BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Waiting, Berm Update, and Tropical Storm Hermine - and Open Thread

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The BOP has been brought to the surface and is being examined as forensic evidence at a NASA facility in Louisiana.

The next step two steps are

  1. Controlling the well at the source through the intersecting relief well, and
  2. Putting the well into reserve status through a "plugging and abandonment" procedure, under the oversight of the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

This was the discussion of the timeline from Saturday's press conference. The relief well is to be started some time this week, at a time that has not yet been determined.

Question: When do you think drilling will resume on the relief well and do you have any concerns about the thunderstorms kicking up in the far southwest part of the Gulf?

Thad Allen: Well we're continuing to watch those thunderstorms. And I might add I just got a note that the capping stack is safely secured above on the Discoverer Enterprise. In response to your question, we need to reinstall the riser pipe to the Blow Out Preventer and at that point there are some diagnostics that will be attempted to further understand the condition of the well.

At that point BP will present a way forward. It will be renewed [reviewed?] by the science team in conjunction with the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management. And we will make a decision on the next couple of steps.

We will be in a position as we go into the next week to begin the relief well. But we will make sure that any steps that are necessary before that will be taken and coordinated with BOEM. So, we're in a period here where we're kind of moving with two coordinating structures and making sure we both understand what's going on moving forward.

But we should be ready to move forward with the relief well again sometime this next week. What I would hope once we get the BOP on deck finish the riser installation. We will give you a firm timeline. But I'd like to hold off right now until we get all that information completed.

Berm Progress

You may remember the plans for sand berms off the coast of Louisiana to protect against spilt oil. We noticed this article yesterday, discussing their limited progress to date.

As Jindal attempts to get permits to expand the project — plus more funding to transform the sandy sections, called berms, into longer-term barrier islands — the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is collecting comments from environmentalists and federal agencies. Many of them questioned the idea when it was first proposed and continue to challenge the project even as it is well under way.

So far, the state has spent about a third of the money reserved for the project and has built about one-tenth of the berms, according to records from state and federal agencies. The state Department of Natural Resources reports that it has written slightly more than $120 million in checks as of Sept. 2 from the $360 million that oil giant BP set aside for the berms.

About 3.6 miles of berms have been built, leaving about 31 more miles to be done under the current permit, according to the Aug. 30 daily report to the corps by contractor Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure Group, which received the contract to manage the project and construct the berms.

So it sounds like the controversial project is barely started, now weeks after the oil has been contained, and way over budget.

Tropical Storm Hermine

Chuck Watson (on our staff) reports:

Tropical Storm Hermine has formed in the Bay of Campeche, and will be quickly moving north towards the Texas/Mexico border. Latest data shows tracks shifting to the north, so a landfall between Corpus Christi and Brownsville seems likely. It is probably not going to reach hurricane strength before landfall, but in today's cautious environment will undoubtably force a few evacuations and shutdowns. These are unlikely to exceed 15% of US Gulf of Mexico production, and will not persist much past the end of the week. The waves and winds are well within the design specifications for offshore assets, so no significant longer term damage or disruption is expected.

For those who missed these:

Tripping drill pipe to lift the BOP to the Q-4000: video
A quite complete view of the preparations for and the final BOP lift onto the Q-4000 by RockyP. With music and in 32x speed: video
Moon pool view of the lift: Part 1, part 2
Coast guard video of the lift on youtube with music added by TOB: video

UHD31 inspecting the broken DWH riser photos

Thanks for the links. I was surprised to see the method used to raise and lower a man to the top of the stack on Q4000 (2:55-3:00 + 3:30-3:35). Don't they have stairs or a ladder?

At that height I'd prefer a safe line to lift me rather than climbing an unsecured ladder ...

Been meaning to ask: Do guys actually work up at the tippy-top of that big white shaft? What is it called? How tall is it, anyway? And what's the component that does the lifting called? Where is it controlled from? Is it a team that operates it, or one guy? Other than the guys on the deck and those that went up and down from time to time, the raising of the BOP looked as if untouched by human hands. I'm wondering about the human beans involved. Love to hear something from them as to what it was like. Or is it the sort of thing they do so often it was just ho-hum, all in a day's work?

>Do guys actually work up at the tippy-top of that big white shaft?


>What is it called?

Huisman Multi Purpose Tower [MPT] 600 Metric Ton 44m free lifting height with Active and Passive compensation

>How tall is it, anyway?

about 160ft

>And what's the component that does the lifting called?

Traveling Block: Huisman 6 sheave splittable block

Where is it controlled from?

driller's shack on the right side of teh tower

Is it a team that operates it, or one guy?

one guy

Other than the guys on the deck and those that went up and down from time to time, the raising of the BOP looked as if untouched by human hands. I'm wondering about the human beans involved. Love to hear something from them as to what it was like. Or is it the sort of thing they do so often it was just ho-hum, all in a day's work?

BOP lift was nothing unusual for them, other than the media and court attention

daavery, thank you so much for taking the time! (A little disappointing that it was no big deal to the guys doing the lift, considering how much we here had invested in it, but obviously better for the success of the operation.)

Great videos, thanks!

There are 42,000 gallons of oil in the annulus. What problems does that pose for the relief well?

ps - Depends on whether they've isolated the reservoir or not. But even if the section of annulus they cut is still in communication with the reservoir it shouldn't be much of a problem. They know the max pressure they'll see and will have a sufficient mud weight to prevent a kick. Still might circ a little oil to the surface but no biggie.

Bottom line: that oil will stay in the annulus...if they do it right.

If one activates a BOP, is that well dead or can it be recovered later? What I'm getting at is, is activating a BOP a 50-100 million dollar decision?

A driller will activate the Bop's in resonse to well conditions.It primary function is of course to assist in making sure the well is dead and or undercontrol. Not a well killer persay so not nessesarily a 50 million dollar decision. That being said the conditions or reasons for the desision could very well turn out to be a 100 million dollar problem. Economics should never be the primary consideration when the need for well control presents itself.

DonR, BOP's are often activated on drilling rigs sometimes daily,what I think you are asking is about activating the blind/shear rams when pipe is in the hole. right?

That can be very expensive and possibly detrimental to fixing the well control problem, if it wasn't warranted. Your pipe can be your life line its the conduit for pumping kill weight fluid downhole and hopefully killing the well. The driller has to know when it's time to cut and run when fighting the well is deemed too hazardous. Once the decision is made his bosses must stand(or run) behind him.

If the annulus is not in communication with the reservoir, then the 42,000 gallons of oil are stuck in the annulus, forming a pocket.

When mud and cement are injected into the annulus, and enter this pocket, won't there be escalating pressure inside -- enough, perhaps, to rupture the well at the sides and/or open a pathway of oil from the reservoir to the surface?

Once again I'm seeing everyone, including Thad Allen, uncork the champagne and declare mission accomplished... Before the relief well has even been completed! Which is appropriate, I guess, since the well, it seems to me, could very well uncork.

I guess we're supposed to trust the new BOP to prevent a second blowout -- and the relief well's BOP, too. Of course, the oil industry itself has found that BOPs are hardly failsafes; that's a marketing ruse, and in reality BOPs are about as reliable as rolls of the dice.

But what's so ridiculous is that new documents show the Feds actually found problems with the BOPs on both of BP's relief wells, and repairs had to be made. You'll recall that Macondo's new BOP comes from the second relief well.

in reality BOPs are about as reliable as rolls of the dice.

A BOP like any other mechanical device can fail, but to say they are as reliable as a roll of the dice is a gross exaggeration. They have been used successfully thousands of times, but you never hear about it when they work.

Even the one in question may have worked if it had been used in a timely manner. We can't be sure yet what caused the failure.

This is the thing about mechanical devices. They are as great as they can be designed to be. Think about your BOP, and then think about this device and the inventor literally putting his skin on the line to test it. I can't find a video, but can well remember the inventor of the GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) dropping a live wired radio (or toaster) into a bathtub with his 8 yr old DAUGHTER in it! This to prove that the GFCI (now called GFI's because electricians can't remember acronyms) worked as advertised.

Cameron has done a great job with the BOP's but I GUARANTEE they would be even better if some Cameron high-muckety-muck were required to perform some life-threatening operation with one.


I'm curious where your 42,000 gallon annular volume figure came from.

After seeing that number for the second time today I was driven to take a stab at figuring it. By "the annulus", I assume you're talking of the space bounded by the production casing and the wellbore / liner / casing path from its shoe back to the top of the wellhead?

If so, I find that volume to be under 6,200 gallons (less than 1,104 bbl).

Regardless of the volume, I was somewhat surprised to learn that it's known to be full of oil.


I think you calculated cubic feet instead of gallons Chuck.

You're absolutely right. What I did was calculate it in barrels, then numbly converted it to cubic feet instead of gallons. Sorry about that.

With head removed from butt, my most conservative value is then 43,587 gallons, and the most liberal value is 44,143 gallons.


<"....When mud and cement are injected into the annulus, and enter this pocket, won't there be escalating pressure inside -- enough, perhaps, to rupture the well at the sides and/or open a pathway of oil from the reservoir to the surface?....">

They'll go in through the new BOP and "perf" the casing from the inside, allowing them to control any pressure from the RW when it pumps. - And if the annulus is indeed in communication w/the reservoir, that, too can be controlled with the new BOP.

I was fascinated by how the ROV lights shining through the oil gushing from the Macondo well's cut riser were interpreted as FIRE buy some of the feed watchers.

Also, of course, there were the various plumes, explosions, swaying well heads, methane clouds, bubbling sea floors and other demons and serpents, both real and imagined. Most of what happened down there in the Gulf was so far beyond most people's experiential base as to defy description. For some of us, it was fascinating yet comprehensible.

All of these events and illusions -- whether accurately or inaccurately described and/or perceived -- were created by perceptions formed by experience, education and temperament, which varies wildly among this tribe of internet-haunting humans.

In this context, this link looks at what we know and how some among us are incapable of knowing what we do not know: http://nyti.ms/cvjRMk

The limits of our knowledge literally set the boundaries of what we think we know and how we interpret our world. See also: Dunning-Kruger Effect.
After Macondo, it's clear to me that the Dunning-Kruger Effect is not limited to any particular demographic.

These cognitive phenomena were never better illustrated for me than during the efforts to stop the Macondo well. Even otherwise "intelligent" people fell prey to the dark voids at the limits of their knowledge, education and experience. While the doomers, CTs, doubters, paranoids, flat-Earthers and Copernicans probably didn't develop much insight from this event, I certainly did, both in terms of subsea oilpatch operations and how humans respond to events beyond their ken.

I just want to thank The Oil Drum posters and especially the great crew of watchers down on the #theoildrum IRC channel for keeping the rational train on the tracks while it hurtled through the information voids. This has been a once-in-a-lifetime (I hope) opportunity to watch this event unfold and refold.

We can never know what we don't know unless we keep our minds open.

Good post.

SH~I tried to respond to your VOC post, but was too late. I have no doubt that the workers at the site are in the greatest danger IMO, but the ppl here that are being tested and test positive for one or two (or I should qhalify, test positive for elevated levels) specific VOC's are somewhat confusing to me. I would be curious to know if they smoke, what their baseline VOC test were, but none I know ever had one and I found dozens of articles on common household produces (even cooking spray that release off gas VOC's)

I'd love anyone's input on these Q's.

