BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Fishing and Quecreek Equipment - and Open Thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6885.

There has not been a lot of visible progress at the Deepwater site today. As might be anticipated when BP are trying to extract the three segments of pipe that Admiral Allen commented had been found above the Blowout Preventer (BOP) and in the rams.

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.

Given the need for the procedures to be conceived, written up, approved and then followed, it may be a little time before the pipe segments get removed. This is particularly true if the ram closures that I noted in the last post have yet to be fixed.

The Admiral does not seem concerned with the possibility that if they get hold of the long length of drill pipe that is held in the grip of the rams in the BOP that it will shear when the holding rams are released. This suggests perhaps that they may know (from the scans made of the BOP back near the beginning of this episode) what the pipe looks like, and do not expect that it has been materially cut by the shear blades. (Since it is that cut that would be needed as a starting crack, to help initiate separation of the pipe at the cut, and since it has not failed yet, they may assume that it has sufficient integrity to hold up during the removal process).

Nevertheless he is not concerned that if the pipe were to fall down the well, that it would do much damage to the cement plug at the bottom of the well. He was asked that specific question at the press conference, and replied:

I don't believe so. (It'll fall down) into the well to the extent that it could, and as long as it wasn't protruding above the wellhead, would actually not become an obstacle to removing the blowout preventer. But I think, for forensic purposes, they would like to have that pipe so they can examine it.

He does not, thus, anticipate that it would do much damage to the bottom of the well, even if it fell and hit the top of the cement plug, given its length and that it is surrounded by the production casing and, over an unknown length, by an external cement liner filling the annulus to the surrounding rock.

At present the down-hole camera is not working, the stack seems to have been left open with the BOA Sub C Rov1 monitoring it to see if there are any returns, and the drill rod is swinging freely in the water.

Screen capture from ROV1

Chilean Miners
In regard to the situation of the Chilean miners that I wrote about yesterday, a special drill is being brought to the site from elsewhere in Chile, and in fact may be there by now. The drill that will be used is likely of this size:

Drill bit used at Quecreek

The picture is from the Quecreek rescue operation. However that was a relatively shallow coal mine, with softer rock, and so they are apparently going to use a bit with polycrystalline diamond compact teeth which will allow them to cut through the harder rock. The penetration rate is expected to be about 65 ft a day, though some of the rock from the video shown of the existing borehole passage, seemed to be broken, and that will make drilling that much more difficult.

The refuge is on the side of a spiral tunnel or slope, that rotated around the ore body as it traversed lower, and in the higher regions of the mine, this was closed by a rock collapse. It appears to have been the only access to the deeper parts of the mine. In many countries there has to be a second way out, brought about after the Hartley Mining Disaster in the UK in 1862, when 199 miners died because the only shaft into the mine was blocked. (The first school I went to was at New Hartley, when my Dad was manager there).

Once the shaft has been sunk, then a small cage will be lowered to bring the miners to the surface, one at a time. The cage is obviously of small diameter:

The rescue cage at Quecreek.

Small as it is it held each of the miners and brought them to safety.

Rescued miner being brought out of the Quecreek Mine.

Let us hope that the miners in Chile are similarly all safely recovered.

Other natural hazards
Meanwhile, looking at other natural hazards, there have been about half-a-dozen 3.0 or greater earthquakes in the Loki area of Iceland in the last few days, and just when it appears that we will dodge the Hurricane bullet of Danielle, the next one seems to be forming behind it.

Rockman - how about this?

Swing in a riser and fill it with clear completion fluid (so the internal cameras still work). Then suspend fishing until they do the relief well. The completion fluid in the riser (18.75 inch diameter by 5,000 feet is about 1,800 barrels) would provide both a collection reservoir and additional backpressure to mitigate any risks of the relief well causing a pressure spike on the hypothetical oil/gas in the annulus. Finish the bottom kill and then do whatever it takes to complete and abandon from the top.

A super-dooper overabundance of caution method to put a stake in the heart of the flowing annulus crowd ;-) !!

Edit - For those of you following along, the well would be open to the surface, at the same elevation as the drill ship for the relief well. Remember 'water seeks its own level"? All liquids do, so the risk of blowout will become nil. Pump cement into the annulus and it would only displace completion fluid onto the wild well drill ship. No spills, no pollution, just a nice quick chance for John Wright to show off!

There has been no evidence provided to the public that the annulus is not flowing. They have provided evidence that they believe at some point it was flowing.

All we know is BP has said things that suggest they believe the annulus has become isolated from the reservoir after the cement job. They haven't said how they know that. It is very clear that BP and the government (and anybody else who is paying attention) are concerned that the annulus may once again become in communication with the reservoir.

The main problem is there no evidence that the annulus is capable of containing the pressure needed to kill the annulus with the RW. By that I mean BP, the government and the public have know way of nowing whether the annulus will blowout if a bottom kill is attempted. There is no guarantee that a bottom kill will make thins better. There is a possibility it will make things worse. It could even make things horrific if the wellbore liner is in a fragile state which it could be.

Having the seal at the top of the annulus blowout is not the worst case scenario by a long shot. The worst case scenario is the one that BP and the government will not even talk about. The worst case scenario is the annulus communicates with the reservoir and blows out down hole in the neighborhood of where the drillers made a side track. If the annulus communicates with the reservoir and blows out at depth of say 8000'-10000', it may be very difficult to effect a bottom kill.

The current effort to get full control at the wellhead before doing the RW intersect appears to be so that they are prepared to deal with the absolutely worst case scenario.


We know the annulus is not flowing to the wellhead or otherwise we would see it coming out the top of the capping BOP.

I suspect when /if they get the new BOP installed they would retrieve the seal assembly and or cut and retrieve some of the 9 7/8" casing. This would guarantee a flow path behind the casing.

No apparently you don't understand what I wrote.

The concern from the day 1 after the DH sank is that this well (like the Ixtoc well) could have suffered structural damaged by the extreme forces that was imposed on April 20-22. We now know the production tubular survived those forces and remained intact from its hangar all the way to the bottom. What we don't know is what happened to that part of the well that provides the structural support for the well. There is no way of knowing in what condition the outer casing liner of the well currently is.

If there is oil in the annulus then obviously at some point there was flow in the annulus. That flow may have been the result of an underground blow out. It is possible that the well liner suffered structural damage. And it is possible for the well to flow from the reservoir to some other underground formation. That would be one possible explanation for oil in the annulus.

Right now there is no evidence that an underground blowout will not still occur. The RW intersect could trigger such an event. This is not a prediction of what is going to happen it is a statement of what could possibly happen based on a realistic assessment of the known facts. It appears that BP doesn't know what exactly is going to happen when the RW intersects.

The fact is the forces applied to the outer casing of the well on April 20-22 were enormous. If no damage was done to the structure of the well that is in itself a minor miracle (i. e. a very unlikely scenario). It would be now and always has been very foolish to proceed under the assumption that miracle occurred and that no damage to the outer casing exists. But they won't know the actual condition of the annulus until they actual access the annulus from either the top or bottom.


OK, I see what you are talking about now. As I understand it BP are worried about oil in the 9 7/8" X 16" casing annulus. The chances of the 16" shoe cement job being damaged from the bending forces from the DWH pulling on the BOP, would be very remote.

The early thoughts were the seal assembly or the 9 7/8" casing failed and allowed flow up the 9 7/8 x 16" casing annulus and then a rupture disc blew out in the 16" casing allowing oil & gas into the outer, lower pressure casing strings you are worried about during the first Top Kill. After the 2nd top kill and cement job, they claim all the mud and cement went straight down the production casing, therefore ruling out the early thoughts.

To me, it sounds like they are worried about there was communication from the reservoir and the 9 7/8 x 16" annulus, not necessary flow. This could happen by the reservoir not being sealed by cement, gas & oil being lighter than the mud behind the casing working its way up the annulus and the heavy mud falling down the hole.

This oil and gas would be currently locked in behind the casing. Once the seal assembly is released this oil & gas will be free to travel up the new riser. The boys will need to be prepared.

OK, I see what you are talking about now. As I understand it BP are worried about oil in the 9 7/8" X 16" casing annulus. The chances of the 16" shoe cement job being damaged from the bending forces from the DWH pulling on the BOP, would be very remote.
The shallow part of the annulus is 9-7/8" X 18" if I recall.

I don't know and I doubt anyone else does either what exactly were the forces involved. I think it would be fair to say it would a minor miracle if no structural damage occurred. They did have ROVs at the wellhead observing on April 22. There have been no revelation what if anything they might know from that. But BP has been acting from the beginning that it is a reasonable supposition that structural damage did occur. As far as I can see BP is still operating under that supposition. I think this is prudent, but understandably they have always been reluctant to discuss the absolute worst case possibilities.

I gave the 16" casing as an example of where a blowout would be difficult for the RW to effect a kill. There were IIRC lost returns at that depth as well as the side track so that supports the possibility of a substantial cross flow from one formation to another could occur.

The early thoughts were the seal assembly or the 9-7/8" casing failed and allowed flow up the 9 7/8 x 16" casing annulus and then a rupture disc blew out in the 16" casing allowing oil & gas into the outer, lower pressure casing strings you are worried about during the first Top Kill. After the 2nd top kill and cement job, they claim all the mud and cement went straight down the production casing, therefore ruling out the early thoughts.


The 16" casing is in the area of the sidetrack. From what we know now it played no role in the top kill. They may have thought it did back then at the time of the top kill. Back then the assumption was they were fighting a flow up the annulus. We now know those assumptions were incorrect.

One lesson learned from Ixtoc was that junk shots could reduce the flow to surface. But that was before they knew the production case was intact. It is clear now that whatever they thought they were doing in late May was based on numerous incorrect assumptions about what had failed to cause the blowout in the first place and where the flow was going. They still don't know what is going on but in May no one expected all the flow to the surface was via the production tubular. Had they known that they would have capped it earlier.

To me, it sounds like they are worried about there was communication from the reservoir and the 9 7/8 x 16" annulus, not necessary flow. This could happen by the reservoir not being sealed by cement, gas & oil being lighter than the mud behind the casing working its way up the annulus and the heavy mud falling down the hole.

Yes that is a possible scenario. The main problem I have with that is what would make them think that anything has now changed? And if nothing has changed then the annulus is still open to the reservoir and the seal at top is the only barrier between the reservoir and the surface. that means if the process of lifting off the enormous weight of the BOPs disturbs the seal it will start a new gusher to the surface.

So to me it sounds like they do have confidence the reservoir is no longer in communication with reservoir because they have good evidence for that. So what would that evidence be?

Well one thing that would make them pretty certain they now have 2 barriers to the surface is if they could while the well was held static by the cap they could detect that there was flow to the annulus from the RW. And then later the RW detected that cement job ended that flow. That would explain there current belief that there is oil in the annulus and the annulus is no longer in communication with the reservoir. It does seem apparent they are confident that the seal is not going to unexpectedly blow because the annulus is isolated from the reservoir. I haven't heard any other explanation for how they would know that is believable.

The shallow part of the annulus is 9-7/8" X 18" if I recall.

I was referring to the nominal outside dia. The 18" casing may have an ID of 16". I don't know.

For newcomers; if you don't know your 18 inch casing from your 9 7/8 casing, see page 4 of this. The sidetrack to get around the stuck tool is at about 11000 feet. Note which bits of casing are attached to other bits of casing by hangers and which bits are tied back to the well head area.

Thanks for posting that link. I hadn't seen that before. I was going from memory of the USCG/MMS joint investigation documents.

I notice the 16" liner does extend from close to the well head down to about 11,500'. I was thinking it was the 18" that was that long shallow liner string, but I see now it is the 16". The 13-5/8 is the section of liner where they had mud losses and would be the area of the annulus that would present the worst case scenario for the RW if the liner had a failure not the 16' that I said before.

Also the 16" liner had the rupture disks installed that were given by BP as a possible cause the Top Kill failure. However we now know the 16" liner played no role in the flow to the surface that the top kill was attempting to overcome.

Thanks Acornus. This entire scenerio now makes a lot more sense after reading that report.

Maybe Gail or HO could add a link to this in the start of each discussion to help the newer people understand the construction (and later destruction) of this well.

Acornus, what a stunning compilation Parsons put together there. I've bookmarked it and really appreciate your bringing it. Thanks.


I've been out of touch for a while and haven't been keeping up, so maybe this has already been discussed, but here's another possibility for how they are certain that the annulus was in communication with the reservoir, that the top seal is leaky, and that the cement blocked the communication between annulus and reservoir at the bottom.

We know that there were several leaks in the BOP/capping stack that persisted after the static kill was completed. They spent a long time with one or two ROVs looking closely at these leaks, although AFAIK the feeds from these two rovers were never accessible to the public. It is possible that BP collected samples and determined what material was leaking and also determined the rate at which it was escaping through these leaks. Perhaps they discovered that hydrocarbons, not mud, was leaking, and that the total amount leaked was greater than could be explained by residual hydrocarbons trapped at the top of the BOP/capping stack.

From this they would surmise that there was a small leak in the top seal of the annulus and that the annulus was open to the pressurized reservoir at the bottom, forcing hydrocarbons through the leaky seal just below the BOP. From there, the hydrocarbons could rise to the top to replenish the source of the leak. The fact that they had to continue pumping mud into the well after the static kill would not necessarily contradict this possibility if the mud were unable to block or penetrate through the small seal leaks, and instead all went down the production casing. There would need to be a region in the BOP where mud and hydrocarbons flowed past each other, mud down and hydrocarbons up.

Perhaps they discovered that the leaks gradually stopped after the cement was injected. This would imply that the cement sealed off the annulus at the bottom, but the small leaks at the top of the annulus were still there. Gradually, the leaks allowed the pressure in the annulus to diminish after it was sealed off at the bottom, and the leaks stopped.

This scenario would explain how they know that there is oil in the annulus and that there is a leaky seal at the top. It would also explain why they worry about how securely the annulus is sealed at the bottom, for the same reason that they now worry about successfully sealing the annulus at the bottom from the RW (i.e., the cement would not be expected to flow very far upward into the annulus with only a small leak at the top to allow the oil to be displaced).

OK, I now assume the position and await the boot to the butt.

