BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Still Important things to discuss - Open Thread 2

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7012.

Since folks still want to discuss the oil spill related issues, this is another open thread. Note that there are a few oil spill related articles in Drumbeat.

As part of an excellent comment on the last thread, Francis said:

Something we used to teach in engineering ethics, was Kallman & Grillo's five point test.

The mom test: would you tell your mother?
The TV test: would you tell your story on national TV?
The smell test: does it smell bad?
The other person’s shoes test: would you like it if done to you?
The market test: would your action make a good sale pitch?

The test applies to both engineers and managers.

Another good one (mentioned in law schools) is: Would you mind seeing that on tomorrow's front pages?

Lotus: Very nice for regular work, but a lot of what I do is confidential. I can't tell my mother about it. I definitely can't tell my story on national TV because it can get me killed. It doesn't smell bad, but we do tricks we definitely don't want the competition to know about. I advise my clients on how to defeat the competition. I don't mind if somebody give me advice but I can't afford to pay myself. My actions don't make a good sales pitch because nobody except for a few guys would understand what I do.

I just realized how weird this sounds, but I was preparing a talk for an industry group, and it's been hell to prepare something that's sanitized enough to avoid desclosing things i can't disclose, and at the same time make it interesting enough.

Cappy Goes Up in a Basket: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqMRydBhrXY

We discover Olympic Challenger's ROV UHD30 as it secures the basket which brings Top Hat #4, otherwise known as "Cappy," (earlier ignominousely dumped on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico) to the surface. Honoring Cappy's many weeks of channeling and venting Macondo's 60K bbl/day of hydrocarbons. Music by Ravi Shankar, Reflection and Transmigration, from the album "Rough Guide." Cappy lovers can now rest in peace.

Good deal, Evergreen. But all that schmutz! Poor Cappy musta sneezed all the way to the boat.

It's amazing to see how much mud gets pulled up when they raise those baskets. There's a really big metal framed basket in this area, also, that i figure they will use to haul up the sub-manifolds that are sitting around nearby. That ought to be interesting. BTW I think they must have done some cleaning to get the hydrates out of Cappy.

Also, a few hours after lifting Cappy, they raised a basket with Top Hat #5 in it: http://tinyurl.com/26uqj3b. The clean-up op is slow but ongoing.

BTW I think they must have done some cleaning to get the hydrates out of Cappy.

iirc, they spent many hours working on those hydrates in the days following cappy's removal from the flowing well. They also eventually flushed the attached riser(or was it a dp?) before detaching and recovering that to the surface.

Thank you so much for posting that! I haven't been able to follow much of anything due to real life.

As a continuation of the PE discussion from the closed thread:

I have no position on whether oil well engineering should be covered by a specific PE requirement. I do have a position on two other aspects.

First, it does not appear that there was anything illegal about the engineering done by BP on the Macondo well. Stupid, perhaps, but not illegal. No one has pointed to any specific laws or agency rules that were violated by the engineers in the design.*** No one in any of the public inquiries or in the news media has made an issue of engineering licensing.

Second, I am neither defending nor attacking the role of enforcement by competing PEs. What I am saying is that I find it incredulous that an entire industry could be given a pass with the laws simply unenforced. That just ain't gonna happen.

* Obviously the entire spill is a violation of law, but that is not clearly tied to the well design at this point.

* One of the frequent contributors to this discussion believes that the entire negative testing scenario was a violation of BOEMRE rules. However, the discussion led to the conclusion that 30 ppg mud was required for compliance, so something seems a bit off with that rule-breaking interpretation.

* The generic "activities shall be under the responsible charge of a professional engineer" applies across the board in virtually every large industrial corporation. The terminology is a bit vague, as it appears that "responsible charge" is not the same as approving and sealing documents. I do not know what this is intended to mean in real terms, but I do know that a great many non-PE folks work in engineering jobs in industrial corporations.

One of the frequent contributors to this discussion believes that the entire negative testing scenario was a violation of BOEMRE rules. However, the discussion led to the conclusion that 30 ppg mud was required for compliance, so something seems a bit off with that rule-breaking interpretation.

I don't know if any one is claiming that under-balancing a well is illegal. It is a common practice. However it does require appropriate precautions. The failure to take appropriate precautions did probably cause the blowout.


Definitions under the Louisiana statutes.

"(14) "Responsible charge" shall mean the direct control and personal supervision of engineering or land surveying service or work, as the case may be."

The definititons in the rules as implemented by the LAPELS is as follows:

"Responsible Charge―defined in R.S. 37:682. It shall mean the direct control and personal supervision of engineering or land surveying service or work, as the case may be."

"Under the Responsible Charge of a Professional Engineer―as it applies in R.S. 37:701(C) only, shall mean:
a. the work performed by a professional engineer, duly licensed under the provisions of this Chapter; or
b. the work reviewed and approved by a professional engineer, duly licensed under the provisions of this Chapter, who is authorized to direct changes to the engineering work; or
c. the work performed in accordance with a system of engineering practices approved by a professional engineer, duly licensed under the provisions of this Chapter."
AUTHORITY NOTE: Promulgated in accordance with R.S. 37:688"

Note that rules promulgated by the Board may be a bit more liberal than the statutory language with respect to the "industry exemption" and that is the RS 37.701(c) referenced. That could be subject to legal challenge since they are just citing their authorization to make reasonable rules to enforce the statutes. However, even given this language, it still requires a professional engineer to have established the "system of engineering practices". There is no way around it except for companies to plead ignorance and just not comply.

As for your statement that nobody having raised the question of unlicensed practice of engineering.,If you have been wathing the testimony before the USCG/BOEMRE investigative board, haven't you noticed that BOEMRE's J. Williams has asked everyone that is testifying, that I would assume he believes to have made a technical decision, if they are a professional engineer? It would not surprise me to see this as an outcome of their investigation.

DE, The land / Ocean thing leaves me in uncharted waters as to who the responsible licensing agency might be. I believe that Macondo was outside of Louisiana limit which vary from 16 to 32 miles and then from variable land references. I believe the engineering was done out of the Houston BP office. And then the enforcement agency is federal.
From our discussion it would seem that performance based code should originate in the federal agency that is to do the enforcement such that we get uniformity of both the required performance and enforcement.

A well to be drilled in state waters clearly would be under the jurisdiction of the state rules body and state enforcement agency, Unless the Federal law asserts federal jurisdiction for all water located wells. I would expect them to do that. The well in state waters reminds me of the bridge example, whereby an interstate highway bridge is being built. The state of location of the bridge has basic responsibility for performance and enforcement and if there is federal money involved then the Fed. Highway Department has review, design approval and oversite needs and rights.

In the case of Macondo the well is outside the state limit, and falls into the auspicies of both the coast guard (who has no design engineering licensing power and now BOEMRE, in the Dept of Interior, that also does not have any licensing function to my knowledge.

What's your view of the correct / proper licensing agency for the engineers etc. Do the feds have to get into that business in the case of wells again for uniformity and consistency?

It seems to me one of the root outcomes of this accident has to be the code and license resolution.
Allowing High School OJT workups to do well design and then stamp the approval of the design simply blows my mind all to pieces. I think Saltwater is clearly in the opposite camp.

Actually, I am not in the opposite camp at all. My objection was to the notion that there is something illegal about well-design work being performed by non-licensed people. I won't argue what *should* happen, but I feel strongly that *current* laws do not require all corporate engineering personnel to be licensed.

Disclosure: I spent my career performing engineering functions in a large corporation. (Electronics, not petroleum.) I was eligible to take the tests and to become licensed. I did not do so because there was no need and no reward other than the glory of it. If I had wanted to become an engineering consultant offering contract services it would have been a different story.

Saltwater, my apologies, I did misunderstand your position and also clearly understand the Electronics corporate reward system.

I was never of the position that much of what was going on was TRULY illegal. But it was surely out of sorts with most engineering practice. Give the Macondo illustration of who was doing much of the engineering etc. and then the problems on the rig, just begs for a better professional system. That system, for the most parts, exists in other disciplines but again mostly missing from wells.

Yes, lots of excellent engineering going on in the well industry. Absolutely no question about that but the use and implementation is what seems to be a bit out of control.

Thanks for your clarification.

