BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Stopping the Fish - and Open Thread 2

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6902.

This is a second copy of http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6895.

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.

NippleUP regarding your cement comments from the last thread, I would offer this thought for your review.

In their testimony, both Gagliano of Halliburton and Cocales of BP indicated that they did not know if nitrified cement was approved for use at this depth (my understanding is that it is typically used to cement the largest casings near the mud line). However, they both indicated they had done so on a small number of previous wells.

The picture that comes to my mind is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOxGL5G8Pbk

Update from the IRC #theoildrum chat

Yesterday the ROVs of Olympic Challenger removed lots cables and hydraulic lines from the old BOP. The jacks from "bird nest" that held the flex joint were removed. To observers all this line removal was seemingly done in a very unsystematic, chaotic way. It led to big cable tangles and necessitated several times the use of a saw to cut through lines.

The pack of connection lines in front of the blue pod, which had come down with the pod when it came back from a surface repair some weeks ago, was also removed. Some metal stubs that had supported that pack were cut off (video: 1, 2).

After the round of cable clearing one ROV did some excessive "Lead verification" to make sure that all lines no longer needed were really gone and that those that still will be needed were really still there.

The Discoverer Enterprise, poised to lift the capping stack, had lowered its riser to about 1,900 feet when its ROV discovered that a line running in parallel to the riser was detached from it. (video). The riser was then retrieved and later redeployed. The mishap seems to have been a handling error during the deployment. The total delay from this problem was some 6 hours.

The stand-by fleet of "Responder" skimmer ships which yesterday were observed a few miles west of the well is currently gone. This may be weather related.

The ROV ship Ocean Intervention 3 has left the scene.

General observation:
During the last days we observed non-systematic line removal, the sloppiness in the riser deployment, not cleaning hydrates outside of the bop/capping stack even when the RAMs were influenced by hydrates and plenty of time was available, dropping a fishing string on August 26 and two unsuccessful fishing expeditions. These are likely signs of team fatigue. Since the capping stack was closed and the well flow killed with mud nothing really went right for the team.

The current operations do no longer give the impression of rigorous planing and exact execution.

BP should immediately swap out the whole emergency team and replace it with fresh people. It should probably have done so two or three weeks ago. Swapping out complete responder teams to avoid fatigue induced problems is standard procedure in civil emergency responses.

Continuing now with a demotivated and tired team introduces unneeded uncertainties into the upcoming operations.

Bonus video for today: A detailed view of the Development Driller II Blow Out Preventer.

Great Post Moon.

Yes. An excellent recap. Thanks!

I am one of those who is concerned about the recent increase in observable errors being made in the undersea ops. I certainly would like to believe that this is not just a "typical day on the rig". Apparent fatigue in the response crews is the most obvious explanation, but I am not privy to the condition of the workers. An alternative explanation is that crews may have been recently rotated. I'm not entirely sure that a complete replacement of crews is a good answer either.

I believe that all of us recognize that working at a high level for too long will lead to exhaustion and errors. And perhaps, that entire new crews will lack a certain amount of "organizational memory" and "ownership" that can lead to errors as well. Is there another answer?

Listening to the testimony of Brett Cocales the other day, it seemed to me that BP has a policy of rotating their people in a phased manner through a job site. It is my opinion that that method, combined with an apparent decentralized approach to decision making and responsibility may have been a contributing cause to this disaster.

To my mind, the question looms -- with dangerous technologies such as nuclear power and deep sea drilling -- has human management technology been advanced to sufficiently provide the nearly flawless level of vigilance and performance levels that is required? Is the current "Best Practice" good enough?

This is part of the safety culture issue that was discussed several threads back.

Part of the problem that we have in almost all realms of enterprise, even relatively risky ones, is that we have consistently promoted people on the basis of obtained short term results.

If we're ever able to shift the focus to obtaining sustained, longterm, results, the focus shifts to issues of safety, employee support and involvement in decision making, sustained productivity, employee morale, quality of life in the work place, etc., because we want to maintain our employees just as if they were indispensable pieces of equipment.

It has long seemed ironic to me that we frequently spend more time and attention selecting, designing, and maintaining our equipment, than we do our employees.

Good point, David.this was a historic problem in the company I used to work for. It seems to go in spells. Perhaps the BP disaster will wake up some people in Industry. Corrosion was the worst example. An easy way to cut costs in Production is reduce or eliminate corrosion treatments. Doesn't show up till the next guy comes along and gets hit with a failure on his watch.

I'll admit to missing the thread on saftey cultures. Got a link for me? Thanks.

I wonder how much of demotivation is due to friction between BP and USG.

I have a story that may illustrate. Years ago, I worked for a family-owned company that was minority owned by a very large company. There was a dependency between the two companies because the small company sold a specialized product that increased efficiency of system sold by larger company. There was friction between design teams of two companies for multiple reasons. Some of the employees of small company once worked for large company and left with negative feelings. Also, design philosophies concerning requirements gathering and quality were very different.

The relationship between owner of small company and CEO of large company was very good and the friction in the ranks had little impact. The CEO of large company was replaced and new CEO had different thoughts concerning value of small company. The specialized product was seen as competition to similar products sold by larger company. And one morning the bombshell was dropped. The owners (family) sold all shares to larger company because of threat of legal suits. The engineering manager immediately quit because he refused to work for company he once worked for. Design came to a complete stop and noone from larger company spoke to engineering staff for 3 months. This 3 months included many coffee mill conversations of negative rumors and despondence of working for larger company. The first conversations with larger company requested engineers sign a non-compete contract stating if they left company, they would not work for a competitor for 1 year. Another key engineer refused to sign contract and left company.

This is fundamentally an issue of treating people with respect, not as if they're simply one more piece of machinery.

When we respect people we're considerate of their perspectives, which means we have to engage in a true dialogue with them, which, in turn means that we're responsible, as management (the ones with the power), to ensure that they feel (and are) safe communicating their feelings and opinions to us.

When they feel heard, they are far more likely to join us, than fight or impede us, even if they disagree. They are also much more likely to put out their best efforts, because they have more of a sense of being part of the whole, and have a personal stake in the success of the enterprise.

When hubris leads us to believe that we see things others don't see, we need to tread very carefully, especially if we believe they don't see because they can't see.

I wonder how much of demotivation is due to friction between BP and USG.

I wonder how much might be due to friction between BP and Transocean. They are the ones actually together on the rigs, while the company lawyers take pot shots at each other inside and outside the hearings.

As for fatigue as a possible factor - the Discoverer Enterprise crews basically seemed to be in standby mode for a month after the well was capped on 7/15, yet they are the ones making the mistakes now. (and, adding to the list, it appears that one of their ROVs broke the handle on a valve a few minutes ago.)

BP Houston is being coy with the ROV feeds again.

Coy? Or weather disrupting feeds?

I'm going with the latter explanation.

I think they just found a couple of good movies to watch out there. There has been zero action on any of the ROV feeds for several hours. They are waiting for us to go to bed and then they will do their thing, whatever that is. Actually I'm pretty taken with their skill. If you were looking at the handle that came off, it appeared that the bolt in the center had been left ashore. 'He' was going to put it back on the square stub and then just grabbed with other tool and operated.

"The stand-by fleet of "Responder" skimmer ships which yesterday were observed a few miles west of the well is currently gone. This may be weather related."

Moon, Thought I read somewhere yesterday that the skimmer ships had been moved from standby location in closer to wellhead site in preparation for BOP removal (presumably to be close if needed to respond to a potential for well flow into the GOM). Did I imagine that, or perhaps dream it during my nap? Where IS the "skimmer fleet"?

Swapping out complete responder teams to avoid fatigue induced problems is standard procedure in civil emergency responses.

But is the same level of highly specialized technical knowhow involved in civil emergency responses? Are there enough sufficiently skilled people available to replace the entire current DH response team?

Moon I think that you are only half right. These people are quite used to 12 hours days, it is the standard workday in the industry. It is in mine. I think what we are seeing is a replay of the Horizon. We have the admiral in charge, not knowing a casing from a liner. If his daily press conferences are marginally intelligable then how well does he communicate with the team? They now see that they screwed up and should have gone with the relief well and a thorough bottom kill. The BOP is full of something and they are afraid it is their own cement. This swap which was supposed to take 48 hours , is a week old and seemingly going backward. So they are barking the same kind of hurry up that BP was. Do you really believe that the people who painstakingly assembled all those leads and connections now want to rip them out?
Remember , He does get a fresh crew every two weeks. Not only fresh but familiar with the problems and ready to go. In my industry we don't have this 2 week business. We work 7-12 until it is done. But it is rare to have this caliber of leadership. It seems that we have a potential disaster in the making. If these things had happened on the jobs I work there would have been at least a 24 hr. stand down and management would have been reassessed.

They already had stand downs during the ambient tests and there is no impression at all that they are working in a hurry. Throughout the last days most ROVs were just sitting on the ground doing nothing. The cable mess could have been avoided just by using more ROVs to do the job, some good planing and a bit more concentration.

To me the first sign that the motivation was going south was when they stopped cleaning the hydrates from the outside of the bop and the stack. They had all the time and the tools to that but just didn't. If you like your workplace you keep it tidy. If you have given up on the job you don't give a f*** about how messy it is.

My feeling is that everybody from the BP board through the command center down to the hands on the rigs is just sick of it and wants be over with it. They no longer want success, they just want to end it.

I would replace them, starting at the top of the response team, then the command center but also down to the rig crews. Give the new folks a day or two to get some orientation and then let them make up and execute a new plan.

I always read your posts carefully and appreciate your participation. Some of this could explained by compartmentalization, assigning tasks so no one has deep understanding of the situation. Rotate crews often for the same purpose, to keep everybody in the dark. I know that sounds cruel and stupid. Sorry.

Feeds are blacked out again, but I think there is some evidence of a gas leak.

Present evidence of gas leak, please. Or did you mean some other word instead of evidence?

comfy; Empty bean can on his counter.

altendorf gets banned from posting images but it's OK for comfychair to post stupid crap???

He was banned from posting images? Where? I saw where he was asked to stop posting irrelevant pictures taken out of context to promote some wild-assed nontheory, asked by other users. If there was any official word from staff that something isn't allowed, I will certainly follow what they say. However that's not what I remember seeing happen in the last thread.

comfy remembers correctly: I asked AvonA to cut it out, and he agreed promptly (if none too graciously). Then he discovered that breaking his bad habit -- one comfy doesn't have -- made things "a lot easier" (AvonA's own phrase) for everybody, himself included.

In the last week or so I thought BP's apparent goofs were a result of being snake bit by this well from hell. The last few days in particular and the comments so far in this thread convince me that it is a human factors issue for sure. There are a lot of good comments here about what caused it and what to do about it. Looking back on it we can see several ways that they could have put their team together better and could have implemented better procedures. Unfortunately they could only look forward. It's probably not fair to criticize and say how they should have done it; but who's worried about fair?

I don't know if they have enough Indians, but they definitely have too many chiefs. They should have set up an autonomous organization and hired someone like T. Boone Pickens or Matt Simmons to be the final authority. They could have kept Adm. Allen happy by appointing him to chair an oversight board to look into the performance of the team after the job is done. If they want to change teams now they could do something like that now too.

I think they already hired the right guy, John Wright. But they should have let him call the shots on killing the well with support from BP and govt. engineers. They have micromanaged this thing to death when they should have just let Wright do his job however he thought best. Would they have hired Red Adair and then tell him how to do his job after consulting with all the engineers, govt. officials and politicians?

I'm talking about the head guy in charge of the entire operation. If Pickens or Simmons or someone equivalent were in charge that person probably would have hired Wright because he is about the best there is with relief wells.

We will never know for sure, but I expect that unnamed fishing hand the other day got told what to do (micromanaged) rather getting to use his years of experience.

Having one guy with experience in charge of killing the well makes sense to me. That would seem to be John Wright. Having the Admiral or whomever in charge of the whole operation including above sea level and below is fine, IF they allow the guy in charge of killing the well to do his job. I'm sure that Thad Allen and Sec. Chu are professionals in their respective fields, but the patch is not their field. They did hire John Wright, to their credit, but I wonder if they have followed his advice in how to kill the well. To be clear, the patch is not my field either, that is why I would take advice from a John Wright or Red Adair type qualified expert on how best to kill this well. The kangaroo committee of micromanagement experts do not seem to be very capable of completing the final stage of this operation in an efficient manner. Too many cooks...

Agreed re: the fishing hand and probably some of the other recent unfortunate results too, micromanagement at its worst.

Wish I could have had the privilege of knowing the man but somehow I can't see Red Adair Putting up with this crap.

td - agreed re: Red Adair. Never met him either, but can't imagine he would put up with any crap if he was hired to kill the well. There does not seem to be any one dynamic individual in charge of this situation that really knows what should be done.

