BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Stopping the Fish - and Open Thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6899.

The attempts to recover pipe from within the blowout preventer (BOP) on the Deepwater well have now halted, without being able to recover any of the pipe. Instead attention is now being given to the removal of the BOP itself and its replacement with the BOP from the second relief well. In his remarks on Friday Admiral Allen gave, as his explanation:

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.

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.

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.

This did not agree with what I saw occurring during the time that I watched both the recovery attempts over the last two nights, and from the videos that others posted on Youtube, and which I referred to in those posts. However, not being a part of the team running this operation there may have been some things happening that I and others are not aware of.

I still remain concerned about the condition of the lower section of the BOP and the presence of either hydrates or cement, both in the area of the BOP rams, and around the drill pipe as it extends down into the well. To explain the concern in perhaps a little more detail, let me first talk a little about the casing hanger that the Admiral referred to as one of the limiting well conditions today.

The casing hanger is the device at the top of the well that holds the production casing in place. In the extended transcript of his press conference on Friday, he referred to the company that made the hanger (Dril-Quip) and gave a link to the drawing of the hanger, this one, which I have labeled, because I am going to try and explain, using this and other diagrams, what the Admiral meant with some of his remarks, as I interpret them, and some of the concerns I continue to have.

Labelled section showing the parts of the casing hanger (note that there is an animation at the source site)

In essence, at the top of the production casing, the long continuous tube that was placed from the sea bed down to the bottom of the well, there is a hanger that holds the top of the casing against the surrounding liner and well head assembly. To show that in more detail I am going to use a different source, to highlight the hanger section.)

Casing hanger.

The casing comes up through the center and connects to the top element. The weight of the casing now pulls the upper section down, seating the conic surface, and also spreading the elastomeric packer (the black layer) which pushes out against the sides of the surrounding wellhead wall, providing the seal. This seal is between the liners around the top of the well, and the production casing, it is, in other words, the seal at the top of the annulus between the production casing and the wall of the well.

I have put this in to explain what the Admiral meant when he was talking about trying to lift the BOP off the well head, which means unlatching it from the top of the well head assembly. The BOP latches around the top of the assembly shown in the top figure.

To remove the assembly, the Admiral has approved the following process:

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 (the drill pipe) 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.

He later explains why there is this limit of 80,000 lb in the “gentle pull.”

What they’re concerned about is somehow potentially dislodging the hanger and the casing hanger that is at the top of the well. That is also the – as you know that is a device that contains the seal between the annulus and the well and the blow out preventer. So the threshold for the pull has more to do with the potential to unseat the casing hanger and the seals that seal off in the annulus.

So that if you go back to the second illustration, the seal is maintained by the weight of the production casing, pulling the head of the hanger down so that the elastomeric seal spreads. If the upward lift on the BOP is transferred through the drill pipe to the top of the casing, they are concerned that if the DP is held within the casing hanger, that pulling it too hard may take the weight of the seal, so that it contracts back from the wall, and opens up the annulus.

Now to explain why that might happen, and why there might be all sorts of other concerns, let me move away from the hanger itself, and go to a modified frame from the Dril-Quip video. (For those looking at the video I have changed the picture to show the center as though it were the drill pipe).

To make life easier for me I am just showing the lower end of the BOP, below the rams, the central drill pipe and the upper end of the well head (without the hanger detailed).

Now in a normal situation the drill pipe would be held by the three rams at the bottom end of the BOP, and slightly above the picture. In an ideal world there would be nothing else in the gap around the drill pipe (i.e. the annulus).

But we know that above the rams, that there is either hydrate or cement around the DP.

View from the fishing camera showing the top of the drill pipe above the BOP rams, surrounded by what may be either a hydrate or cement fill.

And the pipes are held and seem unable to be moved.

What we know is, the pipes that we can see are in pieces, sitting inside the lower marine riser package and we are having trouble lifting them out with the fishing devices. We have no further information and cannot tell the condition of the pipe below the blowout preventer.

If the material holding the pipes extends down into the rams of the BOP and below it could fill the upper annulus down through the casing hanger. Thus pulling on the BOP would exert a pull, through the DP and this fill, on the hanger and could unseat it.

Should the BOP not move, the plan is to open the rams on the BOP, so that it no longer holds the pipe. But if the rams are cemented in place by the fill, this may be very difficult to do, since trying to flush out that fill on Thursday evening didn’t work. And even if it did work, the fill may occupy the annulus between the BOP and the DP below the rams and above the latch, so that the DP is still held by the cement. (At which point if the chemicals don’t release it they might try the jetting again, since that works both on cement and hydrate.) It is only by freeing the BOP from the drill pipe, and hoping that the pipe remains held by the underlying fill within the hanger, that the BOP can be released, removed and replaced.

The problem is that if, when the rams are opened, the cement/hydrate holding it is not strong enough, then the pipe may fall to the bottom of the well, carrying with it the evidence on what actually happened to it within the BOP. (Opening the rams will also drop out the other two pieces of pipe currently above the rams). Tough decisions.

Current status from the IRC chat #theoildrum

As visible on Marine Traffic, the Admiral has ordered several oil spill response ships from the Marine Spill Response Corp. (MSRC) next to the well site. Virginia Responder, Delaware Responder, Gulf Coast Responder, Southern Responder, Florida Responder and Louisiana Responder are on stand by a few miles west of the Macondo well (or they may be cleaning up the big mess from that mystic second well ...).

BP has made two new video feeds available for the ROVs of the Development Driller II which will bring the new BOP to the Macondo Well:
The DDII-1 feed is:
The DDII-2 feed is:

The BP video page as well as the much less resource intensive schmorp.de page have been updated with those feeds.

DDII disconnected its BOP from the second relief well and cleaned its well head with an oversized vacuum cleaner. There are two ROV videos available documenting this:
by TOB: Disconnecting DDII BOP
by RockyP: Cleaning the RW2 well head

After cleaning it the well head of the RWII was capped.

The kill- and choke "chimneys" were removed from the capping stack.

The Q-4000 has disconnected its riser from the flex line that connected it to the choke line of the old BOP and is now retrieving the riser.

BOA Sub C and its ROVs removed the gooseneck with the flexible line from the kill port of the old BOP. The line was not pulled to surface but was laid to (temporary) rest on a mattress at the seafloor.

The gooseneck with the flexline to the choke port of the old BOP is in the process of being removed and being laid to rest.

In the older thread someone asked for video of the first fishing attempt to get the crimped pipe out of the transition spool. Here it is (video speed is 4x). That fish escaped and fell down deeper into the BOP to end in the position seen in HO's post above.

Thank you very sincerely for your continuing reports and analysis, B.

I am not sure about what happened to the fish in the video that is linked at the end of the post. Did I see one of the loose pieces of pipe drop further into the BOP, or did the fish tool just loose its grip and pull back? And which piece of pipe was it, was it one of the loose pieces or the one connected to the 3000' string? A link to a picture showing the way it looked during the first attempt would be helpful, I'm sorry I don't have a one now.

I'de guess the main string has a clean cut from the diamond saw. And a loose piece of pipe, rolling around lubricated by the flowing oil, is what stopped the saw? Where is the top of the main string in the picture at the start of HO’s article? They obviously didn't drop the drill string did they? Wasn’t there three pieces of pipe in the LMRP, two mostly vertical pieces, one crimped the other cleanly cut; and a third short piece lying across the opening?

The picture makes it look like the top of the squished pipe is now almost flush with the obstruction, is that true or just a trick of the perspective?

The top fish, i.e. the most near to the surface on Aug 26, had a crimped top. Likely cut loose when that big hydraulic craw cut the DWH riser. In the video above it is at 5015-5017 feet below surface (normalized). When the fishing tool pushed down on it, that fish fell down (maybe broke through some resisting surface?). It was next seen at 5026 feet stuck in the middle of some horizontal surface.

The second fish, as shown in my comment in yesterday's open thread, had a very clean cut round head and was at a depth of 5019-5021 feet. But it was nudged to the wall of the bore and would not move at all. Likely cut by the diamond saw, fell down and after that (because it is now deeper) was hindered by something to move at all.

I never saw a third fish.

From those facts on might start several guesses.

Hydrates? When was there ever methane, seawater and low temperature (all needed to form hydrates) within the BOP at the same time? How did that happen?

Cement? How did cement, pumped through the choke line well below the flex joint which now shows the quite hard horizontal plane, come up through the bop against the therein closed off mass of hydrocarbons in the upper bop/capping stack?

I for one have no good idea on how to answers these questions.

Is there a third possible "stuff", besides hydrates and cement, creating that quite visible surface in the flex joint in the pic in HO's post?

No one seems to have an answer for that.

Trip Hannah, from #theoildrum chat, asked a question I had suggested to ask to Thad Allen one the issue.