Just for curiosity where were the corporate offices of your electronics corp located?


First I was mistaken on my original citation. Easy to do since the first section (§§1301-1315) is with respect to the Submerged Land and the third section (§§1332-1356a) is with respect the Outer Continental Shelf Lands.

Citation: 43 U.S.C. §§1331-1356a

§ 1332. Congressional declaration of policy


"(6) operations in the outer Continental Shelf should be conducted in a safe manner by well-trained personnel using technology, precautions, and techniques sufficient to prevent or minimize the likelihood of blowouts, loss of well control, fires, spillages, physical obstruction to other users of the waters or subsoil and seabed, or other occurrences which may cause damage to the environment or to property, or endanger life or health."

"1333. Laws and regulations governing lands
(a) Constitution and United States laws; laws of adjacent States; publication of projected State lines; international boundary disputes; restriction on State taxation and jurisdiction
(1) The Constitution and laws and civil and political jurisdiction of the United States are extended to the subsoil and seabed of the outer Continental Shelf and to all artificial islands, and all installations
and other devices permanently or temporarily attached to the seabed, which may be erected thereon for the purpose of exploring for, developing, or producing resources therefrom, or any such installation or other device (other than a ship or vessel) for the purpose of transporting such resources, to the same extent as if the outer Continental Shelf were an area of exclusive Federal jurisdiction located within a State: Provided, however, That mineral leases on the outer Continental Shelf shall be maintained or issued only under the provisions of this subchapter.
(A) To the extent that they are applicable and not inconsistent with this subchapter or with other Federal laws and regulations of the Secretary now in effect or hereafter adopted, the civil and criminal laws of each adjacent State, now in effect or hereafter adopted, amended, or repealed are declared to be the law of the United States for that portion of the subsoil and seabed of the outer Continental Shelf, and artificial islands and fixed structures erected
thereon, which would be within the area of the State if its boundaries were extended seaward to the outer margin of the outer Continental Shelf, and the President shall determine and publish in the Federal Register such projected lines extending seaward and defining each such area. All of such applicable laws shall be administered and enforced by the appropriate officers and courts of the United States.

State taxation laws shall not apply to the outer Continental Shelf.
(B) Within one year after September 18, 1978, the President shall establish procedures for settling any outstanding international boundary dispute respecting the outer Continental Shelf.
(3) The provisions of this section for adoption of State law as the law of the United States shall never be interpreted as a basis for claiming any interest in or jurisdiction on behalf of any State for any purpose over the seabed and subsoil of the outer Continental Shelf, or the property and natural resources thereof or the revenues therefrom."

This has been law since 1953 or for 57 years. Seems the feds haven't been enforcing their own laws for a very long time. Since there is not statute or regulations with respect to licensing of engineers. Therefore it would appear to be a safe assumption that the Louisiana law should apply to an area within the OCS within the LA boundary projections. Enforcement is up to the Feds and I would assume this is a safety regulation which should come under the jurisdiction of the BOEMRE.

DW, given your post, would you elaborate on where engineers might be required to be licensed to design say, the Macondo well; who / what would be the approving agency Louisiana, feds?

Do you agree that well "performance code" is a federal code? or is it like building code where there is a national code adopted and enforced in each state. Which then allows each state to pass more stringent requirements etc., leading to an uneven building code whether commercial, industrial or residential, etc.

Should we look, in the case of offshore drilling etc. for the feds to adopt a uniform performance code and license the practitioners?

And finally, it would seem that we really need to look to the feds for the person on the rig where the buck stops.
All of the above seems to me to be a matter of serious public safety.d the question of who is on first and who is on second ends.

As I was thinking about this I suddenly realized that a pertinent corollary area is Railroads. I know sounds strange. But I did a lot of work on a situation in the upper mid-west a half dozen years ago and the singular thing that struck me was the fact that Congress passed a law that reserved ALL railroad issues and regulation to the Feds, either the STB or the FRA. This to prevent any little tom, dick or harry town, county or State along a RR route from passing ANY laws / ordinances that would impact the RR. RR's being INTERSTATE entities. And there has never been one case that has gone to trial that overcame this restriction. The STB rules over anything about rates, route, class, new rail track, abandonment etc. FRA rules over operation. I knew a Chief Engineer of a line here and he was a licensed PE. I'm not sure of the discipline, but I'm betting Civil. So he was (I believe) state licensed adhering to Federal rules.


I have held direct discussions with the executive director of the Texas State Board. His statement to me was that as long as an engineer in Houston was working on a project outside the state, i.e. Federal OCS waters then the Board assumed no jurisdiction. For an engineer or a firm that does engineering and is not registered they have no jurisdiction, even if they are doing work from Houston. There was even a question of if a blatant act or omission took place by an engineer working out of Houston the Board was powerless to act. The bottom line is that the Federal Law supercedes all authority of the state boards in enforcement. The federal law just provides a legal mechanism to avoid a legal vacuum by adopting the coastal affected zone state's laws to fill that vacuum. Their are many precedents for this type of action, federal bankruptcy legislation, your railroad legislation, and I assume many others.

In answer to your question the approval of the Macondo well design was from the appropriate federal regulatory agency. The MMS now the BOEMRE. It was applied for an recieved. It should have required a PE signoff.

However, the federal agencies (particularly the MMS) have failed to follow the statutes in adopting regulations. They may have a problem with sifting through all the ongoing changes to each coastal states civil and criminal law. My answer to that is "too bad". That is the law live with it. The regulators and Congress expect no less from business that operate across jurisdictions. What is good for the regulated is good for the regulators. There negligence is just as much a part of the problem as is anyone on the Macondo well team.

DE, good sum up! Mostly as I thought.
I think the patch work quilt effect, was exactly what congress sought to solve in making the RR's a Federal Only situation. So one might think that in this case the best solution is for the Feds to be given the clear overarching power for code, enforcement and licensing of responsible engineers and key person(s)on the rigs.

I would hope that something close to this might come out of the mess.

I am a bit surprised by the Texas Board position, that they have no interest in work done in state for out of state (waters in this case). That is new info area for me.

My big issue was I was licensed. Worked on major projects as a contractor. Yet I had to agree in my contract to share liability for ANY mistake with all other ocntractors and hold the major oil company harmless. Yet they were free to hire non-licensed personnel that could call themself an engineer. The properly licensed contract engineers did not get to check the credentials of other contractors. The only way of knowing who is qualified is by the existence of a license which can be checked online at the state board or use of PE after their name. When I objected to one of these so called "engineers" trying to override the written opinion of a properly licensed engineer I was deemed to be non-collaborative and my contract was not extended. Engineering is not a democracy. Only those properly qualified should be allowed to have a part in making technical decisions. Others may get input as part of fact gathering but the decision must be made by those with a proper knowledge and experience background.

I believe the DWH is a prime example of the democratic approach. I am pretty sure what was referenced as the bladder effect by one of the drilling hands was in fact the "balloon efect" of the stretch/shrink of tubing and change in ID based on pressure differential change. I had an extremely difficult time trying to find a proper set of formulas in my drilling handbooks to calculate the overall effect. Had to pull out transient fluid hydralics book as well. If my calculation of a overall length change of about 24" total is correct (whcih I would not be willing to sign off without further verification) and the I.D. change was in the range of 3/10000 of an inch, then less than a barrel of fluid change should have been attributed to that effect. However, someone had heard of that effect, attributed the total change to it and and everyone on th erigfloor was "willing to bet their life on it" and go forward without further proof or calculations. I have typically seen this approach with offshore operations personnel. HS degree with OTJ training. (Alo reminds me of our political system with our 30 second sound bit approach.) Great at observation but without the proper technical grounding cannot properly attribute true cause and effect. Nothing substitutes for sound 1st principles engineering and calculations. That is why I firmly believe that strong licensing is required that cannot just be given out because of experience but must include a full combination of a minimum technical education requirment, testing and minimum experience with references validated as to ones abiliity to make technical decisions.

We must make sure that the foriegn education is vetted to ensure that a proper curriculum is taught but foreign education should not be a hinderance in getting a license. UK Charter Engineers or other equally viable engineering vetting mechanisms such as the Canadian Professional Engineering credentials should be accepted as long as they are as stringent as the local standard. This is not about limiting opportunity but is about trying to guarantee that a minimum level of technical understanding and ability is required.

