BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Evidence of Erosion - and Open Thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6943.

Update, 1:00pm EDT Friday: Admiral Allen has issued a letter, authorizing BP to proceed with specific aspects of the relief well intercept procedure. In particular, BP is to proceed with an evaluation of the current status of the casing hanger. If it is found to be correctly positioned, BP is to install the locking ring to secure the hangar, and then commence completion of the relief well.

There was, apparently, no briefing on Thursday on the Deepwater Oil Spill. However RockyPaloma has put up a number of videos on Youtube showing an internal video inspection of the blowout preventer (BOP) with pictures of severe metal erosion.

Erosion within the BOP (RockyPaloma )

Some of it seems to have eaten around the plate of the shear ram, in at least one place, though I have not watched this in real time and am not sure of all the locations.

Possible erosion of the BOP wall around the shear ram plate. (RockyPaloma)

The video sequences include one of the shear ram plates retracting )

And one showing the deformed drill pipe surrounded by the eroded annular preventer, gives some indication of the extent to which sand in the oil/natural gas/water mix was eating out the internal surfaces of the BOP, and allowing the leak to increase in size, over time, a point that I made, quite early in the proceedings.

MoonofA has given a more concise, yet comprehensive picture of what the camera saw, together with a sketch of the ram assembly showing what the various parts are that are shown in the video. Ricx also adds an interesting question.

For those who need reminding of the structure of the BOP, PhilMB has put up a graphic section of the structure, so that you can tell which view corresponds with what.

The problem, of course, is that it is not clear when the different stages of erosion occurred. While there is some, there is not a lot of difference in wear surface patterns under differing flow regimes, containing different abrasive concentrations at different flow speeds. Because the erosion took place over the relatively long time intervals that it did, I am surprised in a way that it did not do a lot more damage than it did. Certainly some of the gaps might have been filled if the top hat “junk shots” had been continued longer than they were.

View of the crushed DP with surrounding erosion (RockyPaloma)

The investigation is, however, still in its early stages, and I imagine that there will be a lot more expert testimony on the structures (which likely means that at some time they will be cut apart to provide sectioned specimens). That is not going to be a simple short-term operation or investigation. And at the same time the pressure is now no longer on the relief well to seal in the oil and gas, so that too is likely to proceed at a gentler pace.

ChuckV - continuing discussion from previous thread, there is what might be a major discrepancy (or maybe a typo) between the BP report page 55

"The total cement volume was approximately 62 bbls, 48 bbls of which was foamed."

And page 1 of the CSI Technolgies report (pg 3 of appendix K)

"the amount of unfoamed cement slurry that was pumped into the well was 38 bbls. The amount of nitrogen that was injected at the surface under 1000 psi was approximately 60 bbls at the injection temperature of 110 F..."

My understanding is that it was supposed to be 7 bbls of unfoamed for the cap, 48 bbls of foamed and then 7 bbls of unfoamed for the shoe

7 + 48 + 7 = 62

It might be the "38" in the CSI report is a typo and they meant "48". I don't know.


I think there is neither a typo nor a significant discrepancy. The operative words are "foamed" and "unfoamed".

The three Halliburton production casing design reports (two on 15 April and one on 18 April) give the volume of base slurry as 39.09, 39.09 and 39.98 bbls. This is what CSI referred to as 38 bbls. This base slurry, from which the foamed slurry was formed, was 16.74 ppg cement like the cap and tail cement.

The foamed slurry volumes were 47.89, 47.89, and 47.74 bbls.

(The number order above relates to the reports chronologically; that is the first number is from the 15 April 3:30P report, and the last is from the 18 April report.)

The three reports give identical numbers for the remainder of the principal fluids: base oil = 7 bbls, spacer = 72 bbls, cap cement = 5.26 bbls, tail cement = 7.22 bbls, and final spacer = 20 bbls.


The difference cannot be the difference between post-foaming and pre-foaming. The nitrogen added is reported as 60 bbls!!

There may be a semantic difference between base slurry and post additive slurry. So, for example they started with 39.98 bbls and after including the additives the combined volume was 47.74 bbls.

Which brings us back to the suggestion that they added 60 bbls of nitrogen to 48 bbls of pre-foamed slurry (including additives). Which brings us to the nature of the nitrogen added.

So back to the NIST data http://webbook.nist.gov/cgi/fluid.cgi?Action=Load&ID=C7727379&Type=IsoTh...

Which shows the volume of one pound of nitrogen at atmospheric conditions (14.7 psia, 0 psig) is 14.845 cubic feet. The specific volume of one pound of nitrogen at the stated injection conditions of 2000 psig (2014.7 psia) and 110 deg F is 0.11163 cubic feet. So if the nitrogen broke out and reached the surface, its volume would increase by 14.845 / 0.11163 times or 133 times. If all the nitrogen broke out, the 60 bbls injected would become 7980 bbls!!

So it doesn't take a lot of nitrogen blowout to create one hell of a kick!!

It is also important to note that the nitrogen is injected as a supercritical fluid (not a gas). So during its whole projected trip from the surface to the total depth it would be a supercritical fluid.

As someone previously remarked, the most cogent observation on the Apollo 1 fire was a "lack of imagination". So using that as a reason (excuse?) to let my imagination loose, I would offer the wild imagining that the "breakout" of nitrogen could leave very tiny spaces in the cement which would create a de facto molecular sieve that would preferentially allow the passage of small molecules, specifically methane, over larger molecules (the oil). This would over-populate the kick fluid with methane thereby reducing the average specific gravity of the fluid and creating a higher pressure at the BOP than would be expected by a chemical analysis of the oil & gas collected later on.


First a correction to my last: "39.98 bbls" should have read "38.98 bbls".

As for your volume conjectures I can do no better than suggest (again) that you go through the 18 April Halliburton production casing design report, paying attention to stages 5-1 and 5-2, as these relate to foamed cement. Sections 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, and 5.2 (stage 5 entries and the in/out volumes at the end of pumping at minute 264.83) are particularly appropriate. It's unfortunate that you have to read past line labels which say "Foamed Slurry - 16.74 ppg" for all cement entries whether they apply to foamed cement or not.

Along the way (section 3.2) you should note that the foaming agents amounted to less than 0.3 bbls.

If you like solving puzzles, you can then top off the tour by taking a whack at section 5.7 which shows final positions of fluids. With some casing data and some guess work as to what Halliburton was using for open hole dimensions you can calculate volumes (including that for the foamed cement) from the data given.

If you should follow my suggestion, and in the process find anything that supports 48 bbls of pre-foamed slurry, please share it.

I can refer you to someone far better positioned to interpret Halliburton's data than I am. For that see page 27 at this link:



I thought this was interesting in light of Matt Simmons statement about the oil spill coating the ocean floor. NPR is reporting a layer of oil discovered on the sea floor near the BP spill. Here is the link:

and here is the 1st bit of the story:

September 10, 2010

Scientists on a research vessel in the Gulf of Mexico are finding a substantial layer of oily sediment stretching for dozens of miles in all directions. Their discovery suggests that a lot of oil from the Deepwater Horizon didn't simply evaporate or dissipate into the water — it has settled to the seafloor.

The Research Vessel Oceanus sailed on Aug. 21 on a mission to figure out what happened to the more than 4 million barrels of oil that gushed into the water. Onboard, Samantha Joye, a professor in the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Georgia, says she suddenly has a pretty good idea about where a lot of it ended up. It's showing up in samples of the seafloor, between the well site and the coast.

"I've collected literally hundreds of sediment cores from the Gulf of Mexico, including around this area. And I've never seen anything like this," she said in an interview via satellite phone from the boat.

Joye describes seeing layers of oily material — in some places more than 2 inches thick — covering the bottom of the seafloor.

"It's very fluffy and porous. And there are little tar balls in there you can see that look like microscopic cauliflower heads," she says.

It's very clearly a fresh layer. Right below it she finds much more typical seafloor mud. And in that layer, she finds recently dead shrimp, worms and other invertebrates.

A couple weeks before his death on 8/9, MS characterized the oil he was talking about as "500' thick" and about the size of "the state of Washington". That would make the MS lake of oil as many, many tine larger than the the world's known reserves. What you're referring to has no relation whatsoever to what Matt Simmons was claiming. So stop.

snakehead wrote:

A couple weeks before his death on 8/9, MS characterized the oil he was talking about as "500' thick" and about the size of "the state of Washington". That would make the MS lake of oil as many, many tine larger than the the world's known reserves. What you're referring to has no relation whatsoever to what Matt Simmons was claiming. So stop.

snakehead's comment about the massive volume of oil is valid only if you assume that the entire volume [500 ft. x (sq.ft.Washington.state)] is 100% pure crude oil and no seawater. However, that must be a bad assumption, and especially so since BP was known to be using Corexit dispersant, sprayed into the oil just as it was leaving the well structure. Not only would the Corexit itself dilute the oil, but its dispersant action causes much more mixing of oil with seawater.

So what percentage of crude oil in seawater (by volume) would be enough to make the water look oil-contaminated? 1%, 2%, 5%, what percentage was being used? who knows? Probably 100% oil if not otherwise stated - and if so, then this is not even close to the probable reality. And the original post (being replied to) may not have been so terribly far from what Matt Simmons was saying after all!

snakehead's comment about the massive volume of oil is valid only if you assume that the entire volume [500 ft. x (sq.ft.Washington.state)] is 100% pure crude oil and no seawater.

Well, Jos, that's what Simmons described. "Black oil", "crude", not a dilute mix, and nothing like what Joye has found. What Simmons described was several orders of magnitude off into an alternate universe from the 3 cm of oil debris Joye found. Simmons is dead, his brain wasn't working well before he died. Let him rest.

bg: Thanks for pointing to the NPR article. The finding is not "the oil" but only what is left of the oil. We await technical analyses to know its exact composition, but it is well known that oil exposed to the environment decomposes through physical and biological action, leaving mainly the very long carbon chain fractions too robust to have been degraded into simpler materials. There is a huge body of scientific evidence documenting this.

Some of us have made numerous comments here over the last two+ months, citing prior scientific experience, that most of the oil should decompose, and the residual heavy parts should end up ashore or on the bottom. While we await publication of more original technical evidence to confirm everything, that is exactly what appears to have happened. Here is the best (IMO) single newspaper summary to date, stringing together the new science that's so far emerged on the BP DWH Macondo oil. It accurately weaves together several accounts, which initially appear to differ, into a single complex but coherent sequence of events. Sure enough, the remaining heavily "weathered" oil has now been found settled to the bottom, newly incorporated as a layer in the mud.

The samples cited in the NPR article are located where one of the two Macondo oil plumes was found. These samples bear no apparent relation to the completely undocumented Matt Simmons assertions.

What we all would like to see now is chemical analysis describing the constituents found in this new mud layer. The NPR story implies that the oil has simply sunk, but no evidence is provided to that effect. Based on prior experience, that's highly unlikely to be the case.

More from Joye's trip blog http://gulfblog.uga.edu/

The near shore sediments contained grayish muddy clay and a thin layer of orange-brown oil at the surface.

The sediments we collected today were similar at the bottom — gray muddy clay — but the upper few cm consisted of oil floc — we call it “oil aggregate snow”, because it settled down to the water column to the seafloor just like snow falls from the sky to the ground.

If you take a close look at the snow layer, oil aggregates are clearly visible. Also visible are pteropod shells (which must have been recently deposited because the shells dissolve rapidly) and remnants of zooplankton (skeletons) and benthic infauna (dead worms and their tubes). Microbial aggregates are visible and abundant but the normal invertebrate fauna you’d expect to see in these sediments are not.

NatRes: Thanks for the latest and the link. Trying to visualize the oily sediment, would it be like my crumbling asphalt driveway, sans the aggregate portion? If the crap lying on the sea bottom is as toxic as a busted-up driveway, i.e. not very, that would give me reason for hope.

There are really two parts to the residue of note. The asphalt like residue, that indeed is pretty much harmless, and the cyclic (the term chickenwire being a lovely way of describing them) components. The chickenwire isn't harmless, and is really the only thing that really worries me. The spectre of black oil choking things has gone, the tarballs are annoying, but otherwise not going to hurt anything, and the oxygen depletion has never reached a critical level, and looks like it won't. So a few bullets dodged, but PAH and the other chickenwire components are a long term open question.

Giving some hope at least - the residue will have by now been well diluted. It isn't as if PAHs are something foreign to the Gulf. Natural seeps will have maintained a constant background of them in the Gulf for millions of years, and there may well have been occasional seeps that significantly exceeded the average rate. But the leak we have seen exceeded the normal injection rate by say about 50 times. Toxicologists will repeat the mantra - the dose makes the toxcisity. (However, nearby of the natural seeps the level of PAHs is probably always quite high. But we don't know what that implies.) Whatever has happened, the damage from these components has probably already been done. The floc at the seabed may have some raised PAH levels, They will eventually degrade, just as the natural injection of them does. What has happened in the other parts of the gulf's eco system we will simply have to wait out.

Personally I have a sneaking suspicion that the Gulf will be more resilient than many fear. The Gulf has been around for a lot longer than our puny history, and has likely seen more than a few insults from naturally occurring leaks of significant scale. One should remember that most of the oil that was originally present has long since escaped because the seals over those deposits were insufficient. We see only the oil that didn't escape in the past. But natural remediation will occur on a natural timescale. However, there is some indication that the natural biota that mediate that remediation still lurk and are already in action.

If it had been my call, I would have closed fishing across the entire Gulf for two years, stuck the bill for the cost for this to BP, and used the opportunity to allow the desperately overstressed and overfished gulf some respite. The recent quote relating the damage from the spill relative to the damage already being done by daily human activity as "a cancer patient that gets a sunburn" is a favourite.

If it has been my call, I would have closed fishing across the entire gulf for two years, stuck the bill for the cost for this to BP, and used the opportunity to allow the desperately overstressed and overfished gulf some respite.

That and figure out how to clone FeinbergX5 real fast, we got us a plan, Francis!

I am not knowledgeable about a lot of things, but I have been following BeePeeOilDisaster on You Tube and he has 9 videos showing this in time lapse. It doesn't seem to be taking long for metal to erode in the gulf. Scientists from every field should be taking a serious look at these videos he has posted in the last 24 hours.

It's pretty hard to take him seriously when he describes a piece of steel turning into a snake or a Reptilian, shows steel-eating fire worms, has a crushed pipe become an alien, etc.

It has happened! Its out of the water and spreading FAST, so fast you can watch as the steel is melting! It is melting the DD2 relief well drilling platform! One of those black things that is in the video I posted earlier somehow got into one of the water tanks and it is melting the entire thing, its spreading so fast you can actually watch its progression like the flesh eating bacteria for humans!

It's Caturday.


Caturday or not, if you flatten your ears, nobody can see you.

 Fluffy picks the wrong fence t... Jim Tiller / Daytona Beach News-Journal

Anyhoo, that's the theory in Ormond Beach.

Please disclose copyright info. It is good enough to ask. Thanks.

Edit: Did you shoot that. Awesome!

The image tag's alt attribute is " Fluffy picks the wrong fence t... Jim Tiller / Daytona Beach News-Journal"

Confirming RGB: I spied this in the San Francisco Chronicle (but as I should have said, it's by Jim Tiller of my local paper, the Daytona Beach News-Journal [which has become such trash that I no longer read it, occasionally-good photography notwithstanding]).