What makes you think John Wright isn't calling the shots?

Wright tells BP what to do and BP tells Allen what to do. Allen then issues an order. It looks to me that is why the well got shut-in instead of containing and collecting the flow. That's how they got to pumping the mud into the well. That's how they got to pumping cement. And finally that is how they got to changing out the BOP.

Both BP and Allen said they wouldn't do all those things at some point and then ended up having to eat their own words.

It doesn't look to me like BP or Allen really understand what they are doing or where they are going. All they know is if they don't do what this guy says they are really screwed.

Wright tells BP what to do and BP tells Allen what to do.

Totally reckless speculation. Silly on its face.

jinn - Just guessing about your guess that "Wright is telling BP what to do and BP tells Allen what to do". My WAG is that everything is recommended by one committee of some experts (including Wright, BP and other engineers) and then decided on by the another committee of govt. officials, politicians, et al. There is safety from blame in numbers like these. Especially when the finger can be pointed in so many different directions. The resulting decisions become more like a series of compromises based on experience, inexperience and potential political fallout in an ever changing ratio from decision to decision.

There is safety from blame

Once this becomes the primary focus of the managment you are pretty much assured that something will get badly stuffed up. Any organisation that operates like this is doomed. Pity that sums up many of our governments.

"They have micromanaged this thing to death when they should have just let Wright do his job however he thought best."

Hear hear. And listening to the way Wright puts it, I gather he feels the same.
He is the person they hired to do the job but didn't let him do it. He should've just picked up his tools and went home, and waited for them to get their heads out. That's the way I used to do it and it worked. Well, it worked whilst it was still booming. But I managed to get in a few winks before they'd roust me out.

He should've just picked up his tools and went home, and waited for them to get their heads out.


That would be exactly why they are doing every damn thing he tells them to do.

What makes you think that they are empowered to make a plan? Animal fat is lately reemphasizing that HE is the incident commander and nothing happens but that he , the lord of the sea, says so. The ROV operators are absolutely right to do nothing unless instructed. Yeah, we really need a dozen free lancers down there. Every thing you find fault with is immediately traceable to the top of the chain, not the bottom. The only evidence I have seen of any stand downs is the blank screens noted by avonaltendorf. If anything there may be a since of frustration on the part of people who are in the oil patch day and day out watching the clueless and the asscoverers run the show.

The only time I've heard him *not* emphasize he was in charge lately was on Wednesday, when he said that BP had decided to use a combination of chemicals to thaw the hydrates; actually, he said "we" first, then corrected it to "BP decided..."

This was in reference to the "purple volcano"; I found it really odd that he made it clear that it was BP who had made the decision and not him, since he's been all Alexander Haig for a while now. As an aside, I'm still curious (read: somewhat obsessed) with what they did to cause that purple show; his pushing it off on BP hasn't helped any ...

"The Discoverer Enterprise, poised to lift the capping stack, had lowered its riser to about 1,900 feet when its ROV discovered that a line running in parallel to the riser was detached from it. (video). The riser was then retrieved and later redeployed."

Looking at the video, I believe that is a string of DP with the loose and slack control cable for the new capping stack, not a riser.

You are right of course. (I am not an oil person and sometimes mix those things up).

If this were a TV drama, which unfortunately it is not, the DA would be having fits about the defendants playing with the evidence.

Of course this is not TV where there is a need for somebody who is so obviously a 'bad guy' that people with room tempratures IQs don't have to think and consider issues.

Since BOPs have a ~45% failure rate anyway - I doubt that an investigation of the BOP is going to turn up anything we already didn't know. the quote below demonstrates that there were known issues with BOPs that the MMS knew about.

"Each of those four design flaws – detailed in three studies conducted for the US Minerals Management Service (MMS) during the past decade – threatened the ability of blowout preventers in deep water to function in an emergency.

Yet the flaws did not result in federal safety alerts or tougher standards for blowout preventer (BOP) manufacturers, say experts familiar with the MMS response to such findings."


Reading this report just leaves one in shock about the incompetency of the oversight or our government on Safety in general. If this report doesn't sway you, Google, 'Food recalls for 2010', mind blowing. We look to the Gov't to enforce safety in our country and then to read a report like this that just spells out the impending disaster. It is not so much in the failure of profit seeking corporations to self regulate, we all know this is not a probability. But it is a failure for a Government not to work for and protect it's citizens. We send troops to their deaths to protect others in the name of protecting us. (NO I'm not saying that what we are doing in Iraq or Afghanistan is wrong but surely the execution up until the last couple of years has been a disaster. ) And the oversight failure is at all levels, i.e. federal, state, county, township. I'm involved in a lawsuit against a county in WI that owns the land, appoints the zoning commission that issues Conditional Use Permits, Appoints the Appeals Board that hears contests about the CUPS, and owns the Highway department that requested the CUP (subsequentially issued over public protest) to do mining on residentially platted land within 50 feet of developed residential property. Opened up an aquifer that feeds potable water wells less than 150 feet downhill through a gravel bed and then dumped 40k cu yds of contaminated (arsenic and lead) material back into the pit in-spite of the CUP being for removal only. An appeal was denied and now it is a court matter. I call this the Arrogance of Government. The Highway Commissioner when asked, at a public meeting, why he did this, replied "Because we can". Somehow we need to get our government back on the stick. Had better regulations been in place JUST FOR THE BOP, all of this might have not taken place. Would it have cost BP more? Yes! Would it have cost BP less than $40B? YES! Would BP have been able to continue paying dividends? Most assuredly! Would we have had to close the Gulf to fishing, the beaches to recreation etc? NO! So again what do we, the people, have to do to get our Gov't back on the job.

> what do we, the people, have to do to get our Gov't back on the job.

Get involved. Vote.

Our system is intended to be government of the people, by the people, for the people.

If you're not involved -- and blame "the government" for your problems -- well then, it's YOUR fault.

I agree with levi that we need to get 100% of the vote out. Unfortunately that is not the fact. When we muster 2/3rds we are doing good. But regardless of which party is in power and lately it has been all about power and not about truly running the country, the big money rules and the people sit in the rear of the bus. So I maintain we need to figure out how the people can get control back from the big money.

Luxury booms while bargain retail suffers


The Age of Mammon:

As our economy hurtles towards its meeting with destiny, the political class seeks to assign blame on their enemies for this Greater Depression. The Republicans would like you to believe that Bill Clinton, Robert Rubin, Chris Dodd, and Barney Frank and their Community Reinvest Act caused the collapse of our financial system. Democrats want you to believe that George Bush and his band of unregulated free market capitalists created a financial disaster of epic proportions. The truth is that America has been captured by a financial class that makes no distinction between parties.

Engineers in Chile say they will attempt to drill a second tunnel in a bid to free 33 trapped miners sooner than the 120 days originally forecast.

The mining experts said Saturday the second rescue tunnel could be completed in two months under ideal conditions. The miners have been trapped since August 5.

Chilean officials say five of the miners, who were thought to be suffering from depression, have recovered.

Health Minister Jaime Manalich said the miners improved after receiving good food and news from their families.

On Friday, Manalich described the five men as isolated and not eating well. Manalich said a psychiatrist would attempt to treat the men over an intercom system lowered into the mine.

Excavation work to free the men is expected to begin soon.

The workers were trapped when part of the gold and copper mine collapsed on August 5. Rescuers first made contact with them on August 21.

Officials organizing the rescue effort say some of the miners will have to lose weight to fit through the rescue shaft.


Chilean officials say five of the miners, who were thought to be suffering from depression, have recovered.

If this is true, it's excellent news. But it seems awfully strange to me. David, if you're reading this, does it make sense to you? I'm wondering whether the five could have somehow managed to convince themselves the whole rescue attempt was a charade, but when they had a chance to talk to the psychiatrists at length, were reassured that it was genuine. That's the only way I can understand such a quick turnaround.

Articles I've read say antidepressants are being given to miners who are having difficulty. Here is one article that says a little more about medical attention:

This article mentions an 89cm waistline that corresponds to 35". Now make that 189cm and the diameter is more like 23" that is far more reasonable. A 1 dropped in translation?


This article mentions an 89cm waistline that corresponds to 35". Now make that 189cm and the diameter is more like 23" that is far more reasonable. A 1 dropped in translation?

Huh?? 189cm is about 74 inches. That isn't a waistline, it's a huge protruding belly.

Gettin' far too close for comfort, whatever it is!


I don't know of an equation to get diameter from waist size. I could be wrong but I interpret waist size to be belt size. My belt size is 31 inches and my maximum width at hips is 14 inches. I am very skinny and of medium height so a diameter of 14 inches would be smaller than most other people. If I assume 31 inches is a circumference, its diameter is 9.9 inches. And that's not close to the actual 14 inches that matters.

The articles I've read say the Strata 950 will drill a hole with diameter of 25 inches. This gives a circumference of 78.5 inches.

Your 23 inches is certainly closer to what I've read but I don't think it's because of a typo with the 25 inch waist size. I've seen the same waist size number in many articles. I guess it's possible for them all to have same typo. I would also speculate your number is closer to actual because the pod that will go into hole may use up a little bit of that 25 inch hole size.

Trouble is that, cough, journalists these days just seem to blindly copy each others web articles and do not check even the most basic facts.

ISTR the hole is to be 28" but same rule applies.


RE: Converting waist circumference to diameter.

If your waist circumference is 38" or smaller your cross sectional area there is more like an ellipse. So, instead of dealing with a diameter you have to measure the semi-major and semi-minor axes of your waist, i.e. belly button to backbone and left to right love handle. I suggest calipers for this.

Once you have those measurements you can verify your measurements by solving the complete elliptic integral of the second kind. You can do this either via numerical integration (the best type being Gaussian quadrature) or by one of many binomial series expansions. The result should match your measured circumference.

If your waist is larger than 38" you can use D=C/pi. There are times when being chunky has its advantages.

instead of dealing with a diameter you have to measure the semi-major and semi-minor axes of your waist, i.e. belly button to backbone and left to right love handle.

Seems to me what they should be doing is measuring the width of the pelvis. Soft tissues can always be compressed somewhat, even shoved around a bit. It's the bony parts that will determine whether you fit.

Seems to me what they should be doing is measuring the width of the pelvis.

Waist or hips--doesn't matter. If they won't fit they is chunky fellers. Send down some Slim-Fast.

Waist or hips--doesn't matter. If they won't fit they is chunky fellers.

My point was that circumference is irrelevant; it's the width of the bone structure that determines whether they'll fit. (Unless they're hugely fat.) As somebody said upthread, a cross-section of the (nonobese) human body is an ellipse. That ellipse can't be compressed at its widest point, the pelvis (shoulder width can be compressed slightly by pulling the shoulders forward and in). You want to fit the ellipse into the circle of the cage. There'll be slivers of free space between the long sides of the ellipse and the cage.

Ok. My original post was just a little joke anyway about fat people being round enough that c=pi*d works. Please don't take it seriously.

Swift: None of this would matter to me because I would get in that cage even if I had to have them lay the cage on its side and have four guys stand on the door to get it closed! I'm outa der!

Sounds like you have over packed for a trip before!

The diameter of a 35 inch circumference is 11 inches. The diameter of the escape tunnel is to be 26 inches. The additional space is for the lift that will be sent down the tunnel for the men to ride in to the surface plus just plain space so the lift can move freely up and down.

No lift, just a cage that is hauled down and up. That 35"/89cm/90cm around, 11" diameter is screwed up somewhere along the line. ISTR the hole being 28" but let us use 26" minus 2" either side for clearance leaves 22". If I can't weld up a cage 22" OD with walls of 1" that is strong enough I am not trying. That leaves 20" ID. In other words a 60" waist line would fit easily. Somewhere along the line the information is wrong, I suggest we drop it until better information is available and concentrate on the welfare aspects.


Anyone know the dimensions of the cages used in previous rescues?

I call a cage that is used to haul something up and down a lift. It lifts does it not. As noted by others waistline is often not the critical measurment. Unless they are going to have their hands above their heads you will have an arm on both sides. So lets say 2 more inches on each side - that takes 11 inches to 15 inches. Except these guys are miners so maybe 3 to 4 inches on each side, 17 to 19 inches.

I read that they are not sending down cigarettes to the miners who smoke but are sending nicotene patches instead. Give them a break/ This is political correctness run wild. Even on submarines they allowed smoking until the military banned smoking.

Most folks gain weight when they quit smoking -- what if they gain so much they will not fit in the cage.

