BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - TV Cameras and Chileans Miners - and Open Thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6883.

The fishing expedition to recover the drill pipe (DP) from the Blowout Preventer (BOP) at the top of the Deepwater well is moving somewhat more slowly than initially was suggested would occur. BP have provided a feed from the camera that was lowered into the stack:

It is not clear, since I wasn’t following this all day, what has been going on, though it has been suggested (H/t Unconformity) that the obstruction that appears in the video was one of the rams in the stack that was in the wrong position. This was followed by an adjustment of the stack, but apparently the camera has been returned to the surface. It may have malfunctioned, since the screen went blank just after this shot.

UPDATE: Thanks to Acornus and MoonofA in comments below, the object in front of the camera is apparently one of the two shear blades from the Ram in the stack which has failed to open. MoonofA has posted a better shot of the situation at about 6 am CDT.

Note the time id.

In the meanwhile, it appears that it is being fed into the stack without a riser in place, though we could be getting the various BOP/stacks mixed up, since once the BP is out of the way, the intent is to move the DP11 BOP over the well, to replace the old one.

View from Enterprise ROV1

It looked as though, also just before the loss in signal, that the ROV1 grabbed hold of the DP to help steer it down the center of the stack assembly:

Enterprise ROV1 grabs pipe

ROV1 guiding pipe in stack

The pipe is now (11:40 pm CDT) back out of the stack.

For those who have just heard about the 33 trapped Chilean miners, apparently they were working in the 2,250 ft level of the mine when, seventeen days ago, there was a massive roof collapse in the area that included the access shaft. After two weeks of exploratory drilling, a drill broke through in the area of the refuge where all the miners have been trapped. They are all still alive, one sent out a message to his wife attached to the drill, but it is impossible to reach them through the existing workings.

As a result a special rescue shaft will be drilled down, large enough to lower a cage into which, one at a time they can be extracted. (The technique was used to rescue the miners at Quecreek mine in the USA.) The shaft will be 27-inches in diameter, but it is going to take up to four months to reach that level, and so the current shaft will be used to send down water, food and oxygen to sustain them until then. They have been able to run some equipment and generate electricity and have apparently some considerable room at the refuge site. It apparently takes a couple of days at a time to drill one of the smaller access holes.

Our prayers will remain with them and their families.

Were not public pressure and a desire to somehow punish this well factors in the equation, BP could install a new blowout preventer, drill through the plug and complete this well.

I doubt that will happen.

cowboy -- Absolutely not. If the govt and public asked BP to complete this well they wouldn't do it. The damage to the reservoir from the uncontrolled high flow rates over 3 months makes this an extremely poor candidate for a producer. Besides a high probability the completion would fail (after spending another $40 million or so) it would also have the potential to screw up the production equipment. If BP wants to produce the reserves they have to drill new well(s). Always was the case from day 1.

And just to emphasise the point, it has been being said by yourself and other oilfield professionals here since day one also.

This well is a dead issue and BP surely wants nothing more than to lay it properly to rest.

You would know better than I, so I defer to your opinion.

I have a request: The next time anyone posts a still from the drill pipe camera that shows something interesting, it would be great if you could describe what there is to be seen with reference to the photo--e.g., "At the upper left, that diagonal white blur is the _____; just below that, the dark blotch is the _____; and directly across from it on the right side, the jagged thing appears to be the _____." TIA!

Swift. At about 04:00 hrs GOM time (10:00 BST), there was a trip into the hole; the camera gave a clear view of what comfy believes are the shear rams in the 3 valve capping stack - the top white bit. There may have been some valve manipulation at the time but a large belch of gas came up through the partly open shears.

No no, not me. I haven't seen much from the Fish Cam (although my initial impression when it first came online was to call it the Sex Cam - no further explanation on that), but early on before they put it on an Akamai feed I saw what surely must have been the CRAW-squashed end of a piece of drillpipe, and even with the info they released today I don't see how there could be any piece of DP in there above the stuck capping stack rams. Someone yesterday posted a screencap showing that piece of pipe. They had to be below the capping stack rams and down into the original riser adapter/top of flexjoint. Only other explanation is that somehow a piece of DP was pushed up into the new capping stack, above the now-stuck rams.

At about 6 am CDT the camera was/is back in the capping stack but appears to be looking at a half closed RAM just a few feet within the capping stack:

The black half-round part in the center is downhole, the piece in the left half of the picture appears to be one of the two parts of a blind shear RAM.

The RAM should be opened but one half appears to have malfunctioned.

The black half-round part in the center is downhole

Thanks, MoA and Acornus, this is just what I was hoping for.

A bit more of a technical update on the fishing operation derived from discussions at the IRC #theoildrum channel.

There were three camera runs down the hole. They revealed some problems.
The first run was on the August 21 around 21:00 hours (CDT).

This run was done through a rather thin hose.

There is no video recording of this because BP had only a flash application up with the video. We have one screenshot though http://i38.tinypic.com/s6qc29.jpg

That run, according to people who saw it identified several pipes. According to Adm. Allen in today's conference call one piece is the 3000 feet long drill pipe string going down hole from the bop. A second one is from the shear ram of the old bop up to the transition spool. A third piece is about a foot long but he didn't say exactly where it was.
The second camera run was on Aug 22 at 18:00 hours. The camera was run inside a thicker tube (with a likely fishing tool at the end) from the Discoverer Enterprise. The video was available on a public feed.

This camera run revealed a serious problem. At least one RAM in the capping stack seems to be partly closed and the space to pass by with an overshot tool to remove the fish (the drill pipe) is much too small. There were some attempts to move the ram out of the way by hydraulically closing and opening it (ROV operation) but that did not succeed. Somewhere along the camera broke and the run was stopped.

A time laps video (6min) of the second camera run, thanks to RockyP, is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAhnQNc2EfU
The third camera run went down the early morning of Aug 23.

It was stopped at the second RAM of the stacking cap which was partly closed. An attempt was again made (by ROVs visible in other video streams) to hydraulically move the RAM part but this did not succeed. This camera run was aborted after some two hours. A timelaps video of the third camera run is available (again thanks to RockyP): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3Ce6ntc38E

One half of the second RAM of the stacking cap seems to be stuck in a closed position and does not move as it should under general procedures.

This is a serious issue with regard to security of the well. As now only two (functional?) RAMs are left to stop another (unlikely but possible) blowout.

This is also a serious issue with regard to fishing the broken drill pipe out of the well. It seems impossible that any fishing tool could pass the half closed RAM.

What to do:
Probably the best procedure now would be to put on a new stacking cap, test it and only after that is successful start fishing the drill pipe pieces. It is unlikely that a second capping stack is readily available.

An attempt might be made to check/repair the operating hydraulics of the stuck RAM but even if that possible it does not guarantee that the stuck RAM half will move as there might be other mechanical reasons for its position.

A more brutal way is probably to cut through the stuck RAM with some tool on a drill pipe from the Discoverer Enterprise to widen the opening available to fishing. (This is what I would do :-))

Questions? Ideas?

Cutting through shear rams would be a major PITA, methinks. Not to mention ruining any possible emergency use of them later. I am absolutely amazed at the apparent failure rate of this equipment. How do you guys get anything done?

JEEminey, Moon, I'm getting the impression that rams (of whatever sort) are about as reliable as . . . as . . . Tiger Woods 13-year-old boys. Is Macondo just that snakebit, or are all them thangs this goof-prone?

lotus -- I'll beat that old horse to death once again: despite what the PR guys say every oil patch hand knows that any BOP is not the last line of defense....it's the worse line of defense.

I know, Rockman, but boyhowdy, sounds like these-here ram things are way overdue for some superseding technology or something. Would you say they're the troublemaker-of-troublemakers in BOPs? Sure sounds that way to this bystander.

How "fail-safe" is a piece of equipment with, as I recall, 196 failure modes? :-)

They can't blame the Chinese refurbishers for this failure. It's a brand new capping stack AFAIK. Very embarassing for the manufacturers.

Or did they maybe source it from a Vietnamese junkyard? Gotta save those pennies. Twenty billion dollars worth.

Disconnect the stack and pull it up to shallow water where divers can free the stuck ram. Send it back down.

Had they done the RW kill, i assume it would be little/no risk to pull the stack off. It's riskier now due to the uncertain condition of the cement from the top cementing effort. But if they can pull the bop, why not the stack for quick repairs.

That sounds like a plan. And maybe they could get that foot-long piece of pipe too - it should just be loose in there. It will probably cause trouble during the main fishing event if it falls down.

I thought that the foot long piece was supposed to be in the DWH BOP? If they do pull up the cap for repair, could they remove the LMRP to give better inspection access then re-dock the cap directly on the DWH BOP?


Ahhh, you're right. I forgot about the LMRP. I was thinking the old BOP would be open to view.


Theere are two things that will stop the rams from opening,

1/ No Hydraulics
2/ The ram is jammed or blocked

If it was hydraulics, most likely you would have trouble with both rams rather than just one. Also no visable leaks.The System is straight Hydraulic operated by the ROV, they have followed the KISS principal and Kept It Simple Stupid, so the hydralics should be OK

Jammed Ram

1/ Methane Hydrate - flush and disolve - If no go - pull repair

2/ Cement - pull repair

BOPs do not like cement. If cement is ever pumped past the BOP normal operations are to at least function the rams before the cement hardens and preferable flush with a BOP flushing tool. Cement is a wonderful thing, it goes into all the places you least expect it, and blocks them up, whether you wanted them block or not.

They tried to flush it today at about 3am, I think, AEB this photo of "Meth. Inj."


This happened immediately:


That flush was to clean the collet connector that connects the old BOP to the well head in preparations for a disconnect. It has nothing to do with the RAM problems in the capping stack.

Ah, thank you. Needless bandwidth taken up in late-night boredom; I'll send a check. :)


Would now be a good time to perform the RW kill?. Would it provide an improved level of security whilst mucking about at the top?.

I'm hoping the downhole cement is more reliable than some of these mechanical devices.

...stacking cap... capping stack...

capping stack stacking cap
capping cap stacking stack
let's call the whole thing off

Seriously though - the rams are designed to close, hydraulically.

How do they retract? Anybody know?

also hydraulically.

Does anybody know what the closing and opening forces of the rams?

On the capping stack, no. Not aware of cylinder/operating piston dimensions. On the TL way below; you can get that from Cameron's website. Simple hydraulics.


A Cameron 15k TL ram with the shear/blinds have 238 sq inch surface area. Normal operating pressure 1500psi but will be operated at 3000psi to shear pipe. If required the ROVs maybe able to apply up to 5000psi, though this would be outside normal parameters.

Warning this is for a Cameron ram, I believe the capping stack is a Hydril, I do not have these spscs at hand but they will be in the same ball park.

Closing force = sq in X PSI = 357000 lbs forces for 1500 psi

I can offer no validation, but I have "heard" that the capping stack is also Cameron. FWIW. Flame away.I've got a bunch of miscellaneous parts that are attached to this fiasco. None of which are worthy of ROV monitoring.


The DWH is definately a Cameron TL. The capping BOP just does not look right for a Cameron, but for this exercise I do not believe it makes much differant. It is a shame they have not a big advert on the side for all to read. Maybe after this little problem they left it off for a reason.

Zoom this diagram of the capping stack - the rams are labelled Hydril.

But look at this series of captioned photos. It appears that the control system, at least, is Cameron.

Thanks for the photos,


and here is the spec sheet.

One of those photos is captioned

"Capping Stack BOP prepares to depart from the Cameron facility in Berwick, LA on its way to Port Fourchon © BP p.l.c.

So I guess that makes it a Cameron stack, even if the rams are manufactured by Hydril?

Look at Captain Sassy's picture "BOP Flex Joint Cleaning" below.

Maybe other companies aren't eager to advertise their brands in this technological tower of Babel where they have no control.


I would say "Hydril BOP with Cameron controls built by Cameron", but is not a big deal unless you are looking at the specifics of the rams or the mechanics of the BOP. Both sets of rams designed to do the same job and operate on the principals, they just look differant.

BOPs are not the sort of item that lay on the shelf. They are usually built to order, you will probably find that Transocean had these BOPs for a new build rig that is not ready for them, or had a contract in the GOM, therefore not needing them for awhile.

It is like describing a Ford car with a GM engine.

PS: I have since seen Hydril markings on the capping stack.

PPS: Don't sweat the small stuff.

Good. I looked at Cameron site and could not find enough information on Piston diameter and more importantly rod diameter. But the out force is diminished by the area of the rod. I "assume" that the rod on these shears must be substantial. so the withdrawal force is going to be much reduced from the cutting force as described by Toolpush. No one expects to need extreme forces to withdraw a cylinder. On this type of application it is possible to see a 10::1 differential in forces. Such that if the blades are misaligned etc, significant out forces are required, but not expected.

toolpush, was just thinking about the area and reverse engineered the diameter. It comes out 17.4 inches dia. Is this realistic? If it is, then the rod diameter has to be very large to have a real effect on the withdrawal force. Are we sure on the area? If yes then I'm barking up the wrong tree.


17.4 inch sounds good to me from my memory of 15000psi BOPs. The piston rod is going to be about 4 to 5" dia. They have plenty of force to open the shear ram. If it does not move with the hydraulic force it is well and truely stuck. The rams are designed to cut drill pipe when closed, so it should not need too much to open a free ram block, you really do not need a calculator.

Well, like I said barking up the wrong tree. Withdrawal force works out to 327k pounds force, which should be adequate to unstick the shear, given 357k pounds to actuate the shear, especially given the ability to over pressure the hyd. system via the ROV'S. Hard to imagine then if the slides are designed to properly support suspended DP, why they can't open valves or shear. Thanks for your help. I would think cutting suspended drill pipe is the easy task, but cutting / withdrawing from unsupported DP could be a problem if the shear is not designed to support the weight of the DP on the blades. Given the discussion elsewhere on BOP failure rates design of the "fail-safe" shear is an open engineering question. Having lead engineering teams for a couple of decades it is easy to understand how we can fail to design for extreme or unexpected conditions.
Toolpush, Again thanks for your help

Your discussion of what brand the capping stack is reminded me that I had grabbed this photo from the live feed June 7th. The screen says "BOP Flex Joint Cleaning", but what they were really doing was grinding off the brand name. Why?


That was when Boa Deep C was doing 'Inclinometer Readings', speculation at the time was that whatever the tool actually was, it needed to be in contact with bare metal.

Bare metal over the entirety of the brand name and no more or no less, makes complete and total sense to me.

Hey, I didn't say it made any sense, just that's what the speculation was at the time. Maybe they needed a spot to do whatever test, and some PR dweeb from OilStates said 'Oh hey guys since you need to grind off some paint, how about you do us a favor..." ;)

Snort! I love it, comfy. Heeheeheehee . . .

The story about the miners was on the BBC this morning - it was the first I had heard of this incident.

Four months seems like an incredible amount of time to dig an access shaft. What's the reason that this is going to take so long?

They're drilling a 27 inch hole over half a mile long.

How long do you think it should take?

