BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Rig Workers had Chance to Prevent Explosion? - and Open Thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6946.

BP's new report giving their version of what happened at the time of the explosion comes to a rather surprising conclusion--that the blowout preventer worked, but too late. If the rig crew had taken different actions, the explosion and fire might have been prevented. According to a Wall Street Journal article titled 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.

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.

Of course, this is BP's interpretation. Others, when analyzing what happened may very well come to different conclusions. With the blowout preventer now available for examination, this may shed further light on the situation.

According to the WSJ:

At 9:41 p.m., the report says, heavy drilling mud shot out the top of the well, apparently the first time the crew realized they were in serious trouble. Workers quickly triggered a part of the blowout preventer that seals off the well with a rubber valve. The valve closed, but didn't fully seal, allowing some gas to squeeze through, the report says.

By this point, even if the valve had sealed, gas had already risen past the blowout preventer and was racing up the mile-long pipe leading from the well on the sea floor to the rig floating at the surface, the report said.

At 9:47 p.m., the blowout preventer did finally stop the flow of gas, either because workers clamped down tighter on the rubber seal or because they deployed a different, tougher valve, the report says. But at the same moment, alarms on the rig began to blare, indicating that gas had reached the surface.

Still, with the well at least temporarily sealed, workers had a finite amount of gas to control. If they could get rid of the gas without it catching fire, the flow would stop and there would be time to find a more permanent solution.

There is some corroboration with this version of the story in that some witnesses say the mud suddenly stopped shooting up.

The question BP raises is whether there would have been a way of preventing the explosion at that time, by dumping the mud and gas overboard, instead of following the required procedure. According to the WSJ,

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.

At 9:49am, there was a huge explosion, and nothing more could be done. According to the BP version of the story, the temporary valve that the workers managed to close later worked loose, starting the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Sorry I wrote this comment in response to the last thread in which I was unceremoniously dumped.

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!

It really wasn't that long ago that massive numbers of people died from breathing in air. Nice little secondary effect of unregulated burning of coal and wood.

A chilling book to read is "When Smoke Ran Like Water: Tales of Environmental Deception and the Battle Against Pollution" by Devra Lee Davis. excerpt: the Donora Fog (October 26, 1948) that left a small zinc-factory town in Pennsylvania blanketed in a thick, toxic fog for over a week. "Within days, nearly half the town would fall ill" and within one 24-hour period 18 people had died. And then there are the cases of places like London.

Its chilling and depressing to read about these anecdotes and think about how we got out of that mess. Some people say it is strong environmental regulations while others say we shook pollution by simply raising our standard of living ... by relying on "cleaner" fossil fuel (oil, NG). But now what will happen as our economy slides due to the lack of this great source of cheap energy? We could revert to the equivalent back of wallowing in our own feces.


China? Yangtze River anyone?

I don't trust air that I can't see. I grew up near Donora and the steel mills. I thought air was supposed to smell like rotten eggs until the first time I went to the sea shore at Atlantic City. There were, of course, tar balls on the beach, the story was they were from ships sunk by subs in WWII.

Nowadays the air here is pretty good, most all the mills are gone and the jobs with them.

Nowadays the air here is pretty good, most all the mills are gone and the jobs with them.

Yet we went from a polluted environment to one relatively more clean as the number of industrial jobs increased through the 20th century. Unless this has been a gradual imperceptible effect with a huge lag and we have just shifted the problem to places like China.

Good News! The jobs are coming back in Western PA from Marcellus Shale gas. Lots of folks are anticipating big bucks from leasing their gas rights - $3000/acre and 18% royalty seems to be the going rate now. There are some complaints about things like noise, drilling pond leaks into streams etc but on the whole the big operators seem to take their responsibilities seriously - like upgrading roads to take the loads and they have big PR budgets. Lots of the workers at the sites and operating subcontractors are from the oil field states but I see ads and such looking to hire locals for service providers like Halliburton etc. Local services like motels, food service, equipment suppliers are benefiting.

Lots of concerns are evident about fracing - chemicals and effects on water quality and the large quantities of water used. (RM'S posts on water quality in the gas wells in Texas is noted) At the state level the big issues are how much to take in severance taxes and what to use the money for, whether to use forced pooling create the 700 acre units.

ez - said it kiddingly a while back but I also meant it: your reg boys should spend a few weeks in Autin with our state regulators. Good food, good music and folks who are (now) experts at protecting the environment, encourgaing oil/NG devlopment and squeezing every cent out of the companies without killing the golden goose. Took us about 60 years to get it right. How to use the money? Just MHO but don't let it go into the genral fund...it get's taken for granted. Texas has some of the lowest university costs: a big chunk of state energy revenue goes directly in the state permanent education trust. Just one thought.

... don't let it go into the genral fund...it get's taken for granted.

Well, we've got Fast Eddie as the governor - he'll send it over to the WAMS locker!!

[Walking Around Money]

You bet! With the state budget crisis it sure to go into the WAM and the general fund.

Its interesting the % severance tax is being debated just before the Nov elections. Are the gas companies putting the squeeze on the pols for campaign contributions? Do bears live in the woods?

Money is fungible. Services funded by severance taxes will lose other sources of funding at least as fast as those monies roll in.

Web, what you said!

They're doing just swell on their own without having had to import enviroproblems from the US: "Recent torrential rains have once again spotlighted the environmental problems, with massive quantities of trash and other debris washed into the river, threatening to jam up the Three Gorges Dam, state media have reported. The garbage was so thick in places that people could walk across it, the China Daily newspaper said."

Great book IMO. Devra Davis was a little girl in Donora PA. To escape conditions there, some of the family moved to smoggy Los Angeles! There, her athletic Uncle Lenny died of a heart attack on the tennis court at age 50.

"A Lesson from the Smog Capital of the World" Interesting to read the LA smog story as understood in 1970, including what should be done to fix the problem.

2010 update of 2004 American Heart Association statement on "Air Pollution and Cardiovascular Disease." "fine particulate matter ... has been associated with increased risks of myocardial infarction, stroke, arrhythmia, and heart-failure exacerbation within hours to days of exposure in susceptible individuals. Several new studies have also demonstrated that residing in locations with higher long-term average PM levels elevates the risk for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality."

Elizabeth Economy's 2007 article on air pollution in China. "China's environmental woes are mounting, and the country is fast becoming one of the leading polluters in the world. The situation continues to deteriorate because even when Beijing sets ambitious targets to protect the environment, local officials generally ignore them, preferring to concentrate on further advancing economic growth. Really improving the environment in China will require revolutionary bottom-up political and economic reforms."

9-Aug-10, "China orders polluting and unsafe factories to shut down, Environmental groups welcome Chinese order covering more than 2,000 sites in 18 industries."

And snake, thanks for the picture! We'll use it in the classroom next week.

About the Los Angeles basin which tends to lock in smog, from the Davis book:

By 1955,5 million people lived in this basin and half of them had a car. Each day, they burned about 58,000 tons of natural gas, fuel oil, gasoline, and garbage, releasing more than 3,000 tons of air pollutants and blanketing the Southern California mountain ranges with up to 20 pounds of nitrogen compounds per acre. They put enough nitrogen into the air that it saturated the creeks, leaving them with levels of nitrates 50 percent higher than what was then considered safe.

Something in the environmental regulations must have helped because there are now a lot more people but the smog has not necessarily worse from what I have heard. Is that true?

Congress gave California the right to have tighter emission control standards than the rest of the country. The LA basin still has bad days in spite of the tight regs due to the stagnant air.

I live in the SF Bay region and the improvement in air quality here has been quite dramatic, even while the population has grown.

Of course, catalytic converters are now a favorite target of thieves. The local crime reports typically show multiple thefts per week, taken off parked cars. Not sure what is in them to make them so appealing.

Platinum. Call your auto dealer and ask what is the cost to replace the one on your car.$$$$

Not sure what is in them to make them so appealing.

The converters contain either Platinum or Palladium.

I was born in 1951 & lived in the Metro LA area until 1975. I From my personal experience, the air quality appeared to be at its low in the mid 1960s. The air quality appears to have steadily improved since then. I have assumed that regulatory changes for automotive & industrial emissions have been the dominate reason for the substantial improvement.

Auto and industrial pollution controls removed the most dangerous compounds. Reducing the VOC's in paints and other coatings helped the air but resulted in some poor quality paint.
When I visited there as a child our eyes would burn from the ozone.
Better now but the air can be brown in the summer, esp. when there is an inversion layer.

I recall leaving Long Beach headed for Pearl, and we could "see" the atmosphere over the LA Basin - a tenuous dirty-brown smudge; same coming back to home-port - we saw the smudge before we sighted land. I've heard that's now gone, and in my trips back out to both Santa Clara and San Diego found the air quality much improved from the 1964-67 period I was there in the Navy.

I'm curious to hear your informed replies to this email I just received from a relative. They are an executive in the Energy Industry, and these are their counterarguments against Peak Oil being relevant.

Thank you for your consideration. The e-mail follows:

The "Peak Oil" mechanism is sound and no one really knows the date it will happen. Normally when I read about it it is always in a year or two, and its been that way the last 8 years. Using oil as a mechanism is incomplete, it is really an energy question. I imagine at one time people were talk about "peak oil" with regards to whale oil. Some info that I hold and is useful in reading the world.

***wells are shut down when the easy oil is gone, normally about 25% to 40% removed - most of the oil is still there it just cost too much to get it out
***There is "peak oil" for easy oil, and then "peak oil" for all oil and they are different dates - I have no idea when either one will be (nobody will until it is history)
***New technologies are lowering the cost of removing the next 40% of the oil from a specific well, doubling the reserves
***Shale Gas - They have figured out how to get gas out of shale - this is a market changer - since this new technology all forecasts for natural gas price are at $4 (really cheap)
***natural gas and oil are interchangeable with just a little technology that all ready exist - for energy (plastics are a different question)
***it is much cleaner than oil and can be converter to electricity or pumped into your car from your house (if your interested check out www.bloomenergy.com , for a next generation of fuel cells, this could also be a market changer)
***USA natural gas reserves with shale include make us the new Saudi Arabia of energy
***Coal Gasification - technology not commercially viable yet - But the Germans were using it during WWII to power their trucks (gas was for fighting equipment only) - Will be another market changer. There is enough coal in the US for another 1000 years
***The nuclear issue - it is where we have to go, supplies are greater then coal, gas and oil combined, it does not polute our atmosphere and is the safest source. PR is what is holding it back. The French new that 40 years ago and 90+% of their power comes from nuclear sources

It is my reading that "peak oil" is real and completly irrelevent... except for making great rhetoric to sell your agenda or ads. But I will keep watching, it might change.

Probably more than you wanted, but is a complex issue and easily misinterpreted.

This should be in the Drumbeat - not here. Many people best placed to answer these points (and they are debated pretty much daily on TOD) aren't following every DWH post (although quite a few are). Darwinian, for one I'm sure, would just love to debate these points over in the drumbeat :-)

So the basic argument is that improved technology will allow us to maintain a virtually infinite rate of increase in our consumption of a finite fossil fuel resource base?

The argument would be something like: yes, moving to natural gas will be a gradual process that takes years, but so does every transition. The market will handle it better than you're giving it credit for. There'll be cost, but it wont be crippling. We'll use the remaining oil for jet fuel, plastics, etc. We'll transition onto Natural Gas, and then be fine until the 2030 peak. At that point, we'll have had time to develop the various technologies that will lead to real long term sustainability.

Moving Transportation to NG only improves GW emissions by 32% so it doesn't get the job done on the side of "eliminating" GW emissions. Has to be a better solution, than that.

gae - Yes...you and darwinian would have a good chat over at the DB. I'll toss one little little fact at you now: lots of shale gas at $4/mcf. Either you misread that statement or that person had absolutely no knowledge of the NG business. Very little NG will be produced from the SG plays at $4/mcf. In 2008 I was consulting for one of the biggest SG players and one of the largest US independent companies: Devon. They had fully committed themselves to SG. That summer of '08 they had 18 rigs running in the SG play in N Texas and where trying very hard to expand. Just 6 months later, after NG prices fell below $5/mcf, they released 14 of those 18 rigs and paid $40 million in penalties to do so. Since than they've had to liquadate the company's most valuable assets...including their position in 100's of millions of bbl of oil in the DW Brazil trend. Currently Devon is barely a shadow of their former self. And it was all due to SG

There is a huge amount of NG that COULD be devloped from the SG plays...no denying that. But if it's done it will be at a price much higher than $4/mcf.

Those were in the Barrett Shale. Here in the Marcellus they can drill like seven wells each a mile or more horizontally from one pad. IMHO the production amount and time span that can be anticipated from each well has yet to be established. I think the current activity in Marcellus is to help establish these parameters so the economics can be better projected and the price to achieve an acceptable rate of return calculated.

As to plastics, there was a brief flurry of concern by some folks when they learned that the liquids extracted from the Marcellus NG was being shipped to the Gulf Coast for processing until it was pointed out the $$ needed to set up a plant for this. BTW I think the lessors don't pay the landowner royalty on the liquids unless it is in the lease.

I have read the market for Marcellus is the East Coast but a question that has bothered me is the competition from liquified NG from overseas. EDIT
I guess a search on TOD would help me answer this question.

ez - Actually those 18 rigs were drillingn the Haynesville Shale. Devon's Barnett Shale play was being handled out of OK. I worked in the Houston office. Thus not sure what changes lower NG prices brought to the BS. The problem with the HS was similar to the MS: not enough history to get a clear picture of the overall economics. They were making good wells in the HS but it was taking 10, 12 or more frac stages per well. The fracs on some wells were costing more than the drilling costs.

Folks can debate how the economics in one play or the other will work out. But it's wasted breath IMHO. In the end the folks writing the checks to drill will cast the deciding vote.

The rate of change of a curved peak is lowest at the peak.
There is no one peak but a series.
Price and recession have cut back on use flattening the peak.
The new reserves coming on line are great but why are we just burning inefficiently (including flaring off) important industrial chemicals?
We need to stop burning oil and gas to stop pumping out CO2
Politicos have been delaying 'not on my watch' nuclear for 30 years it will take decades to get traction.
Boosting electrical supply is not going to help if the gain is eaten by electric vehicles.


I can't speak to any the other points, but the one I know the most about their statement is just plain wrong.

***Coal Gasification - technology not commercially viable yet - But the Germans were using it during WWII to power their trucks (gas was for fighting equipment only) - Will be another market changer. There is enough coal in the US for another 1000 years

The 1000 years claim is off by an order of magnitude. At current usage rates there's more like 100 years.

Add any sizable coal liquification--convert to a liquid, not to a gas, to power vehicles--it goes way down. Also, once all the negative externalities are priced back in, mining and burning coal doesn't look so great..

Seriously, Young Frankenstein jokes aside, is the storm's name supposed to be pronounced ee-gore or eye-gore? I have actually heard both on TV.

Of my friends and colleges called Igor they have, to a person, all pronounced their names as ee-gor.

You refer to academia I am guessing. It is amazing how the media can influence language. Is there any Transylvanians or maybe Russians out there? Is this a Mel Brooks invention or is there some etymological basis for the alternate pronunciation?

Academia and actually a couple of oil patch geologists. One is Russian. I do know one person who really is from Transylvania. She, however, isn't called Igor.