Let's see, they are in a very confined space with limited air supply. Do we encourage the smoking without respect to the total air capacity or do we consider those that may not smoke (I'm betting not many). I think I would fall on the side of maintaining the air quality of a very limited supply.

AWD - Sorry I should have included the following from news stories:

"The miners can still reach many chambers and access ramps in the lower reaches of the mine, and have used a separate chamber some distance from their reinforced emergency chamber as their bathroom. But they have mostly stayed in the shelter, where they knew rescuers would try to reach them."

Although the amount of oxygen avaliable is unclear the above implies there is plenty but maybe the air is a bit stale so fresh air piped from the surface is welcome. A bigger danger to the air would be hydrogen sulfide gas which can be deadly even in small amounts if it even exists in this mine.

yes, I had seen that. Doesn't change situation. 33 miners all smoking x packs per day, lots of smoke throughout the still limited volume. The fact that they are considering compressed air simply amplifies the bad air problem. Second hand, or in a mine maybe 3rd hand smoke still is bad. So yes I vote for the gum and a compromise, smoke when you get back to the surface. Should there just happen to be non-smokers you desire to force them into breathing the smoke. Not a good deal. No place to hide in this hotel.

Most folks gain weight when they quit smoking -- what if they gain so much they will not fit in the cage.

One of the reasons folks gain weight when they quit smoking is because they tend to eat more to make up for the absent oral stimulation of smoking. They aren't going to be getting enough food to put on much weight beyond what they've lost, if that.

Smoking does relieve stress, but the smokers among them will have already gone through the worst of the withdrawal (if any of them had a pack of smokes with them when they were trapped, the smokes were most likely gone fairly quickly). The nicotine patches will provide some of the stress-reducing effect of cigarettes, as well as whatever nicotine itself does to foster weight gain.

If it were me, though, I'd let them have at least a couple of cigarettes a day, as long as they smoked a good distance away from the nonsmokers.

Boy, I think if I were in that sitch and had gotten through the jonesin' for 20-odd days already, I'd be awfully glad to leave nicotine alone now. (The relief, and maybe pride, of that alone making a fine stress-reducer.)

Unless they are going to have their hands above their heads you will have an arm on both sides. So lets say 2 more inches on each side

Arms over the head won't reduce shoulder width.

I'd guess arms will be folded across the chest, with shoulders rounded, elbows pointing straight down, and hands either right next to the neck, or grasping and pulling in the shoulders further if necessary. (Try it!) That should make shoulder width about the same as pelvis width.

antidepressants are being given to miners who are having difficulty

Thing is, antidepressants take awhile to work, maybe weeks. These five guys seem to have recovered practically overnight. (Thanks for the article. It's hard to imagine how this could be handled any better. I'm just amazed at how much effort and thought the folks up top are putting into maintaining the miners' well-being.)

I'm venturing opinions that are at the edge of my informed experience and training, but given that qualification, in my clinical judgment (which has been proved in repeated clinical studies to be far less reliable than research based findings [that's studies in general, not just about my personal clinical judgment, I hasten to add :<)) ]) that is entirely possible.

In "situational" depression, once the conditions which triggered the depression (helplessness with no visible prospect of relief) are alleviated the depression disappears.

Clinical depression is a product of repeated experiences of "situational" depression which gradually accumulate to trigger a chronic expectation of helplessness with no visible prospects of relief.

The clinical depression can be aggravated by induced changes to the blood chemistry which make it more difficult to overcome the numbing effect of those changes.

Thus when we see depression lingering with no apparent triggering experience or belief in present circumstances we diagnose clinical depression in any of several manifestations.

Hope that helps.


In "situational" depression, once the conditions which triggered the depression (helplessness with no visible prospect of relief) are alleviated the depression disappears.

But these five were said to be depressed several days after they were found, and to have recovered virtually overnight despite having been told they'd be there for at least a couple of months.

One of the problems with depression is that it is a product of the subconscious, and therefore it is sometimes hard to identify the triggering concern. It often may seem trivial to others, but the problem is that that it's significant to them.

Time for full disclosure.

Those five guys are all clients of mine.

What they were depressed about was that they would miss their next weekly session with me, but I called them and held a telephone session.

Oops, did I just breach confidentiality?

Does HIPPA apply to foreign clients and/or phone conversations?


Edit to repair product of lazy finger

Didn't the stated time frame for rescue suddenly change from 4 mos to 2 mos. That would certainly lift your spirits at least temporarily.

Didn't the stated time frame for rescue suddenly change from 4 mos to 2 mos.

I believe they were reported to be depressed before that.

That was my point. They were depressed before the rescue time was changed to 2 mos. ie they were depressed initially when the rescue time was 4 mos. Since I am hearing about their relief from depression and the change to 2 mos at about the same time I was hypothesizing that being told you would be rescued 2 mos earlier than expected might just happen to quickly lift your depression.

2 months is not "guaranteed" but 4 months seems to be a bit long but guaranteeble, maybe. I personally think they should stick with the longer time and then hopefully overperform and get there earlier. The guys down below will hear which ever drill is getting close and can then anticipate it's arrival.

Plan B is not certain yet and the numbers are speculative/wind in right direction. I suspect that the lift in spirits is more due to the efforts of the other miners and a general sense of hope.


I suspect that the lift in spirits is more due to the efforts of the other miners and a general sense of hope

Yah, that, getting to talk to their families ("Burt Reynolds' son" re-proposed to his wife of 25 years), and ol' Santy's managing to deliver a whole sleighful of goodies you wouldn't think could fit through this dinky a chimbly:

... To help the miners cope, Golborne said rescuers are sending down aluminum bed frames, towels, hot-weather clothes that wick away sweat, shampoo and shower caps. MP3 players, speakers and a mini-TV projector -- along with recordings of soccer games and other films -- are also on the way, he said.

Manalich told reporters on Sunday the miners were sent vaccines to protect against diseases like diphtheria and tetanus. He said the risk of infection among the men is high as they are crammed in such a small space. Some of the miners are having problems with skin fungi, Manalich added, and there's a high risk of breathing infections.

The miners have been sent rubber boots and chlorine to help treat water from sources they have access to underground, Manalich said.

He said the miners currently have a video camera underground and are filming each other to show injuries they sustained during the cave-in. The images should help doctors diagnose and treat the men, though no one is thought to have serious wounds.

They start the rescue hole today. From an AP story:

... Araya said that knowledge gained drilling the initial holes, which are between 20 and 100 yards (meters) from the shelter, would give the team digging the rescue hole a head start. For example, while penetrating rock, the circular motion of the bits causes the drill to veer right. In this case, the especially hard rock exaggerates that, making constant correction necessary, he said. ...

On the other hand, the hardness of the rock means this hole may not need casing.

[from sub editor to news desk]. Headline: five depressed miners make miraculous recovery; offered jobs as warhead technicians on nuclear submarine.

Also need to find sex and drugs angle, if we are going to keep this story on front page for four months. Check wives and girl friends for hot pics, dodgy pasts etc. Start negotiating exclusives rights, film rights, post rescue first interview etc etc; "Lindsay Lohan’s $1 Million Post-Jail OK! Offer"; you know the sort of stuff we need. [message ends: sub-ed; Daily Pig Media Inc]

PS. Have great idea for fat miner fronting new TV slimming product campaign. You know what we need; "how I lost life saving 100 lbs in four months, Pig Media exclusive".

Does anyone else wonder why "mining experts" don't just go in the mine and clear the collapsed rock? Just load it in trucks and haul it out. Seems that could be done way faster than drilling escape shafts.

Granted that I'm not a miner, and am a devout coward to boot, but the precautions I would need to take to work there would be so time consuming to establish, that I would be making profoundly slow progress.

Massive shortage of "pit props" in Chile. Also; "BP has used all the cement" says tunnel boring and lining machine driver. Stop Press: Vibration of planet caused by BP dropping drill string causes Sumatra volcano to erupt after 400 years. "We will sue BP" says governor of Island.

" BP has used all the cement" LOL +100!

I had a thought to share and I know I am completely new to this. But it did occur to me, that the casing reduces in diameter as it gets deeper. So if the drill pipe is cemented in, in one or more places, wouldn't that cement around the drill pipe be too large for the narrower pipe further down and just stop the pipe falling so far.

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

Thanks for the comments, Bruce, but the continuity equation actually supports my position and is one reason why collection of actual flow would render a far more accurate quantification of the flow than an estimate based on a video.

Your argument would be valid if wasn't for all the false false premises.

You suppose that direct measurement is guaranteed to produce a higher number than guesstimation.

You suppose that if there is no measurement into a boat means BP gets to claim in court that there was no oil spilled. This of course is false. For all you know if all the flow was delivered to a boat it might have shown only produced 30000 barrels a day collected. It may end up costing BP billions because there was never an opportunity to come up with a days worth of oil collected.

Your argument is producing the oil to a boat would result in a higher fine and therefore BP avoided it. That argument would fly nicely if you could just explain where they got the crystal ball that told them that.

Did you just say "false false premises?"

In other words his premises are true?

Personally I think the reason BP never implemented there final containment and collection system was because they did not want the embarrassment of another failure. I mean just how long would the oil have continued spewing into the gulf while BP worked out the bugs in the new system?

I don't see why so many have become so impatient. BP has control of the well. As long as they don't lose control again they can take as long as they want to wrap this up. If it takes them a year to eliminate all the possible ways this well could get out of control again - so what?

This is a weak argument that is more ad hominem than factual. It does not merit the time it would take to respond to it.

I don't think you are interested in an honest debate. I'm happy to leave it that you and I disagree.

Edited for clarity

Dear Jinn, synchro, and others,

Here's a hypothetical question that might have some bearing on this debate.

Consider a large container of Macondo well hydrocarbons sitting on the seabed. (Weight it down with as many sunken aircraft carriers as needed.) Assume that the container is pressurized to 2230 psi. Attach to it the riser that was previously attached to the capping stack, and leave the riser open to the air at the top. What would be the flow rate of the oil rising to the surface? Would it be more than 100,000 bopd?

Depends upon the diameter of, and any constrictions in, the riser, and how that configuration changes over time.

"The difference between theory and reality is that in theory there is no difference, but in reality there is."

David, like I said, use the same riser as they had attached to the capping stack. I was hoping someone out there would know its dimensions.

I'm not a fool.

The point was that the conditions you specified bore only a superficial resemblance to the possible conditions that obtained in the real situation.

I'm not accusing you of being a fool, just of not really taking all factors into consideration, e.g.: what is the diameter of any opening between the container and the riser? is the container open at any other points? etc.

I'm really not trying to be a smart ass (at least very much, even though that is probably the smartest part of my personal configuration), just trying to demonstrate how difficult it is to establish truly equivalent conditions even absent the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.


Sorry about being a little snarky. You may recall that I frequently make jokes about theoreticians and modelers, which I feel justified doing because I is one, but only part-time. The rest of the time I am an experimentalist, and like to believe myself to be well-grounded in the real world. But of course we all tell lies to ourselves all the time.

I do disagree with the attitude that theory provides no help in real-world situations. In this case I was trying to place an upper bound on the effect that channeling the flow through a pipe to the surface could reasonably have on the flow rate of the gushing well. If 2230 psi were sufficient to allow much more than the presumed largest flow rate, then I don't see how attaching a riser of that size atop the capping stack would greatly reduce the flow, unless one did something silly like placing a major constriction somewhere in the flow path. I chose 2230 psi because that's the pressure that the open end of capping stack was exposed to. If it takes considerably more that 2230 psi to push 100,000 bopd through the riser, then attaching a riser still might not have much effect on the flow rate, but one would need to use a more complete model. The conditions before they added the capping stack were somewhat different, but this post will get very long if I try to go into all the possibilities.

IMO, one of the most important purposes of theory and modeling is to place boundaries on what is reasonable to hypothesize is possible in the real world.

And please remember, we're just killing time right now waiting to see how their attempt at removing the old BOP goes.

I wasn't experiencing your comments as snarky, but was aware that you might have been slightly piqued by my comment.

I agree that theory works fine for establishing upper limits, so my failure to detect that misled my efforts. For a guy who talks about the importance of listening, I sure do have a hard time listening adequately,


I don't think the plan was to just run it up a riser and have shoot out like a geyser when it got to the surface so whatever flow you might get from that model is irrelevant.

If you recall part of the success of the containment system depended on the integrity test. The test was designed to determine how much back pressure the well could take. As it turned out the integrity test demonstrated the well could handle any amount of back pressure. After July 15, BP could have easily produced to the surface 30000 bpd. They could have produced 5000 bpd if they wanted to.

Up until July 15, they had deployed containment systems designed to put very little additional pressure on the well. That was because of their concern about well integrity.