I was bringing something else to the old thread but just want to salute the Chileans with best wishes for their continued safety and -- somehow -- sanity throughout the rest of their ordeal.

What a familiar ring in this passage from HO's "refuge site" link, eh (emph. mine)?

For two weeks, a series of probes has tunnelled hundreds of metres trying to find the refuge where the miners were thought to be gathered. They repeatedly missed their mark, and officials began blaming the mine for not operating with updated maps or modern safety equipment.


Now for that "something else": Bloomberg on jubilees (Alabama's term is cheerier than Texas's "fish kills"). This year's are not just inshore but open-water events.

From The Telegraph:

A camera lowered down the bore hole on Sunday showed the miners sweaty and shirtless in the hot (32-36 degrees Celsius, 90-97 Fahrenheit) shelter, but in apparently good condition and high spirits.

"Many of them approached the camera and put their faces right up against it, like children, and we could see happiness and hope in their eyes," Chile's president said, adding that the images had given him "a lot of happiness and faith that this is going to end well".

Carlos Garcia, regional director of the National Emergency Office, said the trapped miners had water and lights and that in the next few hours they would be given fresh supplies of food and water, which they would have to ration carefully.

Four more months of that? Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

It sounds hot to me, but you have to keep in mind that these guys are sitting there with nothing to do but wait. They won't have to worry about hypothermia for example. You may think of 80 degrees as being warm, but if I spend the whole day in 80 degree water without a wetsuit, I am quite chilled by the end of the day.

Food, water and fresh air would be the big things they need, but keeping them sane would also be important. Things like an electrical cable to give them a bit of light, a small radio so they can hear some tunes to pass the days, and some sort of telephone type of deal so they could talk to their families.

The hole they have is described as being the diameter of a grapefruit. If it is going to be this long, they might need to dig a 2nd shaft to make getting supplies in and out easier.

Things like an electrical cable to give them a bit of light

They apparently were able to rig up some kind of electrical system from a source of current they had access to, so they have light.

I should think, barring an emergency of some kind, the grapefruit-sized hole would be big enough to supply them with whatever they need. If the heat becomes a problem, they could send down frozen cold packs and maybe some of those tiny portable battery-operated fans, and/or the kind of neckerchiefs you soak in water that are stuffed with an absorbent substance that releases the water slowly and cools you down for hours at a time.

Sanitation could be a problem.

They're really going to have to stay very disciplined, and they'll need guidance as to what they must and mustn't do to maintain health and safety, not to mention sanity. Hopefully those topside will be thinking beyond how to get them the bare necessities.

Heck, there are portable DVD players that run on batteries that would fit down the hole. Small videorecorders too. They could keep a video journal if there's enough light. Disposable flash cameras to take photos. Books and newspapers and magazines and cards and portable videogames...lots of possibilities.

You may think of 80 degrees as being warm, but if I spend the whole day in 80 degree water without a wetsuit, I am quite chilled by the end of the day.

Bad analogy ericy.

The physiology of being immersed for a few hours without a wet suit in 80 degree water compared to spending long periods in warm moist 80 degree air couldn't be more different in its consequences.


Heat is lost much faster in water, hence the need for wetsuits or drysuits in cold-weather activities such as kayaking.[5] Water temperatures that would be quite reasonable as outdoor air temperatures can lead to hypothermia very quickly. For example, a water temperature of 10 °C (50 °F) can be expected to lead to death in approximately 1 hour, and water temperatures hovering at freezing can lead to death in as little as 15 minutes.[15] On the other end of the scale, in water even a temperature as high as 26 °C (80 °F) may eventually (after many hours) lead to mild hypothermia.[16]

Note: if you stay longer than that, eventually even being exposed to 80 degree water, will kill you.
I'm an Ex Scuba Instructor and Saturation Diver and I used to teach dive physiology and dive safety courses. Now I just dive alone...

On the other hand I can spend a summer exposed to 80 degree air in just shorts and a T shirt. I know, because that's what I do here in South Florida. Actually, sometimes I even run the airconditioner to cool off.

No, this will not be like being immersed in water. 32-36C is 90-98F and I would expect the humidity to be very high as the area has free water. It will be very unpleasant down there, 32C and 90% humidity is not fun. The big risk will be heat stroke and dehydration. Getting a shaft down with cool dry air would be a very big improvement for their situation. Lots of electrolytes need to be supplied to keep them hydrated and salt balanced.

Mucho suerte muchachos.


I can only imagine what those guys must have felt like when they finally heard and saw that first drill bit break through. I hope somebody down there had a camera.

These miners are going to be fine. Top side they can drill a larger second hole in days. They can ream out the first hole in days. Two holes about 12" diameter open up a world of possibilities: electricity, water, sewerage, telephone, cable TV, internet, ventilation, you name it.

I pray for their safe rescue as soon as possible and I can't wait to find out what kind of world they build down there over the next four months.

According to AP they are lining the first hole and running 2 more, I very much doubt they had any cameras but they must have heard the drill for days and prayed that it would not pass on the wrong side. The priorities in those areas are very different. Electrolytes, fresh water, food and telephone will be high on the list. Cable TV, internet - nah, books and magazines. I expect those who can read would read to those who cannot. What kind of world, they will have already built shrines to their gods and it sounds like they have at least one person who has organised them.


Bet they'd kill for some babywipes.

I was thinking longer term after the immediate survival needs have been met. The top side folks probably will send down whatever the trapped miners want as long as it will fit in the hole. I don't know much about rural Chile. Maybe these are native Indians with a culture completely foreign to me. My experience with urban Hondurans in Tegucigalpa probably does not transfer well to there.

most rural people in Latin America are far more content with sitting around chatting and do not have the need for entertainment forced down their throats than the USAnian city dweller. Doesn't matter if they are Indigenous or not. They will cope a lot better than a bunch of Tennessee rednecks.


Wouldn't every sociologiest love to be a fly on the wall?

There goes my idea for a reality show.

No, the mine workers get edgy about the sociologist watching them, taking polls, taking notes, so they beat him to death and use his bones to carve scrimshaw, to pass the time.

Reality show back on the table. Talk about a plot twist....

This sociologist guy. He fits through the hole?

Given enough pressure he will.


Thats FUNNY!!! Fleet's mud perhaps? I'm still laughing . . thanks - g

Ok, how about " Wheel of Misfortune " ?...or something like that....

Dave, et al,

Having spent time in Chile in the last days of Pinochet, my impression is Chileans are tough. Stoic in the face of trouble, passionate when they let their guard down. Barring another collapse, I have faith they will survive. Beyond the basics of life and communication, if they can fit a charango http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Charango_player.jpg and some bottles of vino tinto http://www.gatonegro.cl/ down a rescue hole it will help their spirits while they wait.

Agreed, no Pisco though.


Yeah, NAOM, things might get a little out of hand.

Hey, NOAM and brat, doncha think they better send the Pisco to us for safe keeping, hm?

1 egg white (blend at high speed; add)
8 tablespoons sugar (blend again; add)
1/2 bottle Pisco
1/2 - 3/4 cup lemon juice, with a taste of Key lime juice
3 - 4 cups crushed ice (blend well)

Serve in small glasses (preferably, of Inca design) with a drop of Angostura and a drift of powdered cinnamon. (N.B.: More than two rounds ain't safe.)

We need to constantly ask ourselves what price is our lifestyle worth? A poisoned gulf? Chilean copper miners average lifespan is 45, although they interviewed the wife of a 63 year old miner who had been mining since he was 12. There is a documentary out about silver miners in Bolivia following a boy about 12 who works in the mines and chew cocoa leaves to keep the fear at bay. What price our lifestyle?

We need to constantly ask ourselves what price is our lifestyle worth?.... What price our lifestyle?

I believe that question is asked in one from or another at least once a week here on TOD.

That is why I said constantly

A few new details via NYT:

... [C]rews will use a thin shaft as an umbilical cord to keep the miners alive, lowering food, water and medicine, and exchanging information about the rescue efforts and carrying communications from family members. ...

News reports from Chile suggested that ventilation shafts had survived the collapse of a tunnel on Aug. 5, allowing enough fresh air to reach the chamber where the miners were trapped. The miners were able to use heavy equipment to provide light and charge the batteries of their head lamps, and they drank water from storage tanks to survive.

They stripped off their shirts to endure the stifling heat but did not appear to be threatened by toxic gases such as methane, which can poison miners after cave-ins.

Food was in short supply, and government officials told reporters in Chile that the miners may have each lost 20 pounds. Rescue crews were piping tubes containing sugars, water and liquid nutrients to help sustain them while preparing to start the painstaking work of drilling another tunnel without causing another collapse. ...

Government and rescue officials told reporters in Chile that doctors and mental-health experts were heading to the site and that questionnaires were being sent down to gauge how the miners were holding up. Andre Sougarret, a rescue leader, said microphones would also be threaded to the men so they could speak with their families and help maintain their spirits in the coming weeks. ...

And from Bloomberg:

[President] Pinera said he will overhaul mining supervision in Chile, the world’s largest copper producer, after firing the head of the mining regulator on Aug. 11 over the accident. The reform may make it tougher for small-scale underground mines to continue operating, Gustavo Lagos, a professor at the Catholic University’s mining school in Santiago, said in a telephone interview.

Pinera said in a speech at the presidential palace today that he has given a new labor committee three months to recommend an overhaul of Chile’s workforce safety regulations, institutions and practices.

Rescue efforts are being led by mining experts from Codelco. Melbourne-based BHP Billiton Ltd., which operates the largest copper mine in the world also in the Atacama Desert, is participating in the rescue effort. ...

Pinera dismissed Alejandro Vio, director of Chile’s geological and mining service known as Sernageomin, after the agency allowed the San Jose mine to reopen after being shut down by Vio’s predecessor in 2007.

Authorities will carry out a “profound restructuring” of Sernageomin to improve mining safety in Chile and will punish anyone found responsible for the San Jose collapse, Pinera said Aug. 11.

OK, I would jump on those ventilation shafts. If air is getting in, then there's a real possibility of widening that opening to get the men out. That would be my first hope. Methane isn't usually a problem in copper mines, but H2S certainly could be. It forms when air and water get to copper sulfides.

Hmmm... if they knew where the ventilation was, they probably wouldn't have needed two weeks to figure out where it went. Doesn't sound like a particularly stable environment. Maybe let the mining engineers sort it out?

I swear that, with my claustrophobia, it would take me less than four months to scratch my way out. :)


it is going to take up to four months to reach that level

I'm imagining the psychological situation of the trapped miners. Two weeks with no idea if they would ever be rescued, having to prepare themselves to die slowly when supplies ran out; then ecstatic relief when the exploratory drill broke through; then the realization that the apparent reprieve will involve staying put for months until they can be rescued, and trying to figure out how to adjust to the new situation and remain sane during the wait.

No doubt they've already organized themselves into a mini-society, hopefully one that's unified. But now that the threat of slow death has been lifted, it's going to be difficult for them to maintain peace, stability, cooperation, and mutual support.

Has there ever been any trapped-underground situation that even remotely approached this one for human drama?

Has there ever been any trapped-underground situation that even remotely approached this one for human drama?

I'm sure there has, but add "that the participants lived to tell," and I just don't know.

lotus -- In another life time I had done a little work down in a deep copper mine in Mexico. A thousand times scarier than any rig I've ever been on. And that mine hadn't collapse. But the lowest level flooded a month earlier and killed several miners. That's why we had to go down the last few levels on ladders (with wooden stays TIED to the runners) instead of using the elevator which was knocked out by the water. Never went down another mine after that experience. The news of the accident in Chile obviously brought those memories rushing back.

We're mighty proud you made it out of there, Rocky. I don't even want to contemplate how many lives Latin American gold, silver, copper, and tin mines have taken, from the Conquest on. (involuntary shudder)

In La Paz years ago, I bought an antique Bolivian tin-miner's lamp. Take away one of the "umbrella" lids, and it looks just like this -- a skoosh smaller than a Coke can with a thick lens and a holder inside for a candle-stub. Even in pitch black, the lens doesn't throw much candlelight, so imagine trying to find your way around a mine with that. Hi-tech in its day, I guess.

lotus - funny how little things pop back to mind. I quickly learned the proper etiquette when in a mine shaft with no light other than your head lamp: you DO NOT look at a person when you talk to them. Shining your lamp into their eyes messes up their night vision.

Wow, I see whatcha mean, R. (Already been wondering how they'll protect these miners' eyes when they're rescued.)

There was a comparable incident, though not as far down, in the 60s in Germany: Wunder von Lengede

The miners were initially trapped in the Alte Mann ("old man"), an abandoned tunnel in the Lengede-Broistedt mine near Salzgitter, on October 24, 1963, after 500,000 m³ of mud water from a sedimentation pond had flooded the mine and the tunnels between the 60 and 100 m levels. Out of 129 workers, 79 managed to rescue themselves during the first few hours, and although it first seemed as if there was no hope left for the other 50, one of the biggest and most dramatic rescue missions in the history of mining began after 7 more miners were found 23 hours after the catastrophe.
The efforts paid off: three more workers were found alive on November 1, and two days later, contact was established with another group of 11. After a few more days of drilling, this group was also brought to safety on November 7, after being trapped for two weeks. The remaining 29 workers died.

A page in German with a few pictures.

They used a kind of "bomb" about 20+ inch wide to pull people up through a bore hole. It seems the folks in Chile will try the same.

It's amazing that they apparently have plenty of drinking water and air.
Amazingly lucky.

Anybody know the geology there?

Here's lots more detail from Reuters. Jeez, getting to that refuge area -- the size of a small apartment, this says -- meant everything.

It strikes me as a highly ironic coincidence that we have two ongoing stories which both involve sending a camera down a deep hole, one to assist in keeping what's at the bottom of the hole from coming up, the other to assist in doing exactly the opposite.

uni - Not specifically about that mine but it's very likely to be copper deposits in an igneous rock matrix. That's why the new shaft will take so long: probably some of the hardest rocks you'll ever have to cut. Even slower if they can't use exlosives for fear of causing more collapse. Another chilling thought about that Mexican copper mine I was in: on the hill sides there were hundreds of small white crosses for the miners whose bodies were never recovered. Didn't have any great ambition to be a mining geologist before I went down there and certainly none afterwards.

And oddly enough, it's exactly what I do. I've been in some tight places underground. Had to climb an 800 foot wooden ladder once after the skip went through the shaft cribbing. That was near Georgetown, Colorado. It was scary, not to mention very exhausting. Wonderful ore in that mine though. Ruby silver.

I have no idea what equipment would be available where this mine is, but if it was in the States, I'll bet I could help get them out quicker. I feel for those guys. I love mines, but hate mining accidents.

Good man Pinky. I'll leave it to you. Not that I'm claustrophobic or anything. I just can't handle small confined spaces that might kill me.

CNN Chile has a bit of tape showing one miner's very happy eyes.

CNN Chile has a bit of tape showing one miner's very happy eyes.

Lotus, your link was to the NY Times blog, which doesn't have that tape. But CNN does have it.