The Russian composer Straveinsky's first name is pronounced eegore. I've never heard anybody pronounce Igor as eyegore. You might hear ihgore (ihg to rhyme with big) sometimes.

Native speakers of most continental languages would normally pronounce words such as "Ivan, Igor" with an EE sound; native English speakers would tend to favor a stressed EYE sound. "Ivan" has been anglicized; the less familiar "Igor" is treated as a foreign word by American speakers at least.

Pronunciation as "eye" is a the level of Dubya: Iraq.


Arrrgh. I really do know how to spell Stravinsky. That was a typo, folks!

Sorry Guy, but you can't aside that particular Young Frankenstein joke, because that's the source of it.

Blessed are the meteorologists with a sense of humor.

See explanation from a killjoy here:


I've got it! al-gore.

There were questions in the old thread of what Admiral Thad Allen is requesting from BP in his last letter especially with this:

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 sufficient to induce flow down the annulus in the region of the 9 and 7/8 casing shoe.

Here is what I think what he wants to achieve with that and how that will be done:

The first picture shows the well when it went wild. The blueish area is the cement that failed.

Note that there is no seal between the production casing long string and the outer casing (pink circled 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. It is what Thadmiral is concerned about.

The second picture shows the well after the top-kill and with the unfinished relief well. The yellowish area is likely the area where the top-kill cement went.
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 in the annular between the production casing long string and the lower well bore 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 (not shown).
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 down through the annular between the long string and the outer casing and up to the DDIII. Mud can then be pumped from one rig down the hole up to the other rig to test the communication through 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 and Thadimrals point 5 demand will be fulfilled.

I seem to recall that in a permanent P&A the well head will be cut off below the mudline. If so why worry about the casing hanger and lockdown sleeve if they going to be removed?

V´Cutting the wellhead off below the mudline is only the last step of P&A.

In the first step of P&A they will have to plug the well as ordered by Thadmiral and by MMS regulations. To be able to do that without risking to lift or damage the casing, which could reopen a path from the reservoir, they will insert the lockdown sleeve. They have already taken a lead impression of the seat and Thudmiral said it looks good.

MOON. Great graphics, thank you much. "A picture speaks a thousand words" Never-the-less, I agree with ROCK. The relief well intercept is going to be the world's most expensive vent pipe for this well's annulus. The job could be done by perforating the prod casing at two differing heights. Pressure wise the two spaces would then become one pressure balanced volume regardless of what that pressure is. All this done through one BOP. These guys had enough problems communicating across one rig, never mind two.

The job could be done by perforating the prod casing at two differing heights. Pressure wise the two spaces would then become one pressure balanced volume regardless of what that pressure is. All this done through one BOP.

The job as demanded by Thadmiral can NOT be done the way you describe it - unless you drill out 4000 feet of the 5000 feet cement column in the production liner long string. I can imagine though that some people would not like that idea.

Sure they could put a big plug into the annulus at a lesser depth just the way Rockman and you describe. But that would not "allow injection of mud and cement into the annulus of the well below the current level of cement in the central casing." Nor is simple pressure likely to do that as there is, hopefully, some cement in the lower part of that annulus.

The only clean way forward seems to be the one I described.

Moon. the following is notes I took over the phone from the clever ones. I think I remembered / understood some of it.

If the annulus is open to the formation, the temperature below BOP will be going up slowly.
When did it become impossible to drizzle cement between a 9 7/8 liner and a prod case.
If you have to drill a relief well to vent an annulus, please tell the guys in the North Sea they have been f*****g it up for the last twenty years.
They have blowouts in the tied back 16.
What happens if the relief hits gas on the way in. This well has been a kicker from day one.

I am due to get my lessons in how to drill an oil well in a couple of weeks in the UAE.

I have no ideas who those "clever ones" are but they obviously also have no idea about the state of the Macondo well and the current operation.

"If the annulus is open to the formation, the temperature below BOP will be going up slowly."

Huh - why would that be. Is the seabed warm because 10,000 feet below there is some oil and gas? If there is no flow, why should the temperature change?

"When did it become impossible to drizzle cement between a 9 7/8 liner and a prod case."

When there is already stuff in there that has no way to go elsewhere.

"If you have to drill a relief well to vent an annulus, please tell the guys in the North Sea they have been f*****g it up for the last twenty years."

Venting the annulus is NOT, NOT, NOT what Thadmiral is demanding - read above!

"What happens if the relief hits gas on the way in. This well has been a kicker from day one."

The relief well is in a formation very near the original well that is by now very well known. There is no gas reservoir to hit when intervening the Macondo well with it.

The clever ones design and drill oil wells for a living.
The temperature at the bottom of the well is 262 F. Hot fluids rise, buy a larva lamp and watch it happen. It makes no difference if the fluid is in closed or open container.
A double perforation of the prod casing gives annulus volume somewhere to go, back into the prod casing. Can be separated from the cement injection stinger with a temporary casing packer.
Venting the annulus is exactly what he is doing because of the "no where to go" scenario.
The relief well injection will have "no where to go" either except into the formation or up the production casing through its new perforation. Both rigs will then be in the position that either could "suck" or "blow"
The pay zone formation is reported as having up to 40% methane in it, very high.

" buy a larva lamp and watch it happen. "

I'm all over that, gotta have mood lighting when you eat your ...grub.


moonie - The last report from Thad was that the top of cmt in the prod csg was around 15,000'. And that's what your picture shows. No drilling required: GIH to 13,000' and perf. Then perf at 15,000' and fill the same annulus you're targeting with 2,000' of cmt. From you well bore diagram it seems you achieve the same results. If so I see making the intersect with the RW an additional and unnecessary procedure.

But I still suspect there's something they aren't telling us to explain why they still might want to use the RW.


Has the cement top inside the production casing changed? As I remember it, the cement top inside the casing was estimated at 5,000' from the bottom which would place it at around 13,304'. I think Moon's excellent graphic depicts the status accurately.

Cementing the annulus above the 13,304' would be simple but if taken literally, the Admiral wants the annulus cemented from the 9 7/8" casing shoe at 17,168' which presents a bit of a challenge.

Like you say, there is probably somethings they are not telling us.

I doubt these directives come out of the blue. They probably sit down and decide the next step. Since Obama has to perpetuate the Boot-On-The-Neck image, a terse statement is issued demanding that BP do exactly what BP decided was the next logical step.

The relief well mantra is more political BS. The relief well is no longer a factor but since Obama spouted that the relief well will be the ultimate solution to the blow out, the relief will be completed so the Obama and Chu can take their victory lap. Probably right before the mid-term elections.

Sorry to get political but I think it's the reason certain things don't make sense.


NU - Maybe memory fails me but I recall a 5,000’ cmt column estimate: 2,000’ in the annulus and 3,000’ in the producing csg. But even if my memory is correct it doesn’t mean their estimate is correct. But the annulus can be cmt'd anywhere and isolate the reservoir. If there’s a 2,000’ cmt in the annulus does it matter if the bottom is at 15,000’ or 10,000?. Either way the reservoir can’t flow to the surface up the annulus. Why is it important to get the annular cmt that deep.? Again, maybe for some reason they aren’t telling us.

I can buy the political motivation for the RW but only to a degree. Could make the American people feel all warm and cozy. But how W&C are they going to feel if they wake up one morning and see the RW rig burning, another 11 dead hands and 50,000 bopd flowing into the GOM? Not that I think there’s a great probability of that happening. But there is always a possibility of it. I have one rule when making an operational decision: if things go bad can you still justify the reason for the decision? Like we all know now: there is the plan and then there’s what happens.

Rock, Looking at the schematics that Moon so nicely supplied, I think there is a very logical reason for having the Annulus plug adjacent to the column plug. It looks to me like that is the only place where you can guarantee a non-by-passable annulus plug. If the annulus plug were placed higher up in the well and did not overlap the column plug then there is some, yes pretty slight as long is there is not production casing failure, possibility for the reservoir to get around both plugs. Far fetched admittedly but possible. By using the RW and applying the annulus plug at the bottom you have overlapping cement and an almost zero potential for reservoir bypass of either plug. I'm going to bet the science coaches maybe saw that possibility also, and are taking the belts and suspenders approach. Your approach absolutely plugs the annulus but without the overlap of both plugs it leaves open the very slight possibility of a bypass fault. Keeping in mind that the Gov't side of the equation probably has not let loose of the thought long held thought that somewhere there was a casing probable / potential failure. Anyway just a thought.

There is a very good forensic reason to do this, find out the real TOC for the original cement job. According to the diagram it is supposed to be at 17,260 and the bottom of the casing above is 17,168, so there is an easily accessible annular space of less than 100 feet that should have mud, not cement or oil. If they intend to pursue criminal charges, the standard of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt. So resolving all reasonable doubts is in the best interest of justice for all.

So once they have completed the necessary preliminaries as outlined above, I'd say tell John Wright, "Drill, Baby, Drill". But as I have said before, with the uncertainites of using nitrified cement at these depths, it is not outside the realm of possibilities that he will hit cement, not mud. One of BP's recommendations on the issue of cement is to have the API do research on deep well cementing, a recommendation that I heartily concur with.

From what I can gather, the accepted practice is to inject the nitrogen into cement at 1000 psi. That would be fine for using to cement in newly spudded wells at hydrostatic pressures less than 1000 psi, or 2.262 ft of seawater (1,000 = 2262 x 8.5 x .052). The cement would foam when pumped and reduce its effective density for use in soft sediments. Doing the same thing at 18,000 ft is a whole different issue!!!!

moonie - Again...outstanding graphics. Mucho thanks for the contribution. No doubt we'll continually go back to them as the process goes forward.

Thanks Rockman - the drawing of the casing string is of course stolen from BP. I just added some color spots.

But just one question regarding your drawings, Moon. Where's the drillpipe / cement stinger which fell downhole? It's not going to be as easy as you project.


The cement pumped during the kill is a now a massive 5,000 feet column. The drillpipe below the bop that fell off was 3,000 feet long. It is buried in the cement and will not interfere with the outlined operation.

The graphics have the depth readings no to scale) on the left.

Does this operation account for the oil that was seen leaking from the well head at its entrance to the sea floor? Bp was watching this leak for quite some time last night.

The procedure is not taking place yet and there is no oil leaking at the wellhead at all.

Thanks for the graphics, I've been wondering how they would take care of the problem.

Moon, wonderful graphics especially for us non-oil patch folk. Finally have the thing knitted together in my mind. Small request. Would you have a similar graphic of the casing hanger lockdown sleeve?

From the closed thread - concerns about bubbles

QuantumUS on September 11, 2010 - 12:56pm Permalink | Subthread | Parent | Parent subthread |

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.

Where's the hydrate formation if it is "oil and gas"? This is approximately the same bubble location where we have seen an intermittent stream for many weeks now. They have analysed samples on a number of occasions and we've been told at briefings by both Thad and Wells that they are bubbles of nitrogen (from the well-head cement job - not the downhole cement) with a small percentage of biogenic methane at expected levels.

The apparent dark colour in some shots seems to be a lighting/shadow effect. I imagine they continue to monitor closely out of an over-abundance of caution.

The hydrate formation will be on the bottom side of the BOP just like it was on the old BOP. There were hives on the bottom side of it.

We were told it was nitrogen and something else blah blah, had to do more testing of it. They took several more samples and never said another word about it.

Nitrogen can make hydrates too but the ones that were built up on the bottom of the old BOP were dark like some of the ones on the rest of the BOP.

Actually, I watched the known NG bubbles that came from the joint above the FailBOP and saw them produce hydrate flakes that then attached to the "bee hives". I also watched the DD2 bubbles from the mudline very carefully, and there was no hydrate formation going on. Those bubbles stayed nice and clean and just floated away. To me, that says the mudline bubbles aren't methane. OTOH, it's hard to believe nitrogen could still be there in that quantity, so I don't know what they really are. But I say yet again, it cannot be pressure from the reservoir. There's just no way that would make quiet little bubble streams.

Pinkfud, The hydrates need a lip at an angle to catch on and build up. The beehives would start when the material hit a lip then they would bunch up and catch other material as it floated up. As the beehive got bigger the bottom of it came down what ever part of the BOP they are on.

The beehives grow down.

The leaking below the wellhead is going up and building up on the bottom of the BOP because there is no lip for them to catch on until the flat bottom of the BOP. They miss the actual lip of the wellhead because of the lean of the spud pipe.

Oil and gas trapped in the annulus sealed off at the bottom by cement or junk would not be under the reservoir pressure but it would be under pressure compared to the seabed.

We know for a fact hydrates are building up on the underside of the BOP because they shut off access to feeds that would show it. QED.

Quantum, was the 'spud pipe' vertical when first installed? Was it vertical before the blowout/rig sinking? How common is it for a wellhead to be at true vertical at the mudline when installed under normal conditions? Do you have a frame of reference for what a lean of 2* looks like in real life? If you were to visually inspect a signpost on the side of the road, would you be able to tell if the post were at true vertical 0*, or leaning at 2*? Is a lean of 2* on a 36" diameter pipe severe enough to cause the bubbles to miss the lower section of the wellhead connector on the BOP? Do you have even a shred of a speck of a clue what the hell you're talking about?

I have no idea why you are being so ignorant and rude.

I know at one point they were collecting bubbles that were coming up and hitting the inclinometer which is at least a foot or two from the spud pipe. It is hard to tell from the recent shots exactly how close these bubbles are to the spud pipe.

Can I stand by a road sign and tell if it is 2 degrees off in 14 foot( I think that is how far it is from the seafloor to the wellhead)? You bet I can, I have worked in construction all my life.

I saw the beehives that were built up on the bottom of the old BOP from the bubbles coming up from the seafloor and so did the ROV operators. They focused right in on them during some of their inspection.

I have no reason to lie and have just been reporting my observations.

I have never said I could see a lean in the spud pipe because I know there is virtually no known field of reference in the ROV videos.

I know oil and gas leaking at the wellhead does not fit in to the "oh everything is rosy, BP is wonderful, the people of the Gulf are so better off because of the oil spill and all those chemicals they used are great" stuff you post everyday but what the heck.

Quit acting like I am some kind of enemy of the people and quit being so rude. If you have proof what I am saying is not true post it.

I know oil and gas leaking at the wellhead does not fit in to the "oh everything is rosy, BP is wonderful, the people of the Gulf are so better off because of the oil spill and all those chemicals they used are great" stuff you post everyday but what the heck.

That is not and has never been my position on any of this. I am only arguing for a position of things backed up by facts, and things we don't know cannot be used to make a conclusion one way or the other - which, oddly, is exactly what you have done when it comes to the technical stuff. 'Lack of evidence must mean they are hiding something and that something can only be X.'

If you have anything to back up your assertion that there are deposits of oil and/or hydrates that have accumulated on the DD2 BOP since it was attached to the MC252 wellhead, POST IT. I haven't seen it - doesn't mean it isn't there, but I haven't seen it. If you have, show us.

Similarly, if you can find anything in my previous comments you can quote that backs up your assertion in the blockquote above, POST IT. (Good luck.) It's all there. None of my comments have been edited after-the-fact except for minor grammar/punctuation, and even those I could probably count on two hands. Go look. Otherwise, don't ever again misrepresent what I've said here.