OK that is not much different than my theory. You are saying they discovered a very low grade flow in the annulus after the mud was pumped before the cementing. Then after cementing the flow was gone. That makes sense.
But what doesn't make sense is why that wouldn't be public knowledge? I mean assuming your scenario is true we wouldn't be sitting here wondering why they delayed the RW intersect if they just told us what happened.

I'll have to go back and check. But if I recall the reports were that pressure tests after the static kill revealed falling pressure not rising pressure. They kept having to pump in mud to maintain pressure. That doesn't sound like there is oil coming from the reservoir through the seal. The static kill did not flush oil and gas out of the old BOP or capping stack. It probably also left oil in the drill string. So we have lots of oil present under the cap and constantly falling pressure. I don't see how you develop a theory that the seal is leaking from those known facts. I suppose if they had done a ambient pressure test (or near ambient) at that point (when the well was static with mud) they might have discovered a leaking hangar seal if they had done that. Did they do that? IIRC they said they didn't

Under your theory this would all be info known to the government observers. I don't know if the government observers are privy to the RW sensor data. That is why

They kept having to pump in mud to maintain pressure. That doesn't sound like there is oil coming from the reservoir through the seal.

Yes, this was also what kept me from thinking about the possibility of a continuing leak of hydrocarbons through the hanger seal into the BOP, but actually I don't think it contradicts my hypothesis. Assuming that before the static top kill the annulus was open to the reservoir at the bottom and was full of the same hydrocarbons as the production casing, then the pressure in the annulus behind the hanger seal is expected to be the same as the pressure at the top of the production casing, which was a little under 7000 psi. If during the static top kill the mud was unable to penetrate through the small leaks in the hanger seal, then the pressure behind the hanger seal would remain ~7000 psi after the mud filled the production casing and reduced the pressure inside the BOP to about 4200 psi. Thus, there could have been a 2800 psi pressure gradient to force hydrocarbons through the hanger seal into the top of the well bore just below the BOP after the mud was pumped down to kill the well.

The need to periodically add mud at the surface to keep it topped up may not be relevant, because it just means that mud was being lost into the reservoir through the production casing. I don't see how that contradicts the possibility that oil/gas was continuing to bubble through the leaky hanger seal, driven by a 2800 psi pressure difference.

I see two main difficulties with my hypothesis, both of which can be answered to some degree:

1) During the static top kill, the mud would have to have gone down one flow path (the production casing), but not the other (the annulus). This could be explained by the very small communication pathway through the leaky seal and the different viscosity, etc of mud and oil.

2) There would need to be a way for the hydrocarbons leaking through the hanger seal to rise through the mud to the top of the BOP. It is unclear how high the mud got into the BOP, but given how strongly oil was flowing out the top of the DP before they added the capping stack, I am imagining that the mud was forced down both the production casing and the DP. This appears to be what BP is assuming in their model (http://dl.dropbox.com/u/8430040/1494_several_rooms.jpg), which seems to show that the volume of the flow path is about 750 bbl is the drill pipe were dropped and 850 bbl if it were still hanging. So probably the mud got as high as the top of the DP. Drilling mud, I have learned is designed to mot allow oil to pass through it, but over a short distance perhaps it is possible.

1) Your first point I agree with. If there was a small leak in the hangar seal then it is certain that way too little mud followed that path to kill the annulus. But the point you haven't addressed is how did they know about the leak. What evidence is there that suggests there was a leak if it is losing pressure?
They kept the well pressured up before the well was bullheaded with cement. I concede that a tiny flow from the reservoir to the wellhead might have existed even though the pressure was dropping because the losses were greater than the gain. But that misses the point -> How would they know about that small leak? And if they don't know about the leak then they don't know about the oil in the annulus either.

2) Your second point is wrong in two ways. The small head of mud above the hangar isn't going to keep the hydrocarbons down. Also your interpretation of the picture in your link isn't right. The injectivity test followed the casing model It did not follow the annulus or annulus+casing or casing+DPdropped models. So it looks like the mud didn't go down the drill string. It went straight down the casing only and that means the BOP and cap and drill string remained full of oil and gas. And those hydrocarbons continued to leak from various places in the old BOP after the static kill.

But again none of this supports your original contention that they were aware of a leaky seal before the cementing and then the cementing the flow stopped leading them to conclude the annulus is no longer communicating with the reservoir.

I agree with the underlying premise your scenario supports -> before cement they were convinced of a flow of some sort in the annulus and after they were convinced there was no flow. your scenario that the flow was a leak in the hangar seal explains fully why they are confident that the ambient test proves the annulus is not communicating with the well because if it were the hydrocarbons would still be leaking from that seal.

What your scenario fails to explain is how did they come by that knowledge that the seal was leaking.


What Jinn said - having to pump mud in because of pressure decreasing while sealed off means flow was OUT OF the BOP, not into it through a small leak from the annulus.

I don't recall having seen any evidence that there was EVER any annular flow. I know Allen has spoken several times about "stagnant oil" being there, but I've got a suspicion that he was under-briefed about the possibility that the annulus was never in communication either at the top or the bottom.

Too bad he hasn't been pinned down on that point by some reporter. "How do you know there's oil in there, Sir, how can you rule out that it's the original drilling mud?"

When they do the relief well intercept I would not be shocked if they find the original mud that preceeded the cement in the April job. It seems to me a very real possibility that the cement above the reservoir held, and that the casing hangar seal was never disturbed.


Yes. Clearly Allen isn't a good source for any in-depth knowledge about the well.

But Kent Wells should have some knowledge of how a well works. Wells gave a press conference right after the cement job in which he was asked if they would consider swapping out the BOP before doing the RW intersect. And he replied emphatically that they would absolutely not do that. Then the next day there was a complete reversal and BP was requesting to forgo the RW until after the BOP swap. It is pretty clear at what point in time they gained knowledge of what is going on in the well. What we don't know is where that knowledge came from.

My suspicion is the knowledge came from the RW. It was the data that came from the RW that told them there was flow before the cement and no flow after the cement. They may have known about the flow but likely they don't know where that flow (detected near the reservoir) was going and therein lies the danger.

Thanks Jinn & Frank for the comments. I don't want to press this too far, but my hypothesis was based on the speculation that BP may have discovered that the amount of hydrocarbons that leaked out of the BOP/capping stack far exceeded the volume that could have been trapped above the mud, so it must have been re-supplied from somewhere below. I admit that there is no evidence for this, but it was just a way to try to make sense of things. I was grasping at the idea that given how slowly the mud was flowing down into the overbalanced well, methane bubbling through the hanger seal might not all get swept downward with the mud, but some could rise a few feet through the mud to the top of the BOP.

I don't think that this idea is playing very well at the TOD.

OK, theory canceled.

What we don't know is what happened to that part of the well that provides the structural support for the well. There is no way of knowing in what condition the outer casing liner of the well currently is.

I've been wondering about the information in this article for the last few days.

"...Chu said the 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..."


"...We pumped just a little over 500 barrels of cement down the casing. We talked – I think it was roughly about 200 barrels into the formation and the rest remained in the casing..."

There has been no evidence provided to the public that the annulus is not flowing. They have provided evidence that they believe at some point it was flowing.

I don't understand what the concern is... As of now, the cement stopped all the flow to the sea level. And they are going to replace the BOP before they continue to drill the relieve well. And once they install the new BOP, they can shut it off.. So what if the relieve well damage the annulus and it keep flowing again. The BOP will stop the oil from coming up.. So what exactly is the problem?

The concern is the same concern that has always existed. The well liner may have a damage. This may be damage at some joint or it may be a rupture in the metal liner itself. Or it may be weakened and just waiting for a pressure increase to cause a rupture. They have no way to test what pressure it is capable of holding or know where exactly it might blow out if it were to do so. Yhey have mentioned it might blow at the seal, but that is hardl the worst case scenario. Some scenarios are much worse than others.

They say that they are confident the annulus is now isolated from the reservoir. OK let's assume that is true. That gives them the opportunity to prepare the wellhead to withstand 15k psi. The original post I was responding to suggested adding a riser to the existing hardware. That solution doesn't address the pressure capabilities at the well head. It won't permit any more pressure at the wellhead than they currently would be able to stand. It doesn't address the real problem.

What they may do is unlatch the LMRP and drop the DDII BOP onto that connector on top of the old BOP. That would bring the pressure capability up to 15k, but it may not satisfy the need to preserve evidence in the old BOP.

Just thinking about what would happen if the drill pipe does part at the shears or is dropped, and goes down the well. Would I be right in thinking the decent would be quite slow as the bottom end of the drill pipe has a bit or tool of significant diameter and above the cement is mud which will slow everything down?


The 3000 plus foot of pipe is open ended, ie no bit. I don't think it would make much differance if a bit was installed, it is heavy, it is long and it is going to move fast.

Thanks, I imagined it as a long thin pipe with a "plunger" end that was a close fit to the tube, a bit like a very big bicycle pump. Clearly I have much to learn. Now I am worried about them dropping it!

I don't know what damage the dropped drillpipe might do to the well, but I have seen the results of what a dropped string of drill pipe does to itself. It becomes a giant corkscrew and makes for a very difficult fishing job.

HO, thanks so much for this overview and, especially, the link to your post on drill bits (which answered questions I wouldn't have asked but have always wondered about). Sister and brother noobs, I highly recommend HO's link at "polycrystalline diamond compact teeth"!

What a horror at New Hartley, though. Nearly 150 years later, the story haunts. Reading about the miners in danger now, I'm so thankful that they're in Chile rather than one of the less-competent societies farther north in the Andes. ¡Salud y tiempo, señores!

Would polycrystalline diamond compact teeth on the shear ram help? Also does this link show that process or another?

No. How about sand paper scissors? (Not sand, actually garnet.)
The shears are very hard tool steel with a sharp edge and one blade passes over the other.
Visual aid: I use a plier like this to cut cables on my bikes.

Overnight they tried to get the lower ram going and repeatedly closed and opened it via the hydraulics. As there was no down hole cam we could not see if that worked and really opened the blocked half.

The Developer Enterprise is now lowering a tool that will likely be used as a chock to push the unwilling RAM half out of the way.

Other work overnight prepared the capping stacks collet connector for disconnect by flushing it with some fluid through the "Hydrate" port.

Thanks for the update moon.

You guys on the IRC channel are doing an incredible job. 

Off topic or is it? Yesterday in Theodore, an ammonia vapor leak caused 119 people to go to the ER. Even the local area treated it like a minor story. I feel this is a bigger story. Is this just common and recent events have made me overly sensitive?

THEODORE, Alabama — An ammonia leak at a refrigeration plant on the Theodore Industrial Canal released clouds of poisonous gas into the air Monday, forcing nearby residents to take shelter and sending at least 119 people to local emergency rooms.


Ammonia is bad stuff, but works great in my RV 'fridge.
There was a 5000 gallon tank of ammonia where I worked, hated it when there was a leak/release.

I'd go with getting overly sensitive.

Try Google News for ammonia leak. It's a a daily thing.

They even had one on the ISS.

Well then along the overly sensitive line, today we had an incident in Fairhope at the solid waste treatment facility. Seems some chemicals mixed and all heck broke lose. Things calmed down and the culprits were listed:

* Muratic (sic) acid, which in high concentrations can be used to etch concrete
* Calcium chloride, a highly water-absorbent salt made of calcium and chlorine
* Chlorine dioxide, used as household bleach, and
* Calcium hydroxide, known colloquially as "lime," which has a variety of uses including the creation of mortar and plaster and the treatment of sewage.

One question. I thought sodium hypochlorite solution was Clorox. WTH is chlorine dioxide used in homes for again? Removing mold? Does it requiring license to handle? Were can it be bought? Is it tracked?

Industrial disinfection and mouth rinse! Might be a by-product of someof the other stuff mixing together.


Perhaps, but I would also suspect commercial sources. Something does not 'smell' right, forgive my pun. Did you read the story? Thanks for all you do.
BTW I think I have uncovered a BBIC 'conspiracy', keep checking in.

Yes, read the story. ClO2 has a low boiling point and would be gas at your ambient temperatures.
Hydrochloric acid (Muriatic acid) would react well with Calcium Hydroxide (builder's waste, an old bag of lime and a left over bottle of brick acid, oh well the quantities may be bigger but it does not say) would lead to a mix of noxious substances and, likely, ClO2. If the ClO2 had been dumped it would have been a cylinder or dilute solution and, given the uses, I would have thought that unlikely. More likely a by product of the original contaminants mixing.


Another update to the AP story on the miners reports that a second borehole has reached them, and a third is getting close. The first will be used to send down food and supplies, the second for communication, and the third for ventilation.

During the two weeks before they were found, the miners survived on supplies stored in the refuge that were designed to last for two days: every 48 hours, each man got two spoonfuls of canned tuna, a sip of milk, and a biscuit. No word as to how long these supplies lasted.

[That they had the organization, cohesiveness, and discipline to plan and stick to such a Spartan regimen seems to me to indicate these guys are iron-willed survivors.]

The story has an interactive graphic with a cross-sectional view of the mine showing where the miners are holed up. Mouse over the various labels to see explanations.

In a recording of the miners' conversation with officials yesterday, they were heard singing the Chilean national anthem.

Terrific news, SL. Where's the interactive graphic on that thing? I'm not spotting it.

I found a graphic here:

Thanks, ericy. Did you get it from the BBC story about the six things they'll need to stay safe?


Yeah, I saw that.

I am glad to see that they have 2nd and 3rd boreholes to let them get stuff down there to these guys. While it surely sucks to be down there, life will be much better for the time being.

I saw this article as well:

Chile starts four-month rescue of 33 miners

An enormous machine with diamond-tipped drills capable of carving a person-sized tunnel through solid rock at a velocity of 20 meters a day was on its way Monday to the San Jose gold and copper mine outside Copiapo in north-central Chile.

the six things they'll need to stay safe

Boy, I'm ambivalent about that guy's recommendation not to tell them how long they're going to have to wait. I'd sure want to know if it were me. Not to mention how hard it would be for the families not to let something slip when they talk to the miners. Next thing you know, it's a rumor, maybe even exaggerated, that nobody will officially confirm or deny. That would be a nightmare, I should think.