This is a small list of household products

Many products we have in our homes release or “off-gas” VOCs. Some examples of sources of VOCs are:

Building Materials
Carpets and adhesives
Composite wood products
Sealing caulks
Upholstery fabrics
Vinyl Floors
Home and Personal Care Products
Air fresheners
Air cleaners that produce ozone
Cleaning and disinfecting chemicals
Fuel oil, gasoline
Moth balls
Vehicle exhaust running a car in an attached garage
Non-electric space heaters
Stored paints and chemicals
Wood burning stoves

Studies have shown that the level of VOCs indoors is generally two to five times higher than the level of VOC’s outdoors. VOC concentrations in indoor air depend on many factors, including the

Amount of VOCs in a product;
Rate at which the VOCs are released;
Volume of the air in the room/building;
Ventilation rate or the area; and
Outdoor concentrations of VOCs.

TIA for anyone who could shed light regarding these questions, or even to add a few.


Huffing is known to cause bad investment and comment placement decisions.

Ah. Thus Brich? (Or maybe that one's just a pure-D ol' personality disorder.)

Sorry you don't approve UnC~no huffing here (not even sure what that is), just reading and getting ready for a funeral, and IIRC I thought it was Snakehead that posted an interesting post with links on VOC's in the last thread. I have seen some of the test that show 2 detectable VOC's in .11 PPB and .34 PPB. That is why I posted it under snakehead's last post...............as to bad investments, totally not applicable to me, I think buying Ford at 1.20 last yr was one of the best investments I ever made....jus saying!

Sorry you don't approve UnC

I don't think you get it.

Please listen: You posted your comment as a reply (via snakehead) to UnC's comment. What you should have done, since your remarks have nothing to do with the comment thread that UnC started (or snakehead's reply), is post your comment in a new thread.

In other words, don't click "reply" when your comment is not a reply; click start new thread. Otherwise you just utterly derail whatever conversation is going on in the comment thread you post your "reply."

My name is gassy and I approve this message^

Also the OP was fantastic.

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish for a pony, thanks.

I'll have to give the Coolio hairstyle a go sometime.

No car for me, I want one of these. Especially if it can be programmed to " Do the Hustle " at stoplights.


Pretty high tech, it looks to me. Not the Coolio haircut, I mean, but the DoTheHustle mobile. Lots of plastics in that. And no trunk for all the friends, although it might pull a few on roller skates. Obviously it'll need recharging and still would have a significant carbon footprint and then the disposal problem after the batteries crap out. All in all, I'd rather have the '65. Better yet, a Veyron that runs on chicken poo and/or Corexit. But I digress.

Hey don't knock it, that was cutting edge hairtech back in the day.

Ok, for you, I'll make a compromise


We'll feed it garbage


Establishing a baseline could be tough and establishing causality would be even tougher, but there have been numerous reports by Ground Zero workers, Exxon Valdez workers, etc. about ongoing health issues that they associate with activities in proximity to chems. Exxon got to not release info, Union Carbide got to walk away relatively free from Bhopal, and I don't want to see BP and partners get to slide on this without a decent study being done.

I agree with that, I am talking about ppl who just live on the beach, never been a part of a clean up crew or anything like that. The workers at the ground zero (for lack of a better word) of ALL of the incidents should be monitored closely, and BP should be paying for testing and monitoring of their workers. I have more of an issue with those that live here or even inland 30 miles, who think the rain is making there plants wilt, since they think it's toxic and has corexit in it, and want testing paid for by BP, several are suing or trying to and I think if you have never been at the spill site or a worker causality is going to so very hard to establish after I read how many products contain VOC's that are in your home, mostly as household cleaner...I guess I don't have to worry since I gave up even trying to be domestic 20 yrs ago, and swap out investing for a friend who cleans for me. Also forgot they smoke so I think VOC's would show up from that if I am interpreting the information properly.

Crews at the City of Ships and offshore skimmers must have had a vastly greater air exposure than people on the coast. They worked in the middle of the freshest, thickest slicks and near the sooty fires on the water. Some of the volatiles in the oil vaporize within minutes, so distance matters. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the offshore workers experience long-term problems as a result.

Something I haven't seen mentioned-- as I understand, the most toxic VOCs from the oil are BTEX (benzene, etc.). These are soluble in water, and most of them leached out into the deep water, 1400m to 600m down. They will stay there with no hazard to humans until they are biodegraded (barring some upwelling current that would probably be trivial in scope). If the spill had occurred at the surface, they would all have entered the atmosphere instead of dissolving in the deep water. There is always BTEX in the air around cities, but I don't think benzene readings went much above background levels on the coast.

A lot of the evaporated HC from the slick would have been water-insoluble alkanes, which I as understand are generally not very toxic.

People on the coast did experience episodes of fairly bad air that EPA acknowledged would cause symptoms in some people. Surely those conditions ended before August 1, and any ongoing complaints about toxic rainwater and air are highly suspect.

Advice for any and all who want a household with less toxic fumes.

Unless there is grease on a floor, plain water works fine for washing a floor. Vinegar and water for windows or ammonia and water. Baking soda can be used to wash sinks, tubs etc.

Get rid of carpets and put down a solid floor that can be swept. Carpets collect all sorts of stuff and washing them uses more possibly noxious chemicals.

Most importantly though, we need to get over the hyper American cleanliness standard. There is now a school of thought that believes that asthma and auto immune disorders may result from kids being too clean and not having their immune system challenged. Primed to react to invasion, the body turns on itself when no invasions occur.

Allergies have become a widespread in developed countries: hay fever, eczema, hives and asthma are all increasingly prevalent. The reason? Excessive cleanliness is to blame according to Dr. Guy Delespesse, a professor at the Université de Montréal Faculty of Medicine...."There is an inverse relationship between the level of hygiene and the incidence of allergies and autoimmune diseases," says Dr. Delespesse. "The more sterile the environment a child lives in, the higher the risk he or she will develop allergies or an immune problem in their lifetime."


Also, before I head out over to TFHG's territory..the samples I am referring to are being tested by Dr. Bob Naman, and these ppl have never been at the spill site nor a clean up worker, and with Naman and all the disinformation lately it just gives me pause to consider the source after hearing more and more about his methodology and protocols (or lack of I should say)

All three had blood samples taken at the beginning of August...
Tests revealed each had elevated levels of the Hydrocarbons Ethyl Benzene and Xylene.
Bob Naman, a chemist out of Mobile, analyzed the results.
"He shows three times the amount you typically find in someone's blood."
"These people are from different backgrounds, and from different walks of life, all showing same similar organic compounds in blood, says to me its very likely in the air."


Y'all have a wonderful day.........heading out to BAMA.

Naman's credibility is deservedly shot. But I'm still advocating for systematic testing of people who have had substantial exposure to the spill. As I recall there was widespread head scratching about BP not allowing cleanup workers to wear respirators, presumably for BP's PR purposes.

Haha..I read that series of articles a month or two ago, funny as hell, and the comments from the readers are great too !


The fire and flashes we saw coming out of the top of the ...unBOP might have been fractoluminescence , only logical explanation I can think of.


some among us are incapable of knowing what we do not know

But none of us are capable of knowing what we don't know that we don't know, not even the experts who know some of what they don't know. And the heck of it is, there may be folks who know things the experts don't know that they (the experts) don't know.

Caveat: The above should not be construed as support for CTs, merely a plea for a bit of provisional humility.

Swifty: Never considered myself an expert at any one thing. I usually get bit in the rear end just starting down that path. I imagine it would be lonely up there. Did you know that?

Swifty: Never considered myself an expert at any one thing. I usually get bit in the rear end just starting down that path. I imagine it would be lonely up there. Did you know that?

I'd have to know what the heck you were trying to tell me first. ;-)

Thanks for the interesting link.

One of the many benefits of TOD is the vetting of questions many of us would never think to ask.

When I first came here, I was also half convinced the silt storms were oil. But it only took the people here setting me straight a couple of times before I got the picture. I like to think I'm capable of learning. Thanks everyone who answered my newbie questions!

Well said and add my thanks to this site and the posters as well.

The remote location of this disaster and being inaccessible by direct human contact allowed wild ass claims by those who would gain from spreading Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt harder to disprove or prove. More critical thinking, logic, education and patience is required for a situation like this.

Admiral Thad Allen said it well that this disaster was closer to Apollo 13 than the Exxon Valdez.

from an August 18th, 2010 interview with Charlie Rose

CHARLIE ROSE: You have said that the Gulf crisis, a, is unprecedented. We all know that. But you have also said it’s closer to Apollo 13 than the Exxon Valdez.

THAD ALLEN: That’s true.

CHARLIE ROSE: Explain that.

THAD ALLEN: Well, first of all, the source of the oil has no human access. We’re dealing with technologies that have never been used at 5,000 feet.

CHARLIE ROSE: Below the ocean surface.

THAD ALLEN: All we know that’s going on down there is what we see through remotely operated vehicles and remote sensing. So everything is a model of what’s going on down there, but what we’ve been able to capture in terms of data and video, nothing represents absolute reality you can touch...

...And we’re going to have to make decisions under conditions of uncertainty with incomplete
information. And that’s never easy.


The subject is 'God of the gaps' but it still applies if you change it to 'conspiracy theory of the gaps' or 'magic healing crystals of the gaps' or any of the fantasy-based alternatives we've invented to replace traditional religion.

I really get tired of the use of "conspiracy theory" to indicate something crazy. Every prosecutor who tries a crime that is planned and carried out by multiple people presents a conspiracy theory to the Jury.
Conspiracies are crimes by law. They happen or there would be no point in writing laws against them. So if you want to disparage some way of thinking say "crazy conspiracy theory". If you disparage all conspiracy theories then you must believe that the men who stabbed Julius Caesar were all lone knifemen who just happened to pick the Ides of March for their individual deeds conceived without ever expressing that desire to each other.

15 years after the Warren Commission the House Select Committee on Assinations conclude there was probably a conspiracy to murder Kennedy based on new information

The committee concluded that Oswald fired three shots at President John F. Kennedy. The second and third shots he fired struck the President. The third shot he fired killed him. The HSCA agreed with the single bullet theory but concluded that it occurred at a time during the assassination that differed from what the Warren Commission had theorized. Their theory, based primarily on Dictabelt evidence, was that President Kennedy was assassinated probably as a result of a conspiracy. They proposed that four shots had been fired during the assassination; Oswald fired the first, second, and fourth bullets, and that (based on the acoustic evidence) there was a high probability that an unnamed second assassin fired the third bullet, but missed, from President Kennedy's right front, from a location concealed behind the grassy knoll picket fence.

What - a conspiracy theory about Kennedy's murder proposed by the House Select Committee - how shocking.

Conspiracies happen. People have theories about them. Some proven, some not, some crazy, some valid.

Your post is sensible enough, except you ignore an establish usage of "conspiracy theorist" to describe a person who prefers to interpret public events as manifestations of elaborate conspiracies. To me, it's a perfectly good usage.

Agreed. Funny thing about language, the phrase conspiracy theory means something different than the definition of conspiracy plus the definition of theory. And that's before you even get to the casual use of theory versus the scientific use.

So very true. I too have a problem with corruption of the term "theory."

Conspiracies do, in fact, happen all of the time. When they are against the law and prosecuted, they are adjudicated with the most careful array of facts, all of which have to be proven; otherwise the prosecution fails.