So we agree that they had the capability to collect nearly the entire flow with the existing contraption in july, but to me it seemed they were in no hurry to get the ships in place to do it.

Your simplification is useful in this respect. The riser would be filled with oil & gas, instead of sea water. Therefore, based on an O/G specific gravity of 0.77, the static pressure at the mud line would be approximately 6.4 ppg x 5,000 ft x The Rockman Conversion factor 0.052 = 1,664 psi, which is less than the initial 2,230 psi, thereby creating a larger pressure difference across the well itself resulting in INCREASED FLOW RATES!!!!!

[See the question about Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms on the previous thread.]

You are not smarter than a fifth grader.

Nubs. The original riser was a 21 inch, which was a match for the 18 3/4 inch BOP / Well head kit they are using. The Cap stack may have been lowered on drill pipe; I didn't see it. Moon of A will probably have logged this data.

Your tank on the sea bed example is a hydrostatic problem. The flowing well was more a hydrodynamic problem. Until they had the data to allow shutting in the Cap, they would not risk over pressuring the well, as detailed by others.

Woody. The drill pipe is inside the production casing. The production casing is inside the well bore casing. The well below the well head is 13,300 feet deep. The cement plug put in the production casing - by the static kill - extends 5000 feet up from the bottom of the well. There is, as far as we know, 3500 feet of drill pipe, hanging from the well head (BOP), inside the production casing.

That leaves 4800 feet of space between the end of the small bore injection drill pipe and the top of the cement. The chances of the drill pipe being cemented to anything are small. There may be bits of hard cement hanging around in the production casing and the BOP/LMRP. The well was flushed out with sea water before the blow out, seawater dilutes un-set cement back to un-settable cement. The BOP latching mechanism to the well head is designed so not to be contaminated with cement or drilling mud. Cement is great in compression strength but crap in tension and bending strength.

In the words of the great static kill comedic lord John Cleese (Monty Python), (replace the word "parrot" with the words "oil well"). 'E's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace!

Lifting tool from Enterprise is within 200 ft of the stack.

A thread ran a little off topic from the Chilean miners in the last few days, rambling thru Chilean music to the streets of Valparaiso. I thought I'd bring it back to the mine by following Darwin on horseback in 1835, riding from Valparaiso to Copiapo. A small warning: scrolling, exploring submenus, and opening the other pages in these sites can eat your day!

The trip starts from Valparaiso on p. 561 of the Beagle diary, scroll down to p. 573 for descriptions of the mines, country, and people around Copiapo. Darwin returns to the Beagle on p. 591:

From Darwin's Geology of South America, three sketches of the Andes, the bottom figure is of the Copiapo Valley south of the mine, the others are sections thru the Andes to Argentina. The rest of the book is viewable thru the menu:

For a more modern experience, see the mine site in Google Maps; switch to Satellite view and zoom in for a clear view of the surface works of the San Jose mine, I believe the entrance is a couple kilometers NW of the marker. Zoom out to get a feel for the barren environment:

A rather impressive digital version of the Geological Map of Chile, with the Copiapo area fortuitously inset in the upper right of the lead pages:

And if you are at all interested in the San Jose mine, the Copiapo/Caldera area, and the Atacama region, don't miss this rich local website for more cultural and geological info than you can shake a stick at:

The miners have been underground for two dozen days now, I'm impressed and hopeful.

riding from Valparaiso to Copiapo.

Hey, thanks, what fun! This'll be my project for this evening (if I can get my work done).

Back briefly to Torres del Paine--what an extraordinary paradise. This photographer's site has some magnificent views, including this and this. Sigh.

And I don't care if guanacos spit. I just want to be able to gaze at one from a respectful distance. (That video was a hoot, though. Love the way the critter raised its head to spit--so casually contemptuous!)

Brat, WOW! Thanks for the links! I love reading "in-their-own-words" history. Just had never thought to look up Darwin diaries. GREAT!

BP Internal Report Said to Find Engineers Misread Gulf Well Test Results
By Joe Carroll - Aug 29, 2010 1:23 AM ET

BP Plc’s internal investigation of the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster found company engineers misinterpreted pressure data that indicated a blowout was imminent, according to a person familiar with the report.

BP managers aboard the Transocean Ltd.-owned rig misread a test of the Macondo well’s stability on April 20 and began replacing drilling fluid, which is heavier than oil and natural gas, with seawater, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the report’s findings haven’t been publicly released.

more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-08-29/bp-internal-report-said-to-find...

If it turns out to be true, that's one of the best things that I've heard since the blowout, because it suggests that BP is taking this seriously, and at least some people there want to find the full truth, not just the convenient truth.

Now if we others can just restrain our mob like tendencies to want to see blood sooner than later, we might have a reasonably positive culmination of all of the efforts.

Not being argumentative, just curious. What is "reasonably positive culmination of all of the efforts" when investigating cause of the blowout?

It was kind of a broad statement, wasn't it? :<))

We can't change history, but I am hopeful we can come to understand the essentials of what the history of the blowout and the recovery efforts is.

If we can come to an understanding about what went wrong (but also what went right), we have a fighting chance of not only preventing the negatives from happening again somewhere else, but we may be able to apply the lessons learned to other forms of human endeavor.

But I would also see a reasonably positive culmination to include a reasonable attempt to make as many people who have experienced losses whole again, preferably with a minimum of delay and acrimony.

Watch out, David. Donald Vidrine may just be auditioning for the new 'fall guy' series, as Rockman and i speculated might happen.

Kidding aside, watch out for the blame game and losing sight of the bigger picture.

If one man's poor judgment is the cause of this disaster, then things are worse than i imagined at BP.

It would be understandable if everybody but us bystanders (at least so far) might be shaking in their boots at this point, so it's reasonable to be concerned about that, and hard to dissipate once that feeling is established in anyone.

If we're focused on blame, judgment, retribution, revenge, etc. We largely forgo the opportunity to be sure that we've established the truth of the matter, and future generations will suffer as a result.

It is possible to create an atmosphere in which everyone can have an opportunity to step up, take responsibility, and tell the truth, but we aren't very good at it. Since there is strong evidence that individuals, for the most part, at least, want to take responsibility for their actions IF they won't suffer inappropriately excessive consequences for them, that is a direction we CAN take. Whether we will remains to be seen.

And you're right, the cascade effect is abundantly present even in simple actions.

For example, many people would argue that if I get punched in the nose I have to punch back, and that it happens automatically.

It doesn't.

First the event has to happen (someone punches me)

IF i am aware of that action (in this case I'm likely to be, but in many others I may not), by experiencing it via my sensory array, then I have to interpret the behavior (usually to determine whether it's hostile or not - again, usually a slam dunk in this case, but not in all cases).

Then I have to determine what the most appropriate response to that event is (this is almost always, in cases like this, a pre-event decision based upon values, upbringing, previous experience, etc., but, again, not always).

Then I have to execute the decision and transmit what turns out to be a fairly complex array of sensory perceptions and commands to my fist.

Even if this is habitual behavior, I can consciously and deliberately alter it, over time.

As an individual the key is whether I want to alter my behavior so that it meets my needs better.

As a isociety the key is whether we want to alter our behavior so that it meets our needs better.

"If one man's poor judgment is the cause of this disaster, then things are worse than i imagined at BP."

Excellent point.

Fortunately it wasn't just one man's poor judgment. They spend about an hour discusssing what the pressure readings meant. How many men were involved in that discussion? At least two, probably three, four, maybe more. Apparently they all agreed readings didn't indicate a flowing well, so they moved ahead with riser displacement.

Fortunately it wasn't just one man who caused the disaster. It was several men. We call all relax. :)

Question for the experts. The Bloomberg report in Snakeheads post, asserts that ~4M Bbls of material was lost from the reservoir that had an estimated 50M Bbls of material in it. Is it reasonable to expect that an 8% reduction in content from the reservoir would result in something like a 30% reduction in reservoir pressure. As I recall the estimated reservoir pressure went from ~11,900 psi to ~8,000 psi. Not sure if my memory serves me well here, but that is an ~30% pressure reduction. Is this realistic?

Those with more expertise will perhaps give a more accurate and complete explanation, but in the interim, It's my understanding that because of the nature of the geology there is a significant time delay in the migration of the formation fluids from a high pressure area to a low pressure area.

Therefore the current pressure may be closer now to the higher measured pressure than the lower measured pressure was at the time the flow was stopped.

And yes, any measures taken to plug and abandon the well need to use the higher pressure in designing the adequacy of their methods.

Edit to correct spelling

One possibility that has been raised previously is "reservoir compartmentalization". In simple terms, the presumed 50 million bbl size is no doubt based on the overall size of the feature determined by seismic, combined with the sand thickness (~60 ft) and average porosity observed in the well. However, seismic tends to have limited resoulution. Seis can see the big sand body, but has limited ability to see variations and discontinuities within that sand. Well log data is better, but even logs have limits to their resolution. And the well log only samples the sand body at one point.

This sand accumulation is presumably turbidites, which build up, over time from a series of episodic, discreet turbitity flows. Depending on how much time elapses between turbity flows, there can be very thin, relatively impermeable shales deposited between flows. Also, over time turbidites tend to form different kinds of deposits. These are somewhat (but not exactly) analagous to river deposites, with levees, channels, fans, etc. These different deposits combine to make up the big sand accumulation observed on seismic. But, the key point is that there can be significant discontinuities within the sand body. Sands that are right next to each other, or right on top of each other may not "communicate" (in the fluid sense) very well. These discontinuities can be baffles wich allow some flow, or in extreme cases total barriers to fluid movement within the overall accumulation.

In the normal situation, reservoir compartmentalization is a bad thing. It can sometimes mean that one must drill a lot of wells to tap each compartment. In my part of the woods, the Badami Field on the North Slope is a poster child for turbidite compartmentalization. BP build expensice surface process facilities and a pipeline, and only realized too late that each well they drilled was only draining a small part of the overall reservoir. Their economics went to hell and they ultimately shut the field in for several years. Recently they farmed it out to a smaller company who will give it another try. We shall see what happens.

In the case of Macondo, it may be that the well has tapped into a separate compartment and is not draining the entire accumulation. This could easily account for the pressure drawdowm. If this is the case, the compartmentalization may be near absolute, in which case the pressure will not build back up to the original virgin pressure. Or the compartmentalization may be more of a baffle, in which case the pressure may build up slowly over time.

This is a complex subject, and I'm only trying to hit the key points.

Alaska, thanks for the insight into the Geo. I was obviously thinking of the reservoir in terms of a large bladder or cave. What your saying makes a whole lot of sense. I assume that if we knew the pressure gradient at the well over time we would have a substantially better picture of the geology.

duck, I'm pretty sure bp believes that ultimate field size is larger than the 50M bbls mentioned. You need ~100MBOE in order to have an economic field and I recall that they were in the midst of a temporary abandonment when the blowout occurred. You wouldn't temporarily abandon a location if you honestly believed you could only recover 50MBOE. Therefore I assume that bp believes there is a high likelihood that ultimate field size will be greater than 100MBOE. Typical next steps would include acquisition of additional, higher quality 3D seismic data, application of more sophisticated data processing and depth imaging of the seismic and further interpretation along with an appraisal plan.

As for the pressures....even if the accumulation is "only" 50MBOE and confined within a turbidite sequence, it is almost certainly in pressure communication with a vast volume of surrounding rocks / sediments (as pointed out by others on TOD, there appears to be a fair amount of faulting in the general vicinity which could easily provide the areally extensive pressure communication). For that reason, I seriously doubt that there is/was any effective pressure draw-down.

craig, you may be right but I remember significant discussion about the rationale for the difference in original pressure (11,900 psi) to pressure about the time of plugging (7,900 >>8,000psi) and the statements being made about resevroir drawdown being the reason. Assuming your figure of 100M bbls is the real number then we are talking about 4M bbls being just 4% of resevoir yet a pressure gradient of nearly 4k psi. I was trying to rationalize this discontinuity until Alaska talked about compartmentalization. The friction in the reservoir to movement of the oil must be substantial in any case. It runs counter intuitive that with an even larger field the gradient is that large. I found that a bit enlightening.

I understand and certainly agree that IF the producing interval was from a small compartment that is not in pressure communication with anything else, then what you're suggesting could be true. I just think that there are a number of realistic scenarios that could account for the pressure difference. Regardless of what people think of bp's performance wrt to the blowout, they honestly do have one of the best exploration departments and seismic imaging departments in the industry (note: I'm a bp retiree and so biased on these things). If they truly believed this to be an isolated compartment, they would have either abandoned the location altogether or turned it to partners.