"I am not knowledgeable about a lot of things, but I have been following BeePeeOilDisaster on You Tube "

Ruthie. Take a deep breath. I'll take one with you. Things are going to get better.

Substitute " Because " for " but " and you will understand.


I meant to add these links for Ruthie. These are a good place to start.



Ruth, I meant no disrespect for your concern, we are all in school here.

Thank you for the links. Explains a lot. Don't mean to come off as "crazy", just looking for more information on what I am watching. Don't believe he has altered videos, it all just seems very strange to those of us who are not knowledgeable about such things. Most of us have manual labor jobs to keep our minds busy. The oil disaster has just been very interesting to me lately, so I've gone to many sites. I found TOD first, but everyone seems highly educated on this site and have always felt insecure about bringing such a thing up until I saw the picture on the site this morning. Thank you for being kind, I appreciate you not talking down to me. Did read article this morning in the Associated Press that the BOP was to be taken to a NASA site in Louisiana, but now they aren't commenting on whether it will be brought to shore. Why NASA?

Hi Ruthie,

My sources say the terrorist BOP is really going to Guantanamo ;)

Seriously, the thing is around 6 stories high and can't be worked on just anywhere.


It was my understanding they were going to have the BOP waterboarded until they realized that it had been under 5k feet of seawater already.


It's not scared of drills either.


But is it safe?

It's going to the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility.

This location makes a lot of sense and is actually an almost-perfect choice: (1) it has a deep-water port on the property to receive the BOP directly, (2) facilities to handle big-iron, (3) one of the largest indoor controlled-access high-tech manufacturing and assembly spaces in the USA, (4) includes an indoor secure high-bay area, (5) it is physically secure, (6) physically close to the investagtion, (7) within the jusidiction of the court of record (Louisianna Federal Court), and (8) where the court ordered it taken (on recommendation from the NIC).

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michoud_Assembly_Facility and http://maf.msfc.nasa.gov/

Edit: Welcome Ruthie!

Hi and welcome to TOD, Ruthie.

This photo of Michoud may say it all about "why NASA":


Ruthie. Ignore the plonker. I am not sure if he is permanently pissed or smoking / snorting something twenty four hours a day. The metal drill pipe eroded because it was being sand blasted at the speed of sound, while it was stuck in the BOP, for four months. I don't know your circumstances but, if you have worries, post them on here and a TODer will give you a real world explanation ((()))***.

Acornus, thanks for the invite for a beer. BTW, do you work for BP? Just wanted to ask so i know whether to bring my taster along. And I thought you were not in the US. Are you sending a jet to pick me up?

On the regs., yes the fluid between the plugs requirement appears to apply to cased holes. The regs require the plugs referred to in cased holes.

And with respect to whether the mud in the annulus would count, per the terms of the reg it would not since it is clear that the balancing it refers to is within the casing and between the required plugs in the casing. It specifically says between the plugs in the casing.

As to why this has not been an issue at the hearings, I have no idea. I could be missing something. Or MMS may have signed off on it. If they did, that would be an issue itself. MMS hardly has a good rep for enforcing safety regs. It was a corrupt agency that rubber-stamped the industry. Obviously, that was part of the problem.

When will we get to see the drilling plan, BP? What are you hiding?

syn - I thought at first I might have noticed a possible out for BP RE: MW left in the csg. One interpretations of the rule: must leave a MW sufficient to control the max pressure IN THAT INTERVAL. So if BP had isolated an interval between 3,000' and the sea floor you could take that to mean BP needed to only leave a MW In the 3,000' interval to balance just the pressures encountered at that depth...not the 11,900 psi in the deeper reservoir.

The interval between the bottom of the well and the next shallow plug is a different matter. But it's never been clear to me if BP had displaced with sea water from the bottom on the well or starting at 3,500' or so. But the numbers still don't work: if they left a 9,500' (13,000' of cased hole - 3,500') column of 14.2 ppg mud the head would have only been around 7,000 psi. And thus not anywhere close to the 11,900 psi reservoir pressure. So back to the same point: BP either grossly violated the regs or they had a waiver from the MMS. And I don't think BP can claim they had planned to go back to bottom and spot a heavier mud. It would make no sense to POOH to displace with sea water and then GIH to the bottom and pump heavy mud. Doing it that way would be a very obvious waste of rig time.

Thanks Rock. I have to run after this post. But what is the purpose of that reg.? Why are they requiring what they are, and what are they hoping to accomplish. These regs are sparse and if there is one, they have a very clear goal in mind.

If they want hydrostatic balance from the fluid between the plugs, why? I think there is only one reading for that. The balance is to counter reservoir pressure in case the bottom plug fails over time, since these regs are for permanent abandonment. That means decades and decades. Redundancy is the keystone of safe well control. Three barriers. And it also makes it a lot safer for crews coming back to produce temp. abandoned wells for the same reason, as you noted yesterday. This reading of the reg makes perfect sense. Is there any other interpretation that does? If not, this is the one the courts would go with.

But I suspect everyone knows what it's for. Maybe for temporary abandonment, it is routine for MMS not to waive the requirement for hydrostatic balance and allow two plugs to suffice since it can save a lot of rig time. (But that then allows displacement of an underbalanced well, something we now see is very, very dangerous.) Maybe there is some other reason it does not apply. I don't have the time to make the effort to find out. But we will find out eventually, I suspect.

I think the intent is that when the well is abandoned the cement plugs are all in a neutral state and have equal pressure on both sides. In this state they are not under stress and are less likely to fail.

The wording is not real clear, though. It may be that I (and MMS? BP? others operators?) have not understood it completely.

That's a promising interpretation. What would it take to comply in terms of mud weight between the plugs on this well, assuming normal P&A plugs?

syn - Those MW's would depend upon the column height but they would be significant. Assume there was a 10,000' column between the top cmt plug at 3,000' and the bottom of the hole (remember the bottom of the hole is around 13,000' below the sea floor). It would take a 10,000' column of 22.9 ppg mud to put a 11,900 psi head on the bottom hole. That's a mud weight virtually unheard of in the oil patch. But assume you use the entire 13,000' of hole to establish a sufficient head. That would require a 17.6 ppg mud. That would be readily doable. So to abandon the hole with a sufficient balance regardless of where or how many plugs they set, they would have had to bumped the mud up from 14.2 ppg to 17.6 ppg. That would have cost some more barite but it's not that expensive. And I still remind folks that when BP came back to the well to complete it they still would have had to displace the sea water with a heavier completion fluid before they perforated the well for production.

Thanks for the calculations, RM. I assume you saw Frank's, too.

Based on those mud weights, I am having second thoughts on that interpretation of the reg. absent further info. I don't feel motivated enough to do the research.

But we still have this:

§ 250.442 What are the requirements for a subsea BOP stack?
e) Before removing the marine riser, you must displace the riser with seawater. You must maintain sufficient hydrostatic pressure or take other suitable precautions to compensate for the reduction in pressure and to maintain a safe and controlled well condition.

Is an under-balanced well, while displacing the riser, and with only the bottom cement as a barrier, a safe and controlled well condition?

I guess that depends on whether you want the empirical answer, or the oil field rationalization boogie woogie answer. The reg. seems pretty clear about it.

Before pulling the riser and bop, they would have had two plugs and the hangar seal lockdown assembly installed.

I had a chance to look at your link for the MMS regs last night and have to admit I was confused by them. If you literally interpret them, the relevant section you refer to actually says the interval between the plug has to be sufficient and not take into account the seawater gradient above the plug. Which is not realistic for a deepwater subsea well. It's almost like this is written for an onshore well or a very shallow water well.

I know it's been a very long time since I had the occassion to look at MMS regs (25+ yrs) but I don't remember them being in a question and answer format. Bottomline, very confusing even with oilfield experience. I can only imagine the confusion with those outside the industry

I think it may be a regulation which assumes they're plugging an open hole.

This is outside my normal area of interest, but how could they possibly get mud between plugs heavy enough to maintain hydrostatic balance in the absence of a 5,000 foot riser full of mud? How do cement plugs factor into that picture? Does MMS view them as pressure barriers or merely plugs to hold mud / completion fluid in place?


It specifically says between the plugs in the casing.

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

Specifically? I don't read it that way. Item 9 makes no mention of "in the casing". Other items also make mention of "plugs", not just the one about "A well with casing".

If the intent is to include cased areas, then why specify item 9 as applying to "Fluid left in the hole" wells instead of "All wells"? Isn't every subsea well going to have fluid left in it? The writers must surely have had a reason for apparently limiting requirement #9 to a subset of subsea wells.

Consider this: the well currently has 5,000' of cement in it, leaving 8,000' available for fluid, minus a 150' to 300' needed for item 8's top plug. Your interpretation would require that fluid to be at least 28.8 ppg to balance 12,000 psi. Do you really think that MMS would require that to happen? The only alternatives that I can see to satisfy your requirement would be to fill the 8000' with cement, or to drill out the existing cement to make enough space for a lighter fluid to do the job.

I don't think that any of those alternatives are something that MMS would reasonably require. Since I don't have any insight into MMS's intent, my conclusion is that you are misintrepting the requirement.


Frank, thanks very much. I was struggling to figure out what you laid out above yesterday, but gave up. I don't have the knowledge/skills to do that calculation.

The regs require two plugs:

8)A cement surface plug at least 150 feet long set in the smallest casing that extends to the mud line with the top of the plug no more than 150 feet below the mud line.

So they may have 5000' of cement now, but for normal P&A the top plug only needs to be 150 feet long and the bottom plug would have had to extend 500' up the annulus, not sure about inside the casing, but lets say 500'. Let's say they use 1000' total for cement. That would leave 7000' interval between the plugs (assuming they did not set the plug 3000' low per hafle's request). Maybe I have this all wrong, but if not, what weight would the mud have to be with 7000' column between the plugs?

Thanks very much, Frank, as I've wanted to do this as a quick check on whether the reg makes sense from what it would require to comply. If it requires something totally unreasonable, then it's not being read correctly or is just hopelessly drafted, as sometimes happens.


psi = .052 * ppg * feet => ppg = psi / (.052 * feet)

ppg = 12,000 / (.052 * 7,000) = 33.0 ppg, using your numbers and ignoring the seawater contribution.

From the energy.gov diagram, the top of the bottom plug was planned to be at approx 18,100' MD and the bottom of the top plug would have been at about 8,400' MD I'm guessing (that being the bottom end of the drill pipe). (MD and TVD only differ by about 10', so I'll ignore that difference.)

I don't know the ppg of seawater, so I'll guess at 8.2 ppg, so it would contribute somewhere around .052 * 8.2 * 8,200 = 3,500 psi leaving 12,000 - 3,500 = 8,500 psi for the 18,100 - 8,400 = 9,700' of fluid to supply. 8,500 / (.052 * 9,700) = 16.9 ppg

If the "fluid in the intervals between the plugs" excludes the contribution of the fluid above the top plug, then 12,000 / (.052 * 9,700) = 23.8 ppg

The reg is not clear to the uninitiated, but the intent could be made clear, I'm sure, with a short phone call to the MMS contact, or just by asking a colleague who has done P&A planning before. That BP's engineers would just ignore the requirement doesn't make sense.

Caveat - I'm an EE, not a ME or CE type, and my only oil experience was an end of college interview over 30 years ago with a Texas Instruments group that made tape recorders for seismic surveys, so I might have this totally screwed up. I did get an offer from TI, by the way, but thankfully the St. Louis aerospace giant made a better one so I didn't have to move to Houston. :-)


The weight to balance the formation pressure in that interval, not the pressure below the cmt but just in the unplugged interval? So if the casing/liner fails nothing moves in or out?


I don't think syncro has seen that far ahead yet.

I asked him a week or two ago what the legal significance of "interval" was.

I'm not sure that he recognizes the significance of that question, nor of the significance of MMS using "hole" in criteria #9 instead of "open hole" or "well". Or maybe he's just being an advocate for one side rather than being a truth finder.

The more I look at that clause of the regulations, the more confused I get.

Since my background is outside of the oil patch, I really have no idea of what is expected of the people that work out there.

I do know that if somebody hands me a firearm, and even though Dwight David Eisenhower himself assures me that it's unloaded, and Mamie backs him up, I'm still going to check it for myself, and even though I don't find a round in it, I'm still not going to point it at anybody. Heck, if Robin Hood himself hands me a bow and one arrow, the bow and arrow are going to be gently laid on the ground on the OTHER side of the fence before I climb over.

THAT is the kind of accountability that I want everybody involved in this event to be judged against. I don't care if the BP guy convinced the TO guy that the cement was good, or if it was the TO guy persuading the BP guy. They blew up the well TOGETHER, and it really doesn't matter what the lawyers say. Eleven guys are dead. Hind sight is 20-20, and the side the lawyers take only depends on which side walks in the door first and plops down a retainer.

Rockman has convinced me - watch the mud returns. What goes down the hole MUST come out - no more, no less - either put in some lost circulation material or a kill plug. Somebody screwed up that evening back in April, and it wasn't some on-shore suit. Sorry if that offends any non-suits here, but that's the way I see it.

And, as an electrical engineer, and a farm boy, I can tell you [in general, not Radiator specifically] for a fact that pissing on an electric fence would be a mistake that you would probably regret.

Just like not paying attention to the mud returns.


Frank, i did answer your post and tried to come up with a response.

No one responded to my query as to whether the "formation pressure in the interval" between the plugs would be any different than the formation pressure at the bottom of the well.

It would seem that if the plugs are tested and don't leak, there will not be any formation pressure between the plugs. So I assumed it was sloppy drafting. You can read it so that the last reference to "intervals" refers to the location of the hydrostatic pressure being discussed.

I don't see your other comments re hole, etc., and having an impact on the interpretation,. Unless you see one, specifically.

No one responded to my query as to whether the "formation pressure in the interval" between the plugs would be any different than the formation pressure at the bottom of the well.

This sort of surprised me. It strikes back to some conversation we had some weeks ago, and the rather worrying level of misunderstanding many people had about the nature of pressure and fluids.

So, this is my, non-oilpatch, but basic scientist take on it.

The problem with talking about the pressure in the interval is that you are going to be talking three different scenarios. The big problem is that the plug is a solid. What this means is that it can't flow, and thus won't act in the same manner as a hydrostatic head in all cases.

One can think of three different views.

1. The plug has mechanical integrity. It is well enough bonded to the formations that surround it that you can regard it as an extension of those formations. The pressure in the production formation has no bearing on the pressure at the top of the plug, indeed it is as if the well had only been drilled as deep as the top of the plug.

2. The plug does not have mechanical integrity with the formations around it. But it does seal the production formation. In this case the physical weight of the plug bearing on the seal at the bottom forms part of the fore that maintains the seal integrity. But the calculation of that force isn't the same as a fluid head. Since the plug is a solid you need to know the weight of the plug and the area of the seal. (Clearly this is a limiting case. It is very unlikely that you could actually create the scenario perfectly.)

3. The plug fails to seal the formation. At this point the plug has no bearing on the integrity of the well. The height of he plug is all that matters. That height times the density of whatever fluid is in the channel that forms the failure path determines the hydrostatic head. The worst case would be that the fluid in that channel is gas. In which case you have essentially zero additional head. More likely it will be oil, which isn't a whole lot better, but a little. In this case the pressure at the top of the plug needed to control the well would be close to that of the formation pressure.