On the other hand, conspiracy theory (CT), using the post-modern definition of the term, are typically based on the thinnest of speculation and conjecture woven together to produce what, on the surface, appears to be reasonable. However, what makes it a CT is the fact that the speculation on which it is based can never be proven. In fact, it isn't necessary to even be true. It is the very absence of provable facts and linkages that perversely become the “proof” of the CT and is frequently necessary for the propagation of the CT.

"Conspiracies" (in the legal definition) and "conspiracy theory" (again, in the post-modern meaning) are only loosely related terms. CT is an example of how quickly the English language evolves so that merely parsing the components of the term does not produce intended meaning of the term. In other words, the "theory of a conspiracy" is not the same as a “conspiracy theory.”

CT is also very different from an as-yet unproven conspiracy although CT folks would have you think otherwise. A "theory of a conspiracy" that does not lead to supporting facts and provable assertions can become a CT, usually when borne forward by both “true believers” who believe so strongly that their belief doesn’t require any proof (it is based on an unprovable faith) and, sadly, also by hucksters who are motivated by darker forces (malevolence, greed, etc.) CTs are often amped up a couple of orders of magnitude from the original unproven “theory of conspiracy.”

A CT by its nature cannot be proven although many of their adherents will seek to debate one to their position without supplying any provable underlying facts. Reminds me of Billy Flynn's "Razzle Dazzle" number in Chicago (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rn5-VN3SH1o ) In most CTs, the only debate allowed is based on ground rules that require acceptance of the adherents' "givens." Anyone who challenges the givens and assumptions becomes a shill for the other side and even perhaps a part of the underlying conspiracy.

It’s a weird world that CT adherents inhabit. Logic and common sense aren't required and they're often an impediment.

Edit: See http://www.pasleybrothers.com/conspiracy/History%202420_syllabus_2008.pdf This is the course syllabus for "Conspiracy Theories and Conspiracies in U.S. History and Culture" (History 2420) taught by Prof. Jeff Pasley at University of Missouri-Columbia. There are several other college-level courses taught on CT.

I don't use the term CT lightly to describe just any off-the-wall crazy ideas (many truths are stranger than fiction); just the off-the-wall crazy ideas based on speculation and conjecture without any evidence, facts, data or something I can test. If it is based on just speculation but people treat it as proven fact solely on faith, it’s CT. Also, it's a CTs if the idea can be refuted but its advocates still cling to the idea even in the face of testable evidence.

Your post is sensible enough Gobbet except that you ignore an established pattern of people who are conspiring to label those who discover their conspiracy as "conspiracy theorists" in order to discount their revealing of the truth.

As in the Iran Contra conspiracy. Gad when you see what they did (or what we know of what they did) you know that it would be labeled a crazy "conspiracy theory" if it weren't for the fact that it turned out to be true.

The Iran–Contra affair[1] (Persian: ماجرای مک‌فارلین, Spanish: caso Irán-contras) was a political scandal in the United States that came to light in November 1986. During the Reagan administration, President Ronald Reagan and other senior U.S. officials secretly facilitated the sale of arms to Iran, the subject of an arms embargo.[2] At least some U.S. officials also hoped that the arms sales would secure the release of hostages and allow U.S. intelligence agencies to fund the Nicaraguan contras.


If that turned out not to be a crazy conspiracy theory but rather a real conspiracy (what our own officials secretly sold arms to Iran!)

People who maintain that Oswald was not a lone gunman are routinely labeled as "conspiracy theorists" and treated as crazy even though (quietly) the House Select Committee on Assassination said well yes, it looks like a conspiracy, but we aren't interested in looking any further.

In fact conspiracies happen all the time and those who perpetrate them are glad to lump the crazy (Queen Elizabeth is an Alien) with the facts (at the very least Oswald was NOT a lone gunman). I would venture to say that those who plan such evil deeds as people like Oliver North, gladly conspire with others to quickly label their conspiracies as "conspiracy theories" in order to deflect investigation by all but those willing to stand being mocked as crazy.

Didja know that a jury found that there was a conspiracy to murder MLK -

Ray's attorney William Pepper pursued this allegation, and the King family sued Jowers in a wrongful death lawsuit. This resulted in a civil trial in 1999. At the end of that trial, the Judge read the jury's verdict: "In answer to the question did Loyd Jowers participate in a conspiracy to do harm to Dr. Martin Luther King, your answer is yes. Do you also find that others, including governmental agencies, were parties to this conspiracy as alleged by the defendant? Your answer to that one is also yes. And the total amount of damages you find for the plaintiffs entitled to is one hundred dollars. Is that your verdict?" The jury replied: "Yes.

BTW the family only sought $100 thus the award being small. They of course wanted the truth.
If you don't know this information and that of the judgement of the House Special Committee on Assassinations (which also admitted to the likelihood of a conspiracy in MLK's death)it might point to a silent conspiracy in main line news media to put such relevant information in the back pages.

Sure, there are conspiracies to murder, steal, etc. But weird gaudy conspiracies like Iran-Contra must be very rare. How often does someone as nutty as Oliver North get in a position of power within an administration lawless and cynical enough to sanction such antics? If you look for explanations for events along the lines of Iran-Contra, you are going to be wrong way over 99% of the time. It's habitually looking for explanations of that type and stranger that marks someone as a conspiracy theorist. The world just doesn't usually work that way.

The world just doesn't usually work that way.

Fine comment, Gobbet, but as to this piece . . . well, I'll just observe that, at least since the 1970s, in US history this seems to depend (depressingly) on which party holds the White House.

established pattern of people who are conspiring to label those who discover their conspiracy as "conspiracy theorists" in order to discount their revealing of the truth

Another conspiracy theory holds that the conspirators introduce, or at least facilitate, conspiracy theories that are way off base in order to distract attention from the real cospiracy.

The X-Files was a sophisticated campaign to discredit and malign the people who know that aliens are real!

"The truth is out there!"

BTW, I'm watching Espisode 2 of Season 2 ("The Host") right now on Netflix VOD.

Edit: I like CT for its entertainment value and can separate the X-Files and Spielberg's Taken from reality.

The difference is that the conspiracy theorists propose wildly improbable theories and ignore any evidence that does not fit their theory. An example here is how the people who believe that a missile hit the Pentagon on 9/11 ignore the (literally) hundreds of people who watched the airliner fly into it.


I don't want to start a debate on the Kennedy assassination because it would be way off topic and could use a whole forum unto itself. However, you made a statement that I must correct. One of your examples is incomplete. While it is true that the HSCA concluded that there was probably a conspiracy to murder Kennedy, the acoustic evidence on which it based its conclusion was later brought into serious question by addition evidence and science.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dictabelt_evidence_relating_to_the_assassin...

BTW, this was not a CT (although, Lord knows, there certainly are many others related to the Kennedy assassination), this is an example of a "theory of conspiracy" (using my definitions upthread), based on testable evidence and science, that first seemed to support a conclusion of conspiracy and then, with the scrutiny of later better science, was shown to NOT support such a conclusion. In fact, it is now almost totally busted; or at least the original analysis has been. There is nothing wrong with this; it's how the scientific process works. A theory is present with its data and it is subject to the rigor on investigation. Theories are confirm or refuted. In this case, an initally confirmed theory (actually only partically confirmed) was later refuted by additional testing and additional science.

Most CTs never present any evidence, proof or testable data at all.

I followed this aspect of the Kennedy case closely because I'm a Dallas resident and actually was present in Delay Plaza on the day they closed the Plaza to do the acoustic experiment (along with dozens of other gawkers like me). They actually shot live ammo into sandbags that day. Sound was picked up using microphones at points all over the Plaza to get all of the various echoes for analysis. I have followed the various ebbs and flow of this aspect of the story over the years.

or any of the fantasy-based alternatives we've invented to replace traditional religion.

Ahhh.... but you can make a good case that America is the most religious developed country in the world; if not damn close. The numbers for evolution in particular show a rejection of scientific thought in favor of some other mechanism of deciding what is true and what is not.


I generally believe that exposure to and encouragement to adopt faith based beliefs from an early age makes Americans more accepting of and susceptible to pseudoscience, conspiracy theories, cults and a general class of off-the-wall ideas that don't stand up to evidence based analysis.

Interesting point.

However, my upbringing as a preacher's kid and subsequent development of a pretty skeptical attitude towards pseudoscience, intelligent designers, etc., while not definitive proof to the contrary, suggests some potential flaws in the theory.

Of course, on the other hand, I did flunk kneeling in seminary....

Dr. Brown, I believe if more people were taught early on what a metaphor is and how respectable metaphor is as a method of comprehension, they wouldn't be at such pains to fight a literal drug war or a literal war on terror, and to assign a literal meaning for Bible stories.

As one who makes abundant use of analogies, and, to a lesser extent metaphors, and, to an even lesser extent, parables (although shaggy dog stories are another matter entirely!), I can appreciate your point. Unfortunately, and even perhaps ironically and/or paradoxically, it may be the ones without "faith" who have more faith, and require less certainty.


PS: Thanks again for the promotion, although I'm never entirely sure whether it's intended as a compliment or a put-down, but, in any case, I'm not a doctor, in any sense of the term, never played one on TV, and haven't even stayed in a Holiday Inn recently.

The mention of metaphor as an attribute made me think of Myers-Briggs. I was hoping you would be familiar with this study of personality traits. The N (Intuitive) type would be attracted to metaphor, however, the S (Sensory) type would not. Doesn't this imply the thought of teaching someone to use metaphor for the purpose of comprehension may be difficult if not impossible?

I never was in a position to qualify to administer, and therefore fully understand, any kinds of psychological testing, so my knowledge in that area is somewhat sketchy.

That having been said, my impression, based in part on my experience (and the rest on that tried and true formal therapeutic method, "Wild Assed Guess!) is that, despite personality traits, personality disorders, and personal history, the human brain, in both emotional and cognitive functions, is malleable enough that we can, given the right motivation, and effective training, make some remarkable transformations in abilities.

However, I suspect that, as a practical matter, there is rarely enough motivation for an individual to seek such a transformation unless they are profoundly unhappy about their present circumstances and are convinced, either intrinsically, or through a super selling job by an external presence, that such a change will be well worth the effort (Motivation = Pain X Hope). Hard to see how sensory types would be so impelled to embrace metaphors very eagerly, isn't it?

Sounds more like a Saul on the road to Damascus situation, which is hardly my area since flunking out of seminary.

Edit: In honor of those who have encouraged me to embrace brevity, the answer is; Yes.

I'm familiar with Myers-Briggs being used in the workplace (financial services). I had read a book about it years ago called "Please Understand Me". And a few years after reading book, I was somewhat surprised when co-workers and I were given a test in a mandatory training class that came from the book. The purpose of class was to help people work together better by understanding one another. For example, when someone is asked a yes-no question, an answer of yes will mean exactly yes for some types and will mean yes or maybe for other types. By recognizing common types, it is easier to understand the meaning of what is communicated.

However, I was a little startled when I heard of a manager in another department using the test to hire people. I had always felt diversity in the workplace was very good and this manager was using a personality trait test to hire only those who would be most suitable for the position.

Ah, The M-B, adaptable for any and all situations, not full of complexity and easily understood. M-B's got something for everyone. Except there's the Forer Effect issue.

Thanks for the interesting info about Forer Effect.