Thadmiral's response:
While responding to Trip Hannah's question "we couldn’t really make out whether that was hydrate build up that it was sitting on or if that was cement. I was wondering if you had – excuse me if you had any ideas about what that material is and if that might present problems for you in opening up the rams of the Legacy BOP? Admiral Allen replied, "I don’t know if I can characterize it right now and I don’t know what was raised on the call that I was on this morning but I will go back and check and if there’s any issue related to that we will post it with the JIC." To clarify further, Captain Patrick Little expanded on the answer on behalf of Admiral Allen noting; "Hydrate formation is always a consideration at this depth and is addressed in the optimal procedures. The prep period includes flushing inside the BOP and at the connection points. Additionally, they will pause at points on the way to the surface to let any hydrates that build up thaw out."

That "clarifying" is of course no scientific answer at all. It is pure obfuscation: "Look at the future lifting process!!" No. I want to know why what I see in the BOP now is as it is and I want to know what led to that. Thadmiral does not seem to know. Any ideas?

The oil and gas were getting up through the BOP so, presumably, it is possible for the cement to do so. Did they flush the whole BOP after they had cemented and before it had time to set?


I don't remember. Did they pump the cement down the kill line on the original BOP or the capping stack? The BOP was static and filled with liquid HC when they pumped cement. I don't see how any cement could have flowed up unless there was a leak in the capping stack. The ROVs would have picked up an external leak. Is it possible they bled off some pressure above the cement injection point while pumping and allowed cement to flow up displacing the HC in place? We would not have seen that. If they used that method to flush the BOP it is possible that they did not flush long enough.

Did they pump the cement down the kill line on the original BOP or the capping stack?

They pumped the cement via the original BOP, using the same path as the mud and the much earlier failed top kill/junk shot effort.

I suspect the pipe with the clean cut that is pressed to the side of the well is the main drill pipe. It was pressed there when the riser fell. And it probably is pressed against the side of the casing further down too, where no doubt some cement stuck. So when the pull the BOP, they will pull the casing too and could open its hanger seal - and put tension on their new cement plug at the bottom to. Blow the well with no way to shut it down again.

But they will not be pulling nearly hard enough to lift the whole production casing! And I read somewhere below that the they concluded that none of the pipes in the LMRP are the min drill pipe anyway, so I must be wrong about that too.

They did no doubt got concrete in that joint above the hanger, where they decided to install the locking mechanism later? In that report about what led up to the blowout, didn't they get permission to set the top plug deeper than normal in part so that they wouldn't get concrete in that joint?

Isn't it undeniable that the second they pull the capping stack or un-clamp the BOP (by the way how does THAT work), they will not be able to shut in the well if it blows again? Unless there is heavy enough fluid above the plug and the hanger seal holds, in which case there would be two barriers? It looks like there could be another storm coming. I think they should forget about pulling it for now and maybe work on jetting the concrete in the LMRP and figuring out how to grab the pipe that's pressed to the side. Why are they trying to rush this now?

And again, where is the pipe in the picture of the dropped fish, off screen to the right? I presume they would notice if they pushed it and it dropped into the well. If it did, it looks like the plug held!

Very interesting. It conintues to amaze me how much is involved and how much I took for granted the gas I put in my vehicles. Thanks oil people!

I have a question reagrding infinite series or simply the meaning of infinity. I suppose there are an infinite number of possibilities regarding well decisions? (tried to fit it in thread)

Ok, regarding what infinite means:

If the infinite is an endless amount of something and if all the ODD whole numbers (1,3,5,7,9) are without end, is that infinite?

Then all the EVEN whole numbers are likewise infinite, true?

Then it would seem all the whole numbers (odd & even) are infinite.

How can odd or even numbers alone be infinite if the combined odd and even numbers would seem to be twice as many?

boundless thanks :)

That's an interesting tangent for a Saturday :)


Hey, thanks. ... I typically got the grades I needed in required math class and got out while I could. :)

I guess I'd have to think about the numbers thing as different sets of infinite numbers where infinite odd numbers + infinite even numbers exist infinitely apart from each other yet when combined are a greater infinite amount...

1. Perspective - I think I read Einstein, or maybe it was just me, who thought of an example where a person in a silent, transparent train on a completely dark night bounced a very bright ball. As he travelled across the flat desert the ball (to him) just seemed to bounce straight up and down.

To the person outside the train (who couldn't see a train or hear it) saw a white streak drawing a series of rising and falling curves as the light travelled across the desert.

Each person later dogmatically argued all they saw was either a light bouncing straight up and down or a connected series of rising and falling curves of light.

The third person (God?) who was above both of them saw that both were true.

2. I'm not so dogmatic in my set of beliefs

3. If God is infinitely boundless is it possible there are a infinite number of ways to worship Him or He just a Holy singularity with just one set of "numbers" with no other options?


When I was a kid, I thought about the size of the universe and infinity, " How far does it go..in either direction ? " There is no conceivable point of termination. However, any structure itself is measurable, and as a result, finite and infinite at the same time in the sense that you can total the circumference of a circle easily, but at the same time you can divide it infinitely. Reality sure does have some strange paradoxes, just not until we view them. Just for thought, here's a comparison of neuron structures and a deep-space gas cloud sharing the same structure.


I see that there is an underlying order to geometric structure, at any scale.

As far as Al, It's funny, I was thinking yesterday " Can you take a left turn at the speed of light ? "


Charles Bukowski -- " We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

I have made a great living simply from the power of observation, all I'm saying there.

The BOP: ...Hope they get it, still kinda curious if it's necessary to pump anything in to replace the displaced volume of the DP.

"I see that there is an underlying order to geometric structure, at any scale."

Enter: Dr. Mendelbrot?


I'd bet that lot of the US public believes in Lysenko but doesn't know it.

I've always been fascinated by natural systems and their ability to self-structure and self-organize, but also re-organize through what I call " slow chaotic dissemination ". Simply put, a system will return to it's normal state of flux after being perturbed, the time it takes to happen is in relation to the size of the system and how much it's disturbed, somewhere in there is the point of " fracture " of the system, where it cannot restructure to it's original, only to another...which brings up materials testing....which makes me think about....cement...I'm going to go bang my head on a wall.


It is not likely that the displacement of the drill pipe will need to be replaced. If the well is secure enough to remove the BOP with the pipe stuck in it there is a good chance that moving the pipe will not change anything. Hole fill procedures will be followed I'm sure, regardless.

Rachain Jetjongjit has a blog explaining many procedures



On perspective and time, just wanted to add this, if you aren't familiar already, you'll get a kick out of it :)


Can three-toed sloths and hummingbirds see each other?

" Can three-toed sloths and hummingbirds see each other ? "

" Does ice cream have bones ?"

I can make no rational statement to prove or disprove either statement.


Well... mine was a serious question. Does the sloth's brain process inputs quick enough to see a hummingbird, and identify it? Does it just see a brightly colored streak, or not even that? Does a hummingbird see a sloth as anything other than a furry, really smelly tree branch? Do hummingbirds sit still long enough to see a sloth move, and comprehend it's a critter climbing a tree? If they had culture, would the hummingbirds be dismissed as ghosts, and sloths dismissed as just simple inanimate objects, like rocks?

The worlds they live in are vastly different, are they so different that they might not be able to see the other even when it's right in front of them?

If the hummer sees the sloth,there is no doubt it'll give it a good cussin'.

If you put a two-dimensional being into a ball, it would have the feeling to live in an endless space.
In wich kind of ball may WE live with our three dimensions ?
If we had four dimensions, I think, we would laugh at each three-dimensional being !
And we wouldn´t care about it...

If a two dimensional being, climbs a hill in a three dimensional world. Does he understand why he gets out of breath?

If the hummer sees the sloth,there is no doubt it'll give it a good cussin'.

Aw, not even Bruce Thompson could cuss these guys.

How can odd or even numbers alone be infinite if the combined odd and even numbers would seem to be twice as many?

Quick, have a cup of strong black coffee and think about something else. ;-)

Edit: Typo.

think about something else

Ooo, thanks for the segue, SL. Re our discussion last thread: my pal says Spanish poets use "a/the little death" the same way we're used to in English and French (i.e., for orgasm). She thinks it's universal and reckons it has classical origins.

Gimme a few minutes and I'll get up the gumption to haul out my OED and magnifier . . .

Lotus, you are so dear. I have access to the OED online via local college: Here's an entry under "little":"... little death [cf. F. petite mort], a weakening or loss of consciousness, spec. in sleep, during an orgasm, etc.; And many bows for your posts. Slow grateful learner.

Bless you and welcome, snowcomet (dandy handle)! I got (a) lost in the pages on "death" then (b) distracted from the exploration by lunch, so many thanks for saving me the "little" tour.

We can thank the Frogs, not the Romans, for the phrase, eh? Very Abelard-et-Heloïse-y, innit? Thanks again.

Ooo, thanks for the segue, SL.


Spanish poets use "a/the little death" the same way we're used to in English and French (i.e., for orgasm).

Aha, thanks. Thing is, it's also a metaphor for spiritual transcendence,* and given that the song is about an interaction with God as well as about a failed love affair, I suspect the phrase is being used in both senses. And there's a reference to Christ in the next line--in OB's translation, "You must die and come back to life."

Did Los Tres write the lyrics, or are they from somebody else's poem?

