BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - BOP on Board - and Open Thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6926.

First it was hoisted to the surface.

Note the actual size of the Deepwater Horizon Blowout Preventer as it is held just above the support frame, after having been raised through the moon pool of the Q4000. Compare the size of the folk standing around. (The BOP is the large frame with the yellow legs on the corners, being held just above the red platform with the four vertical bracing columns).

And then it was lowered and latched into place on the red platform, that can help to move it and support it.

Meanwhile the LMRP that should sit above the new BOP is still on its way to the surface.

A press briefing was held earlier on Saturday. The BOP transferred from the second relief well has now been put in place. It can withstand 15,000 psi of pressure. With the new BOP in place, all threat of discharge has been eliminated. According to Admiral Allen,

. . . we basically have secured this well as we would any well that was under production and then being closed out with a kill. . . we have essentially eliminated the threat of discharge from the well at this point.

So who is officially the owner of the BOP? TO? BP? Have the feds seized it yet? Is or was there a subpoena for the BOP? Where will it be analyzed, Area 51? Will the aliens improve it? Do the other partners 'own' or have any 'domain or control' over the BOP.

I think it was officially "seized" before it was even removed from the well. What I want to know now is, who will tear it down for analysis? That takes experts, and all the experts work for one or the other of the interested parties, no? How to get a non-interested set of 3rd party examiners could be a real problem.

BOP is arrested - you can see one of the FBI guys reading him his rights:

FailBOP Finally Arrives on Q4000! (unedited - more to come) 8x speed by RockyP

Lifting Bop onto the Q-4000 - moon-pool view - part 1, part 2 - 4x time-lapse

Thanks for my first good look at this, Moon (what with the non-loading page I ran into last evening).

Well. I'm sure that, engineering-wise, it's marvelous. But damn, that's one big hunk of ugly for looking-at.

Lotus, a bonus for you: Dawn over the Gulf watched from BOA Sub C

Ships appearing in chronological order:
Development Driller II, some 1000 feet away
Development Driller III, some 2500 feet away
Mr. Sidney, next to DDIII
C-Freedom, some 3000 feet away
behind it to the left and hardly visible the Odyssea Diamond, some 6000 feet away
Q-4000, some 2500 feet away
behind Q-4000 a bit to the right of it the Rem Forza, some 5000 feet away
coming in from and leaving to the right, Fast Bandit, a small ferry with daily deliveries from land
later coming in from the left and going to the Q-4000 the C Legacy

Ship observations through marinetraffic.com

Excellent, Moon -- love me some wheelie-popping, Fast Bandit!

The coast guard released an HD video of lifting the BOP (80 Megabytes, 2 min) here.

Thanks to TOB the less quality, but with music, youtube version is here.

I saw a few signs of activity around the bop today, before the rain got too thick. I thought i'd share what i saw.

Onboard the Q4000, climbers and other humans replace rovs, working on the deepwater horizon blowout protector, the day after it was brought to the surface of the Gulf of Mexico: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MW-G5n9yjLE

I believe that everything pertaining to Deep Water Horizon, the BOP, the well itself and so forth has been under full Federal Control from a few days after the incident to the present. Legally who owns it is moot because none of it has any value except as evidence. The whole point of what we have seen is that whereas BP and other industry engineers have been used for advice, the final decision on everything was Federal.

It's similar to what happens after a plane crash. The company that owns the plane no longer has control of it.

The FBI has been involved all along to assure that the chain of evidence is maintained. However, until now the safety of the well took precedence over forensics. Now it is forensic, the BOP has but one purpose and that is to serve the investigation. As with an airplane crash Cameron engineers may be used to in the tear down but every decision will be in support of the investigation. I'll bet engineers from NASA or NTSB will be used as well.

If i had to choose, i'd choose NTSB over NASA any day in this kind of investigation.

NASA has many specialists that can find faults by examining telemetry. Recovered hardware on the other hand is seldomly available for their kind of missions.

When it comes to pick up pieces of hardware strewn across the landscape and finding the cause of the problem, the NTSB has much more experience.

I'd also call for international experts, just to give conspiracy theorists a hard time...

It has not been said who is doing the investigation itself, just that the BOP will be temporarily stored at NASA Michoud.

This location makes a lot of sense and is actually an almost-perfect choice: deep-water port on the property, facilities to handle big-iron, one of the largest indoor controlled-access high-tech manufacturing and assembly spaces in the USA including a high-bay area. Also, it's secure.

This is just a guess, but because of the things going for the Michoud facility and the proximity of the facility to the investigation board, Michoud just might be the site of the tear-down and investigation; but this is just a guess on my part.

Everybody's guessing who will do the work itself though.

See my post down-thread at http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6921/714410


NASA, MSFC materials engineers first identified the failure mode in the 747 center fuel tank explosion off the coast of NJ. I personally know the guy. I don't remember the flight number. They were helping NTSB. NASA also did the analysis on Challenger and Columbia, including directing all the picking up and the redesign.

TO owns the BOP it comes with the Rig.

Confused by your statement above. The picture above is the DWH BOP with the LMRP on top of it. The lower picture is the LMRP that has disconnected from the new DD2 BOP. They are to take out the perforated riser section and put the normal riser and LMRP back on the new DD2 BOP??? I think.

Correct Acornus .. the DWH LMRP is safely aboard Q4000, along with the DWH BOP.

It is the LMRP that was attached to the new BOP that is on its way back up to DDII.

Thanks Rainy. For those I may have confused. The picture currently on the Q4000 above deck camera, has a smear about three quarters up the frame. That is where the LMRP separates from the 5 ram BOP below the picture smear. Uses a similar hydraulic latch assembly as the BOP to Well Head connector at the bottom of the BOP, which is now sitting on the red support frame.

Sorry - got it wrong - corrected.


+++we basically have secured this well as we would any well that was under production and then being closed out with a kill. . . we have essentially eliminated the threat of discharge from the well at this point+++

Who said this?? as has been stated over and over this is not over until the well bore has been P&A'd as per regulation. This really is the first "Right" thing to happen here since the blowout occured. There is a lot of work yet to be accomplished until this Dragons Tail is cut off and leashed for good. Proper plugs, proper cementing, the sooner the better. I think the belief was the Bop's where good the last time as well, plenty of discussions as to there reliability. WE?? lets congradulate them when this is truely "OVER" Proper P&A of all three wellbores, cleanup and repairations PAID. Accountable parties held responsible. 11 crew memebers exonerated and remembered.

11 crew memebers exonerated

I know this isn't going to be popular, but this isn't a given. Starting an investigation with the preconceived "truth" that the dead can never be blamed is a recipe for not reaching the right answer, and worse, with an accident like this, reaching conclusions that can lead to more people dying in the future.

One of the critical points of failure in the accident was the failure to observe mud returns. We need to understand the reasons for this. It could have been complacency, it could have been some other, hitherto missed, reason. There is no doubt that those hands that died were brave and good men. But it doesn't mean that what may have been a critical error in the chain of faults can be ignored.

We think we know a great deal about the accident out here in the Internet. Maybe. But we most certainly do not know enough to be able to decide what the outcomes of the various investigations will be. We have had a few surprises already as the incident has unfolded. I would expect a few more before we are done. As I have written before, the most important outcome of all the investigations is the prevention of future accidents and deaths. All else is subservient to this.

Francis, I couldn't agree more, but didn't have the guts to bring it up. It doesn't matter whether the one(s) who made the bad calls are among the living or not. We have to understand what happened so it can be prevented in the future.

For my money, offloading mud was a BIG factor. I think that was the main reason the over-return wasn't noticed. I also think they should take a real close look at why the bridge personnel (Captain or whatever reason) didn't hit that EDS. Had that only been done fast enough...

Another reason this place makes me sick. It was company policy, that caused this. They knew the BOP was damaged and continued to drill. With your theories would this have happened had the company not cut corners?? You people will rot in hell for the continued evil you continue to try and spread under the cover of being a "so-called expert". You can cut the B.S., aren't you guys all tired from the circle jerk you had when Bp removed the BOP??

this place makes me sick

Well, then. Too sick to read past anything besides what's making you sick? Why not head over to A. Higgins' barf bag, then?

hey now -- these people have taught me a lot. i feel they present a truly unbiased view, purely technical, and always call out when they are speculating. if you don't like this site, i'm with snakehead, go somewhere else.

....such venom...... OK Mr. Holier Than Thou, please enlighten us. Explain why you're so much better, less evil, more knowledgeable and expert than the wonderfully diverse crowd that comprises TOD. Inquiring minds would like to know......

Brick -- No...not really. At 59 yo and with bad knees a circle jerk is about as much excitement as I can handle these days. And throw in a half gallon of Blue Bell Peaches and Cream and I'm good for the whole weekend.

Who is this guy??

One of Higgins' shills, I think. ;-/

Could be one of AH's shill's also, but he's Brian A. Rich from Los Angeles, and you'd have to see his FB to understand why he is so confrontational in his approach as a know it all, and everyone else is a dumb ass. He follows PGI, and the other CT FB's I mentioned earlier......this is their MO, try to come across as intimidating and tell anyone who disagrees to STFU and how stupid they are....well, I may be stupid but I don't have my house pics on Photobucket for anyone and everyone to see.

Anyway, I spent about 4 1/2 hrs at the beach today and it was gorgeous........literally hundred of fish and crab in the small area I snorkeled for about 2 hrs. Good news as this has been what I have witnessed over weeks. Of course I read on one of the CT sites about dump trucks full of sand, on the street I live on Friday night, I looked and looked and finally found it, so thought I'd take a picture while the operator thought no one was looking and what was most disgusting was they had a small adult posing as a child dumping the sand as to lull Islanders into as false sense of security by trying to make it look like it was just a child playing in the sand............those bastards


Mummsie, how can we judge the scale without those famous blue toenails in the pic? Did BP pay you not to put them in or did you just go short on Tonka?

She could even put one of Brich1979's FB pictures in there playing with the dump truck. :) Amazing what you can learn from looking at FB photos.
Brian A. Rich was very easy to find. :) Thanks

Indeed he was LOL, this is why you NEVER out your name or city on GB,duhhhh!!

Mick M, feel free to pthotshop however you wish:)

"pthotshop?" `(:<))-<=<

PS: I probably shouldn't do this, it'll be too easy for you to retaliate.

Well, I DID leave myself open for it Dave...........and true, way too easy to retaliate, but too tired today after a full day on the beach and a funeral tomorrow I am dreading:( Maybe next time though!

Sorry OFB~I'll try better next time, and I paid BP not to put them in out there, LOL

He pops in to dump his venom from time to time and try to stir up the pot (but never has any success). We ignore him. Zero credibility.

Francis while not popular you do bring a valid piont, Ther may indeed be some cupability attributable to some of the Crew on duty at the time of the blowout. Just following "directives" when there is a hazard identified is not a good thing. Might just be to common in the petroleum industry as has been demonstrated thru this tragity. Hopefully as you stated there will NOT be a repeat of these fatal and tragic mistakes. Hopeing subservience to this Fact does not diminish or denegrate the efforts made by all us "Under Appreciated Energy Workers" in the performance of our duties.

This is why I think that one of the new things needed is some kind of a license process, similar to how Airline pilots are licensed. Knowingly making the wrong decision to please a customer or a boss should rightly be seen as both a career ender and potential criminal liability.

A common misconception though is that individual engineer employees cannnot be sued. I've personally seen a case where an engineer was sued in an attempt by a large customer to force him to make desired standards committee changes. His house and bank accounts were attached. The company provided him with funds to weather the attack but he was personally liable. I knew the guy and it was painful for him. The only reason individual employees are not sued more often is that they are not the ones with deep pockets but they are frequently named as co-defendents to force cooperation.

Licensing would make this more clear, provide an opportunity to explain to operational managers on site that they have a stake in making the right choice. It also gives them a legal obligation to report concerns.

WHEN are people going to understand regulations and licensing do NOT make people safer NOR more responsible?

If someone working for me stated or inferred they were content to merely stay within regulations, I would terminate their employment at the earliest opportunity.

This is just beginning for you. Piper Alpha killed at lot more people and in the end, nobody was prosecuted. The enquiry found out what happened; but, the event was too big to prosecute. As the lawyers said at the time, if we prosecute one we will have to prosecute hundreds. It took twenty years to sort out the claims and counter claims. As this is a USA case, I expect it will take even longer, unless your Congress stops it. Are there any votes in doing that?

If you have grand children, sign them up for law school now. By the time they qualify, they will be taking over from today's lawyers on this case.

Allen went on to say (minor transcription errors corrected)

There's a series of events that will be taking place throughout the next several days that actually create a transition from controlling the source of the spill to what they call plugging and abandonment which is a regulatory term used by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) in supervising how a well is put into a reserve status.

So what you're going to see in the briefings and information provided over the next several days will constitute actions we're taking not only to take control of the source, but to also take the final steps to plug and abandon. At that point it will shift to the oversight of the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

And when there is no further threat of discharge in the well and it has been killed it will no longer be under the purview of my command as a National Incident Commander. It will shift to the Department of Energy at that point.

Full transcript of briefing here.

So who is officially the owner of the BOP? TO? BP?

Need you ask? Just look at the picture of the BOP above. Notice the orangish crane to the right of the BOP; follow the crane up to its arm and then follow the arm back to the BOP. Notice the face wearing sunglasses? Right there in the center of the BOP.

If that's not a fed...

Oh. It took me a while to see that. I thought you were serious and was looking for an actual person. Good one!

That's The Big Dawg,alright.

I noticed that too but thought is was Max Headroom.

Oh, bb...I think it IS Max Headroom! You are right!

The greatest talking head ever, he is back to "spread The News."

When one must either laugh or cry, some of us choose laughter. My first though last night when the discussion turned to the destination of the BOP was that a decoy would go to NOLA and the real BOP would to to Area 51. I see that TFHG beat me to typing it--but I had clinked and eaten spaghetti and had to shut down and go to bed. Having had that thought, however, I went to sleep with a smile on my face, and the tones (Re - Mi - Do - Do - So) from "Close Encounters..." ringing in my mind's ear. I do not know how people who cannot amuse themselves survive.

BTW, just recently I heard that all of the M.H. episodes are now committed to DVD. Haven't looked for them yet, but they should be out there somewhere -- I shall obtain them, enjoy them, and shelve them between The Matrix and Monty Python--where I go when I need to restore balance. :)

I just checked NetFlix. It's a five disc set (four for episodes and a special-features disc). Out on DVD but not streaming.

Big fan back in '87 (and Matt Frewer's other quirky role -- and there have been a few!!) but haven't seen them since. I'm ordering today! Thanks for heads-up.

In short, TO owns it, BP leased it and the government siezed it.

From the Thadmiral from http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/go/doc/2931/892479/

Once secured on deck, the Blow Out Preventer Lower Marine Riser Package will then be transported by the Q4000 closer to shore where both Lower Marine Riser Package and Blow Out Preventer will be transferred to other vessels for transfer to the area where the Blow Out Preventer will be taken into custody and at that point will be part of the evidence material that’s been required by the joint investigative team, and this whole thing has been done under the supervision of the Department of Justice.