DE, +10! Excellent job of stating the position. Fully ascribe to it. Experience, while very important and should be part of gaining a license i.e. X-years of hands on experience, is not a substitute for advanced education and testing of knowledge base.

But I would also extend that Licensing requirement to the Person (and that is singular) on the rig making the final calls. It simply cannot be a mish mash of personal making a collective call based on their employment etc. or having to call momma on shore to get permission to make a call.

It was good to see BP creating a new safety division. Now, it remains to be seen if it is eyewash or a division with real teeth.


One company I worked for hired a young girl right out of college because she had a 'Master's degree' in computer science. She was hired to be a 'systems analyst' but knew very little about computer programming despite her degree.

She had to be sent to school for basic computer programming for over two years and she still couldn't do the job.

In her case, all her degrees and schooling turned out to be meaningless because she simply couldn't understand how to design computer systems because she knew nothing about the 'real world' of computer programming.

I never went to college myself, I enlisted in the Army immediately after high school to be in the 5th Army Band at Ft Sheridan Illinois.

After my three year enlistment was up, I was looking for just about any job in Chicago and I was hired to be a 'control clerk' setting up computer jobs for a local insurance company.

I worked my way up through all the operator ranks and into computer programming. When I finally finished my career after an auto accident back in December 2000, I owned my own consulting company and I was contracting out as a 'Systems Engineer'.

Among the companies I have either worked for as an employee or as a contractor were CNA Insurance, International Harvester, Centel and other companies in Chicago, AT&T, GTE, and Sprint in Florida.

I designed and programmed major systems that literally spent billon of dollars per year in payments to various suppliers as well as billing systems at the major telecom companies. All this without any college degrees. All my skills were learned 'on the job' and by actually doing the job rather than by sitting in a classroom.

I have personally observed that a person needs a few years actually doing a highly technical job and acquiring the experience before they are fully competent at the job at hand.

Even in playing a musical instrument, it seems that one needs about five years of intensive practice and performing before they become truly competent on their instrument.

Music was to be my career and while I play all the brass instruments fairly well, I do play some of them much better than others. The instruments that I have played the most are of course the ones that I do better on while those which I play the least are not so good. During my three year Army 'career' I played Tuba, trumpet, baritone, and French Horn. I took my annual 'proficiency tests' on Tuba and Baritone because no one would accept that I could play all three instruments at various times during my term of service.

Once again, it is experience and profeciency including 'muscle memory' (or practice) rather then theoretical knowledge which allows one to be good in any field. While one certainly needs to know the principles and basics of how to do the job, there is no substitute for the actual hands on experience in order to be truly good at one's endeavors.

Programming is about logic and that can be learned without a formal education. However, a formal logic education will make it easier. Many of the information technology fields seem to be competent with a high school education and experience, but as I recall I was given instruction on logic and deductive reasoning as early as seventh grade. This the basic foundation is laid early enough to allow for experience to complement it. I worked as a lab technician at a power station for several years before I returned to college. The plant superintendent was extremely impressed with my reasoning and intuitive manner in whcih I was able to address a problem and solve it. However, as he said at the time I failed to connect the dots sometimes because I did not understand the fundamentals of thermodynamics, advanced mathematics like calculus and differential equations and physics. Some kids get these today in High School but many do not. Having been on both sides of that fence I now know what I did not know then.

I have almost had my lower posterior blown up by a person that protraited himself as a software engineer in Scada and Computer Control for operating plants (using plcs and wonderware). I found out later that he didn't have a degree or a PE either. He had 40 years of experience working of a major controls company but as my scada technician kept saying as he kept correcting his code "You idiot you can't do it this way".

I still believe that it is wrong to allow a non-degreed person to call themself an engineer. Call them a technican. Develop another name for a software designer that describes a excellent level of development. However, if the software being developed is an engineering program a licensed engineer must be involved in its basic design to ensure that the equations used and the method of solution is fundamentally sound.

I am what would be called a model law engineer. I have met all four of the basic requirements of the NCEES to be a PE. Education, references, fundamentals exam and principle and practice exam. What I find particularly objectionasble the E&C companies do not want to let us call ourselves engineers. Because they cannot call their unlicensed engineers an "engineer" they call all their engineers "technical advisors". Basicly a massive fraud so they can bill all at the same rate as a fully qualified engineer.

This is why just because someone works for a corporation they should not be exempt. The monetary incentive tends to put extreme pressure of the ethics of ensuring that proper engineering is performed. Many non-technical corporate managers do not understand why they need to make sure the materials are correct; why thorough thickness properties are so important on a cruxifix weld joint; especially if ordering the right material is going to delay the project. Their projects do not just effect their profits. Most would agree that after the Macondo well, accidents by corporations like BP do effect the public. Ask anyone in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.

I Certainly agree that companies keep creating new 'titles' just to justify having to pay higher salaries.

Normaly the progression of positions in the computer programming side on mainframes sould be: programmer trainee, programmer, programmer/analyst, analyst/programmer, systems analyst, and finally senior systems analyst before moving into management. I position as systems specialist in one of the major telecom companies was in the more technical branch equivilent to senior systems analyst. My only progression path if I wanted to stay technical rather than management would have been to senior systems sppecialist.

At another major telecom company, my skill and experience required that I be called a 'Systems Engineer' simply becasue I was beyond any of their highest paying programmer or analysis positions.

Even though I never went to college, my programming and/or technical skill was such that I would have passed any programming course any college might have offered. Indeed, I would have been more than qualified if I wished to conduct the courses myself providing greater knowledge than the courses themselves ever could.

While I was in the army, I attended the U.S.Navy School of Music at littlecreek Va. During that time, the course was equivilent to a three year colledge music course compressed into six months consisting of theory, composition, ear training, private instruction and practice on two instruments.

During my time there, onkly 25% of the Army students actually graduated. I was among that 25% for my particular time. I was told that on my entry audition, I had scored the highest incoming score ever for my major instrument.

During my free time while at my Permanent Duty Station I took several courses through the Army training center. Among those courses which I have certificates for was Power Plant operations and maintenance. Since I never went to college, the Army wanted to prepare me for college placement and therefore had me take the GED tests to get a baseline of my various skills. With one exception, I scored within the top 1% of everyone who had previously taken those tests. My lowest rating on one subject only was within the top 3%.

I went to Harrison Technical High school in Chicago where I took the techncal branch rather than the college prep or honors branch of study. My classes consisted of all the mandatory english, history, and math classes plus Electric shop for two years, drafting and pattern making for three years, Foundry, Concert and ROTC bandsand Orchesra, private music lessons, and regular ROTC. During my last three years, I was awarded 9 diffferent gold and silver medals for various solo and ensemble competitions. I received the gold medal as the outstanding ROTC band member during the annual ROTC inspection.

While I was attending Harrison tech, I had the opportunity to see my IQ test score which was either 148 or 184. That was in the mid sixties and I can't quite recall the exact order. IQ tests which I have taken since then routinely place me in the 140s. During my entire three years in Army bands, the Army kept trying to send me to Officer Candidate School (OCS) but I only wanted to play in the band and I refused assignment there which I was entitled to do since I took a pre-enlistment audition specifically for the 5th Army Band which was near my Chicago home.

Dirin my very early years, I was reading at 120 words per minute in first grade and I often walked to the library over a mile away just to read and signout various books.

Why am I mentioning all this? Simply to establish that there are many very smart people worldwide as well as nationwide who never attended any college but never the less are still extremely capable.

I am often reminded of those individuals who have earned multiple degrees and still can't get a good job and wind up flipping burgers at McDonalds or one of the other quick food joints. I just read an article stating that many recent college grads will have to work for almost their entire working lives just to pay back their college loans due to the inflated cost of getting a degree.

I can fully understand those who have invested so much time and mony just to get a degree not being happy about those who haven't invested the same time and money in school but are still occupying the same or better jobs without the 'benefit' of a degree.

Do not misunderstand what I am saying, because I DO feel that technical courses and training as well as continuing education within one's career path is important. I simply feel that college alone in MOST cases doesn't fully prepare one for what they actually wind up doing and it is the specific post graduate training and experience which provides the most specific training. It is in that light that I feel that many years of experience along with the 'post graduate' or company provided specific training is equally valuable as a degree. As I mentioned earlier, I have never seen any recent college graduate come in and be a capable mainstreram programmer and that is simply due to insufficient training in college and lack of experience in the real world.

