BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Hydrates and San Jose Mine Concerns - and Open Thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6895.

Update: 2:00PM EDT: Admiral Allen directed BP to terminate the fishing procedure, and begin removal of the capping stack and BOP. The letter from Admiral Allen to BP can be found here. The letter includes several conditions, including a provision that the removal of the BOP will first be attempted with a controlled lift, to minimize the risk of raising the well central casing and casing hanger seal.

There has not been much apparently said about the fishing for pipe within the blowout preventer (BOP) at the Deepwater well today. The project seemed to come to a studious pause with the discovery of a considerable volume of hydrates around the shear valves in the Deepwater BOP, as opposed to the lesser quantities of hydrates in the 3-ram stack that was placed on top of the well, as part of the shut-in procedure.

The interlocking crystals appear to be filling the empty spaces just above the rams in the BOP, and holding the pipes in that space with sufficient tenacity to make them difficult to remove. If that is indeed the case, and the crystal growth extends down through the BOP and into the spaces at the top of the well then it poses a potentially significant problem to the extraction of the drill pipe, and the removal of the existing BOP. The current BOP needs to be replaced so that a functional BOP can be placed in its stead, and the well can be conventionally plugged and sealed and then abandoned.

However, if the hydrates have extended down through the mechanism and space of the BOP, then, as with the upper set of rams, the moving parts of the BOP may no longer be functional, meaning that the drill pipe cannot be released. This then raises a further complication, since if the drill pipe continues to extend below the BOP (and it is believed to extend some 3,000 ft), it too may be held within a hydrate plug that fills the space between it and the steel and cement rings that form the upper lining of the well. I will probably explain how we use that principle in bolts that hold the mine roof up around the world that are often called full-column resin anchors, in a Sunday tech talk fairly soon, but the net result is that the BOP and drill pipe may be locked in place.

This makes the next step in the process somewhat difficult to predict, since the intent in removing the BOP was not only to allow the well to be plugged, but also to provide a backup protection for the top of the well, at the time that the relief well is drilled into the lower part of the well. At that time, the changing pressure condition at the bottom of the well might cause the seals at the top of the well to rupture and, with inadequate protection at the bottom of the well potentially allow the well to start leaking again.

While this consequence is somewhat unlikely, it depends on the condition in pieces of the well that are not available for inspection. Hydrates above the shear ram suggests that it is likely that they extend below the rams, but there is no way of knowing without clearing the passage. And the extent, or even the possibility, of the drill pipe being held within a plug of hydrates is not that much different from it being held in a cement collar that adhered as the cement was pumped to the bottom of the well.

The hydrates above the ram could be removed (either with the high-pressure jetting or chemical/thermal soaking) but it may be more difficult to get through the BOP to release the underlying catch holding it within the sea-floor mount, and to release the drill pipe, or even to section the drill pipe to release the assembly. And just before midnight (as I did a last check after writing this post) they started flushing the BOP with some fluid.

San Jose Mine Concerns

Moving down to Chile, the machine that will be used to drill the relief well is a variant on a raise drilling machine, that is used more commonly for boring holes upwards from the underground space, rather than reaming them down. It is a Strata 950, made by Murray and Roberts through RUC Cementation. The unit, was, apparently, only built last year.

RUC Cementation has established the capability to design and manufacture specialist large diameter raise borers in its Kalgoorlie workshop. During the year (2009), three Strata 950 raise borers (the most powerful underground raise drill rig in the world) were completed, one for its own use and the other two for group operations in South Africa, Canada and Chile.

Raise borers normally work by drilling a small hole (13-inch diameter) down from the surface to an existing underground space. Then a reaming head is attached to the drill steel at the bottom of the hole, and the head rotated and pulled back up the hole, allowing the debris to fall into the larger hole below it. It is a relatively fast and effective method of creating shafts, and is increasingly used at the surface and in underground mining.

Normal use of a raise borer .

In some cases, such as the present one in Chile, it is not possible to get the larger reaming head down to the bottom of the shaft. In that case, once the initial central bore has been completed, then a second reaming head is mounted and will drill down along the same line, with the debris still falling down the central hole, and being disposed of underground.
This alternate way of drilling is not as fast, since the operation has to be careful not to block the borehole with the cuttings from the reamer, and it is a little more difficult to keep going straight. The following two pictures are of a competing model but serve to illustrate the principle of the Down Reaming process:

In contrast to up-reaming, the drill shaft is in compression which might help on longer bores. One of the drilling requirements is to watch the torque that develops in the drill rods, since this can build-up to sufficient levels that, if suddenly released (as in drilling broken rock), it can whip the head around sufficiently fast as to break the string.

The actual teeth on the bit are specially designed for the rock that the bit will be expected to penetrate, but they are conventionally bit or button teeth, similar in shape to those used in the smaller cones of a conventional oilwell bit.

Reaming head being loaded into place.

The drill will operate from a concrete pad, which is, I gather, now poured, but must set before operations can commence tomorrow, and the hole is not planned to be lined, which may also cause problems, since there is no easy way to deal with rock that falls behind the head. However this particular one is called “David” so let us hope it can meet all challenges.

The Strata 950.

I do have a couple of other concerns. One is that the miners were apparently getting water from an underground stream, and one worries as to whether this water leaves the mine though an existing natural channel, or if it has been flowing to the bottom of the mine, where it might have been earlier collected and pumped out. If the sump pump no longer has power, this could imply that the mine is slowly flooding. And in that regard, the decision not to send power down into the mine, means that they could not send down and power small pumps that the miners could then use to keep their current location dry.

Some observations from #theoildrum IRC chat

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 about 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 drill ship 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 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). Today lots of green anti-freeze was pumped down onto the "hydrates" for over ten minutes.

After that the camera went down beside the first fish and took a look at the second fish at 5026 feet. But when checking that place after the 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.

Moon. Time to go for broke I reckons. Am I correct in thinking the well head has been open to sea water head for some while now? The prod' casing is held down with 5000 feet of cement. The prod casing hanger seal must be tight as there is nothing coming through the well head connector into the BOP.

Unlatch the BOP from the well head and see if it will lift complete with drill pipe. Do they have hydraulic tongs that can hold the drill pipe if it slips out of the BOP? Or one of these pipe elevators that could hold it at a tool joint. Recommend copious quantities of clean underwear available for operatives and a very large rum ration; navy style.

Other folks seem to have the same idea:

Via BP America on Twitter

" We've decided to end fishing operations and it was recommended that we go ahead with the removal of the BOP. - Adm. Allen 6 minutes ago via web"

" Starting today and through the weekend, we will make preparations to remove the BOP and replace it. - Adm. Allen 5 minutes ago via web "

" BOP removal should occur around Wed, if all conditions are met. Weather or other factors could cause schedule to change. - Adm. Allen 3 minutes ago via web "

" Ambient pressure tests and perfomance of the well thus far indicate there should not be any problems. - Adm. Allen 2 minutes ago via web "

Okay, I remember the scene that likely led to this decision:
The Queen turned crimson with fury, and, after glaring at her for a moment like a wild beast, screamed `Off with her head!

Fishing operations have failed

Officials made the decision to stop attempting to fish out the pipe "due to the apparent fragility of the pipe, which keeps breaking off ... and the unknown condition of the blow-out preventer," Allen said.

BP will spend Saturday and Sunday making preparations to remove the blow-out preventer and replace it with one that is current only the development driller two, a drilling rig that had been working on one of the relief wells.

On Monday and Tuesday of next week, BP will remove the capping stack on the well, which will be temporarily stored nearby on the ocean floor. The company then will begin working to remove the blow-out preventer. The replacement blow-out preventer could be in place by Wednesday, Allen said.

The process, however, could be delayed by weather. It could also potentially be delayed if the blow-out preventer can not be removed with ease, he said.

I watched and re-watched the videos from tonight's fishing operation.

The top of the first "fish" is very clearly cut. This was done by the diamond saw weeks ago.

Thad says: "due to the apparent fragility of the pipe, which keeps breaking off"

At no point during the fishing operation, which I and others watched throughout, was there any "breaking off" from the fish. The fish looked undamaged up to the end of the operation.

And no mentioning by Thadmiral that the pipes are stuck in some substance in the flex joint ...

And no mentioning by Thadmiral that the pipes are stuck in some substance in the flex joint ...

The pieces of pipe have settled against the blow-out preventer and the company is unable to retrieve them, National Incident Commander Thad Allen said in a press briefing this morning.

due to the apparent fragility of the pipe

Why should the pipe be fragile?

Swifty. QED!

The transcript of Allen's briefing is now available. (I hope the mention of a December date for the relief well is just a transcription error.)

and his directive to BP authorizing the BOP removal is here.

From the briefing:

As you know we've been conducting what we've been calling fishing operations attempting to ascertain the condition of the capping stack blowout preventer and the pipe that is in the blowout preventer.

We knew we had several pieces of pipe there and as you know from previous briefings we had sent down fishing tools in an attempt to locate those pipes. Last night we attempted to retrieve the pipe that was the result of the clean cut.

That's a diamond wire cut that was done earlier. The one that had the smoothest top if you will be sending down an overshot device. That’s something that goes over top of the pipe to pull it back up.

What we have found is we have gone down there, the pipes have settled against the side of the BOP and we can't successfully put the overshot devices over them. We've come to the conclusion that any more attempts at fishing are probably not going to result in success.

And at a meeting this morning between our science team and the BP engineers it was decided to recommend to the principals, the cabinet secretaries we go ahead with the removal of the blowout preventer and the replacement of the blowout preventer with the one that's on Development Driller 2.


So the plans are right now to replace the BOP. The approximate timeline going ahead is as follows, starting today and through Saturday and Sunday we will make preparations to remove the BOP and replace it.

Those preparations will be done as follows. The Discoverer Enterprise will retrieve the current fishing assembly and then they will run a latch down that will be capable of removing the capping stack, that top device that was placed on the blowout preventer.

At the same time the Q4000 together with a number of ROV's will start disconnecting lines from the Macondo BOP. That includes the choke and kill lines, the goosenecks and some of those connections that go to that C4 manifold that we have used for various operations in the past.

And then the Q4000 will prepare in general the BOP for removal. We expect these actions will take place on Saturday and Sunday. In the meantime Development Driller 2 will unlatch, pick up the 2nd blowout preventer and move to the staging area.

Commencing on Monday and through Tuesday the Discoverer Enterprise will latch on and remove the capping stack. And the capping stack will be temporarily stored nearby on the ocean floor. Once that has been completed the Q4000 will move in and connect to the BOP and will unlatch it.

And then there'll be a series of two decision points will occur. We will attempt to pull it free and we are prepared to apply up to 80,000 of force in addition to the weight of the blowout preventer to lift it. We call this the gentle tug.

If the blowout preventer comes free we will then use the (Boa sub-C) and the ROV's to attach a line to it and cut it just above the well and at that point we can bring the BOP to the surface on the Q4000.

If for some reason the blowout preventer does not come free with a gentle pull, our intention then is to manually open the ram sequentially down through the blowout preventer and then raise the blowout preventer and cut the pipe at the well head.

The blowout preventer will then be brought to the surface. At that point Development Driller 2 will move in and latch up the BOP and test it. We expect that that would take place sometime beginning around Wednesday if all the conditions are met.

I will tell you, know there are two things that could cause the schedule to change. One is weather and the other one is the process that will be needed to open the RAMS if the gentle tug does not work to free the POB.

Some observations from #theoildrum IRC chat

Wanted to say how utterly remarkable it seems to me that MoA and others are able to figure out what's going on with such precision just by watching the video from the camera in the pipe, without any input whatsoever from the folks who are actually performing the operation.

Swifty. That's because we is engineers. We know all the fundamentals. What we don't know in a specific situation we find out. We know where to find out. We probably out rank in engineering knowledge and experience nine out of ten of the people on this job. That is why the nine phone us up in the middle of the night for an answer to their problems.

Am certainly glad someone understands engineers. Second the observation.

"Cain't even spell it, but now I are one." - anon., heard several decades ago

Hi moon,

Another great report, thanks.

Couple of quick ones for you :

1) original well from DWH had top BOP (most likely top of riser adapter) at 5001 ft md, mud line at 5067 ft md, drill floor elevation 75 ft above msl. Are you confident about your internal navigation? If the blockage is really in the flex joint, that would put it at about 5008 ft below the old df datum. But camera depth reads about 20ft deeper than this. Can only assume this is difference in df elevation for the enterprise?

2)  Before they put the new trans spool / capping stack on, there was a single crimped pipe visible, jetting oil vigorously. It stood about 3 ft proud of the flex joint. So with current datum it would be about 5020 ft. On the first fish run the crimped pipe was the shallowest target and was encountered I think around 5017 ft. Fits ok. But it had now dropped some distance to be flush with blockage.

So if jammed in the rams, how did the crimped pipe move? 

And any thoughts on the sequence of events that led to having the clean cut round section pipe there? Was the claw cut upstream or downstream of the diamond cut? 


Are the depths relative to mean sea level or the ships? If the ships then the depths need to be adjusted for tides and atmospheric pressure.


They used a "normalized" depth of 4996 feet at the top of the capping stack and reset the value in the camera HUD to that value in every camera dive. The values I use above derive from that value.

Thanks, that is what I would have expected them to do.


And any thoughts on the sequence of events that led to having the clean cut round section pipe there? Was the claw cut upstream or downstream of the diamond cut?

Purely speculation of course but perhaps something like:

  • DP above BOP breaks as riser bends over.
  • Higher section of broken DP (Part 1) slips down beside lower section (Part 2).
  • As riser kinks, higher section (Part 1) binds against the riser wall, holding it in place.
  • Diamond saw cuts through higher section (Part 1) but binds when it gets to the lower section (Part 2).
  • The lower piece of the higher section (Part 1Bot) just cut by the saw drops further into the well. The top or this section (Part 1Top) may have also moved since the binding with the riser may have been relieved by cutting off the lower section (Part 1Bot).
  • CRAW finished cut.
  • When riser kink above the CRAW cut was removed, a short piece of pipe was seen falling out. Possibly the top of the lower section (Part 2Top) or the top of a slipped upper section (Part 1TopTop)

So what are the fish?

  • Highest would be the crimped bottom section cut by CRAW (Part 2Bot). This is the main DP through the BOP.
  • Bottom of the upper section (Part 1Bot) with a diamond cut end. Wedged in when it fell.
  • Possibly the lower piece of the top part of the upper section (Part 1TopBot) cut by CRAW after it slipped down following the diamond saw cut. This could be the short piece that has been mentioned.

1. The numbers for depth below surface during fishing we decided to use (after some discussion in the chat) are the numbers in the head up display of the fish camera. Any time the camera came down it handlers "reset" the displayed depth (likely derived from its cable length) to 4996 feet at the top of the capping stack. The numbers count from that point.

So 5026 feet in my remarks is actually 30 feet below the top of the capping stack.

2. The then most shallow fish with the crimped top fell down a few feet during the first fishing. It seemed to be very loose when that fishing took place. The second fish, now the most shallow one, is likely the one cut by the diamond saw and is quite fixed in place. It did not move at all during the fishing. I never saw a third fish which may be the one held by the ram.

The claw cut higher at the riser than the diamond saw.

But all the above still does not tell me why what part of the broken drill pipe ended where it is. Was one pushed up during the flow? did one fell down from the riser? Did one stay in place held by the ram? No idea.

There was another point about the miners in Chile that got me thinking...

Miners' deep motivation: Stay slim or stay in mine

Even though the miners have undoubtedly lost a significant amount of weight, Chilean officials are trying to ensure they don't bulk up before their rescue. They say the miners will have to be no more than 35 inches (90 centimeters) around the waist to make it out of the tunnel.

The escape tunnel will be about 26 inches (66 centimeters) wide — the diameter of a typical bike tire — and stretch for more than 2,200 feet (688 meters) through solid rock. That's more than 80 inches (207 centimeters) in circumference, but rescuers also have to account for the space of the basket that will be used to pull the miners to safety.

Most Americans couldn't meet the 35-inch limit. The average U.S. waistline is 39.7 inches for men and 37 inches for women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

I don't know what the stats are for people who do mining (or other work like this) as opposed to desk jockeys...