Regardless of what people think of bp's performance wrt to the blowout, they honestly do have one of the best exploration departments and seismic imaging departments in the industry (note: I'm a bp retiree and so biased on these things). If they truly believed this to be an isolated compartment, they would have either abandoned the location altogether or turned it to partners.

It's true, BP does have a sophisticated exploration department. No argument there. And I agree, they likely thought they have an economic field. My point is, they don't know for sure. Compartmentalization is one of the big risks of the exploration business. There really isn't any way to know for sure until you start producing the field. One of the issues in deep water is that drilling is so expensive, that companies try make a go/nogo development decision based on as few wells as possible. Sometimes it works, sometimes you get bit. I'm sure that risk was factored into their development plans.

Even then, compartmentalization doesn't mean you can't produce it and make money. Often, in means you need to spend more money, drill more wells, and your profits get skinnier. The Badami Field I mentioned (discovered by Conoco, then bought by BP) is a somewhat extreme case. Even there, the new operator seems to think that by a combination of horizontal wells and frac jobs they can make some money. They just won't make as much money.

As the old saying goes, "Sometimes you are the windshield, sometimes you are the bug!"

"As the old saying goes, "Sometimes you are the windshield, sometimes you are the bug!""

LOL....I certainly agree with that!!!

As I remember, the less-than-expected pressures were either a result of depletion or lack of well integrity. Have the *really* ruled out the lack of integrity angle?

Early on, Admiral Allen had a few days in a row of mentioning a nearby aquafier; would this play into things at all when you're speaking of compartmentalization?

In lieu of more data, my vote right now would be "well integrity"......

Wasn't that 7900 figure the well head pressure while the 11900 pressure was the reservoir pressure. Now add in the column of oil and use that figure.


Well, I think NAOM solved the memory riddle. Looks like a 13,000' column of oil would yield a bottom pressure of ~4900 psi Plus the remembered 7,900 psi >> ~ 12.8k psi. Close enough to the 11.9k to assert we have no idea what the pressure gradient due to drawdown at the bottom of the hole is. Thanks for all the input. Now I know a thimble full about compartmentalization. Too bad they don't or didn't have a remote sending pressure instrument to leave in the bottom of the hole. I would have thought it might yield some useful info on the reservoir. Thanks all.

duck - I was waiting for a good spot to jump in and you provided it. I'm going to skip the details but given the conditions at the well it's almost impossible to estimate BHP (bottom hole pressure) from WHFP (well head flowing pressure). The pressure estimate you offered may be correct but maybe not. I suspect it is close though. Also, even if this were a pure pressure depletion drive I don't think there has been enough produced to see a significant pressure drop anyway. I think BP early on said 50 million bbls RECOVERABLE. That could mean 100 million bbls in place...or more.

But if the bottom cmt job is holding it doesn't matter very much IMHO. Remember the goal: to properly and permanently plug and abandon the hole. And the only way to do that is replace the BOP and GIH with drill pipe. They might run some logs to gain some info but IMHO that would be a poor decisions. This well needs to be P&A ASAP. Up top folks were commenting how there seems to be a continuous series of missteps and poor calculations. Well friends.... WELCOME TO THE OIL PATCH! LOL. Life on a drilling rig anywhere is one "ah sh*t moment" after another. Usually they are more on the order of small irritating problems. Occasional big/expensive problems. And on even rarer occasion there are injuries/death. I have only 2 wells drilling right now and I live with my Blackberry 24/7. And there's hardly 12 hours go by without getting beeped about some problem. The technology today is great. Most of the hands are experienced and are very safety conscious. But don’t forget what we’re often dealing with: a hole smaller in diameter than a basketball that 3 or more miles below the surface. And at times all we have in contact with that end of the operation is a piece of dumb iron 6” in diameter. And sometimes at the other end of that dumb iron is a $600 million facility designed to do nothing but support that little hole.

I again make the same statement that some found alarming. The BP well blew out after taking a “kick”. I think almost everyone knows what that means now. A blow out is a rare event. A kick isn’t. They happen almost daily across the onshore/offshore Gulf Coast Basin. I can’t even guess how many of my wells took a hard kick in the last 35 years. If a hand can't deal with this possibility then he's made a bad career decision. That thought is behind every other thought you have especially if you're managing the operation. I suppose the only good news about that is that the hands know how to deal with those circumstances. There are many schools that hands go to for certification in handling kicks. But this also points out a great vulnerability of DW drilling by all operators: DW wells are going to kick. That’s a 100% certainty. Another certainty is that 100% of those kicks won’t be controlled unless every precaution possible is taken. And as others have noted: BOP failure is not uncommon. The worse kicks are controllable...if you anticipate them. It's when you're 100% certain you're not going to get kicked is typically when I've seen the worse accidents. The BP blow out may well serve as the poster child for the least anticipated kick in the history of the oil patch IMHO. I can't be sure but that may be the best explanation as rto why the crew APPEARED to have data indicating a kick was coming and didn't react properly: it couldn't be kicking because it's cased and cmnt'd properly.

Obviously it’s easy to be critical of BP after the fact. But let’s talk basics: no company has ever controlled a well thru a failed BOP in 5,000’ of water. No company had a plan designed and equipment on standby to deal with such a circumstance. So the goal of the drilling ops should be very clear: don’t take the slightest chance on having a blowout. I’ve worked in the oil patch and I can slice and dice a good deal of criticism tossed at us with one hand tied behind my back. But I can even come up with a piss poor excuse for BP letting this well get away from them. IMHO there will be a number of individuals (living and possibly dead) figuratively crucified with the aid of BP and TO by the time the investigation is over.

Rockman, thanks for your insightful response. I'm always amazed at drillers in general because they have very little ability to "see" what's at the bottom of a hole and yet get the job done. But I'm just as amazed at some of the things that go on. Later there is the stuff on BOP recommendations going unheeded. But up here, where I live, I got involved with some water wells that were in trouble, well after the fact of constuction. As I dug into the facts I was amazed at some of the stuff I uncovered. Try this. "We don't need centralizers because the casing is self-centering when we grout." This from several drillers (we were taught this at drilling school), county inspection, "But we know this to be a fact". State health department, but it is true, the pipe will self-center as we grout it. Anyway some of this background is why I'm both fascinated by the events and dismayed by some of what went wrong and shouldn't have and not just in the Gulf.

In anycase Rock, thanks for jumping in.

Rockman - What can you tell me about nitrifying cement? I have seen it referred to as "foamed" cement. So I visualize it as being a process somewhat analogous to leavening bread. The result will be to create a quasi-compressible mixture (at least until it is set [or baked in the case of bread]). It will be as squishy as the Pillsbury Dough Boy's tummy. So when they pump it down the well, it will compress and fill a reduced volume. Such a reduction in volume would be experienced aloft as "lost returns". All the lost volume would manifest itself in the shoe track. If the compression ratio were high enough there might be zero cement in the shoe track. Add in a little channelization of the cement in the annulus between the shoe and the formation, a negative pressure test while the cement has not cured, displace the riser to sea water and hold a memorial service for 11 men.

Bruce - I've never used N2 cmt but I get the concept easily enough. I know they lost drilling mud due to being over balanced so running a light cmt would make sense. But how such a blend would cure and how long it would take is a complete mystery to me. I'll just have to leave it up to the cmt pros. But I'll point out again and again: getting a good cmt job, regardless of the blend, can never be taken for granted. If there is one op that you almost always count on as not working is a cmt job. The fact that every rig has a tool on location 100% of the time that is used to redo bad cmt jobs should tell everyone something: never ever assume you got a good cmt job. Always test and be 110% sure of the test.

I'm pretty sure bp believes that ultimate field size is larger than the 50M bbls mentioned. You need ~100MBOE in order to have an economic field and I recall that they were in the midst of a temporary abandonment when the blowout occurred. You wouldn't temporarily abandon a location if you honestly believed you could only recover 50MBOE. Therefore I assume that bp believes there is a high likelihood that ultimate field size will be greater than 100MBOE. Typical next steps would include acquisition of additional, higher quality 3D seismic data, application of more sophisticated data processing and depth imaging of the seismic and further interpretation along with an appraisal plan.

Could be bigger, could be smaller. No way to tell for sure until you drill more wells and produce it for awhile. It's happened both ways. I seem to recall from a previous (ancient)TOD thread that there are reasons to believe that BP's Thunderhorse is seriously underperforming. Seismic is a marvelous tool, and is getting better all the time, but it will only get you so far. The physics of accoustic waves still rule.

As for the pressures....even if the accumulation is "only" 50MBOE and confined within a turbidite sequence, it is almost certainly in pressure communication with a vast volume of surrounding rocks / sediments (as pointed out by others on TOD, there appears to be a fair amount of faulting in the general vicinity which could easily provide the areally extensive pressure communication). For that reason, I seriously doubt that there is/was any effective pressure draw-down.

Ain't necessarily so. Draw down due to compartmentalization is real, there are many, many examples world wide. Many operators have been bit. Also, the presence of faults does not necessarily imply communication. As I recall the seismic I've seen on TOD only showed one fault and that was some distance from the structure. In any case, faults aren't always conduits. Quite often (maybe more often than not) they are baffles or barriers. Lots of fields (including Prudhoe Bay) have faults forming part of the trap. There have been litterly hundreds of papers published in the petroleum geology literature on compartmentalization of reservoirs due to both stratigraphy (such as turbidites), and faulting. Go spend some time in any library that has a decent geologic collection.

We are all speculating here, but draw down due to compartmentalization is a real possibility. If you don't believe that, you haven't developed many reservoirs.

"No way to tell for sure until you drill more wells and produce it for awhile. "

Certainly no argument there; see my comment re: appraisal plan. However, unless they had compelling evidence to the contrary, the assumption must of been that there was a high likelihood that they had an economic discovery.

"I seem to recall from a previous (ancient)TOD thread that there are reasons to believe that BP's Thunderhorse is seriously underperforming"

Maybe yes, maybe no. Even if it is under-performing, keep in mind that this it is still the largest discovery in the GOM.

"The physics of accoustic waves still rule."

Not sure what you're getting at here....seismic, in a generic sense, is 'acoustic waves'. Rule what?

"Draw down due to compartmentalization is real, there are many, many examples world wide. Many operators have been bit. Also, the presence of faults does not necessarily imply communication. "

Again, certainly no argument that compartmentalization is real, that many have been bit and the presence of faults does not guarantee communication. But, again my bias showing, these things are investigated & analyzed in great detail as part of the exploration process and prior to investing the $100M required.

And for what it's worth, my academic degree is geology my profession is/was as a geophysicist and 20 years of my management experience was in the development & application of seismic technology. I've read extensively and continue to do so. But thanks for the prompt. My point was that until we have more data I believe it wise to keep multiple working hypotheses going rather than land on one now.

"The physics of accoustic waves still rule."
Not sure what you're getting at here....seismic, in a generic sense, is 'acoustic waves'. Rule what?

I only meant that there are still limits to how much resoultion can be obtained with seismic. Attenuation of higher frequencys, multiples, noise, etc etc still limit what we can see with seismic. I meant only to imply that even though today's seismic is orders of magnitude better that it was when I joined the industry in the late '70s, it still has limits. We always want to see more than we are able.

As I said, I'm sure BP's analysis indicated they have a good reservoir at Macondo. I vaguely recall reading somewhere that they were about to anounce a discovery when the well blew out. And in fact it is entirely possible that they still do. Compartmentalization doesn't always mean failure, it often just means more expense and complexity. Bottom line is that neither of us (and probably not even BP) knows for sure at this point. But compartmentaliztion is certainly a real possibility, IMHO.

I apologize if I sounded condescending, that was perhaps a poor choice of words on my part, and certainly not my intent.

No harm, no foul! :-) Good discussions.

50MBOE may not be economic today but 5 10 years?


NAOM, full-cycle economics are routinely calculated and these include FV estimates based on (usually an internal proprietary) projection of oil prices.

Sorry, didn't mean the full cycle but laying it aside for when world prices change.


OK, understand. Only other thought about this is that the cycle-time required to appraise/develop/bring a (deepwater) field online runs ~10 years +/- (e.g. Thunderhorse discovered 1999, production ~2009, field development is ongoing) so figuring out just when to execute in the future requires excellent foresight!

Nah, 50 mmboe works with a subsea tieback. Let's see $70*50mm is what, $3.5B? Too small for a platform, but profitable with a subsea tieback - I believe this was going back to Pompano.

Yep, but the infrastructure necessary for a tie-back needs to be in-place or at least in the vicinity. Also, development program can easily run into multiple billions $$ in the deepwater.....economics for a "mere" 50MMBOE are pretty skinny.