If you think it's rude to point out when someone is wrong, and are offended by it, stop being wrong. It's very simple.

Scientific American, September issue, Doubts on Dispersants

In July the EPA began conducting toxicity tests for the specific light sweet crude from the Gulf, both alone and in conjunction with the various dispersants.

“Once it’s mixed with oil, that’s where you get the most impact, that’s where you see most of the toxicity,” says toxicologist Sergio Alex Villalobos of Nalco, the maker of COREXIT 9500. Anastas suggested that testing was expected to be completed before the end of August.

Anybody see this report yet?

The report is not posted on the EPA site, but two previous rounds of dispersant testing are posted conspicuously. I presume the new report will go up when it is ready.

Unfortunately, owing to a lack of experimental controls, we'll never know whether or how much the use of Corexit at the surface increased the damage to plankton, fish reproduction, or particular creatures like whale sharks. It was expected to increase such damage and probably did so.

On the other hand, insofar as injecting dispersant at the wellhead caused more oil droplets to get stuck at depths of 1000 to 1300 meters, this practice reduced hazards to human health, damage to human material interests, and damage to the Gulf ecosystem generally. These benefits trade off against probable damage to the isolated deepwater ecosystem over a limited area of the sea floor. So injection at the wellhead seems to have been a good thing.

Use of dispersant both at the wellhead and at the surface reduced the size of the slick and thereby reduced damage to the bays, marshes, and beaches. The size of this benefit is unknown but could be estimated with models. I hope some people are working on this question.

While Corexit et al appears to have reduced the amount of oil floating on the ocean and thereby contaminating the coastline, it has also caused the oil to split into a bifurcated composition. The lighter components have evaporated into the air or bound into columns of sea water, and the heavier components have settled as a sludge onto the sea bottom, destroying life on the seabed.

NPR is reporting:

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.

"We have to [chemically] fingerprint it and link it to the Deepwater Horizon," she says. "But the sheer coverage here is leading us all to come to the conclusion that it has to be sedimented oil from the oil spill, because it's all over the place."

So far, the research vessel has traveled in a large "X" across the Gulf within a few dozen miles of the well. Scientists have taken eight sets of samples, and Joye says they all contain this layer. It's thin in some places, inches thick in others. Eventually, scientists hope to collect enough samples to figure out how much oil is now settling to the seafloor.

"It's starting to sound like a tremendous amount of oil. And we haven't even sampled close to the wellhead yet," she says.


a picture of one of the core samples is available at the above url


Corexit did not "bifurcate" the oil. The only effect of dispersant is to break the oil into microscopic droplets that are too small to rise or sink, and so just drift with whatever bit of water they are in. Tar is formed when natural processes (bacterial degradation, evaporation, dissolution) remove the medium and light fractions, leaving a residue of wax and asphalt. This would happen without dispersant, except bacterial action would have been slower. Without dispersant, there would have been more evaporation, because more oil would have remained at the surface in contact with the air.

bg: looks like you didn't see my reply to your post yesterday. The NPR story is misleading.

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.

Something just doesn't add up. Either this layer isn't 100 % oil, or its thickness has been overstated, or the areal extent is overstated. Or all of the above apply.

Biodegraded oil (tar) does sink, but a light oil such as thee Macondo oil will very seldom have more than 7 mol % asphaltines. If the oil budget is 5 million barrels spilled, then the total amount of asphaltines was about 350,000 barrels, and we know some of it is fouling beaches (tar bals etc). If we smear 350,000 barrels over 10 square miles, as far as I can see the layer will be less than 1/10th of an inch thick. If the tar is made up of resins and asphaltines, we can double the amount, and we still get less than 1/5th of an inch thick.

So I think this layer will likely turn out to be emulsified biodegraded oil, and the extent of fouled sea floor is going to be less than say 100 square miles.


It's not oil, it's a biological product resulting from the oil, and containing a small percentage of oil. It probably includes plankton corpses, plankton feces, live and dead bacteria, bacterial slime, and heavy oil residues. Plankton feces have been reported as a major route for oil sedimentation in the case of the Ixtoc spill.

As I posted elsewhere, it's only the tabloidy headline that leads us to think the material is oil. The story says otherwise.

The flow from the MC252 well was far to great for any type of significant biological break down to happen for quiet some time. Hence the large use of dispersants. The barrier islands in the GOM are bare. It killed off all plant life and the majority of small marine animals including most feeder fish. Having the oil trapped in that part of the water column is actually the worst thing thar could have happened. There temperatures and light levels are so low that microorganisms that do feed on the oil don't live at that depth. What ever oil is in the water column will be there for years and years, just circulating the earth riding the undersea currents. The example you used of the Ixtoc is not a good comparison. What depth did that leak happen??? And what was the measured amount of dispersants used??? When you factor in the use of dispersants, all other past examples can be thrown out the window. Corexit kills fish at a level of 2 ppm......

Good heavens, where do I start?

far to great for any type of significant biological break down to happen for quiet some time. Hence the large use of dispersants.

Biodegradation in the warm Gulf happens rapidly and on a massive scale. Dispersants speed up biodegradation; that is mainly why they are applied. I believe you may be mistakenly thinking that the purpose of using Corexit was to "hide the oil." EPA tests for weeks have shown no elevated levels of oil fractions in the water. This means that the dispersed oil (droplets mixed into the water column) has mostly been consumed by bacteria. Some tar will remain for decades, and there is also some organic floc sediment that holds some oil content.

The barrier islands in the GOM are bare. It killed off all plant life

Link for this, please, with before and after photos if possible. I haven't heard a word about this devastation of plant life and would like to know where you heard of it.

and the majority of small marine animals including most feeder fish.

Have you seen beachmommy's posts about snorkeling in water teeming with bait and other fish? Sport fishing has been excellent this summer even in LA waters west of the delta where the worst inshore oiling occurred. But there must have been been damage to plankton, to this year's spawning class for many marine critters, and to bottom-dwelling organisms.

Having the oil trapped in that part of the water column is actually the worst thing thar could have happened. There temperatures and light levels are so low that microorganisms that do feed on the oil don't live at that depth. What ever oil is in the water column will be there for years and years, just circulating the earth riding the undersea currents.

Please Google *Terry Hazen bacteria* and get the recent good news about the rapid biodegradation of oil in the deep plumes and without the severe depletion of oxygen that was feared.

Ixtoc is not a good comparison.

Ixtoc is the only available comparison for a similar-sized spill in the Gulf with similar amounts of dispersant (also Corexit) applied. It was shallower, so less of the soluble oil fractions and methane dissolved in the water.

Corexit kills fish at a level of 2 ppm.

Corexit is less toxic than light crude oil and was applied at a rate between 1% and 2% of the oil volume. It is biodegraded completely in a month, according to a French study in a cooler environment. The harm done by dispersant is to increase the bioactivity of oil in the near-surface layers where many creatures live and feed. The benefit is to speed the breakdown of oil and reduce the amount of oil that reaches wetlands and estuaries.

Hey, Gobbet, the better response to this one is;
"Good heavens, where do I start?" Not worthy, guess I won't start.

This poster needs ample use of the scroll wheel/button as someone in a previous post noted

It killed off all plant life and the majority of small marine animals including most feeder fish.

I see y'all have already handled most of the rest of this comment, I guess someone forgot to tell my plant life (also, not alot grows here but palms, sega palms, oleander etc.) Also, just got in from 4 hrs on the beach, abundant marine life and hundreds of bait fish and larger fish out there today when I was snorkeling, guess I should tell them tomorrow how lucky they are to be alive since some think the govt and BP are not only poisoning the ppl on the Gulf Coast, but also the marine life and plant life.........go figure.




Obviously a BP Shill/US Gov photoshop job!!!!!


(If they won't accept defeat, infiltrate them)

Of course LOL~Now I want my paycheck from BP:) Serisously just responding to the lie that all the Gulf Coast plant life is dead.....my segas are multiplying faster than rabbits.

Mandy Joye herself calls the oily substance "marine snow". And it is produced by microbial interaction or dispersant application or both.

Oxygen "sags" and oil "snow storm" near spill site - September 07, 2010


Dispersant doesn't cause oil to sink. It causes it to hang in the water column as a diffuse emulsion. One thing that could cause this organic floc to sink is plankton fecal pellets, which are heavier than water, and which incorporate oil or HC breakdown products in the wake of a spill.

Huh, I don't think I said dispersant causes oil to sink. Dispersant causes dispersion. And dispersion does not cause oil to sink when it occurs in the water column.

I'm referring to the sediment samples containing what Joye called "marine snow".

I guess I need to define "marine snow". Carol Turley in a report called "The importance of 'marine snow' says, "Marine snow is made up of macroaggregates containing a wide range of species and sizes of living and dead microscopic plants (phytoplankton) and animals (zooplankton) and their faecal pellets."

And this is same as what you've said.

As far as I know, analysis of "marine snow" that Joye mentions hasn't been completed so different articles are saying different things about it.

Here is an article that mentions noaa proposal to investigate "Marine Snow and Sedimentation"

It's a questionable claim that dispersant had anything to do with the formation of the floc. It's symptomatic that the headline in Fla. Oil Spill Law features the term "dispersant," because that site does everything it can to feed the hysteria about Corexit.

The underlying article does not quote Joye directly on the role of dispersants in the floc, and I would like to see what her words were. I suspect it was a vague response to a dumb question, which the reporter dragged into the article anyway.

Apologies for using Fla Oil Spill Law website as I also distrust. It just happened to be the website that appeared during a google search for floc reports. I tried to find a reputable website with noaa's proposal but didn't have any luck. I wanted to just post what was said about the proposal here in comment but that would be a copyright violation. The article had a few interesting comments about goals of "marine snow" investigation. It is just a proposal so there isn't any data to look at anyway. I didn't read anything else in article so I don't have any comments about any other junk that may have been written.

I have no idea why the article quoting Joye says "marine snow" may have been produced by dispersant application and that did catch my eye as a mistake if taken literally. I would think the quantity of floc produced would be affected by the size of the oil droplets in water column. In other words, smaller droplets means more biodegration means more floc. And I would think dispersant would have affect of reducing size of oil droplets. With this line of reasoning I see an indirect link between quantity of floc and dispersant.

Yes, any claims are questionable and we'll need to wait for published results regarding the floc.


I agree with what you say.

This brownish floc is clearly different from normal marine snow and there is much more of it. The oil has caused a huge explosion of the microbial population, and that must be behind a lot of what's weird out there.

I am afraid that she is making a career on "never seeing anything like that in her life" and in the true spirit of a scientist went to the media early this summer.

fd: As I recall you were looking for 1000 barrels of Macondo. It is too late now. What did you want to use it for?

BLACK G. Despite Ms Joye and her academic mates blatant plea for funding for their university departments, in front of the commerce committee, the dollar bills are still not piling up high enough for them. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129703546&ps=rs . They want this gravy train to last forever.

Meanwhile, the bugs are perfectly happy munching through the two Exxon Valdez's worth of oil seeps in the GOM, each year. http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/view.php?id=20863

Whenever I see the word dispersion used loosely, I have to figure out whether people are talking about real dispersion which is a spatial process, or anti-aggregation which is more of a material process. Unfortunately, I can't think of a good alternate word for "anti-aggregation" or "anti-coagulation". Blood thinners, for example, aren't referred to as dispersants but as anticoagulants. Perhaps Corexit should have been referred to as an "oil thinner" from day one.

The reason I think this is important is in separating out the effects of the two kinds of dispersion. Spatial dispersion will occur without the use of dispersants at all. Yet some people get the impression that to have real dispersion, that you need dispersants.

How about "emulsifier"? But then there's the water-in-oil type of emulsion that creates mousse at the surface.

Yes that is the sticky point in using that term. An emulsifier can actually act as a coagulant because the definition of an emulsion is to prevent complete mixing, in as you say water-in-oil.

I'm interested in seeing revised flow rates compared to dispersant totals. I was actually relieved to see that the flowpath through the BOP was not wide open, that's a good sign that there was much less oil released, possibly. It might be a reason why vessels looking for the oil are having a hard time finding it.

As far as the autopsy , hopefully soon, they will take that puppy apart.I think we'll get a much better idea what was happening to the oil as it passed through the restrictions. I still think the decision to apply dispersant at the wellhead was because they realized the potential for aided emulsion . It seems to bear many similarities to the process of " hydrodynamic cavitation emulsion ", which in that case, emulsions can be stable for up to a few years.

BTW, nice blog Hubble.

Thanks for the kudos. I have spent a lot of time thinking about and modeling dispersion, and trying to simplify our understanding so that ordinary scientists and engineers can reason about it. Too much of the analyses of naturally occurring behaviors are wrapped in undue complexity and I am of the opinion that we can use the mathematical ideas of entropy to get a better handle on it.

Perhaps Corexit should have been referred to as an "oil thinner" from day one.

Let's call it Warfarin!

Seriously though - as long as we're rehabilitating Corexit, let's start by renaming it to something other than an anagram for Toxicer or Rexit Co.

Well, you'd better hurry up. Google search for "corexit": About 376,000 results. And there's new proof that it's still being used. A guy who was watering grass in the Florida panhandle last night called Alex Jones to report that he'd been sprayed with it.

I propose Ubiquitanium 666.

What you rather do a shot of Corexit or a shot of unleaded? Ever siphon gas or do you usually pay for it? ;) It is a threat, we should watch, but remember some guy ran a red light and almost hit me on my bike the other day. Long term problems is the issue and just going by volume in water, oil #1 issue, dispersant #2 issue. Well shall see and good luck all. The sea floor oily samples freak me out. Is that crap going to get buried then broken down over time?

I predict the chemical analyses will show that it's already broken down, or more accurately, most of the original crude oil has broken down and therefore is absent from this residual sediment. It will get further consolidated and buried as a dark band in the mud.


Unfortunately, getting buried slows the degradation process greatly, because anaerobic bacteria are slow and inefficient digesters. Hopefully this floc stuff will be substantially degraded before it gets covered by a couple inches of inorganic sediment. Joye mentioned that in some areas of sea floor they found recent sediments that had been oxidized.

Tar and the heavier PAHs take a long time to degrade. The PAHs may cause long-term problems for bottom-dwelling organisms and critters that eat them.

Let's call it Warfarin!

Corexit is probably safer than that rat poison!

Rat poison? But honey, it lowers my cholesterol.

Yes it's Warfarin, the blood thinner that kills rats. Pick some up today.

Warfarin in small doses is used daily by people with mechanical heart valves - prevents clots.

Thanks for posting. I guess it is okay to be a little doubtful of what they do know about the use of COREXIT 9500 after all. EPA doesn't seem to be doing such a great job. How about USDA results? Can they be trusted?

Is Scientific American, a peer reviewed or juried journal? No! I have seen other articles in this pub that were far far afield. Give me a peer reviewed publication any day.

I agree, but the report I was looking for isn't from Scientific American.

going back in time, three questions about BOP.
When the shears cut the riser there were 2 drill pipes inside
1. is that mile long riser still on the seafloor?
2. does anyone know the length of the doubled drill pipe? 5' 1,000'???
3. would a normally operating BOP be able to cut thru a jammed doubled drill pipe?