HO, I've been wondering about that stream's destination too, as well as how they knew where to dig for it. Let us hope it bubbles out of the mountainside in a nice little rill or waterfall somewhere.

ericy, thaks for that link. Here's a new CNN story with some of the video-tour of their accommodations the miners have sent upstairs. In that story too comes word that, although they've lost about 10 kilos (22 lbs) apiece (and dehydration is a worry), at least nine of them still have to lose more weight before they'll fit into the rescue capsule.

Wow, how's that for motivation to slim down?

Imagine if after four months trapped in a mine they finally send a cage for you... and you don't fit? What would that do for your psychological health? Heck, what would it do to your mental health to have to go ona diet simply to have a chance at rescue?

I think, to honor the miners and unite with them in spirit, we should all lose twenty pounds before Thanksgiving... then gorge on BBIC when they are ALL safely rescued. Say a prayer for 'em.

I measured my waist yesterday to see if I could be rescued from that mine in the capsule they are hoping to send down. I would "just barely" fit, waiste-wise. But, my shoulder circumference measurement is MORE than 35 inches, so wouldn't most of these guys also have larger shoulder circumference than their waist measurement? I agree with you that, in solidarity with these miners, we should ALL go on a diet and stick with it until they are ALL safely rescued. My thoughts and prayers are with the miners now, as well as with Macondo and all the other troubles of the world.

wouldn't most of these guys also have larger shoulder circumference than their waist measurement?

Cross your arms in front of you with your elbows pointing straight down. Now grab your upper arms just below the shoulders and pull in, rounding your back. You'll lose quite a bit of shoulder width. That's probably how they'll have them fold themselves into the cage. Won't be comfortable for the trip up--it takes an hour to send things down the borehole, and I'd guess the trip up in the cage will be even slower--but the discomfort will be a small price to pay.

Are you confusing diameter and circumference.

I believe that 35" is the diameter of the hole not the circumference.

ISTR 28", then allow clearance, then allow construction of cage, 20-22" left maybe. Thin ones get out this Christmas, fat ones get out next.



I'm wrong!!

See ezstreit's comment below.

Edit for clarity/

Maybe I misunderstood the measurements reported from Chile. I thought they said the waist measurement of those rescued would have to be 35 in. or less. They also said the hole will be about the size of a bicycle wheel, and that's sure not anywhere near 35 in. So I think circumference is what they are calculating, not diameter.

chira2: I'm pretty darned sure that every man down there is going to be able to fit in that man-basket,when it comes time,irregardless of his pant or shirt size.

The drill are going to use will cut a hole 26 inches in diameter. My understanding is that the 35 inches is the circumference - run a tape measure around your waist (or shoulders or your gut for that matter).

Something ain't right somewhere, that's less than 12" in diameter! Around my shoulders is 42". Anyone got the original Spanish?


NAOM: I worked with a guy from Mexico who couldn't read a tape for s**t. He was trying to read it in the metric. you think? I dunno. It's not really rocket science here. Those fellers ARE gonna fit in that man basket. Wouldn't you?

He wasn't your builder by any chance?


NAOM: Heh! Heh! NO. just a co- worker. He was really good at laying out things once I got him to learn how to read a tape measure! A good man.

Has to be what you suggested earlier, 20-22" diameter. But remember what's important is the width of the shoulders and pelvis, not their circumference. I suspect the 35" waist measurement is estimated based on a pelvis width that would fit. Shoulders can be scrunched in some, as I suggested earlier, but again it's their width that counts, not their circumference. The body isn't cylindrical (or at least the miners' bodies wouldn't be!), it's wider than it is deep.

Edit: 20-22" would be roughly the diameter of a bicycle wheel, wouldn't it?

"it's wider than it is deep"


Speak for yourself lady!!


Speak for yourself lady!!

Not me, thanks. I did say it was the miners' bodies!

Math is one of those strange alien sciences. 26 inches in diameter results in a circumference of 78.5 inches. So one might speculate that shoulders with a "circumference of 35 inches ("diameter" of 11 inches) just might fit through the hole. Yes?

duck: "Math is one of those strange sciences." Geez. With all the engineers, geologists, etc. here, I sure am glad you said that!!!

In the world view of many "pure" mathematicians, those engineers, geologists, biologists and chemists rank down there with ditch diggers. The only thing below them are the applied mathematicians and, of course, the modelers.

Nubs: Darned glad I like digging ditches....there is just something about a 2 or 3 to 1 slope that gets a guy........ Oh, never mind!!Heh! Heh!

22B: Now don't start talkin' dirty to me.

Heh! Heh!

Sorry GWS22, I is an engimneneeer. Advanced degreed for whatever it is worth. But what I meant is that a number of contributors were having trouble with the difference / conversion / understanding of diameter and circumference. And for many math IS an alien skill. I live next door to a kindergarten teacher licensed for K through 6, who can't even balance her checkbook. The math is too much, she even admits it. And as I've followed TOD I have noticed some difficulties from "some" of the contributors. The ones I know to be engineers, geologists etc are NOT mathematically challenged, their contributions make that clear. Had the "some" of these grabbed their handy dandy little black pocket ref. and simply looked up the math for circumference they would have gotten the right answer and not posted stuff that is simply off the wall. I come to TOD for the engineering and technical information and debate etc. not the off the wall stuff, I can find that anywhere.

Duck: no need to apologize. Heck fire, I appreciate you guys thoughts and expertise here. That way, I can learn too!

I don't see where anyone in an official capacity has issued a statement on the cause of the blowout.

As Rockman observed, if sworn testimony is true there would not have been a blowout. In sworn testimony everyone involved alleges (a) they did their job properly, (b) operations were performed properly, (c) tests were performed properly and test results were interpreted properly, and (d) safety was upheld above all else.

That's how every accident investigation goes. Everyone involved alleges they acted in a proper and prudent manner. But the accident occurred nonetheless, and this well blew out nonetheless.

So somebody is lying. Or twisting facts. Or withholding facts. Some involved refuse to testify. Some involved are dead and can't testify.

Physical evidence indicates somebody is lying, twisting facts, or withholding facts. Physical evidence indicates (a) negative test results were abnormal, (b) outflows exceeded inflows at various points, neither of which motivated anyone to attempt to shut in the well, and when someone finally did attempt to shut in the well, the BOP and EDS failed to perform, very possibly because electrical power, hydraulic power, and command communication was lost due to massive gas explosions and fire on the rig.

When physical evidence differs from sworn testimony, investigators often lean toward physical evidence. In my view there is sufficient physical evidence to establish what caused the blowout. Negative test showed pressure on drillpipe when there should have been no pressure. Halliburton log shows outflows exceeded inflows at various points. Those two portions of physical evidence are sufficient to establish what caused the blowout in my opinion. They are "the smoking gun" in my view.

From there it's a simple matter of determining (a) who was responsible for monitoring said physical evidence, and (b) who was responsible for initiating well shut-in based on said physical evidence.

Everything else is a distraction. Longstring vs liner-tieback is a distraction. Number of centralizers is a distraction. Quality of Halliburton cement job is a distraction. Not running CBL is a distraction. Sending Schlumberger home is a distraction. BP's safety culture is a distraction. BP's MOC process is a distraction. Rig audits are a distraction. VIP visit is a distraction. People's opinions of other people's competency and professionalism are a distraction. If they weren't felt to be competent and professional they would not have been there.

Coast Guard investigation is about the blowout, what caused it, how it should have been prevented, and how a future blowout can be prevented. Would they PLEASE stick to the subject and stop the freikin fishing expedition.

As a side observation, at this point I would like to see TOD split this discussion into 7 separate discussion topics: (1) blowout, (2) post-blowout well operations, (3) spill and cleanup, (4) victim compensation, (5) drilling moratorium, (6) MMS and other regulatory changes, and (7) longer range impact on BP.

Its good to see the oilfield has not changed, I have worked with many people that worked on the same line,

"Don't tell me what happened, just tell me who did it".

I agree people need to be accountable for their responsibilities, and there were signs that should have been picked up and acted upon. If they had of been acted upon and there was no blow out, but the kick was held under control and the Temporary Abandoment went ahead. There would / should have been an inquiry, most likely in house, to determine what went wrong to cause the kick in the first place.

The inquiry is in two parts, what caused the kick and why didn't it get caught. If the industry does not find out the root cause, then we are bound to repeat the same mistakes again.

I agree on your negative test assessment, but I disagree on all of the other issues being a distraction.

For instance if the wells flow path is in the annulus, which I think it is, then the long string versus liner/tieback makes all the difference in the world. In my view if the liner/tieback is run then we're not talking about this incident, because there is no incident. I think the board wants to learn from all of those things that you may think are distractions, so we can never allow that sequence to happen again.

I agree and I don't think the issue of competency is a problem, what's was a problem in the oilfield in general is complacency, brought on by amazing past success. We were getting extremely complacent in the oilfield and some wellsite leaders showed extreme hubris for many years. We finally got bit!

I was watching a documentary about the US space program and Gene Kranz stated in regards to the Apollo 1 fire, "We got complacent."

In the aftermath of the Apollo 1 fire, both houses of the US Congress launch investigations. In the Senate’s Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, chaired by Senator Clinton Anderson, Anderson was questioning Col. Frank Borman who headed NASA’s own investigation team and was the first person to enter the burned Command Module. The Senator asked, “What caused the fire?”

Borman could have answered in any number of ways truthfully but choose a more far-reaching brilliant answer that brought clarity and insight into the investigation:

“Failure of imagination.”

Much later, Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for space operations said:

"What we really learned from the Apollo fire, in the words of Frank Borman, was the failure of imagination. We couldn't imagine a simple test on the pad being that catastrophic.

The message to the team is to remember how difficult our business is, the importance of staying focused and using our imaginations to envision what can go wrong."

IMVHO, history repeats itself.

See also Richard Feymenn's Appendix to the Challenger Report http://science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/missions/51-l/docs/rogers-commission...

The history of the certification and Flight Readiness Reviews will not be repeated here. (See other part of Commission reports.) The phenomenon of accepting for flight, seals that had shown erosion and blow-by in previous flights, is very clear. The Challenger flight is an excellent example. There are several references to flights that had gone before. The acceptance and success of these flights is taken as evidence of safety. But erosion and blow-by are not what the design expected. They are warnings that something is wrong. The equipment is not operating as expected, and therefore there is a danger that it can operate with even wider deviations in this unexpected and not thoroughly understood way. The fact that this danger did not lead to a catastrophe before is no guarantee that it will not the next time, unless it is completely understood. When playing Russian roulette the fact that the first shot got off safely is little comfort for the next. The origin and consequences of the erosion and blow-by were not understood. They did not occur equally on all flights and all joints; sometimes more, and sometimes less. Why not sometime, when whatever conditions determined it were right, still more leading to catastrophe?

In spite of these variations from case to case, officials behaved as if they understood it, giving apparently logical arguments to each
other often depending on the "success" of previous flights. For
example. in determining if flight 51-L was safe to fly in the face of
ring erosion in flight 51-C, it was noted that the erosion depth was
only one-third of the radius. It had been noted in an experiment
cutting the ring that cutting it as deep as one radius was necessary
before the ring failed. Instead of being very concerned that
variations of poorly understood conditions might reasonably create a
deeper erosion this time, it was asserted, there was "a safety factor
of three." This is a strange use of the engineer's term ,"safety
factor." If a bridge is built to withstand a certain load without the
beams permanently deforming, cracking, or breaking, it may be designed for the materials used to actually stand up under three times the load. This "safety factor" is to allow for uncertain excesses of load, or unknown extra loads, or weaknesses in the material that might have unexpected flaws, etc. If now the expected load comes on to the new bridge and a crack appears in a beam, this is a failure of the design. There was no safety factor at all; even though the bridge did not actually collapse because the crack went only one-third of the way through the beam. The O-rings of the Solid Rocket Boosters were not designed to erode. Erosion was a clue that something was wrong. Erosion was not something from which safety can be inferred.

Specifically, both the Halliburton engineer and the BP engineer testified that they had used nitrified cement at this depth before, but were unaware as to whether it was approved for use at that depth or not.

I've heard it claimed that there are a lot of other wells in the GoM that have a "long string". If so, how many? What percentage? And if so, what's different about the Macondo reservoir that could have made that problematic there, but a perfectly fine choice at another location?

A "long string" alone is not the only problem. I don't want anyone to be worried about the thousands of long strings in wells thoughout the world, but in this instance a production liner followed by a tieback would have been better.

If the annulus is the flow path via a cement channel then a good cement job would have made the long string a non-issue.

Had BP elected to perform a CBL and had the CBL would have showed poor bond the cement job would have been remediated and zonal isolation would have occurred, this too would have made the choice of long string versus liner/tieback a non-issue.

Had BP's negative test evaluation caused them to stop work and further investigate, then that too could have made the long string issue somewhat irrelevant.

So the Macondo reservior has nothing to do with why the long string was a bad choice, it's all of the other bad choices in conjuntion with that particular casing string that makes the "long string" another bad choice.

Something about complex systems and failures reminds me of the "Scissors, Paper, Rock" game.

Scissors beat Paper, Paper beats Rock, Rock beats Scissors.

There was an article about this, I think Martin Gardner's column, in Scientific American many years ago and this sort of circular thing has a mathematical name or structure - way beyond me. So all this posting is just a gut feeling but it would be interesting to know if it has any relevance.

So I have to ask a question about systems theory - are there situations in which everyone follows the rules, rules which in themselves all deal with the right problem in the right way, but because of the way they are chained together they end up cumulatively defeating the overall purpose? i.e. everything is right but there is no guaranteed winner?

Interesting questions, there are different acceptable solutions for any problem. I always hear " It was a simple mistake ", but I don't think there is any such thing as a "complicated mistake". Like one of the posters above said .." complacency ". Solutions, ...I think it's interesting that many times when a " solution " is found, it's left as it is, instead of going back and examining the solution for possible weaknesses. And the most interesting thing about solutions , at least for me, is most cannot see where the problem is in the first place, so the " solution " may not be a real solution, but merely a delay.

From the NYTimes The Lede blog this morning:

Video Messages From Trapped Chilean Miners

They sent down a camcorder, and the miners made a 45-minute video giving a tour of the space and recording messages from the individual miners. The Times story has several short clips from the video and one that's 8 minutes long--unfortunately with no subtitles. From the story:

The video shows that the miners have organized their subterranean home, which is about 600 square feet with adjoining tunnel space, into areas for eating, sleeping and even playing dominoes on a table. Against a wall a cabinet with medical supplies, including rubbing alcohol, can be seen. And the miners have some kitchen items and emergency items, including fire extinguishers.

“We have organized everything very well down here,” says the miner recording the video, whose face appears only in glancing shots.

“Here is where we meet every day, here is where we plan, where we pray,” he says. “Here is the meeting room where all of the decisions are made with the involvement of the 33 that are here.”

One by one the miners offer greetings to their families, some raising their thumbs to show they are okay. At one point they sing and chant.

One miner gives a speech where he praises his fellow miners. The others react with cheers and applause.

I found the clip incredibly moving. I was also HUGELY relieved to learn (from a Brit Channel 4 TV report included in the Times story) that they finally decided to tell the miners how long it was likely to be before they could be rescued.

Per NPR, they were singing the Chilean national anthem.

From paintdancer in the previous thread:

Not one person made fun of Clinton to my knowledge, yet poor Simmons was a laughing stock.

Shortly after the interview, Gail did a post on it.

In the comments, there was quite a bit of criticism of Clinton's poor grasp of the situation. But unlike Simmons, he didn't actually recommend blowing up the well; he just said it was a possibility if nothing else worked. And unlike Simmons, he didn't specify a nuclear bomb.

Swift, thanks for correcting me. That thread and discussion took place before I joined TOD so forgive my ignorance.

