BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Recovering Pipe - and Open Thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6893.

The problem with not watching the video feeds from the ROVs at the Deepwater site on a very regular schedule is that it becomes hard to define if anything has changed since the last time you looked. At 11 pm Central tonight, for example, the feed has switched back from the downhole camera to the ROV camera on the Boa Sub C ROV1, and the borehole feed shows that the pipe containing the camera seems to be dangling in the water, as it has been some time ago. So it was not clear from the suggested cameras as to the current status of the fishing attempts to remove the different length of drill pipe (DP) which are still within the BOP and the stack above it.

However, switching to the Enterprise ROV1, suddenly there is a piece of pipe being examined. It is difficult to tell exactly which piece it is, though it is apparently marked in what may be foot intervals, but the examination at the moment is focusing on the end of the pipe, which is the male end of a pipe section, and it is hard to determine whether the threads have been damaged or not. (This is being written as this occurs). UPDATE: MoonofA has an explanation (this was part of the fishing string) and I will add that comment below the fold and the current pictures.

Close-up of the lower end of the pipe

Earlier the pipe had rotated so that an identification number could be seen:

The pipe has a number of spaced marks on it, with five marks higher getting to 70
(suggesting the other side of the joint might have carried a 5).

The mark just below the point where the pipe section goes into the end of the fishing tool that caught it reads 90, and then there are three individual marks and the fishing tool holding the upper end of the pipe section.

Hmm! That’s interesting they have just apparently driven the open end down into the mud:

So that they could release the top and go and look at it.

And it appears, at first, that this was the piece of the pipe that was cut through by the diamond saw that the Admiral referred to in his press briefing. But then they do a close-up of the top and it is the female section of the joint at the other end of the drill pipe.

Upper end of the drill pipe

And this too gets a close examination of the threads.

MoonofA's explanation:
That part of the drill string fell off from one of the two fishing strings the Discoverer Enterprise had brought down. Pretty embarrassing for the crew to lose some 30-60 lower feet of the drillstring with a fishing tool on it only to have to fish for it later on ...

Here is a video by RockyP showing the lost part standing vertically in the mud.

But the Discoverer Enterprise has two derricks and the other derrick had another pipe down with a fishing tool and with a cam inside it. That pipe went down and looked for "fish" inside the stack: Video by Naula.

The first fish found at a depth of 5015 feet was the longer piece of broken drillpipe with a squeezed end and they actually tried successfully to get it inside the overshot tool. But when they yanked the tool up the fish escaped: video in double speed by me.

The camera then went further down and at the height of the flex joint at 5026 feet depth found this:

Upper end of the drill pipe

We are seeing the inside of the flex joint from the camera in the fishing tool. There is in the center-right an open piece of pipe. Next to it is some rough space open where fluids come through from below pumped by the Q-4000 through the choke line of the BOP. At the top of the picture another pipe can be seen which extends above. Both pieces are probably held back by what appear to be hydrates (though this could be just loose "beehives" of hydrates or something else).

Hard hydrates would explains why the first attempt to yank the longer caught fish did not work. It is probably held back by hydrates on its lower end.

The fishing trip has ended for now.

The big question to us at #theoildrum is: How did hydrates form so deep inside of the stack? When was there seawater as well as methane, both needed to form these hydrates, in the BOP and stack at the same time? Or do we see something different than we think?

(Heading Out comment - they did remove some of the hydrates using a high-pressure jet earlier in the work, and this should still be down there, so they may go in with a lance to clean out the hydrates, but if they exist throughout the lower BOP then the entire assembly may be frozen in place, and if this extends down into the casing of the well, then as I mentioned in an earlier post, trying to pull up the drill pipe, and even recover the BOP may be halted because they will snap the drill pipe before they will be able to break it loose.)

Earlier in the day Admiral Allen explained some of the events that I discussed in yesterday’s post, noting that the rams in the stack had become jammed because of the formation of hydrates within the mechanism, that then led to them freezing as the hydrates were disturbed. BP then chose to flush the system again, using an antifreeze solution.

Question: What chemicals were used in the recent flush to remove hydrates?

A. BP used a methanol soak as the predominant medium for melting the hydrates. They also circulated MEG water - methyl ethylene glycol (antifreeze) - to help improve visibility conditions.

Q. Will there be ROV feeds available to observe the pipe removal?

A. BP will have the regular suite of ROV's on scene for the operation and the pipe extraction should be visible through the Enterprise ROV camera.

With the problem of the ram movement in the capping stack having been resolved, the plan for the day was to go down inside the stack to recover the pieces of pipe that had been found. One of these is relatively short (about 18-inches long) the second (and here the Admiral corrected a length given earlier) is some 13-ft long, and then there is the section of the DP itself.

Now the segment that appears to have just been removed would be 30-ft long if it were a standard length of DP, so I am wondering if this was a transcription error in the relevant paragraph of the teleconference?

The other issue dealt with by the Admiral dealt with the possibility that when the cement was pumped down the well it might have adhered to part of the drill pipe, and filled a gap between it and the production casing, so that over some unknown interval the DP might be effectively glued to the casing. His comment

We believe we can easily remove two of those pieces of pipe because they're standing free inside lower marine riser package. After that, we will have to determine the condition of the pipe extending down into the blowout preventer, if it goes below that down into the well, if the pipe somehow might have been cut and is suspended there and it was cut below the blowout preventer, there's no pipe we do not know any of that right now because we cannot see down there.

We are creating alternatives that will allow us to either remove the pipe if it's removable. And if it is not, plans to how we were remove the blowout preventer with the pipe attached and bring that to the surface and cut the pipe at some point. Our science team and BP engineers continue to work with all those alternatives as we move forward. We are hoping however to remove the two pieces of pipe and have a better idea today or tomorrow about the remaining piece of pipe.

Unfortunately, not having watched earlier this evening I missed the section of pipe falling off, and what led to the sequence of events i described above, where the two ends of the pipe being examined were, in fact, at one time joined together, rather than being the one section of drill pipe that I had initially thought that they were. My thanks to MoonofA for setting the record right.

Lede at CNBC.com this morning:

Transocean Accused Over Gulf Well Maintenance
Published: Thursday, 26 Aug 2010 | 5:15 AM ET
By: Sheila McNulty, Financial Times

Transocean failed to meet “recertification” maintenance deadlines for the Deepwater Horizon’s blowout preventer (BOP), the key instrument that failed in the Macondo well explosion, a company employee testified on Wednesday.

Moved: http://www.cnbc.com/id/38861320

Odds are the regulation that requires total disassembly and rebuild on time in use basis was written a long time ago.

Today, condition based maintenance, instrumentation and technology are far better at keeping equipment in peak operating shape.

IMHO you don't break the BOP in order to see if it needs fixing.

That part of the drill string fell off from one of the two fishing strings the Discoverer Enterprise had brought down. Pretty embarrassing for the crew to lose some 30-60 lower feet of the drillstring with a fishing tool on it only to have to fish for it later on ...

Here is a video by RockyP showing the lost part standing vertically in the mud.

But the Discoverer Enterprise has two derricks and the other derrick had another pipe down with a fishing tool and with a cam inside it. That pipe went down and looked for "fish" inside the stack: Video by Naula.

The first fish found at a depth of 5015 feet was the longer piece of broken drillpipe with a squeezed end and they actually tried successfully to get it inside the overshot tool. But when they yanked the tool up the fish escaped: video in double speed by me.

The camera then went further down and at the height of the flex joint at 5026 feet depth found this:
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

We are seeing the inside of the flex joint from the camera in the fishing tool. There is in the center-right an open piece of pipe. Next to it is some rough space open where fluids come through from below pumped by the Q-4000 through the choke line of the BOP. At the top of the picture another pipe can be seen which extends above. Both pieces are probably held back by what appear to be hydrates (though this could be just loose "beehives" of hydrates or something else).

Hard hydrates would explains why the first attempt to yank the longer caught fish did not work. It is probably held back by hydrates on its lower end.

The fishing trip has ended for now.

The big question to us at #theoildrum is: How did hydrates form so deep inside of the stack? When was there seawater as well as methane, both needed to form these hydrates, in the BOP and stack at the same time? Or do we see something different than we think?

Thanks for the clarity Moon. g

gus: GIH = going in hole RIH = running in hole TIH = tripping in hole POOh = pulling out of hole


I was watching them trip pipe with new fishing tool last night. Was amazed at how fast they were moving adding about a 140 foot section every 2-3 min. Do these guys work for NASCAR pit crews on weekends off? When they got to about the 4100 foot level, the string came apart when they lifted to remove the (slips/chocks?). Enterprise ROV1 was following the tool down with each addition and I saw it go zipping past. They were dropping the string pretty fast, but this was way too fast, then saw the end go by and knew this wasn't good.

The speed of going down fast with the drill string is not that surprising. Discoverer Enterprise

An innovative and automated pipe-handling system allows full integration of the two rigs. Each rig can run, pull and stand back 135-foot-long stands of pipe, compared with the 93-foot stands typically used by drillers. As a result, 45% more pipe can be racked and 30% fewer pipe connections have to be made or "broken."

What is surprising is that the very first pipe of the string fell off. This pipe with the fishing tool was specially prepared with the marks outside. It had likely to be connected "by hand" and someone didn't do that job so well.

Maybe they did that job too well. Looks like a case of stripped threads to me. If so, they were probably overtightened and the threads just pulled out. Maybe a case of worn threads or poor threading job contributed.

EJB -- Over torque would be my first guess. I can’t believe they would run DP that wasn’t closely inspected. Guess it was machine torqued where is slipped apart. Otherwise it makes no sense: the DP wasn't under any stress other than its own weight. I’ve seen DP backed off or parted a number of times. But never while just GIH.


Could you give a little more detail of what you saw? Was it the whole 4100' string that dropped? More? Did you see the separation happen? Or did it happen outside of your field of view? A picture that I've seen seems to have only a dozen or two feet of that string sticking above the mud line.

I'd like to get a feeling for how deeply the string penetrated into the mud. Not a WAG, but an estimate based on actual observation.

Thanks for whatever additional you can add.


I could not see it part because as each section was added the ROV dropped to the end and waited. they were down around the 4100 foot level and when they lifted the string (I'm assuming to pull the "slips?", it parted above and went zipping past the ROV. It seemed to me to be more than one section because I had time to notice that this section was dropping way too fast when the end went by. They continued to trip pipe while the Rov went down to the sea floor to find the "spear". When they found it sticking out of the mud, other ROV's were all around the area and you could see the drill string from the ship hanging in the water behind the "spear". When the ROV looked down at where it entered the seafloor, I thought I saw a 40 ft. mark a couple of feet above the mud-line. I assumed that it was buried about 38 ft. which is what I posted last night. It went a full 1000 feet to the bottom from the point it parted. Sorry, I cant give you much more than that... maybe Rainy can add something? Only other person active on the site at the time.