They apparently f'd up with Thunderhorse. 50M bbl isn't chicken feed and they had a second well plan submitted. It's a guess, but I'd bet 1) they thought there'd be more and/or 2) somebody's BP ass was on the pan for committing significant funds to MC252 and there was a need to prove righteousness.

yep - there's infrastructure nearby. I think the ~50 mmboe recoverable is probably a good number here, not a company-maker, but profitable.

LHJ: Is Louisiana Seafood Safe?, answer is yes, based partially on this from The Daily Beast:

As shrimp season starts, The Daily Beast tested the Gulf's seafood for oil and dispersant, and the results were immaculate. If Gulf and Atlantic seafood are equally safe, why won't America buy?

"The results? Immaculate. As with the Atlantic samples, all of the Gulf seafood contained either undetectable or incredibly minute (well below everyday federal thresholds) levels of petroleum hydrocarbons or dispersants."

Great. Now find a bunch of Americans who trust those "everyday federal thresholds".

"So is the caution among America’s seafood consumers justified?"

Those cautious Americans don't f-ing care if their caution is "justified" or not, and the more they hear govt and other folks saying "it's safe, it's safe", the more they're going to back away from it.

This is ludicrous ... how do you cross a bridge on an interstate highway with this inherent distrust? The same mysterious x-files government that says fish are safe says the bridge is safe. How do you take an airplane flight? Eat anything at all, it's all supposed to be safe according to the government.

The government is not perfect, it makes mistakes and people pay with their lives but this over blown, "Government does everything wrong" is ludicrous. So when you say "the more they hear govt and other folks saying its safe its safe, the more they are going to back away from it".

OK, fine but how will you ever get through your lives with this philosophy? You have no more cause to believe anything is safe than you do the shrimp. In point of fact, a general sense of concern for a government with a stripped regulatory system is justified but our approach should be numerical, technical and not hyperbolic and over blown.

Truth is, our government is a more reliable protector than any other except possibly some northern europe countries. We have and should have high standards but that doesn't justify blind distrust.

Thank you!

Rant on.

Good luck finding someone to listen.

geoffrey, I agree with you but I think the responses do point out that there is a serious "trust" issue with government. IMO trust has been eroding for some time and across a variety of issues; it'll take a disproportionate, sustained and widespread effort to overcome.

When a small company that processes beef wanted to test ALL its cows for Bovine Spongiform (Mad Cow Disease) the Dept of Agriculture forbid them from doing so. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/10/us/us-won-t-let-company-test-all-its-c...

Personally that makes me more than a little suspicious that they are afraid that if more cows are tested more will be found to have the disease. Since it can mimic Alzheimer's and takes a while to appear we don't really know if we have an epidemic awaiting us or not do we.

How things are handled in specific situations is what raises suspicions. Spill oil, ban fishing, disperse it away, open fishing - everything is fine folks has an element of unbelievability.

Actually perhaps what is more worrisome is the reopening of fishing without a good evaluation of whether the populations of sea life are healthy enough to take fishing at this point. Some believe the collapse of the herring in Prince William Sound was because fishing was opened up too soon after the spill.

Our economy is very fragile at present and those making the decisions may more and more be making shorter and shorter term decisions in hopes of making it past the downturn. Given peak oil I think there is no "past the downturn", its all down hill from here on out.

what is more worrisome is the reopening of fishing without a good evaluation of whether the populations of sea life are healthy enough to take fishing

Very worrisome indeed, and I don't understand why they've gone ahead before attempting to take a census. This issue bothers me a lot more than the human oil-ingestion one (and has ever since I learned that Alaska's herring collapse actually occurred three years post-spill). What's worse, the pressure to spread the nets out there again is apt to be higher next year (then the next and the next . . . ). I understand why, but this is very ticklish.

I watched the documentary "Food, Inc." about two weeks ago. If I doubted anything in the movie (I didn't ) we have since had the massive egg recall, followed by the Tyson Deli Meat recall last week. The hubby and I are only buying organic now, and meat and chicken (which we don't eat much of anyway) from brands like White Oak Pastures, which claims, 'No added hormones or antibiotics'. It also says "cattle raised, fed and handled in a humane manner" and "raised free-roaming and free range, etc". It's expensive, but at least we are only feeding 2 now, and not a large family. As far as the Gulf seafood, I am leery that it is safe, and that's sad for moi because I love seafood. Have been reluctantly buying fish from Alaska that I suspect is over-harvested (like orange roughy) because I'm scared the bejesus of everything else, and especially the stuff from Indonesia and China!

If one thinks they can trust the gov't, I wish they would convince me. I read this last weekend and cringed:


A dad is fighting possible Agent Orange pollution into the groundwater in Maryland, which he believes caused the death of his 30 year old daughter, who died of brain cancer. Her sister and mother developed cancer as well, shortly afterwards, and 400 neighbors within a short distance of his former home have also contracted cancer.

Monsanto is the chemical company responsible for Agent Orange, and they are noted prominently in the movie "Food, Inc." for ruining many farmers by forcing them to buy their Round-up resistant terminator seeds. Unlike normal seed, the seed basically commits suicide after one planting so the farmer must go back to MOnsanto and buy it each year. The farmers that didn't give in to the pressure of buying the seed got sued by Monsanto because some of it blew over into their fields, and hence they violated Monsanto's patent law. Sadly, the US gov't shares the patent for the terminator seed with Monsanto. In addition, the US is NOT required to label genetically engineered food. I personally have a problem with that. We have a right to know, IMHO, if our food has been genetically altered.

So is it any wonder people are suspicious of the gov't's warrant that the Gulf seafood is safe? But don't tell anyone if you think it isn't. The Veggie Libel Law could come back and bite ya.

I highly recommend this documentary if you care about the food you eat, and how it relates to other people, animals, and the environment.


I am just recovering from a dose of 'bigfoodco meat'. ORT is goooooooooooood.


I won't comment on your fear of almost everything related to food, but I will comment on the "suicidal seed". This has nothing to do with Montsanto and everything to do with genetics. Virtually all seed used today is a hybrid. Hybrid seeds create plants that are excellent for many purposes, but those plants will not create new seed that carries the same desirable traits. The new seed reverts to some version of the original plants used to create the hybrid. It has always been this way with hybrid seeds, long before Agent Orange or Round-Up.

I do not trust my government to protect me from the things that will kill me. That I reserve for the TinFoilHatGuy. Truth be known, my government has been trying to kill me for years, most of it with my permission and aid. Maybe that is the question you should ask. If I prefer to be blown away, can I get the government to help me? If some greater cause or objective is achieved, even better, but a death wish is a death wish. I think to some degree we all have one. Have you ever seen the Spongebob Squarepants safety episode? It is a great watch. Your statement reminds me of my cop friend. He always says without cops, society collapses. Biggest lie ever. I remind him 'cops' are a recent invention. People protect themselves and each other. The other things just help our society hold together. Besides, he always drives like an asshole. Unsafe, if you like.

So the thresholds are more stringent in Indonesia, or Thailand? I'm going with American seafood. Even if it means spending more on ingesting a bit of crude-Corexit vinegarette with it!! Heh! Heh!

Those cautious Americans don't f-ing care if their caution is "justified" or not, and the more they hear govt and other folks saying "it's safe, it's safe", the more they're going to back away from it.

"...During more than a dozen interviews last week, BP officials and spokespeople for a number of government agencies working on the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill response denied knowledge of oil in the bay....

...On Friday, Coast Guard Lt. Stephen West with the Incident Command Post finally confirmed an area of oil a quarter of a mile long and up to 50 to 60 feet off Barrancas Beach at Pensacola Naval Air Station.He also confirmed that buckets of sunken oil were being pulled up in another area of Pensacola Bay, near Fort Pickens at Gulf Islands National Seashore..."

Despite "All Clear," Mississippi Sound Tests Positive for Oil
Sunday 29 August 2010
by: Dahr Jamail and Erika Blumenfeld, t r u t h o u t | Report

The State of Mississippi's Department of Marine Resources (DMR) opened all of its territorial waters to fishing on August 6. This was done in coordination with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Food and Drug Administration, despite concerns from commercial fishermen in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida about the presence of oil and toxic dispersants from the BP oil disaster.

On August 19, Truthout accompanied two commercial fishermen from Mississippi on a trip into the Mississippi Sound in order to test for the presence of submerged oil. Laboratory test results from samples taken on that trip show extremely high concentrations of oil in the Mississippi Sound.


[edit] See SCAT map, 8/27, showing oiling along the barrier islands and to a lesser extent along the coastline, http://gomex.erma.noaa.gov/layerfiles/10028/files/MC252_MobileShorelineC...

Bam! Bam! Rats, got both feet. It would seem that the best interests of the fisherpeople are best served by not shooting at ones feet. The contrast between the SCAT map and the Truthout publication is substantial. I would think that their best interests would be to continue to work to be part of the solution, rather than generate more attention on the issue, i.e. part of a regional perception problem. Their rags do seem to evidence oil but I did not see a report on the actual sea creatures from Truthout personnel. So it can only be observed that there is a possible causative issue but not a measurable or measured end problem. It would also seem that their best interests are to quiet down and start asking the leadership how they can directly help resolve i.e. clean up the remaining oil. They were part of that crew, maybe they should be loudly clamoring to return to that work. It would certainly serve Southern Shore reliant industry as a whole to let the boiling pot go to simmer or off.

Mississippi launches a program to look for oil in MS Sound. They are concerned about the foot-shooting fishermen.

But, if there's no oil, officials are hoping to put an end to assertions that are damaging marketability of the region's seafood.


The official may just be referring to a systematic survey program that the Coast Guard has underway:


There are tar deposits in Pensacola Bay, questionably described as "submerged oil," and causing a flap. I don't like that term, because it plays into the folklore belief that "BP sank the oil to the bottom." Tar is not oil but a residue of oil, and it sinks naturally.

EPA page doesn't show any testing in Mississippi Sound since lots in June and early July. There were a couple of recent tests near the LA line that were clean--even the sediment-- except for the usual nickel and vanadium. They wasted one sample looking for the detergent salt in Corexit, the only thing tested for.

Perhaps the material on the pad is the "floc" that Dr. Overton said was not oil, but organic matter containing some hydrocarbons. I distrust the anonymous lab test in the truthout article, and especially the wild claim that if water had been tested, it would have shown far more than 500 ppm of oil, I guess they mean TPH. What they apparently tested was a filtrate combined with material from the collection pad.

Brown icky stuff is not necessarily from Macondo or even Oil.

I've worked in fishing and taught diving and been on and around the Ocean my whole life. It's actually a pretty disgusting, wierd place and that's when the ecosystem is working. This is what I love about it, it's a gunky natural world. Not a cubic inch of water column is devoid of some kind of "Stuff". Algae is the same color as oil and there is a lot of that.

Now if you never look for all that icky stuff, you never find it but if you are justifiably worried about oil, you find oily brown stuff. It may well be macondo oil but lets look at all possibilities.

Did you ever see my 'oil that was not oil' 30 second video? I will post it again.

...."proto-oil"???? :-)

Could be the re-emergence of Corexited polywater.

From that link :

"The environmental analyst who worked with this writer did so on condition of anonymity, and performed a micro extraction that tests for Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH)."

>>>>>>>"on condition of anonymity"<<<<<<<< WHY ?
About what is the environmental analyst afraid of ?
I distrust everybody who does not expose his sources.

It's a shame that the scaremongers who have, no doubt, contributed to the damage to the fishing industry and the tourist trade around the gulf do not have to contribute to the compensation fund. Publish whatever suits you cause, gets you web hits and advertising revenue, never mind who gets hurt.


notanoilman - I wouldn´t call them "scaremongers" until there is no solid proof of the different impacts.
But it is disagreeable to read, that they put themselfes into the corner of being not confidable for the reason of hiding the sources.

Disbelief and disgust that they're running this as a black op. There better be a damn good network failure for ROV feeds knocked out with stack tool in position.

"better be.." or what?

(laugh out loud) Quite right. Contempt of Congress doesn't mean a thing to BP.

Wonderful. Ent2 broke a handle off one of the control valves on the cap stack removal thingamajigger. One damn clusterf*** after another.


That watch link does not work.

try this one

Ent 2 breaks a handle

Thanks! That is some funny stuff. Broke the rule about anchoring himself before he grabs fragile stuff.

I worked shift with a mechanic like that years ago. I've often wondered what happened to him.

" I've often wondered what happened to him. "

I think you know exactly what happened to the missing mechanic..


You aren't fooling anybody here pal.

I really DID laugh out loud, Isaac. Goodern.

Edit to add: In fact I think that since it's 6:30 I will send out a virtual clink to that!

Inviting Donner-T to join us, Lizzy. [clink]

Whole lotta shakin' goin' on down there. Seas a bit over 4 ft., winds gusting over 30 mph. Or does the ROV operator just need a pee break?