Swift: I see the one gal made a vow to keep her man topside once he is rescued!! Kinda telling of something there, dont you think?

the one gal made a vow to keep her man topside once he is rescued

GWS, if they make it outta there after four-and-a-half months, I bet neither she nor any of the other 32 families get a word of argument about that.

lotus: Tells me a little something about her man. Stout hearted men can sometimes do the damndest things! Like want to go back back down there just to tell it: You didn't best me, you sumb###h!! Naw mean?

Well, we'll see, GWS. "You didn't best me, you sumb###h!!" sounds like a grand departure speech for a guy climbing into the rescue capsule. If later he wants to go back down for more, "stout hearted" won't be the descriptor I'll have in mind.

Remember what the Tasmanian miner said yesterday about how all kinds of trappedness affected him after his two weeks of it? So I won't apply what you have in mind as a further requirement on the Chileans to prove their "stout-heartedness." They've already aced that test.

lotus: OK. Point well taken. I must have a testosterone spike going on here. She will probably get him a job in the machine shop! Heh! Heh!

Yeah, that one sounds pretty debatable to me too.

What I'm really wondering about is how they can handle "waste management" for 33 X 120 days (of 90-degree heat). I sure hope they've got accessible space far enough away from where they're grouped to haul out/pile up daily latrine-baggies or something. What else could (a) pass through the skinny pipes from upstairs to (b) help with this much?

I sure hope they've got accessible space far enough away from where they're grouped to haul out/pile up daily latrine-baggies or something

There are apparently corridors leading off the refuge that they're able to stroll about in. I'd make a WAG they're already using one of them for latrines. They do say the oxygen in them is low, but maybe that'll improve with the ventilation borehole. In any case, it sounds like they might have enough space there for the necessary quantity of bags. And they should be able to send down something to block off the entrance to said corridor between trips to contain the odor.

In any mine I've ever been in I don't recall seeing any porta potties although they may have been there but I think that any one who used one would have been made by the other miners to clean them.

Once when we were building some outside plant facilities I asked the plant superintendent where he wanted the bathrooms (they were required by regulations) he smilingly pointed to the woods, meaning that was what they used in the past.

I suspect these guys have a pretty good idea already that this isn't going to be quick and easy. They already know how deep they are and how hard the rock is.

Where's the interactive graphic on that thing? I'm not spotting it.

It's about a third of the way down the page. It's similar to the one ericy just posted but nominally in 3-D, and with a little more detail in the boxes that come up when you mouse over the little red icons.

Good lord, I took the top third for the whole article, duh. Thanks, SL.

Swift: I grew up with folks who worked in a CF&I iron mine, and they were determined fellows, to say the least! My friend and I used to sing an old Merle Travis song together hanging out with these guys real late at night. They seemed to like this verse the best: It's many a man I've seen in my day. Who lived just to labor his whole life away. Like a fiend with his dope or a drunkard his wine, A man must have lust for the lure of the mine. It's a coal mining song, but kinda says it all there about those fellas who go underground. I myself preferred to see the horizon during my working day.

A man must have lust for the lure of the mine

Great lyric. I've heard before that many miners genuinely love what they do. Doesn't compute for me either, but I should think if you don't love it, you'd hate it; how could you be neutral? Anyway, if the Chilean miners feel so positive about their work, it ought to help sustain them.

I am just wildly impressed, I have to say, with how the folks on the surface have immediately recognized the importance of psychological factors to the miners' well-being and survival. I would have expected that to be something of a secondary consideration that took a while to percolate, especially since this is an unprecedented situation. I mean, jeez, we have trouble acknowledging and getting treatment for PTSD in survivors after they're rescued.

I am just wildly impressed ... I mean, jeez, we have trouble acknowledging and getting treatment for PTSD in survivors after they're rescued.

Ain't that the truth! This society's (especially the insurance industry's) stance toward mental well-being and treatment . . . well, it makes me crazy.

I've heard before that many miners genuinely love what they do.

My stepfather was a gold miner. When I finished school, he asked me what I wanted to do. Since the mine was the only source of work in our town, I said, "I dunno. Join the mine I guess."

He was a big, strong guy. He grabbed the front of my shirt and lifted me till my feet left the floor and snarled, "No son of mine is ever going down the mines."

I was shocked. He'd never called me his son before. I went to university and eventually became an engineer. But looking back, mining would have been a good career option.

You just proved how few words it takes to tell a powerful story, aardvark. Thank you.

Wow, what a moment, aardvark.

In my opinion, the miners should have the choice wether to return to the mine or not after being rescued.
And that means : They should draw a pension for the rest of their lifes !

PS : The Chilean Crisis Management seems to work better then for example the.....(don´t dare to speak it out, lol).

Amen and amen (to the spoken and un-), Lady.

Ups - I didn´t find in in the american papers but in the germans :


Alejandro Bohn, the operator of the San Jose Mine, said, that the trapped miners will probably get no money any more, because they are not working and they have no insurance.

Tell me, that this is NOT TRUE !

Sounds par for the course. Expect him to disappear sometime too. If he sticks around too long he may get lynched.


Welcome to the REAL world of laboring! Geez.

Lady:Hope the UMW, or it's counterpart,are present there. I suspect not. So much for the pension.

My father, a mechanical engineer at a coal-mine threw my oldest brother out of the house when he signed up to be an apprentice coal-miner. He was never prouder when he saw his other two sons graduate from University and he was only reconciled with my brother when he saw the light and trained as an industrial electrician instead.

From today's Drumbeat:

Rig Survivor Blames BP's `Screwed-Up Plan' for Gulf Oil Blowout
BP Plc’s ‘screwed-up’ well design caused the Gulf of Mexico explosion that killed 11 workers and created the worst oil spill in U.S. history, a Transocean Ltd. rig supervisor who barely survived the disaster says.

Which just takes us back to Rockman's box: If he believed the well design was flawed, why didn't he have someone closely monitoring mud returns and ready to protect his ship and crew if something went wrong?

Because this is ALWAYS SUPPOSED to be done and the leaders assigned to ensure that it is done did not do so? Probably because they assumed or did not care? One of my degrees is in Organizational Management. Those that do not properly practice such are by default practicing Organizational mis-Management. Just as good organizations 'conspire' to succeed and profit long term, bad (not good if you prefer) organizations 'conspire' to fail and eventually go bankrupt/merge/disappear. It is often a fine line between the two. Damn fine. If BP cuts a few less corners, no spill. Thing is, you never can guess ahead of time which corner will get you. Unless you create a broad following of doing things the 'right' way, you will eventually fail, and probably fail big.

Which just takes us back to Rockman's box: If he believed the well design was flawed, why didn't he have someone closely monitoring mud returns and ready to protect his ship and crew if something went wrong?

According to Trahan, he didn't know about the well-design problems at the time; he only pieced them together afterward, from hearing testimony and various documents given to Congress. He was based in Houston, not on the rig.

...If he [Trahan] believed the well design was flawed, why didn't he...

Trahan puts a similar question to BP (from same Bloomberg article):

Trahan said BP is trying to deflect blame by saying the Deepwater Horizon was in poor condition. The rig has worked exclusively for BP in its 10-year life and was under contract to the oil company through 2013. “BP was ready to continue using the rig,” Trahan said. “So why are they kicking up dirt now?”

Thanks, MOB.

My God, what a list of injuries for Trahan (what getting blown up will do for you, huh?). Pretty incredible they didn't lose him that night.

“I’ve worked on jobs for BP, Chevron and Shell and I’ve never seen this combination of bad choices on any other well, ever,” he says. May the standard remain unmatched.

From the upper link :

"In the interview, he (Bobby Trahan) ticked off perceived flaws in the well design on his scarred fingers: Using foam cement in a high- pressure gas well, failing to employ a safer casing type, installing inadequate centralizers to insure the wall was properly cemented, and failing to test the well’s integrity before removing heavy drilling mud that was containing the pressure."
So there was no integrity test before removing heavy drilling mud !?
Didn´t BP said they have done a integrity test ?

He speaks about "a high- pressure gas well".
I think, BP does everything to get that out of peoples mind !
So they must be very comfortable with "oil spill" instead of "high- pressure gas with some oil - spill"....
If you look back to the utterances in mass media, methane was a long time out of focus.

BP Listed 390 Problems on Gulf Rig


Paul Johnson, Transocean rig manager, told the hearing “rig uptime”—when it was at work and not “down” for maintenance—was considered, among other things, in determining annual bonus for some staff.

That one'll be going away, whaddaya bet.

Yeah. This is the sort of classic management issue that I think is actually more important than a lot of front-line technical arguments about the mechanics of the blow out.

It reminds me very strongly of one of the key findings in the Colombia accident. The manufacturer of the external tank was paid a handsome bonus for early completion, and the launch management were also paid a significant bonus for on schedule launches. Investigators found that the staff involved in production of the external tank had been cut back over time, and although the management plan showed positions for safety and quality assurance, they found that the same people filled both safety and production roles. So the guys with responsibity for safety were also responsible for on time completion and hence the bonuses. Guess what happened?

It is attacking these sorts of deep structural issues in the industry that is IMHO the most important part of the investigations into DWH. Simple changes to the rules will never be enough. NASA had already lost one shuttle to managerial problems, and had heard all the arguments about what they had to do to change. And they still went on and lost another one to almost exactly the same problems.

Note the 390 problems was in a Sep. 2009 audit.

Yet Mr Cramond confirmed the company had praised Transocean for responding so swiftly and had approved the Deepwater Horizon to go back to work after BP scrutinized the repairs made by Transocean and its plans to fix the rest.

TO's bonus structure was based in part on "rig uptime" so downtime for maintenance would reduce bonuses. What's a good way to structure bonuses to encourage billable "uptime" without neglecting maintenance and safety issues? Does any "uptime" bonus cause people to second guess shutdowns or even want to avoid calling "May Day" when the rig is burning around you?

This is also off the subject but I thought I would post it anyway.

This is taken from CMPT (The Centre for Marine and Petroleum Technology) Volume One “Floating Structures: a guide for design and analysis” pp.4-21.

“4.10.3 Gas plume effects

There have been several instances of loss of stability caused by encountering a gas plume from a subsea blowout. It has been reported that this has been due to the reduction in density of the seawater because of entrained gas. Wilson (1988) suggests, however, that rising gas exerts an increased buoyancy force on the vessel because of its upward velocity. This is evidenced by the ‘centre boil’ on the water surface which is elevated above the still water level. This paper goes on to suggest that the loss of stability is due to increased heel caused by the forces in the gas plume as they act on the vessel in its new equilibrium position to one side of the centre boil.

This reduces the freeboard and leads to potential down flooding due to the raised water surface in the boil. Some more fundamental aspects on this topic of a sub sea blowout are addressed by Swan and Moros (1993). Their work describes the two phase flow associated with underwater gas release. The results of a series of experiments have been compared with both theoretical and numerical approximations of the flow fields. The high radial velocities occurring at the water surface are particularly noteworthy. This paper also contains an extensive reference list.

Note that once a vessel moved off centre to its new equilibrium position, mooring chains which are attached high up (e.g. drill ship) will tend to cause it to heel towards the plume, due to the couple developed by the outwards fluid forces and mooring line tensions. Conversely, a low attachment point for mooring lines will cause the vessel to heel away from the plume.”


Wilson K.J., 1988, Effects of gas-aerated seas on floating drilling vessels, Marathon Oil Co., OTC 5803, Offshore Technology Conference, Houston.

Swan, C, and Moros, A., 1993, The hydrodynamics of a subsea blowout, Applied Ocean Research, vol. 15, pp 269 – 280.

I have always thought the loss of buoyancy was caused by loss of density. I don’t know that this wrong but this article certainly looks at this from a different perspective.

Is there any way you could post the link to the paper ?, I'd like to read it for sh*ts-n-giggles.

I'm sure most have seen this video already.


Ido. Good one. The DWH was dynamically position by thrusters with GPS control. Bit like a modern cruise ship and the like, no anchoring in harbours. But the gas buoyancy is spot on. The theory is used in modern marine warfare. You explode torpedoes under the ship; create a large gas bubble. The centre of the ship has no buoyancy and falls into the gas hole. Breaks its back.

Funny you would mention that, I have a buddy who spent some time in the Navy, he's mentioned them before, called them Ionic torpedoes,....of course, do an internet search for " Ionic torpedoes ", and you'll find....I'll just say, " Set phasors to stun "...we were discussing what kind of explosive could be used downhole as an alternative to a nuke. Incidentally, I stumbled on this article, thought it was ..."cool"


I don't know of a link. I typed this from a hard copy.

Dang, ..thanks for typing it then. Seems to make sense to me.

A little more here from the reference material and you can buy the rest for 10.00 bucks.


Ah yes, OnePetro, not the first time I have been teased with an abstract. Damn you OnePetro..'shakes fist in air'.

Here is the whole stuff in pdf for free (14,3 MB) :


Thank you very much !

The T-P on today's witnesses in Houston:

BP engineer Brian Morel helped design a well plan that many blame for the disaster, and he wrote several internal e-mails in the days leading to the explosion that indicated BP sacrificed some safety measures in the interest of saving time and money.

Jesse Gagliano, Halliburton's technical adviser for cementing the well's walls, is scheduled to follow Morel, with whom he exchanged e-mails about the well's safety in the days before the explosions.

Gagliano warned Morel and others at BP that their chosen well design, using fewer devices for keeping important tubing in the center of the hole, had a higher risk of natural gas leaks in the well.

But see this Tweet at the Chronicle:

HoustonFowler BP engineer Morel to take the Fifth in #bphearings: http://bit.ly/9Z6CEJ #hounews #oilspill

BP engineer Morel to take the Fifth

From the cited article, some important points to keep in mind:

Many assume taking the Fifth is almost like admitting guilt, but Peter Henning, a professor of law at Wayne State University Law School, said it's really meant to protect a person who is simply not sure of his potential legal liability.

"You may believe you're innocent," Henning said, because in an accident like the one involving the rig it's unlikely anyone intended for the explosion to happen. "But you may not be sure if your actions did break the law. And that's really the issue here: No one really knows exactly why this accident happened."...