Dang that NYT for switching tapes on me, SL (though the one they have now does show the same guy briefly). Anyhow, thanks for the link to what NYT had earlier.

though the one they have now does show the same guy briefly

Oh, so it does. I was looking in the wrong place on the screen. Sorry!

SL, The Guardian has interviewed a guy who survived two weeks in a Tasmanian mine after an earthquake-triggered rockfall -- a shorter time but much tighter circumstances than the Chileans have. He and his buddy couldn't even sit up, and if one lay on his back, the other had to lie on his side -- on sharp rocks that cut them, etc. He says,

"I personally don't think the miners in Chile will recover from this. We will never recover from our experience either. Life for us now is easier than it was four years ago but you've always got the constant memory with you for the whole of your life. It's going to be very hard for those guys and also their families because the families don't know from day to day whether their loved ones are going to survive the four months or whether they're going to perish where they are."

And the Sydney paper interviewed the buddy:

"They will come out very united, they will have really good friendships forever and a day, but they are going to be different men," he said.

"To be trapped is a different world. When I got out of the hole I ran around trying to let all my mates' birds out, rabbits and guinea pigs. 'Don't trap them,' I said.

"These blokes will go through the same thing where they won't like seeing zoos, trapped animals, cages - you get a different perspective on the world."

they are going to be different men

Indeed. A less intense situation than that in the Tasmanian mine, but whether that will mean less or more stress in the long run is hard to say. I'd guess most or all of them are pretty religious, which should help.

This drama has Reality Show written all over it. Accidental participants living out a life or death struggle half a mile underground. How will they cope? What kind of world will they create down there? How is the rescue going? I never watch the contrived ones on TV, but this one...I wouldn't miss an episode. Somebody needs to shop their story around. Let the highest bidder send down the camera (and the first check to their families).

Good article from AP:

Rescuers expand lifeline to trapped Chile miners

Apparently there's a lot of focus on their mental health. A few points:

--A team of doctors and psychiatrists are at the mine working on a plan to support the miners' psychological well-being.

--They're sending down questionnaires to evaluate the condition of each miner; also medicines and microphones, which could begin working almost immediately. Families are being organized into small groups to facilitate communication.

--Leadership has to be established among the men, and they need to be kept busy.

--A drilling machine with diamond-tipped drills is being sent to the site that should be able to drill 20 meters per day of a tunnel big enough to evacuate a person.

Awright! Thanks, SL.

Updated AP article reports that the miners have requested toothbrushes. This is viewed as "a positive sign."

Supplies are sent down the hole in five-foot-long capsules called palomas, Spanish for "doves." A capsule takes about an hour to reach the miners. They've sent "high-energy glucose gel" and rehydration tablets, but won't send any actual food for a couple of days while the miners' stomachs adjust. Story doesn't say this, but it sounds like they were close to starvation.

The big drilling machine with diamond-tipped drills is on its way from central Chile on a truck "festooned" with Chilean flags. It was donated by the state-owned copper company, Codelco.

The shift foreman, 54 years old, has apparently taken the leadership role, not the older man who sent up the first notes.

President Pinera seems to be taking a hard line against the mining company and the government mining regulators.

Swift - in 1963 we had the "Miracle of Lengede" in Germany. Look here :


But these miners were only trapped for 14 days.

Here are some pictures of the moment, where the relatives received word that the miners are still alive :


Very moving moments !

Very moving moments !

Indeed, Lady-li, just beautiful. Thank you!

(high-fives Lady)

brat - Just my guess but with an 11,900 psi pressure on the bottom side of the plug/shoe and a bad cmt job between it and the reservoir it would seem very possible to blow the plug/shoe out once they displaced and lost the head. I believe they tested the plug/shoe to 8,500 psi but that was pushing down from the top so I don't think that tells us anything about the stability of the system being pushed from the bottom.

I think the DP wouldn't add anything to the effective mud weight. Just like hanging a lead weight in a glass of water: doesn't make the glass any heavier. The weight of the DP is being transferred to the BOP and not the bottom of the hole IMHO.

As naom says the DP removal will require that volume to be replaced. If they pull the DP the cap will have to be open so I suspect it will be done with sea water.

As far as being balanced others have noted that with the cmt in place a balanced mud colume is required to keep the well from flowing. OTOH that's also what BP thought when they displaced the mud with sea water. And they were wrong.

ROCKMAN, appreciate your understanding. Can you advise why material is coming out around the "drill"? pipe being "fished" out? And the camera observation of that same material, "pumped monkey poo?" seeming to exit below the camera location? Seems testing is ongoing. Lurked and watched over the weekend..when the ROV grabbed the pipe seemed an issue had occurred.

JEC - sorry...can't offer a clue. I intensionally don't watch the ROV clips...just way too many more qustions than answers IMHO. Life is frustrating enough now that I'm on the Blue Bell wagon...don't need no more.

As far as being balanced others have noted that with the cmt in place a balanced mud colume is required to keep the well from flowing. OTOH that's also what BP thought when they displaced the mud with sea water. And they were wrong.

I don't understand this paragraph. Is there a "not" missing somewhere?

densely -- Sorry. I did mean to say a ...mud column is NOT required.... Thanks.

Den. Have a look at this one, Apology if it is too simplistic. There are some good explanations on this site, particularly measuring density in ppg pounds per gallon US. http://www.drillingformulas.com/category/oil-well-cementing/?lang=Array

Rock....This may be picking at nits, but if you hang a weight in a glass of water and none of the water overflows, wouldn't the volume displaced by the weight cause the water level in the glass to rise, thus increasing the hydrostatic head and weight--however minimal??
Adding DP into the open well, however, and assuming that the mud displaced by the DP overflows at the top of the stack, then there shouldn't be any increase in effective mud weight--you agree??

hasbeen. I am imagining that there are few wet kitchen floors by now. Or even many small children being dangled in bathwater with a tape measure. If you drop a ship in the ocean, it will displace its own weight in water. The pressure at the bottom of the ocean stays the same; the ocean level rises a very very small amount.

Hydrostatic pressure (and head) is determined by volume, not height (except at great distances), even with pressure changes (non-compressible fluid). 1000 gallons of weighted mud in vertical pipe a mile long exerts the same pressure at the bottom as the same volume in a pipe 100 feet long. (Surface area at the bottom assumed to be the same).

Which wieghs more, a pound of feathers or a pound of gold?

PF. With the greatest of respect; total crap. You can float a Battleship in a saucer of water.

Absolutely correct. As long as the saucer holds enough water to equal the mass of the battleship. Big ass saucer.

I don't know what you are attempting to say as I can't make any sense of it.

Let's say you put a small spigot on your 1 mile pipe and also on your 100 foot pipe and you arrange it so that both spigots point upward. Now if you open both spigots which one is going to shoot the fluid higher into the air?

Now you've got me second guessing myself. I know you are correct as far as hydrodynamics is concerned in that the taller column with support a taller spout. Unfortunately, I am completely at a loss as to how I can explain that the mass 1000 kg (and the weight of same) is always 1000 kg, and always exerts the same force (under constant acceleration of gravity).

hydrodynamic v. hydrostatic? Or is it leverage? Any help from the folks with education around here?

Sorry, too much database work, and not enough time playing in the real world has made me (and Jack) a little dull this a.m.

The formula for hydrostatic pressure is DENSITY X HEIGHT X GRAVITATIONAL CONSTANT. There is NO volume element in this equation. It is the DENSITY of the fluid that matters NOT the VOLUME.

IF your 100 ft pipe and the one mile pipe are connected to the bottom of the oil well; which IS THE SUBJECT OF THIS FORUM. Then the 100 ft pipe will exert 832 psia on the 12000 psi formation. The one mile pipe will exert 4392 psi on the 12000 psi formation. This assumes 16 ppg mud DENSITY.

Both spigots ("taps" in English) will blow like F***. So much, you won't give a toss which spigot it is coming out of.

Guess I need to dig out my old physics books. If height is only thing that matters, why not use tiny pipe for mud? 1/2" id? Just that larger pipes are already available? Still confused, but I'll dig into it tonight.

Look up Bernoulli's equation. Pressure= density x height


Acorn et al -- Not going to join into the pissing battle...more fun to watch from the outside. But here's the equation and please...carry on

Pressure (psi) = column height (feet) * 0.052 * fluid density (ppg). Thus a 5,280' column of 16 ppg fluid would exert a bottom hole pressure of 4,392.96 psi. But if I punched the calculator properly a 100' column of 16 ppg mud column would exert 83.2 psi.

Sorry typo

Ah! PFul threw in "(Surface area at the bottom assumed to be the same)", which means his two vessels are the same diameter, which means his mile long pipe is empty for at least 5180' of it's length.


Pounds per square inch = pounds per gallon of the liquid * depth of the liquid column in feet * 0.052

It matters not what the area of the bottom is, or how the cross section area of the column varies with height.

Most helpful comment yet! Thank you.

So total force of a mass is always the same. When in a tall column (narrower cross section vs short column), the same volume and mass would generate the same force, but the entire force is concentrated into a smaller area (hence the "PER SQUARE INCH"). Is my understanding now correct?

Well, PFul, with "pressure" we aren't talking about total force, but rather force per unit area. Total force is then pressure X area.

In a tall vs. short column, if you have the same bottom area (and uniform cross section), and the columns are both full, then it's impossible that they both have the same volume.

On the other hand, if they both have the same volume, and are both full, then it is impossible that they both have the same bottom area. The taller one will have a larger pressure, but it will be acting over a smaller area, and both (since the volumes are equal) will experience the same TOTAL force against their bottoms.

I hope that helps.

Perfect! I guess I was not grasping the 'total' bottom area. A cone 3" in diameter has the same 'total' bottom area as a cylinder 3" in diameter, and therefore would have the same hydrostatic pressure for the same height of fluid, regardless of volume.

Following that logic, a half inch pipe could THEORETICALLY provide the hydrostatic pressure necessary to balance this well, but is not practical (due to equipment and structural limitations) and not useful for anything else, so is not used on wells. Is that a safe assumption?

To beat the horse some more, and maybe address the original concern, removing the drill pipe will reduce the height of the mud column, as the mud fills the void left by the drill pipe. The water that replaces the mud a the top has lower density, so the psi exerted at the bottom of the well by the column of fluid WILL be reduced as the drill pipe is removed. Unless they replace the pipe's volume with mud to keep the mud column height constant.

Since you've been here less than a couple of weeks, maybe you should go back and read some of the prior discussions on hydrostatic head. If I interpret you correctly, you're saying the pressure at 100 ft at the bottom of a small lake is less than the pressure at 100 ft in Lake Baikal?
Methinks you experimented with the feathers and gold by having somebody drop them on your head from about 25 ft!!

Thanks for the insightful and helpful comment. I have learned a lot from you.

Which wieghs more, a pound of feathers or a pound of gold?

I guess that depends on whether you are weighing them in the air or in the water.

PFul, you might want to rethink your post. Hydrostatic head, for example, is measured in vertical height, as in "the hydrostatic head of Hoover Dam is about 213 meters".

Hmmmm...but what if it's a pound of gold feathers?

Just stirring the pot up some. LOL

What if it's on the surface of Mars? Thanks, Rock. Most folks are good natured about correcting, and helping out (or at least teasing). Others are, umm, let's say, not so much.

There are 12 troy ounces to a pound of gold. 16 ounces to the pound of most everything else. I guess it matters if the gold is in the shape of feathers or they are gold 'colored' feathers.

Jeez, I didn't mean to stir up such a sh*tstorm of questions about removing the DP. I asked the same question on other sites, and it has had the same result, I was just interested in what folks here had to say about it. You are one very patient man for sure, Rocky. Thanks again for taking the time to answer endless questions, I will procure some Blue Bell and eat it for you.

~ Ice-cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn't illegal. ~


ISA. Stirring up a shit storm is perfectly OK. What is Blue Bell, is it naughty stuff?

My 1st pot of mango IC is nearly frozen :)


This is my 1st post here so be nice :-)
It is important to realize that pipe is steel with the a density +/-8 SGs. As long as the pipe is open ended no "shut-in" pressures to overcome, the pipe can be lowered and ectracted until the proverbial cows come home. Problems only occure when pipe is plugged and differential pressures act on one side or the other.

This is always when trouble occurs. "Cannot circulate". Gas Kick on Annulus. Size of Surface Casing to the size of the final liner. Show me diameter change, and there may be trouble....


Rockman, thanks for the response. As NAOM and Rio Hondo Hank have reminded me, I have no excuse for forgetting about displacement of mud by the drill pipe. Bartender, let's have a round of Blue Bell for the house...

When Bignerd mentioned that the cement plug could interfere with the positive pressure test, it got me wondering if the plugs could have played a part in masking the early signs of the kick. The scenario would be that, as seawater displacement begins, oil starts flowing through bad cement and the casing shoe, but is contained by the plug as it is pushed 1200 feet back up the 7 inch pipe. At the 7 inch to 9 7/8 transition around 17,000 feet, the cement plug pops loose like a champagne cork and the oil and gas is free to blow up through the remaining mud and seawater.

Or are the cement plugs just so small as to be unimportant in the kick and blowout?

brat -- Not that knowledgeable about those plugs but your thoughts sound reasonable. In fact, it might explain why it popped so hard...the plugs may have been slightly leaking but then hit a tipping point and popped just like your cork analogy. I just have virtually no experience with a well being displaced like this. In 35 years I've never had a cased hole displaced with fluid of a lesser weight then what I drilled with. Not just a safety factor but costs: I already have mud in the hole that can control the reservoir. If I displace it with another that takes time. And then I still have to dispose of that extra mud. Eventually I would displace the drill mud with a heavy CLEAR completion fluid before I perforate the reservoir. But a completion rig day rate is a lot less than a drill rig so one more reason to leave the mud in the hole. But I learned an expensive lesson last January. I'll never leave OBM (oil based mud) in a cased hole I plan to re-enter and complete some time down the road. Earlier this year I re-entered a well that had been left with OBM in the csg for a couple of years. Instead of taking a day and $20,000 to circulate out that old OBM it took a couple of weeks and $500,000 thanks to a bunch of mechanical problems caused by the OBM. It essentially set up like an epoxy inside the csg. Probably from the high temps. So I would have definitely displaced the OBM out of the BP well but I would have used a rather cheap heavy brine water that would have balanced the well just like the drilling mud did.

Rock, I think that many people overlook or don't understand that BP wanted to bring in another rig to complete the Macondo well and that's why they had to flush the mud out of the riser with sea water.

What I can't understand is why did they removed mud and replaced it with sea water that was some distance below the mud line prior to completely plugging the well. In my view they should have either pumped in kill weight brine prior to plugging the well or plugged the well with kill weight drilling mud in place and then flushing the riser with sea water. I really don't like the thought of pulling the BOP's and leaving the plugged the well open while waiting for the completion rig to arrive on location. If this process takes place again (I don't think it should) the BOP's should stay on the well with the blinds closed and the completion rig latches onto the BOP upon arrival.