Surface conditions matter. Stack tool 50 ft above the well, been there an hour. Enterprise #1 recovered to the surface. No other ROVs at the stack. Mission aborted?

Just curious, have you been keeping a count of the number of times you have declared "It's over" or "Game over, folks" or "That's it, wellhead breached, all ROVs being recalled"?

Louisiana reports 299 skimmers cleaning up BP oil off its coast
27 AUGUST 2010

Statewide, there are 299 skimmers total, of which 291 are operational and 144 actually deployed to collect oil on Thursday. Together, these skimmers collected 2,450 gallons of oil and 71 cubic yard of debris.


Awesome, 17 gallons apiece!

... and with little BP flags sticking up for e-z identification.

Capt: And 2 yards of debris. Let's not forget that.OOPS! A 1/2 yard of debris.

Wow, that's a big improvement over 7/12 report of 2.7 gallons apiece.

Has anyone read plans to improve skimmer technology? A planned skimmer using Costner centrifuge will have boom width of almost 1/2 mile. Although the speed of ship is probably a limiting factor, this appears to be a huge improvement over what existed when the DWH leak started.

An excerpt says following:
"The next step is implementing the U-formation of boom deployment, which will funnel oil to the skimmer from an area of 700 meters (2296 feet) across, almost half a mile, on the surface of the water."

BP's interested in the MIT Seaswarm.

Cute li'l boogers. If they actually work as claimed, I can see how they'd be much more precise and efficient (especially in open-ocean conditions) than boats, let alone ships. Thanks, snakehead.

That article mentioned a competition called X-Prize. A $1 Million Prize will be awarded to the team that demonstrates the ability to recover oil on the sea surface at the highest oil recovery rate (ORR) and the highest Recovery Efficiency (RE):

I wonder how many gallons of gas, diesel and oil they used collecting that?

BP Deploying Advanced Unmanned Water Quality Monitoring Vehicles in Gulf of Mexico

"These vehicles will provide us a steady stream of data about water quality and should significantly increase the available data for ongoing research activity," said Mike Utsler, chief operating office of BP’s Gulf Coast Restoration Organization. "We will initially deploy the Wave Gliders between the Macondo well and the shoreline, and look to expand from there in the future."

The unique technology allows deployment of sensors persistently, for the long term, to monitor key environmental variables, including: water quality – detection of any emulsified, dissolved and dispersed oil in water; phytoplankton (chlorophyll); colored, dissolved oxygen matter (CDOM) and other scientifically useful variables; marine mammal vocalizations; weather and water temperature data.

Addressed over at GLP as

BP Deploying UNMANNED DRONE BOATS in Our Gulf!

Too dangerous for HUMANS?

Give me good old-fahioned black helicopers with black-ops pilots in them any day ;-)

I'm beginning to think that GLP crew's day jobs gotta be in marijuana farming. Shew-wee.

"Dude, It's space aliens. Pass me those cheetos."

You have NO idea what the Mary Jane farmers get up to around here. One went to a local shipping company with some rather smelly boxes. The girl(thinking fast) 'oh, I'm sorry, I need a proof of address to send a package'. MJF 'ok' and trogs off to get it. MJF arrives with phone bill for proof of address. Girl says 'just a minute', walks out the back and sends in the police who are waiting.


In Mexico, NAOM? Wow, that's kind of a surprise.

Sampled the product prior to shipping, no doubt.

Just popped in before going to bed, and saw two items, oil has been in P-Cola bay for two months now, alot of it at NAS and the workers are in the water trying to dig it up from under the sand........I sure as hell wouldn't want that job, but all the water test on the coast have come back either no oil detected or ppm so small it's not over what is generally in the test before the spill. I don't think they started even looking at the sound or bay testing wise until recently.

And the rumor monger here locally is talking about seeing unmarked planes and heli's so close to the water he knows they are spraying dispersant (never knew heli's could spray that, but ...whatever) and he swears he is on a watch list, and knows that there are mercenaries in black camo walking around spraying corexit on land??? I seriously wish he'd share whatever he's smoking. But, GLP does help fund him since he works for the GOM! Aint that special:)

beachmommy. the stuff in the bay is residual tar; there's a picture on the newspaper's website of black lumps. This wouldn't show up in water samples because most of the material isn't dissolved or dispersed in the water. From time to time, some will drift in with a tide, pick up sediment, and sink in the shallows.

Thanks Gobbet~I knew it was old, most likely weathered because it was in June that in washed in the bay and sound......doesn't bother me, the beach has been pristine and I do expect it to happen for awhile, although I never swim in the bay or the sound, I do waterski in the sound but that's about it

From the introduction of this thread :

"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."

They don´t know if it´s hydrates or cement ? That sounds incredible to me.
Why is it not possible to take a sample of this stuff ?

Remember, the casing hanger lock down sleeve is NOT installed.
Should make for an interesting OldBop pull off.
Will they rip the well's neck off?
Is the annulus an open flow path?

Is the bore of the Bop and well head bonded with either cement or hydrates or a combination of the two? Is the hanging drill pipe really there? Is the hanging drill pipe acting as a huge piece of rebar through the OldBop and the neck of the well head? Will they ever replace the ROV UNLATCH handle that they pulled off of the capping stack removal riser this afternoon (Sunday)? Is that handle needed for the capping stack removal to go forward? Will they trip the riser overnight to fix the handle? Will the donut supply to the rigs and support ships run out?

But seriously, these crews and managers must be exhausted and running on nervous energy by now, especially with special agents hanging around to take custody of the OldBop.

Stay tuned for the answers to these questions, friends.
[Que the on-hold elevator music.]

Is there any reason to believe the off-shore people aren't working their normal two weeks on / two off cycle? (Other than maybe a John Wright or two.)

I would expect some irregular staffing with some sorting and swapping among the most competent and skilled operators, maybe in some task-specific job windows. But come on.
How long before people just get worn out.

I've seen qualitative differences in the workflow and tempo between the day and night shifts on this job and I'm sure have others who have been following the subsea work have seen it too. More mistakes lately. It's a real burden to keep up the intensity for weeks at a time and I'd bet most of these folks are approaching this job with something like religious fervor, which is no insult on them.

But, as everybody who has ever worked knows, The Company doesn't love you and will ride you to death if you let it. The Job is Job One. People aren't machines and after five months, this has got to be looking like Groundhog Day to many of them.

[I'd bet John Wright is sitting in a comfy leather chair in the doghouse reading a good novel right about now.]

You ask if the annulus is an open flow path; presumably to the reservoir and the pressurized oil there.

I've been away at a logging camp for a few weeks and have been out of touch with the news. What happened to BP's plan to complete the #1 relief well and pump cement in from the bottom of the well? I thought the plan was to fill the annulus with cement and doubly guarantee that no avenue existed for oil to flow to the wellhead.

Has all this changed?

Yes. They halted the relief wells, pumped cement through the BOP kill line.

They want to change out the BOP on the well before they start the intercept to ensure they have a good seal and control. The worry is that trying to pump cement into the annulus may send oil and pressure upwaards.


Hmmmmm.... isn't this is starting to sound a bit like displace the riser before top plug and lockdown sleeve?

Must BP do everything bass-ackwards?

Upthread, jinn argued that BP should take all the time it wants to:

I don't see why so many have become so impatient. BP has control of the well. As long as they don't lose control again they can take as long as they want to wrap this up. If it takes them a year to eliminate all the possible ways this well could get out of control again - so what?

I reckon they're spending $10 million a day for the "city of ships", with the cost of custom iron amortized over four months = $1.2 billion to date for well intervention. Another year would cost three times more, let's suppose. Small sums in the Big Picture. Already wrote off $32 billion for Macondo. If it goes a bit higher, they skip another dividend, spin off some more assets, but life for BP is a lead pipe cinch. Too big to fail.

Unless they screw this up so badly that it calls into question their qualification as a lease operator, which is precisely what HR 3534 deems them to be, blackballed for killing 11 men. Wall Street and City of London bankers are confident that the Senate will amend the House CLEAN act, erasing the 7-year BP ban. Mid-term elections are expected to trim or eliminate the Democrat majority, and Republicans won't punish BP.

Unless they lose control of Macondo again. That's why Unconformity's questions are important. Nothing can save BP if they wreck the wellhead.

On Thursday, August 19, 2010 LEAN/LMRK sampling team (Technical Advisor Wilma Subra, Michael Orr, Jeffrey Dubinsky and myself) went on a sampling trip into Terrebonne Bay led by Chief Chuckie and Kurt Dardar.

"What we encountered there stunned us all. The ground was littered with dead birds.
So many dead birds that we aren't sure how many were out there, many dozens of dead birds just in the small area which we surveyed on the island.
The dead appeared to included mostly seagulls and terns though some were badly decayed and identification was difficult.
It was clear to me by the various states of decay, from scattered bones to a tern that couldn't have been dead for more than a day and everything in between, that this is an ongoing situation.


Lady, you were on that trip?

No, Captain - and I´m glad that I wasn´t on this trip, because I´m too pitiful with all suffering beings.
Sorry, if my posting doesn´t prove to be a quote of the article about that trip.

BeePeeOilDisaster: on the job 24/7, dedicated.

THE STRANGEST VIDEO YOU WILL EVER SEE! Both ends of that steel bar are supposed to be the same! Watch as the lower one transforms into the head of a reptile! This is on a piece of BP's equipment in the Gulf Of Mexico!

Hi Beepee, Consider this! Maybe it was these creatures eating through the metal and caused this oil spill to begin with and that our govt is now trying to eliminate them. They certain don't look friendly to me. Perhaps they are a danger to us and the oceans like locust mass producing?

Just a guess, these people probably won't be eating any Gulf seafood for a while.

Awesome disaster movie potential alert !!!!!!

"Snakes on an Oil Platform"

@ your cineplex next summer!

A new video of Chilean miners was just published:

Trapped miner porn?

Porn my butt, you better send down the good sh!t. I am talking fine Columbian or whatever the authorities can get their hands on. Due to the risk, you can't smoke it. Eat it. It will keep the weight up and they will probably keep tensions down. Then send down some laptops and high speed internet connections. I want one of the guys to blog here. They would become world heroes and time would pass quickly. Some nachos and ding dongs couldn't hurt. Unconformity, I think you may be on to something. We need to start a stoner, trapped miner, movement ;)

What has happened to the satellite radar images over at cstars.miami.edu?

600 images since April 21, and ZERO since Aug 18.


Time to play Stump The Board

I think it's from Q4000, might be the BOP recovery rig.

Capping stack recovery tool.
Going down right now.

Perhaps. But this overgrown haircurler from Enterprise is the capping stack tool, dangling about 100 ft over the well. It was used to splash the stack in July.


BTW it's nice being banned from posting pix, a lot easier for me.

"Once that has been completed the Q4000 will move in and connect to the BOP and will unlatch it."

I agree with your assessment.
Any other Stumps though give others a chance at sorting it.

Olympic Challenger UHD 31 is monitoring this thing


Flagpole? Thermometer? Lost pipe section?

Formerly Lost pipe section, soon to be flagpole.

Thanks. Since we're having a friendly chat, permit me to say that tonight's subsea set-up stinks. Too much iron in the water at depth for nothing to happen. No ROVs near the well. Half of them blacked out. To me it seems nuts that they'd attempt to recover capping stack and BOP in the dead of night. Personal opinion.

Doesn't the middle of the night = the middle of the day down there? Seriously, we might not see it right now (and I completely agree that the feeds are sub-par at best tonight), but it seems like they have plenty of light when they need it ...

On the surface? Really seems nuts. Did they put the FBI to bed, or what? Bad ROV feeds puts the press (including us) in the dark. Same deal with the fishing fiasco.

The Development Driller ROVs took turns at drydocked, probably for tune ups and barnacle removal - gotta run and look their best, millions of people watching (and/or recording), maybe everyone's waiting on them, and they're being fashionably late.

One last question. Unbolted and leaning?


Uh oh. Is a BOP falling over written in the script, too?
Man, this movie has more mishaps than a Laurel and Hardy film.
(maybe they should not have removed the birds nest)

by MoonofA - "The jacks from "bird nest" that held the flex joint were removed."

Just playing around with it in Gimp (nothing scientific), it seems to have about a 3-degree lean going. Looking at it more closely, I noticed the buoys (I'm sure they have a more official name) on the left side, apparently to correct the lean ...

Jacks still in position as of that screencap at 5:20am, no ROV action around the flexjoint between then and now. Some jacks were carried over and dropped into one of the tool baskets, likely ones that had been leaking/failed. Just looks like housekeeping chores ahead of the BOP swap to me (but then again, I can't be trusted because I've been accused of being a BP provocateur because I don't see the invisible demons).