I can think of many other issues with M-B as well. I liked M-B more for its definition of various personality traits and how the traits were not an on or off attribute but existed somewhere along a pole. I've seen others use end results of test for one reason or another and I would be against that.

One of my all time favourites this:


Best watched if you don't click on the link for the Forer Effect above.

I have a huge amount of respect for Derren Brown. He learnt many of his skills from Ian Rowland, who wrote the Book "The full facts book of Cold Reading" which is a marvellous debunk of much woozy stuff. Derren spends quitea bit of his time doing debunking, and there is a quite good piece with him and Richard Dawkins. If you chase a fwe of the vidoes, beware, there is one trick that he does a few times (thought suggestion) where the after the fact deconstruction is actually part of the trick, and isn't how it is done :-).

Speaker, we may or may not be the most religious rich country, but I think topical surveys don't gauge the depth of belief very well. Several years ago the mainstream media reported on a survey that said about 2/3 of Americans didn't believe in evolution. A few weeks later a similar survey was reported to have found that about 2/3 of Americans were afraid that avian flu would mutate and infect them. Can you say "cognitive dissonance"?. I think this showed that at least a third of those who say evolution is bunk say it without much conviction, and aren't actually rejecting science. Not to say there's anything wrong with your ideas about indoctrination leading to irrationality, just that the numbers of serious anti-science folks may be exaggerated by a feedback loop of superficial surveys and media attention to fringe thinkers.

As to whether this is peculiarly American, I think it's an American flavor of common human behavior. See Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds for reassurance that other folks are plenty irrational, too.

"We can never know what we don't know unless we keep our minds open."

I keep telling myself that when it comes to my efforts to understand and interact with teenagers, now that I have two. It's can be both wonderful and horrifying. Much as I try to teach them, I think i end up learning more than they do.

This video, however, helps me appreciate the value there is in the teenage perspective and logic. It is something to behold. The clip also helps demonstrate how selective we are in perceiving any given situation, and how relative our concept of knowledge is. The interviewer's perception and questions come from one perspective, the kid's from another. Both know each knows what the other does not, and perhaps cannot, when it comes to their competing interpretations of the event at issue (wait for the last minute or so of the clip where the teen reveals his self-evaluation after being led through the interviewer's). This is from whence we came.


their competing interpretations of the event

Fascinating, syncro (though my perspective is to feel lucky about not having to deal regularly with either party here).

my perspective is to feel lucky about not having to deal regularly with either party here

If I had to choose, I'd go with the kid...I thought he kept his temper pretty well under extreme provocation.

Yeah, but about his friends . . .

Good to have an official name--Dunning-Kruger--to assign to that ignorant certitude we suffer with, and sometimes from.

Kruger and Dunning proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:
1. tend to overestimate their own level of skill;
2. fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
3. fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
4. recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they can be trained to substantially improve.

In the context of these Oil Drum, Macondo blow-out threads, the Dunning-Kruger effect aptly applies to those who incessantly post ad hominem attacks. The air of superiority in the attacks fits number 1 above, while the failure to recognize that ad hominem is an invalid form of argument fits well with number 2. Some oil industry insiders have tried to lead by example and even make gentle suggestions about appropriate discourse, but the ad hominem attackers proceed without heed which fits number 3.

Dunning, Kruger, and coauthors' latest paper on this subject comes to qualitatively similar conclusions to their original work, after making some attempt to test alternative explanations. They conclude that the root cause is that, in contrast to high performers, "poor performers do not learn from feedback suggesting a need to improve."[4]

There is some subtlety to the Dunning-Kruger effect:

[skilled people] tend to underestimate their relative competence. Roughly, participants who found tasks to be relatively easy erroneously assumed, to some extent, that the tasks must also be easy for others.


...94% of college professors rank their work as "above average" (relative to their peers)...


DAVID DUNNING: ...We’re not very good at knowing what we don’t know.
ERROL MORRIS: Knowing what you don’t know? Is this supposedly the hallmark of an intelligent person?
DAVID DUNNING: That’s absolutely right. It’s knowing that there are things you don’t know that you don’t know...

There is a lot that remains unknown about the Macondo blowout and subsequent events.

Applying Dunning-Kruger to this discussion in TOD is useful. But there is a bigger picture: look at the matter of substance i.e. the context of BP (UK HQ), USA operations and contractors, Chinese services, drilling operations and blowouts, a world of international operations, and reflect on --

Cross-cultural variation

Studies on the Dunning–Kruger effect tend to focus on American test subjects. Similar studies on European subjects show marked muting of the effect; studies on some Asian subjects suggest that something like the opposite of the Dunning–Kruger effect operates on self-assessment and motivation to improve:

Regardless of how pervasive the phenomenon is, it is clear from Dunning's and others' work that many Americans, at least sometimes and under some conditions, have a tendency to inflate their worth. It is interesting, therefore, to see the phenomenon's mirror opposite in another culture. In research comparing North American and East Asian self-assessments, Heine of the University of British Columbia finds that East Asians tend to underestimate their abilities, with an aim toward improving the self and getting along with others.

I make no assertions for the accuracy of the Wiki summary here of Dunning-Kruger nor the underlying worth of their work - but if it is valid...

edited for clarity


Re your post in the closed thread, http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6921/714870

I'm curious how you came up with your displacement estimate ("on the order 250 barrels") for the drill string now believed to be lurking in the depths of the production casing.

If the drill pipe, which was 5-1/2" OD, was chopped at say 3' above the base of the riser connection to the BOP stack, then what fell into the abyss was 2569 ft (top at 4998 ft, bottom at 7567 ft) of 5-1/2 DP with an 800 ft length of 3-1/2" cement stinger mated to the bottom of it. If both ends were plugged, that looks like a displacement of 85 barrels to me. Am I missing something?


On the previous thread I meant to indicate that neither you nor I have been able to find any evidence that foamed cement has been lab tested at the pressures found at depth in this well (12,000 psi). The rest of the conclusions (e.g 6 vs 21 centralizers is irrelevant) are mine alone.

I do note how eerily reminiscent this treatment of the recurring need to do a squeeze job on cement jobs is to the problem of o-ring erosion on the Challenger. I would recommend that all investigators read Feynmann!!!!

From Genius The Life and Science of Richard Feynmann by James Gleick

His most important contribution to the understanding of the disaster came in the area of risk and probability. He showed that the space agency and its contractors - although the essence of their decisionmaking lay in weighing uncertainties - had ignored statistical science altogether and had a shockingly vague style of risk assessment. The commission's official findings could do no better than quote Feynmann's comment during the hearings that the decison making became

a kind of Russian roulette...[The shuttle] flies [with O-ring erosion] and nothing happens. Then it is suggested, therefore, that the risk is no longer so high for the next flights. We can lower our standards a little bit because we got away with it the last time...You got away with it, but it shouldn't be done over and over like that.

Both Halliburton's and BP's engineers indicated they had done a few prior foamed cement jobs at depth (as opposed to the normal shallow cementing of the big diameter casings into the sea floor), but neither knew if foamed cement was approved for use at the 18,000 ft depth. But it seems obvious that Halliburton's research & software guys thought it was okay as it was written into Opti-Cem and appeared in Gagliano's reports! So why would the front line guys question what the big Halliburton brain trust thought was okay?

So if it fails the pressure test out in the field, we just keep doing squeeze jobs, over and over and over....

ASIDE to PhilMB - I have a casting tip for the BP Opera! Ken Salazar for this role http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpJ_IAUs8nI

It seems the other commenters missed the second requirement for the finale, being a lady (to Swift Loris et al - one out of two is a grade of 50% = F).

The reference was to the famous Dick Motta quip, "The opera ain't over until the fat lady sings."

to Swift Loris et al - one out of two is a grade of 50% = F

Er, yes, dear. By highlighting Placido, I was performing an emergency intervention for fans of the aria that the beloved but not-so-fat lady was butchering, not suggesting him for the fat lady role in the BP finale. Call it a tangent. ;-) Also, I believe Motta's version would have been "IT ain't over until..." And it may have been Dan Cook, not Motta, who first used it in a sports context; nobody's quite sure.

For extra credit, in the opera context, who would the fat lady be?


"looks like a displacement of 85 barrels to me. Am I missing something."


Nope.....You are spot on. I "screwed the pooch" on that one.

Sorry for the confusion.


from previous thread:
"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."

You forgot. Max Headroom is already living there. We SAW him up there right after it came on deck. Both his television show and his "credit" were taken away as punishment for telling the truth on television, I think. Who would have ever thought he would resurface in a broken BOP?

btw: Recently heard news that Max Headroom episodes are now available on DVD. Haven't looked for them yet, but you can bet I will.

Who would have ever thought he would resurface in a broken BOP?

Naah, his "punishment" was just for show, so he could go underground--er, undersea--for a bit. He knows what happened to the drill pipe; the FBI agents have been debriefing him ever since they brought up the BOP. Look for new revelations soon.

Yuk! :)

I need more head room.

My conjecture is that the reason all along for all of the drop-outs of the ROV feeds was Max taking over the bandwidth up upload HIS field reports.

Proving that big news can still break on even a slow news day:

At great risk his security clearance and personal safety, a highly-placed person in a secret government agency responsible for our national assets in photo reconnaissance leaked a recently enhanced image of the recovered BOP. His purpose was to confirm the revelation on TOD as to the identity of the “face on the BOP.”

An official, who ask to remain anonymous because he is not authorized to comment on this matter, sought to discredit the leak by telling this reporter that, “the photo is a hoax and simply un-un-un-un-un-true.”

Bravo, bbf!

Maybe we can start our own CT. If grilled-cheese sandwiches can show faces on them, so can BOPs!

*** begin CT ***
Okay, everyone repeat after me, "The image of Max Headroom on the BOP is proof that Max was the first reporter on the scene and lived on the BOP from late May to the time of its recovery. Max was getting first person reporting from the seafloor all along. His reports have been censored as a result of the vast media blackout surrounding the GOM."
*** end CT ***

See how easy it is to make stuff up.

BTW, in case you missed it, this is continuation of running joke between erainh2o and I started yesterday on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6856#comment-703162

For the “serious side” of TOD, my attempt at humor aside both here and upthread, the “face on the BOP” is actually a pretty nice example of the discussion at http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6856#comment-703162

"The image of Max Headroom on the BOP is proof that Max was the first reporter on the scene and lived on the BOP since late May to the time of its recovery. Max was getting first person reporting from the seafloor all along. His reports have been censored as a result of the vast media blackout surrounding the GOM."

Thanks for the repeat. Now, if we can get a big bunch of other people to join in, we've got a full-blown CT (with just about as much factual basis as most of the others ;-)

OT-- For lotus and other percussion fans: A Ramadan Drumbeat Is Sounded in Queens.

Splendidly described as "a typhoon of embroidered fabric, good cheer and unusual urgency," drummer Mohammad Boota is pictured in a slide show; his drumming is featured in a short audio clip. Quite a racket, but he can wake me up any time! Really nice article by the NYTimes' Kirk Semple.

Really nice article

Yezindeed, SL, and thanks for pointing it out. No wonder alcohol is taboo in Islam. Can you imagine what the Boota alarm clock would do to a hangover? Lawsy me.


Re your post in closed thread http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6921/714899 about shear rams and their capabilities

If you have a keen interest in what shear rams can--and often can't--do, you might find this document illuminating, and a bit scary.