In recent years I have seen many more "indirect displacements" of wells prior to the completion process. In this process you go from drilling mud to sea water, clean the pits and other equipment and then pump brine into the well. The period of time that "pit cleaning" takes place can take up to 2 or 3 days in my view was an extended negative test and was akin to holding a loaded gun to the heads of everyone on the rig.

I know wildman....seems so pointless. They could have displaced with the same heavy completion fluid they would have had to displace with when they came back to complete. Leave a kill fluid in the hole with two shallow cmt plugs (as MMS regs require) and the well should be safe without a BOP for decades if not forever. All they saved was whatever differential cost there was between the drill ops and the completions ops. And I doubt that was any real amount of money.

Oilfield Brat,

That is an excellent point.

The shoe track on the Macondo Well is on the order of 200'. In other words, there was a 200' cement plug at the base of the casing. It's possible this plug stayed intact and moved up the 7" casing. When the plug passed thru the cross-over to 9 7/8" casing, the pressure below the plug may have caused a massive kick at the surface.

Even if the plug moved up the 7" casing as a broken mass, a surface pressure increase would have occured when the cement passed thru the casing-cross over.

NippleUp, any idea how common this change in diameter of casing is? I seem to remember it's not. Wonder if there is any history of well control problems with tapered casings?

Ah, but your suspended block of lead will make the glass heavier. Well, not the glass itself as its weight will be unchanging for the purpose of the experiment, but the weight of the system of glass/water as the lead is added. The lead will be supported by the water by displacement. Say the lead is 10cc then it will have 10g of its weight supported by the water. Newton's third :- for every action there is a reaction that is equal and opposite in every way. 10g thrust up on the lead, 10g thrust down on the water/glass;)

You were right not to continue in Mexican mines, the locals have no sense of personal safety. I was amazed to see one guy working with full safety harness and roped off, very unusual. He was about 20' up on a scaffold tower. Took a good look then a double take. The other end of the safety rope was tied off........to the ground!!! 20' straight down to the ground, not looped over the scaffold or nothing, ho hum.


NAOM -- Think about it: the lead weight is supported by the string...not the water. Granted when you dip it into the water there's a very minor loss of weight from the buoyancy factor. But imagine you're holding a 30# block of lead with one arm above your bath tub. Now lower it into the tub. Still feels pretty much like a 30# hunk of lead. remember in my silly little water glass model none of the water flow out of the glass when I lower the weight in.

Sometime later went down into the Ducktown copper mine in Tenn. A whole different world...felt like I was in a processing plant on the surface instead of being 2,000' below ground.

But if you are holding the lead via a scale you will see the reduction in apparent weight of the lead;) If we did the experiment with something less dense, aluminium or titanium maybe, then you might feel the change. I originally did this while mixing Gatorade on a scale, spoon in - heavier, spoon out - lighter. Don't know how well it would work with BBIC, be a shame to melt it to try. Must make that Mango IC later, custard is ready:)

Only proper mine I went down was a tourist coal mine in South Wales, very spooky when we were told to shut off our lights. Would not want to work in one of those.


I used to work on raise drills with a fellow who worked on raise drills at Ducktown. The copper miners in Chile are 1/2 mile deep. I've been in lead/zinc mines in Canada 1 mile deep and had a boss who worked in gold mines in South Africa 2 1/2 miles deep.

The miners rescued at the Quecreek Coal Mine in Pennsylvania were in a chamber 240 ft below the surface and were extracted from a 30 inch diameter borehole which was drilled in about 36 hours start-to-finish including tool breakdowns and a fishing job and they had all the support they needed. The tool used was a down-the-hole hammer using air reverse circulation(to power the hammer and flush the cuttings). I expect the rock was relatively soft shales and sandstones.

Four months in Chile seems a long time but it is a remote location and is the equipment avaliable in country. As you mentioned the rock will be hard and this slows penetration rate and requires tripping out to change bits. In Chile I expect a major consideration, regardless of the tool used to drill the hole and the method for removing the cuttings, will be keeping the hole straight and/or hitting the target underground. I doubt they have an accurate survey of the underground workings. They could survey the hole they just drilled and use were it ended up to guide the drilling of larger hole.

but it is a remote location and is the equipment avaliable in country

Hi, eezee. Wouldn't you think the global mining community (and governments) will do for the Chileans what the global oilpatch has done for BP -- speed anything they can offer to help ASAP? Whatever gear/expertise/transport/etc. -- "Name it, it's yours"? I sure hope so.

ROCKMAN, Funny how memories beget memories. I was raised in Chattanooga from second grade up. I remember what the copper mine area used to look like -- closest simile would be "moonscape," I guess. I was told that the first astronauts did some training there because of that. Maybe. Could be an urban legend. Sure was a very weird place to a kid, though. I think maybe we drove past the moon on the way over to Cherokee (NC).

I think maybe we drove past the moon on the way over to Cherokee

It ain't many can claim that!

erainwater, I was on a geo field trip out of Maryville TN in '75 that passed by Ducktown. It was surreal to be cruising through the lush Appalachian forest and come around a bend into what looked like Death Valley. It was a good reminder that without rain, Tennessee would look a lot like Utah.

Yup, Brat, surreal is a good word. No more than a mountain-top-removal surface mine, though.

I live about 40 minutes north of Murvl (translation, Maryville), just north of K-Town, snuggled in the central valley, between the Cumberland range and the Great Smokies. Really fun geology here. A drive over the Plateau to Nashville is a joy, especially if you take U.S. 70, but pretty good even on I-40. My son decided to go back to school at age 30 for geology. It's a great place for love of caves and karst and diagonal layers, Earth heaved up, millions of years, all weathered down and sticking right out atcha. The surface water becomes groundwater and then surface water again, over and over. Nature makes it pure, people screw it up. How smart is that? Y'got the name. Lizzy

Lizzy, no need to translate, I spent a summer at Murvl College, and have walked about half the trails in the Smokies. Old mountains just crammed with life, wild and human. My field geology class was pretty rich, too, I got to span the African and N American plates with my hand, wander thru the crystal palace of a mica mine, watch a cliff disintegrate at a strip mine, and taste my first moonshine at a bootlegger's shack in a trailer park. Didn't explore the karst much, but I probably should. I haven't been up that way in years, thanks for sparking the memories. James

As far as being balanced others have noted that with the cmt in place a balanced mud colume is required to keep the well from flowing. OTOH that's also what BP thought when they displaced the mud with sea water. And they were wrong.

Rock, it's even more like the original DWH situation as it appears that the rams on the brand new Cameron capping stack don't work properly either and they've got one stuck halfway and can't get the fishing tool by it. Lucky the cement is holding so far...

tow -- thanks for the update. Haven't been able to follow the ops in real time. So the cap ram is stuck. Just another day in the oil patch: there's the planned procedure and then there's what really happens. Long story short: had an operator tell me do something stupid once. Told him why I didn't think it would work. Did it anyway and stuck the logging tool in the hole. His response: we must have done something wrong because sticking the tool wasn't on the written procedures. Yes-- there really are some office managers in positions of responsibility who really are that stupid. I don't have to make up such stories.

Now this is where you seperate the boys with the gonads to get the job done vs. the other "managers". If they can't open the ram on the cap: pull the cap off, fish the DP out, put the new BOP on and finish plugging this bastard. Is there really another option? If the cap rams aren't functioning proeprly do you want to make the cut with RW1 knowing that cap might not function properly? If they have another cap standing by they could swap out. But at that point the well would be wide open to the GOM with nothing between it and the reservoir than the cmt plug. Would luv to be sitting in on that meeting right now.

IMHO, this isn't quite correct. As you lower a lead weight into a glass of water several things happen. The weight (as measured by a scale attached to the line attached to the weight) drops. This is due the buoyancy effect (see Bouyancy) of the displaced water. Secondly, the displacement of the water results in an increase in the water level in the glass. The pressure at the bottom of the glass is a linear function of the water depth so it also increases and the force (downward) of the water on the bottom of the glass goes up. This results in both an increased pressure per unit area and an increase in the weight of the glass pushing down on the table (or another scale). The increase in the weight of the glass exactly equals the reduction in weight of the lead, so everything is accounted for.

Somewhat unintuitive, it's easier to understand if you use something that's less dense than water. If you drop a piece of wood into the glass you'd expect it's weight to show up as an increase in the force of the bottom of the glass on the table.

Here, the DP isn't increasing the effective mud density, but it is displacing a volume of mud which both reduces the force of the pipe on the BP (buoyancy effect) and increasing the level of the mud in the well. As the pipe is extracted it's weight will increase (since it is displacing a less dense fluid), the mud level will decrease (as it flows into the volume formerly occupied by the DP), and the pressure at the bottom of the well will go down. Of course, feeding mud into the well as the pipe is removed can eliminate this effect.

So .. the introduced MW has to equal the removed DP weight in order to not cause a differential in pressure at the bottom of the well ? What would be the ratio of mass between the DP and the mud ?

Am I understanding this correctly, than bottomhole pressure is in this case, taking into account the weight of the DP ?..or not..? If hydrostatic load is using only the density of fluid normally, would having unknown quantities of a different density material contained in the fluid column throw off calculations ?

So in this case, it would be a matter of replacing weight without drastically increasing volume,...would they use a heavier MW ?

..crap, now I am even more confused, time to crack the books again.

To the best of my understanding: Yes there is mud in the casing below the original BOP (areas above that have been flushed clean(ish)), but the well is technically underbalanced - without the cement plug in the bottom, the existing mud isn't heavy enough to stop the well flowing. With the capping stack rams open there is only one barrier in place controlling the well, the cement plug. If there were either heavier mud in the hole, OR lighter mud but with a column all the way to the surface, there would be two barriers. If there were a path through the cement plug, flow wouldn't be stopped by the mud currently in the hole.

Removing the pipe and disturbing the mud won't make it any less safe than it is right now, as the mud that's in there isn't enough to control anything. Maybe. We hope.

Problem in the discussion is mixing tension in the drill pipe with its weight.

Immersed part of the DP becomes part of the mud volume not mass. If immersing DP increases the level of mud in the well, then pressure will go up, as it depends only on height and density (and g). Just like if you poured some extra mud instead of hanging pipe. This is true as long as pipe hangs from BOP and the casing and the mud is not compressed by the pipe and it's motion and there is no mechanical contact with cement at the bottom. Try the experiment by pushing in a rock and then piece of styrofoam same size into the water. You have to hold rock, push the foam, but extra reading on the scale will be the same.

So they can lift the pipe and should replace it's volume with mud of the density there is already in the well.

You are getting there guys. VGuy has introduced buoyancy into the mix. Now you have to get the books out and understand the affect of buoyancy on MASS and WEIGHT. When I buy fuel oil for a power plant with a MASS DENSITY of say 0.9966 kilogrammes per litre, I have to extract 0.0011 kilogrammes per litre to correct the MASS to WEIGHT. The mass density is the weight of the oil in a vacuum. When the oil is in the storage tank the atmosphere has a buoyancy effect on the oil; extremely small; but, exactly the same as the seawater floating the Battleship.

Acornus, credit should go to Notanoilman for introducing buoyancy, he illustrated it with a riddle about a spoon in Gatorade last night. Thanks for the details in your post, I think a lot of folks forget that air has mass.

From the previous thread:

Hello Speaker,

You assert that we (scientists?) can prove that one person loves another, e.g. mother and child. I must disagree. Perhaps they can detect fleeting moments of physiological changes of one kind or another while running a “love” experiment. That is a long way from proof. Love is not either on or off. It is far more complex than even being a matter of degrees. There are different kinds of love, at different times toward the same object of that love. A mother just “knows” that she loves her child. She is as certain of it as her very existence. But she can’t prove it and you can’t run an experiment to prove it for her.

Biochemistry can predict love:


Your argument on this point is not at all convincing.

I agree that there are a lot of different Holy Books floating around. I believe that the Christian Bible is the only authentic record of God’s revealed truth.

Lots of other peoples believe similar things about their book. They can't all be right.

Is there any rational way of choosing? Nope.

You are happy to let 'faith' and 'belief' answer this for you.

Me, I don't see how this works when faith gives so many different answers.

Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

Not knowing snakehead’s marital status I added children and mother to my list. I really wanted to use a spouse as an example. You responded referring to all of those that love can be proven by measuring hormonal changes. I made the error of later switching over to the love between mother and child, rather than spousal love. The link you gave asserts that, “Now, new research points to a hormone that predicts the level of bonding between mother and child.” I don’t think that predicting something comes anywhere close to proving it; and the article makes no such claim. But, I will agree that there seems to be a connection between the emotion that we call love and a physiological response that can be measured, at least concerning the mother-child bond. Turning to spousal love, if we measured the oxytocin level of 100 couples could we prove who loves who? Or, might we instead find at least some with a medical condition that needs to be treated?

Regarding your second point, I readily admit that ultimately I must choose to believe that God exists. I believed it early in life because my momma said so. That was the choice of a child. As an adult I chose to spend my life in science and engineering of one kind or another. I chose to be agnostic. Only after several decades of struggle did I choose to believe that God indeed exists. That was the choice of an adult. I know I can’t prove it, but I still know it is true. I accept it as a matter of faith. And I am happy with that. It certainly is not rational in the sense that I believe you are using the word, but once I got past the faith issue I used rational thinking to look for eternal truth. I found it in the Christian faith. So, I reject all Holy Books except for the Christian Bible as a source of God’s revealed truth.

Faith does not give any answers, but belief in God’s existence cannot happen without it. I will be happy to share with you the path that I took to get there if you want. Two books in addition to the Bible really helped me. See my profile if you want to know how to contact me via email.


Turning to spousal love, if we measured the oxytocin level of 100 couples could we prove who loves who?

If you go back to the link I provided you'll find references to hormones and spousal love on the same page.

I am not aware of any actual studies that have been done in the area, however the conclusion is pretty obvious - love involves measurable physical changes.

Faith does not give any answers

If we go back to my original post -

"The problem comes with people who think they know what God's answers are."

Perhaps while we are very far apart in our philosophy there are some things that we can agree on.

Widelyred posted first in the thread with some comments carried over from a closed thread about the advisability of fishing for the DP. Then he reminisced about his fishing days and mentioned in passing a guy named Jonah. How did we ever get from there to here?

We can agree that love indeed involves measurable physical changes. My only complaint involving the article you referenced was that in my opinion it was not trying to state that love, however one defines it, can be proven by a hormonal test.

My comment about faith not giving any answers was a minor correction of your prior statement that faith gives so many different answers. In my view faith allows me first to choose to believe in God. Once that happens I can learn about Him. I guess you meant that someone else can have faith in a different God and discover a different set of answers. If that is what you meant, there is something else we can agree on.

I’m sure that there are a lot of things we could agree on—as long as we stayed away from religion. I read your profile. You probably have a lot you could teach me; and I have always been an avid student. Who knows? Maybe someday we will meet; If not here, maybe in the next life.


The MBI hearings are back in action, moving over to Houston for the week. Two more members have been added to the investigative team - U.S. District Judge (Ret.) Wayne R. Andersen and U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Mark R. Higgins. Andersen is now in effect running the proceedings, taking over from Cpt. Nguyen, who has had difficulty controlling some of the previous sessions.