So, the question about required fluid weight between the plugs is rather left open. However as has been shown in some previous posts, looking at the limiting cases may help a little.

A single plug than extends from the production formation to the well head clearly has no mechanism to add additional fluid head. Whilst is is pretty difficult to imagine a 13,000 ft log cement plug failing, if the well was to form a channel from bottom to top, it would be identical to an open hole.

Clearly the the safest design is to have a fluid spacer above the bottom plug that can maintain well control in the event that the plug sealing fails at any time. This does require that the fluid weight be capable of controlling the well if the hydrocarbon flow reaches the top of the plug. The pressure required is little different, but a bit less than, the pressure in the production formation.

Edit: (thinking aloud)
However the question of about a plug failing after a well has been abandoned assumes there is some process to cause this failure. If the plug was sealing, and there is sufficient head at the production formation, the logic may be that there is no further mechanism to cause a failure. So the weight of the plug, plus the pressure atop the plug will be considered to be enough to maintain a safe well.

If the fluid in the well has a high enough density, if the plug were to fail (imagine something that caused a 500 foot long crack to appear) the fluid would overcome the hydrocarbons in the production formation and prevent them rising. (Hmm, maybe there is some weird failure mode where the fluid drains down into the formation enough to under-balance the well. I wonder if you could do this with a grossly too high density that fractured its way down. So you could leave a ticking time bomb of an apparently safe abandoned well. )

syn - Sorry...didn't catch your question. I haven't seen the pore pressure plot for the entire well. The grad isn't likely to be linear. The pore pressure will rise gradually with depth but there would be depths where to pressure could jump 3+ ppg over a very short interval. Typically they’ll set another csg string at these depths. That’s the main reason you see so many liners set in the well. In addition to calc the PP from the resistivity logs they also have the various leak off tests of the liner shoes to confirm the PP estimates. So BP did have a fairly accurate PP for the entire well. These values would be used to determine the mud weight that was ostensibly to be left over any interval.

Thanks for the advice. Just wanted a little more knowledge about what is going on down there. I am worried for the people living on the coast. The dispersant they used and how much was used is very scary to me, especially when the USDA has stated that it's safe to fish again. How could the fish be safe to eat? Britain has outlawed this dispersant to be used in their waters. Isn't BP a British company? Wouldn't they know the dangers of using it if Britain has outlawed it? There are reports of dead animals/fish being picked up by BP workers at night so we won't see how many have really died. Media has been banned from areas. Fishermen have been threatened of losing their fishing licenses if they go into the "wrong" areas of the ocean. All seems like a conspiracy to me. Thanks for being kind.

It's been banned in Britain because they have rocky shores and Corexit makes the rocks too slippery for snails to cling to. Corexit failed their Rocky Shores test. They do allow remaining stocks to be used, however. The ban has nothing to do with toxicity.

If the media were banned from all areas, why are there 1000s of pics on the web?

Ruthie, actually, as I understand it, the Brits have banned Corexit only on certain rocky beaches, because it makes limpets unable to cling to the rocks as they need to. Otherwise, it can still be used in British waters. (I hope Gobbet or somebody has a link for that handy, because I don't have time to look it up again right now.)

it can still be used in British waters

Official British document on dispersants (10-page PDF; relevant info is on page 10).

There are other discussions about limpets specifically if you do a search for "limpet" and/or "rocky shores."

Remaining stocks can be used (if there's any left - I think it's been banned for 12 years now) but only away from rocky shorelines. No new shipments of Corexit are allowed.

Thanks for your concern for the Gulf Coasters, but IIRC it was banned in the UK because of the Rocky Shores test (dispersant that is). There are many reports of workers at night, this video will give you a little insight:


More than anything the cleanup crews were getting sick and being sent to ER due to heat exhaustion and dehydration, so alot was moved to night crews, not to mention the huge sifters and tractors work at night so I can enjoy the beach in the day without worrying about being runover by a tractor or the noise/fumes. The media is NOT banned and I have been (Along with many others) taking photos almost daily, but they did ban media and boaters from going near the booms in late June-early July and I also had heard going anywhere near fowled foul, but never saw any type of security on the beach ever. I'm sure after a boater cut the boom with his prop in the bay they prolly had someone like USCG out there to watch and control boaters around the 4th of July to keep from cutting anymore boom into several pieces. Also, I have seen one or two dead ghost crabs back in early June, nothing since, but I am by no means saying there isn't dead marinelife, just that I haven't seen it wash up on the beach or anyone on the beach day or night picking up dead carcasses, but I have seen bait fish, crabs, rays, dolphins in the waters the entire summer and even more the past few weeks since the water temperatures cooled quite a bit. Earlier this summer the water was ~90+ degrees and red tide wouldn't surprise me one bit.

Ruthie, be very careful about ANY information you read at certain websites. There are many sites spreading outright false information or highly-slanted greatly-embellished information. Some of it is even done for sport, fiction role-playing or for the purposes of raising money. Some this information gets picked up and repeated in other sites. Much of the totally-false rumors get repeated so much, in so many different places, that people can start accepting them as facts. Generally, it's hokum.

Do yourself a favor and watch this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eUB4j0n2UDU

Britain is the ONLY country that has 'banned' Corexit 7500, and this is for the aforementioned limpet issue. It is approved for use in something like 75 other countries. In addition all of the ingredients in Corexit excluding the petroleum base (which is insignificant in the middle of an oil spill) are found in products that are consumed by human beings, either in laxatives or as food additives.

The idea that this material is toxic to people in the quantities that would be found in Gulf seafood is laughable.

The only negative effect from Corexit likely is that it speeds up adsorption of the some nasty components of crude oil by some types of fish. Since the fish are being tested for these components it is very unlikely that you will get harmful seafood from the Gulf.

To Ed Markey - Appendix G blows your centralizer theme out of the water by using the real time data from the explosion, confirmed by the data from the static kill, to eliminate the annular flow hypothesis. So your little kangaroo court persecution of Tony Hayward about the number of centralizers was all for naught. Sorry pal, but they have just undercut your position. And they have undercut Anderson Cooper through his association with you too. All that face time on CNN for nothing!!

Not all the evidence is in yet. They still have the RW to drill.

Quant. I am waiting to see if some government apparatchic is going to realise, that intercepting with the relief well is going to be a bad move. We have a saying on this side of the Atlantic; "if you mess about with something long enough, eventually you will break it".

Having read the BP report end to end; made a few phone calls for explanations. I have come to the definitive conclusion. It was the guy that was half a turn short, on the lock nut; of the hydraulic pipe; on the ST lock; of the blind shear ram; on the BOP; that did it. Hang the b*****d.

" It was the guy that was half a turn short, on the lock nut; of the hydraulic pipe; on the ST lock; of the blind shear ram; on the BOP; that did it. Hang the b*****d."

Here's his name and address

做您神色 它是我。 我是疲乏天在工作。

On that subject..Haven't heard anything from China about all this...shouldn't we be asking them some things about the refurbishing of the not-a-BOP....?

I think your celebration is a bit premature, Bruce.

You may be impressed with how BP handled the centralizer issue, most who read those e-mails are horrified. Even though the centralizer matter may not have played a direct role in the blowout, that does not mean the matter is irrelevant. Hardly. The whole incident is indicative of the attitude that led to the disaster. It shows how things were done by BP's vaunted engineers Hafle and Morel. It is smoking, smoldering evidence of negligence and reckless disregard of the safety of the crew.

They never even warned the crew that everyone, including their own engineers, said cementing was highly likely to fail. Not might fail, was very likely to fail. And it did. And the crew is dead. You can rationalize that away all you want as an industry apologist. But normal people who look at those e-mails are disgusted. There is simply no way to explain them away unless you are biased beyond redemption.

Even the Halliburton engineer who ran the models testified he didn't consider that using 6 centralisers was dangerous in itself or should have caused a blowout as problems could be rectified later as happens routinely. "Severe gas flow problem" did not mean a blowout he testified - it just meant something that could be rectified with a "squeeze" if needed. Indeed the BP "Who cares" email said exactly that as well - "But, who cares, it's done, end of story, will probably be fine and we' ll get a good cement job. I would rather have to squeeze than get stuck"

And as Bruce says it seems the blowout came up the production casing and not up the annulus (where the centralisers were installed) so they do not seem to have been a factor in the incident in any case. The Halliburton models said nothing about a predicted failure related to flow up the production casing.

Interesting fact from the BP report. The centralisers on the rig were of the correct type and they could have used all 21 that were on the rig. BP team on rig made a mistake and only thought they were of the wrong type.

If it was no big deal, why did the BP engineer supervisor go to all the trouble of lining up the extra centralizers to be flown to the rig, warning that it was important to follow the BP engineering model because the BP engineers warned of high likelihood of cement failure? It wasn't just haliburton. He was very concerned. It wasn't nothing to him. He put himself in a vulnerable position trying to flag it.

Sure you can squeeze cement to fix a bad job, but that does not mean it isn't dangerous to have bad cement. Especially when you don't run a cbl and you don't squeeze and you don't fix it. But hey, that's not dangerous either, right, because we always got the pinchers.

The point is, even if the annular cement was not the culprit, how they handled that whole issue says a lot about how they handled the other issues. They don't even listen to their own engineers. And then when there's a failure, we hear, oh, it didn't really matter. It's one hell of a way to run things.

Because if they had flow past the centralisers then then would have had to take extra time to do the remedial fix of a "squeeze". If they used the full 21 centralisers then they almost certainly would not have to do the extra job according to the model. So they ordered the extra centralisers in time for the job but when they thought incorrect centralisers had arrived on the rig they went with 6 and were prepared to "have to squeeze". A squeeze fix would, if I understand, be considered just as safe but less time consuming than waiting on new centralisers from shore.

And I repeat - as of now there appears to be no evidence that gas flowed up past the centralisers and annular cement to the rig for the "pinchers" to stop. The flow came up the inner production casing. Early on a general assumption seemed to be that flow came up the annulus past these centralisers so they were a very hot issue. Don't seem to be now though.

The BOP didn't shear and disconnect after the explosion because both control pods were faulty - a rig initiated EDS would have probably worked if initiated in the five minute window between mud on deck and the explosion according to BP as the faults found only prevented a deadman disconnect (bad battery and faulty solenoid). According to BP the BOP was completely sealed about one minute before explosion with combination of annular preventer and variable bore ram (proving it could seal the well) but hydrocarbons had already passed it by that point. Also rig crew did not close iBOP (drill-pipe internal mini-BOP) allowing for flow to restart up drill pipe after explosion.

I still think it's going to be a real problem for them because of the
attitude it reveals and how it all played out.

Please recall my post was in response to someone declaring victory on this issue as scoring one for BP. My point is that there's no victory here for BP. This evidence is still damning for them, all things considered.

syn - And that brings us full circle to the cascade of events we keep chatting about. Don't run enough centralizers to get a good cmt job? No biggie. When you test the cmt it fails because the lack of centralizers allowed channels to form. Just go in and sqz. Cost the operators some extra bucks but that was his money to risk. So it was a big deal in that sense: not enough cetralizers and they need to sqz = another $2+ million in over run costs. Insufficient number of centralizers don't cause blow outs. They can cause bad cmt jobs that fail to test. As I've said cmt jobs fail all the time. If BP had concluded the cmt job was bad you still could not have definitively blamed it on the centralizer issue. It could have been a bad additive blend or insufficient curing time or NG contamination. It might be correct to say the most likely cause was lack of centralizers but couldn't prove. Again, seen hundreds of cmt job fail to test and rarely can you point to a specific cause. But it does tell you in no uncertain terms: you HAVE TO PROVE every cmt job is good. Given the well known track record of bad cmt jobs you obviously can never take it for granted you have a good one. As far as I'm concerned, and I think I speak for the vast majority of the oil patch, I always assume every cmt job has failed until it's tested and proved otherwise.

When you test the cmt

IF you test the cement.

cmt jobs fail all the time.

That 50% BOP reliability figure is beginning to look pretty good. It seems like the only thing in the oil patch that works even half the time.

M - I know it might sound strange to outsiders but a cmt job not testing doesn't even raise an eyebrow or an "aw sh*t". You may have missed my previous comment: Halliburton et al don't warrant any cmt job. Not only do they charge you full price for the failed cmt job they'll charge you full price for the sqz job to fix it. And then charge you again if the sqz job doesn't fix it. And if they have to sqz it three more times they still charge each time. The equipment used to sqz a bad cmt job comes to the rig with the cementing equipment. They don't call for it when they need it...it's always on the rig. Perhaps I should have emphasized it early on but cmt failures are the most common problem in a drilling opertion by far. Getting a good cmt job isn't easy. Folks in the oil patch were truly surprised at the magnitude of the BP disastor. But shocked that the cmt failed? Na...happens all the time.

No, I understood - high failure rate; par for the course.

M -- Yes...a high failure rate. But I should add a readily fixable failure. I can only vaguely remember a couple of cases out of hundreds when the sqz job didn't ultimately fix the cmt job. And often of the first attempt. While a failed cmt job is common so is a ready fix. Had BP known the cmt job was bad they probably would have fixed it on the first sqz...this wasn't really a tough well. That might have run the price tag up $2 million for this $150 million well. $2 million might sound like a lot but it would have bumped the cost up 1.3% at most. They thought this well would come on at 20,000 bopd. The cost for the sqz job would have been covered by 1.5 days net production. At the current estimated cost of the blow out it will take 25,000 days for such a well to make up for the loss. That's 68 years, BTW.

From my point of view Rock just nailed the whole thing. BP and maybe TO short sheeted much of the work to gain profit. Not doing a test to save a million, turning off alarms etc, not putting an abundance of spacers in because it saved a few $ here and there. My picture is that BP shaved the corners of the bed all the time in the name of improving profit. But in the final analysis that short sighted view took 25,000 days, I think of profit, out of their plan. 68 years, just holly WOW. What a price to pay for short sheeting. Now the question, "will it make any difference in the GOM, in the industry, in the gov't, or will short sheeting and cozy relationships slowly return in the name of bolstering each quarter profit as opposed to the long term picture?" I predict in half a dozen years it will be status quo. Yes, cynical.

I suspect that the motivation was more time than money. The well was behind schedule, and the rig was already late for another customer's project. Everything I have seen gives me the impression that everybody was more concerned about time than money. In fact TO was getting paid by the day so any delay would not make that much difference to them anyway.

TO may have been pushing their people to get it done because they had another customer breathing down their neck. A well managed company will typically feel that a satisfied customer is more important than how much money they make off of a contract.

Activ: good point. Maybe Time IS money? Because of my own commercial interests I do relate to "customers breathing down their necks".

Activated, did you read my post about my brother? The LTC is being honored before the Bama/Penn Sate game. Go back and check it out. Thanks.

For what it's worth, the reason we have engineers is to get stuff actually done in an economical fashion while still being safe.

Radio was invented by a scientist named Hertz. 20 years later, an engineer named Marconi (or maybe he was a marketer) communicated from Scotland to North America using "Hertzian waves".

He didn't do it for the glory of it, Marconi did it because he hoped he might gain some profit from it.