Yes, in going back to the thread, evidently Clinton mentioned a non-nuclear bomb, so I stand corrected. One thought, though. Simmons believed the seabed was fractured, and I think on the last thread people mentioned that it was BP themselves who had originated the concern that the well might have been damaged down hole. So, if the seabed was fractured, a non-nuclear bomb might implode the well, but it would not stop the damage to the seabed, is that correct? Would a nuke using the concept of nuclear fusion be able to fuse the seabed? Just a question and I know absolutely nothing about physics, nuclear or otherwise, but I was wondering if that's the type of nuke that Simmons was thinking of when he used the term. Either way, it's a pretty radical idea, so I can see why people thought he was a raving lunatic.

Forget the electromagnetic pulse fusion idea, does not exist. With the rocks down there ANY bomb will cause fracturing. 'Fusion' describes the method of causing the nuclear explosion not the result. Think explosion/bang/break. This has been thoroughly covered before. If you want to see what damage a nuclear bomb can do try Google Earth for the Nevada Test Site and look at the big holes caused by weapons hundreds or thousands of feet below, do you really want the rocks holding back the oil and gas damaged like that?



No I do not want that. I am actually against all war, weapons, guns ,etc. the whole caboodle. Was trying to figure out what Simmons meant when he said to nuke the well (to solve the problem). Seemed like a crazy thing for an intelligent man to say. As I said, I have no knowledge of physics, nuclear or otherwise. I asked the question because I was looking for a more rational explanation to what nuking a well might mean. A pulse with a charge that could fuse rocks certainly sounded more plausible to my dumb head that a Hiroshima- type explosion.

I guess I should just read and shut up, though it's hard to learn without asking questions at times.

Seemed like a crazy thing for an intelligent man to say.

That has puzzled many of us.

A pulse with a charge that could fuse rocks

No such beast.

a Hiroshima- type explosion.

That is just what a nuclear bomb does.


forgive my ignorance

No prob, happy to help.

Another thing about Simmons is that the nuclear bomb wasn't the only idea he had that a lot of the folks here thought was nutty. And that was especially weird because he had a reputation as a real expert. One didn't really expect Clinton to have extensive knowledge of oil well operations, so his gaffe about blowing up the well didn't inspire as much upset.

The bomb idea seemed to mostly come (via a range of sources) from the Russians, who have used nukes to try to seal wells. The principle was to place the device in a nearby well and use the blast to shift sideways a huge amount of strata, essentially moving across over the wild well, and sealing it in. However the Russians did this decades ago, when they didn't have developed relief well capability, on a gas well, and probably most importantly, in wells where there was a huge layer of clay above the producing formation. The clay of course doesn't permanently fracture in response to the blast and will naturally heal. They tried four wells, of which 3 actually worked. The fate of the fourth is a little murky.

In the GOM things are very different. No-one could see anything happening other than a massive fractured mess that would leak forever. There was some idea that the heat from the blast would liquify enough rock that when it cooled it would form a layer of glass (i.e. fuse the rocks) but with nothing better than comic book physics to support the idea.

I think the reaction to Clinton was, "Oh dear, now this stupid mneme has even been picked up by him." The interview where he talked about it was more evidence of how a consumate politician can be badly advised and spout rubbish, but do it with disarming ease. He clearly had absolutely no idea what was going on, and we derided him for that. He didn't claim to be an expert, and didn't keep pushing the idea. Someone probably took him aside afterwards and explained.

One should also note, that the idea of a fractured seabed is nonsense. The sea bed is hundreds of feet of mud. As the depth increases the mud slowly consolidates and becomes mudstone. The GOM is geological processes at work. Those processes that have shaped the strata over time are still continuing.

I don't grasp the purpose of this statement:

One should also note, that the idea of a fractured seabed is nonsense. The sea bed is hundreds of feet of mud.

What would be the point of placing explosives in mud? The idea was to plant a nuke under the mud, where it could indeed have impact on the structure.

Ah, that is a bit of a non-sequitor. It isn't intended to form part of the nuke debate, but there was a statement about a fractured seabed elsewhere in the litany of ideas - and that was just to respond to that. It isn't obvious from the flow. My fault.

Just closing out loose ends from the last thread on the negative pressure test.

fhelton, no, I am not suggesting that if a piece of equipment fails during the negative pressure test that you cannot fix the equipment and re-do the test. But that is not what they did. They did the first test in accordance with the approved procedures, and it failed because of the returns. That's how the regs treat it. If you get unexplained returns, you have to look for the reason doing CBL or the other suggested means of testing the cement.

Moreover, when they did the second test, they did not just fix a piece of equipment and re-do the approved procedures. They abandoned the approved procedure for the test and used an unapproved procedure. It failed also due to the unexplained returns. That is my understanding of the facts. The halibuton hand's testimony supports this version of facts. I do not understand the basis for claiming the second test was a pass when there were lost returns and 1400 psi on the DP.

JINN, your inference that the regs do not require hydrostatic balance during riser displacement of abandonment because you claim MMS approved it is understandable, but it is a big inference with nothing supporting it but your assumption that it must be okay. I'm trying to get to the actual legal basis for what was done and thus inferences like that really don't help. If you have a link to the well plan you keep citing, that would be greatly appreciated.

I am beginning to wonder if the blow out occurred during the actual negative test? Just a suspicion at this point but it is beginning to sound very weird. Perhaps tried to do 2 things at the same time to save time. Set up the test and dump mud ready to pack up, don't sound right.


They did the first test in accordance with the approved procedures, and it failed because of the returns. That's how the regs treat it. If you get unexplained returns, you have to look for the reason doing CBL or the other suggested means of testing the cement.

"Unexplained" is an important word, I believe. One side of the argument was that those unexpected returns could be explained by a leaking annular, something that no CBL or whatever other testing means might be suggested in the approved procedures would identify.

Regs and pre-planned procedures can only go so far. Blind adherence to them can lead ultimately to sitting on your thumb waiting for some bureaucrat to get around to adjusting the procedure to meet the unanticipated circumstances.

There has to be some lee-way that allows for reasonable deviation, as judged by a knowledgeable person (which I'm not), based on what was known, or should have been known, at the time.

WRT your search for legal basis about hydrostatic balance, you might want to look in depth at that reg language about "intervals". Just a hunch, but I suspect it might be a mistake to interpret that as requiring the well as a whole to be in balance.

(non-oilfield EE)

Frank, if it was just the leaking annular, they should have pressured it up, re-filled the riser and repeated the same test. That's not what they did. They used a different procedure.

"Regs and pre-planned procedures can only go so far. Blind adherence to them can lead ultimately to sitting on your thumb waiting for some bureaucrat to get around to adjusting the procedure to meet the unanticipated circumstances."

True, but ignoring them and improvising can lead to 11 dead and the worst disaster in industry history. They obviously took too much liberty in abandoning the procedures and regs. And they had too many chiefs making decisions on the test. The new regs on testing cement will be designed in part to prevent this.

As for hydrostatic balance and the intervals language, that is somewhat unclear. I keep hoping someone who has routine experience displacing a riser will speak up on this. Rockman's experience on shore seems to support the interpretation that hydrostatic balancing is required. So does the general safety paradigm for maintaining well control. Relying on just a single barrier is always frowned upon as common sense dictates. I suspect it will be explicitly prohibited in the new regs.

syncro, MMS would have approved the abandonment based on mutilple barriers placed in the well prior to pulling the BOP stack and leaving location. Cement plugs and or mechanical barriers in the long string, the production casing cement job and possibly seals on the annulus would have served as this barrier.

You can leave a well out of balance if barriers are in place. What CFR that is I don't know, but that's what we do and MMS approves those procedures before it's done.

Thanks, wildbourgman. I'll have to go back and re-read the regs. First I need to get a link to the well plan MMS approved. It does seem that once all of the barriers are in place, under-balanced may be okay on the basis of MMS approval of the well plan.

On riser displacement, the regs do provide that "You must maintain sufficient hydrostatic pressure or take other suitable precautions ..." Passing a negative pressure test would likely be deemed an other suitable precaution. However, from my understanding, the new regs will explicitly require two barriers to be in place before displacement. The current regs vaguely impose that requirement by implication. The new ones will make it clear and explicit from what Shell said in their NYT linked presentation last month. In other words, the DWH crew would have had to set the top plug before displacing, or maintained hydrostatic balance within the well while displacing the riser, one or the other.

What would be the rationale for leaving it unbalanced, even if it were permitted?

Leaving it balanced leaves it safer from blowout because the balanced state is an additional barrier.

Excellent question. I asked the same thing yesterday. If the regs generally require the well to be balanced, what is the rationale for MMS approving otherwise, except financial savings for the operator. I don't see a technical reason.

Here is all MMS has on its website on the proposed new regs for fluid displacement. There are additional proposeed new regs on cementing and conducting pressure tests.

Recommendation 2 – New Fluid Displacement Procedures

Prior to displacement of kill-weight drilling fluid from the wellbore, the operator must independently verify that:

The BOPs are closed during displacement to underbalanced fluid columns to prevent gas entry into the riser should a seal failure occur during displacement.

Two independent barriers, including one mechanical barrier, are in place for each flow path (i.e., casing and annulus), except that a single barrier is allowable between the top of the wellhead housing and the top of the BOP.

If the shoe track (the cement plug and check valves that remain inside the bottom of casing after cementing) is to be used as one of these barriers, it is negatively pressure tested prior to the setting of the subsequent casing barrier. A negative pressure test must
also be performed prior to setting the surface plug.

Negative pressure tests are made to a differential pressure equal to or greater than the anticipated pressure after displacement. Each casing barrier is positively tested to a pressure that exceeds the highest estimated integrity of the casing shoes below the barrier.

Displacement of the riser and casing to fluid columns that are underbalanced to the formation pressure in the wellbore is conducted in separate operations. In both cases, BOPs must be closed on the drill string and circulation established through the choke line
to isolate the riser, which is not a rated barrier. During displacement, volumes in and out must be accurately monitored.
Drill pipe components positioned in the shear rams during displacement must be capable of being sheared by the blind-shear rams in the BOP stack.

Thanks syncro,

What appears to be unsaid, but implied is that there may well be reasons for leaving a well unbalanced for a time, to carry out some operation or procedure, but that it must first be proved to be safe to put it in that state, and it must be returned to a balanced state afterwords.

Edit for clarity

Yes, underbalanced is okay so long as there are two independent barriers in each flow path.

And if the shoe is one of them, then it must pass the new pressure test procedures.

DWH crew would have likely been stopped there had they been subject to the new regs (on the assumption that the cement was indeed bad). They would not have been able to use different test procedures or do a re-take. They will likely have to document results in a manner that seeks to limit re-takes if there is a failure to in order to prevent confusion through conflicting results, or misguided attempts to manipulate results.

But even then, under the new proposals the DWH crew would still also have been required to set the top plug before displacing the riser if it was not going to rely on hydrostatic balancing within the well as the second barrier. As a result, the cement could fail and they would have a fall-back barrier.

Edited for clarity

syn - Let me stick my very prejudiced nose into this for a moment. I want someone to ask a very simple question of the govt: why would they every allow any well drilled anywhere in the GOM to be underbalanced for even one minute? As I've mentioned before I would never leave oil based mud in a cased hole that wouldn't be completed for a year or more. I would displace it will a non-OMB with the same weight. I'll have to have a completion fluid in the hole of nearly the same weight when I complete it anyway.

I don't care if an operator puts 10 independent barriers in the hole. What is the advantage of displacing with sea water? To maybe save a few hundred thousand $'s on a well that will cost over $200 million by the time it's completed? So far I don't think folks have asked this important question. It's not how do you safely leave a well (in 5,000' water capable of flowing 10's of thousands of bbls of oil/day) underbalanced? The question, IMHO, is what is the justification for ever leaving a well (in 5,000' water capable of flowing 10's of thousands of bbls of oil/day) underbalanced?

A quick reminder as to how every blow out I've ever heard about has occurred: the mud weight is INADVERTANTLY cut usually do to oil/NG flowing into the well bore. This lowers the MW and leads to more oil/NG flowing in...a feedback loop to disaster. The BP well is the first blow out I've ever heard of that was caused by intentionally cutting the MW.

RM, of course your comments are always welcome.

The only time under-balanced is truly warranted is when you are doing a negative pressure test. You have to be underbalanced to do the tests, at least via the procedures MMS seems to endorse.

And the more i read reg 250.1715(9), it seems that the regs back your prejudice, RM. The confusion on the section is seen below, which states what you are supposed to use upon abandonment if you have any fluid in the casing (i.e. not a dry hole). The confusion is from poor drafting.

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.

This is how it should have been written:

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

I don't see any other way to read that. I doubt it will be repealed with the new regs. But it seems to conflict with what is happening in the field via approval of well plans.

syn -- A valid point about the neg test (damn sneaky lawyers). But that’s essentially done with a shut in well so there’s no chance of a blow out. But I’m sure you caught my point: why ever temporarily abandon a well underbalanced? Again, I only pretend to be an engineer from time to time on TOD. Looking for a real engineer who might answer the question.

The way that I've interpreted that is that at each point in the well as you go up the hydrostatic pressure has to at least match the formation pressure at that point.

If you have a column of mud, the pressure lowers as you rise up it, but so does the formation pressure, so if at each point the pressure is at a level to control the well it will be sufficient throughout it's height, but that regulation would prevent you from inserting a short column of mud to match the pressure at the bottom of the well and leave the rest empty, and call it balanced.

The only time under-balanced is truly warranted is when you are doing a negative pressure test. You have to be underbalanced to do the tests, at least via the procedures MMS seems to endorse.


You don't even read the stuff you post
The new recommended procedure you posted said:

"Negative pressure tests are made to a differential pressure
equal to or greater than the anticipated pressure after displacement."

That says the purpose of a negative test is to simulate the state the well will be in when you displace to seawater. You have to displace to seawater. You can't unlatch the riser while its full of mud.

The MMS requires now (and always has) that the operator first simulate the pressure that the well will see after displacement before actually doing the displacement. If the well is not going to be under-balanced then the negative test is not required to be under-balanced.

The problem with the Macondo well it appears is they failed to do the negative test correctly. They did not "make a differential pressure equal to or greater than the anticipated pressure after displacement". The failed to simulate the under-balance like they were supposed to. The first time the well actually saw the low pressure condition was when the riser was displaced.

You could say the riser displacement was the first time they correctly tested the well to see if it would stand the under-balance. And since they were dumping the returns overboard they didn't know the well was failing the test.

You don't even read the stuff you post.

Jinn, thanks for your polite response.

Your comment above, funny as it may be, is the product of your own failure to read before opening your browser window to reply.

Rockman pointed out that there is no technical reason to abandon an unbalanced well. And there is a big safety related reason for requiring an abandoned well to be balanced. I, in turn, pointed out that the only time an unbalanced well is technically a necessity is to do a negative pressure test. We were not discussing the regulations.

So please, if you do not understand what is being discussed, save your insults until you're sure they're warranted. That way you won't end up looking foolish again.

I, in turn, pointed out that the only time an unbalanced well is technically a necessity is to do a negative pressure test.


Yes you did. and I was pointing out that statement is flat out wrong.

I take it there are other times, and they are...?

The engineers involved in the design of deep water wells are saying there are good reasons that they design wells that are under-balanced. The reasons have to do with pushing the limits of current technology in order to recover oil that is very deep in the ground and deep in the sea.
My guess would be that both the MMS and the oil industry are very carefully side stepping around even mentioning this issue during the investigation of the DWH incident because they understand that raising the issue may lead to a regulatory policy that would severely limit deep water exploration.

But that isn't what I was responding to. I was pointing out that if one is going to follow a policy of never putting a well in an under-balanced state, then there is no reason to test the well in an under-balanced state.

No, you said I do not read what I post and then quoted a sentence from the proposed regs that you thought pertained to what Rock and I were discussing. But it did not.

Now you claim something new, that my statement is "flat out wrong."

Of course, you don't tell us how or why. It's all a game!

Re ever leaving the well underbalanced. isn't there a difference here between a deep water and shallow water or onshore well? You have to displace 5000ft (or whatever) of riser to seawater (or something else environmentally friendly) under the current regs. I doubt if even a water-based mud with brine or solids to weight it up to 1.5sg or whatever plus the chemicals to stabilise it would be acceptable.