The hearings are available live at www.CSPAN.org and at http://www.dvidshub.net/webcast/1333 .

Witness lists, transcripts, etc are at Deepwater Joint Investigation.

Today's witnesses:

Monday, August 23, 2010:

1. Neil Cramond, BP, Gulf of Mexico marine authority

2. Paul Johnson, Transocean, rig manager

3. Daun Winslow, Transocean, performance division manager

Tuesday brings the cement guys:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010:

1. Jesse Gagliano, Halliburton, technical advisor for MC 253

2. Brian Morel, BP, drilling engineer

3. Vincent Tabler, Haliburton, cementer

4. Nathaniel Chaisson, Haliburton, cementer

Wednesday, August 25, 2010:

1. Harry Thierens, BP, executive vice president for drilling and completions

2. Mark Hay, Transocean, subsea supervisor

3. Billy Stringfellow, Transocean, subsea superintendent

4. Jimmy Moore, Transocean, designated person

Thursday, August 26, 2010:

1. Kent Wells, BP, senior vice president

2. David Sims, BP, drilling and completon operations manager

3. Pat O'Bryan, BP, vice president drilling and completions

4. Yancy Keplinger, Transocean, dynamic positioning officer

Friday, August 27, 2010:

1. Brett Cocales, BP, drilling engineer

2. Mark Hafle, BP, drilling engineer

3. Merrick Kelley, BP, subsea wells team leader

4. Andrea Fleytas, Transocean, dynamic positioning officer
(she's the 23 yo who noticed nobody had issued a mayday call so took the initiative to place one - that action reportedly resulted in a reprimand from the captain.)

Thanks much for the goods here, rainy. Okay, lotus, chores done and errands run before Thursday!

Thanks for the heads-up rainy. I had been looking forward to the next session but it slipped my mind in recent days.

I'm pretty impressed with Judge Andersen already. Easygoing demeanor but certainly taking control, way better than Nguyen.

"I'am pretty impressed with Judge Anderson already. Easygoing demeanor but certainly taking control, way better than Nyugen."

I agree....a refreshing change.

I think the testimony of the Haliburton Engineer will be interesting. It's bizarre that after weeks of hearings no one has even asked about the mud weight inside the casing.

The mud weight inside the casing is critical question. The cementing plan should dictate exactly mud weight (the tail) that was pumped behind the cement.

After reviewing the witness list I suspect this week's hearings might be an exercise in futility.

It appears none of the witnesses were on the rig at nor leading up to the blowout except perhaps Mark Hay (subsea supervisor), Jimmy Moore (????), and Andrea Fleytas (DPO).

Kaluza and Vidrine (BP company men) are not on the witness list. Jimmy Harrell (OIM) has already testified. Not sure if another OIM would have been on the rig (but off duty at the time) who might have first-hand knowledge of circumstances leading up to the blowout.

Pat O'Bryan was on the rig when the blow out occurred. He was one of the visiting managers....

and O'Bryan has been named a "person of interest" in the investigation. I believe that happened sometime during the hearings in Kenner last month.

Two BP employees named in US probe.
(the second was Robert Kaluza, who has invoked the fifth. Vidrine, the other company man aboard that night, has received a medical excuse from each of the sessions thus far.)

Pat O'Bryan, BP vice president drilling and completions. Visiting VIP from corporate. What's the chance he would have any relevant knowledge of circumstances of the blowout?

I suspect they'll end up having to piece together the puzzle from testimony of drilling operations people on duty at the time, plus Halliburton log data and Dr. Smith's testimony about said log.

Everyone else can testify to how things are normally done, and how things were intended to be done that night, in their area of expertise, which really doesn't shed much light on what actually happended that night.

Bottom line, Kaluza brought in last minute change of procedure that greatly increased the possibility of a blowout just to save a round trip on the drillstring. OIM and toolpusher objected but were overrulled. Day shift toolpusher sensed problems with neg test but was overrulled by night shift toolpusher who was overconfident, wasn't watching mud returns closely, ignored clear signs of a kick, and waited till mud was hitting the crown to initiate shut-in. By then gas exposions knocked everything out and BOP / EDS failed to respond.

As I understand it, the purpose of these hearings is to (a) determine what caused the blowout, (b) make recommendations to prevent future blowouts, and perhaps (c) make recommendation(s) for criminal indictment.

It is my opinion sufficient facts and testimony have already come out to (a) determine what caused the blowout, (b) determine what should have been done to prevent the blowout, and (c) make recommendation(s) for criminal indictment.

RF. What is MBI? Is this a state or a federal thing? What power does this MBI have?

Mathematical Biosciences Institute?
Moody Bible Institute?
Modular Building Institute?
Master Builder International?

MBI brings up a whole list of various institutions and commercial companies.

Maritime Board of Inquiry?

I would have to do some research on specific legal authority of a marine board of inquiry. Sorry I can't give a specific answer at this time.

In a broader sense, it is my understanding maritime jurisdictions operate under admiralty law except when within XX miles of US coast where federal law and admiralty law share jurisdiction, often with a number of conflicts.

Deepwater Horizon was in a shared maritime jurisdiction at the time. This investigation reflects that shared jurisdiction. The official title is "USCG/MMS MARINE [sic] BOARD OF INVESTIGATION INTO THE MARINE [sic] CASUALTY, EXPLOSION, FIRE, POLLUTION, AND SINKING OF MOBILE OFFSHORE DRILLING UNIT DEEPWATER HORIZON, WITH LOSS OF LIFE IN THE GULF OF MEXICO 21-22 APRIL 2010".

In the past the Coast Guard operated as part of the Navy (admiralty), but was transferred under Dept of Homeland Security (federal) after 9/11, a move I have always disagreed with.

... and I sure wish Capt Nguyen would shut up. He asks totally irrelevant questions like "Do you think so-and-so was qualified, did a good job, etc." What nonsense. MMS guys ask much more relevant questions. Perhaps they should bump Nguyen and go to Capt Higgins, an experienced JAG officer.

It is my opinion sufficient facts and testimony have already come out to (a) determine what caused the blowout, (b) determine what should have been done to prevent the blowout, and (c) make recommendation(s) for criminal indictment.

I would really disagree here. I don't think anyone has a clear idea at all. There are a range of smoking guns, but far from enough technical information to draw solid conclusions. The BOP is still on the well head. There has been no chance to do an in hole data gathering. There are a number of key people who have not testified.

Some vague thought that "clearly BP screwed up, and they should be charged" is not a useful answer.

Understanding the actual technical and human reasons for the failure are going to take a lot of effort. There are disturbing unanswered questions that are very likely much more important that simply painting BP black. The critical ones concern what happened in the last hour or so. There were a cascading set of failures, and at a number of times the well could have been saved. Understanding this is crucial. Otherwise the inquiry becomes a politically driven farce. No one actually learns the proper answers, the recommendations are political not technical, and sometime later we get another accident. Many decades of engineering failures, with many deaths, have taught us how to run these inquiries.

Reading the reports into the Challenger and Columbia accidents would give a good idea about the depth of effort needed and expected. This accident is of pretty much the same scale and importance. We should expect exactly the same amount of care. The fact that NASA lost two shuttles should give pause to assertions about how easy it is to fix safety culture issues.

Francis. The well did give us some evidence when it blew. There were pieces of cement blown out and dropped on some of the boats in the area of the rig. Measuring the type of cement and the radius of the curves, will tell exactly where that cement came from. Remember, they used a nitrogen foamed cement because of suspected methane hydrates / heat transfer problem. Witness said they flushed to seawater before putting final cement plug in the bottom of the whole. Considered normal practise to do it the other way around.

I suspect, like RF, the answers are already known.

Well done, Francis.

Hmmmm.... interesting ..... Paul Johnson (Transocean rig manager) had concerns about Kaluza.


I can't seem to get a handle on what happened to the missing pressure (about 2,000 PSI) when the well was initially shut in. I know there would be some depletion, but 15-20% seems too high to account for all the missing pressure. Where could the pressure from the target reservoir (+/- 18,150') be going?

Could someone direct me to a link with up to date images of the Macondo well site? I haven't seen an updated color satellite image since July 28 (NASA). Are there any good aerial images (plane?) of the site (anytime in August).

Devil, here you go ERMA

Open up the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill menu in the right hand column ... and then the Satellite, Radar, and Aerial Images of the Spill menu under that. Images through 8/22 are available this morning.


The degree of depletion seen is right in line with what you'd expect for a reservoir of, say 100 - 200 million barrels in place with no access to any substantial connected aquifer. 

Plenty of error bars on the key ingredients of the calculation (volume produced, oil / formation / water compressibility, downhole pressures) but in my view it still stacks up as the best explanation. 

I need help with the math.

The pressure on the BOP was 6700 PSI (when the well was initially shut in 7/15). This means the current reservoir pressure has been reduced to what? When the BOP was shut in there was 13,150' of hydrocarbons sitting on top of the reservoir. Plus, I assume the 4,996' of sea water must also be factored into the equation.

What is the current reservoir pressure?


By the time they started to kill the well, the pressure at the wellhead was nudging 7000 psi. This was because the reservoir was not in an equilibrium condition; the pressure was lower in the near wellbore area and higher towards the edges, and fluids were still flowing in the rock, driven by the pressure gradient. Given enough time the pressure would stabilise at an average equilibrium value. Lets pretend that is 7050 psi for the sake of argument.

You then need to know the average density of the reservoir fluid in the wellbore. We don't know exactly, but correlations would suggest something around 0.25 - 0.26 psi/ft.

Assume BOP depth 5000ft, and reservoir depth 18200 ft so that the oil column is 13200 ft. The oil column thus exerts a pressure of 13200 * 0.255 = 3370 psi. So the reservoir pressure would be 7050 + 3370 = 10400 psi. Rough numbers.

Original reservoir pressure was around 11900 psi, so the depletion would be around 1500 psi. Plus or minus a few hundred psi.

The well was pressurized at that time so the sea water pressure had no effect (it was sealed off from sea water).

The pressure eventually rose to close to 7000. The 6.7 ppg oil in the 13,300 feet of production casing would add another 4630 psi. The sum of those two would be `11,630 at the bottom of the casing.

The reported pressure at the reservoir before April 20 was 11,900 psi.

Rockman, why do they have to use sea water to replenish the DP retraction? Corrct me if I am wrong, the cap will have to be open the fishing tool has to be firmly attached to the DP, the old BP has to fully open. Now if the kill and choke lines are still hooked up as in the top kill can they not replenish thru them with mud?

Rockman, why do they have to use sea water to replenish the DP retraction? Corrct me if I am wrong, the cap will have to be open the fishing tool has to be firmly attached to the DP, the old BP has to fully open. Now if the kill and choke lines are still hooked up as in the top kill can they not replenish thru them with mud?

There is a 5000 ft cement plug on bottom which needs no hydrostatic column to keep in place and the pressure (if any) on the annulus could not possibly be contained by mud in the hole if the casing seals were to suddenly let go... so why maintain a mud column in the hole which is for one purpose totally unnecessary or for another purpose totally ineffective? Furthermore, if they were to open the choke or kill line to displace mud into the wellhead, the riser would immediately go on a screaming vacuum as hundreds of barrels of mud shot out the open stack, completely obscuring the view of what's going on for all and sending Avonaltendorf into a crazed frenzy that he may well not survive... a downright mean thing to do.

DB - Didn't mean to imply that they HAD to use sea water. But they'll have the fishing equipment on the end of the DP so I don't think they'll have the capability of pumping mud down when they POOH (pull out of hole) with the drill pipe. Normally when you POOH you can pump mud down the DP. But in this case the cap will be open to the sea and as the mud level drops as the pipe comes out the sea water will flow into the well. That's what I envision but maybe they have a different set up.

Dutch. The intention is to bring the well to completion. The cement plugs seal the well like a cork in a bottle. In this oil well case, the cork bonds with the glass neck of the bottle. There is no need for mud of any kind, particularly as the stuff can cost up to $500 dollars a barrel. If the well is a dud, they will have recovered the the expensive well head fitting and put a dustbin lid on top of it. If it is a good well, the production casing is sealed with cement. The annulus and the open well bore at the bottom are sealed with cement. The well is left for the production guys to turn up in a few months; years; drill out the cement (through their BOP) in the production casing; blow out the cement that is sealing the formation; fit down hole (probably) choke devices to control the well flow; fit a Christmas tree and connect the well to a production manifold somewhere.

RE: cement bonding. As a youth I worked for a farmer part-time. One day we were building a corral with used oil field tubing. Seems like it was 2.5" inch diameter or so. Some of the tubing had cement in it that didn't get pumped out for some reason. The pipe with cement was very heavy and hard to cut with a torch. The cement was bonded so well that a sledgehammer wouldn't break it loose. It was impossible for us to get the cement out. He got a special deal on that used tubing because of the condition it was in. We paid for it in much extra work trying to fabricate the corral.

Allen saying that there are 3 pieces of DP: 1) the main one hanging down, 2) a shorter piece beside it in the BOP, 3) a very short piece lying crosswise in the BOP.

Where did you find this, please.

Where did you find this, please.

Allen's briefing earlier today. The transcript is not up yet. The audio is at Allen 8/23

One long pipe, centered in the BOP, is likely the one that continues on down 3,000' into the well, held in place by ram(s). The other two were likely cut during the preparations for the lowering of the transition spool. One appears to have a smooth cut, from the diamond saw; the other is slightly crushed at one end from the shears that were ultimately used to cut the riser.

It is not clear how much they've observed directly via the camera and how much via the gamma ray checks. And Allen made no mention of what looks like a problem with one set of rams in the capping stack. He did say that BP is due to give him info' on how they will approach removing the BOP if, for some reason, they can't remove the drill pipe first.

Thank you for answering that, RD; I just wrote that real quick while I was on the press call and had to leave the house right afterwards.

The transcript of Allen's briefing is now up.

His comments about the three sections of pipe ...

To tell you what we found there, there are basically three sections of pipe. There was a section of pipe that is suspended in the middle on the center line that we believe goes down below the blowout preventer into the well some distance. There is a shorter piece of pipe that is sitting beside that pipe in the blowout preventer that was broken or cut about the length of the blowout preventer itself. And then there's a very small piece of pipe laying crosswise.

We believe these pipes are where they're at as a result of the diamond wire cut that we attempted on the riser pipe and then the final shear cut that we did. And we know which cuts were where, because one pipe has a very clean cut, indicating that – that was cut by the diamond wire saw. And the other one is compressed and cut, which would indicate that was cut by the shears that we used.

So we have a good idea of where the pipes are at and where they're located. We're now conducting diagnostics inside the BOP and the capping stack to ascertain the best way to remove the pipes.


Paula Dittrick: Hi, Admiral. Thanks for taking my call. My question was if you could tell me what size – I know you said they're short and one's a very small piece of pipe – but could you tell me more about the dimensions of those other two pieces of pipe?