38' Wow that sea floor is soft, good thing it did miss everything else down there, possibly the only luck they've had. Imagine that assembly striking the accumulater or the capping stack. Well control?
IMO just Latch the whole works, drill pipe and all POOH ASAP and bolt up a working BOP already.
If DP is cemented and sticks the whole assembly, Cut it below the mud line and pull the stack free. Reinstall backup Bop's, there are two derriks to work with is there not.


Just a wild guess on my part (38 ft.). I've looked at videos and am not sure of the marking near the sea floor. Only got a short glimpse last night. Section seemed much longer than what is sticking out of the sea floor, so I assume it is pretty deep in the mud. If they had a meeting this morning on the rig, glad I was not there! Lots of red faces I would imagine!

Sorry, I don't have anything to add. I had just checked in last night when I saw your post saying that a portion of a pipe had dropped off. Shortly thereafter, I did get to see the section standing upright in the mud and the inspection of the threads on both open ends. At the time I was too surprised to make note of marks on the piece of pipe protruding from the seafloor.


As it is hard to see the second "fish" in the pictures above, here a short clip that makes that more visible: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YqSGH13NXs

Thanks, Moon, that's good stuff.

I'm struck by how "light" your drill pipe is. The stuff I'm familiar with in mining is about 5" OD, but only 2" ID. The walls are very thick and the joints are very heavy. Maybe that's why miners call them "drill steels" instead of pipes.

Edit to add: When I first learned what blind shear rams are supposed to do, I couldn't picture them having enough force to cut what I expected DP to be. Now it's clear. I learn more every day.

Pinkfud: Have you been around those Bucyrus drills? Good observation on the difference between DP and drill steel, BTW. Someday, I would like to watch one of those blast hole drills work.

Yup. I ran a Bucyrus Model 9-R for years. We drilled dry, using high pressure air to clear the hole. Once I drilled into a water bearing formation and suddenly got half drowned.

Pinkfud: Those Bucyrus machines were the cadillacs! I started out, at 17, on a Bucyrus-Erie 22B 3/4 yd. dragline. My dad bought it brand new in 1958, and as far as I know, it is still in working order! Probably just oil up the clutch linkages is all a guy would have to do. I still remember the serial number: 117113!! Heh.Heh.

Indeed! My drill was the cushiest job in the mine after we moved to open-pit. The only real problem I ever had was during road-tripping from one pit to another. To do that, you had to lay the tower down, and the 6-steel rotating rack went with it. One of the "dogs" was worn out, and that steel would fall during travel. Crash! Climb up there and manhandle it back in. I finally bought a come-along out of pocket to stop that. Got tired of the back ache!

Pinkfud: LOL! Oh, the things a feller figures out to do, eh? I fixed a lot of things on that old girl with nails and baling wire, whatever I could find in my tool box. The old timers really looked down on a guy if he had to come all the way to town for some silly part! We did all our own greasing, fueling, mechaniching. Geez! what did we do before cell phones? You just couldn't call and say I'm broke down, come and fix it!!

Very true. Our mine gave a production bonus every day we made over 1000 tons. It wasn't much, but we wanted it. So if the machine broke, we fixed it on the spot. And yeah, I was all over that thing with a grease gun. A well greased bearing won't cause you any grief. I also carried a strong magnet fastened to a rope. For fishing a broken bit tooth out of the hole. Darn things broke frequently, but they weren't hard to replace.

Pinkfud: I know, huh. Grease was cheap, bronze bushings and Timken bearings expensive.

I 've been around the big drills used on highway and mining jobs but never operated one.I worked on them a few times.That picture up top looks a lot like the male end of a drill steel that had the threads fail so that it spun in the mating female end of the next piece of drill steel.

What do you guys think?

I'll never forget the first time I saw a big truck mpounted drill at work;it was about five below zero F and dark as pitch;it was powered by a big Cummins diesel and the exhaust manifolds and pipes all the way to the end of the stack were glowing reddish orange.

I could have fired a shotgun fifty feet away and probably not have heard the report myself.

Mac, I think it is a case of plain old stripped threads... Worn out, bad thread job, overtightened, all of the above?

Yes definatly the second pipe looks to be pushed aside, unfortunatly appears just long enough to fall into some type of gap between components connection, Have to try a type of hookwall overshot used in deviated open hole to catch then capture this pipe. I guess this well is always "Gonna Be A Pain"
Dropped part of the Fishing String (Thats gotta be a F***Me moment for sure, what happened to the overabundace of caution??
Once fished a well where the previous guy had crowned out with wireline dropped the tools, Fished it then crowned out with that string as well. Dry gas 10.000' quite an ordeal.
At some piont...things have to get better dont they???
As someone had eluded to. maybe its time to send in another team for a fresh start.

How did hydrates form so deep inside of the stack?

Why not cement?

Formation water, possibly, rather than "sea water". I don't think there is an oil or gas reservoir on earth that doesn't contain some % of water in the reservoir fluid per se.

And the well flowing wild would probably have produced an abundance of that water.

How much formation water was recovered by Q4000 or Enterprise from Top Hat #4? None.

Not reported does not necessarily mean none recovered.

No feed from Ocean Intervention does not necessarily mean idle.

Ok, I had a question/s about that. I/we observed gases leaking from various areas of the "stack". Does the water in reservoirs have a brine content higher than the normal seawater at that depth ? If gases were leaking out, than seawater was leaking in ? I noticed that the leaks of gas eventually shut themselves in, I was guessing from hydrates forming on the inside. But how would the water fraction in the crude rise to the top ? How would a fluid column form in a shut-in well when water is part of the fluid, but also different gases ? Would the gas fractions rise to the top ?

Thoroughly confused now, and also managed to make a huge mess in my garage last night playing with two pumps, some oil and apparently too much pressure. It's not pretty.

The other question, lol, were about the apparently loosened inset hex bolts(?). I know working experience that nuts-n-bolts will work themselves loose from : vibrations, and expanding contracting of the metals in response to temp fluctuations. I guess it's not really a question so much as an observation to add to the table, I'm sure the engineering savvy are familiar with this phenomenon.

I'm going to go start cleaning my girlfriend's car.

Isaac: Given the environment of deposition, I would expect the water to be very strong brine. In an undisturbed reservoir, the water will underlie the oil with a pretty distinct boundary between them. This well flowed so violently that I would expect a lot of water got produced. As it came through the BOP, there would have been some expansion and that causes cooling. Probably enough cooling to cause hydrate formation right where it seems to be. So there didn't have to be any rise to the top, it could have just formed during the flowing period.

" So there didn't have to be any rise to the top, it could have just formed during the flowing period. "

Wouldn't the temperature in the stack have been too high for hydrates to form when the well was flowing ? I know methane lowers the freezing temperature of water by a few degrees, which is what allows the formation to start. Mr Wells had stated that when the well was shut-in, the temps in the fluid had equalized between ambient (37f) and internal. I'm in no way questioning your experience in your field, I have no ground to stand on there, I just don't quite understand how they would have formed in the stack with hot/warm oil flowing, unless the stack itself were to have acted as a massive heatsink, I don't see this as unrealistic, since the ocean is the biggest heatsink of them all :). From what I have read, even fluids coming from pyroclastic vents lose their temperature very quickly, usually within inches. Definitely some very interesting things going on inside that equipment over the last 3 or 4 months.

Also, sorry, one more thought about that DP. Do you think it could have been experiencing "flutter", having one end clamped and the other end free to move, but hanging in the opposition to a HP flow ?
Like a pendulum buffeted at high velocity ..whatever ? I just wondered about that because of it's flexible nature .

If I am cluttering the board with too many stupid questions just let me know.

Adiabatic expansion of the methane may substantially reduce the temperature.

When flowing wild all entrained formation water would have been ejected along with the oil into the sea. The only place hydrates could form would be outside the stack. Install the top BOP and close the valve. Now the HC and unknown water cut is static. Bignerd convinced me that HC trapped in the BOP was liquid.

1. If the methane state is liquid can hydrates still form with formation water present?

2. If so, how much water cut would have to be present for this to happen?

3. Since H2O is part of the reaction would not hydrate formation grind to a halt as H2O becomes bound?

4. Since the HC is less dense than water how long would it take for separation to take place with HC migrating to the top and the water migrating down hole?

Up thread the question about hydrate formation was cast in terms of needing two things, methane and water. Actually three things are needed: methane, water, AND temperature below about 30 to 40 deg.C. Such temp. exists in bottom water of ocean and upper few meters of ocean floor mud (not drill mud, real mud mud). If the fluid coming up from the pay zone is a mix of oil, gas, and water, it will chill to the appropriate temp. for hydrate formation inside the BOP.

I have no idea how effective various antifreeze compounds are it breaking up hydrates. Antifreeze works to real water ice, but hydrates, although they are CALLED 'ice', are NOT ice. Is there lab. data about response of hydrates to flowing antifreeze over them? Warm methanol has been mentioned as something that they are using. Hard to see how it can stay warmer than ~30 deg.C without very high flow rate and very good insulating jacket on the mile of pipe from surface down to the place where it is needed.

My question about lab. data is a question, not a rhetorical dig at anyone. I'd like to know.

Geek. It is very simple really. All you need is a large clastic accretionary sedimentary prism; preferably of the clastic subduction kind. Whatever that is. As you will clearly see from the following. http://gsc.nrcan.gc.ca/gashydrates/canada/index_e.php

For the Geologists and Chemists on board the good ship TOD. How do you make a hydrate in an oil well? Or; was it hiding at the bottom of the well all the time?

There will not be any hydrates at the bottom because of the temperature. If the well is producing water and flowing free, the temperature drops as the fluid comes up. In this case the DP was cut off in the BOP without stopping the flow, so the flow entered a larger bore and the pressure dropped suddenly. That produces a radical temperature drop, and presto! Still enough pressure to stabilize a hydrate and now the temp is also low enough.

Thanks Pink, I new the first law of thermodynamics was in there somewhere.

Here's some info about inhibitors that might answer some questions.


HO, I believe what we are seeing there is the first drill pipe that was going to be used to retrieve the pipes in the BOP fell apart going down to the well and the 30 foot section plunged to the ocean bottom.

Their pipe is at least sticking strait up, LOL, that ground gotta be soft, They marked the pipe so the ROV's could monitor from Subsea to confirm whats happening at KB. Pipe at surface would have had the same markings, Good thinking on fishermans part, then of course the bottom fell off, or is the correct term out??
Anyone check the share price on this news..
Cant see them wasting time fishing this one just be thankful it didnt hit something one bottom other than the sea floor.
Someone should start a pool on how far into the mud this assembly went though.

Muchas gracias to OB and MOB for the Chilean music videos in the previous thread. Loved the Los Tres video featuring Dios and El Hombre--no idea what it was about, but the stop-motion figures were exquisite. Sosa was a genuine Force of Nature; had never heard of her before. And Inti Illimani's "Rondombe" knocked me out, both the delightfully sophisticated music and the beautifully done video.

