BP's Deepwater Horizon - Closing the Well and the Series - and Open Thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6985.

The operations to seal the Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf have now succeeded in putting cement plugs into the well that have effectively ensured that it will remain dead. The well itself was effectively killed when the cement was injected some weeks ago, and the work since has been to ensure that some of the potential problems from subsequent failure of that cement could not occur. And so the relief well had shown that there were no effective quantities of hydrocarbon products in the annulus, meaning that the well failure had purely been through the shoe and up the production casing, and not up the annulus. Much of the original thought had been that the failure was the other way around, and the caution in the approach has been, in part, in case there was at least some failure up the annulus. That turned out not to be the case, but the relief well injected cement that filled in the voids in the annulus, so that with the cement already injected into the casing, the well is, as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement certified, now permanently sealed.

This does not end operations at the well. Both the original well and the relief well must now follow the procedures for abandonment of the site. The DDII has been preparing for this, but the procedures that must be followed are relatively standard. I am presuming that the plugs that have been discussed are those at the bottom of the well, but there also need to be plugs installed within the well to ensure that there are no possibility of fluids migrating from one horizon to another. To a large extent this has likely been achieved with the filling of the annulus between the end of the lined well and the top of the cement injected earlier this summer. The well is now effectively totally lined on the outside, and there is a plugged production casing in the middle, which retained its integrity over the course of the events.

Nevertheless the regulations will be followed. For your information the relevant bits are, perhaps:

(a) Isolation of zones in open hole. In uncased portions of wells, cement plugs shall be set to extend from a minimum of 100 feet below the bottom to 100 feet above the top of any oil, gas, or freshwater zones to isolate fluids in the strata in which they are found and to prevent them from escaping into other strata or to the seafloor. The placement of additional cement plugs to prevent the migration of formation fluids in the wellbore may be required by the District Supervisor.

(b) Isolation of open hole. Where there is an open hole below the casing, a cement plug shall be placed in the deepest casing by the displacement method and shall extend a minimum of 100 feet above and 100 feet below the casing shoe. In lieu of setting a cement plug across the casing shoe, the following methods are acceptable:
(1) A cement retainer and a cement plug shall be set. The cement retainer shall have effective back-pressure control and shall be set not less than 50 feet and not more than 100 feet above the casing shoe. The cement plug shall extend at least 100 feet below the casing shoe and at least 50 feet above the retainer.
(2) If lost circulation conditions have been experienced or are anticipated, a permanent-type bridge plug may be placed within the first 150 feet above the casing shoe with a minimum of 50 feet of cement on top of the bridge plug. This bridge plug shall be tested in accordance with paragraph (g) of this section.

(c) Plugging or isolating perforated intervals. A cement plug shall be set by the displacement method opposite all perforations which have not been squeezed with cement. The cement plug shall extend a minimum of 100 feet above the perforated interval and either 100 feet below the perforated interval or down to a casing plug, whichever is the lesser. In lieu of setting a cement plug by the displacement method, the following methods are acceptable, provided the perforations are isolated from the hole below:
(1) A cement retainer and a cement plug shall be set. The cement retainer shall have effective back-pressure control and shall be set not less than 50 feet and not more than 100 feet above the top of the perforated interval. The cement plug shall extend at least 100 feet below the bottom of the perforated interval with 50 feet placed above the retainer.
(2) A permanent-type bridge plug shall be set within the first 150 feet above the top of the perforated interval with at least 50 feet of cement on top of the bridge plug.
(3) A cement plug which is at least 200 feet long shall be set by the displacement method with the bottom of the plug within the first 100 feet above the top of the perforated interval.

(d) Plugging of casing stubs. If casing is cut and recovered leaving a stub, the stub shall be plugged in accordance with one of the following methods:
(1) A stub terminating inside a casing string shall be plugged with a cement plug extending at least 100 feet above and 100 feet below the stub. In lieu of setting a cement plug across the stub, the following methods are acceptable:
(i) A cement retainer or a permanent-type bridge plug shall be set not less than 50 feet above the stub and capped with at least 50 feet of cement, or
(ii) A cement plug which is at least 200 feet long shall be set with the bottom of the plug within 100 feet above the stub.
(2) If the stub is below the next larger string, plugging shall be accomplished as required to isolate zones or to isolate an open hole as described in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section.

(e) Plugging of annular space. Any annular space communicating with any open hole and extending to the mud line shall be plugged with at least 200 feet of cement.

(f) Surface plug. A cement plug which is at least 150 feet in length shall be set with the top of the plug within the first 150 feet below the mud line. The plug shall be placed in the smallest string of casing which extends to the mud line.

(g) Testing of plugs. The setting and location of the first plug below the surface plug shall be verified by one of the following methods:
(1) The lessee shall place a minimum pipe weight of 15,000 pounds on the cement plug, cement retainer, or bridge plug. The cement placed above the bridge plug or retainer is not required to be tested.
(2) The lessee shall test the plug with a minimum pump pressure of 1,000 pounds per square inch with a result of no more than a 10-percent pressure drop during a 15-minute period.

(h) Fluid left in hole. Each of the respective intervals of the hole between the various plugs shall be filled with fluid of sufficient density to exert a hydrostatic pressure exceeding the greatest formation pressure in the intervals between the plugs at time of abandonment.

(i) Clearance of location. All wellheads, casings, pilings, and other obstructions shall be removed to a depth of at least 15 feet below the mud line or to a depth approved by the District Supervisor. The lessee shall verify that the location has been cleared of all obstructions in accordance with Sec. 250.704 of this part. The requirement for removing subsea wellheads or other obstructions and for verifying location clearance may be reduced or eliminated when, in the opinion of the District Supervisor, the wellheads or other obstructions would not constitute a hazard to other users of the seafloor or other legitimate uses of the area.

This means that there will be some continuing work at the well, but not a lot, and thus from now on I shall only be intermittently posting on that topic, and will start to write about the more general topics that have been neglected over the past few months.

ps -- You make some valid points but you're way of the mark when it comes to the "obscenely wealthy, well-connected oil industry" is concerned about a potential offshore drilling ban. About 95%+ of all the "obscenely wealthy, well-connected oil" companies would benefit greatly if we never drilled another well offshore...especially DW. That's because these companies don't drill offshore. In addition to bringing less oil (and especially NG) to the domestic market it would greatly reduce their drilling costs. Much of the equipment/personnel/materials used in offshore drilling are also utilized onshore. Competition for onshore contracts would become cutthroat very quickly.

And I agree: to bring the term "energy independence" into the pro/anti offshore drilling discussion is silly. OTOH offshore drilling does represent a great many well paying jobs, a huge revenue source for the states and the feds and a significant decrease in our trade imbalance. Will make us independent? No. Will the end of offshore drilling increase our dependency, increase unemployment and weaken the dollar? Yes. That's the choice the govt, hopefully guided by the will of the people, has to make. I don't judge offshore drilling as right or wrong. There are benefits and risks. So it's a choice...make it and go forward. From a purely personnel position I'm all for no more offshore drilling. Our biz plan is to sell the company when the market peaks again in several years. Anything that reduces the amount of oil/NG domestically will only allow us a greater obscene profit when we cash out. And how could I be against that?

...you're way of the mark when it comes to the "obscenely wealthy, well-connected oil industry" is concerned about a potential offshore drilling ban. About 95%+ of all the "obscenely wealthy, well-connected oil" companies would benefit greatly if we never drilled another well offshore...

There is no doubt where the obscenely wealthy, well-connected Koch brothers*** stand on this issue. I'm not sure what percentage of the oil industry they control, but I'm sure it's disproportionately small compared to their political clout.

*** A long article, but a must-read.

A long article, but a must-read

Read it last week, been depressed ever since.

The Koch's are rank amateurs compared to this guy.

So, it's ok that Habeas Corpus no longer applies, because Bill Clinton got a blowjob from a fat girl. It's ok that somebody* gave the order for prisoners to be tortured, because Carter put stupid solar panels (LOL!!!) on the roof of OUR White House. It's ok to tamper with voting machines and alter data between polling place and election commissioner's office because ACORN hates America enough to register non-white people to vote. It's ok for one side to do really horrible things, because a bunch of fantasy shit has been made up about the other side.

*Aren't you even a little bothered about how we still don't know what the hell happened that allowed a bunch of mostly innocent foreigners to be tortured?

you have no idea what torture is comfychair

Can you identify some of these 'mostly innocent' foreigners? Waterboarding was approved as an exception to policy in order to determine forestall a threat to bomb the Holland Tunnel.

The rest of the claims of 'official torture' have been investigated and determined to have been unfounded.

BTW - are you aware that over three times the number of innocent civilians have been killed by people we mistakenly released from Gitmo than the total number of people released?

I know that it is easy was for you to sit in your 'commfychair' and criticize (without any real understanding of the issues involved) the actions and decisions that people other people had to make when they were trying to limit the total number of dead people.

And to make it even worse - you are perfectly safe in making your claims because you know that the people you are accusing are forbidden by security regulations from speaking out in their own defense.

I wonder how brave you would be with your accusations if the people you are accusing were allowed to stand up and make you account for your slander in public?

Activated, I am going to take some umbrage with your posting against Commfy.

Your first three statements are somewhat couched with loose facts supporting your assertion in accordance with TOD guides.

But your second three statements denigrate the original poster, commfychair, on a personal level. Not in accordance with TOD guides. A bit off the edge of the road and partially into the ditch.


It's OK, he makes his living from the Fatherland Homeland Security clusterf&%k, if he understood it as well as he claims, he'd have to quit. That's a powerful incentive to remain brainwashed.

Congratulations you have managed to be factually incorrect in ever thing you just asserted.

1) I work as a security manager for a small defense contractor. In addition to this job I manage the 'classified side' of the company's operations.

2) I am also working on a post-graduate (Master's) degree in the field of Homeland Security. In fact - most of my comments over the past several months on this topic have been in the context of a course in crisis management I completed a few weeks ago(didn't you notice that I am only participating in the Deepwater Horizon threads?)

3) The people you accuse of torture - have been names and faces to me. I have worked with and some of these people and as a result - I can vouch for their character. And since nobody else is willing to defend them against slander - I have taken that responsibility on myself.

4) Unlike yourself - I have been in a position to see the 'real world' and compare it with what is taught in academia. Care to explain how I can be 'brainwashed' when I have the ability to see the events and issues from both the academic and insider perspectives?

I call them as I see them.

BTW - I notice that you failed to take comfychair to task for doing the same thing.

I thought this was an energy/peak oil site? Does anybody know a good place where we can go discuss the goodness of evil as embodied in the use of torture by the Bush administration?

A Google search for [cats waterboarding music politics discussion] turns up 322,000 results. Some are interesting but none are supremely helpful.

"The rest of the claims of 'official torture' have been investigated and determined to have been unfounded."

You live in a fantasy world if you believe that is true. In fact, you have to cover your eyes and refuse to look at the photos taken and the legal memos written by Bybee and Woo.

Your beliefs are rooted in emotion, pride and your selective perceptions, not in fact. You refuse to see the truth. That is truly frightening form a so called professional.

What about the woman soldier who killed herself instead of engage in torture. I suppose you think she was just doing that for fun?

Your defense of illegal and inhuman crimes is sad. No, let me say it is pathetic. You have a duty to do better that peddle myths and lies if you are going to claim to be a professional on homeland security, or perhaps your degree is from J.C.Penny.

You have a duty to do better that peddle myths and lies if you are going to claim to be a professional on homeland security

Absolutely, syncro, so let us hope Activated isn't representative of the common run in "Homeland Security" (which, as comfy notices, badly needs a renaming). Blinded-by-authoritarianism mindsets like his brought us the debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan in the first place, costing the US and many other countries uncountable wastes of life and treasure. If our government falls into hands like those again, "secure" is the last thing we'll be. Bush and Cheney's sickening delusions and perverse orders will blight and threaten us for years as it is. So no, no more of that lunacy, please.

Remember when you could quip 'WAR IS PEACE' and it meant something? Or, at least, YOU knew what it meant? And knew what it meant when Orwell said it? Oh, to go back to those simpler times. Now it's more like WAR IS PEACE IS WAR, IS PEACE, IS WAR IS PEACE IS WAR (is peace!). We've been spun 'round like a cat chasing a laser pointer until she falls over. And I think it was done intentionally. Neither side can convince the other side of anything, because we're all living in different realities, depending on which laser pointer you're chasing.

Our strategy over the past decade is equivalent to trying to rid your house of mice by giving them unlimited amounts of food, in the hope they will die of obesity.

Ah - I thought that you were willing to discuss the matter rationally. I missed the part about you being blinded by partisan hatred.

Isn't it so nice to be able to put out a rant like this knowing that the people you are accusing are unable to speak in their own defense and call you out?

Let me put this as clear as possible. You Have No Clue. You Have no clue as to the character, motivations and hard decisions made by people who have to work in the real world where 'success' and 'failure' is measured in human lives. You have no clue what happened - all you have are rumor and innuendo.

"Your beliefs are rooted in emotion, pride and your selective perceptions, not in fact."
And yours are?

My duty is to (without discussing topics that I have literally been forbidden to discuss for the rest of my life) tell the truth and try to stand up to people like yourself in defense of those people who are not allowed to speak in their own defense.

I've forgotten were I read it but it said that fresh (not flat) diet coke works better in waterboarding than plain water.

Ain't that the "tooth", as Lanny would say.

So, Lotus and MOB,are you saying that if you had that kind of money you would never make a political contribution, never give to any cause that you see as beneficial?
You sound envious to me.

I think political donations should be outlawed. Campaigns should be publicly financed.

MOB, to that I add Amen! We need to level the playing field in the election arena. I tired, so tired of seeing money purchase seats in congress, access to the highest levels of government,e.g. Oil barons at Chenny's office, etc etc. After political donations, the next and it is an eyelash away, the second most insidious front are / is the lobbyists. The country, nay democracy, is gravely at risk because of these two factors alone.


Wow, tdm, from what we said to what you said? There's a new TOD standard for leaps of illogic. Congratz. I guess.

Like MOB and awduck, I think public financing is the solution (but don't expect to see it in my lifetime -- way too sensible and clean in our era of grifters).

O/T - lotus, I'm guessing you've seen this little piece of awesome but I was asked to spread it around, so here:


> SMOOCH < comfy! Oh my, that boy is a national treasure!

little piece of awesome


That's a great big honkin chunk of awesome right there.

Only it should be "Sylvester KochArmey McBean," instead of DickArmey McBean.

On second thought, don't change a thing.

Oh please! If you had that kind of money you would be buying your left wing pipe dreams, probably even worse. And MOB where's the facts to support your allegations of tampering with voting machines and altering data between polling place and election commissioner's office? There is no doubt however that Al Franken won because every time he fell behind in the count another "overlooked" ballot box was discovered. In some precincts he had more votes than there were registered voters.
I'm not opposed to registering voters of any color except invisible. There is plenty of evidence of that, they've even admitted to it.
Talking about fantasy shit made up about the other side, boy are you full of it.
Lotus, nothing at all illogical. You've got a bad case of sour grapes.

Huh? I thought I was MOB.

Oh wait, I am MOB:

[-] M Onan Batterload on September 22, 2010 - 4:52am Permalink | Subthread | Comments top

Huh? I thought I was MOB.

Oh wait, I am MOB:

Reply | Reply in new window | Start new thread | Flag as inappropriate (?)

Go yammer at someone else, tdm. I've lost interest in this.

Anything that reduces the amount of oil/NG domestically will only allow us a greater obscene profit

I would like just some profit from my NG wells. My oil wells are doing ok for now, but who knows what the furture holds. I might have to take a job at Wal Mart as a greeter. :)

Even in the face of Global Warming, and I'm an activist in this area, we still need ample supplies of both Oil and NG. Transportation runs on Oil and it could run on NG at about a 30% savings in CO2 output. But currently there is nothing on the horizon that truly supplants oil as the driving energy for transportation. Electric cars are a joke when you finally understand that we are charging the cars from the Grid which is horribly wasteful. Nationally, for every kilowatt that you use at the meter 3.2 kilowatts of input energy are consumed. What we need for Oil is simply safe harvest of the stores. I don't think that can be relegated to the industry to create and enforce.

For every kilowatt measured at the meter, 3.1 kilowatts of energy are consumed. The amount of CO2 generated by transportation is the same as the CO2 emitted in the generation of the domestic Electric supply. In the macro view we need to focus on CO2 emitted by electric power generation, then by fossil fuel consumption in the Residential, Commercial and Industrial sectors, and finally focus on converting personal transportation to low CO2 emission sources. Freight (trucks), Rail, boat and Air are I think consigned to Oil for a long long time.

edit: correct wording.

Perhaps we should add in the amount of gas wasted when it is flared off to that energy and the amount of CO2 released by oil.


Glad to see you weathered the storm.

That looks just like Steve Balmer!!!


NAOM, I don't think that was the thrust of my Oil comment at all. We need to continue with Oil for a long time into the future. I do not know, as DOE doesn't report it, if flared burning of gas is included in their energy numbers. But that amount has to be well to the right of the decimal place in the overall consumption picture. Electricity and Domestic / Commercial Sector fossil fuel consumption are my targets. But at the same time we need to worry and worry with vigor about Global Warming. I assume you have thoroughly read and digested the NOAA paper on Irreversibility of Atmospheric CO2. If your not convinced about GW, as many aren't, most particularly the CT folk, then you should study up on the accelerating rate of world ice melt. Couple the concept of irreversibility with the melt and you should see a very disturbing picture of the future. If just the three major ocean located ice masses melted (and that is inevitable) and ask where is the ocean / fresh water intersection of the Mississippi? You will find that it is close to New Madrid, Missouri, won't that be interesting? Today's data on the Arctic, seems to indicate the possibility of setting a new melt record. Jury still out.

I certainly am convinced about GW. Oil and gas use will continue for a time but I hate to see the gas simply burnt off and wasted. If we cannot use it, at this time, then put it back and not add to CO2. In 100 years I expect folks will look back at all the waste going on now and want to kick us for it.


NAOM, totally agree with waste-not-want-not, to paraphrase your statement. But I assume that there is a pretty good reason why things are flared off out on the rigs rather than captured, and compressed into transportable units. I've always looked at refineries and wondered the same thing especially one would think the capability is available to capture at the refineries. But the same thinking applies to everyday stuff and for an example freight movement. Trains move goods at the rate of 1gal diesel/ton/460 miles Whereas our cross country 18 wheeler have a rate of approx. 1gal diesel/ton/30 miles but no one gets excited. So it would seem that the real problem is that money talks and when it becomes economically non-viable etc. people will start doing something about it. Same as for GW when the ocean creeps higher up Ol' Miss people will get excited,,,, finally.

If they had had to do it from day 1 then there would be the technology. Currently it is cost/lack of technology/lack of available equipment/lack of will. There is some interesting work being done on spraying it, mixed with water, while freezing it into a hydrate snow.


In Germany we have the SUGAR-Projekt.
By adding CO2 the Methanhydrat will be collected and then transformed into tranportable pellets.


Lady-Li, I wish I could read German, but unfortunately I'm a follower of English. Do you know if there exists a translated version of this document, it does look very interesting.

Also, do you know of any analysis of the CO2 loading of the atmosphere since 1800. I have never seen this analysis to date.


"hopefully guided by the will of the people" sure didn't help with the Health Care bill. This administration is the first in my 63 yrs. that actually shows their disregard for the American people, especially those in the south!!!!

The "south" votes the "wrong" way doncha know? speaking of fantasy, this gov't puts out this op ed and the authors are so embarrassed they can't even sign it. Fantasy indeed. Comfy has no idea what's going on and neither does most of the rest of the country. The slicing and dicing has already begun, but the patient is still under anesthesia.

This administration is the first in my 63 yrs. that actually shows their disregard for the American people

Nah, BP, for example, most Americans were opposed to most of Reagan's policies and legislation, according to polls at the time. But most Americans liked Ronnie, so he got away with it. I would guess you didn't notice back then because you agreed with Reagan, and you are mad at Obama because you disagree --not because he's the first Pres. to go against public opinion. This Southerner thinks O is doing a pretty good job, even if he is a centrist.

I have lived in the South for most of my 63 years, and I think the health care bill was the right thing to do.

I like President Obama. And I sure wish he had tightened the screws at the MMS before the blow out. It would have saved me a ton of money.

I have homes in Houston and Dallas, and I try to stay out of the area as much as possible. It's getting increasingly difficult to deal with people who dislike President Obama, when I admire him so much.

I like President Obama. And I sure wish he had tightened the screws at the MMS before the blow out......It's getting increasingly difficult to deal with people who dislike President Obama, when I admire him so much.

I usually try to restrain myself from joining political discussions, but I have to say, I agree totally.

It's getting increasingly difficult to deal with people who dislike President Obama, when I admire him so much.

Just for the record--not aiming to start a fight--it's also getting increasingly difficult for those of us who don't admire him all that much to deal with folks who still think he's just wonderful.

... and just think of the poor folks who'd prefer to keep Red v. Blue out of The Oil Drum mix altogether.

I agree snake but remember it Red vs. Blue vs. Texacan to be completly correct.

Remember the Alamo...and don't forget the Blue Bell ice cream either.

I'd make an exception for Texacan. Keeps everybody else on their toes.

"... and just think of the poor folks who'd prefer to keep Red v. Blue out of The Oil Drum mix altogether."
Agreed. That's why I said I usually try to restrain myself from political discussions. But every now and again my self control weakens. I'll try to do better in the future.

The start of drilling out a pipe that has been leaking for months on the well. I am not sure what they plan on doing to stop the leak.


I wonder if you are also familiar with how much oil leaks out the prop shaft of many power boats.

I also wonder if you noticed during the BOP removal how much stuff accumulates in the well head and the BOP and then pours out when the BOP was removed.

I wonder if you have considered that the well head is going through a formal abandonment procedure during which it is going through a number of flushing procedures.

Science is about differential reasoning, considering other possibilities for what is observed both as to what is really going on and as to its significance.

Your conclusions seem to not come from this kind of thinking. There seems a kind of arogance that your observations and conclusions are the only ones possible from your observations of these videos. At the least, put out the effort to develop your theories more carefully, considering what else it might be that you are observing. I've given you some questions to ask yourself in creating a more cogent thesis.

I wonder if you are also familiar with how much oil leaks out the prop shaft of many power boats.

Just depends. 20 year two stroke outboard, lots of hydrocarbons. Modern four stroke inboard with exchanged cooling, virtually no hydrocarbons in the water.

Thank you. I like being called arrogant better then ignorant.

How much oil leaks out of prop shafts? I don't know, did someone say no oil leaked out of them then showed it leaking?

The leaks at the mudline have been steady and so has the leak at that pipe. It has nothing to do with the flushing or abandonment.

I have watched weeks worth of these videos and the operations performed. There are leaks at the mudline and there is a leak in that pipe.

Not only that, but why haven't the seafloor vents/hydrate blizzards far away from the so-called wellhead stopped? Anybody who tells you this thing's been plugged is LYING to you. If we could see the entire area down there, I suspect the total volume coming out is the same as before the capping stack was closed. Why are ROVs still spraying Corexit if there's no more oil leaking?

How can an oil well vent hydrate? Hydrate is a solid.

Hydrates form when the oil and gas hit the metal of the wellhead. You can watch the gas and oil flow up and form them. Do you want to see the video?

Are you feeling okay, comfy? or just being ironic?

I'd bet the latter.

comfychair , LOL You bring up and talk about the conspiracy theories more then the wackos.

If you can't win with facts, just resurrect Simmons.

Works for you.

I don't know anything about oil drilling but it's got to be a FACT that you don't attack the well structure with a hole saw if everything is working as it should.

Are you suggesting that the seafloor isn't still venting plumes of oil and methane? I don't mean the trickle of stuff coming out of the wellhead annulus cementing valves, I mean giant clouds of crap erupting and completely blocking the ROV's view. If the reservoir is truly isolated, and the vents are still happening, the only way that happens is if the venting we've seen for months was just silt and mud being blown around by ROV thrusters. And that's just unpossible.

The well's being eaten away due to Corexit genetically changing the bacteria in the Gulf and the ROVs are trying to excise the affected areas before the infection spreads. I learned about the genetic modification through dozens of Twits retweeting and put 2 + 2 together. It's not quite yet a Unified Theory but it could explain BPOD's observations.

There's an "L" shaped notch on the end of the pipe they were drilling through, that implies an intended connection of some sort, IMO. Is what they were drilling into, the wellhead under the new BOP ? Why would they drill into it ? Either to put something in, or let something out. Question is,..what ? Gotta admit, I'm curious.

(pssst: http://www.google.com/search?&q=annulus+cementing+valve - don't tell anybody else, it's a secret)

And what is it leaking?

....M&M's ?

comfychair, it is a fact they drilled into that pipe that has been leaking for months. The bit they used is long enough it looked like to get to the valve. How they plan on stopping the leak I do not know.