Thad Allen: Yes, I think the very short piece of pipe (inuadible) basically cut off the end of one of the pipes that was protruding up into the riser. And I think they're estimating it somewhere maybe around a foot, give or take a few inches either way. This is all being estimated through a remote television camera.

The other one is shorter than the length of the BOP and the stack put together. But as you know, those are pretty substantially large – I'm going to give you a rough estimate from what I can see, and then we'll refine that with the BP engineers. I'm saying it may be about 40 feet.

This would seem to complicate the fishing expedition, yes?

So is it possible to conclude that tons of drill string—the whole length, maybe—were carried upward in the gale of the blowout, and driven so forcefully into the BOP that it caused drill pipe to snap like dry spaghetti? And if you've got all those broken ends, where is the rest of the string? Way, way downhole?

Glad I wasn't that BOP on April 20th...

BT, another plausible explanation is that the drill pipe was intact after the blowout, hanging from the BOP. A couple days later when the DH sank, the riser crumpled and broke a length of drill pipe which fell into the top of the LMRP/BOP.

Oily mix and tar balls pollute waters near Dauphin Island, AL

Dispersant controversy, oil plumes persist in the Gulf

Fishing On the BP Well: So, All This Was the Government's Idea?

Dauphin Island is in the closure area.

All Alabama Waters Now Open for Fishing

August 16, 2010

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Marine Resources Division (MRD) announces the re-opening to the harvest of fish from all areas previously closed as a precautionary response to the presence of oil from the Deepwater Horizon Incident. These areas include all Alabama Gulf of Mexico waters out to three miles and the remaining closed waters of Mobile Bay that are just north of the Fort Morgan Peninsula. These waters reopened at 6 a.m., Monday, August 16. This includes both commercial and recreational fishing. In addition to finfish, the area north of Fort Morgan is also open to shrimping.

ADCNR has worked closely with the Alabama Department of Public Health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to ensure the health and safety of the public during the events following the Deepwater Horizon incident. In correspondence addressing the results of recent testing of seafood from the remaining closed areas, the FDA states that, “Sensory evaluation of 50 finfish and 16 shrimp samples for odors indicative of contamination was conducted on August 11-12, 2010. No samples demonstrated odors indicative of oil or dispersant contamination. After sensory evaluation, the samples were forwarded to a chemistry laboratory for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) analysis. Compositing of like species from like sample locations resulted in 10 separate finfish and three separate shrimp samples for PAH analysis. All samples were analyzed using the LC-Fluorescence method. The chemical analyses were completed on August 13, 2010. PAH levels in all samples are significantly below the levels of concern established in the reopening protocol, which was agreed upon by Alabama officials, NOAA and FDA.”

Harvest of crabs is still prohibited in all areas that were closed including the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi Sound, Pelican Bay and the area in Mobile Bay north of Fort Morgan. Analyses are currently being conducted on blue crabs from affected areas. The results will be made public as soon as they are received.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.

Alabama Waters Opening for Crab Harvest

August 20, 2010

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Marine Resources Division (MRD) announces the re-opening to the harvest of crabs from all areas previously closed as a precautionary response to the presence of oil from the Deepwater Horizon Incident. These areas include all Alabama Gulf of Mexico waters out to three miles, Pelican Bay, Mississippi Sound and the waters of Mobile Bay that are just north of the Fort Morgan Peninsula. These waters will reopen at 6 a.m., Saturday, August 21. This includes both commercial and recreational crabbing.

ADCNR has worked closely with the Alabama Department of Public Health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to ensure the health and safety of the public during the events following the Deepwater Horizon incident. In correspondence addressing the results of recent testing of crabs from the remaining closed areas, the FDA states that, “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has concluded that the conditions for reopening specified in our agreed upon reopening protocol have been met for crab in the areas and that such seafood should pose no food safety risk associated with contamination from the Deepwater Horizon explosion, fire and oil spill.”

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.

Yup. Conflicting info on the ERMA map.

Could someone who is engaged in broadcasting the paranoid folklore about Corexit still being sprayed at night please give me one plausible reason why BP would be secretly paying people to secretly spray dispersant when there is no surface oil to be dispersed? And why the government would be covering up this activity?

Ding ding ding, we have a winnah: GOBBET, for Question of the Day! Oomboy, can't wait for this answer.

Please do not hold your breath while waiting.


What's that sucking sound I hear?

I hope that is not directed at me. All I did was provide a link to a news article out today. Make of it what you will.

What I make of the first two articles linked is that they are disseminating harmful falsehoods, and anyone who understands what dispersants do should recognize them as falsehoods. Shame on HuffPost and NRDF.

That is, unless someone can give a solid answer to my question.

Can you state exactly what dispersants that is represented falsely along with your qualifications for giving that information?

Dispersants do not "sink oil to the bottom." They break the oil up into tiny droplets that neither float nor sink, but drift along with whatever water they are in. Dispersants do not "push oil down the water column." They can only affect oil that is floating on the surface at time of application, and the oil must be fairly fresh.

I am a world-famous dispersantologist.

They can only affect oil that is floating on the surface at time of application, and the oil must be fairly fresh.

So then why all the dispersant sprayed at the oil as it came out of the pipe and BOP down there at the bottom of the ocean.

I know that is not what you really meant. You were referring to surface spraying. But in the process you were not precise as of course there would be no reason to spray all that oil coming out of the BOP if it had no effect. So I would hope you would allow a bit of imprecision in others. I understand that the dispersant sprayed on oil at the surface doesn't do anything other than break it up, and if it moves deeper it is not the dispersant doing it. But if it was left on the surface then it would be more available to being skimmed, or collected by boomer who have been to #*@#ing booming school (I learned about #*@#ing booming school here on TOD - apparently BP hasn't sent anyone to #*@#ing booming school or doesn't want #*@#ing booming done as it takes more effort)

We know that there are undersea plumes of oil deep in the gulf. They may have gotten there without dispersants, but not long after the spill the oil was being continuously sprayed with dispersants as it flowed out of the well. So it would be hard to say that the dispersants had no affect on that deep undersea plume. I believe this is the first time that dispersants have been used this way at least for this long and for this much oil. So I hope all you dispersantologists are studying the plume to get clear as to whether the undersea plume is related to the undersea dispersant use.

Meanwhile, BP spouts lies all the time and gets them over our national airways. I see no reason why the fears and concerns of ordinary citizens, some real, some imagined, should not be reported. I am far more inclined to trust local fisherman to know when something is fishy than that cold fish Tony Hayward or any of the the slightly defrosted fish that have followed him.

I hope that is not directed at me

Hi, tiny. Dunno what to make of your comment. Gobbet has a question -- not an accusation -- directed to anyone who might have the answer. Do you?

The articles have their own comments section that Gobbet could pose the questions to. JMO.

I'll take that as a No.

Do I have an answer that someone would take as fact? Then no. All I have are my speculations like everyone else. I'm waiting like a lot of people for the proof one way or the other.

Well, tiny, if you can't in your wildest imaginings come up with a reason for BP/the government to be doing/condoning secret Corexit-spraying, I can't say as I understand why you'd be "waiting for proof" to confirm what you're telling me are fact-free "speculations." Emotion trumps reality every time, I suppose, but if yours is making you suffer more than you have to, that's really a shame.

The one question I asked myself when I started reading about this is one that is in the article itself:

But when asked whether contractors who operate in state waters could be, he said he could not be certain. “We have lots of contractors, but no one should be using them. If they are, we need to know about it and stop it.”

If these contractors "were/are" using it, would it have to be reported or is there a loop hole somewhere that would allow it so BP and/or the government would not have to report it? I do not know the answers to these questions, but hopefully someone does.

I'm not sure if your question is just about state waters. As I understand, BP was forbidden to spray dispersant on state waters, which are close in. If they broke the rule, I'd guess it was probably by accident, since BP has been trying to please the government. (Cooperativeness or lack thereof has an impact on their penalties.) My interpretation of the quote you posted is, the guy is saying he doesn't know everything that happens in the world.

More generally, BP instructed the contractors to spray dispersant on the visible oil in certain areas, probably on a day-by-day basis. BP then paid the contractors for the work. There would be no reason for contractors to spray without instructions, and no reason for BP to order spraying when there is no oil on the surface. Spraying probably stopped around August 1, for lack of a target. Old weathered oil doesn't respond to dispersant anyway.

The "guy" is BP Mobile Incident Commander Keith Seilhan, so perhaps he should know that IMO.

I have heard and read several such stories recently. The sources I have read don't say it is ongoing, but that it happened in the past. They do claim the dispersant are still there but not that BP is still spraying. What sources in the last few days have you read that say they are still doing this? I just listened to Dar Jamail on Democracy Now today. Just to be sure I listened again. He said the fisherman are now no longer going out looking for oil slicks and never says that they are spraying dispersants any longer. The fishermen he interviewed say (dispersed) oil and dispersants are still there but he does not say surface slicks are still there. If you don't listen carefully you could think he is saying this is still happening, but since he describes what happened to them as VOO workers and says earlier they are no longer with VOO as it is being shut down. http://www.democracynow.org/2010/8/23/fishing_industry_in_gulf_still_wor... I was surprised to see your comment as I fully understood from listening to this that it was a past tense event. But I suppose others who don't pay attention could think it is still going on. I haven't read any article that says that BP is still spraying - can you point me to such a recent article?

Of course there is another leak at Barataria Bay and I haven't heard what the status of that is. Some spraying may actually be going on currently there.

Click "Parent" above my cranky comment.

Sorry, I missed the parent story. Just reacted to the story I heard today. Well the trouble with paranoia is that until the supposed belief is proven wrong one cannot know if it is paranoia. Given that BP has sprayed plenty of dispersant for the purpose of getting rid of oil on the surface we can assume that they might want to continue to do so if any more oil on the surface is found. The more so since now they are saying its all over folks, nothing to see... Having been through what they have been through it is understandable that the fisherfolks of the gulf might surmise that any plane flying at night is another one of those dispersant planes intent on hiding the oil and hiding that they are still spraying dispersants. Unless you know for sure that they are not you cannot know if they are being hyperalert to real activities or paranoid.

One might have called those who said that more than 5,000 barrels a day of oil was spilling paranoid until BP was forced to show the feeds from the ROV. How easy it can be to move a belief from paranoid to darn right.

At any rate the answer to your question is they would be paying people to spray dispersants if any surface oil remains, even if it is from a natural leak or some other well, because they want the public outcry to stop. So I would say if any surface oil is still out there the belief that they are spraying is not paranoid, but rational and probably correct. Since I am not down there with a plane or boat to survey the ocean I cannot assert one way or another. Can you?


(a) As somebody asked the other day, in the dark how the heck are they supposed to see whatever thin skeins of oil might still be there?

(b) As we know, any floating oil can't be fresh, so even if they could see it, why the heck would BP waste Corexit on it?

(c) Do you really think they'd risk disobeying Thad Allen -- why on earth?

a. Previously the VOO people were sighting the oil and then told to leave. If they gave coordinates how hard would it be to spray at night? Satellite pictures can also locate oil spills and their coordinates.


Abstract : The detection of oil slicks on the ocean is a Coast Guard priority. Daytime detection in clear weather is routine; but nighttime detection requires sophisticated imaging sensors. Infrared imagers have demonstrated some capability to detect oil slicks at night in the marine environment. Infrared imagers sense the thermal radiation, and its variations, in a scene rather than the reflected radiation. Gimbal-mounted thermal imagers operating in the 8-12 micron region are currently flown on Coast Guard aircraft. This study compared the performance of these imagers with hand-held imagers operating in the 3-5 micron region. The comparison was primarily theoretical with semi-quantitative support from an uncalibrated data base of infrared images taken wit various sensors. It was found theoretically, and supported by image data, that the 8-12 micron instruments produced images with better water-oil contrast at night. This differential behavior was theoretically predicted to hold over a wide range of environmental conditions. The differential behavior was traced to the fact that the optical properties of water and oil are more different in the 8-12 than in the 3-5 micron bands. The utility of night-vision imagers or low-light level TVs was also assessed. Calculations indicated that typical water-oil contrasts would not be seen with current sensors. Image data appearing to contradict this conclusion was found to be defective in the sense that the conditions of the experiments were not representative of operational conditions. It is recommended that: the use of 8-12 micron imagers be continued for oil slick searches at night and the potential of new night-time imaging devices be assessed.


b. Strange question. Why the heck did BP spray surface oil when they could collect it with booms or skim it? Spraying it with dispersants meant it couldn't be collected and therefore it was not measured or seen. Obviously early on the surface oil hitting the beaches was not fresh as it took some weeks to reach shore, yet it coated birds, fish and other wildlife and was a public relations disaster and a disaster for those coated with it, whether or not it was fresh. The freshness of the oil hitting the marshes and the beaches didn't effect how bad it was for the marshes, the beaches and PR. I am still pondering what the heck the freshness of the oil has to do with anything. Are you saying perhaps that dispersants don't work on older oil only fresh oil?

c. Do I think they would risk disobeying Thad Allen. Of course they would do anything they want to do if they think they can get away with it. The question is not, would they disobey, but how much risk is associated with the disobeying. I don't know if they are still spraying or not. But if they can do it in some way that the general public does not get wind of it I doubt if Thad Allen cares and in fact would approve. Neither Thad or BP wants anymore oil seen washing ashore.


(a) Thanks for the abstract of that paper, but it's now 40+ days since the wellhead flow stopped and weeks since almost all the surface oil disappeared. The last time anyone announced or photographed a slick big enough to talk about, let alone do anything about, was Ben Raines' Aug. 9 find on Garden Pond on Horn Island (and that, it turned out, may have actually been there since early July). Of course they ended the wellhead application when the gusher quit -- and the surface applications at most four days later, no later than July 19, per Allen. By then, what with evaporation, tidal and chemical interaction, and whatever else was working on it, they could no longer spot enough intact oil to disperse.

(b) Are you saying perhaps that dispersants don't work on older oil only fresh oil?

Exactly. Gobbet (for only one) has reported and linked this info several times -- have you missed or intentionally ignored it?

(c) The question is not, would they disobey, but how much risk is associated with the disobeying.

BP obviously understands that risk better than you do, oxi, because they haven't taken it once. Whatever orders the government has given them, they've obeyed -- as both sides and all legit reporting have repeatedly made clear. The only time the government ordered "Do x" and BP didn't immediately hop to it was when the EPA told them to use a different dispersant; BP said, "We would if we could find enough of any but Corexit"; EPA came back, "Well, okay, but cut way back" (I don't remember the exact order, but Gobbet probably does); and BP did that. Nobody's talking about "boots on necks" anymore, but they don't have to. The boot is there, quietly heavy with billions of dollar-signs, until DoJ's civil (and probably criminal) cases conclude with BP's payment of all fines and penalties.

if they can do it in some way that the general public does not get wind of it I doubt if Thad Allen cares and in fact would approve

Beats me how you arrive at that because nothing I've heard from the admiral (or anyone else discussing him with the least credibility) suggests that he's anything but a stickler for obedience. And then we come back to the pesky physical facts: even if there were dispersable oil still rolling around on the waves somewhere, it's not where or in a chemical condition that dispersants could reach or work on anymore. By mid-July, it was "dispersed" as it was ever going to get.