If you set a plug at 5000ft below the mudline, and are balanced above it with 10000ft of 1.5sg mud, you need 5000ft of 2sg mud and 5000ft of seawater to get the same balance with the riser off. You could quickly get into another risk situation (exceeding the fracture gradient at the depth, or cracking the plug in what would be a severe positive pressure test). OK the formation fracture gradient doesn't matter unless there are seal or cement failure, but then none of this matters unless there are seal or cement failures. If you have a long production casing with cement at the bottom and a seal near the mudline, you'd have to displace to mercury to get a high enough pressure at the hanger seal to counter the possibility of two mechanical failures. Double the trouble in 10000ft of water.

From simple physics it seems you either have to accept multiple mechanical barriers with insufficient fluid head in the hole to counteract failure of them all, allow release of something nastier than seawater when unlatching the riser (perhaps the best risk/benefit solution, for all that it causes some pollution), or have a more complicated procedure with multiple fluid different densities, and spacers or temporary plugs to stop some of the nasty stuff leaking out anyway when the riser is removed. You'll probably have to accept that in ultradeep water, the last plug will be deeper than currently specified otherwise it will need to have an unacceptably high pressure on top of it when the very high density fluid is first introdiced and extends all the way to surface inside the riser (assuming it didn't burst the riser...).

"I'm trying to get to the actual legal basis for what was done and thus inferences like that really don't help. "

In the CG hearings there is testimony that MMS approved BP's request to displace at 3000 feet below wellhead. I suppose I or someone else could look back through and find documentation of said testimony, but I heard it myself, on more than one occasion I believe.

Drilling an oil well is not done on a legal basis, but on a knowledge and experience basis. Oil wells were drilled successfully when there were no MMS regulations, and no MMS for that matter.

Government regulations should not be a guide. Best industry practices should be a guide. Regulations exist to deter people from cutting corners, doing unsafe things, etc.

What if there was no MMS reg on doing a negative test? What if there was a reg on doing a negative test, but said reg didn't state how?

Neither would matter. Best industry practices say a negative test would be appropriate, should be performed in accordance with best industry practices, and results interpreted in accordance with best industry practices. After all, if everyone says safety is #1, then everyone should be following best industry practices, regardless of how far they may exceed government regulatons, and they should far exceed government regulations.

Following best industry practices is what professionalism is all about.

But that wasn't done on April 20. Corner-cutting was done on April 20. Staying barely within regulations was done on April 20, far below best industry practices. In some cases regulations may have been violated with the justification "this is how we interpreted it to apply to this situation", again, maintaining their allegation they were acting in a proper and prudent manner.

What if it is ultimately determined regs were followed? They STILL had a blowout.

Seems to me that drilling regs are to the oil industry what building safety regs (the minimum safe building specifications) are to the building industry. We have to meet the minimum safe structural standards which are spelled out in the building codes for residential, commercial and industrial construction. These are performance standards i.e. maximum bend, sag or load for a particular species beam of a given size and length. To do something different requires approval of the code enforcement folk or if they don't agree approval of a licensed structural engineer. So I ask the rhetorical question: Do we know so little about drilling these wells that we can't specify minimum design parameters.

So in the case of off-shore and deep wells, do we have regs (the code) that truly spell out the minimum safe practice? Take the question of centralizers: I listened today to a BP engineer spell out that the well was "pencil straight", excellent sound bite, conjurs up a laser straight hole. But do the calculation and you find that 0.7 deg can result in an offset on a 13000' well of 159 feet or a bend height of almost 80 feet assuming the bottom ends up exactly and vertically under the starting point. So it begs the question if the casing can end up against the hole wall leading to channelizing and the answer must be an unequivocal yes. And that would nearly be regardless of casing diameter. Every one of the casing diameters has some nominal or natural bend radius that it can easily achieve and every single hole diameter has some minimum hole deviation. Therefore it stands to reason that the "code" should have specified a minimum number of centralizers based on casing size, length and hole size. It defies ones sensibilities to leave the minimum specification up to a for profit company design based on cost risk evaluation. It results in a crap shoot for every well. In this case with 6 centralizers specified you end up with 2600 feet between locations. Given the possible offset (0.7 deg) divined from the BP engineers testimony it seems incredible to have had anyone approve this that was being responsible. But yet because drilling practice seems to be based on cost (that should read "profit") / risk trade-off, along with a given company's moral compass, we have a $40B+ mess and the Brits are worried that it make take their beloved BP down, versus the potential to kill off an entire ocean. How much would the additional spacers have cost versus the blowout bill? What other risky design practices occurred because of this cost(profit) / risk culture? If there is so much flexibility in the "regs" that essentially you can have anywhere from 6 (spaced 2600') to 21 (spaced 650') centralizers then there is something wrong with the regs and the engineering behind them.

The centralizers are not needed thoughout the entire depth, only where the cement will be. In this case that would have been about 1000 feet, from 17,300 to 18,300 feet, at the bottom of the long string. Not arguing with your position, just adjusting the numbers.

Saltwater appreciate your comment and correction. 6 centralizers would yield 200 feet space. But that then begs the question why later OptiSim models yielded 21 centralizers. Unfortunately, the spacing for each estimate or model doesn't seem to be reported. The other question it raises is do we know for sure when we are running the particular casing in exactly how much will be cemented beforehand or can that change afterward. If it is variable then one might think a greater number over a longer distance is warranted. 21 centralizers at the same spacing yields 4000 feet of casing centered. From the outside that seems like a plan with insurance. In any case one would think that all cement should be around a centered pipe, and if the length of cement can vary AFTER placement of the casing, then the proper plan would seem to require more centralizers. Yes / No? I understand that each well can be different but it is not at all clear why minimum regs can't be written based on casing size and hole size.

What if it is ultimately determined regs were followed? They STILL had a blowout.

RF, that would mean people suing BP would have the burden of proving BP's negligence, or Trnasocean's. If it is found that BP violated regulations, BP or TO would be presumed negligent and they would have the burden of proving they are not negligent.

That's one significance of the regulations.

As an attorney, someone trained in the law, of course I am going to want to understand the precise legal structure that was in place as well as I understand the structure of the well. That's important to me. Not because I am interested in suing, but in order to understand what went wrong here. I don't think you can fully grasp that without understanding the legal and regulatory framework within which the event occurred. Because as you rightly point out, there were likely as many errors on the regulatory side as on the drilling side.

And the reality is that there will be new regulations. And there should be. The old ones suck. No one can understand how they apply and there are too many conflicting interpretations. They also appear to have been ignored, including possibly the requirement in 250.1715(9) that abandoned wells have to be hydrostatically balanced.

I would like to know the basis for not complying with that requirement. I may very well be missing something right there in the regs. But no one has provided the legal basis for what appears to be an inconsistency. I am interested in finding out what the framework is, not advocating one interpretation over another.

And PS, I understand the legal basis for allowing the top plug to me 3000 feet lower than the 150 feet 250.1715(8) requires. That's very clear. But what's the legal basis for not having to do what 250.1715 (9) appears to require, i.e. hydrostatic balance within the well prior to abandonment?

"That's one significance of the regulations."

If I was an attorney representing ...oh, say one of the deceased ...their survivors actually... I would cast aside discussion of compliance with regs and focus on physical evidence.

1450 psi on drillpipe during neg test is physical evidence. Why did said pressure not motivate someone to initiate shut-in? Or at least abandon riser displacement until neg test could be performed showing zero pressure on drillpipe, the expected reading in a neg test?

Halliburton log showing outflows exceeding inflows at several points during riser displacement is physical evidence. Why did outflows exceeding inflows not motivate someone to initiate shut-in?

How interesting it is that those directly responsible for making said decisions in accordance with safety and best industry practices refuse to testify at CG hearings ...at least those still alive to testify.

If I was said attorney I would be saying "screw this CG investigation, it's heading down a blind alley, waste of time, I know who to go after now."

Both regs and professional expertise/best practice matter. Suppose you had to pass judgement on a car driver who ran down and killed a child in a 30mph zone. You'd determine differently if the driver had been doing 60mph, 35mph or 25mph. And at 30mph, if there were good visibility and driving conditions vs. snow and ice where the driver should have known his breaking distance would double. And different again if the child was slowly crossing the road, jumped out from behind a tree in a game of dare, or had fallen from a bridge or overpass and landed right in front of the car.

In watching the hearings, I am a bit surprised at how poorly prepared some of the attorneys are. The poorly prepared ones do not have sufficient understanding of drilling to ask meaningful questions. And then we have those who do understand, but whose goal is to muddy the waters in order to protect their clients. As a result, it takes some work to weed out the meaningful testimony from the chafe.

This proceeding is more like a discovery deposition than a trial. In a typical case, all of the witnesses will have been deposed prior to trial so you already know what their testimony is and can much more effectively use the witness to make the points you need to to the jury. Here, no one knows what anyone is going to say until they are on the stand. That is one reason why the proceeding seems to drag on without clear direction.

"This proceeding is more like a discovery deposition than a trial."

I agree, if the board really wants to know reasons why this happened then all testimony shouldn't be like it is, because so many have so much to loose from just telling the truth. On the other hand by the obfuscation that's taking place so many lives and livelihoods are at stake, if we can't have concrete evidence of what happened and how we can make certian it won't happen again.

With so many people in positions of supervision hiding from responsibility, why would the drilling moratorium ever be lifted? If I were an outsider watching this C-span coverage I wouldn't know what to think about the oilfield.

Yes, there is a real problem with the way the inquiry law is written. I am fully frustrated by the current inquiry, as it seems to be little more than pre-trial posturing rather than a true accident inquiry. I have read over parts of the law (IANAL) and it appears that the inquiry is pretty much following the procedures required. However, the board has been completely unqualified to handle the legalities. With the addition of a retired judge and a military legal expert the procedures are a bit better than in the past when Capt Nguyen was getting completely buffaloed by the objections and lawyer tricks.

It also irks me that both Nguyen and Dykes seem to be moralizing rather than trying to find out what happened. Frankly I doubt that either of them has enough technical understanding to be part of the inquiry board.

This inquiry would be vastly better if it followed the process used by the NTSB for air disasters.

What I really do like about this proceeding and investigation is that the entire thing is being conducted so that the results can be reported to the public. And the proceedings are televised. I am more than willing to put up with the slightly chaotic nature of the proceedings in exchange for all of the info we get and for the opportunity to see the witnesses testify live. That is a rare and tremendous opportunity so soon after a disaster. On that basis alone, I have to give these proceedings very high marks.

Despite the obfuscating, etc., I am very confident that this investigation will produce a lot of useful information. It is just one of numerous investigations that will be conducted.

I only wish they would post all of the documents on the web so we could follow along.

It also irks me that both Nguyen and Dykes seem to be moralizing rather than trying to find out what happened. Frankly I doubt that either of them has enough technical understanding to be part of the inquiry board.

Have you taken a look at Nguyen's bio? I think an M.S. in Chemical Engineering and an MBA indicate he's got both the technical understanding and an understanding of corporate culture to be part of the board.

Dyke's bio shows he has a B.S. in Petroleum Technology and an Associate of Science in Industrial Safety from Nicholls State University.

From what I've seen, Nguyen is looking at the corporate culture and management structure of BP to see if that contributed to the accident.

I also think he's used to people underestimating him because of his accent, and he uses that to his advantage.


Another thing has become very clear to me, is all of the posturing by attorneys. They are all setting each other up for future legal battles. As this is more of a fact-finding proceeding, I'm not sure how any one of us would react to questioning given that eventually some of these witnesses may face jail time. Someone will eventually be held accountable for 11 lost souls, and nobody wants to be that someone.

Sync. "Occidental, which was found guilty of having inadequate maintenance and safety procedures. But no criminal charges were ever brought against it".

You are going to go down the same path as the UK did with Piper Alpha. As you are an extremely litigious society, with more lawyers per capita than you can shake a stick at; yours will probably take more than twenty years to sort out. Some of the UK's best lawyers said, if we are going to prosecute anyone, we will have to prosecute hundreds. They literally ended up with a "too big to prosecute" situation.

This is something that bothers me. The US is indeed very litigious, and somehow has a culture that expects blame to be attached to everything. Somehow nothing ever happens that cannot be blamed on someone. Indeed it seems that we are seeing a process where the desire to find and punish is considered more important than the public interest of finding the root causes of the accident and ensuring that it does not happen again.

Can you imagine the inquiries into Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia operating under these circumstances? Where every engineer or manager working for NASA, or any of the contractors, would appear with a lawyer in tow, and essentially fail to answer pertinent questions in case it was them that was charged with manslaughter? Yet it seems this is exactly what we are seeing here. A total of 17 astronauts died in those accidents, but we don't hear indignant cries that "no-one was charged" for their deaths.

Robert Anton Wilson wrote (tounge partly in cheek) a characterisation of the modern man. Someone who would root out "no good shits, and dump on them" because he was afraid that they would find out him, and he would be dumped upon. The worst of the the "no good shits" would be out their dumping on others.

Francis, I am a bit surprised at your emotional response to the proceedings and to litigation.

Litigation is not a bad thing. I am not sure why people think it is. At bottom, it's purpose typically is assigning legal responsibility for the consequences of wrongful conduct. There are legal, moral and economic reasons for wanting to do that.

This is something that bothers me. The US is indeed very litigious, and somehow has a culture that expects blame to be attached to everything. Somehow nothing ever happens that cannot be blamed on someone. Indeed it seems that we are seeing a process where the desire to find and punish is considered more important than the public interest of finding the root causes of the accident and ensuring that it does not happen again.

Please read your first few sentences. What would you propose we do, just forget about it? It was all an accident and no effort should be made to find out what happened, who if anyone engaged in wrongful or criminal conduct? Forget about compensating victims, they are just a bunch of sue-happy looters with their shyster attorneys out to rob BP blind?

Can you imagine the inquiries into Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia operating under these circumstances? Where every engineer or manager working for NASA, or any of the contractors, would appear with a lawyer in tow, and essentially fail to answer pertinent questions in case it was them that was charged with manslaughter? Yet it seems this is exactly what we are seeing here. A total of 17 astronauts died in those accidents, but we don't hear indignant cries that "no-one was charged" for their deaths.

One question. Was NASA a two-time convicted felon on probation for killing 15 workers when those accidents happened?

Let me assure you that those investigations were probably more rigorous and the witnesses grilled even more thoroughly, just not on TV.

I think the investigation is going great. What's your alternative? Lots of good info is coming out. This is how it works. It may seem alien to you, but from the inside, it looks good to me. There is nothing demeaning or harassing about the proceedings. 11 men are dead. Their families deserve an explanation of what went wrong and why, and so do the thousands of hands out there who could be next.

We come at this accident and its implications from rather different directions. I'm a scientist (PhD) and engineer, and in the past taught engineering ethics at university level. I also taught safety critical systems and software engineering, where managing extremely complex tasks and systems is the core point.

I see the task of the inquiry to first and foremost prevent another accident. If any other agenda conflicts with that one, the precedence is absolute. Currently three antagonistic outcomes are folded into one investigation.

I see only two issues that impact on the cause of the accident - the human and the technical. The existence of regulations is not pertinent unless they influence these two aspects. The physics and engineered construction of the well is independent of the regulations. The oil in the formation and the cement in the well is oblivious to the words on a bit of paper. If the well had been in Mexican waters, and subject to Mexican law, exactly the same accident would likely have happened.

I guess the big problem I have is one of professional ethics. The spectre of an engineer being coached to the ragged edge of lying, when ethically he should be enthusiastically forthright, is deeply worrying. The adversarial system of investigation just seems out of joint with the needs of the occasion.

Compensation for those that lost family in the accident is a mess. We have a situation where the sum eventually awarded may depend upon the legal interpretation of some odd regulations, regulations that appear to be poorly worded and open to interpretation. Some civil servant misplacing a comma could have inadvertently decided the size of payout some years ago. And a worker killed on a construction site by a bit of falling scaffolding sees his family awarded one tenth the amount.