Just one of many contributions TOD has made to my cultural education, about the last thing I expected from it when I joined! Great way to start the morning.

Great way to start the morning

Or to continue it! More bravos for Los Tres and Inti-Illimani, and as for Mercedes Sosa -- well, now I know why Joan Baez said, “I have never seen anything like her. As far as performers go, she is simply the best.”

Thanks again, MOB and ob.

Updates on our other story-of-interest:

Bloomberg: Chile Enlists NASA, Navy in 'Unheard of' Rescue of Trapped Copper Miners

USAToday: To relieve miners' hell: Latrine, books, antidepressants?

This one includes the best drawing I've seen yet of their situation, depicting not only the refuge area but also the four trucks near it.

Lotus. Out of interest, how is this BP problem playing in the US broadcast media today? In the UK, it does not make any of the main news programmes I watch or listen to. BP's PR team have scaled back on the information released. The operational and technical updates are less frequent it appears to me. I would have thought dropping a drill string was worth a headline; but, apparently not.

Acornus, I'm afraid you'll have to ask someone else. I almost never watch TV anymore.

how is this BP problem playing in the US broadcast media today?

Just looked at CNN.com's home page and its page for the oil spill--not a word about the dropped drill string. If CNN doesn't have anything about it, it's likely none of the other channels do either. NYTimes and NOLA.com don't have anything either.

Y'all may remember John Wathen, the Alabama environmentalist who taped several flights over the Gulf when lots of surface oil was out there. I've just checked his site for more recent comparable videos, but found instead this post with YouTube from one of his blog-colleagues. It shows pH-testing of six samples of what the guy IDs as rainwater recently collected between Destin, FL, and Pass Christian, MS.

From Destin, Pensacola, and Orange Beach, he says, the samples are near normal, but Gulf Shores', Gulfport's, and Pass Christian's rain is slightly acidic. I don't know why he didn't take samples in Louisiana too, but probably someone else has (and not just another amateur, I hope).

He does rather conveniently omit mentioning that thunderstorms also cause acid rain.

Whether this is incompetence or deliberate I have no idea. But in the current GOM climate not trying to correct for it is one or the other.

Thanks for the clarification, Francis. How do storms cause acid rain?

Thunderstorms do, the lightning strikes are capable of breaking up the nitrogen molecules in the air, and thus create a dilute nitric acid.

(This is a critical process, it is how most nitrogen needed for life gets into the ecosystem.)

Edit: Of course, for human use, most of the nitrogen for agriculture is produced in the form of ammonia via the Harber process. Which due to its dependence on methane for the hydrogen need to create ammonia, brings us back to drilling for oil.

That's Haber.

Any fossil fuel can supply the needed hydrogen - natural gas is the best but in China they often use coal (yuck).


It is a huge dichotomy that the inventor of ammonia synthesis that now feeds 2 billion people was also the father of gas warfare. Haber was Hassidic; his poison gas technology was eventually used in concentration camps.

The BBC had a pair of radio dramas on the two topics - "Bread from the Air" and "The Greater Good".

Haber's wife, also a chemist committed suicide because she could not stand the gas warfare work. Eventually his son also committed suicide for the same reason.

Lightning provides the energy to get oxygen and nitrogen to form NO2 and NO3, which then dissolve in rainwater to give nitrous and nitric acids. CO2 also plays a smaller part, making carbonic acid. The nitrogen fixation thus provided is important to plant growth.

Ah, thanks, guys.

That's why your yard fills up with weeds after a thunderstorm :-)

Ah, well, Pinkie, my yard is forest floor. I only let them take down trees within the footprint of my smallish house (on stilts in a Florida hardwood hammock). The staghorn fern on the palm trunk about eight feet from this window I'm sitting at enjoys the heck out of the rainy season.

When I built here in the mid-80s, my place was the only one on this side of the then-dirt street. But with pavement came many neighbors who, fools that they be, insisted on lawns. This means, among other things, that I'm less protected from hurricane winds than I used to be. (On the other hand, some of them have chainsaws for dealing with anything that falls across my driveway, so there ya go.) My bamboo and tree foliage screens their houses, and the land across the street is too wet to build on, so I'm still lucky for views.

Oh wow, can I come visit? I want to look for Ewoks! pleasepleaseplease??

CNN: Mississippi oysters safe to eat, experts say

The season opens in September and October. But how many of these beauties will they find?

If I had them, I would eat them. No hesitation here.

That's it, Cpt. Nguyen needs to go. His questions are bordering on lunacy.

100+ RF, I totally agree!

Because he dares and has the audacity to ask why these coprolitic corpracrats are giving the board and the public the "Who's on first, What's on second, I didn't know nuthin' because I don't know nuthin'" routine?

The captain reflects a culture in which command equals responsibility and accountability and these worms won't even go near that place. His questions highlight the difference between the dark and weaselful world of civilian corporate equivocating and the culture of honor and responsibility in the military.

The corporate structure the captain faces will always be staffed by people whose job it is to play a giant shell game of slippery blame-passing. Take note of all these brilliant executives and engineers who seem to never know quite enough about what happened or about any specific process or about who was in charge of it to be of any use in assigning responsibility for this disaster. Take note of how they suddenly have to have simple things explained to them in great detail. Take note of their poor memories and limited scopes of professional understanding.

Take note and you'll know why this thing burned down.


I did notice the non-answers of Harry Thierens. He couldn't even recall Piper Alpha, or state any changes that were made (in his own back yard) after it. And hasn't been following the reports about the Gulf accident. What exactly does this guy do, again?

Take note of their poor memories and limited scopes of professional understanding.

Alan Bond - "I Don't Recall"

- Alan Bond is an Australian businessman noted for his criminal convictions and high-profile business dealings, including what was at the time the biggest corporate collapse in Australian history

The captain reflects a culture in which command equals responsibility and accountability and these worms won't even go near that place. His questions highlight the difference between the dark and weaselful world of civilian corporate equivocating and the culture of honor and responsibility in the military.

Uncon, spot on!. The corporations prize "managers", the military looks for "Leaders". If a USCG ship runs aground, it's the Skipper's responsibility. It doesn't matter a bit if he was sound asleep and the most junior officer had the con, the buck stops with the Captain. And the Captain can't get away with blaming whoever last overhauled the rudder either.

I enlisted in the Marines out of high school. I can't say I enjoyed it, but I did learn the value of taking responsibility for for my actions (and failure to act also). After a tour in Vietnam I went back to school. I've worked in the oilpatch ever since. While there are many things I've enjoyed about the industry, the endless succession of weeny, CYA, take no responsibility "managers" I've worked for is not one of them. In 30 years in the oil patch I can count the number of true leaders I've seen on one hand.

+++100,000,000,000 to Unconformity's comment re the Deepwater Horizon Hearings a few posts above

The captain seems very unimaginative to me. I would like to get his answer to a simple, realistic question.

Who would be in charge if a fire broke out on a USCG cutter in drydock at Avondale shipyard in New Orleans?

A) the ship's captain
B) the yard's fire fighting crew's leader
c) the New Orleans Fire Department Battalion Chief

I was just listening to the USCG/MMS joint investigation hearings.

It is fruistrating that apparently no one in the room (including the BP witness) seems to understand what the negative test was or what it was supposed to do.

The negative test was (if I understand correctly) a simple simulation of the displacing the top 8300' of the well to seawater. This was (I gather) a regulation requirement due to the fact they were going to make the mud weight in the well under-balanced by displacing the riser therefore they needed to simulate to make sure that was safe.

The test sounds simple to me. Position the drill pipe to -8300'. Pump seawater down the DP with the annular open until the production casing was displaced with seawater (from -8300 to the well head). Then close the annular and open the kill line that is filled with seawater. This test simulated displacing the riser. Notice the well itself is not under-balanced at this point since the riser is still completely filled with mud.


Can anyone explain the results and analysis of this test. I would expect if the cement job wasn't lealing pressure that during this both the drill pipe and the kill line would have zero pressure at rig floor. The kill line I would expect would be open to atmospheric pressure. What about the drill Pipe? I would expect that if the well was static then in the half hour the test lasted there should be no flow in the kill line (or DP). This would indicate the well was static and no influx at the cement plug.

Am I understanding correctly that during the test 15 barrels of seawater flowed from the kill (or was it the DP) and they somehow managed to convince them selves that flow wasn't an indication that the well had influx?

jinn, the regs say if fluid is left in the hole during abandonment, it must be of sufficient density to provide hydrostatic balance within the well. You can't abandon an unbalanced well.

§ 250.1721 If I temporarily abandon a well that I plan to re-enter, what must I do?

You may temporarily abandon a well when it is necessary for proper development and production of a lease. To temporarily abandon a well, you must do all of the following:

(a) Submit form MMS–124, Application for Permit to Modify, and the applicable information required by §250.1712 to the appropriate District Manager and receive approval;

(b) Adhere to the plugging and testing requirements for permanently plugged wells listed in the table in §250.1715, except for §250.1715 (a)(8). You do not need to sever the casings, remove the wellhead, or clear the site;

(c) Set a bridge plug or a cement plug at least 100-feet long at the base of the deepest casing string, unless the casing string has been cemented and has not been drilled out. If a cement plug is set, it is not necessary for the cement plug to extend below the casing shoe into the open hole;

(d) Set a retrievable or a permanent-type bridge plug or a cement plug at least 100 feet long in the inner-most casing. The top of the bridge plug or cement plug must be no more than 1,000 feet below the mud line. MMS may consider approving alternate requirements for subsea wells case-by-case;

§ 250.1715 How must I permanently plug a well?

(a) You must permanently plug wells according to the table in this section. The District Manager may require additional well plugs as necessary.

Permanent Well Plugging Requirements

(8) A well with casing...

(9) Fluid left in the hole...


(8)A cement surface plug at least 150 feet long set in the smallest casing that extends to the mud line with the top of the plug no more than 150 feet below the mud line.

(9) A fluid in the intervals between the plugs that is dense enough to exert a hydrostatic pressure that is greater than the formation pressures in the intervals.

And it would appear the same is true when displacing the riser. Either maintain hydrostatic balance or take other "suitable precautions" to compensate for reduction in pressure:

§ 250.442 What are the requirements for a subsea BOP stack?
e) Before removing the marine riser, you must displace the riser with seawater. You must maintain sufficient hydrostatic pressure or take other suitable precautions to compensate for the reduction in pressure and to maintain a safe and controlled well condition.


And here is the pertinent reg that governs what they were supposed to do after getting the first bad negative pressure test:

§ 250.428 What must I do in certain cementing and casing situations?

The table in this section describes actions that lessees must take when certain situations occur during casing and cementing activities.


(c) Have indication of inadequate cement job (such as lost returns, cement channeling, or failure of equipment)

(1) Pressure test the casing shoe; (2) Run a temperature survey; (3) Run a cement bond log; or (4) Use a combination of these techniques.