"Anything you say before the Coast Guard hearing could be used against you later," Henning said. "So if you are going to testify you might want to save it for talking to a prosecutor or if you're personally facing a civil suit."

Criminal prosecutions are often based on defendants making false statements rather than the underlying offense, said Kent Schafer, a Houston-based criminal defense attorney.

"That's because it is sometimes hard to prove that a person committed an offense, but it is not always difficult to find someone who can contradict what somebody said," Schafer said.

More from the Chronicle:

Gulf spill hearing brings more finger-pointing

... Paul Johnson, part of Transocean's shore-based management of the Deepwater Horizon, later testified he had expressed qualms about the experience of a BP well-site leader sent to the rig just days before explosion.
Johnson said he was concerned about Robert Kaluza since he had never heard of him and questioned his knowledge of drilling rigs like the Deepwater Horizon. Kaluza was filling in on the rig while another company man was away for well-control training.
"I challenged BP on the decision. We didn't know who this individual was," Johnson said.
But he said BP assured him Kaluza was competent and experienced.
Kaluza invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination before prior hearings, but his attorney, Shaun Clarke, cross-examined witnesses Monday. During questions for Cramond, Clarke noted that Kaluza had overseen drilling operations on BP's Thunderhorse platform, which could produce oil and natural gas and drill new wells. ...

Drilling engineer for BP may take the Fifth

One of BP's onshore drilling engineers is expected to decline to testify at a joint U.S. Coast Guard/Bureau of Energy Management hearing today, invoking his Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself.
An attorney for Brian Morel is expected to make an appearance before the board that is overseeing a joint investigation of the Deepwater Horizon accident on behalf of his client. Morel's attorney declined comment in an e-mail. ...
It may not look good to take the Fifth, Schafer added, but it is the safest thing for someone to do.
"Just ask Roger Clemens," he said, referring to the former Astros pitcher who was indicted last week for allegedly lying to Congress about his use of steroids.

One for the lawyers.

Down here in Oz, the government can convene a Royal Commission, which amongst its powers has the ability to compel testimony. Royal Commissions are very heavy handed tools and we don't see too many.

Clearly there is an issue here with the investigations of DWH. The public interest isn't exactly being served by key players asserting their 5th amendment rights. So, what mechanisms do exist to get testimony? One assumes that actually charging these guys with a crime would work to a limited extent, but that isn't exactly the nature of things here. Or do you need to cut an indemnification deal? (With all the pitfalls for both sides that that entails.)

Actually not "one for the lawyers", but rather "one for the people". The US Constitution states very openly that "No person . . . shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself".

This is in the Fifth Amendment, which was one of the first ten amendments, generally called the "Bill of Rights".

In this case there has been a lot of talk by many parties about hanging from the nearest tree anyone associated with BP. I don't really blame key parties for using their rights under the US Constitution to avoid that utter circus (mis)led by the USCG and MMS.

I am not trying to blame or exonerate anyone who may or may not be at fault. However, the so-called investigation has been a complete joke. Very poor organization and control; little more than a posturing stage for all the lawyers.

Or do you need to cut an indemnification deal?

Yes, "taking the Fifth" refers to the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution in our Bill of Rights, so it's pretty ironclad. I think the only way to compel testimony is to grant immunity from prosecution. They could offer him a plea deal, but they'd have to be pretty certain of his guilt, and he'd have to be willing to acknowledge it.

The regular company man probably learned so much at his well-control workshop that it was worth missing the big safety celebration aboard the DWH.

apparently, things are looking just fine in the gulf :


lukitas - from your link :

"CTEH, in other word, is monitoring the possible toxic effects on workers of the chemicals BP has unleashed, and it is doing this at BP’s expense. In short, CTEH is being paid by BP to check up on BP. This is a conflict of interest so flagrant it is like a murder suspect hiring the forensic experts who will examine the murder scene."
In this context here is an article from NYT :


"It's essentially the fox guarding the chicken coop," said Nicholas Cheremisinoff, a former Exxon chemical engineer who now consults on pollution prevention.

"There is a huge incentive for them to under-report" the size of the spill, Cheremisinoff added, and "the same thing applies on the health and safety side."

Sun Herald:

Feinberg: ‘You be the judge’

... Clyde H. “Buddy” Gunn III was one of the attorneys in the audience who represents BP claimants. He said after the meeting that his associate, attorney Judy Guice of Biloxi, checked the new claims process this morning and was told the claimants she called about would need to resubmit documentation, even though Feinberg had said the paperwork would be automatically transferred.

“By checking it today,” Gunn said, “you see that it’s not working as they’re promising, but it would be unfair not to give them a short period of time to get their system straightened out.”

BP to reimburse Realtors, agents with losses

State Realtors associations in Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida are devising a process for distributing funds. National Catastrophe Adjusters Inc. will administer the real estate fund as an independent third party, the Mississippi association said. ...

Feinberg had not initially contemplated compensation for Realtors and agents, but acknowledged they were the most vocal group at town hall meetings he has held across the Gulf about the claims process.

Should offshore rigs have stand-by boats at all times? That is one of the questions that was asked of Transocean rig manager Paul Johnson during the hearings in Houston yesterday.

He said yes and I totally agree. In years past I have worked with E&P companies where this was a company rule, then it changed to only during certain higher risk activities during the well and then that process just went away.

I think that BOEMRE and or Coast Guard should mandate this right now, for all drilling, completion, and workover operations in the United states waters. This one safety addition is an easy common sense change that could save lives in the future.

With all the workboats coming and going delieving supplies, water, and vitals, you would think a workboat would be in the area almost all the time. Sometimes workboats will move away if they sense trouble.

May be we need a good samaritan law to protect a captain and crew. The captain-and any other licensed personnel-could loose his license if the vessel sinks or is seriously damaged while he is trying to rescue or other operations.

"With all the workboats coming and going delieving supplies, water, and vitals, you would think a workboat would be in the area almost all the time."

No! absolutley not and I don't think it's good to trust "chance" as a safety net. I don't know if you have ever worked in deepwater and ultra deepwater, but there are very few vessels making deliveries that far out. Even rigs in shelf areas can be in a remote location where boats can rarely be seen. There are current maritime rules (from my untrained memory) that force vessels to resond to an emergency.

I have worked on drill ships and we had work boats coming and going all the time. However, this is in my itty bitty world and I have no experience in the ultra deep.

Well in the area of Mississippi canyon(where the Horizon was) there normally are many vessels, due to multiple shipping lanes, now in areas further east and west even in shallow water vessels can be rare. What I'm calling for is what in the GOM we call "utility boats". I worked on Jack-ups, platform rigs, snubbing units, and various deepwater rigs, where having at least a cheap utility boat in the area was a must according to some operators and this is not much to ask for a safety factor.

You can even have boat sharing program where multiple rigs in one general area could share a boat that can be sent to either rig within minutes.


Last nights operation on the 3-RAM Sealing Leaking Stack.

Baton Rouge newspaper reporting Assumption Parish well blowout has stopped on it's own this AM.

OIM Jimmy Harrell takes the Fifth, does not return for more questions.

Lotsa talk about BP's poor well plan for casing etc. I assume the plan was OKed by the Gumment Agency which issued the permits. Weren't the BOPs tested and passed 2 weeks before the BO?

I will bet that somewhere there is a writen approval of the type cement run number of centralizers etc. Speaking of casing centralizers. They are bow spring type and there has always been a lot odoubt about how much good they do. 100s of thousands of pounds of casing shoving the bow spring centralizers against the annulus wall? And always remember Halliburton sells the things so they always recomend a plentiful number.

Years ago I was working on a well and we were running about 3000' of 5 1/2 below 7 5/8 casing and about the time we got the liner on bottom there was a change of plans by headquarters so we pulled the liner out of the hole. The centralizers were flat. That really ruined what faith I ever had in the ability of bow spring centralizers in centralizing casing

"I will bet that somewhere there is a writen approval of the type cement run number of centralizers etc."

Passaloutre, I would bet that you would loose your bet, if your are saying that MMS approves, approved or mandates the type of cement or the number of centralizers run on a given casing job. An APD submitted to MMS does not generally include the type of cement used on any given section of the well and it would never include the amount of centralizers used on a casing run. APD's submitted to MMS and now BOEMRE does have the amount of cubic feet of cement to be used on a given casing run anything else dealing with cement is normally not mandated from my knowledge.

I've been watching the hearing in Houston on C-span and the topic of "negative test" was another issue that most people including those in the legal group in that crowd probably don't realize, Negative test are not mandated by law according to the CFR's that I'm familiar with. Negative test were actually extremely rare and that makes it totally understandable that the Transocean guys may have dropped the ball on the results of that test.

Tad Patzek on how the Spill occurred

On WNYC's Leonard Lopate show at noon today, Leonard had Tad Patzek, Professor and Chair, Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, and Michael Stocker, Director of Ocean Conservation Research. The program and its MP3 can be accessed here http://beta.wnyc.org/shows/lopate/2010/aug/24/more-bp-oil-spill/ along with an earlier interview with Prof. Patzek on Aug 10, http://beta.wnyc.org/shows/lopate/2010/aug/10/background-bp-oil-spill/ . The quality of the interview was highly professional with a notable absence of fear-mongering and I recommend it highly.

I learned the following for the first time in Patzek's reconstruction of the events immediately prior to the blowout:
1. The crew was deliberately recirculating treated mud* with the objective of disposing it at sea to avoid the expense of onshore disposal! Adds Greed to Injury, doesn't it!
2. The mix of seawater and mud compromised accurate inference from guages at the well head of the ability of the mud/seawater column to contain the HC in the reservoir.
3. In Patzek's reconstruction the cement and the BOP do not figure as primary culprits.

In Stocker's interview, he distinguished between the fate of the methane, "true oil" and BTEX plumes. He says there are plumes to the north of the blowout site as well as the SW BTEX plume published last week. Stocker emphasized the barrier to open scientific study of incidents when they occur when a combination of commercial, liabilty and Federal oversight creates the ugly scenes we saw with the BP spill where CG and local police harass independent observers.

Finally, Patzek expressed reservations regarding the adequacy of new regulations for deep sea wells although he had praise for the multiple barrier approach (exclusive of the BOP) adopted by Shell and others ... but not BP!

*Edit 1 based on review of the Podcast (which is now available):
At 3:27 into the Podcast, Patzek says "they then did something that they probably shouldn't have done. They had 454 barrels of .. lost circulation mud .. that could be pumped overboard if it came out of the well."

*edit 2: I have now found that this subject (the 454 barrels) is addressed in the following TOD comment http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6827#comment-698299

What is Skandia II doing. Quite a bit of mud coming out right now.

The well flows purple, now what?


bad bad bad

there was a very bright center light. Note I dont say fire..but a bright light. THEN it flowed purple. What are they flushing this with? Draino?

The well exploded ... here is the video to that picture.

(Don't watch under influence ...)


And yes, the ROV Skandi 2 could need some color adjustment.

Its stopped now. But if this was a part on my boat engine..I would be worried. Prognosis please, MoonofA.

The deep water version of Colon irrigation.

Kind of like starting a water logged engine by pouring in gas to the carburator--then tossing in a match.Not that a match or gasoline was used..but looks like a real encouragement happened.

Weird blue and green-ish lights can often put out a good bit in the UV range and make UV-reactive stuff glow. Some of the ROVs have distinctly blue- and green-appearing lights, at least when viewed from another ROV.

Bright light? You mean the yellow cap to protect the sealing surfaces on the stub that's been there since like the day after they shut the oil off?

I'm thinking Lithium -- it generates heat when exposed to water and could've ignited the resulting Hydrogen gas. It also turns pink/purple during this process. Thoughts?

You still don't have an oxidiser. Oil, hydrogen, whatever. No oxidiser, no combustion. Any group one metal will displace hydrogen from water. Lithium is the least reactive, and it also floats, which makes things a bit hard. But even if you used Caesium, which reacts quite strongly, all you get is a stream of Hydrogen gas.

I'm thinking that they would've put it down there purposefully; they would cover what they need, being such great scientific minds. Are you saying that it wouldn't produce heat?

Oil would be an oxidizer for the Lithium? That doesn't sound quite right but it's been a long time since I was in college and I'm sure you have a better grasp of this stuff than I do.

What ideas do you have? Clearly, something out of the ordinary happened down there; I'm really curious about it.

Oil would be an oxidizer for the Lithium?

Nope. You tend to store reactive metals under oil to keep them safe.

A lump of really reactive metal in water would create some heat - but down there, not enough to even boil the water, let alone create any light. Water metal reactions are self limiting too. The evolving hydrogen gas forms a skin that limits the rate at which water can come in contact with the metal.

Mostly these weird visions are little more than cool lighting effects. There are quite a few ROVs down there, and many times there can be one out of frame that is either pushing water around with its jets, or illuminating the subject from a different angle. Backlit clouds can look pretty impressive.

At the depth of the wellhead things get weird. 5000 feet results in a very high pressure, so much so that conventional notions of physics of many processes simply don't hold.

Glorious, Nubs! (applause applause)

Now here's a fellow doing what all us Felidae fans would love to: cuddle with the mud-lovers' tawny neighbors (without getting killed). Note the very brief snippet of hyena in there, too.


Good lord. St. Francis of the big cats. That's just short of supernatural.


Being a cat and speaking their language. Works for the little ones as well. Amazing vid.


Buncha [gorgeous] drunks.

As a confirmed F type, that was the most amazing thing I have seen.

Laid out with a flu' right now, that really brought a smile to my face.

Drat that flu, Francis -- if it helps make you feel better, keep playing the tape!

Somewhere before I've seen a YouTube of this guy meeting up with the black-maned pride leader he'd raised as a cub but then released and not seen for years. The lion (accompanied by his lionesses and cubs) slowly recognizes him and makes a joyous run that knocks him down into a happy roll-around whose next news is a general pileup of new friends. I think this lion is the one he walks up to on the dirt path to scritch his chin, "Hello good boy, good boy, hello my good boy."

But I declare, his winning over the hyenas amazes me even more (note the teeth in that one loller's grin!). How the heck do you initiate huggy relations with a hyena pack? And whoa, check out this tape -- mostly repeat footage, but now he's also palling around with a warthog and even a croc. Incredible!