Same thing with Edison, or Tesla working for Westinghouse, for that matter. (Where's the fairness that we all know Thomas Alva, but only a small percentage of us know Nikola? Edison would have led us down the dead end path of DC, Tesla and Westinghouse saved us from that.)

I don't think anybody on that platform that night gave a second's thought to their respective company's profits. I think their thoughts were on less mercenary goals, like, "Lord, don't let me screw up", or "What the heck does THIS mean!"

I know that there's no way that if I were asked for an engineering opinion on something that I would for a second think about a profit motive. Maybe that's the difference between being a "professional" and whatever the rest of the world calls themselves.

Just speaking for myself, if I'm presented with a design challenge, I'm going to do the best design I can that meets the requirements, at the lowest possible cost, without compromising safety.

I can't believe that anybody on that ship that night, including the visiting VIPs, would disagree.


I think some of the discussion of cement jobs and their failure is getting hung up on the word "failure." In common parlance, when something fails it is something that was supposed to be good, going bad. With cement jobs this isn't the case. The much better word would be "unsuccessful". Cement jobs are unsuccessful all the time. They need remedial work to eventually create a successful outcome (the squeeze job.)

Talking about "failing" cement jobs tends to bring to mind a very different statistic, one that I think the majority of readers first bring to mind. How often does a cement job that has passed its pressure tests then go on to fail? This is totally different matter to the success rate of a cement job.

Rockman is talking about success rates, the disparaging remarks about the oil industry's apparent acceptance of very high failure rates is mistaking a low initial success rate, for a high failure rate of apparently good cement jobs. It is hardly surprising that people seem to be talking past one another.

Francis, thanks for your thoughtful response the other day.

BTW, I did read the material you had posted and watched the films and saw the pics on the antenna case.

I forget the details you provided, but my guess is the bolt company got sued because there was no other viable defendant. They must have had some legal basis for proceeding. I have never seen a company pay money on a groundless claim. Weak claims, yes. Groundless, no.

When your client is a widow with kids, and not enough income to pay the bills, it's your job as her attorney to recover what you can. Ethically, you are bound to do that, just as you are bound not to pursue groundless claims. It's never a pretty outcome when people get killed in a catastrophic disaster like that. Not for any of the parties involved. Prevention is the best cure of course.

I think I recollect that the bolts themselves were slightly below standard so there were some grounds...

Thanks. Yeah, is gets really unfortunate when it comes down to working out how to compensate the innocent.

Something I wanted to comment on about the last few days, and will at more length soon. I think there has been some sudden and very revealing progress in looking at the issues. I tend to like to look at big accidents like this as most likely stemming from a set of interconnected failures, and experience looking at many large bad incidents (not just accidents, but engineering failures in the large) is that many come from unforseen disconnects in communication.

The spectre is of a deskbound engineer designing a system that of itself is perfectly safe, but requires specific tests be performed as part of its implementation. The tests are specified, and all seems fine. But the actual test regime is only specified in physical terms. There is no accredited and QA'ed process for conducting the test. The engineer simply says, build this, test that. After that, someone else's problem. But there is no someone else. At the other end they built it, and perform a test that may or may not be what the engineer meant. There is no process to QA the test mechanism. The design engineer merely decreed that the test result be passed. But nobody took the required responsibility for designing, the test, and most critically, testing the test. This is not a new failure mode.

A couple of appropos stories from the Apollo era. Part of the chain of failures that led to the Apollo 13 accident was the treatment of the LOX tank. The tank was dropped a few inches, enough to dislodge a pipe used to empty yhre tank. After a test of the command module they tried to empty the tank and it wouldn't. So after some thinking they decided it would be safe to boil the oxygen off. With the proviso that the temperature in the tank never exceed a given limit. The failure? The gauge used to measure the temperature had a maximum reading of the limit temperature. Nobody had validated the test for exceeding the design limits. They had specified the test, but never tested that in practice the system used to perform the test would work.

The other point came from one of the launch managers talking to the various engineers and technicians at the Cape. He discovered a worrying lack of knowledge about the end to end launch system. Talking to an engineer in charge of the liquid fuel loading pumps, the engineer basically said, "Well I just pump the fuel out up here, and after that I don't know what happens to it." Every engineer and technician was tasked with understanding every nut bolt screw, valve, solenoid, and pump in the entire system. They had to understand exactly what was occurring right thorough the entire process, and understand exactly what would be happening if something was not looking right.

We have heard on a number of occasions that the drill rig is filled with specialists, and that it is somewhere between unlikely and impossible that anyone understands the end to end drilling process. I find this somewhat incredible, and very worrying. As smart and well educated as the drillers need to be, I do not believe that the process is that much harder than launching a Saturn V.

"paper, rock, scissors": I still suspect that non-hierarchy, everyone's a winner, and a loser, has some relevance to large complex systems.

FRANCIS. Ah! the ultimate question. Did the system fail the people or did the people fail the system? The following is not the original but it is from the same source. It should be read by everybody who is ever asked to be on a panel of enquiry.

That is pretty good. Indeed everyone here should read it. It exactly sums up my position on the investigations.

I think some of the discussion of cement jobs and their failure is getting hung up on the word "failure..."

...the disparaging remarks about the oil industry's apparent acceptance of very high failure rates is mistaking a low initial success rate, for a high failure rate of apparently good cement jobs.

I think some of the discussion of my comment is getting hung up on subject of cement.

My comment disparaged the oil industry for its apparent acceptance of high failure rates across the board, from the cement jobs to the shear rams to the well integrity tests to the rig electronics to the float collars to the freaking containment booms etc etc etc.

The only failure, apparently, that is unexpected and unacceptable is the failure of the poor fu©kers on the drilling platform who have to deal with it all or die.

The only failure, apparently, that is unexpected and unacceptable is the failure of the poor fu©kers on the drilling platform who have to deal with it all or die.

That is an excellent summation.

Contrast the endless excuses for everything from engineers who don't care to BOP's that don't function, with the oft stated expectation that the crew should catch every kick thrown at it under any circumstance even when it is being misled and undermined by the company with total crap information.

Edit: And it does not matter if a crew member is the source of the info. BP has the drilling permit.

My comment disparaged the oil industry for its apparent acceptance of high failure rates across the board,

That I must agree with. Indeed I think it is a key issue that has been lost in the wind of specifics.

This is the erosion of standards that occurs in the face of continuing lack of accidents. And again, what worries me is that this isn't something peculiar to BP. Maybe their standards were a bit more eroded than some others, but I am far from convinced that they were little more than leading the pack down this road.

Erosion of safety standards is nothing new. Again, the oft quoted example of the Challenger accident. The Challenger launched under conditions that earlier in the Shuttle program would have been a clear and unequivocal launch scrub. Worse, exactly the same thing played out with Columbia. Columbia launched with an unresolved critical safety issue flagged against exactly the flaw that doomed the craft. It was acceptance that such violations of safety process were acceptable that was the key factor in the accident. The specifics of foam, and degraded strength of RCC panels, were incidental.

This is why I care so little about the specifics of cement, who said what when, and which company they worked for. There is serious danger that the structural issues of safety in the industry will not be addressed if it is only the minutae of the accident are considered.

This brings up an issue that is one of my pet peeves. The failure to spend more researching out better ways to do things in order to save money in the long run by companies. If I were running a major oil exploration/production company, I would be doing the math on the costs of re-working failed cement jobs then allocating 50% of that yearly cost into research to explore why they failed and how to get them to work right the first time. Do this for a couple of years and see what the theory people came up with. If they don't seem to be coming up with good ideas - shelve the idea for about 5-10 years then take another look.

Just think of the time and money that can be saved if you can cut the number of failed cement jobs in half. Not only that - since you funded the research, you own the technology and can make money by licensing the techniques and technology.

05 - I can't toss out any reliable numbers but the cmt companies spend a bunch trying to improve cmt performance. Forget BIg Oil...they gave up basic research decades ago. It's the service companies who have brought on the vast majority of tech improvements the last 20+ years. The cmt market in the oil patch is huge. If Halliburton were to come up with a documented big improvement in cmt it would be worth billions to them.

There are some problems in the physical world that may never be solved with any great assurance. Significant improvements? Sure. Perfect solutions? Rare.


The most common problem in a drilling operation is lousy coffee. The second most common problem is hole instability. Cementing is more of a completion issue.

I think they got a problem if they have a completion design they're pretty sure is going to require a cement squeeze. And I think they got a bigger problem if they they're running these iffy cement jobs and don't run a cement bond log. The lack of the CBL does seem to point to a group of people who were in a hurry to Temporarily abandon the well and leave the headaches for the team completing the well later.

I figure they figured nobody was going to be on that well for at least three years, and this gave them time to get promoted and be somewhere very far away when management realized the initial completion was faulty.

fd - So true about the completion side. Maybe I'm prejudiced because we've been drilling deep and hot but it seems as though we're sqz 30 to 50% of the time. Eveh liner top cmt jobs have been given me fits. A month ago the operator of one of wells spent 10 days just try to get the liner top to test. He actually took a hard kick thru the liner top. Never have seen that before and couldn't figure out out he did it. Think about it: GIH to sqz the lnr top and you meet 3,000 untis of gas coming up at you. This operator has had me nervous more than once.

I'd check the clearances, you may be better off increasing sizes going down, to get a bigger annulus?

I've had to struggle with drilling teams to change their ways, and they really hate changing casing shoe points and hole sizes, but sometimes it pays off to look into it. And it takes a lot of arm twisting to have them look at changes in a fair way, because it's a lot handier to keep doing things the way they've always been done, so it's important to make sure they don't cook the numbers.

It occured to me a couple of months ago that the "exploration" guys don't really care what the "completion" guys have to deal with.

Their chains of command don't merge for a couple of layers up, the two groups are working on two separate budgets, so that would explain why the exploration group would sluff off a CBL "because they will do one when they complete the well", and why they would leave mud in the thing despite Rockman's experience of how costly that can be.


fh -- Unfortunately I've seen that attitude split between exploration and the development group far to often in my experience. Even on the exploration side there is a split. It's a very old and, sadly, often true joke: the exploration dept job is to drill for new reserves. The drilling dept job is to drill the well as cheap as possible and then plug and abandon it quickly. I’ve seen that objective difference cost a lot of wasted money. Just one of the problem with dealing with a large corporate structure. My owner recognized that problem in his past experiences in the oil patch. That’s why as VP of Ops I handle projects from building the lease road to the drill site to the final hook up of the well to a NG line. All the staff has just one single goal: drill a profitable well. Again, most can probably guess that in large corporations that isn’t the primary goal of some managers.

i missed this earlier, RM. Sorry. I gottcha. See my comment above. All in all, this issue is not a positive for BP despite Bruce declaring victory. Because they didn't do the cbl. They didn't fix the cement. And the cement was bad. And the well blew. And the crew was killed.

I know it wasn't in the annulus. It does not matter. If it had been, we'd still have the same outcome. Right? They never would have found it.

After the cement was done, they did a positive pressure test. (see pg. 82 of BP report)

The positive-pressure test was conducted in two stages: a low-pressure test and a high-pressure test. Note that the positive-pressure test was against the rubber cement displacement wiper plug on top of the float collar and did not test the integrity of the cement in the shoe track.

If it's not testing the cement, why is a positive-pressure test done?

Is this done to squeeze the liner out against the cement to further test adhesion when the negative-pressure test is performed?

Based on the suppositions in the BP report, would a CBL have likely shown signs of cement failure?

you HAVE TO PROVE every cmt job is good

If I understand it right, the annular cmt was never tested. The seal at the wellhead (sealing the production casing against the wellhead) was set immediately after pumping cmt. From this point on, all they could test was this seal or the shoe cmt.
The annular cmt was and is isolated from the well, making it impossible to test it.
This strikes me as very dangerous in regard of the long term safety of the well. Should the wellhead corrode away (and it will, sooner or later), all that keeps the well from flowing is the mud in the annulus. No matter how many plugs they set in the casing.

I can't wait for the answer to THAT question!

(Which occured to me some time ago, but I couldn't figure out how to put it.)

SYNC. You are at it again. If the cement was "very likely to fail", how come the rig crew were not watching that well every second. Why did they not watch the mud balance with a microscope. This was not the first well they had drilled. This well had kicked so bad they lost a drill bit and had to standoff at about 11000 feet. BP had told its guys and TO to watch out, but TO did not instruct the rig crew on BP's findings and recommendations. Read the report and the evidence trail that has gone before the investigation committee. That rig was in crap order; they couldn't even be bothered to change the batteries in the BOP primary protection system, before they planted it on the well head. There is no evidence they even tested it, on deck, before they started.

From now on Sync, consider me the BP Shill. (I assume when you guys use the word "shill" you mean the Yiddish word "shillaber", a word not used in UK English.)

Can't resist the mentioning coincidence, Acornus: BP Shillaber was an American humorist and editor (Benjamin Penhallow Shillaber, 1814 - 1890, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Penhallow_Shillaber)

Poems of BP Shillaber: http://seacoastnh.com/poems/bpshillaber.html

Yes, life can be one big CT ("coincidence theory," that is ;-)

Edit: BTW, didn't know that "shill" wasn't in common usage in UK. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shill

From: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/shill


Unknown; attested as verb 1914, as noun 1916. Perhaps an abbreviation of the Yiddish shillaber, attested 1913. The word entered English via carny, originally denoting a carnival worker who pretends to be a member of the audience in an attempt to elicit interest in an attraction.

Speculatively cognate to German Schieber (“black marketeer, profiteer”) via *shi-la-ber.

There are some suggestions that it originates in the surname Shilaber or Shillibeer, especially George Shillibeer, but proposed origins are dubious as the word is first attested in North America in the 20th century, while proposed models are 19th century British.

...didn't know that "shill" wasn't in common usage in UK.

They call 'em MP's.


If the cement was "very likely to fail", how come the rig crew were not watching that well every second.

Because BP never told them all about all that high risk warning they got. In fact, BP misled the crew and told them the cement was fine, so fine they could displace the riser with no other barrier in place except the float collar that got blown out of the way in an instant. And they told them that when the cement was in fact bad.

Good point in bringing that up, but you're going to lose your job as a shill if you keep that up!


In fact, BP misled the crew and told them the cement was fine

You really need to read that NY Times article from a couple of days ago. It has TO's Harrell, along with the two TO toolpushers, attempting to persuade BP's Vidrine that the negative pressure test showed that the cement was good.


If what that article says is true it certainly changes my view of Vidrine as mentioned yesterday, but it's beyond me why TO crew would want to convince Vidrine cement was good when they were about to displace riser and put well in an underbalanced state with shoe track being the only barrier between them and 12,900 psi gas and oil. What a huge risk they were taking.

This is the scary part of the article:

He accepted the explanation provided by members of Transocean’s drill team that the high pressure reading in the drill pipe, of about 1,400 pounds per square inch, was no cause for alarm.

These drillers — chief among them the night-shift toolpusher, Jason Anderson, who died in the ensuing fire — insisted they had seen a similar phenomenon before, calling it “annular compression.”

Assuming Anderson meant he had previously seen pressure like this on the drill pipe during a negative test. That means there were other wells that also had not been put to the test.

Jason Anderson, who died in the ensuing fire — insisted they had seen a similar phenomenon before, calling it “annular compression.”