The negative pressure tests are to be performed in accordance with procedures set forth in the permit I believe, or in some other document filed with and approved by MMS. The second test they did failed to comply with this requirement. It was a violation to do the second test in the first place, and to do it in accordance with unapproved procedures was a second violation. Failure to do the CBL after the first failure was a third violation, IMO that is. Failure to have the well balanced or to take other suitable precautions during displacement was a fourth violation. Again IMO. I could be wrong, having only read the regs and not done a full blown legal analysis. But putting aside the legal issues, the text of the regs is pretty clear about what should have been done (but was not done on DWH) from a safety perspective.

The negative test has nothing to do with cementing. They had done all kinds of cementing without doing negative tests.

The so called test is a simulation designed to demonstrate that it is safe to displace to seawater.
You set it up so that there is a 8300' column of seawater holding the well down. The purpose is to see if that is going to work. You find out if it works before you actually remove the mud from the riser because after you remove the mud from the riser is not a good time to find out it doesn't work.

If they were not going to make the well under-balanced there would have been no reason to simulate that under-balanced condition. The whole purpose of the test was to verify the well would perform when under-balanced. But it is beginning to sound to me that none of the participants in this test understood what the purpose was. It is abundantly clear that none of the people investigating this incident have any clue what the purpose of this test was.

There is one ambiguity in the text of the section on abandonment that could change my opinion.

Would it ever be the case that the formation pressures in the intervals between the plugs would be less than the actual formation pressure itself? I am a little confused by the language below.

(9) A fluid in the intervals between the plugs that is dense enough to exert a hydrostatic pressure that is greater than the formation pressures in the intervals.

The language used in the section on displacement of the riser is less ambiguous except that it does not give any clue what other procedures might be deemed "suitable."

Not meaning to sound argumentative, but BP submitted a well plan which the MMS approved and according to the MMS reps on the joint investigation panel the plan meets the minimum regulations.
Has the MMS ever raised a question about the under-balanced condition?

AFAICT, the plan submitted to MMS includes the displacement to seawater and fluid weights and pore pressures etc. So it was all reviewed BP engineers and MMS and well known to both the well would be under-balanced and the steps they would take to get it there. As I understand it, to be allowed to do this, they were required to demonstrate that the well would be stable when under-balanced. That is they were required to demonstrate in a controlled setting that the well would be stable when there was a 8300' column of seawater at the top. This simulation of the under-balanced condition is what is being called the "negative test". It is the same test they did on the same well last week which they this time called the "ambient test". The only difference is the former test was for 1/2 hour and the latter for 2 days.

I would like to know whether the drill pipe or the kill line were open to atmospheric pressure at the top and if so did the well flow? This is what they were supposed to be demonstrating that if they set up this 8300' column of seawater to the surface it would just sit there static and do nothing.

As far as I can tell there is nothing in BP's plans that can be called contrary to the regs except setting the top plug at 3000 feet below the mud line which they had applied for dispensation and it appears to me they got approval for that. At any rate they hadn't got to abandonment yet.

"AFAICT, the plan submitted to MMS includes the displacement to seawater and fluid weights and pore pressures etc. So it was all reviewed BP engineers and MMS and well known to both the well would be under-balanced and the steps they would take to get it there. "

Being argumentative is fine, especially if i am wrong.

But you are confusing (or I have confused you) the test with the displacement of the riser in terms of the applicability of the regs.

Yes, the negative pressure test procedure was indeed submitted to MMS from my reading of the internal e-mails and it included displacing with seawater down to the level of the top plug. However, the riser was still full of mud at this point.

The regs I cited apply to what must be done during displacement of the riser mud and plugging of the well, not during the test. In both instances they seem to require that the well be balanced both during/after riser displacement and prior to abandonment. That is what was not done. And that was after the negative test of course.

You seem to be suggesting that the regs permitted them to have an underbalanced well both during riser displacement and after abandonment because of the negative test procedure included in the plan. And that this approved plan superseded the regulations. That seems logical, but i have not seen any regs or other authority or resources that supports that. It would be interesting to learn how that procedure works if it is part of the process, which it very well may be. But it seems unorthodox to be able to routinely circumvent the regulations like that on safety procedures.

What would be the technical justification for letting them do it in a more dangerous manner than what the regs appear to require, beyond just saving some money?

It is also my understanding that the second test failed to comply with the procedures MMS approved. I would have to dig for that info, though.

I guess I wasn't writing plainly enough. The MMS is well aware the well would be under-balanced when abandoned. The negative test was to demonstrate that would work. The Macondo well as we speak is in an under-balanced state. That is not contrary to the regs. We know it is safe because they performed the exact same test last week that they were supposed to perform on April 20. That is in both cases they used a kill line full of seawater to do the simulation.

The testing would not comply with statutory regs if it failed to do what it was supposed to do which was demonstrate the well could be abandoned in an under-balanced state. That is both then and now the simulation is to determine if itis safe to remove the BOP.

My question is did they set up the test to properly demonstrate the conditions that would exist when the well was abandoned or did they not?

Maybe the only people who can answer that question are either dead or pleading the fifth.

"The Macondo well as we speak is in an under-balanced state. That is not contrary to the regs."

What's your authority for that, Jinn? It would be helpful if you could cite a source for your conclusions. Seriously, though, there's no way that well complies with regs for abandonment as it sits now.

I'm not disagreeing with your claim that a successful negative pressure tests permits an under-balanced well during riser displacement or abandonment, but you have never provided any citation to anything to support that. Please share your info. Or a link to the engineering plan you cited previously.

Because the regs that I have cited seem to contradict your claims. Of course I may have missed something. It would be nice to get it on the table if i have. Because the regs themselves clearly disagree with your characterizations of what is permissible. It would be nice to clear that up.

I made none of the claims you say I made. I won't be providing citations to support stawmen you create.

The under-balanced Macondo well is apparently legal because the MMS gave the under-balanced well approval. They have also said in the hearings it was in compliance.

It was the duty of the operator to demonstrate that the well would be stable in this under-balanced state. That was supposed to be the purpose of simulaing the exact same under-balanced state prior to displacing the riser.

Hey, Jinn, there are no straw men. I'm not looking for a debate or anything like that, just trying to understand your thinking on this as I have admired a lot of what you have written as thoughtful and perceptive, not to mention that you obviously know a lot more than I do about drilling, and this is an issue i have been hoping to get resolution on for some months now.

You have now clarified that you are assuming an underbalanced well does not violate the regs. Thank you for clearing that up.

Would you be kind enough to provide a link to the plan that you say MMS approved that allows for an underbalanced abandoned well (3rd request)? That would certainly help me put the issue to rest.


I think the point is that you can't leave it (plug & abandon or temporary abandon) underbalanced but you can have it underbalanced at certain times while you are working with the well. So you set a cement plug at the bottom. To do a positive pressure test you add weight or pressure from the top. To do a negative pressure test, you have to underbalance the well. If the cement is good there is no problem. If the cement fails, that's what the BOP and riser full of mud ready to drop on it are for.

That's what DWH did. I think the negative pressure test failed and the well started leaking but they didn't read the signs correctly.

The well is currently sitting underbalanced and open to ambient at the gulf floor. But the cement is good so nothing is happening.

They can't leave it this way but it's accepted as a temporary condition while testing and preparing for the other steps to prepare for abandonment.

Edit: BTW, I don't know the regs either but this is the understanding I have gathered from other posts here.

I think the point is that you can't leave it (plug & abandon or temporary abandon) underbalanced


That appears to be not true. The Macondo well was designed to be under-balanced and the MMS approved that design.

Negative test underbalances well enough to verify cement job is holding. It does not simulate riser displacement.

As you said, drill pipe is lowered some distance below wellhead (3300 feet in this case). Mud from bottom of drillpipe up to BOP is displaced with seawater. Annular is closed around drillpipe. But mud stays in riser.

Pressure is bled off drillpipe. Pressure on drillpipe and kill line should drop to zero and stay there for some pre-determined period of time with no flow.

In this case drillpipe pressure began climbing up to 1250 psi (if I remember correctly) while kill line showed zero. I'm not aware of any practical way drillpipe could be 1250 and kill line be zero, unless kill line was full of mud or BOP kill line valve was closed.

They ran a second neg test after purging kill line with seawater. Similar results. Pressure on drillpipe crept up while kill line pressure remained zero. I believe BOP kill line valve was closed again (inadvertently or deliberately).

It appears they ignored or explained away drillpipe pressure and took zero kill line pressure as indicative of a successful negative test.

Negative test underbalances well enough to verify cement job is holding. It does not simulate riser displacement.


Maybe the problem was that no one understood what it was they were testing. It was supposed to simulate the well exactly as it would be when the riser was displaced in a controlled and safe manner.

It does exactly simulate displacing the riser. Read BP's engineered plan. If they were not going to under-balance the well then the test would not be required.


They ran a second neg test after purging kill line with seawater. Similar results. Pressure on drillpipe crept up while kill line pressure remained zero. I believe BOP kill line valve was closed again (inadvertently or deliberately).


The kill line was supposed to simulate the seawater in the riser. But of course to do that it would have to be open to the well at bottom and open to atmosphere at the top. The BOP annular was supposed to be closed. If done right this would simulate the state the well would be in after the riser was displaced.

The question I am asking is does anybody know if they actually ran the test they were supposed to run?


"The question I am asking is does anybody know if they actually ran the test they were supposed to run?"

They obviously ran the test they were supposed to run, while it may not be the test you think they were supposed to run.

How is it obvious they ran the test they were supposed to run?

All they evidence is that they were confused about how to set up the test. They tried to set it up at least 2 different ways. Neither set up has been clearly described. I have yet to see a clear and precise description of what they actually did. The test as it was outlined to be done was pretty clear and simple. Why has it been so difficult to determine if they performed each step in order as in the outline.

No time to dig it up now, but what I read indicated that the first test was according to what was on the plan approved by MMS. The second test was not.

Do you have a link to the engineering plan by chance?

With flow stopped, the BOP temperature would drop to ambient. Perhaps this allowed hydrates to form in the seawater through the kill valve/line. So the kill circuit was dead and the DP was indicating flow starting to leak through. The contradictory readings puzzled the BP Co. Men (Kaluza & Vidrine), so they ran the test again. The kill line still showed zero and the DP showed leakage. From the WSJ article linked below, it appears that they thought the BOP annular seal was leaking mud from the riser into the test chamber and this could be causing the increase in pressure. They had increased the annular pressure to get it to seal better but appear to have rationalized that it was still leaking and causing the DP pressure increase. This did not explain the zero on the kill line. Maybe they thought they had a stuck kill valve on the BOP and used this to explain this reading.

It seems possible that their distrust of BOP operation may have led them to the wrong conclusion.

This still does not explain Rockman's challenge that if anyone had reservations they should have been watching and responding to the mud returns after they started displacing to seawater.