Looks like the Enterprise video now has a Pipecam view operating, although nothing to see yet.

Video feed of CG hearings not working for me.

Working for anyone else?

Wouldn't the oil eating bugs try and get into the BOP since they obviously like to eat the oil causing the BOP to malfunction? Since they are evidently eating the plume?

They already did, run for your life.


Newly discovered oil-eating microbe ‘flourishing’ in Gulf

Researchers say previously unknown microbe thriving by eating spilled oil in Gulf of Mexico

A newly discovered type of oil-eating microbe is suddenly flourishing in the Gulf of Mexico.

Scientists discovered the new microbe while studying the underwater dispersion of millions of gallons of oil spilled into the Gulf following the explosion of BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.

And the microbe works without significantly depleting oxygen in the water, researchers led by Terry Hazen at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif., reported Tuesday in the online journal Sciencexpress.


If true, that's the best news BP's ever had, eh, snakehead? (Oh, and dare I say, the Gulf's best too.)

That'd be good news all around. Hazen's the guy who came out a few days ago and said he'd be surprised if the 22 mile plume still existed.

Thanks for the find. The research report is behind a paywall, but here's an optimistic snippet from the abstract:

Changes in hydrocarbon composition with distance from the source and incubation experiments with environmental isolates demonstrate faster-than-expected hydrocarbon biodegradation rates at 5°C. Based on these results, the potential exists for intrinsic bioremediation of the oil plume in the deep-water column without substantial oxygen drawdown.

Very different from the Camilli group's view that degradation is barely happening in the plumes. The supplement to the Hazen article (graphs and stuff) is on the open web. If I interpret rightly, they are showing short half-lives for alkanes and also significant diffusion of the plume.

Fig 52 of the supplement shows distribution of oil fractions by depth. BTEX is at 1000-1200 m (Camilli showed 600-1300m). Alkanes are at the surface and in the plume below 1000m. PAHs are at 0-150m. (Why not in the plume? Surely they are there too.) There's a zone in the middle depths that apparently doesn't have too much junk in it.

It's good news for sure, but caution is wise. Scientists, being similar in many respects to human beings, are known to sometimes inflate the importance of their work, especially when the discovery of a new species that does wonderful things is involved.

Scientists, being similar in many respects to human beings ...


I would question the "new" species part, considering the great coincidence of it being discovered at this particular time. Not saying it isn't a new species, just will need some investigation before I'm ready to believe it isn't new in the sense of being genetically engineered.

just will need some investigation before I'm ready to believe it isn't new in the sense of being genetically engineered

Mweehee, nepeta. Proving once again that unintended comedy is always the funniest!


You think my comment was comedic? I did a bit of research before posting it. Oil-eating bacteria have been high on the priority list for bioengineering projects. The outcomes so far have been disappointing in that after being introduced to a natural environment, the bioengineered bacteria tend to be out-competed by the naturally-occuring bacteria, hence the new ones die off rather rapidly. Still, work is continuing using the idea of rapid evolution to make them more competitive.

You think my comment was comedic? I did a bit of research before posting it

Yes, I do, both on its own terms and because I too recently read up on the bioengineers' abject failures to beat Nature. They got nuttin', as you know.

Yes, but what about Corexit-induced mutation? Or could these be the alien fire-bugs that some observers detected in the spillcam footage?

The firebugs are real.

Not quite true, Lotus. I didn't save links but one scientist with his own biotech company is having promising results using evolution (a speedy process with bacteria) to increase competitiveness. Darn, I didn't catch the date on the source either. So, not necessarily an abject failure, just a matter of time if not already successful.

Well, the ones I read about a couple of weeks ago (including a guy in Gainesville, whom Charlie Crist had funded) were all coming up way short.

No more X-Files episodes for you !! LOL

Oo weee ooo

Scientists, being similar in many respects to human beings

We resemble that remark! ;-)

It is cause for some hope though because Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is a respected source. But, yes, too soon and too little know about the new species to make too many assumptions. Time will tell.

Good to always extra cautious concerning anything that is positioned as a "silver bullet." BTW, institutional press releases spin too and media reporting can amplify (even science media); usually more optiistic than the science itself.

Just a general comment.

I for one think we just might be seeing something totally new here. Too many good people are looking for the oil/plumes/whatever and coming up short.

I’m not saying that it is this new species is the answer to “Where is the oil?”, but it may be something or a series of somethings previously unknown. Our knowledge of these procesess is not complete.

Whenever empirical observations don’t turn out as predicted or the data doesn’t fit the generally-accepted model, one typically (1) double and triple checks everything to rule out mistakes; (2) looks some more; and (3) start looking entirely new things that were previously unknown.

“Where is the oil?” may indicate that some previously unknown process is at work. Because the size of this spill is unprecedented and so much attention and resources are now looking at the GOM, we may move our understanding forward a notch. Could be one of the small bright spots in this whole sordid affair.

May be there is a little difference between "previously unknown" and "new"....
TOD was previously unknown to me, but is definitely not new.
But the GOM needs good news...

Hazen’s interpretation has its skeptics. “Most of the science associated with this spill has been oversimplified,” says John Kessler, a chemical oceanographer at Texas A&M University in College Station. In a good-faith effort to make sense of what’s going on, many researchers look to offer interpretations based on too few data, he charges.

For instance, he says, “what Hazen was measuring was a component of the entire hydrocarbon matrix,” which is a complex mix of literally thousands of different molecules. Although the few molecules described in the new paper in Science may well have degraded within weeks, Kessler says, “there are others that have much longer half-lives — on the order of years, sometimes even decades.”


If I understand correctly, the Hazen report emphasized the alkanes, which make up a large fraction of the oil, but are not as hazardous as some other fractions. It found extremely short half-lives for the alkanes, just a few days, which is astonishing at those cold temperatures. There are other bacteria that eat alkanes very efficiently at warm temperatures, and likely the alkanes are about gone from the surface layers as well. Obviously there are other fractions that are much harder to break down, especially the asphaltenes that will probably persist for decades.

There isn't "oil" in the Gulf to speak of, or Corexit either; it's a bunch of oil components that have different environmental fates. What we need to look out for is what happens to the BTEX and PAHs.

If these bugs are not depleting the oxygen levels does that mean they're anaerobic? If they are, then they're likely eliminating H2S instead of relatively harmless hydrogen and CO2. Thoughts?

From what I've read, the anaerobic bugs are to slow to be of much use. There was some O2 depletion, but the researchers see a glass half full.

Hard to say, though the most recent report from Terry Hazen, et. al. from Lawrence Berkeley found that over 90% of the microbe sequences found within the plume belong to a single family of known hydrocarbon degraders. Their concentration was highly correlated with the presence of Macondo hydrocarbons and, interestingly, that the communities appear to be rapidly adapting to the specific composition of the hydrocarbons.

Edited to include: There doesn't appear to be any evidence that they are attacking anything other than hydrocarbon components.

Andromeda Strain......

:-) Okay, just so we don't have any flashing red lights.......

What happens if the microbe is found to be an endangered species that will go extinct without more oil?

Export to Nigeria.

+200 Heh! Heh!

Gimme Five - you glibly guy !

Here are a few comments on the actual Science article behind my institution's library-license paywall (not too much, 'cause it's past my bedtime).

The article citation is: Hazen, T.C., et al. Deep-sea oil plume enriches indigenous oil-degrading bacteria. Science, Published online August 24, 2010.

First, it is easy to overinterpret the magazine accounts you've so nicely found, because they include statements made in other recent news reports regarding Hazen's work, cited on TOD in the last couple days, which address more recent findings not covered in the current article.

The current article addresses only samples taken in the period 25-May to 2-Jun, quite early in the overall 20-Apr to 15-Jul spill. (This matter of when samples were taken is of paramount importance; ignoring this causes much misunderstanding.) Composition of the sampled oil indicated that it was MC252 oil. Temperature in place was 4.7 degrees C.

The main point of the article is to characterize the microbial communities found inside the plume and nearby but outside it. Cell densities and biomass inside the plume were roughly double the levels found outside the plume, indicating growth of populations induced by the oil. Microbial communities in the plume were quite different than outside the plume. 951 kinds of bacteria were found inside the plume, but only 16 were significantly more abundant inside than outside the plume. Most of these latter are known to degrade oil and to grow rapidly in the presence of oil in cold environments.

The article goes on to further characterize the identity of plume microbes, finding that a single "operational taxonomic unit" (presumably a species--but that's a separate scientific problem) dominated in all the plume samples. This evidence and discussion comprises a large part of the article.

The authors infer that a diverse community of oil-degrading microbes was present and showed rapid response to the presence of deep-sea oil. They also infer existence of a high potential for intrinsic bioremediation in this situation.

Finally, the authors conducted two calculations of maximum bioremediation rates based on quite different tests, one for field data and another for laboratory microcosms involving C13-C26 n-alkanes. Despite the quite different circumstances, these calculations were judged to be fairly similar, yielding oil half-lives of 1.2 to 6.1 days. There is more, related evidence and discussion, which the authors state supports the idea that biodegradation causes disappearance of these oil fractions from the plume.

So, this is an early report on early samples. We must await further publications to see for ourselves the evidence about the state/fate of the undersea oil plume later on.

Thanks so much for bringing this, NRD. (I was looking forward to what you'd make of the news and now am fascinated to see which way things head as study and publication proceed.)

Think the BOP did windowpane or blotter acid?

Way back when, there was a major mining disaster in the US where the only survivors were rescued via a borehole that fortuitously had already been drilled. Back in college days I actually worked in that mine. Best sleep I ever had was 3700 feet underground, nothing so dark and cozy, like being back in your momma's womb.

Slightly off topic, though IMO of interest.....

Further support for the view that the Gulf is recovering faster than originally predicted came out today in an online journal, Sciencexpress (from the AAAs).

Terry Hazen with the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab conducted the study between May 25 & June 2 and reported findings today in a report titled: "Deep-Sea Oil Plume Enriches Indigenous Oil-Degrading Bacteria".

Among the more interesting findings are:
- while the density of hydrocarbon-eating microbes within the plume was 2+ times the density outside the plume, oxygen levels within the plume were not dramatically lower (59% vs 67%)
- evidence that dispersant aided microbial breakdown of the hydrocarbons
- an apparent new (cold water) microbe dominated activity within the plume

Altogether, the report suggests that the areas impacted by the hydrocarbon plume are in the midst of an efficient and effective recovery. The report also shows how both the Woods Hole study and the LBNL study can be "correct". I believe this will have some (positive) impact on ultimate costs and penalties to bp.

Various newswires have posted summaries (e.g. AP, Washington Post) but of course for members of AAAS the complete report is available online. http://aaasmember.sciencemag.org/

Thanks for the WaPo tip, craig. More from there:

The Gulf of Mexico ecosystem was ready and waiting for something like the Deepwater Horizon blowout, and seems to have made the most of it, a new scientific study suggests.

Petroleum-eating bacteria - which had dined for eons on oil seeping naturally through the sea floor - proliferated in the cloud of oil that drifted underwater for months after the April 20 accident. They not only outcompeted fellow microbes, they each ramped up their own internal metabolic machinery to digest the oil as efficiently as possible.

The result was a nature-made cleanup crew capable of reducing the amount of oil in the undersea "plume" by half about every three days, according to research published online Tuesday by the journal Science.

The findings, by a team of scientists led by Terry C. Hazen of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laborator, in California, help explain one of the biggest mysteries of the disaster - where has all the oil gone?

"What we know about the degradation rates fits with what we are seeing in the last three weeks," Hazen said. "We've gone out to the sites and we don't find any oil but we do find the bacteria." ...

The plume's whereabouts has been a contentious matter.

In the Woods Hole study published last week, scientists described finding an undersea oil cloud on June 23 to 27 similar to the one Hazen and his colleagues found between May 25 and June 2 - which was similar to one found soon after by people from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

But in early August, two weeks after the well was plugged July 15, scientists from the federal government argued that half the oil was gone from the water and the rest was disappearing fast. That assertion was seen as unreasonably rosy to many experts.

However, Hazen's calculation of the speed with which bacteria consumed the oil - combined with his recent findings that oil can no longer be detected in deep Gulf waters - supports the credibility of all those positions.

"We were all right," he said. ...

Science News has this also. There appears to be a lot of argument about what's going on there, so I'm not going to cheer yet.

A certain degree of skepticism may be in order.

Snake, agreed though I think this ongoing debate illustrates the current state of society's ability to understand complex systems.

Of course. Can't even get a plain old BOP to work.

There are an uncountable numbers of examples. Just by itself, the notion that humans can accurately model complex dynamic systems without even being able to identify all the variables is a solid basis for skepticism. Then there's the propensity to want to produce desired results.

Ha! Weather prediction comes to mind too.....

Am looking forward to similar studies of the impact on near/onshore environments.....though I suppose those secret middle-of-the-night forays of dispersant spraying may mess those up :-)

Your comment brought to mind an article in September's Discover Magazine, "The Incredible Shrinking Brain," in which the author, John Hawks, states that the human brain has been getting smaller and smaller since the Stone Age - and no one is sure why. One of the theories is that as complex societies emerged, brains shrank because those previously unable to survive by wits alone could now scrape by with the help of others. So, human ability to understand complex systems may not be forthcoming!

Now that one's pretty fascinating, nepeta. I'll hafta go see if it's online. Thanks for the tip.

At the risk of having two pet hypotheses trashed in one day, I second the idea that natural selection for intelligence stopped some time ago. I mean, really, how much intelligence does it take to survive in 21st century technological societies compared to what it took to survive in a stone age cultures? We hear all the time about how complex our modern society is, but it just doesn't ring true to my ears. It seems to me that we have engineered the need for intelligence out of daily life. A small band of people surviving by their wits using tools of wood, fiber and stone, now that took some intelligence.

But this is just rehashing Isaac Asimov's old ideas about the inevitable fall of technological cultures,

And Asimov didn't even factor peak oil into the Seldon equation.

"John Hawks, states that the human brain has been getting smaller and smaller since the Stone Age."