There are law enforcement personnel onboard the vessel supervising each step and has it documented as well as documented with ROV coverage.

Per the federal court order of late August: http://www.laed.uscourts.gov/OilSpill/Orders/08262010_Order.pdf

The court ordered it taken:

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that to preclude delay in the bottom kill of Macondo Well 252, and to the extent necessary to amend and modify Paragraph 14 of the Court’s Pretrial Order No. 1 to permit the removal, transportation, and immediate storage of the Deepwater Horizon’s BOP and related appurtenances in accordance with the foregoing “Physical Evidence Collection” protocol, and in accordance with such final technical procedures approved by the Unified Command, Paragraph 14 of the Court’s Pretrial Order No. 1 shall be, and the same is, so amended and modified;

Same court order said:

WHEREFORE, the Court has been further advised that once the Deepwater Horizon’s BOP has been unlatched, the Unified Command has determined that it shall be brought aboard the Q-4000, thereafter transferred via another vessel to a dock at the NASA facility at Port Michoud for temporary storage;

I assume this to be NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michoud_Assembly_Facility and http://maf.msfc.nasa.gov/index.html

I can't find any more information about specifically what happens after it lands at Michoud.

"(...) the area where the Blow Out Preventer will be taken into custody (...)"
where they'll commence to roughing him up.

Andy Sipowicz to glare and stare real hard? Or, phone books and rubber hoses?

... and a few strategic taps with a ballpeen. (but no butt shots, Andy, pleeease)

The problem is that the BOP might like it. The ballpeen hammer, that is.

where they'll commence to roughing him up

Wonder if waterboarding works on a BOP... nah

"I can't find any more information about specifically what happens after it lands at Michoud."

I don't believe any specifics have yet been mapped out.

Evidence Handling and Procedures for Deepwater Horizon Joint Investigation Fact Sheet

According to channel 8 news tonight (in New Orleans) there were two FBI agents among the 137 people on board the ship the BOP was loaded onto. There was no mention of it being wrestled to the deck. It was also reported that the BOP would be inspected at the Michoud facility.

Nah, they wouldn't beat up on it on camera.

Since the BOP is owned by Transocean and I am a TO shareholder - I "own" 0.000313% of that BOP.

Should I check for scratches when the feds return it?

Only in proportion to your ownership share.

Active - oops, time to read the TO annual report & see what your investment is paying for! Will also give you an interesting window into the corporate culture. Easy to see how they buy & pay for people's loyalty & participation.

Time to read all of them - got to be a good reason why some would sell out to outsiders and deceive their own people and land. There's plenty of shame to go around.

I tend to pay more attention to the financial statements than I do the Annual Reports. Annual reports tend to be 'spun' by the writers who do not want to upset the shareholders. Financial statements have hard numbers that I can do further calculations on to see if the numbers 'add up.' (For example: if a company is reporting profits but not reporting inflows of cash from their core businesses = red flag.)

Another thing I do is - every single day - I read every news report that relates to a stock I own (the exception is GE simply because of the volume of news stories that mention that company every day).

I bought TA as a 'turnaround stock' after the DWH disaster because I see them as a well-run company that has been hit by a 'one time event.' As part of my research before buying the stock i had discovered a news todbit from before the blowout where the TA board of directors had disapproved the yearly bonus payments for senior management because they had failed to meet the board's directives for improved safety over the previous year. The fact tthat the board of directors was not only concerned with safety - but were sanctioning senior management over the issue prior to the blowout - makes me confident that the blowout will truly be a 'one time event' for the company.

I avoid any 'wiki' type source when I am dealing with anything more serious than 'idle curiosity.'

For anything like this Wikipedia is worse than useless. We have no idea who wrote the information, or what particular axe they have to grind. The mere fact that they felt the need to write a page on Wikipedia suggests a simmering resentment. Wikipedia is good for solid factual based stuff, but the moment it becomes opinion based, it is about as useful as GLP.

"I avoid any 'wiki' type source when I am dealing with anything more serious than 'idle curiosity.'" -- Activated05b

"For anything like this Wikipedia is worse than useless." -- Francis

What is your opinion of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times? How about Energy Point Research or Execution Noble investment bank?

The information reported by Wikipedia comes from a WSJ article that cites Energy Point Research, and a New York Times article that quotes Christopher Ruppel, "an energy expert and managing director of capital markets at Execution Noble, an investment bank." Wikipedia linked both articles in the footnotes:


Y'all have a problem with the WSJ, NYT, Energy Point and Mr. Ruppel, not Wikipedia.

The mere fact that they felt the need to write a page on Wikipedia suggests a simmering resentment.

Now that's just crazy talk.

I still have a problem with Wikipedia. Those other sources are fine. The WSJ article very well done. The problem with Wikipedia is more insidious. There is never attribution, and for topical, and opinion based issues, zero quality control. You can't know who wrote it, and how many of the sources they have cherry picked. In this case, it isn't too bad. But I never trust Wikipedia as a prime source. Have a cruise through other DWH Wikipedia related company entries to see the range of quality. It isn't always good.

Watching the ROVs operate during this incident I've noticed that most of the controls are rotary rather than linear. Don't the ROV operators have input into the designs?

Surely the cost in additional space needed for linear controls would far outweigh the complexty the rotary controls impose.

Hi HardCoder,

Sorry, I'm not quite sure what you mean. Which controls are you referring to that are rotary?

On our ROVs, the only rotary controls the pilot has on the console are for the light dimmers.
There are a couple of 3rd party sonars used, they have some rotary controls too, but they do their job quite nicely.

(Edited to supply extra info)

by PhilMB -- "Both the BOP and LMRP are to be transferred to Michoud in East New Orleans for the investigation." (previous thread)

"As a manufacturing facility, past waste management disposal practices and accidents have contaminated Michoud’s soil, surface water, and groundwater with trichloroethylene, volatile organic compounds, metals, diesel fuel, and other contaminants."

Apropos, fitting justice for that polluting hulk to be held in a polluted cell. Shame on you BOP.

BOP: "Burp!"
-translation: "Twas that BIG bubble of methane gas. It was too BIG for me to handle. Tweren't my fault, I'm innocent, I tell ya."

We've heard that same song sooo many times before. Ain't that what all BOPs say?

When the interception(from relief well) takes place is the casing steel or concrete?

Do they check the drilling mud returned to the rig, to know when they have hit the casing?

95 - The annulus will be intersected first. It may be filled with cmt or mud (prob cmt). It may be in communication with the reservoir and be around 11,000 psi or it may be dead with no flow capability (prob dead). If it's filled with cmt and dead my bet would be that they DON'T cut into the csg. Don't see much need for it at that point.

The mud loggers will be watching all the returns from the interesect like a hawk looking for cmt, oil and NG. But if they are overbalanced as they should be there probably won't me much to see.

If they annulus is dead they might start with the top cmt plugs. But if it were me I would still perforate the production csg up shallow and pump more cmt into the annulus. Just can't be too safe wtith a well like this IMHO.


"if" Is the biggest and most used word in the English language where this well is concerned. "only" might be second! (if only)

Exactly lab. That's why I'm still not ready to celebrate. Not that I'll really celebtrate when it's finally P&A. Just another bad well put to rest. Always walk away with a bad taste in my mouth with a P&A.

More time now to reflect on the 11 and their families. What a horrific way to leave this Earth. Always have had a deep seated fear of fire after a childhood acquaintance and neighbor had his leg horribly burned. Spent two years with skin grafts and such. I'll bet a lot of hands are hugging their kids and wives more these days before heading out to the rig. Almost wants to make me take a sledge hammer to every gas burning vehicle and tool I own. What a price you all pay for our luxury!

Feel as you wish.

I don't draw a connection between those lost lives and my gas-burning vehicle. They are unrelated.

I do draw a connection between those lost lives and corporate corner-cutting.

The people on the rig died instantly. Generally with blast/concussion you are dead before the nerve impulses can reach your brain.

Another thing to remember is that everything done by humans carries risk. Farming is one of the most dangerous jobs int he US - but we still eat food. Professional athletes die in sports accidents and movie stuntmen sometimes die as well.

And before you take out that sledgehammer - remember that oil products are also used to fuel ambulances and fire trucks.

labtec-you car is hardly the problem. IMHO, plastics are the real problem. That aside, out entire society, including 3rd world locations, is set up for driving. We cannot give up cars as nothing would function. Look at the percentages of oil used to fuel vehicles. Look at the percentages used in manufacturing. And recycling. What about shipping? Aircraft? The energy demands of a city? What about off-shore manufacturing and the energy required to ship stuff/food back and forth around the world? I mean, why in the hell do we have bottled water from Fiji? Why do my blueberries come from Chile instead of the patches just up North from me? Our cars are not the problem and if i am to continue operating my life, my car is a requirement, NOT a luxury. Tell me how you get to work and to the store?

Now stop slamming these poor oilpatch people who have done nothing here on TOD but provide important information.

rf73b-corporate money-grubbing at all costs (pun intended) is indeed the problem. And it is so short-sighted. The acquisition of money at the executive level is an addiction no different from drugs. In fact, it's a gambling addiction - with the stakes at a whole new level. Don't these people have kids? Whose gonna inherit their crazy amounts of money? I'll never understand why quarterly profit is more important than the continuance of a livable world. There are some things that are worth more than money - precisely because no amount of money could ever replace them. And oil is not the problem here.


The oil used for plastics does not need to be extracted at a positive EROEI to make the economics of plastic work. We don't mine aluminum for its energy content, for example.

Plastics need to be shipped to be useful. Or to be incorporated into a manufacturing process, which requires energy, and then the end product needs to be shipped.

"Why do my blueberries come from Chile instead of the patches just up North from me?"

Because we ship fresh fruits and vegetables to S. America in the summer - and import them from S. America in the winter. This 'back and forth' trade is why people on both continents have access to 'out-of-season' produce year-round.

The Chilean apples we get here are far better quality and taste than those we get from the USA.


activated- indeed. if certain people would like to reduce their consumption of oil, there's a place to start!

And why should people give up the health benefits that come from having access to fresh produce year round?

Activated, good point. Come mid-winter I'm very grateful for the freighters hauling all that juicy produce from the Southern Hemisphere. And I eat it guilt-free, because the energy used to ship it is no more than it takes to truck the same amount from a "local" farm an hour or two away.

However, never underestimate the ignorance of some in the group general public. I am employed in the grocery industry and have seen grocery store customers complaining in the middle of winter that we only have grapes from Chile, not from the USA. They were serious. They do not want grapes from a foreign country and do not understand how things really do work let alone why the off season price is generally higher. And we are in a farming/grape growing region of Cali! It is difficult to keep a straight face in such conversations.

Now stop slamming these poor oilpatch people who have done nothing here on TOD but provide important information.
Have you got me wrong! I have no intent of "slamming" anyone. No matter the reason or who is to blame, these people died to bring energy to our lives. They provide the luxuries of gasoline powered automobiles and all the other products that make our lives easier. They are the unsung heroes in this episode and we ought to hold them in esteem, not just throw aways because they chose a dangerous profession.

There are many more people in this world who will never ride in a car yet alone own one, so they are not a necessity or requirement... just in our lazy ass, money grubbing society! If you don't want to see products form other countries in the US, don't buy them. Demand is what creates need and all the transportation.

Edit to add: I do agree with most of what you said especially about executive compensation.

I must have missed something. What happened to the drill pipe in the BOP. I would think running a bond log before the intercept would be prudent (assuming the DP and methane hydrate are not a problem). This would also give everyone the TOC from the top kill and if there was bond before the intercept, or the quality of the bond.

I agree, perf and squeeze the dang casing up shallow if necessary. Of course I don't have the expertise like Chu.

Given that this weekend is the 75th Louisiana Shrimp & Petroleum Festival, I think to honor Queen Lani Marie Bergeron, we ought to have the weight challenged lady sing


the weight challenged lady sing

Oh, jeez. I love Aretha, but this was, how shall I say, ill advised.

For those who may feel in need of an earwash, here's the real deal.

the real deal

Tears me up every time, SL. Bravo, Pavarotti, gone three years today.

In context, for my money the most erotic lyric in all of opera, "Nella sua bocca lo dirò..." ("On your mouth I shall say it [my name]"; doesn't translate well).

Bravo, Pavarotti, gone three years today.

On a different forum, we could have a tenor contest. I went through a batch of 'em--Pavarotti, Björling, Carreras, Corelli, del Monaco, Di Stefano--but settled on Domingo for his taste and the sheer beauty of the instrument. Each one has his strengths and weaknesses. Love 'em all. ;-)

Have you ever wondered why baritones have never been valued as much as tenors?

Perhaps because there are so many of them?

a. Higher voice is associated with youth, so tenor gets the romantic lead; baritones sing the girl's father, the king, and the evil rival.
b. High notes excite the audience more than low notes (probably something biological involved here).

Same reasons for soprano vs. mezzo.

why baritones have never been valued as much as tenors?

Tenors, as you go on to suggest, are rarer (and good tenors rarer still). The operatic tenor voice is a very delicate instrument, subject to going wrong in scores of different ways. Has to be pampered and coaxed and babied if it's to fulfill the unnatural demands made of it (more so than a soprano voice), and its owner has to stay in superb athletic condition (with regard to the inner machinery that supports it, not to mention the brain that controls it).

Much of that applies to all professional singers, but the operatic tenor is a special case. In a sense, he's a freak of nature.

But individuals have their own values with regard to tenors vs. baritones. Because a baritone voice isn't as delicate, it's easier to manage, and the singer can focus more attention on interpretation and musicality. If I had to choose between a tenor and a baritone with whom to be marooned on a desert island, I'd pick the baritone in a nanosecond.

Thanks folks, for some reason I had never thought about the issue that way before, guess my "wounded baritone feelings" weren't justified! `(:<))-<=<

David, PhilMB brought up Gilbert and Sullivan, and it made me think of a song from "Utopia, Limited" (one of G&S's more obscure operettas) that's relevant to your question. It's sung by Captain Fitzbattleaxe (a tenor, natch). Here's the first verse:

A tenor, all singers above
(This doesn't admit of a question),
Should keep himself quiet,
Attend to his diet
And carefully nurse his digestion;
But when he is madly in love
It's certain to tell on his singing--
You can't do the proper chromatics
With proper emphatics
When anguish your bosom is wringing!
When distracted with worries in plenty,
And his pulse is a hundred and twenty,
And his fluttering bosom the slave of mistrust is,
A tenor can't do himself justice.
Now observe--(sings a high note),
You see, I can't do myself justice!

In other words, be glad you're a baritone.

Nice try but the pity party in me wants to say:

If I understand it correctly it might, alternatively, mean, that baritones are always distressed, and that's why they can't hit the high notes, but then, where does that leave the basses, and especially the basso profundos?

"Oh the humanity!"