The two pipes were sticking out of the top of the LMRP, which is quite some distance above the shearing rams. At least one annular preventer in the recovered LMRP only has one pipe in it. This suggests that there never were two side by side pipes between the shearing rams, but only much higher in the stack, and maybe never inside any of the preventers.

One suspects that the shearing ram blades will tell an interesting story once they are microscopicly examined. Each and every movement and contact will leave a signature.

This suggests that there never were two side by side pipes between the shearing rams, but only much higher in the stack, and maybe never inside any of the preventers.

Also, both the drill string and riser had heave-compensators attached, but the riser also had one or more telescopic tensioners. I can believe that under the extreme stretching of the DWH drifting out of position, the drill pipe would part/shatter before the riser, as the pipe was held in the rams and a/p of the stack.

Can't know for certain, but my guess is that the drill pipe was gone below the BOP during or just after the fire, and before the DWH sank; the extra pieces above the rams fell in during the parting. As you said, every scratch and mark will get investigated and isolated to determine a time-line / action taken by the individual components.

The BOP and LMRP are on the river headed for Michoud, and are under escort by the USCG Razorbill.

CAG. See pages 163 to 166 of the BP report. The cut riser section was recovered for the evidence. (This is link to the index page; note the size of the file of main document if you intend to download it.)

Revisiting negative test.

Start with 1400 psi drillpipe pressure at surface.

Add weight of 8,367 feet of seawater in drillpipe. One atmosphere of pressure (14.7 psi) every 33 feet (as I recall from scuba diving days) yields 5127 psi at bottom end of drillpipe.

Add weight of mud column from bottom of drillpipe to wiper plug above float collar. I don't have that information.

Sum would be pressure exerted upward by wiper plug (assuming annulus cement and shoe track cement were leaking and communicating formation pressure to wiper plug ...which we now know was the case).

I would guess that pressure to be around 11,900 psi (or whatever formation pressure was).

In other words 1400 psi surface drillpipe pressure was screaming "YOUR CEMENT JOB IS LEAKING, I can feel it down there, I don't care what your kill line shows, doesn't show, whatever. It would NOT be a good idea to displace that riser unless you're ok with turning your fancy floating drilling rig into a burning beacon showing everyone what can happen when you rely on single barriers of dubious integrity and damaged unmaintained BOPs of equally dubious integrity. But hey, 'whatever floats your boat' as they say. Like Russian Roulette? Very well, let's do it right now, displace that riser and let's see what happens, I'm just pressure in a pipe, I'll rock with you either way, I'm here on your drillfloor talking to you and I have lots of friends down there who'd love to join me up here, what a party, we'd have lots of fun with you and your fancy floating drilling rig."

After placing the seawater and spacer, there could be different pressures on DP and kill lines if one side had heavier fluids (spacer about 2x water density) than the other. After bleeding off the pressure and fluid from both sides and closing off the DP, it should not have had any pressure (DP side) or flow (kill side). They had pressure on the DP and flow on the kill. They closed the kill for a while and opened it again and it did not flow. But pressure remained on the DP.

Apparently there was discussion about some 'annular compression' effect that could cause the pressure difference. Ultimately, they accepted this answer and ruled the test successful. After all, if it was communicating, they would see flow on the kill line, right? No flow = good test. Unless the kill line is plugged/closed.

Note that Vidrine, the senior CoMan, was just coming on for the night shift during this discussion. But most of his off-shift when he should have been resting had been spent escorting VIP's. Could fatigue have been a factor in the misunderstanding of the test results?

After placing the seawater and spacer, there could be different pressures on DP and kill lines if one side had heavier fluids (spacer about 2x water density) than the other.


That is right. If they had heavy spacer on the backside of the drill pipe and seawater in the drill pipe that could produce the 1400 PSI pressure difference.

So what would that 1400 PSI tell you about the well integrity? It tells you the well is overbalanced and it tells you you are not doing a negative test. It doesn't tell you anything at all about the cement at the bottom.

Okay, finally you have laid out a tenable clternative theory to the 1400psi that supports your main premise - Testing conditions were never achieved...or is it that no test conforming to the requirements was done (hold pressure for 30 min).

And i believe you acknowledge that those returns they got during the brief period of underbalance would, as BP states in the report, constitute evidence of communication, but your position is this cannot be deemed actually doing the test, even if they achieved testing conditions for a short period, which developed solid evidence of communication.

Is that correct?

EDIT: correct end of 1st sent.

It would have been impossible to maintain zero SPP for 30 min in a proper neg test setup, the well flowed when underbalanced, and yes it did demonstrate cement was leaking irrespective of BS attempts to explain it away.

I think we've all heard enough Jason Anderson type thinking. In my opinion he is partially responsible for 11 deaths, a sunk rig, and the worst oil spill in American history. Sorry if that rubs some people the wrong way, but that's how it is.

They were doing something extremely risky. Removing 8,300 feet of mud with only one barrier of statistically poor integrity. In an highly risky situation like that they should have had licensed PEs on that drillfloor overseeing that test, interpreting those pressure readings, deciding what to do, and monitoring displacement if they elected to proceed with it.

In my opinion BP and Transocean are equally responsible for deferring such a risky operation to unqualified people.

In my opinion he is partially responsible for 11 deaths, a sunk rig, and the worst oil spill in American history.

I disagree. He was just trying to be helpful and do his job. It was BP's responsibility to ensure well integrity. Accepting someone else's word without verifying the basis for the conclusion (until after people are killed) is not fulfilling that responsibility.

Jason Anderson did nothing "wrong." He made an honest mistake. BP did something wrong. They trusted bad info without verifying when they had a duty to verify well integrity before displacing to an underbalanced well especially. That borders on gross negligence.

BP may try to lay blame at Vidrine's feet, but it was their lack of procedures that were at fault. Vidrine agonizied over that decision by all appearances and investigated everything he knew to.

UPDATE: And legally, if Vidrine was negligent, BP was negligent through respondent superior.

Syncro, it's the same type of scenario where harbor pilots take over control of a ship coming into harbor. It's a highly risky operation, they don't even let ship captains do it.

No I didn't lay out a tenable theory. I was re-telling the drilling crew's theory as reported by subsea engineer Chris Pleasant. I don't consider it tenable theory. But it is indeed one of several reasons that a well with perfect integrity could have pressure in the drill pipe.

And BP said that in retrospect it can be seen in BP's computer modeling that the well pressured up due to influx. That means when you put that information with the fact that the well did indeed flow when it was underbalanced at 9:00 you can come to that conclusion. But to a drill crew who doesn't already know the cement is bad it is not so obvious.

The simple fact is had they held the DP pressure to zero for half an hour they would have had a definite answer about well integrity. The fact that they let the pressure build up and held it static in that overbalanced state tells you only one thing for sure - the well was not being tested.

On the first try, the well pressured up in part due to mud leaking down from above via a leaking annular preventer. So they added pressure to the annular preventer and bled off the DP. Then the DP pumped up again.

They bled off the kill line, closed it, and later opened it without getting flow.

There were certainly some confusing and unexpected things happening. The lack of formal procedures and acceptance critieria allowed the results to be misinterpreted.

Note that Vidrine also conferred with Hafle on the phone and got his OK to proceed. Vidrine may have been wrong but he appears to have been trying to understand and verify what he was seeing.

"... and later opened it without getting flow."

Sorry, I no longer believe that. I believe somebody is lying.

I now believe kill line stuff is a diversion to take attention off 1400 psi SPP, what they should have been focusing on.

And to accept a non-engineer's lame "u-tube" or "bladder effect" or "annular compression" nonsense and move ahead with a potentially catastrophic operation ...and leave that potentially catastrophic operation in the hands of that same non-engineer... is the height of irresponsibility and recklessness in my view.

Where was Vidrine? In his office going over paperwork. Where was the OIM? Taking a shower. While Anderson ran a highly risky operation that could incinerate the rig ...and did.

Yup, they effectively put the fate of the rig in the hands of the youngest, least experienced, least senior supervisor. And because he was so sure of his theory, the instrument readings did not make sense to him, or he did not bother watching very closely. He was certain the cement was good.

It probably never would have happened without the VIPs being there.

I'm not convinced about the reasons why he was trusted like this. It reminds me of something I have observed a few times in other technical areas. Sometimes you get a young guy who is really is good. Seems to have a knack for the area, and quickly proves himself to be very good at the job. However the danger that one falls into is to forget about his lack of wider experience. I have a few times been pulled up really fast working with such guys, they are really good within the scope what what they do, but have almost zero breadth and experience outside, and because of their capability at their core job one just forgets that they simply haven't had the time to gain that breadth. Their opinion on things outside their core competency can turn out to be no better than any other random person of similar age.

So far, this story smells a lot like this. The guy was good, really good it seems, but he was suddenly outside his expertise, and worse, didn't have the experience to know he was outside of it. And since he was generally really good at his job, he was listened to. With very unfortunate consequences.

One of the critical problems engineers have to keep in mind is the scope of their competence. Knowing that you are not competent to make a call on a critical issue is core. And something humans don't like admitting.

The mistake here, was not that he made a wrong technical call. The mistake was trying to make the call in the first place. The next mistake was being listened to. All very human mistakes.

No, Jinn, that is not what BP said. You really are going to force me to dig that out again. Okay, thank you for being so stubbron:

The residual pressure of 1,260 psi in the drill pipe was bled off from the well. According to witness accounts, 15 bbls of fluid returns were taken. The investigation team's analysis indicates that approximately 3.5 bbls should have been expected. This excess flow from the drill pipe, with the well in an underbalanced condition, should have indicated to the rig crew a communication flow path with the reservoir through failed barriers.

BP is saying they achieved test conditions and observed evidence of flow. That means the test failed. If you get flow anytime during the test, it means test failed. Would you really just sit there and watch it flow for a full 30 minuted if it started flowing during the test? Would you wait for it to stop? In any case, they had evidence of bad cement and dismissed it, admittedly probably out of confusion or failure to recognize what they were doing/seeing.

UPDATE: And it is significant because it suggests the cement was bad and had they had proper procedures and done the test accordingly, it would have failed in a manner obvious to them. Instead, they dismissed actual proof of communication and went with the bogus positive results obtained without achieving test conditions.

Hello to everyone:
In all of the analysis of the explosive event here presented, it seems the "mixture of two chemicals" has been forgotten about. I remember reading, here at TheOilDrum, about how the usual mud was replaced with a mixture of two chemicals. This was done so that the two chemicals could be disposed of at sea as part of a drilling operation --- a ploy to save the cost of properly disposing of the two chemicals where they were warehoused. One of the platform hands tried mixing the two chemicals as a small batch: it formed a "snot". A similar "snot" was observed dripping off of the overhead structures after the event. The mixture of two chemicals did not behave the same as the mud/water that was supposed to be counterbalancing pressure conditions within the well assembly. This is my recollection. I see no mention of this in the arguments presented on this day, September 11th 2010.
Has this datum of "a Two Chemical Mixture used instead of the usual mud" been declared void? Was this mixture in play at the time of the explosive event? I have tried searching the site and find only "Stephen Bertone, Transocean's chief engineer, testified earlier Monday that he was surprised to see slippery fluid that he likened to "snot" on the deck ..."


I don't think the fact the spacer was made up of two batches was a direct factor in the blow out.

I do think the fact that the spacer contained Lost Circulation Material (LCM) could have caused problems after the well blew out. The rig had these two batches LCM pills on hand in case the well encountered a lost circulation zone. The LCM mud contains various coarse additives (paper, nut shells ect.) that are designed to plug up fractures.

These lost circulation materials can cause problems with the de-gasing equipment on the surface. The mud is de-gased by routing it thru a vessel(s) with baffles that break the gas out of the mud. The gas is vented out of the vessel and burned. LCM material tends to clog the baffles reducing the effectiveness of the de-gasing equiment.

If the de-gasing equipment was compromised or even bypassed on purpose due to the LCM, the gas in the mud would have exsolved in an uncontrolled manner leading to the explosion.


My reading of this recalled material informed me that the chemicals had nothing to do with drilling.
I understood that these two chemicals or materials were simply trash that needed to be dumped.
One of the hands on the rig tried mixing them just to see what happened. This recollection says the chemicals were foreign to any normal operation.
"Bertone said part of the rig was covered with an inch or more of material that he said resembled "snot.""
So, this was a surprise to this man. It was not the usual.

...unless the "snot" clogged the kill valve so it read 0-presssure[expectation if cement ok] while the DP remained pressurized [which TO seems to have rationalized-away as some annulus anomaly].

Many people have apparently convinced themselves that I have no evidence for my claim that the cement had not been tested on the macondo well . They also say there is no evidence that the first time that the cement was tested was around 1/2 hour before the blowout.

I have given the evidence for my claims many times. But lets boil it down to make it as simple as possible.

The best evidence that no negative test was performed is this:

17:05-17:30 drill pipe pressure=1250 PSI

That is all you need to know to establish beyond any reasonable doubt that nobody in that drill shack on April 20 understood that they were not testing well integrity.

The fact that the people in the drill shack called this a negative test doesn't make it a test. What it was in reality is an exercise in stupidity. It was a bunch a people standing around doing nothing.

Waiting for 25 minutes with 1250 psi on the drill pipe revealed absolutely nothing about the integrity of the well. It was a complete waste of time. And yet they wasted $20,000 rig time all just standing around doing nothing - accomplishing nothing.

So obviously they thought they were doing something in those 25 minutes. It seems obvious they thought they were doing a test. They thought they were subjecting the cement to some kind of load that would reveal whether it had integrity or not. But they weren't. They weren't doing a damn thing that would reveal anything at all about the cement. They could have continued the test for 3 days and it still wouldn't have revealed a damn thing about the integrity of the cement.

The 1250 PSI on the drill pipe is all the evidence you need to conclude that well integrity was not being tested. Did anybody put a stop to the test? Did anybody step forward and say "Hey guys this is stupid - we are not going to be able to tell anything at all about well integrity using this setup"? Apparently nobody did that.

I know there will be many who don't comprehend the evidence or believe the pressure between 17:05 and 17:30 is enough evidence to conclude the well has not been tested. But remember both Ezell and Harrell declared at 17:30 that this exercise in stupidity was a good negative test. These are the most senior management on the TO drilling crew. If these men can't see the evidence that no test had been performed then it brings into question whether this rig and its crew has ever been able to test a well for integrity.

It is reported that Jason Anderson said he had seen this before. If that is true, it means there were other wells that had not been tested.


I think the whole problem here is your "no test performed" statement.
If you had said an "improper test" was performed, it would have been more readily accepted. I have followed both sides of this discussion which both have valid points. Being that I have no expertise other than what I've read, I think it's become more a question of semantics than validity. In the crews mind, a test was performed albeit a flawed or improper test by our assumptions. You are all shooting at the same target, but with different weapons!

