BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Continuing to Wait - and Open Thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6860.

More testing by BP is underway, and we continue to wait until the tests are reviewed and analyzed. The relief well can be drilled at earliest next week end. The decision to go ahead may come as early as later today.

At Saturday's teleconference, Admiral Allen said:

Right now, the drill bit is 3.5 feet horizontally away from the Macondo well and 50 feet above the intersection point. They [BP] will not move beyond that point until I issue a future order that will tell them to proceed. Prior to issuing that order, I am going to provide an order today directing them to continue the pressure test and give us alternatives to relieve the pressure should we – when we go in and drill the relief well and pressure builds I the annulus, how that pressure will be relieved.

Those things have been directed so we can analyze them before I give them the final direction.

The letter issued to BP can be found at this link. It tells BP

. . . the Government Scientific Technical Team has determined that the benefits of the bottom kill procedure out weigh the risks. On that basis, the bottom kill will go forward pursuant to a future directive.

It then goes on to direct BP to

1. Provide Admiral Allen with a plan for a pressure relief system to prevent excessive pressurization of the Macondo well stack.

2. Maintain full readiness of the relief well to resume intercept of the Macondo well when directed.

3. Provide Admiral Allen with a plan for an ambient pressure text and analysis to assess the stability of the well during the period of time after the removal of the current Macondo well stack and its replacement with a new BOP package.

4. "Before the current BOD stack is removed, prove to my satisfaction that the Macondo annulus does not represent a potential pathway for hydrocarbon flow; or, if the potential for flow can't be proven, identify the conditions under which flow could occur and the risks of those events occurring."

So we will need to wait, to see what BP's response is, and then wait for the Admiral's order. The Admiral plans another teleconference at 12:30 pm EDT today. The decision to go ahead may come as early as some time later today (Monday).

I repeat.

Attach a riser to the capping stack and fill it with mud so that it replicates the static kill. That will allow you to fish the drill pipe out of the defective BOP. Once that is accomplished, you can run drill pipe into the well and cement the annulus from the inside by perforating the casing and injecting cement, followed by additional cement plugs as required by MMS to plug and abandon a well!

What is so hard about that?

The original BOP is inoperative, apparently.

If even one of the rams won't retract, it would be a bit difficult to fish out the old drill bit.

I would guess that retracting the rams would have been one of the first things that they tried after putting the new stack on.

Edit: They will have to remove the old BOP in order to retrieve the old drill pipe. That is why there is concern about the pressures and their significance.

There are substantial risks, apparently, no matter whether they replace the old BOP now, or complete the relief well first.

Thus the need for as much information as possible.

Bruce -- been a while since it was discussed but I think I recall that the drill pipe is jammed in the BOP by the shears. Thus it can't be fished out. I envision the plan is delatch the BOP and pull it and the DP to the surface. Or maybe I missed the part when they cleared the BOP of the DP.

Rockman -- a while back you predicted that the BOP would be "arrested" as soon as it breaches the surface. Listening to Allen, it sounds like you were right...

One of the issue, if I understand it correctly, is that pumping in at the bottom may quickly pressurize the annulus, and quoting Adm. Allen, "...displace a seal that's at the top of the annulus and could potentially exceed the pressure limits in the blowout preventer". And think you said that just a few bbls could do that if it is truly well sealed.

Given that, Bruce's idea of perforating the casing makes good sense to me. Or they could do it to provide a flow path of our choosing, from the bottom up. This assumes of course, that they can remove the DP. Maybe they will bring back CRAW?

Be advised everything I know about drilling I learned here in the past few months. Thanks.

Sam - I'm guessing you mean the cap's pressure limits. I think Thad also mentioned concern about blowing the barrier at the top of the csg that's currently isolating the annulus. I'm sure I don't know all I need to know at this point but I like the idea of perfing the annulus up shallow. But I also think it would be a good idea to cut the annulus with RW1 and see what pressures we're dealing with. No need to pump cmt if they make the cut. If the annulus is live then they could probably assume it's pressured up shallow which might make the perf job a bad choice. But that may be the good news: it seems that if they can pump enough mud down the RW to break down any shallow barriers they can pump down with enough pressure to push cmt down the annulus to the reservoir and effective kill any upward flow potential. They seem to think they have the flow arrested in the production csg so at that point the well is as dead as it will ever be. Thus breaking down a shallow barrier should be a big concern IMHO

From what I understand there is the assumption that the top kill cement job actually succeeded too good and that the annulus is blocked from the reservoir.

There is no longer a way to do this: "they can pump down with enough pressure to push cmt down the annulus to the reservoir"

Instead the pumping would possibly lift the casing from the hanger with whatever consequences.

Thanks Rockman -- clear as a bell. What scares me is I'm starting to understand this stuff.

And now I have a conspiracy theory to suggest. BP reads TOD. They scour it for solutions, and implement the ones they like. TOD is their primary source of inspiration. We do the work and they get the credit. But what they don't realize is that some of us are just being facetious.

BTW, I was just reviewing a document from my work (software development) where they used the acronyms RW and WW. I'm reading that getting all confused and thinking WTF? Maybe I spend too much time here. Carumba.

Rockman or anybody else. Speaking of the casing seal assembly, some of us in the irc are studying the excellent and comprehensive energy training resources document about the Macondo Well. (https://www.energytrainingresources.com/data/default/content/Macondo.pdf)

We are wondering if you or anybody knows what those pipes sticking out at the wellhead under the bop are--the ones that are apparently full of cement and have been leaking apparently nitrogen from cement. We would like to know what they do/did, how they are physically connected to the inside of the wellhead, and what relationship, if any, they may have to the casing seal assembly. Unfortunately the detailed document doesn't mention them as it describes how the wellhead was constructed.

Any help would be greatly appreciated by those of us who are trying to rationally and responsibly identify what is going on with the Macondo well.

Rockman and evergreen: I found the following diagram at Schumberger - not quite the same, but shows the "casing valve" at the bottom:

well head

The Macondo well has at least six - maybe more - staged around the 36" conductor below the BOP flange just above the mudline. The ROVs have been watching them and took silt & cement (?) out of some, and also caught bubbles from a couple.

The only casing valves I was ever around were at a disposal well. In other words it wasn't a producing well. They were always closed and we monitored the pressure upstream of the closed valve. It was supposed to be 0 PSI because there shouldn't have been pressure in the casing. As I recall that would indicate problems with the cement. If pressure did build up we would vent it off. Or pipe it to a rupture disc if it couldn't be monitored.

I'm not sure if it is the same for deepsea wellheads though and that was over 10 years ago (so my foggy memory may not serve me well.)

I've read something similar to this in several news stories the last few days:

Removal of the original blowout preventer would have to be overseen by the Justice Department, which issued a subpoena for the apparatus as part of an investigation into the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion.


What do you call 10,000 dead lawyers @ the bottom of the ocean? A good start. Seriously, I would think the TWA 800 type protocols could be amended and used.

Like all professions there are bad lawyers and good lawyers. Typecasting never serves any good. Sometimes in fact lawyers help us punish the bad corporations so they reform a bit. I am thankful for all the lawyers who helped sue the tobacco companies so that they no longer have a free rein in trying to addict young kids to their toxic product.

I wouldn't mind seeing BP's lawyers at the bottom of the sea, but those suing BP, even the predatory ones who care only about their fee, I am rooting on. If BP gets stuck with a huge bill it will remind the other oil companies to be MUCH safer in how they drill. Besides reimbursing people who have been hurt this is sometimes the only way we have of punishing those unique "people" called corporations. In this case we also have fines, but the cosiness of BP with the US government means those fines will not be as strong as they should be. So it is up to the lawyers to hurt them enough to be an example for others. I hope they are all pitbulls.

Typecasting never serves any good.

It also chased away at least one attorney who was posting quite informative interpretations of some of the legal issues involved in the well blow-up and its aftermath.

You just triggered some thoughts for me.

I've had occasion in the past to be critical of lawyers.

But I wonder now how fair that is.

I work with a lot of clients who took plea deals at the urging of their lawyers, that they later regretted, and were very angry at the lawyer about. And I suspect that some of them have some cause, because I can imagine that some lawyers just automatically assume they're guilty, so they become focused more on getting the best deal they can.

What interests me is the ones who apparently believe they're innocent (which is the small proportion left after I've helped many who thought they were innocent see the truth of the matter), but accepted a plea deal anyway (and yes I know how daunting it can be to risk significant prison time by fighting the charges when the alternative is a plea deal of a few months in jail and probation).

I understand that our legal system is not perfect, and am very concerned about the pleading process and the opportunities it poses for real problems, but I also believe that the problem isn't just with lawyers but with clients also.

I'm reminded of my divorce where at one point her lawyer presented what I thought were some unreasonable demands, that I was pretty sure didn't come from her, and suspected she wasn't even aware of. I suggested my lawyer confront him about that, and it turned out that she didn't want that, so we ended up with about as amicable a divorce as possible.

Lawyers work for their clients, and clients can't pretend that it's just the lawyers. They have to accept a significant amount of responsibility for the way things are handled.

Lawyers are deeply immersed in an adversarial system, the rest of us don't have to be.

Lawyers are the alternative to gunfights.


But gunfights are cheaper and faster than lawyers. John

Dragging in a topic from the last thread, even if the Transocean-BP no fault agreement holds up in court and TO escapes financial doom, BP's going to claim that TO did not close the BOP in time. Gross negligence averted, at least for that.

snake -- I think the really sad part of all this might be TO pointing a big nasty finger at their own hands including the dead ones with re: BOP activation. Seems they have just one of two options: say their hands were the best but something out of their control prevented them from doing their job or that they were screw ups and should have been able to activate the BOP. Seems like their best defense will be to blame a faulty BOP. But who does that hurt more: TO or BP? As far as I know they share the responsibility for have a good working BOP.

And we shouldn't forget how much Anadarko and Mitsui have on the line: if BP can be shown to be very negligent then they might be able to duck any of the costs. If the final fault falls on TO they'll have to pay their share first and then sue TO.

Speaking of TO, I just noticed that the Marianas is back on the scene out by the source...

Seems they have just one of two options: say their hands were the best but something out of their control prevented them from doing their job or that they were screw ups and should have been able to activate the BOP.


Testimony at the USCG/MMS hearings indicated there were problems with both the drilling controls and the BOP controls in the drill shack. Both had been known to lock up and become inoperative in the days and weeks before the accident. It is possible that something happened to these controls. The problem with the BOP control panel had something to do with the system that kept flammable gas out of the control panel.

jinn -- I recall that also as well as some disagreement as to who had/didn't have the authority to activate the BOP. The more I think about it the more likely it seems the integrety of the BOP and it's handling will be key battle ground. One could argue about all the other mistakes that appear to have been made. But if the BOP had functioned properly no one would have died, the rig would not have been destroyed and the GOM would not have been fouled with millions of bbls of oil. Bottom line IMHO.

As I understood it the question of who would push the button was in regard to the emergency disconnect (EDS) on the bridge. The emergency disconnect would involve the BOP shearing the drill string and hopefully shutting in the well but that isn't the same as the BOP controls available to the drillers and tool pushers that they would be using for well control. According to testimony it appeared that at least some attempts were made from the drill shack to operate the BOP controls some minutes before the explosion and rig losing power.

Had the emergency disconnect worked and made a clean disconnect of the LMRP and riser from the BOP this would have gone much differently. Even if the BOP was left gushing oil into the gulf it would have been easy matter to drop a capping stack on the connector that was left on top the BOP. If the disconnect had worked the worst case would be the oil would have flowed for only a few days.

After the rig lost power there was some question/disagreement as to who had authority to hit the EDS button. But other testimony suggests at that point the rig had already lost the ability to communicate with the subsea controls so that disagreement may not have made any difference.