I am saying there are leaks at this well that suggest the kill was not all it cracked up to be. This video shows a leak they watched for weeks.

Is that leak important at the mudline? I don't know but they watched it 24/7. If it stopped after the kill then it says something about where it was coming from, if it is still going then it means something else but we don't know because they won't look right at it anymore.

Underwater rocket engine:

They are going to ignite it and use the rocket to lift whatever is on the other end of that chain. I watch Modern Marvels and Dirty Jobs, that's how I know it's an underwater rocket engine.

Don't like people talking about the BP oil well leaking do you Comfychair.

Nawww, that's a submarine refueling, I'm positive. Or some sort of new type of underwater whale-bell.

Well then, I wish 'em all the luck cuz no whale I've ever known approved of belling, under- or overwater. Bad as cats, them whales.

Ok, how 'bout a giant seafloor asphalt shop-vac ? True about whales and bells, they much prefer the flute.

I found this on the internet. On a blog that belongs to the Right Honorable The Earl of Stirling, Evansville, IN, United States, hereditary Governor & Lord Lieutenant of Canada, Lord High Admiral of Nova Scotia.

Dr. Deagle: The evidence has come in from ROV video and other experts such as Matt Simmons, BK Lim, and Lindsay Williams and my own anonymous whistleblowers from inside the closed circle of Cameron Ironworks, Tranocean Marine , Oceaneering International. My source provided very solid info re the ROV analysis by Oceaneering engineers that the BOP Blow Out Preventer was 'modified' and never had hydraulics to close the BOP. BP knew that the field had dangerous high levels of methane, hydrogen sulphide, and pressures exceeded any valve technology as the current state of the art. The seeps continue along a fractured fault line from the Macondo well site where evidence presented by BK Lim that the only well of three that reached the abiotic batholith ocean of oil and gas was never capped or stopped and has continued to leak along the ocean floor and inject oil and gas and tar into the rock strata.

The problem with all that stuff you posted Snakehead is it's nonsense with no evidence to back it up.

Here you go. Follow along.

Pipe leaking


Drilling the pipe.


Just about done drilling the pipe.


Video evidence of something that looks hydrocarbon-y emanating from a pipe. That's as far as I'm prepared to go with it for now.

Video evidence of something that looks hydrocarbon-y emanating from a pipe. That's as far as I'm prepared to go with it for now.

I'm not even prepared to go that far snake. Note the "name" inside the video. Saipem America Innovator? Is that even a ship in the vicinity? Not according to this map

Of course if I were a member of the CT crowd, I'd go with a plausibly deniable ship that "happens" to not be part of the team with my faked videos. But I could be wrong, just suspiciously skeptical.

AIS isn't showing me anything at all in the area of the well.
Check this out: http://www.ronsrovlinks.nl/modules/impression/singlearticle.php?aid=850&...

Flavor of ROV


It says MC 252 #1 on the screen, lol. They put that on the screen to mess with folks. #'s 2&3 will make showings soon.

FYI - "Saipem America Innovator" ROVs belong to Development Driller II.

This isn't some CT - this has been happening for months.

There is no debate about if it is or isnt actually occuring - it's featured in press briefings after all.

I think what posters are looking for is not "join the club" out of hand dismissiveness from people who are apparently not up to speed with whats been happening subsea over the last few months, I believe they are looking for informed comment from someone in the industry about why might this stuff be coming up from the mudline at the wellhead and out of the cement return pipes in the wellhead. There are still hydrates building up under the BOP from these leaks.

Whatever is emananating from these places it has continued while the well was uncapped, capped, STK'ed, cemented and pressure tested positive and negative.

I am aware that some wells do happen to leak some methane up the outside of the wellhead.

I havn't found any documents describing anything emanating from the cement return lines in a wellhead.

Can anyone offer informed comment on how the cement lines are used, why might the cement be allowing this much gas through and where might the gas coming from?

Can anyone offer informed comment on why they want to keep fooling around with plugging the cement return lines when the wellhead is to be removed soon anyway?


Thats a great post. You guys on the IRC have developed a lot of subsea knowledge from your dedicated watching of every move of the ROVs, and I doubt if I can say anything that you don't know already. But just to try to contribute, I would hazard the following points which are simply my best guesses and are pretty obvious :

- the outermost casing (the 36'' conductor) is just jetted into place in the soft surface mud so there is no cement bond between casing and sediments and the interface can provide a suitable leak path to surface for any free gas in the near wellbore region regardless of its source. In the case of the Macondo well this extends downwards only about 250 ft.

- this conductor carries the wellhead housing into which the wellhead itself is fitted. It sits in a sealing profile in the housing, and it is obviously important to keep cement away from this area to allow the wellhead to seat and latch properly. The next 2 casing strings (the 28 '' conductor and the 22'' casing to which the wellhead itself is pre-welded) are cemented all the way back to surface with returns to the sea bed during the cement job which are observed by ROV. So there are ports in the wellhead housing to allow the cement to escape without fouling the seal area. There would be ports for the 28'' cement and ports for the 22'' cement. They technically give access to the cement filled 36'' by 28'' annulus and 28'' by 22'' annulus.

- the cemented 28'' casing only extends down around 1000ft below mudline, and the 22'' about 3000 ft below mudline. The competence of the sea floor sediments increases with depth, but you can probably imagine that the interfaces between the cement and the formation for these strings, especially the 28'', are not as solid as those beneath due to the friable and unconsolidated nature of the sediments. They too, together with any other imperfections in the cement job might provide another path of least resistance for gas migrating to surface

- shallow sources of free gas local to the wellbore have been addressed frequently on TOD, and would appear to boil down to decomposition of organic material in the shallow sediments, or destabilisation of existing methane hydrates which can apparently persist to depths of up to 1000ft below sea floor.

- deeper sources of gas might be hydrocarbons expelled from deep maturing source rocks migrating slowly through permeable sediments or fault zones intersected by the wellbore, or from the proven trapped hydrocarbons in the pay interval encountered near td. It is not impossible that there are small trapped gas accumulations in shallower horizons that were cased off - we've never seen a full log suite for the well.

- for these deeper sourced gases to travel up the external skin of the well requires some gymnastics. Pay hydrocarbons would surely have preferred the open production casing annulus to surface, and would accumulate under the casing hanger. Gas migrating along shallower permeable zones would would have to move through the annular cement jobs in several liner or casing strings, nominally the 9 7/8, the 11 7/8, the 13 5/8, the 16'' and the 18'', in order to make it up to the surface casing string cements, though clearly the shallower the source the fewer the number of hurdles. You would normally expect the multiple cement barriers to be effective at hindering sustained gas migration of this sort.

- my gut feel, unsubstantiated by any data, is that if you stationed ROVs at the wellheads of all the wells in the GOM and looked hard enough, a reasonable proportion would exhibit behaviour like this.

- there are documented examples of more serious surface casing gas migration issues - see notice number 66 for example here :


- Why are they messing with the ports? No idea. The eyes of the world, and the Science Team are on them. Bad PR to leave even a few bubbles emerging. But I can't imagine what remedial action they have in mind.

Thanks to westfield for asking and bignerd for answering, so I could learn a whole new big chunk about something I'd always wondered about (the first contact with the seafloor at the beginning of drilling) -- and, of course, the subsequent parts of this too.

Such wonderful teaching we run into here, eh wot?

Thanks again lotus.

Spudding on land rigs is good fun; the first hole section is drilled rather than jetted. It goes very fast, and depending on the well location you can see all kinds of interesting stuff coming up; bits of old glass and pottery, prehistoric tree roots, err, supermarket trolleys ;-)

supermarket trolleys

Yeah, and of course they're just worthless as artificial reefs inland -- faw!

I guess we need to have archeological permits tightened up, you may be drilling into the old Atlantis site, and never know it if you destroy their artifacts.

That would be Atlantis Freezer Foods. I think we were drilling in the parking lot. 

Last I heard they were struggling to keep their heads above water...

Last I heard they were struggling to keep their heads above water...


Thanks, Bignerd. I was looking at the white lines on the shaft/shank of the drill, that is being used. The cementing ports allow excess cement to vent from the annulus while completing the 2 shallowest sections of the well's annuli, if I understand your description, but it appears from the plunge depth, the shank bottomed out against the port, that they drilled through, into the production casing..? Curiouser and curiouser.

Just out of curiosity, did you guys see/discuss the 2 different flows coming from the top of the BOP, before the transition spool was attached ? Light-colored flow from one of the DP sections protruding from the top, with oil flowing around it. I have always had a nagging question what was behind this.My apologies if it's already been discussed.


I think there's a good chance that it's the same stuff coming out of two different sized orifices - big riser flange, small drill pipe - and that the color difference is just from the difference in velocity.

Interesting, the only other thought I had was that it was a deposit of drilling mud lodged in the DP from the original top kill attempt that happened to get dislodged at the same time I was cracking out on the ROV feeds. Alas, I could not watch it further, for they changed the dang lights on me. 'cries'

It looks like some type of seal scrubber, like a bottle brush only with carbon bristles. Polishing it up so they can put that stopper back into it (that's what those slots are for). Apparently the valve is leaking. There's a hammer union before the valve so I can't see why they don't just... because there's unmentionable fluids that could come out? Nah. The well is dead, Jim ;-P

Oh Lord. I'm only 50 mi. from him. Should I be worried? Or just get a bigger dog?

Hi ob, from previous thread,

Yes, what you are asking about is a recognised problem in the industry. Changes in casing temperature and pressure during / after cementing are sometimes thought to disrupt the casing / cement interface and lead to development of a 'micro annulus' which can allow hydrocarbon migration.

Circulating relatively cool mud downhole certainly does have a short term effect on near wellbore temperatures. During logging of the reservoir interval for instance, we routinely plot the temperature measured by the various tools run over a four or five day period against the time elapsed since the last circulation, and generally see an upward trend that can be, say, 5 - 10 F in magnitude as the environment returns towards initial reservoir temperature.

For Macondo i believe they performed a final circulation prior to running the casing which will have warmed up quite quickly at depth. Pumping the cement job would have cooled the bottom hole again to some degree, but you'd expect the temperature to come back up slowly during the cement cure time. I'd imagine there would be minor thermal expansion issues over the small temperature range, and these would be common to every cement job ever pumped. 

Again, I would think there would have been a minor degree of casing movement due to pressure and thermal effects during displacement of the upper part of the bore to sea water. You would normally hope to wait until the cement had hardened before doing anything to the well. 

I haven't done any calcs to suggest what the possible range of movement would be, and I don't know what the risks of micro annulus formation would be. But I think it more likely that other factors dominantly contributed to the failure of the cement job (as noted in the recent bp report). 

For calibration I believe that bp calculated that the heating of the casing in moving from a static situation (with say 260 F at reservoir and 40 F at wellhead) to a flowing situation (with say 260 F at reservoir and 200 F at wellhead) would result in an expansion in total casing string length in excess of 6 inches. 

The temperature changes that occurred after the well started flowing was a lot greater than the temperature changes during cementing and circulating. The change in temperature due to flow would make the more than 2 miles of casing want to elongate (thermal expansion) somewhere in the range of 10-20 feet. Those forces could have caused movement in either end of the casing.

From what we have heard, it appears the top didn't move, but we don't have any information as to what happened at the bottom.

Besides forces due to heat there was from April till July likely vibrations in the production tubular that could have broken up the cement at the bottom.

Yes you are right, that was the poorly made point of my final paragraph.

BP quoted at least 6 inches for the thermal expansion in the flowing scenario, and I think you are spot on, its probably more like 10ft in all.

I think the point might be that the casing was stretched under its own weight, placing its length under tension, before it was cemented. If it was unstretched with the ends fixed and heated up due to hot oil passing through, the constrained expansion would create a compressive stress in the casing. The two tend to cancel out, the middle of the pipe moving up but the ends not moving. The middle moves up because the lower part has low tension, not having much weight hanging on it, so the heating, expanding it, dominates, whereas, for the upper part, the tension remains dominant though reduced, so the stretch there is less than for the cold pipe. I guess another way to look at it would be to think of what would happen if the casing, once cemented at the bottom, was released at the top. The top would disappear down the hole. Then you heat it up by passing hot oil through it, and it expands, and reappears. When the casing is hot, it is supported more from the bottom by compressive stresses, and when its cold, it's supported more from the top, by tension. If the casing was unstretched, constrained at the ends, and uniformly heated 200F, it would have a compressive stress of about 40ksi, well within the capacity of a low-grade steel, and possibly of much the same magnitude (but opposite sign) to the tensile stress intended for the casing hanging from the top. The shear stress between the casing and the concrete, and the concrete to the rock, would be of the order of a few psi, owing to the enormous interface area.

ws&s, nice description of the forces on the casing. Thinking along these lines it is easy to see that the casing seal in the wellhead may never have lifted, despite the temperature increase during the blowout.

BTW, your handle is my favorite of Saint-Exupéry's books. I can see him now, flying toward the Patagonian shore against a headwind that won't let him reach land.

The lead impression they took last week gave good evidence that the casing hangar never moved at the top. That is also evidence that makes it likely there wasn't cement at the bottom that could support the entire casing weight.

I'm not sure the second half of your statement follows from the first, or perhaps I don't fully understand it. If the casing stretched under its own weight, before cementing, then was cemented in its stretched condition, it would take a great deal of thermal expansion to reduce the tension at the top to zero, and more to make it a compressive stress in the casing, pushing the seal up from below and lifting the seal. If the cement was good and the casing as hot as the reservoir over its full length, the load on the seal might have reversed. I doubt that the casing was ever hot enough from what has been reported about temperatures.
Without measurements of stress somewhere in the casing, or of compression of the seal, or of the depth of joints below the datum, or by some cunning oil industry method not known to this aircraft engineer, you can't know if the bottom end of the casing was fixed by cement or moving up and down as it cools and heats. As I have noted below, it is my view, based on my reading of the reports (not the full BP report, yet), that the upper part of the April cement, above the reservoir, is more likely than not in good condition, and that it is the path down to the end of the casing that provided enough of a leak path to initiate the larger problem up the casing. No doubt I will be proved wrong when all is revealed by burrowROV (owned by a consortium of obscenely wealthy individuals who have shorted BP).

The stated purpose of the lock down sleeve is to prevent the hangar from lifting up. The possibility that the hangar would lift due to thermal expansion was expected even with lower flow rates and thus lower temperature changes.

The fact that the well flowed to the surface up the production tubular doesn't mean the nitrified cement was good. There is no factual basis for making that leap of logic.

We know that some of the annular cement was not good. The probability is low that the cement above the reservoir was good. There are a number of reasons that would make it unlikely that cement above the reservoir was good. Thermal expansion would be one of the reasons. Vibrations due to the blowout and the fact that the cement was not at full strength when it was subjected to excess loading are other reasons it is likely to have not survived intact. But the number one reason is there was a low probability that the cement would be a good even if there was no excess forces due to a blowout. There is testimony that it was expected that when the well was re-opened for production they would do a cement bond log and then based on the knowledge of where it needed remedial work there would be at that time additional cement added.

We have no evidence of flow up the annulus. We have no evidence there was not flow up the annulus. After the RW intersect, there could be conclusive evidence one way or the other about flow to the annulus, but for some reason that evidence is not being made public. We don't even know if they made any attempt to look at the evidence. And of course the evidence is the composition of the contents of the annulus.

It is not my claim that the lead impression demonstrated that the top never moved. That was judgment made by whoever conducted that analytic procedure and it was communicated to the public by Adm Allen. The lead impression tool allows very accurate measurement of the position of the hangar so it is believable that they can make that determination that it had never moved.
At the bottom of the hole we don't know if the pipe moved inside the cement but we do know the thermal expansion put an enormous amount of weight on the cement.

Jinn wrote:

We have no evidence there was not flow up the annulus.

I finally bit the bullet and started downloading the BP report this morning, and just finished reading "Appendix G. Analysis Determining
the Likely Source of In-flow".

As I understand it, the evidence of no annular flow comes from the drill pipe pressure data from 21:08 hours to 21:14 hours. During this time the mud pumps were stopped for a "sheen test", and the DP pressure rose.

The analysts were able to model the two scenarios (via shoe and via hangar seal). The shoe model produced results consistent with the observations. The hangar seal model did not. In fact, if the annulus was the path, then DP pressure would have decreased during that period.


Yes everybody now knows* that the flow that came out the failed BOP was carried up the production tubular. That fact does not equate to "no flow in the annulus". Just because the flow to the BOP didn't pass through the annulus doesn't mean no oil flowed in or through the annulus.

Here is an example of flow in the annulus:

When they pumped mud during the static kill the mud flowed down the production tubular, around the bend, up the annulus. When it got to one of the several rupture discs in the 16" casing the flow of mud exited the annulus. When they pumped cement the cement followed the path that some of the mud took and sealed off the annulus. If this is what happened then the mud in the annulus is mud that got there in August not the original mud from April.

There is no evidence that the preceding paragraph didn't happen. Well actually there is evidence. The evidence is the mud in the annulus. If analyzed it should reveal whether it was the original mud or mud that arrived there in August.

* It is interesting to note that if you consider the pressure at 21:48 on April 20 to be absolute proof that the oil we saw coming out the BOP flowed up the central casing then everybody should have known in April that the flow was up the production casing.

When it got to one of the several rupture discs in the 16" casing the flow of mud exited the annulus.

Where did it go after that?

Was the rupture disc already ruptured? If so, when and by what? If not, wouldn't a noticable pressure peak be required in order to rupture it?

* It is interesting to note that if you consider the pressure at 21:48 on April 20 to be absolute proof that the oil we saw coming out the BOP flowed up the central casing then everybody should have known in April that the flow was up the production casing.

That "if" is a pretty big word. I haven't made any such statements, and the Appendix G analysis is based on 21:08 - 21:14 and 21:31 - 21:42.

I'm not going to argue about this any further. Appendix G has persuaded me. Now, it would be neat if you were to give it a good Fisking and point out all the weak spots in their analysis.

But providing low-likelyhood speculation involving mysteriously failing rupture disks that communicate into dead-end spaces really doesn't cut it.

All I'm suggesting is that you read and understand Appendix G, and knock it down if you can.


Contrast the drawing on page 19 of the BP report http://www.bp.com/liveassets/bp_internet/globalbp/globalbp_uk_english/in... with that from Chu's website http://www.energy.gov/open/documents/3.1_Item_2_Macondo_Well_07_Jun_1900... with specific regard to the rupture discs.

Note that Chu has 16" rupture discs horizintally deployed inside the 9-7/8" production casing pierced by the drill pipe!!!!

BP has the real facts. The discs are through the wall of the 16" casing outward into the annular space around it, not between it and the production casing as Jinn describes it.



May 28, 2010 Watch the video yourself! http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/obama-administrations-thad-allen-bp-top-kill-p...

I guess I missed the cause of your extreme disdain for Chu, but in this case it appears he is not the guilty one. The DOE website that hosts item 3.1 says:


Data Summary from Deepwater Horizon

The following documents are a collection of data from operations to control flow from the Deepwater Horizon well. All information was provided directly by BP. The file names have been preserved in order to maintain a traceable record of where each file came from in the BP tracking system and whenever possible, we have worked to ensure that the contents are data readable.


Perhaps Chu should have flagged the BP info as incorrect, but I think that is expecting a bit too much.

That "if" is a pretty big word. I haven't made any such statements, and the Appendix G analysis is based on 21:08 - 21:14 and 21:31 - 21:42.

I'm not going to argue about this any further. Appendix G has persuaded me. Now, it would be neat if you were to give it a good Fisking and point out all the weak spots in their analysis.


I never said there were any weak spots in that analysis. That evidence and analysis has been available to everyone since April. It was just as true in April as it is today. However, that analysis was never intended to prove that mud didn't flow into the annulus in August. That analysis is irrelevant to the question of whether the cement above the reservoir allowed oil and gas to flow into the annulus at some point in time after the blowout.

FYI the purpose of putting rupture disks in the 16" casing was to relieve pressure in the annulus and allow fluid to flow out if pressure exceeds a limit. Pressure build up could be due to temperature or gas build up. Also the theory has been advanced since April that the pressure spike as a result of converting the float on April 19 may have blown one of the rupture disks higher up in the well. Any hydrocarbons that were pushed out of the annulus through the rupture disks would end up somewhere in the formations underground.

That is just one example of flow in the annulus that you have no evidence didn't happen. There are other possible scenarios for flow in and out the annulus that also haven't been ruled out by evidence.

Also the theory has been advanced since April that the pressure spike as a result of converting the float on April 19 may have blown one of the rupture disks higher up in the well.

But wouldn't that pressure spike have have been limited to the drill pipe and production casing? At that point in time, the casing hangar seal had not yet been established, so wouldn't the rupture discs have seen only the hydrostatic pressure coming down through the riser and newly established annulus between the casing and liner?

Maybe I'm missing something, but seems to me that whoever put that particular theory forward isn't particularly credible.


You have no evidence to support your position that no oil and/or gas ever made its way into the annulus.

You have nothing but faith to support your belief that the excess pressure, temperature and mechanical loading that the outer casing of the well was subjected to from April 20 and later left it in the same pristine condition it was in prior to the blowout.

The relief well intersect should have produced conclusive evidence of whether the contents of the annulus survived intact or whether those contents were displaced by other fluids.

But for some reason we do not have access to the facts of what was discovered. Instead we have an announcement from BP that "no hydrocarbons were found". As each day passes that announcement looks more and more like a clever misrepresentation of the facts.

It is just a little too convenient that those 4 little words have already got many people jumping to the conclusion that all the accusations of bad well design have evaporated.

The fact is a path which enabled fluids to flow in and out of the annulus is not that unlikely. And there is no reason to believe if such a path existed that we would know about it.

If a channel existed to the upper annulus from the reservoir then it would be expected that the large quantity of mud and then the cement that was pumped in August would want to follow that flow path (where else could it go?). So now we are told that the annulus is not in communication with the reservoir and that no hydrocarbons were found at the intercept point. BP could make that statement even if what they found was evidence of mud and cement that was put there in August.


Take a look at this http://www.contdisc.com/IM_Uploads/DocLib_281_TCH0328%20TA%20FINAL.pdf

Pressure relief to prevent implosion of the casing due to thermal expansion due to soil heating of the mud in the annular space surrounding the casing, not explosion from within.

Jinn loses another one!

Edit -

BTW Doesn't a criminal negligence charge require meeting the reasonable man standard? If Chu sets the standard for what constitutes a reasonable man, everybody will walk on the criminal negligence charges. Civil negligence they rightfully deserve.

Bruce it sounds like you are many months behind Chu in your understanding of the mechanics of the Macondo well.

FYI There were pressure relief valves built into the casing to relieve pressure in both directions. And although the goal of installing these valves was to relieve pressure due to heat causing the fluid to expand, you might want to also consider what pressures occur in the annulus should it be in communication with a pressurized reservoir and it were to fill up with migrating gas.

Also while you are researching you might want to note that rupture disks not only provide protection against collapse they also provide a means of getting fluid into a space like the annulus. Just build up enough pressure and the burst disk provides a pathway to flow.

The point of bringing up the rupture disks was a counter example to the people who believe that nothing can flow into the annulus because there is no where for fluids to exit the annulus. The number of possible avenues of flow in and out of the annulus are many. And most of those possible scenarios of flow would happen without any evidence of the flow observed at the surfaces.

The fact remains the public still has not been shown any conclusive proof there was no flow in the annulus. Why is that information being withheld?

Well if Sec Chu is sooooooo damn smart why won't he tell the public why he ordered the top kill on Memorial Day weekend stopped???????????? We have Thad Allen on videotape saying the flow of oil had stopped.

What we got was a 16 hour gap in the flow of information from the NIC and Chu giving interviews to the New york Times and Washington Post, both of which have their heads so far up Obama's ass they ought to bill him for a colonoscopy. All he's done is answer softball questions for puff pieces in those liberal newspapers. He has not even held one press conference. I guess the administration's teleprompter's schedule is already filled!

The only story I've seen that indicates the reason why Chu stopped the top kill was this article from the Wall Street Journal http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870487560457528013357716426...

WASHINGTON—BP PLC has concluded that its "top-kill" attempt last week to seal its broken well in the Gulf of Mexico may have failed due to a malfunctioning disk inside the well about 1,000 feet below the ocean floor.

The disk, part of the subsea safety infrastructure, may have ruptured during the surge of oil and gas up the well on April 20 that led to the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig, BP officials said. The rig sank two days later, triggering a leak that has since become the worst in U.S. history.

The broken disk may have prevented the heavy drilling mud injected into the well last week from getting far enough down the well to overcome the pressure from the escaping oil and gas, people familiar with BP's findings said. They said much of the drilling mud may also have escaped from the well into the rock formation outside the wellbore.