FOR ALL - With respect to the neg test I’ll let the conversation continue on the details. But after describing a considerable history of failed cmt jobs it occurred to me that some may not understand a factor I didn’t emphasize. All the failed cmt tests I’ve witnessed were positive tests. The typical scenario: csg has been run and cmt pumped at an intermediate csg point. We’ll GIH and drill out the cmt and about 10’ of new rock. Then pressure up the mud to the planned level and see if the cmt holds. If it doesn’t then we do the sqz job. But note: we drill out the plugs and shoe tract. This obviously wasn’t done on the BP well. But when we run and cmt the final production csg we don’t drill it out and test it. OTOH, we don’t displace….we leave the heavy mud in the hole the reservoir was drilled with. Thus the well won’t flow whether the cmt job was good or not. Another note: when we test the csg shoe we push the pressure significantly higher than the pressures in the reservoirs we just drilled. The test is to confrim the shoe will hold against higher mud weights we'll need as we drill deeper. Thus a good shoe test will be more than sufficient to stop any flow from zones behind pipe.

When we move a work over rig on to complete we’ll typically run a CBL to look for a bad cmt job before we perf the well. If we see bad cmt we can perf and sqz in more cmt. But we’ve also displaced the heavy drill mud with an equally heavy clear completion fluid. So at no time could the well flow even with a very bad cmt job.

In 35 years I’ve never tested the last cmt job on any well after the production csg was run other than holding pressure on the plug while the cmt cured. The cmt quality was going to be an issue for the completion hands. And since the well was left in hydrostatic balance there was no chance of a blow out.

Just thought I would clarify that I’ve never seen cmt fail on a production csg run. Because I’ve never seen it tested. OTOH there’s no reason such cmt jobs should have a higher success rate than on liner cmt jobs. In that sense the only reason for the neg test is to make sure the cmt held if the well was going to be left underbalanced. And I still haven’t seen a good reason presented to justify that protocol.

In that sense the only reason for the neg test is to make sure the cmt held if the well was going to be left underbalanced. And I still haven’t seen a good reason presented to justify that protocol.


Yes that is the crux of the matter. I have not heard a good explanation for why the well needed to be underbalanced. I can't say if there is a good reason or not, but I would think if someone had a good reason they would have expressed it by now.

I have listened to much of the MMS/USCG joint hearings and I have seen no evidence that anyone on the rig even understood that the well was going to be underbalanced.
AFAIK the subject of making the well underbalanced has never been raised by anyone during the investigation.
One has to wonder if the drilling crew ever had any discussions in regard to underbalancing the well. Or if the engineering team ever said anything about it to anyone on the rig.

The BP report just treats it as a matter of fact. The report says the well was going to be left underbalanced and therefore a test to simulate that underbalanced condition was required. It does not explain why the well was to be underbalanced. It does not treat designing the well underbalanced as one of the underlying causes of
the accident.

There are two states to look at. Unbalanced after abandonment and unbalanced while displacing.

Maybe there is justification for leaving a temp. abandonment under-balanced and MMS allowed that despite the reg. applying the permanent abandonment standards. Frances provided an excellent reason for requiring a fluid barrier between the two plugs on a well that's going to sit for decades or longer. If a single solid plug developed a worm hole, it would compromise the entire plug. A fluid barrier would prevent that and provide balance despite a failed plug above or below it. RM provided a good explanation of why having balanced fluid in place would greatly improve safety on a temp. abandonment (for when the production crew has to tap into it.)

But what possible justification is there for displacing underbalanced other than convenience and time? Substituting a negative pressure test for hydrostatic balance or a second plug seems like a shortcut. It provides verification that one barrier is good, it is not a substitute barrier by any stretch.

The regs required more than that it seems:

§ 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.

Does displacing a riser with an underbalanced well and only the bottom cement as a barrier (supposedly pressure tested) represent a situation where you are maintaining a "safe and controlled well." Under the new rigs, clearly not. And I would submit the same under the old regs, given the way they address well control in general, just not as clearly articulated.

The req implies that it is to be assumed that the bottom cement might be bad and that you should therefore also have hydrostatic balance, or another "suitable" alternative. If MMS interprets a negative pressure test to be a suitable alternative allowing maintenance of a "safe and controlled" well, real-world practice has clearly shown that to be a big. But a good argument can be made that the regs never treat a pressure test as a suitable alternative to an actual and redundant barrier.

If the under-balanced well issues never get addressed during the hearings, you have to wonder WTF? It is so fundamental to well control as laid out in the regs, and clearly played a critical role in what happened.

If the under-balanced well issues never get addressed during the hearings, you have to wonder WTF? It is so fundamental to well control as laid out in the regs, and clearly played a critical role in what happened.


Yes that statement I agree with.

Common ground! Alright jinn.

The socratic method works again. Knowledge advances. We hope.

syn - -And we're back to time/money. But it took x hrs of rig time to displace the riser with sea water. So they could have immediately GIH and set the plugs while still balanced. Zero risk of a blow out whether the cmt was good or not. They saved no time by displacing...it cost them time. The only cost saving would have been the salvage of the OBM. But that would have been salvaged when they moved back on for the completion. Granted, as I described why, I would never leave OBM in a well that long. But I suspect I'm in the great minority in that philosophy.

So someone will have to explain how their displacement procedure would have saved them any money. In fact, by my understanding, it added to the over run well cost. Again, I'm not a driller so perhaps I'm missing something someone can point out.

So someone will have to explain how their displacement procedure would have saved them any money.

If they could have displaced the riser with the well balanced or the top plug set in the same amount of time or less time, wouldn't that be pretty stupid not to do it the safer way? We're not talking just a little safer, but magnitudes safer. It seems wacky.

UPDATE: And don't forget the regs. They want hydrostatic balance in the well when displacing..." or a suitable alternative.

Legal Update: This would mean the difference between recklessness and negligence if there was no gain, but they went the risker way that de facto violated the reg when they could have gone the safer method that the reg explicitly requires.

syn - wacky for sure.That's why I keep wondering if I'm missing something. Yesterday I think I calculated they needed to add enough barite to the mud to reach a 17.6 ppg mud that would have balanced the well with the riser gone. As I said before , bar is cheap and the mud would have been salvaged by the completion crew. Doesn't take much time to raise the mud weight: you just keep circulating the mud and start emptying bags of bar into the flow. On the other side of the effort they had to keep pumping salt water to displace the csg. Maybe takes a little longer to bump the mud weight up but just hours...not days. So much risk IMHO for so little value. That's why I like to think I'm missing something. I think everyone now understand that an underbalanced well with an 11,900 psi reservoir has the same kinetic potential of thousands of pounds of explosives. There are always risks in drilling but what was the advantage? It keeps coming back to such a simple question.

But we still have not really considered all of the evidence, Rock, so we don't know yet.

Can someone lay out a procedure for the final day that would have accomplished the same tasks in the same time, or less, that would also provide a balanced well during displacement, or a tested top plug during displacement?

If so, we're stuck with wacky = negligent.

If not, the inference arises that they did it this way intentionally because it was the quickest way = possibly gross negligence/reckless disregard.

From there, the issue arises whether they knew the risks, that this route would entail displacing with an underbalanced well, and all the implications of that if somehow they blew the pressure test and the cement is bad. Were they aware of that and accepted it, as already proposed, or did it just not occur to them, which would be even more alarming i think (but only negligence)?

If they knowingly did it, that would suggest or be recklessness since it is a risk that is not acceptable under normal safe practices the regs mandate be followed...unless MMS somewhere says that a negative pressure test of the bottom cement is a suitable alternative to hydrostatic balance in the well when displacing. Do you think they would go that far?

UPDATE: If they would, or did, experience would suggest that they blew it. They rotted out the integrity of their own regs. and were complicit in supporting procedures well outside an acceptable range of risk, arguably the range of risks already articulated in the existing regs.

2nd UPDATE: Why? Because a pressure test does not provide the same degree of safety that a verified second barrier like hydrostatic balance does. One reason for that is that there is a sizable margin for error in the pressure test that does not exist in a well that has hydrostatic balance. If the testing procedures are poor, the margin of error increases. That represents a significant weakening of the regs and the safety they provide...to the crew and potential spill victims.

And don't forget the regs. They want hydrostatic balance in the well when displacing..." or a suitable alternative.

§ 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.

Actually, the reg doesn't say anything about the state when displacing. It addresses what it must be when they actually unplug the riser.

By that time, there would have been a top plug in place - a "suitable precaution" I suspect.

Now, it very well may be poor practice to leave the well underbalanced, but you are misinterpreting what the regs actually say.


I disagree and believe you are making the sort of error you believe I am making.

The rules of grammer resolve the ambiguity as a matter of statutory construction principles.

Take this sentence, the first sentence of actual text in the applicable subsection:

"Before removing the marine riser, you must displace the riser with seawater."

This subsection addresses displacing the riser. Before doing "x," "...you must displace the riser with seawater."

So that is the context for what follows. While displacing the riser...

"[y]ou must maintain sufficient hydrostatic pressure or take other suitable precautions to compensate for the reduction in pressure ..."

The reg section on P&A tells you what you have to do to the well before P&A. P&A would be plugging and pulling off site, that you attempt to read into this regulation which tells you that you have to displace the riser with seawater before removing it (to clean out the mud), and it tells you what you have to do when you are displacing the riser: Maintain hydrostatic balance...or other suitable blh blah blah

Eidt: cleaned it up

The only cost saving would have been the salvage of the OBM. But that would have been salvaged when they moved back on for the completion

Not sure what the going rate for SBM in the GOM is these days but I'm willing to bet it's around $300 / bbl. You are correct that they could have salvaged the SBM when the completion ops began. However, that doesn't do them much good when they need to drill another well before then. Rig is at the next location and your expensive SBM is still in the previous hole? That's going to cost a LOT of money.

The BP report just treats it as a matter of fact. The report says the well was going to be left underbalanced and therefore a test to simulate that underbalanced condition was required. It does not explain why the well was to be underbalanced. It does not treat designing the well underbalanced as one of the underlying causes of
the accident.

This is a law-related post.

Part of the function of the BP report is to set the terms of the debate about what went wrong as it takes place in the media and public, and before it hits the legal forums. Framing the debate is key to controlling the outcome, especially for PR purposes, but also legal - the two have to be consistent usually. (The report serves other purposes, but this is clearly one of them.)

It is not an accident, IMO, that the report puts forth a theory that omits any consideration of hydrostatic balance and redundant barriers as playing a role, let alone the primary role, in what went wrong. That's the narrative they want. Why. Because under that scenario they are only guilty of negligence, and they are taking some responsibility by admitting blame here. They know what will happen if they try to dodge all blame (ask Tony H.)

If the debate includes those other considerations we have been focusing on, reckless conduct comes into the picture. That would be reckless disregard of known safe practices/minimal safe practices by displacing the riser with the well under-balanced.

The theory would be that BP knew they would put the crew in that position of displacing an underbalanced well with the plan they came up with for the day(Halfe/Morrel), and they knew the risk that entailed, but they chose to do it any way, figuring the negative pressure test offered sufficient safety margin (if the cement is bad, we will see the kick then and have the mud in the riser to effectively deal with it safely), and the time gains were well worth that risk. (We have a good team, they will catch any kick if it happens.)

The need to leave the well underbalanced was a direct consequence of the final procedures they laid out for the 20th. The final procedures permitted the quickest and most efficient way of doing all that remained to be done, with the least amount of rig time and wait time. Getting the well balanced before displacing the riser would entail multiple additional steps.

That would be the reckless disregard theory. (With potential to be worse yet.) You could also construct a negligence theory on those facts. They just did not see it, that the well would be underbalanced, or it did not register. That would be pretty lame negligence for DW.

I haven't thoroughly vetted that theory, so it undoubtedly has holes. But maybe the failure of the report to discuss the issues we've been discussing is like "the "dog that didn't bark" (Sherlock Holmes). Or maybe we're "barking up the wrong tree."

Arf Arf*

*echoing RM

Edit: Added sent.

JINN. The well was not going to be "left" under-balanced. The point of the negative test is to prove the mechanical barriers; the shoe track; the casing and the casing seal can withstand the drop in hydrostatic pressure, when the riser mud is displaced to seawater. The seawater interface was extended down to approx 3500 feet below the mudline in this case because that is where the "temporary abandonment" top plug cement was going to be placed. The whole point of the negative test is to simulate the conditions required for the top plug cement to be pushed and set, prior to the BOP being disconnected and coming back in a year or more to complete the well for production.

Yes, but the well would be under-balanced after they set the top plug and abandoned it unless they first put in some super-heavy fluid to achieve hydrostatic balance with the reservoir in the shortened interval (3000' instead of 150-300') between the two plugs.

Some have stated that no one ever uses fluid of the required density for anything?

If the top plug had been set at normal depth per the regs, that would have given an extra 2,700-2,850 length to the interval between the plugs, but it would still require very heavy fluid it appears. Does anyone recall the weight if the interval between the plugs was 7000 feet?

syn - That super high mud weight I offered was what it would have taken to balance the short interval in the lowest isolated section below the top plug. But a 13,000' column of 17.6 ppg mud would have balanced the well without taking into account the pressure from the water column (my personal safety fudge factor). But when you use the 2,300 psi pressure of the water column they only needed a 14.2 ppg mud, which is what they already had in the well, to leave it "balanced". Thus all they needed to do was set the plugs and they could have left the well balanced. A little to close to barely balanced for my taste, though.

Again, it seems as though I must be missing something obvious. Otherwise we're still in "wacky world".

Sorry i missed this RM.

"Thus all they needed to do was set the plugs and they could have left the well balanced."

So you are saying leave it with mud in the interval and also above the top plug since it was set at 3000'?

Are you also saying that if they had set the top plug at 150' below wellhead, instead of 3000', the space between the intervals would have been long enough to balance the well, maybe with 16.0ppg mud and the seawater?

SYNC. This is getting tedious. Once the top plug is set in this cased well, you throw the mud calculator over the side of the rig. There is no requirement to utilise hydrostatic pressure, above the plug; below the plug; in-between the plugs or up its jacksy. It is a dead well. You have put the cork in the neck of the bottle of champagne. You wire the cork to the neck of the bottle (the hanger casing lock down sleeve).

To extend the analogy for the mechanically hard of thinking. You have a bottle of champagne, the stuff in the bottle (the formation) has a pressure of about 3 bar (45 psi). Now, in-order to keep the formation fluid in the bottle you have two options. One; you could put it at the bottom of a 100 foot well with no cork. The hydrostatic pressure of the water would keep the champers in the bottle, no gusher or gas breakout from the champers. Two; you put a fancy cork in the neck of the bottle and bring it to the surface and put it in the wine rack. In the latter case, hydrostatic pressure is no longer required. When you want to take the cork out of the bottle you could put it back at the bottom of the well and drill it out. The hydrostatic pressure would hold the fluid in the bottle (formation). For the sake of completeness, I add the following for you Sync.

* Lawyer: "Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?"
* Witness: "No."
* Lawyer: "Did you check for blood pressure?"
* Witness: "No."
* Lawyer: "Did you check for breathing?"
* Witness: "No."
* Lawyer: "So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?"
* Witness: "No."
* Lawyer: "How can you be so sure, Doctor?"
* Witness: "Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar."
* Lawyer: "But could the patient have still been alive nevertheless?"
* Witness: "Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law somewhere."

I don't get it.

How can a cadaver be "alive and practicing law somewhere" if its brain is in a jar on a pathologists desk and its body is on an autopsy table?

I also don't get why the patients brain was in a jar on the pathologists desk prior to the autopsy.

Was it avulsed in some awful auto accident?