I suppose it is the right hemisphere that shrinks.
I remember pictures of the tsunami in Thailand, when people stood there as cool as a cucumber watching and videotaping the big wave.
Most people have lost their sense for dangers.

This movie says it all about society "dumbing down". The 1st ten minute 'spoiler' here is all you need, but the rest is worth a rent for sardonic laughs. The first minute is all you need to support the Discovery(?) article.

BP Oil Plume Eaten by Newly Found Microbes: Study

These latest findings may initially seem to be at odds with a study published Thursday in Science by researchers from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, which confirmed the existence of the oil plume and said micro-organisms did not seem to be biodegrading it very quickly.

However, Hazen and Rich Camilli of Woods Hole both said Tuesday that the studies complement each other.

The Woods Hole team used an autonomous robot submarine and a mass spectrometer to detect the plume, but were forced to leave the area in late June, when Hurricane Alex threatened. At that time, they figured the plume was likely to remain for some time.

But that was before the well was capped in mid-July. Hazen said that within two weeks of the capping, the plume could not be detected, but there was a phenomenon called marine snow that indicated microbes had been feasting on hydrocarbons.

As of Tuesday, there was no sign of the plume, Hazen said.

"Marine snow" is a component of sea poo?

Here is a copy of the agreement between BP and the University of California if anyone is interested.

Dated November 9, 2007


Brit et al

In the previous thread you were asking about methane fractions in the produced fluids from Macondo, and wondering about oil volumes versus total hydrocarbon volumes for the purposes of fining BP.

I don't believe that the reservoir fluids have a methane content of 40% by weight as you suggested. This was attributed in the article you posted to statements made by Kessler from Texas A and M during a phone call with journalists, and many of them simply quoted the 40% without the 'weight' making me think that he may not have said it.

For a light relatively high GOR oil like this I'd expect the molar percentage of methane to be perhaps in the range 50 - 60%, but I'd be very surprised if the weight percentage was more than, say 10-15%. In other words for every 100 molecules whizzing about in the oil, more than half will be methane molecules, but for every 100g of reservoir oil the methane will probably contribute no more than 10 - 15g.

I can fully understand the confusion surrounding the reporting of volumes. It is normal practice in the industry to quote volumes and rates at standard surface conditions. So for example if I say a well is flowing at 50,000 barrels per day, I should really say that it is flowing at 50,000 stb/d. In oil field speak stb stands for stock tank barrels. And for a gas-oil-ratio of 2000 cubic feet of gas per barrel of oil, we would say 2000 scf/stb (ie standard cubic feet per stock tank barrel). The standard conditions for gas and oil are close to typical atmospheric conditions.

Quoting the conditions at which the volume measurement is made is very important as the temperature and pressure affect not only the density of the fluids in question, but also the equilibrium between the gas and oil phases. I had a go at explaining this a few weeks ago here :


What we know from records during production of reservoir fluids across the Enterprise via the riser system used in June and July is that at surface separator conditions, for every barrel of oil produced, the volume of gas accompanying it was around 2000 cubic feet. The gas exiting the separator may then have dropped a tiny volume of liquid in the lines on the way to the flare - we'll ignore these. And the separator oil will have evolved a little bit more gas when cooling down to stock tank conditions. We can ignore that too since we are talking rough numbers.

So its reasonable to say that the produced oil from the well has a GOR of around 2000 scf/stb, and from measurements on the stock tank oil and the separator gas we know that the oil density is around 38 API and the gas gravity was around 0.69 (air=1), though higher numbers for the latter were quoted early on in the production operation.

To understand what the oil is like in the reservoir we have to stick all those gas molecules back into the oil phase. The volume of the oil goes up, and its density decreases. What we'd expect for this oil is that for every barrel of oil measured at the stock tank, we would have had about 2 barrels of oil in the reservoir. This factor of 2 is known as the 'oil shrinkage factor' or more properly as the 'oil formation volume factor'.

As the oil enters the well and rises up the well bore, it will reach a point at which gas starts to evolve from the liquid phase. During the uncontrolled venting to the seafloor, more gas will have been evolved (and calculating flow rates in stb/d from observations of the plume velocity will have been complicated by the need to account for gas fractions, and also volumetric corrections to standard conditions). Gas would continue to evolve as the oil rose to the surface and pressure decreased still further.

In an idealised case, on arrival at the surface, the volumes of liquid phase hydrocarbons in the 'spill' would probably be reasonably close to the sort of stock tank volumes you'd expect if the oil had instead been produced via a surface facility. And I guess you'd want to base the fine on that.

But the system is of course much more complicated. Ignoring what happens to the evolved gas molecules (much of which probably went to hydrates or solution), some of the remaining liquid phase hydrocarbons may have been suspended in micro droplets and never made it to the surface (they would retain more gas molecules due to the higher pressure and would not shrink so much - would you fine for this higher volume?). And some of the lighter liquid fractions may have been soluble in the sea water and also never made it to the surface, and others may have been biodegraded in the water or very rapidly on emerging at the surface.

I haven't seen any definitions for what the fine would be based on, but for simplicity I think you'd want to make it on the liquid phase of the fluids evolved from the reservoir converted to stock tank conditions. To make the case they will need a formal PVT analysis on the fluids to allow this conversion, and also of course the billion dollar question - an idea of the flow rate. I don't know how rigorous the flow rate team have been in quoting their rates at standard conditions. As has been commented many times, this will be a tough case to make and a starting point in some sort of negotiated settlement.

BTW if there is anyone on here from California perhaps they can send an email to this Congresswoman to see if she had any response on her query to BP :


I tried but failed the zip code test…..

Thank for that post. An excerpt from something I read on deepwater releases recently:

Jet Phase: The speed of the oil and natural gas being expelled
from the pressurized, confined space of the well into the water
makes the oil form droplets and the gas form bubbles.

Plume Phase: The momentum of these tiny droplets and bubbles drags significant volumes of sea water upward into the water column, forming a plume. In deeper water, so much water is incorporated into the plume that eventually, the oil–natural gas–water mix is no longer buoyant, and the plume will become suspended at what is called the terminal layer. If heavier components sink out of the suspension, the plume may reform and begin to rise again.

Post-terminal Phase: Once the plume reaches the final terminal layer, the rise of the oil and gas to the surface is driven purely
by the buoyancy of the individual droplets and bubbles.


Some thing I was curious about after reading a little bit on multiphase fluids. Would the effects of turbidity introduced into the fluid at the area it was being released in have any effect on how gas was released from the fluid ? I was wondering if it were possible that a slight emulsion was happening as the fluids were being forced past the obstructions in the BOP at HT/HP.

The other thing I was curious about is if it's possible that the gas that went into solute ( methane ) could have effectively slightly lowered the overall density of the water in the area ?

Thanks again for that great post, my apologies if these questions have been answered before.


2 good questions and I'm afraid I don't know the answer to either!

I'd guess for the second one that the impact on the bulk density of the water would be minimal. I've taken lots of water samples before from the water legs that underlie gas reservoirs. They are often saturated with methane (and other HCs) and we flash the gas out of the samples at atmospheric conditions and check on compositions. The gas liquid ratios are usually tiny, and the density change not measurable.

Do you have the citation on what you read?

It has been too long since I took physical chemistry to provide a direct answer. A bit dubious about formation of an emulsion, but only really guessing. From what I've read, the "jet phase" ended very quickly, within inches/feet of the point of ejection. From what I observed from ROV ropes and tools going through the flow at various times before the top hat was installed, it looked like the flow slowed as soon as it quickly reached ambient pressure. All of the HC rolling out from under the top hat, once it was installed, came out at ambient pressure. However, to repeat, overall it's only a guess on my part.

I do have one cite for you about your density change question. See http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V2S-4DFBS83-1...

This cite isn’t about methane but about density change of carbon dioxide seawater solution at high pressure and low temperature.


Some more questions, again , apologies if they have already been answered or addressed.)

Something I have been reading a great deal about is ultrasonic emulsifications and how they are formed, reasons being, sonar usage in the area , but also how cavitation can be produced in different ways, such as Venturi nozzles, high pressure nozzles, high velocity rotation, or ultrasonic transducers ( used to measure flow rates through the BOP stack, no ? ). I realize the aperture would ot be so much considered a traditional Venturi tube , but the principle in my mind is the same, flow travels in large area, constricted to a smaller area, and back out again to a larger area.

Also, the process with ultrasound is done with surfactants. Anyway, I ask those of you willing, to venture into the twilight zone,...no wait 'slaps forehead'....what I meant to say, is " will you read this webpage ?"


Then another thought/brain-stretcher

Cathodic protection of the BOP stack, and the possibility of electrical emulsification/slight emulsification aided by ""( I know , I reaching here, I'm bored. )

Perhaps someone here will reply about sonar power and frequency being used here. It has been mentioned here before some weeks ago but I can't find it now.

My impression is that sonar used here: (1) sonar power too low; (2) sonar frequency too low (use different frequencies from what I remember); (3) volume of fluid too high; (4) flow too great; and (5) range of effect to short for sonar to have any measurable sonication of a fluid.

No sonar experience on my part, though; maybe someone here has.

From your cite:

(400 watts, 24kHz) is our most powerful laboratory device. With sonotrodes of a diameter range from 3 to 40mm the device is suited for the sonication of sample volumes from 5 to 4000ml. In flow approx. 10 to 50 liters per hour can be sonicated.

The industrial units up to 16kw are pretty large.

However, on a similar topic, I've been wondering if the sonar sweeps and seismic surveys have had any effect on the activity of the fauna on the bottom. In other words, did Amphipoda become more active? No supporting data, just a "wild hare" thought.

Interesting question.

Sonication is used to disrupt biological membranes of bacteria by exposing them to high frequency sound waves.

From what I can find so far, most ROV sonar seems to be around 650-700Khz, but then there are different types of sonar, ie, things like dual beam and dual frequency sonars.

High Frequency: typically less than five nautical miles.
Mid Frequency: typical ranges of 1-10 nautical miles.
Low Frequency: ranges up to 100 nautical miles

Sealion 3000 Deepwater Work Class ROV


I would be interested to know about the transducers they used on the stack, purely out of dense-headed curiosity.

A little bonus paper :


It's all about the groovy vibes........man.

I found the post from ROVMAN I was looking for. See http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6866#comment-704475

Actually, he was replying to you on Aug 19th:

If you are referring to the ROV mounted sonars that you sometimes see feeds from, they operate in the 330-700kHz range.


Somewhere else I recall reading that these type of sonars operate in the 50 watt range but some have a high-power range of a couple of hundred watts.

Thanks for going and digging that up, I had missed his reply.

I don't know about sonar frequency, however industrial sonification to form emulsions generally requires a pretty high energy density. Perhaps 0.1 - 1 watt per cm^3. Enough so that the fluid being treated may have to be cooled.

I don't think sonar is anywhere near this energy level.

Cavitation can be violent enough to form free radicals, i.e. knock electrons off the molecules being treated. This can be used to trigger chemical reactions under the right circumstances.

bignerd, again your generosity and clarity prove invaluable to pros and noobs alike. Message gratefully received.

And Isaac, thanks also for your very helpful addition on the phases.

thanks lotus, i've learned a huge amount from this site too, its becoming a serious addiction....


Thanks for explaining the many, many variables with calculating weight for HC. It certainly highlights one should be very skeptical of any number published. Any variables lacking a measured value require an assumption and this will contribute to inaccuracy. Also, there is the impedance mismatch between technical and non-technical folks that may result in numbers being used in the wrong place.

And thanks to Syncro for explaining the weight ratio would never enter conversations by the legal teams.

I feel kinda good about my crude ratio of 23.3% using NTP and API-35 since it's far closer to your estimate than the estimate of 40% in the Oil Summit report. Yes, the 40% value shouldn't be used.

I just heard from S. Sheppard on Fox News at about 2:19 pm CDT that the miners will not be rescued until Christmas. I pray for these men and I wish them a speedy rescue. I would probably ask for a gun and one bullet, but you know how 'Lethal Weapon' I get sometimes. If it is the case they will be there that long and survive, I rate that accomplishment equivalent to accomplishment of survivors of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571. I am glad the miners can receive food and medicines with topside as well as communicate. These must be very special men.

Christmas!!!!?? It was only 4 months this morning!

Deleted. Mad math :)

When do they celebrate Christmas where you are?

'bout 4 months from now. And with a bit of humor.

Whew -- I wuz skeert you'd hit the wassail early and there wouldn't be any lef' for us, tdm!

I'd just like to observe that this is the 18th anniversary of the day Hurricane Andrew hit south Dade County. I'd moved to Coral Gables exactly two weeks before to start law school and will never forget the days before, during, and especially after Andrew.

Dawn that morning revealed what looked like nuclear winter but felt Amazonian: not one leaf left on one branch of anything, no matter how hot and wet the air. I couldn't believe my senses -- or my luck. Whew.

Please, Neptune, don't send anyone any Cat 5s this year. We got all we can say grace over already.

Attn: CT fans. It's also the 1600th anniversary of the Visigoths successfully storming Imperial Rome.

Nah, Snake, no CT, they sang "in OhFourTen we took a little trip" and the pickins' were pretty good there in Rome.

Flappin' as hard as I can, snakehead!

Flapflapflapflapflapflapflap . . . . ............


I couldn't believe my senses -- or my luck. Whew.

Where did you hole up?

Luckily, at the center of my apartment (second -- top -- floor in a building that had survived the '26 hurricane) was a walk-in closet. Spent the night in there listening to howl and impact and watching my young cat disporting himself climbing two new silk blouses. The old building rocked like a ship, but in the morning, all it had lost was its front and rear doors and a bit of roof. Came out of it better than my blouses.

Are you a girlie-girl? Gee. I am impressed with your knowledge. Bigtime.

Are you a girlie-girl?

Not I, p'dancer. I'm more in the tailored, preppy school (when not at home in t-shirt/shorts/flipflops). But I do love the feel of silk. Re my alleged knowledge -- thank you, but I'm just the usual generalist English-major type who'll read anything (or try to, unless it's math, which stops me as cold as Swahili would). So I end up learning a little about a lot (TOD's constant surprises in all directions feed that habit gloriously).