*St. Paul says (I Cor. 15:31) (at least in English translation), "I die daily." Lots of interpretations of that phrase--"I face (physical) death daily," "I die to sin every day," etc. Obviously he doesn't mean orgasm (poor dear), but I'm partial to the notion that he's referring to his spiritual experiences of transcendence rather than physical mortality.

given that the song is about an interaction with God as well as about a failed love affair, I suspect the phrase is being used in both senses

SL, I like the way you read.

As for Paul, well, by my lights, they's certain transcendent pleasures he failed to deserve (though he did achieve the Biggie, the story goes).

As for Paul, well, by my lights, they's certain transcendent pleasures he failed to deserve (though he did achieve the Biggie, the story goes).

So he tells us.

Fascinating, infuriating character, Paul. Don't get me started!

Rather than a reference to the crucifixion, I would read it as love for one person dying and love for another rising to take its place (and to some extent heal the wounds from the previous "death").

Rather than a reference to the crucifixion, I would read it as love for one person dying and love for another rising to take its place (and to some extent heal the wounds from the previous "death").

I'd see that as a possible addition rather than a substitution. I'm very dubious that the word resucitar in a song featuring (the presumably Christian) God would not be a reference to Christ's resurrection, although there could well be multiple other levels of meaning, including the one you suggest.

Gotta look at the video again, see if that helps, but I don't have time right now...

Ok, I got some coffee. Short of women sufferring little deaths right now, I have turned my thoughts to the infinitely pious. I should play my guitar and wax poetic... since there are no bikinis around here to wax. sighs


How about a topic that everyone seems to think they know, but few really do: ZERO!

How about a topic that everyone seems to think they know, but few really do: ZERO!

Yikes. You first! Thinking about infinity hurts my brain, but maybe thinking about zero will relieve the pain. (Why do I suspect I'm very wrong about that?)

I can make it even worse.

Consider two sets. Set B is all even positive integers. Set A is all positive integers. Since Set A contains set B plus all odd positive integers, A must be larger than B.

Now draw a 1-1 correspondence between the elements of the 2 sets, such that A1 -> B2, A2 -> B4, A3 -> B6 ....

You will find that, for every element of Set A, there is a corresponding element of Set B that is twice as large as the element of Set A! So, despite the obvious contradiction, Set B is large enough to cover all of Set A and still record an even larger number the farther you go.

This diversion is brought to you by the letters A and B and the concept of Infinity.

right -- just a WAG from a non-theoretical math guy: the definition of infinite wouldn't be any number. IOW, as you offer, how much is 2X infinite? As infinite, by definition, isn't a number, then 2X infinite doesn't exist either.

An odd thread but given we haven't much esle to chat about for the moment I supoose we can beat on "INFINITE" for a while (but certainly not infinitely). Or run down our list of favorite Blue Bell ice cream flavors for the umtenth time.

If you can always add one more to any infinite series of numbers then at what point do numbers cease to exist if an infinite amount doesn't exist?

I agree 2x infinite is not possible... but OTOH, why not? Is it possible to have an infinite number of sets of infinite possibilities?

Anyway, I hate to derail a thread. I was just curious as I read about the number of decisions having to be made within the set of possible decisions that could be made in the whole set of oil well decisions within the whole set of life decisions within the whole set of all decisions all humans make ... and what led us to make these decisions.

I think I'm gonna drink some coffee now. Thanks :)

I just can't stop myself... A rhetorical question and a real answer from an infinitely different blog, posted last week:

"You can’t have an infinite number of things - where would you put them?" "Obviously, I’d put them in my infinitely spacious closet!"

I gotta run to a breakfast meeting... but isn't what "exists" outside the univers that contains the universe, or is expanding into, at least bigger ... if not infinite? Or does closet spece grow as the need requires? :)

Thanks all.... gotta run, then I'll read about Cantor and Godel.

More perspectives (including references leading to a seemingly infinite number of perspectives) on Kurt Gödel: http://www.faqs.org/periodicals/201008/2080027241.html

right - Oh yeah? So when you "add one more to any infinite series of numbers" what exactly is that number? LOL. Infinity + 1 = ? Infinity perhaps. So you know what the result is when you add any number to infinity. It's infinity. Or is it?

Part 2: What's infinity - 1 = ?

Infinity-1 - What happens when a rich old guy drives his new M30 through the wrong part of the hood.

My personal favorite is Hilberts Paradox of the Grand Hotel.

Rightsized, I'm with Rockman on the more pragmatic approach to this infinitely entertaining subject. Infinity not only isn't any number, as he said, but it isn't any thing. It's not an ultimate point at the end of everything, it's just a description of what is known about the size of some sets of numbers. Some sets are not finite in size, some strings are not finite in length. You can't get to infinity because it isn't any definite place.

On the other hand, you can get to some places by taking infinitely small steps, contrary to popular belief. Consider this equation: 1 = 0.999999... At first glance the two sides look obviously different, but they are the same. My favorite proof is that you cannot measure any difference between the two expressions, no matter how closely you look. This works for the old joke about never being able to walk from here to a wall if each step is half the length of the prior step. In practice, after a few little shuffles in the last few millimeters, neither you nor any observer will be able to tell that you have not reached the wall. If you want to get very picky about the subatomic difference between steps 54,697 and 54,698, remember that the molecules of your boot and the wall will be repelling each other in a very substantial way long before you run out of half-steps to add to the string.

[edit for clarity]

The man you need to read is Cantor. He spent a large fraction of his life wrestling with exactly these ideas. In the process he gave us our first rigorous understanding of the infinite, and the transfinite.

The simple answer to the question is that infinite does not obey the usual rules of numbers. Twice infinite is clearly still just infinite.

It gets wonderfully worse than this. There is more than one infinite. You can prove that there are larger numbers (by a construction argument) than infinite. In fact there are not just an infinitude of numbers bigger than infinite, but even more than this :-)

Our usual definition of infinite is actually a bit loose. The more accepted definition starts with the idea of cardinality. The number of members of a set. The first transfinite number is the cardinality of the set of all integers. This is called Aleph zero.

You can show that you can construct a way of arranging the natural number so that they are mapped to other sets of number. For instance you can number off the even numbers. So:

Even number, Natural number



Or the primes: (1,1),(2,2),(3,3)(5,4)(7,5)(11,6),(13,7),(17,8).....

Which, since there is no largest prime, proves that the number of primes is also infinite, or rather that the cardinality of the set of primes is Aleph zero.

You can also show how to count the number of rational numbers. The rationals (often called fractions) are just the ratio of two integers. One half is 1/2, whihc we can also write as a pair (1,2).

Imagine you take a grid, and label every point on the grid with its coordinates. So the origin is (0,0) and
next to it are the points (1,0) (1,1) (0,1), and out from them are (0,2), (1,2), (2,2), (2,1), (2,0) and so on forever. Clearly every possible rational number is represented on this infinite grid.

Now start a traversal of the grid. Start at (0,0), now move right one step to (1,0). Now move along the diagonal to (0,1). Now step up one, to (0,2) and move down the diagonal, though (1,1) to the bottom at (2,0), step one right, back up the diagonal, and so forth, weaving a line that catches every point in the grid as you run up and down the diagonals moving away from the start. Clearly every point you reach can be numbered in sequence. Thus we have shown that the total number of rational numbers is the same as the number of integers, since we have shown how to place then in a one to one correspondence. Yet we can also prove that there are an infinite number of rationals between zero and one.

Worse, we have not touched on the irrationals (numbers like Pi, and the square root of two.) Turns out there are more irrationals than rationals. Even though there are an infinite number of integers and rationals, there are more irrationals.

Cantor was a troubled man. But brilliant.

(My car number plate is ALEPH-0, it being a perfectly good number :-)

Yes, there is no way to arrange the set of irrational numbers so that you can set up a counting of them with integers. This is why the set or rationals is sometimes called a countable infinity while the set of irrationals is an uncountable infinity.

The best description of the difference between the size of the sets of rational vs. irrational numbers I have seen goes like this:

At night look up into the starry sky. The points of light you see are the rational numbers. The black in between are the irrational numbers.

It can be shown that between any two rational numbers there is an infinite number of irrational numbers. AND the size of that infinity is bigger than the size of the set of rational numbers.

WOW. Thanks! If Cantor was troubled Perhaps I should stop now? :) I'll be reading Cantor and the link provided earlier:


This raises some interesting possibilities about time, eternity and God I suppose.

I need to research it, but isn't Aleph also a Jewish term?

If God exists outside of time and space as we know it and if He is infinite (omni-characteristics like omni-present) ... this is hard for my arguably finite brain to fully comprehend. I need a larger set of brain cells.

murkily edited for clarity, I think

Aleph is a Hebrew letter. Having mined the Greek alphabet for millennia, there is no reason not to move on and start on other alphabets. It is a rather cool looking glyph, a bit like a Gothic N.

Cantor was well aware of the theological implications of his work, and indeed this is partly what drove him. And caused him so much anguish.

Brain - Tilt


Brain - Tilt

In my next life I want to be a genius mathematician. In this life I'm close to innumerate, but geez, when folks start discussing the philosophical implications of higher math, I find my tongue hanging out. I just about bite it off in frustration at not being able to follow any of the arguments, because I have an intuitive sense that this is where the real stuff is at.