Both of my sisters hold masters degrees and my younger sister holds masters in both bio-chem and computer chip design. My older sisters husband is a fully tenured professor in Bio-Chem at a major University. He is recognized world wide as a master in his field and routinely obtains multi-million dollar grants from the government for research work. While my younger sister was getting her masters from the University of Illinois, she spent her summers working as a lab assistand for my older sisters husband at another university.

While I am more than capable or earning mulriple degrees, I see no need for them and I would prefer to spend my time doing sonmething that interests me and makes me happy. I have been told by a highly placed staff member at a local college that with my previous experience and training, I could earn a Doctors in as little as two years at that college, but I don't feel a need to persue any degrees at this time. I would take some specific courses if they related to something that I was interested in but at this time in my life, there is little which grabs my interest and I can easily learn whatever I want to know from other less formal sources.

I apologize in advance for any typo's, it is now about 3:45am and I am moe than a little tired. I know that due to all my practicing on French Horn that I often transpose some letters especially E's due to the 'muscle memory' and automatci ersponce from my fingers.

Anyway, good night all and be blessed. Dan

Edited for some of those typos, Dan

Here is the problem with your opinion - it is based on premature conjecture.

You seem to be operating from the assumption that professional engineers never make mistakes and since mistakes were made we can safely conclude all mistakes were made by individuals who were not engineers.

I don't know what you think are the root causes of the incident , but it may turn out that all the bad decisions and shortcomings that led to this accident were in fact made by a licensed PE.

We do know that a PE made the final design approval decision for a long string casing design, nitrified cement, casing shoe design, setting a surface plug at 8267' and putting the well into an under-balanced condition. We know it is very probable the ultimate failure are going to be somehow related to those components of the well.

There were at least a half dozen Petroleum and/or mechanical engineers involved in the well design (not to mention eyes from MMS that reviewed the design) and there was a BP drilling engineer on the DWH to supervise the setting of the ill fated 9-7/8X7 casing.

As for the BOP. There has been no clear evidence of what failed and it is possible that was caused by an underlying design failure. So even that failure may be traced back to a PE.

jinn, maybe the root question has been lost in the debate. If the root question is would licensing of engineers / OIM have prevented the Macondo Blow out? Then obviously the jury is way out, but many signs point to a definite need to upgrade even on this singular event.

If the root question is: Will licensing of engineers / OIMs improve the overall designs and safety of offshore drilling then the answer has to be Yes! On the average doing the whole licensing thing will raise the average caliber of training and skill of all the personnel, so in the big picture it is a good and desirable thing. ELSE, why would other engineering disciplines do it? Why would it be required in so many areas of engineering and construction? Why is it required for Doctors (including licensing in specialties), for lawyers (including special licensing in many speciality areas, even for the privilege of practicing before many state supreme courts and the US Supreme Court)? Obviously, it raises the quality and skill level and "IN GENERAL" insures the practioner is truly qualified.

Can we really say who was licensed and who was not at this point for the Macondo? I have not seen a personnel list of all the actors along with their registration level. Did you go and individually check the key personnels listing?

You assert there were at least a 1/2 doz various degree / or titled engineers involved. Not sure what that proves. But what I think DE and I are asserting is for the general case not necessarily for the case. It is in the same vein that instituting performance codes / regulations sets the minimum performance levels of the design but, in general, does not restrict improvement and advancement of the design

As for the BOP I feel rather confident that there was clearly a design failure. At a minimum not ensuring the BOP was capable of shearing the riser and drill string under many different failure modes. This must be called a foreseeable situation failure, i.e. a drill string joint appearing in the jaws of the shear and the shear not capable of shearing under that situation. Isn't that classified as a design failure?

What is being suggested is basically a cultural change and cultural change is always the most difficult!

Not trying to get into the PE no PE issue but I would definitely agree that higher levels of training/certification should be required on the rig.

From Transocean's website a driller in North American operations requires a high school diploma or equivalent and a "Knowledge of all technical calculations required for the subsea operation of the drilling unit and basic computer skills." A subsea supervisor requires the same high school diploma and l year of experience with Multiplex systems. Strangely, the International Divison requires 7 years experience for a driller.

I'm not saying that Transocean actually hires to minimum requirements but they post them. And, oh, Captain Nguyen will love this, the Master is shown reporting to the OIM.

If the root question is: Will licensing of engineers / OIMs improve the overall designs and safety of offshore drilling then the answer has to be Yes!


How did that get to be the root question?

It sounds like a question from someone who chooses to ignore the facts. The engineers that made all the design decisions that are being listed as possible contributory causes were licensed. And I wouldn't be surprised if a licensed PE wasn't responsible for the design of the BOP.

How exactly is licensing of engineers going change anything? It sounds like that will be just business as usual.

The OIM holds a license. But the OIM isn't designing the well and he isn't the one writing the daily plans to implement the design of the well. His main function is to make sure that the personnel and equipment are in place to implement the plans that are given to the rig by the engineers.

It is premature to start to cast blame without determining the root causes. I'm sure that the billions that this is going to cost BP is going to make operators very concerned about the quality of the personnel that both design and implement their drilling programs. That is going to have a great positive effect on preventing another large deep water blowout.

"How did that get to be the root question? "

Bingo! You nailed it.

The root questions are "Why was the wellbore intentionally underbalanced, the well allowed to flow until the influx was at the surface, with no/inadequate monitoring and no control actions taken to bring the wellbore back to a safe condition? Why were the PE's in Houston complicit in allowing the ill-fated procedure to occur/continue until it was too late?

Jinn, I understand you are against stricter controls on the people doing the work on offshore and maybe on shore wells. Change is always hard and culture changes are even harder. This is a cultural change we are debating and they are the hardest of all to change. Far worse than making an aircraft carrier turn. And no I'm not trying to cast or place blame on anyone, not sure why you might even say that.

You talk about all the collective clout and credentials of the engineers on Macondo, but that leaves the obvious question of: If all these designers and engineers were so good and so talented and followed the API to the letter then how "exactly" did this disaster occur. It is well known that when you apply teams to big projects their collective view is USUALLY pretty good over a single entity. So how did all the errors that have been debated on TOD happen?????

Under no circumstance should you assume that I am discussing a root physical cause of the well failure. But surely I and DE are talking about a systemic issue(s)/ or contribution cause.

I will still make the assertion that one root improvement in this field is the significant upgrading of the mean or average level of skill for engineers involved in all phases of these wells. Good licensing, not the fake stuff, will significantly upgrade the quality of their work output. Why even teachers at our local schools are required to be licensed, by having a 4 year degree from accredited institution of higher learning, they had to pass a test to get to their intern or practice teaching level and they had to pass a licensing exam to get their license. And after that they need to have ongoing education at an accredited institution each year to keep their license. If that is good for teachers explain why it is not good for Oil Patch engineers???????

As for the OIM, in this thread another has already pointed out that the OIM's license is not about the well but about the boat. It was also candidily pointed out many times that regardless of "some obscure rule" he was not the true decision maker on the DWH.

As far as business as usual How can you be so wrong. Where are all the stamps on each phase of the Macondo designs as a starter???? Any Skilled or unskill designer could do the modeling, the engineering etc. based on having been in the oil patch for enough years to get the basic tools for a particular area of the work. By requiring certified engineers and sign-offs you are simply raising the design / implementation bar significantly higher and that coupled with performance codes will raise the whole business to a new level and reduce the OPPORTUNITY for a disaster.

I'm surprised that you didn't raise the issue of all the control and super engineers that worked on the space program and yet we had two terrible disasters. They also lost their bearings and focus on safety, they lost sensitivity to problems because everything "always" works, so everything is ok. In those cases they had to fix the safety culture issue not the engineering skill issue.



As a non professional outsider, You engineers seem to be advocating that requiring the hiring of more licensed PE's will make oil drilling fool proof, while the people working in the industry are saying you ought to be looking at reducing your hat size.