As a result, BP wasn't able to get sufficient pressure to keep the oil and gas at bay. If they had been able to build up sufficient pressure, the company had hoped to pump in cement and seal off the well. The effort was deemed a failure on Saturday.

If the story is correct, it means Chu, like you, mistakenly believed the rupture disc at 6,047 feet (980 feet below the mud line) was leaking from the inside out.


Now the practical consequence of Chu's decision was to prematurely declare the top kill a failure [when the well was subsequently killed by what the AP now properly calls a top kill (AKA the "static kill")]. Instead of stopping the flow of oil in May, it continued to flow until July 15, which was much better than waiting for the NIC's "ultimate solution", the relief well, circa Aug 15 (and actually in September).

I have no sympathy for a fool who starts giving orders [and violates Capt Nguyen's dictum, if you start giving orders "you own it".)] And is a guy who cannot figure out that a "16" rupture/burst disk" will not fit into a 9-7/8" production casing no matter what what is shown on the drawing.


Your quoted article that says:

"BP PLC has concluded that its "top-kill" attempt last week to seal its broken well in the Gulf of Mexico may have failed due to a malfunctioning disk"

That is not my opinion. That was not Chu's opinion. That explanation came from BP.

I brought the rupture disk into the conversation because folks on TOD were saying it is impossible for fluid to get into the annulus if there is no way for fluid to leave the annulus.

I was pointing out that BP has already explained one possible way that fluid might escape from the annulus (again that is not my opinion that is BP's opinion).

The rupture disks would be just one of several possible flow paths.

Bignerd, I appreciate the detailed response, thanks for taking the time.

I pour a lot of concrete on land, which means I know just enough about cementing a well to be dangerously ignorant. But having a concrete form move before the stuff hardens is usually fatal in my work, and the casing in this well is essentially a form, hence my question. Thanks for clarifying that it was probably not a dominant factor in the cement failure.

I'll take this as the money quote: "You would normally hope to wait until the cement had hardened before doing anything to the well.". I think there is a valid parallel to other concrete work here, I've had slabs crumbled to rubble by fools jumping on them before they have reached their initial cure. I've always wondered if the first negative test only served to weaken the cement.

My $.02 on the expansion of the casing after the blowout: A 140F increase in wellhead temperature would be very roughly an average 70F increase in the 13,000 ft. string. Depending on the expansion coefficient for the alloy, maybe a 6 to 9 ft. thermal expansion. But that is for unrestrained, unstressed steel. If the bottom of the casing is supported, some of the expansion will just reduce the tension in the hanging string, and friction might eat a little more. Could be as small as a few inches to a couple feet IMO.

n.b. I used a carbon steel pipe coefficient of 0.0000065 inches expansion per inch of pipe per degree Fahrenheit to get that low end thermal expansion of 6 ft.

The reservoir temp was I believe 265F. Well head temp was 40F.

Jinn, not sure what you're getting at, but I did have a math error in my post.

Using Bignerd's estimate of temp change at the wellhead of 40F to 200F I should have gotten a change of 160F. That's a mean change of 80F (not the 70F I posted), which works out to around a foot more expansion. Still not much for such a long hanging string.

The temp of the reservoir is 262F and the temp gradient isn't exactly linear. The average temp change for the entire 13000' is probably closer to 100 degrees.

The purpose of the lock down sleeve that was going to be installed in April was to prevent the top of the casing lifting up if the well were put into production. Of course the top would only lift up if the cement at the bottom was good enough to support the entire weight of the casing.

The temp of the reservoir is 262F and the temp gradient isn't exactly linear.

Yeah, I know, that's why I said "very roughly".

The average temp change for the entire 13000' is probably closer to 100 degrees.

I guess 80F, you guess 100F. The experts are probably laughing at both of us.

I guess 80F, you guess 100F. The experts are probably laughing at both of us.

The calculations the experts made were based on flowing the well at 5-10 k bpd not a flow of 60,000 barrels per day. The calculations the experts made weren't based on flowing the well less than a day after the cement was poured.

We know the experts got it wrong. The experts expected they would be able to put a locking ring on the top of the well and they expected they would be able to do a CBL and then do a remedial cement squeeze if there was not adequate cement to support the weight at the bottom. The experts thought they had the issue of thermal expansion fully addressed. But we now know what the experts expected to happen isn't the way it turned out.

Jinn, I was referring to the oilfield experts here on The Oil Drum, laughing at the assumptions and speculations made by two people who really don't know that much.

WSJ's article on John Wright gives more of his history than I've seen in any other coverage -- but strangely doesn't mention that Halliburton just bought Boots & Coots.

Quite so!

On the very day he pumps the cement into the already killed annulus http://www.bp.com/genericarticle.do?categoryId=2012968&contentId=7065079 John Wright becomes a Halliburton employee http://www.halliburton.com/public/news/pubsdata/press_release/2010/corpn... and destroys the Halliburton too few centralizers meme!!

On the irony!

I am now wondering how that list of no-no's is going that BP was supposed to have committed. Guess the cement job was good. Guess the "long string is bad" theory is no longer valid. Am I wrong in thinking the float went bad? I would really like to know more about the BOP.

The long string is bad if they did a nitrified job because they had to circulate around the tighter annulus outside the production casing. Evidently cementing a liner would have allowed using a better quality cement. They could have done a tie back later if they wanted to.

I understand what you are saying, however, according to all the publicity, experts and non, BP made a critical mistake of running a long string. It now does not seem that is the case as well as the nitrified cement, described as another disaster on BP's part was not to be.

Everybody was saying the BP well plan was awful, terrible, unheard of and cost cutting on their part and could lead to the disaster that happened. Rockman seems so far to nail their most critical of all mistakes was their lack of awareness of the hole unloading while displacing mud in the riser and their failure to take appropriate action.

Sorry, but I don't think it's a good idea to run an operation in 5000 ft water depth relying on the rig crew to figure out when they're taking a kick the way they did. There were preceding errors, and the key error was the way the well was completed and cemented, the lack of a CBL, and the lousy training of the Transocean and BP personnel which showed when they failed to figure out their negative test sucked.

We all know cement has a tendency to fail, so it's important to make sure it doesn't, or that we figure out it didn't. I don't have statistics showing the success or failure rate of nitrified cement in 18,000 ft wells, but if you tell me you want to start mixing a gas into something like cement to put into an 18K ft well in 5K WD, I get the jeepers, because gas volume factors are such a dicey thing when working at high pressures and temperatures. I know a liner can be a hassle - because the liner top doesn't hold. But what tells you that running a full casing string using a single stage, and leaving the well without a CBL, and then circulating it out with sea water was sensible? It wasn't. I would have had a procedure to circulate heavy mud into that sucker to keep it so that it would yield at least 100 psi above reservoir pressure with nothing but a column of sea water on top from the wellhead up. Who the hell wants to come back to that well in three years and uncork it the way they had planned on leaving it anyway?

I totally agree they should have run a CBL. If for no other reason than their Well Manual required verification. In addition they also had at least two anomolies while doing the job. Coverting the float collar at a much higher pressure than expected and then the lower wiper plug required a much higher pressure than expected to rupture. However, is it not true that the CBL would show nothing below the upper wiper plug? Considering this is above two of the main pay sands and some say there was no leakage into the annulus, would this have shown anything?

BP... their most critical of all mistakes was their lack of awareness of the hole unloading while displacing mud in the riser and their failure to take appropriate action.

Tony Hayward's recent testimony before the British Energy and Climate Change Committee:

"We have no evidence here of the sort of issues we were confronted with at Texas City. What we do have - I think very clearly - is is a lack of rigor in the quality of oversight of a contractor."

http://www.cspan.org/Watch/Media/2010/09/15/HP/R/38110/BP+CEO+Hayward+Fa... *

* Loooong video. The quote is from my notes, and may not be exact.

Is it fair to say that the evidence points to part of the April cementing, that above the reservoir, succeeding, and preventing flow from the reservoir into the annulus between liner and production casing? But that the part from the reservoir down to the end of the casing, and up inside it some distance, failed to achieve a good seal? The part above the reservoir had mud above it and oil pressure below, a benign environment in which to set, as I understand it. The cement below the reservoir was vulnerable to varying pressure in the casing and the possibly unsatisfactory foaming process. A resulting weakness then allows a trickle of oil to follow the uncharacteristic new pressure gradient, from the reservoir down through the cement and up inside the casing eventually to the rig. In time the trickle grew. In August, pushing cement down the casing forced oil back through the weak or porous April lower cement, but the cement in the annulus above the reservoir held, so the oil flowed back into the formation, followed by any August cement that passed through any passage in any remaining April below-reservoir cement.
The alternative scenario is that the cement either was not in the annulus immediately above the reservoir, or failed there, and a further failure occurred somewhere higher up that allowed oil into the production casing. The August cement would then have had to follow that path in reverse to stop the flow, unless it went down inside the casing and up around the outside to completely fill the space right up to roughly where the top of the cement should have been in April.
I am inclined to favour the former scenario over the latter, it is fundamentally one failure, of cement, and one weakness, in the collar, rather than a cement failure and a failure of the steel casing.
Thus, in my view, the cement was a near-miss, and the conversion of the valves was a near-miss, as were the attempts at testing the cement, the lowering of mud weight, the failure to monitor and act on mud return anomalies, the operation of the BOP, the safe discharge of the combustibles, and the presence of an ignition source. All too typical of modern industrial accidents, the single causes have mostly been covered, but the sum of a lot of small shortcomings can still be a catastrophe. With different parties responsible for parts of the chain, the only beneficiaries will be the lawyers. How about binding arbitration, CEOs and Chief Engineers/Technical Directors only, five days to reach a decision or every party gets a thumping great fine?

Bruce T.,

Since you are unable or unwilling to share your insight as to why centralizers were not an issue in the Macondo well blowout--but insist on harping about it nevertheless, how about my relating a little story? After reading it you can point out to me the fictional parts of it.

To tell the story I'm going to extract parts of something I wrote as a sort of diary entry for Friday, September 17th. It was "What I learned from The Oil Drum after Bruce T. declared that politicians who used the words centralizer or gas flow potential should eat crow".

On second thought, though it's long, I'm going to include all of it, as it used gas flow potential to lead into centralizers.

Just when I was thinking of breaking my 120-day TOD habit due to diminishing return of technical information for time invested--there dawned Friday, September 17th.

Let me see if I got this right.

There was some politician who opined that the Macondo well had a high potential for gas flow? Perhaps with a gas flow potential factor (GFP) greater than 10, and that was categorized as severe? Not minor, not moderate, but severe? And that the whole gas flow potential thing relates to gas in a formation breaching a cement barrier before it's had time to achieve sufficient strength? And thus compromising the zonal isolation expected of the cement? Which is to say, breached cement might be equivalent to no cement?

Hmmm. Then that politician might have known that GFP is a strong function of the separation between the casing to be cemented and the hole it's installed in, and that the smaller the separation the greater the potential for a problem. Maybe he was so clever as to observe that after the hole is bored, and the casing is set, the maximum average separation is no longer a choice, it's fixed. And he might have seen that the separation can effectively be zero if the casing is in contact with the bore hole, or very close to it. And maybe he surmised that a small separation could present a flow restriction, and that such a restriction might interfere with clearing filter cake or placing cement. If so, that was pretty good--for a politician.

And then this politician learned about centralizers? I'll bet he was relieved by that. He may have been surprised that people who put pipes in holes for a living recognized the benefit of keeping those pipes at least somewhat centered in those holes before cementing--and maybe even more surprised that one of them invented those centralizer things in the first place. Apparently this politician thought these centralizers, used in sufficient quantity and in the right places, were a good thing--and may have let anyone who'd listen [I wasn't one of them, so I can't say for sure] know about it. Politicians do that sort of thing.

=== Digression from what I learned Friday ===

What next? Ah, yes, a half dozen centralizers were arrayed on the production casing, it was cemented, and the well blew out. Then the guessing, speculating, finger-pointing, and the "this is what happened" theorizing began. It went on for four months until BP issued its investigative report, then it reassembled and took off in altered directions. What about that cement job, eh? BP's best estimate to date is that the hydrocarbons involved in the explosion came from the M56A formation at 17,788 ft and traveled downward 516 ft to the casing shoe at 18,304 ft, then up through the cement in the casing. OK, so that's 516 ft through cement in the space between the casing and open hole, and then 189 ft through cement in the casing shoe track.

Now here's a question that should be answered before continuing: What is the meaning of "the annulus" when referring to the production casing? Well, I consider it to be the space bounded on the interior by the production casing itself and on the exterior, from bottom to top, by: the borehole from 18,304 ft to 17,168 ft MD; and from there a succession of liners, then the surface casing, and on to the casing hanger, about 13 ft above the mud line. So, the overall interval of "the annulus" is about 13,250 vertical feet.

=== Back to what I learned Friday ===

I learned that "the annulus" is not "the annulus", if it's inconvenient to a story. That is, the 516-foot flow path, through cement, or what should have been cement, from the M56A formation at 17,788 ft downward to the casing shoe at 18,304 ft was not through "the annulus". "The annulus" is only the space where hydrocarbons didn't flow.

And since hydrocarbons didn't flow where centralizers weren't placed, then centralizers couldn't have been an issue.

Had it been realized that the six centralizers used on the production casing were arrayed (assuming Brian Morel's suggestion was followed) only in the interval where flow is now believed to have occurred--17,788 ft down to the shoe--then I'd probably have also learned that the centralizers were the cause of the problem. It's just as well. I was approaching new information overload anyway.

The fiction? (The politician is a vehicle. What he may have known or not known is to be excluded from the fiction assessment.)


Edited to add missing word

You are making a bit of progress in your understanding.

The annulus in this specific case is the space between the production casing and the rock wellbore. Flow through it I will call annular flow. The production casing is centered on the vertical axis of the well, so I will call flow through it axial flow.

The blowout came as a result of axial, not annular, flow. Sun & Stars has a nice summary above of how doing a negative test superimposes a pressure gradient from high to low downward over the gravitational gradient, which goes from high to low upward. Put enough of a negative gradient on the cement in the annulus and you get a downward net gradient and downward flow. Newton tells us F = MA, which means that the gradient will accelerate lighter fractions (i.e. the nitrogen) faster than the heavier fractions (the cement slurry) due to inertial forces, creating channeling from the reservoir downward. The cement failed right where the centralizers were concentrated, because that is where there was both a favorable pressure gradient and a discharge point (the rig floor). The failure occurred while the cement was uncured. The cement in the annulus above the reservoir and centralizers was never subjected to flow of oil and so it had time to cure and form an impervious barrier.

At the beginning the annulus was filled with mud and it was still filled with mud when John Wright intersected it. There is no evidence of it ever containing anything else. And no one has provided any viable explanation to the contrary explaining how oil could have gotten in (the easy part) and then gotten back out (i.e. where was the discharge point?). This is another example of where people seem to lack the most elementary understanding of Fluid Dynamics 101, the Continuity Equation. (I would note that Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms has already coldcocked Jinn on a similar point regarding the collection system.) I guess it is too much to expect of government bureaucrats who deliberately overestimate the flow from the well and then believe the oil is "missing".

The Congressional lynch mob took note of the Morel/Cocales e-mails and jumped to incorrect conclusions in line with the Halliburton meme, that was based on the use of an insufficient number of centralizers intended to be placed more than 200 feet above the reservoir to prevent channeling through the cement upward, thereby preventing the initiation of annular flow, which did not occur. The lynch mob was very, very wrong. It is also ironic to see congressional Democrats playing the part of Halliburton shills!!

You really ought to read BP's explanations in their report and the appendices to see the more detailed rebuttal to the annular flow crowd. All that is left of those who were supporting that hypothesis is what Obama might call "bitter clingers" and Rumsfeld might call "deadenders". It is no longer worthwhile to deal with that dead end. It is much more important to deal with the future, which means concentrating on the use/misuse of nitrified cements, especially at depth.

Bruce, if "The failure occurred while the cement was uncured.", then couldn't the oil itself have channeled through the cement, whether there was nitrogen involved or not?

If your theory depends on the cement being a slurry at the time of failure, I don't see how you can single out nitrogen as the culprit. Undissolved nitrogen at that pressure is about 40 lbs/cu ft, not that much lighter than oil in this context, and heavier than some fractions in the oil. I wouldn't be surprised if the nitrogen cement had something to do with the blowout, but the simpler solution to your scenario is that the oil, or the methane fraction, just flowed right through the slurry when the pressure in the well dropped. Or am I missing something?

The cement in the annulus above the reservoir and centralizers was never subjected to flow of oil and so it had time to cure and form an impervious barrier.


This is your belief. There has been no proof offered to support this belief. The fact that no proof has been forthcoming tends to make one wonder if it exists. You would expect that if the proof existed BP would want to make it public.

You have a flawed understanding of the meaning of channeling that Halliburton warned about. The reason centralization is important is that if the tubular is off center then the cement flow tends to follow the path of least resistance. The cement flows up the side that is wider and the mud tends to stay behind in the side that is narrower. The part of the annulus that remains as mud is referred to as a channel (i. e. a path where flow can occur) This was a big problem with this particular cement job because they were extremely limited in how fast they could pump the cement. Usually they would want to pump the cement at rates of 5 to 8 times faster than they were forced to pump this job. Faster pumping rates would prevent channeling even if the tube was not on center. But pumping faster would have meant fracturing the formations and lost returns.

Haliburton reccomended the nitrified cement as well as the 21 centralizers to prevent channeling. Their computer model predicted a high probability that channeling would occur with 6 centralizers. There is still no evidence that channeling in the cement above the reservoir did not occur.

Also I have seen no evidence that the mud the relief well encountered was not some of the large quantity of mud they pumped in August. Do you have a shred of evidence that says that the RW encountered mud that was put there in April?

Bruce T,

You wrote: You are making a bit of progress in your understanding.

Thank you. I'm pleased to see that you've progressed enough to recognize it.

Tell me what your hypothesis presumes for downhole volumes of fluids pumped, and their depth boundaries at the end of pumping. The fluids of interest are: the base oil, the spacer, the lead cement, the foamed cement, and the tail cement.

With fluids then in place, can you give me an approximate timeline for what happened to the cements (lead, foamed, and tail) as regards setting, or being compromised?

I guess you should also give me your theory for the disappearance of the base oil and spacer if you truly believe your statement that: At the beginning the annulus was filled with mud and it was still filled with mud when John Wright intersected it. There is no evidence of it ever containing anything else.

You say: The cement in the annulus above the reservoir and centralizers was never subjected to flow of oil and so it had time to cure and form an impervious barrier. Does that mean the cap cement and some of the foamed cement was never subjected to oil flow, or what?

Without answers to the questions I've asked I can't begin to make sense out of your second full paragraph, the one that begins The blowout came as a result of axial, not annular, flow.


I love the last line in the article:

"The intersection is not particularly challenging," Mr. Wright says, nonchalantly."

Experts always make it look easy.

Lost me somewhere around " Edgar Cayce ", Snake, sorry.

Yeah, pretty strange overall but Reed apparently had a plausible theory.

He did, I spent quite some time reading into it. It's hard for an outsider like me to decipher all the maps,studies & diagrams I come across looking into it, but there are certain characteristics of the Gulf of Mexico that give rise to interesting phenomenon. I did do a simple dataset, of the occurrences of tectonic movements in the Gulf in a given span of time, and they do seem to have all occurred in the deepwater area. It does point to a higher probability of it happening again, but do they effect drilling ops ? Comparing a dataset of something like lightning strikes and comparing to something like a map of residual gravity( whatever the hell that is...) shows they both occur in the same area, ..but proving a connection..? I can overlay all sorts of maps and studies to show increased frequencies of events in certain areas over a given amount of time, but what does it really mean ? It's too easy to speculate aliens, that requires no proof,lol.

Lost me somewhere around " Edgar Cayce ", Snake, sorry.

Oh, c'mon, that's silly. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and all that. The guy isn't proposing Cayce's prophecies as any kind of validation. There's plenty of science, valid or otherwise, in the post. If you don't find the science convincing, say why.

Hey, fiction is always stranger than reality, but somehow,sometimes they manage to merge after the passage of time. I am a firm believer in Jack's ideas, he was on to something for sure, I was ribbing Snake about the Edgar Cayce reference in the linked article. I am the fruitcake that wrote posts on his blog about the Mogu doughnut hypothesis and the bannana-doughnut theory, afterall. Science has a strange way of disregarding things that seem impossible, then proving them to be true in the future. So, no harm meant.

I was ribbing Snake about the Edgar Cayce reference in the linked article

OK, glad to hear it. It did seem strange coming from you! Apologies for the misunderstanding.

I don't find the science convincing because he completly misunderstands what Reed was proposing. Drinkard mixes and matches time and spatial elements of Reed's ideas, without really understanding how they relate or don't relate. He seems to imply that earthquake activity is increasing, when in reality it is more likely that with better and more widespread instumentation, we are simply getting a better understanding of the level of activity in the GOM. We didn't know there were that many earthquakes because we didn't tend to look for them there.

The New Madrid quakes have always been a bit of a mystery. They never quite fit very well into the plate tectonic model as we have understood it. But plate tectonics is still a rapidly evolving field. Would another big New Madrid earthquake be devasting to the area in and around the quake zone? Absolutely! But that has been obvious for about a hundred years. Would a big New Madrid earthquake damage oil infratructure in the GOM? Probably not, as it is a long way away, by earthquake standards.

Texaco Petroleum Geologist Forced to Accept Quiet Theory

He also implies that Reed's ideas were somehow suppressed, when if fact it is just that Reed was challenging a long standing conventional wisdom. While Mr. Drinkard doesn't really spell out a conspiracy theory, he certainly implies one, at least in my reading of the article.

He also implies that Reed's ideas were somehow suppressed

Well, "forced to accept" is what Reed claimed, in print, no less. Drinkard actually seems to me to be a bit dubious: "What is not clear from reports of Mr. Reed’s opinion is why he felt forced to accept the theory of a quiet and passive Gulf basin."

While Mr. Drinkard doesn't really spell out a conspiracy theory, he certainly implies one, at least in my reading of the article.

You mean, when he refers to "the current political climate and business control of every major branch of government"? That's a pretty widely held belief, and it would have to be an awfully big conspiracy. It sounded to me as if Drinkard is just worried about the possibility of a major Gulf earthquake and what it might do to the oil wells. I think many people who've been following the Deepwater Horizon developments are on edge about the possibility of future huge spills, whatever the cause.

As far as the actual science is concerned, I know from nuttin'. And Drinkard's a lawyer, not a geologist, Jim. ;-)

Well, "forced to accept" is what Reed claimed, in print, no less....

My take is that Reed meant "forced to accept" figuratively.

You mean, when he refers to "the current political climate and business control of every major branch of government"? That's a pretty widely held belief, and it would have to be an awfully big conspiracy.

Drinkard also seems to make a big deal about the USGS moving the location of the earthquake. In reality, earthquake epicenters are nearly always adjusted when more data becomes available. In simple terms, the technique is basically just triangulation. If you get more stations to triangulate from you can get a better fix. If you get closer stations (less noise, less velocity effects) to triangulate from then you can get a better fix. Happens all the time.

It sounded to me as if Drinkard is just worried about the possibility of a major Gulf earthquake and what it might do to the oil wells. I think many people who've been following the Deepwater Horizon developments are on edge about the possibility of future huge spills, whatever the cause.

Absolutely. That's why people should be careful about drawing conclusions from data they don't understand. Geology is a much more accessable science than say quantum physics. That is good, in my view. But that sometimes means people jump to conclusions that aren't at all warrented. If lawyers want to write about geology, that's great, but they should either do their homework to understand what they are talking about, or at least vet their conclusions with someone who does understand the subject.

There are more than enough real things to be concerned about with respect to oil spills. We don't need to scare people with things that aren't likely to be an issue.

Got to get back to work now. My current boss would take a dim view of me posting on work time.

If lawyers want to write about geology, that's great, but they should either do their homework to understand what they are talking about, or at least vet their conclusions with someone who does understand the subject.

He does ask for comments, so he may well be amenable to being vetted. He seems to be a reasonable dude, not CT-oriented. He just started the blog recently, so he's probably trying to be a bit provocative to attract readers. You might point him in the direction of stuff that would be more worth his while to be concerned about. Worth a try, I should think.

@ Alaska Geo and Rockman, et al

While pondering the earthquakes in the Gulf I remembered a mention of an extinct spreading zone in the Gulf

ah found it:

Geological Society, London, Special Publications 2009; v. 328; p. 1-55
James L. Pindell and Lorcan Kennan
South America in the mantle reference frame: an update
Tectonic evolution of the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and northern

which includes a graphic:

which won't attach

anyway it is on page 10 they show a graphic with the 'extinct' spreading zone just south of the Sigsbee salt which they show as two separated salt formations <?>

I know that it's been a geological blink in time since TX was mainly under the Colombian channel or some such shallow sea but the mention of a 'new' plate in the the Gulf doesn't give me any warm fuzzies. It doesn't help the added factor of the New Madrid system either. I lived in Calif for about two years and have had more than my share of earthquakes thank you very much.