I have an intuitive sense that this is where the real stuff is at

That's the BIG QUESTION. Why does math work as THE tool to build representations of the universe?

If you figure this one out and can prove your answer I will call you Mahatma.


If you figure this one out and can prove your answer I will call you Mahatma.

You'll be the first one I'll tell. ;)

Thanks for the Wigner essay, which I've heard about but never got around to reading. I'm gonna save it for bedtime tonight, but I read the first paragraph and got all excited, because the fact that pi turns up all over the place just shatters my everyday sense of what reality is.

We think it works. It's the best tool we've had experientially. However, given that it's highly unlikely that a really good approximation of the actual universe has been reached yet, it's conceivable that math may not end up having been THE tool. Or at least the math we know may not.

Aleph-1 bottles of beer on the wall ... take one down, and pass it around: Aleph-null bottles of beer on the wall.
Or something like that.

I seem to have an old fuzzy memory while sitting in a calculus class where I would never see anything as infinite. Instead, I would see values approaching infinity. Somewhere in that memory is work with integrals that go from 0 to infinity or summations that are applied from 0 to infinity and the mathematical notation ...

Perhaps this will ring a bell with one of the more mathematically astute among us...

Yeah, it seems a curve can near infinitely approach vertical, for example, without ever becoming vertical... asymptotic?


but plotted on log paper it becomes a straight line!

Yes. That's called finding the limit of a function. The simplest one is fX=1/X as X approaches zero. The answer approaches infinity. But if you take the same function as X approaches zero from the negative side, then the answer approaches negative infinity. From this, you can see that 1 divided by zero would be positive and negative infinity at the same time. Which is why they say you can't divide by zero!

How can odd or even numbers alone be infinite if the combined odd and even numbers would seem to be twice as many?

The key concept is that two infinitely large sets of numbers are defined to be the same "size" (technically, the size of an infinite set is called its cardinality) if their members can be put in a one-to-one correspondence. Thus, the set of positive even integers {2,4,6,8,....} has the same cardinality as the set of all positive integers {1,2,3,4,5.....} because on can pair them up in a one-to-one relationship (2n is paired with n).

Showing that the set of all real numbers (rationals and irrationals) has a higher cardinality than the integers involves one of those pesky reducto ad absurdum proofs, and is left as an exercise for the reader....

I see the question as involving a logical fallacy.

In fact we are dealing with three categories. Whole. Odd. Even.

Each one is infinite in size, so they are all the same size if that concept is even applicable. The idea of combining two of these categories into a single third group and claiming it is bigger than the individual components is where the fallacy arises.

When you combine odd and even numbers, you don't get "twice as many." You get a new category of infinite numbers.

If you have infinite apples and infinite oranges and combine them, you do not have "twice as many" of anything. You still have the same number of apples and oranges. What has changed is the categorization. The apples and oranges themselves do not merge into a new entity. We just have a new grouping of infinite items.

Thus, the set of positive even integers {2,4,6,8,....} has the same cardinality as the set of all positive integers {1,2,3,4,5.....} because on can pair them up in a one-to-one relationship (2n is paired with n).

You could pair the positive integers with every second (even) integer, and put every unused odd integer in its own set. You would end up with three sets, all with the same cardinality.

You have already said the cardinality of the positives = cardinality of all integers.

But the cardinality of all integers must equal cardinality odds plus cardinality evens.

Therefore cardinality positives = cardinality positives plus cardinality positives.

This cannot be.

Therefore infinity does not exist. Or something.

(I think I'll stick to reading comics.)

Therefore cardinality positives = cardinality positives plus cardinality positives.

So far so good.

This cannot be.

Why? You need to elucidate exactly what law has been broken to make it so.

Therefore infinity does not exist.


If you allow a number for which x = x + x, then there is no reason infinity, or rather Aleph null does exist. We might point out that zero already satisfies the equation x = x + x, so it isn't intrinsic that there are no numbers for which this is true.

The answer is that Peano's axioms, from which the Integers are defined, does not allow more than one solution for x = x + x. But, and this is key, Aleph null isn't an integer. It is the cardinality of the set of integers. The transfinite obey different laws to the integers. In particular, adding and multiplying them works differently. The next number bigger than Aleph null isn't Aleph null + 1. It is Aleph one, and it is the cardinality of the countable ordinal numbers. With some assumptions, it is also the cardinality of the real numbers. What is neat is that you can prove that there are no numbers in between Aleph null and Aleph one.

There are entire schools of mathematicians that don't believe in the validity of Cantor's transfinite numbers. Some of them don't believe in the irrationals either. They are happy that they are OK tools and lead to useful results, but they don't actually exist.

Chuck Norris has counted to infinity....twice!

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

Maybe this is a poor choice of words for the failure of the pipe. Breaking to me means brittle and if the DP is brittle so is the casing. Brittle is caused by low temperature, hydrogen, H2S, caustic, etc. So, why is the pipe brittle or maybe Admiral Allen means the pipe is bending.

I had the same thought when I read that part of transcript. However, Thad further explained this issue during the Q&A and repeated same concern with more clarity.

"Thad Allen: No, there's just no more – makes no more sense to try and get them out because we now know that they're not connected to the rest of the drill pipe. We can't learn anymore about the well that would increase our knowledge. They're fragile and they break apart when we're trying to pull them out and there's no longer a value added proposition to this process by continuing to try to fish out the pipes when we can just remove the blowout preventer.

When we started we thought some of that pipe might have been extending up in the center line, it might have been part of the ultimate drill stream, but we know that’s not the case now."

Correct me if I'm not seeing this correctly. Should the fishing for the three drill pipes have been conducted before the cement was put into well?

It seems to me the only thing that could be holding the top two pipes in place is cement. I understand hydrates are present but I would expect the hydrate issue could be overcome. I also understand the mud weight would probably need to increase from what was used to stop flow. The mud in riser could no longer be used to hold flow and weight of mud from reservoir to BOP would need to be sufficient to hold flow and also take into account the loss of volume due to drill pipe. Was the risk of increasing the mud weight and potentially causing fractures great enough to prevent attempt at fishing for drill pipe before cement was piped in?

Or is there something else I'm unaware of that would hold pipes in place or cause fishing attempt to fail?

I often see management decisions that lack foresight and this may be one of them...

The purpose of pumping cement was to preclude flow measurement, which BP assiduiously avoided from day one. Top kill rendered flow conjectural and debatable.

Or did Chu in one of his wise decisions say pump cement, pump I tell ya, pump.

Hey Tex, last time I checked the Chu haters were complaining that he was a wus for wanting to proceed with the original RW bottom kill. Now he's being blamed for BP's push to cement from the top without knowing what the heck they were getting into and just hoping the pipe would hang straight in the hole under gravity...again.

I bet even BP is wishing it had stuck with the original plan by now. We'd be done. These problem of removing the BOP would still pose challenges, but not the dilemmas we have now.

That argument is bogus IMO. If they had hooked up all the lines to the capping stack and collected all the flow, that flow would have lots of restrictions (i. e, friction) and would undoubtbly been a lot more throttled than when the flow was wide open to the sea at the top of the BOP. So measuring flow in that way might actually work in BP's favor.

All estimates that have been made are based on the assumption the flow changed over time. For instance, the current estimate of 4.9 million is based on a maximum flow of something like 62k per day but the daily average is only 55k per day because not all days flowed at a maximum.

The only reliable estimates are going to be based on what was seen through the ROV cameras, what was collected and what was seen at the surface. A single measured daily flow in late July wouldn't tell you much. When they get the BOP they will know what the flow path and restrictions it contained and since they know pressures that will also give additional info on flow rates.

Measurements from ROV cameras? Please. Dispersant limited what came to the surface. No friction if riser attached to top of stack with all rams open. Bogus indeed.

Estimated measurements from ROV cameras is something that exists in reality

Mythical frictionless risers attached to top of stack capable of carrying the entire flow to somewhere and measuring it doesn't exist.

C'mon jinn. It exists. Sitting on the deck of Enterprise. Never used.
112 x Vetco 21 in OD, 75ft joints with 15,000 psi 4½in ID C&K lines

Estimated measurements from ROV cameras is something that exists in reality

Mythical frictionless risers attached to top of stack capable of carrying the entire flow to somewhere and measuring it doesn't exist.

Yes, mission accomplished!

Any suggestion that an estimate based on video is on par with let alone better than actually measuring direct flow is laughable and absurd, with or without a riser.

That would be true if you were actually talking about measuring direct flow. But you are talking about deducing how much flowed in the past from how much you can collect in several ships. That is not direct measurement it just another way to guesstimate.

When the oil was coming out of the well a mile down it was carried to wherever it went by it's own buoyancy and ocean currents. If you run it up to 4 ships a mile above through piping there is considerable friction and head to overcome which is going to diminish the flow.

You could estimate how much the flow is diminished but that isn't much better than estimating directly what is coming out of the stack. Besides what you determine is coming out at the end of July doesn't say a lot about what was flowing in May.

