. Here's my very short synopsis:

1)They were able to install a "cap" that stopped most of the oil/NG from flowing into the GOM. The well still had pressure and would a still flow into the GOM if it were opened up again. IOW it's still a serious threat. 2) the heavy drilling mud was pumped into the well and filled the casing up. This eliminated the flowing pressure but the well could again start flowing oil into the GOM if this kill mud failed for whatever reason. 3) the last step will be to pump cement into the well from the top of the cap or from the bottom thru the RW which could still be drilled into the wild well. And both techniques may be attempted before it's all over with.

Only when the well is filled with cement to sufficiently prevent oil from every flowing to the surface will that phase of the crisis be over. Beyond that is the restoration of the environment to whatever degree that might be accomplished.

And beyond that is the policy phase: how much and when, if ever, will drilling be allowed to regain the level of activity we saw before the BP accident.

IMHO: It has only been partially "dealt with". "The long battle in the Gulf" is not close to the end if we consider the environmental damage as well as the economic damage caused by the blow out and the drilling moratorium. "Posing little additional risk" seems to be a rather cheesy comment: the risk seems little now only because it was so huge to begin with. How much oil was spilled: I doubt anyone can come up with an accurate estimate that could be proved to any great extent. I expect the final number will be something BP and the feds will negotiate. Plumes: it seems that the independent analysis of the "plumes" indicate that they are not so much giant accumulations of oil in the water but areas where the oil is measured in parts per million. That doesn't necessarily mean they aren't dangerous IMHO but it's not the stuff that will trap birds and dolphins. But still something to be concerned about especially long term. Toxicity: opinions seem to vary widely. I'll leave that one up to you.

I am infuriated, too. And this won't help us get to the truth either: Before the house passed HR 3534 (The Clear Act) last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) stripped out authorization for an independent investigation into the Gulf disaster.


This is all hocus pocus and I have no confidence that the truth will ever come out, since the MMS was undoubtedly in bed with BP. Remember Monsanto, of terminator seed fame? Ever look and see how many former employees of Monsanto went on to hold high gov't positions in the FDA? It's disgusting.

FDA? Yes, and then add in USDA!

Everyone says everything's going great with the static kill...fabulous! Guess that means we don't have to worry about the dramatic increase in flow of whatever's coming out of the BOP, plainly visible on the feed from Skandi 1, right?


I assume Thad Allen is still getting his steady IV "drip" of BP Kool-aid? Does this mean those of us who thought this might become a problem are right yet, or are we still at "move right along, nothing to see here"? I dunno, if you don't believe me (though I've been watching the drips increase for a few weeks now but still seen nothing like what is coming out now), you could see for yourself at http://deepwaterbp.com/ or any of the other sites hosting the live feeds...or alternatively, take the "experts" at their word, in spite of whatever vested interests they may have in painting a certain picture of the situation, right?

Believe it's over when it's over, but until then, the refrain is still: I see oil, I see gas, BP shove it up your...yeah.

I also see oil, I also see gas.

So far, I don't think the static kill has "killed"..

Has it made a small leak worse?

Has it made things or anything better?

I have no idea...

Thanks, avonaltendorf. Yeah, must be thruster silt. Don't you have the urge to move the video up or sideways? I'm always reaching for the horizontal and vertical bars...but there aren't any! I noticed that indeed there is something to the right when the ROV panned that direction for a second. Another ROV? Couldn't tell for sure.

Rats, sorry I missed this hearing, since it starred my favorite witness-interrogator, Sen. Whitehouse:

Politics of Dispersant

A post I just made on the story Oil companies say their containment plans will improve drilling safety in 6 months

mjzapjr August 04, 2010 at 11:00AM

Great advancement but a little on the strange side.

$1 billion for a system to fix a blowout but nothing to improve on the blow out preventers design?

I know I am Polish but is it really that hard to understand that if you don't let it happen in the first place, you wouldn't have to address fixing it after it breaks?