Any idea as to the chance that there might be a faulted plate in the middle of the Gulf?




I haven't read that paper, but I can try to answer some of your questions. Is there a faulted plate in the middle of the Gulf? You bet! Up until 23 million years ago, the Farallon Plate was solidly under there, and it was the driving force behind the extensional motion that opened the Gulf in the first place.

Then 23Mya, the plate broke up. Now the Cocos Plate, which is a remnant of the Farallon, is pushing NE under Mexico and Central America and reaches into the Western Gulf. The remains of the Farallon, severely broken and faulted, is sinking into the mantle under the Gulf. It's WAY down there now! That sinking is what caused the Gulf to deepen - it was originally just a shallow sea.

The Sigsbee Escarpment is separate from the Florida Escarpment, but both are features of the Jurassic Louann Salt Formation. The salt was continuous until the extensional movements tore it apart, and even now it's continuous in places because of the plastic flow in the salt.

The New Madrid system is a failed rift. The continent tried to break up there, but the Canadian Shield rock was resistant enough to prevent it from extending past Illinois. The NM is not done playing by any means. It will eventually unleash enormous quakes that will do some terrible damage. But the driving force now is from the Mid Atlantic Ridge rather than from within the Gulf.

@ Pinkfud,


I'm going back over some old geology papers ASAP.

I had thought the Puerto Rico trench was working from the south I didn't realize the Atlantic was shoving stuff over the Caribbean. I guess that would make the eastern part of the the Gulf of Mexico a sort of subduction zone.

I still don't follow the two zones of salt but I will keep that in mind. And will keep praying the New Madrid stays 'asleep' (snoozing is relative here, snoozing New Madrid v wide awake San Andreas)


will keep praying the New Madrid stays 'asleep'

Ya got lotsa company there, woerm!

Pinkfud, thanks for another fascinating, easily-digestible answer!

FWIW, I don't buy the science either. Yes, the Gulf is "tectonically active" - it has no choice because it's being pushed from all directions. And yes, there can be earthquakes there. But the Gulf has been relatively quiet for 23My because the breakup of the Farallon Plate left the Gulf in a tectonic void. That void will continue for a very long time yet. I also don't agree with the shown path of the New Madrid. It veers off to the East at the Southern tip of Illinois. So in all, it's an interesting read, but take it with a grain of salt.

Macondo slide show June 4 to September 4, my view of what happened.


My view of what happened onshore in Gulf Shores. I plan to create a slideshow, but the photos are available and they are chronologically ordered. Here is the link to 6-5-10 The first real impact day.

Don't bother taking it to Cannes, Avon

I've been to Cannes twice, stayed at the Carlton. Et vous?

And so the relief well had shown that there were no effective quantities of hydrocarbon products in the annulus, meaning that the well failure had purely been through the shoe and up the production casing, and not up the annulus. Much of the original thought had been that the failure was the other way around, and the caution in the approach has been, in part, in case there was at least some failure up the annulus. That turned out not to be the case,


Can anyone explain what evidence exists to support this belief? I don't see anywhere that BP or the government is making this claim. The entire 2.6 miles of annulus has not yet been examined and the few feet of annulus that was examined was supposed to have oil not mud. 7 barrels of base oil were pumped into the annulus ahead of the cement on April 19-20.

It appears to me the evidence is that the reservoir was flowing up the annulus at the the time the capping stack was installed and shut in 7/15.
This flow was a cross flow from the bottom of the well to someplace higher up (possibly rupture discs in the 16 casing??)

The evidence is that the static kill ended this flow up the annulus first by injection of mud and then by injection of cement. The relief well intersected the annulus and found mud that was left by the static kill in August.

The annulus was cemented shut in August according to all that the government and BP have said in the last 6 weeks. Including the most recent BP press release:

"The MC252 well has been shut-in since July 15 and cementing operations in August, following the static kill, provided an effective cement plug in the well’s casing."

Why is everyone believing the cement above the reservoir isolated the annulus when all the evidence we have been given says it did not

jinn - Difficult to tell if the feds/BP were intentioanlly misleading about the annulus contents or just following their habit of poor communicating. Yep...didn't see any evidence of oil in the annulus when they made the intersect. I have no doubt 'probably true. But they don't bother to explain that if the annulus had been full of oil they wouldn't likely see any of it in the returns of the RW. And unless they cut their MW back under 12.6 ppg they couldn't even say for certain that the annulus wasn't still in comminication with the reservoir.

But Wright et al know this far better than anyone else. That's why his silence on the details is a little suspicious IMHO.

Yes silence on the facts is a bit suspicious, but Wright has no particular duty to be the one to keep the public informed.

It seems inconceivable that they cemented the well without getting the facts. What are they going to say if compelled to testify. Are they going to say they simply forgot to verify that there was no communication with the reservoir?

If the DD3 were to fill its kill line with light oil then close the well in with the BOP and open the kill line that would drop the hydrostatic pressure in the well by about 2 ppg. That might be enough to see if the reservoir would push back.


I don't think anyone will find it easy to help you with your theory of annular flow unless you state what your evidence is.

However, like you I struggle to see how they can say much about the annular contents from the intersection alone. They would be very hard pushed to see a minor contribution from the annulus in the circulation volume of the dd3. It would make more sense if they had perfed the casing via dd2 and circulated the contents out, but the jury is still out on that one, potentially discounted by the lack of reference by thad/bp. 

Without the perf there is also the risk the pumped cement from the dd3 went somewhere else- there was I think a reasonable open hole section at the time. 

I do get the feeling this whole relief well finale was a bit of a show for the cameras. 

I don't think anyone will find it easy to help you with your theory of annular flow unless you state what your evidence is.


I invite you to read what I wrote. 7 barrels of base oil preceded the cement that went into the well. That 7 barrels of oil should have been sitting in the annulus about where the relief well intersected. That is it would be if the annulus had the same content it had before the blowout.

And yes if they perforated the production casing then you have a different set of facts then what has been reported and also different from what BP was permitted to do. As far as I know the DD2 has not yet figured out where the 3000' of drill string went yet. So there are a lot of holes in what you believe is the story.

There is no evidence that they perforated the casing and brought the contents to the surface. But if they did, and what they found is mud - What would that prove? The mud in the annulus could have been put there in August when they bullheaded 1000's of barrel of mud down well.

I don't need any help with the theory I proposed. It is your theory that is in need of help. Your theory is speculation. And it doesn't fit the facts. But we all know the facts are very few and that is in itself the most revealing fact.

We know this - Your theory exonerates BP. If in fact the annulus was not in communication with the reservoir and if in fact the contents of the annulus were the same as they were on April 20 before the well flowed, then wouldn't it make sense for BP to take the time and effort to establish those facts to everyone's satisfaction? Establishing that the nitrified cement that was supposed to isolate the annulus did not fail would clear BP from a good bit of the wrong-doing they are accused of.

Given that the data you think exists but hasn't been made available is favorable to BP you would think they would go to great lengths to put it out to the public. What makes this most suspicious is that if your speculation is correct you have to wonder why BP isn't shouting the news from the roof tops.


A nit maybe, but if the cement job was pumped per any of the three publicly available Halliburton plans, what one would expect to find immediately above TOC, is not base oil (7 bbls, 6.5-6.7 ppg), but spacer (72 bbls, 14.3 ppg). With TOC at 17,260 ft, and a liberal 10.5" caliper measurement from TOC to the bottom of the 9-7/8" liner, the spacer would extend for about a half-mile above TOC.

(This assumes your no-disturbance-after-pumped condition, and an additional assumption that it ended up there in the first place.)


I suspected you might be the one person paying attention.

Yes the oil that preceded the cement would be farther up above the top of cement. My point was that the BP statement is misleading in the same way as mine. My evidence is as good as theirs, which is to say not very good at all. We still don't have evidence that the cement that was pumped on April 20 was effective barrier between the annulus and reservoir.

The statement that "no hydrocarbons were found" tells us nothing about the cement poured in April. The question is - will we ever know any more that "no hydrocarbons were found"? Or did they just successfully bury the evidence in full view of everyone?


No, your point was that because no base oil was reported at the intersection point, there must have been flow up the annulus. Or are you backing away from that now?

I'm trying to pay attention too... but I think I'm starting to sound like Syncro...

Hi Jinn,

I invite you to read what I wrote. 7 barrels of base oil preceded the cement that went into the well. That 7 barrels of oil should have been sitting in the annulus about where the relief well intersected. That is it would be if the annulus had the same content it had before the blowout.

OK. Sorry I was a bit slow on the uptake there. When you said...

It appears to me the evidence is that the reservoir was flowing up the annulus at the the time the capping stack was installed and shut in 7/15.
This flow was a cross flow from the bottom of the well to someplace higher up (possibly rupture discs in the 16 casing??)

The evidence is that the static kill ended this flow up the annulus first by injection of mud and then by injection of cement. The relief well intersected the annulus and found mud that was left by the static kill in August.

…it turns out that you are inferring all of that from the fact that the relief well apparently was unable to identify the expected base oil spacer from the original cement job at the depth expected if the OptiCem simulation for annular fluid heights was perfectly correct, and the annular fluids had not been disturbed during the blow out, or subsequent top kill. Some would say that was a fairly wild piece of speculation. But since I know you deal only with theories fitted to facts :-) I would say it is a fairly tenuous theory.

- My first objection would be that they have not stated what they think was in the annulus at the intersection point, and I don't think in any case that it would be easy to see the contribution of whatever fluids moved from the annulus into the dd3 mud column when they circulated bottoms up. All they stated was that they saw no hydrocarbons or cement. Either of those could have been there. And if there was base oil there it would be even harder to see since I expect the oil based mud in the relief well likely has a very similar composition.

- I don't understand how fluids would enter the production casing or BOP from the annulus via the rupture discs in the 16'' - or are you suggesting the 16 inch casing hanger blew?

- your second paragraph above is unhelpfully opaque - are you suggesting the static kill halted annular flow from the bottom, or via the leak path that you propose 'someplace higher up'? The evidence from the static kill appeared to be that the mud and cement all went straight down the production casing and not via some other route

And yes if they perforated the production casing then you have a different set of facts then what has been reported and also different from what BP was permitted to do. As far as I know the DD2 has not yet figured out where the 3000' of drill string went yet. So there are a lot of holes in what you believe is the story.

There is no evidence that they perforated the casing and brought the contents to the surface. But if they did, and what they found is mud - What would that prove? The mud in the annulus could have been put there in August when they bullheaded 1000's of barrel of mud down well.

I don't need any help with the theory I proposed. It is your theory that is in need of help. Your theory is speculation. And it doesn't fit the facts. But we all know the facts are very few and that is in itself the most revealing fact.

We know this - Your theory exonerates BP. If in fact the annulus was not in communication with the reservoir and if in fact the contents of the annulus were the same as they were on April 20 before the well flowed, then wouldn't it make sense for BP to take the time and effort to establish those facts to everyone's satisfaction? Establishing that the nitrified cement that was supposed to isolate the annulus did not fail would clear BP from a good bit of the wrong-doing they are accused of.

Given that the data you think exists but hasn't been made available is favorable to BP you would think they would go to great lengths to put it out to the public. What makes this most suspicious is that if your speculation is correct you have to wonder why BP isn't shouting the news from the roof tops.

??? I didn't propose a theory!!! I even said that the likelihood that they perfed the casing was reduced by the fact that they had made no reference to it. A good try to stimulate some controversy, but I'm afraid there is not even a dead horse to flog here. Hang on a sec - it worked! I made a lengthy reply! Doh....

Its good fun to chew over the permutations, but I'm looking forward to hearing the full story when it finally emerges, and I think a lot more technical information eventually will.

But since I know you deal only with theories fitted to facts :-) I would say it is a fairly tenuous theory.

Of course it is a tenuous theory. How can you construct anything but a tenuous theory given the dearth of facts.

FYI: One possible flow scenario for the static kill would be down the production case, around the bend and up the annulus exiting into some formation external to the well bore. There are several ways the flow path would exit the annulus through the liner casing. It could be a failure in casing integrity due to excess loads (i.e. a crack in cement or steel) or a rupture disk could have allowed flow out of the annulus. That is the purpose of a rupture disk to allow flow out of the annulus.

I would also like to hear the full story on the contents of the annulus, but I'm getting a sinking feeling that "no hydrocarbons found" is going to be about all we are given.


You help run this website correct? If TOD is going to solicit donations from it's viewers, then its moderators shouldn't be pricks to people they disagree with. Your tone has always been defensive and reactionary, it does not seem like what you are saying is sincere. BTW, Rockman owns you.

I am flagging you manbear. Your parents would be disappointed. Do you talk to your neighbors like that? Even if you disagree, watch the language when talking to elders. We still have to talk a little differently to you. Yeah it does not seem 'fair'. Who said life was fair. Treat online folks like face to face folks. You have not earned the right to do otherwise. No one has.


You help run this website correct?"


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Without the perf there is also the risk the pumped cement from the dd3 went somewhere else- there was I think a reasonable open hole section at the time.

17,300 design TOC minus 17,168 liner end = 132' open hole, with the 100' or so open hole section of the relief well less than 5' away.

Can anyone opine if it's reasonable to try to force cement into that situation without having provided a flow outlet by perforating the production casing higher up?


They would be able to pump cement up the annulus if they could pump mud up the annulus. Any number of things could have happened to cause a flow path up the annulus during the days following April 20.

When did they pump mud up the annulus?

Yes, Jinn, any number of things COULD have happened to cause a flow path up the annulus during the days following April 20.

Do you have any actual evidence that any of those possibilities actually occured?

And I'll repeat bignerd's question with a qualifier: When did they pump mud up the portion of the annulus above the reservoir? From all the evidence I've seen, my conclusion is that the last time they did that was back in April, shortly before the casing hangar seal was screwed down.


Do you have any actual evidence that any of those possibilities actually occured?


I have the same evidence that says the cement and mud in the annulus has been there since April 20. It is no more likely that it got there in April than it got there in August. Actually it is more likely it got there in August.

But the point is that is something that could have been easily determined unless maybe they don't want to make that determination.


Seems to me that the "silence on the facts" cuts both ways.

You don't see anywhere that BP or the government is making the claim that there was never any annular flow.

That's fine, but then you have the facts break their silence and "It appears to me the evidence is that the reservoir was flowing up the annulus at the the time the capping stack was installed and shut in 7/15."

But I don't see anywhere that BP or the government is making the claim that there was ever any annular flow.

While Adm. Allen did say, on one occasion I believe, that the annulus contained oil, my recollection is that he backed away from that position pretty quickly, and reverted to "could be oil, could be mud".

You say "This flow was a cross flow from the bottom of the well to someplace higher up (possibly rupture discs in the 16 casing??)"

What is the actual evidence of that? After passing through those rupture discs, where did the flow go? My understanding is that those discs were in between joints of the 16" liner, so would provide communication between the annulus around the production casing and the annulus around the 16" liner. That latter space is sealed top and bottom and was left full of mud when the liner was cemented.

Why is everyone believing the cement above the reservoir isolated the annulus when all the evidence we have been given says it did not

I take the BP statement that they did not observe any hydrocarbons or cement at the point of intercept as evidence that there was no oil in the annulus at that point in time. I have seen no convincing explanation of whatever might have been in the annulus at some previous point in time would have had an escape path. Therefore, I conclude that there was never oil in the annulus.

I also take the statement that static kill mud flow was entirely into the production casing as evidence that there was never an outlet for annuluar flow.

What is the evidence that the cement above the reservoir failed to isolate the annulus? What is the evidence that there was ever any annular flow? I recall plenty of speculation of it, but no actual evidence.


Vanity Fair supplies the obit:

B.P. Oil Well, Site of National Catastrophe, Dies at One

... Macondo is survived by several fish and mounting legal debt.

Donations in Macondo’s honor can be made to any of these charitable organizations.

Obit has a link to a mildly cute Vanity Fair interview with an ROV from early June about the Cappy operation. Sample:

One news source wrote that the procedure “involved using a set of tools akin to an oversized deli slicer and garden shears.”

Who said that?

The Associated Press.

Robots love the Associated Press. Many Associated Press writers are themselves robots.

Many Associated Press writers are themselves robots.

You know, I've wondered about that for years . . .

Back in the mid 60s I watched teletype machines write stories.

Dammit, I just got in an argument with Jaberwacky, it's trying to tell me I don't exist in human form. Now I am starting to really wonder. I could use some help here.


Stupid artificial intelligence program 'kicking ground'

NYT editorial: Science and the Gulf

After months of confusion and contradictory reports, the Obama administration has at last embarked on a systematic effort involving some of the nation’s top scientists to measure the amount of oil remaining in the Gulf of Mexico and its potential impact on marine life. An interim report could be ready in several months.

I've read some of those reports, my impression is the scientific community is salivating because there's a lot of potential grant money involved, therefore hyping the amount of oil makes sense to those who will be getting grants to look for oil. There's also the media exposure they get, which in the end translates into more speaking engagements, and a better career profile.

When it comes to the real deal, I think by the time they finish the report there won't be ANY of the original Macondo oil left in the water, and there will be very little biodegraded products where they can do real harm. A lot of it will be plain tarballs and tar sitting in deep water, and most of it will be getting covered by falling detritus and silt.

I'm also leaning towards a much lower oil spill volume, something around 3.5 million barrels, with the rate increasing as the BOP "choke effect" was reduced due to erosion.

In August, NOAA released an oil “budget” claiming that half of the 4.9 million barrels that had gushed from the well had completely disappeared and that another quarter had been dispersed in rapidly degrading droplets. The White House political apparatus inflated these numbers into a complete victory, inviting widespread complaints from scientists.

"After months of confusion and contradictory reports," the NYT editorial board adds the umpteenth MSM misrepresentation of the government's Aug. 4th oil budget. The budget said 1/4 of the flowed oil had been captured by the response effort. It did not say anything had "completely disappeared." It said nothing about the degradation rate of dispersed oil.

Well, Higgins knows where the missing oil is. It's on the beach at Wildwood, New Jersey. He has a photo.

The word from San José: between the miners and the shrinks upstairs, "The honeymoon is over."

Lotus, I didn't expect to find NASA in that article --a team of space psychologists advising the Chilean shrinks.

Money quote: ''NASA told us we have to receive the arrows, so that they don't start shooting the arrows at each other,'' said Dr Diaz. ''So we are putting our chests forward - now they can target the doctors and psychologists.''

U.S. Oil Drillers Prepare For Punch In The Gut From Obama

Recognizing the importance of energy for economic competitiveness, leading foreign powers, particularly China, are taking aggressive steps to secure access and control over vital fossil fuel resources. Energy security is a cornerstone of national security and economic prosperity, but this new tax increase through the repeal of dual capacity credits would put U.S.-based companies at a serious disadvantage to foreign competitors, handicapping U.S.-based companies in the international energy market.

I support no special taxes or incentives for any businesses. Typical 'war on drugs' mentality. Let's arrest all the dealers. Right. Of course, arresting users is worse. Why not tax CONSUMPTION instead of production? Does the President think that by charging the companies that the companies will not try to leave the US tax structure all together. Either through shifting offshore or through partners. Besides, what will happen to the domestic market if this passes. This makes no sense to me. What am I missing?

Tin Foil, then you should oppose the agricultural subsidies and mandates the government uses for corn based ethanol. They're highway robbery.

Perhaps but there are always exceptions. If the food prices at the market were subject to manipulation and folks went hungry as a result, then there is a problem. Remember the California blackouts. We cannot trust the free market to 'corner the market' for food or water. As for the ethanol mandate, I had a great post on marine fuel and ethanol economics on drumbeat yesterday. Check it out.

Look at the signs on the pumps. They will tell you what the taxes are on the gasoline you use. Any taxes levied on production are finally paid by the consumer, who else. the difference is that the consumer does not know what they are and can blame the oil companies for the higher prices, rather than the pols who are enjoying spending the money.

When the offshore oil is produced there is first a royalty paid to the state or Fed govts. Then the companies get a chance to recover costs, including any ccontinuing property tax levies. After that there are income taxes on any profits remaining. Those holes are not tax avoidance schemes.

Does the President think that by charging the companies that the companies will not try to leave the US tax structure all together.

Not just companies, but anyone who can afford to do so, have been doing that already for a looong time. Little people like us don't get to play, though.


Full show isn't on the Frontline site, but may be online somewhere else, if you know where to look.

I support agricultural subsidies as insurance against crop failures. If we are growing more than we need - there is less chance of famine if disaster strikes.

It is better to have food you don't need than it is to need food you don't have.

HuffPo, usual disclaimer. But the photos are disturbing and should be checked out.

BP's well is dead, but so are the fish

"The oil is still coming in. Anything that dies out here sinks to the bottom, gets eaten or is taken away by BP."

I'd start typing the oil to see if it's Macondo oil. And if I were BP I would start tracking the oil they sold, it may be used to create new spills and make legal claims. "Fresh" unbiodegraded crude 60 days after a spill isn't really possible.

Fresh - one definition is newly arrived

Does this sound better: A fresh deposit of non-fresh oil has appeared in the marshlands.

Do you think the oil in the pictures isn't doing any damage to the environment since its a few months old? Or do you really believe in some conspiracy theory of people dumping previously collected oil back into the environment?

Notice the pictured oil was found in the back bays behind Barataria Bay. It does look like fairly fresh crude. Seems questionable that it came from Macando. There's a lot of wells, pipelines, and barge traffic in the area.

It would be helpful to have more information--who took the pictures, when, and where.

Nola.com's report of oil sightings in Louisiana does not include anything like this, nor did last week's, so there is something fishy about those undocumented photos.


Is this it:


"The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries confirmed the following oil sightings in Plaquemines Parish on Friday: Half mile of oil located in the marsh of an unnamed marsh island on the SW side of Bay Jimmy."

Could be-- Bay Jimmy is in the area the text indicated, on the back side of Barataria Bay.

That general area was heavily oiled over two months ago. However, Macondo oil should be more degraded by now than that stuff.

(I just turned up by accident a page in German that had wonderful terms for the two main kinds of sedimented, degraded oil: braune Ölflocken und kompacten Fettklumpen.)

Yikes, Gob! The braune Ölflocken is skeery enough -- deliver us from the kompacten Fettklumpen!

Und Korrekzit!

Und Korrekzit!

You betcher boots!

I always suspected that was why you wanted a thousand bbls of Macondo oil... ;)

Regarding the discussion on Jason Anderson from the now closed thread:

However there is plenty of testimony from TO employees (never mind BP) that Jason Anderson effectively over-ruled the day tool pusher (who thought correctly they had well flow) at the shift change and said the well was safe.

See testimony from Subsea Supervisor Chris Pleasant, OIM Jimmy Harrell and Senior Toolpusher Miles Ezell. Testimony of Dr John Smith (expert witness) was also that the actions (or lack of until too late) by the drilling crew were inexcusable.


I've been puzzling for some time about the apparent inconsistency between Anderson's deep concern that safety was being shortchanged, and his taking a big safety risk at a crucial moment.

We'll never know, but I've come up with an explanation that makes sense to me: He was so anxious about something going wrong, he wanted to get the hell off the rig as soon as possible--and took a risk he shouldn't have in the interests of speeding up completion. Paradoxical if so, but all too human.

Has it never dawned on anyone that people who still want to be employed in the drilling industry might be subtly or overtly encouraged to blame the dead man who cannot defend himself.

Just from personal experience - I told my sister (who was an administrator of a nursing home) that I was unfairly being classified as salaried and could go to the appropriate agency for unpaid overtime. She told me I could but I would never be employed in that city again. I was being made aware that telling the truth and getting what was owed me would ruin my ability to gain future employment. I got the message. The truth may set you free inside but it often has serious negative effects in the real world.

While I can't personally know the truth, I would wager that if the truth could be known Jason Anderson, hero who saved lives has become BP's patsy. That is the way the world works.

It has happened before. Clayton Hartwig.

TFHG thanks, I am sure it has happened many times before. Nice to have some confirmation of the practice of blaming the dead man.

You quote one of my comments (actually the paragraph beginning "We'll never know..." should be part of the blockquote above it). I'd like to dissociate myself from the "blame Jason Anderson" characterization. I don't know enough to blame him or not blame him. I should have added an "If what some of the experienced folks here are saying is true..." qualification. I did find what his wife and father said about him being almost sick with worry over safety problems deeply poignant, and I'm much more inclined to be sympathetic than anything else, as well as admiring of his heroism in the face of disaster, no matter how it was caused.

Kevin Costner calls for $895 million Gulf oil spill disaster plan

Frustrated by what he feels was a slow and uncoordinated response to the rapid spread of oil in the aftermath of the BP well blowout, actor Kevin Costner has proposed an $895 million, 190-vessel plan to respond to future disasters in the Gulf of Mexico.