All of the reasons why even a moment of direct flow measurement would produce far more accurate calculations have already been discussed at length by others. Your attempts to rationalize that away seem like a stubborn refusal to open your eyes.

I'm beginning to see where the massive gaps in your education began. You have never taken Fluid Dynamics 101, because you seem oblivious to the Continuity Equation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuity_equation

Okay Fifth Graders, it's time to show off again!!

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms has tickets to the Justin Bieber concert tonight and wants to finish milking her cow as soon as possible. How many of the suction cups of her milkiing machine should she connect to the cow's udder to finish in the least time?

A) 1
B) 2
C) 3
D) 4

This sort of belief brings up something I learned about human nature back in the 1980's while serving as night-shift sergeant of the guard at a place called 'Tiger Island' in Central America. From that location we could literally watch (using binoculers) the muzzle flashes from firefights in both Nicargura and El Salvador - which was more than a little bit 'spooky.'

And when the sentries are nervous - the see things that are not there. I was frequently called out when a bird became an 'attack helicopter' and a fishing net towed behind a boat became a 'submarine.'

What I learned is: that if you look for something hard enough - you are going to eventually see it whether it is there or not.

Over the years I have learned to apply this understanding towards most conspiracy theories - the proponents are simply looking so hard for something that they see it - even if it isn't really there.

But why is the exact flow rate important any more?

BP is going to get a huge fine based on the estimate. The estimate might be high or low. The spirit of the law is if you cause an oil spill you get a big fine, which is going to happen to BP.

If BP had measured the exact flow rate when the capping stack was added, it still doesn't provide actual numbers for the prior flow rates. So the total oil spilt would still be an estimate.

An exact flow rate might have been useful while they were using dispersant's. But it would have been difficult to get a flow rate before adding the capping stack so would have only helped in the last couple of days.

In the environment, I think the concentrations of oil are more important rather than total oil spilt. Oil hitting the beach's, marsh land etc can only be estimated anyway.

Even if the actual oil spilt was an order of magnitude larger than the estimate how much would it change what is happening now?

I'm just trying to understand why the exact flow rates, or even a better estimate is useful.

In a nutshell, avoiding a calculation of the total oil spilled based on actual flow, and thus forcing the govt. to rely instead on less accurate estimates, is most probably worth billions of dollars to BP, whether the fine is set by a judge or in negotiations for a plea bargain.

I don't have time to provide the evidence to support that proposition at the moment, but have gone through it in the past. Nevertheless, if you accept that premise, then it certainly provides the motivation for BP to side-step direct flow collection, such as it appeared to have happened in the confrontation with Chu and the resulting change to a shut-in strategy out of the blue, a more risky strategy with a less certain outcome that in the end will take a month longer to complete.

BP was buying up scientists and entire university departments at that time. If they're going to that effort to lock up the experts, would they really walk away from the opportunity to lock up the evidence, too? Logic and past corporate behavior in similar circumstances would suggest no.

As previously noted, it is not illegal to trick the govt. into spoiling its own evidence. Indeed, some would say the corp. officers would have a duty to do so if they lawfully could without exposing the shareholders to undue risk and it would shave billions off of their exposure when they are fighting for survival.

It's a theory, not a fact, but an interesting proposition, that I believe is logical and has a decent foundation. The logic behind it is consistent with what has happened. It is not without weaknesses and flaws, but no more so than the counter-theories, and perhaps less so.

Gotta run for now.

Forcing the government to use less accurate numbers may indeed cost BP billions, but that is BP's problem not yours.

Don't worry, it's all going to be negotiated down to save BP, then appealed, postponed.

but that is BP's problem not yours.

i'm glad you got 'er all figured out, Jinn.

But the people who live on the gulf would probably see it as their problem if they were needlessly put at risk just so BP could try to avoid legal liabilities.

This is unrelated to conversation...

Are the following DVD-ROM's provided for lawyers?

I noticed the USG is selling two "encyclopedic" DVD-ROM's about DWH on amazon.com

I don't think they are selling very well to normal book readers because I don't see any reviews posted.

I'd be wary.

This may well be a scam.

I find it hard to believe that anyone reputable would be putting something reasonably authoratative out before the crisis is even over.

Good point.
I had the same thought about insufficient information being available yet for a publication but I didn't suspect amazon.com would be part of a scam because I've had good luck there.

I'll need to do more searching to see if that product appears elsewhere. That would indicate a scam.

I have a scam story. Years ago I was looking for a high-end Canon digital SLR. There were a few websites that sold the camera for $4000 below list price. One of these incredibly low priced cameras showed up on either yahoo or amazon. Now, the website had a special program one could register for. If buyer asked for refund on purchase, they would immediately get refund. I purchased the camera at the great low price and it never appeared at my door step. I emailed seller and they claimed it was shipped but would not provide a tracking number. So, I filled out form with website and was immediately given my money back.

This may well be a scam.

The publisher, Progressive Management, says (in the "About the Author" section on the Amazon page):

Our news and educational discs are privately compiled collections of official public domain U.S. government files and documents - they are not produced by the federal government.

Thanks SL.

I obviously didn't look hard enough on the page.


Another whacko question:

Someone admitted earlier that since all the mud and cement had to enter the well from the top, it could have gone anywhere. Now it appears it has.

If I interpret TOD conversations correctly, it seems that some of the cement went into the production casing itself, and "cemented" the sheared-off drillpipe into the BOP—and, as far as anyone knows, down into the hole as well.

I'm no drilling engineer, but common sense would indicate the cement wouldn't have to penetrate down very far for the drillpipe to be stuck fast—and if they just grab hold of the BOP and pull (80,000 lbs is a pretty good tug)—don't they risk having the well break apart, and Macondo surge to life again?

Why would anyone take such a risk? Isn't that a bit like rolling dice with the Universe?

They have been rolling the dice every step of the way and defining a win after the toss.

I am sure they have their fingers crossed an infinite number of times.

That's what them pinchers are for, Q.

Woohoo -- a beauty, syncro!

The entire long string, including the upper 9 7/8" section and the lower 7" section, has been estimated at over 600,000 pounds. (Detailed calculation from another industry blog site.) The initial strength of the tubulars was able to withstand that much force.

Unless the long string is severely compromised the 80,000 pound "gentle tug" should be significantly below any concern level for breaking the string. I believe it would also take a lot more to un-do the seal under normal conditions, but nobody really knows the conditions down there.

In re: Brit's comment about "foresight."

From "Heart of Darkness," by Joseph Conrad:

"This devoted band called itself the Eldorado Exploring Expedition, and
I believe they were sworn to secrecy. Their talk, however, was the talk
of sordid buccaneers: it was reckless without hardihood, greedy without
audacity, and cruel without courage; there was not an atom of foresight
or of serious intention in the whole batch of them, and they did not
seem aware these things are wanted for the work of the world. To tear
treasure out of the bowels of the land was their desire, with no more
moral purpose at the back of it than there is in burglars breaking into
a safe."

Thanks for the book reference.
I'm a prolific eBook reader and Conrad's book is available for download. The reviews of book are very interesting with discussion of 19th century imperialism. I would be curious to compare Conrad's words with the thoughts of a few concerning American imperialism or current management philosophy.

The essence of that quote should be part of the Epitaph on Humanity's (?) Gravestone. Although who or what might place that Gravestone on the "remains" is an open question.

"Should the BOP not move, the plan is to open the rams on the BOP, so that it no longer holds the pipe."

What seems silly to me is that if the rams on the BOP have been holding the pipe, then wouldn't moving the pipe have also required moving the BOP or opening the rams? The possible (static kill) cementing of the pipe to the BOP and/or the casing may have been just one more of BP's ill-advised oversights.

For a while, I thought I was starting to breathe more easily.

Ping Oilfield Brat

Muchos gracias para su traducion, mucho mejor de mio.

I had a feeling that much of it was colloquial and I would need to understand some Chilean slang to understand it. Your version makes much more sense. Though I have been in other South American countries and live in Mexico, I have not made it as far as Chile. The Chileans I have met were those who had to flee the country because of the regimes.



Video of the Trapped Chilean Miners Stirs a Country’s Emotions

... The video, in which 28 of the 33 miners appeared, showed that most of them were in good spirits, and, though they had lost considerable weight, were in reasonably good health. It also demonstrated that they were organized — they have established places to sleep, to play games and to put their waste.

Yet Dr. Jaime Mañalich, Chile’s health minister, said that the video also showed that five of the miners were “in very bad emotional shape.” Dr. Mañalich said psychiatrists on the surface would engage in short therapy sessions with each of the five men, before possibly prescribing medication.

Dr. Mañalich said that the miners were in a “euphoric” mood after crews on the surface bored down to them on Sunday, finding that all 33 were alive after 17 days without contact with the outside world. “But we are prepared for them to behave in a completely different mood in the next few weeks,” he added. ...

The fellow narrating the tour is, at least for now, quite a live wire.

Wow lotus...who would have guessed Burt Reynolds had a son who grew up to be a Chilian miner.

Ain't that the truth, Rocky. Guess he got around, though.