This still does not explain Rockman's challenge that if anyone had reservations they should have been watching and responding to the mud returns after they started displacing to seawater.

Well, clearly, numerous people had serious reservations. They went ahead any way.

And as noted in the WSJ article, the fast pace set on the rig for the final completion steps was also a factor and was BP's schedule.

Investigators from the federal panel have said Transocean workers may have struggled to monitor the well because they were performing other work at the same time.

There was also the distraction of the visiting executives.

Mr. Harrell testified that he was satisfied with the test results and went back to the visiting executives.

It was the last time there is any record of Mr. Harrell, the rig's most experienced leader, setting foot on the drill floor. His lawyer says he wasn't distracted by the visiting executives ...

The ability to monitor the mud was also compromised by the time-saving decision to off-load the mud and to discharge some overboard. The rush was on.

The decisions to pull out so much mud perplexed Robert Kaluza, BP's day-shift manager on April 20. "Don't know why—maybe trying to save time," he later told BP internal investigators, according to notes from that conversation reviewed by the Journal. "At the end of the well sometimes they think about speeding up."


The negative test is a pressure test to see if the cement holds, without leaking similar to pressure testing a boiler or other pressure vessel to us non oil field people. They do this before removing any 2ndary barriers such as mud, BOP, etc.

To quote Alexander Guide well team leader (July 22, page 137 of testimony) "A negative test is designed to see if the pack off on the annulus side is holding."

Don't forget that the annular was closed against the DP, so the mud above the BOP is not a factor. Indeed it was mentioned in May 22 testimony by the Transocean OIM that they had do increase the pressure to the annular seal to get it to seal. There were 2 negative pressure tests, one with 23 barrels and a 2nd with 15 barrels flow. The kill line was closed for the first test, and open (per BP request). Apparently the open kill line was specified in the MMS permit (July 22 testimony p156). The flow would have gone up the DP or kill line.

To quote Alexander Guide well team leader (July 22, page 137 of testimony) "A negative test is designed to see if the pack off on the annulus side is holding."


I can't tell what that part of the testimony is trying to say. The test they did was supposed to test every component that might fail when you displace the riser. You simulate the displacement to seawater to find out what will happen before it is too late.

Here is the Guide testimony a little further down in regard to the negative test:

Q. But you're testing for conditions that
will exist after you pull the BOP stack. Is
that correct, sir?

A. That is correct.

Q. Alright. So you have to test what the
condition of that well will be after the stack
is pulled and the rig has been demobilized,

A. That's correct.

Cool technology. Wave Gliders are being launched in the Gulf to measure plankton, listen for whales, and look for oil. The electronics and communications are powered by solar panels. The device is propelled by wave action that flaps venetian-blind thingies 20 feet below the surface. It has GPS and the course is programmable, though I can't make out how it would be steered.


"... though I can't make out how it would be steered."

I see a small rudder on the stern of the thing with dragon-fly wings. In the shots where the thing is turning, the rudder is positioned correctly for a sharp turn in the direction of actual turn. Small rudder, but big enough to do the job.

GPS must, of course be in the float on the surface in order to pickup short wave radio from the satellites in space.

Yes, cool technology.

Not sure what antifreeze is being used.

The common industry name for the glycol used to prevent hydrate formation in cold gas pipelines is MEG ( Mono Ethylene Glycol ), which was also the traditional antifreeze for vehicle engine coolant systems ).

A seldom-used, and actively-discouraged, historical name for MPG ( Mono Propylene Glycol ) is methylethylene glycol. MPG is also the replacement antifreeze for modern vehicle engine coolant systems.

I'd guess that MEG is being used, but MPG may have superior environmental credentials, and thus is possibly being used, as cost should be no concern. However MPG ( aka propylene glycol ) is one of the major solvent/carriers in Corexit.

I just wish they would stick with traditional chemical industry abbreviations to avoid confusing simple souls.

"avoid confusing simple souls."

But, clearly their intention is to confuse.

Per Admiral Allen, MEG was being used, at least on Tuesday.

This is Transocean's piece of junk BOP sitting on the bottom with two pieces of junk pipe sitting in it. That is Transocean's junk drill string that is stabbing the ocean bottom. What kind of junk is Transocean using to drill the relief wells? 4 days and the junk pipe still sits in the junk BOP.

Joke Thursday

Original filename: altendorf_tribute.jpg

All feeds blacked out as of 6:30pm. Dead/dying ROVs littering the seafloor, bleeding hydraulic fluids. Oh, the ROVumanity. It's over. Seafloor collapsing, giant whirlpool currently engulfing all surface vessels. Don't be surprised when none of this is mentioned on the nightly news.

I'm not visiting your blog, sorry.

Is this good enough?

Will anything ever be good enough to erase demons that aren't real? When they show the stack from multiple viewpoints for hour after hour the cries are "why won't they show the seafloor eruptions! what are they hiding!? it must be exploding, why else would they hide the truth??!" Then, when they show hour after hour of views of the seafloor, the cries magically morph into "why aren't they showing us the stack? I think it was leaking earlier, it sure looked cloudy - they must have totally lost control, I bet the cement finally blew out like we always knew it would!!"

My personal favorite is "how come all the interesting stuff happens when we are all asleep??! they must be doing that ON PURPOSE!!" As somebody with a sleep disorder (non-24), and therefore awake and watching at a different time every day, I can tell you that the stuff that happens when you're watching seems boring, and the stuff you hear about after-the-fact seems much more exciting than it would have been if you were watching at the time. Switch your body clock to 30 hour days and watch when I do, and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Yep, looks pretty good with the lower ram closed.

I thought they were intentionally hiding views of the stack? Or are they only hiding it except for when they aren't?

Comfy, is that the red and yellow methane in your image? Does look grim.

It's a mixture of red methane and yellow methane.


What is red and yellow methane? A link to such information?

If this was mentioned before I apologize, but it appears to have slipped under the radar back in late July, when Shirley Sherrod, the capping of the DWH well, and extending jobless benefits took precedence over executive orders.

President Obama issued an executive order on July 19th, called "Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coast and the Great Lakes".It revoked the EO 13366 that Bush imposed in 2004. There is a clause on page three, that calls for "pursuing the United States accession to the Law of the Sea Convention." Not sure what that means exactly, but possibly allowing more international control of American oceans, coastlines and Great Lakes?

I am wondering how this will effect oil and gas exploration, as well as fishing and trawling in our waters in the future.
Would welcome comments on this, especially in light of the uncertain health of the ecosystem in the Gulf at present.


Regarding health of Gulf, sobering article in USA today:


paintdancer, this is a comment on the second link, to USAtoday. Julia Whitty is a fine writer and I generally admire her work. But her coverage of the Gulf spill is so angry and so determined to see the worst that, IMO, it isn't worth much. So don't let this article get you down.

What she says about the Deep Scattering Layer (DSL) is fundamentally wrong. Here is a PhD thesis on the DSL in the Gulf:


The author finds that the DSL in the northern GOM is "usually 400-600m deep." In some areas there is a secondary DSL at 600-800m. Sperm whales of the Gulf dive to depths of 400-800m. Then--the main plumes of oil that have been tracked are at depths of 1000-1300m. Therefore, the fish of the DSL cannot be trapped in or below these plumes, and predators diving from above can feed in the DSL without entering the oil plumes.

Also, Whitty makes a claim often heard, that the deepsea injection of dispersant caused the deep plumes to form and kept the oil from rising to the surface where it could be skimmed up. But everyone agrees that, in a spill of this type, there would be massive dispersion through natural processes, without the use of Corexit. According to government models, more than 2/3 of the oil in the plumes was dispersed naturally rather than chemically. Had more oil reached the surface, it would not have been skimmed. They managed to skim only about 4% of the spilled oil--oil has never been skimmed anywhere in the open ocean with any decent rate of success.

Thanks Gobbet,

Yes the Whitty article did get me down. The thesis by Azzara is amazing. Thanks for that link. It was interesting to note in her thesis that eddies contribute to where the whales congregate. I do think Mother Nature knew what she was doing time-wise when Eddy Franklin broke away from the loop current and was created in June.

With so many brilliant minds around, like Alyson Azzara, we can only hope that there are many independent researchers out there pinging the whales and studying the backscatter data.


Take a look here for Law of the Sea Treaty (Convention):


WSJ people have done a timeline type story of events of Apr. 20. Sort of puts together the hearings, BP investigation notes, etc. Wholly accurate? Don't know. Well written? Definitely. Seems to imply that BP Houston insisted on changes in normal procedures and instructed the rig around 10 a.m., and that this was the "seed" that precipitated the "the perfect storm" (when created by humans rather than nature, perhaps better described as the "fustercluck"?).


Also, the current issue of the New Yorker has published an interesting investigative piece on the Koch brothers. Too bad people don't focus on the real conspiracies. Not OT, perhaps, since the money is oil money.


The author was interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR today:


The WSJ article is pretty good, but it conflicts with other accounts i have read regarding the required procedures for the negative test and what was done on the rig. It also never mentioned the haliburton hand's testimony regarding the test. He was helping perform it and observed it.

I found this bit interesting after our recent debate about Harrell and what he was upset about and whether he was fully forthcoming in his testimony due to rockman's box perhaps.

In sworn testimony, Mr. Harrell denied arguing with Mr. Kaluza. He said he just wanted to make sure that a negative test was performed and that Mr. Kaluza agreed. But his lawyer, Pat Fanning, said that Mr. Harrell also told Mr. Kaluza he didn't want to remove so much mud before running the negative test and was overruled.

Another interesting point, by lowering the top plug, the interval between the plugs would be decreased, and thus the density of the mud required to keep the well in balance within that interval would have to be increased, unless that distance was inconsequential.

I have not really heard anyone with direct off-shore experience comment on the procedures deployed to test the well and displace the riser. In particular, is it common practice to increase mud weight in the well prior to displacing the riser with seawater and setting a top plug in order to achieve hydrostatic balance withing the well sealed at the seabed? I am sure someone has, but I missed it.

An explanation for the unusual amount of drilling mud displaced by sea water is offered here (a post I made 2 days ago): http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6883#comment-707700

In a reconstruction of events by Tad Patzek, UofT Austin, he states at 3:27 into the podcast ( http://beta.wnyc.org/shows/lopate/2010/aug/24/more-bp-oil-spill/ ): "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."

This was done to avoid the cost of toxic waste disposal! Anything to save a buck for TransOcean& BP!

The WSJ article seems concerned that the leak off test was done with 3000 ft of water instead of the usual 300 ft. The 3000 ft test would put more pressure on the cement and do a better job of detecting any leaks. Of course if there was a small leak, it might make it worse. But it was going to get worse anyway when they dumped the whole riser to seawater. At least doing the 3000 ft during the leak off test was done under controlled conditions when they still had a riser full of mud.

It might have been worth doing a 300 ft test first and then a 3000 ft test. Since the test results appear to have been distorted and rationalized by distrust of the annular seal and a seemingly plugged up kill line, it would not have mattered anyway.