Uh Kevin, what about the rest of the WORLD?


He's probably got plans for them, too.

I wonder when "OilWorld" will go into production?

Well, in "Waterworld", the bad guys were riding around in an oil tanker (the Exxon Valdez). Will they be using a stealth drilling platform for "Oilworld"?

My God, dissent, you're the first person I've ever encountered who saw that movie.

well, awwright; I saw it.

But I've never seen "Freddie Got Fingered". Can I still post here??

Factbox: Deepwater rigs moved from the Gulf of Mexico

Below are rigs that had been working in the Gulf that have been or will be moved to overseas markets because of the drilling moratorium.

* Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc said on July 9 the Ocean Endeavor rig, which had been contracted to earn about $290,000 per day from Devon Energy Corp in the Gulf of Mexico, will move to Egypt under a new deal with Burullus Gas Co.

* Diamond said on July 12 it would move the Deepwater Ocean Confidence, under contract to Murphy Oil Corp, from the Gulf to the Republic of Congo.

* Transocean, the world's largest offshore drilling contractor, said on September 1 it has moved its Marianas rig, under contract to Italy's Eni, from the Gulf to work off Nigeria.

* Transocean said on September 14 that its Discoverer Americas vessel, under contract to Norway's Statoil, is leaving the Gulf for Egypt.

I think people are making too much of rigs moving. You know ... they are actually ships and it is their nature to move. My understandiung too is that many of the people who work on them, move with the rig. Rigs have places for people to sleep too. If a Rig goes somewhere else, it will work for a few months and then it can come back. It's going to follow the money.

Since we are reaching peak oil, there is some benefit to not gobbling up all the oil in our own jurisdiction. As we reach peak oil, there will be fighting for oil in other countries. Protecting those foreign assets will be harder to manage than simply getting what we have left here.

Right now, there is very little pressure on people who use oil. Prices are not that high, we are doing fine. Therefore, I think that conserving our own resources while we get those of other countries for own use may be the better strategy.

Geoff-f, previous discussions about the rigs leaving were more complete, I suggest you search for them upper left. Bottom line, the rigs (ships) are tremendously expensive to MOVE therefore moving them is not done lightly. Once gone, they are likely not coming back. That was the crux of the moratorium discussions and it is exactly correct if you understand the dynamics of the industry. The majority of the crew do NOT travel with the rigs, they are hired locally. Also, given the terrorist attacks on rig workers in say, Nigeria how interested would YOU be in going there for about $80K per year?

As for peak oil, it isn't oil per se, but PRODUCTION of oil that is peaking. Given the lag time between exploration and full scale field production, cutting off the seed corn (exploration) has long range and far reaching effects. This government is ignorant of those effects.

I've read the discussions.

The rigs will follow the money. The rigs are no more expensive to move than tankers full of product. Use some common sense here. The assertion that "They are likely not coming back" is beyond ridiculous. Not a single one of them was here in the first place, they were built overseas, so why did they ever come? They will come back for that reason. Yep, they are expensive to move but, in the greater scheme of profits to be made, not that expensive.

It would be nice if they stayed AND there was a working regulatory system and evidence that BP was not going to point the finger again ... etc. etc. it would be nice .. but this is the real world. This is America, we will fix the regulatory problems, the industry will learn and the rigs will come back. Why wouldn't rigs come to a place that is the major world market for what they produce and where there is a formation? It defys logic that they would not come back.

I understand Peak Oil Production. I don't think this government is ignorant of it either. In fact, I think this government "gets it" very well and in fact, better than any other. Like all governments, they need to be untwisted on some things but I have more confidence in this governments strategic judgement than any other in recent memory.

As for "Seed Corn" .. we know where the oil is and ... the big rigs are not how we find more. So let's stop with the silly hysteria.

If you read the discussions, you know the cost of moving a deep sea rig like that is at least $30 MILLION, and that's if it is a short trip. There is currently a moratorium, but furthermore there is a major political disincentive to drilling at the regulatory level. If MMS was pro business, BOEMRE is decidedly ANTI business. Therefore only a fool would come back (or be the first) under this "gets it" government. Your optimism in America is not shared by those without rose colored glasses. I've watched the America I grew up in vanish before my eyes. What I see today is about 2 steps above banana republic and fading fast. It defies logic that they WOULD come back, at least under this administration. By the next administration it may be too late. No point in coming here if the money is worthless, for instance.

This statement by you makes me wonder about your sanity:
"As for "Seed Corn" .. we know where the oil is and ... the big rigs are not how we find more. So let's stop with the silly hysteria."

Let's dissect that shall we? "We know where the oil is and... the big rigs are NOT how we find more". So pray tell, how do we find the oil? Oh that's right, we already know where it is? Would the success rate of 35% "finding oil" in known offshore fields surprise you? That's the number, published in World Oil and elsewhere. I'm glad you're such an expert, no doubt THIS government has many more just like you. Unfortunately in the real world your expertise falls a little short - of reality.


When people make emotional and personal comments like whether someone has "Rose colored glasses" "Optimism in america" and other things that are pointless (and actually false) I tend to think that they have no real argument at all.

There is also no consideration of WHY the regulations are being changed ... we just did have a major accident and it appears that neither the internal regulatory structure of BP or its contractors nor the government failed to catch the defective plans and practices. 30 Million is a piffle compared to the damage this caused. I take a look at Nigeria which, effectively has no regulation, and see a spill almost every day. So, I don't think I want that and the rigs are welcome to go there for awhile while we can provide reasonable assurance that what just happened won't happen again.

30 Million compared to what? What does it cost to run a tanker? What is the upside profit? It all sounds like big numbers until you look at what is a big $$ industry.

None of the moratoriums, government restrictions etc. are irreversible. As I said, the rigs will follow markets and drilling opportunities. They always will and therefore, they will return.

In the meantime ... get a prius.

geof - The last rig I saw mobilized from Africa to Brazil cost Devon $33 million for just the move alone. If a company is really desparite that might pay for such a move to drill just one or two wells. Otherwise rigs tend to stay on contract in a region for years.

Gulf bounce back seen distant after spill

(Reuters) - Energy companies that operate in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico are having trouble obtaining permits for activities that are allowed under the government's drilling halt and a return to normal is not seen for years by some.

New rules slow Gulf drilling pace in shallow water

The drilling moratorium enacted after the BP oil spill applies only to the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Yet energy exploration in the Gulf's shallow waters has come to a virtual standstill as drillers grapple with tougher federal rules since the spill.

Shallow water moratorium news...

Today, BOEM approved the 7th NTL-06 permit and this was a new well.

It's still slow-going but it may not be as bad as articles have said in the last few days. These articles incorrectly say 4 permits were issued and didn't include 2 permits issued on 9/13.

Looks like a few aren't staying here. From what I've read is if they leave, they aren't coming back anytime soon.

Move the beverage away from the keyboard.

Fresh off the blogpress, Weather Modification Electromagnetic Grid Systems in the Gulf of Mexico

That's fascinating bunk.

A friend in Pakistan I corresponded with told me that a secret project called HAARP (it isn't secret at all, known about it for years) is modifying the weather in Pakistan and that's why they have floods. When I asked him why he believed this he said that the former Governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura said it was so. He had no knowledge of what else Jesse Ventura is. It had not occured to him that Gov. Ventura has no background in Radio energy research or weather.

This kind of stuff is just so annoying.

There's a "humm" but you can't hear it.

Oh for heaven's sakes. Let's run that power from the secret underground nuke plants into the grid, and then we won't even need the oil! :--/

Occam's Razor strikes again. But we'd still need to deflect the hurricanes into the Atlantic or Central America where they can't do any harm.

Janet Raloff, who writes for Science News and US News & WR, has done some very good reporting about research on the plumes in the deep Gulf. Here's a couple of new ones:

Hazen vs. Kessler on methane bugs, with some information that hasn’t been discussed here. Hazen claims that methane at plume depth would be in hydrate form:

Hazen’s microbe traps:

And Raloff’s earlier articles:

Hazen group's Science article on alkane-eating bug:

NOAA optimism on oxygen depletion:

Valentine/Kessler group's Science article on plume gases:

From the NOAA optimism article:

"Aquatic critters need about 1 milliliter of oxygen per liter of water. The long-term average value in the Gulf at the depths studied has been about 4.8 ml/l, according to Murawski. The minimum value seen after the spill — and it reflected a single sample out of more than 400 collected — was 2.6 ml/l. The second lowest value: 3 ml/l. The average of the depressed values measured was still a fairly robust 3.8 ml/l."

--> Something seems a little a miss with this article. I used to be in the recirculating aquaculture business, and while not an ocean biologist I find some of the values hard to believe.

Has anyone reviewed the results of the full study? What is the average diurnal oxygen fluctuation in Gulf of Mexico, and were these DO levels taken during the day or at night?

I believe 1 ml/l of oxygen is probably more like the acute mortality level for most species (please correct me if I'm wrong). In the recirculation business, half the challenge is keeping fish population healthy and the other half of the challenge is keeping ammonia and nitrite consuming bacteria population healthy. While even the hardiest of species can survive DO levels down to 1 ml/l short term, a prolonged exposure to 3 ml/l will lead to higher mortality rates and many other problems (growth rate, reproduction, disease). Anything below 3.8 ml/l seems not so robust to me, especially if that is a daytime oxygen level (though I admit I don't know how much algae effects oxygen levels from day to night).

Have there been in studies on the gill efficiency of any different species who have come in contact with dispersed oil?

One more comment on bacteria decomposition. It takes many months and sometimes as much as a year under optimal conditions for ammonia consuming bacteria colonies to mature in a closed system.

We are talking about hydrocarbon plumes at a depth of 1000-1300 m, so there is no diurnal cycle in the dissolved oxygen levels. There is also no likelihood of rapid replenishment, should large areas be depleted of DO2. The deep water contains "fossil" oxygen from long ago when the deep Gulf water was, so they say, near Anarctica. Does anyone know the basis for that claim? I sure don't.

As far as establishing the bacterial colonies, one factor is that the Gulf is pre-seeded with species that eat hydrocarbons, owing to numerous HC seeps on the sea floor.

The reports are downloadable for $15 each unless one has a subscription. I agree it's kind of distressing these informative reports are not freely available. I've been slowly absorbing reports but since they are way over my head, it will take awhile.

Hazen Report:
Valentine Report:

From Hazen report:
-plume at 1099m-1219m up to 10km from wellhead
-plume was dispersed
-oxygen saturation averaged 59% in plume, 67% outside plume
-extractable HC 9.21 ug/L
-volatile aromatic HC 139 ug/L
-orthophosphate, ammonia-N, nitrate-N concentrations same both inside and outside plume

The report contains a link to a wiki. Off the wiki, I found a Chromatogram for MC252 wellhead oil. Why can't they just give the percentages? Can someone explain how to use the Pk#, FID RT (min), ID table with accompanying graph.

Oh, and I've read the 1.4 ml/L metric is the definition for a dead zone in marine waters.

Thanks. Could someone explain the term "extractable hydrocarbons"?

The volatile aromatics should be at higher concentrations at plume depth than elsewhere because they are water soluble and would tend to leave the oil droplets to dissolve in the water. This category I think includes the BTEX (benzene etc.) and the light PAH naphthalene.

In Hazen's report when mentioning the extractable HC he puts in parenthesis, e.g. octadecane and refers to a table. The table is the dispersed plume components and lists three line items for HC:
octadecane (mean 4.2ppb), n-docosane (mean 4.7ppb) and total volatile aromatic hydrocarbons (mean 139ppb). Below the table it lists the following that I think represents the aromatics: Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, isopropylbenzene, n-propylbenzene, 1,3,5-trimethylbenzene, tert-butylbenzene, 1,2,4-trimethylbenzene, sec-butylbenzene, p-isopropyltoluene, n-butylbenzene, naphthalene, o-xylene, m,p-xylenes.

I think I made a little headway reading the wellhead oil chromatogram. It appears to just list components in HC without ratios and appears to be alkanes only. These components are heptane, methylcylohexane, ethylcyclopentane, cyclopentane, 1,2,4 trimethyl, cyclopentane, 1,2,3 trimethyl, toloune, 2 methyl heptane, n-octane, n-Nonane, n-Decane, n-Undecane, n-Dodecane, n-Tridecane, n-Tetradecane, Pentadecane, n-hexadecane, n-Undecane, Pentadecane, 2,6,10,14-tetramethyl, n-octadecane, Hexadecane,2,6,10,14-tetramethyl, n-Nonadecane, eicosane, Heneicosane, n-Docosane, tricosane, tetracosane, n-Pentacosane.

Also, Hazen's study focuses on biodegration rates of C13-C26 n-alkanes.


In recirculating system aquaculture, you feed fish and they excrete ammonia (toxic to fish). The ammonia levels will remain high until the bacteria colony grows large enough to convert all of the ammonia into nitrite. However, nitrite is also toxic to fish, and a second bacteria colony must establish itself which converts nitrite to nitrate (which is only toxic in extremely high numbers).

Sometimes we would "seed" new systems with bacteria from aged aquaculture systems. Even the seasoned bacteria took quite a few months to multiply to peak levels. And your nitrite converting bacteria would always lag behind the ammonia converting bacteria. Also, dissolved oxygen consumption increases as the biomass of the bacteria increases.

Does anyone know how many steps of bacteria consumption/conversion it takes to "detoxify" oil?

There may be several different strains of bacteria that emerge just to feed off the byproducts of other bacteria. The removal of oxygen could be ongoing for many months, even if the "oil" doesn't have the oil signature any more.

I don't know if this thread is being closed soon, but here goes..

"Does anyone know how many steps of bacteria consumption/conversion it takes to "detoxify" oil?

There may be several different strains of bacteria that emerge just to feed off the byproducts of other bacteria. The removal of oxygen could be ongoing for many months, even if the "oil" doesn't have the oil signature any more."
What I know, and I have a loose grasp on matters-

There are actually 3 kinds of microbes that eat hydrocarbons.

-obligate anaerobes, which cannot use oxygen for growth and are even harmed by it
-aerotolerant organisms, which cannot use oxygen for growth, but tolerate the presence of it.
-facultative anaerobes, which can grow without oxygen but can utilize oxygen if it is present.

At the seafloor, as an example, a benthic community around a seep, and the processes within-( I understand them to be unique as fingerprints also)

1. Aerobic metal and sulfide oxidation.
2. Aerobic sulfide/sulfur oxidation
3. Aerobic methane oxidation
4. Aerobic hydrogen oxidation
5. Aerobic sulfate reduction
6. Anaerobic iron reduction
7. Sulfur reduction via c02 utilization
8. Anaerobic sulfur respiration
9. Anaerobic methane production

Very complex..

One of the reasons I brought up catalysts a few days ago.I found that the interesting things about the microbes that eat oil in the deep sea , like Planctomycetes, and Chloroflexi, and the ocean sub-floor, are the ones that don't use 02 to digest hydrocarbons, or prefer not to in the middle climes. The microbes that live in the lower climes and the benthic microbes are the ones that produce the gases like carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide and methane. If there is a newly discovered microbe that eats methane gas, what does it produce in the process, and what comes behind to eat it ? And how does this play out when thinking of tracing the cascading digestion of various fractions of the oil ? In a benthic community, everything is localized in one area, and with constant flux/seepage, remains, in effect, somewhat self sustaining in a cyclical feeding pattern. In the wide open deep ocean, the dynamics are going to be completely different. If the lighter fractions are eaten first, that gas produced by the process would go up, the heavier fractions left behind would sink. So the next heavier, digestible portion of the oil is separated from the catalysts that would normally be utilized by the next microbe in line.

I read about


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a common bacterium which can cause disease in humans and non-human animals. It is found in soil, water, skin flora, and most man-made environments throughout the world. It thrives not only in normal atmospheres, but also in non oxygenated atmospheres,It is also able to decompose hydrocarbons and has been used to break down tarballs and oil from oil spills. This makes me wonder about the source of skin aliments and such in the Gulf recently.

This is all going to take an interesting route, I think. I was hoping Cheryl et al, could explore this topic a little more .I am for sure not a microbiologist, or an oceanographer, but the more I read into this, the more questions I keep coming up with.

Gobbet, "extractable hydrocarbons" are hydrocarbons that can be extracted from the water with another solvent. Off the top of my head, I don't know what that solvent might be. The obvious first thought is that it's a hydrocarbon, but then you wouldn't be able to know what you extracted. Might be halogenated hydrocarbons. It's been too long since I did that kind of stuff, and I never liked analytical chemistry anyway.

Another thought: might be extractable onto a solid substrate in the gas chromatograph column or before that.

Isaac: your discussion of catalysts the other day was basically using a different word for the bacterial enzymes. Enzymes are catalysts.

The obvious products of methane are carbon dioxide and water. That would give the maximum energy to the bacteria. This is based on one of my rules of thumb from my post a while back. But you're asking a different question. There might be partial oxidation to methanol, formaldehyde, formic acid, or carbon monoxide by any one species of bacteria that could work with limited oxygen concentrations, followed by further oxidation by other bacteria. Some of the sulfur chemistry might give you hydrogen sulfide and possibly carbon-sulfur compounds. I can't even guess at the bacteria, but my money would be on carbon dioxide or one of the partial oxidation products. There's just not that much you can do with methane. It's tempting to think about methane coupling to provide higher hydrocarbons, but the scientists aren't finding them, so that's unlikely.

I would want more confirmation on the skin irritations before I'd link them with Pseudomonas aeroginosa. It's a pretty common bacterium, so there must be tests for it. But skin irritations are common for all sorts of reasons.

Thanks for the reply Cheryl. I was a little confused by the ambiguous " we predict successive blooms " in Valentine's report. As far as aeroginosa, I throwed that out there after reading about it's tendency to produce mats that appear similar to algae/floc, but also that it is a highly opportunistic pathogen, different strains have the ability to produce chronic infections. I had also heard ( I could be crazy) that certain estuaries/dams/waterways(?) along the Mississippi were opened up to "help" flush out the oil from the marshes, etc. I was wondering whether this (extra NPK) would have also effected microbial blooms. ..sigh. So much to learn.

There are large freshwater diversion structures in the vicinity of New Orleans. These are Davis Pond on the west bank, which feeds into the wetlands upstream from Barataria Bay, and Caernarvon on the east. They have been running since the spill began, although one has been partially throttled back. The change in salinity was enough to wipe out major oyster beds in bays on both sides of the river. Significantly more phosphate and nitrogen than usual must have been delivered to the wetlands in the delta region. Very heavy algae blooms were observed on the west side in August. These could have contributed to the fish kills reported recently, and to inshore dirty foam, floc sediment, etc.

I see a question I didn't respond to:

Does anyone know how many steps of bacteria consumption/conversion it takes to "detoxify" oil?

I know I keep saying, "There's not one simple answer," but that's the short answer to this one.

It depends on the starting material and the bacteria. Bacteria might make formaldehyde from methane, and formaldehyde is more hazardous. I'm not fond of the word "toxic" and its derivatives. Strictly speaking, it refers to poisonous and deadly compounds produced by organisms, so it's got more relevance here than in some other places. But it's come to mean more than that; I have to say I don't know what people sometimes mean when they use it beyond "sometimes harmful in large concentrations." That would include salt, if you care to eat a tablespoonful or so, and water if you breathe much of it in.

So if we're talking just about the hydrocarbons in oil, the aromatics tend to be carcinogenic, and the aliphatics are pretty much harmless. But oil has other stuff in it, and that can be harmful, too. Hydrogen sulfide is probably the worst and can kill you fairly quickly. There are various other sulfur- and nitrogen-containing compounds that can be carcinogenic, too. I think it's mainly the carcinogenicity that is referred to by crude oil's "toxicity."

The aromatics (ring compounds like benzene and anthracene) are relatively water-soluble (which means available to the bugs) but chemically fairly inert (which means not so easy for them to break up). The products could be carcinogenic. Same goes for the sulfur- and nitrogen-containing compounds, some of the most carcinogenic of which are going to be aromatic, with the sulfur or nitrogen in the ring.

I think that people tend to equate "carcinogenic" with "toxic." To me, "toxic" will kill you pretty quickly, which cancer usually doesn't, and "toxic" will affect everyone pretty much the same way, which carcinogens also don't.

So I'm being picky-fussy here. But there's not a simple answer.

there's not a simple answer

Hey, ain't no prob with that as long as we have great explainers like you, bignerd, Rockman, et al., to help us find the threads through the forest. Thankety-thanks.

Thank you Cheryl.

I wasn't sure how to properly ask the question. I'm not even sure what questions I should be asking.

I agree toxic may have been a poor choice in words. What word would you use?

Toxicity is a tough thing to pin down. What is toxic to one species may not be toxic to another, or toxic at different concentrations. Also, there may be other environmental factors such as pH that can change the level of toxicity without a change in concentration. Not to mention, concentrations that aren't necessarily toxic, could be stressful to certain species and make them susceptible to other problems.
---Dissolved oxygen concentrations may not be fatal to fish at 3ml/l if all other conditions are equal, but what if CO2 concentrations are rising and pH is falling. Low pH and high CO2 concentrations, and lower than optimal DO levels are all stressors (a term I used to use in aquaculture). You add enough stressors to the environment and mortality rates will start to increase.

Its hard to even comprehend how complicated the impact of the spill will be. Five million barrels is such a large amount oil, and the oil (or various stages of degraded oil and its byproducts) is in many different locations with diverse ecologies, probably effecting each one differently.

I pick up a little more from the Hazen report each day. He found 16 distinct gammaproteobacteria taxa increased at a faster rate while others remained the same. These were the following:
Class Family
Aeromonadaceae Aeromonadaceae
Alteromonadales Colwelliaceae
Alteromonadales Pseudoalteromonadaceae
Arctic96B-1 Unclassified
BPC036 Unclassified
Halomonadaceae Halomonadaceae
Marinobacter Marinobacter
Marinospirillum Marinospirillum
Moraxellaceae Moraxellaceae
Oceanospirillales Marinobacterium
Oceanospirillales Marinomonas
Oceanospirillales Unclassified
Pseudomonadaceae Pseudomonadaceae
Shewanellaceae Shewanellaceae
Unclassified Unclassified_sfB
Unclassified Unclassified_sfC

Also, he says 90% of microbes were in Oceanospirillales class while this class was 5% in non-plume. Another interesting comment is that certain genes in microbe were correlated to type of oil biodegration.

Hazen's work focuses on n-alkanes. When I get to it, I'll see what I find in Valentine's report since he focuses on HC gases.

Utterly OT, but I trust (some percentage of) you will forgive me this:

The aurora borealis goes live on the Internet tonight.


An explainer:


And then go out and look at this.

CLOSE ENCOUNTER WITH JUPITER: Tonight, Earth and Jupiter converge for their closest encounter until 2022. The giant planet will soar overhead at midnight, outshining everything except the Moon itself. At this time, even a small telescope pointed at Jupiter will reveal the planet's moons, cloud belts and swirling storms. Take a look!


Great stuff Quantum,

Got some great views with a small scope from a dark sky site during my vac 2 weeks ago, 4 moons and distinct banding.

You can clearly see the moons with binocs, well worth a shot.

You can also match up the configuration you see with this little gadget here :


Mashing the +10 mins button gives a good idea of how fast the positions change.


Stand-alone program, no web access required. Put it on a laptop and go out in the middle of nowhere.

This vid is by PhyloTech, the exclusive license holder of PhyloChip™ technology, which was used by Hazen & BP to analyze bacteria in a gulf oyl plume:

The PhyloChip™ and the gulf oil spill

If you look closely, you can read a few pages of Hazen's paper, published in the journal Science. At least they appear to be from Hazen's paper - I don't know (Science has it behind a paywall).

Would this be fair use? Should I flag it at youtube for copyright violation?

MOB, I'd guess it's fair use (a very small excerpt of the full paper) and/or likely covered by the agreement between PhyloChipTech and Hazen/Lawrence Berkeley.

Here's good news for online reposting of articles although the lawsuit is still progressing:

A judge ruled a valid defense was to say the article publisher provides an "implied license" for the online posting of the article.

Thanks very much for that enjoyable read, brit!

I was just kidding, Lotus.

The supporting material displayed by PhyloTech is already freely available online, and I wouldn't help youtube enforce a copyright if they tortured me with Katy Perry videos.

The bacterial richness pie chart, sampling site map and tables are in Hazen report. I noticed Valentine didn't use PhyloChip. Instead, samples were sequenced at the UC Berkeley DNA Sequencing Facility.

The Hazen team includes the developers of the PhyloChip, Gary Andersen and Todd DeSantis.

That is some incredible technology. I'm amazed at how small it is and it has 1.1 million probes. Another member of Hazen team from PhyloChip group is Yvette Piceno. The three of them are in this article:

Ships on mission to find hidden oil


The well may be killed, but according to the Coast Guard, the response effort is still very alive. Responders are paying particular attention to well oiled inland areas like Pass A Loutre, Bay Jimmy and Baptiste Colette Bayou, dubbed the "Nasty Nine."