You know, I checked out the comment thread on HO's linked post about drilling history yesterday morning. TOD was a much smaller community a year ago, and hardly any of the handles there show up on these Macondo threads. If we noobs have run off many old settlers, that's a shame -- but then again, the ones who've stuck around and put up with us have some rich rewards for their patience, don't they?

5th anniversary-ish of Katrina, too.

The stuck ram as seen by Boa Sub C 1:

That thing looks determined to stay right where it is. Looks like there's no need to constantly watch the overshot tool.

So if they can't get to the DP, do they do an "unbolt, lift and cut" on the existing Preventor and let the DP remains fall back?

My thought is, the capping stack has been wide open to the sea and nothing has happened. I'd take the slight risk of removing this piece of junk and replacing or fixing it. It's pretty obvious it can't be relied on to hold a problem anyway!

They were able to move the lower half of the shear. I watched it as it came up from the bottom and went underneath the upper (stuck) part. It had a very shallow V shape on the edge and it closed completely as I watched it. Can these jaws move independently or are they synchronized? Are they symmetrical in shape? I suppose one or the other or both has an especially hardened edge. Does anybody have a link to a picture of the BOP internals?

From the congressional investigation a while ago, on page 13. They both have hard edges. They are not synchronized.


That is a helpful link - finally some diagrams of what the BOP looked like.

Does anyone have any more?

The ram looks like it has suction cups on the inside face of it.Like an octopus arm.

Totally OT but thought I would mention it.

My fiancee and his partner went out this morning shrimping and after 6 hours of dragging they caught a total of 20 shrimp. So it's not looking promising so far. And it's not like they do not know where to go to catch them. After 16+ years of doing this they know where to go.

Dang, tiny. Remember that shrimper the T-P (I think it was) quoted when Louisiana opened its season a few days ago -- between the oil and the freshwater infusion, he said, "the shrimp don't know which way to run" (or something close to that). Hope they figure it out and come on home soon!

15 scallops in Sarasota Bay ain't too promising either!


For those who might be interested, Greenpeace "Arctic Sunrise" is now in the Gulf investigating the oil's effect on marine life. Don't know whether they'll get into the oil plume debates or not. There is a daily blog(s) from the ship that is quite interesting.


Wonderful. Hope I don't make too many TODers mad, but IMO Greenpeace is the world's biggest cuckoo's nest.

Sadly I have to agree. There was a time when they did good things, but now they have become more an exercise in self perpetuation. It is in their interests to find the worst in any environmental disaster. Scientific rigour does not fit well with a political agenda, no matter which side you are on. Greenpeace are first and foremost a political entity. And they do not feel themselves subject to any peer review. If they found good news you can be sure they would be "economical with the truth".

Concur. Advocacy and politics generally doesn't produce good science.


But Greenpeace IS an advocacy/political group! It's involved mostly in efforts to preserve planet earth, particularly the oceans and their inhabitants. They advocate against such things as baby seal hunting in Canada and Japanese whaling. One of Greenpeace's major interests is global warming and its effect on the oceans. Although they invite scientists to come aboard when appropriate, the results of that collaboration is entirely through published papers by the scientists, not Greenpeace. Scientists are aboard this trip with specific research goals, e.g., one sponge expert got samples in a certain location in FL on their way to the Gulf and reported 'bleaching' for reasons having nothing to do with oil. After he left the ship, other scientists boarded. Quite a few independent (from BP and the government) but well-trained scientists will do research during Greenpeace's 3-month stay in the Gulf. There is no way that Greenpeace should be considered a scientific group. It is an advocacy group that occasionally sponsors scientific research but advocates on behalf of certain groups of scientists, e.g., climate scientists. I've been a member of Greenpeace for a very long time and am quite proud of whatever support I've been able to give. In my view, it's an organization that stands up for environmental rights and is willing to step on a few toes in the process.

I have always had a soft spot for Greenpeace, but I fear that of late they have become too big, and too politicised, in ways that has detracted from what I would consider their real mission. Their success has led to a lot of the diseases that success in any form brings.

Giving a free ride to various scientists is a good thing. But we still have to worry about the manner in which those scientists were selected, and what expectations there might be on the nature of work done. A scientist that subsequently reports "little to no long term damage" in the GOM may find that next time he isn't offered a ride. Or only scientists that have previously been on the politically correct side of research outcomes got an invitation in the first place. Nothing exactly new here, and merely a repeat of what we see all the time from the corporate side. Greenpeace might regard this as evening things out a bit. But it becomes hard not to be just a little bit cynical.

Having spent many years in university research, I am well aware of the darker forces that play on scientists. Nothing overt, but funding is never far from one's mind. Publications and tenure even more so. The US system of tenure has led to a remarkable debasement in quality of publications.


I certainly understand what you're saying. I would bet that the selection process of which scientists came along was a politically colored one, although one hopes for simply a selection based on fierce independence. I understand how ideological bias can influence science. But to think that scientists somehow might fudge results to please funding sources or to attain tenure is almost beyond my ability to imagine. Perhaps you weren't implying such extremes. It's the exact opposite of what I expect scientists to be: truth tellers, to the best of their ability. Sad to say, the same sort of thing happens in industry research too. I would hope that not being invited on another Greenpeace "cruise" wouldn't be reason enough to cave. That would indeed be petty.

But to think that scientists somehow might fudge results to please funding sources or to attain tenure is almost beyond my ability to imagine.

When it comes to things that require interpretation there is lots of wiggle room. Being "economical with the truth" is a start. Omitting certain results, is another. Most of these studies depend upon statistical analysis. Throwing out outliers is a common practice, and one that instantly can attract all sorts of issues. Just look at the climate change arguments. You can have the same data set and arrive at diametrically opposite conclusions if the forces are strong enough.

A lot of times the real science is simply collecting experimental results. Collect, collate, publish. Beyond that, the desire to interpret, and publish the interpretation means that scientists will start to overclaim. Even in a politically neutral world, you get more publications and in better journals, the more important the results seem. The next round of funding, or more critically, a scientist's tenure review, will depend on this. When you get involved in advocacy or politically charged research, it becomes very very messy. This is one of the crucial reasons why research funding needs to be kept away from commercial and political forces.

Advocacy and political group should do what they do best and they serve an important role in our political system on both sides. They should not do science which is different that advocating for science.

Anytime ANY political and advocacy group tries to do science, it is suspect on its face for the same reason any science done by BP or even directly commissioned by them would be suspect. Just as BP, Greenpeace could pay an independent institution to perform research. This assumes that the institutional credibility and the professional credibility of the scientists involved would offset the assumed bias of the sponsoring advocacy group. However, you can see how well that has worked for BP.

That’s the trouble with advocacy and political groups doing science; it is advocacy science (there's an oxymoron.)

I've seen this up close any number of times; it rarely works out well. My first experience with politics and science unfortunately has been the rule rather than the exception. As an undergraduate, I was employed on a major research project sponsored by an extremely large political organization. They were so convinced that their dearly-held (and highly politically-charged) position was so true and would be easily proven to be true by science that they commissioned a group of universities to conduct the research. They just knew the results would support their position. The universities, of course, demanded and received total autonomy and independence for how the research was conducted and the conclusions reached.

Unfortunately, when the research was finished, the results were almost unanimously opposite of what the sponsoring political organization expected and wanted. They ended up with a lot of expensive research that actually proved the position of the people that opposed the sponsoring group’s politics. The sponsors were so sure of the results in advance that the touted that this definitive report was in the works. Therefore, they had to publish something but they could publish the results of the research they had paid for. They end up writing their own report because no university would write what they wanted. The research that opposed their desired conclusion was totally suppressed to the point what it was totally absent from the report. It was a lie by omission.

Of course, the non-spun credible research came out anyway after the publishing and peer-review process and the sponsoring political organization's much-ballyhooed report became the laughing stock it always really was.

I restate my premise; advocacy and politics generally don't produce good science. Strategically, even if it is academically honest, any opposed to the political agenda or methods of the organization will treat it as propaganda and, in turn, advocate against it. Also, there is a mismatch in basic concepts; advocacy and politics are inherently adversarial, science shouldn’t be. There is too much junk science and bad science already. Advocacy science is a slippery slope best avoided.


Although I agree with you on one level, I disagree on another. Greenpeace is an ideological organization, nothing wrong with that. Two of its major campaigns, those against whaling and seal hunting, have nothing to do with science. On global warming, it assumes the scientific findings of the UN Panel on Climate Change to be true. In my view Greenpeace serves an observational role, hence bringing to public view, particularly in photographs, images that can hopefully change minds and hearts. There's also the element of confrontation on the seas. This tactic also draws more attention to the issues than a web site alone or a newspaper article buried on page 30. Anyone with an ounce of critical thinking ability will take the views of all players into account in making a final judgment or, as is most likely, wait for the next few years to tell the real story. To sum things up, if Greenpeace shouldn't be in the Gulf observing and carrying marine scientists, then neither should BP. So exactly who should be there? The government has an agenda. We need as many different observers and researchers as possible, while taking into account the individual self-interests and biases of each.

BB, I lost my innocence about scientists back in 91 working on a Peregrine survey in Utah. At the beginning of the season the lead scientist told us not to report Peregrines in protected areas in order to keep the population count low so their Endangered status wouldn't be jeopardized. On the other hand he said to consider any falcon in other wild areas to be a Peregrine, so that the land around their nests could be legally protected under the Endangered Species Act. I didn't go along and just recorded what I saw, but all the other field techs did bias their reports.

A few months later I was whining about this at a party, and two other biologist friends told me they had worked for Plum Creek Timber on a Spotted Owl survey that summer. They had been ordered not to find any Spotted Owls in old growth, but to report them in second growth forests instead. They played ball, kept their jobs, and they didn't think it was a big deal.

I was trained to be skeptical in science, but it was a nasty awakening to discover how skeptical I needed to be about scientists. Just humans after all, or as Nubs said earlier "similar in many respects to human beings".

For any anti-science folks reading this, I have to say my faith in peer review and the process of science is still strong. The truth will out, and it does, but ego, ideology, and the scent of money can make it a frustrating process.

oilfield brat,

Thanks for completing the story you hinted at earlier. Mind-blowing, really. Sheesh, where do you get your faith in peer review and process? In a study like yours of the falcons, did any other group do a count? Not a lot of peer review of field studies, is there? Anyway, I guess your lead scientist had his heart in the right place in protecting the falcons. That makes the doctored numbers almost worth it....

The problem with a lot of this is that it isn't actually science. These scientists are just data gatherers. They are doing a job of work, reporting some numbers, and that is about it. There is nothing that fits any reasonable definition of science. The traditional Popperian view, with a falsifiable hypothesis isn't present, and even the old school taxonomic science is hardly present. The scientists are being hired for their technical skills in data collection only. Essentially acting as the field equivalent of lab technicians. Something that is the sad fate that awaits many modern science graduates.

Careful nepeta, you're a half step from rationalizing BS! Easy to get there isn't it?

I don't think the guy had his heart in the right place at all, he just wanted to feel important, like he was actually saving falcons --without having to do the hard work of passing legislation to control pesticides, save habitat, or fund guards at nest sites.

You're right about field studies, maybe an outside auditor should be required in any field study, to look over everyone's shoulder.

There are a lot of documented cases where Greenpeace has been caught disseminating false information:


In an effort to keep things honest, the wiki you linked to on criticism of Greenpeace has this at the top:

This article contains weasel words, vague phrasing that often accompanies biased or unverifiable information. Such statements should be clarified or removed. (March 2009)"

This is pretty much the wikipedia disease. For encyclopaedic facts it is not bad, but the moment the subject becomes even the slightest bit contentious or political it becomes useless dross. You never know who wrote the article. You can have some 15 year old kid writing it, based upon crap he discovered by reading godlikeproductions. You don't know.

Well, it isn't necessarily a bad thing. My husband likes to read and comment on wiki discussions (link found on top of wiki pages) in order to get a better understanding of whatever topic he's interested in. As you said, lots of subjects can't be nailed down to a group of unassailable facts, therefore reading different points of view can be enlightening and pretty quickly might lead to at least a good guess at what interpretation is the most accurate.

All you have to do is research anything you don't think is true and report it in wiki.
Simple as that to contradict what is written.Do you believe everything your doctor says?

You might check out this article: http://www.counterpunch.org/mcclintock08232010.html

Clwydshire? Hmmm. A ydych yn Cymraeg?


Sorry for not reponding. Started the day out at 5 AM recompleting a well down on the Texas coast. Was hot enough on a white rock pad when one of my goofy hands brought out a thermometer: 114 degrees F. And humidity somewhre north of 95%. So once again I was reminded I'm getting to old for this crap. LOL

For the next week I'll try to catch up at night but there should be enough smarty pants hanging around to answer questions. Now it's time to rehydrate.

You be careful with you, Rocky! (We're mighty glad you're particularly good at that.)

lotus -- Thanks. Fortunately I just watch the hands lug dumb iron around in the sun. As usual my big job is just making sure they don't hurt themselves or my well. We talked about it before: the graying of the oil patch. My engineer consultant was 70 and the wireline hands were all in their 20's. I didn't catch any of them doing anything stupid/dangerous. But they also didn't realize we reached an abort point and were going to push it. But my engineer shut it down and sent them home. We'll try again tomorrow. So BP and Rockman in the same pickle: hurry up and wait. And then try it again.

I second that emotion, lotus.

Just bought a pound of Texas GOM shrimp. None here from LA. Oh, well. My daughter the biologist is concerned for the larvae, but then that's the sort of thing she messes with down there in the brackish waters. ROCKMAN and OFBrat, my son the geologist named his really neat adopted, mixed-breed female doggie "Rocksie." She AND their huskie type carry backpacks with their own supplies on hikes in the hills (always with an eye out for unmapped caves). Couldn't wait to get back home from the stores to see what y'all been up to in my absence. Eventually I will have to separate myself from this compulsion, I suppose. For for now I can rationalize it just fine.

So here's to Rockman, GOM shrimp, Louisiana larvae, karst, Rocksie the geology dog , compulsive TOD watching, and to you, lotus, for suggesting to me the very huge potential of the the virtual clink.


Oh heck yeah, erain -- CLINK!