On a different forum, we could have a tenor contest

We could, but I'd pretty quickly have to bow to your authoritah, SL (not a deep student of opera, just a "Nessun Dorma" nut -- it may be my favorite tune in all of music, or right up there).

<>just a "Nessun Dorma" nut -- it may be my favorite tune in all of music, or right up there

Good pick for a favorite. Rest of the opera's pretty slick too. I love Puccini.

Good pick for a favorite. Rest of the opera's pretty slick too. I love Puccini

Yes indeedy, me too, but that aria's a high point rarely equalled (only by "Natural Woman" and a handful of others, since we started with Aretha).

Thank you lotus for reminding us.

Nessun Dorma, Il Gladiatore, and Il Canto are three of my favorite Pavarotti performances, but it's hard to pick favorites, he put his heart into everything he sang. Bravissimo!

There is no one like Luciano Pavarotti.

Maybe I'm old school, but I kinda like this guy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:La_Donna_E_Mobile_Rigoletto.ogg

We're lucky Caruso was an early adopter of recording technology, and not lost in the fog of time.

I kinda like this guy

Yup, that's how it's done. Does not get any better than that. What a wonderful feel for the language he had, in addition to the glorious voice! It's as if he were tasting each word like a gourmet. And so nice to hear the cadenza as written. Domingo's the only other one I know of who does it right.

In light of all the other replies, I would submit a better outfit to provide the pièce de résistance for the BOP Opera would be D'Oyly Carte in the manner of Gilbert and Sullivan.


I would submit a better outfit to provide the pièce de résistance for the BOP Opera would be D'Oyly Carte in the manner of Gilbert and Sullivan.

Ah, absolutely, with Tony Hayward as Katisha in Mikado. A good parody writer would have a blast. (Only trouble is, Gilbert and Sullivan didn't write any tragedies other than Yeomen, and it doesn't really suit the purpose.)

In light of current discussions of COREXIT products ( yawn, I know ) I'd like to share this, sent to me by a former BP employee :


" BP's own test results did show as early as 5/28/2010 that PAHs and 2-butoxyethanol (the major component of Corexit EC9527A) did concentrate in the sediment samples at 50.6 mg/Kg on the bottom, 5 miles south of Dauphin Island, Alabama.

"The lowest definitive LC-50 (short term) result was for the oyster (Crassotera virginicas) and was 89.4 mg/L

The EPA said that Corexit was no more toxic than any of the alternative surfactants that were considered. But I tend to distrust the government, on this issue.

The EPA relied exclusively on the testing done by NALCO in issuing their initial acceptance of Corexit 9527 and Corexit 9500 for uses on Oil spills.

Please note the LC-50 tests only tested for acute exposure over a number of hours, not the toxic levels of long-term chronic exposure of weeks, months or years.

Sediment test results, 5-28-2010



Please note, this test was only done in one area.

30.17871 -88.0912


....now.....reading the above test results just shows how absolutely tainted some of the G.O.M. sediments actually are. How somebody can determine where the compounds came from is the real question.

I really would like to see some transparency from NALCO concerning their proprietary ingredients. ( yes, I know, proprietary,..but considering the circumstances...)

Unless you guys are waiting for an insider to spill the beans.....

Your faithful BP shill ~ Isaac

You know what? When I got my BS in geology, I minored in analytic chemistry. Give me a sample of Corexit and a decent lab, and I'll find out exactly what's in the sample. So the whole idea of not being able to test for it because of the proprietary ingredients doesn't hold much water. I think the real problem is simply that a whole lot of other things also contain those ingredients. Thus, a sample that tests positive for one compound doesn't really prove the origin. You need a test that looks for a suite of compounds that are specific to Corexit.

I'm only curious how long it takes for the micelles to lose their bonds and give up the oil, microbes that digest HC's produce their own surfactants normally. I definitely have no formal schooling in chem or chem E, just curious :) Surfactants have 4 classifications :anionic, cationic, non-ionic, and zwitterionic.

Sodium bis(2-ethylhexyl)sulfosuccinate ( Primary in C9500a) is anionic, from what I have learned, it's a hydrogen bond.

The length of hydrogen bonds depends on bond strength, temperature, and pressure. The bond strength itself is dependent on temperature, pressure, bond angle, and environment.They can vary in strength from very weak to extremely strong.

Like I said, I have no formal knowledge of chemistry, but given the scenario in which the surfactants and glycol ethers were applied( wellhead )and C9500A is normally made for surface application in droplet form, I still have plenty o' questions . I haven't found any previous studies proving/disproving the effectiveness of application in this manner(HT/HP)or being released into water(sub-sea) possibly saturated with several entrained gases and who knows what else. One of the officially sponsored Exxon water-tank studies of dispersants ( Corexit products) was done in a very low salinity environment, which ,in the case of the hydrophilic/lithophobic balance, is counterproductive.

Yeah, as far as 2-B and all the other chems found in the sediment samples, I agree 100%, it proves nothing, it only reiterates the fact that area is heavily polluted, but does nothing to show the source. I'm well aware of how unfortunately common most of these compounds are. Having sediment test results from prior time frames would be a good place to start for comparison's sake.You could take a soil/sediment sample from anywhere in this country( or probably the whole planet for that matter) and find a good portion of those listed, if not all and more.

And people want to know. But if you don't mind, than it don't matter. For people to be overly concerned about 2-butoxyethanol in their beach/water/seafood, when it's already in their suntan lotion,makeup,shampoo,etc,etc., just shows our overall ignorance.

There is no dispute about the molecular composition of CorExit. With chemical training, you would know that this is not the whole story. There can be different Isomers for example. The manufacturing processes that set what is suspended how are also a factor. Most industrial preparations are much more than it's component parts.

So, it does hold water. (and disolves in it). You would not be able to fully understand any industrial compound with a few days in an analytic lab. You would know roughly the ingredients but you can also read the label for that.

At my company we send out random samples of chemicals/materials to an independant testing lab all the time to verify that the CoC (Certificate of Conformance) provided with the materials is accurate. If we used Corexit in any of our processes - I would have a lab report in my files telling me _exactly_ what is in it.

I'm unsure if the following information I found on web will help.

“A March, 1994, report created by France’s Institut National de L’Enviroenment Industriel et des Risques indicated that COREXIT 9500 largely biodegraded in 28 days.”

Published disbursement totals are 1,730,00 gallons of which 1,072,514 gallons is surface and 771,272 gallons is subsea. The number of gallons of 9500 vs 9527 was not included, however, one article I read said the BP inventory of Corexit 9527 was 80,345 gallons.

The ingredient 2-butoxyethanol is contained only in 9527 and not 9500 per Nalco's published ingredient list:

Here's a study called "Effects of Surfactant Mixtures, Including Corexit 9527, on Bacterial Oxidation of Acetate and Alkanes in Crude Oil". This study is over my head, so I would need help to understand what it says. I just noticed it has the word anionic in the report.

Regarding dispersant activity. Possible good news here: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/science.1195979v2

Yes, I've been following Dr. Hazen's research and I posted an interview of him on TOD a few days ago.

His research points to a possibly serious flaw with other scientific methods of measuring oil biodegration from microbes. Many studies indirectly measure this metric by measuring oxygen depletion. His research directly measures microbe population and his team has found a large percentage of oil-loving microbes that consume very little oxygen.

I don't have a subscription with Science Magazine to view Hazen's report so I was hoping someone with subscription would post comments and please don't post report because that may be copyright infringement.

Samantha Joye's team is currently in gulf collecting samples and I'm anxiously awaiting results of that research to show current status of oil plumes in deep water.

Some comments were made by a few people in earlier posts so you may be able to search and bring them up. Below is the abstract from the report:

"The biological effects and expected fate of the vast amount
of oil in the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon
blowout are unknown due to the depth and magnitude of
this event. Here, we report that the dispersed
hydrocarbon plume stimulated deep-sea indigenous γ-
proteobacteria that are closely related to known
petroleum-degraders. Hydrocarbon-degrading genes
coincided with the concentration of various oil
contaminants. Changes in hydrocarbon composition with
distance from the source and incubation experiments with
environmental isolates demonstrate faster then expected
hydrocarbon biodegradation rates at 5°C. Based on these
results, the potential exists for intrinsic bioremediation of
the oil plume in the deep-water column without
substantial oxygen drawdown."

Their study does not criticize earlier efforts or methods. I believe those were made by others after reviewing Hazen et al and the earlier work.

Agreed the GOM is filthy.... and these "tests" really have no baseline against which to perform true scientific analysis. Agreed it's doom-and-gloom reporting, playing to what the populous wants to hear to further fuel the BP pyre.

..... but the scary thing is i really did see ninja-esque guys with big white tanks of chemicals mounted on yellow plastic platforms on Dauphin Island last week, parked behind the dunes. And just after I saw that, three sheriffs started cruising up and down the main drag. Why do they have three sheriffs on that tiny little sand spit of a ghost town of an island? It all made me nervous so I left. I didn't see what they were doing. Seriously, no CT in me. I wasn't there to look for this stuff. I was a tourist visiting the Civil War fortresses, just come across on the ferry from the LA-side fortress. We decided to drive along the island because it was in the news so much before heading to Mobile.

[I joined TOD today to tell this as I've been learning from your site the past few months, and have in fact found this board to be the most reliable source of unbiased information out there. Your technical commentary has served to dispel the sensationalist claims of the CT media and this experienced really freaked me out.]

Hmm. I thought the ninja stealth Corexit team was based at Bayou La Batre, next to the secret whale-carcass disposal plant. May what you saw was something to do with the Dauphin Island Sea Lab.

EPA did baseline testing of inshore waters and sediments in May before the oil arrived. If you go to EPA> BP Spill> Sediment and ++ up the sampling map, you can check sediment test results that, in some cases, show just how oil-filthy the Louisiana coast already was around May 5. Some of the worst ones are on the west side of the Bird's Foot, outer 1/3. Also NOAA did baseline testing offshore.

Nalco released the proprietary claim on the composition of Corexit months ago and the EPA has released that information.

Thanks to all (especially Moon and Rocky) for this delicious breakfast ketchup. 'Fraid there's bad news from Ben Raines, though:

FDA's standards for Gulf seafood may be lower than those in past oil spills

A Press-Register examination of the process used to reopen state waters around the Gulf to commercial fishing suggests that the Food and Drug Administration used an imprecise testing method, less protective standards than after past oil spills, and seafood consumption estimates that may not account for the dietary habits of Gulf Coast residents. ...

I brought this one from LAT late yesterday, but in case you missed it:

Oil dispersant effects remain a mystery

... Scientists say they still don't know whether dispersants truly enable bacteria to digest spilled oil more quickly or whether dispersed oil is safer for marine life than untreated slicks.

They can't say whether it was a help or hindrance that BP decided to spray much of the dispersant not onto the water surface, as is more common, but over oil pouring out of the leaking wellhead 5,000 feet under the sea. Both the high pressure (151 times greater than at the surface) and the oil's temperature (100 degrees Celsius, or 212 degrees Fahrenheit) could have affected dispersant action, either for better or worse. ...

Criminal charges being considered against BP in Gulf oil rig tragedy
Published: Sunday, September 05, 2010, 6:15 AM
David Hammer, The Times-Picayune

Browne, now president of the British Royal Academy of Engineering, declined to comment for this story through a spokesman. But Bea said Browne told him that mergers with Texas-based AMOCO and Arco had created a clash of cultures and led to downsizing, a loss of core competencies and too much outsourcing. Bea said he made recommendations, and in 2008, BP presented its risk assessment and safety management practices at a conference in France.

"They had stage actors show how they're telling employees to do their jobs," Bea said. "They turned into an entertaining play something that was deadly serious. That's when I realized their early attempts to forestall this sort of thing didn't take hold, and I look upon it as a personal failure."

A more direct view is presented in Tom Bower's new book Oil: Money, Politics, and Power in the 21st Century. Starting around page 150 are interesting sections on strategic thinking and action at Exxon, BP, Shell and in post-Soviet Russia.

Some of his [Browne's] old colleagues and the new directors retained from Amoco were disturbed by his preoccupation with finance. Engineers were either retrained or displaced by accountants speaking about "portfolio management" rather than concrete [sic], drills, and metal in an attempt to win investors' confidence.
BP's purchase of Amoco was ... celebrated at a party in Britannic House, BP's London Headquarters... The Amoco executives were less exuberant. ... Mindful of Browne's scorn for engineers, some recalled Shell's complaint that BP had appeared uninterested in the quality of engineering when the two companies had collaborated on the Mars rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Financial engineering seemed to be Browne's priority.
[BP's] mantra "More for less," which demanded that 100 percent of a task be completed at a cost of only 90 percent of the previous resources, was embraced despite its Orwellian overtones. As Tony Hayward would later describe the penny-pinching philosophy, "We have a management style that has made a virtue out of doing more for less."
By contrast, BP's culture, with its mavericks shooting from the hip, was based on Browne's personal interaction with the business units. Unlike the managers of Exxon and Shell, where every decision was endlessly discussed and performance was minutely scrutinized, Browne gloried in the swift challenge: "Perform or you're out." While Exxon's and Shell's engineers constantly checked the technical performance and safety of each refinery, offshore platform and wellhead, Browne had dispensed with the layers of scrutiny as cumbersome and costly...

"Engineers were either retrained or displaced by accountants . . ."

My expierence in aerospace has been that engineers all to frequently regard meeting payroll and paying the bills are 'somebody else's problem.'

It seems to me that's sensible. An engineer is hired do engineering, not finance.

Should we complain that finance managers think engineering design is somebody else's job?

My complaint is that too many engineers think that they are qualified to tell the finance folks how to do their jobs. I have dealt with too many engineers who felt that the financial side of the company we irrelevant.

I just wish that the engineers would respect the accounting and financial folks as professionals in their fields.


5 key human errors, colossal mechanical failure led to fatal Gulf oil rig blowout

... The rig's malfunctioning blowout preventer ultimately failed, but it was needed only because of human errors. Those errors originated with a team of BP engineers in Houston who knew they had an especially tough well, one rig workers called "the well from hell." Despite the well's orneriness, the engineers repeatedly chose to take quicker, cheaper and ultimately more dangerous actions, compared with available options. Even when they acknowledged limited risks, they seemed to consider each danger in a vacuum, never thinking the combination of bad choices would add up to a total well blowout. ...

Don't miss the graphic here.

We have seen already that establishing the whole truth through testimony in relation to decisions and mistakes made is going to prove very difficult. I would guess a faulty BOP is going to be the most conspicuous evidence we will see in this case, so irrespective of whether it played a minor or major role in events, I think it is about to become the main villain. The fact that it belongs to Trans Ocean will certainly focus BP's lawyers on it's importance. The fact that it is called a Blow out Preventer, and it did not do what it says on the tin, will be something easy to understand for us non oil patch folk, rightly or wrongly.

I think it is about to become the main villain

Hi, steve. I disagree, as certain as a bystander can be that "bad BOP" isn't the lesson the industry or the government takes from this (and surely hope it isn't). Have you read this article? or Rockman and others' many TOD comments on the cumulatively-deadly shortcuts BP took, especially in the rig's final days? "Bad BOP" is a mere afterthought.