"We can't send heavy equipment in to recover that oil because it will then compress that wetland and actually case(sic) further erosion of the wetlands," said Zukunft.

What happened to 'Ship on mission to look below surface'? The stated headline (clicked to source) is slanted IMHO. Good ole WWL. I like Garland.

It's at least 1/2 PR:

Monday, Zukunft flew to Morgan City to inspect the NOAA research vessel, Ocean Veritas.
It's one of about a dozen ships now fanning out from the well site in the Gulf of Mexico, looking for oil hidden on the sea bottom and in the water column.

"So we can provide the public consistency in reporting, transparency in data to assure that the waters, verify the safety of the waters and most important the safety of the seafood," said Zukunft.

I thought the stuff about inland areas was interesting given the earlier post and the discussion about the photos of fresh/stale/new/old oil.

Everybody knows BP "hid the oil," so it must be "lurking" somewhere "hidden." And when we find it, that will prove the government was lying when they "claimed that 75% of the oil was gone from the Gulf." Sigh.

I guess notions of sedimented residues don't make very good headline fodder.

Why does every statement one believes incorrect have to be a Lie? Doesn't it enter your mind that maybe "The Government" is not coordinated enough to "Lie" and that there is as yet no complete concensus on the matter? That is actually the truth, that the data is not yet fully analyzed nor has the scientific debate completed. Personally, I don't know and I'll be interested to see further real scientific discussion.

I agree with you. I was commenting on media coverage in line with the post I replied to. Sorry for the lack of clarity.

Bloomberg video
Petrie Sees Oil Production Peaking Between 2012 and 2015

Sept. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Thomas Petrie, vice chairman of Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, talks about the U.S. government's moratorium on deep-water oil drilling and the outlook for oil production. Petrie also talks about BP Plc's Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico and consolidation in the oil industry. He talks with Matt Miller and Adam Johnson on Bloomberg Television's "Street Smart."

Re the Monty Python "Spam" clip Snakehead posted--such a fabulous bit. But what absolutely fascinated me was the subtitles--in Chinese?/Japanese?/Korean? How can that skit possibly be translated, and into a non-Western language yet??

Couldn't find that one in Japanese. But here.

Oh, lord, that's hilarious. I wonder what the Japanese equivalent of the French accent is.

I should still think MPHG would be easier to translate than the Spam skit. Not just the language, but the cultural gulf--it seems huge to me, but obviously it can't be as great as I think it is. Seems it's me who's provincial!

Development Driller 2 ROV 1 has some good stuff goin on.

Has anyone seen the Nissan Leaf commercial on TV? Facts don't sell electric cars, affectionate Polar Bears will lead the way to the future.

No, but I have seen this cheese commercial on Boing Boing. Our personal choices won't matter, an imperious Panda Bear will choose for us.

an imperious Panda Bear will choose for us

Little children and others prone to nightmares should not be permitted to see this. I'm just glad I watched it this morning after I woke up rather than before I went to sleep last night.

Seriously? It's a little dark maybe, but seriously?

IMO it's hilarious, and if anything, children should be encouraged to see it, as an antidote to sweet dreams of purple dinosaurs.

Well, goodness knows it's hard to argue against an antidote to sweet dreams of purple dinosaurs. But in the case of the Evil Panda, the cure may be worse than the disease. Quite seriously, I wouldn't let my kids watch any of those commercials until they were, I don't know, nine or ten, maybe. Or at least as long as they found Barney appealing.

But it went so smooth.

I thought for sure it would fall through the launch platform and disappear in a cloud of rust.

Of course this is offthread, but we need all the morale boosts we can get in south Louisiana:

Saints 25, 49ers 22


No, the spill area is heavily weighted with Saints fans. Two Dat.

Hey, Heading Out,

Many, many thanks for all of your posts on the spill, you gave us great starting points for our debates. I'm going to miss my regular visits to this peculiar community, hope you can give us the chance to get back together now and then.


To all the Usual Suspects,

When I joined this spill forum I knew just enough about the oil biz to make a few cocky mistakes. Thanks for the kind corrections. I'm still making dumb errors, but it's not y'alls fault. I've learned a lot here, made some friends, wrestled with some interesting opponents (and some not-so-interesting), and developed an addiction to Blue Bell Butter Pecan. It's been a great ride, I hope it's not entirely over.

Y'all take care, James

a little different version of "The Saints":

Well shoot, James, TOD will be a poorer place for your absence. Hope to see you again and often, and meanwhile, I'll toast you with BBBP (killah stuff).

Lotus, I'm not going away, the regular BP DH forum is going away, or did I misinterpret HO's lead post?

Ah, yes, that's what I understand too, but I mistook what you said as a sign-off (which I'm very glad isn't the case).

See you in Drumbeat then :)


Thanks or the song, ofb. Truly lovely.

Lizzy, that version was Bruce's last song when he closed JazzFest 2006, eight months after the storm. He explained that he wanted to do something special for our Katrina-battered city, and eventually found the original lyrics to "The Saints" in a 19th century hymnbook.


John Wright - the man who killed BP's Gulf of Mexico oil spill well

"Man who does not include luck in his plan, often finds it." That is the Chinese proverb followed by John Wright, the man who has just successfully killed the leaking Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, the American admits that drilling came close to crisis in the final stages, because the tools used to steer the relief well the final 1,000ft had a very low signal – "Lower than any job I had ever been on," Wright says.

"This caused a bit of anxiety as to the accuracy of our 'eyes' which we use to steer by," he adds. "It seems every job I have ever done there is always a bit of drama right at the very end. This was no exception. At the end of the day, after analysing the data and drawing on experience, we made the intersection as planned."

Some things, I don't mind hearing about after-the-fact (now how about the rest of the story, Mr. Wright? After your vacation and new house will be fine).

After your vacation and new house will be fine

"The personal and psychological side of the 24/7 work for five exhausting months, I would say was more challenging than the technical for most everyone involved."

Seems he's splitting with his wife too. It's a whole 'nother side to the story, what happened in the domestic lives of the folks who were deeply involved in all this. I doubt Wright's was the only household that felt the strain. Man, I hope a really good writer--or several--takes on the task of exploring the personal experiences of those who had the responsibility to fix it.

Seems he's splitting with his wife too

Huh? Source? (Last I heard, they were planning a California vacation.)

Last I heard, they were planning a California vacation.

Heh. I misread "planning a break with his wife" to mean he was planning to separate from her. Glad to have been wrong! (Those panda bear commercials must have really unsettled me...)

Tai Shan won't be pleased with that damage to his brand. But here, SL, just for you, wot needs some cross-species resettling: Rossini's “Duetto buffo di due gatti” ("funny duet for two cats"):


Kitty! Kitties! My comrade cat says: Molto meow meow Bueno!

Yeah, Isom Hadaway and Charlie here are quite fond of that one too. (They especially like the blond's deadpan yowl.)

I was reading the comments--most of them thought the brunette looked like he was having fun and the blond wasn't. Seemed to me they were both having a wonderful time. Utterly charming.

Yes, Jeepers got all a-twitter over that part too! He's off to have a nap now. Danged ol' tomcat, out all night, sleeps most the day. Just plum tuckered!

The Cat Shakra, Manx, age 14, is having his nap now. IANTBB (I am not to be bothered.) Also out all night.

EDIT: How did I get to be this old and never heard that before? It's great!

How did I get to be this old and never heard that before? It's great!

What you said, plus Meowdy from my chorale to Jeepers and TC Shakra (next time all four are up).

SL, if you'd care to drop me a line at lotusflowah[at]widouta[dot]net, I'll be pleased to forward you some wonderful panda-rehab a friend just sent.


"Dear Martha Stewart: I have this brown stain on my nice, white, fluffy butt... "

(Lots more where that came from -- in fact, too many to post here.)

wonderful panda-rehab

An irresistible offer, lotus, will do. (Really, I'm not anti-panda! Which of us, after all, could not use a little more panda in our lives? Just not that Evil Cheese Panda.)

BP insists deepwater drilling in North Sea will go ahead

Outgoing chief executive Tony Hayward says less risk than in Gulf of Mexico, as Shetlands work is expected to start next year

US To Issue First New Drilling Rules Since BP Oil Spill

Among the things that oil and gas companies will be watching for is a requirement that forces top-level executives to personally certify their companies' compliance with the operating rules.

'Once released, the department's so-called interim final rule will go into effect immediately. The department will then solicit feedback on the rule for 30 days, after which it will issue a final rule that may or may not incorporate any proposed changes."

Can't wait to see the feedback.

... and whether the feedback has any real influence on the final rule.

Gulf Coast Newspapers:

Event spokesperson: Thunder on the Gulf week is packed with excitement

Thunder in the Gulf is an offshore powerboat race.

Edit: I am so disappointed. No comments on positive news. Let me try again. Power boat race IN THE GULF OF MEXICO near the Alabama shoreline in October. Maybe a small pic helps

Here's another upcoming event.

“Origins of a miracle to save Gulf sea life”

The birth of a movement

Gulf Water safety Corexit is still in use trying to hide the oil underwater in the water and wildlife. Oilspill isn’t gone Seafood isn’t safe Rally

Crexit needs to EXIT

“I decided if I wanted a miracle to save our coast, I’d join forces with 1,000,000 Strong Against Offshore Drilling And work to make it happen Lemonade 4 Wildlife is born. Now The Kids And I are Working Miracles!!!

Oilspill isn’t gone Seafood isn’t safe

Join us at Rally Shrimp Festival Weekend in Gulf Shores Alabama on [removed, don't want to help these people out].

Come join us for our Health Forum Saturday evening in Orange Beach , Al. after our final Rally in Gulf Shores . Forum is where we’ll have our speakers explaining more in depth the health effects of the oilspill and Corexit 9527A.

Can anyone suggest how or who could help them get permits?

Looks like we’re gonna run into some serious permit issues so …

We’ve decided all of us will wear our own White T-shirt decorated with whatever message you want the world to hear about the safety of our waters , sand and seafood here along the Gulf Coast.We only ask that you keep it clean as we don’t want to offend only inform. We’ll be walking through the Shrimp Festival passing out flyers and posting them on cars....

We will be in Gulfport Ms. Oct 1,2,and 3 for the Deep South Racing Association World Championship Outboard Drag Races. Come on over.

I will try. I have good friends out that way. As long as too many records are not set I will be fine. Otherwise, I would be all CT the whole time.

Hope the weather is good and everybody has fun and some folks make some money. TFHG, if you are happy, I am happy for you!

You HAVE FUN! Matter of fact, I am going to clink to that!


NOAM, are you around today? Been hoping for word of how you (and your neighbors and the bridges) made it through Karl.

3 words, wet, wet, wet. Haven't heard of any more damage but the worst of it was scattered across Mexico before it got to us also Karl made landfall a lot further south than it was predicted earlier. Some casualties over in Veracruze though. TS incoming to Cabo at the moment.


Whew, glad it wasn't worse, but best wishes to the Veracruzanos and Cabo. (Wow, the ol' one-two, huh? Is that headed your way too?)

Several hundred crocs escape enclosure in storm
280-400 reportedly on loose in coastal areas of Mexico's Veracruz state


Dude, this is Alabama. We always have more hunters than gators.

SEMARNAT will be onto that pretty snappy. I wonder if some of our local people will go there as we have a rescue centre nearby.


No, they've already gone past me by the time they hit Cabo. First part of the season the E. Pacific storms head out into the ocean, the second part they hook around and bag Cabo. Don't get a September/October time share in Cabo. The seaon will continue to run until November, this is the time of year I get nervous :)



Whoa, I see what you mean. Any year my birthday party doesn't get cancelled by a hurricane, I count as a win, but yeah, I never relax until Halloween (and some years -- 2005 -- not even then).

The comments are not supportive.

CBSNews: "Oil Spill Equal to 3 Beers Poured in Superdome"

CBS - Can't Believe Sh** they say. This is no more than Hayward talk. At least most folks ignore the channel.

Oh geez. Can we replace beer with 36 ounces of (naturally occurring form) plutonium?
Beer, plutonium. Plutonium, beer. Oh, no biggie.

Not getting any calculation summary from me.

A new article on John Wright.

"Man who does not include luck in his plan, often finds it." That is the Chinese proverb followed by John Wright, the man who has just successfully killed the leaking Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico.


I wonder what this was about ...

The 56-year-old describes the past few weeks as a "roller-coaster", with his team having to get on and off the rig as problems were encountered, a process that cost a day each way.

Two shutdowns for stormy weather.

I wondered about that too. Might they have had to go ashore for conferences?

Reads like trainwreck, lol. The THINK initiative..?. I remember seeing a slogan on the flex-joint, I think, that said " Transocean ~ Think twice, act once ". .....I was actually more familiar with " measure twice, cut once. "....wouldn't improved safety & streamlined operations for a large corporation require thinking more than twice...?

Brain much ?

New Zealand: Coal-seam gas 'the next great energy source'

Turning New Zealand's vast coal and methane hydrate deposits into transport and other fuels "defines the answer to our problem" as a nation, says the chief executive of state-owned coal miner Solid Energy, Don Elder...

If all New Zealand's coal and methane hydrate resources were capable of being exploited, they could be worth a total of between $5 trillion and $20t, he suggested.

However, extraction of underground coal-seam gas was "the next great energy source", he said. "It will be bigger than nuclear power, and we are positioning at the front of the energy curve."

Transocean: Will BP Indemnify, Asks Moody’s

If Transocean is pressed to contribute 10% of the total damages costs (the amount estimated that BP partner Mitsui may owe), then Transocean is looking at a total cost of $6 billion, perhaps much less, based on an estimate of total damages of $30 billion to $60 billion.

BP may challenge Transocean’s indemnification clause, or it may honor it. If it challenges the clause, Transocean has $5 billion in cash and credit facilities. However, Austin observes that the company’ s credit has “Material Adverse Affects” clauses that could render it unavailable.

NOAA Reopens Nearly 8,000 Square Miles in the Gulf of Mexico to Fishing
September 21, 2010

87 percent of federal waters now open.

Corexit Madness continues unabated, in case anyone's curious.

Twit tweeted "Sorry Long John Silver's... $10 to eat fish possibly contaminated with Corexit and oil isn't my idea of a deal."

LJS's website: "... all of the fish currently used in LJS battered and baked fish is sourced from fisheries under the jurisdiction of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council..."

Heading Out, many thanks for all your work keeping up with the BP Blowout. I've learned a lot.

I guess I'll have to hang out at the "Drumbeat" threads to comment where I think I can contribute something. Lots of good stuff on those threads, too.

Note to HO:

The well may be dead but it is not apparent that this tread is on life support. Lot left to activity in the GOM before the whole SCENE is dead and things returning to normal. 292 posts and it is only 8:30 CDT. that is pretty active. Maybe should consider not shutting just yet?

duck, a very junior poster.

To all of the TOD folks,

Thanks to all who have made this a very special place during the DWH event. I came to learn and all of you have been very helpful.

Although the GOM disaster brought me here, I'll now enjoy sticking around to learn about Peak Oil.

Oil from gulf spill diminishing

Concentrations that had been in the parts-per-million range in early summer are now measured as parts per billion.

No sign of BP undersea plume

HOUSTON - THE US government is unable to confirm reports of a miles-long plume of oil lurking beneath the surface of the Gulf of Mexico from BP's giant oil spill, a government scientist said on Tuesday.

Joe Montoya, lead scientist on the recent Oceanus cruise (which included S. Joye) comments in the video here:


. . .found. . .coherent features, layers of water, that had characteristics that appear to be consistent with the current or past presence of oil in the water.

He said he was choosing his words carefully. So apparently they found minimal traces of plumes, whether depleted of oxygen or nutrients, or producing a "weak oil signal" as Joye described in her blog.

The Fox8 video segment headlines that the cruise found "thick oil on the floor of the Gulf," a notion apparently derived from Joye's previous statements. It's interesting that the written text misquotes Montoya in order to support the headline. They have him saying “recently deposited oil and degraded oil on the sea floor," but if you check the video, he says "recently deposited and degraded oil."

Anybody know what happened to all the legendary "BP paid shills"? There's a job opening coming up.

BP searches for new head of PR

Hmm, I don't think I want that job. Talk about a set-up to fail!

You got to admit though, that will undoubtedly be one extremely well paid shill!

I'd do it! Heck I'm sure I could do a better job than the usual line up of corporate PR bozos they will be looking at. Everyone has his price. Mine is Tony's boat :-)

Hmmm, don't suppose either of the girls in the photo in the link had blue toenails?

yeah, but this link (from back in June(!!)) was even more entertaining -

Transocean silent as BP bears the brunt of anger

Steve Newman - gettin' DOWN
(took over as CEO in March 2010 - *ouch*)

Tracking the Oil Spill in the Gulf

Historical, visual, pretty cool.

It appears that by July 1 the slick is already shrinking and thinning out. So with Q4000 on line, improved skimming (probably a minor factor), and the Gulf teeming with microbes, apparently more oil was being removed (or removed+dispersed) than was being added.

Look at the end of the 7th row of the composite image.

I guess they aren't going to close this thread?

Soon it will collapse of its own weight, I suppose. This blog isn't as efficient as some others, where "secret" or "lost" threads go on for years.

Somebody usually slams them shut after 400+ posts.


While Mitsui has only an indirect equity interest in a non-operating lease interest in the well held by MOEX Offshore, in light of the numerous investigations that are currently taking place to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the Deepwater Horizon incident, the number of lawsuits that are pending and the others that are expect to be commenced against MOEX Offshore and its affiliates, and the provisions of the operating agreement relating to the well that affect the respective rights and responsibilities of the three holders of interests in the lease for costs associated with the incident, MOEX Offshore is undertaking a very careful and independent review of BP E&P’s claims for reimbursement. MOEX Offshore therefore continues to withhold payment of invoices BP E&P has been sending to it seeking reimbursement of costs incurred by BP E&P related to BP E&P’s response to the incident.

Mitsui cannot estimate the potential liability of MOEX Offshore or its affiliates resulting from the Deepwater Horizon incident at this time. Accordingly, Mitsui is currently unable to determine the impact, if any, the incident will have on its future consolidated operating results, financial position or cash flows.

Tony H: F it, I'm outta here.

Outgoing BP Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward said in a statement that the operation was an "important milestone" for his company.

"However, there is still more to be done. BP's commitment to complete our work and restore the damage done to the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf Coast and the livelihoods of the people across the region remains unchanged," he said.

Costner focused on role in cleaning water world 

Testifying about his $895-million, 190-vessel idea in the House HS Committee today.

tiny-bait in the P-R:

Red snapper season approved for October and November

... Steber said business has improved recently, partly because of the prospect of a fall snapper season and a national advertising campaign touting the offerings of the Alabama coast.

"We’ve been pretty busy the last week or so, and the phones seem to be ringing a whole lot more. We’ve booked quite a few trips in October,” Steber said.

Bob Shipp, president of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council and head of the marine sciences department at the University of South Alabama, said the fish are safe to eat.

"The snapper stocks are very, very healthy,” Shipp said, especially since no one has been fishing for snapper off the Alabama and Mississippi coasts since last year.

"There should be no concerns at all about eating the fish. If a fish is healthy enough to bite a hook, he’s plenty healthy enough to eat."

Fish, as opposed to crabs or oysters, are able to efficiently excrete PAHs, which are the dangerous compounds contained in oil, Shipp said. He said his colleagues have been examining the livers of red snapper caught off Alabama, looking for the telltale signs of damage, and the fish appear healthy, Shipp said. ...

Not much help here since fiancee is a shrimper and oysterman =/ Last time they went out they got whopping 12lbs. Doesn't even pay for the ice.

Another question for the OD board.

Why was there a call for "ideas" to "help" shut down the leak/spew ? I found it slightly odd that BP et al would appeal to the common laypeople, when most of the tech and tools they use are beyond most peoples' scope of knowledge..if you submitted an idea or design to them, and they develop a new containment technology based on your idea, doesn't this open them up to legal hassles in the future ? Or was there a disclaimer concerning submitted material ?

This is America, so they knew every other shade-tree mechanic would think he had an obvious, common-sense solution to stopping the wild well. They would get lots of suggestions whether asked for or not--might as well route them to one place and pretend to be considering them.

I sure would like to see a list of the submissions .

Just a quick question -- why is there a need to continue to "jet hydrates", as shown on the live feed? This isn't the first time they've done this procedure since the kill, so there shouldn't be residual hydrates. Also, if everything is sealed tight, why bother with the hydrates -- how would they get in anyone's way?

Thank you for any enlightenment you can give me ...

They have hydrostatic balance in the production liner and that's all. Wellhead and associated casing is bent. Nothing is sealed tight, not that it matters any more.

You must have missed the link provided by Heading Out at the top of this page to the Sunday morning Allen press release.

"... BP has successfully completed the relief well by intersecting and cementing the well nearly 18,000 feet below the surface ... confirmed by the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management ..."

Further down:

"The cement pressure test on the DDIII relief well was completed at 5:54 a.m. CDT.

"The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement has confirmed that the cementing operation on the Macondo well was successful, that the well has been permanently sealed with cement plugs, and that pressure tests verify the integrity of the plugs."

It's really sad to see you continuing your uninformed FUD.


Did they cement a top plug, Frank?

If it's not been done yet, Alan, then it's only a matter of hours until it is.

And that bent wellhead you mentioned? Doesn't matter even a tiny little bit any more, since it will be amputated shortly.

They have hydrostatic balance in the production liner and that's all. Wellhead and associated casing is bent. Nothing is sealed tight, not that it matters any more.

That's what you wrote, and it's just plain untrue. That you try to divert onto something else instead of addressing the problem, or even acknowledging that there is one, is something you might want to reflect on.


Enmity is uncalled for. Bent wellhead can't be removed until they perf the bent casing and cement a nice fat top plug. Until then, the well is balanced by heavy mud. These are not controversial statements AFAIK.

I went out of my way to congratulate BP and Helix on recovering the damaged DWH blowout preventer. Intersection by the relief well told us nothing about the condition of the upper well. Not that it matters anymore. Allen handed off to BOEM. Doesn't matter what precisely happened or has to happen next or why.

Macondo ends happily. There are a lot of oil leaks in the Gulf.

I'm entertained by y'all fussing at each other, but I truly would like an explanation as to why they are STILL "jetting hydrates" at the wellhead...

No enmity, Alan, but as someone once said, "accuracy counts".

They have hydrostatic balance in the production liner ...

Is that correct? Seems to me that term applies only when the balancing fluid is in contact with the pressurized fluid. That is no longer the case in this well, is it? There is a very substantial solid body (5000' as I understand it) in between the two in this well, and that body is firmly adhered to the casing, is it not?

The forces from the reservoir are being transfered via the cement to the casing, not to the mud. Likewise, the hydrostatic pressure from the mud is being transmited via the cement to the casing, not to the oil / gas in the reservoir.

Further, what if a leak path developed starting from the high pressure side of that plug. What would the hydrostatic state be when the leak finaly got thru to the bottom of the mud? There's only an 8,000' column of the stuff now in the production casing. Do the numbers, I'm pretty sure you'll find a severe underbalanced condition.

Heck, even following the mud insertion phase of the static topkill, as I recall, they were only in balance because of a substantial column of mud ABOVE the BOP. When they pulled the BOP, it was the cement plug that kept the well shut in, not hydrostatic balance.

... and that's all.

Twice wrong - you left out the cement plug in the production casing, and you left out the fact that the annulus outside the production casing also has a cement plug in it, placed there by the relief well.

Maybe even thrice - if I'm not mistaken, the lockdown sleeve has now been installed, insuring the integrity of the seal at the top of the annulus.

Nothing is sealed tight ...

Baloney. See above.

Wellhead and associated casing is bent.

I don't know the truth of that, but I don't care either. So what if it is? Even if they are bent, that didn't prevent replacing the BOP, and that won't prevent placing the top plugs, and that won't prevent chopping of the top howevermany feet of the well and hauling it off?

So what purpose is served by using the adjective "bent" when referring to the wellhead / casing? It's not to convey any useful information, as far as I can see. Looks to me like "bent" only serves to induce an emotional response from an uninformed reader, obscuring the true state of the well.

... not that it matters any more.

I think the truth always matters. False information can do real harm. It will be quite a while before I forget that poor lady in Florida who came on here one night, concerned enough about some of the alarmist BS she'd seen that she wanted an expert opinion on whether she had enough time to pack a bag or should she just jump in her car and start driving inland.

Anyway, this might well be my last post here, since the flow of information about the well from BP and the incident command seems to have ended. Thanks to all who provided an education to us uninformed folks.

That includes you Alan, in between the FUD you taught me some good stuff too, and I wish you well.

And thank you to The Oil Drum organization for providing this place of knowledge, an oasis in the middle of a vast desert of misinformation.