There were dead batteries in the BOP, allegedly. There was also a story working its way around that the BOP's batteries had been raided for another purpose and that the wrong batteries had been stuck back in it. This would be an embarrassment of riches for the lawyers except for the embarrassment part.

and wasn't there a problem with some of the BOP hydraulics? and a test ram where there should have been a functional ram?

Who would normally be held responsible for a dysfunctional BOP? TO or BP or some combination of the two?

If I remember correctly, the test ram was where a test ram was supposed to be. However, in a previous configuration, there had been a VBR in that position. Transocean made the change at BP's request after getting BP to agree to pay if the BOP had to be retrieved to repair a failed VBR instead of being able to rely on a spare one being in place. It also seems that the hydraulics might have been connected incorrectly because a ROV that had tried to actuate a VBR, observed the test ram being actuated instead. Allegedly.

So far as I know, no court of law has yet determined whether the BOP was dysfunctional and if so who was responsible. I guess we can speculate that the BOP's owner, Transocean, might be expected to have some responsibility for it being in a functional state.

There was also a story working its way around that the BOP's batteries had been raided for another purpose and that the wrong batteries had been stuck back in it.

Ah, there's one I don't think I'd heard. Remember where it came from? Criminey. Whose responsibility would something like that be?

Actually, in the control pod that's necessary for the BOP to activate.

Fourth, the emergency controls on the blowout preventer may have failed, the sub-committee discovered, because the explosion that caused the emergency also disabled communications to the blowout preventer. The blow-out preventer also has a “deadman switch” which is supposed to activate the blowout preventer when all else fails. But according to Cameron, there were multiple scenarios that could have caused the deadman switch not to activate. One is human oversight: the deadman switch may not have been enabled on the control panel prior to the BOP being installed on the ocean floor. One is lack of maintenance: the deadman switch won’t work if the batteries are dead. The deadman switch is connected to two separate control pods on the blowout preventer. Both rely on battery power to operate. When one of the control pods was removed and inspected after the spill began, the battery was found to be dead. The battery in the other pod has not been inspected yet.


Also in the testimony it was revealed that the lower annular was closed at one point around the drill string when someone in the drill shack bumped the control stick and dropped the string about 15 feet on the closed seal. One of the mud guys showed pieces of the rubber seal from the returns to the BP rep (company man) and was told to ignore it.

IMO, the whole BOP scenario was a comedy of errors. What ever could go wrong did and what ever could be ignored was, including the kick that killed 11 crewman! They could have saved a lot of money by replacing the BOP with an old tractor tire. It would have provided just as much protection. The sad part is there were people in charge that [allegedly]* knew the BOP had been compromised and did nothing about it.

I don't think that story was in the testimony (though I could be mistaken). It was a 60 minute story. Speaking as an IT guy ... I don't think the IT guy is much of a witness about what was happening with the drill string. Afterall ... it really is hardware.

With these kinds of investigations, there will be a chain of events established and there will no doubt be events that put the well at risk and then one that was a point of no return. It has been thus with space shuttles, airplane crashes and so on.

At this time, I doubt that anyone really knows what that Rubicon event was.

Recovering the BOP is going to be crucial to the investigation. I expect there will be Federal marshalls there when they start detaching it and bringing it up along with Coast Guard standing by to take posession. I'm sure every precaution will be taken to prevent BP from having any more access to that evidence than practically necessary.

I expect there will be Federal marshalls there when they start detaching it and bringing it up along with Coast Guard standing by to take posession. I'm sure every precaution will be taken to prevent BP from having any more access to that evidence than practically necessary.

Allen mentioned the importance of preserving the "chain of custody" of the BOP several times. I think that's what he was referring to.


He was the one asked on the rig to verify the control stick bump!


I feel the story about the pipe being stripped throught the annular and ripping out the rubber lump would have been referring to the upper annular, the upper was a 10000psi standard element and the lower had a 5000psi stripping rubber installed. It appears they pulled a tool joint through the non stripping unit causing the problem. I believe that is why they used the lower annular on the fateful night.

Normal drilling practise is to always use the upper annular as it is much easier to change out than the lower. So the fact they were using the lower, indicates that there was a problem with the the upper.

They could have saved a lot of lives if they followed normal drilling DP practise when you have well control problems by landing off on the rams, lining up to the choke and closing the IBOP. unfortuntely I do not think they knew they had a well control problem and were having trouble identifing what was going wrong.

Sounds like they were trying to save money by avoiding another piece of maintenance work 'We will have this completed in no time so let's fix it when we plug and pull up the BOP'. Would they have been able to change an annular in place using the ROVs?



Changing the annular element is definitely a pull the BOP job, the reason for having 2 annulars on a sub sea BOP compared to one on a surface BOP is for redundancy. If one fails you still have the other. This then allows you to manage the repair at an opportune time, e.g. at a casing point. I do not know if we have a time line of when problems started with the upper annular, but remember they also had 2 operating 15000psi pipe rams that should have been used, not a 5000psi annular on a high pressure well, especially when they seemed to be in a habit of operating it at below minimal operating pressure, which screwed up the first negative test, The sub sea engineer had to bump the operating pressure from 1200psi to 1900psi (min = 1500psi).

They may have avoided down time by not repairing the annular by I would be more interested in why nobody wanted to fix the Casing shears, these had not been working since February at least as per the BOP test tabled during the first hearing, signed off by BP and Transocean with an exemption. In other words everybody knew about them not working and now nobody want to talk about it, and they still don't.

We are saved!
Alabama's plan to revive Gulf tourism includes Taylor Hicks

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- State tourism officials on Sunday unveiled a new television ad featuring "American Idol" winner Taylor Hicks, part of a wide-ranging effort to help the industry move past the damage done by the massive Gulf oil spill.

But those on the front lines of the fight for coastal tourism dollars acknowledged that the effects of BP PLC's gusher will continue indefinitely.

I appreciate the offer. Apparently, Sha-Na-Na was unavailable. Sorry but it is bad here and this does not help. At all.

Could get Wolfman Jack to be the MC.
He's still alive, I think.

Peter Frampton is doing the plastic lawnchair circuit.
(Still sounds good, though.)

Wolfman Jack aka Robert Weston Smith (January 21, 1938 – July 1, 1995). RIP.

Frampton does still sound good. Saw him last year.

In response to avonaltendorf's question in the last thread:

"David, is it your understanding that the pumps are on or off?"

The answer is: definitely! I see no viable alternative, except, perhaps, at that probably indeterminable threshold between on and off. `(:<))-<=<

Seriously though, I have no idea.

I would guess that they have done some pumping during the testing, but whatever they have done, there is no evidence that I'm aware of that the GOM, or any substantial amount of it's contents have disappeared, or been significantly damaged further since the well was capped. So I'm prepared to not complain if they take all the time they reasonably need, barring new information suggesting a substantial risk of further delay, before proceeding further.


As of last night, they appeared (S)topped.

The only time they showed the (O)pen or "On" position was on 8/10.

Unfortunately those pictures tell you nothing, those valves are in the ROV hot stab control system for the manifold valves. The second picture shows that manifold valve 2 and 3 were connected to the ROV hydraulic system, but not the position of any of the 8 valves in the manifold.

David et al - One more complaint we can probably add to our list. Re: openness. I have little doubt that all the pump info is being transmitted in real time to a variety of offices onshore. If you recall this real time transmission was happening during the kick and blow out and thus our best source of info for the event. I've used these systems many time. They are collected on a commercial server rented by the operator. The operator has the right to assign anyone a user name and pass word to access not only the archive data but also all real time data. Might be a good question for the next press conference: why isn't the public allowed to access this data. There's more than enough of us big mouth oil patch hands around to explain it to the public, the MSM and to my dog.

Exactly how would you frame that question, Rockman? Allen's presser is in one hour; I'd be happy to attempt to ask it ....

cap -First, is the info being transmitted in real time back to the shore base offices? Second, will the gov't/BP allow the press access to this data? Assuming the answer is no...then why? And remember: such data about the original accident was made public within just a few days.

Got it, thanks. Is that ALL data or specific data you'd be looking for? Just want to be clear (and avoid looking like an idiot if I get called upon).

All data cap -- We don't need anymore stinkin' editing. LOL.

Captain - PLEASE ask the Admiral why we have no public feed from the ROV's of the ship BOA SUB C (not BOA Deep C). We know that BP has these feeds in the control room in Houston.

Those ROVs are currently monitoring the BOP. Tell the Admiral he has been very UNRESPONSIVE with regard to these feeds.

Ask why they are kept "secret".

Thank you, B.


I don't disagree. I can't conceive of too many situations in which concealing, or perhaps less prejudicially put, not releasing the bulk of the information readily accessible in a safe fashion is not a good idea (with the possible exceptions, in cases like this, of info such as who had what for lunch).

Unfortunately it is very characteristic of humans, and their creations, such as corporations, to be very chary of releasing information.

This appears to me to be not only a control issue (some people want as much control over their lives as possible, wrongly, in my not so humble opinion, believing that it provides a measure of protection for them from external threats, such as second guessing) but a broader issue of hubris. Many of us believe, again wrongly, IMNSHO, that our perspective is the only appropriate one from which to interpret our data, and that others, no matter how expert they might be in general, don't have the ability to understand it as well as we do. There's truth in that, of course, but it's not only an acknowledgment that there might be more than one perspective, but, unwittingly, an implicit acknowledgment that our perspective might not be valid.

In situations like this we will often plead that we're too busy, or the data is not in an easily digestible form/arrangement, or it would consume too many resources needed elsewhere, or it won't really be sufficient to help anyone, etc..

In general, also, knowledge is power, and we tend to trust power in our hands much more than we trust it in other hands (that's part of why, when you aren't in control on a rig, you find yourself itching to run so often `(:<))-<=< )

Another issue relates to the sheer volume of information available and the likelihood that in the midst of it there are segments of it which might require further explanation, such as how we did or didn't respond to that information at the time, and why.

Then there's the other data that isn't in there which relates to such things as, what was in our mind, and why, at each stage, what consultation was undertaken, how accessible was this particular segment of the information in real time to the decision maker, etc., etc..

As I believe you have occasionally pointed out, there are also times when our interpretation of the data suggests that something will or possibly won't happen, but, often for unknown reasons, don't turn out the way we expected. Then there's often ambiguous data, and uncollected data, and the reasons why it wasn't collected, lost data, etc.

The bottom line is that there are all kinds of reasons why giving more data does not necessarily provide the clarity we would hope for when we ask for it.

That having been said, I believe it boils down to a respect and trust issue. Do I respect others, and do I trust them enough to release information I have? Unfortunately, the naysayers are often the ones who are least trusting and least respectful, and, ironically, contribute most to an unwillingness to release more information, after seeing the quality of their stewardship of that information. We have seen vividly (no pun intended) here how ROV images can be misread and possibly, at least occasionally distorted, and no matter how those interpretations have been debunked they persist. We have also seen statements twisted into pretzels, and ill-founded, again IMNSHO, accusations of incompetence, conspiracy, etc.

So, while I firmly believe that it is a good policy, whose value has been historically established time and time again, I'm not sanguine about the likelihood of it being implemented here. I believe President Obama was sincere when he promised more open government, and I suspect that is still what he wants, but he as I have, may have concluded that it just ain't that easy.

David - In short, I agree. BTW - I never share my data voluntarially. Gotta point a contractoral gun at my head to make me do so. Just because it's what I would like to see them do doesn't mean I would do it. LOL.

David, I reread your post after Rockman replied. Now I see more clearly that you blame me for BP's reluctance to disclose additional information?