Hot doggies, much better news from the mine now, says CNN:

'Plan B' would widen the bore hole to reach the miners

They've got clean clothes, 1,500-2,000 calories a day to eat, some blasts of cool fresh air from above -- even the ones worrying the psychologists yesterday have perked up.

NAOM, de nada, mi amigo.

That translation is pretty rough, I hope I find a better one. I did work out a few idioms, but not with any specific knowledge of Chilean slang, just a liberal application of phrase searches on Google. Assuming there were a lot of idioms helped. I only spent six weeks in Chile, and it took me three weeks just to understand do erve'a E'cudo. Sibilants are elusive on that side of the Andes.

I highly recommend visiting Chile. Very safe except for a historically rough neighborhood in Valparaiso, where I spent several exciting minutes. We have far more in common with Chilenos at the far end of the hemisphere than I expected. It's where I started to see how European the US is. Good geology, too. Beyond the rich mineral deposits that lure miners, there are live volcanos, monster glaciers, and the prettiest pluton on the planet:

a historically rough neighborhood in Valparaiso, where I spent several exciting minutes.

That sounds interesting. Say more?


Whoa, what a glorious heap of rock!

Say more?

Pretty please?

Whoa, what a glorious heap of rock!

Oh, and that air -- Just what a mid-Floridian craves on the 28th of August!

Well, I'm supposed to be digging a drainage ditch today, but it's pissing down, so...

Valparaiso is the main port of Chile, has been for centuries, and thus has all the accoutrements of a busy port, including a sub-culture of pickpockets and petty thieves, known to seamen and travelers for generations: McPhee describes a sailor returning to a freighter there in his underwear. I took a walk around town, along the coast and back through the hills, worrying some as I passed through housing projects and slums of shacks. Nothing but curious stares and small smiles until I reached an older part of town, where I relaxed because I had left the poor areas behind. Then someone tugged on my backpack, and as I held on and stared him down another guy ran up behind me, jammed his hand into my front pocket and snatched 300 cruzados, then ran through an obliging crowd into a house where three tough young women on the porch opened the door, closed it after him, and glared prettily at me. Checking my back, I saw the first thief closing in for another try, and three big men coming out of a store and starting to flank me. I scooted down the center of the street and didn't slow down until I was well into the busy downtown. 300 cruzados was about 97 cents US, pretty cheap for a good story, no? Outside of this spot, and a few train stations, Chile is safer than most parts of the US.

Re: Los Torres del Paine, it's one of the great parks of the world. Guanacos, parrots, flamingos, flowers, a chain of lakes, and that amazing pale laccolith inserted into black shale. On the less frequently photographed back side, the magma fracked the dark shale and left jagged granite branches that look like lightning on the vertical cliffs.

Woof! Sorry your ditch-digging got rained out, bro (well . . . ), but I sure am glad you had time for story-telling today.

Mr. Market did-in my travel budget here 'while back, but I sure would admire to see that place. Thanks for bringing it.

Those are the areas where you put a little money in each and every pocket and in your shoes. You wear a cheap plastic watch as they will be disappointed if there is not one they can steal. Backpack - oops! Never glasses, only contact lenses,maybe cheap sunglasses, mirrored so they cannot see where you look. If you have a chain around you neck or one of those neck pouches that people buy to keep their money safe then they will get on each other's shoulders and reach over you to lift them off. It makes travelling far more interesting.


pretty cheap for a good story, no?

(tosses a handful of virtual coins into your virtual hat) Yes! Thank you!

amazing pale laccolith inserted into black shale

What's the laccolith made of, what kind of rock? And how high is the lake?

SL, it was pretty cheap, but what was priceless is related to NAOM's comments on security. I had my money spread out, and knew there was only a little in that pocket, so I didn't try to protect it, that gave me a second or two head start down the hill.

The laccolith has been well studied, apparently, and seems to have a lower, older mafic base (~13 m.y.) overlain by at least three later granitic layers. Can't find a good popular description, but here is an abstract:

For armchair traveling, a link to the official site, starting with a nice map:

When one travels through these, er, interesting places there are two ways to learn. The easy way and the hard way, I chose the easy way and listened to people who had gone before :) You did the right thing. There are two reasons to spread your money, one so they don't get all of it, two if they get some they run instead of being disappointed at finding an empty pocket and trying harder. I used to carry an old wallet with a bit of money in it just in case I was help up and they demanded my wallet.

That does look a fascinating formation but I am not too well so the geology is going over my head,I will have get back to it later.



Guanacos in situ

I want one...

No, SL, you don't. They spit!


One new issue discussed in the recent round of hearings was the possibility of fluid swapping between the drilling mud and the heavily weighted cement tail.

The mud used to circulate the casing before the cement was pumped weighed 14 ppg. The cement tail which is the cement placed in the shoe track (bottom 200' of the casing) plus the open rat hole below the casing (the dunderpooch) and the lower portion of the casing annulus below the reservoir had a weight of 16.7 ppg.

As I understand it, the light cement used to cover the reservoir and the 500' portion of the annulus above the reservoir was balanced with the drilling mud and therefore could have bypassed the drilling mud in the dunderpooch. The heavy tail cement would have displaced the lighter dunderpooch mud. This displaced mud could have created a slug of mud contaminated cement which ended up in the lower annulus.

Fluid swapping was discussed by BP Engineer, Brett Cocales.

BTW, I think it is possible this 16.7 ppg cement tail could have effected a frac job on the bottom of the Macondo Well which opened communication with a deeper large, high pressure reservoir. In other words, the cement job sucessfully isolated the 60' "Macondo Sand" and is still intact.

I just don't believe that dirty little mildly overpressured 60' sand intercepted by the Macondo Well is capable of producing 50,000 BOPD and 50 MMCFG/D. Furthermore, if you accept that the flow moved up thru the production casing shoe, that dirty little sand blew out 200' of cement in the lower annulus and 200' of 16.7 ppg cement inside the casing after sitting static for 5 days of wireline logging.



Did you just say dunderpooch?

Suddenly this conversation is fun again.

wtf is a dunderpooch


I made that one up.....Its far more discriptive than Rat Hole.

Rat Hole(s) get confusing.

1) Before a drilling rig moves on to a drilling pad, a Rat Hole Driller punches a 30' hole offset from the actual well. When the drilling rig moves on to the pad, this Rat Hole is to stow the Kelly when not in use. There is also a Mouse Hole drilled in the pad which is used to stow a joint of drilling pipe.

2) When a production (final) string of casing is placed in the hole, it's critical to have some extra space below the producing horizon to facilitate completion operations. This extra space provides a "cellar" which is useful if something gets dropped in the well or needs to be pushed out of the way. Some extra hole is also needed in order to get coverage of the producing horizon on the Electric Logs since the logging tools don't collect readings at the base of the tool. Plus, drill cutting often fill the bottom of the hole so the logging tools can't get all the way to T.D.

3) I usually don't think of the open hole below the casing as Rat Hole but open hole Rat Hole below the casing is probably accurate but it starts to get confusing. The Macondo Well is a little unique because there usually is not not any significant distance between the bottom of the casing and the hole TD....They dunderpooched (verb) it. Typically, any extra hole will be cased. You can never have enough Rat Hole. If the casing is set way above TD, I think the extra open hole is filled with cemment.

Dunderpooch and Dunderpooched are Registered Trade Marks.

Now Dunderpooching is totally different deal....it's a sport

Anybody that has been biten by a horsefly can apprieciate the joy of Dunderpooching. First catch a horsefly intact. Then tie a string to a pine needle. The pine needle is gently inserted into the horsefly's behind....let go and the horsefly will fly around in a circle for hours.

It's a slow, painful, yet well deserved death that is a joy to behold.


I can see everyone calling it that in a few years time :)



Assuming Halliburton cemented per their 18 April plan, I don't see that the cement distribution would quite be as you have it in your second paragraph.

Ref: http://energycommerce.house.gov/documents/20100614/HAL-Production.Casing...

My reading of the above document is that after pumping 7 bbl of base oil and 72 bbl of 14.3 ppg tuned spacer, they started pumping a 16.7 ppg cement slurry at 2 bpm. After the first 5 bbl, they added foaming agents and gas to the next 39 bbl, creating 48 bbl of lighter (14.2 ppg?) cement. They then finished off with 7 bbl of the base 16.7 ppg slurry. By my arithmetic, the final 7 bbl exactly filled the 189-foot shoe track of the 7" casing. So the rat hole and the annulus (wellbore-to-7" casing) had a lighter, foamed cement topped off with 5 bbl of the 16.7 ppg base slurry.

(Apologies if I've goofed something up in posting this. It's my first time, having taken over 3 months of daily devouring of TOD to get up enough nerve to register and make a comment.)



Many thanks for the clarification.....It makes perfect sense.

Everything I post is intended as a question to further the debate.

The hearings are so dis-jointed that it is difficult to make any sense of the testimony....especially without the the documents that are being referenced.

It's kinda funny that opti-cem model you provided was consistently referred to as the opti-"CHEM" model by the panel with the witnesses consistently saying opti-"SIM". Classic language barrier but it was very confusing. I think opti-SIM is the correct pronunciation but the panel refused to be corrected.

You say Tom-AYE-to, I say tom-OTO-to.