Hello, labtec. I don't think the characterization of "Hiring" is correct. And I don't think the characterization of "fool proof" is correct, as evidenced by the space program. And finally I don't think the Pro Engineers have swelled heads. It is simply easy to cast those stones if you are not one and haven't run the gauntlet of becoming a degreed engineer and subsequently a Licensed Engineer and for that matter a Licensed anything. A few years ago, my son who is an award winning remodeler suddenly had to become licensed due to a change in the rules. And so he sweated blood for about a year gaining the new required knowledge by attending all sorts of courses and seminars. He finally took the test and became licensed and he now understand the value of the system, he was a nay sayer at the start. Not needed, won't change anything, we are already skilled, etc etc. He is now a flag carrier for Licensing. He now brings a whole new level of knowledge to his customers and spends a week each year on education before he can renew his license.

The whole point is that the path to becoming first a degreed engineer and subsequently a licensed degreed engineer is quite daunting and not done like falling off a log. For most it more like scaling a cliff. So "make oil drilling fool proof" is a mirage, just like having a perfect space craft. It is all about probabilities. If you increase the skill and knowledge going into the work, then the work product will have a much higher probability of success. Correspondingly, the lower level of skill and knowledge going into the whole endeavor the higher becomes the probability of failure.

DE and I are promoting a known approach that has increased such success probability in other fields for the Oil Kingdom, because we know it works. And yes I do understand everyone's trepidation to the change. It can be threatening. Keepers of the present store do not want to see something they know and understand change into something they don't necessarily understand. They also see having to make an investment (my son's situation) in order to stay viable. But if there is no change then there is no change in the failure probability and we get another Challenger or Macondo.

I worked for a large corporation that made many of the parts of the space shuttle and helped to launch it and many other space programs and hardware. I retired when I was 58 Y/O. and am enjoying life! You make a lot of valid points, but the noise coming out of your horn is still too loud. Be proud of what you have accomplished but don't rub it in... there are many more like me than there are like you and our hats fit!

1) How would you apply PE status to the oil industry?

2) How would you fix the problems you see in PE?



It seems the resident psychologist here has now left the discussion board. What you are describing is a form of validation. It happens everywhere in the form of, "It was a real struggle, but it was worth it." The silent follow-on is, "I am now just a little bit better than others."

Your repeated suggestions that PEs are just a bit better, a little more careful, and a bit above average is a clear indication of hat-size problems.

Appropriate training and licensing long ago stopped being the focus of this thread.

You know Salt, I just finished reading the NG's report on Macondo; I look at the stout resistance of some on TOD to any improvement, 'we are just fine as things are, leave us alone to repeat our errors'; and finally I look at the incredible resistance to efforts on Global Warming, including the disinformation campaign. I wonder just how it is we will survive in the long run.

Here were I reside I been involved in a long term effort to get people to consider a plan to reduce our total CO2 emitting energy consumption by at least 40% and save buckets of personal cash, without making any significant lifestyle changes. And it does NOT involve oil. But the people, all 59% believe there is no problem to deal with, 'so if you don't mind we will just keep doing things the way we've always done them'. I just find that incredible. And then folk on the TOD who find that the present is just fine there is no real systemic problem to deal with, 'just leave us alone to keep doing what we've always done. There is nothing wrong with the system that allowed the Macondo tragedy, it was just a couple of oversights and lack of attention.'
As for your statement where you clearly misstate mine and DE's position, "PEs are just a bit better, a little more careful, and a bit above average is a clear indication of hat-size problems." It is exactly that a misstatement and resistance to change. One more time what we are saying is that PE's due to the rigorous and structure of the process, have a higher 'general skill level' they MUST be a bit more careful or risk losing the ticket to practice, and the process will 'raise the average' skill level. If you are against improvement as you seem to indicate they you will 'always get what you've always gotten', and we are destined to more touble. Really sad. But each to his own.


Your repeated suggestions that PEs are just a bit better, a little more careful, and a bit above average is a clear indication of hat-size problems.

Saltwater, you know, I'm not reading their arguments that way. What I'm getting from Duck and others is that anyone who invests the time to get an engineering degree will be "just a bit better" at figuring out what is really going on. This argument isn't about status, about magically being above average, or about hat sizes. It's about being better equipped to handle critical decisions in a technical environment. What's wrong with that?

To be clear, I don't think a degree is worth s**t without on the job experience, and I think engineers going back to Archimedes would agree. And I'm not one of the chosen few with a swelled head, I learned my skills on the job. But nearly all of the best carpenters and contractors I've worked with have an engineering background; their skill sets are way above average, but their hard hats are the same size as mine.

There are some glaring bad decisions in the Macondo timelines. Assuming "ballooning" caused a 15 bbl flow out of the hole during a negative pressure test is one that could have been avoided if the crew were thinking more like engineers. Requiring higher levels of education and experience seems like a reasonable response to the blowout.

edit redundant

perfect lay out, OB. and that is about the words not the construction layout

Jinn, I understand you are against stricter controls on the people doing the work on offshore and maybe on shore wells.


No your understanding of what I'm against is also flawed. You started this out by whining about BP was having high school grads design their wells. I'm just suggesting you might actually develop a factual understanding of the realities before proposing solutions.

Well Jinn, I think we are just going to have to agree to disagree. The denigration of people, that you bring to the discussion, regardless of subject, simply says your goal is to beat people who disagree with you, into submission somehow some way. I've watched you do this with others previously. I've always been of the opinion not to have discussions or debates with stone walls, it just wastes my time and adds nothing to the debate, and resolves nothing. Have a good day or evening as the case may be.

Jinn; You are correct in that a Level 1 approval was given to the Drilling and Completions MOC# 10-0072 by David Sims on 4/15/10 who was the only licensed PE on the project that I can find. He was a licensed Petroleum Engineer in Texas but not in Louisiana. However, BP had two other approvers listed. John Guide who was also a reviewer and was listed as a Level 1 Approver and Andrew Frazelle was the third Level 1 approver who approved the design on 4/20/10. Additional technical reviewers were Greg Walz and Doris Reiter. They should have been working under the direct supervision and control of a licensed engineer. Now I challege you to find John Guide or Andrew Frazelle on either the Texas or the Lousiana Board of Professional Engineer websites. Texas is www.tbpe.org and Louisiana is www.lapels.com. Anyone can look up who are licensed as engineers in these states.

However, I would emphasis that Texas is one of the more liberal engineering licensure state which has at times allowed both degreed and non-degreed practitioners to get their license in the past with only experience and no test. Without more knowledge on what type of license he had it is hard to equate to the level that we have been suggesting is needed now. It doesn't restrict which discipline you work in.

However that is not the key part of my arguement for licensure. The critical reason you licensure engineers is for accountability. The testimony from the BP execs has pointed to John Guide as being responsible for this well. Yet John is not licensed. He may have an engineering degree and be in charge of the group of engineers but the ultimate authority was wielded by David Sims and Andrew Frazelle.

Andrew Frazelle is not licensed in Texas or Louisiana. He should be prosecuted for unlicensed practice of engineering. If it is found that David Sims made a critical mistake and did not follow accepted industry standards and sound engineering practice (i.e a single barrier) and it killed people he can and should be be disciplined by the federal government for those errors and omissions.

The State Board has the ability to punish a licensed engineer that is punished by another jursidiction and he could lose his license. If the laws in place were actually enforced he would not be allowed to ever work on a well design again. It is that threat of loss of livelihood that will provide a balance against the incentive pressure that company management offers in the form of bonuses which tempt them to take shortcuts, rationalize away risk, and unrealistic optimism that everything will be ok.

Now if you are not licensed you may not like that. If you are degreed and have the requisite experience then I would suggest that you get signed up to take the tests. If you have been out of school for a number of years then I suggest you take one of the refresher courses before taking the FE. I did after being out of school for 17 years and it was very helpful in helping me pass that exam. Also there was a side benefit. I am now considered top of my technical field at my company because I was much better at relating the information I re-learned with the experience I had under my belt.

Better get used to the idea of having a registered engineer approving well designs since it has been adopted by the BOEMRE along with certification of BOPs.

You have come a ways from the original claim that the well was designed by high school graduates with OJT.

You named about half the engineers involved, all of which have degrees from accredited engineering schools. Some of those engineers are in the engineering design department and some are in the engineering operations/implementation of the well.