That pair of big yellow buoys has been in place since at least mid June, long before the capping stack showed up.

I think those are the blocks showing in that picture, the jacks fitted in behind them. They put the blocks in first then the jacks.

Yeah, presently a symbolic representation of the Admiral's thermometer - when the jolly roger reaches the top it'll be all over but the crying.

(Deleted by the Department of Redundancy Department)

It is Flynn's Recognizer control handlebars from Tron.

SAN JOSE MINE, Chile – The 33 trapped Chilean miners who have astonished the world with their discipline a half mile underground will have to aid their own escape — clearing thousands of tons of rock that will fall as the rescue hole is drilled, the engineer in charge of drilling said Sunday.

That will give them something to do.


The sea floor has a very fluid look to it from time to time--as if it is really shifting around. Does anyone else see that now, or has anyone noted this in the past?

Ruby, I've seen that phenomenon, and other strange and implausible things as well, after looking at it too long. My eyes play tricks.

I hadn't been looking for more than a minute. I don't think it is eye- or camera tricks. But, that said, I can not be sure about the camera. Objects were clear and not visibly pixelated.

It is wet silt, and I'm sure when there really is movement we would also see lots of bubbles (from normal bio-digestion) released.

BP asked for evidence of gas. I don't think this is amphipoda.


see also http://mfile.akamai.com/97892/live/reflector:45685.asx

On undersea snowstorms I found this:
"Nothing represents the creative wellspring of the sea like the spawn of the Great Barrier Reef. In the largest annual reproductive event on earth, when the temperature is right and the moon is just past full, more than 150 species of coral release eggs and sperm at once. I like to imagine that, if this great chemical explosion—which resembles an undersea snowstorm—could be transformed into music, it would sound as magnificent and complex as Beethoven's Ninth Symphony." (just an excerpt and the link to the full text is busted)

Coral reefs southwest (Yucatan, Mexico) and southeast (Florida & Cuba) of there (also could be coming in with the loop current as eddy franklin moves west), and it is just past a full moon.
I hear there's a lot of strange and gooey gunk down there. And, because of the ick factor, I wouldn't want to ponder on what those exact sources may be.
See bbfellow's description of sea snot: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6860#comment-703766

"Spawn of the Great Barrier Reef" implies proximity to the reef; seems like a bit of a stretch to associate what we're seeing here to reefs in Mexico, Cuba, or southern Florida.

Well, since the eddy (dubbed Eddy Franklin) is moving further west, this is supposed to allow the main loop current to get closer to the Macondo site, thusly carrying with it a lot of that spawn from those reefs into the area, eh.

All this reminds me, did I miss another doggone jubilee?

Describes oxygen deprivation as the factor driving those flounder to jump in your truck and want to go home widcha. Whoa! Means this could be a really good year!

*a factor

Water temperature (been very hot) and the waning phase of the moon are other factors.


Here's something I found of interest. Unfortunately, I x'ed out the site before copying the URL. If you want to get into the whole methane snow thing, put "deep sea methane snow photo" in the search box. Here's what I got:

"If the venting fluid is over-saturated in respect to methane, free gas can be formed, which is released as bubbles into the ocean. The bubble plume can be visualised and followed by hydro-acoustic means such as fish echo sounders. If gaseous methane is discharged under conditions where gas hydrate is stable (i.e. within the gas hydrate stability zone (GHSZ), bubbles are normally coated by a thin gas hydrate skin immediately upon release. Protected like this, methane bubbles dissolve much more slowly during their rise in the water column.

The floating methane bubbles cause the ambient water to flow upward as well (bubble-induced up-welling). Above the GHSZ the bubbles lose their hydrate skin and dissolve rapidly. Due to momentum conservation, the water body of the plume ascends further up and carries the dissolved methane into higher water layers."

BP asked for evidence of gas.

Har har! You stay classy, now, big shot.

In this case, where we have ROV's working for an oil company because of a [capped] oil/methane gusher with yet unknown consequences in the Gulf; are the bubbles, blobs, clumps welling up, sea floor anomolies, etc, and the ROV's apparent interest in such most likely related to the explosion or normal biological processes? Ach! Some razor needs sharpening!

I agree with you, Ruby. I wish we could find out what these snowstorms really are definitively. I sure would sleep better at night.


I checked out the wiki on 'biogas' and the whole wiki refers to biogas as man-made from the anaerobic fermentation of biomass at high temperatures. The high temps seem to rule out biogas as a possibility on the ocean floor. I think what we're seeing in the shallow sediments is methane, turning to methane hydrates when it the sediment is disturbed and comes into contact with seawater. I don't believe these white flakes are amphipods. I don't know if the 'storms' we see on the videos are normal for such disturbance or not. No one has offered much info about them and they happen to be my major concern in connection with the well site. I've done a lot of internet research on methane, methane hydrates, etc. and can't find a description or a photo of what we're seeing here. I hope it's just a natural process.

I've noticed these undersea snowstorms are heavier at times than others and just attributed it to the various conditions being just right, just like familiar winter snow (and I said I wouldn't delve into it but..'cept I don't think you'd want to make ice cream from it. sorry Rockman ;-p).

I'm sure it's not due to well leakage, and I'm sure they've sampled the stuff and are not going to chance grossing out the public with their conclusions.
See sources above at: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6899#comment-710721

For a 28 inch diameter hole 2260 ft long using a conservative rock density of 189 lb/ft cubed this would result in a total of 900 tons of rock. If they drilled 10 ft per hour (probably too high) this would be 4 tons of rock per hour. For hard rock miners even in their less fit condition this should not be a problem and help keep their waist size down.

The news story cited above correctly indicates one of the problems in drilling is the pilot hole drifting off course. The object really is for it to hole into the mine in an open space where the miners can get to. If it holes into the solid rock at the level where the miners are at they would have to excavate rock over to where the hole is before the drillers can start reaming out the pilot hole from the surface.

Just clearing its throat?

You swallowed it, spit it out. That's a good boy.

Monday Aug 30 2:42am


Hmmm .... nothing is left connected to the BOP but the well. This then can not be a flush induced by the team. So what is it? Just dirt coming loose?

Aha, buoyant dirt. Yeah! That's the ticket! (in my best Jon Lovitz voice)

"Yeah what is it?", Oly2 asks the darkness. "This can't be good, and I'm the only one awake. Should I wake the Admiral?" Oly2 mumbles to himself, in a trance of denial he can't break free (with visions of the jolly roger ascending the pole).

Well it looks like oil, but it is a lot less now than in that screen shot so my guess is it is "legacy" rather than fresh flow.

"Hey Skandi1, you awake", Oly2 asked. "I saw you move. Go wake the Admiral."

"I'm not gonna. You wake him", Skandi1 said.

Tell Thadmiral we have some residual hydrates within the BOP dissolving themselves ...

(Which to me is the most plausible explanation.)

I think the most plausible explanation is the well has been leaking since they opened it up.

Seems to me that the hydrates would be presenting with different coloring when they hit the dark background.

It's Earl!

MoonofA, that screenshot is the tail end of big poof with force behind it. You have the later and lessor poof in your video, if you also recorded the earlier one you should take a look see.
This can only get worse. If they don't get a move on we're liable to see a lot more of those residuals. Which they don't seem to've heard of "hurry every chance you get", so this movie seemingly has no the end.

If they keep screwing up the littlest things that cost hours to fix, if they keep dragging their feet and have never ending test, if they are unable to do the simplest of drilling procedures, I would guess we will come to a point the only thing BP can do is pump cement into that BOP and down well until cement is coming out the top of the structure.

Didn't someone predict way back this was Bp's plan?

Didn't someone predict way back this was Bp's plan?

Jeeminey, I sure hope that when the ACA kicks in, some folks 'round here can get their hallucinations seen to. Know what I mean?

No, what is ACA?

The Affordable Care Act -- healthcare reform.

Cool, TY. Another big bunch of oil came out of the stack.

Bob Dudley, Thad Allen, and Ken Feinberg visited the Southern Governors' Association yesterday (Jindal and Barbour stayed home to commemorate Katrina). Today, Ray Mabus and some WH people will be there.

Feinberg said he's authorized $6 million in payments to 1,200 people in his first week on the job, but as expected, his worst problem is that thousands more filed their claims without documentation. "My dilemma right now that I've got to confront, not Gov. Riley, and not the governors, and not the attorneys general, is how to deal with the absence of proof."

Online NYT's lede headline right now: Risk-Taking Rises as Oil Rigs in Gulf Drill Deeper

... Dangers do not directly increase with greater depth, according to experts like Mr. Chow. But they do rise as exploration and production rigs become more complex and more remote.

Perdido, for example, is more than a 20-hour supply boat journey from shore — far enough out that a major fire could burn out of control before assistance arrived. Hurricanes regularly batter the region with giant waves and winds exceeding 100 miles an hour. Underwater, both powerful currents and mudslides play havoc with delicate equipment and the pipelines that bring oil and gas back to shore. ...

Some experts worry that everyone is focusing too much on the causes of the recent crisis, not the next one. After the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster, the industry concentrated on preventing another tanker spill. That plan was essentially useless in the BP accident.

“This is symptomatic of fighting the last war,” said Mr. Chow. “The industry is going to have to examine all of the offshore risks. There is a lot of catching up to do.”

OT [special for snowcomet and our other word-geeks]:

Third edition of OED unlikely to appear in print format

Publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary have confirmed that the third edition may never appear in print. A team of 80 lexicographers began working on it following the publication of the second edition in 1989. It is 28% finished. In comments to a Sunday newspaper, Nigel Portwood, chief executive of Oxford University Press, which owns the dictionary, said: "The print dictionary market is just disappearing. It is falling away by tens of percent a year." Asked if he thought the third edition would appear in printed format, he said: "I don't think so." However, an OUP spokeswoman said no decision had been made.

"It is likely to be more than a decade before the full edition is published and a decision on format will be taken at that point," she said. ...

That would be a huge shame. Like you I have the mini version - 9 pages to a page - and used to be able to read it without a magnifying glass in a good light :-)

There is something about a book that simply can't be matched.

A friend of mine used to work for Oxford. He said that the shorter OED was derived from exactly the same database, but all they did was remove all entries earlier than about 1750 (or some such date.) One would hope that that edition would remain in print.

One fears that with the proliferation of free internet based resources the OED may not stay viable. Which would be a great pity. In this case, free is very much getting what you paid for.

Hi, Francis. I agree absolutely (even though the thing weighs -- what, 15 or 20 pounds? -- and now I have to try several angles with the magnifier to find one my cataract-y peepers can handle). Love my inherited 1950s edition of the Britannica too -- not just for the quirky essays but also the wonderful smell those pages have.

Simply can't get ahead of you, lotus. I saw the news on a CNN scroll last night and remembered you making mention of having to pull out your own copy re: one or another of the words used around here.

Strangely, was just thinking of it last week. Got a diagnosis of bi-lateral cataracts and was thinking of all the things that should be better once I scrape up the boatload of cash to get them fixed. My favorite dictionary was on the list - not that I'd expect to be cruising it without the magnifier. ;)

Hey, nov. Yeah, they a drag, ain't they? I'm just trying to stay more-or-less road worthy for a couple more years, hit Medicare eligibility, shuck my gawd-awful deductible, and get mine fixed muy pronto. Hope you can beat that schedule!


$20 billion oil spill claims account could cause problems between BP, feds

HOOVER, Ala. — BP PLC and the federal government could find themselves in disagreement about whether $20 billion from the company will be enough to cover claims and other costs resulting from the massive Gulf oil spill.

BP’s incoming CEO Bob Dudley told reporters here Sunday, “One can never know in the legal system of the U.S., but I think that that looks like a good number to us.”

He said, “We think we put aside a reasonable set of liabilities.”

During a visit to Theodore in July, Vice President Joe Biden characterized the escrow account as a mere “down payment,” saying that the government would ensure that BP pays all it should.

“That’s why the president of the United States, under some criticism, got them to put a $20 billion down payment,” Biden said. “Folks, that ain’t the ceiling. That ain’t the ceiling. Whatever it takes to make this Gulf right, we’re going to make it right.”

Asked Sunday about the apparent discrepancy, BP spokesman Justin Saia said that the company expects to set aside a total of $32 billion and doesn’t consider $20 billion to be a limit.

“We’ve maintained very early on in this process that BP is fully committed to making everyone whole and restoring the Gulf region to where it was before this incident occurred,” Saia said. ...

Dudley also describes how he visualized barrier islands surrounded by Exxon Valdez-type oil. “I just thought, ‘Oh, this is going to be a terrible, terrible tragedy.’”