Engineers understand that the real underlying causes of the accident may well include something as yet unknown. We have already seen that the foremost theory of annular flow is looking less likely, and, as such, the entire issue of centralisers may be a red herring. Highly complex systems often fail with what looks like a clear and obvious fault - which is wrong. It often takes significant effort to tease out the real culprits, and even then the answers are often not a clear allocation of blame. Currently I don't have confidence that the current investigation will converge on the true answer. I suspect that it will converge on a satisfactory answer as judged by the players, one that plays well as legal fiction. Truth however, may be a stranger. In terms of protecting us from a further accident, this isn't satisfactory.

One question. Was NASA a two-time convicted felon on probation for killing 15 workers when those accidents happened?

Seems you have already convicted BP. No mention of the culpability of the MMS or TO. Interesting that. But back to NASA.

Being a government agency it cannot be charged or convicted of anything. So even if it richly deserved to have been convicted many times it could not have been. In terms of moral guilt, NASA most certainly should have been considered to have been under probation after Challenger. Seven astronauts died, and the US lost many billions of dollars invested in the space programme. Yet NASA manifestly failed to fix its management structures and safety systems, and suffered the consequence of a further loss of another seven lives. The Columbia report specifically noted a "broken safety culture." But governments are always judged by a different standard. It helps when you make the laws.

However, the investigations were exemplary, and a gold standard of how they should be done.

Which returns us to the bottom line. The DWH accident was the result of physical and human processes at work. The oil and concrete were also unaware of BP's status as a felon. The engineering design was similarly so. The physics doesn't change because of a legal conviction. The human interactions that also underpinned the accident were likely oblivious to the convictions. Since many of these had nothing to do with BP employees even more so.

This proceeding is more like a discovery deposition than a trial.

Perhaps this is being overly picky, but I was under the impression that one thing this is not is a trial. No-one is on trial for anything. Indeed discovery is the point. OTOH, it seems that the whole thing is becoming a legal farce. If every person who has firsthand knowledge of the events is being coached by their lawyers to obfuscate and weasel around every critical point, the system has failed at the first hurdle.

OTOH, it seems that the whole thing is becoming a legal farce. If every person who has firsthand knowledge of the events is being coached by their lawyers to obfuscate and weasel around every critical point, the system has failed at the first hurdle.

No it has not. The way it works is everybody has a chance to cross-examine every witness. Cross-examination under oath is no farce, it is one of the most powerful tools for finding the truth there is. Especially when you have documents to use. The attorneys know how to get the truth out there. But you need to wait for trial to see it all presented nice and smooth like on TV. First you have to muck through hundreds of hours of depositions and tens of thousands of documents. Investigations are inherently messy there is so much to muck through.

If the material currently clogging the BOP and gripping the drill pipe fish is indeed hydrates, am I correct in thinking that it must have formed before the top kill cementing operation took place?

If not (i.e., the hydrates formed after the top kill cement job) where would all that methane have come from? This seems like an unlikely scenario.

If so (i.e., the hydrates formed a while ago, during the blow out phase), we know that the hydrates didn't prevent the cement from getting into the hole. If the cement was pumped through the kill line then presumably we can infer that the hydrates don't extend that far down below the BOP, or at least not to the extent that they plug the entire cross-section.

Because of the low temperature required for hydrates to form it seems like a reasonable assumption that they can't extend very far down the hole anyway. The fact that the top kill cement job took place successfully reinforces the idea that the hydrates (if that's what the material is) are confined to the immediate area of the BOP.

Whoa. Think again. Blowout = flowing well. Craw cuts off riser = flowing well. Capping stack bolted to flex joint = flowing well (until they closed rams and choke/kill). Hydrates formed when? During mud and cement pump? That assumes gas came out of solution in sufficient quantity at low enough temperature to freeze. Can't be budged with repeated antifreeze and methanol flushing.

Therefore not gas hydrates. It's cement. Part of 4200 psi-tested plug spattered all over the BOP and wellhead and 3000 foot drillpipe, arguably. The well is absolutely shut in (not incl subsurface paths) until they try to detach.

Or, comfy's right and I'm wrong. We shall see.

EDIT: They're up to their old tricks, blacking out embarrassing feeds.

Hydrates in equipment or camera? Looks difficult--is that what hydrates look like.or is it cement?
Sonar from the same time.

Guess we will have to choose up sides here. I'm with you--not gas hydrates. It has to be cement or mud.

The last thread talked about possible sea water or produced formation water as the source of the H2O component for hydrates to form. I don't see any possibility for sea water to enter the BOP or well bore at any time. The well was flowing at a high rate continuously until they closed the rams on the capping stack. There could have been a water cut, but it would have been ejected completely. Once they shut in the well and the fluids became static only formation water would have been available to sustain hydrate formation. I Don't know how much water it takes, but it seems that the chemical reaction would stop quickly as the water was used up.

Some time ago bignerd posted about the state of the HC in the BOP stack. He convinced me that it was liquid. So, if the methane was in solution, could hydrates even form to begin with?

Or, comfy's right and I'm wrong. We shall see.

I've been wrong plenty of times too.

When they did the negative pressure test before the blowout the DP, top 3000 ft of the liner, the BOP and the kill line contained seawater.

The choke/kill lines now contain seawater.

If the BOP is full of cement, how did the mud that followed it down get past it? If the mud didn't go past, where did it go?

If the BOP is full of cement, how did the mud that followed it down get past it? If the mud didn't go past, where did it go?

Excellent question. I said cement or mud. Regarding cement, the only thing I can think of is that there is not all that much. There is enough to gum up the works, but not enough to firmly lock everything in place. As I recall they followed the cement with a spacer, then mud. Could be wrong on the details there. Is it possible they left a lot cement behind while doing that?

I don't understand the relevance of your comments about before the blowout and sea water.

I did not say the BOP was full of cement, only spattered and plugged. It's impossible to discern the situation downhole. We need to audit what Q4000 pumped when, including fluids pumped since "top kill" overpressure, "near ambient" overpressure, and alleged displacement to seawater.

Anyway if Thad is correct, the Q4000 lines are being removed. Game over.

Yep. Time for more speculation frenzy.

Don't know 'bout the rest of y'all, but I'm done speculatin'.

And now we wait.......

Reminds me of an old joke involving a tapeworm, a doctor, a hard boiled egg and a hammer.

Edit: and a macaroon. Can't forget the macaroon.

They're giving up fishing ...

from http://twitter.com/BP_America - Allen's briefing

# We've decided to end fishing operations and it was recommended that we go ahead with the removal of the BOP. - Adm. Allen 1 minute ago via web

# Starting today and through the weekend, we will make preparations to remove the BOP and replace it. - Adm. Allen half a minute ago via web

# BOP removal should occur around Wed, if all conditions are met. Weather or other factors could cause schedule to change. - Adm. Allen

# Ambient pressure tests and perfomance of the well thus far indicate there should not be any problems. - Adm. Allen [no problems? with this well?]

Stall stall stall...Nothing new here folks wake up!!!

They're giving up fishing ...

I just finished my fast track online study course at Google School of Oilfield Fishing. Here are a few fishing plans for the DP that is jammed up next to the inside wall in the BOP.

Use an Overshot Wallhook Guide to scoop the top of the DP into it. Once you rotate the guide 180 deg. And sit down on it the DP has nowhere to go except into the basket grapple. Even if it bends the DP a little, who cares? http://www.loganoiltools.com/Product-PDFs/FishingToolsExternalCatch/Seri...

Use a Taper Tap to spear the inside of the DP. Make the box end of the taper tap be the same diameter as the O.D. of the DP. Weld 12 soft metal buttons about 3/8” high around the top of the box end in order to jack the spear and DP a little away from the wall. Back off from the tap and leave it in the BOP. Go back in with the standard fishing assembly and capture the fish. Rotate as you sit down and let the inside sizing teeth grind down the button welds before they enter the basket grapple. http://www.loganoiltools.com/Product-PDFs/FishingToolsInternalCatch/Tape...

Use a Full Circle Releasing Spear to grab the DP internally. Please choose correct size before ordering. Please read Owner’s Manual before using. Free telephone tech support available in India. http://www.loganoiltools.com/Product-PDFs/FishingToolsInternalCatch/Full...

My point here is that every time I saw their fishing efforts it looked like they were using essentially the same tools. Surely they have one of the best fishing hands available running the show. And this is the same hand that let the fishing assembly drop off the end of the DP? He only knows one way to grab a fish? Maybe he isn’t in charge at all. Maybe BP and company are telling him what to do. Good luck.

There could be some excellent reasons why none of my suggestions would work. There could be other ways to do it that I don’t know about. If so, I don’t know what they are. Maybe BP doesn’t either.

Tool they tried to use on the teardrop-shaped crimped pipe was very different from the tool they tried to use on the smooth cut round pipe. I don't know what kind of setup was on the pipe that ended up stuck in the mud, I never saw that one.

Was that the one they got hold of temporarily? I only saw them fishing for the round one.

This one had alternating pairs of grippers, the brighter triangular things. It seemed to fit pretty good - but when they spun the DP, the fish rattled around and fell out, and when it landed wherever it landed a big cloud of crap floated up. If they went looking for that piece again or used that tool again, I didn't see it (not saying they didn't). The next attempt I saw was the one with the radial collets, on the clean-cut round pipe.

Thanks. Never saw that one. Just read about it and didn't quite understand. I wonder why they gave up fishing so easily? No matter..it's done now.

This passage tells you where a long article in the new Esquire is headed:

... "We've had to turn the TV off," says Tracy Kleppinger, whose husband, Karl, was one of the eleven. "They show it all the time. They call it the fire that started the oil spill. But that's not what it is to me and my son and to the other wives and families. To us, it's the fire that killed our husbands. And that rig is not just a rig. That ocean is not just an ocean. It's the graveyard where Karl is buried."

It is their story. They are at the heart of it, just as all but one of the eleven men who died on the rig were at the heart of the rig, members of a drilling team charged with drilling a two-and-a-half-mile hole into the bottom of the ocean. And yet their story is not the story. The story that begins with the men does not end with them, because the story is like the spill itself: Nobody knows how far it will go and nobody knows its final political, financial, ecological, or spiritual cost. It is the most open-ended American story since the Iranian hostage crisis thirty years ago, and it left the men behind as soon as it began. The footage of the fire doesn't lead to recognition of the men whose lives it destroyed; it leads away from them. It leads, instead, to those damned pelicans, whose eyes stare in double reproach. The pelicans have won by losing, and every time the families of the eleven see them, they feel that America's mourning is misplaced. Indeed, they feel that America is being told to mourn for nature instead of for man — being told that nature is more important than man. They believe the opposite, fervently. They have lived the opposite, each time the men they loved left home to go to work in the middle of the ocean. They have chosen the opposite, and so has an America that lives on the oil that their men took from the ground at unimaginable cost. Now their men are dead, and they feel that America has chosen to forget them. They would like them to be remembered. No, more than that: They would like us to know them and the lives they led and the choices they made, so that we can once and for all answer the question that they ask themselves every time they turn on the television:

What's more important, the lives of eleven good men or a bunch of damned pelicans? ...

Thank you Lotus.

An important perspective to keep in mind.

Ironically, in focusing on the who rather than the why, we forget the people who are most directly impacted by everything that has happened.

We all want to know why this happened, so that we can prevent it from happening again.

In order to understand why it happened, we need to understand what happened.

In order to understand what happened, we need those who have information relevant to the answers to feel safe disclosing that information.

If we are focused on blaming, or finding fault, those who have the most information are highly motivated to withhold, distort, forget, etc. that information, out of self-preservation, and can we blame them?.

That means we have a choice. Do we seek vengeance, retribution, punishment, etc., or do we seek truth. It is unlikely that we will be able to get both.

If the shift of focus is to truth, we can do the investigation in honor of all the people who have been hurt by it, placing the preservation of human well-being ahead of blame, vengeance, retribution, and punishment. Will not that path best honor those who have suffered?

One of the most important things I have learned from working with victims is that, without exception, their most fervent hope is that neither they, nor anyone else be hurt again.

Do we want to be a society characterized by its anger, or by its concern for the well-being of all of us?

Like a truth finding commission in a nation recovering from a genocidal dictatorship...

Often, some form of amnesty is offered to the perpetrators in order to arrive at the truth that will heal the population.

Thanks for that, lotus.
Important to remember the families, as always.

It's also important to understand that eleven good men die every day, though most certainly not under such extraordinary conditions. They are not undiminished by the banality of their passing. The families of the lost DWH crew members will have to deal with their lost men, sons, husbands, fathers, brothers, as we all do and will at some point.

One of the most shocking aspects of the loss that death brings is how life and the world just keep unfolding without the loved one, without skipping a beat.
The pain is ours, but it is not the world's pain.

That woman and her family are better off without the tv, anyway.
The mens' families, like all of us, are just beginning to mourn and understand the voids where loved ones once stood and laughed.

You're so right, Uncon. I wish you and I and everyone else who's learned this hadn't had to, but there's no way around it if you stay sane long enough.

Do note that the article isn't pure elegy, though: the last third of it includes a few events, and perspectives on events, aboard DWH that we haven't had before (possibly offering the pros more clues than we noobs can catch).

lotus: A hell of a thing. I lost my first born daughter in a propane fire. When I first saw pictures of DWH on fire my immedidiate thoughts were for the survivors and those who were lost and their families. it continues to be each time I come here. Shoot. It's like someone took a dagger and just ripped your old heart wide open. Just a hell of a thing. Just the way of it.

Oh, GWS. Best I can do from here: (((((HUG)))))

lotus: THanks. I kinda like these internets hugs. I'm a bit of an ol' prickley pear cactus when in person. Thats what some, ok, most people say!It's all good, though.

Oh, my God, how unspeakably awful. Hugs from me too.

OK. That's enough now. I'm not special. Ask RioHondo. He knows.

Offering you some of the salve you offered me GWS:) I can't imagine how hard it is for you when you see that footage. If you know Rio, you may know me (aka Liza)

I have had TOD withdrawal due to really crazy markets, but am trying to catch up after having missed so much.

Thanks to all ya all- lotus, Swift, and you mummsie. It's all good. Appreciate it. I tend to be concerned about people first, then, mud weights and engineering principles after that. Glad you are back. Blue toe-nails and all! heh! heh!

YW ~GWS :) I am the same way, and yes I am back until it gets crazy again, blue toenails and all!

Many people die every day but most probably do not know that their death is likely because of the way the company who employs them is acting. Jason Anderson is one of the dead. His actions on that day are credited by others as having saved lives. He was so worried about the well that he had been instructing his wife how to live without him.

“My Jason told me he had argued BP down a few times on previous wells when they wanted him to speed things up and make changes that were unsafe,” Billy Anderson said yesterday in an interview at his home near Blessing, Texas, about 110 miles southwest of Houston. “But the last two times he was home he said they were putting more and more pressure on him and he was worried.”


In Jason’s last telephone calls with his wife Shelly, he told her he could not talk about his concerns because the ‘walls were too thin’ but that he would tell her about it later when he got home. Jason never got home, he was killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosions, some of the survivors, his fellow workers have since told Shelley that he died trying to save them.


I think any one of us would have an extra hard time dealing with the death of a loved one if that person had tried to get the company to slow down and be more careful. IMO BP and any other responsible parties are guilty of manslaughter.

Edit my entry to read: "... They are undiminished ..."

This is so right, Lotus and Dave. The environmental mess is unfortunate, but it's secondary IMO. No one wanted it to happen. I really hope someone will write a good and accurate book about it once this is all over. The 11 should have their stories told as part of the big story of the disaster itself - and NOT as some blame-game story, but as the story of a tragedy.

People liked to slam on Tony Hayward, but on the handful of occasions I saw him speak post 20 April, he never failed to bring everyone's attention back to the tragedy of the deaths of the 11 workers on the rig, before talking about anything else.

Something is going to happen to this country to bring it back to it's values.When they deny our servicemen their absentee ballots,they are saying to all veterans,dead and alive,that we are nothing but pawns of the Govt'.That is what the Govt'and environmentalists are saying to those men that died on that rig.I have been praying for 43 yrs. for the friends that I lost,and will remember those men and their families also.