It's a report by West Engineering, a company commissioned by the Minerals Management Service in 2004 to answer the question "Can a rig's BOP equipment shear the pipe to be used in a given drilling program at the most demanding condition to be expected, and at what pressure?". It's been a couple months since I read it, but my takeaway for the answer to the first part of the question was "maybe, sometimes, sort of, not a chance, nobody really knows."

One thing I recall from the article is that, for equipment configured like the Deepwater Horizon BOP stack, the plan for shearing pipe was to shear it with the casing shear ram, lift the pipe enough to clear the blind shear ram, and then close the blind shear ram to seal the bore.


Thank you for your kind reply.

I didn't see my post show up after I posted it last night even though I searched for quite a while looking for it to see if anyone would reply.

Earlier today, I did a few google searches looking for pipe joints (tool tips, etc) and from what I learned, the connecting ends are much thicker than the regular pipe lengths not only at the outer diameter, but also with a small narrowing of the inner diameter making the area of the joint much stronger than the normal pipe length.

Some of the pictures I saw indicated that the metal in the area of the joint was more than twice the normal pipe thickness.

Inserting one pipe end into another further increases the thickness of the metal which the shear would have to cut. The difference appears to be more than three normal pipe thicknesses at the low end and may possibly as much as or even more than five pipe thicknesses at the high end.

The extra thickness combined with the extra hardening to resist the wear from assembling and disassembling would make it much harder to cut the drill pipe in that area. If the pipe was falling when the shears are activated, it is very possible that the thicker part could hang up in the shears.

One of the pictures I saw showed two incerases in the joint thickness and it is very possible that the uppermost thick portion could be stopped above the shears top edge while the slightly lower thick portion may fall right where the cutting edges would be.

I did see where there are sensors available which will detect the extra thickness at the joints so that the drillers would be able to calculate exactly where the joints were within the BOP and/or thereabouts.

I don't know if under extereme emergency conditions one would even bother to figure out where the joints were located due to the necessity of immediately cutting the pipe.

CV, Thanks again for your reply and also the PDF which does contain the exact info I was wondering about. According to that report, the shears are NOT expected to be able to handle the tool joints, collars, upsets, etc that may be on the pipes.

The BOPs should be designed to allow the pipe to descend slightly and rest on hangoffs before cutting the pipe.

Paragraph 3.4 fully explains the problems involved and also how some automatic shears aren't capable of determining the location of the joints or able to reposition them to avoid them landing in the shear area. That report also further discusses the sensors checking for the joints and how they should function.

Obviously, the BO blowout was a true emergency and maybe the shear was handled by a 'panic button' and the automatic repositioning didn't happen or couldn't happen under the conditions the ram was activated.

According to that report, the industry is fully aware of the inability of the shears to handle the 'joints' and the newer equipment is supposed to be designed to reposition the pipe when the joints are in the shear area.

Thee is another consideration which is the spacing between the various rams, shears, hangoffs, etc and the lengths of the various joints. It is possible for a pipe to settle down on the hanoffs but due to excessive joint or collar length the joint itself may still protrude into the shear path.

I realize that most of the oil patch vets fully realize all these pitfalls, but newcomers or other outside observers like myself do find it helpful to understand the complications which arise even under 'routine' circumstances let alone emergencies like the BP blowout.

previous thread: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6921/714741

Sorry, I assumed it would be redundant to include a disclaimer about Wiki's reliability since the link clearly pointed to wikipedia.org. I didn't claim those statements were true, only that the Transocean Wiki article disagreed - to be taken as all intelligent persons should take information about controversial subjects, whatever their source. I will try to be more redundant in the future.

Wiki's reliability

Just want to point out that generally speaking (although not in this case), you can glean something about the process of putting together a particular Wikipedia page by looking at the Discussion section (click on the Discussion tab at the top). Especially for controversial topics, there can be a great deal of back-and-forth among the parties collaborating on the page, and often you can get some idea of their respective agendas from the debate. This may help in evaluating the quality of the information. (Or it may not, but it's at least worth a try.)

Correct. Now, getting them to read it......

I touched on this point in a previous commment, responding to someone's conjecture that licensing more people on a rig might help increase safety, increase one's sense of responsibility, etc.

It is my strong belief that regulations and licensing do not increase safety and people's sense of responsibility.

I believe this blowout demonstrates it. BP and everyone else were staying within regulations, interpreting regulations to suit the circumstances, or obtaining waivers from regulations in some cases.

Regulations and licensing are someone else's view of what's safe and responsible. That's the point. It's someone else's view, not the view of those actually doing the work.

When doing our job, it really doesn't matter what someone else thinks, we proceed according to what we think at the moment, so our thinking at the moment is what matters.

Our moment-by-moment thinking is directed by our principles, values, etc, our general mentality you might say.

Safety is a mentality, not a set of regulations. As we do our job, many split-second decisions are made about how to go about doing things. In those split-second decisions, how we proceed is determined by our general mentality, or princples, values, etc, those things firmly embedded in our consciousness.

If one has a safety mentality, those regulations don't matter. They have a higher standard than those regulations, which set a basic low-level standard.

If one doesn't have a safety mentaility, those regulations won't matter. They have a lower standard than those regulations, and they really don't care about those regulations.

Developing a personal standard above and beyond those basic regulations, pursuing best practices, is what professionalism is all about.

Bottom line, people don't like following other people's rules. People do what they want to do, irrespective of any regulations conceived and promulgated by someone else. Speeders continue speeding irrespective of speed limit regulations. Companies operate the way they want to operate irrespective of regulations conceived and promulgated by someone else.

Licensing is the same situation. People don't like following other people's rules. More often than not licensing is obtained for opportunities it provides, with little or no thought given to regulations that come with it. We're human, we want do to things our way.

Indeed. At the coal mine, I held the license of "Shot Firer". That's coal's equivalent of powder monkey. Having that license proves that you are capable of doing everything exactly right with an inspector watching. It does not prove the licensed man will do things right when working for real. For instance, sometimes you get a missed hole, a hole that didn't go off when the blast was fired. There's a "right" way to deal with that... and there's an easy way. 'Nuff said?

Licensure is permission to keep doing the the thing that requires the license.
You screw up and lose your license, you don't pull a paycheck doing that thing anymore.
This responsibility for certain conduct and knowledge is laid squarely on the shoulders of the license holder.

Just ask drivers who've lost their licenses. Or doctors. Or lawyers. Or plumbers. Or paramedics. Or nurses. Or electricians. Or any other professional or skilled occupation that requires a license. If you screw up and lose that permission slip to operate in that field, you go home and find some other job. End of story. The training and skill standards set for licensure are designed to established a common professional standard.

This has little to do with being forced to follow other peoples' rules -- the rules are established for everyone's safety and protection by professional groups and sanctioned by the state or federal governments (or both).

You're damned right licensing provides opportunities, including to chance to get paid.
But it also provides an opportunity to screw up and lose that opportunity through making the license holder responsible for his behaviors.

Without licensing and regulations in many fields and areas across society, many of us would be dead much sooner and would have much, much lower standards of living. Speeders keep speeding until they grow up, get killed or maimed or get so many points taken off their LICENSEs that they lose them. Companies that operate outside of regulatory structures risk getting caught and fined. When government regulation enforcement fails, you see what can happen as reflected by our thriving, ever-growing, strong economy right now. Just because everyone appears to be doing it, doesn't make it right. That kind of opportunistic herd mentality gets everyone killed eventually.

Safety is what happens when people have internalized the regulations and have enough professional skill and depth of knowledge to understand why the regs exist in the first place. Of course, being licensed also assumes that the license holders are in possession of the strength of character to act ethically within their profession.
For years to come, rig hands and engineers will do things slightly differently because of the Macondo blowout.

As for the license part, I'll happily do heart surgery on your loved one if the price is right. Who needs a stinking license?! Let the markets set the rate!

"Of course, being licensed also assumes that the license holders are in possession of the strength of character to act ethically within their profession."

This is the Achilles heel that collapses your entire argument.

I suspect that the issue is that licenses can be used to chase the 'worst of the worst' out of the field - but they cannot protect against an otherwise competent person making an occasional error.

The DWH disaster is/was a 'low probability, high-consequence event.' If these sort of events occurred frequently then licensure would be a valid tool to remove the obviously incompetent. However - from Rockman's descriptions I get the impression that people working on a rig tend to be intolerant of people who slack off on the job and/or make stupid mistakes. Since there appears to already be an informal process for eliminating the incompetent - then requiring licensing will not achieve very much.

Low probability events are the hardest to protect against: For example your company safety manager can easilly assess the results of a safety program that addresses slips and falls. If he can show that injuries from slips and falls are down 20% from the prior year - he has a measurable performance metric to use. On the other hand - stating that 'none of our rigs blew up and sank this year' does not mean anything if that type of event has not happened to your company in the past 30 years.

Lotus posted a link in the last open thread to an article at Dr. Joye's Gulf Oil Blog. The link didn't work. The blog's homepage also wouldn't load. Google hadn't cached the page.

Now the Gulf Oil Blog loads, and the article lotus linked is back.

Has it been edited, Lotus? Doesn't look like it, based on the excerpt you posted.

I caught it this morning before the link went down. It hasn't been edited.

It hasn't been edited

Agreed. Nary a comma changed.

In Joye's previous post, they had not located a deep plume, but she still expected to. Does this post indicate that they have given up on plume hunting? Terry Hazen said recently that the deep plumes are pretty much gone. Also, Joye hasn't said anything this trip about methane--I will post a question at her blog.

Regarding the sedimented oil, allow me to repeat some info that I posted a month ago. A retrospective oil budget for the Ixtoc spill estimated that 20% of the original material was beached or sedimented. There were two main processes, reduction to tar and deposition of plankton feces. The latter may contain dispersed oil droplets, partly metabolized or not depending on what kind of animal swallowed them. These pellets sink readily and will be colonized by bacteria that continue to break the oil remnants down. So the oil floc that Joye mentions may be mostly plankton poop and bacteria, with bits of tar. Incidentally the various flocs and dirty foams being observed around the Gulf may contain some hydrocarbons of biogenic, rather than petrogenic, origin. Bacteria and plankton can synthesize certain alkanes and other HC, and there's a ton of bacterial refuse out these, as I posted below.

Then, tar: tar falls out disproportionately in inshore waters, where it gathers sediment and becomes heavier than water. Offshore tar will eventually weather to the point that it sinks, but I don't know how long that takes. Anyway, this could be one reason why they found more oily sediment near shore.

Does this post indicate that they have given up on plume hunting? ... Also, Joye hasn't said anything this trip about methane--I will post a question at her blog

I was wondering the same thing so hope she answers your question. They may end up studying more plankton poop than oil, hm?

Here's an article I found about Joye cruise. It has more to say about search for plume but doesn't include any interpretation of measurements. It also includes a dissolved oxygen results map dated 9/4.

Mapping subsurface plumes in the Gulf - September 06, 2010

Thanks for the link. So they have mapped depleted oxygen for some 200 miles from the wellhead. Remember, there may have been about as much methane as oil in the plume. If the oil is nearly eaten up, there still could be enough methane to support further oxygen depletion.

Here's an extensive interview with Terry Hazen, who headed the most recently released study of the deepsea plumes. For those who couldn't access the original article, there is some info about methodology that wasn't in the press reports.