MOB. Word is he was a TODer who got afflicted with "Syncro reply button syndrome". Couldn't give it up; went mad and was finally found squashed to death between the pages of a dictionary, that had the word "avulsed" circled in blood. They think he may have been a Medic in a previous existence.

Apparently, the brain was found in the annulus of the Macondo well. It was probably used as part of the "junk shot" attempted early on in the blow out saga. Police reports say that the whole Macondo blow out thing, was engineered by the CIA. They had to hide the brain of some nut job, who ran a church in Florida; in the interests of world peace. Also, several ROVs have been arrested for conspiracy to pervert justice by deliberately sending fuzzy pictures when the brain was in shot. There is no evidence that the brain was ever part of an elected representative, as it was far to big with no signs of alcohol pickling.

Latest. Possible arrest of several TODers likely. Apparently, some well schematics were posted that showed a forged circle on a BP diagram, at the lower casing level. It is conjectured that this was a secret message to other TODers, showing where the brain was located. "This explains why some TODers were so keen to drill the relief well", said Attorney General Syncro. "This was the method they were going to use to get the brain out of the well", he added. Must stop now the ambulance has arrived.


"In that sense the only reason for the neg test is to make sure the cmt held if the well was going to be left underbalanced. And I still haven’t seen a good reason presented to justify that protocol."

Very simple, they had a 5,000 foot riser to clear mud out of before they could disconnect and leave, per MMS regs I would assume, and a practical matter sans any regs.

Could they fill lower 13,000 feet with mud heavy enough to make up for missing top 5,000 feet when riser is gone? Maybe so. If so, why wasn't that the plan? I don't know.

Why did they plan to remove additional 3,300 feet of mud, and got MMS approval for it? I don't know.

Why did they plan to remove top 8,300 feet of mud BEFORE setting top plug and lockdown sleeve? I don't know. Did MMS know that was the plan? I don't know. Was the plan insane? I believe so. Would I try to explain insanity? I don't believe so.

Were they placing way too much confidence in prod casing cement job? Apparently so. Were they taking one huge god-awful risk said cement job might leak? Apparently so. Did anyone feel they were taking one huge god-awful risk? NYT article suggests Vidrine did, assistant day toolpusher really did, Mark Halfe didn't, and night toolpusher Jason Anderson didn't. Did others defer to MH and JA? Apparently so.

rf - We don’t need to guess that answer. It’s simple unambiguous math. The reservoir was 11,900 psi. The well was going to be left with a 13,000’ column after riser disconnect. A 13,000’ column of 17.6 ppg mud would generate a bottom hole pressure of 11,900 psi. But remember the water column pressure at 5,000’. That’s about 2,300 psi. So to keep the well from flowing you only needed to add 9,600 psi of column weight (11,900 - 2,300). Thus a 13,000’ column of 14.2 ppg would give you that amount of head. That’s the mud weight they had in the hole when they began displacement. So even if they had completely displaced the riser with sea water the well would have still been balanced…barely. But they displaced the top 3,500’ of the csg with sea water. That would have left the well underbalanced. So if I’m close with my numbers they could have set their plugs safely (barely) if they are just displaced from the bottom of the riser and not 3,500’ down in the csg. And that brings me back to the question: why did they do that? The value of the OBM in that 3,500’ of csg was insignificant.

Again, there are enough folks here who know the relationship: pressure (psi) = 0.052 * MW (ppg) * column height (feet). So where is my calc wrong?

9,600 = 0.052 * MW * 9,700'

Solving for mud weight yeilds 19.0476 ppg.

Question we're all asking is why they didn't have 19.1 ppg mud from bottom of drillpipe down to wiper plug per MMS regulations?

Had they done that we probably wouldn't be having these discussions, neg test would have gone to zero SPP and stayed there long as they wanted to watch it, scratch their ass, tell jokes, whatever, riser displacement would have been just another boring step, proceed right on with top plug, trip drillstring out, put impression tool on, run it back down, get their impression, trip tool out, look at it, say "yea, looks good", put lockdown sleeve tool on, run it back down, set lockdown sleeve, mash on it, pressure test top plug, looks fine, trip tool out, all done, disconnect, trip BOP out, say bye to VIPs, drinks all around, turn it over to master, relax while he sails to next job ...and wish completion rig luck (they'll need it).

Question we're all asking is why they didn't have 19.1 ppg mud from bottom of drillpipe down to wiper plug per MMS regulations?

The most obvious reason is savings in rig time. Whether that is why or not would first depend on whether it's true that they would have saved time skipping that step of balancing the well before displacing.

No one has yet really put that hypothesis to the test in a convincing manner, with the cards on the table to examine.

You mean save time skipping balancing the well with sufficiently heavy mud to make up for riser displacement?

They did. And we all know what happened.

So if I’m close with my numbers they could have set their plugs safely (barely) if they are just displaced from the bottom of the riser and not 3,500’ down in the csg. And that brings me back to the question: why did they do that? The value of the OBM in that 3,500’ of csg was insignificant.

That was disclosed yesterday. They went down 3000'+ because that is the length of drill pipe they needed (the total weight of that length of pipe) to hang on the casing to weigh it down enough to fit the lock-down sleeve.

So they got the exemption from the regs that require setting it at 150-300' (Is the 150'-300' requirement to ensure maximum size of hydrostatic barrier or sufficient room to establish one?) That way they could displace the well to that depth to do the pressure test, then displace the riser, pour the plug, set the lock-down sleeve, swab the upper csg. above the plug, etc. very efficiently.

This is why I think that if someone sat down and mapped out the agenda for that day and the order of procedures, and then try to do the same thing with a balanced well, and you can't do it as fast or cleanly as they had this all set up. Their strategy must have entailed a not insignificant efficiency gain (time savings) to justify that risk. Either that, or it was appalling stupidity to not go the safer route. After seeing the pressure test play out, who knows.

edit: fixed some errors

In 35 years I’ve never tested the last cmt job on any well after the production csg was run other than holding pressure on the plug while the cmt cured.

I've worked plenty of jobs where the plan was to displace the well to an underbalanced condition after the final cement job. Prior to the displacement a negative test was carried out (inflow test). Like you say, it's not necessary if you plan to leave mud in the hole; but it is very critical if you plan to go underbalanced.

I've worked plenty of jobs where the plan was to displace the well to an underbalanced condition after the final cement job.


In those instances, did you do the final cement job before displacing to the underbalanced well?

Or did you displace the riser while the well was underbalanced and then finished the final plug/cementing?

Thanks for any insight.

Actually you bring up a significant difference between the wells I was familiar with and the Macondo well. In my cases, these were wells drilled on a production platform in which the perforations were to be done underbalanced. Chain of events would go something like this (leaving out some stuff in between, but listing the major steps):

Cement liner (OBM still in the well at this point)
Circulate out any excess cement, POOH
RIH with clean-up tool string
Displace DP capacity with base oil to provide underbalace in the string
Observe pressures, record on Horner plot, etc. (inflow test)
If test good we go forward with the clean-up / completion.

Basically, it's not until after verifying results of the inflow test that we put the well underbalance. When doing P&A on exploration wells I've never seen the well left underbalanced. Plugs would be set in either mud or a brine with sufficient density.

Thanks very much for sharing your experience, Ray, that's some additional insight to help our discussion.

We have heard others say they have left wells unbalanced, but top plugs were set before displacing the riser. OTP, or RTP. I forget. Another great post sharing personal experience, though.

We have yet to have anyone share the experience of having displaced the riser to an already unbalanced well without at least the top plug set.

Thanks, Ray!

I think the whole problem here is your "no test performed" statement.
If you had said an "improper test" was performed, it would have been more readily accepted.


You have the same problem the deepwater Horizon crew had. You think you can democratically vote and decide whether the cement is good. It doesn't matter how many people vote that the cement is good or vote the cement is bad. It doesn't affect the the dement or the outcome one little bit.

Perhaps a sports analogy. If a football game is scheduled and neither team shows up at the stadium, do you say "an improper game was played"? Or do you say "no game was played"? Does the fact that the cheerleaders entertained the crowd for 2 hours count as a game having been played? Do you then argue for 5 months about who won the game and what the results of the game mean?

The fact is the first time the well integrity was put to the test was around 9:00 on April 20. Prior to 9:00 there was no evidence that the cement lacked integrity. there was no evidence the cement had integrity either. Before 9:00 the condition of the cement was untested.

If they had been lucky the well would have past it first test at 9:00 and then we never would have heard about the Deepwater Horizon.

Jinn; Sorry, I have no dog in this fight! I'm getting the distinct impression that you just like to argue and will find any fault you can in peoples comments just for the sake of it. Your points are valid... now let it lay! My last word on it!

Prior to 9:00 there was no evidence that the cement lacked integrity.

Factually untrue. There were returns. And there was unexplained pressure in the DP. There was sufficient evidence of lack of integrity according to BP and many here to conclude the cement was bad.

They could not explain the 1400psi. They should have deemed it a failure at that point absent a sound, verified explanation for the pressure since they had no other procedures to go by and no explanation for the results.

From my novice understanding, the 1400psi is where the leaked showed up, not the kill line, because it was clogged or closed. The slow rise to 1400 psi was the evidence of a leak on the second test. The lost returns initially on the first test showed same thing. Is this incorrect with respect to the 1400psi? We already agree the 15 bbl returns showed a leak.

syncro, You just keep making up what you want to be true. There was no proof that the well lacked integrity. If Anderson had seen pressure like this on the drill pipe in previous test, did those wells lack integrity?

The BP report says essentially 3 things about the negative test:

A) The rig had no detailed instruction on how to perform the test
or specific criteria for success or failure.

B) The rig had failed to demonstrate that the well had integrity.

C) the anomalous pressure readings were an opportunity to do more testing to evaluate well integrity.

Now ask yourself this -> What testing could the rig have done to determine casing integrity?

The only test would be to do a negative test.

syncro, You just keep making up what you want to be true.

No, I am practicing the socratic method of discourse. Don't attack me, attack the hypothesis where it is faulty. I even ask at the end if the explanation offered makes sense.

With respect to well integrity, I am only repeating what BP said in the report. I quoted it twice already and do not want to dig it up again. The report says that upon the basis of the returns during the period you refer to as the brief period they achieved underbalance, before the pressure built to 1400 after the shut the kill line, the report says the crew should have concluded there was communication with the reservoir. Go back and read it if you disagree since I quoted it yesterday and the day before.

A) The rig had no detailed instruction on how to perform the test
or specific criteria for success or failure.

Sounds like BP should have done a Google search for "Horner Plot".

I believe this comment to be true. There was already the screw-up (deliberate) of pumping twice as much 'spacer' as needed, and some of it being left below and within the BOP. During those 25 minutes, there wasn't 'nothing' going on. Those people were all punching their calculators and trying to figure out whether with the spacer and its position, the test was valid. Which it wasn't, QED. If a true 'negative test' had been properly done, DP pressure would have been zero.


I don't know if the spacer was a cause or not. The MI-Swaco mud engineer did the calculations for placement of the spacer. After quite a few weeks that mud engineer testified he still believed his calculations were correct.

I don't know if we will ever know why they had 1250 PSI on the drill pipe. You can promote several valid theories that explain why that pressure was there. But theories are irrelevant.

The salient point is this:

1250 PSI on the drill pipe is not a result of a negative test. 1250 PSI on the drill pipe is positive proof that you are not doing a negative test.

See pg. 88-89 of the BP report.

Item 5 on the chart ~17:26 Drill pipe pressure bled to zero for negative-pressure test.

Item 6 ~17:53 Decision made to conduct negative-pressure test via the kill line; kill line opened; 3-15 bbls bled to cement unit.

Item 7 ~18:01 Shut in kill line at cement unit, drill pipe pressure starts to increase.

Item 8 Drill pipe pressure increases to 1400 psi at 18:35.

Item 9 ~18:40 Fluid pumped into kill line to confirm full; kill line opened to mini tank for monitoring.

Item 10 Discussion about 'annular compression' and 'bladder effect' while monitoring kill line. DP pressure holds constant at 1400 psi.

Item 11 19:55 Test deemed successful.


Note that nobody had procedures or acceptance criteria for a negative-pressure test. It's all run from experience. Not BP, Not TO, Not MMS.

What they were doing was something like:
1) Circulate to position fluids.
2) Bleed off DP and ensure annular seal.
3) Bleed off DP to zero.
4) Bleed off kill to zero.
5) Close DP.
6) Close kill.
7) Wait. (Pressure should remain zero.)
8) Open kill and observe any produced volume. Should be zero.

If everything worked properly, they would have noticed the flow.
But the kill was plugged so nothing flowed.
After step 4 it's in the negative-pressure state.
But they put 5 before 4. And after that the well pressured back up to a static pressure.
They had a bad feeling about the DP pressure but rationalized it instead of understanding it.

You are correct that the well was never in the desired sustained negative-pressure state. But the procedure they followed was close to correct and if the well had not re-pressured after they bled off, it would have been a true negative-pressure test.

You are correct that the well was never in the desired sustained negative-pressure state. But the procedure they followed was close to correct and if the well had not re-pressured after they bled off, it would have been a true negative-pressure test.


Yes it was close it only missed by a few hundred PSI.

One would hope that no drill crew uses that fatally flawed method again on a well that is going to be displaced to an underbalanced condition.

How about this for a test procedure. Do your first 3 steps and then wait half and hour and see what happens. It is kind of hard to build up pressure on the drill pipe if you leave it open.

Does this theory hold if the spacer was not that far down and thus would not have provided a basis for the 1400 psi static pressure?

Also, what about the BP statements that when they got flow/returns while doing the test off of the drill pipe (the so called first test) where jinn seems to acknowledge the well was unbalanced for a short period, would those returns, as BP specifically states in the report, be evidence of communication?

It is an interesting point because if so that would mean they had achieved test conditions and got evidence of flow. Arguably, that counts as a failed test even though they did not do it for 30 mins. If you get flow at any point during the 30 mins, it fails, no? Or must you accumulate returns during that entire time for the test to be considered as providing actual evidence of flow?

How about this for a test procedure. Do your first 3 steps and then wait half and hour and see what happens. It is kind of hard to build up pressure on the drill pipe if you leave it open.

1) Circulate to position fluids.
2) Bleed off DP and ensure annular seal.
3) Bleed off DP to zero.
4) Bleed off kill to zero.

I think they wanted to close off the DP so all the returns, if any, would come via the kill line. This could be for convenience in routing/observing/metering the returns.

When they opened the kill line and verified no returns they still had 1400 psi on the DP. They could have opened the DP to bleed it back down and they would have seen the increase there.

It's hard to believe that MMS accepts a negative-test but does not define procedure or acceptance criteria or even require the operator to provide their own procedure or acceptance criteria.

They could have opened the DP to bleed it back down and they would have seen the increase there.

This is what confused me with jinn's explanation. He seemed to preclude that the 1400psi was indicative of flow, which is what you are describing. But maybe he just wants people to consider only what he deems significant so they get his point. Maybe not. The heavy spacer fluid appears to provide an alternative theory for the 1400, but I made some unforgivable error in how i handled that, and so i was not entitled to know the truth.

When the spacer was first positioned it could account for the differential pressure. When the DP and kill are opened, the light side will flow out as they fill in the gap on the other side. Then it will all be balanced with no pressure on the DP or kill.