Anderson was the one who got quite a bit of coverage in the press after the disaster because he seemed to have had some sort of premonition--told his wife and his father he was worried about safety on the rig, thought BP was cutting corners and pushing the crews to get the job done quickly.

That's one of the reasons this thing is so hard to figure out.

Conflicting information, self-serving testimony, lawyers preserving their clients' interests and ignoring the truth-finding aspect of the CG/MMS hearings. And "reporters" who's interest is only in a story that will gain ratings.

I can't imagine myself being in the position of giving life and death advice, like Mr. Anderson was.

Yet I can see myself saying what he did in spite of the premotions.

God rest his soul, and those of the other ten.

And those who survived and are facing the lynch mob as well.


Frank, i confess to being a bit of a smart ass there. But actually, you raise a very good point, and I am not being cynical.

First, let me point out that the other TO TP walked off the floor in a huff over the test, feeling fairly certain that something was wrong, but his concerns were apparently dismissed.

But to get back to the point, as a matter of actual fact, it was BP's job to ensure that the cement was good. BP knew the entire history of the cementing issues, and all other issues impacting risk. They worked with Haliburton, they ran the models, they knew the risks. How many engineers were in on that process? I count at least five.

Despite all of that, do you really think it is appropriate for BP to defer to Jason Anderson and Harrell on well integrity determination and not make the call themselves? I don't believe either was even present during the pressure test. And they offered a reason for believing the test showed cement integrity that BP now says they have found no evidence to support. The theory was hookeypoop. (Would it have survived 20 minutes on TOD?) BP knows that now. They should have known that then.

BP made a terrible mistake in listening to those guys, if that is their justification for accepting that test and assuming well integrity. Vidrine deserves a lot of credit for pushing the issue as hard as it appears he did. But his superiors led him astray it would appear. Someone convinced him the test was okay when he knew in his bones it was not (some on the crew were teasing him for being so concerned he told investigators). If it was not the hookeypoop theory, it was likely Hafle who convinced him. In either case, it was a tragic, deadly error given the shortcuts they were about to take on displacement.

Vidrine deserved a much better testing and well integrity decision tree and procedures to guide him in making that difficult call. It appears he caved in to peer pressure of a sort in the end. He certainly appears to have been torn. It should not be that hard. The procedures should guide the decision making process and keep it on a very short leash without subjecting the decision maker to agonizing deliberation where he is grasping for reasons to say yes, it's okay to go ahead. Someone may throw him a bad one.

EDIT: From what I've heard so far, it appears Vidrine may not have been negligent at all, despite the bad call. Instead, he appears to have been very vigilant, very concerned and made quite an effort to get it right. But his employer failed to give him the decision-making tools/procedures and guidance he needed to get it right.

Excellent points.

I'd like to add a factor I broached yesterday, magnitude of the operation making individuals reluctant to call a halt on safety concerns.

SYNC. Having just woke up - 06:00 UK time - it takes me a while to catch up with the 149 new posts that happened while I was sleeps. I have lost track of the names of the individuals and what their jobs are / were and who they worked for. Is there a posting somewhere with details? I don't quote names of individuals normally, just their corporate identity.

Acornus, good morning. Are you near London? I would like to take you up on that beer.

Vidrine was the BP Company Man who made the decision that the second pressure test was good and demonstrated well integrity. From there, they proceeded to displace the riser.

Jason Anderson was the TO Tool Pusher who just came on shift at 6:00. He was killed in the blast. He was the main proponent of the annular compression theory, which amounted to mumbo jumbo. I do not believe he had any formal education, maybe some college, and had worked his way up from floor hand. That's not to take anything away from Jason. He was a bit of a star it sounds like to reach the position he held at his age. But BP was in effect deferring to his supposedly superior knowledge over the entire BP engineering team, if his annular compression theory is in fact why they deemed the test a pass. Or this could just be another lame attempt to blame the crew. It's hard to say.

Vidrine was the BP Company Man who made the decision that the second pressure test was good and demonstrated well integrity. From there, they proceeded to displace the riser.

Jason Anderson was the TO Tool Pusher who just came on shift at 6:00. He was killed in the blast. He was the main proponent of the annular compression theory, which amounted to mumbo jumbo.

Yup, Vidrine accepted the pilot's assurance that everything was airworthy, and that the pilot had wheels down for landing.

Vidrine is a passenger representing the group who chartered the plane.

He was a bit of a star it sounds like to reach the position he held at his age. But BP was in effect deferring to his supposedly superior knowledge over the entire BP engineering team, if his annular compression theory is in fact why they deemed the test a pass.

Indeed that was his job ... ensure the craft was safe to land.

Whether BP made a terrible error accpting him as a qualified "pilot" is another question. BP had no pilots aboard, and even if they had, they would not have been in the cockpit watching gauges and selecting lever positions.

Or this could just be another lame attempt to blame the crew.

Yeah, only a lawyer would blame the passengers strapped into their seats for the crash.

Pinky - RE: NG flames shooting out of your faucet!!!! Actually it has happened. And worse: houses exploding (rather rare though). But the cause is almost one of two sources and neither is directed related to frac'ing. When they frac a well at 10,000' they're damn lucky if they can get the frac to extend upwards more than 100'.

One source of NG is the fresh water supply is natural. About 80 miles west of Houston is an area well known for shallow water wells occasionally producing NG. There have been commercial NG fields developed in this area as shallow as 200'. There is a one well field not too far south that produced over 11 BCF from 1,100'.

But the other common source of NG contaminated fresh water is related to oil field activities. In old field areas it's not uncommon for bad cmt jobs to allow NG to leak up the annuli over many decades. In fact, about 40 years ago Mobil was drilling a replacement well in an old field producing from a deep reservoir. They weren't paying attention when they started drilling at 800' because they had never seen NG at that depth when they first developed the field. But over many years NG leaked up the annuli of a number of wells and charged a shallow reservoir. The well blew out and killed 7 hands. There is a very well known small town just east of Houston that was completely abandoned because NG/condensate storage reservoirs leaked up bad cmt jobs from deep reservoirs. A third but rather rare event is when they rupture shallow csg on a well they are doing a deep frac on. But this almost always involves polluting the shallow aquifers with frac fluids or salt water.

Thanks, Rock. I had heard these stories and tried to figure out how it could happen. Now I know, thanks to you. :--)

jinn's response from closed thread:

"Is this fact or just something you created to support the preconceived conclusion that they compromised safety for cost?"

This is the second time you have failed to read my comment properly.

The first time I stated a hypothetical scenario to illustrate a point and you came back demanding evidence. I asked you to look up "hypothetical" and you still didn't get it. I had to spell it out for you. A hypothetical is imaginary, it needs no evidence.

This time I clearly stated "IMO" meaning it's my opinion, and you come back asking if it's fact or a preconceived conclusion, when it clearly says "IMO" meaning it's an opinion, not an allegation of fact.

You need to read people's comments properly before responding.

Moreover, people do not have to provide evidence to "prove" an opinion. An opinion is just that, an opinion. It needs no evidence, it needs no proof. This is not a court and you are certainly not a judge, and I would highly recommend backing off that judge-like attitude you display to people here, particularly when your allegations of fact are factually incorrect about half the time.

You seem to get hung up in semantics and technicalities. You took up a fair amount of thread space ranting about them not doing a negative test I would assume because they technically never achieved zero SPP for 30 minutes. They did do a negative test. They just didn't achieve zero SPP for 30 minutes.

We collectively have neither the desire nor the patience to engage your semantics and technicalities.

Regarding your "preconceived conclusion" comment, yes, people here who have been studying this blowout for months sometimes develop conclusions in their own mind about what happened and why it happened. It is their opinion, their belief. It does NOT have to proven, and certainly not to YOUR satisfaction.

I'm going to ignore your comments henceforth until you come here with a better attitude, and I suspect others might also.

FYI if there is not shred of evidence to support your opinion. The opinion is worthless.

I think it may be that jinn might not be accustomed to debating people on the internet and has not figured out all the unwritten rules of how it works yet. He is clearly very knowledgeable and has good insight, but does a poor job of providing the evidentiary foundation for his positions. I think he's got a lot to contribute. And I thank you jinn for what I have learned from you, but it was painful at times because I could never get you to clearly state the basis for what you were arguing. That's partly due to my limited knowledge base no doubt. (If you don't want to debate people with less knowledge than you, that's okay, but you kept coming back to me.) But once the other folks did that yesterday, I saw that what you were arguing indeed made sense. But i disagree there was no test accomplished. They got clear evidence of flow even if not for 30 mins as noted by rfs3b and BP. Nevertheless, as a result of my discussions with you, I learned a lot about the negative test and what happened. Thank you very much for that.

Now would someone please tell me how to fix some of my many imperfections. Where's David?

I don't view this as debate. I have no desire to debate someone's opinion or allegation of fact. I say what I believe, they say what they believe, and we move on.

I might disagree with someone's opinion or allegation of fact. But I'm not demanding they provide evidence to substantiate said opinion or allegation of fact. It's their belief. Fine. Let's move on.

I view this as sharing of ideas, all of us trying to ascertain what happened, why it happened, and perhaps what could be done differently to prevent it from happening in the future.

I don't understand this, I can't see how you can learn from a plethora of undiscussed opinions. If I said my opinion was that Joe Cabot caused the blowout, how does that help your objective of understanding what happened and why?

It seems to me that the only way to winnow the plausible from the implausible is to discuss and dissect, looking for a rational chain of cause and effect and examining all aspects.

It's easy to come up with thousands of opinions or thousands of hypotheses, but unless you subject them to critical examination, seek clarification and question the questionable, there's no point reading them. Is there?

In both scientific and engineering circles they call this "peer review". Without Peer Review you have no knowledge no faith no basis for believing "IMO". That pure and simple is why these folk and I appreciate and essentially demand "peer reviewed work". Simple opinion has no real value in the scientific and engineering world.

I generally agree with RGB's view. I didn't say no discussion. I said no demanding evidence. If someone volunteers evidence they rely on, fine, and people here will consider it. NYT article cited yesterday and again today has moved me to change my view of Vidrine.

I don't agree with your view. This is an informal discussion forum, not formal peer-review academia.

And for what's it's worth, I have less and less faith in peer review. Hoaxes such as global warming are given credibility via peer review. Peer review is peer opinion and cheerleading as often as not.

Simple opinion has no real value in the scientific and engineering world.

In an ideal world no. I reality most sciences have local gods. A well known current one is Ed Witten, and stories abound about how string theorists will hang onto his every word, and if a new idea is being talked about, one of the first questions will be "what does Ed think?" This isn't always good. But it is very real.

Eventually of course everyone does begin to work out who the people worth listening to are. However that should only aid the speed at which one reaches a conclusion, but optimising the effort needed. It should never actually influence the conclusion reached. There are probably thousands of young physicists who dream of making a breakthrough that proves Ed wrong on something.

Let me be clear, nobody here gives a DAMN about your "demand for peer review".

And don't hand me that bullshit about unsubstantiated opinion having no value in your scientific world, it happens all the damn time, particularly when money is involved. Opinions form from money motivations then facts are selectively brought in to support said opinions.

Your scientific world these days is no more virtuous than it's monetary supporters, they have their agendas and "scientists" kiss their asses and give them the "science" they want.

Rf, I understand your frustration, Jinn has conjured up an alternate reality where: 1) Jinn is never wrong; 2) Jinn never has to provide evidence; and 3) anyone who disagrees with Jinn must immediately provide some arbitrary piece of evidence. The last time I offered a polite correction to one of Jinn's exaggerations I got a nitpicky, snotty response which was itself wrong. (Jinn, don't try to extrapolate from an illustrative graph when there is a perfectly good formula right above it.)

It's not that Jinn is wrong all the time, but there are no citations, no links to back up an assertion or a rebuttal, no acknowledgement of corrections. All there is is opinion. So it's ROFL funny when Jinn pops out of the bottle to claim someone else is creating their own evidence. Or it would be funny if we didn't have to wade through it day after day.

I've been following TOD since leak started and have finally decided to comment. (WHOA..fresh meat!)

Background: 45 years design and manufacture of High pressure/High flow fluid power systems and components. Recently sold mfg operation, "retired" and am now bored.

A few Thoughts to get my feet wet.

1: Maybe the initial reports of flow by FRTG/BP were not lies after all!

2: "Erosion" can happen with high flow dirty fluids (abrasive water jet steel cutting).
It can also happen when cavitation takes place with any fluid (look at a boat prop that has run
at improper speed).

3: As to the question of BOP ownership, IT'S MINE! I bought it from a guy in the Wal Mart parking
lot for $50. I know it was for real 'cause the guy was wearing an aluminum foil baseball cap with "TOD" on the bill. Said he had a 93 Ford 3/4 ton and would deliver today or tomorrow.

I bought it from a guy in the Wal Mart parking lot for $50.

With or without mashed-up drill pipe?

Edit: Welcome to the butcher shop.

He wanted additional $10 for the pipe, had to refuse 'cause I needed funds to get a tatoo on my thigh of an oil drum with "TOD ROCKS" underneath.

Try this, scuba....


You trying to get me killed? That thing is made out of BOROSILICATE GLASS! Isn't that the same stuff in corexit that causes oil to hide under the seaweed?

All my chemist friends suffer the same affliction....

How cool! I may just have to get a couple of those. :)

Maybe the initial reports of flow by FRTG/BP were not lies after all!

No, they weren't lies, they were poorly informed guesses. As to why they missed by so much:
a. They didn't know that 40% (or whatever) of the oil was failing to reach the surface.
b. The flow rate was much smaller than it would later be after erosion occurred and the bent riser was CRAWed.
c. They chose middle or low figures from a range because they didn't want to destroy tourism on a false alarm.

However, they should have updated the 5,000 BOD estimate sooner than they did.

The current official estimate of 60,000 BOD initial flow is false and perhaps deliberately so--the initial flow must have been much less. I don't know why this claim has never been challenged in the press or by scientists. See snakehead's link about people wanting to believe bad news and being suspicious of good news.

There's a little help here about interim estimates but not about the initial flow.

Wouldn't "initial flow" have been through open rams? I thought the eroded rams were closed post-blowout.

Remember that, at that stage, the flow was up the riser into the fire not the ocean so did not count as a spill.


Correct, the spill didn't begin until 10 AM April 22, and I think they stabbed the BOP before that..

I could be wrong, but I believe attempts were made to close the rams through the 25th. Do we know when they may have succeeded?

On reflection, I don't know when the rams were actuated. The first attempts were made from DWH during the explosion and the second shortly before the rig sank. Maybe there were more. But at most there would be 2-3 days of open flow in the BOP with the riser crimped and not leaking at the crimp yet.

I do not know if this is accurate or just thrown in for infotainment purposes, but: National Geographic docu-drama "Gulf Oil Spill" showed footage from a Hos Iron Horse ROV poking at the BOP supposedly while the rig was still afloat and burning.

I have also seen ROV footage, though I can't recall where, that showed both the broken end of the riser and the crimped riser at the stack, both locations with no oil leaking, from the time just after the rig sank when the official claim was that there was no oil leaking. FWIW.

Maybe the initial reports of flow by FRTG/BP were not lies after all

My comment was lame sarcasm aimed at MSM. Time after time MSM talked of flows as under-reported (BP lied-fish died) and never once did I hear them offer the explanation that possibly anything could be happening in the containment equipment.