Nope the oil spill's main villain, President Obama. I say this because Katrina is forever George W. Bush's disaster. It defined him. Even more than 9/11. I still do not see how that one came to be.

It was the incompetent performance by FEMA, especially in contrast to the very competent performance by Clinton's FEMA in Hurricane Andrew just a few years before. The incompetent performance by Bush's FEMA seemed directly related to the appointment of a party activist with no experience in that type of management to head the agency. No one blamed Bush for the hurricane,

I should point out that Nola city government, with a Democrat in charge, also performed badly, but apparently nobody expects otherwise of Louisiana politicians.

I was one of the initial responders to Hurricane Katrina (and in fact one of the initial 'boots on the ground at NAS New Orleans). My take on this was that the 'incompetence' of FEMA was based more on a misunderstanding of FEMA's role and on the real world difficulties faced by the people responding to the disaster in the first days after the disaster.

People need to remember that FEMA is more of a support agency than a disaster relief agency. There are no FEMA rescue helicopters, no FEMA firefighting crews, no FEMA bulldozers, etc. FEMA provides resource coordination, technical assistance, and financial assistance to other government agencies responding to a disaster.

Another thing to remember is that under US Disaster Response Doctrine - the 'lead agencies' in the response are almost always local and state governments. As a result the success of the initial stages of a disaster response is generally determined by local governments. (This is why DHS is providing grant funding and subsidies for specialists in emergency/disaster response at the state and county levels across the country.)

As a non oil-patch folk, I tend to agree with Lotus on this Steve. It may be that if the BOP "lawyer's-up", their counsel may be for an "abusive relationship" profile defense evolving toward a plaintiff relationship against BP & TO in the courtroom.

"I ask you people of the jury, who was looking out for this poor abused and misplaced BOP? My client just wanted to do their job and save people in a bad pinch."

And, for emphasis I duplicate the Lotus offering: Don't miss the graphic here.

You didn't really mean the "bad pinch" as a pun did you?

If it pleases the court, in all fairness; Mr. BOP became complacent from sitting on the bench, as so often is the case with BOPs, and feeling utterly useless. Now he's really down and out, because he missed his once in a lifetime chance to shine.
They should've been testing him more frequently, just to keep him sharp.
But I'm not passing up any chances of ridiculing and using him as a scapegoat. Too much fun.

Mr. BOP: "It's not my fault, your honor. I was distracted by a mesmerizing school of beautiful and petite bop-ermaids."
it was a mirage. you big dummy

Add frequent psych testing and evaluations to the list of recommended improvements. And blindfolds too.

steve -- I'll add some over kill to lotus' comments. If the well had the worse designed csg program in the history of the oil patch, if they had not run any centralizers, if they had not pumped any cmt, if they pumped cmt into the csg and gotten clear evidence the cmt job was bad, if they had no BOP on the well and not just a defective one and if they had still displaced the mud with sea water: THE WELL WOULD STILL NOT HAVE BLOW OUT IF THE TO CREW HAD SEEN THE KICK COMING AND SHUT THE WELL IN.

I know this is going to be a very bitter fact for most to swallow. BP certainly did a number of risky things and made foolish choices IMHO. But the minute by minute drilling ops are run by the TO hands and they are the ones primarily responsible for safe drilling practices. Before it’s over with expect the bulk of the blame to be leveled at the TO driller and tool pusher. They are the ones responsible for monitoring the returns and reporting any problems to the BP company man. The TO hands didn’t need approval from BP to shut the well in. If they had caught the kick early enough they would have shut the well in and pumped a kill pill to stop the flow. Though scary to many, this is not an uncommon event in the GOM.

BP can confess to making numerous bad choices while drilling this well. And those choices certainly contributed to the conditions that led to the BO. But the BO happened because the well wasn’t shut in when the kick came up. And that was all TO’s responsibility. And yes the dead, who can’t explain the situation, will likely be blamed. It will be one more horrible grief their families will have to suffer.

For me the theory sounds really simple. The mud is used to balance the pressure from the well and if the weight is to low the it will start to flow. Failures and mistakes happens and tests are done to detect them but in the end there is just one thing if well start to flow you know there is a problem.

If the result is catastrophic my intuition say it is very good habit to check the flow all the time and especially then the mud weight is reduced even if everything have been tested to be OK. How this should be done is a totally different matter if it could while unloading to supply vessels it is OK otherwise not. No system to kill the well before any damage is done will be good enough unless the flow is monitored so the flow could be stopped in time.

I beg to differ with you, Rockman.

The failure to shut the well in did not cause the blowout. It failed to prevent it. There are numeerous other things that failed to prevent the blowout. The clearly failed pressure test(s) (the regs imply/state that if you get returns, test fails) are one. They did not cause the rig to blow, they failed to prevent it by detecting the bad cement and the flowing well conditions.

What else failed to prevent it? The failure to follow proper well control practices which IMO was in violation of the regs. When they displaced the riser, they failed to first put a second barrier in place to substitute for the loss of the hydrostatic barrier.

They also failed to prevent it by monitoring returns. The positive pressure test may have also been a safeguard that was botched or nixed. Displacing mud to 3000' for the pressure test may also have been a contributing factor, notwithstanding MMS 20 min. approval. The failed safety equipment and BOP also failed to prevent the blowout or minimize damage, and could have made a difference if they had functioned, perhaps at least saving some lives or diminishing the spill.

All of those matters are similar in that they could have prevented the blowout (or minimized the damage it caused) by detecting or stopping flow. But the cause in fact was failed cement (most probably). Casing design still may play a factor there given the conditions at TD. So may other decisions that went into cementing, such as mix, cure time, etc/.

This event is far too complex to assign a single cause as the only proximate cause. The cause in fact appears to be failed cement. The procedures put in place to catch that and prevent what followed per the laws of physics also failed, but they did not cause it. It can reasonably be argued that all of them are contributing legal or proximate causes.

It is obvious that different players have different motives for arguing different causes. BP benefits if the crew can be blamed, even if it has to throw Vidrine in there. They only get hit with negligence then, and no gross negligence or reckless disregard. That saves billions. But that also requires cherry-picking the facts in claiming what "really happened," and ignoring a lot of evidence, IMO. The over-arching theory of what happened and how will dictate scope of causation analysis and will depend in part on the regs. But the regs have holes and do not weave a negligence-free net for BP.

Off to enjoy the outdoors!

Edits, corrected some errors/clarifications

Terminology syn...terminology. BP made a number of mistakes that caused the well to KICK. And from what I can tell from the info BP is totally responsible for the kick. The rig didn't exploded and the hands didn't die because they took a kick. Wells in the GOM take a kick almost weekly and the rigs don't explode and hands don't die. The rig exploded and the hands died because oil/NG flowed uncontrolled to the drill floor. That is a BLOW OUT. And the oil/NG flowed to the floor because the well was not shut in. That is what you do when you take a kick: shut the well in. BOP’s are not intended to control a kick. They are designed to stop a well from flowing that can’t be shut in.

The well continued to burn. But is that because the BOP failed or because it wasn't activated in time? I don't know if we have the data to answer that question yet. Was the BOP damaged by the kick and made inoperable? Same answer....don't know for sure. Lots of speculation but I haven't seen definitive proof yet. And that is what the law requires...proof....doesn't it counselor? True: if the BOP had been activated soon enough and if it had functioned properly the they blow out would have been stopped. But when it blew thru the drill floor it changed from a kick to a blow out. Shutting in the well when they saw the kick coming and it would have remained a kick and would have not become a bow out.

Not just a word game. A kick is obviously a different world than a blow out. The hands didn’t die because they took a kick. A kick is handled (hundreds of times each year in the Gulf Coast) in a rather standard and simple manner: shut in and pump a kill pill. Obviously a blow out is a different world. As I said above: a number of BP errors led to them taking a kick. And they should be condemned for it. BP was 100% responsible for the kick IMHO. But controlling the kick was 100% the responsibility of the TO. And that isn’t a HO: it’s a contractual obligation. That’s how every drilling contract is written: the drilling contractor is responsible for controlling the well hydraulics. As I mentioned before even though I require my company men to double check for flow, it’s the driller and tool pusher who are primarily responsible. One factor allowed the kick to become a blow out: failure to shut the well in because the TO crew didn’t monitor the mud returns properly. Time will tell but I expect this to be the key factor presented in the investigation and most of the law suites.

Interesting summary, ROCKMAN.

Add into this mix, however, the fact that eye-watering 8 digit plus sums will be thrown at lawyers 'arguing the point', and lawyers have a reflex to 'focus on the deepest pockets'. There will doubtless be many legal twists and turns...

From a safety standpoint - shouldn't more attention be paid to 'kicks' and an investigation process used to determine the cause of a kick? For examplem - if a well kicks because of a 'bad' cement job - shouldn't there be somebody taking a hard look at what went wrong and why the bad cement job was not detected beforehand?

BTW - I think that it would be much easier to get to the truth regarding the DWH if all testimony was given in closed hearings where the transcripts are off-limits to the legal system.

I think that it would be much easier to get to the truth regarding the DWH if all testimony was given in closed hearings where the transcripts are off-limits to the legal system

Love you some star chambers and kangaroo courts, huh, Activated? Me, I prefer due process and the Constitution.

During my Army career I did a tour of duty in the Inspector General's office. One of the rules that the IG operated under is that _nothing_ said to an IG is admissible in court. Punitive investigations were handled outside the IG channel and the IG could only give very limited information (such as "you might want to talk to so-and-so") to anybody conducting any punitive type investigation.

The whole intent is to have a problem detection system that can be given information in confidence. Since the conclusions and recommendations that come from an IG are non-judgmental - we typically had a better feel for what was going on and as a result were better able to make recommendations that would prevent future problems.

I really don't care if anybody is punished over the DWH disaster - I would much rather have a clear understanding about exactly what happened, and how to prevent it from happening again in the future.

Separate investigation from blamestorming.


Activated, yeah, I thought that was where you were going. There has got to be a better way; folks clamming up and taking the Fifth isn't helping us figure out what went wrong, for sure. A sealed inquest isn't a bad idea.

5b -- Most kicks originate the same way: even if the mud is balanced properly a certain amount of oil/NG can flow in and cut the mud weight. This is especially true if they pull the DP out of the hole too fast: they can "swab" the well in. Essentially it acts like a negative test and lowers the ECD (effective circulating density). Then the circular feed back loop starts: lower the ECD and more oil/NG flows in which lowers the ECD. The other obvious circumstance is drilling into a reservoir with a mud weight lower than the reservoir pressure. Used to be a common occurrence but not so much now thanks to better technology.

Bad cmt? A very common situation. So common they keep re-cementing equipment of the rig all the time. In the last two weeks I had cmt fail to test with the proper pressure 3 times. The latest just yesterday. Pumped more cmt into the shoe last night and we got a good test this morning. No one warrants their cmt job: Halliburton nor anyone else. Not only that but they still charge you full price for a failed cmt job. And then charge you full price to re-cmt. That’s why testing a cmt job is one of the most common and most important ops on a rig. You start off with the assumption you have a bad cmt job. And then you test it to prove otherwise.

Now THE QUESTION: if cmt failure is so common why did the folks on the rig assume it was OK especially when there was some question about the validity of the test? I have no answer for that one.

"You start off with the assumption you have a bad cmt job. And then you test it to prove otherwise."

And what tests you employ and how you interpret the results is and was BP's call. Had they done the tests right and followed the regs, they would have investigated further. That was BP's exclusive call.

And the crew sure did not agree with the procedures for conducting the test or displacing the riser. But they were over-ruled and required to do it BPs way. That's the way it's going to be. And the OIM was so sure they were dangerous that he said "Are you fing happy now."

I disagree that BP can create all sorts of risks and hazards, and then if the crew, not even knowing about half of them, fails to execute perfectly, it's their fault. BP is held to no standard and the crew is held to an impossible standard: perfection.

syn - And here's the heart of the problem with your position: in your own post - "And the OIM was so sure they were dangerous that he said "Are you fing happy now." And the OIM and the tool pusher/driller were solely responsible for monitoring the well for flow. Back to the box: they were truly worried about the cmt job and yet did not properly do the one job that would have prevented the blow out: monitor the well for a kick and shut it in if they saw it coming.

You can't have it both ways counselor: you're truly worried about the brakes on your car but you give it to you 16 yo to drive to the prom. Your defense for that bereaved father?

" And the OIM and the tool pusher/driller were solely responsible for monitoring the well for flow."

Who was responsible for off-laoding the mud while displacing, who made that directive? Who was responsible for displacing over-board? Both of those inhibited monitoring.

But that misses my point. I am not saying it was one or the other. I am saying it was both, with BP having primary negligence. BP was the more reckless actor. TO and the crew were negligent.

"You can't have it both ways counselor: you're truly worried about the brakes on your car but you give it to you 16 yo to drive to the prom. Your defense for that bereaved father?"

You can appeal to sentimentality if you wish, Rockman, but that's usually a tip off that your facts are not compelling enough on their own. :~D You nevertheless raise a good point. We're dealing with human nature. And human failings. And compounding of error.

If the OIM was worried enough to utter that epithet at the prospect of what BP wanted to do, and then yelled, "told you so" after the blowout, I posit that he had concerns, and you have shown me nothing but lack of concern later as 'proof' that he had no concerns.

I submit that the OIM trusted BPs judgment on the pressure test, and his concerns were allayed somewhat, and he was reassured by the TP that all was fine as well, when clearly it was not. Additionally, he was too busy with VIPs to deal with any of it, except briefly. That is clear. He was not down there, he was relying on others. And that's where the compounding of negligence comes in. Sure, the OIM was negligent, but BP was reckless.

The mistake dad made was in listening to the BF that he looked at them and the brakes are fine, don't worry about it, everything will turn out alright, okay. The pipe will probably hang straight in the hole under gravity, too.

If the OIM was worried enough to utter that epithet at the prospect of what BP wanted to do, and then yelled, "told you so" after the blowout, I posit that he had concerns, and you have shown me nothing but lack of concern later as 'proof' that he had no concerns.


I don't know what you think that proves. The OIM says he never made that remark and phone records show he didn't talk to anyone from BP during the time he was alledged to have said something like that. So who was he talking to? His wife? And what would that mean?

What do I think those two excited utterances mean? They mean the OIM had a real concern about how BP wanted to do things. That is their evidentiary value.

The law assigns a particularly high evidentiary value to excited utterances. They can come onto evidence on their own without the witness testifying in many instances because of that.

I have not heard any testimony about the phone call. I know there are two witnesses who have signed statements that they heard it. The testimony on the pinchers remark can only be read one way: Harrell made the remark and he made it at the 11:00 meeting. That's the only way to read the witnesses so they are all consistent, Harrell's earlier denials notwithstanding.

Maybe the evidence will show there was no phone call. That has not been established. It will be easy enough to resolve this with witness testimony. Who was he talking to? Good question.