'On The Oil Drum one of the astute posters noted a BOP is like a safety on a gun. You have to take a complete approach to weapon safety. Proper handling procedures and the like. These systems are developed and drilled ad naseum into the heads of the soldiers. Never is the weapon's safety system taken into consideration as a reliable 'failsafe' disabling mechanism when operating the weapons. As a matter of fact, they train with the understanding that such systems are 'bound to fail' or can never be relied upon except to fail. Yet accidental shootings on base or the range are rare. It is all the other things the soldiers drill on that ensure accidents do not happen.
Such as it should be with the BOP. Yes, we need a more reliable BOP design and greater safety margins built into the devices. However, preventing the operations from even getting close to needing to perform an emergency 'shut-in' should receive the bulk of attention and efforts. It is a concept called risk management and it has been proven to be the current best practice way to deal with risk in large complex systems such as oil exploration. Do not get all wrapped up in the BOP. Get wrapped up in the risks we are taking to fuel our consumptive lifestyles.

BTW The astute poster was activated05, a career army man and senior noncom.'

If you post a response I request you post it in both places or give me permission to do so if you feel so inclined. Thanks.

Amen, bother.

I had a similar observation at http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6808#comment-694156

Putting a reliance on any mechanical system to save you from poor operational decisions can actually have the undesired psychological effect of being willing to take greater operational risks. The resulting effect becomes, "If there is a downstream system that will save me, why not take the risk!"

We may have seen this effect already. Douglas Brown the chief mechanic on the Deepwater Horizon recalled Transocean's Offshore Installation Manager Jimmy Harrell saying, "Well, I guess that's what we have those pinchers for" about some of the decisions before the DWH blowout. Yes, there is some dispute about this quote but it does illustrate the point.

IMHO, the best way to operate is to assume you don't have a "safety."

That is not to say we shouldn't spend a fortune on making better BOPs; DO IT -- STARTING TODAY! But, my caution is that BOPs should be last resorts and not intended to cover bad operational decisions in the upstream processes.

Re-post as you wish!

Edit to add Brown's quote and clarity.

Putting a reliance on any mechanical system to save you from poor operational decisions can actually have the undesired psychological effect of being willing to take greater operational risks. The resulting effect becomes, "If there is a downstream system that will save me, why not take the risk!"

There is so much truth in this, I have noticed it most of my life, the safer you make something people just take more chances.
Most notable in Motor Vehicles, the safer you make people feel in them, their driving habits get more reckless.
If you want people to display more care and attention, Rip out the Safety Air Bags and replace with a big sharp spike coming out of the steering wheel, Damn sure that will make them drive more careful.

I realize that nothing has been announced so we're in the area of informed speculation for this question; but ... what might be the next steps in the cement job?

If they cement from the bottom (and that is still an if right now, I guess), how far up the well are they likely to go?

I assume all the way to the mudline wouldn't normally be done (instead, a series of cement plugs) but this isn't exactly a normal situation.

Cementing from the top seems to imply a solid column of cement top to bottom.

Any informed speculation or best guesses?

Also, once cemented what might they do in addition to abandon the well.

Kent Wells Today.

Funny how he mentions a BOP test.

In terms of the relief well, let me start there. We've (run in the hole). We're very near the bottom with our drill string at this point. What we'll be doing over the next day or so is we need to do what we call a BOP test. We'll do that. Then we'll need to drill out the cement that's at the bottom of the casing that was there as a result of the cementing procedures that we did over the last few days.

I know it is a flip of the coin but:

I say the test will fail.


I'm inclined to agree with you. What happens next if it does?

Another 3D scan of the area to see if nothing has changed? Maybe not, since they already broke GECO TOPAZ.

Install the BOP-In-Waiting?

Issue a statement that's it wasn't necessary anyway?

Why the sudden change of mood?
We don't even know the results of the static kill, so can we say it will fail.

Heiro, he's just acknowledging that BOPs don't work reliably.

They may not be reliable by they are necessary.

The point of the test would be to see if it does indeed work. It may not.

Well I understand.
I will personally hope for the best. Though I do wonder what would happen if it does not pass the test.

There was a post last night that there is a 26 page report that is going to be released by Salazar and supposedly in it he says he is not going to let the RW continue based on the BOP failing test already on the RW.

At least that is how I understood it.

Perhaps you misunderstood it, QUS, since it's Allen's, not Salazar's, call to make.

I will go back and check but I think Salazar is Allen's boss and Obama is the ultimate one to call the shots no matter what.