It was my understanding that FRTG was solely responsible for flow calculations. If this is not true, please clarify.

I ran calcs during entire incident on effective orifice size (based on very thin data) and could actually see effects of erosion on the leak point(s)as incident proceeded.

The initial flow path was relatively small (based on fuzzy data) but of course enlarged as the flow continued.

You are correct that all the estimates came from the government, not BP. BP did have input to the early estimate of 5000 BOD. The Flow Rate Group hadn't been established at that time.

Given the amount of money involved in the fine, it may help BP to take the BOP blind ram model to a flow loop and show how it erodes. But a flow loop with the capacity to run the rates for the amount of time, with variable sand cuts, will cost quite a bit of money. Or they could try running coupons and use flow models to figure out what may have happened. My guess is the rate was lower at the beginning, it increased over time. I had speculated there was a worm hole communicating the reservoir to the entry point, and I still think this may be a variable they have to consider. So the well productivity may have increased over time as the wormhole path grew larger in xsection, and the BOP components eroded. Which means the oil budget for the overall spill may be way off.

They'll probably need to set aside the whole fine amount for ~60k bbl/d since 4/20 to account for the legal and expert opinion fees they'll incur for arguing it down from there.

You make an interesting point. One might argue that the erosion was proof of BOP design issues. Of course since billions of dollars are at stake, you can also send a couple of dozen promising students though law school, then start them off at $200K / year to keep the paper moving though the courts, through their whole careers, and still come out ahead.

Tell that to the people in the south still being sprayed with corexit and still having oil wash up on the beach. Where is the "good news"????

The good news is that the methane tsunami is STILL three hours away.

At least.

In the now-closed thread Pinkfud said

I now hear a report that there is a 20 foot section of the pipe that blew completely out of the hole. And get this: The report says it is split lengthwise like a banana for a banana split. To me, that says seam failure. Don't they ever pig these big interstate lines? This is getting ridiculous.

That isn't one of the interstate lines (those are in the 30-42 inch range), but it does sound like internal corrosion or seam failure. (I wouldn't want to be one of PG&E's operations managers today. They are going to be in serious trouble.)

PG&E Stays in trouble, it's just not always puplic.

Once had a highly placed electrical tech for PG&E ask me if I would help him wire pre-computer Hot-Rod because "it was beyond his capability".

Had voltage problems with CNC machines and engineer @ PG&E refused to listen because his maps showed one connection at transformer. I took months to get anyone out to the sight to confirm additional drop to an engine shop. We were drawing well above the rating of the transformer and only the fact that it was older and well built saved us.

morning report is that it was a 30" pipe, but PG&E saying it was an area pipe for local distribution. Of course, that story will likely change in the coming hours. There was also a comment that it was installed sometime in the '40's.

No problem with any of that. The company where I work has distribution pipe that's similar in size and age (and we really don't want it to blow up).

There is, however, a problem with reports from residents that they have been complaining about a gas smell (or mercaptan or whatever it is smell) for days and that PG&E had sent out a few trucks to no avail. PG&E has no comment on that.

The equivalent of a missed kick?

or at least a crew that's kicking themselves for missing the leak.

I suspect the fines are going to be hefty.

Big underground lines like this are not seamed pipe, either hot rolled or cold rolled welded. They are all seamless. I worked in a USS plant in Lorain, Ohio in summer of 67 making seamless tubing and pipe from 2" all the way to 48". What an amazing process and hot, hot, hot. Oh, did I say it was HOT?

Actually, the majority of the large inch pipelines are seamed pipe. Seamless is not used that often and generally on smaller lines. Building seamed pipe does not require as large a plant to build.

Quite often, larger pipes are spiral weld where the pipe is made up of a spiral wound sheet of steel 2 - 4 feet wide.

Thanks Meta,
I was watching some live video feeds from http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/index (abc7news.com) earlier and they zoomed in on the section of pipe that was thrown about 40' away from the crater. It appeared to be approx 30" in diameter and was split down what looked like a horizontal seam for 2/3 of it's length. They were estimating it was 40-60 years old in that location.

I have a link to a video. Industry shots. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDMln5vitgE&feature=related

Edit: Changed statement to be more fair use friendly.

I would bet that this 30" diameter natural gas line was seamless. The stuff you are talking about is low pressure. Depending on the wall thickness was running several hundred psi. I have heard of 2,000 psi lines but the generally do not run them close or in residential areas.

Water pipe and low pressure NG lines can be seamless, not this one.

Based on what I see at work, most gas pipelines are going to be under 1000 psi, transmission frequently 400 or 500 psi, and distribution-type high pressure around 150 to 200 psi. YMMV.

FWIW, these are the DOT regulations on pipelines.

U.S. study says people are hesitant to believe good news from scientists but it doesn't say why despite saying that it does say why, thereby tacitly suggesting that crappy journalism may be implicated.

The work is based on a public opinion survey of 1,475 Californians to assess whether people trust safety studies on offshore oil drilling. It predates this summer’s massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, but offshore oil drilling has been a hot political issue in California for years.

The analysis from professors at the University of California at Santa Barbara found that people tended to disregard much of what the safety studies found. The limited amount they did believe tended to be the parts that showed dangers were worse than they had feared.

The study suggests one reason why conspiracy theories spread so easily on the Internet: they’re often based on scary scenarios, such as the mind-control chemicals that governments are allegedly spraying from commercial airliners.

I guess I owe AH an apology. He's providing an in-demand social service.

According to Thadmiral, we're now going to do a lock-down sleeve over the casing string. Wasn't this supposed to be there from the beginning, i.e., wasn't it something BP neglected to do?

They hadn't yet done so but it was planned. However the fact that BP/Govt thinks the hanger seal is intact (and did not play a part in the blowout) is why they believe they can install the sleeve now.

I didn't get a chance to ask this on the press call, but will this involve monkeying around (laymen's terms for moving, removing, adjusting, grinding, fondling, etc) with the existing equipment at the wellhead?

As I recall, from CG/MMS hearing testimony, the contractor was assembling the thing and it's installation tools at the time of the blowout. It was to go downhole after the top plug cement was put in place.


They will be doing that instead of perforating from the inside.

Here's his morning directive http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/external/content/document/2931/8...

They took impressions of the casing hanger and determined it was in place, so going the sleeve route will be faster than cementing the annulus from inside. They will still finish the RW and do the P&A. They may do a bit more fishing before P&A if they determine they want more info' for evidentiary purposed.

rainy - I'm confused. From #5: They plan to intersect the annulus and pump mud/cmt DOWN the annulus to the production csg shoe. I beleive everyone feels the top down cmt job plugged this section of the annulus and stopped the flow. So the plan now is to pump mud/cmt down into this sealed annulus? That will only happen if the fratcure the cmt already in the annulus. Why would you intentionally destroy the integrety of the cmt that they say killed the well? Granted, if the do the sqz properly it will seal the annulus again. But why break it down in the first place? I know these folks aren't stupid and they know this as well. But I wonder what the reason is.

Yes, that one is confusing. He didn't address that specifically during his conference call and people over on the irc have also been trying to understand it...

ETA: maybe they are going to intercept with the relief well, then do the injection of cement from inside, allowing the RW to receive whatever (oil or mud) is in the annulus?

Allen mentioned that all of this was late breaking news as of this morning. The directive wasn't released until after the conference call.


was also confused thought about this.

Thad wants the space between the "production liner" long string and the outer casing to be cemented around the depth where the outer casing ends.

To do that a kind of u-tube is required.

This can be accomplished by intercepting below the outer casing the with relief well (only to do after the casing hanger seal is in place - plz) and then by perforating the "production liner" long string from a drill pile from the DDII.

That creates a flow path from the DDII above the former wild well through the production liner through the perforation in the long string into the outer casing down to the annular where the "production casing" long string is no öonger in the outer casing but only in the raw wellbore and where the relief well intercepts up to the DDIII above the relief well.

Pumping cement into the neck of that u-tube is then possible without touching or fracking the reservoir and that would meet the criteria Thad (likely for some sane reason) demanded.

This would make sure that a possible failure of the cement between the reservoir and the raw wellbore the long string runs in would prevent a flow to come up into the annular between the long string and the outer casing. There was no test applied on that possible flowpath and the cement therein so it makes perfect sense to seal space as in a well advised "abundance of caution".

Moonie -- I'm a big proponent of putting cmt between the prod csg and the shallower liners. Regardless of how good they feel the reservoir is sealed it's just an obvious extra safe guard IMHO. What I don't understand it why they don't just do it the very standard way: GIH with DP, perf the prod csg and pump cmt in. Maybe they don't think they can get that deep with DP but they have offered that they are sure where the top of the bullheaded cmt is. But regardless of how deep they can get, they can still easily fill 2,000' of the prod csg/liner annulus with cmt. And no oil/NG would ever leak up that route...ever. They could also run logs in the hole to see where the prod csg/liner annular cmt is. Could be useful info in the investigation.

They could certainly use the RW to accomplish this but as you describe it's a much more complex approach with a couple of big assumptions thrown in. Maybe I'm missing something obvious.

I believe what you are describing is part of the P&A process. Admiral Allen won't be in charge of the P&A. It sounds like they will take one more stab at deep hole cementing and then turn it over to the BOEM people to supervise the shallow cementing.

I think Adm. Allen really wants to see the RW do the intersect so that he won't have to explain why it didn't in his book.

My suggestion would be:

1) Install the lockdown device.

2) Complete the RW intersect.

3 Circulate the RW long enough to establish what was in the WW annulus, if possible.

4) Perf the WW casing near the top.

5) Put cement down the RW sufficient to match the 5000' in the WW.

6a) Plug and permanently abandon the relief well.

6b) Plug and permanently abandon the wild well.

6c) Plug and permanently abandon the other relief well.

Oh, I forgot 0) - thank the Admiral for his service, and give him a couple of weeks off. Tell his advisors that they have 10 days to turn in their final expense reports.


ROCK. At my current level of understanding, I am minded to agree with you, a conventional P&A makes sense. (Assuming they will finally go into the well via the new BOP and cut off and retrieve the well head and prod' hanger assembly.)

Filling the prod casing to well bore casing annulus with cement raises a question. What effect will the weight of any large quantities of cement be on the annulus cement already at the bottom of that annulus and in the pay zone formation? Again, I am guessing that the 5000 feet of cement, squeezed and U-tubed for some considerable distance up the annulus and into the pay zone formation. And; that the complete top and bottom wipers; float collar; shoe track and reamer shoe are well and truly cemented from the static kill.

Rockman - the problem is pumping cement into the annular without the stuff that is there now having any other space to go. That could damage the casing or something else.

To explain, some pictures:

The first picture shows the well when it went wild. The black/yellow striped area is the cement that failed.

Note that there is no seal between the production casing long string and the outer casing (pink area). While the flow from the well came through the production casing long string, the path outside the production liner up into the annual between the production liner long string and the outer casing was and is a possible second flow path.

The second picture shows the well after the top-kill. The black/blues striped area is likely area of the top-kill cement.
Note: while the cement in the production casing long string has been tested by opening the well, there was no way to test the cement between the production casing long string and the outer casing. The annular between those may still be open to the reservoir.

The third picture shows what will happen in the next days.
1. The casing hanger lockdown sleeve will get installed.
2. Developer Driller II above the original Macondo well will put its drill pipe into the hole and will perforate the production liner long string just above the top-kill cement. (If the annular is pressurized from the reservoir it may take a kick doing this.)

Pumping cement into the annular in this state would be dangerous and difficult as whatever is in there now, mud or oil, has no place to go. To avoid any damage when pushing cement down in there we need some communication to be able to retrieve the stuff that the cement will replace.Therefore:

3. Developer Driller III doing the relief well will intersect below the outer casing into the annular between the long string and the well bore. This will then form a U-tube between the DDII through the annular between the long string and the outer casing and up to the DDIII. Mud can then be pumped from one rig through the hole up to the other rig to clean the annular.

4. Fresh cement (green) will then be pumped from the DDII down its drillpipe into the annular. As communication is established, whatever is then in the annular, mud or oil, can be pushed by the cement up to the DDIII.

With this the annular is then truly dead.

moonie -- Great graphics..thanks. I get you point about breaking down any of the liner shoes. But they won't have to pump that hard. To avoid the pressure build up you perf the prod csg shallow and then pump cmt thru the deeper perfs. I've done this a number of times. It's a fairly standard technique whe you don't get you primary cmt job high enough. It will also answer another question: what's in the annulus?

Not full proof, of course. But there's nothing standard about trying to cmt an annulus from a RW intercept IMHO.

"I know these folks aren't stupid"


I not so sure. This sounds very scary.

5) During the plug and abandonment of the Macondo Well, develop and implement a procedure that will allow injection of mud and cement into the annulus of the well below the current level of cement in the central casing. This will require amounts and pressures sufficent to induce flow down the annulus in the region of the 9 and 7/8 casing shoe.

The 9 and 7/8" casing shoe is at 17,168' and the top of the cement inside the casing is at about 13,000'. This leaves 4,000' of annulus between the cement top and the 9 7/8" casing shoe.

This directive seems to suggests they want BP to force the 4,000' of annulus mud down the hole followed by cement. This would probably require squeezing cement in the annulus above the cement top first to keep the cement from moving up hole. Then perforate at the cement top and pump the cement down. The mud ahead of the cement in the annulus has to go some where. Either it will be forced out into the formation, or be forced down the hole compromising the original cement job, or blow out the 9 7/8" casing shoe. Each of these sounds like a disaster.

Maybe the plan is to drill out the cement down to the 9 7/8" shoe and then perf/squeeze there but they don't want to say it out loud. The tin foil hat crowd (present company excluded) would start screaming that the evil oil people are trying re-start production.

I suppose it's conceivable they could run "trim pipe" down the production casing annulus from the top. Water well drillers use this technique but it would be complicated at this depth. Could a coiled tubing unit snake a line down the production casing annulus from the top and pump cement?

I do agree...they need to squeeze cement in the annulus. In fact, I think it would be prudent to drill all the way down to the reservoir level and squeeze cement as needed. A bond log from reservoir level would sure be a good forensic tool.


Edit spelling ect.

Haven't been able to log on as much due to my day job, but here is an update to the directive........apologies in advance if already posted:


Oh dear, Bloomberg's Jim Polson just can not let go of that million pounds of pressure in the annulus, even after Allen said there was not a million pounds anywhere.

Thanks rainy for addressing that~I didn't hear the press conference and haven't had a chance to read anything except the headline, but that REALLY stood out to me when I read it-I assumed it was simply because I have almost no knowledge about how much psi is normal, but it did seem extremely excessive to me.

The guy who reported that Bloomberg dispatch is an idiot.

He was on the Thad phonecall and asked about a "million pounds of pressure". The well known highest pressure this well has ever seen is 12.900 psi.

In answer to his question Thad said no "million pounds of pressure" on the call - the Bloomberg guy still "reports" that.

These media folks are stupid, stupid, stupid.

Do not believe ANYTHING they report without a second and third source and some sane thinking.

And people wonder why Admiral Allen likes to keep things simple in his briefings.


Not really familiar with Polson, but I did send his editor a message. I posted that more as info on thr RW, it was just the PSI that stood out to me more than anything. I use BBERG for everything security wise I have ever done for 20+ yrs so I rely on it more than anything but the phone, but more in the analytical, trading arena than reporting.