What do I think those two excited utterances mean? They mean the OIM had a real concern about how BP wanted to do things. That is their evidentiary value.


No it doesn't mean that at all. It only means he was excited which given the circumstances was expected. You jumped to the conclusion that he was talking to or about BP. In all cases the witnesses have testified they don't know who he was talking to or even what he was talking about. You made up a story that he was somehow blaming BP.

If you are going to make up stories why not make up this one: he was talking with somebody from TO about their failure to keep the BOP in good working order.

So what you are saying is that monitoring the incidence and causes of 'kicks' is not likely to be useful in terms of preventing blowouts?

Now where do I say that? On monitoring, I am saying BP's decisions and orders may be what prevented it, or compromised it. Who ordered the mud off-loaded while displacing? Why? What other tasks was the crew assigned?

And let me ask you and rock a question. Is the crew allowed to rely on BP's judgment, ever? Or never? Are they allowed to assume BP's is not negligent, or must they always verify independently?

Let's put it another way. Was the crew drilling? Was the crew in a situation where a kick was even a reasonable possibility if BP had done its job right? How many blowouts has Rockman seen in his 35 years at this stage of the game?

A few more questions. Was the second pressure test good? According to whom? Was it proper to do a second test?
Was it safe to displace the riser the way they did? Was it safe to displace 3000' of mud to do the test, and then proceed to displace the riser - while off loading all mud without another barrier in place? Whose call was all of that.

Bottom line: Had BP fulfilled its duties properly and according to industry standards, the crew's negligence would not have been sufficient to cause the blowout, or to prevent them from shutting it in on time. There likely would not have been a blowout. That's more or less the mirror image of Rock's position, I think. But I agree that TO is definitely negligent, too. They were working as a team, with BP taking the lead.

syn -- that was my somewhat obtuse point: how do you frame the debate? You certainly know better than I how that strategy works. That's why I still suspect the dead will be targeted by all sides...even TO to some extent. The TO crew was responsible for checking for a kick...not the coman. So I suspect TO, when they get backed into that corner (as I suspect they will) will charge their own hands with incompetence/malfeasance. TO can make all the points you do about BP. But then all the BP lawyer has to do is ask just one question: who is responsible for detecting a kick and shutting in a well before it blows out. There is no way to frame that answer than to say it was the responsibility of the TO crew. BP can put 100 expert witnesses on the stand and ask the same question: and all will answer the same. And it would be the same answer the CEO of TO will give.

As for your other questions: BP encumbered monitoring flow? - In 35 years I’ve never seen a hint of this. In fact, if it ever came up in conversation it was the coman making a point about the crew keeping an eye out for flow. In fact, usually the coman isn’t even aware how well the crew is monitoring the well. Except for my comen, of course. Relying on BP’s judgment? - To some extent. The operator conducts some tests/operations which the crew only here’s the results. But they don’t look towards the operator with respect to monitoring the well for flow: they know that’s 100% their call. Should the crew have anticipated a kick based upon BP’s position?: just MHO but yes. I’ve seen wells that had been on production for years blow out. Granted I’ve seen few blow out in the condition that the BP well was in. OTOH I’ve never seen a well displace the mud with fluid that wouldn’t kill the well. If I were on a rig during such a phase I would sit by the escape capsule the entire time…even if it meant napping there. I can't think of no more dangerous condition for a well to be in: penetrated an oil/NG reservoir with 11,900 psi and then put an underbalanced fluid in the csg. In 35 years I’ve never seen such an intentionally potentially dangerous condition for a well. At that point guilt is all on BP IMHO. But I would suspect the TO hands would say the same thing if they could be honest: good cmt test or not they should have been very concerned about displacement. But if they were they should have been monitoring the well very closely. The tool pusher doesn’t need the coman’s approval to check for flow or shut the well in if he thinks there’s a cause.

“Had BP fulfilled its duties properly and according to industry standards, the crew's negligence would not have been sufficient to cause the blowout”. I agree. And had TO fulfilled its duties properly and according to industry standards, BP’s negligence would not have been sufficient to cause the blowout.

A lawyer’s feeding frenzy, eh?

Rockman, i mean that if BP wanted the mud off-loaded and also dumped overboard (the spacer) while displacing the riser instead of going into the tanks, because it saved time, and that inhibited monitoring, then BP bears some responsibility for the failed monitoring. They were speeding all sorts of things up, pulling out the stops to get out of there asap.

By relying on BP, i am referring to the interpretation of the pressure test. BP called that, not TO, and even BP now admits it showed proof of an imminent blowout. BP never told the crew that!

In a nut shell, under my theory, BP was recklss in the shortcuts it was taking to save/make-up time, from sending the CBL crew home, to fudging the pressure test procedures so they did not have to run a CBL, to failing to set the top plug before displacing the riser, thus leaving the well in an unbalanced state with only one barrier (that was ineffectively tested), to having the mud off-loaded. There was also the distraction of the visiting VIPs. TO was negligent in going along with BP, and relying on BP's judgment too much, and in failing to adequately monitor the well.

One is negligent conduct, the other is reckless. One is the conscious disregard of safe practices and the resulting known risks in order to save time vs. the negligent failure to monitor the well adequately.

syn - Again all can can offer is a simple answer: the TO crew had absolute and undeniable authority to do whatever was necessary to check for well flow including stopping the offload. In fact, even though I don't know how their mud tanks were arranged but they probably could have continued to offload and still checked for flow. Remember a flow check isn't about volumes. It's whether the mud is flowing out of the well with the mud pumps off. Like I said long ago: flow checks aren't rocket science: the mud is either being pushed out the hole by a kick or it isn't.

I'm sorry Rockman, i don't deny that the crew failed to do their job adequately when it came to monitoring. That seems clear. I see what you mean about shutting the pumps off. It did show up on the meter they did have when they did do that in the hour before. Yes, the crew appears to have been negligent in that regard and probably could have prevented the blowout had they not been.

But I think it is useful to at least look at what the crew was doing then and whether they were given tasks that interfered with their focus and with monitoring. The new regs sure seem to be strict on that. Nothing else can be taking place on the rig during displacement. Their guard was down. It was late in the game. They trusted the test results and did not worry about it by all appearances, even though they only had that one barrier, and even though the test was shaky (but the new crew at 6:00 was told by 7:30 that all was clear and the test was good).

UPDATE P.S. Where I disagree still, if in fact this is your position, is that the crew was the one primarily at fault. Let's just focus on the two most obvious. Had BP not done the reckless move of displacing the riser without another barrier, either hydrostatic in the well or the top plug, there would have been no blow out.

BP consciously chose to take that short cut and that risk in order to save time. That is reckless disregard of safe practices. The crew on the other hand appears to have been complacent or distracted. They were negligent. They did not take a risky move to save time. They let their guard down at the end. Or so it appears. What other explanation makes sense?

syn - you and I are in agreement: BP is 100% responsible for causing the kick. And to whip that dead horse one more time: the rig didn't explode because it took a kick. Two weeks ago one of my wells took a kick and it didn't blow out. The operator was running a mud weight lighter than I recommended. But they were the operator and the decision was their responsibility. The driller checked for flow when he made a connection and saw a small gain. Shut the well in, raised the MW and circulated the kick out. Notice I didn't say the operator prevented the blow out...the driller did. It happened shortly after midnight while the coman (working single handed) was asleep. Following orders, the coman caused the kick. Following SOP the driller prevented the kick from becoming a blow out. And I promise you to some degree that situation was repeated a dozen or two times during the last month on other wells in the Gulf Coast. And each time it was the drill crew that prevented a potential low out.

I think I share some responsibility for some folks thinking the coman is God on a rig. He's really just a lesser-god. Perhaps a little over kill explaining the coman authority. He makes dozens of decisions daily and the drill crew follows orders. But the coman is seldom standing on the drill floor while drilling. The vast majority don’t personally check for flow (unlike my comen). Checking for flow and stopping a kick is always under the control of the drill crew. Of course, if the coman isn't very safety conscious that attitude could bleed over to these hands. But it’s the drilling companies responsibility to short circuit that.

I know operators, like BP, I won’t partner with because they’re not safe enough. There are a few small drilling contractors I won’t use because they don’t watch their wells close enough. I would not have put TO in that group before the BP accident. And I wouldn’t do it now: in the future if someone farts on the drill floor TO will shut down and check for flow. In that matter I have no doubt. I’m certain every TO hand (and most other companies) have had 100’s of hours of “re-training”.

By relying on BP, i am referring to the interpretation of the pressure test. BP called that, not TO, and even BP now admits it showed proof of an imminent blowout. BP never told the crew that!

This is just more creative interpretationof the facts. The negative test did not show proof of imminent blowout. The only thing it showed proof of was that they hadn't prpoerly tested the well.

and even BP now admits it showed proof of an imminent blowout. BP never told the crew that!

To save time, just repeating the point made earlier. No it did not show proof of an imminent blowout. It may have showed some indication of an imminent kick. And as Rockman has so eloquently written, kicks are part of daily life. A kick is a potential precurser to a blowout. It is not a blowout.

The core of the argument seems to one aportioning blame. Something I am never comfortable with. Somehow it sounds as if there are exactly 100 blame units to be divided out, and some sort of critical process that decides whether there is reckless, negligent, criminal, or whatever sort of blame and some sort of weird satisfaction in sharing the blame according to some arcane rulebook. In this accident there are a lot more than 100 blame units. BP has a lot of them, but there are quite some more to sheet home.

However, this is exactly the wrong way to proceed if the desire is to avoid future accidents. If you want to stop more people dying you don't focus on blame, you focus on cause and prevention. Cause is not blame. Cause cares nothing about legal fiction.

A constant harping on about the legal fault has the risk that the remedies and recommendations that come out will not address the root causes, but will simply satisfy the legal fictional blame. That is a dreadful possibility.

A lawyer’s feeding frenzy, eh?

That was assured from day one. Look at the economic damages. Tens of billions. Someone's got to absorb that. The only question is, who's it going to be?

syn -- to be honest I don't really care muc about who gets dinged financially. All I tend to think about is the families of the 11. And that I smell the horror of a "friendly fire" report coming out in the end. And that truly sucks even if it's accurate. Friendly fire was already on my mind after recently seeing a story about the Pat Tillman FF incident in Afg. Yes…his family deserved to know the truth. But do we want them to hear the complete story? Did Pat initiate the firefight? Did he kill/wound a comrade? But do we really want his family hear such questions let alone the answers.

I can't help but feel there’s a lot more grief heading towards the families of the 11.

You know it's coming. And it stinks to high heaven.

Sorry. I was trying to reply to Rockman and selected the wrong post.

Rockman, here is the answer to your question. Yes, the assumption by you or I or any other field person is the cmt job is bad until proven good.

But you learned these things over time foster probably by some mentor.

The new age oil patch, especially in larger companies tend to promote too fast without a good mentor. The reason, there are no crusty mentors from all the volatile swings, layoffs, purchases, takeovers, early retirements, ect.

My opinion, the Peter Principle probably was the greatest contributor. One crusty oil school company man or TP would have prevented this whole incident. It sounds like it was a dicey well on mud balance near depth. If they were having problems the driller/hands should have walked. And the TP or Company man should shut things down until they were comfortable with moving forward or quit. Thus it was probably corporate political correctness, or inexperience that led to the end results. When a company like Halliburton is telling you this is not a good idea, somebody better listen. In fact, Halliburton should have packed up and left.

Would a TP or Company man shut things down with their execs on board? Could they have handled the pressure? Yes they should but what would have happened to them?


Rock, yup terminology helps show how elusive determining causation is here. How you frame it has a lot to do with it. And I did not mean to suggest that you were worng and I was right, or that I know better than you what the cause was, but I disagree that it was the TO crew's primary fault because I disagree with your analytical approach to legal causation.

You say that "controlling the kick was 100% the responsibility of the TO." But what if BP is giving orders that preclude the crew from monitoring the well effectively? What if they are told to do other things, too? And what if it is because of how BP wanted to offload the mud that prevented effective monitoring? Does TO monitor mud? And what if the big wigs there prevented normal procedures from being followed to deal with and resolve a well control problem. And don't forget that failure to use a second barrier before displacing the well. Had they done that, no blow out. That was BP's call, and it was negligent/reckless to force the crew to do it that way. THe BOP is also tasked with preventing a kick from destroying the rig. What if it failed due to failure to test and maintain properly?

Loss of well control is an obvious risk. There are several ways to manage that risk. One is built in redundancy because we are working in an environment that is unpredictable sometimes and where you can't see what is happening and interpretation comes into play. That means room for error. So you have back ups. BP decided to skip those steps to speed things up.

My point is that if you want one cause, it is the cement failing. After that, it becomes what the "legal" cause was. Who failed to do their duty in the eyes of the law that contributed to the final outcome. It is not going to be one person, or one company. There were concurrent causes at play here. Yes, the crew could have saved the day. So could have the safety equipment that failed. So could have BP had it followed best practices or even standard practices. Any effort to blame it all on the crew will require very restrictive blinders.

syn - the short answer: the tool pusher/driller has absolute control over monitoring thwell for flow, The flow ismonitored by his hands. Those handa won't folloow anyone else's orders. But I'll grant that offloading the mud would complicate monitoring the flow. But here's the box for TO again: they know such activity could confuse monitoring so they should have increased their diligence. Checking for flow is easy: stop offloading the mud and stop pumping mud down the well for a few minutes. And look to see if the mud continues to flow from the well. The TO crew had 100% authority to this. Heck, the coman wouldn't even know they did it. And there's the perfect ambush for BP's lawyers: TO claims any of BP's actions were dangerous then why didn't the TO crew observe even minimum diligence? Dislacing the well put the rig just one step from taking a kick and two steps from blowing out. And no one with TO can testify that isn't the truth. The truth now and at the time of the blow out.

Your mechanics does a bad brake job for you and you know the brakes are bad but you let your kid take the car and then dies. You tell me: who would you have a better chance of defending: the father or the mechanic? No emotions here: which case has a better chance to up your success rate?


According to OIM Harrell's testimony (and I know some claim he is either lying or being "economical with the truth") he was worried that there was a possibility of nitrogen bubbling from the cement then surging up the riser and making a mess of the rig (he claimed in testimony he had known of that happening in the past). Is it possible that the crew could have thought up until almost the very last moment that any anomalies they saw were due to nitrogen bubbling up and not the much more dangerous situation of methane from a flowing well?

tow - certainly a possibility. But I know this sounds harsh but it's not much different than pointing a gun at someone and pulling the trigger because you're sure it isn't loaded. If you see a well coming in it doesn't matter if you think the cause is benign. You always treat it as a kick…you always treat a weapon as though it’s loaded. This is not MHO: it is the heart of all safe drilling practices: if you see an anomaly you treat it as the worse case scenario until you PROVE otherwise. If the well is pressuring up and the mud is flowing with the pumps off you treat it as a kick coming. And it doesn’t matter if you have a note from GOD telling you otherwise: you treat it as a kick and the well is coming in. It is not a debating point. This how YOU DON’T KILL YOUR HANDS.