I don't think there is much hope for prevention of another similar blowout by simply implementing a scheme of policing of engineers by other engineers.

Consider this, the engineer David Sims that you name as PE was actually on board the DWH on April 20. He was actually in the driller's shack at the time of the negative test. Somehow to me that doesn't really inspire confidence in your claim that more PE's injected into the process would have prevented this blowout.

I don't think there is much hope for prevention of another similar blowout by simply implementing a scheme of policing of engineers by other engineers.

OK..Jinn...on TOD you have been quite vocal about telling others where they were wrong, on this and other topics. Now kindly tell us, what YOU would suggest to reduce the likelihood of similar incidents in the future?

AG, +50, the shot heard round the TOD!

The main thing that is going to prevent this from happening again is the large sum of money (maybe $40-%60 billion) this is going to cost BP. That is going to cause constructive action and change in all areas that have been identified as being possible causes. Operators like BP have the power to be far more effective at ensuring competency on offshore rigs then the MMS or Coast Guard ever will.

If you are asking what can the government do. Probably the most effective thing would be to pursue the fines that the existing law provides. That will send a message. Passing a law that requires more PE involvement in the engineering design while at the same time letting BP off cheap on the fines would send the message to go back to business as usual.

Yes, David Sims was on the Deepwater Horizon and he and his boss were playing with the DP simulator while the rig blewup. But trying to compare the current state of regulations in the offshore and who had a PE before the accident, to how it would be if the regulations were enforced, is like comparing night to day. Sims didn't have to have a PE in Texas. They passed a law several years back exempting just about anyone in the oil and gas business. Why? Because of the strong oil and gas industry lobby that voices just the opinion that Jinn does. Although the law in Louisiana required it, I am pretty sure that nobody at BP knew or even cared if that was the applicable statute or rule. MMS did not enforce it.

I am tired of hearing the opinion that nobody but operating personnel knows how to do it because they do it every day. What my experience has taught me is that that person thinks because they have thirty years of experience they know everything. Know what! If you have thirty years of experience doing the same thing over and over, you don't have thirty years of experience you have one year of experience thirty times.

I know from my varied and lengthy experience that I can be wrong. I insist that my work and the work of everyone that works for me be checked and if critical rechecked. I will stop the work if being wrong can cause a man his life. I have stopped some people that ought to have known better from doing a really stupid thing only to have them respond with disdain. Like the electrician with a silver bracelet on his wrist with a dangling silver chain that was putting his hand inside a hot 13.2 KV transfer switch for the backup generator. I had seen the results of such a thoughtless act and it was not pretty. Two men with second degree flash burns and the person that made the mistake and caused the lightening bolt had second and third degree burns over 40% of his body. I was standing fifty feet away. But the electrician jsut gets mad because I stopped him.

Yes when you are doing the work in the field things come at you fast. But that is where preparation and training come in. Understanding the risks prior to starting and working through how to respond. That's why well control schools are required for all working on a rig.

I have worked operations and engineering in oil and gas for most of my career. Plants, field gathering, pipelines, and even been in wireline truck analysing logs and recompleting and perforating wells. I have been on offshore deepwater rigs and been lulled to sleep by the hum of the engines while they are making hole. And as we all know if you hear the explosion you have probably already survived it. So offshore an oz. of prevention is worth a ton of cure. I have been a lead engineer on many of the deepwater projects since 1998. I was on the Deepwater Horizon back in 2002 for a short period on my way to another deepwater rig.

Now one thing that separates the true professional from the others is the professional knows he had better be able to back up his statements with calculations. In fact that is one of the requirements if one is to give a professional opinion as a PE.

The response to the Deepwater Horizon was a poor example of how a reponse should be handled. Having to have multiple vessels in close proximity, with simultaneous operations being conducted, in an environment where significant oil and gas were escaping to the surface was an extremely high risk venture. They were just lucky that they did not suffer more casulaties. The statement made that only a major oil company had the "knowledge" to respond to such an accident is flawed. There are many more knowing individuals in the oil and gas vendors, E&C companies and the subsea suppliers than in the operating company offices. What is the true fact was nobody but a major operating oil company can afford to put together such a response. Now they want to put themselves in control of any future response using the same equipoment and approach. Incredible.

Although the law in Louisiana required it, I am pretty sure that nobody at BP knew or even cared if that was the applicable statute or rule. MMS did not enforce it.


It isn't really the job of the MMS to enforce the laws regarding professional societies. If what you say were true the licensing board would have the responsibility to file actions against violators.

But you didn't really address how having a PE made Dave Sims a better engineer. Dave Sims the guy with a PE walks into the drill shack right in the middle of the discussion about the anomalies seen with the negative test and what happens? Does he get involved? Is he at all interested? No he just moves on to the next stop on the tour because there is nothing interesting to see there.

Now you are showing your ignorance. Go back and reread the OCS Lands Act citation that I provided for your education back at the top of this thread. If you had read it, studied it you would know just how wrong is the statement you just made. You can lead a horse to water but can't make them drink or is that think.

Typical.... If you don't like the answer don't acknowledge its existance. Now we are getting close to the root cause of the DWH accident!

On the off chance everyone has not memorized every word you utter, you might consider posting a link.

You stated it was a Louisiana statute that held the requirement. And you stated the expectation that some of the engineers were practicing engineering without a license. If any of that is true, one would expect Louisiana professional engineering licensing board would take action. Enforcement is their job not the MMS. If the licensing board doesn't see it as practicing engineering without a license you are going to have a hard time convincing me.

Here I took the trouble of looking up the appropriate statute:

37:700. Enforcement proceedings against other persons; procedure
A. The board shall have the power to take enforcement action against any non-licensee
or non-certificate holder found by the board to be guilty of any of the following acts or offenses:
(1) Practicing or offering to practice engineering or land surveying in the state of Louisiana without being licensed in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter.
(2) Presenting or attempting to use as one's own the license, certificate, seal, or stamp of
another person.............

Jinn, you really do have trouble with reality. OH, and the facts, which end up off-base and upside down. DE addressed your first sentence in great depth.

***Professional Registration is NOT, now read that carefully Jinn, the word is NOT, is not a function of "professional societies". Professional Engineers are registered in and by each state that they perform work. OK again Jinn, it is a state governmental function, but recognized by the federal government.

****Licensing Boards DO HAVE THE POWER, to prosecute people doing engineering without a license! Got that JINN, do have the power. OK. So far so good,I hope.

*****And Yes, MMS did have the power to require a Registered engineer to stamp the drawings and thus enforce the PE laws. MMS should have apparently been following Louisiana law. Louisiana SHOULD have been enforcing their own laws.

******Jinn in almost any circumstance the Feds out rank the state boys and hold rule and court.

Finally as pointed out down thread by someone who has perused the new regs and by golly they must have been following TOD discussion because, now JINN can you really believe this, the new regs require that the design be stamped i.e. signed off by a registered professional engineer.

*JINN your wish that those of us who think there are better ways would simply vanish, HAS NOT BEEN GRANTED, IN FACT IT HAS SPECIFICALLY BEEN DENIED.

YOUR style of "debate" (debate???????) simply is not professional, possibly pointing to your simply not being a professional in any shape of the word. Twisting facts, misquoting, altering statements is kindergarden stuff!!!!

I never claimed the well design was by personnel with HS degrees and OTJ. I knew better although my comments may have been misinterpreted. At least it ws not my intent. I did note that some of the decisions on DWH were by such and the key ones I would point to were the TO Subsea Engineers responsible for the BOP.

DE, I think what you are stating is a misquote or factual misrepresentation of something that I may have said. I think I recall that I asked the rhetorical question Did they want the wells designed by..... But never the less the practice of misquoting is alive and well.
I think the facts in your second statement have been made by several posters.

Given your background and experience let me share some of my findings regarding nitrogen cement and see what you think.

You will need the Powerpoint Halliburton gave to the NAE panel
available here http://sites.nationalacademies.org/BlowoutPrevention/documents/index.htm

You may also want to refer to the testimony of Gagliano & Chaisson here http://www.deepwaterinvestigation.com/go/doc/3043/903579/

I would direct your focus to Halliburton's slide 8 which provides real time data on the foaming of the cement. The top graph shows four variables

Red - Surface Pressure (psi)
Green - Fluid Density (ppg)
Blue - Slurry Rate (bbl/min)
Brown - Slurry Volume (bbls)(This appears to be merely a totalization of the various segments, which is reset to zero between segments, so it has series of linear increases from zero).