Y'all have a great night-heading out to a bachelorette party so anyone in GB or P-Cola Beach, get off the roads .....

He may have been thinking along the lines of 12900 psi on a 10 inch diameter surface is a million pounds of force. Perhaps technically correct but misleading and sensational - must be a media guy :).

Could be........his editor called me back, and I gave her the information and asked her to vet the story better and she said she'd talk with him, so who knows. I have no access unless I go to the office and I don't see that happening over the weekend:) OK, better get ready now, but thanks for the information about how he could have "possibly" arrived at that!

Would it be possible/useful for the relief well to intersect the lower cement on the main well and take a sample of the cement?

esc - they might be able to confirm the composition of the cmt. But beyond that I doubt much. Remember the drill bit is a mean grinding machine. The small chunks of cmt that make it to the surface will naturally be the most competant. If ther is some sfot/bad cmt in the annulus it won't likely survive the drill bit IMHO.

Are there sampler tools that could be run to take an intact sample of cement? I would guess that this would add a couple of days to the operation, and maybe add some risk to the operation due to having to keep the well unplugged but cut during that time. But considering the wild and wonderful tools I have seen for downhole work, I would have thought a cement sampler would not have been a difficult thing to have on hand.

I am relatively new to TOD. I have some knowledge and background in offshore drilling operations and have thoroughly enjoyed the GOM crisis threads and the many knowledgable and thoughtful contributions by so may folks.
Now that the matters in the GOM are coming to an end I am starting to read the many other threads including Peak Oil with its looming doom and gloom predictions.
At the same time I have read many articles in the last few years on the possible alternate abiotoc origin of oil as also mentioned on Sep.7 on the TOD thread "Russian Debunk......"
I wonder if TOD cannot make a concerted effort to learn more about these Russian findings and if found correct if then TOD cannot become a strong advocate of the abiotic theories and their acceptance in the West.

Could you give a link for that Sept. 7 thread, dutchboy? I missed that.

I've looked into abiotic oil quite a bit. What I've seen from the Russians doesn't make much sense. But there's always the possibility they'll come up with something new.

My conclusion on abiotic oil is that there may be a very little bit of it in particular places with particular conditions. But we scientists are always willing to consider new evidence.

I found it on Drumbeat Sep.7 last about a quarter down the thread titles. here is the URL

dutchboy - abiotic oil has been discussed in great detail at TOD before the BP blow out. Literally 100's of posts all in the archives. I'll give you my quick take: even if abiotic oil is common and accounts for much if not all our current production, no one in the abiotic oil camp has ever claimed the process is producing new oil at a rate that's important to mankind. If you accept that all the oil every produced and ever will be produced came from an abiotic process, you still have to find it. I've explored for oil/NG for 35 years. The process didn't depend on my believing in tha abiotic process or not. It really didn't matter to me how the oil was formed. My job is to find where it has accumulated.

Just one geologist's opinion.

Too bad for the USSR that they tossed Lysenko out the door after several five year plans failed. Otherwise they could have had him expose plants to oil and they'd "learn" to produce it. They could have had biogenic and abiotic oil and might have won the Cold War.

The best (Western) reference regarding abiotic oil theories is 'The deep hot biosphere' by the late,great, and lamented Prof Thomas Gold of Cornell and elsewhere. In his lifetime he adopted a number of seemingly oddball theories, some of which proved wrong, and which he admitted were wrong afterwards. However, although his 'proofs' for abiotic oil are dubious, the hypothesis still stands up, due to research in other fields, and particularly speleological research.


He also apparently had a talent for plagiarism on a wholesale scale.

My favorite Gold anecdote is the one where he predicted that the moon was covered with a thick cushy bed of dust and that the Lunar Lander would sink without a trace.

Lot more where that came from. The prof was shooting blanks half the time.

BP kicked out of ethical index

LONDON/BOSTON -- BP Plc will be evicted from the FTSE4Good ethical investment index following its Gulf of Mexico oil spill, index compiler FTSE said on Friday, as BP said it would delay its third-quarter results due to the challenges of accounting for spill costs.

No comment.

Here's an interesting publication:

A Decade of Petroleum Company Disaster,
Pollution, and Profit

National Wildlife Federation has just released a new report that catalogs a decade of serious oil spills, fires, leaks, water pollution and loss of life over the last decade. According to the report, from 2000 to 2010, the oil and gas industry accounted for hundreds of deaths, explosions, fires, seeps, and spills as well as destruction of wildlife and its habitat. And that's just in the United States.

When you look at the report, titled Assault On America: A Decade of Petroleum Company Disaster, Pollution, and Profit, it becomes pretty obvious that the BP oil spill disaster is not just an accident but a dangerous pattern from an industry that places profit ahead of communities, local economies, and our environment. The report sheds light on how the oil and gas industry has continued to show negligence and experience accidents even AFTER the Exxon Valdez oil disaster in Alaska and AFTER Oil Pollution Act of 1990, when the industry claimed to have mended its dangerous ways.

What is that pancake batter squeezing out from behind the shear ram in Rocky Paloma's video?

Some sort of petroleum jelly? Bacterial pus? Emulsified golf balls (whatever happened to those golf balls, btw?).

Mr. Simmons is playing with them on the back nine!


Environment links, slim pickins.

Sea Turtle hatchling release program is finished, 15, 000 babies made it to the Atlantic.


No oiled turtles found since early August:


Lake Pontchartrain apparently unharmed by the spill:


More on the berm controversy. Garrett Graves sounds like a political hack. How did he get to be the czar of Louisiana coastal management?


{Edit to add} Systematic search for submerged oil not turning up much:


Garrett Graves sounds like a political hack. How did he get to be the czar of Louisiana coastal management?

I'm not sure Garrett even has a degree.

However (must read):

The father of Garret Graves, Jindal’s senior coastal advisor, is the owner of an engineering firm that is among the top contract holders in Louisiana with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


His first prominent job in Washington, D.C., was working for former Congressman Billy Tauzin.


In 2005, he moved to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, where he was a senior advisor to junior Sen. David Vitter

Thanks. Now I'm curious about how Graves was qualified at age 20 or 21 to advise Rep. Billy Tauzin on "energy, coastal, appropriations, transportation, natural-resources and hurricane-protection issues." Louisiana politics is beyond me.

If you can figure out where the mayor of New Orleans rode out Katrina, you're well on your way to figuring out Louisiana politics.

BP Sued by Environmental Group Over Atlantis Platform in Gulf of Mexico
By Laurel Brubaker Calkins - Sep 10, 2010 3:00 PM ET

BP Plc’s Atlantis oil and gas production platform in the Gulf of Mexico should be shut until the company can prove it meets U.S. safety and engineering standards, an environmental watchdog group said in a lawsuit.

Food & Water Watch sued BP in federal court in Houston today. The group revised a lawsuit that it filed against U.S. regulators in May, accusing them of failing to investigate Atlantis after a whistleblower warned that the platform lacks critical safety documentation.

The group withdrew the initial lawsuit in June, after London-based BP won court permission to intervene in the case. BP then asked the court to require opponents to post a $15 billion bond to cover the company’s damages if Atlantis’s production was halted.

“We have evidence that Atlantis is unsafe and is in danger of creating an even worse spill than the one caused by the Deepwater Horizon explosion,” Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch’s executive director in Washington, said today in a statement.

This is an example of what really makes me dislike enviornmental groups. They always demand things but are never willing to pay for anything themselves. The make a claims - then expect that the people they are accusing to spend money to prove them wrong.

IMO - making them put up a bond to cover the costs if they turn out to be wrong is perfectly reasonable.

Absolute agreement. The environmental groups have always taken the distinctly un-American view that their targets are guilty and have to bear the entire burden of proving otherwise. Personally, I'm all for saving the environment, but I refuse to have anything to do with the groups because I just can't justify their methods. I think that bond idea is reasonable too.

The environmentalists are un-American? Interesting. I always thought (BS masks on)
1. Most environmentalists are from the US.
2. Environmentalists are no more than freelance regulators and confidence men combined. Sort of like the government, but without elections or the civil service system to beat on them every day.
3. They are hookers just like the rest of us and go where the 'money' is. For example, most environmentalists drive cars and have conventional housing. Remember energy demigod Al Gore and his energy consumption habits. Hookers. That is the deal.
4. IF the government got too strict on business the environmentalists would go oversea and hassle China or whatever country had their economy going, ours having collapsed to regulation. In fact, the environmentalists would not let it get that far. Don't think for a second an environmentalist would not cut a deal in order to stay in business. Maybe if the mine leaves, The Save Everyone Movement no longer needs your services. Environmentalism is just another business model. Like recycling or being 'green'.
5. Environmentalists are secondary or tertiary players. Government, industry, and finance are the real players. That's ok since the near demise of the labor movement, the individual has to rely on government as the route for a voice. Not an optimal situation, but it is the best we can do.

How is playing a part that they themselves recognize as being primarily parasitic being un-American? As long as an environmentalist can put on a show that can garner enough support and money to justify and pay for their own existence who are we to throw labels? Let us just fight those policies and regulations that we find objectionable. We are winning more and more every day.

TF, you're arguing my comment out of context. I didn't say the people or the groups are un-American, I said the tactic of guilty until proven innocent is. That's a complete reversal of the legal process that is a fundamental cornerstone of our Constitution. These groups just state that something is bad, and the entire burden of proof then falls on the defendant. And sometimes their claims are later proven groundless, but no one is ever held to account for the damage done to the targeted company. I say the groups are not bad, but their tactics are. And your point of a show that can garner enough support and money is exactly my point. How is that any different from these CT guys using scare tactics to get donations? Let's just make some outrageous claim, sue someone, get donations, and walk away with money in our pockets. If we lose, it's no big deal because our political power can quash any attempt to get back at us.

Edit: Wait, maybe I took you wrong. Are you doing a tongue-in-cheek thing?

If one goes back to the source of the Environmental Movement and Earth Day historically one can see that this movement arose as a response to damage that had already been done and was obvious as ever - i.e., the Santa Barbara Oil Spill. The common knowledge now is that BP is the guilty party in the huge Gulf Oil Spill. Its not very un-American to assume so, in fact its the responsible thing to assume so, so that they can be forced to pay for this, rather than get off with the usual slap on the wrist. It will still require years in the courts - though the public opinion is very clear.

In most environmental activism to be fully effective, lawsuits and injunctions still have to be filed commonly and won in the courtroom for most environmental victories and the last time I checked, the court rooms still run on fact, with innocence until proven guilty being the rule of law. Then there are simple protests. Of course much is just publicity stunting, similar to our current Tea Bagger rallies and other forms of protest. One doesn't have to agree with these protests but the First Amendment allows it. So how could the protests of environmentalists be considered unAmerican? It seems suppressing free speech is unAmerican!

So environmentalists bring polluters to court and evidence gets presented. It might seem unfair to a corporation that their activities have to be temporarily or permanently suspended (Oh the Humanity!) until assessments of potential damages are conducted in some cases. Some of these studies actually do find damages. Think DDT, Dioxins in 2,4,5T, Love Canal, Bhopal and many other Superfund Sites.

Business interests used to operate on the assumption that their pollution was someone else's problems or that the river would just wash it away, and some like the Nuclear Power Industry still operates under this assumption with regards to a permanent waste repository. This seems immoral to me. Calling them on the damages they cause to the environment and forcing them to remediate and pay for damages and losses is the correct thing to do in our society. Otherwise we are sanctioning something akin to dumping one's garbage in a neighbor's yard.

The problem is that the enviornmentalists get the injusctions when their arguements are generally speculatuion. Then the company has to fund research to prove the enviornmentalists wrong - then the enviornmentalists come up with another piece of speculation.

It is long past time for enviornmental groups to be responsible for the costs when their accusations turn out to be unfounded.

Look at the issue of nuclear waste. We have no place to put nuclear waste due to the enviornmental movements tactic of speculating on a hazard and halting the whole process while the other people spend time and money proving them wrong.

I'm waiting for an accident at one of the thousands of jury-rigged sties that 'temporally' store nuclear waste because there is no perminant storage facility. Do you think that the enviornmental groups will 'man up' and accept part of the responsibility for the fact that there is no place to perminately store the stuff?

I consider myself an environmentalist. I analyze the heck out of all sorts of issues including peak oil, see my blog http://mobjectivist.blogspot.com and several top posts here on TOD. My problem is that the non-environmentalists have a very weak track record on doing any kind of deep analysis on any serious enviro issue. I take it as not being in the best interest of a petroleum engineer to crow about oil depletion. Perhaps that is why we need someone to keep them honest.

The other part of this story is to do the analysis but keep it simple so that someone else has a chance to follow through with it.

Oh please Actvated. I am currently working at one of those jury rigged sites. Probably a quarter of this board couldn't pass the background investigation to get close enough to see it, much less engineer it. How many incidents re: this waste have occurred in the past 50 years if they are "jury rigged"?
More to the point: these "wastes" would be an incredibly smaller volume if we didn't have to contend with the irrational fear of terrorist and such getting plutonium. These "wastes" could be fueling newer types of reactors and reducing it's volume dramatically.

Umm, Td? Rocky Flats, Colorado?

I still say, let's put the waste down a subduction zone. Gone into the mantle for millions of years, and when it finally does come back, it will do so as a new ore deposit. Simple, cheap, foolproof. Well, foolproof once you get the material in there. There's always the need to protect it while in transit.

Edit: Had time to think about it, and I think Rocky Flats might be just outside your 50 year window. That was when I lived in Denver, and I do think it may have been over 50 years.

However, RF was NOT a jury-rigged place by any means. It was ultra-secure and, yes, I could only see it from a road. No getting in without a ton of credentials. That's what makes their incident so puzzling. They had radiation sensors everywhere, guard gate searches, people wearing rad-badges, every imaginable precaution. Yet, over the course of a year, they lost some 2Kg of high level waste. Inventories kept coming up a few grams short, and were dismissed as processing losses or record keeping errors. Finally they did a full audit and found the stuff was indeed missing. Someone in there was smarter than all the security, I guess. Question is, what was done with it? It never turned up anywhere, so the motive is unclear.

I have flagged your post. If you think you can use a sexual term like "Teabagger" to refer to people you disagree with you have no business here.

If you think you can use a sexual term like "Teabagger" to refer to people you disagree with you have no business here.

Don't blame Casey, td; it was probably just an honest mistake. It's one that the Tea Partiers and their allies make all the time. See Charles Krauthammer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miROUdyjmAo

And watch the clips in first few minutes of this, if you can stand the intro (Maddow).

Note also that the usage may have originated with the Tea Partiers themselves:

...I've traced the meme's birth back to February 27th, when blogs like Instaputz and Wonkette started using it independently of one another. They were inspired by a photo that the Washington Independent's David Weigel shot...

TD, Tea Party participants themselves have been using "Tea Bag" as a verb since the beginning of the movement. Lighten up.


Edit: MOB, grape vines sink alike, eh?

But it's not your blog. You have no standing to declare someone has no business here. You could note that it is very rude, or something like that.

But I can't shake Teabagger either because that is what the tea partiers called themselves at first. Even in their signs.

It's hardly a big deal. They said it on tv a lot back then.