Even if they leave one side heavy, they should have calculated the expected pressure on the light side.

Again we're back at no formal procedure or evaluation criteria for a critical test.

The Permit that MMS approved said

"Negative test casing to seawater gradient
equivalent for 30 minutes"

If they left the DP open there would be seawater gradient from 8300 to atmosphere. Wouldn't matter where the spacer is, as long as the drill pipe was all water. If they are going to use the kill line then there better not be any spacer from 8300' to atmosphere in that flow path.

The bottom line is if you have zero pressure on the drill pipe for 30 minutes you can call the test good. If you don't have zero pressure on the DP for the duration you haven't tested the casing to seawater gradient equivalent for 30 minutes.

Thanks, both of you, for helping me to see it all!

The WSJ link in the main post opens with a popup ad for WSJ PRO that can't be closed (at least not by my computer).
This link, posted by completenovice in the last open thread, doesn't have that malfunctioning ad.

Question about the WSJ article (and the Bly report):
How do they know that the diverter was functioning properly? According to the report by Energy Training Resources (pg. 13 PDF), "diverters only have about a 500 pound pressure capacity and can be overwhelmed by extreme flow."

Also, pg. 35:

There are unconfirmed signs that the diverter was activated to direct riser flow away from the rig, but it appears to have been overwhelmed quickly. There are reports of mud and water blowing past the crown of the derrick and fluid rushing into the mud equipment even though return flow had been directed overboard.

'Nuke Anything Enhanced' takes it out nicely on Firefox.


Ping Isaacnd200

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....

Does he mean that he operates the JCB?

Ping Pinkfud

Any reference for that Rocky Flats incident of losing 2kg?


Here he is on his last job :


NAOM: I simply remember the deal because it was news at the time and I lived in Denver. If you're really interested, it should be possible to find it in the morgues of the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News. I doubt there's anything online. It was, after all, a national security matter, and in those days such stuff was routinely silenced. Vietnam war and all, you know.

Thinking about it, I wonder if the whole deal was a "disgruntled worker" scenario. In big plants like that, things get built, torn down, and rebuilt ad nauseum. Let's consider that someone there wanted to kick the plant's tail. Maybe he found an old drain pipe that goes down deep and no longer connects to anything. So he swipes pellets off the processing line and drops them down the pipe. If it's deep enough, not enough radiation would come up to detect. Presto, stuff is missing without it having to be smuggled past all the elaborate security.

That would explain why the missing stuff never turned up or got used in any sort of attack, etc. The motive would have been simply to get the place in trouble. The guy knew the shortage would eventually be discovered, and all hell would break loose.

Do you have a year that I can use to try and narrow it down? I am curious because they lost material in the UK. It was finally traced to the pipes of the process plant. The 'lost' material ended up lining the pipes and when they added up the total length of pipes a very thin coating added up to a lot. The concern became that you get too much in the pipes then there is an 'oh, oops' potential of criticality.


Well, I think it was before I entered the Air Force, which was 1966. Try the range of 1963-66. I also just looked at the Wikipedia article and saw that there were a lot of other incidents I never heard about. Looks like that place was a mess for a long time, but no mention is made of "my" incident. As I recall, one theory at the time was that the missing material was coating pipes like you said, but tests showed that wasn't the case. A little was found, but not the main bulk.

Edit to add: I don't think they ever specified what the material was, but considering they were processing spent reactor fuel to recover plutonium, I suspect it was mainly U238 with a little Pu239 entrained. If so, that's mighty heavy stuff. 2Kg would be, I think, much smaller than a tennis ball. So it wouldn't take a lot of space to lose it in.

Bringing over a subthread from yesterday:

It is about an NPR article with the inflammatory headline “Scientists Find Thick Layer Of Oil On Seafloor.”

I'm sure we'll find this headline quoted on the websites devoted to scaring people and convincing them the government is lying. It will be assimilated into the folklore belief that there is crude oil all over the Gulf floor that was "sunk to the bottom" with dispersant and is still being bombed with Corexit to keep it from rising.

But the article by Matthew Harris does a pretty good job of making clear that the material found by the R/V Oceanus group led by Samantha Joye is basically not oil, but a biological product containing some residual oil fractions.

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. [snip] "The organisms that break down oil excrete mucus — copious amounts of mucus," Joye says. "So it's kind of like a slime highway from the surface to the bottom. Because eventually the slime gets heavy and it sinks."

Evidently this is the same material collected by Ben Raines and analyzed by Ed Overton of LSU. It is probably closely related to the oily brown seafoam that has been observed from Alabama to Louisiana and was observed to coat beach furniture on windy days in Orange Beach. And it has nothing to do with Corexit.

Again, crude oil per se must by now be almost entirely gone from the Gulf. What remains is tar and this biological floc that is still being decomposed. Both will sink and mix with sediments. They are not harmless because they contain some PAHs. But they are not crude oil and they are not Corexit.

Scientists pimping their research may not even be aware of the spill folklore that they may inadvertently nourish while they are pimping their research, like the WAVCIS guy:

Journalist and headline writers need to be careful, too--well, many of them apparently don't understand that the folklore is folklore, or else they are deliberately tabloidizing. But the climate of fear and suspicion on the coast is a socially corrosive pathology.

GOM crap blows on my car everyday since I have lived here. This crap seems worse since 4/20 WTH do I know.

Edit: All you beach people chime in. You get more film on the car than inland folks?

The GOM crap in Orange Beach was described as brownish and oily and occurring only with strong south winds and heavy surf. My guess is sea foam polluted with excess organic matter resulting from the spill (oil=bacteria food) and a small amount of residual oil. Had you seen dirty, oily stuff on the car before the spill?

I can only speak for myself here on the beach, but it's always had a film on it since I moved here.....I haven't noticed any difference and most of the time I accidentally leave the top down all night. But this is coming from someone who changes the oil once a yr and only has it waxed once a yr (maybe washed twice)!

Call me a Cynic Gobbet, but we need to get back to something that was apparent after the first week of this debacle, the first "reflex" that Hayward/BP had was (and no disrespect to the 11 dead) "hide the body". The last thing BP wanted was to make anything about this "open and transparent". The FIRST thing they wanted was to "contain" unfiltered information and do their best to hide any evidence they could that would point to them in the future, including generous use of Corexit to keep the oil "out of sight and out of (the public's) mind".

Actually, considering group psychology and the state of the Economy, it is not in the Governments interest to "spook the herd" either. The Stock Market is a good example of highly non-rational response to "mood and rumors"...

Hi, Nessus.

Actually I don't think Heyward was lying. I think he was a loudmouthed a*hole who was not used to minding his tongue and who didn't understand how little he understood about blowouts, oil in the water, and marine ecology. BP fired him for making obviously wrong and foolish statements. BP has been a terrible company for years, and certainly doesn't deserve anyone's automatic trust, but I'm not aware of any deliberate malfeasance by them in the course of the containment and cleanup efforts. They have been on best behavior, for reasons of their own interest.

From the previous thread ..

esarlls3 asked
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?

there were a couple of responses on sampling techniques..

but would there even be any old cement left in the well to sample?

Wouldn't all or almost all it have been washed out during the summer flow?

and any trace of it still remaining when the flow was capped buried in the new cement pumped in during the static kill?

or might there still be some in the very bottom of the well bore?

Ubiquitanium X-4 (No! You'll blow up the ocean!)

"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."

And if Murdoch had thrown the engines into reverse and left the rudder centered, the Titanic would have plowed into the iceberg in the way it was intended to take a collision, and it might have survived.

Or, if Murdoch had left the engines alone and worked the rudder to complete the port-around maneuver, they might have missed the iceberg entirely.

Hindsight is such a great thing. Second guessing someone who is acting under great pressure with incomplete information is pointless.

Hindsight is such a great thing. Second guessing someone who is acting under great pressure with incomplete information is pointless.

Yes and No. If the second guessing is only to criticize or lay blame then it is pointless. If the second guessing is to learn from what happened to improve response in future incidents, then it can be very valuable indeed.

Things to consider:
Can this be used for improving well control training for drilling crews?
How might the crew have recognized the situation called for a different response?
Could the onboard system on rigs be improved to handle this kind of situation?

Under great stress, the captain of the Titanic made an instinctive and obvious, but ultimately wrong choice. His ship could not make that turn in time to avoid the iceberg. Nowadays, crew on large ships (tankers, liners, etc), like airliner crews, train on simulators. They learn how their vessels respond at different speeds, rudder angles, etc. This helps them make better descisions in times of high stress. Captain Sullenberger made a conscious descision to attempt a very risky landing in the river, rather than the more instinctive choice of attempting to reach an alternate airstrip because of this kind of training. He knew what his equipment could, and more importantly could not do, in that situation.

Edit: I believe some drilling crews also do simulator training for well control.

If the Captain of the Titanic had hit the iceberg with the forepeak of the ship instead of making that turn the ship would not have sank. IMO

That is kind of the point of the discussion. The Captain did the obvious, intuititve, instinctive manuever, trying to avoid hitting the berg. The ship could not turn that fast, and scraping the side of the berg made the situation much worse.

The counter intuitive option, to take the hit head on, therefore damaging only the first few watertight compartments was probably the best option, but was hardly instinctive or obvious.

Kind of like when your car starts to skid on an icy road. What is instinctive is not always the best choice.

Carefull analysis, "twenty twenty hindsight", and "Monday morning quarterbacking" can be very useful to help us understand when to follow our instincts vs when to take another option.

One thing that seem obvious to me is that if the MGS can overload and dump gas/liquids onto the deck there should be an automatic relief valve switch to dump overboard at some flow rate/pressure.

Perhaps even dumping to one of those Q4000 torches with an ignitor on it to ensure combustion and prevent risk of ignition of a large accumulated volume later.

Did the presence of the VIPs come to mind for a split second when that decision was made?

Admittedly maybe it's a preposterous thought. It just occurred to me out of the blue.

I doubt that. The MGS is probably their default dump when they get some gas returns while drilling. Just a matter of habit to send it that way.

They had probably seldom if ever dumped overboard. MMS does not like it when you dump mud & hydrocarbons in the gulf.

That's why I think there should be an automatic relief to overboard if the MGS can't handle the volume/pressure coming in.

The short answer is the MGS had a 6" rupture disc set at 15 psi, which did burst (they have pictures of the 6" flamethrower jetting overboard) and a downward facing gooseneck (an inverted U) pointing right at the drilling floor.

The problem is one of MNFA (Minimum Net Flow Area).

The rupture disc was 6".
The diverter was 14".
The riser ID was 18.75".

You can't put 10 pounds in a 5 pound bag. The MGS was adequate for minor flows, but it and likely even the diverter would blow out under the pressure of a serious blowout due to the flowing backpressures they would create.

In hindsight, always divert blowouts, never send them through the MGS. The fines for dumping oil based mud overboard are a pittance compared to the consequences of a blowout.

PV - OTOH slowing the ship's speed and posting additional lookouts might have avoided the collision. Is that just hindsight or a safe sailing protocol? Is critisizing someone for driving 90 mph thru a school zone and running over a kid in the cross walk just second guessing or offering a valid view of someone doing something very risky/foolish?

Years ago a Hollywood actor put a stunt gun against his head and pulled the trigger. Even though it was loaded with blanks it blew a piece of his skull into his brain and he died instantly. Second guessing to say he did something very wrong? A poor judgement and just flat stupid?

To Tinfoil:
“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.”

I saw your post about your brother. It sounds like he is getting some well-deserved recognition. When I got my BBA I was offered the chance at OCS but turned it down because I recognized that I was a good NCO but would probably make a poor officer.

Ironically, I felt that I lacked the ‘moral courage’ necessary to order others to take risks that I was not personally sharing. As an NCO – if I screwed up I would pay the price alongside my troops, and this seemed to be fair to me. It requires a better man that I to work in a position where you are going to make mistakes that harm your people and then get up the next morning and have to make those same decisions again.

There is a reason SGM's get paid more than LT's. Thank you too and the other Non-Coms and enlistees. I believe the same honor is bestowed on enlistees, non-coms and warrants, just have to be a grad. It is plus for the university. Times change. Non-com was a good career then and a better one now.

U.S. Backs $1B Loan to Mexico for Oil Drilling Despite Obama Moratorium

Despite President Obama's moratorium on U.S. deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. Export-Import Bank intends to guarantee $1 billion in loans to PEMEX, the Mexican state oil company, to bolster the company's oil drilling in the region.

And PEMEX was the Operator of Ixtoc 1 in 1979, the biggest blowout and subsequent pollution in the GOM, bigger than Macondo. But in Mexican waters, not USA. I wonder if the billion is coming out of funds provided by BP?


It does seem rather perverse ironic that the US would make $1B available given the push for a moratorium, particularly since Pemex will be drilling a 2600 meter well (Maximino) in the Gulf.

Pemex is looking to deepwater finds, where the company estimates it may have 30 billion barrels of oil, to offset output declines at Cantarell, the world’s third-largest field when it was discovered in 1976. The company does not expect to defer deepwater drilling plans after the oil spill at BP Plc’s Macondo well, the world’s worst accidental leak, Morales said.

More: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-08-06/pemex-postpones-drilling-deepes...

Funny that someone decided to wait till the weekend to release this info.

"Funny that someone decided to wait till the weekend to release this info."

Not funny at all. Late Friday afternoon is the standard time for aany company or government agency to release anything contraversial or 'bad news.'

The idea is that if you release on a Friday - you have the chance that something will happen on Saturday or Sunday that will get the attention of the news media and cause your story to be overlooked come Monday.

OTOH - if the news is going to make you look good, release it first thing in the morning on a Monday. (Or even Sunday evening.) This increases the chances that your news will be the 'big story of the day.'

Of course.

It is true, a child just dropped from its dam may be supported by her milk for a solar year, with little other nourishment; at most not above the value of 2s., which the mother may certainly get, or the value in scraps, by her lawful occupation of begging; and it is exactly at one year old that I propose to provide for them in such a manner as instead of being a charge upon their parents or the parish, or wanting food and raiment for the rest of their lives, they shall on the contrary contribute to the feeding, and partly to the clothing, of many thousands.

Funny, like that.


"Funny" wasn't the best adjective to use and it was meant to be sardonic. I quoted a section from Swift's "A Modest Proposal" and should have included these in the post.



I can't quite rationalize THIS decision either: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405297020386320457434661012052416...

Obama Underwrites Offshore Drilling in Brazil but it's only $2bil

$2B for starters. Probably cut some kind of supply agreement. It's better to use Other People's Oil as long as the next deep drilling disaster doesn't cause political fallout in Washington.

Probably some payback too.

Lots of discussion a couple of months ago about the Obama / Brazil deal. Funny thing is one of Petrobras' top investors was none other than George Soros. Mr. Soros donated a few dimes to Obama's campaign.

Earlier this spring so many of the conservative judges on the 5th cir. court of appeal had to recuse themselves due to owning energy stock that they could not get a quorum for an en banc hearing. I am sure if you searched their stock ownership, you'd find many conservatives would benefit.

But more to the point, i think what obama is doing is smart, as an energy security investment (with a country/company with decent drilling safety, right?), and as a political signal to oil industry that he supports DW drilling and that rather than opposing DW, he is investing in it. He's not out to kill it.