We have seen vividly (no pun intended) here how ROV images can be misread and possibly, at least occasionally distorted, and no matter how those interpretations have been debunked they persist. We have also seen statements twisted into pretzels, and ill-founded, again IMNSHO, accusations of incompetence, conspiracy, etc.

Sorry, doc. Ending the ROV blackouts will curtail misinterpretation of fuzzy, distant views and will reduce speculation of conspiracy. I've never used that term. Concealment describes BP's behavior. Befuddlement (not knowing that ROV feeds were blacked out) and dependence on BP managers for data and technical advice describes Admiral Allen's predicament. That's why his press statements come out like pretzels. Not accusing him of incompetence. Kent Wells on the other hand is a public relations professional. Waffling is an art.

Rockman has been patient and quiet on the subject of measured data. BP never disclosed anything voluntarily. Waxman's committee staff forced them to spill internal memos and PPT slides. It absurd to argue now that showing us good quality ROV pix of activity at the wellhead, which have been blacked out, is somehow a matter of trusting me, for instance, not to distort it.


Why do I hear the lyrics floating around in my head?

"You're so vain, I bet you think this song is about you?"

In fact I wasn't thinking of you specifically, but since you apparently want to climb aboard, be my guest!

Also, you don't owe me any explanations, I don't have a dog in that hunt.

Stop the slurs. Who were you thinking of, then?

I didn't explain anything. I said your thesis was bunk.

No slurs, wasn't thinking of anybody specific, I missed the word bunk.

Relax man, I have no desire to fight you or anyone else, especially since I don't like losing.


Thanks for offering me the opening to write the comment I have wanted to write today. David said,

"We have seen vividly (no pun intended) here how ROV images can be misread and possibly, at least occasionally distorted, and no matter how those interpretations have been debunked they persist."

I've never run into such a freaky situation before in the realm of direct visual observation (different from quick judgment calls in sports or other kinds of momentary observations.) I've been thinking about how to describe it to those who either miss or don't see what I see. Here's what it's like: Say you and a friend are walking along and you notice an unusual tall tree and point it out to your friend. She says she doesn't see the tree, she thinks it's just the continuation of a rose bush that's grown very tall. You point out that the leaves on the tree aren't rose leaves, and anyway, even climbing roses don't grow to 60' in height. She can't see the branches of the tree or the trunk. After a while of debate she changes the subject to the pretty flowers growing along the path. That's how this debate 'feels' to me. Never before in my life (long, btw, I'm not a young person) have I had this sort of debate about the direct observation of something, with time for all parties to observe at length.

So, I've decided to bid farewell to TOD. (Probably famous last words). I'll continue to lurk when necessary to get info on the well, RW, etc. There's really nothing more for me to offer here, if there ever was. I've given it my best shot. There's nothing to see on the ROV videos of the seafloor at present anyway, as you know. I hope that after this well is successfully shut in, infomation about what I (and you) saw on the ROV videos will be forthcoming from the scientific community. Otherwise, I'll just chalk this up to one weird experience. PS: If not mentioned here elsewhere, Greenpeace, with a scientific team on board, is heading for the Gulf to do research on the seawater, marine life, etc. That's very good news. I will trust their report completely.

Hi nepeta,

So, I've decided to bid farewell to TOD. (Probably famous last words).

To paraphrase Nixon from November 1962, you mean we won’t nave nepeta to kick around anymore? ;-)

Having been around remote sensing and imaging for almost 35 years with experience in satellite imagery, astronomy imaging, subsea imaging and aerial imaging (much/most of it as a principal investigator), the biggest issue in the field has never been the science and engineering of capturing images but, instead, interpreting what we’re seeing in the captured imagery. Getting the image is often the easy part; figuring out what it really means is often (always!) the very difficult part.

Unfortunately, in remote image viewing, cases are rarely as clear-cut as the differences between trees and rose bushes. In many instances, an observed phenomena can be explained by several explanations; some of the possible explanations are similar and only nuanced, others diametrically opposed. Choosing between which explanation correctly explains the observation often requires more than the empirical.

It’s literally of having to overcome “one’s lyin’ eyes.” First impressions (fully supported by empirical data) are often wrong. It is my experience that an undesirable power of video imaging is that it tends to lock people into their first impression. That is why video remote sensing is a two-edged sword; great tool but can lead to incorrect interpretations. Deeper multi-disciplinary evaluations often required to make sense of things.

One of the classic examples of this (albeit with a still image) was “The Face on Mars” (see http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2001/ast24may_1/). Professional evaluators and scientists never thought this was anything but light and shadows. However, when released in a NASA press release, a whole group of CT folks thought NASA was hiding something bigger. They believed their “lyin’ eyes” distrusting the presented explanation. Of course, later higher-resolution (and even 3-D) imagery shows the true story. Many of these people continue to believe in the Face on Mars and reduce the later data is just part of the cover-up.

While it is true that experience tends cut down on the false trails, nobody is immune misinterpreting data (in good faith). As I’ve stated in this forum, I’ve often had to walk away from my own conjectures that were simply too elegant not to be true; but, upon deeper evaluation and better data, were indeed incorrect.

This is why I harp on critical thinking so much.

Many times I’ve seen two equally-experienced equally-knowledgeable professional scientists, in total good faith, reach diametrically opposite conjectures about the same but inconclusive data set. We almost always agree to disagree and make friendly collegial wagers over who’s correct. These wagers are usually resolved with later and better data that proves/disproves one position or the other. Among my colleagues, the favored wagers are bottles of really good wine and the grounds rules are that the winner shares the winnings with the loser over dinner.

To me, that is the really cool thing about science; the truth will out and it usually isn’t a partisan fight (or shouldn’t be.)

Think critically; if you come to a certain conclusion, embrace it even if others don’t. If better data comes in, adjust your postion as needed. If you turn out to be correct, enjoy the moment.

I, for one, based on my own observations and experience, don’t evaluate the imagery as you do but you are certainly welcome to your own opinion.

Enjoyed having you here.

Edit for typos and carity.


I like the tree/bush analogy very much. It reminds me of my boss on a Peregrine Falcon survey, back when they were still Endangered. We were arguing whether a dimly seen falcon on an eyrie a few hundred feet up a cliff off the Dirty Devil River was a Peregrine or Prairie. As we got louder and louder it stooped down from the nest and circled 30 feet over us, screaming. Cafe au lait plumage, black axillars (armpits), the voice of a Prairie Falcon, and right in our faces, but my boss kept insisting I was an idiot because I couldn't see it was a Peregrine. I don't think I'll ever understand that kind of stubbornness, or worse, the lack of curiosity about what is really out there in the world.

Yes, it does get weird here sometimes, but you're one of the folks who have made it less weird. You obviously enjoy the process of figuring out what the heck is going on, so I'd enjoy it if you kept dropping back in.

Hi Rockman - I like your postings very much, but mostly I´ve not the time to answer in an appropriate manner.
First I want to point out this words of you :

"Unfortunately it is very characteristic of humans, and their creations, such as corporations, to be very chary of releasing information.
Then there's often ambiguous data, and uncollected data, and the reasons why it wasn't collected, lost data, etc."

Unfortunately - you are right !
But the limit is achieved when there is a direct influence on humans welfare.
I want to know, if or when I have to protect myself or when I have to leave the place.
I don´t want to die for financal or political interests.
I want to have the opportunity to take care for myself as good as possible.

Look to Russia : Are these people there well informed about the risks to health caused by the terrible fires ?
Look to Boliva : Is the water still save for humans after the death of millions of fishes ?
There is a long long list of occurrences, that robs my confidence in corporations and public authorities.

The last cause was the swineflu...a teaching play of corruption and brainwashing of the people.
Not to mention the dangers of nano-technologie, gen-manipulation, electric-smog, etc.

More and more I get the impression, that the plain people have to bring a pawn sacrifice that proves to be a checkmate.

Now I´ve said my 1211 words (LOL) and want to end with a Rockman quotation :

"In general, also, knowledge is power, and we tend to trust power in our hands much more than we trust it in other hands."

Sorry Rockman, I used quotes of David - shame on me !
But this don´t diminish my respect to you.

Some data they do release:

I suspect your dog will do a better job of understanding than MSM :(


Just a brief rundown of the headlines for BP today so far for anyone interested:

The relief well has been supsended until the company (BP) completes an analysis of complications that might result in a new oil leak

BP determined that 1,000 barrels of oil remained trapped in the well after cement was pumped in from the top earlier this month. Now US officials fear some of that could be released or new leaks may form when the company pumps more mud and cement into the bottom

NIC has requested further analysis to mitigate possible risks of a bottom kill

BP has until tomorrow to come up with a plan

Once BP submits plan, it may rec'v permission to finish drilling the RW and begin pumping mud.

Allen may order BP to replace the BOP, the assembly of valves atop the well, before resuming drilling.

Allen asked BP to provide a plan for pressure test and analysis to assess the stability of the well during the removal of the old existing BOP and replacement of a new one. In a written order to BP, Allen also requested evidence that oil won't flow into the Gulf if the current stack of valves is removed.

The dilemna of how to proceed results from Allen's decision to have BP plug the well with cement from the top after injecting a layer of mud to push gas and oil back into the resovoir, some petro engineers have said. Leaving the mud in place, then pushing it up with cement pumped in from the bottom thru the RW would have been a better solution, they said.

"It would have been easier and safer to kill the well with the RW", Les Ply, a retired petro engineer said in an emailed message. "When it's cemented from the bottom, you can be assured the well is dead"

The pressure test conducted in coming days will also help determine the risk of oil escaping from the undersea resovoir during the bottom kill, Allen said.

Sorry if you have already seen or read this, it was the latest news items on the bloomberg.


The dilemna of how to proceed results from Allen's decision to have BP plug the well with cement from the top

Right. Allen's decision. Either they're running for cover already or the reporter's got an axe to grind.

Maybe we can get Unconformity in here to fuss at the reporter for "dilemna"? (Instead of fussing at me for a word I didn't use but never misspell?)

In these situations you may want to consider adopting a policy that I began using a number of years ago, by just stating that:

"I NEVER speak in absolutes."


Okay, Dave, but the day I don't know "it's" from "its," would y'all please just do me a favor and gut me? (TIA, as mommy would say.)

If you don't mind, I'll have to pass on that request, knowing as I do, that before I had to do it to you I would have to do it to myself. ITS easy to catch it when I look for it but ITS also easy to miss it when I'm deep in thought, and/or doing a rush job of editing (which I always doe - the editing I mean, not always a rush jab).


That reminds me (thanks again, Dave): if youse do have to gut me, a rush jab would be my preference!


I hate it when I miss puns!!

I'm going to go pout for the rest of the day. Just as well that I have no more clients today.

(Voice from the back of the room whispers sotto voce "Just as well for the clients, you mean!)

I heard that!!!

I find it's usually best to follow the rule, "when in doubt, leave it out." I'm often in doubt. :)

p.s. I would pay real money to watch Swift Loris read Youtube comments.

What'd Swift Loris ever do to deserve that fate, comfy?

p.s. I would pay real money to watch Swift Loris read Youtube comments.

No need. Here's a snapshot, for free:



Could be either, that was a compilation of headlines that were on my work terminal. I wonder why they just didn't wait for the RW, instead of doing the static kill and then the RW, but I am obviously clueless.

Now, I worry about how dangerous is it for the RW to intercept with no communication, and what is being done to mitigate all the "new" issues I read 30 minutes ago.

It's like a dance at this point and "Who's on first"? Who is running this operation, those who actually drill wells and have experience or the admin?? To be honest, I'd rather have some of you guys with 30-40 yrs experience in the patch making the decisions vs the gov't appointed men. Maybe that's just me, but at least I am honest:)


MORE HEADLINES.......when I get a chance I am going to listen to the presser, but what is he talking about in regards to the pressure relief system??