The bottom graph shows two variables

Blue - Zone Sealant Foamer Rate (gpm)
Yellow - Nitrogen Injection Rate (scfm)

From the bottom graph we can see that nitrogen was injected at 1,200 scfm for about 20 minutes, for a total of 24,000 scf. The injection pressure from the top graph increased from a bit below 1000 psi to somewhat above, say 1,300 psi. Given that the downhole pressure would be about 13,000 psi (18,300 feet of 14.17 ppg mud)we want to figure the volume at both injection and downhole.

From the top graph we can see that the volume of cement foamed is about 40 barrels.

Using the NIST dta for nitrogen at 68 F (Standard conditions being 14.696 psia at 68 F) http://webbook.nist.gov/cgi/fluid.cgi?Action=Load&ID=C7727379&Type=IsoTh...

@STP Density of nitrogen is 0.072718 lbs/ cu ft

@ 1314.7 psia (1,300 psig) = 6.5135 lbs/ cu ft
@ 13,015 = 34.610 lbs/ cu ft

24,000 SCM x 0.072718 = 1,745 lbs (4,278 bbls)

At 1,300 psig the volume would be 267.9 cu ft or 47.8 bbls!!!!

At 13,000 psig the volume would be 50.4 cu ft or 9.0 bbls.

So if they mix 46.9 bbls of nitrogen with 40 bbls of cement at the surface injection pressure of 1,300 psig to form the foamed slurry, the quality of the cement exceeds 50 % under that condition. That matches BP's report of 50-60% quality given that the quality is dependent on pressure and would increase toward 60% at an injection pressure of 1,000 psig.

There seems to be no allowance for a difference in the returns for the changing volume of the nitrogen (an extra 46.9 bbls at injection versus the nominal 9.0 bbls downhole built into their calculations).

I also doubt they fully understand what would happen if some of that nitrogen made its way to the surface and expanded from 8.8 bbls to 4,203 bbls. (A "nitrogen kick").

Halliburton indicates that they follow the API RP's, but that might only mean the API is behind what is actually going on in the field. Conforming to the API might preclude criminal prosecution, so it's probably a saving grace for them from that standpoint.

Their claim of 279 wells of 15,000 feet using nitrified cement of which 79 were over 18,000 feet (slide 5) is unpersuasive without information regarding the number of squeeze jobs required. They could have had bad cement jobs and not known it if the float collar flapper valves did their job. This is a particular issue with regard to time to get the needed compressive strength. If the well is typically temporarily abandoned before being set up for production, cure time won't be much of an issue, unless the flapper valves fail!

Once again, I agree with BP that the API (a neutral arbiter) ought to look into the use of nitrified cements at depth.

I also note Halliburton seems to feel that their "microprocessor" based instrumentation is vastly superior to the flowmeters in use to measure returns. I've seen others make similar comments. If so, the industry ought to fund a research project by the ISA to review the practices used in the oil patch to find much more modern and accurate replacements. The impression I get is that, in a manner reminiscent of the obsolete computers used in the space shhuttles, the regualtory environment tends to set things in stone and improved technologies do not get adopted into the industry at anywhere near the pace that they do in unregulated industries.

I do note that the witness lists for next week's hearings do not include anyone from Halliburton to answer questions about foamed cement, a very serious omission in my opinion.

[Edit - corrected cu ft to bbl conversions, it should be 1 bbl = 5.61 cu ft, as now shown above.]

BT, your 2nd to the last paragraph simply amplifies the need to have performance based regulations not specific to present practice regulations. The RP's are essentially Best Practice versus non-technology related performance.

Thanks for that first paragraph. It has helped me see things that have happened to me, in a different field, from a different perspective.


PEs and licensing are not the answer. You are the answer to the dreams of BP. If Bp ( or anyone) hires a PE, then the PE is libel. So if BP hires P.E. Halfass, M.S. Mechanical engineering, B.S. Petroleum engineering, and puts him in John Guides position, and he creates another Deepwater Horizon Incident, who is liable? After all BP hired a man eminently qualified ( by letters after his name) licensed ( by what ever state) and highly recommended ( by companies dying to get rid of him). So now he is liable , after all BP shows due diligence in hiring him, and he is in hock way past his ass and just shy of bankruptcy. I don't see an improvement here , except for maybe BP.
The industry and it's companies must compete to develop the most stringent list of "best practices" and the most adamant list of "minimum practices". Violate the minimums and you are gone, no second chance. Adhere to the best and we are behind you, all the way. Education and licenseing mean nothing, only results. And the company is liable all the way.

Well, tdmidget, I think what you are saying is that you would rather have a high-school drop out who worked his/her way up the ranks designing the wells and running the rigs versus someone who has an extended college, has passed the licensing requirements which should, contain an experience factor, all on the basis of who might be held liable for a failure liable. INCREDIBLE! I have to speculate that you have no understanding of what a college education is worth in a technical field. Further I don't think you have an understanding of whether you would rather have an engineer who has solved 100's of thousands of text book problems, or an OJT who has only seen a limited, very limited number of situations. I have managed several thousand engineers over the span of my career. My particular corp. allowed for and provided a promotion path for OJT designers to reach a title of engineer. And I hasten to add that this title was only recognized within the Corp. and in the middle of my career the Corp. realized the extent of the problem and eliminated the path along with the titles. Unfortunately, none of these folk, good as they were in a very narrow area, had the broadness of knowledge nor the versatility of broad training to be widely reassigned to new areas, i.e. they were stuck. When their particular jobs disappeared, as happened in my Corp. due to technological advancement their jobs disappeared. Degreed engineers were assignable over a broad range of problems whereas the work ups were very restricted in what they could do. So yes, if you want wells that are well designed to a widely varying range of conditions etc., you want highly trained and broadly trained engineers And yes if you want to stop the contests on the rigs it is licensing and performance codes etc. No, matter what, even if PE's do the corp. well designs the Corporation will still be liable. On my previous staffs I had a substantial number of PE's doing design etc. for installations where it was required that we have stamped designs, this did NOT relieve the Corp of responsibility. So I think your assertion of liability may be well off the mark. I would think that wells designed by certified / licensed individuals and constructed by licensed / certified individuals is a far better plan than let's rely on johnney ojt and I wonder what he really knows. On the DWH as I recall one of the most critical end problems was the inexperienced stand-in operator that simply didn't understand, and blew the situation. Isn't that enough to convince you??

Mr. Midget; Your response reminds me of an old plant maintenance manager at a gas processing plant I worked at as a junior engineer. He hated engineers. Thought his experience was a better match for knowing what needed to be done. Problem was I watched as he caused two major lost time accidents to others in the plant because of his ignorance. I saw him outright lie to management as to the events ont he first and claim that he never got the word on the "best practice" to avoid the particular accident. However, I was there when he saw the written procedure. He growled that they just don't understand how we do things out here in the field and crumpled up the procedure and threw it in the trash. The first incident I was too naive to do anything about. The second incident, I took his wrath. That was after he found out I had already reported the facts of the second incident to the head office just before he could. Oh and that was just after I had accepted my next job with another oil company in Houston.

Just because you have worked in Coal and Nuclear Plants for many years it does not qualify you as an expert. Are you a nuclear engineer? Are you a mechanical engineer? Probably not. Familiarity does breed contempt. But my experience is that a person that has worked with the equipment may know the equiment they have worked with and the problems they have had to address. but like the old saying for a person with a hammer all things look like a nail. All answers will be driven by that narrow experience and it will be hard to extapolate. A person that has driven down a straight road many times can be blindfolded and they may be able to still drive down the same road. However, what if they drive too far and the road turns... They run off into the ditch. I have experienced this directly with a company that put a group of "engineers" that had 20-30 years of experience in packaging compressors that tried to contract to install a compressor station for gathering gas. None were degreed. The station was being built in a non-compliance area near Houston. They did not understand the full implications of what that meant. It lead to an 230% overrun on the project and lead to several misdesigns in the station that ultimately had to be corrected. They thought if they just followed the API practices they would be ok. They were not.