I think this is a point of interest:

In the paper you can actually see snychrotron FTIR, Fourier Transform Infrared, where we do an analysis of that floc and we can actually show that it’s basically bacteria detritus, some remnants of the oil, and that’s all that was left.

People are seeing unusual stuff in the water, brown foam, brown floc, and whitish grains, not because of Corexit, but because (in my guess) there is an unusual sort of biological stew out there. BP dumped 3-4 million barrels of bacteria food in the Gulf. To an unknown extent, this same material was toxic to zooplankton that normally eat bacteria. One kind of bacteria blooms to eat the dead plankton, another to eat alkanes from the oil; they die after exhausting their food sources, and another kind of bacteria blooms to eat the dead bacteria, and so on. Then Gov. Jindal's massive release of freshwater added extra fertilizer nutrients to the wetlands on both sides of the delta, with thick algae blooms, and more bacteria food when the alage (and oysters) die. There is probably a lot more organic matter in the Gulf than usual.


Thanks, Gobbet. Wow, fascinating to see how long it takes all this bacterial carrying-on to settle back down to something near normal.

After noticing a transcription error in this interview -- "flock" for "floc" -- I decided to look up "floc" to confirm that it really means what I thought it did: Yep, the word refers to flakes of stuff coming out of suspension in a liquid.

Good. Sure woulda confused me to have to visualize a "flock of flakes" as anything but Glenn Beck followers.

It looks like teaching methods have changed since I was in school. I cannot find any happy faces ( new SI measurement ? )in my new physics textbook, describing flocculation, but if I get a proff. next year who does use them , I won't complain.


"Sure woulda confused me to have to visualize a "flock of flakes" as anything but Glenn Beck followers."

I'll sure CLINK to that!

Sure woulda confused me to have to visualize a "flock of flakes" as anything but Glenn Beck followers.

My dandruff is offended by that remark.

Sure woulda confused me to have to visualize a "flock of flakes" as anything but Glenn Beck followers.

I don't care much for Beck myself, but I am offended by that remark.

Lotus, do you REALLY want to turn this place into a Blue/Red battleground?

I'll sure CLINK to that!

You too, erainh2o. Shall all of us conservatives just go away?

Or can this place be a meeting ground where politics can be left behind?

"Clink", indeed!


Why do you designate yourself as "conservative"? why not designate yourself as Open minded and willing to compromise on ideas etc?

The way you use the designation "conservative" it implys closed mindedness and unwilling to compromise for the good of the tribe.

I don't care much for Beck myself, but I am offended by that remark.

Now here's a problem I can't help you with, Frank. That's my mildest possible description of the Beckists. If you think it splashed on you, you must be standing too close.

As far as I can tell, Blue/Red has little to nothing to do with Beck. He's after something beyond that pale entirely, something way over into antisocial mania. Step away lest you catch it.

Heh. There, see?

French CT: http://cacaou3.blogspot.com/2010/09/maree-noire-le-cancer-du-golfe-une.html

Google translation, "Oil slick: Cancer of the Gulf, a disease without limits."

WaPo, Louisianans affected by gulf oil spill seek lessons in Alaska from Exxon Valdez

Photo caption: "Years after the Exxon Valdez disaster, the Alaska shoreline is still recovering. A small delegation traveled from the Gulf Coast to Alaska to learn lessons from the oil spill 21 years ago so people can know what to expect in months and years to come as the gulf recovers from the massive BP oil spill."

Sigh. How can they compare environmental damage if they can't compare the environment? There's just nothing about Alaska that's comparable to the GOM. Well, yeah, I guess there is: The spills both happened in water. :-/

Good article, and I agree there may not be much similarity. I didn't realize that the people of PWS had that remarkably isolated subsistence economy. When they couldn't eat their clams any more, Exxon sent them Twinkies--what a detail!
Also striking is the herring forgetting how to lay their eggs in rows. And it is possible that something could turn out to be the "herring of the Gulf." Thanks for the link.

Exxon sent them Twinkies

Well of course.

Shades of my all-time favorite zombie-movie-with-a-message, Zombieland (f-word warning).

just nothing about Alaska that's comparable to the GOM

Sociologically as well as physically. I may be all wrong here, but my impression is that a lot of folks in Alaska went or stayed there to run from things (the rest of the country, for instance), while Cajuns and other folks along the Gulf tend to run to (or at) things (or did before this summer). Maybe this is just hopefulness speaking, but I'll be very surprised if the next 20 years on the Gulf look very much at all like the last 20 on Prince William Sound. The group personalities involved seem as different as the climates and the petro-chemistries.

Well, we'll see . . . anyhow, best luck to all of them.

She's a human interest features writer. Interesting info, however.

Gobbet (etc.):

In the last open thread, raygonzo posted a link to BP's "Lessons Learned Report" (PDF).

Since you followed skimming issues fairly closely, I wondered what you thought of BP's claim on pg. 50, particularly in light of pre-blowout claims of spill-handling capacity by the offshore oil industry:

Improvements in Open-Water Skimming to Respond to the Deepwater Horizon Incident: The response team took actions including:
• A skimming capacity of more than 1.2 million barrels per day* -- the largest such capacity in history;

* Capacity computed as “estimated daily response capacity” according to Coast Guard and BOEMRE regulations.

Also, how did I miss the "Big Gulp" skimmers, mentioned in the BP report here:

• The deployment of four “Big Gulp” skimmers, based on an innovation by a barge owner who retrofitted his
own vessel to handle emulsified oil and sea grass;

And on the net here:

I took up the topic because it seemed outrageous that the operation was so ineffective. Later I learned that open-water skimming is always ineffective. If they picked up 4% or so of the oil, that's par. The rated capacity of skimmers has no bearing on real-world performance. The fabulous Dutch skimming arms didn't seem to make much difference.

As far as I can tell, BP ran the skimming operation reasonably well. They set up vessels offshore as downloading stations and had a workable dispatching system. I did witness one fiasco on video where a big CG vessel was sent to an area where the only oil was too weathered to be picked up with that particular skimming technology. Men and women in hazmat suits worked in blazing heat all day on a deck slathered with petro-peanut butter and didn't capture anything.

Toward the end, when they had an extensive fleet of big skimmers working around the wellhead, they were probably making some inroads, but light oil spreads so fast on warm water that skimming just can't do much.

The significant innovations were not the Costner centrifuges nor the A Whale, but three inventions by local tinkerers. One was the Big Gulp. but it came along too late to be used much. It is the only thing I heard of that can deal with oil at any stage of weathering. Then the HORD rack-and bag system for collecting tar and mousse--seems like that could still be useful. Finally a small, cheap front-end pad skimmer for cleaning up sheen. This was developed by a guy in Alabama and manufactured in MS, again, maybe too late. I would like to hear more about what happened with these three good ideas.

The Big Gulp is still in use and successful according to this video:

Still, Mick? This story is from early July. Have you heard more recently of Big/Little Gulps still skimming? Where, if so?

I believe the 4 Big Gulps and 4 Little Gulps are still active but this is the only BP story I found: http://www.louisianagulfresponse.com/go/doc/3047/845759/http://www.louis...

EDIT: I sent the inventor an Email and will report what I hear.....

Thanks, Mick.

Wow, too bad those guys didn't have A Whale's publicist. Good video that we missed, or I did.

BP's reported skimming capacity of 1.2 million barrels per day is a more realistic estimate than the 17.6 million they claimed in their widely (and rightly) ridiculed pre-blowout oil spill response plan, but it's still BS.

Also interesting is the high praise BP gives itself for its handling of the methane hydrate problem.

Probably that estimate is for oily water rather than just oil.

One thing from the video, apparently the EPA waived the requirement that only pure water be returned to the ocean, because the Big Gulp uses gravity separation and return.

Well the popular press in the persona of Popular Mechanics has the Macondo well event all figured out. Apparently no need to continue the Marine Boards.

Sorry I can't post a link as I wasn't able to find a linkable version of the article but it is PM's October 2010 issue, pg 76, "How the Blowout Happened."

Sorry I can't post a link

Can you give us the ten-cent version? What does Popular Mechanics think happened?

Well, I think the bottom line of their thinking is that a host of culture centric items came to roost on their BP's et al's door step.
"Success breeds complacency". They asserted that BP had become complacent due to their success and thought they could short cut a host of items. "What was impossible just a few years earlier had become seemingly routine as BP and Transocean banged out record first on the farthest frontiers of technology and Geography. The same off-shore techniques and equipment that worked in shallow hydrocarbon formation seemed to function fine at ever greater depths and higher pressures." "other industries have lapsed into the same sense of false security".

"Promoters can't be enforcers". "MMS Clearly placed it's mandate to promote ahead of its role as safety cop." " the roots of the MMS," Ruch says "were to facilitate the work of its partners and to collect revene and the national policy was to increase revenue."

BP had a Cowboy Culture. "for years Bp Had prided itself on taking high=risk jobs in politically sensitive countries such as Angola and........" "the tough stuff that others cannot or choose not to do." "according to Tony Hayward." Executives of other companies told Congress that BP's well plans were outside industry norms.

Blowing on the Dice. "What happened on the Horizon falls into the category of low-probability, high-consequence events...." "neither teh oil industry nor the MMS addressed the added risks of drilling in ever more challenging environments." "There was a lack of a sense of vulnerability within the industry. says safety expert Arendt."

"Normalization of Deviance" At teh root of BP's Choices was what Bea Calls the normalization of deviance. The Company had long grown used to operating at teh margins of safety. It regarded red flags as normal and those red flags cropped up repeatedly on teh Macondo well, with the frequency accelerating in the four days before the blowout." " A series of delays added to the pressure on managers to ignore warning signs."

I think they did a fair job of describing the equipment and the time line of the failure, culminating in the final blowup. There is a final section "shifting the burden of proof" and they talk about the failures in the BOP.

Finally, is the "Broken chain of command" they discuss the argument between the Coman and the TO OIC??? and the conflict between the TO focus but transended by the BP needs to move the platform to new work. I think the key thing here is the assertion that at the time of ignition "there was no chain of command, nobody in charge."

Overall it is a pretty good article, leaving out many of the details, of interest only to technically oriented folk, that are discussed here on TOD. So an outsider reading the article carefully will come away with a pretty fair picture of the problem.

Worth reading. But won't instruct the competent.

April 20 was a triumphant evening for British Petroleum and the crew of Transocean's Deepwater Horizon. ...

The whupsie begins eight words in?

Can't tell as I was never able to get by the Advertisements. Sorry.

BP has credability on TOD, and every other report, person or entity which has something to say is presumed alarmist, opportunist or a CT nut.

This defies common sense logic. BP caused this mess, has misled everyone during the response, and has a conflict of interest. A lot of people on here work in the oil industry.

I'm afraid that many on here are acting like rubber-stamp of approval & apologists for BP.

Have we been reading the same blog?

And a lot of people in here don't work in the oil industry. Who has been approving BP? Certainly no one who has much of a following here!

Pinky -- A better question: there are those of us here who do work in the oil patch. And who have us can been seen approving anything BP did? Accusations are fine if supported by specifics and examples. Otherwise it's just selfserving trolling IMHO.

Since every post on TOD since Day 1 of the blow out is in the archives I assume we'll be seeing dozens of examples to back up the assertion. Until that happens I see no point in carrying on this conversation.