There's only an 8,000' column of the stuff now in the production casing. Do the numbers, I'm pretty sure you'll find a severe underbalanced condition.

Depends on mud weight they pumped during 4200 psi 'integrity test.'

You're probably right, Frank. I just can't shake the feeling that we've been lied to and data withheld. My thanks also to TOD and everyone who contributed expertise.

Exclusive: Gulf seafood poses long-term health risks, experts say

The article isn't quite as unilateral as the headline indicates, but.

I wish the author would produce the government strawman who supposedly claimed there couldn't ever be any concerns about the safety of Gulf seafood. As far as I can see, the author got all those scientists to rebut a claim that no one has ever made.

So far there is no evidence of PAHs bioaccumulating in the Gulf foodweb. It is too soon to say for sure whether or not PAHs will bioaccumulate--that will be determined by future testing. I need to read up on this, but as I currently understand, the potential for PAH to bioaccumulate is far lower than the potential for, say, PCBs to do so.

Also no one is quoted as saying the seafood poses long-term health risks, as the headline claims. A health risk would develop if PAHs do in fact bioaccumulate significantly in the Gulf.

Here's an excerpt from an abstract on PCB vs. PAH bioaccumulation:

Sediment and marine biota comprising several species of tidal flat and coastal organisms were analyzed for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) including non- and mono-ortho coplanar congeners and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to examine bioaccumulation profiles and toxic potencies of these contaminants. Concentrations of PCBs in tidal flat organisms ranged from 3.6 ng/g (wet wt) in clams to 68 ng/g (wet wt) in omnivore tidal flatfishes, a discernible trend reflecting concentrations and trophic levels. In contrast, PAHs concentrations were the highest in lower trophic organisms, such as crabs and lugworms from tidal flat, whereas those in coastal fishes, squid, and finless porpoises were less than detection limit. Greater bioaccumulation of PAHs was found in lugworms and crabs, which might be due to their direct ingestion of sediment particulates absorbed with PAHs. --Nakata 2003

Both classes of pollutants are carcinogenic, and some PAHs are also highly mutagenic. Both are fat-soluble rather than significantly water soluble, except the lightest PAHs are fairly to slightly water-soluble. Both are taken up into the food chain mainly as adsorbed to other particles. PCBs are synthetic and massively resistant to biodegradation. (Escambia Bay is still substantially polluted from a spill 50 years ago.) PAHs are somewhat resistant, but will eventually be broken down by bacteria or metabolized by some of the creatures that swallow them.

As the excerpt says, PAHs accumulate in sediments and benthic invertebrates, including oysters and mussels as well as the worms and crabs mentioned. Crustaceans and some other invertebrates have some ability to metabolize and excrete PAH. Vertebrates such as finfish metabolize PAH effectively, so there's not much concern about them. Crabs, shrimp, and oysters need to be monitored for signs of PAH accumulation. PAH doesn't seem to accumulate in muscle tissue such as white crabmeat or scallops. I would avoid eating the orange fat in crabs--most people skip that anyway.

But notice in the abstract the more virulent kind of bioaccumulation observed with PCBs, where the chemical load multiplies as you go up the food chain to flounder. This is what happened with DDT and its metabolites.

Corrections welcomed.

the orange fat in crabs

The orange is fat? Hm. I always thought it was roe.

The roe is attached to the outside of the shell, the fat is inside.

Yep, thass where I've seen it (either don't remember or never noticed any inside). Is the fat as bright as the roe?

OK, I see that some people call the roe "fat." Also that the interior stuff I called fat is not fat either. Never mind:)

And there I was, thinking crab fats were blue.


except New Jersey Blue Crabs that have been eating Corexit could have blue fat, possibly.

Whatevs, YAY US! (This is as close as we've ever come to Settling a Question.)

Ah, but have you googled "crab fats" and checked out the arrse version?


Well, I nevah. Rah for the Rural Hair Farce, poor itchin' dears!

Actually PCBs and dioxins are formed both from natural and synthetic routes.



There is an interesting fact (little appreciated by the MSM) about the metabolic pathway in the human body - that activation of AhR, the dioxin receptor can also occur from many other components in natural foods.


If this research is eventually fleshed out and accepted by regulatory agencies we may eventually find a much different risk assessment than the current consensus for exposure to dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs.

For the CT'er in us all:

Was Stuxnet ever discussed....?



Not in relation to Macondo. But back around the time that geniuses were going to plug it up with tires, nanobots and marbles, there was a flurry of "I heard it was the Windows blue screen of death" and some talk about the OS being insecure.

Flurry of discussion at http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6773#comment-686647 on July 24th when Mike Williams testified at the Coast Guard hearing testimony that all three driller-chair computers (running Windows NT) on DWH had recurring BSOD problems. Replacement equipment had been ordered but not installed at time of blowout.

Are any of y'all interested in keeping our little part of TOD going on a regular basis?

We've been relying on Heading Out, Gail, Prof. Goose, and others to feed this forum for several months, and I appreciate all the work they have done. The well is getting pretty quiet, not enough going on to support a daily posting, but I like the community of oilpatch hands, biologists, engineers, chemists, and other interested folks (yes! even the lawyers) who have been educating and challenging each other here.

We could keep milking the BP DH topic for awhile, but we might just end up chewing it, and each other, to death. I'd like to see an ongoing forum focused on the oilfield, sort of anchored in the real world wrestling of a critical resource out of the earth. There would be plenty of opportunity to broaden that to include environmental, legal, and political consequences.

So, if you also like our motley crew, what can you do to keep it together? First priority is content, lead-off posts to get the talk started and keep it more or less focussed. Anyone feel like writing some? Next is moderators to select the daily post, keep an eye on the drift of discussion, and take the load off of the TOD editors. Of course we've got to clear this with those editors, too, and Gail et al might have a different idea.

I'll watch this subthread for comments until the thread gets killed. After that folks can check my profile and email me if they want to help. I'd suggest we avoid arguing a bunch over the exact focus of the forum, there will be time for that later.


James, I'm definitely interested in continuing this conversation (wherever it heads next -- one of its great pleasures is that you never know), but I'm willing to wait to see what HO, Gail, and other headliners in this space might write about next before we try to launch a DIY project. (Of course, there's always Drumbeat, too, though I haven't piped up there yet.) Anyhow, yeah, I'm game -- just willing to see how non-DWH posts from the regulars might serve our purposes first.

James - I've been hanging around TOD for a couple of years and there were times when some oil patch experience added to the conversation. Certainly for the last few months us oil field trash have had more than out 15 minutes of fame...unfortunate as the reason might be. And I'm sure when the official hearings/testimonies jump back on the fron pages we'll rehash the matter in detail again.

But what I've found most beneficial about TOD is the perspective the non-oil patch types bring to the table. As I'm sure you know sometimes when you're to close to a subject you can miss the obvious. I'm actually looking forward to more of the general discussion. The BP incident, along with my comments, haven't been exactly a happy mission. In fact I had to drop out of TOD for a bit right after the blow out. It was just a deep obligation I felt that brought me back. The group does a good job of tollerating our occasional side bars about geology, roughnecks and Blue Bell ice cream. Hang around regardless...a very interesting water hole.

Rman, I'll be hanging around TOD for sure, I just wanted to gauge the interest in keeping a regular focus on the oil patch and the science related to it.

I'm in.

I'm staying!

My ROVs may have slipped from the limelight back to their murky depths, but I'll stick around.

Me too, if y'all will have a blue toed, sometimes off topic female:)

I have been swamped at work and unable to do anything but check in briefly, but did want to give the "snorkel report" from last weekend. Water a little bit rough so waves pounding the sand made it not as clear as usual which is normally like a pool, but saw the most marine life I have all summer. Manta's jumping out past the sand bar, schools of dolphin with their young juvenile babes playing past the sand bar. Various schools of fish out close to sand bar, the smaller fish closer to shore, crabs all over the water and the baby crabs about nickel size on the shore running around. I actually finally got out after the fish kept hitting my ankles swimming in and out. Also had guest in for a wedding at the Hilton and they had a view from the 10th floor and saw so many schools of fish they didn't know what it was LOL. Also, sandpipers all over the shoreline and gulls feeding off the schools. Just a FYI from the blue toed girl:)


I'm still waiting for that banana report ;)


Funny you mention that NAOM, a few weeks ago when I was out I did see a banana peel out around the first sand bar (I was LOL while I had the snorkel and mask on) after what you told me. I have been inundated with fish, not sure I want many more weaving all over me and the nemo type at my mask ........last week I got hit so many times I finally got out. But it was great to see all the baby crabs and tiny fish, and then the big ones much further out (you could tell from above, the water was choppy and dark where the were)

You need to find a Wrasse cleaning station over a reef. Hang out there and they will give you legs a thorough cleaning.


Sorry, you are stuck with me as well. I came here to find out more about the blow out and learned more than I want to know about it. I am staying for all the other information and analysis on oil and energy. I heard about peak oil back in maybe 70's and recently started wondering what was happening. Got interested in solar to start a company so looked about for information that could be useful such as projections of oil and electricity prices - had a shock. TOD has helped get that into perspective. Thanks to all the oilfield guys that have helped me learn.


Good James. Unfortunately IMHO as we go down the PO slope I think the geosciences and engineering will take more of a back seat as the geopolitics start digging its heels in. Decades before I stumbled into TOD I knew where PO was leading us at a tech level. But the politics and social upheaval I see coming makes rocks seem a tad unimportant if not down right boring.

"...makes rocks seem a tad unimportant if not down right boring."

No way. Sometimes thinking about the rocks is the only way I can maintain some measure of sanity. ;<)

I try to follow the economic and geopolitics discussions as best I can. I learn a lot there, but I'm basically a rock and seismic guy. I'm not smart enough or knowledgable enough to contribute much in those threads.

I think the technical side will still have some importance, at least unti we totally fall off the edge of the cliff. In any event, I plan to hang around, in whatever format evolves.

Geo - Not that I learned even half of what I needed to know about the rocks I drilled, after 30 some years it did started getting old. That's why several years ago when I had the opertunity to get into pore pressure analysis I took the chance. Began working for the drilling dept at Devon. Besides getting much better breakfast treats from the vendors I got to hang with the engineers and tell geologist jokes

Rockman, I was funnin' you. It's all interesting stuff. I spent most of my early career in exploration. Some pretty wild and wooly stuff. The first Chukchi Sea lease sale in 1988 is still the most fun I've ever had with my clothes on. Trying to carry our nearest (and only) well ties on seismic from onshore 50-100 miles offshore to the sale area. Last few years (and 3 or 4 employers later) I've been mostly planning dev wells. I thought it would get boring, but it's actually been quite fun. Most of the engineers I work with are young enough to be my kids, or even grandkids.

I know geo. As funny as it sounds I've never been much of a rockhound. I have exactly one specimen in my personal collection: a nice pyrite cube. I have another set of rocks and minerals I use for show&tells with the school kids but they're essentially just tools. You might think growing up in New Orleans (where even sand was something of a novelty) I would have many display cases of rocks/minerals. I've always been more interested in the geologic processes that the lickable stuff. Just a little weird that way I suppose.

If you are going to have a collection of 1 then that is a very good one. I am more into nice geodes.


I'm in, too. Despite relief about the - er - relief well success, I admit to being a bit disappointed that I wouldn't be able to keep learning from all the generous folks who post here. OK, back to Lurksville...thanks again to all.

I too would like to see this thread continue. For the most part the quality is higher. I hung out on the drum for half doz. days and the quality and discussion is not near as good. The group here much more on the technical side, which is what interests me as an engineer. I am also very interested in potential solutions for energy if that is something for this thread.


more: As for content I would be very much be interested in following the various gov't happenings re: the GOM, new rules and of course the autopsy on the BOP. Way too often in the pop press when the hype part of the story ends there is never any followup on the conclusion unless it carries some WOW factor.


I definitely will stick around,at least to read. I will admit much of the discussion on the OD goes way over my head, but the group in this thread/s has been quite interesting. You guys are like the intellectual Dirty Dozen. Out of all the different sites I followed during this event, this one was the best, by far. Some of the back-and-forth sniping ...lol... You guys give intellectual shit-slinging an elegant element. Somehow reminds me of the debate between Brouwer and Hilbert:

"Intuitionism's sharpest and most passionate challenge is the one it flings at the validity of the principle of excluded middle ~Hilbert

"...formalism has received nothing but benefactions from intuitionism and may expect further benefactions. The formalistic school should therefore accord some recognition to intuitionism, instead of polemicizing against it in sneering tones, while not even observing proper mention of authorship." ~ Brouwer

Cheers to you all,~Isaac

Virtually all the technical stuff has been way over my head, but I've nonetheless learned a lot around the edges about an industry and subculture I would likely never have encountered otherwise; and I'm fascinated by the legal, economic, and political ramifications of this event. Plus which, I've been vastly entertained and significantly fortified by the company around here.

I have very little of substance to contribute to the main topics, so I don't feel as though I have a right to plead for a continuation. But BOY, I'll miss this community if it disperses. I've participated in a lot of Internet forums over the past two decades, and this one has been perhaps the most rewarding and stimulating of all.

Hmm, I wonder if the TOD PTB could be bribed to grant us leave to continue by the promise of additional financial contributions to the site...I'd sure be happy to make more donations on a regular basis (pittances though they may be) for the privilege.

Edit: The donation button is still missing.

I started out on WKRG's site until they shut it off. I went over to doomers for about a month until I saw a link to TOD and remembered coming over here on my second rodeo with solar panels looking to find a deal on photovoltaic cells about 5 yrs ago. I tried every user name that I could have used, but came up empty. I know I got hooked up with a steal, good enough that each panel only cost me around 110.00. And that's about 100.00 too much. You can see I'm a skeptic when it comes to solar. Only because of the peak sun here in KY.in the winter. God, don't get me started.They need to put the donation button back up cause this is a friendly place. Smart too. I'm still reading my bookmarks on drilling and will all winter. Kinda still learning how to walk on one leg and the contraption, so I've got a lot of time to read and maybe solder some arrays, if I can find another tree hugger. Amazing.

Edit: Should have said I couldn't remember my original user name from back then, but I have made a couple of donations for the deal I got back then and any help that might come my way again.

Well, it doesn't look like we're going to have our daily dose of oilpatch debate club after all. It does look like TOD has gained some loyal members as a result of the spill coverage, but I don't see anyone offering to write the top-of-thread posts that would feed our eclectic gang.

I assume Heading Out will write some occassional BP DH updates, so this party isn't over, but it is winding down. I just hope it takes awhile before it's finally P & A'ed.

I just hope it takes awhile before it's finally P & A'ed

Ain't that the truth, ob! We do seem to have been TA'd though. Or sent to bed wifout our suppers er sumpin . . .

Apparently editing permissions are needed to cut off and start threads. Given that, invoking the 400 post guideline makes cutoff and new thread decisions easy. I don't see why this can't stay an open thread for tech talk, following the DWH aftermath, energy related topics, etc. given some self-discipline.

I'm wondering if we can't morph it into a thread on "where do we go from here" on drilling operations? This will certainly include analysis and lessons learned from DWH, but gets into the larger area of how can we improve drilling practices in general. How can things be improved so that drillers can still drill, yet we avoid (as much as possible) killing people and trashing the environment?

Certainly we can come up with new regultions and practices that are so restrictive that nobody can drill a well. Or at least not drill a well at a cost than anyone can afford. Heck, the current deep water moratorium already accomplishes that. That obviously saves lives and protects the environment, but also doesn't find or produce petroleum.

The real question is how to find an approach that works so we can still drill, but do it better/safer. I think most would agree that DWH shows there is lots of room for improvement. How can we do it better? Better technology plays a role, as does better procedures and organizational changes. A multi dimensional problem if ever there was one.

This even has a Peak Oil aspect, since I think many people expect that as we start down the slope, there will be intense political and economic pressure to drill everything in sight. Even deeper and more hostile areas offshore (ultra deep water, the high arctic, etc), and ever more sensitive (and until now protected) areas onshore.

Sounds good to me. And unfortunately there'll be other accidents to delve into.

I don't see anyone offering to write the top-of-thread posts that would feed our eclectic gang.

Is it necessary to have top-of-thread posts? Folks come up with many new topics mid-thread all the time; it's not as if we have to have a top-of-thread post to find things to talk about.

True, SL, but these long posts must discourage folks on dial-up.

Why can't top of the thread posts be a summary of the previous thread contents / key subthreads or similar, written by one of the more literary minded folk on the thread. Yes, requires concurrence of TOD editors. But if, as seems to be the case, there are a number of subject areas being followed then a single "expert" writing the top of thread is less desirable than the English major That would mean that the regular contributors to the thread are the sub-editors. Just a thought. the 400 post sure seems appropriate. And continuation of a sub-thread would be conditioned on participation.

I sent an email off to Gail the Actuary. I'll post any response I get.

I'd go to Drumbeat, but the peak oil doomers around here are so depressing. I come away from there with the hope that I'll die before the gas runs out. They make it seem so hopeful.

Suo Gan.

Suo Gan footage. Thanks. Empire Of The Sun is +100.

It took me years to realize that the kid in Empire of the Sun is Christian Bale from American Psycho (don't worry, Swift - no evil panda's in this one).

Degraded Oil From BP Spill Coats Gulf Seafloor

Well, here we go again. This was posted to Drumbeat but here's a different excerpt:

They found oil on the seafloor, evidence that it may be in the food chain, and signs that it may be hidden in large marine mammals. In spots, the "oily snow" — degraded oil and other organic material that clings to it — was up to 6 inches (15 centimeters) deep on the seafloor, said Columbia oceanographer Ajit Subramaniam.

Yet again I am astounded by the awesome skillz of our science journalism mega-swat team. The "oil on the seafloor" link is to an old graphic from back on 28 April that doesn't reference the condition of oil on the seafloor at all. The headline blares that oil "Coats [the] Gulf Seafloor", then the article tells that "in spots" the "oily snow" is up to 6 inches thick - clearly a different perception that one would get from the headline alone.

And no, Brett, Lakeview still wins as the "largest oil spill in U.S. history". Oh, you meant "offshore oil spill"? Sorry, that's not what you wrote.

Expect better from a place that calls itself LiveScience.

The data will be interesting, whenever it does come in. This kind of reportage just feeds the trolls.

The "signs that it may be hidden in large marine mammals" apparently consists of this:

"We really don't know much about the effect of the oil spill in cetaceans, because the effects are likely to be long term," said marine mammal expert Martin Mendez of the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

after which the article goes on to say that they haven't sampled dead specimens yet.

Maybe BP hid it in the large mammals?

Yeah, but these people wouldn't know since they haven't looked yet.

It's that dang herd of walruses in the Gulf again!

This one's nice..


Yeah, I like that one although occasionally they carry a sub-par piece.

Sometimes scientists aren't up to snuff. Sometimes it's due to this but a combination of the two seems to generate webfollies the best.

Lol. I don't know why, but effect of sub-par scientific journalism remind me of this video.


" I don't want to go backwards !!!"

Interesting Transocean doc from 05 Apr 2010: http://www.offshoreinjuries.com/media/pdfs/3-5-2010-Well-Control-Handboo...

I don't recall seeing this posted before. Addendum to be put into effect 4/05/2010.

Thanks for posting that. There was a reference in the USCG/MMS hearings to this document. Parts of the document were read into the record but I hadn't seen the document.

This change in Transocean's well-control policy was a result of an incident in the North Sea about 4 mos. before the DWH blowout that was almost the same circumstances. In that incident a bothched negative test had been done and then the rig crew wasn't paying attention as they displaced to seawater. In that case the well also blew out but the BOP saved the day and only a small amount of mud was released into the environment.

Take with a grain of salt since it's apparently been written by a legal advocate, but here's a link for people who were unfamiliar: http://www.offshoreinjuries.com/blog/1268/transocean-withheld-internal-r...

The incident occurred at the Sedco 711 location in the North Sea. At that well, Transocean made a decision to displace the mud with seawater and had a blowout. This was the same thing that happened on the Deepwater Horizon prior to the explosion that destroyed it along with 11 lives

And here's a description by the WSJ:

The memo was prompted by a frightening spectacle on another Transocean drilling rig two days before Christmas the previous year. Workers aboard the drilling rig Sedco 711, operating in Britain's North Sea, heard a loud noise and looked up to see dark liquid shooting out of the well and spraying across the deck.

As the rig's drillers tried to bring the well under control, co-workers scrambled to lifeboats and prepared to evacuate, according to internal Transocean documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Explosive gas began to surround the rig.

Workers managed to regain control of the well before the gas ignited, and no one was injured. Environmental damage was minimal—just three barrels of heavy drilling fluid spilled overboard.

But executives from Transocean, the Swiss-based contractor that owned the rig, were sufficiently concerned by the near miss that they held conference calls with managers aboard the company's fleet of nearly 150 rigs to discuss the lessons from the incident and issued two operations advisory memos.

The bottom line: Workers on the North Sea rig put too much faith in tests that showed the well was secure and stopped watching for signs of trouble.

A little checking reveals that TO's Sedco 711 rig was drilling for Shell when this near miss occurred. I imagine that Shell would also have investigated. This leads me to make a couple of observations:

Shell could (should?) have circulated information to other operators - if Guide/Kaluza/Vidrine had been fully informed on this North Sea incident they might have have been much more cautious when they came to displace Macondo.

I now see Shell's attempt to claim "the moral high ground" just after the Macondo disaster - "it couldn't have happened to us"; "we design better wells", "we do HSE-style safety cases for every well in every part of the world" - in a rather different light.

Wow. Interesting to say the least. Prophetic and history has a tendency to repeat itself come to mind as well.

Also: beeg ol' RUH-ROH from TO's law firm.

PR. Only if somebody can produce evidence that the Transocean people implemented the new guidance would it make a real difference, I would think. But PR counts in that world.

Snake, you are SO good at finding this stuff! Thank YOU!

Do you think this is one of the additions to SOPs (Well Control Handbook) that may have never made it into the hard copy available to rig crews? Sounds like it may be. Seems they made some significant changes/additions during months prior to April 20 that were only posted to their company intranet. Given the "link" in it, this could be one of them.

In safety-critical operations such as these, failing to control "controlled documents" is unforgivable. I am familiar because of my work to update SOPs for certain operations related to very hazardous and radioactive materials for DOE, so I do know how it "should be" done. Approved updates to SOPs had to be inserted into notebooks available to all workers immediately after approval and distribution. Group managers responsible for insertion, and people went around to to check on it. When consequences are "death," it has to be done right. Don't know what an addendum to SOPs is good for if the folks who really need it have never been made aware of it. Do drillers and tool pushers get "company e-mail"? I'm thinking maybe not. Just wondering. Lizzy

It was written March 5 but issued officially fifteen days before the blowout. It's plausible it didn't make its way through. Or that it was ignored. But it's also plausible that the opposite is true.

Anyway, thanks for the appreciation.

I wouldn't have expected the TPs and drillers to get something like this but I would expect the OIM should have been made aware and he should have made sure it was carried down the line. Now, I don't know if the oil rigs use that system but, from other industries, that is what I would be expecting.


It doesn't matter if this procedure made it into manuals or not. People with years of well-drilling experience should have this type of safety consciousness in their heads.

Many people having no well-drilling experience are saying the same thing, it was incredibly irresponsible to rely on a statistically iffy cement job as the only mechanical barrier between them and 12,000 psi gas and oil while knowingly putting the well in an underbalanced state and planning to leave it that way through subsequent operations. Sheer lunacy. Asking to have their rig burned up ...and it was.

BP may have developed the insane plan, but Transocean accepted it and carried it out.

OK…here’s another very biased view of mine. The first thing a new floor hand learns is to look up when you step onto the drill floor. On the floor injury/death almost always come from above. Even if one never worked on a rig but observed it for a few hours they would develop that same instinct. The second thing every hand learns is that all blow out are proceeded by a well kick. In other words the mud flows out of the hole. But mud is always flowing out of the hole when the mud pumps are running. So it looks like it’s kicking when it isn’t. So the first thought is always going to be: are the pumps running? They all learn very quickly that the answer to that question is either all is OK or you might be about to die.

No hand needs a memo from the home office to know that watching for well flow is what will keeps them alive. That and not stepping on to the floor when a 40,000 # hunk of metal is being lowered very quickly. The floor hands might not have understood anything about a neg test but that isn’t important: they don’t judge such matters. The tool pusher and driller would be very aware of how critical confidence in the neg test is especially when displacing the well to an underbalanced state. Again, they don’t need to see a memo warning them. They would not have risen to those position if they didn’t understand this matter with absolute certainty.

There are many technical aspects (centralizers, N2 cmt, csg design, etc) that can be debated ad nausea. But being diligent and watching for a kick isn’t one of them IMHO. It is the first line of defense on a rig. And every hand knows it including the cook.