There is a wealth of info in the link you provided. It may not be the actual fluids pumped but I'll bet it is close.

The part of the testimony with Bett Cocales regarding the fluid swapping was confusing. My interpretation was Cocales knew exactly what fluid swapping is but the lawyer, understandably, didn't and therefore could not ask relevant questions.

My frustration with the hearings is the lack of focus on the hole conditions at the time of the incident. Who cares what is was going on in the office? For instance, a critical question, if the casing shoe failed, is what was the weight of the mud inside the casing?

The annular mud weight is subject to many variables (gas cut, cement top, ect) whereas the question of the mud weight inside the casing is known. The mud that followed the cement down the casing has no interactions with the open hole. The de-gassed mud that followed the cement was carefully planned and monitored. Frustrating that Driller and Crew (in my opinion) know exactly what the mud weight of the fluid that followed the cement but nobody cared to ask.....If fact I find it bizarre.

BTW, I'am convinced that BP knows, without a doubt, that the well flowed up thru the casing shoe. All of the varibles recorded during the initial cement job are recorded. When the Top-Kill mud was pumped, the pressure spikes at the ( 9 7/8" X 7") crossover and at the production casing shoe should have mimicked the the original cement job. A second confirmation of these pressure spikes would have been recorded when the cement was pumped down the casing. Just to be clear, I don't know, I'm just saying they know.

Hell all I know is that I'm one Scotch short of a Ron Burgandy.



Some of the banter from the Cocales hearing is a bit clearer if you also look at Halliburton's two earlier Production Casing Design reports.

The first was done 4/15/10 at 3:30PM, used 10 centralizers, and had a Gas Flow Potential factor (GFP) of 7.65, which they characterized as moderate.


A second one followed the same day at 6:12PM. It used 21 centralizers and had a GFP of 2.56, considered minor.


The report I linked earlier, done on 4/18/10, used 7 centralizers (not the 6 actually run) and had a GFP of 10.26, which was tagged severe.

BTW, I figured that OptiCem stood for optimal cementing and would be pronounced opti-sem. There's a bit on the program at these two links:



There's a 1998 Halliburton article on GFP here:

I think the equation for GFP on page 3 has a typo, a missing division sign between L and D, and should read (1.67 L / D) / OBP, where L is the cement column height or length, D is the difference between the wellbore and casing diameters, and OBP is the overbalance pressure (hydrostatic pressure minus formation pressure).


communication with a deeper large, high pressure reservoir

I think so, too. They were permitted to 20,000 ft and 19,000 was the target.


That was a very quick and on the mark reference to Brit's forethought comment.

Keeps me comming back to TOD for more.

Another one of those max full frontal transparency days. Sheesh.

AvonA, I'm going register another protest about your wastefulness of TOD's bandwidth -- worse, of dial-up community-members' patience -- on images that mean something to only you (or at most a very small handful of others). Why do you persist in this? It's as ridiculous as Bruce Thompson's anti-Chu screeds and actually more intrusive for some of your fellow TODers. Cut it out.


Soitenly. Consider it done. No reason to post proof. Quite right.

Thank you so much.

If you're qualified, please explain how pix hosted elsewhere affect TOD bandwidth.

I'm not qualified, just echoing earlier protest on that one, I admit. The dial-up issue is the dispositive one, and why I so appreciate your courtesy (though no longer on dial-up myself, I remember what a drag it was to wait for pix to load).

It does take the bandwidth of TOD visitors. Maybe not through TOD, but because of it. I liked the post, but please go easy on lotus. Bandwidth is often an issue.

It might not waste TOD's bandwidth, but my browser still has to download it and I have a bandwidth limit on my wireless internet service, which I routinely bump up against by the end of the month, so I for one would appreciated not having to load images that don't add to the discussion here.


No reason to post proof. Quite right.

Put it somewhere else, and post the link to it here.

(You might give the sarcasm a rest too. It doesn't exactly inspire receptivity.)

If what you're posting were proof, I would want it, as I and others have expressed many times.

But, again, as many have stated previously, virtually nothing that you post as "proof" has any value to anyone else.

Perhaps it would be better for you, as well as the others you touch, to consider methods of connecting that bring value to both, rather than frustration to you and irritation to them.

Perhaps it would be better for you, as well as the others you touch, to consider methods of connecting that bring value to both, rather than frustration to you and irritation to them.

Dang Dave. You just summarized the top 50 reasons why I live alone.

Fortunately for many of us, living alone perhaps, but not self-isolated.

We all spend virtually our whole lives "alone" in the physical sense (I'll have to think a bit more about intercourse and heart surgery, etc). That distance between us is a factor of how far out we set the physical boundaries.

What counts most is not, for the most part, the physical distance, but the emotional, and perhaps to some extent at least, as we have seen demonstrated here, our perceptual distance.

Shame on you, Doc. Contempt prior to investigation.

Let's talk turkey. There's a BP fan club here, some of whom are paid by BP to knock down anything contradictory to or skeptical of company information, such as it is. When was the last time you saw a Kent Wells technical briefing?

All we know for certain is everything BP attempted at Macondo has failed. I emphasize everything, including the capping stack that wouldn't operate at normal pressure and its leaky adapter spool covered in hydrate ice. Fishing failed.

Now they propose to do something so zany that competent observers are simply stunned. Lift BOP + pipe, then cut pipe? What will restrain 3000 ft of pipe from falling into the well? An ROV claw perhaps? Two ROVs?

I don't much care about "connecting" as you put it. Let's see what happens.

Again I appreciate the attempt at promotion, but I'm not a doctor of any sort.

Assertions differ from proof, no matter how often expressed.

Exactly Avon. Not. And 60,000 barrels of oil per day has been leaking into the gulf since mid-July and magically collected by black helicopters (my meme of the day). Give credit where credit's due, blame where blame's due and you might earn some credit of your own.

There's a BP fan club here

There is? Jeez, they're mighty dang quiet. Who, prithee?

some of whom are paid by BP

How'd you find out? Paid how much? By the word? by the comment? by the week? How dey do dat?

For the record I am currently supported by checks from ESIS, an insurance firm hired by BP. I imagine the Team Feinberg checks will be different, assuming I can get one. Of course, every knows I have called BP a 'green devil', although time has tempered by anger a little.


I think of the checks as minimum wage wages. TFHG isn't living large. Best wishes to all.
Here's a link to a web cam of San Diego bay, my neighborhood.


All we know for certain is everything BP attempted at Macondo has failed. I emphasize everything....

Sorry Avon, but I got to call BULL on that statement. There was a very large quantity of oil flowing out of the well, forming slicks on the surface, washing up on beaches, and killing critters. Now there isn't.

We can (and have ad nauseum) argue about how much was flowing, how much was skimmed, how much was eaten by bugs, how much remanins in the environment, and how much environmental damage is still happening. But it is clear to any rational person that the flow has stopped. We can (and have ad nauseum) argue whether or not the flow could have been stopped sooner, or stopped by a better method. We can (and have ad nauseum) argue about the risk that the well may start flowing again. But at the moment, the well isn't flowing.

David Brown, gentle soul that he is, will probably put it more politely. But I'm just a dirt bag oil geo, so when I see you state that "everything BP attempted at Macondo has failed. I emphasize everything....", then I have to say that you have your head in that highly personal place where the sun don't never shine.

Okay, Alaska. I understand. I was thinking of cofferdam, riser insertion tool, junk shot that went straight up the riser and ripped it open, craw and dancing top hat, flaring and burning, stopping the RWs, pumping cement from the top to avoid a flow count, which made RW impossible, dropping drill string pipe (twice), fishing with the wrong tools. Four months.


the medical term for that is optorectilitis. Gives one a Sh***y outlook on life!

the medical term for that is optorectilitis

A physician in my family calls it "Cranial Rectal Impaction Syndrome".

"Cranial Rectal Impaction Syndrome"

Back in the '50s it was referred to as "being in need of a cellophane navel." (So they could see where they were going.)

That's a keeper!

Having done a little quick research on the syndrome I understand that the only cure is an optorectomy, the surgical removal of the nerve that connects the eyes to the aft orifice, to get rid of the patient's shitty outlook on life, and return their ability to see crap.

Unfortunately there is a high risk of death during surgery because of an "inadvertent" amputation of the foreign object, but research has demonstrated that such an outcome often has a beneficial effect on the immediate, and, to some extent, the broader, environment.

The not so gentle Dave


I am, and have been, quite interested in your comments since my arrival on this site. Considering the amount of off-thread commentary that exists here, as well as excessive band-width use by other commenters, I find the criticism of your once a day photo hard to understand. Your comments for me are thought-provoking, regardless of associated sarcasm (appreciated) or lack of proof (no one has absolute proof of what's happening under the water except for BP.) And your attitude of "Let's see what happens" is quite respectful to other commenters, rather than the usual fare that befalls the poor nonconformist. I obviously don't know whether BP shills are here or not. I consider it a distinct possibility though, judging by other BP actions, e.g., the silencing of their contracted scientists and engineers for a period of years. Yes, let's do see what happens.