(Mind the pronking, though, lest we slosh o'er the brim -- eek)

I will drink to the Mr. Rockman and Blue Bell Ice Cream. May we never take rocks for granites!!

I work outdoors on the TX coast m'self. It's been a hot August generally and pretty gruesome the past couple of weeks. Consider this a note of commiseration.

I learned my lesson early on when I nearly lost a friend down in Ingleside. He was working on a boat engine down in a compartment he had to squeeze into, and got so weak from dehydration he couldn't get himself out. Darned lucky someone wandered by, saw his tool box open but not him and gave a shout. When they pulled him out he was ok - but he didn't work the rest of that day.

Arrrgh, nov. Sure am glad that story came out okay.

Heat and MS make a mean combo even for Rockmen, so I hope ours can take the breaks he needs.

I'm sitting here drinking Gatorade myself, been sweating too much. I've tried those temperatures in the desert but with that humidity - yeach. Don't forget the salts Rockman.


Unofficially, on my car thermometer, it hit 111-F in Dallas yesterday. Electrical load was so great that we lost three power pole transformers in the alleyway behind my house in two day (a 50kva on Sunday and a 100kva and another 50kva yesterday).

Four hours of power outage on Sunday and eight hours yesterday (restored at 2am). Cooler outside than inside so, with nothing else better to do, my neighbors and I set up lawn chairs out back and watched Oncor replace the failed equipment. Masterful construction guys working with lots of big trucks and cheery pickers in a small alley with lots of trees. Worked very quickly but very safely. Very little talking; almost a ballet of work. Impressive.

RM, hydration and BBIC is my prescription for you.

I actually thought about that last night. I have a new half gallon of Pralines and Cream in the freezer and wondered if I should eat it before it melted (oh, the horror.)


I thought it was only "Mad dogs and Englishman went out in the midday sun". I not sure which one of two groups you belong to?

Sounds like you need to swing yourself onto nightshift!

Know what you mean pusher. Unfortunately I'm a one man show...no relief. At least I have an AC'd trailer when drilling. But on workovers it jusy sit in the car and sweat.

Rockman, you be careful out there. Sounds like it's worse than NO right now, and at only 96F and 62% I found myself too dizzy to climb back down a 36 ft ladder yesterday. Sneaks up on you sometimes, 'course it did when I was young too.

MSNBC's take:

BP was warned of gas danger, contractor says
He incriminates engineers, including one who refuses to testify at presidential inquiry


Camera inside BOP Stack shows little drops of what appears to be oil rising.


And that is a static well?

A leak like that in a high pressure system can not be good.

I don't even know what to say about this video, you think it's artificially tinted ?


If by artificially tinted you mean fluorescent dye in the methanol, and ROV lights toward the blue end of the spectrum which causes UV reactive stuff to fluoresce, then yes.

Sure seems to be a lot of "Texas Tea" blobs coming up past the half-closed Shear on Sub-c's pipe cam view. Maybe the "dead" well still has a bit of a pulse.

Can anyone ID what appears to be 3 metallic objects underneath the shear blade? Sort of looks like socket head cap screws to me.

They are bolts that attach the blade to the ram.

I see them plainly now,6 of them. Why are they proud of the blade and not flush? Normally these would be in a counterbore flush or below the surface in a typical installation. Certainly doesn't look right.

Uh oh. Look at the video loop in Chuck Schick's post. When the lower blade was pulling against it they were flush. Now they appear to be out about 1/4 inch at least.

The protruding things look like rivet heads to me, and are on a different piece than what's shown in the animation below. The video shows countersunk allen head capscrews.

Just got a very clear shot of it and the screws holding the blade are loose.

Not going anywhere, no sir!


We're all RICH!!!!!!

From the Fish Cam(tm) views earlier today, the entire interior of everything down there is still coated in slimy goopy gunk, undoubtedly some of which is oil and still lighter than water, so anything dislodged floats up which happens to be where the camera is.

What's dislodging the gunk?


The well was killed weeks ago and we're still invoking the Residual Oil Hypothesis (ROH)to explain the buoyant stuff rising from below.

This morning they flushed her out pretty good with that dense purple liquid.

I don't know what y'all are thinking, but the ROH starting to wear thin on me.

Fine. It's leaking, going to explode and kill us all.

Either that, or you've never had your hands dirty trying to clean gunk out of some complex mechanical contraption and thus have no clue what you're looking at.

If its a leak, its a slow leak.

If it's leaking now, it probably has been leaking for weeks or months, so I see no cause for alarm.

I agree that the scale of this contraption is considerably larger than, for example, the crankcase of my car, so perhaps it is reasonable for it to continue exuding oil for a long time.

On the other hand, they have flushed it out rather thoroughly.

I remain skeptical of the Residual Oil Hypothesis.

Sheesh. (Shaking head in disbelief)

Auto play vids kill those on a dial-up connection.

Not good on ADSL either, I just put a block on it.


Hope this hasn't been posted already.


Just finished watching the CG hearings today here in Houston. One fact that I was not aware of was revealed in cross examination of a HOWCO rep(Chaisson), the person on board the rig charged with capture of all the data. He kept a diary of events.

He revealed that when they couldn't get the float collar to convert after about 8-9 tries, and each time calls were made to the beach by onboard BP rep, orders were issued to go up on the pressure. After finally getting the float to convert, circ was established but at a lower pressure than anticipated, low enough for the Howco rep to be concerned. The Howco rep notified the BP rep(Kaluska) and the first words out of his mouth was that they must have blown up something up hole.

The cement job was pumped after a short circ time and the rest is history.

Toolpush, what do you make of this? Could they have been pumping cement off bottom?


For the sake of non oil field readers the idea of converting the float collar is to change it from a open flow path to a one flapper type valve (it is actually a spring loaded ball and seat)to stop back flow up the casing.


They bumped the plug, therefore the float was still in the correct place as you do not pump more than half the shoe track, and as they have not mentioned it, they did not have flow back. Indicating the float and /or the shoe held. It could be possible that something let go between the float and the shoe, and therefore be "pumping cement off bottom" but I am having trouble seeing how this could happen.

The statement, "they must have blown up something up hole" to me, would have been a worry going into the cement job, but as I said before, bumping the plug and no flow back normally indicates, all is well. They also tested the casing and any other failure points should have shown up at this point.

Since the seal asembly / casing failure theory got knock on the head, I am at a complete loss as to why it all happened. I am waiting for that little bit of info to come through where the lights go on, and all the info falls in line. This current oil leak in the BOP intrigues me, as it is not coming up through 5000ft of cement.

Is there all that much oil coming up? Those drops seem awfully small until they get near the camera and, if it is a small lens, then that could make them a lot bigger. There is a lot of BOP for those drops to hang out on with many nooks and crannies.



I realise it is not that much volume wise and if the BOP had just been opened, I would not have an issue with it, but they have given the BOP some good flushes and I am sure they have used some surfactants to clear up any oil. As some one else stated high pressure leaks do not heal themselves or get smaller. A leak this size is not going to show up on a pressure test chart, due the volume involved in the test.

If it get less than, good, but if it increases they will have a issue on the hands. On the bright side, if it increases enough, they can complete the RW and maybe they will have a flow path to circulate the annulus?

The well is drizzling oil out the new stack, which now has some upper shear rams blades stuck in the closed position. As I understand it, the upper casing ring, the one without the lock, is about the only option for a flowpath.
See the video in the post above.

Still leaking, not killed.
Let that sink in for a minute.

They need to pull the useless junk BOPs off the well and put on a new BOP, grind in with the relief well then perf the upper casing and pump mud through the annulus to kill this monster.
Time for someone to man up and take charge and end this senseless futzing.
Time for Thad to start yelling if he has it in him; if he hasn't been wined and dined into submission. Enough is enough.

Flow paths from 12,000 psi reservoirs don't get smaller with time.
Do they?

[Have another donut with that coffee, Science Team!]

I think you are right. After all the flushing , testing, and sitting I would think there could be very little oil trapped in nook and crannies. So this oil is coming from a hydraulic leak which I can't really picture or this well is producing it. But shouldn't there be a LOT of gas bubbles with this oil?

+ 100

Still leaking, not killed.
Let that sink in for a minute.

Looking on the bright side, if the oil we are seeing is escaping from the annulus through a leak in the hanger seal at the wellhead, then the RW should be able to force cement up the annulus from below by displacing the oil upward, and if they reattach the riser to the top of the capping stack they can stop the flow while the cement cures and everything will be copacetic.

Edit: Or not.

I hope this proves out to be OT re: Macondo.

Study: [Spanish] Oil spill cleanup workers suffered chromosome damage, respiratory issues

Spanish fishermen who took part in a clean-up operation after the Prestige oil tanker spill in 2002 have shown symptoms of chromosomal damage and respiratory problems, a study released Tuesday said.

The study, conducted by Spanish researchers between September 2004 and February 2005 on 501 fishermen who helped clean up Europe's worst oil spill, was published in the American review Annals of Internal Medicine.



Thanks so much for posting this. I am truly worried.

I hope the worst is behind us. Yet, I think the worst is in front of us.

Anyone else seen this from the BBC front page?


If the CIA is willing to scramble the brains of the French, should we assume they would be kind to us?

This is the stuff that conspiracy theories are made of. When the BBC feeds us this stuff, is it any wonder we are paranoid?

In the longstanding tradition of CT makers the BBC poses a leading question but doesn't answer it.

the BBC poses a leading question but doesn't answer it

FWIW, here's a short article in the British Medical Journal from 1951 by the doctors who treated the patients at Pont-Saint-Esprit. It describes the symptoms in some detail, and they sure don't sound much like LSD symptoms. Some of the patients did have hallucinations, but most of the symptoms were physical, some quite serious (five people died) and lasting for many days. In some cases the physical symptoms preceded the hallucinations by as much as two weeks. That just doesn't fit the LSD profile at all.

As far as the doctors were concerned, it was ergot poisoning. The Wikipedia article mentions mercury poisoning, nitrogen trichloride, and mycotoxins as other possible agents.

Wlel, I'll tlel you one tnihg,taht in all my yraes of exptnemireing, it never had an acefft on me.

The good thing about this study is that it is online.


It torques me off when these news reports cherry pick the bad news and then provide no link or search terms that give you the source material so you can see the whole thing.

Thanks Snake, I feel so much better now.

Loch Ness Monster visits BP well, has lunch.


The leak continues... Oil?


Looks like Nessie carried lunch around for a while, then dropped it, no? That is one big eel.

You sure have quite a collection of spooky/creepy underwater music!

Sharks visit the BP well weeks apart, same shark?


Did you splice duplicate footage? That's what it looks like to me - shark hangs a u-turn, looped.

Great video anyway, thanks.

Half shark-alligator, half man,
I can't get it out of my head

Darn, you're right. I left out shark #2 and duplicated the first one. :(

New version to be posted soon!

Here is the two different sharks in one video.


Please disregard prior link.

Great video TOB!

This is for Pful, I will plant it in his brain while he is asleep. From previous thread where I said; "you can float a battleship in a saucer of water".

Imagine the ship has just moved into a dock. The dock gates are still open to the ocean. The keel of the ship is 1/1000 of an inch above the floor of the dock. The ship is still and floating. Now imagine the walls of the dock move in on the ship such that they are within 1/1000 of an inch of all the wetted surface of the ships hull. The ship is still floating in water. For a Battleship wetted surface that 1/1000 of an inch water film is about 5 cubic feet of water. Close the dock gates. The ship is still floating in 5 cubic feet of water. We now move the walls of the dock even closer to the wetted hull; the film of water is now 1/100,000 of an inch thick. The ship is still floating in about a saucer of water.

you have me intrigued. That sounds very plausible, but a logical extension of this would be that if you displaced the water film with say a saucer of mercury, the ship would rise. Now that just seems too easy a way of lifting heavy objects to be possible. I will have to scratch my head a little more and then go experiment..hand me that battleship..

Heads up!

They seem to be putting the fishing tool down the hole. Did they get the ram open somehow? I missed that, but they are currently flushing out the hole with fluid from the tool string.

Look at the depth indicator, bottom right. The mudline is supposed to be 5067 feet. Are we 60 feet above the mud. If the BOP/LMRP is about 50 feet tall; the capping stack and its spool piece is 30 feet tall; and, the well head is I don't how tall.

Yes, it's the very top of the stack they're flushing. But I saw the tool go in, and that was definitely the overshot tool. The downhole cam worked for a few seconds, then the feed cut. Probably because of the muck being stirred up.

Edit: Well, they just pulled the tool back out. Sigh. I thought we were going to see something here.

Pink. While we are waiting, have a look at this slide show on drilling operations.

Interesting, though it jumps topics a bit too much. Thanks!


Job Losses Over Drilling Ban Fail to Materialize

... While it is too early to gauge the long-term environmental or economic effects of the release of 4.9 million barrels of oil into the gulf, it now appears that the direst predictions about the moratorium will not be borne out. Even the government’s estimate of the impact of the drilling pause — 23,000 lost jobs and $10.2 billion in economic damage — is proving to be too pessimistic.

There are several reasons the suspension has not cut as deeply as anticipated.

Oil companies used the enforced suspension to service and upgrade their drilling equipment, keeping shipyards and service companies busy. Drilling firms have kept most of their workers, knowing that if they let them go it will be hard to field experienced teams when the moratorium is lifted. Oil companies have shifted operations to onshore wells, saving industry jobs.

And the administration has dropped repeated hints that the offshore drilling ban will be eased or removed before it is set to expire on Nov. 30.

Michael R. Bromwich, the director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, the agency responsible for policing offshore drilling, said Monday in a letter to the presidential commission investigating the accident that it was possible that the moratorium would be lifted before Nov. 30 for certain types of rigs.

Mr. Bromwich’s boss, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, said the agency was “ahead of schedule” in drawing up new rules to allow drilling to resume and suggested that the moratorium could be eased as early as next month. ...

The devilish thing is that the impact worsens the farther from drilling it runs. Rig hand? You're probably still on payroll (even though BP's $100 million fund to cover your wages hasn't kicked in yet). But work for a company doing seismic runs or catering or uniform- or boot-selling (none of whom have dibs on that fund)? Friend, you're SOL.