"....we are nothing but pawns of the Govt'.That is what the Govt'and environmentalists are saying to those men that died on that rig."

I guess I'm not following your reasoning. It's clear you're upset, but how are the government and environmentalists saying that?

In an earlier post I incorrectly identified the drilling machine in Chile as an RB50 instead of the Strata 950 as they look similar.

As to why they are only drilling a 28 inch diameter hole I surmise:

1. That is probably the bit size which is avaliable.

2. The machine is a raise drill designed to drill with the drill rod in tension when pulling on the reamer bit the and the specs on the machine say up to 950T is avaliable from the hydraulic cylinders.

When drilling the pilot hole and the later 28 inch hole the drill rod is in compression and the specs say a limit of only 69T pushing down. I believe this is because the thrust bearing in the machine is designed for tension and not so much for compressive force. Since there must be sufficient down force in drilling the pilot hole for the bit to fracture the rock the avaliable down force combined with the rock characteristics limit the size of the down drilled hole.

The machine is powered by a hydraulic motor for torque which makes it easier to limit the torque applied thru the drill rods and on this small a bit as opposed to the larger up reaming bit breaking the drill rods from whipping the rods is not much of a worry. Earlier AC and DC drive machines made it harder to control the torque limit. Even so, on our hydraulic raise drill we inspected each drill rod DI22 threaded connection for cracks with magnaflux after each job.

They could probably figure out a way to slash or ream out the completed 28 inch hole to a larger size to fit a fat fellow (like me) but I hope that is not necessary.

added later

It has been 30 yrs since I worked with raise drills but looking at the specs for the TERRATEC drills shown in the opening comments it looks like they are capable of down drilling holes larger than the Strata 950. But to paraphrase Don Rumsfield - You go to drill a hole with the machine you have, not the machine you would like to have.

Continuing from the previous thread there was a question as to whether John Wright was one of those involved in a very heated dispute cited in the latest New York Times story.

I would offer into evidence this point.

John Wright Company is "part of Boots & Coots" http://www.jwco.com/

Boots & Coots entered into a merger agreement with Halliburton on April 10, 2010 http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=93906&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=...

Halliburton's prevailing theory as to why the blowout occurred is that there were an insufficient number of centralizers (a term beaten to death in today's hearings) which caused an annular blowout. Therefore, their predisposition would be to believe that the "ultimate solution" would be the relief well. The static kill has since proven that there is no annular flow path at this time (and likely never was one).

So, yes, it is quite likely John Wright would have vociferously dissented about the chance for the success of the top kill. However, the "BP engineer", AKA "the technician", cited in the original NYT article noted that Chu stopped the top kill before the completion of the final two steps in the process although "the technician" was of the opinion that having gone that far, the process should have been run all the way to completion.

Secretary Chu still has not faced an open press conference about his involvement with the decisions made by the Unified Command. I am still of the opinion that he is a coward.

"a coward"...

Is that so? Opinions are like a$$oles - everybody got one.

Chu is someone who apparently takes risk seriously. He is also a Democratic appointee.

These two qualities have made him an easy target for a bevy of Republican partisans on this and other blogs, who flog the "coward" libel, with a hope that it sticks and maligns someone who has achived a lot. Chu represents an anathema to a white Republican - a ethnically different, highly educated public servant, who has "dared" to contradict a private business.

Therefore, he must be libeled by the internet "know nothings" and partisan talking heads alike as a "coward" - that way he can be assigned the primary blame for a mess that has been created by a private business. Why, if only that coward Chu did not mess things up, this thing would have never happened.

It's a pretty disgusting thing to do. But that's the republikan Amerika today.

wow, Dimitry----Did somebody step on your tail? There was nothing political about the prior comment at all. People have said all sorts of derogatory things about the admiral, also appointed by a Democrat, and you never said a word about that.

I would disagree.

Bruce's comments regarding Dr. Chu have been either personal or political right from the beginning and have singled him out for special treatment. I asked him once about the foundation for his views, and so far as I know he never responded.

There was nothing political about the prior comment at all.

What is it then? What is the cause of Bruce Thompson's Chu fixation? Is it personal? Financial?

If you think Thompson has a legitimate gripe, one worthy of such singleminded devotion, then help him argue it. He seems alone here.

What is it? I have an overabundance of empathy for those residents of the Gulf states whose lives have been greatly disrupted by this event and I dislike those who have interfered in the intervention efforts, which you might remember ultimately succeeded by Mid-July despite that interference, a full month better than the best completion date using the "ultimate solution" of the relief well. What was better for them Mid-July or Mid-August? Would Mid-May had been even better if Chu's regrets as quoted by the NYT can be believed? I'm holding him responsible per his own quoted testimony. And he won't come out to face the general press in a press conference, all his interviews are privately done with friendly reporters. Coward!

Note that per the NYT, his attitude was that he didn't want to get into "woulda, shoulda, coulda". And what exactly is the MBI but an exercise in "woulda, coulda, shoulda". I expect equal justice for all, including Chu.

Bruce, you must be the most loyal NYT reader I have ever encountered!

Nice try Bruce!

I doubt very much that you have any more sympathy than almost anyone else on this site, nor more want to identify and reduce any interference with resolution of this as speedily and completely as possible.

There has been no rational basis for your focus on, and vehemence about blaming Dr. Chu that I can identify, although I won't try to speak for others.

I don't find his acknowledgement of either his role in, or reservations about his role regarding, the "junk" shot to be anything but indicative of a mind which carefully considers as many possibilities as can be identified, and carefully considers each before rendering either an opinion, recommendation, or a decision. In fact I find his mild reservations a pleasant and reassuring contrast to your vehement certainty.

In hindsight many of us would like another chance at a decision point in our history, but that is far from saying that we believe we were, nor would it be fair to accuse us of being, negligent or otherwise inappropriate in our actions, let alone malign in our motivations.

In my experience and reading of history those who present as being most certain of their belief (as differentiated from facts) rarely prevail over time, and often fall prey to their self-induced blindness regarding the consideration of reasonable alternatives to their views, or information which might cast doubt on their convictions.

I'll help you find it! http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/17/us/politics/17chu.html?_r=1

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

That's a selective quote from a long article that doesn't say what you think it does or seem to want it to. First it's not a direct quote, it's a paraphrase from an interview (likely conducted by someone other than the author of the article). Second he seems to be entertaining possibilities:

...he might have urged a faster attempt at the top kill...
...might have allowed pressure to increase in the well...

Note the qualifications on those statements. That he "might have urged" a faster attempt at the top kill suggests that not too many others were screaming for it to be done at that time, and it's nowhere near as strong as "would have demanded".

Also, the results of the delay are not definitively known. The pressure most likely decreased by the time of the top kill due to formation depletion. There could have been a relatively small increase in pressure downhole from channels growing in the formation. At the same time flow restrictions in the BOP were eroding, the extent of which is unknown. The inability of obstructions in the BOP to provide sufficient back pressure seems to have been the greater factor in the failure of the initial top kill; further erosion of those obstructions the main reason for stopping it. Considering channel growth, reservoir depletion, and BOP erosion, there would have been an optimal time to try the top kill, if it could have ever been successful. No one can say if there ever was an optimal time.

In the rest of the article we are presented with a long list of positive results from Chu's involvement, sorry, interference in dealing with this tragedy. But none of that matters, because only cowards think about different possible outcomes of their actions.

There is corroborating evidence from the two Kent Wells videos (5/10/10 & 5/14/10) that BP was activiely readying for the junk shot weeks beore it was approved by Chu, so there is independent contemporaneous evidence for my position.

And why isn't Chu disputing the Flow Group's ridiculous claim that the well was flowing 62,000 bpd from Day One? He clearly states that the flow rate was increasing from Day One. It's obvious why there is "missing oil", it never flowed out of the well in the first place!

He remains a liar, coward and thief!


BTW What is your real name? Mine is Bruce Thompson.

I have an overabundance of empathy for those residents of the Gulf states whose lives have been greatly disrupted by this event and I dislike those who have interfered in the intervention efforts...

If only someone had the guts to interfere with BP before all those lives you're so worried about were "disrupted."

I dislike those who have interfered in the intervention efforts, which you might remember ultimately succeeded by Mid-July despite that interference, a full month better than the best completion date using the "ultimate solution" of the relief well.

BP was the one who has been interfering with the intervention efforts.

TransOcean's BOP specialist testified this week that it appeared to him that the BP engineers in charge of the ROV intervention in the days following the sinking of the rig were not interested in doing anything that would result in shutting-in the well. He testified BP was concerned that if they were successful at getting the BOP to shut off the flow they would have an underground blowout on their hands.

It may well be that other individuals subsequently echoed what BP's fears, but it is clear from the beginning that BP was operating from April 22-July 15 under the assumption that the well lacked integrity. BP's demeanor and strategies took a sudden 180 degree change in direction on July 15 when they discovered when they discovered the well could hold pressure.

It was this erroneous assumption that delayed the capping of the well. The well could have been shut in in early May if it were not BP's fear that a cap would reveal the truth. And the truth they were afraid to face was the well casing was damaged underground.


Chu is someone who apparently takes risk seriously. He is also a Democratic appointee.

These two qualities have made him an easy target for a bevy of Republican partisans on this and other blogs, who flog the "coward" libel, with a hope that it sticks and maligns someone who has achived a lot. Chu represents an anathema to a white Republican - a ethnically different, highly educated public servant, who has "dared" to contradict a private business.

Well said Dimitry!

Many have complained about Chu challenging the experts at BP. One of the recent articles (NYT I think?) said BP was insulted when Chu brought in engineers from Exxon and Shell. Well, if BP had so much F@#CKING expertise, they wouldn't be in this mess in the first place.

Frankly, I'm relieved that Chu put BP through the ringer to justify what they wanted to do. I'm also relieved he brought in some industry expertise from outside BP.

Chu is anything but a coward. He had the courage to step up and stop a procedure that had no chance of success and plenty of risk. If your car is stuck in a ditch and you just keep spinning your tires, you gotta know (1) that you're not going to get out of the ditch and (2) that if the tire spinning continues you're going blow a tire.

The Esquire article provides yet another account of the 11:00 pre-tour meeting and Jimmy Harrell's pincher remark.

The OIM's name is Jimmy Wayne Harrell. The company man's name is Robert Kaluza. The meeting is the standard "pre-tour" meeting held twice a day, at 11:00 A.M. and 11:00 P.M., before the start of each twelve-hour shift at noon and midnight. At most pre-tours, the lines of authority are clear, if contested: The BP company man tells the OIM and the driller what he wants accomplished, and the driller tells the various crews how they're going to accomplish it.

At the 11:00 A.M. meeting on April 20, however, Robert Kaluza tells the drilling team how they're going to displace the mud from the well and replace it with seawater. When he proposes a procedure that runs counter to the procedures the drilling team has in place, Dewey Revette, the driller, fresh from his circuit around the deck, begins to argue with him. Revette thinks that what Kaluza is proposing is reckless and premature, and when the argument grows heated, what the various crew members witnessing it remember is the passion and anger of an inherently careful man. "Dewey got pretty hot," one says. Finally, the company man invokes his own sense of authority and says, "Well, that's how it's going to be."

And now it is up to Jimmy Wayne Harrell. BP leases the rig, but Transocean owns it and employs the workers gathered at the pre-tour meeting. They have always understood the Transocean OIM to be the ultimate authority on the rig, the one man who has the power to override the interests of the company man in favor of the interests of the Transocean workers and their safety.

And what Jimmy Wayne Harrell says, in response to Robert Kaluza's dictum, is, according to sworn testimony offered in the Coast Guard investigation of the Deepwater Horizon disaster: "Well, I guess that's what we have those pinchers for."

Those pinchers: the blowout preventer.

Those pinchers: the massive mechanical shears that are supposed to cut the pipe and seal the well in the event of catastrophe.

Those pinchers: what you rely on when you're already dead but just haven't gotten to heaven yet.


Paragraph breaks added for ease of reading.

FOR ALL - most have read my point before but I think it’s important enough to repeat. When one hand on the rig makes such a sarcastic statement as to “That’s why we have BOP’s” it really is just short of literally spitting in another man’s face. I have never seen such a remark offered lightly. I’ve seen more than one hand run off for making such a comment. I had a contract cancelled once for making a similar comment. It’s a close to declaring war as you can get without shooting someone. And every time I’ve seen such a statement made it was done in front of witnesses with a clear CYA intent IMHO.

And to the statement that he can’t remember if he made such a statement: if he were to tell me that to my face I would call him a liar on the spot and spit in his face. And I would pray he takes a swing at me. Such confrontations do not fade from memory. It sure as hell didn't fade from his memory just a few days later when he heard the body count. And I doubt it hasn't crossed his mind at least 100 times since the blow out. There may be a lot that won’t come out when the investigation is over. But there are 11 dead hands who deserve at least this one bit of truth acknowledged IMHO.

My guess on this is that for some reason he felt unable to stand up to the decision, even though he hadn't agreed with it, so, in effect he was attempting to wash his hands of the decision.

Later, I suspect that he realized he should have been more forceful in his opposition, and is unwilling to acknowledge that he had not done what he now believes he should have done.

Bingo, Dave.

David - That's the only thing that makes sense to me. The best I can offer the man is the understanding of how painful it would be to admit you felt you would be taking a chance with the lives of your hands but went with the bad decision anyway. All we can do is try to imagine ourselves in his position. Forget the liability aspect...imagine what it would be like to tell the families face to face...which would be the very painful but honorable thing to do IMHO.

Mr. Rockman: OH! Dont you know. It is a very hard and HUMBLING thing for one to even come close to, or, even admit cowardice in oneself. The work-a-day world,for a lot of us, is entrusted to those who are supposed to know this sh*t. It is dis-honor to not know thyself and have to pick up the pieces of your actions. A hell of a thing. I dunno.

In my work I find that, for almost everyone it's very scary to admit you're wrong in prospect, and very liberating to actually have admitted you were wrong.

There was also a malpractice insurance industry study done recently which, contrary to expectations, established that it costs less for doctors to admit their mistakes as soon as they discover them and do whatever they can to remedy them than to lawyer up.

Now, if we could just moderate that instinct to defend ourselves, then we could feel better and save money too!!

Yup, I feel bad for Harrell. He seems like a decent man. As OIM, he's caught between a rock and a hard place. And he has a TO attorney explaining to him that an acceptable answer, if true, is that one does not remember an event. There are different ways to not remember an event. It is a nuanced thing. And when you're locked in Rockman's box, maybe forgetting is the easiest way out.

Like you say, RM, it is one hell of a thing to have to face. Easier to forget the details.

But because he is OIM, his interests are kind of aligned with BPs, even if TO's are not. It is in his interests to downplay any dispute. Otherwise he has to justify why he did not, as ultimate authority on that rig for everyone's safety, why he did not insist that BP follow the plan the drill team had worked out (likely to set the top plug first before displacing). There is no suitable explanation for that. Except when you are a guy with his job, despite his stated responsibilities, the company man runs the show, unless you are willing to risk your career.

My guess is he "lost recollection" of having made that statement to avoid having to state why he didn't order work stopped for safety reasons.

Shorter Jimmy Harrell:

I don't recall making that statement about the pinchers but if I did, I certaintly didn't say it at the pre-tour meeting and besides, I meant it in reference to the danger of nitrogen from the cement displacing the riser, although I have never seen that happen before, I know it's a potential issue, yet not a serious one in this case or naturally, I would have stopped the job.

(PDF warning) http://www.deepwaterinvestigation.com/go/doc/3043/670139/

Liar (spit).

Is there any other source for the "pincher" remark? I read throught the pdf, and the sworn testimony of the OIM says he was satisfied with the procedures and safety right up till the explosion.

The testimony about the negative pressure test sound like it had been left off the plan, but the BP rep agreed it should be there, and the test was done.

If the pincher remark was made, (the OIM says he might have said it but doesn't remember), it isn't clear to me that there's any clear testimony about the context in which it might have been said.

Is there any other source for the "pincher" remark?