The first time I remember hearing that Allen had "ordered" BP to act was when he ordered them to install the capping stack. AFAICT a lot less oil has been flowing since he started giving direct order versus just rubber stamping BP's plans.

What I am waiting for is the book to be written about the efforts to control the well. I suspect that Allen has been giving orders to BP all along and BP has now forced him to admit that he is calling the shots. (May be a negotiating tactic as BP can claim that they are only responsible for the oil released up to the Chu's orders to end the first 'top kill' attempt.)

A key indicator of the level of control the Federal government has imposed - and the industry's perception of that control is the fact that when the $1 billion consortium was announced to develop new technologies to control wild wells in deep water had no mention of any kind of government partnership or involvement.

I'm not following why that's a key indicator

the fact that when the $1 billion consortium was announced to develop new technologies to control wild wells in deep water had no mention of any kind of government partnership or involvement.


You mean the oil companies that have for many years been granted the right to drill in publicly owned waters because they all promised they already had the technology to control wild wells in deep water. Are those the companies you are referring to?

jinn -- Yes. And making the same promises to the same folks that signed on to it in the first place. And then cashed their royalty checks and saved none of it for future problems. Sick little game, eh?

I'm probably not parsing the meaning of that statement. But it sounds like you are saying that the royalties the government collects on oil should all go to assisting oil companies and cleaning up their messes. That might be OK if the oil was going to last forever. But it's not. What the government should be doing is collecting more royalties and certainly not spending that money on anything that encourages further depletion of the resource. The purpose of the royalties is to encourage conservation.

The current strategy with respect to oil and taxes is going to leave future generations a poor standard of living - without oil or money. If we collected more royalties and taxes on oil we would allow future generations half a chance instead of putting them in the hole because we are unwilling to face reality.

A key indicator of the level of control the Federal government has imposed - and the industry's perception of that control is the fact that when the $1 billion consortium was announced to develop new technologies to control wild wells in deep water had no mention of any kind of government partnership or involvement.

They don't seem to think much of BP either.

Oil Giants (Minus BP) Create Spill Response System.

although they added that the omission was out of consideration for BP.
BP was not invited to join "because we didn't want to distract them," explains an Exxon official.

"It would have been easier and safer to kill the well with the RW", Les Ply, a retired petro engineer said in an emailed message. "When it's cemented from the bottom, you can be assured the well is dead"

This will be the same rent-a-quote Les Ply who was happy that BP had cemented the well with top-kill last week and told Bloomberg a week or so ago.


“The well is dead,” Les Ply, a retired consultant to the oil industry on drilling and plugging wells, said by phone yesterday. “I don’t expect it to flow anymore.”

What if this relief well blows and jams something in the BOP?

Maybe we would have a problem. What if I did not make it back from Walmart? Big car crash in front of my house last week. Had to LifeFlight folks. 2 died. Burn spot on pavement I did not photo out of respect. Point is yes, there are a million bad scenarios, let us hope for the good ones and prepare for the bad ones.

"...and prepare for the bad ones."

So what's the plan if it does blow like it did the first time?

igyy -- Wow...another easy one. THE PLAN: Phase One - run like hell for the escape capsule; Phase Two - Repeat procedures done on the original blow out.

Just the dark side of my humor slipping out this morning iggy. Offshore just about every hand's first thought when he wakes up: "What if?" Just the nature of the business. Just like that ill fated trip to the Walmart. The what-ifs are always out there. You just don't dwell on them unless there's a specific reason.

Oh Jeez. Another coffee soaked keyboard!

Seems they are planning for every possibility this time with a spare drilling platform popping up out of nowhere, but who the hell scripted an ending that has Transocean's Marianas (which started the ill-fated hole in the first place) sailing through the midst of the sea of ships?

It's probably heading to work on that second leaking well, the one that sent its BOP on a six or seven mile journey through the Gulf.

Nah-it's going to fill up this new hole. Still a little seepage around the pipes or whatever those things are. Just happened.


"So what's the plan if it does blow like it did the first time?"

Get another server for the Drum.

"Life is a near-death experience." --Dr. John

What if this relief well blows and jams something in the BOP?

There's several BOPs, I guess you mean the RW BOP. In which case I would expect them to operate the BOP shear rams and chop off the "something" - thereby sealing the RW.

Of course, I know nothing about BOPs other than what I've read on The Oil Drum

iggy -- Finally an easy question...thanks: more hands die, another rig sinks and more oil is dumped into the GOM. Have a good day buddy.

I mean, from what I understand, the pressure in this reservoir is really high.

iggy -- The original reservoir pressure was around 11,900 psi (12.6 ppg). Unknown if the pressure has dropped since the blow out. But if I get your point all the RW has to do is cut into it with 14 ppg mud and all will be fine. That's the same mud weight BP used to drilled the reservoir originally and all went well at the time. I've drilled into a reservoir with 19,000 psi pressure with no problem: had the mud weight high enough. It's never the absolute value of the pressure that's important. It's whether you have the mud weight balanced correctly. Historically most blow outs have happened at pressures less than 8,000 psi.

So what happened the first time?

iggy -- they drilled the reservoir w/o incident. The ran the csg and cemented it. They did test the cmt job to some uncertain extent. This is where the speculation kicks in big time. A number of different theories...I'll offer one. They began replacing the heavy (14 ppg) drill mud in the csg and riser with sea water. That mud weight was sufficient to keep the reservoir from flowing. The sea water wasn't heavy enough to do that. The assumption was that the cmt was well cured and would prevent the reservoir from flowing. They were wrong. The oil/NG, no longer held back by the heavy mud, began to flow up the inside of the csg and/or between the csg and the rock. In either case the oil/NG made it to the drill floor undetected until the last few moment and exploded.

If you have the time you might want to check out the TOD archives for the first couple of weeks after the blow out. Much speculation/info was offered then as to the cause of the blow out.

RM you have the patiance of Jobe. You just need to have that post ready to copy and paste.

Rio -- Don't want to do that...then I wouldn't be able to make up stuff as I go along.

Like Arlo Guthrie singing Alice's Restaurant for the thousandth time, a few new lines now and then, and you do really seem to enjoy it. But being a Nawlins boy you might want to take a cue from the old jazz musicians and charge extra for the most requested answers.

So what happened the first time?

Grasshopper, if you don't want to be forever Ignorant you are going to have to read and remember what is posted here, after all you have been a member for over 3 years.

Bottom line is they ignored the laws of physics, and unlike traffic laws and traffic cops, Mother Nature is aways watching.

I suspect there is less risk drilling the casing and getting to the annulus and its stagnant pressurized HCs (or space aliens or ocean of magma or whatevah) than there was when the original well kicked and blew.

That seems positive like a positive aspect of the situation to me.
I might be missing something, though.

I might be missing something, though.

You'n'me bofe.

Whatever, dude. If the shoe fits...

What shoe and what dude, dood?

What shoe and what dude, dood?

I've been meaning to ask, you got a favorite toenail color, darlin'?

uncon -- Nope...you got it right. Taking a kick is always a little tough on the nerves but if you know it's coming or know it's a real possibility then you're prepared. Sorta like assuming every weapon you pick up is loaded and thus act accordingly. What's really bad is when you're absolutely positive the well won't kick you (or the pistol isn't loaded). That's usually when you have the worse accidents. It would take a rare series of system failures for the relief well to blow out IMHO.

Just one minor point, the RW won't be cutting through any pipe to get into the annulus. It's target is the space below the lowest liner and above the planned top-of-cement of the production casing cement job back in April.

Dept. of OT Updates: Tech-gone-AWOL seems a theme now in the Stevens crash too. Neither the Otter's system to warn of dangerous terrain nor its emergency locator-beacon apparently activated, and human protocol didn't work any better. In short, another error-cascade . . .

I heard the Otter's warning system is nothing but a series of tubes.


Comfy posted a great screenshot of the wellhead in the wee hours last night.

Personal thank you. My fears and suspicions are much relieved. No problem saying that I was mistaken. A bit over the top, comfy, to yell that I was lying, but congratulations in being at the right place at the right time to get what was apparently a fleeting glimpse of the wellhead.

As soon as they detach the BOP, I'll retract everything I wrongly surmized, which now seems to be the case. Let's see what happens next.

Look, I don't want to fight, even if that is what the internet was invented for. I would really like to believe you're sincere because sociopaths really creep me out. Just as you say you hope you're wrong, I hope I'm wrong about you.

How are you getting your screen caps, what are you using to watch the feeds? If you're watching in a web browser and using ctrl+print screen then pasting into an editing program, then saving as .jpg, that would explain your bad quality screencaps. Just using default settings for jpg compression when you save the pasted file can do horrible things to the quality. Using a dedicated media player like VLC or Media Player Classic, you can save a screencap with just one key (or even a specific mouse button, if you want to change the default key assignments - I have mine set to do an auto capture to a specified directory just by clicking the mouse wheel button in any of the open windows), and won't even need any image editing to get a usable file. Don't know about VLC, but MPC can save in your choice of .jpg, .bmp, or .png. And VLC/MPC has much lower CPU usage when running multiple feeds than watching in a browser window.

If the shadow that looks like a plume of something were really a plume instead of a shadow, the light from the ROV at the top of the frame wouldn't be visible - it's on the far side of the stack. Watching that feed live there was nothing out of the ordinary, other than the presence of the two ROVs they aren't giving access to.

If they are running the mud pumps continuously because the casing is ruptured, what would be coming up out of the seafloor around the wellhead? Oil or mud? If it was venting oil, there would be crap all over at the surface like it was during the first 3 months out there. If it's the mud blowing out and rising in a plume, then we've got some seriously dumb bastards running this thing, because mud that's light enough to rise in a plume has to be lighter than seawater, which means it'd be even less than useless as drilling mud. Real drilling mud might make something like a vertical plume initially, but it would rain down right quick to the bottom, and probably reduce visibility in the area to something close to zero. Skandi Neptune #2 (Herc06) has been sitting pretty damn close to the stack for days and days (between the BOP and the big yellow garbage can, for example, which I guess is less than 100 feet), albeit aimed out into the nothingness doing 'sonar sweeps'. View from that ROV has shown clear water the vast majority of the time, except for silt kicked up when it repositions.

Good point about bouyancy. Here's my IE printscreen for comparison to yours.

Not to quibble, but how did you get a screenshot from tomorrow at 7 pm?

It says 12/08/10, last Thursday. Bottom of the 2 bleeds over into the slash.

Oh. Found this in my file 12/08. Grayscale stretched but okay resolution?

And here's a plain IE printscreen, almost at the same time as yours.

Is my capture method really a lot worse than yours? Sorry to waste space on this question, but it matters, as you rightly suggested. I explained before why I often stretch grayscale to see more of the subtle mid-gray content.

Yesterday Lady Li asked:

I´ve heard, that BP does the watertesting around the well, not NOAA.
Is that true ? Are there any test scores available ?

The NOAA research cruises that discovered the deepsea plumes of dispersed oil and dissolved natural gas were starting near the wellhead and following the plumes out 10-20 miles or so until they became undetectable. Further NOAA cruises will be studying water over a wide area and at various depths. As far as testing water for safety, EPA and the state agencies are responsible for that.

Raw data from the NOAA cruises are posted on their website, but are not easily interpreted. EPA water sampling is reported on their site. These are from inshore and nearshore.

I would think the water that is now over the wellhead is of no particular interest because the water that collected oil up through July 15 is now somewhere else, owing to the flow of currents.