You can probably tell I’m something of a joker. And that’s pretty much my demeanor on the rig. But you intentionally ignore my safety protocols and I will likely physically remove you from the rig myself. I mentioned before about having to help (after working for less than 2 years) a company man remove the body of a hand off the drill floor. I’ve spared the folks here the details. But to grind in the source of my attitude: the kid was mashed by a fallen piece of casing. I helped the coman carry him off in a tarp. How did he end up in the tarp? The coman used a shovel to scoop what was let of him into the tarp. And ugly image for sure and I’m sorry for any upset it might have caused some. This was the "bad old days": no accident investigation team, no coroner. Didn't even send him to the parish morgue...had the funeral home pick up the body and the sheriff swung by an signed off on the incident. They didn't even stand the csg crew down. Got the body off the floor, hosed the blood off and continued running the csg. And if that wasn’t bad enough I drove with the coman as we took his nearly hysterical twin brother to the funeral home. We set him in a waiting room and just left him there. Like I said: the really bad old days. He and his brother worked for the csg crew company and not the drilling contractor. Thus it wasn’t their problem nor the operator’s. We all really were just replaceable parts back then..

But now you know the source of my zero tolerance. Apologies for the horrible details but not my attitude. A tad emotional subject for me. eh? LOL

Rock, what a terrible thing for all of you, especially his brother. But if that day taught you zero tolerance, it's undoubtedly protected many lives and limbs since.


That kind of experience certainly gets your attention, but it's a hard way to learn a lesson. Would that more people, (including me!), had enough imagination to imagine problems before they have to be rubbed in our face.

A question though.

Why is a company man on the rig in the first place?

lotus/David - I tell you want still really haunts me about that incident. For all I know the kid caused the accident. Didn't know the details even then. What bothered me as much or more is that no one really gave a crap. Not the coman, not the drill crew, not the other csg hands. It was considered as much as a nuisance as a tragedy. I don’t even know what happened with his brother at the funeral home. Did someone look after him? Did they loan him a phone to call his family. We just dumped him off and went back to work. I was just an immature newbie so all I knew was to go with the flow. At least today most companies would handle such a situation very differently.

Similar thing at a coal mine back in the '70s: It's absolutely verboten to ride the coal trip. Never under any circumstances is that allowed. But this guy did anyway. When the cars came out of the tunnel, most of his body was there. The head was missing. He got it ripped off on the first beam the trip passed under. The attitude at his mine was "Crap. That will bring the federal inspectors". The mine I worked at was next door, and our superintendent called a shutdown and sent us home. Safety move? No. It was because he expected the inspectors would hit us while they were there. We also had a lot of things the inspectors shouldn't see.....

I have to believe that everyone who was there must have been as shaken as you folks were, so the question is, why didn't they display more emotion? I wonder if it has something to do with one of the points a colleague of mine was making when he observed that the first one who speaks up in a group of people often sets the tone for the conversation, and those who disagree are then less inclined to voice opposition. He saw it as a majority/minority issue where a virtual (or, if you prefer a visible) majority could exist even though a real majority doesn't.

Anyway, if his point has any relation to reality (and I tend to think it does, this forum to the contrary notwithstanding), then I would suggest that in both Rockman's and Pinkfud's cases, the first reaction may have set the tone with, in both cases, the tone being what someone in a position of authority thought the reaction should be, having been expressed, every other person overrode the impulse to express strong emotion.

I would wonder if it has anything to do with your box too, Rockman?

Does this make any sense to you, or am I trying too hard?

Thanks Rock, I was going to chime in and shut down that "nitrogen bubble" nonsense, but your explanation does it quite well, and I fully agree, if BP loused up TO still had kick-detect and shut-in responsibility.

If they had caught the kick early enough they would have shut the well in and pumped a kill pill to stop the flow.

Rockman, I'm still wondering about that tapered casing in the lower 1200 ft. of the well. Could it have made a kick appear smaller because a smaller percent of the total mud volume was displaced than if the casing was a straight cylinder?

The lower 7 inch casing has a 6 in. inside diameter, about 28 sq. in. in cross section. This is about half the interior cross section of the upper 9 7/8 casing (8 5/8 inside diameter gives an area of about 58 sq. in.). Assuming a hole depth of 13,000 ft., and a non-tapered casing, a kick pushing up 1200 ft would displace about 9% of the mud and come up 9% of the way to the wellhead. But with the taper there is less mud in the skinny bottom casing, so a kick could displace the bottom 1200 ft., again 9% of the hole depth, but only push out about 5% of the mud in the hole. (I'm just trying to sketch out a scenario here, so I'm not accounting for the mud in the 5000ft. of riser.)

I assume drillers know all about this and take it into account routinely. But in our search for why the kick wasn't spotted, this seems to be something that added to the complexity of the mud return analysis and might have been overlooked, allowing oil and gas to get started up the hole without alarming the crew enough to shut it in.

Maybe brat. I just don't have a good feel for the magnitude of this factor. We'll never know how much extra mud had flowed back but I'm guessing it was on the order of hundreds of bbls. But I've seen many a tool pusher shut a well in and go to his kill sheet because he got only 20 or 30 bbls back. Even assuming all the fudge factors I would think they still would have been expecting a serious kick if they had known how much flow back they were experiencing.

Rock, I know this is just a small piece of a complex problem, I think there were only 42 bbl in the 7 inch casing. If hundreds of barrels flowed back before they noticed, out of around 900 bbl in the hole, I'm dumbfounded. Something in the chain of command had to have been really screwed up for the drilling crew to let it get that bad; these guys knew their lives were on the line.

One of the thigs we did in Iraq was get extra strict to ensure that everybody was still at the top of their game during the last 5 miles of a convoy operation. At that point people are starting to relax and think about their air-conditioned hooch, what movie was playing tonight, what was an the dinner menu, etc. The enemy knows that this is when people start relaxing and slacking off. Thus the last few miles is always the most dangerous on convoy.

Could something like this also occur on a rig?

05 - Excellent observation. That's exactly the attitude on the rig when you're shutting down ops. See the same thing the day before crew change to a lesser extent. Often rig management will lecture hands more at times like that and remind them they won't get home to that cold beer/hot woman if they screw up now.

So what does that say about the guy who called his mother to tell her he was moving because he had heard that 90% of all accidents happened within 30 miles of home?


But it is a logical fallacy to conclude from this that the crew's failure was the cause of the blowout, or of the damage and death that followed.

Because you could insert 3 or 4 other things in that statement, and it would be just as true.


- BP had not violated the regs by doing a second pressure test after the first one failed.

- BP had not misinterpreted the second pressure test which BP now admits showed an imminent blowout.

- BP had not taken the short-cut of displacing the riser before setting the top plug, or balancing the well.

- BP had put a second blind shear ram in the BOP instead of a test ram to save money.

- BP had run a liner with tieback instead of the production casing.

- BP had not used such a crappy casing design with such horrible prospects for successful cementing, and then did all the other stupid stuff on top of it, etc.

So it is inaccurate to lay it all at the feet of the crew even if it is accurate to point out that their negligence was a contributing factor, a concurring cause, one opportunity among many to prevent what happened.

Rockman, Lotus,
I am not implying I think the BOP is the villain, I have read what you have said and have no reason to doubt it or disagree. It was more a prediction that the BOP is likely to become something of a scapegoat if you like because it is big and tangible and cannot lie or take the 5th. It is both easy to understand, and if proven defective is an easy target.

I am sure wiser individuals will not be distracted by that, and there are those who will be totally objective in their analysis of the history of this event, and clearly the BOP did not cause the event. But so far, the media, the witnesses, and the politicians have not set very high standards in objective analysis and clear testimony.

steve - The BOP still mught be THE EVIL ONE. LOL. There will certainly be secondary battles over this mess. And I suspect the BOP will be at the heart of one the biggest legal fights. Given there are tens of billion of $'s on the line it's inevitable IMHO.

so far, the media, the witnesses, and the politicians have not set very high standards in objective analysis and clear testimony

Agreed, steve, but the setting now is fact-finding and spin. When it moves to trials and adversarial examination of witnesses under oath, we'll see something quite different.

lotus -- It's gotten pretty adversarial at the Joint Investigation. See, e.g., BP's lead counsel Richard Godrey's examinations of TO and Halliburton witnesses. But I agree there is an element of spin. The lawyers for BP, TO, Halliburton, Cameron, etc. are trying out their cases and counting coup. But before they go to judicial trials they will all get together and try to work out deals among themselves, apportioning monetary responsibility. If they can, they can then go into the trials, stipulate to liability and litigate the heck of the damage claims. They might even get plaintiffs' counsel to agree to "high-lows" where the plaintiffs will get at least the low but no more than the high.
Maybe this is how it will work out.

There is really only one proximate cause for the blowout. And that is the failure to test the well to see if it would remain stable when underbalanced. They were going to displace to seawater that was going to make the well underbalanced. The approved well plan required that they first test the well in the underbalanced state to see if it would hold. They simply failed to perform that test. Why the test was not done has never been explained, but the only reasonable inference from the available facts is that none of the people involved in the test clearly understood how to do the test correctly.

It is incorrect to say that they misinterpreted the results of the negative test. All the evidence indicates that they never did the the test at all. They had never tested the well in an underbalanced state. Had they actually tested the well in an underbalanced state the results would have been unmistakable and not been misinterpreted. Had they tested the well underbalanced the well would have started to flow and the problem would have been addressed.

They thought they had performed a test and they thought they had a good test. But when they displaced the riser at the very point when the well became underbalanced it started to flow. This flow was not detected largely because at that point they were dumping the returns overboard.

It is not even clear that the BOP failed. It may simply be that he BOP was deployed way too late. There may have already been debris coming up from the bottom that prevented the BOP from properly sealing off the flow. Maybe the autopsy on the BOP will be able to shed some light.

Jinn, Bravo! I have been waiting for someone to mention the late activation of the BOP as playing a part in the series of events. The blowout preventer is just that, a PREVENTER, and if properly maintained and used as designed it will work just about every time. When I say as designed I mean that while in the process of drilling operations a well trained drill crew reads the warning signs of a kick, ie drilling break,rise in mud pit ect, the driller then activates the BOP, measures the drill pipe pressure, puts the data on a kill sheet and calculates the new mud wieght needed to kill the well. The mudwieght is buit up and circulated as per the kill procedure and finally if all goes well the BOP is opened and the drill ing operations are resumed. This is what the BOP is really designed to do and it happens like this very very often and is super reliable. In the case of DWH where the BOP was not activated until a full fledged extremely violent blowout was well underway I doubt that even a well maintained BOP in perfect condition would work perfectly more than 50% of the time. God knows what kind of forces and dynamics were going on in the stack while the blowout was happening. Drill pipe possibly being blown up hole, chunks of cement massive amounts of sand ect. When you hear that the shear rams and auto disconnect are a last ditch effort to shut in the well and get the rig out of the way it is just that, a last ditch effort to get the souls onboard the rig enough time to either disconnect and move the rig away or get in the lifeboats and abandon ship. Unfortunately in this case the crew did not catch the signs and waited until the equipment was catastrophically damaged or the well was just flowing so violently that it could not be stopped. Remember these rams inside that stack are huge and do not shut in a snap, they take a minute or so to close and under this kind of flow they are being cut and damaged as they are closing. Its always best to use as designed, read the warning signs and activate so you can prevent the blowout. Thats why its called a blowout preventer and not a BLOWOUT STOPPER!

For those that haven't seen and want to read BP's internal probe and lessons learned document (46 pages) NOIA has posted it on their website:


Edit: Disclaimer -- this is BP's spin and I am not a BP shill

Typical HR tripe:

Key Lessons From the Deepwater Horizon Response

Lesson 1: Collaboration
A broad range of stakeholders has come together in the wake of Deepwater Horizon to provide effective solutions and build new capabilities. [snip]

Lesson 2: Systemization
The response has required the development of extensive systems, procedures and organizational capabilities to adapt to changing and unique conditions. [snip]

Lesson 3: Information
Timely, reliable information has been essential across both the containment and response operations to achieve better decision-making, ensure safe operations and inform stakeholders and the public. [snip]

Lesson 4: Innovation
The urgency in containing the spill and dealing with its effects has driven innovation in technology, tools, equipment, processes and know-how. [snip]

Or effective management.

when you write a document like this there is a rule that should be followed:

"Ten pats on the back for every kick in the butt."

If you focus only on what went wrong, you destroy morale and make it harder for the people to cooperate in your next AAR.

It fails even by your low standards, since no "kicks in the butt" are delivered.

I read it through and saw how it could be of value, especially in the development of long term capabilities to handle disasters of this magnitude. I have no doubt but what they did, in fact, both learn some important lessons, and developed some capabilities and procedures, that will be useful down the line.

That having been said, reading between the lines, I saw an awful lot, just from what I know, about things that weren't done, or were handled wrong. They definitely had the rose colored glasses on, so I wouldn't want to use it as the framework for an inquiry.

Edit: I thought the multimedia parts were pretty uniformly lousy.

I'm calling BS on that whole report. It doesn't even address the blowout and mistakes allowing it to happen, and all that response / containment / cleanup sh*t should have been in place before they started drilling the well.

It boggles my mind how BP acts like this spill is some unforseen event no one could have anticipated nor prepared for, and now they try to score points with "lessons learned". What bullsh*t.

It is time to play, audit the baby Einstein TP newspaper staff. Had a wonderful graphic come out today. No way all this technical info does not have at least a few misses. Clickable image.

Edit: According to the graphic, the liner hanger was not placed between the lowest two casing. Why was that again?

Right off the top "honor the model" is nonsense if the model is defective. ChuckV and I have been able to find no evidence that the model accurately models the performance of "compressible" cement at 18,000 feet in a situation where it is asked to make a U-tube turn.


At that depth, the cement's ability to rebound is less than 0.4% of the volume of nitrogen in the cement foam, which is itself only a small fraction of the total slurry.

Note that the whole centralizer issue is "non-operative", since the well blew out downward from the formation, U-tubing up the production riser; not by the annular flow path implied by all those centralizers required by the model.

Newspaper engineering could kill you!

Edit - I should add that the prevailing engineering judgement was that if the cement failed the testing, all you had to do was a squeeze job.

If it fails the test, you obviously don't know enough about what was wrong to have designed it to succeed in the first place!

Challenger's eroding o-rings redux.


Just to be clear, since you included my name in your post:

For my part, I know very little about how foamed cement behaves under any condition, much less whether Halliburton is able to model it accurately.

I don't know that "the cement's ability to rebound is less than 0.4% of the volume of nitrogen in the cement foam." Maybe.

I don't know to what extent using 6, rather than 21, centralizers was a real issue, or if the number had any bearing at all on the reality, but gas channeling in the cement wouldn't be a one-way street. It could go down the annular track and up into the production casing from the bottom as well as up into the annulus surrounding the production casing.