I am personally aware of an incident in Arizona. The power company wanted to run a transmission line across a desert area. An environmentalist group filed an injunction because "the EMF from the line would disturb a variety of endangered owl and destroy its only remaining habitat". Much money later, it was shown that the owl in question sits on power lines, builds nests beside them, and is in no way disturbed. Matter settled. Oops, the group filed a new injunction because the tower setting would damage an endangered plant. Again, long fight, allegation shown baseless. Matter settled. Oops, the group lobbied for and got a "wilderness area" declared in a strip across the power line path. End of story, can't fight that. The line didn't get built and the power company had to ask for rate hikes to survive after all the litigation. Environmentalists win, local people pay the price.

Good points Pink. I came from that side of the coin. I had to distance myself from the "environmentalists", because they have no common sense, and they give naturalists a bad name. Whatever happened to " change the system from within " ? A very, very small fraction of those involved in protesting the practices they see as damaging, for whatever reason they can come up with, actually make an effort to improve the technology. An even smaller fraction of them actually have a connection to nature or the natural world, and are interested only in complaining.

Word to the wise:


Spread the message, help stamp out babies

illustration? http://www.dhmo.org/ 8-)

Yup. Water can be dangerous for sure. Why, I nearly drowned in that stuff once! LOL!


"I can imagine that BP would be quick to assert that the flow came up the casing because it would diminish the significance of criticisms they have received regarding their well design, use of fewer-than-recommended centralizers and less-than-standard mud circulation before cementing," Parsons said. "Those criticisms relate mostly to conditions that would cause annular flow."

Does the success of the static kill really support the idea that the blowout came up the center ?
Is that the only evidence or are there others for being sure, that the flow came up the casing ?

During the static kill the pressure change indicates the vertical depth of the mud/oil interface. By comparing the pressure with the volume of mud injected, they know the cross sectional area being filled at each depth as the kill proceeds. Comparing this with various flow scenarios allowed them to determine that the flow was entirely through the casing and not through the annulus.

There was a picture of Kent Wells in the BP command center during the static kill process that showed a plot projected behind him of the actual pressure readings compared to plots of the different scenarios.


"The two biggest surprises (in the BLY Report), according to observers, appear to be the degree to which BP goes after Halliburton’s cement job and the alleged failure of not one, but two “flapper valves” in the cement shoe track designed to let cement flow into the well but prevent it from flowing back out.
The two flapper valves in question were part of the cement seal at the bottom of the well. BP doesn’t detail exactly how these two valves failed, just that they must have for the gas to flow up the production casing.
They say there are three possible causes:

1) Damage caused by the high load conditions required to establish circulation.
2) Failure of the float collar to convert due to insufficient flow rate.
3) Failure of the check valves to seal.

Gregory McCormack of the University of Texas’ Petroleum Extension Service, says that claim is far-fetched.

“I don’t think I’ve heard this mentioned before,” McCormack said. “For one to fail I can say, OK, that’s possible. But for both to fail I have to wonder.”
My question to the experts :
How far-fetched is the "two flapper valves failure-theory" as a matter of fact ?
And how did BP get knowledge of it ?

“For one to fail I can say, OK, that’s possible. But for both to fail I have to wonder.”

He is forgetting the issue of common failure modes. If the two valves were of the same design, same manufacture, there could very well be a set of scenarios where both fail identically.

Not making any suggestion that he isn't correct, and that this isn't an unlikely failure, but he makes a critical (and all too common) mistake in failure analysis. One of the more common ones that causes redundant system designs to not be nearly as safe as designers think.

DD2 ROV2 continues watching tiny mudline leak at wellhead since 2 PM yesterday at least. Location of leak is interesting, southeast side of wellhead, opposite direction of BOP lean, raising speculation lateral stress on BOP and wellhead during riser collapse might possibly have fractured outer casing cement somewhere. Yesterday it appeared to be occasional gas bubbles, now appearing to be occasional oil.

No speculation forward, but they're apparently concerned enough to keep an ROV on it over 24 hrs.

And all the other ROVs are blanked out. Censored. HMMMMM...?

If they aren't bothering to hide the live feed of the broken wellhead that is currently spewing oil and gas into the Gulf, what horrors are on the censored feeds?????????????///


It's transformed the steel into human faces that have eyeballs with functioning retinas and hair on their heads.

Usually the other way around, but snake, your humor is drifting into snakeworld, a place only you understand ;)

It's a good thing that I really enjoy the X-Files.

Most CT just piss me off. BeePee is in an entirely different class. I'm actually intrigued about how far poor BeePee can take his story.

I've become quite fond of him, actually. Definitely the Walter Cronkite of the CT world. I'm worried about him. He's amassed 700+ hours of video. What's he going to do when the feeds get cut off?

From his website, I take it that he has some issues with YouTube. I wonder what was taken down and how it compares with his regular stuff that IS posted. Maybe we can get "BeePee, the Lost Episodes" someday.

Funny, I'm worried about him too. I would really, really like to learn that he knows that he is making all of this up too and he is in on his own the joke. 'Fraid not, though; you can hear "true believer" in his voice. It would be a great ending to his series when the feeds are stopped; kind'a like Orson Well's coming out of character at the end of the War of the Worlds broadcast, his epilogue about "of dressing up in a sheet and saying, 'Boo!"

I don't believe that that's going to happen. The guy's not trying to make buck. He's watching ROV cams and has no reference point except his own thoughts and whatever other people send him. It's art, in a way.

Nor do I. It is art.

Edit: BeePee abides!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYsw0KVRjCM

We're not the only ones worried about him.

BeePee posted this 18 minutes ago in his YouTube channel:

BeePeeOilDisaster (18 minutes ago) ATTENTION: The user [deleted] sent me this message:

"You need to stop watching the cameras for your own mental health. There is seriously nothing there. People are just poking fun at you when they say they see what you are talking about--they don't. I am sure you are probably a nice person, but please get ahold of yourself. Seriously, there is nothing in the bottom of the gulf but your imagination. I am trying to help you. There are no creatures or aliens. Please seek help because as a fellow human being I am worried for you."


How can someone be so ignorant and blind at the same time? I would like to hear your thoughts... Thank you...

My note: I deleted the user name because it looks like someone real name.

Well, at 16 hours per day it will take him a month and a half to review his footage. By then he will have forgotten what it was he was trying to accomplish.

In any multi-billion suit the industry sharks (company attorneys) get to ask for the moon. There is a well known legal and business tactic called 'killing them with paperwork and data.' If I were BP, I would do everything I could to stretch this out as long as I could, for I think time will help temper attitudes towards the company. Already, my anger has greatly subsided.

Edit: What in the hell is the narrator on? Thorazine and Scotch? Special K? My gosh he sounds gacked out.

BeePee has become something of an institution for some of us here. You don't explain BeePee; BeePee just is!

You couldn't explain him anyway. Just have to enjoy it as something from another dimension … fade into the Rod Serling narration.

Fair enough, but he almost sounds like he is chemically altered. Perhaps it is electronics or software. Perhaps it is his droll style. I just know if he gets pulled over and that is his is real voice, he might as well volunteer to blow and avoid all those silly rigged tests that no one can do drunk or sober.

Get past the surface stuff. Look at the body of his work and the amount of his output. He has woven an entire alterative reality of considerable length.

Think the Lone Gunman from X-Files meets the Mel Gibson character from Conspiracy Theory. Even that doesn't fit. As I said above it is in a whole new class.

Oh no, I plan to explore his works this weekend. I never said the Steven Wright shtick wasn't compelling. He has an audience so at the very least he has some respect from me. It is just that the narration is nearly as surreal as Steven's. Maybe he could hire Steven for some guest narrations.

He doesn't need guest narrations. He doesn't need Garrett Morris to interpret or Mila Kunis to narrate. It is what it is.

Can't/shouldn't change one jot or tittle.

"My gosh he sounds gacked out."

Heh. If I'm having trouble sleeping I go to BeePee and listen for a wee bit.

Knocks me right out. I sleep like a baby.

That made me laugh man, I have gone to sleep listening to BeePee more than a few times. It's nice to fall asleep laughing. OTOH,reading his channel really scares the deuce out of me..

"I am a semi retired underground utility technician/heavy equipment operator."

Hey, at least he's not working on a drilling rig....

It's transformed the steel into human faces that have eyeballs with functioning retinas and hair on their heads.

It must have taken some very good acid for those tiny alien bugs to melt all those faces into the steel of that water tank on DD2 (probably not as much as it took to transform the failBOP and the Q4000 into a water tank on the DD2, but still...).

PS: Watch parts 5 and 6 - the vids go from ram-closed to ram-open, with no footage of ram movement. Too bad, because I would love to have BeePee's take on all that greyish crud as it gets extruded from behind the ram.

PSS: In part 6, BeePee does at least answer my earlier question as to what the ram-jam is composed of: crushed monster eel.

My vote was 5-MeO-DMT, ....although Thorazine and scotch had a nice ring to it.

Have some ROV vessels left the area? Of ROV vessels still there, are their ROVs deployed at depth or sitting on deck waiting task assignments? How many ROVs at depth are merely picking up stuff and dropping it in baskets, cleaning up the area? How many are merely sitting on the seafloor watching crabs, strange fish, and occasional thruster-wash-induced turbulence? How many are censored vs turned off because they have nothing meaningful to show?

This operation is wrapping up, closing down, perhaps to the disappointment of some ROV-feed-addicted folks. I welcome it. Looking back I spent far too much time watching them, even to the point of putting off work in a few cases. Granted, once-in-a-lifetime views likely to never be done again, learned a lot, etc, but I'm sorta glad it's winding down.

The ID's of the DD2 Rov's assignment are "MC 252 #1 & Wellhead Mudline Monitoring." As this is one of the drill ships, could this be one of the relief wells? The leak has increased & appears to be spreading along the rim - but, ever so slowly.

How long will it take to fix this? If it's the relief well, how will they do that? And - will it further set back the intersection? Thanx.

No, Development Driller II was doing relief well #2, but has moved onto the original blown-out well. DD3 is still on station at relief well #1.

We have seen graphic evidence of what the kind of pressures in the formation will do to the inside of a BOP. I'd be really really interested to hear a plausible explanation for how a leak from somewhere downhole is coming to the mudline in such a lazy, unhurried way, without getting any worse for more than a month, while that same source blasted through a set of blind shear rams in the old BOP like a blowtorch in such a short period of time.

Comfy - thanx, but, still confused. There are 2 wellheads w/BOP's down there. They were calling the relief wells #1 and #2. They stopped drilling #2 & took it's BOP for the blown well redo. That leaves #1.

Have they changed the "names" and now #1 refers to the main & plain "relief" for the relief? The video ID calls this wellhead #1.

Perhaps this leak is just a pinhole or a slight crack.

Too bad they didn't turn on the public feed for the setting up of the relief well. It would have been quite interesting to see the whole process.

Comfy, you have it exactly. If there was any way for pressure from below to come up, it would not be bloop-bloop gas bubbles. Especially if it's tracking against the well casing, it would create a big honking channel and come up like a freight train. That's why I keep saying not to worry about those bubbles. Whatever they are, they aren't a big deal.

Comfy, It could be coming from trapped oil and gas in the annulus. In fact I bet that is it and why they are watching it.

Having kept company all day near shore with the Q4000, the two tugs Emily C Cheramie and Baltic Dawn have begun heading west at a good 7 kts, escorted by the USCG Razorbill.

Presumably they have barges with them, carrying the BOP and the LMRP, as they proceed towards the shipping channel on their way to Michoud.

Home is the sailor, home from sea:
Her far-borne canvas furled
The ship pours shining on the quay
The plunder of the world.


'Tis evening on the moorland free,
The starlit wave is still:
Home is the sailor from the sea,
The hunter from the hill.

Either that or "The Bitch is Back" by Elton John.

I wonder what damage has been done evidence wise by Feds who couldn't even wait until it was on shore, much less with witnesses and experts to operate/disassemble it. I would think that the rules of discovery would have required witnesses to these operation. Is any thing admissible now?

Just found this, in a WSJ article by Ben Casselman entitled "Rig Workers Had Chance to Prevent Explosion".

Contrary to what most oil industry experts thought based on testimony in government hearings, not only did the crew manage to activate the blowout preventer—the huge set of valves designed to shut off the flow of gas in an emergency—but the preventer worked. Unfortunately, workers only triggered it after gas had blown past its valves.

Now, granted - I don't understand much at all about the technical aspects of what happened. But I've been reading these discussions as closely as I can, and what Cassell writes seems - well, weird. After all the talk of the BOP failing, why the sudden change? I think I'm seeing the BSR closed in the images that have been produced post-BOP-retrieval, yes. But,in an earlier thread MoonofA said:

The BSR was only closed a few days after the blowout by an ROV intervention that simulated an emergency riser disconnect. During those days the flow may already have eroded the packers (rubber) of the then probably partly closed BSR. When the BSR then totally closed there were channels left for the oil to pass. This then caused the erosion and a steadily growing flow path.

I'm just confused. Did the BOP work or not work? The name "FailBOP" sort of suggests an answer, but....

CN. Read the complete BP report, particularly the bits on the BOP failures. It details the chronology of events before and after. Keep in mind who wrote the report; the style in witch it has been written - for a lay audience. I haven't spoken to anyone knowledgeable in this technology that says it is fiction. The only, somewhat possibly cynical comment I have received is; "... just thank your lucky stars that these oil guys don't run nuclear power plants".

I think that this is the key point of the article:

Then, as the gas already in the pipe raced upward toward them, workers decided to divert the flow through a system aboard the rig, rather than over the side, giving the gas a chance to envelop the rig and ignite. If workers had either realized the problem with the incoming gas moments sooner or steered the flow of the gas differently, the gas might never have reached the rig floor, the report finds. They "were just so close to this being the topic of a training video," instead of a disaster, said Dan Pickering, co-president of Tudor Pickering Holt & Co., an energy-focused investment bank in Houston . . .

Workers had made another fateful decision in the first moments of the blowout: They had directed the gas and drilling fluid coming out of the well through a system on board the rig rather than straight overboard. Normally, that would have been the right decision. Dumping oil-based fluid overboard is a violation of federal law and could have drawn a substantial fine. The system on the rig was designed to capture the fluid and get rid of the gas. But in this case, the sheer volume of gas overwhelmed the system.

As the article notes, this is not the final word on tragedy, but I suspect that Dan Pickering is correct.

Thanks, acornus & westexas. Since I'm that "lay audience" for sure, I'll give the BP report a good going-over. Now that the pace of events has slowed and I have a little of the vocabularly under control, I'm beginning to understand more than I could three months ago.

Dumping oil-based fluid overboard is a violation of federal law and could have drawn a substantial fine.

But in this case it could have averted a much greater disaster.

So sometimes it is better morally to break the law than not.

I guess the airline pilot who landed on the Hudson was breaking the law - was he penalised for it?

Sigh! [paper, rock, scissors again]

Oh golly. Sounds like Alabama's got an even worse idea than the Bobbyberms . . .

Dauphin Island 'Katrina Cut' project progressing even though Deepwater Horizon oil well is plugged

Houston Chronicle: Pipeline's shutdown raises oil prices

Enbridge again.

I don't know if we have lurkers that this could apply to, but
Associated Press - September 11, 2010 5:04 AM ET
Applications accepted for drilling moratorium fund