Salazar is NOT Allen's boss. POTUS has delegated this chore -- "plug the damn hole" -- to Allen alone, with whatever support he needs from the rest of the Executive-Branch part of the government.

You might not have misunderstood the Examiner article, Quantum, because it mangled its source pretty badly, but it linked to a good Reuters article.

Salazar said "performance problems" with the blowout preventers were found when new testing requirements were imposed after the April 20 blowout that preceded the gushing leak.

The blowout preventers passed new tests after the problems were fixed, BOEMRE spokesman Nicholas Pardi said on Tuesday.

TinFoilHatGuy on August 3, 2010 - 11:39pm
Group says Mobile company bought formaldehyde-tainted trailers for oil spill worker housing
FEMA Katrina trailers. The gift that keeps on giving.
TFHG - may be you are interested in these links :



"Finally, stickers were placed on trailer windows warning purchasers of potentially elevated formaldehyde levels and stating that the trailers were not to be used for housing.
Despite these precautions, it appears that these toxic trailers are once again being used for housing in the Gulf Coast.
The Times article reported that many buyers said they were unaware of any prohibition of using the trailers for housing."

I´m not convinced that the trailers had gassed out.
Not for sure, but maybe this trailers are used for the prisoners cleanup workers.

Don't quite follow why you think the test will fail. Wells is talking about the relief well, drilling out the cement shoe recently put into the bottom of the hole and testing the BOP on the relief well.

Trying to understand what you think will fail.

Wells says the first thing they are going to do is a test on the RW BOP.

From stuff I have read they have a high failure rate. More then 50/50 fail.

I think it will fail the test.


I could have this very wrong (I'm a newbie here to learn), but from what I've read, BOPs will often pass these type of operational tests but fail at the magic moment when needed most. It's part of the overall problem possibly also having to do with the violence of a blowout event that cannot be duplicated in the routine tests.

I've also read that BOPs have become platforms for sensors and other things like pressure tests unrelated to the primary safety mission of a BOP.

BTW, see an OTC doc at http://media.mcclatchydc.com/static/pdf/Les-oilspill-ABSC.pdf

From the comfort of my Lazyboy recliner, I can safely say that I am glad I am not on the scene where they are pumping mud. Are Admiral Allen and Kent Wells on the scene or just calling in from their Lazyboy's?

So as I medicate my itchy eyes, irritated sinuses and skin rashes, I would like to express my appreciation for the lively banter and information provided on TOD.



Time for a new game, but I will stay 100% on topic. Most folks here in Gulf Shores, AL are of the mindset the well is already dead. It also appears the 2nd concert here will not happen. All the response tents have come down or are coming down. The new game is disclosing where you are you commenting from, where do you live now, and where you were born. Tie it into the topic with something like, I was born in Seoul, South Korea and did I notice that the Korean Deepwater Horizon shipbuilders were named in some of the lawsuits too? I will stay on topic and I do want the answer to that last one.

Well it will die soon right?
We delivered the death blow as you said and we should be able to kill it with the relief well? Or is that not possible?

And so now they should be able to retrieve the "broken" BOP,install a new one and pick up the pipe for an actual OF Plugging.Right?

Well they should have the test about done by now. When are they going to release actual results instead of bla, bla , bla tell the masses all is well?

How much mud did they pump to fill the well and how much are they pumping to keep it full?

From Kent Well's tech briefing today: http://www.bp.com/liveassets/bp_internet/globalbp/globalbp_uk_english/in...

So we did pump the static kill yesterday at five barrels per minute. We were able to watch as we pumped the mud in. We were able to watch the pressure continuously and gradually decline.

And these were all very encouraging signs. And then what we kept doing is we kept injecting it as five barrels a minute, injecting more of the oil that was in the casing and actually mud, and continued to inject it into the reservoir for a period of time to try to get – make sure we'd cleaned out all of the oil that we could out of the casing.

And so we pumped for a number of hours. And then as we got confident that we'd actually got the well into a static condition, we actually increased the rate up to 10 barrels a minute, and then ultimately 15 barrels a minute, and we did that to give ourselves confidence that, if we chose to go ahead with the cementing procedure, that we could actually pump at higher rates, because that will give us a more effective cement job.