I don't know that a failed cement job indicates that you "don't know enough about what was wrong to have designed it to succeed in the first place". You have a problem. You design a solution, under constraints, using the best data you have available to you. A host of things, from the plan to the execution of it, could cause your solution to be a failure. It fails, you fix it.


at least a few misses

Spotted in §6 "Blowout Preventer Failed"

--- under "Two annular valves": subject-verb disagreement between header and text

--- under "Yellow Control Pod": misspelled "receives"

Tsk. Emmett Mayer III, ainchew shamed. (I hope not after all this fine work!)

plus "The BOP-Stack is a 450 ton"

As we know from watching the hookload during the BOP lift the BOP weights some 320 short tons.

Hook load was 823,300 pounds. Pipe was 80,000 pounds.
BOP with LMRP and spool weighs 371.65 tons.

Still a bunch of heavy, no matter how you measure it.

The pipe weight is irrelevant. We have to compare the hookload as shown in the BP feed before and after BOP connection.

Hookload before connecting the drillpipe + connector to the failed BOP was 302klbs. Hookload during initial lifting of the BOP (before the drillpipe was shortened to further lift it) was 850klbs.
Difference: 548klbs = BOP weight in water.
Steel weight in water is some 85% of steel weight on surface.
BOP weight on surface is thereby some 644klbs / 2000 ~ 320 short tons.


I can see a couple things that aren't exactly correct in the illustration labeling.

In the rightmost graphic in section 1, the shoe (green triangle) of the 9-7/8" x 7" production casing is labeled "18,360 feet". The shoe (bottom of casing) itself is at 18,304 ft.--it's the bottom of the borehole that's at 18,360 ft.

In section 6, the two rams that are labeled "Blind rams" are actually variable bore rams (VBR). These are designed to close and seal against drill pipe with diameters between 3-1/2" and 6-5/8". No drill pipe, no seal. Blind rams are designed to close the bore of the BOP and seal it against flow through it. There was only one blind ram function in the BOP stack: the top shear ram, which is a blind shear ram. That is, it is designed to both shear drill pipe and seal the bore. It can be used in non-shearing mode to just seal the bore. The shear ram below it is a casing shear ram, designed to shear casing but not to seal the bore.

I noted one thing in the accompanying article that's not quite correct. In part No. 1, in discussing the production casing used versus the liner-with-tieback option, and whether the flow came up through annular space or through the casing from the bottom, it says "Either way, the industry-endorsed method would have given the drillers one more barrier to slow or halt the gas's attack." Kill the "Either way" and append "via the annulus" and I'd have no issue with the claim. The liner-with-tieback, in and of itself. provides no extra barrier to flow from the casing foot upward.

The next sentence says "A BP document shows that it [the industry-endorsed liner-with-tieback method] was also once the company's preferred method, though it would have cost as much as $10 million more." That may well be, but the only option to the long string (the method they used) that I've seen among the publicly available BP documents shows the alternative installation as a liner (no tieback to the wellhead); specifically, a 9-7/8" x 7" string hung inside the 11-7/8" liner.


I'll add a couple more things that are not exactly correct.


"An extra dose of heavy drilling fluid called spacer is pumped into the BOP...." The additional spacer may have obscured key test readings."


The spacer consisted of two lost circulation "Pills" that were on hand. The two pills averaged 16 ppg with a volume of 454 barrels. Just because the spacer was made up of two separete pills does not mean the amount was double. Besides more heavy mud in the riser would be safer.

The spacer was not pumped into the BOP. It pumped down the drill string to 8367' and then, theoretically, up the drill pipe annulus past the BOP and into the riser. "Pumped into the BOP" is poor wording at best.

If some of the spacer ended up below the BOP during the negative test, it could have obscured the negative test readings. The spacer could have leaked down thru the annular or if they did not pump enough volume before the negative test, some of the spacer could have ended up below the BOP. Niether of these cases would have been directly related to the amount of spacer used.


Item number 6 points out something very interesting in that the shears are not designed to cut multiple pipes at one time which has been discussed earlier as a possibility, they aer also not designed to be able to cut through the especially hardened areas at the joints themselves.

What I have not seen speculated about is item 6's statement that the shears are also not designed to cut the specially hardened areas where one pipe connects to another.

What happens when the shears are closed if a joint area in in the area of the shears and the shears can't cut through the joint.

I must say up front that I have no connection to the oil industry at all and my only interest is in learning what was happening with this blowup and this site is an excellent source of very good material. My own skill set is in computer systems analysis, design and trouble shooting. Before my retirement due to injury, I owned my own consulting company.

It should be obvious that the pipe joints have to be very strong to withstand the torque experienced when tightening one length against another. The joints also have to be very solid to avoid unscrewing when they are lifting heavy loads such as a long string with a BOP and other equipment attached.

During my quest for knowledge of what was happening and how oil wells are drilled, I came across an ad for replacement drill pipe joints so that lengths of DP could be salvaged when the joint areas become excessively worn or damaged. The ad I read did allude to this extra hardening and strength of the replacement joint areas which would be welded on to the ends of the drill pipe after the old defective joints are cut off.

My point is that if the especially hardened pipe joint was at the shears when the shears were closed, then the failure by the BOP becomes one of inadequate design rather than failure to perform as designed.

I suppose that under conditions less than ourtight panic, the operators might have some idea of where the joints are in relation to the shears and yet when everything is hitting the fan at the same time the operators are required due to necessity to immediately close the shears and might not be aware of where the joints are currently located. If there is no way of knowing or guessing where the pipe joints are, then avery time a BOP's shears are activated there can be no reasonable expectation that they could possibly be 100% effecdtive in cutting the pipe.

Another thought is that if the location where a joint is welded onto a pipe is at the shears, the weld area which is usually stronger than the material being welded would impose an extra degree of resistance to being cut.

Sub-contractors suing BP for non-payment.

Here is more evidence of BP corner-cutting, very likely the same sort of corner-cutting contributing to the blowout if not outright causing it.

BP lawyers focus on building a case that BP was following regulations, clearly demonstrated in BP's cross examination of Dr. Smith and other witnesses at CG hearings.

Staying (barely) within regulations is far from following best industry practices which often require spending more money, and this news story is further evidence of BP's desire to not spend more money.

This highlights a fundamental problem with regulations. Companies develop a mentality that staying within regulations protects them from liability.

Let's hope that mentality proves to be false.

Sub-contractors suing BP for non-payment.

Here is more evidence of BP corner-cutting, very likely the same sort of corner-cutting contributing to the blowout if not outright causing it.

It sounds more like BP and the sub are having dispute on the billing and the dock get caught in between and not getting pay in the mean time.. The dock has every right to sue to get their money, but I don't think there is any sinister motive on BP's part.. In most business, you have 30 to 90 days billing cycle to start with. And if you throw in some kind of dispute, the bill won't be paid for a long time.. It is nothing unusal about BP's position here...

Unfortunately large British companies seem to regard 90 days as the time when they begin to think about payments and only if chased, even 30 day payments. They do not even begin the process of payment, which may be lengthy, until the 90 days are up. One company I worked for had this attitude and needed a piece of equipment from the USA. The USA Co only accepted orders if paid. Deadlock, it ended up that an irrevocable letter of credit was required to undo the jam.


NASA should have sent José Hernández as one of their team. He has the background and experience that would help connect with those underground.


AFP: BP hikes asset sale target after oil spill: report

To £25 billion from £20 billion, sez here. Putting their 26% of Prudhoe Bay up, as well as trying to unload another £6 billion worth to the Russians.

"They're being very clear. For the right price, they'll sell," an unidentified source told the Sunday Times [of London, which fooken Rupe put behind a paywall].

Speaking of spin . . . on Friday, the BBC's biz editor blogged How guilty is BP? re the internal investigation by the safety-&-ops VP and 70-odd team-members (some external).

... What has he found?

Well we know he has not concluded that BP produced a shoddy design for the well or forced its contractors to cut corners in a significant way.

How so?

Well BP's chairman, Carl-Henric Svanberg, said in July - when BP was announcing its second quarter results - that he was confident BP won't be found guilty of gross negligence.

Now it's impossible to know whether he'll be proved right as and when BP's culpability under the Clean Water Act is finally determined. But he couldn't possibly have made the claim if his own colleague, Mark Bly, had uncovered proof of grotesque dereliction of duty.

That said, any report which doesn't raise questions about safety practices would not be believable. ...

Even if there turned out to be important errors by employees of Transocean as operator of the platform, that would not absolve BP of blame: regulators and BP's owners (and presumably the rest of us) would expect BP to assess, monitor and correct the quality of its contractors' performance.

In a perverse way, the best that BP can hope for is that Bly has found systemic safety failures. Because it is unlikely those systemic problems would apply only to BP's management of this one new well.

If questions are raised about the quality of safety kit, or the robustness of procedures for monitoring performance or about the skills of employees, these would probably be questions for the oil industry in general when drilling in deeper water, not just for BP.

One lesson from the debacle is that the catastrophic potential of drilling in deep water is (arguably) only marginally less than what can happen when a plane falls out of the sky or a nuclear power plant goes badly wrong.

Are the safety practices in oil on a par with standard practice in nuclear generation or the airline industry? I would be very surprised if that reassuring conclusion will be drawn from Mr Bly's report.

Dunno how this guy computes "marginally less," since in this case it strikes me as off by a country mile.

The biggest mistake that BP made was exactly the same as every other foreign company has experienced buying into or taking over an American company. Total non-cooperation. UK; European and Asian companies have all thought they could crack the problem; most have failed and retired hurt.

From Banks to oil Companies, they have experienced the belligerence; antagonism and a total non-acceptance by US companies of being owned by foreigners.

"Total non-cooperation. UK; European and Asian companies have all thought they could crack the problem; most have failed and retired hurt."

Please elaborate with examples. What do you mean by "total non-cooperation"?

Craig. Start here, we will get to specifics later, this is not the site for corporate take-over talk.

I've heard comments by Americans whose companies were bought by Europeans that the Europeans don't understand or respect the company cultures, and one in particular was that European companies frequently don't want women in positions of authority.

Wow, here's the perfect contraption for Rockman.

The NY Times article called, "The Boss Is Robotic, and Rolling Up Behind You"

Although the article talks about other industries, I would envision a remote robot that would be located on rig and controlled from home. No more sweating in the hot sun and no more knee stress and no more looking overhead for falling objects.

Mr. Beltzner, Firefox director for Mozilla, says, “With the robot, I find that I’m getting the same kind of interpersonal connection during the meetings and the same kind of nonverbal contact” that he would get if he were in the room, he said. “It’s a lot easier to have harder conversations when I ‘roll the robot,’ ” he added, referring to reviewing an employee’s performance or discussing technical issues.

Now, if this gizmo could be designed to nail someone's b*lls to the door or wall, it would be a sure winner. And just think of all the snarky remarks that can be made to ROV pilots.

During the quasi-interminable wait yesterday, I was checking out DD ROV2 and saw a fairly strange looking animal, probably a jellyfish, move through the camera's range. And as it turns out, BeePeeOilDisaster's channel has slowed down footage that's worth watching, although you may want to deep six the crazed commentary.


"Note the actual size"...of the BOP? Well, it appears large I guess. Especially to someone not involved in heavy industry, regardless of the field. Therein lies the problem with most of the media coverage of the disaster. As well as information provided by 'Shifty' Allen, someone with virtually zero knowledge of the technical or practical aspects of the process.
The general media have a "golly gee, ain't it amazin' " perspective of what has happened since the explosion, when world-wide many see it as a "it's amazing they actually, finally, accomplished something" scenario.
This is not an attack on the poster, just an observation on the disconnect between the real world and the perception created by media, gov't, self-serving (CYA) business interests, etc.

Update on Gov. Jindal's sand berms from the Baton Rouge paper:


They have finished only 3.5 miles of the authorized 40 miles, for 1/3 of the anticipated $360,000,000 payout. Admittedly, they have moved more sand than that. But I wonder if there has been another episode of loss from erosion in the recent heavy weather. IIRC, they had two miles done a month ago. I don't know why photographs are so rare. These things are as elusive as the midnight ninja Corexit-sprayers.

Jindal is applying for permits to do more of them, but I suspect the feds will pull the plug before the current project is done. "1500 pounds of oily debris" have been removed from the Chandeleur berm. Once again, that's probably 15 cu. ft. of oily sand.

My solar-powered calculator says this is 12.5 pounds of oily debris removed from the eastern side per million dollars.

The article also reports 700 barrels of oil removed from the western side. That's an additional 5.8 barrels of oil per million dollars.

I wonder if there has been another episode of loss from erosion in the recent heavy weather

'Magine so, and they'll be getting more slosh from the southwest now too.

Meanwhile, the Houston Chronicle visits subsiding south Louisiana:

"Here, we have a patient that's dying of cancer, you know, and now they have a sunburn, too," Paul Kemp, Louisiana coastal scientist and vice president of the National Audubon Society, told the Washington Post when asked this past month about the impact of the oil disaster on the state's coastal wetlands. "What will kill coastal Louisiana is what was killing it before this oil spill."

(Footnote: Rockman.)

Interesting comments in the press conferences, media, about the missing drill pipe the last few days. Now I'm back in conspiracy mode: Possible to re-use H2S-damaged drill pipe beyond its normal lifespan and should have been recycled/scrapped? And did it drop downhole at some time ... when? I hate these mysteries.

The key here would be "re-use" and it's a legitimate question on its face. There were no indications I'm aware of of significant H2S associated with Macondo's output.

Would reuse of drill pipe be a safety issue?

I believe used drill pipe is tested and must meet standards. (Disclaimer - not an expert.) My uncle worked in LA and later in Houston testing drill pipe. Not sure, but at one time they used radio waves to test drill pipe? Going by memory from a long time ago...

I meant "pipe used on previous sour gas wells then re-used on other wells." Only the crumbling pipe referenced by Allen made me think of that. I'm more interested in where it went than why it crumbled, although it was an odd remark, and confusing to me, in itself.

Veering off, Sharon Angle's been caught in the Righthaven copyright troll, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Since I'm not interested in being caught in the troll, I'm not posting a link.

Yuck. I read the lawsuit was for $150K and requested closing of domain name. A similar suit was also filed against Democratic Party. I wonder if what was posted was entire article or just an excerpt.

Since I'm not interested in being caught in the troll, I'm not posting a link.

The problem is quoting. Providing a link isn't any more of a problem than giving the name of the publication, since if I know the name, I can go to the publication's Web site and find the article. Here it is:


Angle's being sued because she reprinted an entire editorial and a news article from the Review-Journal on her Web site without permission (although she did credit the publication).

That's okay, you do it. I know what their rules are. They didn't produce the content that's driving this particular revenue engine, so I'm not interested in providing an open lane into any of their sites.

Angle's being sued because she reprinted an entire editorial and a news article from the Review-Journal on her Web site without permission (although she did credit the publication).

The scumbags then (after the fact) obtained their own copyright to the articles and went after Angle. I think the total is about 117 of these "retroactive" copyright infringement lawsuits.