Interesting! In my younger days I was an Iron Worker (that was before I became an engineer), and I think the first thing that was beat into my mind was when you walked onto a job you looked for the hook, or sometimes Hooks. Because that was what could take you out,,,,,in a blink. So I was fascinated by Rocks first rule.

duck: They dont call 'em headache balls for no good reason!! So glad to see not all Iron Workers have a 48 in. chest and wear a size 2 hat! I still have my marlin spikes and 3-jawed vice for making up chokers!!

The first thing I was told before going into a coal mine was to look up for danger (like the electrical trolley wire hanging from the roof, 440 VDC - nasty) but also to look down for electrical trailing cables on the floor (bottom) and step on them not over them (if they became taught they would hit the family jewels). So when I visited a chemical plant for the first time I kept looking up - my guide told me just to look at the ground where the leaks from overhead piping would show up.

I've read that mammals (like people) do not naturally look up for danger - that is one reason tree stands for deer hunting are so effective (as well as keeping your scent off the ground).

OK, not often that I would even somewhat pushback on Rockman regarding rig operations...but I think I will...slightly.

No hand needs a memo from the home office to know that watching for well flow is what will keeps them alive.....The tool pusher and driller would be very aware of how critical confidence in the neg test is especially when displacing the well to an underbalanced state. Again, they don’t need to see a memo warning them. They would not have risen to those position if they didn’t understand this matter with absolute certainty.

True enough, in general no argument there. However, part of the problem seems to be that there are some serious questions about roles and responsibilities. And other serious questions about WHO THE F*CK WAS REALLY IN CHARGE? Even on the little (only relative to DW) land rigs I get involved with, the crew can easily be working for a half dozen companies. Add a few more who are on a contract or consulting basis. I wonder if reporting relationships are always as clear as they should be? As rigs get bigger and the technology gets more complex these issues can get exacerbated.

I can see a formal document that specifies explicitly, with no exceptions, exactly who is responsible for approving the neg test. That person can and should consult with other key players, but ultimately the designated person makes the call, and documents it. In my experience, having a specific, assigned responsibility concentrates the mind wonderfully. Having it in writing also gives that person a bit more stroke to resist pressure from the coman or operator to pressure people into shortcuts. Group discussion is good, but one person needs to be ultimately responsible for a descision that may be routine but crucial.

A clear cut, formally designated chain of command is also crucial. Is working on a rig more dangerous, or require more rapid critical decision making than combat? I think not. Every successfull military organization for about the last thousand years has had a very well defined, formal chain of command. I didn't enjoy much about my time in the Marines, but I tell you what, I always knew exactly who I reported to and who reported to me. If the next guy up the chain was out of action (whether sleeping or shot), there was never any question whatsoever about who was next on the chain. In either direction.

One last point. A good read, is a little book called "The Checklist Manifesto" by Atul Gawande. He makes a very convincing case for simple checklists that make sure key steps get covered. The idea is not to substitute for experience but rather to make sure that the routine stuff tht kills people gets covered. Stuff like having a specific person who is designated to monitor mud returns. Is a high level of experience and rapid descision making under pressure less important for a surgeon than a tool pusher? I seriously doubt it. Surgeons have huge egos and are not noted for taking lip from nurses, yet Gawande has demostrated that simple checklists, making sure the routine dumb stuff (that kills people) gets covered, can make a demonstrable difference. Read the book, with an open mind, then lets discuss this again.

I would wholeheartedly agree.

It is interesting to look at areas where we expect checklists - like airplanes. No matter how experienced a pilot is, they will never skip a checklist. For routine work, and even more so for emergency operations.

Surgeons are an interesting case. I know a few surgeons, and a friend of my father taught surgery as well as practising. Surgeons tend to develop their persona as part of the job. Ego goes with self assurance, and surgeons need the level of self assurance to never dither or panic. Also, part of the medical profession is the development of a persona when dealing with patients that places clear barriers between them and the patients. Dealing with critically sick and dying patients requires this.

Anyway, an operating theatre is a bastion of checklists and process. The nurses indeed keep the show on the road. All the simple processes like pre-op, checks like counting all the swabs and clamps in and out of the patient. Like so many professions, the checks come from bad outcomes. Mostly people dying.

geo - I don't think we disagree on the basics. I wasn't so much chatting about procedures or chain of command. Just that none of the hands had to be reminded about watching for well flow. And if the tool pusher or OIM had to be reminded about the neg test being a life or death determination than they shouLd not have had their jobs in the first place. I agree that one contributing factor is that there tends to be group think going on rigs more often than not. But unless BP and TO function differently than every other company I've dealt with, areas of reasponsibilty were clearly laid out: there was one or two hands specificly assigned to watch the returns and there was someone (with BP and TO) with authority to accept or reject the neg test.

I interjected myself into the conversation because it seemed as though there was a thought that TO was neglegent in warning the crew of the potential dangers based upon the N Sea incident. I did note in another message that supposedly TO did not have a formal kick response or kill sheet inplace at the time of the blow out. OTOH I find That hard to believe but it might also explain what went wrong.

I can see a formal document that specifies explicitly, with no exceptions, exactly who is responsible for approving the neg test.


No the Transocean advisory nails the problem that occurred on the DWH. It is not a matter of who decides it is a matter of following the correct steps. Had the crew followed the correct steps even the cook would be able to recognize the well lacked integrity. If you don't take the time to make the proper calculations something like a negative test becomes a meaningless jumble of nonsense.

The problem with your logic is in order for somebody to approve a negative test there has to actually be a negative test.

The negative test was supposed to start at 17:00, but looking at the pressure data it is clear that the rig crew from the begining of the negative test had failed to correctly identify.

1) The volumes to be pumped
2) The planned displacement rates
3) The position of the fluid interfaces
4)The resultant U-tube pressure in the well at all times

At 1700 when the test was to start it is crystal clear they had not taken the time to follow those steps.

Looking a the recorded pressure and volume data it is clear the negative test was fubarred before it even started. And had they followed the first four recommendations in the Transocean advisory that wouldn't have happened.
They would not even have started the test because they would have known the pressures and volumes were all wrong. And not just a little bit wrong but hugely wrong.

And then later after the nonexistent test had been approved the rig crew was dumping the returns overboard so that nobody had any idea what the well was doing at the point when the well became under-balanced. The rig crew clearly had failed to identify what the well control advisory considers the most important point:

5) most importantly, the point at which the completion fluid will become under-balanced with respect to formation pressure.

No the Transocean advisory nails the problem that occurred on the DWH. It is not a matter of who decides it is a matter of following the correct steps. .....
The problem with your logic is in order for somebody to approve a negative test there has to actually be a negative test.

A couple of points. I'm not talking about an "advisory". I'm talking about a formal REQUIREMENT that says "You WILL do this...and you WILL document it before proceding." The point about a specific person designated to decide (and document) the neg test is simple. If I have to sign on the dotted line that it is a satisfactory test, then I'm going to make damn sure a satisfactory test is actually done. I strongly suspect that part of the reason it wasn't done (including the "proper calculations) is because of a somewhat diffuse chain of command.

Like other busy people, I sometimes don't pay as much attention as I should to an "advisory". But when I have to sign my approval I tend to look at it a lot closer.

The problem with that is there are lots of different negative tests that are used in different circumstances.

The rig had already performed 2 negative tests on the float flapper valves during the cementing procedures. After the float was converted they did an in-flow test that confirmed the check valves were working and after the cementing they again did a negative test using the hydrostatic pressure difference in the production case and annulus as a way to test the flapper valves to confirm they were closed.

So at the point when they were displacing the riser the crew was apparently of the opinion that they had done at least 3 or 4 inflow tests that confirmed the integrity of the casing shoe assembly.

The point of the Transocean advisory is to warn crews not to trust tests. Tests can be botched. Tests can tell you something is good when it isn't. Displacing the riser to seawater was in and of itself yet another a negative test on the casing shoe. The crew should still have been monitoring u-tube pressures, and volumes of flow in and flow out.

I once was under two managers with the same responsibility, clear chain of command - not. Consult with one the other has to change something to show they have things in hand. As for checklists, essential. Go on vacation, checklist for what to take. I poured several concrete floors/ceilings building my house, dedicated a page or more in my day book to things to be checked before pouring. Every time I thought of something it got added. Nothing poured until everything was checked off. The first slab got delayed 3 times, despite the builder insisting he was ready (he was fired), because not everything was checked off. Nearly got delayed the 4th time too except the guys worked till they were ready to drop. Next pour I started by copying things down from the first time and added more, went a lot better. Should have done one for the little spray job I did yesterday, missed masking an alignment pin, now should I use 400 or 600 grit :)

Places I have worked where people pushed back on check lists and refused to use them always ended up with tears. Trouble is managers tended to see it as people not doing their job rather than as a failure of the system to have an effective working practice. The first place I worked I had '3 times it' and '6 times it' hammered into me.

If something as simple as going on vacation needs a checklist to make sure you don't leave the passport at home then why should a drilling operation, where an oops might cost lives, billions of dollars, massive pollution, massive lay offs etc, be exempt?

As far as passing advisories on I have been in places where the documents are brought around for you to read then you have to sign that you have read it. Don't try and just say yeh and sign because the supervisor will put it in your face and say 'now read it and tell me what it says'. I still remember the ones about people being blinded by putting chemicals into a container without checking first and people killed by cigarette lighters catching fire, why - because I HAD to read them.


I used to start with 600 grit and work my way down to 1,000,then finish with 2,000.

BP may have developed the insane plan, but Transocean accepted it and carried it out.

Hafle and Harrell. But the finger will be pointed at user error on the rig, and first-hand witnesses who are dead can't testify.

This document isn't about rig operations alone - it specifically talks about developing a well completion schedule. And goes on to list a set of requirements for that schedule.

This is home territory for me.

A few days ago we drifted past software engineering - it was interesting to note how all the physical type engineers had no idea what software engineering is, and thought it was about writing programs. When I used to lecture software engineering my introductory lecture had a pair of slides - the first was "the last few years we have taught you all about writing code, and designing algorithms, and gave you the impression that this was what software engineering was all about" The next slide said "We lied." "It isn't. It is about managing complexity and risk in very brittle engineering systems, systems that involve large numbers of people in complex interacting tasks that may involve irreconcilable constraints and requirements that change as the project proceeds."

Requirements analysis, and the mechanisms by which quality assurance of the end to end process is managed is core to us. Looking at the documents that flow about in the oil patch, and the processes involved in their creation and the manner in which they are enacted leaves me seriously troubled. Even a small simple software engineering project would not proceed successfully with such poor process.

This TO document is a set of overarching requirements for the design of the completion schedule. In implementation I would expect that any schedule written would go through a formal process whereby these requirements were not just met, but seen to be met, via a review process that includes external engineers. We are talking a major step in the completion of a 100 million dollar project. This isn't a great deal different to the responsibility inherent in a launch readiness review for a rocket launch, or the handover checks made on a medium sized airliner. A 737 costs less than a deepwater well. Could you imagine the customer accepting a 737 based upon an unreviewed ad-hoc set of checks written by a single engineer? Yet similar money is at risk, and as Piper Alpha showed, similar numbers of lives.

The other issue, I have is the lack of process involving the requirements themselves. We don't know if they were propagated to the rig, or more importantly propagated to BP. BP wrote the schedule, not TO. This harks back to my earlier questions about the cement job schedule, that was part of the completion schedule. Clearly BP took advice from Halliburton about the required steps, and incorporated them in the schedule. The coman then proceeded to ignore some of the schedule. There was clearly no process to provide any checks on such overriding, and no formal documentation of any schedule changes. Now here we have TO, the rig owner, providing clear requirements to its own view of operations, requirements that should have been communicated to BP as mandatory components of the completion schedule as written by BP. Clearly there is a tragedy in the timing of these requirements, but what I don't see is any formal mechanism to ensure that BP follow any TO requirements, and worse, if the BP coman is able to override the written schedule, the implication is that the BP coman could override these new TO requirements. And still, the rig workers would appear to normally go along with such changes.

What bothers me is that it would appear that this is SOP, not just with BP, but across the industry. The danger is that we are in exactly the erosion of safety situation that has caused other large sale and bad accidents. Just because there has not been a massive accident on this scale before, does not mean that the current process is safe. Indeed, this whole thing begins to look more and more like the Space Shuttle losses. The accident in the North Sea has an uncanny similarity to the ET foam losses. The Columbia took off with a known safety flag against the foam. It was expected by the NASA managers that this would be fixed eventually, but not enough of concern that they stopped flying. Here we have evidence of a potential serious accident, internal paperwork requiring change, but no red flag that said, "get these changes out now, do not allow further well completions to proceed until we know that these requirements form part of the schedule."

My deep suspicion about the root cause of the accident is a mixture of complacency, money driven haste, and worst of all, an unnatural barrier to good engineering process caused by the fragmentation of responsibility across the many contractors involved. BP eventually is the operator, and must take responsibility, but the individual contractors must also take responsibility that their recommendations are correctly interpreted, and where safety is involved, take a clear unyielding line.

One wonders is anyone inside TO saw the BP schedule? If so, was there a process for TO to sign off on it? If there was, would these new requirements have been seen as part of that sign off? If not, why not? Indeed, all around, why not?

OK, rant over.

A fair rant Francis. One aspect of the situation can't be fixed: there is the plan/procedure and then there's what actually happens. Last Thursday I went out on an onshore recompletion. A simple job and had a straight forward 2-day procedure. Now it's 8 days later and the well is so screwed up (thanks to the operator we took over from) and it's not clear how we are going to fix the problem. Within 4 hours being on location I threw the original procedure away. Since then I've re-written procedures twice and threw them away. I wrote the 4th procedure at 3 AM this morning. And if this effort fails my next step will be to P&A the well. That would be quit a change from the original plan to recomplete the well and put it back on production. Needless to say this will take a lot of "splainin" to my owner.

And to some degree this is how all well site ops go. Sometimes minor changes in procedures and something's they have to be completely re-written. But that highlights the point you make about how plans change on the fly. Specifically is everyone aware of the changes and are they knowledgeable enough to appreciate any new risks? The coman has a certain level of authority to make small modifications especially when the decision has to be made in minutes or even seconds at time. But bigger changes in procedures tend to be run through the office personnel. They write the procedures...not the well site personnel. If for no other reason than avoiding bruised egos most coman won't over reach. But that's where communications break down: the office will modify a procedure, the coman signs off on it but the drilling company/other subcontractors may not be fully brought into the loop. I've worked with operators, like ExxonMobil, who are downright fanatical about this communication flow. I've spent hours in meetings on their wells (even though I might have no part of that particular process) listening to new procedures being drummed into all the hands relentlessly. XOM is also adamant about getting meaningful feedback from all the contractors about new proposed procedures. At the other end of the spectrum I've dealt with operators when I had to ask 4 or 5 hands what we were going to be doing next before I found someone who knew. Can't really know for sure but from the bits and pieces we've heard about the interactions between BP and TO it seems to indicate that neither would make the grade on an XOM job.

But that's where communications break down: the office will modify a procedure, the coman signs off on it but the drilling company/other subcontractors may not be fully brought into the loop.

This is another aspect of the whole chain of command issue I ranted about above.

I've worked with operators, like ExxonMobil, who are downright fanatical about this communication flow. I've spent hours in meetings on their wells (even though I might have no part of that particular process) listening to new procedures being drummed into all the hands relentlessly. XOM is also adamant about getting meaningful feedback from all the contractors about new proposed procedures.

I've heard this about XOM as well, but haven't had any direct personal contact with them on ops. Glad to hear what I heard is true. Apparently the PWS Exxon Valdez spill was a real "Come to Jesus" moment for them. I think we need that industry wide.

geo - I've never heard anyone on the inside of ExxonMobil admit it but back in the bad ole days they were as bad as most companies when it came to accidents. The Valdez may well be the difference. Wonder if the Macondo well will have the same effect. For some unexplainable reason I don't feel it will.

Ok now I'm confused.

The addendum was to be inserted into the "Completions" section (section 8, subsection 9,1) of the manual. I was under the impression that there was a difference between drilling and completion operations and that what was happening on DWH on April 20 was NOT completion.

It went into the Well Control Handbook. WSJ, "But executives from Transocean ... issued two operations advisory memos." At least one of these memos supposedly went out to the crew on DWH April 14, but NYT wrote on August 16 "it is not clear whether those policy changes reached the Deepwater Horizon crew before that rig exploded." What's in the other memo? Did it go to DWH also? Did it apply only to completion? NYT also wrote

A separate Transocean presentation, which was provided to rig workers after the incident, cited a “lack of clear” procedures for controlling well pressure, “weakness in planning” the job’s risk assessment and an absence of data about conditions in the well.

The WSJ wrote "Weeks before the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, the crew was warned not to let down its guard in a sternly worded memo from the rig's owner".
"But executives from Transocean, the Swiss-based contractor that owned the rig, were sufficiently concerned by the near miss that they held conference calls with managers aboard the company's fleet of nearly 150 rigs to discuss the lessons from the incident and issued two operations advisory memos".

Nitpick: Times article also refers to "Transocean, which leased the failed well in the gulf to BP..." Oops? TO leased the rig to BP, not the well, right?

In the WSJ article, Ben Casselman appears to refer to the April 4th addendum (that was to be added to the "Completions" section of the next revision of the Well Control manual) as a "sternly worded memo." If so, lets be careful of what Casselman calls a "memo"; it could be anything. Jesus.

You said:

At least one of these memos supposedly went out to the crew on DWH April 14

Where did you get that? The only reference to April 14 that I see is in the NYT piece. It's the date of the summary report of Transocean's investigation into the North Sea emergency. Maybe it's the source of Casselman's other "memo."

From the WSJ article "Do not be complacent.…Remain focused on well control," drilling company Transocean Ltd. wrote in a 10-page "operations advisory" on April 5.

What's your point?

Thanks BPS~I appreciate your answer and I was looking for it too:) Complacency is a big problem in so many industries. My dad used to build steel mills and has seen some horrific accidents due to complacency, the 2 that stand out are when he was in the melt shop and the overhead "cauldron" for lack of a better word that had melted steel tipped over and poured all over a friend, a crane operator who sat down some huge magnet on someone below and a man who was electrocuted and lived, he was actually able to lagh later as he got new feet and that made him taller and he got a new.............well, you know (friend) in a bigger and better size. Ok, that was 3, but 2 of the 3 were from accidents as RM was talking about yesterday, not being diligent with what's happening above you

Well, I bollocksed that up. Rereading my post I misread something else I looked at before coffee and then committed at least one mid-edit phrase dropout. The chain of events regarding delivery of the "memo" to people aboard DWH isn't clear. It does seem fairly clear that they got the word one way or another. And as Rockman pointed out "completion" is contextual. I take it your point is that since it's in the "Completion" section it wouldn't have had impact on what they were doing?

I think addendums to manuals are routinely issued and often ignored. This particular one was not scheduled to be added to the manual until the next regular revision. Furthermore, it dealt with completions, not the drilling ops that the crew of the DWH was engaged in at the time.

So basically, if the crew received it, they had every reason to simply file it away. But I don't know, maybe Casselman had some reason (other than the desire to write a juicy lede) for characterizing the addendeum as an attention-grabbing memo.

But the manual is important with or without the addendum. Appendix T of BP's Bly report quotes extensively from it to show that the crew of the DWH didn't follow procedure.

It's an assumption at this point, but given the conference calls I'd guess that the word went down to the crews via managers. I haven't seen any documentation of that, however.

Of course what counts in court may be different from what counted prior to and on 4/20.

M - Welcome to the club. Even in the oil patch you see some miscommunication about this aspect. You drill a successfull well and everyone is excited because you're "going to complete it". So you "run pipe on it" (you run your production csg). But that isn't "completing the well" in the minds of many. Completing a well typically means moving back on with a smaller workover, running a CBL, sqz cmt if needed, run packers and tubing in the hole and then perforate. Then you test the well. If all goes OK then you set your permanent production equipment, oil/water tanks and lay any NG lines that might be needed. So you start with a drilling well and then progress to a well running csg that will be completed eventually. Then you'll have a well being completed which will, in a month or 6 become a producing well.

The BP well was drilled and production csg run. It was not "completed" but the drilling phase was completed. In a year or 2 BP would have moved back onto the well an affected a "completion". Then maybe in another year or two they might put it on production.

Rockman, I just spent the last hour rereading Piper Alpha stuff. Another woulda shoulda coulda with bad luck mixed in. Having policies on paper doesn't mean much once that wheel starts turning fast.

So true snake. We've joked about having Rockman Inc consultants on the job looking over the shoulders of the operators/drillers. And as you say, once the sh*t hits the fan and it's the hands on location calling the shots on a minute by minute basis than all the procedures and oversight from the office can become meaningless. I'll be drilling out in the GOM shallow water next year. Before I mob the first rig out there we're going to have a great deal of discussion about circumventing these potential problems. Evem if it means doubling up on comen and having 4 of them out there that's very cheap insurance compared to the cost of a $20 million well let alone the financial woes of a blow out.

-If there are any watch dog groups on here, please watch this-


This is just an idea but I could be wrong... State jurisdiction and authority extends to 3 miles out in the ocean, there is an exception for Texas (12 miles I believe).

Film & document a trip past this 3 mile jurisdiction cut-off line. Now you will be in federal waters instead of state waters. Take fish samples, water samples etc.

State authorities will still probably confiscate this from you. However, you might be able to get an injunction or some kind of declaratory judgment in Court to prevent state authorities from doing the kind of stuff you see in the video I posted above.

I think- and I very well could be wrong, that they are exceeding their lawful authority. This is something that only federal officials could do. State officials can check your boat, life jackets etc. But there is a possibility that they can not confiscate fish etc. that were caught in federal waters.

If you want to look in to it research maritime law and jurisdiction. I'm not a lawyer or an expert, use your own judgment. That video really makes me mad though.

To draw a comparison, I think it is the same concept as what is going on with the Arizona immigration law (lawsuit over state encroachment on federal authority).

The state natural resources boundary (fish, oil, whatever) for the entire Gulf Coast is 9 miles. This of course includes all the coast of TX, LA, MS, and AL. The Florida boundary is 9 miles on the Gulf side and 3 miles on the Atlantic side.

Ben Raines article about cleaning up sedimented tar from the bottom off the Alabama beaches. It tends to be covered by 6" of shifting sand. There are some large mats of tar. This was a predictable outcome. I wonder how long this effort will go on--it seems impossible that any large proportion of the stuff could be found and removed from hundreds of miles of coastline.


I was under the impression some of the clean up contractors had 3 year contracts. I also don't think BP and Co would have designed and have had built, fleets of sand/beach cleaning vehicles, if they didn't think it was going to be for the long haul. Or are those bought and owned by the various cities and towns on the Gulf coast ?

Okaloosa TDC: BP funded tourist program cancelled because of business cheats

Okaloosa County might have to return more than $750,000 to BP after a program designed to attract tourists was canceled after it was learned that businesses were abusing the system.

Semi-OT: BP ex-commodities head Quek says firm had ‘atmosphere of fear’

BP Plc’s former head of commodities trading Quek Chin Thean, who is accused by the oil company of misusing confidential information and helping a rival, told a Singapore court he backed up the data because there was an “atmosphere of fear” at the firm.

BP had been “conducting oppressive and disproportionate investigative proceedings against its employees and ex- employees,” Quek, 41, said in papers filed in the Singapore High Court yesterday. “It was this general atmosphere of fear in the BP Group that prompted me to back up my working e-mails and documents as a precaution.”

New government estimate on oil spilled
Columbia Univ.: 185 million gallons spilled

The federal government's final estimate was a shade more than 172 million gallons. The Columbia researchers' estimate is 12.6 million gallons more than the federal figure. However, because it's so difficult to get a precise estimate, there is a large margin of error for both the government figure and the Columbia number. The margin is so large that the two estimates essentially overlap, the researchers said. Their study was published online Thursday in the journal Science.

Study affirms Gulf oil spill's vastness

The new study divides the flow rate into two periods: April 22 to June 3, when oil spurted from a jagged break in the riser; and after June 3, when the riser was cut, and oil temporarily spewed into the ocean unimpeded.

No accounting for erosion, apparently.

snake - it still tickles me to see estimates like 184.6 million gallons. Not 184.5 or 184.7 but 184.6 million gallons. I calculate that inplies an accuracy of less than 1%. But like I said before 2 + 2 = somewhere between 3 and 5...so says the geologist.

Actually, Rockman, so did they. Big error terms. Big enough for the Columbia study and the feds' estimate to overlap.

So they used May 15 to represent the period April 22- June 3. There were 24 days of erosion before the first reading was taken. I have no idea how big a factor was erosion, but it's surprising that no one outside this site has even mentioned it.

Who was the TOD poster who first speculated that the flow was weaving through an extremely constricted flowpath within the BOP that would be substantially modified by erosion? Then we got to see obvious visual proof when the camera went down the BOP's throat after recovery.

Okay, Gayle the Actuary's going to start a new thread.