So by the end of the whole process, we had injected about 2,300 barrels of mud, and a lot of that was actually designed at just cleaning out the casing and making sure that we could move forward with the cement job with confidence, if we choose to do so.

And what we – what we're doing now is, every six hours, we just inject a little more mud into the well, just to continue to give ourselves confidence that we can do that, keep our equipment live, and we're seeing a very, very static set of conditions as we continue to monitor the pressure, which is all very encouraging.

Thanks for the link.

And then in terms of the mud rate, we pump a total of 75 barrels every six hours at five barrels a minute. And, really, all we're trying to do is just, like I say, keep everything turning, not letting anything settle, keeping the pumps and everything in good shape and being prepared if we decide to move forward with the cementing procedure.

That means they are adding about 12 barrels of mud per hour. He is implying it is unnecessary, but who knows? A 12 barrel per hour mud leak would equate to a much higher oil leak.

It is also going into the reservoir down-hole too. Hard to know from what they have said so far to determine how much (if any significant) mud might be leaking and how much is being pushed into the reservoir. I think Rockman said upthread that the mud weight alone (in an overweighted state) would cause some mud to flow into the reservoir. RM, comment?

The leak rate as indicated by the amount they are pumping in to the well (that they are claiming is not necessary) is 75 Barrels per six hours, or 9 Gallons Per Minute (GPM) of mud.

Using an oil gusher rate of 53,000 Barrels per day that would be 1,583 GPM. After they capped the well, the pressure indicated they still had some leaking oil. If the leak was 20% of the original rate leaking, that would be 317 GPM of oil/gas.

So, the question is: does oil/gas leak 35 X as fast as mud?

Is this only semantically different? In other words, to me, mud that is being pushed in the oil reservoir at the bottom of the hole doesn't constitute a "leak." HCs are being sequestered in the reservoir and they're only pushing some extra mud into the rock at the bottom every six hours. Doesn't meet my definition of a leak.

Assuming the well tubing is intact (perhaps other than some small leaks in the BOP), in theory, all of the mud being pumped every 6 hours (for 15 minutes - 5 bpm X 15 min = 75 b) could all be going into the reservoir. From what Wells indicated about pressure readings, this scenario seems to jive.

Also, sorry, I'm not following your math. And, I don't think any leaks after capping were anywhere near the 20% figure you assume (unless, of course, I missed something major).

flipper -- Any leak rate will be more a funtion of the pressure differential than the nature of the fluids as long as they have some modest vicosity. Oil/N can leak 1ooX faster if the pressure differential is high enough. OTOH I'm not sure if that's pertinent to the issue.

bb -- the bottom hole pressure should be a few hundred psi above the reservoir. But back to the mud cake issue: is the reservoir building up an impermeable layer between it and the mud column? Be nice if they just threw us that little crumb.

Yea, we're all mushrooms ;-)

From reading the tech briefing transcript, it seems like Wells is confident that they could push the whole column of mud into the into the reservoir if they cement from the top. Seems to be sticking to his guns.

I note he said that they have already push mud in and up to 15 barrels per minute. How do you interpret this?

I am not sure what that pressure is, but I don't think it is the one on the well. Does anybody know?

Maybe they just pumped some mud.

Sorry OT from this morning's thread by Rockman:

lotus -- Thanks. Both he and I bad: him don't know geography and me no take time to dig deeper. OTOH the marshes never had forest on them. That's why they're called marshes and not forests. Check Google maps when you have a chance. We have an odd situation in S La: we are hard pressed to have anything like an island most people envision. Delacroix Island is a few hundred yds wide and miles long. It's actually a natural levee and thus sits a few feet above the rest of the marsh. These are what we call islands. In the swamps you can't be picky. This is also where you find tress in this part of the world. Whatever "forests" existed there were problably cut down 50+ years ago.

So maybe I'll read his reports. OTOH this area has been economicly dead in all aspects except oil/NG drilling and production for many decades. There may be some Gulf fishermen who dock their boats there and they've certainly taken a hit. But that doesn't make them standout from the rest of the suffering fishing industry. And about the only oil you find on Delacroix Island will be leaking from old cars.