Bottom line: what you're claiming, oxi, makes you sound like someone who's not been paying attention.

i think they may be talking about the supposed separate subsea ROV operation going on at "Well B" that BP undertook cause it was getting too confusing trying to keep those video feeds off of the publicly accessible channels...

It's supposedly WHY there's NO surface oil to be seen...

Actually, Gobbet, I did a flyover on Saturday around Raccoon Island (LA)and saw several areas of what looked to be oil sheen on the water. I can't say that it was oil for certain, of course, but there were at least a dozen.

I didn't see any Corexit sprayers, though.

Yes, there is some light sheen. I saw a recent flyover video that showed quite a bit of it just east of where you were. Some of it seemed to be oozing from what looked like tar deposits in the shallows around the islands. Boom holding the sheen in rather than out, in some cases. But these films are microscopically thin.

Do y'all reckon this could be the same kind of sheen Ed Overton and Ben Raines observed, produced by plankton poop rather than direct Macondo oil?

I wondered about that. I'm sure that granular brown "floc" is widespread, and it may well be what the MS fishermen pulled up on their grapnel-anchor thingy as well. I suggested the sheen came from tar, but I don't know whether tar that has weathered enough to sink would still be leaking small amounts of some oil fraction that floats. In the video, a few places had very dark deposits next to the islands that looked like tar. In one area, there was a dark shadow between islands that might have been a pool of "floc" like those Ben Raines saw.

One thing we should realize, after 5 weeks there is little or no oil qua oil in the warm layers of the Gulf, but rather breakdown products, residue, and maybe some of the dissolved fractions. The crude started changing when it hit the water and the BTEX solubles started leaving the droplets. When it hit the surface, lots more stuff evaporated in hours or days. Droplets that were dispersed in the upper layers were attacked by bacteria and the alkane middle fractions stripped out, almost completely by now, I'd guess. Plankton swallowed a lot of the droplets, modified the oil, and excreted it. So what's left is mostly tar and floc, which will sink to the bottom. These do contain some toxic constituents. The concern would be if they are picked up by benthic organisms and enter the food chain. That's why we have ongoing seafood testing.

Here's EPA's latest summary of water and sediment testing.

EPA's surface water samples collected on August 9-11, 2010 along the Gulf Coast did not reveal elevated levels of chemicals usually found in oil. [Comment: apparently the soluble BTEX that didn't get stuck in the deep layers has mostly biodegraded.] 

Analysis of water samples collected on the Gulf coast August 1–10 and 12, 2010 did not reveal elevated levels of dispersant chemicals. [Comment: Corexit biodegraded.]

EPA collected sediment samples on July 18, August 2, 9 - 11, and 13, 2010 along the Gulf Coast. Three samples collected on August 9 and two samples collected on August 10 found nickel in exceedance of chronic aquatic benchmarks. One sample collected on August 10 also found vanadium in exceedance of chronic aquatic benchmarks. [Comment: Nickel and vanadium were present as contaminants in the crude oil. PAHs would be expected in the sediment more than the water, so no news is good news.]

Please correct any mistaken comments.

I wonder how many people have decided that the oil spill is a perfect cover to just dump their waste oil? Then blame it on BP.


Please note that this is NOT my photo; it's a screen grab from an acquaintance of mine's video, who thinks this boat may be dispersing dispersants. :) You could do a service to the doubters by identifying the round tank at the back. As an aside, the captain of the vessel could be seen going to make a radio call, apparently when he noticed them filming; you can trust me on that.


Dispensing dispersants. That was my first thought on seeing this. How dumb. Would it have been that hard to disguise this as a paddle wheeler?

Boats that are spraying dispersants actually spray them (otherwise they don't do much):

Capt - An educated WAG (Wild Assed Guess) would be you are looking at a towed array sonar. The black rollers on either side are there to allow turns. The central round container is the reel for the tow cable. That is probably DougR's boat looking for cracks in the sea floor.

Questions for the chemically literate.

Some people on the Gulf think a tannish foam that collects along rips means Corexit. Would the organic sulfonate detergent or other ingredients (propylene glycol etc) produce foam?

The bacteria Alcanivorax spp., which are supposed to be blooming furiously as they consume alkanes in the oil mixture, produce a biosurfactant to help attack the oil. Do you think this substance would produce foam on the water?

We have shown that A. borkumensis produces a new and powerful glucose–lipid surfactant ([Abraham et al., 1998]). This glucose–lipid exists in two forms, a glycine-containing precursor form, linked to cell surface, and a glycine-lacking form that is released from the cell and is free in the surrounding medium. The presence of the biosurfactant precursor on the cell surface increases the hydrophobicity of the cell and its affinity for oil droplets suspended in the water phase ( Fig. 2). On the other hand, the extracellular form promotes the formation of oil–water micelles emulsions, and thereby increases oil bioavailability.

(Golyshin et al, 2003)

Surface water in these areas is scummy-looking, probably a biological stew. I've seen such dirty looking foam on variously polluted water, maybe also on dystrophic water with too much algae.

Back when I was a kid my family rented a beach house at Gulf Shores every summer, and I remember there was always brown scum and dried out foamy bubbles at the tide line. And there was always a tarball or three to be found amongst the seaweed and dead fish left behind after high tide.

This is NOT an attempt to brush aside anything from this current event and say it's no big deal and everything will turn out peachy. For example, I also remember being able to dig a hole as deep as you like in the sand and not unearthing a superfund site.

Foam is entrained air in liquid. You can make an extremely transient foam in pure water buy shaking a bottle. This 'evanescent' foam is not stable. To make a stable foam you need an something in addition - pure liquids cannot make stable foams.

There are a LOT of things that can stabilize foam. Proteins, pectins, ionic surfactants of all types, natural or synthetic. Clay particles. Polymers. Long chain fatty alcohols. Microorganisms. Lignin.

There are so many types of foam stabilizers that it is silly to try to say anything about composition if foam is present except to note that the liquid cannot be pure if a stable foam is seen.

Am I the only one who saw the first image and wondered, "Who's pregnant?"

Now that you mention it - ROFL


oil spill
Any guesses what these clouds are from. Busy ROV ( and let me tell you I have tremendous respect for all their skills) has been closing switches but does not seem to being changing the flow or ??. Suggestions? If due to "critters"..they must be HUGE!

File under:

a. Troll
b. A von Altendorf scam retry on a new TOD account


Please don't do that. It's unbecoming, Bernhard.

WTF!!??!! Looks like a negative setting cell phone capture of my neighbor's toddler's 1st attempt on an Etch-a-Sketch.

Bad news for the amphipods and other ROV-land critters: a study predicts anoxic dead zones will develop at plume depth (1000-1300m) in a substantial area around the wellhead. Story is based on a forthcoming scholarly article.


Bad news for the amphipods and other ROV-land critters

Well, possibly. But they's a whole lot more "could" than "will" in that article, eh? Let's hope what lives in those layers is mobile and can scram (or pronk) out of the way if need be.

Hey, lotus! 5:23 here. I'm gonna pronk over to the cupboard where my glass is, then pronk into the pantry where is the wine, then pronk back to me chair. Pronk! Pronk! Pronk! Clink!

Oh, let's do, erain -- clink!

Nothing definitive here, but this provides useful "color" commentary from people who know what's going on. Gives a sense of important dynamics, like where and when the samples are taken, what should be expected to happen in place, what info should be expected to be forthcoming, and possible timeframe. So I've set google alerts for Robert Hallberg, Terry Hazen, etc. so I won't miss key reports.

Pure fact.

A pound of feathers weighs more then a pound of gold.

Send me both, and I'll verify that for you....


A pound of feathers weighs more than a pound of gold.
And an ounce of gold weighs more than an ounce of feathers.


Yay metric!

Troy measure isn't metric :-)

But you can send me a pound of gold in any measure you like, thank you.

Weight is relative. Would you rather have a 'lunar' pound of gold or an 'earth' one? Is it not true that the shuttle is experiencing 90% of the earth's gravitational forces at 250 miles up, and that the feeling of weightlessness is due more to 'free-fall'?

TFHG, weight is even more relative than that, you gotta consider the medium you are weighing in. In vacuum, air, or methane we can have fun bantering about troy vs. avoirdupois, but on the BP Oil Spill thread I think we should be weighing the plumes and gold in seawater, petroleum, or Corexit, in which case the gold is gonna be heavier every time (and how do you keep the feathers on the scale when an ROV goes by?).

Yesterday's thread had a discussion about the Mississippi River and some good reading resources.

The Army Corp of Engineers has several e-books on the Mississippi River. They include geologic history etc.

(Downloads are large, but worth it)


There has also been discussion about loss of sediment deposit in coastal areas.

Here is what they do in Houston, according to Wikipedia:

The Houston Ship Channel has been periodically widened and deepened to accommodate ever-larger ships, and is currently 530 feet (160 m) wide by 45 feet (14 m) deep by 50 miles (80 km) long.[1] The islands in the ship channel are part of the ongoing widening and deepening project. The islands are formed from soil pulled up by dredging, and the salt marshes and bird islands are part of the Houston Port Authority's beneficial use and environmental mitigation responsibilities.[1]

Is there a possibility that this would work in the Mississippi River Delta, or is it a case of apples vs. oranges?

They could encourage ecotourism, like the Amazon, because the MR is an Amazon of sorts...There is even a new series about the MR Delta on the History Channel--Swamp People-- on Sunday nights..
-No matter how you look at it, the Mississippi River is truly fascinating!

Tears.....Actually "Swamp People" is being filmed in the Atchafalaya River Basin, which is where the Mississippi River would be flowing now if it weren't for man and his levees.
"Sprawling over a million-acre swath of southern Louisiana, the Atchafalaya River Basin is the largest swamp in the United States and one of the country's most ecologically varied regions."


Crawfish pie
Filé gumbo . . .

Making me hongry, cha.

Pssssst. lotus... Over here, in the OT corner

O me o my o, novice! Now there's a fine read. Beeg gratitude, hon.

the Atchafalaya River Basin, which is where the Mississippi River would be flowing now if it weren't for man and his levees.

Hasbeen, this is a common but absolutely wrong belief. The Mississippi and Atchafalaya connect through the Old River as a result of dredging for navigation begun in the early 19th century. Without this dredging the two channels would be separate. The risk of the Mississippi leaving its current channel is exacerbated by the artificial levees constraining its flow during floods, and the channelization of the Atchafalaya which allows it to take more of the Mississippi's flow than it would naturally.

"Had the situation developed naturally, ... the Mississippi and the Red, the latter using the channel of the Atchafalaya, would have flowed in separate channels to the sea. However, dredging for maintenance of navigation through Lower Old River prevented such an occurence."
Geological Investigation of the Atchafalaya, Corps of Engineers, 1952, p.111, available through the link posted by TearsforGulf above

Ah, another good tip -- thanks, TFG!

TFG - Technologically there would be no problem. But the comparison with Texas is way off scale. And consider the cost. It's not just erosion but also subsidence. The coast line is about 200 miles. To raise the ground level just 1" for just the first 10 miles inland would take 166 million cubic yards of dirt. Or a little over 20 million dump truck loads. And even with no coastal erosion that effort would be lost to several decades of subsidence. The only thing that can beat this part of Mother Earth's plan is for Mother to redirect the Miss. River and let the process go on as it has for millions of years. Man can stopping making it happen faster with his activities. But man can't stop the natural process. We are completely insignificant on that scale.

TFG --Funny you should mention how folks view the Miss. R. As a young lad I was amazed how visitors to Nawlins would gawk at the river. Hell...no big thang. And then I moved to Texas and saw what they called rivers over here. I grew up on a drainage canal that was bigger than many "rives" in Texas. LOL.

You should come to Los Angeles and see the 'San Gabriel River' - which has no water in it most of the year. The Los Angeles River gets most of its water in the Summer from runoff from lawn sprinklers going into the storm drains.

A friend of mine go to play pool together whenever he is in town.

He said hey charles, watch this

He Said,

bip bat flip, flinge, the screen showed a mike

Charles oct 7 th

Time he noted

I thought of something then he said so how have you been doing?

I told him about the current project of getting several more editors together for another project.

Jay hanson is on the list I ahve not gotten his answer back and Ron P. has said yes already, Thank you Ron, the cost is almost here, yes I said cost.

Tom brings me, me, my one Cuban a certain set of time from a certain curtin call.

Then that got me thinking and he asked about the Ice Cubes from space story and bingo

That is why I never watch the news any more.

I make things up so much I hardly have time for the real world really,

I chills out in my garden, and wonder how to fix the problems everyone seems to think the world has and then I solve them and no one believes me.

Chaos and I met one day and I said HI
He said, look at your devilish dude
The ice cubes are from hell
Step son Hawking is right you should have listened to him
Matt Simmons was right you should've listened to him,,,, was he,,, ummmm

Then I get a flame war going on the fire was running down my arm over the floor hit my right foot and then I realized I was in my Bed room
Darn it to hell If my bed room goes up in smoke

The hell fires will stopp whent he fire alarm goes off and dad and mom can drag me out of my locked room
Nope, dad wouldn't be home, I'd be ruined

Then it hit me I was almost an idiot

All I had to do was put my finger over the well head.

YOu don't see my dyslexia hit full bore often but lately Have I been later and later and yoda try there is no try there is do or not do.

And I was sleep got to sleep got to kill, got to kill the hacker in my laptop system, kill hunt, hunter 7 and... I was really bored and all the above at once

I was always playing with fire.

I was bouldering as a child, nothing much keeps me out but locked doors and laws, but

The walls were out and the block of Aqua water I bought from Aqua Blocks tastes okay.

But tap or rain is okay too, I'd preffer a life blocks

Teh tapped well had to be done some how, if you knew god, you could have asked him for his help,, or me for the fictional tale I'd tell.

The space bots, arrived, they started cutting Ice cores,

10,000 by 10,000 by 10,000 feet thick and

Placed all over the places of the sand dunes,, they were terra forming earth for themselves.

I have An ice and flame war heart, I'd walk a mile in ice water to my knees, or hot asphalt,, ouchs I have burnt feet to many times in the hot.

But the ice water sponge baths have helped

Why do people think the world is so hard to fix,, because it is that way, the hard part is to get 2 people to agree on anything. I know I have 3 ex wives.

Two parents that wanted me to leave town on the fastest train and a step sister who was about to kill me this morning and I was still pushing the limits.

I can't find my cell phone for all the clutter in my room while I was lookign for a lost password reminder card,( post the note then lose it) lol so just put a 10,000 feet by 10,000 feet by 10,000 foot block of the south polar ice cap on the well top that was still last I read causing a flap.

I prayed a long time ago for something then realized later in life, be careful what you teach someone to be true if it might at all be possible to be true!!

paradoze,, is the power of the sleeping sleeper cell, they have my back

Whose power punchers do you rockman with?

Waves to the crowd TOD thank god I was not dead the other day

If Christian B does not see this, send him the note I posted his answer to his question.