Thank you, Gobbet.
My interest in the water samplings near the well is not for PAHs or Corexit - it´s for methan.
I have read that methan amount is/was very high.
It could be a good indicator for the condition of the seafloor to know about the actual methan levels.

Given the discussion about oil and fish in the closed thread, this may be of interest to some TODers. Dr Lubchenco will be answering questions about seafood safety today at 2 pm EDT.

Open for Questions: Gulf Seafood Safety with Dr. Jane Lubchenco
Posted by Katelyn Sabochik on August 13, 2010 at 10:35 AM EDT

On Monday, 2 PM EDT, Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Dr. Jane Lubchenco will host a live chat to answer your questions about the safety of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico.

The men and women of the Gulf who make their livelihood harvesting fish, shrimp, and oysters have been among those hardest hit by this spill. Enjoying some local seafood is one simple way Americans can support the people of the Gulf who have been battered by this spill. If you have questions about the safety of seafood from the Gulf, be sure to tune in Monday at 2 PM at WhiteHouse.gov/live. You can also submit your questions ahead of time via Facebook or our webform.

Rockman, with a climate of "over-abundance of caution" currently surrounding most of the oil-spill activity, I'd guess that the discovery of a contaminated catch brought in by a commercial fisherman would be considered to be a failure of their declaring-waters-open-to-fishing procedures. Just as the need to activate a BOP seems to be considered an admission of mistakes made during the drilling process.

Thanks rainy...I'll try to catch it.

I submitted a question via the webform... somehow I doubt she is going to be responding to the comments about the proposed mosque in NYC that are being posted on the Facebook link.

Have any areas been opened for fishing where, at a previous time, samples tested positive for the presence of oil? If so, was there some metric, such as x acceptable samples over y days, that had to be met before the areas were declared open?

All you can do is ask rainy...thanks

Well Lubchenco's chat did not add any significant new information. The only specific number she uttered was the already oft-mentioned "twelve hundred samples" that have been tested. (a sample is a catch, not one individual fish or shrimp.) Several mentions of their protocols, but no clear definition of what they are or what windows of time are involved.

Lots of reaffirmations that seafood from now open areas is safe. Not one of her better performances - and we know she can answer questions given her informative appearance in the White House briefing room a couple of weeks ago.

Thanks for reporting.

I suspect the definition of "samples" is restricted to "samples from open areas and candidates for reopening." I suspect they have taken and tested "non-samples" from areas they knew were polluted, for forensic use in NRDA. They also have baseline samples taken from areas before the oil arrived.

But IIRC they've said already that all "samples" have tested as acceptable.

Fisherfolk got themselves representation.


Attorney Stuart H. Smith, representing the United Commercial Fishermen’s Association, the Louisiana Environmental Action Network,public and private entities, and citizens harmed by the BP oil catastrophe, today issued this statement..."

Yesterday, Lotus said,

Meanwhile, my Biloxi-reporter pal emailed Friday,"... I'm hearing from fishermen who have known these waters all their lives and they are seeing underwater clouds and oil. I hear dispersant is still being used on the sly out of boats spraying at night. Who knows. It is just all very insane. ..."

Then she quoted a Mississippi state official, Bill Walker, as insisting that the oil is gone.

On the one hand, given Gov. Barbour's take (or spin) on the spill, you'd expect to hear only happy talk from state officials like Walker who want to keep their jobs. On the other hand, except for the one landing at Waveland, the state of Miss. was never hit very hard, so the Gov was not that far off the mark. But we know from an article last week that Horn Island (south edge of Miss. Sound) is catching a lot of tar from the Gulf side.

The fishermen's notion that BP is still spraying dispersant after dark must be pure folklore, and Lotus's reporter pal should have known that. There hasn't been any significant oil on the surface since around Aug. 1, and if there were, how would BP find it at night? This is black helicopter stuff. The belief that Corexit sinks oil to the bottom is also pure folklore. What dispersant does is break oil into tiny droplets that move with the current and that would usually be invisible.

That the slick dissipated so fast was a surprise, but it isn't a surprise that it dissipated. Some of the floating oil was skimmed and burned, some evaporated (this happens very fast), some was eaten by bacteria and plankton, and a residue of tar remained. If people don't understand these processes, then "common sense" says that BP must have sunk the oil to the bottom. But they didn't.

Oil on the bottom would be old tarballs, and these have nothing to do with Corexit. Clouds in the water are a more interesting question. A couple of weeks ago, Ben Raines reported seeing a dark cloud in the water and sending a sample off for testing. NatResDr guessed that these were bits of degraded oil that had not yet consolidated into tarballs. I read somewhere that wave action is necessary to form tarballs.

I guess this is a question for David Brown, but it's curious that the people most dependent on the health of the Gulf, the fishermen, should seem so determined to believe the worst. Over and over in interviews, people say "It won't recover in my lifetime."

it's curious that the people most dependent on the health of the Gulf, the fishermen, should seem so determined to believe the worst

As you've seen, this really perplexes me too, so I'll be glad to hear anything Dave or TheraP may have to say about the phenomenon.

Holding up a bit for my reporter-friend: because her beat is local politics and the courts, she's not written much about the spill and, as far as I know, hasn't been offshore on assignment. So I'm guessing the fisher-talk she shared wasn't reporting from "sources" but just stuff heard around town.

By the way, I never did hear back from Ben Raines re whether the oil he saw on Horn Island could have been the same slick the Sun Herald reported earlier.

it's curious that the people most dependent on the health of the Gulf, the fishermen, should seem so determined to believe the worst

As you've seen, this really perplexes me too, so I'll be glad to hear anything Dave or TheraP may have to say about the phenomenon.

Not a therapist, don't play one on TOD, but if they anticipate the worst, and it doesn't happen, they'll be pleasantly surprised and relieved. If they don't anticipate the worst and the worst does happen, they'll be crushed. I suspect this to be the case partly because I have a tendency to do the same thing myself regarding events that will affect me directly. They may be quietly hoping for the best, but they're trying to prepare for the worst. Another way to put it is, "Don't tempt fate."

Makes sense, SL. Thanks.

Or they are setting themselves up for a free meal down the road. By that, I mean they want guarantees on the future of their chosen profession. Can't say as I wouldn't want some kind of protection. They didn't create the situation, but some may be looking to game the situation if things go sideways down the road. A check in the mail is easier than going out to look for seafood that a lot of folks will never trust to be safe for consumption again!

Many of them also don't seem inclined to believe the same agency that was the source of the 1,000-5,000 bls/day flow estimates a few months ago. Not sure exactly what NOAA - or any other federal agency - could say to convince them at this point. As David might say, trust, once breached, is hard to regain.

Here are two videos of concerned fisher folk.



There was also mention on a video I hit via a link on the previous thread that mentioned a desire to have BP pay commercial fishermen to go out and fish in open waters - I assume to indemnify them in case they couldn't find buyers for their catch or it tested as contaminated. BP has reportedly denied that request a couple of times.

Referring to the first video, it seems a little weird to carry signs saying "Don't eat our seafood, it's poisoned" while wearing T-shirts saying "Save the commercial fishermen."

Yes ... and those still heartbreaking photos of birds covered in oil are from sometime back in May/June.

I recognize the woman in the first video in the navy polo - Kindra Arnesen. Videos of her appearance at a couple of town halls made the rounds earlier this summer. Given the label "outreach co-ordinator" on her shirt, it appears she's turned her 15 minutes of fame into a job of some sort.

I sympathize with the fishermen, but I'm not clear on exactly what they are trying to accomplish.

To me there is no contrariety in both statements. These guys are honest, thats all.
The don´t want to be responsible for anyones health risk, but on the other side the don´t want to lose their income.

Gobbet - look at the picture in the link :


On the banner is written : WHY WOULD WE LIE ???

These fishermen are better than the big companies - they prize honesty above profit.
My respectful sentiment to them !
Or do you believe that they are too lazy for shrimping ?

the people most dependent on the health of the Gulf, the fishermen,

Q.E.D.: In this case, they are the experts, although the quotes below reinforce why anyone who is intimately associated with the Gulf would question safety at this point.

If the people whose lives depend on commercial fishing jeopardize themselves in the public interest, it's appropriate to respect their expressed concerns.

As ormondotvos is so fond of saying:"Think"-or take it a step further: "Think critically"!

"...TOM BEARDEN: Randy Pausina is one of the scientists who says the fishing grounds are safe. He's the assistant secretary of Fisheries for Louisiana and a marine biologist.

How do you know they're safe to open?

Testing. Testing..."

"...Q: But what about that controversial dispersant -- are the feds testing for it?

A: Not yet; they're still developing a good test..."

In this case, they are the experts

No, the fishermen are not experts on oil chemistry or toxicology. The don't know what the real hazards are.

It's a good question, and since this is a one client day, and I've already disposed of her.... let me rephrase that from the therapist perspective, rather than the psycho perspective, ...as I was saying ...and I've already concluded my session with her, with enough success to bring her back for more, but not enough to "fix" her (funny how that psycho part of me keeps emerging, perhaps it's because my therapist has been away for a couple of weeks).

Anyway, I digress.

Actually this is an issue that is quite common with a lot of people in one form or another.

Fundamentally, I believe they are looking for reassurance. They've lost confidence, and, understandably, they desperately want it back, especially because their futures depend upon it.

So why doesn't reassurance seem to work for them?

That's part of the key question, to which the answer is, because they don't FEEL reassured, no matter what they are told.

Which triggers the other part of the key question, which is, so why don't they FEEL reassured no matter what they're told?

Let me switch to another feeling which often involves the same issues but is a little easier perhaps for most of us to understand.

All of us have a fundamental need for love, so we seek it, more or less effectively for most of our lives. Let's just assume for the sake of the discussion that our search is simplified by the fact that we all agree on what love means and looks like (we don't, but that introduces a whole set of other problems that we won't try to address now).

The problem with my search is that often I'm looking for someone else to give me that feeling, believing that they, by loving me, will make me feel loved. Since I don't feel love from them, no matter what they do, I don't feel loved, and look elsewhere, try harder, try to pound it out of them, give up, or whatever.

So what's wrong?

How can I feel love if I don't feel LOVABLE?

If I don't feel lovable, no matter what other people do to show their love, or how many of them try, I discount all those efforts, by attributing their behavior to things that have nothing to do with me, such as one or more of the following:

He's just being nice, because he's a nice guy.

She just feels sorry for me and has taken me on as a project.

How can he love me when he looks at other women that way?

How can she love me if she goes out in public dressed that way?

Why is it that he always waits until the last moment to give me a gift, as if he's just remembered that it's a duty?

She's trying to set me up, and will end up taking me for all I'm worth.

He just wants me for a trophy wife.

She's just a whore, she'll put out for anybody.

The key to all of these is, if I don't feel lovable I can't believe them when they say, or demonstrate, that they love me, because nobody COULD love me since I'm unlovable.

That belief that we're unlovable can be instilled in us by a major disappointment in our life, and/or a "death by a thousand cuts" set of experiences. These are particularly damaging when they occur during our childhood, when we're trying to find out who we are by looking at, and listening to, how people interact with us.

If they like my singing, then I'm a good singer, if they think I'm funny then I'm funny, etc. But the reverse is true also. If I'm told that I'm no good, I may believe it (although sometimes I might rebel against that, at least on the surface), if people are always emotionally distant, or too busy to pay attention to me, I may conclude that I don't matter, etc..

And, if people demonstrate, in terms that I can understand, that they love me, I will feel loved. If not, I may well not feel loved, and therefore conclude that I'm unlovable. Unfortunately there are a lot of us who find it hard to show their love, sometimes because they don't believe it will be of value to others, sometimes because they just don't know how, having not had a, or having had a bad, role model to learn it from

The same can happen if someone critically important to my well-being dies or leaves when I'm a child. I may conclude they "left" because of me, and therefore may conclude that I'm unlovable.