Perhaps it was just at the end of an extra long day that started with a 'discussion' over the test, calls to BP Houston to get testing approved, plus guiding and impressing the tour group.

Vidrine should have been fresh on the night shift. Did he get up early to help with the tour group or review test results with Houston?

I thought I heard early on that there were some missing data/logs from just before the blowout. This May 13th article brings up some interesting questions:

<"While some data were being transmitted to shore for safekeeping right up until the April 20 blast, officials from Transocean, the rig owner, told Congress that the last seven hours of its data are missing and that all written logs were lost in the explosion." "Earlier tests, which suggested that explosive gas was leaking from the mile-deep well, were preserved.">


Apologies if this has already been discussed.

[WSJ article speaking about the negative test]

"Normally, workers on the rig remove about 300 feet of mud below the blowout preventer and replace it with seawater. Mud holds down any gas that leaks into the well. So companies usually test a well fully to make sure it is sealed against any influx of gas before removing too much of the mud."

"But BP engineers in Houston, including Mr. Morel and his colleague Mark Hafle, had decided to set the cement plug much deeper than usual and remove 10 times as much mud as is normal before running the test. It was unusual, but BP says it changed the procedure in order to avoid damage to a key seal."

To avoid damage to a key seal? I'm calling BS on that. Seal referenced is the casing seal. It's at the top of the well. Going 300 feet below it would present no damage concerns.

Since they had not set the lockdown sleeve yet, they might have been concerned about cement getting into the seal area and complicating setting of the lockdown sleeve. Said concern might justify going deeper, perhaps to 600 feet, deep enough to insure top plug cement would not get into seal area. But that concern doesn't explain going 3000 feet down.

It is more likely they went 3000 feet down to recover more relatively expensive re-usable oil-based mud. An(other) case of money overruling safety?

The larger problem with reconstructing what really happened is everyone being in CYA mode. The perps obviously will obfuscate, evade, or outright lie to avoid blame. But those who opposed the perps will also obfuscate, evade, or outright lie to avoid blame for not calling a halt to the operation on safety grounds.

This is another example of how compromise kills. In this case compromise killed 11 people, sank an oil rig, and caused the worst oil spill in American history, perhaps human history.

Safety was supposed to be the #1 principle everyone followed. But everyone compromised on safety in one way or another.

Safety was supposed to be the #1 principle everyone followed. But everyone compromised on safety in one way or another.

Amen brother! The gods of money spoke and they listened, and disaster followed.

ROCKMAN on August 26, 2010 - 3:46am
Lady -- you might want to do a little independent research on the subject. First, Chevron has never operated in Ecuador. The law suit deals with environbment damage Texaco may have caused when they operated in the country. Chevron bought Texaco and thus bought into the charges. Texaco stopped operating in the country on the early 1990's. They may well have conducted business there in a very unsound manner but that would have been over 25 years ago.
As far as contaminated sites I doubt there's much evidence of environmental damage done by Texac over 25 years ago. But there have been over 1000 documented acts of pollution done in the last 25 years. There should be thousands of samples available to prove those problems.
Rockman - in my opinion, this Texaco (now Chevron) affair is symptomatic of long lasting lawsuit as we have to expect it with BP too.
Chevron blames Ecuador Gov. and Ecuador Gov. blames Chevron.
The ones to suffer are the indians in the Amazonian jungle.


"A report by a court-appointed team last year concluded that pollution caused mainly by Texaco's Ecuadoran affiliate, Texaco Petroleum, had led to 1,401 cancer deaths in this stretch of Amazonian jungle.
The team's leader, Ecuadoran geologist Richard Cabrera, reported finding high levels of toxins in soil and water samples near Texaco's production sites and assessed damages at up to $27.3 billion.
Among those who have spent their lives next to wells, waste pits and polluted waterways is Carmen Chamba, 54, who said she has suffered four miscarriages.
Diego Larrea, a Quito-based lawyer for Chevron, argued that no medical or scientific evidence has been presented to back such claims.
"What we have here is the myth of the jungle," he told Nuñez."
That´s my point :
It´s impossible to make a solid proof of where cancer and other diseases come from.
Oil Corporations know this - ALL Corporations know this !
I hear them whispering "The lawsuit is about cancer...(laughter)...we will win the litigation".

It´s the same with the atomic research reactor here in Garching/Germany :
There is the evidence to lymph gland cancer and leukemia - but impossible to prove the fact.

Oh poo. There are quite a few successful cases.

Some typical examples:

Mesothelioma from asbestos.
Leukemia and benzene.
Vinyl chloride and angiosarcoma.
Hexavalent chromium and lung cancer.

Lady - Texaco may have done as much environmental damage (maybe even more) during their ops as is being claimed. But the problem with that is two fold. First, if I understand correctly, Texaco was complying with E. regs at the time. The regs may have been poor and what T. may have was morally reprehensible but not illegal. Second, from what I’ve read most of the evidence re: pollution sites deal with areas that were operated by the state owned oil company.

I agree about the difficulty of cause vs. affect with re: cancer. Sad cases regardless who was at fault. But the bottom line as far as I can tell (and to be honest I spend little time paying attention to the details on this matter) there has been almost no independent documented evidence of problems directly caused by Texaco. A great deal of anecdotal evidence (much of which might be valid) that cannot be verified.

The saddest part of the entire story may be that there has been no indication that the E. govt has done anything to stop the current pollution being done by its own company nor is any significant assistance being given to the alleged victims. All too often the unfortunate case: the big guys (corps and govts) play their games and the little guys get nothing out of it.

Rockman, with all due respect, I was there.
In 1964 and 1965 I was in Colombia, and Texaco flew me between Bogota to Puerto Assis several times. My good friend had a little farm in Putumayo area, was married to a Cofani indian, he spoke Spanish and English and German as well as Cofani.
It is hard for people to realize today that in 1965, there was no cocaine industry in Colombia. Colombia was an incredibly violent place (check out Wiki for the Bogota riots of 1948 when the most popular democratic leader of Colombia was assassinated, his name was Gaitan) but it was political violence, not drug gang violence.
Putumayo was probably the most peaceful, safest place in all of Colombia.
Over many years my friend traveled by canoe to many remote places, he enjoyed living in the jungle and looking for gold.
So when Texaco came along with helicopters and offered him free rides in exchange for his help, he accepted readily, they covered more turf in a few hours with a helicopter than he could travel in weeks by canoe. So he visited many of Texaco's sites, and these were Texaco sites, not Colombian or Peruvian or Brasilian government sites. And they were an ecological mess. Test wells were abandoned without regard to their continued seeping. Streams were polluted with oil and also with camp sewage.
It may be that there were no enforcement personnel around, but it was definitely NOT legal.

Another fateful decision was BP's choice to send home staff from contractor Schlumberger just 11 hours before the accident, also first exposed in May by The Times-Picayune. Schlumberger was on the rig on standby to check how well the cement barriers had set in the hole. But BP decided not to run the so-called cement bond log before completing work that normally would indicate if that test was needed.
On Thursday, a federal Interior Department investigator questioned if the Schlumberger personnel were sent home to make room on the rig for visiting officials from BP and rig-owner Transocean.

Sorry if this has already been discussed. Please tell me that the party did not matter. That the head count was not that close. It would really PO me if my life was temporarily ruined because some rich guy wanted a party.

From: http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2010/08/bp_manager_bos...

Rockman's theory of no positive pressure test receives unexpected corroborating support from other allegations/speculations!

And I remind everyone of the category I put my speculation into: wild ass nut job conspiracy theory. I approach it from a completely ass backwards point of view: we are hearing that the neg tests were done properly and that the positive test proved the cmt job was good. Thus the case being made (and will probably continue to be made) by the witnesses as far as I can tell.

Thus, based on all the evidence presented (and presumably will be presented) it appears that the cmt job was good as proven by all the appropriate and pertinent tests. Thus there is no explanation for the well blowing out. How does one reconcile all the testimony proving the well wasn’t at risk of blowing out and the fact that it did? Only two possible explanations IMHO: either the well didn’t blow out or the testimonies are not true. Remember the point all the witnesses have made: these tests are accepted standards for assuring a well is safe.

All those who now believe the well didn’t blow out please raise your hand. Or let’s put it another way: everyone who has seen any physical evidence or recorded data showing that any tests were conducted on the cmt job raise your hand. Or are we collectively trying to explain a series of events based solely on what a small group of individual have told us?

I’ll go back to a point I made some time ago about data analysis: flip a quarter 19 times and it comes up heads every time. What are the odds that it will be heads on the 20th flip? Easy: 100%. No…you’re wrong…it’s not 50/50. No it isn’t. It’s 100% because it’s a two headed quarter. And you know what? I didn’t even have to lie to you…you never asked if it was an honest coin or not. The point is we are making very big assumptions and conclusions based upon evidence none of us can varify.

everyone who has seen any physical evidence or recorded data showing that any tests were conducted on the cmt job raise your hand. Or are we collectively trying to explain a series of events based solely on what a small group of individual have told us?

Rockman, sorry for neglecting to mention that your theory was intentionally provocative and speculative.

But to answer your question, I have heard enough evidence to believe that the negative test was done and that it failed on the only attempt made in accordance with approved procedures. And it failed on the basis of the returns alone both times, requiring further investigation of the cement and remedial cementing before proceeding further, if the regs were followed. The regs and the test were ignored.

They did not seem to be to worried about the bad cement. Halfe testified that the time to do the CBL was when they came out to produce the well because you have to have a good cement job to produce (implying that you don't to abandon.) There is also a notation in the transocean investigative file about fixing the cement later when they came back to produce the well.

But your point is well taken. Capt. Nugyen expressed a similar point noting that no one from BP will take responsibility for any of the decisions. Everybody was in charge, no one was in charge.

syn - I fully agree with Halfe. The CBL is best run at completion time to ensure good zone isolation. As I mentioned long ago I do not consider the CBL to be a useful tool to test the quality of a cmt job. That's why we do pressure tests. But the lack of the CBL will probably continue to be thrown out as a contributing factor.

I have heard enough evidence to believe that the negative test was done and that it failed on the only attempt made in accordance with approved procedures.

Synchro, what if someone was running through one of those tests and a pressure guage chooses that moment to fail. Have they, at that point, failed the test and have to call in the Schlumberger guys, etc.? Or, do they get to fix the guage and have a do-over?

If I've correctly understood your argument about the second test being "illegal", it's based on §250.428's if...then construct.

But the "if" part of that is "Have indication of inadequate cement job".

Failure of equipment unrelated to the cement job is not an indication of cement failure. It just makes it impossible for that test to be used to judge either way whether or not the job is adequate or inadequate. The only reasonable thing to do in that case is to fix the fault and repeat the test.

As I understand it, there was a disagreement as to whether the observations in the first test were due to a bad cement job or to faulty unrelated equipment, namely a leaking annular. Seems to me that that dispute must be resolved before you can reach your position.