Just for the record, I was not complaining about excessive band width use. I have generally defended peoples right to post off topic.

Alaska geo,

I wasn't directing my comment to you or about you. I agree with you on off-thread comments and bandwidth. Hey, freedom of speech is still in effect I hope. Now spammers are another matter. Have you ever been on a web-site where 'someone' keeps posting the same LONG irrelevant nonsense, like every two minutes? That DOES make the website unusable. Anyway, your comment was a concrete disagreement on a well matter with Avon. I have no problem with that.

"Let's talk turkey. There's a BP fan club here, some of whom are paid by BP to knock down anything contradictory to or skeptical of company information, such as it is."

And how do we know that you are not being paid (by some law firm perhaps) to spread conspiracy theories?

AVA isn't spreading conspiracy theories. A heuristically based viewpoint, however well or poorly it represents reality, isn't necessarily a CT. Thus it would follow logically that 1) he's not being paid and/or 2) that he's not delivering and therefore won't be paid much longer.

I guess that I should have explained that all i was doing was applying the 'golden rule.'

The person accuses people of being in the enploy of BP if they dare disagree. Using the same logic - it is just as appropiate to counter-accuse that he/she is a paid shill also.

Professional staff at my office think I've gone crazy. It'll all be over in a week or so, one way or the other. Let's hope they succeed. I'm financially hedged for another disaster, but it would be best for everyone in the offshore E&P industry if BP can wrap this up successfully.

Agreed, absolutely. But next time out, take a look at the screen captures before posting. I know you've been trying to show us something from your perspective of suspicion but a lot of those times I just can't see what that is from the images.

Why would a law firm pay anyone to spread conspiracy theories? Lawyers have to litigate on established facts, not theories.

Blowing smoke is a tried and true legal methodology.

The more I can confuse the issue with alternate theories the less likely I am to be convicted of something.

That´s absolute correcte, David.
There are a lot of methods to discredit persons or organisations.
Reminds me of the CIA activities in the Phillipines (and not only there, lol).

"The CIA's actions and activities in its Manila station have never been limited to information gathering. Information gathering is but a part of an offensive strategy to attack, neutralize and undermine any organization, institution, personality or activity they consider a danger to the stability and power of the United States."


Can you give me an example please? Theories, particularly theories that the vast majority find ludicrous, would hardly serve a positive purpose in a defense. The analogy to BP shills just doesn't make any sense. We already know that BP had a blowout and the outcome of that blowout. There is no doubt that many law suits will be filed based on those realities. Alternate theories, as you so kindly call them, don't change those facts.

I fail to see how they can remove the capping stack and BOP based on the pressure testing they did.

The near ambient test was done while the capping stack leaked. Any leaking inside could have escaped to the outside.

The ambient test was done with rams that might have been opened, might have been closed, might have been partially opened. They didn't seem to know the status until the fishing started. Hard to equallize through closed valves.

They are unsure what is in the legacy BOP. Hydrates, mud, cement? Whatever it is it could certainly be an obstruction to pressure below it.

And I am sure it was hydrocarbons leaking from the top vent last weekend. A small amount but hydrocarbons nonetheless.

A bad call. That's my opinion for what it's worth.



Maybe POD/MUX oughta be done later, like 3 am, when no one's watching.


What is this we're looking at avon??

The next thing to be done is to disconnect capping stack from BOP. The rubber seal is frayed. Leaking "seawater" apparently. I really do wish them success later tonight or tomorrow, whenever they hook on and yank them apart. Felt that way about fishing for pipe. Hoped they succeeded. It would be much better for me and everyone else in the oil patch if BP can wrap this up, no calamity.

Most of the activity last 24 hours has been picking up peripheral equipment and tools. Now it's crunch time.

We know, that we don´t know what exactly was the reason for the blow out.
But there is a little pointer to this by the statements of claim.

Quote :
"Attorney General Troy King filed two lawsuits in federal court in Montgomery late Thursday afternoon. One suit is against BP, the other against Transocean.

In a statement released Friday, King said "their history of saying one thing and doing another, and now, new information that they have been secretly working to gain a legal advantage, can only further damage our people."
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified money damages plus punitive damages, also references BP's choice of a "highly toxic chemical used to disperse oil in the ocean."

A spokesman for BP declined to comment to the Associated Press.

King filed the lawsuit against the wishes of Gov. Bob Riley, who says the state should pursue an out-of-court settlement first."


And here is the link to the statement of claim :


There are some points of interest in that claim.
I´m not able to quote this points because it´s a pdf - you have to read it by yourself.

King may be grandstanding, but he is a lame duck. I would say the man has nothing to lose, and might actually be doing what is the best interest of his constituents. I cannot imagine how such a position could help his career after politics, save for trial lawyers interests. That one is so obvious that such a move would only serve to taint his employment at such a firm. He would also probably have to recuse himself from any BP litigation after he leaves office. I just do not see how this is a political move. Another possibility I thought of was to make Gov. Riley look bad, the two have butted heads over gambling, but Riley is done too. I just do not see what the ulterior motive could be.

Samantha Joye's first week of current cruise for plumes only finds weak CDOM signals where plumes were observed 3 months ago. This is printed in Searching for the plumes:

We moved to the south and east to obtain samples from a “control” area that should not have had deepwater features (e.g. plumes) like those we observed to the S/SW of the wellhead in May and June. As expected, we saw no features at depth at this station.

Next, we moved west, using model predictions of 1200m deep ocean currents to guide our search. We’re mapping and have not found the core of the plume – we want to find the now ~100 day old plume that we studied in May and June. So far, we’re seeing very weak CDOM signals that are at depths consistent with those where we observed plumes 3 months ago. Finding the plume core will be a slow, methodical process, but I think we are moving in the right direction.

Stack lifting tool splashed, currently at 1000 ft. Maybe midnight snatch?

" Maybe midnight snatch ? "

...I could never turn that prospect down...

Beware of the " BP slugs o' death "


Currently at 2000 ft. At this rate it'll be the Late Late Show.

You can see the live feeds at 12:50 AM? Darn, must be my computer.

The feeds are down, as of 12:30 AM. I'll give them a check now.

Still down, as of 12:55 EDT. There's no statement of their being down. They simply don't load.

Yep. Most are offline. Might be a shift change. Safety meeting.

EDIT: Back on. Stack lifting tool at 1900 ft

Any idea what's happening on the seafloor (Olympic Challenger)? Sheesh...

Looks like they're spraying the area now. The side of the 'spray container' has DD2 B45 written on it.

Stack lifting tool at 1600 ft. Waiting for the crowd to thin out or perhaps waiting for the day shift. It's going to be a long vigil.

Boa and Ocean feeds blacked out. Unknown ROV at top of stack visible on Scandi.

No, I was referring to the hydrate storm being photographed by Olympic Challenger??? It looks like a a strong flow coming from the seafloor. The ROV has been spraying it without much success in affecting it. I'm going to see if I can find out what DD2 is.

You don't know what 'DD2' is, but think your analysis of ROV video will be even semi-accurate? No wonder you and von Altendorf get along so well.

You're right. I know absolutely nothing about oil drilling other than the little I've picked up here. A picture is worth a thousand words though. Would you kindly tell me what DD2 is? I'm guessing some sort of antifreeze judging from its use tonight. I've got to sleep now. I'll look for your answer tomorrow. Lots of action tonight if you're interested. Unfortunately the feeds just went down.

"DD2" would be in my opinion the "DDII" aka Development Driller 2 (or Roman numeral II)(which is where the new BOP is coming from)(not to be confused with the DDIII (Roman numeral 3))

On a seperate note... please stop with the sh*tstorm from ROV XXX comments.

I have seen too many "the seafloor is erupting!!" videos that are nothing more than ROV prop wash.

Show me a sh*tstorm video that shows the "slurry" going straight up.

The ROV links to videos I have seen here are mostly of a "cloudy" storm moving left...right...up....down.... sort of meandering around the ROV in swirls (and yes, its's a cloudy mess).

I challenge the sh*tstorm advocates to jump into a swimming pool and dive down to the deep end. Settle down on the bottom and fart (pass gas, poot...whatever) where do the METHANE bubbles go? Do they meander around your buttocks or do they go straight to the surface?

Yes, rather simplified but this is getting old....

Great. I thought I just got locked out of The Oil Drum. Have been trying to connect for a good twenty minutes. Anyway, now I know something was happening on the Olympic Challenger feed. A long pipe was being pulled out of somewhere, the sea floor? It looked relatively clean though. Then I saw a structure being removed. They couldn't have been removing the BOP already, right? And finally, the spray canister returned and is now spraying. Anyway, this process produced quite a hydrate storm.

What if the cement cemented the BOP to the underlying casing? Is that possible?

"Well now, that's a strange looking tube worm", Oly1 said.

"Drill pipe keeps breaking off", the Admiral said, and adding mumbling curses.

How humiliating. You gonna make them leave that thing stuck in the muck, Admiral?

"!@#$%^& right, they're going to leave it for, as a reminder to, so they don't, maybe they'll tighten up from now on, I mean, moving forward.

Should hoist the jolly roger on it then.

Sunday Aug 29 5:52am central