Thanks Jokuhl.

HUgs from arkansas

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.

Free for the asking

Are the ROV's having some wire problems? All of the wiring seems to be messed up for some reason....

Sounds like you left town a long time ago.

Matt Simmons was right you should've listened to him,,,, was he,,, ummmm

WhatcanIsay: It's our day for wonderz.

I flagged that quite a while ago. Hopefully it will get removed. Dang spambots.

Flagged which, Pinkfud?

Now we're talking about some real money. If you're going to go after Lord Rothschild, may as well.

TEN QUADRILLION DOLLAR Notice of Lis Pendens on BP


Who are those clucks, snakehead? Bloody 'ell -- STILL one day shy of full moon!

(erain, pass the bottle, willya? Gotta pour one for snakehead, poor boy's parched.)

It's two months old but I just came across it. Full moon working on me, most likely.

I suppose the Sovereign Citizens of the United States of America think that they'll get the extra $9Q from Lord Rothschild's Reptilian Masters. Last I heard there was about $1Q total asset value on earth, and that was before the financial meltdown.

Gotta be careful out there in the fever swamps, man. Here, pull up a chair and have a glass. Rest yo'se'f.

I gotta get out my Big Chief tablet and pencil here and try to figger out how much is "TEN QUAD TRILLION" . . . oh me.

Better spring for an iPad. They're magical, you know.

Maybe, but I'm pure Luddite. (Drives my sis-in-law, the Apple mucky-muck, wild.)

Good choice. Jobs is a Reptilian. Proof, http://www.davidicke.com/forum/showthread.php?p=1058592333

Good choice if you love rebooting, reloading, rebuying, unvirusing, reunvirusing, recovering, returning, recycling, upgrading and reupgrading your gear alarmingly regularly and paying to do it every time. The cost is more than a mac across the lifetime of a machine.

Meanwhile, Macondo stays in limbo with paralytic busted rams and flummoxed finest minds.
Whole lot of video conferencing going on.

So, what is it with these BOPs not working?
We're damned lucky the new cappy stack worked when they needed it to shut in the well.

My prediction is that they'll have to life the BOP with the pipe still in it.

I can't believe they seriously think the old BOP ram is going to open with 400+ tons of pipe hanging against those ram blades. The thought is absurd on its face. Plus two other chunks of pipe in there?
Good luck with that.

Not quite a full moon yet...

If I recall correctly, there's not much more than a 50-50 shot with BOPs. Maybe the next one will work. However I predict that next we'll see a redundant BOP team installed. They're arguing about how many and have set a deadline of election day.

Does that mean a 3-stack bop increases the chances of failure by 150 percent? har.
Or since there are six blades is that 300 percent?
"Think twice, fail once."

<=== Nine annuluses of safety with this comment. Is that an overabundance of caution, er what?

Can't answer that question; I own 0 Apple products. Oh, wait. I consulted my brain. That would be .50x.50x.50. I can't see the groovy 3Dish animated talking pie chart that I might have been able to see if only I had an iPad, but I still estimate the probability at nominally 0.125 chance of failure, excluding intermediary variables.

Note that I'm not going there here. No need.

However, you prove my thinly disguised point with great precision:
These machines are just tools for information management and networking. The quality of their product depends on the quality of the user's thought processes, not the name on the case or how much the user paid.

Any case, it looks like our 3-ram stacky has a 100 percent failure rate right now, despite all the groovy head calculations. Looks like the effectiveness of a literal application of hypothetical mathematical models arising from internet humor approaches zero as missing the point approaches infinity.

[And I don't care what kind of car you drive, either.]

Hey now, they do make one decent product: the 'Classic' series ipod, the one with a real hard drive. But yes as far as I can tell everything else is gimmicky overpriced crap. I mean, how do you sell a computer with a one-button mouse and not have angry customers come burn down your stores in the middle of the night?

CC, I haven't heard of mobs burning down any Apple stores, so I guess they got away with it. Personally I agree with you, I've been using multi-button mice on macs since the 90's. OTOH I've been trying to get my Mom to use the second button with her eMac for 7 years with no success. That's about as far as I'll go into the PC v Mac abyss, except to say mine have been pretty reliable crap.

...how do you sell a computer with a one-button mouse and not have angry customers come burn down your stores in the middle of the night?

Like this.

Yeah, it's "incredibly" Jobsian.

Widely regarded as Apple's best ever mouse-like thing and has garnered about 3/5 stars from reviewers whose publications sport Apple advertising. Apparently needs third party utilities to make it behave better.


www davechen net

I especially loved Dave's update:

Update: ...user "Gopyvision" points out in the comments, correctly, that at the time I wrote this post, I didn't understand how the "right-click" function on the mouse works. Essentially...

Esentially, some guy on the internet doesn't like Apple's mouse. So what? Some other guy in that guy's comment section loves it:

...I gotta say the Magic Mouse is absolutely the best mouse ever. I keep two fingers on top and the ring finger and pinkie on the side, sort of dragging the pinkie along the desktop surface. No ergonomic issues whatever. Left and right clicking is only a matter of training your fingers (which you had to do when you first started using a mouse of whatever kind). And the scrolling is fantastic! Smooth, easy, and precise. You might want to give it just a bit longer before giving up.

I've never used one myself, so I won't attempt to rate it. My comment was about selling it.

Edit: shortened first blockquote

Right. Revolutionary magic.

The MC252 subsea stack is beginning to resemble Curly's creation:


Yes, I know, links are best..but this BOP photo gives real perspective of the scope and size. Rov is praying to a deity? Or getting munched up..

bp oil spill

Yes, I watched that sequence - it was an especially nice shot because it was close enough that you could actually see the arms working, instead of just lights in the distance.

I've repeatedly heard the BOP failure rate listed as 50%. Does anyone know where that number comes from? I can find the number quoted on forums, but with no source.

The implication is that in an emergency you can't count on it any more than flipping a coin.

What I can find is:

The industry-led study of blowout preventer reliability included these findings:

•During safety testing, BOP components and control systems had 62 failures across 238 subsea wells drilled over three years (2004-06) in the Gulf of Mexico.

•Four of the 62 BOP breakdowns were “safety critical failures,” i.e., failures that would “prevent the BOP or a component of the system from closing and sealing on demand and allowing an uncontrolled release of fluid from the well bore,” the study found. One safety-critical failure was so severe that, if a blowout had occurred at the time of the test, “they would not have been able to contain it.”

•A total of 89,189 BOP pressure tests and other tests were conducted during the study period. The 62 failures during those tests produced failure rates much less than 1 percent for the blowout preventer’s hydraulic rams and other pressure systems – rates that, according to the report’s authors, justified a reduced schedule of pressure testing. More than doubling the number of days between such tests “will not result in substantial changes to reliability,” the study concluded.


Can the experienced contributors comment?


I believe that Transocean commisioned DNV ( Det Norske Veritas ) to do a study of BOP failures. They found that in 11 times that BOP's were activated in an emergency, the BOP's failed 5 times.

I can't find the study on line but it is widely quoted.

DNV is VERY reputable - one of the larger Quality Assurance / Certification agencies.

The CSM article cites the figures you quoted. Then, there's this: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/21/us/21blowout.html?_r=1&pagewanted=1

Add to that the surety that BOP failure probability is somewhat dependent on company practices. Like dead batteries in control devices, for instance.

I've repeatedly heard the BOP failure rate listed as 50%. Does anyone know where that number comes from?

Hi, gerry. Actually, it's a 45% failure rate, and that came from this NYTimes article, Regulators Failed to Address Risks in Oil Rig Fail-Safe Device. Pertinent passage:

... Last year, Transocean commissioned a “strictly confidential” study of the reliability of blowout preventers used by deepwater rigs.

Using the world’s most authoritative database of oil rig accidents, a Norwegian company, Det Norske Veritas, focused on some 15,000 wells drilled off North America and in the North Sea from 1980 to 2006.

It found 11 cases where crews on deepwater rigs had lost control of their wells and then activated blowout preventers to prevent a spill. In only six of those cases were the wells brought under control, leading the researchers to conclude that in actual practice, blowout preventers used by deepwater rigs had a “failure” rate of 45 percent. ...

I can find other references (U of Texas, Oil companies), and there seems to be confusion about what constitutes a test, and what constitutes a failure.

There seems to be differing discussions of
- control system failures
- ram or wedge failures
- procedure failures

There's even a reference to a 50% failure in cementing.

From earlier comments by Rockman and others, I gather they've experienced 'kicks' more than once, and kept it contained. What's their experience with BOP's?

I wonder if the Transocean study quoted by the NYTimes (Thanks Lotus), was a little more complicated than the news story suggests.

Some have argued that MMS has too cozy a relationship with the Oil industry, but I'm wondering if other countries with stricter regulations (Norway?) would accept a 50% failure rate.

I think the number quoted is missing some facts.

I found a DNV study commissioned by Transocean in the Beaufort.

Based on the reliahility figures in Table 4-7, the one-blind shear BOP reliability on demand (100% minus probability of failure on demand) is estimated to be 99.00% whereas the 2-blind shear BOP
reliability on demand is estimated to be 99.32%. There is a slight improvement (+0.32%) in
reliability for the two-blind shear design. This is because the reliability is driven by single point
failures of the control system and wellhead connector leaks which affect both BOP configurations.

Energy Report
Beaufort Sea Drilling Risk Study
Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling Inc.
Report no EP004855/DNV ref no: 12A88QH-9
Rev. 1, July 31, 2009

I'll second that first thought Uncon, for the last bit I'm still thinkin' a 50 Megaton (WW Killer) from the Russians would do the trick. It would at least make the Preventer let go of that pipe its got...:)

Good choice if you love rebooting, reloading, rebuying, unvirusing, [etc.]

Ne'er fear, I use a Mac (just not into iPads yit).

My initial impression of iPad is it would be a great replacement for school textbooks. Also, it may have a positive impact on energy consumption since the energy producing paper textbooks would be saved. Little did I know that companies would develop applications to aid this scenario.

Mr. MacInnis said that some universities began using the textbook application this week, including the University of Alabama and Seton Hill University. “Professors are really excited about the ability to leave notes for the class in specific areas of the book and to also see commentary from their students,” he said.

This is just an observation so don't take me the wrong way because I have yet to purchase an iPad.

Not sure if this has been posted today but just read the following article and felt puzzled. (As usual)

"Energy Secretary (and, of course, Winner of the Nobel Prize) Steven Chu told The Washington Post’s Joel Achenbach that he was responsible for convincing BP that the well had NOT lost integrity.

The Post reported Chu said, “BP engineers had assumed, after the ‘top kill’ failed, that the well had a loss of ‘integrity’ somewhere down below the wellhead, with breaches that let the mud from the operation surge into the rock formation instead of straight down the well.”

According to the article, Chu said, “I said, ‘No, I don’t think so, there’s another scenario,’” after which he suggested, “They could close the well and see what happened.”

Chu added, “The worst-case scenario is you create a fissure that doesn’t heal, and the entire reservoir empties.” "


Doesn't this contradict the argument that Chu was the person who told BP to stop the top kill because he was the one that was afraid the well had been breached, rather than vice versa? Perhaps Bruce Thompson could comment on this, since he has brought this topic up several times.

Also, the Government taking the risk of allowing a scenario albeit worse case where a possible 50 million barrel reservoir of oil empties into the gulf rock formations seems a bit cavalier IMHO.

Am I the only one that feels this way? Or did they have no other choice?

Been busy so I'm just catching up, but to answer your question put Washington Post story next to the NY Times story http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/17/us/politics/17chu.html?_r=1 and see how much they disagree.

In the last three weeks, Dr. Chu and other government officials have dictated the pace and timing of the measures now in place to collect the majority of the oil or seal the well from the top.

Those actions, too, generated significant controversy in the Houston control room. The BP engineer said that many technicians at the company believed that the pressure test now under way was too risky — a view Dr. Chu shared for some time. BP executives, however, wanted to proceed, the engineer said, in part to learn more about the condition of the well bore, and in part because they were eager to demonstrate that they could actually stop the flow of oil.

“It’s not necessary,” the technician said. “It’s not justified.

Dr. Chu accepted a compromise, allowing the shutdown to proceed but with extensive data collection and numerous opportunities to stop the test if the pressure readings were not favorable.

I believe in an unguarded moment, with the tame NYT reporter, he told the truth. Having been called on his expressed regrets about delaying the original top kill and then his early termination before completion of that top kill, he is spinning (the Cajun translation is lyin') to try and save the remnants of his tattered reputation.

It has been 34 days since BP shut-in the well and 1/4 of the Gulf is still closed to fishing.


According to Bp records they quit using surface dispersant on July 19th. Because of a change in record keeping it is possible they quit earlier but you can not tell for sure. You can go back to July 7th where they say 1.07 million gallons had been used on the surface to date.

Operations and Ongoing Response – July 20, 2010

Monday, July 19 Statistics

Surface dispersant used: 1, 072,514 gallons

Operations and Ongoing Response – August 23, 2010

Sunday, August 22 Statistics

Surface dispersant used: 1,072,514 gallons

July 7th

1.07 million


Does anyone know if flying is still restricted over part of the gulf?


I don't know about the airspace, but Allen has been using 7.19 as the last date for the application of dispersants from the air. It is the date in the final exemption request submitted by BP.

Thanks rainyday.

I found the airspace info and it is still closed.

Seems a little overkill and hinky to have it closed this late in the game.

There can't be that much air traffic above normal in the area.


Does anyone know what is going on in BP live feed from
Enterprise ROV 2? Much appreciated.

watching the fish pipe waiting for them to reset into the top of the capping stack

and flushing out in preparation, yes?

Thanks rainyday.

I found the airspace info and it is still closed.

Seems a little overkill and hinky to have it closed this late in the game.

There can't be that much air traffic above normal in the area

A Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) is routine and is issued for a variety of reasons. In this case it seems to address a unique safety issue. If it were not in place I would not be surprised to see a bunch of pilots with more money than brains buzzing all over the place with family and friends in tow. Since visual flight rules (VFR) would apply (weather permitting) each pilot would be responsible for maintaining separation from other aircraft and surface vessels. The FAA knows that several aircraft sharing the same limited airspace while the pilots are primarily sightseeing is a recipe for disaster.

Even with the NOTAM in place pilots can still fly out there. Look at the map in the link. The restricted flight area is bounded by the red lines and capped with a lid at 3000’. You can’t fly inside the box without authorization. As long as you follow standard FAA rules and any rules in any NOTAMs that may apply in your flight area, you can fly around and over the box all day long. If you want to make sure nobody is being sneaky and spraying surface dispersants you can do that from 3000’. Just take along a good set of binoculars and a telephoto lens for your camera and you should be good to go.

I think a helicopter down low would be very interesting.

I don't care if they are spraying corext.

Big yellow thing is happy to see you!

Why, good morning there, BYT! (Comb your hair before breakfast, hon. There's a good boy.)

State authorities say fish kill in St. Bernard Parish waters likely caused by low oxygen levels