As I understand it, there was a disagreement as to whether the observations in the first test were due to a bad cement job or to faulty unrelated equipment, namely a leaking annular. Seems to me that that dispute must be resolved before you can reach your position.

I think they were incorrectly suspecting an annular failure and this led them to believe the increase in fluid/pressure in the DP was a result of mud leaking down from the riser rather than a bad cement job.

They also had the zero readings on the kill line. This indicates something is different between the kill and DP circuits. Maybe they thought a pressure sensor was failed or the kill valve was stuck. Maybe it was actually hydrates forming in the kill circuit due to leaking cement + seawater in the top 3000 ft of the well and the BOP ambient temperature and pressure.

Did they rationalize away the discrepancies as "it's that blasted BOP malfunctioning again"?

But did they then say "the heck with it, the test passed, move on to the next step"?

No, they attempted to resolve the dispute, fixing the possibly faulty annular by pumping up it's actuator pressure, and repeating the test.

Syncro says it's illegal to do that, I think it was the prudent and reasonable thing to do.

I'm not saying they were right, or not in too much of a hurry, or nothing but a bunch of greedy bastards willing to risk killing dozens of people just to keep their annual bonuses safe.

Just that it was OK to redo the test.

And I remind everyone of the category I put my speculation into: wild ass nut job conspiracy theory. I approach it from a completely ass backwards point of view: we are hearing that the neg tests were done properly and that the positive test proved the cmt job was good. Thus the case being made (and will probably continue to be made) by the witnesses as far as I can tell.


None of that is true. Nobody who knows what they are talking about has said the negative test was done properly or that it proved anything. All indications are that the negative test which was supposed to be a trial run of displacing the riser was never even performed. All the witnesses who claim that it was an acceptable result also testified they didn't know exactly what procedure was used.

Jimmy Harrel (OIM) testified he though the first test was good even though they had flow of 15-23 barrels (depending on who you believe). Harrel speculated the BOP annular leaked down during this test (1/2 hour test). Think about how ridiculous that is. That would be a flow rate equal to around 1000 barrels/day. Besides his absurd claim that was a good test he admitted that they hadn't set the test up correctly to simulate the column of seawater using the kill line as specified in the APD (same set-up they used in last week's Macondo well negative test). So they repeated the test. This time using the kill line to simulate the riser as specified. This time they got no flow through the kill line but witnesses testified that they though the kill line was either closed or plugged with the LCM that had been used for a spacer. So again it is likely tat the second time no test was done.

So they had never really tested to see if the well could handle the under-balance until they got to the real thing. And during the real thing they were dumping the returns from the riser overboard.

I really wish we could get a step by step process of the BP negative test procedures on the well.

Depending what the actual procedure was, I understand Gary Harrell's thought process on the negative test. In my experience using a annular preventer to do a negative test is a bad choice, because they were depending on the annular to hold pressure from the opposite direction of flow and I don't think it's designed to do that. So if your using a annular to achieve a test by using it in a way other than what it was designed for, then you may expect that the annular was the problem. Because they ran a long string rather than a liner they couldn't use a packer to test the annulus and the cement job. It's possible that the variable bore rams would have been a better choice to achieve a better seal, but I don't know that those rams are designed to test from that direction.

I've watched the C-span coverage and one thing that never gets answered and rarely asked correctly. How do you decide whether a negative test has passed or not? When I have performed negative test in the past you pump a lighter density fluid to a chosen depth in the drill pipe, then you close a packer which allows the annulus to be isolated. At this point you have trapped pressure from the differential between the annulus and the drill pipe. The trapped pressure on the drill pipe is then bled off (that amount bled back would never be 15 to 23 bbls) and the drill pipe should have zero pressure or no flow for the entire test period. If the pressure rises or the well flows, then the test failed, so kill weight mud would by circulated back in the well probably with adequate back pressure being held on the choke, until the circulation was complete and the well is dead. That's when the fun starts!

Another issue is that negative test WERE fairly rare, so I understand the confusion.

I wonder if it was to make room for the VIP's on the rig or was it to make room on the helicopter that would have taken them all home the next day?

Either way, if this proves to be true, there is a special place in hell for the rich guy that made that call.

Just curious, how many rich guys were out there?

I guess I am really stupid today, but I keep looking at the picture in the article labeled, Upper end of the drill pipe. Maybe it is an optical illusion or something, but that sure does look like a very thin wall thickness around the threads. Also, in the picture above it showing the DP hanging down it looks like there is no shoulder above the threads. I have no direct experience with DP other than looking at it around the rigs. I don't remember seeing any pipe joints that looked like those.

Karma , that is a tapered thread. Oil field drill pipe has a very sharp taper. It may only be 3/8 wall at the end but would be 2 to 2 1/2 inches at the small end. This allows fast breakout and make up and is stronger than a straight thread. There are probably 500 drill pipe threads. Maybe some one here knows what this one is.

That does look like any drill pipe tool joint. It looks like the threads on thinner walled pipe used to go down over over other pipe.

Don't know what pipe in hole would be that small an O.D. Also have no idea why such pipe would be run above an overshot

Ok. Tdmidget and you may have helped me straighten this out. My WAG is that the pipe sticking out of the mud is a specialty pipe with the overshot at the bottom. It has in I.D. big enough to swallow the fish assuming no tool joint on top of the fish. It can swallow all the way down to the first tool joint encountered on the fish. That may extend past the length of the specialty pipe. The pipe hanging down is another large I.D. specialty pipe which allows this to happen. Out of sight at the top of this pipe is a transition sub that connects to the standard DP tool joint I think I want to see. I will stop drinking the cool aid now. Thanks, guys.

Thanks for your input. The other picture above is labeled, Close-up of the lower end of the pipe. Neither one looks to me like they have near the taper of a standard tool joint from what I remember. My eyeball scaling of the DP indicates little or no shoulder on the male end and too thin wall thickness on the female end, meaning those two joints would fit together just fine. I'm probably wrong, but I suspect those are specialty pipes of some kind that are used with whatever fishing tool they have below. Sure hope somebody here can set me straight on this.

The dropped pipe looks like it was over torqued, that bit of flare on the box end and the condition of the pin are sure indicators. Wilson flush joint is used on wash pipe and casing.
I don't really know what the were doing I came here to find out.

Digger, you nailed it as soon as you mentioned wash pipe. I suspected it wasn't drill pipe... just didn't know what to call it. Here is an explanation:

Wash pipe is a tool string component used along with a burn shoe for operations involving wash over. Wash pipe generally has a comparatively bulky interior diameter and has a tubular shape. It can be washed over a fish that is in preparation for attracting the fish and thereon retrieving it.


Over torquing explains why the two wash pipes separated too. Looks like those joints would want lower make up torque than a regular DP joint. Maybe whoever was running the pipe tongs forgot that. Also, would it be correct that the fishing grapple would be somewhere above the suspended pipe? That wash pipe sure does not look strong enough to lift 3000' of DP.

Dave -- An interesting point about that: I've never met a fishing hand who let anyone else ever put his equipment together...especially when it came to torque specs. You can imagine how hard a fishing hand has to get sometimes with his assembly to pull something stuck out of a hole. Torque specs and assembly weak points are critical.

Yes, I recollect that back when they would go fishing for my stuff. You know whichever fishing contractor they used they got the best fishing hand around. That guy has got to be mortified. But then again, with everything else that has happened out there this could almost be expected.


Interesting site. Looks like the descriptions were translated with Babelfish.
Attracting the fish...isn't that something anglers want?

"What are hammer unions?
Hammer unions in particular are designed to enjoin mud tanks instantly without having to deal with the flanged connections at all. In case if the issue is so that the mud tanks are not aligned in the right kind of a way necessary hammer unions can still be used to in order to make absolutely non-leak seals that are tightened."

Beware when reading the page


Wash pipe refers to a wash "over" pipe used in fishing, A thin walled pipe as we see stuck in the sea bed thanks the the Horizon incident, and the other washpipe that is mentioned on the page. This is a devise that is used on the Top Drive / Kelly that alows you to pump through a stationary hose into a rotating pipe. This piece of equipment had gone through some major changes in the last few years, as pump pressures have increaved from around 3000psi to 5000psi and the size has increased from 3" to 4".

10-4 on reading the page. When I got to "attracting the fish",the first thing that came to mind was a bunch of ya'll sittin' in a bar talkin' and some guy like me askin' what your fishin' for and what kind of bait you use.
Well I never.

One thing I learnt when I went into the drilling business was, I had to learn a completly differant language. As the drilling business had Its roots in country USA, farming and hunting terms are very common. It all adds to the flavour of the job.

Also if some one is eves dropping on your converation, they will not have a clue what your talking about.

Yeah, and I bet you even threw some shit in there that ya'll didn't even know what you were talkin' about,didn't ya?

You can see a picture of a hammer union on page 11 here http://www.lamot.com/docs/WEB0330-PSG.pdf

You hit the protruding ears with a hammer to tighten the union.

Edit: Duplicate

I'm looking again at the pictures HO posted above, and I remember seeing some reference standards for drill pipe threads at the Bureau of Standards back in about 1950 just before I went to college. They made and impression on a young kid and I still carry the image in my head sixty years later. Those pictures of both the male and female threads look like the threads have been stripped, not a all the deep beefy threads that I remember.

Is it possible that they over torqued the connection enough to do such damage? I can't believe it. But that is what I think I see.

I only 'made-em-bite' for a while, but my memory is the same as yours.
They must be going after the shorter piece?


Olympic Challenger UHD31 looking out on a fresh Hydrate field, or has somebody been throwing snowballs???

Is a "Hydrate field"?
Please explain.

Just wondering if the rather bright/whitish "rocks" on the seabed could be clumps of Hydrates forming from methane seeps ( I'm not yet convinced that formation fracturing has not established at least a gas leakage path from near reservoir to seabed).

Bottom dwelling critters, either tubeworms or little garden eels have been shown poking up out of the whitish mounds on the previous 'biological surveys'.

Wow, here's a fly on the wall article by NY Times called Behind Scenes of Gulf Oil Spill, Acrimony and Stress.

Two interesting excerpts:

"Inside the command center here and at the well site, 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana, tempers flared — in one heated argument, a senior engineer on a ship threatened to throw another senior engineer overboard — and blood pressures rose."

"The next day, Dr. Chu, concerned about putting too much pressure on the well, ordered an end to the operation. It was a turning point: the government was now in charge, and with greater frequency, Energy Department officials and scientists were conferring with Exxon Mobil and Shell engineers, asking for advice about what to do next."

Wow, here's a fly on the wall article by NY Times called Behind Scenes of Gulf Oil Spill, Acrimony and Stress.

A must-read. (The writing is a bit overly dramatic for my taste; what it describes is dramatic enough.) Among other apparent revelations, it recounts two close calls that I don't recall hearing anything about elsewhere, including on TOD:

In fact the cofferdam, a 100-ton, four-story-high steel dome that the company had lowered to try to contain the flow of oil from its out-of-control well, had become clogged with icelike crystals and was rising in the water, full of flammable gas and oil....