Yes Rock, you're right. Shouldn't feed the trolls.

I can't resist this though: The people like Manbear and Brich are in a conspiracy to prevent serious scientists and engineers from finding out what really happened, for some hidden reason of their own. Since they have no facts, their tactic is to simply derail any discussion that's getting too close to the truth by injecting disruptive or offensive nonsense. Like that? OK, neither do I. Occam again - they're trolls.

Yeah, well. If you walk in here with a bucket of sawdust, claim it's a Redwood and accuse everybody who doesn't believe you of being a BP shill, it doesn't go down well here. Since you wrote

every other report, person or entity which has something to say is presumed alarmist, opportunist or a CT nut

I'd have to conclude that 1) you've been reading selectively or 2) that you've got a bucket of sawdust.

Whatchu' talkin bout,Willis?

You seem to be revisiting your premise of Sept. 1st from http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6909/712269

To me, it seems that NOTHING here gets "rubber-stamp of approval;" be it info from BP or anyone else.

NOTHING here gets "rubber-stamp of approval"

No, but these went over perty good.

Me likey!!

Of course, true to my position, I will have to make a batch and try them out; it's only in the spirit of honest inquiry you understand ;-)

honest inquiry

Zat what the kids call it these days?

Yes, we old farts too. "Honest inquiry" serves nicely as a thinly-veiled excuse for doing many things I simply want to do; although my 12-year old daughter tends to roll her eyes and mutter under her breath if I over use it.

Jolly her up with dessert. (Works on many, but not all, of our gender. Good luck!)

Although susceptible to dessert bribes (which I think are gender neutral), I've found that it doesn't mute her Daddy BS Detector one bit; thank God. I've spent a lot of time, love and energy equipping her with a very good BS Detector (Daddy's and/or others') for later in life.

lotus - "Jolly her up". LOL. You Canadians and your slang really tickle me. Thanks.

You Canadians

Me? Alas, all I've seen of Canada is an hour's worth of the international-transit section of Montreal's airport (and whatever's under the flightpath from London). Sure would like to see a bunch more.

I know lotus. Just a little holiday ribbing. Disappointed though...was hoping for more indignation. Then I could stir up the maple leaf folks a bit.

Here you go, Rockman.

For the more genteel, Great White North: Mouse in a bottle

My best friend in the whole world is Canadian so the following is a standard joke between us.

Terrance and Phillip, of course, lead to the opus: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAYMJnO9LBQ&feature=related

Ah, come on, Rockman. It takes more than that to rile up we Canucks. "Jolly up" sounds very British and not Canadian, BTW. :-)


Large publicly owned corporations are rapacious by nature, and their only goals are to profit and grow. If an LPOC appears to be acting decently, it is because the LPOC believes this appearance will be good for its bottom line. LPOCs behave responsibly toward society at large only insofar as they are made to do so by governments or consumers. BP has been more irresponsible than the oil industry average. I hope they are nearly destroyed by this incident, as it will be a good object lesson for the industry.

However, BP has been on its best behavior during the spill and cleanup. The reason for this is that the oil spill legislation provides that their penalty will be affected by the degree of cooperativeness and effort in containment, cleanup, and remediation. So they are doing everything the government asks them to, including coughing up $20b for damages and $360m for Louisiana's crazy berm project. They have spent billions on containment and cleanup. I haven't seen much wrong with their behavior since the blowout or their public statements, apart from Tony Heyward's astonishing gaffes, for which he was fired.

So I think a lot of the claims of lying and malfeasance are out of line. For example, no matter how many times people claim BP lied about the flow rate, it's not true. All the flow rate estimates were from the government. The fact is, nobody had much of a clue about the flow rate until the pressure was measured at the end. So what lies would you point to apart from Heyward's gaffes? What wrongful behavior in containment and cleanup that can't be explained by incompetence? (There are 30,000 people working on this project, and hardly any of them had prior experience in dealing with a large spill. The project leaders had no experience in this type of management.)

People who care about the truth will correct falsehoods, even when those falsehoods attack somebody they don't like (BP in my case.)

Maybe the issue here is that you simply refuse to learn from other people?

You have an _opinion_ and simply refuse to let facts get in the way.

Do you happen to know Brian A. Rich from Los Angeles? :)

Yeah, he slobbers a lot.

'Red tide' in Hudson River represents potential danger to fish and boaters, officials announce

A reddish sheen reported this morning on the Hudson River has been determined to be red tide outbreak, an accumulation of bacteria whose dense concentration turns the affected water a reddish brown in color, U.S. Coast Guard officials announced this afternoon. The sheen...stretched [south] from the vicinity of the USS Intrepid Museum [about four miles north of the tip of Manhattan] to Hoffman Island, a distance of 9.5 miles....

Hoffman Island is about two miles south of the Verrezano Narrows bridge, a little more than a mile off the coast of Staten Island, slightly north of the Lower Bay and about 15 miles from open ocean. The bloom is drifting slowly south.

$5 says it'll be Corexit within 90 minutes.

$10 says you get no takers.

Hurricane Earl carried the Corexit north. I heard there are cases of diarrhea all over the Atlantic coast.

Hurricane Earl carried the Corexit north.

Er, Gobbet, the bloom is moving south into the ocean from the Hudson at mid-Manhattan. And Earl didn't pass near enough to the city to dump the Corexit there. Gotta do better than that if you're gonna get a good CT going!

Edit: Coulda been Pete, though. He lives up the Hudson in--get this!--a town called Fishkill. So there you go.

We know Corexit didn't get there by water from the south since it killed the loop current. Maybe it worked its way through the St. Lawrence Seaway out of the Great Lakes after that Michigan spill. I'm betting it was 9527A.

That would explain some things, since I'm where the Great Lakes empty into the St. Lawrence, and judging by the level of water in my well it connects with the river.

Oh well...

Edit: Could I call that solidarity with my Gulf brothers and sisters?

OK Snake, this was on Facebook hours before your obviously rigged wager attempt.

Red tide, my white ass! How about black oil and corexit! Thank you BP! What do you think about that, Cabbie, Mr. Republican?

I blame Pete Seeger.


Does anyone know what Olympic Challenger UHD 31 is looking at? Some sort of octagonal hole matrix with wires tie-wrapped to it? Looks very much like a similar piece that was shown in the "Horizon riser survey" .

The sun sets over the Gulf of Mexico with the failBop in the foreground on the Helix Q4000


The extended version with two songs:


Truly, iconic of the twilight of the oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico. Rumour has it that permits will be delayed indefinitely, even for shallow water rigs with no subsea risers. There will soon be announced an investigation of production platforms on completed wells producing oil and gas. These will be shut down until the government "experts" prove they are safe.

This is Cap and Trade through Presidential fiat. The US economy will be devastated.

I'm not quite prepared to fold quite so easily, and I suspect that a few others won't either.

What's the phrase?

"When the goin' gets tough, the tough get goin""

TOB - Actually, to my great surprise, shallow water permits are back in process many months sooner than I expected. The feds cancelled the old environmental audit requirements and I expected months before the new ones were drafted. But they've been posted and new permits have already been appoved with the new guidelines. No platforms have been shut down and no one I know producing on the shelf have such expectations. Currently all platforms are subject to periodic inspections and I've seen no change in safety requirements. Of course, rules can change.

Rockman, I hope you're right. My tip came from someone unable to get a permit for a spar with no subsea stack. Was that this was going to continue indefinitely. The bit about involving production platforms is a follow on prediction. But an effective moratorium will do enough damage methinks.

TOB -- Time will tell. It's pretty clear from the BP blow out there has to be a major redesign of DW drilling. I have no doubt that no operator will make the same careless mistakes BP and TO did. But accidents, even when you follow safe drilling protocols, still happen. Control of a blow out in DW has not been developed to a sufficient degree IMHO. I think it will be in time but for the moment it's difficult to argue for BAU in the GOM DW.

==Rumour has it...==

Well, another rumor has it that Republicans will spread all manner of evil lies and innuendo to discredit any Democratic President that is even remotely progressive. You folks have libeled and maligned every Democratic Commander-in-Chief from FDR to Obama, without pausing for breath or considering the consequences to the nation. All the while whining how you are the victims of the liberal conspiracy to destroy this nation. Opposing any government program that benefits the working people - Social Security, Medicare, Unemployment insurance, you name it. Braying about the deficit while cutting taxes on the super-rich. Predicting the coming of "socialism" and "destruction" of American economy every time a sensible program is enacted or a mild regulation on unbridled greed is passed.

Don't you every get tired of this $hit?

As it has ever been, down through the ages, the ones who deal out the shit never are the ones who have to clean it up!

And the ones who clean it up seem to only make room for more, while getting little praise for their efforts.

I could extend the image, but it would only add to my chronic tendency towards depression, which I fight with all the humor at my command.

And when someone seems to doubt you, direct them to the next primetime hour of "Hoarders". Just caught a story and a half, and then gave in to a primal urge to scrub a floor.

Politicians, bureaucrats and corporate honchos as particular types of hoarders - there's something to play with.

Ah yes, and you _never_ behaved the in a similar manner - right?

You sound like a partisan hack.


I was a campaign worker for Goldwater. Since your only argument is an ad hominem attack, it clearly shows the shallowness of the present "conservative" movement.

I knew Goldwater. He was a pretty decent guy. I also know McCain, but I have a somewhat... different... opinion of him.

Dimitry, *smooch* relax mate, you sound tense. Republican?

This is Cap and Trade through Presidential fiat. The US economy will be devastated.

Who sounds nervous?

Edit :~D

There is Cap and Trade and there is a hydrocarbon tax. Why would we send the money elsewhere? Tax it here and keep it here.

It's a global problem?

"This is Cap and Trade through Presidential fiat. The US economy will be devastated."

Please tell me which economy will be devastated?

What is this "economy" of which you speak?

[Seventy percent service, military-industrial, investment Ponzi scheme, banking/theft industry, government captured by corporation who write the regulations which go unenforced, elderly retirements devastated, public infrastructure in decline, giant pipelines flowing with cash leading directly from the treasury to Wall Street firms and government contractors, ongoing permanent wars on the other side of the planet. Please specify which economy you mean.]

America has become a country of bilkers. Everyone needs a hook, a scam, a scheme, a game, a way to relieve others of their dollar bills and the supply of dollar bills is dwindling.

I have been in Orange Beach, AL this weekend & labor day. I have come here my entire life, enough so to know the difference between what's normal and what's not.

What stood out the most is what I saw yesterday afternoon from the balcony. Around 5:00 I saw 10 or so long streaking lines of white, foamy, bubbly lines of something I've never seen before. This was about a half mile past the sand bar.

To a lesser extent, the same foamy white stuff appeared behind the waves about 30 yards out from where the water and beach front meet.

Laying out on the beach, I would look directly behind me at an incline/embankment in the sand, and there was a clear line of brown oil in the sand. When I digged my feet around in the sand, I would find the same stuff about a foot under the top layer of sand.

There has been a shrimping boat anchored this entire time, lights on and everything, about a mile out from the beach. It hasn't moved once and it's not fishing for anything. Also, very small boats have been out on the water late in the night- way more than can be attributed to your occasional shark fishing trips.