Douglas Brown is the source. Mr. Gordon questioning Douglas Brown about the pre-tour meeting, from the May 26 transcript, pg 132:

Q. Okay. Do you recall him, after the interaction between the BP person and the OIM, do you recall Jimmy Harrell as he was walking out saying anything?
A. Yes. He was --
Q. What did he say, and how did he say it?
A. He pretty much grumbled in his manner about, "Well, I guess that's what we have those pinchers for."
Q. Repeat that?
A. "I guess that's what we have those pinchers for."
Q. Okay. Do you know what he was referring to, or why he would have said that?
A. I'm assuming he was referring to the shear rams on the BOP.

Unless you meant "any other source" besides Brown?

No that's what I was looking for. It's not clear in my mind what the situation was. The OIM says there was a normal procedure that wasn't listed. It was discussed with the BP rep, who agreed it should be there, and it was put in, and the test made.

The implication is that the pinchers remark is in response to something not being done, but the testimony from the OIM says he was satisfied that everything that should be done was being done, and implies that the dispute was a short-lived discussion that was quickly resolved.

The article is sort of inflammatory, and it's not clear (to me) from the article or the testimony what was the context of the quote. If the OIM said it, was it in response to something someone else said specifically, or in response to the general situation, or was he trying to be funny, and was the quote even accurate.

Difficult to make sense of this when the information is skewed and incomplete.

Gerry, Harrell's been more or less impeached already regarding his pinchers testimony. His attorney came out with a statement this week that he was complaining about more than the negative test, he was also complaining about the mud displacement.

Harrell's testimony on the pinchers issue is a disaster. First he says he never made the remark, then he says he made it in reference to something else, then he says he cannot remember for sure. Every attorney in that proceeding was thinking the same thing because we have all seen this scenario before.

At the end of the day, the other witness accounts of his remarks are far more credible and logical. His own attorney had to recognize that when he provided the additional info about the mud.

From NOLA in May 2010.

The chief mechanic on the Deepwater Horizon testified Wednesday that he was at a planning meeting 11 hours before the rig exploded at which the BP company man overruled drillers from rig owner Transocean and insisted on displacing protective drilling mud from the riser that connected the rig to the oil well.

Chris Granger / The Times-PicayuneDoug Brown, the chief mechanic of the Deepwater Horizon, points out on a drawing where one of the engine rooms was located on the platform as Jason Matthews of MMS, who is part of the Deepwater Horizon Joint Investigation team, watches from behind during testimony at the Radisson Hotel in Kenner Wednesday."I recall a skirmish between the company man, the OIM (offshore installation manager), the tool-pusher and the driller," said Doug Brown, one of 115 rig workers who survived the April 20 disaster. "The driller was outlining what would be taking place, whereupon the company man stood up and said, 'No, we'll be having some changes to that.' It had to do with displacing the riser for later on. The OIM, tool-pusher and driller disagreed with that, but the company man said, 'Well, this is how it's gonna be,' and the tool-pusher, driller and OIM reluctantly agreed."

Brown said the top Transocean man on the rig, the Offshore Installation Manager Jimmy Harrell, spoke in a low grumbling voice as they left the 11 a.m. meeting with BP.

Brown recalled Harrell saying, "Well, I guess that's what we have those pinchers for."

Brown said he assumed Harrell was talking about the shear rams on the blowout preventer, the devices that are supposed to slice through a drill pipe in a last-ditch effort to close off the well in case of an emergency. The implication was that the Transocean employees expected they might have to take emergency action because of BP's push to remove the drilling mud.

But Ned Kohnke, a lawyer for Transocean, cross-examined Brown and questioned who else referred to shear rams as "pinchers," and Brown said he couldn't recall. Brown's lawyer said he'd suffered a head injury in the accident and it affected his memory.

I guess I'd feel I understood this better if all the other people at this meeting had testified what they saw and heard.

No worries gettin' this rusty bucket of bolts off,
we got backup from The HURT® (Hardtimes Ultimate Removal Tool).

Yeah I know, everybody's a comedian.

Didn't they have that same ROV last nite doing a Bio-survey. I'm sure the saw really reassured any critter it may have come across...

Meanwhile, back at the well...

OK, what's the white "Hammock" lifting rig?

Crab fouton.

Its must be a hellova crab, or they need to lower it some more...

It's all the Corexit has been eating.


Me, I prefer crab Rangoon.

Actually, me too, with plenty of Orange Sauce (or as I call it, Chinese Ketchup).

Nummy num num!

And while we're waiting, here's my favorite picture from the archive:

Its a better Operators Manual than comes with most things these days...

Yep. My Mother-in-law had a hip replaced last year. Just before they wheeled her into surgery the surgeon came in with a sharpie in her hand and asked us to verify which hip needed to be replaced. After we all agreed, she drew a big X on it.

That seemed like an abundance of caution, but not an overabundance.

That comes from when they do things like cuttingoff the wrong leg :( Always write on the good one too!


Edit: Thinking about it ESPECIALLY the good one.

That looks eerily similar to the (in)famous (white) Black Mailbox near Area 51 in Nevada.

Coincidence? I don't think so......

The thing hanging underneath is called a 'mud mat', stops tool baskets and other stuff from sinking into the muck. The yellow frame is just a holder to lower it into position without getting all tangled and twisted.

And at a meeting this morning between our science team and the BP engineers it was decided to recommend to the principals, the cabinet secretaries we go ahead with the removal of the blowout preventer and the replacement of the blowout preventer with the one that's on Development Driller 2.

This is due to the one whose apparent fragility of the pipe that keeps breaking and falling off to the side and also the unknown condition of the BOP below that and I can talk about that in a little bit.


The highlighted statement is a lie. It is a lie about evidence in a federal investigation. There has been no breaking pipe.

Whether it is a lie told told to Allen by BP or Transocean and he is repeating it or he made it up, I don't know.

Everything they are doing now is based in part on a lie.

And what they are doing now has risen the risk in the operation.

I guess they all have their fingers crossed.


And your basis for saying it's a lie is.....?

I and others have watched the whole fishing expedition.

No pipe they are fishing for has broken.

It's pretty clear that you believe that no pipe has broken, and, in fact you may be right, but to jump from there to branding someone a liar is a pretty big step.

There are all kinds of less derogatory words that can be used to describe a statement as at variance with what is actually true, including misspoke, misunderstood, misinterpreted, was less than careful in describing, etc.

The difference between them is the issue of intent. And that is the difference between a mere observation about, or a characterization of, what is said, and a libelous statement.

It's really easy to attribute bad motives to people when they aren't present and able to defend themselves, but those attributions reflect more about who you are than they do about who they are.

There is a word that applies to those who are willing to put forth opinions about the character of others when they believe that there will be no adverse consequences if they're wrong.

There's also a word that applies to those who are willing to withhold judgment about the motivations of others until the facts have been established beyond a reasonable doubt.

The word is fair.

It's your choice.

I think I have been fair to Allen. Maybe you need to think about the power this guy wields over the Gulf waters and air, the lives that have been wrecked and businesses destroyed. He has chosen to accept this power and to be responsible in this operation.

To make such a statement to the American people by a person with that much power and responsibility is unforgivable.

The decision and statement was made , parts are being removed from the capping stack as I write this and other pieces are being sawed off.

My apologies, but I believe it's time for a rant.

You may want to just ignore this, but I want to say it.

Does anyone sincerely believe that the Admiral would have the hutzpah to move in any direction but that which has been judged to be the best one, with so many people involved in the decision, and so many eyes on what he's doing?

I often get the impression that some people have a vision of Dr. Chu, Admiral Allen, and President Obama, and others, each ignoring the advice and other input of BP and other oil industry engineers, and other experts, and the scientific team of mixed disciplines, that they have so carefully assembled and organized, instead going off on some tangent that they dreamed up in a meth induced haze, then somehow (perhaps because they're so clueless and incompetent?) persuading all these people they haven't listened to, that the course they've outlined is the best one and everyone should just go along with it and forget their opinions and advice.

I haven't worked at that level of decision making but I guarantee that if that or anything remotely resembling that were going on, people would be screaming bloody murder and walking out in droves, leaving those three guys to do everything by their lonesome.

We are all human. We all make mistakes and misjudgments, and we often hurt other people and even feel justified in hurting other people, but none of go out and deliberately hurt other people or ourselves just for the sake of hurting them or having fun.

We all try to do what we believe is right at the moment we make the decisions. The difference between healthy decisions and unhealthy decisions almost always depends on whether we're listening to reason, and challenging our perspective when appropriate (especially when the stakes are high), so as to entertain the possibility that we might be wrong, or whether we're being driven by a personal history that we don't really understand, because we haven't been willing to look at it for fear we won't like what we see, and therefore our actions are more a response to our fears rather than the reality we confront.

I'm not going to be supportive of mistakes and/or bad decisions, and I have no problem with identifying them as problematic, but I work really hard to try to understand the person behind the decision and speak to what's driving them rather than simply labeling their behavior.

It helps no one, especially with minimal basis, to distort actions, attribute malign or illogical motivations, or impugn the integrity and humanity of others. When you have a better alternative, state your case as best you can, inviting others to share your wisdom and vision.

The world is fraught with opportunities. We have a choice. We can do the best we can to build a better future, or waste a lot of time and energy tearing people apart, undermining those who are trying to make things better, and otherwise act as an anchor to any attempt to achieve a better future.

When we speak solely out of anger, suspicion, distrust, doubt, anxiety and fear, we are not helping. Anyone can shout insults and criticism when everything is falling apart around us. The people who provide strength and fortitude, vision and imagination are the ones who help us move forward, and they should be supported in any way we can.

End of sermon for today.

To make such a statement to the American people by a person with that much power and responsibility is unforgivable.

I know a bit about career military officers. Yes, after a while it is a job, but to most there is still the duty-honor-country ethos that they live by. A big part of that is truthfulness. It is not trivial to go from field grade officer to general or flag grade officer. Only about 1% of officers ever make it to the first star. I’m not saying that Adm. Allen can’t lie, or that you can’t call him a liar. What I am saying is that it might be good to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Everything they are doing now is based in part on a lie.

This seems a like way too strong a reaction to a trivial misstatement. The fishing expedition failed, so now they move on to the next plan.

This is due to the one whose apparent fragility of the pipe that keeps breaking and falling off to the side...

That is not a trival misstatement. That is a made up story.

That made up story is part of the reason they are exposing this well and the gulf to another possible blow out with no shutoff protection.

I am not an expert on fishing but there seems to be numerous tools they have not tried and they have not spent that much time compared to other fishing expeditions I have read about.

I don't know that this is the case, but I could conceive of him attributing the fragility to the drill pipe with the fish attachment, not the "fish" itself. In that case "breaking off" might refer to not being able to insert the fish tool in between the fish and the casing.

That would be, in my opinion, an ambiguous way of stating it, but I believe that it's been established that Admiral Allen is more of an Admiral than an orator.

When the string parted at the joint w/ the stipped threads, could that be construed as 'breaking off'?

Then you would have to explain this.........."and falling off to the side"... and "keeps breaking"

And what would a broken drill string have to do with not being able to do a fishing job? You just fix the drill string like they did or use the other drill string like they did too. The drilling ship has two.

"Then you would have to explain this.........."and falling off to the side"... and "keeps breaking"

Spoken by someone who doesn't really have a handle on this whole Deep Water Drilling for Oil thing? Who gets told by BP what BP wants to tell him and certainly pays less attention to or understands what actually is going on down there than what you and many others here on TOD do?

Sound like the Admiral?

I give him a lot more credit in the smarts department and understanding what is going on then most people do here. You don't become an Admiral without being pretty smart and you know what your responsibilities are in situations. He understands everything they are doing and he understands if he really wanted to address the people in a coherent manner he would at least have his statements written out and reviewed before making them to the American people.

He befuddels on purpose.

He is briefing the cabinet and making recomendations.

He befuddles[sic] on purpose.

You know, he could be related to Les Miles at LSU (is that too inside).

Adm. Allen does say things at times that exasperate me, but I have to keep in mind the audience he is speaking to. We are not it. I imagine that if he had to report this stuff before only a few of the experts here on TOD, one time would be enough. He would never come back for a second round absent firm ground rules such as reading a prepared statement only and taking no questions afterward.

As some have suggested already I propose that his falling off and breaking comments were related to the fishing assembly. There is an element of truth there. I am no fishing expert, but it appears they made up a non-standard fishing assembly with the basket grapple directly behind the guide pipe. There were at least two wash over pipes behind that. I didn’t see it, but there must have been a transition sub to connect the top wash over pipe to the DP. That tells me that they never intended to pull very much because, as we have already seen, the joints on the wash over pipe are not very strong. There could be a scenario where they stuck the fish assembly in the BOP and managed to exert too much bending moment on the wash over pipe causing a joint to fail. Then they would have to fish out the fishing tool. Allen may have gotten his tenses mixed up. He may have tried to explain what may happen if they continued with an event by using a tense that implied that the event had happened already. I’m just guessing and I’m not making excuses for him.

Did anyone happen to record one of those first fish attempts on the crimped pipe, when they spun the tool and the pipe fell out and dropped down into the BOP (or LMRP, or flexjoint, wherever it went) to show QuantumUS what actually happened?

I don't know who's lying, but somebody, somewhere, is at least very wrong. BK Lim addresses 'TOD knuckleheads' in this blog.........


Ol' BK does like his invective, doesn't he. Serving it up with a trowel here.

BK Lim no longer has any credibility at all with me.

Ol' BK has spent so long on the grassy knoll (yes that one, but the locals didn't spot him because a few years ago it was shipped to Area 51 in a black helicopter and replaced by a plastic look-alike). Naturally the secret scientists studying the aliens wouldn't let him in, but the lizards teleported him there, after taking him on an underwater tour of the second well head.

On 17 Mar 2010, just a few days after the out of control well situation that nearly blew DWH, Tony Hayward led the pack by disposing off 223,228 shares (1/3 of his total holdings) just a month before the fateful DWH disaster on 20 April. Together with three other BP directors, a total of unprecedented 531,461 BP shares were disposed off in the period 17 – 30 March 2010. What triggered off the massive BP shares sell off which did not include shares disposed by other BP top executives and Goldman Sachs? See BP massive shares selloff. Did Tony Hayward know something ahead of others as he did on 28 Oct 2009 on the problems Well A had?

Well, I did a little checking into the shares TH sold today and have the screen captures, he did sell ~223,000 shares in a cashless exercise of options.......guess he failed to note he also exercised (bought) 275,000 shares that day. I wonder if he even bothered to look or even ask about the options, many have a finite period in which they have to be exercised and actually on this day he ended up with more shares after he exercised them and sold the 223,000 shares, and still holds over 622,000 of the shares and these aren't the ADR's this is the stock. Sloppy journalism IMO.




Thanks for that information. The internet is sadly full of people who only want to see one side. Nice to have more of the facts.
Tony Hayward clearly has a lot of responsibility in all of this without anyone needing to make stuff up.

So, to be absolutely clear here. I'm looking for conformation that this is the right reading.

Hayward had options to buy 275,000 BP shares. We assume at a price less than the current market value (which, after all, is why you want options in the first place.) In order to finance that purchase he sold 223,288 shares, at market value. So in a cashless deal he made a tidy gain of 51712 shares. A nice little gain of about £300,000 at the time (assuming about £6.50 a share). One would guess that he was not the only BP executive with options coming due at that date, and thus the other BP people making trades were doing the same thing. Goldman Sachs probably held options on behalf of other investors and may have been doing the same deal.

You have the correct reading as I see it. His pay deal will have share options as bonus payments. I had the same in my last job. A CEO increasing his share holding is a sign of confidence in the company he is running. Selling an option for net cash would be frowned upon if you were aspiring to higher office in the company. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exercise_(options)

Well invective all he has left. There is little in the way of credibility.

OT: From the previous open thread

... the Los Tres video featuring Dios and El Hombre--no idea what it was about... -- Swift Loris

Me neither. The title of the song, "Hagalo Usted Mismo," means "Do It Yourself," but I can't find an english version of the lyrics (maybe someone at TOD could translate).

Here's another song (rockabilly!) from the same album that produced "Do It Yourself" and "No Es Cierto". Notice the evil televisions again.