Salazar's action shows the same thing. If they were opposed, they would have taken the position that the court ruling applied everywhere. Instead, they got a court ruling limiting it to alaska and then moved forward with finalizing dates for the GOM sales of new leases. That is a pro-off-shore oil agenda, the actions taken. He recognizes it as a necessity and is committed to leveraging the resource and promoting development.

I am not sure how a 6-month ban because of a once in 30 years disaster can been seen as a pro-offshore stance at all. Seems to me he is perfectly happy to send our money and jobs to other places, but doesn't care what happens here.

We will have to differ on this one. No harm in that.

I was not talking about the ban, Ray. I was talking about the $2Billion investment in off-shore in brazil and the opening of new off-shore leases in the GOM. And in particular, why he made the $2billion investment in off-shore exploration.

I understand your feelings on the moratorium, many share them. But that's why I think he is doing this, to show that while you may disagree with him on the need for the moratorium, there is no disagreement that we should move ahead with off-shore, including DW, and he believes it is necessary and that we should be investing in it and promoting development for out energy security, and he's going to do that and is.

Added sent

Snopes.com debunks some of the speculation about the Petrobas loan. My point was that Pemex will be drilling deepwater wells in the Gulf.

Checking in on the Chilean miners:

* ABC says they're hitting the grumpy stage of cabin fever now, starting to rip around a tidge recklessly in their trucks and gripe that their request for wine went nowhere. Wonder if it would help them to know that . . .

* Reuters is already fretting about how they'll deal with celebrity when they get out.

* NASA's advice: take plenty of exercise and Vitamin D.

* Meanwhile, they've received greetings and advice from a certain Frenchman, Italian, Chinese, and three Russians. So what? These six happen to have been locked in a "Mars mission" simulator in Moscow since June 3.

* A company from Calgary, Alberta, has sent one of its rigs (which was idle in Chile but 1,000 kilometers away) to start drilling a 90-centimeter (35+ inch) rescue bore.

* Also on the way: medical "survival" kits like US and UK troops use in Iraq and Afghanistan.

* But The Guardian's chap in San José wins the Subterranean Pulitzer with his a-day-in-the-life-of-the-mine report: not only do they have a waterfall shower and running-water "toilet," they've got hot food deliveries, live football-watching, and bureaucracy (theirs includes an official biographer, official poet, and quasi-priest). But the guy most essential to their welfare is still that two-timing Jonny Barrios:

... "Jonny, can you hear me?" yelled the Chilean health minister, Dr Jaime Manalich, during a medical conference call last week. "Jonny, have you ever pulled out a tooth?"

From far below came the crackle of Barrios's voice. "Yeah … one of my own."

"If we have to ask you to pull a tooth and send you sterilised equipment, could you?" asked Manalich, who promised to first send a how-to video showing Barrios the most professional way to rip out an infected molar. "Remember Jonny, tell the men if they don't keep brushing their teeth that you will soon be ripping their teeth out down there." ...

'Scuse me now, gotta go brush.

lotus, thanks for a terrific bit of "news aggregation." The Guardian article is outstanding.

So far, this is an inspiring example of humane action at its disciplined and creative best. I hope they don't end up eating each other.

The cement pumped during the kill is a now a massive 5,000 feet column. The drillpipe below the bop that fell off was 3,000 feet long. It is buried in the cement and will not interfere with the outlined operation.

The graphics have the depth readings (no to scale)on the left.

The kaput BOP from the DWH has now (15:20 CDT) arrived at the NASA Michoud Facility in New Orleans.

At the seaward end of the South West Pass of the Mississippi the BOP ram-stack and the LMRP stack were lifted by the Q-4000's 360 ton crane onto a barge. With the tug Emily C. Cheramie pulling and the tug Baltic Dawn pushing it went up the Mississipi, through a lock and canals to the NASA facility. The U.S. Coast Guard ship USCG Razorbill accompanied the transport.

The brother of #theoildrum chat participent "smokebreak" took a few pictures when the ships entered the New Orleans area.

(click pic to enlarge)
The BOP ram-stack (the originally lower part) is to the left with red lifting slings, the LMRP part with flex joint and transition spool still attached is on the right.

Excellent pics!! Thank smokebreak's brother for us.

Michoud, La.--AP--Breaking news--FailBOP was damaged in an assassination attempt at dockside by an unmarked ROV wielding an industrial rivet gun. A NASA crane responded by lifting the ROV and dashing it fatally to the ground. No corporation has claimed responsibility. A BP spokesman said Anadarko, Transocean, and the US government all stood to benefit from the attack.

I think that is the funniest thing I have read on the TOD since the start of this mess.


However, others report that a second ROV, indication of a massive conspiracy, also attacked from a Grassy Knoll at the Michoud facility. Eye witnesses suggest that FailBOP went "back, and to the left... back, and to the left... back, and to the left." Such reports were quickly dismissed by a currently-evolving Single ROV Theory.

Skeptics, however, remain dubious that such an attack could be the work of just one ROV, "One pristine ROV? That dog don't hunt."

Oliver Stone has been added to the list of people who stood to benefit from the attack.

Gobbet - THAT is LOL funny!! I'm saving it. Nice "comic relief".

Moon, Thank you SO MUCH for posting these and please send thanks to your fellows over at #theoildrum, as well. Hope y'all don't mind I shared them with my kids and a friend in Chatt., who is an Exxon retiree. (gave credit to you and them, of course)

I think that if I lived down there I would have tried to be out there myself to see the "Entry of the BOP into NOLA"--a Wagnerian moment, to be sure. My brain, which plays background music for almost everything, is playing "Entry of the Gods into Valhalla." Lizzy

Most folks never hear (or realize they are hearing) the French horns in this thing. The horns are primarily responsible for the increasing "frenzy" (music teachers call it tension, but it's frenzy) as it progresses. It's is probably the hardest thing I ever played (on my horn). It's AWESOME! And seriously, as soon as I saw the pic in Moon's post, I thought "Entry of the BOP into NOLA," and my brain launched the appropriate accompaniment.

Whadda brain!

And NO, I've not clinked all evening! HOWEVER, think I'll do it now. (It takes SO little to make me happy!)

To the Wagnerian Moment!


No one with such a brain should clink alone!


Coming in a little late, but I'll clink to any old Wagnerian Moment. Ain't no better moments, say I. Awesome that you got to play this one.


Dead man walking soundtrack The Face of Love

With soundtrack by RockyP: The story of the BOP pics

I read the WSJ article this morning. While reading I recalled that there have been several stories of deferred maintenance of systems that most people would assume are well maintained because they are important to crew safety, but ... what do we actually know about the diverter system. It must have some mechanical parts that need to be moved by some electrical or hydraulic actuator. There are wires and valves and controller boxes. Stuff that can malfunction under test, and when that happens should be replaced promptly. Was it actually in functioning condition? Is there any proof? Proof that is worthy of belief? I wonder.

And concerning the statements attributed to a senior member of the crew concerning the possibility of something called U-tubing as a reason for the unusual results of the negative pressure test. Is there a contemporaneous record of what he actually said? Or is the information about his behavior recollections of people who were themselves shouting very loudly at the time when they now claim to have been listening very carefully? It is easy to lay blame on the dead.

Yes, I have some suspicions about attributing the failed test to Anderson, beyond it being ludicrous, they may not be represent accurately what happened. They declined to resolve credibility issues where there was a conflict in the info.

China Explores a Frontier 2 Miles Deep

When three Chinese scientists plunged to the bottom of the South China Sea in a tiny submarine early this summer, they did more than simply plant their nation’s flag on the dark seabed.

The men, who descended more than two miles in a craft the size of a small truck, also signaled Beijing’s intention to take the lead in exploring remote and inaccessible parts of the ocean floor, which are rich in oil, minerals and other resources that the Chinese would like to mine. And many of those resources happen to lie in areas where China has clashed repeatedly with its neighbors over territorial claims....

Olympics Challenger ROV 2 is all over the DWH site with some great pictures

Ghostly and sad. Maybe it's just where the ROV is looking, but it seems to be in pieces. Saw one hunk with what appeared to be one of those short stairways, in perfect condition, not bent or broken, but that was attached to something much bigger and bulkier that looked like it had been ripped apart, huge jagged plates of metal.

It also came across one of the thrusters on the rig. Looked undamaged.

In a public display of triumph the USCG transports the BOP:


Notice the prisoner has not been properly restrained. He can move around on the barge.

Notice also the bottom part looks like a tower clock with a dial showing the crime occurred at 9:45...

Do you think the feds will dust the BOP for finger prints?

At the bottom of that page, there's a link to a nice video (short) of the procession shot from a helicopter.

Reminds me of opening scene in Hunt For Red Octorber ... without the snow, Sean Connery, etc.

What they need, less testimony, more forensics, and I suspect TO might just get their head handed to them. Too bad they can't do similar forensics on BP side, well actually they can, but BP has lots more money to call off the dogs.

APNewsBreak: Calif. gas pipe ranked high risk

Or at least a section of the same line in which the blast occurred, but about two-and-a-half miles away.

One of the people killed in the blast (along with her 13-year-old daughter) had been working for the California Public Utilities Commission evaluating PG&E's plans to replace out-of-date pipes.

Five people are still missing.

The severed chunk of pipe had several smaller sections welded together, and it did have a seam along its entire length.

I'm learning a lot here, thanks.

BUT, I see y'all keep running into some brick walls.

What was BP's well plans?
What was Haliburton's recipe?
And Corexit's?
echoing other posters here-

And you guys use so much maths, it hurts my head.
That's okay though, keep going, I manage to cipher good enough. Can't wait until the documentaries, hope Nova does one.

Ingredients made public, Corexit: http://www.nalco.com/news-and-events/4297.htm

Drilling plan: http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/public_lands/energy/dirty_en...

I don't think I've ever seen a precise recipe for the cement actually used but it was supposed to be API Class H and incorporate nitrogen foam, http://energycommerce.house.gov/documents/20100614/Macondo.Well.Casing.P.... If someone has a link to the precise mix specs of what was actually used, please post it so Mainerd can get some sleep. Until then, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870436240457548005162988698... :

The test on the cement was performed at CSI Technologies in Houston. The laboratory didn't have access to actual samples from the well, as those have been sealed by court order. The BP team said it asked Halliburton to provide the exact formula so the cement could be replicated, but Halliburton declined. The lab recreated the cement itself.
The test drew criticism from some industry experts. Because the cement tested was not necessarily the same as that used, the test was irrelevant, said Robert MacKenzie, a former oil-industry cement engineer now at FBR Capital Markets in Arlington, Va... Until there is an independent test of the cement, he said, "I think the jury is still out."

Louisiana and Florida lead Alabama in BP oil spill claims approved and money paid

Florida claimants have received the most payments: 4,323 for $25.8 million. Louisiana claimants got the most money: $43.8 million from 3,580 claims.

Alabama is third in both regards, with 3,279 claims paid worth $19.6 million. Mississippi is fourth, with 1,154 claims paid worth $10.3 million.

The following is a bit off topic, but since folks are bringing up the use of dispersants and saying that things are not so bad down here, and that the oil spill will have little effect on these species, I felt it appropriate to post some information about this. If it's not please forgive me, but the future down here depends on the survival of these species.


Brown shrimp live for approximately one year although they have been kept alive in the laboratory for over two years. They grow, migrate and reproduce in a short time span. At seven months of age brown shrimp begin to spawn offshore in 150 – 300 feet of water.

After hatching, the shrimp becomes a planktonic larva called a nauplii. As they grow, shrimp transform through five naupliar stages, each slightly bigger than the last. Following the last naupliar stage, occuring when the shrimp is 0.02 inches long, and its next transformation yields a shrimp plankton called a protozoea. Three protozoeal stages result in brown shrimp larvae becoming a whopping 0.09 (3/32) inches long. The last of the exclusively offshore stages are called mysis and three stages will produce a shrimp 0.15 inches long. Postlarvae will develop 10 to 24 days after fertilization at 0.16 (5/32) inches. This stage enters the estuary beginning in March, and develops utilizing marsh edges and sea grassto hide from predators while feeding on available phytoplankton or decaying material.

At about 1 inch, the juvenile shrimp alter their eating habits. Juvenile and adult brown shrimp prefer meat. As they age, brown shrimp become predators feeding mainly on small worms, tiny crustaceans and even other shrimp.

When estuarine shrimp range from 3 - 4 inches long (131 to 58 count) they begin their journey offshore. Adult brown shrimp prefer saltier water and will migrate about 20 miles offshore were they will spawn and complete their life cycle.

Large numbers of post larval white shrimp begin to appear in local estuaries in June. Some adult white shrimp even remain in the estuary and spawn. White shrimp also feed differently from brown shrimp as they are scavengers and eat a more balanced diet including worms, snails, algae and plant stems and roots.

The white shrimp spawning period is from April through August while brown and pink shrimp spawn year-round. Despite this almost constant source of shrimp, these are considered to be ‘seasonal’ fisheries. Brown shrimp have two seasonal peaks of spawning activity, August through November and April through June while pink shrimp have a peak in summer. These peaks and periods are related to each species preferred environmental conditions.

Brown shrimp postlarvae appear in marsh areas once temperatures reach 68°F, usually March. Scientists believe that offshore postlarvae shrimp are able to ‘sense’ the temperature change and utilize their ability to move up and down in the water column allowing ocean currents to carry them into the estuary.


Also the following link through Barnes and Noble is to a book entitled "Marine and Freshwater Products Handbook", click See Inside book button and browse through pages 69-82. I'd buy the book but don't have $230.00 to spare. It talks about how pollution affects oysters.


The jury is clearly still out on the long term effects on fauna health and populations and will be for a long time. Neither hysteria nor Pollyannaism is helpful at this point and anyone who is flat out unconcerned is being foolish, in my opinion.

There is no hysteria in my post. I am simply trying to gather information that we will need for our final claim through the fund. Since the jury is still out and will be for quite a while IMO, knowing the spawning habits of shrimp will give a little insight as to how it will be affected. Knowing how oil can affect oysters does the same. Trying to predict the future is beyond my capabilities. Every claim is going to be based on speculation through no fault of our own. Feinberg set the rules. The studies of this are so diverse in opinions, contradicting in information it's apparent that it will take years for true conclusion to be made. We will need to find reliable information in order to argue our cases when the final claims are put in which start at the end of November and will last for 3 years. Unfortunately, not a lot of people down here are going to be able to wait til the end of that 3 year period to file a final claim, so they will have to base there claim on information that is available now. JMO

I didn't mean you, tinys, and that's a pretty good description of the situation.

tiny, the nearest public library can probably get that book for you via inter-library loan, if you ask.

I read most of it on the Barnes and Noble site. Well specifically the section on oysters. Used some screen captures to print out the relevant information I needed to add to the "file".

The P-R's headline Ixtoc spill still contaminates coastlines; is that northern Gulf's fate? actually sounds more ominous than the interesting story attached. A Texas A&M researcher who studied the Bay of Campeche 30 years ago just went back for a new look-see. What he found in 1979 (tar a foot thick) sounds worse than current reports from the northern Gulf, but he estimates that 5% to 10% is still there.