Along the Foley Beach Express, no more than 5 miles north of the toll bridge, there is what I believe to be a staging area for BP's corexit/dispersants. I didn't check this out myself, but it's unmistakable from similar places that have come to light... White tents, generators, mobile light units, machinery, supplies etc. I've been down that road thousands of times, it's in the middle of farm land. That crap has never been there, and it's clearly not meant for agricultural purposes.

There is also a BP staging area under the Perdido Pass Bridge- I know that for a fact. It was pretty big, they had lots of equipment and people there. Hopefully they have been working hard, but I can't speak for that side of the pass, but it did appear that people were just starting to get geared up late in the afternoon. On the other side of the pass-which I can speak for (and is not very far from the Florida side), I didn't see anyone doing a thing.

I am sorry if this offends you. I think they are still spraying these damn dispersants in the water. What offends me is that this situation happened in the first place. I have come here my entire life, and there is a lot of strange shit happening I have never seen before.

Did it occur to you to walk up to any of these "mysterious" people and ask them what was going on?

Did you take pictures? Did you get water samples? Did you ask anyone else about this? Did you ask the people involved what they were doing? Did you track the boats back to a dock? See anything on the docks? Did you call a reporter?

There are loads of explanations for white foamy streaks in the sea and none of them have anything to do with recent spraying of Corexit. However I would not be surprised if boats were not taking opportunity to clean and pump their bilges under cover of the spill.

The brown lines in the sand could well be traces of oil and buried oil. Incoming tides tend to bring in fresh sand that covers surface oil.

If anyone is spraying dispersant it is completely illegal and if caught would lead to huge fines. Dispersant in the clean seawater looks milky white, when used on oil it is light brown.

When you see something suspicious, I would suggest contacting Mobile Baykeepers. They have a lot of resources available from what they told us at a meeting held here recently.

Some posters earlier asked me where I got the information that there's 1,000 barrels of oil in the annulus. Thad Allen:

“We have oil in the annulus, I asked BP their rough estimate for what is in there, for the entire length of the pipe and the annulus, they estimate about 1000 barrels of oil.”

“BP is concerned that if we intercept the annulus and there's cement below it that doesn't allow communication, that the pressure from the cement and the mud will go up, displace a seal that's at the top of the annulus and could potentially exceed the pressure limits in the blowout preventer, causing a problem up there.”

Those quotes are from mid-August.

I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer, but let's not celebrate the death of Macondo till it's dead.

Granted, there is a lot left to do. I don't think anyone doubts that. I think we're all in agreement that the risk isn't over until the P&A process is properly completed.

However, with a new BOP in place, they now have additional options that didn't exist previously that provide new opportunities to do things with a more favorable risk posture. Also, there is a second barrier in place (a functioning BOP) in addition to the cement plug which adds another measure of safety.

With a BOP in place with a known pressure rating, some of the risks associated with the RW intercept alluded to by the Thadmiral are lessened.

The celebrations starting Friday were about the milestones reached Friday and over the weekend. You may think I have a low bar for reasons to celebrate (I indeed may), but I though this milestone was noteworthy and justified some celebration as damn good news ahead of the remaining important work; now a bit less risky.

Thanks, pseudonym. I expressed surprise that the annulus is known to be full of oil.

I wonder if I'm alone in being puzzled by how BP knows that to be the case.


Just Throwing a Bone:

My beach reading this weekend was a book called 'Petrostate'. I forget the name of the author but it was about Russia's re-emergence as a global power because of its energy supplies and being Europe's life line. It was really good. My favorite line was from some Russian official saying "we treat contracts like the holy bible". That's total BS, but it is very interesting; I believe the first time in history, that a country has asserted itself on the global stage based on nothing else than its energy supplies. It won't work though, the whole world knows Russia is hopelessly unreliable. I actually skimmed the book though, if anyone familiar with it could tell me why Italy is siding with the Russians I would appreciate it. BTW, Putin is a tough guy but probably a chicken shit when it's all boiled down. He has little man syndrom written on his forehead (karate kid impersonations, hunting wild animals, being short etc.) He is acutely aware of the relationship dynamics, knows he doesn't have anything on the U.S... I think Bush did an exceptional job of reinforcing this to him based solely on his personality.

I read a book called "Terror in the Name of God".

On one page it says,
"Some scholars believe that a "natural-resource curse" prevents oil-rich countries from achieving viable democracies."

Bush had the cia and state department psychological profiles on Putin going in. The only way for Bush to play Putin was to flatter him. That Bush looking into Putin's soul nonsense was pure psychological and political theater. When Bush looked into Putin's eyes, Bush probably saw an amoral abyss unlike any he's ever encountered in the patrician circles of his native oligarchy.

The NYT is the latest to endorse Rockman, Inc.

The report — which strongly endorses the administration’s standards while adding useful wrinkles of its own — suggests meticulous rig-by-rig inspections by government and third-party investigators. This strikes us as an essential condition of allowing drilling to resume, the only foolproof way of ensuring that industry has learned the lessons of the BP disaster.


Well Syncro, I think they have a different definition of "foolproof" than I do. I've seen many instances where something passed inspection and then was allowed to crumble after the inspectors were gone. But yes, the mining industry has had to labor under both state and federal inspections for decades. It does help, no question about it. Everyone tries just that bit harder if they know an unannounced inspection could happen at any time.

Report says Transocean bullied North Sea staff

(Reuters) - The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has compiled a report on Transocean (RIG.N), the company that drilled BP's (BP.L) blown out Gulf of Mexico well, that includes allegations the company bullied staff to deter them from reporting safety concerns. The regulator sent Transocean a report earlier this year that included allegations from employees that they had been intimidated, Members of Parliament grilling a senior Transocean executive at a parliamentary committee said on Tuesday.

Oooooops. Quite a find, snakehead.

lotus -- yes...interesting. It was on the Drumbeat yesterday but hardly anyone took notice. You have to think the BP lawyers are searching out every documented case of a TO screw up. As I've mentioned before 100's of kicks are taken ever year but don't make the headlines because the wells don't blow out. You can bet BP will present numerous cases where TO monitored returns properly and controlled a kick. I can picture the BP lawyer's question to TO: "Given that TO has a proven record of successfully controlling numerous well kicks and preventing blow outs, how do you explain the TO's crew not detecting the BP kick and controlling it?" There can be no answer that won't reflect very badly on TO IMHO.

Had a thought last night about some lawyer going after Halliburton for the bad cmt job. Halliburton could show 100's of examples of their cmt jobs testing OK. But that wouldn't be my approach if I were them. I would present well documented histories of thousands (and trust me: there are many thousands) of failed Halliburton cmt jobs. That would clearly establish that cmt jobs are very prone to failure and thus it is incumbent upon the operator to make certain any cmt job is good before moving forward.

If they don't already, I reckon every company involved will come out of this wishing they'd never heard of the others, Rockman. Apt to make for quite an interesting industry dynamic.

lotus -- Though I don't have the legal credentials I did watch a couple of old "Perry Mason" shows last night and am more certain then ever that when the investigation/trials are over, Transocean will take the biggest arrow. Syn and I have had an ongoing friendly debate about this prospect. But I still offer the same anticipated question from the BP lawyer to the head man at TO:"Who is primarily reponsible for detecting a well kick and controlling it so the well doesn't blow out?" He can try to qualify his answer as much as he likes but in the end he will admit it was the TO's crew job to monitor flow and control the kick. They did not require BP's coman's approval nor even notification to take the appropriate actions. Just my WAG but I suspect TO will not survive the situation.

I suspect TO will not survive the situation

Wow. If so, who's in position to take them over, Rockman?

lotus -- I don't keep up on the details of the rig business but maybe no one will take them over per se. The drilling business is a long term investment. The daily rigs rates seem high but it can take 5 to 7 years to recover the initial investment in a offshore rig. Given the cyclical nature of drilling such investment decisions are tricky. Now add the mid/long reality of decreased drilling thanks to diminishing opportunities and another drilling contractor might not want to aquire the entire company. I can see some contractors cherry picking rigs from a bankrupcy sale though. Again, just a WAG, but I can see TO facing judgments in the ten's of billions of $'s.

But. But. But, it's a Culture of Safety!

Whoever decided that building these berms was crazy because: -

1) The removal of scarce sand resources that will not be replaced.
2) Dredging sand can easily cause severe coastal erosion. In the 19th Century in the UK, the dredging of thousands of tons of seabed sand to build the Navy dockyard at Plymouth resulted in the coastal village of Hallsands falling into the sea and this was built on coastal rock cliffs. Here with soft sediment shorelines the erosion could be worse.
3) Dredging one area removes all the marine life in that area. Dumping it then smothers the marine life in a second area, a double whammy.
4) I doubt very much that soft sand berms will survive the first hurricane.

So we have a pointless, ineffective, expensive and environmentally damaging project that should never have been approved in the first place, for which no scientific advice was sought. It should be stopped immediately as the coastal scientists advise and the money used for more useful remediation projects.

I don't think you will find anyone to argue with you on that. Agreed here, anyway.

Oops. Trouble in the CT Zone.

"Our tests did not show indication of Corexit use in Naples because we did not test for it. We did find 1 ppm of oil, but again, nothing indicating the presence of 2-butoxyethanol or propylene glycol. We will continue to monitor the water..."


During a recent radio interview, Tom Termotto said he spoke to chemist Bob Naman that day and was told a sample was "showing levels of different chemical compounds that can only come from Corexit 9527.″ He specifically said it was the Naples/Bonita Springs area sample(s) from his friends at testingthewater.org.


Dr. Termotto: "I did speak to Bob Naman about the Corexit found in sample of the coast of Alabama. He never indicated Corexit in the South FL samples; that was my mixing up two different issues."

[found on Florida Oil Spill Law's blog]

snake -- just a light hearted shot at the CT folks: last week I heard a report that some beach goers felt an oily sensation on their arms after being sprayed with sea water mist. Could have been oil from the BP well. But given my Irish heritage I always lay on the sun screen at the beach. And I always dislike that oily feel when I rub my arms. A silly point but it might rate up there with the initial reports from FL that "thunder began sounding different after the BP spill." That's still my personal favorite though.

People screaming like chimpanzees at the eclipse.


Can anyone explain to me how the BOP on Deepwater Horizon reportedly was five years out of date for recertification? When I worked offshore, this would have been discovered by the annual UK Health and Safety inspection and work would have been stopped under an "Improvement Order" till this was done.

In the US, who is responsible for ensuriong critical sdsafety items such as BOP's, cranes, lifing gear? This quite apart from Transocean's clear responsibility?
Was it Transocean and its Captain and Toolpusher, the rigs classification society, MMS, CoastGuard, DoE and should BP really have to check all these matter when clearly it should be able to rely on the rig owner and well driller and the US safety regime to inspect and maintain all the equipment properly and in accordance with the law.

shaepton - As best as I understand the situation it's a messy bit of joint responsibility. The drillers are responsible for maintaining their equipment, including BOP's as per gov't regs. And operators are responsible for confirming compliance. And the MMS/Coast Guard are responsible for inspecting/certifying the equipment. Add to that a system that allows exemptions/delays/wavers and it can be difficult to ID the point of failure. But, at the end of the day, the equipment belongs to the drilling contractor. The rig/crew/environment are protected by this equipment. The drilling company is, and always will be IMHO, the primary responsible party.

Here is my CT.

Everyone wants to talk about the CT's because they don't want to talk about the 1/4 of the gulf that is still closed to fishing.

Why would it still be closed?