Also, an interesting article on Chilean music post-Pinochet that mentions Los Tres, Inti-Illimani, and Violeta Parra (author of "Gracias a la Vida," the poem that Mercedes Sosa sang in one of the videos linked by Oilfield Brat).

One day
In a village
God appeared

He walked alone and
Very tan
By the sun

I was
With my horse
Tired and dirty
Started by
a woman

"Listen Lord
I have a Woman
I do not want to see
That damned
That kills a Train "

And he said:
Do it yourself
and you'll see
With both tears
You'll laugh

Life is too short
And we must kill
A little-death
& Resuscitate

I left
With two knives
A crush
And finished my bad

I arrived
And there was no-one
He was gone
With another animal

By not seeing her cry
His love was
Good and Faithful
What I can do Lord
I swallow
the Earth
I take the pain

And he said:
Do it yourself
and you'll see
With both tears
You'll laugh

To make Miracles
I have to pay
Only is free
Dying and Love

Do it yourself
and you'll see
To moake Miracles
I have to pay
Only is free
Dying and Love
Only is free
Dying and Love


Thanks, NAOM. Appreciate the effort, but I think I understood it better in Spanish!

Yeah, much more sense in Spanish, probably sings better too.


Makes no sense after a Google Translation, at any rate.

Got a real one?

I used Google to do the bulk work then read and revised. To make more sense I would have to turn a lot of things around and change/switch lines. I tried to stay close to what was written rather than changing the song. Song lyrics are more liberal with their sentence structure anyway ;)

One day,in a dusty village, God appeared.

He was on vacation, walking alone and very tanned by the sun.

I was with my horse, tired and dry, than was started with a woman. (No, I cannot make more sense, some things are sayings)

Listen Lord I have a woman I do not want to see a lightning strike that kills a Train.

And he said: "Do it yourself and you'll see that with both crying, you'll laugh"

Life is too short and we must kill. A little-death & resuscitate

I left with two knives. A crush and finished my bad/sick.

I arrived and there was no-one. He was gone with another animal

By not seeing her cry His love was good and faithful. What I can do Lord? I swallow the Earth,I take the pain

And he said: "Do it yourself and you'll see that with both crying, you'll laugh"

To make Miracles I have to pay. Only dying and love is free.

And he said: "Do it yourself and you'll see that with both crying, you'll laugh"
To make Miracles I have to pay. Only dying and love is free.
Only dying and love is free.

Any help?


(anyone who can improve my poor translations are welcome)

NAOM, with only a little poetic license, and a lot of Googleando:

Hágalo Usted Mismo
por Los Tres

One day in a dusty town
God appeared 

Walking alone on a holiday

Very burnt by the sun

I was passing with my horse

Tired and dirty
Jilted by a woman

Listen to me, Sir
I have a woman

I don't want to see now

To hell with her

May a train kill her

He said to me

Do it yourself, and soon you'll see
With enough crying, you will laugh

Life is very short, and a little death

You must die, then come back to life

I went with two knives

To tear her up and end my hurt
I arrived and noone was there
She had left on another horse

He didn't see her cry

Her love was good and true

What can I do Sir

May the earth swallow me

May sadness carry me away

He said to me

Do it yourself, and soon you'll see

With enough crying, you will laugh

To make miracles you must pay

Only death and love are free

Wow, gotta think about that one. Thanks, Oilfield (and NOAM). I want to learn Spanish.

Is the good Lord recommending both murder and suicide here?

Are there Biblical references? What do you think, KarmaDave?

We think of Latin America as very devout. Is it?


PS: Interesting that one of the members of Los Tres is the nephew of Violeta Parra. Too bad the band never gained any traction in the US.

We think of Latin America as very devout. Is it?

Devotion and questioning aren't mutually exclusive. Devotion without questioning can be pretty superficial; questioning without devotion is barren.

That's quite a song. Her "How Do You Do" has the same theme but is even more explicit: "If You wrote the script, then why the troublemakers?"

MOB, I was just listening to Violeta Parra's version of "Gracias a la vida." Even more than Sosa's (about which I had the same idea), it sounds like a lullaby. Just beautiful.

Life is very short, and a little death
You must die, then come back to life

Thanks, OB! Still blurry for me, but the depth becomes evident.

Do you happen to know if the phrase you translated "a little death" (Un poco a la muerte) has the same connotation it does in English (and French), i.e., orgasm/transcendence?

Do you happen to know if the phrase you translated "a little death" (Un poco a la muerte) has the same connotation it does in English (and French), i.e., orgasm/transcendence?

I was wondering about that too, SL. Will have to ask my Spanish-professor friend. (Not sure she's the best source on Chilean/South American usage, but she's ahead of me.)

Yeah, much more sense in Spanish, probably sings better too.

I don't, er, actually understand Spanish...!

Seems like the lyrics are just as mysterious as the video. Maybe intentionally so?

Then just line up a Tequila or Pisco or Aguadiente and sit back, close your eyes and enjoy :)


Then just line up a Tequila or Pisco or Aguadiente and sit back, close your eyes and enjoy :)

Excellent advice, for this and many other things.

A tidge early for brunch, but hey . . . it's Saturday, right?

Moso, Pisco Sours congelados por la casa, por favor!

Chin-chin, all.

Here's another song (rockabilly!) from the same album that produced "Do It Yourself" and "No Es Cierto". Notice the evil televisions again.

Love the song, thanks. I'm not much of a pop music fan, but if more of it sounded like Los Tres, I might become one. (Touch of the Beatles in the middle of the song, no? Henriquez reminds me a little bit of Lennon in appearance, even.) Those televisions sure are weird.

Thanks for the article too. What an amazing thing, to have to rebuild the whole music culture. Searched for cueca on YouTube, found this. Pretty neat. The guy has the better part of this dance, I think. Dig the spurs!

I can't find an english version of the lyrics

BTW, I thought I'd take a look at the Spanish lyrics just for the heck of it, and the page nearly crashed my machine. The page froze, everything else I had open froze. Managed to shut everything down eventually, but it took a long time. Hope it wasn't malware. My antivirus didn't speak up.

I go to that site all the time. I've never had a problem.

But there are thousands of lyric sites on the web. Here's a Chilean site:

Here's a Chilean site

Thank you! When I have a chance, I'm going to take the Spanish lyrics and OB's and NAOM's translations and watch the video again, see if I can grab a clue. (I'm assuming there's a relationship between the lyrics and the images.)

MOB, lotus, SL, NAOM,

I'm having trouble translating that thing too, it seems impressionistic so far. As for the Pin-8 (say it) era music, I'm Not A Music Expert, but the only music on the radio in Chile in early 1990 was B-side American rock from the 50's. Songs I'd never heard before nor since. The common explanation was the licensing fees were very cheap, but it begged the question, why was there no Chilean music on the air? The only other widespread music was street music, two or three folks playing down the aisle of a bus or passing thru a restaurant, and 90% of the time they played Todo Cambia which was always good for a tip, even from the rich who had finally tired of Augusto, their fat brutal thief.

Here it is sung by the author, Julio Numhauser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNPbMiCdeLU

The only other music I heard was at a rally of the Communist Party, a few weeks before Pinochet left the presidential palace (taking everything with him down to the drapes and toilets I watched being loaded into moving vans). The headliner was the late Mercedes Sosa; Inti Illimani also played, to a crowd of 50,000 squeezed into a football stadium. As we left, passing blocks of troops in riot gear and trucks with water cannons, the friend who had invited me commented that change was already beginning because this was the first time they had not attacked an opposition rally, which was really nice because riding buses across Santiago after being sprayed with raw sewage was pretty embarrassing.

sprayed with raw sewage


Why spend millions on an Active Denial System when you've got a poo hose?

Before I enjoy all these new links, just want to say how much I'd love to have seen that rally too, ob. Thanks to you for the description, and again to all for the music!

as far as I know drilling mud uses a base fluid of either water(WBM) or oil(OBM) or a synthetic compound(SBM). OBM and SBM can not be discharged overboard per EPA regs. 2001. I remember reading that the crew wanted (or did) discharge mud. This might indicate they were using WBM. Could the water component of the mud be the cause of the hydrates?

If that drill string is really stuck in the production casing, by either cement or hydrates (or both?), and grabbed by the partially functioning rams in the DWH BOP, I'd be interested in hearing some opinions on how the BOP can be disconnected and replaced with a new one.

Slow Motion Vid of Q4000 riser breaking off

Looks like those joints don't like being bent however strong they are in tension.

Meet the new BOP - being readied for unlatching from RW2 and transport to Macondo

Sure looks pristine compared to the one we've been looking at for so many days.

and now proving that BOPs really can fly through the sea


Mods., could you please stop putting unrelated items such as the Macondo well and Chilean miners in the same comment list? This board is way beyond awkward as it is and the apples and oranges discussion does not help.

I vote for keeping them together.

Why, David? On one line I'm reading the technical intricasies of the Macondo well and the next is about the music preferences of stranded miners. It's not that I don't care about them but I would feel the same way if I was reading about their tragedy and the next post talked about the ins and outs of a negative test.
Maybe I am not well versed in the fine points of this board but I'm sure I'm not the only one. It did not come with any instructions. So as I scroll thru the Macondo well I am suddenly interrupted with the miner tragedy. If I start to follow that I will be interrupted with the Macondo well.

On one line I'm reading the technical intricasies of the Macondo well and the next is about the music preferences of stranded miners.

I guess you're referring to my comment above. It's marked OT in bold. No other comments about Chilean music occur anywhere else on this page outside that subthread. All you need do is click the little [-] next to my name and voila, you won't have to be interrupted by that comment any more.

Why should I have to do that, and why should I have to learn such details? I am here to learn and discuss energy issues, foremost the Macondo well and the Gulf coast environmental damage. I did not come to play with the complicated details of the world's most complicated discussion forum. I can tell from the posts of others that the format is confusing, why add to it?

Why should I have to do that, and why should I have to learn such details?...

Midget, maybe you should lighten up a bit. The Chile miner thing is interesting to many people, even if it is a bit off topic. Many of the regulars here have been way more than patient answering questions for the non technical folks. Rockman, for example has the patience of Job, in my opinion. He has patiently answered the same questions time after time after time after time....for folks who are too lazy to search past threads. If the regulars stray off topic now and again on days when not a lot is going on, into unrelated but still interesting (to many of us at least) topics, that ain't no big deal, IMHO. As Onan pointed out, it is easy enough to scroll on by stuff that you personally don't find interesting.

In other words, mellow out, dude.

Edit: fixed the blockquote tag. Fat fingers, means I should probably get my beauty rest!

You're starting to sound like Babs here, td.

I don't know why you should have to use your scroll finger, except that you'll have to, because I for one am not going to tailor my comments to your princess-and-the-pea-like preferences.

Why should I have to do that, and why should I have to learn such details?

Gosh, you don't have to. You could set up your own board and format it in whatever way you like. Easy as pie!

I vote for keeping them together.

Me too!

Ok, here is one of those occasional dumb questions from a non oil person.

As I understand it the problem that exists with bottom kill using RW1 is that now the well has been cemented from the top, the whole system is closed and there is nowhere for mud and cement from RW1 to displace any entrapped oil and allow the cement to flow in.

So why do they not keep going on with RW2 as well as RW1, and enter the hole at two different points so that they have somewhere to pump in and somewhere to displace to?

Clearly that is no longer an option if the borrow RW2's BOP?

Steve that seems to be a damn good question. If DD2 had gone toward the top of the well then it could have done the top kill or penetrated the casing to allow for a good bottom kill.
Sure looks like a lack of planning now, doesn't it?

BP appear to have updated this "as fitted" well schematic. They have referenced the heights of the rams, probably to aid the fishing operation. Notice where the choke and kill lines penetrate the BOP rams. The "capping stack", now attached at the "riser adaptor" level, is not on this schematic. The "test ram" at the bottom of the BOP is designed to seal against pressure from above. I am guessing that this is the one used to seal the well for the negative test. The neg' test specified the well would be filled with base oil (7,2 ppg) from well bottom up to the test ram level. Sea water is denser at 8.6 ppg.

Somewhere, I read they had pumped hot water or other fluid to try and shift the hydrates. Perhaps the Chemists on board can tell us if they witnessed this being successful. If so, would it help if they did it again through the bottom choke and kill valves. Or, is there risk that thermal shock could move something they don't want to move at this point?

I am really interested in whether hydrates did accumulate during the flowing condition. It seems that they did on the shear ram in the capping stack, and we know they did in the caissson and top hat.

My interest is in freezing a flowing well. John Wright has a useful summary of surface intervention methods http://www.jwco.com/technical-litterature/p10.htm

Freezing is used to place an ice plug within shut-in wells (within pipe, well heads or annulus) to allow removal, repair or replacement of wellhead equipment. Freezing has not been used to control a blowing well. Some inventors attempted to market devices using liquid nitrogen to freeze-off blowing wells in Kuwait, but simpler control methods were available. Difficulties were seen in maintaining a plug of frozen oil and brine while making extensive surface repairs to blown-up wellhead equipment.

The method usually uses dry ice to freeze water or fresh water-bentonite slurries. Methanol can be used with dry ice to get a lower temperature. As a 75% methanol/water mixture has a freeze temperature of some -200 deg. F, methanol water mixtures could be potentially cooled by liquid nitrogen and the cold methanol/water mixture circulated around the area to be frozen. This would allow control of the applied temperature to the steel-problems with low-fracture toughness in super cooled steels have been seen in nitrogen pumping service when pump rates exceeded heater capabilities and liquid nitrogen was pumped into wells.

My idea would be to use atomizers on two fluid streams, one water and the other LNG. Mixing the very cold LNG with the oil would increase the viscosity of the oil and slow the flow all by itself. If the oil were heavy enough, you might freeze it without needing assistance from hydrate formation. But since hydrate formation, like fire, needs three things cold temperatures, methane and water (fire needs fuel, oxidizer and an ignition source) we could introduce those that are missing.

On new BOPs you could use low carbon steel suitable for the extremely low temperatures (possibly with a metallic-ceramic coating for corrosion resistance http://www.lewinc.org/products/index.htm ) then put in two circular atomizing rings, one for water and the other for LNG. Hot stab into the BOP with two small lines and start pumping and watch for the flow to decrease. I know people think flowing water won't freeze, but I've seen both rivers and the Great Lakes covered in ice. So I'm much more optimistic than John Wright apparently is.

Which reminds me Mr. Wright, since ExDrillingMgr didn't answer my question, do you know who was the author of the "raising the plume" technique used to simplify the extinguishing of the oil fires of Kuwait? Seems to me that was a critical innovation in the major ecological diasater. And you were definitely there, so you ought to know!

That's an interesting idea. I was, myself, looking at downhole options, there's some interesting equipment already available. I'm still an infant when it comes to physics, so I may not understand your idea, but it sounds similar to a CO2 bottle "bomb".

" Rapid phase transition or RPT is a phenomenon realized in liquefied natural gas (LNG) incidents in which LNG vaporizes violently when being in contact with water causing what's known as a physical explosion or cold explosion. During such explosions there is no combustion but rather a huge amount of energy is transferred in the form of heat from water to the LNG at a temperature difference of about 175 degree Celsius. "


" The density of methane is much lower than other liquid fuels, requiring extremely high volume flow rates and large diameter injectors."

Now that...would be Mr.Simmons BOP rocket right there.

Has anyone ever pumped cement through a BOP and not through pipe to the bottom of the hole? I know that using a BOP in this way is not standard practice. Are these even hydrates that are causing all the problems? If it doesn't melt with all the glycol, maybe thats because it is cement? They have HD video so if they say it is hydrate that we are seeing then it probably is, but that doesn't mean that cement is not fouling the gear (where we can't see it) rather then hydrates. If I pump cement from the bottom up, then I can guess how high it would rise.If I pump cement from the top down, there is no way to really know to what level it rose to ,is there? Air bubbles and cavities such are a big issue when pouring concrete for construction on land. I know nothing about cement and oil wells, but I do know that if I can't see it, or touch it,or measure it with sensors, then I can't say where it is.