Thanks again for stoping before I got my foot lodged too deep down my throat...or the other end.

I highly recommend reading the Marshall series on Delacroix Island. Google maps shows what it's like there now, but not 60 years ago. Y'all should read the first-hand testimony of the old timers who grew up there in the 40's and 50's. Marshall has also posted some old photos showing marsh where today is open water and, indeed, live oak "forest" along the bayou. All over S. La. the pattern is the same: from Live Oak forest on the natural levees to cypress swamp to marsh as you get further from the old distributaries - all of those environments have been transgressed: Live Oak forest, now dead trees, and palmetto brush, cypress swamp now marsh, marsh now open water. There are still a lot of forested "ridges" protuding "down-the-bayou" into the marsh, but they're going away fast. If you're in the area, you can take a nice short walk at the Lafitte, Barataria Preserve which will take you from the oak-forested levees out to the marsh - they also have great exhibits with old and new air photos showing the land loss of recent years. If you go down to Leeville you can see lot's of open water where there used to be cane fields and residential areas including now drowned cemeteries.


I recall these natural levees covered with live oaks I saw in the 1960s as "cheniers."

Dictionary.com defines chenier as "a hummock in a marshy region, with stands of evergreen oaks."

Britannica.com expands on cheniers as "beach ridge, usually composed of sand-sized material resting on clay or mud. Chenier is the Louisiana French term for the oak tree belts that mark the distribution of the ridges in the Mississippi Delta region. In that area there are several sets of cheniers, each separated from, and slightly unconformable to, the next. Some of the ridges have been reworked by waves, and several show a blanket of peat growth (indicating a regression of sea level) covered by marine sediments. The arrangement and composition of these cheniers are taken as evidence of a fluctuation in sea level and have been correlated in time with similar evidence in other areas of the world."

What used to be...


Chenier plains can signify not only a regressing sea, but also deposition of large amounts of fine-grained (silt and clay) material along the coastline, generally from a river. In this case, discharge from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya contains a large amount of suspended sediment, some of which is carried westward by the Louisiana Current along the coastline, and is deposited along the southwestern coast of Louisiana (pretty much as far as Sabine Pass). There is so much sediment that it causes the shoreline to advance. The chenier plains of southwestern Louisiana can be considered, if not part of the Mississippi delta, at least a closely related product. (Similar formations occur along the northern coast of South America, because of sediment carried alongshore from the Amazon and Orinoco rivers.)

Last few bubbles on well just stopped suddenly. Hopefully for good.

It's dead Jim.

I wasn't aware they dropped a bridge on the well...

Note "Post Weep OVI"

What is it?
I can't really tell at all what I'm looking at considering the quality of the picture.

Picture was just to log Mission Text: "Post Weep" - not the actual image.

OT alert!

A friend just advised, "Articles like this keep me going."


Me, I lack so much as one single clue, but y'all who know from molecules, knock yo'se'fs out -- with his compliments and mine.

Since the main topic is on hiatus, it's a good time for me to ask one of those "I don't know squat about oil wells" questions.

Down at the mudline, there are two pan-shaped devices attached to the casing 180 degrees apart. One of Skandi's close looks showed there are lines attached to them. Are those some sort of pressure transducers? If not, what are they?

Bloomberg Reporter Challenges White House energy adviser Browner on "vast majority of the oil has been contained" comment:


Summing up the past 100 days, DWH lost circulation at the top of the reservoir; BP ordered a tapered production liner and minimum cement at the bottom to TA. When they started displacing to seawater, the bottom plug failed, gas cap blew up the rig, gas and light oil burned and sank it. Four million barrels of oil were lost out of the reservoir before it was capped and balanced with mud (yesterday).

Do I have the facts right?

It's 4.9 million barrels, based on what BP has to admit to. That 53,000 barrel per day rate all those scientists supposedly agreed on, coincidentally was the amount that records show BP based their dispersant feed on. So how can they deny it now?

My daughter would say, TMI, for too much information. This is not going to work in the MSM. You will lose your audience.

Seeing as how this thread is going to have its tail chopped off pretty soon and since semi-OT posts are tolerable for the nonce, I'll make my last sea poo post for a while.