Some adult experiences can be powerful enough to trigger that feeling in us also.

There is only one person who can trigger feelings in us.


Other people can't make us feel sad, or angry, hopeful, disappointed, loved, reassured, or anything else. It is our perceptions of reality that trigger our feelings, thus motivating our responses to those perceptions.

Interestingly enough, we can control those feelings by shifting our perspective. If I interpret my behaviors as showing that I'm lazy I will feel bad. If I interpret the same behavior as demonstrating that I'm laid-back, I'll feel good. I can only be influenced by the views of others if I allow myself to be.

So back to reassurance. I would suspect that for many people it's an issue of their world view. If they have a positive world view, then when they experience something bad happening, it will take only reasonable endeavors, and intent, to restore our sense of reassurance.

On the other hand, if I see the world as a dangerous place, with evil and malevolence around every corner, when something bad happens, it's confirmation of that world view, and may well occupy my attention until something more pressing comes to take its place. It may well be impossible to reassure me.

In the latter case, the tendency is for us to connect all of these disasters into one enormous conspiracy, with each part reinforcing every other part, even though some of them have receded into the relatively distant past.

Fortunately, although we are particularly vulnerable as a child, by virtue of our lack of information, experience, and even vocabulary. When we become adults we, as part of the declaration of independence that most of us undertake, have the capability, if we choose, to declare independence from those childhood views, but first we have to identify the factors.

That's how I'm supposed to be able to make the big bucks!

Would that t'were so.

[Note to self: When asking Dave's opinion, be sure to add "In 250 words or less."]

;~} Jes' funnin' ya, Dave.

lotus -- he actually used only 237 words. Slow day here this afternoon.


I like the way you count.

If I had to go by her count, 90% of the time I'd have to shut up.

(Sotto voce in the background praying "Please Lord! Make it so!")

Edit: I hate unclosed parentheseseses

david -- I actually didn't waste my time counting your words. I made that number up. Just wanted to see if I could trick anyone into counting just to prove me wrong. Remember: I am one of those "evil oil industry bastards".

I'm busted!

But it sounds like if we joined forces we could stir up quite some mischief.

I'm just not sure who would carry who.

I get the impression that both of us are well beyond whatever prime physical condition we are in.

I'm reminded of what one of my nephews said to my mother one time.

"Grandma, you're so far over the hill you're coming up the other side!"

That, of course immediately became a family treasure, and he's gone on to work at the Lawrence Livermore Labs (Not for Dr. Chu though).

David -- Just been waiting for the right moment to take a cheap shot. I was actual going after lotus...you were just collateral. I was taught in the ole "one shot...one kill" school. LOL. As someone once described: having the gift of stillness. Wait...wait...wait.....

Prime physical condition??? Hell...I wasn't prime even in my prime. I've gotten old, have bad knees and MS on top of that. I gotta make one shot count...won't have a chance to take a second. LOLLLLLLL. Now that I've exposed myself I'll have to wait weeks now before I try another trick.

I was actual going after lotus

Maaaa-aan, folks keep going after me when here I sit, innocent as a newlaid egg. Just my lucky day, huh? Tell yez what, this keeps up and I'm gonna have space for a bird to land on my lower lip. (No nifty pic like SL's, so you'll just hafta imagine.)

lotus -- I'm always glad to hear about someone getting laid. Good for you!

Is this a brewing controversy?

Two different word counts.

Who's trying to cover up what and why?

No controversy.

Long experience tells us the higher number is undoubtedly the correct one.

Notanoilman's computer probably just ran low on memory, or patience : )

You're no fun!


Sorry, Dave.

Your desperate and transparent attempts to delegitimize the count will get you nowhere.

Now repeat after me, "I Am A Wordaholic."

` ( : < ) ) - < = <

Do I need to worry about symboholism too, Dave?

Whatever floats your boat.

Mhhh...a miscount of "1"...similar to the diffrent count of BP wells leaking oil...one or two. I think I'm beginning to see linkage. Must consult my decoder ring immediately.

According to the online Word Count Tool:

Number of words: 1101

1100, made my computer do it as I were too lazy :)


Cheaters! I'll just have to count you two as near misses.

No Mrs. here, RM (unless it's someone else's : )

It appears that they may be replacing the BOP before doing the RW intercept.

From BP Twitter on Allen's briefing ...

Science team & Sec. Chu will discuss later today how to remove BOP & we are proceeding w/ abundance of caution w/ this decision. -Adm Allen

note they've slipped from an "over-abundance of caution" down to "abundance of caution."

Nola.com's version of what Allen said at today's briefing. (I'm a bit hesitant to post this, since I have very little faith in the accuracy of any news reports at this point.)

Ultimate shutdown of BP well to be delayed.

National Incident Commander Thad Allen said that before he will allow BP to finish drilling the relief well, he wants to make sure they have a plan for how to handle pressure that builds up in the annulus.

There are two options under consideration.

The first is to develop a pressure relief mechanism in the capping stack. That option would take more time because engineers would have to design a new piece of equipment and have it fabricated.

The second option is to remove the existing capping stack and blowout preventer and put a new blowout preventer in its place. If the scientists choose this option, BP would use the blowout preventer that's currently on the back-up relief well that the company drilled. To do so, BP would have to get permission from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the successor to the Minerals Management Service, to temporarily abandon the well with a cement plug.

and I wonder why they are now referring to using RW2's BOP. During the failed top kill attempt earlier this summer, there was mention of the use of a 2nd BOP already held on board DD2 for use if the top kill succeeded. Removing that 2nd BOP from DD2 in the interim seems unlikely, since they knew they were going to need a new one at some point. Did they send it packing once they knew they were unlikely to have to complete RW2? or do they want to use the one already at the seafloor, one that has presumably been tested?

[cynicism ON]

They've just started the procurement process for a shiny new BOP and they're limiting competition to Swiss and German firms after a long and sometimes heated deliberation about how many Chinese parts will be allowed. There's an exception clause that'll allow bidders from other places but only if they meet conditions that are wired for one particular vendor. Delivery must occur by Labor Day.

[emergency cynicism deadman switch thrown]

rainy, remember that story awhile back about the flaws found (and supposedly fixed) in the BOP deployed on one of the relief-well drilling ships? Was that DDIII's or DDII's? I can't remember now which.

I think that was the BOP on RW2, but I'm not sure. The problems were reportedly found, and subsequently fixed, when the new, tighter BOP regulations were applied to it and other BOPs in the Gulf.

I want to say 2 also, and yeah, that's how I recall the rest of it too.

Whoops. Maybe we're hallucinating again, rainy. Here's one of the articles from July, mentioning the BOPs on both RWs.

... Transocean spokesman Guy Cantwell said in an email that the issues with the blowout preventers for the relief wells were now resolved. ...

Pardi said the first round of tests on the blowout preventers showed leaking or failed valves, a shuttle valve that shouldn't have been installed that caused another test failure and a broken connection that stopped a casing shear ram from closing. ...

Those BOPs sure are delicate pieces of equipment for their size, aren't they?

I spent a very long time as a tank crewman. I learned very fast that big and tough things are also easy to break. (And that when they break - they are very expensive to fix.)

The MOD wanted to see how tough a new radio was so they gave it to some tank crews, came back fine. Some wag decided to put it in the base kindergarten, the kids wrecked it.


PS Don't park your tank next to the kindergarten.

Express the following in an equation and a graph:

As the distance between the relief well and the WW approaches zero, the inertia of relief operations approaches infinity.

Music by which to wait, calculate, and graph:

With all the stop and wait going on, it appear that as the distance approaches zero the inertIa is approaching zero.

Note the logarithmic caution axis. The horizontal distance is in centirods: 1 centirod = 0.165 feet = 5.03 cm


Hm. Looks good, but my back-of-the-napkin calculation suggests that time itself expands exponentially once the horizon of overabundance is breached, so you may never get a data point beyond 50 centirods.

Dang, forgot about the overabundance horizon. General relativity always makes my head hurt.

And I hope that you oilmen don't take offense when I make fun of the quaint English units of measure that y'all continue to use. A few weeks ago someone (sorry, forget who) posted a long and very interesting explanation that identified the real culprits: the lawyers.

Since we've been getting into grammar, the word "y'all" seems like a valuable addition to the English language, which for centuries has lacked a second person plural pronoun, but IMHO, "all y'all" is an overabundance of y'alls.

Actually there are two other such pronouns, "youse" (at least according to old movies set in the NYC area) and "you'uns" (pronounced "yurns," still used in Appalachia). Since I grew up with "y'all," I'm delighted to have it accepted in standard American.

Actually there are two other such pronouns, "youse" (at least according to old movies set in the NYC area) and "you'uns" (pronounced "yurns," still used in Appalachia).

Also "yez," the objective case of "youse": Wassa matta wich yez?

Back atcha-- "you'uns" has a plural possessive, "yurnzes," whereas there is no way to communicate the idea that a youse owns anything. But maybe there's no need for that concept in Newark.

Wassa matta wich yez?

Alternative spelling: Wassmattawitchez?

"you'uns" (pronounced "yurns," still used in Appalachia).

There's no "r." It's pronounced "yuns" or "yinz."

Often used with "all," as in "yinz all," or "all yinz," or even "all yinz all."

Now tell me about this renegade "r," somebody. I learned my English in Mississippi and got transplanted to the Missouri Ozarks when I was four (almost five). First time I heard a playmate say something about "George WaRshington," I knew in an instant she wuz a heathen. (Of course, she couldn't figure out who "Guff of Mexico" was either.)

"You warsh-at up good, an' put it up-air."

I blame the Scottish.

Or pirates.

I was reminded on my youth on the ranch when one of our young techs here in Texas told me that he track the problem we were having with a network connection to "bad war."

Wasn't a pacifist, merely "war" is how parts of Texas pronounce "wire."

My Yankee colleagues in the lab loved the term and latched onto it. Now, all OSI Layer-1 network problems (even with fiber) are forever branded as "bad war." Really funny to me when when a back-bay Bostonian says it with a pretty fair Texas twang.

We Southerners often have to explain to confused Yankees that "y'all" is always plural, but "all y'all" is even more plural than that. If you catch my drift . . .

If you catch my drift . . .

Well, no, not really. Can you explain in a family-friendly place like TOD?

"all y'all" includes cousins.


Or for y'all from Nawlins, cud'ns.

Can't speak for the South, but in Appalachia, the most plural form of "you'uns" is generally used in anger to insult many people at once("All yinz all can just kiss my @ss," for example).

It just gives it more oomph.

Thanks for the graph! I finally understand.

AP: Interior halts deepwater environmental exemptions

[Updated with newer, longer story.]

lotus - I can only make a WAG as to how long this new process will take. But added to the existing unofficial shallow water drilling moratorium Louisiana may soon be heading towards a depression the likes of which hasn't been seen since the 1930's.

But there's always a silver lining if you look hard enough: the value of my future onshore production has just took a nice juicy bounce up. The boys at OPEC should be popping a cork or two also.

Well, dang, Rockman. Best I can tell, this is only what's been required by law -- and gleefully ignored -- all along. Nu?

lotus -- I think you're correct for the most part. But as I read it they are also going to develop new regs to go along with the old ones. And nothing can be submitted until the new regs are written. Given it took 3 months for the feds to have the first meeting of the investigation committee (BTW...are they still alive...heard nothing for a long time) it's difficult to imagine them popping out with the new procedures in the next couple of months. Again, if you missed my earlier post: virtually all new drill permits, including shallow water under 500', have been sidelined by administrative procedures. There were almost 50 rigs drilling in the shallow waters when the DW moratorium was enacted. Once the current inventory of approved shallow water permits have been drilled about 95% of ALL GOM drilling will cease. That effectively means that the oil field service industry will lose around $3 - 4 billion of revenue monthly. Wanna guess how much unemployment in S La that will add to the jobs already lost from the sea food industry?