ON a more relevant subject, does anyone know how they have secured the BOP? It appears they have 700Klbs of pull from the lifting device constantly applied but did they tether it in any way last night?

They seem to be working on the support legs so they are taking the weight of the BOP off them.


Keep seeing guys climbing all over the BOP. One guy just went way up the side as if he were climbing a ladder. Couldn't see any harness or line on him. Now he's wandering around inside the thing. I guess it must be constructed to be easy to climb exactly so they can access any part of it to adjust the stuff inside, right?

There goes another guy up. He's leaning back as he climbs, so he must have some kind of harness on. Didn't see the other one get out of a harness in order to go inside, though.

Any idea what they're doing?

Edit: Just saw Evergreen's comment with video above. Sorry! Still would like to know what they're doing.

I caught this work session earlier today, but it seems, after a long break, they're back up now on the bop: Onboard the Q4000, climbers and other humans replace rovs, working on the deepwater horizon blowout protector, the day after it was brought to the surface of the Gulf of Mexico: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MW-G5n9yjLE

swift loris-- going back into the still active feed, there are two guys who've been all over the lower bop for the past three hours (since there's not time stamp, it's hard to know exactly). maybe that's the two fbi guys? i think they have black shirts on. i guess they took a break during the rain.

i would love to know what they're looking at, relatively exactly, and why. there are perhaps others doing the same thing to the upper part, too, but (sigh) we don't get to see that far.

maybe that's the two fbi guys?

Could they be taking pictures? Part of the whole "chain of custody" deal, so they can be sure nothing has been meddled with between the Q4000 and wherever the BOP ends up? Hard to imagine anybody would, but I guess they have to be able to prove nobody did.

There are still those pieces of pipe.

If they're FBI guys, I doubt they'd be doing any investigating; they wouldn't know what they were looking for. Think it's much more likely they're documenting.

Righthaven Victims has the list that those bottom-feeders are targeting. Mostly they go after folks with little or no money, and coerce a 'settlement' that funds their activities for the deeper-pocketed targets.

Little known fact:
The only Right that is mentioned in the US Constitution, outside of the Bill of Rights Amendments, is a Property Right:

"Limited Times" was intended to be limited to a generation - not the excessive machinations of the media industry and their bought-and-paid-for legislators in Congress. While I have some sympathy to the copyright laws in general, there was never any copyright attached to any political or governmentally-created reports or creations. That is why all of the photos and illustrations from NASA are fully open public record - use them with attribution.

Yeah - I know. Good luck with that!!

Here are 2 links to help you avoid running into these copyrighted sites, note that these lists may not be exhaustive and the list of sites may lengthen
Remember, don't post full articles on TOD, links are best.


tanks NAOM, very helpful information.

I have always assumed that the old BOP had to be removed and replaced with a new BOP so that BP could safely bottom kill the well. A nagging question keeps coming back. What is the purpose of the new BOP? The new BOP will have functioning ram shears vs the old BOP, so? What good will functioning ram shears do on a well head full of concrete? I can understand why a new BOP would be necessary if the well had been capped without the concrete plug, but I'm not sure why they needed the new BOP for this situation? Can anyone explain this?

The well head isn't full of concrete (which is cement rather than concrete BTW). They will need to go back into the well to set cement plugs per regulations. That requires a working BOP.

Hate to pick up the monkey wrench again, but I think the first order of business will have to be finding that DP. If it's deep enough to be left there, fine. Otherwise it will have to be fished.

I would think that they would want at least the top end of the drill pipe for any evidentiary value it would have.

And for that matter they might want the whole pipe if possible.

"I think the first order of business will have to be finding that DP."


I'm guessing the first order of business will be getting a good look at the casing hanger seal with a camera. If it's still intact, the flow path was not up the annulus. This should not take long.

Fishing the drill pipe is the next logical step.

OK, I didn't know the seal could be seen from inside. That makes sense.

If 5 million barrels flowed past the seal it should have left some evidence. There is also the issue of the lock down sleeve. The lock down wasn't really needed for the temporary abandonment of the well. Its purpose is supposed to keep the casing from expanding from the heat when the well is in production. The 13000' casing would have a tendency to expand many tens of feet if its temperature is raised a hundred degrees. It appears now the production casing is not raised up but we don't know what happened at the bottom or if the casing did raise up but contracted back when it cooled. That issue of expansion under heat is just one more reason that the annulus is still suspect and possibly dangerous.

The 13000' casing would have a tendency to expand many tens of feet if its temperature is raised a hundred degrees.

More like 9 feet, jinn, if we are talking Fahrenheit, and that's not factoring in gravity.


According to your chart 13000 feet of pipe would expand about 11 feet for a 100F temperature increase and 22 feet for a 200 degree difference. The reservoir temperature was somewhere in the range of 260F-300F

The point is that expansion due to temperature could have moved the hangar by quite a lot and the purpose of the LDS was to keep thermal expansion from busting the hangar and seal. And yes gravity would play a role. Was the cement that was set 20 hours earlier able to support the weight of the casing at the bottom or not. In other words the expansion could affect either end of the pipe.

pinky - Not only seen but they can run a test tool in and pressure test every hanger/csg shoe...much more definitive than a visual inspection.

Currently, the cement is only in the bottom 5k-feet of the well. To P&A the well properly, even after any bottom kill operation, they will have to reenter the well with DP to set the require cement plugs at various depths. The regs say that a working BOP must be on the well if it is reentered.

Also, if there are problems with the bottom kill that would result in increaded pressure in the well, the new BOP can handle greater pressure if needed. The old damaged BOP was too uncertain.

BB, I have a question. Remember, I don't work in oil and may not know what I'm talking about. Considering the amount of time it takes to trip in and out of the hole, would it be possible to multitask a bit? I'm thinking GIH the first time with the overshot tool followed by a logging tool. Gather data, look for the DP, and if it's found and needs fished, try it right then? Unless the DP fishing would put too much stress on the logging tool, this seems kind of intuitive to me.

Apparently, they have developed the capability to gather data via a transponder while drilling in the relief well operation, but I have no information, let alone understanding, of any of the details.

David: I know they have a log-while-drilling tool. What concerns me is if it can handle the weight of the DP. The tool is normally used just behind the drill bit, where it gets compression and torsion but not tension. I don't know how much tension it can safely hold.

I guess my imagination is failing me (again!) because I don't see how any tension on the drill pipe would impact it. unless (sudden brainwave!), it's mounted to attach the fishing tool (or bit, in normal operation) to the drill pipe.

Exactly. The tool is built into a section of pipe itself and just goes between the DP and whatever is on the end.

Edit: Some info here.

Thanks for the link, looks good.

Pink, sorry, I'm not in the industry either; question out of my depth.

S'awright, BB. I made the assumption because you seem to know more than I do. It might be a dumb idea anyway, but it seems worth discussing.

Just my two cents, but I think they already have a good idea what the top of the fish looks like by looking at the stub that was sticking up thru the BOP ram.

Fishing the drill pipe from inside the casing should be to like shooting fish in a barrel. With the info from the stub that was sticking up thru the BOP ram, they will know if the end of the fish is a tool joint or drill pipe. It's fairly common to go in with a mill to dress the end of the fish. A nice round open end is easier to deal with than crimped pipe. With an open end, they can drop a wireline tool inside the fish to determine exactly what they are dealing with. If fish is intact, they might be able to yank the whole thing out with a spear or an overshot.

If the bottom of the fish is mangled (likely IMO), they probably won't get the whole fish in one trip. If the fish won't pull free, a common technique is to set a charge at the first "clear" tool joint from the bottom. Much like heating a stubborn bolt, this tool joint will often unscrew which leaves a nice clean fish to thread into on the next fishing trip.

Fishing is an art. The spaghetti that is pulled out of drill holes is amazing. Without a drill bit on the end of the lost Macondo fish, if necessary, they can grind up tail end.


They may want to fish without milling the end to examine the state of it. My own feeling is that it will be hard to get the fish out from under a couple of k' of cement.


The question of whether or not the drill string is cemented is a good one. An even bigger question is whether BP knew if the drill string had dropped prior to cementing. The displacement of the 3500' drill string is probably on the order of 250 barrels. If they guessed wrong, the cementing calculations could be off significantly. I think they had a enough info to guess right but who knows....

We do know the drill pipe was not dangling from the the BOP when it was pulled.

A cemented drill string is actually a fairly common situation. Once the cementing operation starts, and if something goes wrong, it's often better to cement the string than to cement the pumps. Typically, the cement sets when the pumping stops so timing is tight. Washing over cemented drill pipe is not a big deal. Best to avoided, but does happen.



I seem to remember that at one point they had x-rayed the BOP and found the pipe was there hanging from the shear ram.

But that doesn't mean it couldn't have dropped loose later, but before or during the cementing. Makes me wonder what kinds of pressures they used to inject the cement through the choke or kill line (don't remember which they used).

The BOP had a good try at chewing through it. I doubt that the annulars were in much of a shape to hold onto it with all the flow. It would have been shaking like a twig in a hurricane with 100 days of oil going past it, not counting sand etc. Then they go and force mud past it followed up by a large dose of cement. Don't think it stood a chance of holding up. Also, when the gamma pic was taken it may have been sheared but the annulars were still in a state to hold it up.


Orange Beach, AL:

While I am writing this, there are 10 or so lines of white, foamy and bubbling streaks that have just been sitting there in the water for about 30 minutes. Will continue later, I'm going to eat. There have been skimmers out there today & I think dispersant boats.

Pure comedy gold.
Most people will never know the difference.

[That's some sad nonsense.]

Being an AP photo, I'm surprised they got ANY of the details correct. :(

Oh well, at least they had the correct captions on the rest of the photos. (Guess not everybody stared at cappy and the BOP as often as some of us did.)

btw, Here's a Coast Guard video of HD clips of last night's rising. It took a while to download for me.



Thanks for that link. It is well worth the wait for the download. The quality of the video is fantastic and gives one a much better perspective of the BOP and the Q4000 facilities.


EDIT: 86.1M by my download count.

Here's a Coast Guard video of HD clips of last night's rising.

Thanks! Man, it's even fug-uglier in HD. I know it's been through a lot, but what a godforsaken-looking heap of machinery. I should think it would be depressing as hell to have to work on it for a prolonged period.

Too bad it's going to be ripped apart. It would make a fabulous prop for some action-adventure movie, or a post-apocalypse SF film, maybe with homeless people living in it.

Really? I was thinking it would be cool to have such a thing in my yard. But then, I'm one of those weird people who like "sculptures" made from old car parts and other junk. Have even been guilty of making some smallish ones.

For anyone interested... this will keep you busy for a while!


http://www.youtube.com/user/ProjectGulfImpact, From The Gulf Stream To The Bloodstream

This video's going viral. Being a statistical analyst in one of my numerous prior professional lives, I know what it takes for results to be generalizable and this isn't it. However that doesn't mean that they're invalid. It'll take a well designed study and several sets of independent analysis to get to the generalizable point (or not), and that's something that BP should be paying for. Somebody needs to systematize health testing and data collection, NOW.

going viral??? 312 views is viral? is counterexaggeration a word?

again! - the illogic - why the conspiracy-theory underscore for a serious documenting... ay yi yi - i guess nobody ever has claimed that a hundred IQ limits productivity...

I think I must have a different definition of serious documenting. More drivel trying to get donations.

Yeah, it'll be going viral, at least among people still following the saga. I watched the RTs last night. While the tactics in the video have high CT production values, that doesn't automatically invalidate the med test results that they presented, which is my point. Screaming about conspiracy theories without any evidence that the test results reported are faked, unimportant, not from a causal chain of events that can be associated with the blowout and aftermath etc. isn't intellectually honest and isn't helpful, in my opinion. What's needed is good data from the kind of studies that were not undertaken after Exxon Valdez. And BP should be made to fund it.

Former Valdez Cleanup Worker Warns of Toxic Dangers in the Gulf

Health of Exxon Valdez cleanup workers was never studied

Exxon Spill's Cleanup Workers Share Years of Crippling Illness

Health risks in cleaning up oil spills are still a mystery

Hey y'all, I just wanted to share this CNN iReport that a friend of mine did today. The photos absolutely disgust me; it's bad enough that the dolphin died, but how it was treated afterwards is horrifying to me. Maybe I'm just a wimp about dolphins, but still ....



Auburn scientists await new research tool to measure oil still in Gulf waters

A team of Auburn University scientists is awaiting delivery of a FlowCAM — part microscope and part high-speed camera — as it begins to assess the amount of oil persisting in Gulf waters and its possible long-range effects on seafood.

The project is being funded by $143,000 grant from a National Science Foundation program designed to speed resources to experts studying the oil spill’s environmental impacts.

The laser-illuminated FlowCAM can do real-time water analysis, documenting any remaining oil droplets, according to Auburn biological science researcher Anthony Moss.

Recording up to 10,000 images a minute, it will also enable scientists to examine the number of tiny planktonic organisms — measuring from 3 microns to 3 millimeters — as well as spot even microscopic oil droplets, Moss said. ...

Fresh news (with lots of pix) from Mandy Joye:

... Today, at a site about 16 nautical miles from the wellhead, we dropped the multicorer into a valley. When the instrument returned from the bottom, it contained something we had not seen before: a layer of flocculent, sedimented oil that was cm’s thick.

At a natural oil seep, the entire sediment column is saturated with oil. Cores of sediment collected from natural seeps are oil-stained top to bottom and often the water overlying the sediment core has a thick (mm to cm) layer of crude oil floating at the top. Natural oil seep sediments are distinctive. The photos of cores shown from GC185 here are extreme examples (they are VERY oily!) but the point is that the entire sediment column is oil stained at a natural seep. At the site we visited today, the oil obviously came from the top (down from the water column) not the bottom (up from a deep reservoir).

What we found today is not a natural seep. ...

Couldn't open the link lotus. Did they ID the source of this oil: was it the BP well, another well or oil from some distant natural seep?

I couldn't either.

Drat, Rockman. Worked awhile ago, but now the site's down again (a fairly-frequent occurrence there, I'm afraid). Keep trying . . .

Worked fine for me. Not a lot more info than Lotus quoted. They are still at sea, so no proper analysis, and no identification of the oil. Rather a smoking gun - oil was a very recent deposition on the surface. I think all we can conclude is that it is very interesting. It could be good, bad, or indifferent news in the long term. Assuming it is a result of oil from the spill it may help understand the degradation processes. I would hope for some careful analysis of microbiological flora in the floc.

No, no ID on the source yet. They'll haul it back to the lab for that.

Yes, well.
There was an extremely high-volume discharge of crude oil 16 miles away. It was in the news.
No mystery there.
The heavier fractions settle out.

False earnest objectivity is incredibly annoying, even if it's unintentional.

[Link doesn't work as of 9:06 a.m.]

From the ChiTrib, a little background on Judge Wayne Andersen, and on the Kirkland & Ellis lawyers for some BP figures (Cramond, Thierens, Guide, Wells); another K&E partner, Hariklia Karis, represents BP in the hearings.