Had the dome hit one of the work ships, another inferno like the one that destroyed the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig might have resulted, with more lives lost. But eventually the engineers managed to maneuver it to safety....

But on Aug. 2, as workers prepared to pump mud into the well to kill it permanently, an engineer stuck his head into office of Mr. Lynch, the BP vice president....

A hydraulic leak had caused a critical valve on the cap to open up again. A second, fail-safe valve behind it was being kept closed by little more than friction. If that second valve opened, oil and gas would again start pouring into the gulf.

In the end, the valve held, and a renewed nightmare was averted....

Be interested to hear what the knowledgeable folks here think of the article. I have the sense there might be a few nits to be picked.

I'll give them some credit in their effort to put a positive spin on the Administration's part in the intervention effort. They have totally destroyed the Washington Post's puff piece!

So to help out the handicapped, I'll toss the WP a bone. The original NYT article included Chu's reget that he did not allow the top kill to proceed while the leak was still small. The 5/10/10 Kent Wells video talked extensively about the junk shot and the 5/14/10 video included an interview with the guy doing the prep work. In the course of the video it is stated that they were working 7 days ahead. So if they were working on the junk shot on 5/10, that would imply they would have been ready by 5/17 as confirmed in the 5/14 video. So there appears to be independent confirmation that Chu did stop the early implementation of the top kill/junk shot.

Can the Washington Post outdo its New York rival and confirm that fact?

P.S. It is "little more than friction" that holds a 100 foot cement plug in a permanently abandoned well. Duh!

I may not qualify as knowledgeable, SL, but for me this account substantiates Chu's cautious view of BP engineers (as do ongoing developments). Your second excerpt shows them in August just as in April: still in wing-and-a-prayer mode.

Again, nothing here to pry me off my hobbyhorse about John Wright's role in the decision-making (and now I get to wonder whether he was one of the brawling "senior engineers" out on the boats).

I'm getting bored so let's play Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader for all those kids out there in TODland.

While driving to TOD-Funland, your Dad's car gets a flat tire. He uses the scissor jack in the trunk to lift the car so he can change the tire. What keeps the car suspended in the air against the force of gravity while he changes the tire?

A) the Flubber used in manufacturing the jack
B) Jiminy Cricket
C) Gremlins and/or Goonies
D) friction

A, definitely. Jiminy isn't big enough to hold it up high enough to get the flat off. Duh!!

If you listened to the testimony on Tuesday from TO's BOP specialist who was called to the incident center to help with the ROV work done on the BOP - He said that it appeared to him that BP engineers (who controlled the ROV intervention) were not really interested in shutting in the well by getting the BOP rams working. He said they were more concerned about underground blowouts. This was on April 23 that he first heard about underground blowout fears from BP engineers. It was those engineers that were in charge and controlled what the ROV's did during the first 2 weeks after the incident.

All the evidence suggests that all of the well integrity concerns from the beginning up until July 15 originated with and came from BP. The fact that BP is the expert source of info on the Macondo well makes it understandable that others who got information from BP echoed the concern about well integrity.

What is RED or YELLOW methane? A link to some information on this would be appreciated.

Joke. You might be able to find the early version with the site search engine.

Morbid sorry if I confused you. It is obvious that you are new on TOD and so not aware that Matt Simmons, a previously credible financial analyst in the energy field who recently died, had sold short on BP. He apparently tried to drive the price down by making outrageous claims including vast "lakes" of underwater oil, and that the sea floor could erupt and these "red " and "yellow" methanes were going to cause tidal waves and suffocate the population miles inland. It has been a running joke here. It is sad that a man with a previously respected record would prey on the fears of the many people who never gave a thought to where their oil/gasoline, etc. came from. Feel free to search for posts mentioning his name for some laughs.

No, that's just the cover story. Obviously, what happened is an ROV accidentally made a spark working with something down there, and it was hot enough to split seawater into oxygen and hydrogen and turn the entire ocean into a self sustaining rocket engine of doom. Also, something about deuterium in seawater which = thermonuclear mantle plume. All the video feeds are faked to hide the fact that the seawater is on fire.

So I guess we can expect that subsea black hole to get started up soon.

Awesome. ;-)

Thought i had seen/read all the Simmons interviews but don't remember anything about red and yellow methane or tidal waves.

Do you have a link to that?

See my link above.


no no - not a link to previous TOD chatter about red & yellow methane and tidal waves, but for comfychair to provide me with a link to Simmons making those statements.

No need to beat a dead man.

Comfychair never claimed Simmons made those statements.

There is an old Roman phrase that advises we shouldn't speak ill of the dead.
But being dead doesn't erase a person's behavior while he was alive.
The truth is the truth.


There is one thing that has been bothering me a lot about the whole Matt Simmons thing. He has been laughed at even after his death to such an extent that it seems a little heartless to me. But when he talked about detonating a nuclear weapon to kill the wild well, everyone got a huge hoot at his expense. No one bothered to laugh at Bill Clinton when he said exactly the same thing. He was interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN, I think back in May, and he said something to the effect that the Navy may need to be brought in to detonate a small nuclear device to implode the well upon itself. Not one person made fun of Clinton to my knowledge, yet poor Simmons was a laughing stock. The Russians have used nuclear devices to implode their runaway wells, although not in deep water. There is something called an explosively pumped flux compression generator which seemingly would use nuclear fusion to kill the well and cement the formation through heat. Maybe Simmons was talking about that when he mentioned nuking the well. It just really bothers me that people are so tough on a guy who drowned in a two feet of water.


Enterprise, eeet goin feeeshin agin.


Midnight, when the crews are weary, US going to bed, UK sound asleep.

Why are the crews weary? I'd assume they're working shifts???

What would those shifts be?

12hrs, now likely start of night shift. They will want to start tasks at the start of shift so, for the CTs such as AvonCalling, above, you will see bursts of activity going on into the wee small hours plus you get to start with a fresh crew that hasn't been staring at monitors for 6 hrs then handing on to a new crew who don't know the history. There will be a second burst midday unless there is a pow wow going on then the days planning will get carried out overnight.


Hand off at 6pm IIRC. Maybe it's a special tower. Isn't really the point. Did nothing all day long and started at midnight. Oh, nevermind. Let's see what happens.

Sub C 2, has an inclinometer on the well head. Is BOP stack the new Leaning Tower of Pisa; shock horror.

MoonofA will be on deck soon to see the outcome. I think they're fishing for the 3000 crimped pipe. I wish them success. Good night.

I think it is family night on the rig and they are letting their kids play with the equipment. Should put those little rug rats to bed. Goodnight.

If they are going for the top fish 5 1/2" OD in side a 18 3/4" BOP, I do not know they did not run a 13" plus lip guild, that way it would not pass by the pipe and it would be guilded directly into the overshot.

This job is normally done blind, no cameras, and normally, if your fish necks are correct, it is a one shot deal. Of course we are not privy to the detailed plans and they may have other objectives.

If they ever get on the fish, I see they have a set of fishing jars in the string, so they should be able to shock it free.

Sleep tight Avon. I am out all day so hope Moon is on the job. Has anyone checked his time sheet lately. My ISP is telling me I have clocked up 9 gigabytes on this job. Does TOD pay expenses?

Why are the crews weary?

You're joking right?
I'm worn out and I'm not even working that job.

UNI - I suppose it depends on your personality. Depends on how one handles boredom. There are some distractions on a rig but after 35 years they don't do much for me anymore. For me the most exhausting 12 hour tower is when there is nothing going on. I once spent a 28 day hitch on a drill ship off the coast of Africa with absolutely nothing to do but eat (pretty crappy food) and sleep. Long ago I learned to meditate: close my eyes for a few hours at a time and think/drift. A busy 12 hr tower is a good tower for most hands.

I've been following The Oil Drum during the whole Deepwater Horizon incident and I first want to thank everyone for their informative posts. Forgive me if this has already been covered in detail, but I'm still a little confused. Could someone please briefly summarize the known evidence that would indicate whether the blow out is up the back side or a casing shoe/float valve failure.

During the static top kill phase when mud was used to force the oil/gas back down into the reservoir, the pressure and volume data indicate the diameter of the space that the mud is flowing into.

From that, one can conclude that the path was only in the inner production casing, and that that mud did not flow into the annulus before it reached bottom and flowed through the casing shoe/float valve area and then back up the outside.

Whether there was ever flow up the annulus can't be determined at this time in my opinion, only that there is no flow now.

That there is no flow now is established by the lack of pressure buildup during the near-ambient and ambient testing.

This is what I thought. I don't guess I was missing anything after all. Thank you for your reply.

Latest status:

After a day of stand down with no visible activity on the seafloor fishing restarted around midnight CDT. Two piece of broken drillpipe, "fish", were to be caught from out of the capping stack and the BOP. This was unsuccessful. After three to four hours the attempt was aborted.

One fish with its upper end in the transition spool that is holding the capping stack has a clear cut end is visible on the fishing cam within the fishing string at about 5019 feet depth below surface. It is sitting right next to the wall of the 18" bore.

The camera looking from inside the fishing tool towards the spiral like leading edge of the fishing tool and with the fish visible partly in the upper right outside of the tool:

A picture with the camera looking sideways at the clear cut upper end of the fish snugged tightly to the wall of the 18" bore:

Something like this basket grapple overshot tool (scroll down) was used with a guiding edge to scrape the fish away from the wall. For that the fishing string had to be moved by the drillship and the rovs at the top of the capping stack to get right over the 5 1/2 '' fish within the 18'' bore in the transition spool. This proved to be difficult. The tool never caught onto the fish which seems to be pressed hard against the outer bore and did not move at all.

Here is a short video from the cam within the fishing tool showing one of the attempts. The camera gets pulled back inside the fishing tool/string when the string and the tool turns. Inside the tool one can see the teeth that are supposed to hold the fish when caught. When the camera is lowered the leading edge of the tool appears and one can see the top of the fish below it.

The second fish, with a crimped top, which was caught yesterday but escaped, is still at 5026 feet in the middle of what appeared to be a horizontal level of "hydrates" (see pictures in yesterday's comment). At one point of today's fishing trip the camera went down beside the first fish and took a look at the second one at 5026 feet. Then lots of green anti-freeze was pumped down onto the "hydrates" for several minutes. When checking the same place after that flushing it appeared that the flushing had made no visible difference on the horizontal "hydrate" plane that holds the fish. Maybe those "hydrates" aren't hydrates after all? Cement? Mud?

There was no sighting of the 60 feet of pipe that fell into the GOM mud from one of the fishing string yesterday.

Currently no remarkable activity is visible in the ROV video feeds.

Boa, Hos, Oly blacked out. Everything else caged.

Cocales testifying now: http://cspan.org/Watch/C-SPAN2.aspx