And again, I'm not saying the reaction by the feds isn't warranted. Just no one seems to be pointing out the price that La. will have to pay. I wasn't exaggerating about the state being pushed into a full blow depression: many folks don't understand how concentrated the state's economy is on the sea food industry and oil/NG. Folks visiting for Mardi Gras aren't going to keep the schools open and the police/fireman paid. Without the income from the fishing and oil field jobs a guy making $60,000/yr won't be able to get a job flipping hamburgers for $12,000/yr because those jobs evaporated along with the industrial jobs.

Got any suggestions about how to balance or preferably reconcile those apparently conflicting but also apparently significant needs?

Just a quick note on the process involved, I don't like compromise, because both POV's lose too much too often that way IMNSHO.

I prefer a process where conflicting interests come together and agree on a common definition of the problem, then figure out how they're going to meet the needs of that problem.

I'm not sure of all of the needs on each side of this, but I suspect everyone wants the GOM region to thrive, and everyone wants the drilling process to be as safe as possible for the personnel, corporations, the environment, and all other interested parties, especially those who make their livings on the water.

Any thoughts?

David -- I don't know if there can be an acceptable "balance". If the drilling has to be shut down to make sure the industry has it right then so be it. Painful for La. for sure. But so is the current mess. OTOH if the effort is more for show than substance or if the process is moved unnecessarily slow than that would be rather unfair. Sorta like being a little pregnant: either the risks are acceptable or they aren't.

The industry can't really argue about the DW ban: it collective said the risk was low and, in the unlikely event it did happen, they could mitigate it quickly. Hmmm...not so much, eh? Like a man once said:"You made your bed...now lay in it and shut up". Or something like that.

I can certainly see a lot of complications (duh, he says).

Certainly there's little confidence in the oil companies since they apparently, if I understand correctly had pretty much copied each other's safety plan.

There also have to be some reservations about the quality and reliability of some of their equipment and methods.

The employees in the former MMS have to be in a certain amount of disarray.

I doubt that the public has much confidence even in the inspections that have been done to the rigs post 4/20.

The fishermen have not only lost income, but market share, self, and consumer confidence, and such an industry doesn't usually start up full throttle from a full stop like it has experienced.

The ripple effects have to be enormous especially throughout the region but also around the country due to all of these factors (I'm really surprised that oil prices haven't spiked).

It seems to me that getting to a point where we have the safest reasonably possible methods and procedures for the oil industry would be an important factor, but perhaps they could focus for the moment on the relatively few vital concerns that need to be taken care of urgently, and then gradually phase in others. I would guess that there might be some capability to issue temporary or emergency regulations that are relatively focused.

The same might be done for the rest of the issues.

I guess what I have in mind is a kind of triage process for all of the factors.

With all the turmoil in the congress right now i could imagine that posing the biggest challenge. It might need a triage process in and of itself.

Martial law anybody?

NYT article on the end of exemptions from environmental reviews:

After three months of review of federal environmental law, the White House Council on Environmental Quality on Monday recommended that the Interior Department suspend use of so-called categorical exclusions, which allow oil companies to sink offshore wells based on environmental impact statements for supposedly similar areas, while the department reviews the environmental impact. Permits for the Macondo well were based on exemptions written in 1981 and 1986. The waiver granted to BP in April 2009, as part of the permitting process for the doomed well, was based on the company’s claim that a blowout was unlikely and that if a spill did occur, it would cause minimal damage.

The Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service, recently renamed the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, issued hundreds of these exemptions in recent years to reduce the paperwork burden for oil companies seeking new wells and for government workers. As a result, there was no meaningful plan in place to cope with the BP spill and its impact on aquatic life and gulf shorelines.

There's much more in the full article--contrasting inferences and context of impending legislation.

Undertow, thank you for answering my question about the object in your comment http://anz.theoildrum.com/node/6628#comment-702681 last night on the other thread: "That's the well-head at the mud-line (below the BOP) in the bottom image as far as I can see. The image is not Photoshopped (other than I sharpened it slightly). It is actually the unretouched version (which BP later released) of the image BP famously Photoshopped."

Is this supposed to be one location? Are the Lambert coordinates for those two screens compatible with one location? I have trouble reading the coordinates in the lower image, but the top photo has coordinates of 1202807.0 and 10431636. The lower one has coordinates of 1205409.5 and 104328--(31, not sure) ? I know there has been heated discussion about this, I am braced, and would appreciate any opinions.

There is a converter available here: http://blog.alexanderhiggins.com/2010/06/13/bp-gulf-oil-spill-rov-utm-di...

One thing about the ROV co-ordinates - they are not GPS based as many think (as that doesn't work underwater) and are, I believe, manually calibrated to placed sonar beacons. Thus the positions cannot be trusted in the same way you would tend to trust a GPS location. I've also seen the co-ordinates jump on some ROVs from time to time so the positioning may also be subject to interference of some kind. But yes one ROV is above the other whatever the coordinates say.

And these two ROV's have to be fairly near to each other any way as they are operated from the same ship.

Thank you for answering.


It's very likely that those coordinates displayed on the ROV screens are only accurate within the network of beacons established for this job; in other words, only in a relative way. There is probably no way they can be used in any meaningful or absolute way by people outside of the ROV teams to establish the position of anything within any useful margins of error.

That's just another way of saying that reading the numbers and converting them to mercator/transverse/Freudian/NAD27/NAD83/Range&Township/OSGB36/GoogleEarth/decimals/lat-long/minutes/secs/ reference ellipsoids or whatever in order to prove a conspiracy theory is an almost total waste of time. The only way it's not a total waste of time is that it provides computational exercise time to the brain of the one doing the computations and keeps that person occupied and out of trouble.

>>"Our decision-making must be fully informed by an understanding of the potential environmental consequences of federal actions permitting offshore oil and gas development," Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement.<<

Isn't it rather hard to be "fully informed" when it seems the lesson from this disaster is that it could take 5-10 years to ascertain all of the environmental consequences?

BP Spill Claims From 50 States Confront Administrator Feinberg

Poor guy says the ones from afar give "some idea of the creativity of the claimant population. ... But I will take a look at each claim.”

Gotta love how the realtors always have their hands in someone's pocket. They are persistent if nothing else:

"Feinberg said he has set aside a “modest amount,” which he didn’t disclose, to compensate the Gulf region’s Realtors, whose trade association met with him last week.

The Realtors have “suffered a great deal” in lost sales, rent and commissions, he said."

Suffered. A. Great. Deal.
Burst housing bubble and recession-depression wouldn't have much to do with that, would it?

Here is the Congress list of BP´s failures adressed to Tony Hayward :


I miss in the list the failure of changing mud with brine.
Or did I skip it ?

Lady -- I didn't see it either. It it might prove the be one of the biggest smoking guns. Early on syn discoverd an MMS reg against doing the mud displacement just as BP did. We haven't been able to confirm if the reg was still in place or if BP had gotten an excpetion. But if it was the rule at the time then BP is dead meat. It would not have mattered if the cmt failed or if there was a hole in the csg or any other problem. With 14 ppg mud in the hole it would have been physically impossible for the well to have blown out.

Is there a significant difference in cost between mud and brine? I assume it's not just seawater.

delete: bad math

david -- Long story short the cost difference between the two wasn't much. The problem would have been getting the oil base mud out of the csg after it sat there for a year or two. I would never leave OBM in a hole like that...bad personal experiences. But brine is cheap: bags of heavier saltM mixed with sea water. About the cheapest fluid you can make offshore. The rig time would have cost a lot more than the materials. Be it OBM or brine I'm pretty sure we'll never see another well in the GOM left with fluid in the csg that wouldn't stop flow.


Small detail here, but i don't understand "getting the oil base mud out of the csg after it sat there for a year or two." How could oil base mud have sat in the casing if the well was started in October 2009 and restarted in February 2010? Am I missing something here?

The well hasn't sat for a year or two. But when they decided to displace the mud (with seawater) they were shutting the well down. At that point they were presumably leaving themselves the option to come back in a year or two and reopen the well.

Rockman's point is that if you leave mud in a well for a couple of years it gunks up and is a pain to clean out. If you leave plain seawater in the well there's no gunk problem but it's unsafe, because the weight of seawater isn't enough to keep the well under control. If you fill the well with heavy brine it's both easy to reopen and safe. The weight of the brine would keep the well under control even in the absence of concrete plugs.

Rockman - I can´t find the quote, but in the early beginning of the oil spill I´ve read that BP changed the mud with brine in reason to save time.
What goes faster with brine ? The cement job ? The reopening of the well ?

Lady - I have to just guess: there's a limited volume of mixing tanks on a rig. One possibility: they might have had to offload the mud before the could build the brine volume. But this could be avoided by shipping brine out pre-mixed on a boat. I tend to think it was more of a money issue: didn’t want to take the time to get brine in place. Perhaps no one planned in advance sufficiently. Bottom line: I can't think of a GOOD REASON to not displace with brine. Consider this: when they eventually came back to complete the well they would have had to displace the sea water with a heavy brine completion fluid. You can't perf a well while being that under balanced: the pressure surge would likely hurt the completion.

In 35 years I have never left a well with fluid in the hole that wouldn't stop flow. I'm plugging and abandoning a well right now that had a non-commercial volume of hydrocarbons in the bottom and left the same heavy OBM in the csg I drilled it with. Like I've said before: it ain't rocket science.

In their haste to sound the "all clear" it seems BP and the feds are not exactly being honest about where the condition of the GOM.



Pass Christian is in a closure area per NOAA map as of 10 August. So is Barataria Bay.

Thanks to K3 for the first link; that extensive footage of the worst-hit areas is welcome. But, like Snake, I don't see how it shows that the government or BP is lying. It shows just what the SCAT maps suggest you would see on the shorelines. It doesn't show any significant oil on the surface of the water. (Remember, a sheen can be literally one molecule thick.)

To Admiral Allen:

Thanks for posting your letter to Mr Dudley spelling out your conditions for completion of the bottom kill procedure.

Will you also please post his formal response when you receive it?

Seems to me that would be up to Mr. Dudley, but my social skills have been suspect before.

Nope, they've posted at least one other BP response letter. It's Allen's call.

BP 6/13 response on containment plans.

Thanks, rainy, I missed that one.

I watched Jane Lubchenko's 2 pm press conference on seafood safety. She described the sampling protocol and stated that no sample test results to date have shown levels of concern for oil or dispersant. The video will be posted on the NOAA webpage later today.

While you wait, here's a video about the seafood inspection lab in Pascagoula MS:
And here's a video about seabed oil surveys for Natural Resource Damage Assessment:

Additionally, people with questions about oil in the water or sediment might want to look at the EPA test results at http://www.epa.gov/bpspill/index.html
If you go to either the water data or sediment data, there you can click on a site map to see particular sample data. I looked at samples for the last four weeks. If you aren't familiar with the chemicals tested for, you could get a bit more info by opening wikipedia in another window and searching there for the chemical names. You'll find testing for heavy metals and PAHs. I found the sediment samples more interesting than the water samples, because most of the water samples I looked at had zero or very low concentrations detected.

My advice for avoiding PAHs is to avoid cigarette smoke and John Wright's cigar.

That's the first I've heard about the seabed oil surveys (although the video was gargly on my computer). It would be nice to hear what, in general, they are finding, but NRDA gets in the way.. I understand the need to maintain a chain of custody for the evidence, but why does it need to be kept secret? Help, lawyers.


With Smith Stag entering the fray, this debate is escalating to a whole new level. There are seven pdf citations for the press release alone which makes me suspect that the opposition scientists had better go back to be sure their t's are crossed and i's dotted.

"...“It must also be noted that the deep water National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weatherbird analyses and our own near shore water, tunicate and beach samples have revealed a consistent pattern of dispersant-induced C19-C36 hydrocarbons and PAHs. Unfortunately, these specific PAHs are of the most toxic variety. Clearly, analyses of seafood in impacted regions require additional testing for PAH uptake protective of human carcinogenic potential..."


It is important that the public be vigilant and educate itself to these risks, as further compounding this misinformation from FDA are published news reports which show the government trying to discount university studies about the toxicity of the Gulf water column and seafood, and denying the continued use of dispersant spraying off the coast of Florida.

So who is supposedly still spraying dispersants off the Florida coast? Why would anybody be doing that at this point? That claim doesn't have a footnote.

What is the difference between dispersant-induced C19-C36 hydrocarbons and regular C19-C36 hydrocarbons?

Thanks for these goodies, NRD!

"I found the sediment samples more interesting than the water samples, because most of the water samples I looked at had zero or very low concentrations detected."

NatResDr - I´ve not the time to check the data. Could you please tell me, if at any time of the oil spill there was any sample with serious levels ?

NOAA's Thomas Jefferson to the rescue...

NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson Rescues Downed Pilot.

While conducting mapping surveys west of Key West, Fla. the evening of August 14, the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson heard a radio report from the U.S. Coast Guard that a small aircraft with one person aboard had crashed in the water about 30 miles away from the vessel. The crew of the Thomas Jefferson immediately contacted the Coast Guard to advise they would help with the search and rescue operation and proceeded to steam toward the reported position.

The crew, using sophisticated navigation equipment including the ship’s Doppler speed log and GPS positioning equipment, was able to estimate the ocean current and focus their search area around a location approximately two nautical miles south-southwest of the reported crash site.

“We posted extra personnel as lookouts and used our searchlights in a sweeping pattern all while keeping a quiet bridge so we could hear any calls of distress from the pilot,” according to the ship’s Commanding Officer, CDR Shepard Smith.

Shortly after 1:00 a.m. EDT, the ship’s crew heard cries for help off the port (left) side of vessel, immediately brought the ship to an emergency stop and deployed a rescue boat. “By turning the ship in the direction we originally heard the sound, we were able to locate the person in the water using the searchlight, and guide the rescue boat to pick him up,” added CDR Smith. The pickup position was about a quarter mile from the ship’s estimated search position.

Wow, don't mess with the Geek Navy! Well done.

Pleased to say that one of my former students is a deck officer on the TJ! It's amazing what confidence is inspired when you actually know a few of the people involved.


'Bottom kill' on oil well will take about 7 days, says Thad Allen

... But Allen doesn't know when he'll give that order. Scientists and engineers from BP and the federal government are looking at two options to relieve pressure inside the well before the bottom kill, in which heavy mud and cement are pumped in from below.

One option would involve building a pressure-relief system in the temporary cap that has kept the oil from gushing into the Gulf for more than a month now. The second option would involve swapping out that equipment for a different models. Allen said both options would lengthen the time necessary to kill the well, but declined to estimate exactly how long the whole process will take.

"I'd rather have a credibility problem by not having a timeline than having a timeline and having to change," he said. ...

An abrupt stop to our oil supply would mean no transportation, mass chaos, hunger and death. Imagine our cars, trucks, buses, trains and planes not moving for one month


Questions Linger as Shrimp Season Opens in Gulf

“The point is not to come out here and fill this boat full of shrimp,” Nicky Alfonso said on Monday, the first day of the first white shrimp season in Louisiana since the BP oil spill. “It’s to know there’s something out here that will multiply. It’s our future.”

Yep, that's the prime question, all right.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't:

As he worked, Mr. Alfonso explained that in his view, the main factor affecting the shrimp’s behavior this year was not the oil but the large amounts of fresh water that had been diverted from the Mississippi River to push oil away from the marshes. It had pushed the shrimp, which depend on the right temperature and salinity, away as well, making it harder to catch and decreasing the chances, he predicted, that the white shrimp would return to the interior waters to lay eggs as they normally would.

Instead of schooling together, he said, the shrimp were dispersed. “See how we ain’t seeing no shrimp jump?” he asked. “That’s not good.”

He added, “There’s too much stuff disturbed them. The shrimp out here don’t know which way to run because of that fresh water.”

Damned if your governor is an anti-science idiot.

Nickey Alfonso is a Louisiana commercial fisherman with a Fisheries degree granted by OJT college of Hard Knocks, not the Governor, Batterhead.

Nicky Alfonso for Governor!

Scientists See Serious Health Risks in Gulf Oil Spill
Repiratory, Mental Health Problems Among the Dangers From Exposure to Oil
By Bill Hendrick
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Aug. 16, 2010 -- The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico poses serious health risks for the people who are working to clean it up and others who venture into the coastal area, scientists say in a commentary in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Some components of oil called volatile organic compounds may cause respiratory irritation and nervous system disorders, according to the commentary by Gina M. Solomon, MD, MPH, and Sarah Janssen, MD, PhD, MPH, both of the University of California, San Francisco.

Skin contact with oil and dispersants may cause dermatitis and increase the risk of skin infections, the authors say.

Those at risk include fishermen, cleanup workers, volunteers, and members of communities along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, the authors write.


I was just going to post the same article.

Here's the link to The Journal of the American Medical Association article itself FWIW:


Thank you both for the links.
I hope, that even more independent scientists dare to oppose against EPA and NOAA.

Oil giant BP PLC is giving $15 million to Louisiana's health department to provide mental health services for people with stress and anxiety caused by the Gulf oil spill, Gov. Bobby Jindal's office announced Monday...

At least $6.6 million will pay for services through Catholic Charities and other non-governmental organizations.


That appears to be part of a larger fund:

Release date: 16 August 2010

HOUSTON - BP today announced that it is providing $52 million to federal and state health organizations to fund behavioral health support and outreach programs across the US Gulf Coast region.


So . . . did BP have a heads-up on the JAMA article, or is this just one a them phenomenal coinkydinks?

Well, I have no idea. But I sense that either way the good folk of the Gulf can put the resources to good use.

either way the good folk of the Gulf can put the resources to good use

Aye, first thing tomorrow, I hope.

After reading all of the engineering analysis, it seems to me that removing the current BOP and replace it with another might be the best approach. This would enable a more conventional shut in procedure, but it may have unacceptable risks during the swap out.

Can anyone comment on this? I am a logging engineer, not a driller.

I wonder what they will do when they pull the BOP up to the ship and it has that 3k feet of pipe hanging from it.

How will they handle that?

Quant - welder to the rescue. The bigger question: will they try to hang on to the DP or let it fall. That could be semi-exciting.

Laugh. Of course they would have to tie it off somehow. You can't let it crash uncontroled to the seabed. Not unless you are BP.

When I cut my tree branches, I don't let them fall on me.

They apparently cut a big section of riser pipe, earlier on, and let it fall to the seafloor. It impacted and sunk like a lawn dart as I recall.

I would guess they would simply cut it off, but I don't know how long it is. Somebody knows this information.

My main concern would be if the casing/liner floated into the BOP and got stuck.

Couldn't all or some of the drill pipe have already fallen in and be partially cemented in the bottom?

It depends if production liner, casing, and annular are all dead.

So with the information available, what do we do?

Can we handle the drill pipe? I think yes.

Do we know if the casing/liner is in the original place or floated? I don't know.

Are we confident that wellhead pressure at depth is neutral (or ambient)? Tests seem to indicate so.

Knowing the risks of bottom kill in the current configuration (which we created) are we better off to remove the BOP and do what I suggest or continue with the RW and bottom kill?

Somebody has to make these decisions.

Being a capitalist, I like the opinion of an Exxon exec. Hell, lets produce the well.

The transcript of Allen's briefing is now up - unusual in that it is available before the audio.

A couple of bits that caught my eye ...

After a detailed answer to AP's Harry Weber on the timing of what will need to be done before the RW resumes, Harry asks
Harry Weber: So is it – if I could ask a quick follow up, is it possible then based on this that you might not actually start the bottom kill now until next week instead of this weekend?

Thad Allen: We will start the bottom kill when we're ready Harry.

As part of his response to a question about the proposed new coordinated system of ocean monitoring...
I have had a couple of conversations with Jane Lubchenco from NOAA and I said what if we could take all the efforts you've got going on out there and somehow connect that with other research institutions that are conducting research out there and particularly some of the academic institutions and academicians that are out there, and rather than everybody kind of taking their own look at it, that we all looked at it together and then built that into a common picture.

To paraphrase the President Bush 41, I think I'd like to take 1,000 points of light and make it a laser beam in regards to subsea oil.

(there was no followup question on what impact engaging more academics might have on possible restriction of data as part of the NRDA. He did mention wanting to get a
a coherent picture, it's got transparency and the people that have the ability to bear on the solution that can be brought to bear.)

and some more info' on the relationship between the continuation of the ambient pressure test and the possible alternative of replacing the BOP...
We would ready – if we decided to change the blow out preventer, we would ready the blow out preventer on DD2 to be moved over and that would require some conversation and approval of BOEM.

While that process was going on, we would continue the near ambient pressure test for a time period that would cover the expected time period we thought the BOP would be off before DD2's BOP would be installed.

That would give us higher confidence, but we would have sustained well integrity during the time there would be no blow off preventer on the well. And both types of timelines as I was saying earlier, are being developed in discussions right now between the science team and BP. It will be part of what's going to be considered by the science team and Secretary Chu prior to them making a recommendation to me.

we would continue the near ambient pressure test

I guess I must be dense. 'Near' is not indicative of what will happen when they detach the capping stack from the BOP. No disclosure how the test was configured, why pressure is declining, or whether they are pumping mud.

Meanwhile, a puzzle at 5000 ft with HP riser and hydraulic hoses attached:

Is it:

(a) a San Francisco cable car?
(b) an ROV cage?
(c) an enormous AM-FM radio?
(d) wellhead and bottom of BOP?
(e) Compatt toy box?

So we have to remove the BOP to before we do RW bottom kill.

What an interesting sequence of events/detours, only to end up back at RW bottom kill, albeit a couple of weeks late.

Cementing from the top turns out to have been a bad move, no?

Allen's famous last words before the cement job went something like this. I told them they can cement it as long as it did not delay the relief well. LOL

I am not sure if this has been linked to yet.


Surely some would dismiss this, but I think environmental effects of this disaster are far more serious than the "let nature and dispersant take care of it" folks would have you believe.

In a previous thread someone speculated BP moved ahead and cemented the production casing to eliminate the possibility of ever getting an accurate flow measurement. Given BP's earlier publicized plans to cap the well and capture the flow, but capping the well then shutting off the flow, said speculation has merit in my view.

I'd like to add another speculation that BP moved ahead and cemented the production casing to make cementing the annulus more difficult, and sure enough after cementing production casing we start hearing new worries about cementing the annulus.

Had production casing not been pumped full of cement, relief well could have cut into annulus and pumped mud / cement, with displaced fluid moving down to production casing opening and up production casing, rather than forced up against casing seal, potentially dislodging it (if not already dislodged).

Why BP might want to make cementing the annulus more difficult is beyond me. I don't have a clue.

Now I hear talk of removing BOP before relief well cements annulus. In my opinion considering such a thing is equally foolish as many of the decisions made on April 20.

All ROV feeds blacked out again.

They heard you and turned them back on.

(grin) What happens when I go to sleep?