I just want to say, as an onlooker, this conversation has been very helpful to me. Something that was confusing to me as I followed the hearings and investigations was what seemed to be a vagueness about what an "engineer" is. I had basically decided there must be two roles called "engineers." There were "engineers" who were designing things, and "engineers" who were working on things, and it became increasingly apparent to me that they were not even remotely the same kinds of roles. But I didn't know what the difference was. This conversation is making it clearer that the confusion is not just inside my head.

Evergreen, it is no wonder why you and many others are totally confused about who is an engineer and who isn't. The term engineer is widely misapplied in multiple industries. We grow up hearing about railroad engineers as an example. This is a title granted by industry. Dyed in the Wool engineers hold one or more degrees from an accredited higher education unit such as a College or University (note the term accredited, as there are establishments that call themselves "universities" and are simply a business that grants degrees for a fee. Degrees from non-accredited operations are simply not accepted by any licensing agency.) such as a BSEE,MSCE PhDXX. Translated Bachelor of Science Electrical Engineering, Masters of Science Civil Engineering, Doctorate in Philosophy but in engineering. So having this education is the base of being an engineer. Then there is the Professional Engineer, e.g. Deepwater Engineer. To become a Registered Professional Engineer, besides having the accredited education, you must have an applied experience base and pass a written examine. States are the normal licensing agency. Now when you get into the practicing arena things get confused. Anyone can call themselves an engineer do valuable work, e.g. customer engineers, sanitation engineers, etc., but if that person practices such engineering in a protected area, such as structural engineering, he would be guilty of practicing engineering without a PE license, and could be prosecuted. On the other hand a degreed engineer can work for a company doing engineering design etc., in many areas, logic design for a computer company, without being licensed, or on the other hand can be working under a licensed engineer in a protected area, in which case the work is vouched for by the licensed engineer. On a rig it is clear that the guy supervising the drilling can be just about anyone with a background acceptable to the company, as there appear to be no rules / regulations (I say this as an engineer from outside of the oil industry) on exact requirements and appears to be no licensing. On the other hand I think both DE and I are asserting that it would be much better to establish and require licensing for the top folk on the rig in charge of the drilling. There is no doubt, at least in both mine and I believe DE's, that a degreed (from an appropriately associated field) engineer that is licensed and further licensed as the operator in charge would be a major step forward in safe management and operation of the rigs.
Hopefully this has shed just a little light on the confusion. The discussion of the mis-application of the term engineer can go on for a long long time. Those of us that have put in the time and effort to become engineers see this a lot clearer that the folk who ascribe to the title but haven't run the bases. You don't get a home run in baseball without tagging the bases, all of them.

Just to stir the pot a bit; I think there should be very little "engineering" performed on the rig. I don't think we want the company man running analyses to try to determine if a casing string is strong enough.

"The well is coming in! Mud all over!"

"Wait, I left my official seal in my room. I will be right back to approve and stamp the plan to activate the BOP."

There are certainly many positions that require licensing for operations, such as power plants. However, we should not confuse that requirement with a PE requirement.

The OIM is required to be licensed by the Coast Guard, but mainly because the MODU is a ship, not because it is drilling for oil.

Well, Saltwater you certainly do know how to stir the pot with wrong informatin. I don't think DE nor I said there was a lot of design engineering going on shipboard. Hopefully not. But Engineers are not limited to "just" design. Case in point the key "operator" of the nuclear reactors on board our navy ships are all nuclear engineers most with advanced degrees and exceedingly highly trained in operation (note NOT DESIGNING THE ON BOARD REACTOR) the reactor. But these on-board reactor operators are highly knowledgeable about the design, just maybe didn't do the design work. Now, Rig-board the OIM or the guy who is officially designated as the top dog or the buck stops here person, should certainly be well educated on the art of drilling, some geology, cement theory, strength of materials, construction management, safety engineering, etc. etc. A very broad set of skills. Now this would this set of skills could and would be easily set up in our accredited C's and U's. Maybe we could title it Ships Drilling Engineering. But having the formal education followed by fulfilling the OJT requirements required to obtain the final formal, federally or State granted license makes the job of that OIM a lot easier, no more losing the pincer argument in the mess room, etc. and ensures that his knowledge base is sound, not the case of what was his name Anderson? on the DWH. Stamping is for design drawings not for field operations. On the larger buildings there is nearly always a PE on site overseeing the whole operation or the critical parts of it.

Now hopefully your not saying that operating a large boiler (some states title them boiler engineers) even in say a power plant is equivalent to the skill and knowledge level reguired to drill the well? I certainly hope not.

Finally, your right the OIM may have a license from the cost guard so as to function as the Master of a Ship(Rig), but certainly that license has nothing to do with ensuring the OIM is qualified to drill the well, which some have likened to an Appolo mission.

Yes, lots of people buck and snort at the prospect of stiffer requirements and having to be highly educated and pass tests etc etc. But that is the way you ensure "BROAD" COMPETENCY.

So Saltwater, why aren't you pumping for these kinds of requirements or should we assume you are in favor of continuing the status quo and nearly guaranteeing another big Blow Out, and maybe the next time killing the GOM for real. Or how bout limiting the requirement to the GOM but let status quo reign supreme in the Gulf of Alaska or Bering Sea or Alaskas north shore. That would be a compromise wouldn't it? Sorry, my wild fingers did the typing.


I don't know what you read in my message. I am certainly not opposed to education, training, certification, licensing, continuing training, etc. What I am picking at is the notion that an engineer, particularly a PE, is all-knowing, perfectly trained, best possible judgment, etc. The licensing requirements should be appropriate to the task. A driller probably does not need to understand much about calculating beam deflection but probably does need to know a lot about pressures and volumes.

I have worked with a lot of degreed engineers, some PE and some not. There was no difference except that the PEs had a stamp.

In a situation where there is no independent way for a "customer" to understand the qualifications of a person purporting to be an engineer, the PE status is very telling. That is why PE sign-off is required for most civil engineering and for most public works projects. In a corporate situation where the "customer" is the corporation, there is plenty of opportunity to understand the qualifications of a degreed or even non-degreed engineer. Do you really think that 99% of all that stuff you had to mesmerize to pass the PE exams is both necessary for the job and would otherwise be unknown to an ordinary engineer?

Saltwater, I understand you are not opposed......But at the same time you make the case for the non-licensed engineer etc. I don't think I meant to imply that a driller needed to be capable of structural analysis, especially on a rig. But on the other hand the BROAD based engineer, with credentials outlined elsewhere in the thread does also give him many more tools in the clutch situation.
But I will take issue about the no difference between lic. and non-lic. engineers. I had many of both ilks working for me and there was a decided difference both in depth of skill and carefulness of answer to a problem. The lic. engineer gave a much more rounded thoughtful answer most of the time. Did I need both yes. The all brought a variety of skills, visions and solutions to problems. But as I said elsewhere the concept of licensing raises the average skill level. Rock is highly skilled and was selected by the family owned management committee to run a rig. But when you approach the general situation the licensing is going to raise the skill level and reduce the safety hazard etc.

Clearly the reason for Public works, say a bridge on I90/94 requires a registered engineer to sign off because of public safety. Who would argue. Although the case could be made for johnny work up who attended a few select college courses on structural design and worked in the field for a decade as being capable of designing the bridge. But those in the field know that push comes to shove the Reg. engineer is going to bring a higher level of knowledge / skill / reliability to the bridge design. Yes, I know there have been bridge failures where the principles were registered architects and structural engineers. I even know of two towers who's collapse was attributable to a failure of design by a highly recognizable licensed engineer. But on the whole there is far more safety of design in the system of registration of engineers than there is failure.

And yes the stuff you learn just studying to pass the license does help. In fact if I go back to my college education including the advanced part, I would tell you that 75% of the exact skills were never used, but the skill granted by College education literally changes how you think about problems etc. That is the part that I still use 100% of. The exact skills from all the courses was not used BUT it gave me the wherewithal to quickly find the answers and be able to understand the technical facts of other disciplines than my own. When you progress to advanced degrees you knowledge base gets larger and finally when you become licensed you have developed a very unique set of broad ranging skills that I don't think you get any other way.

If registration is not important why is it necessary for doctors including licensing specialties after the Doctor part, or how 'bout Bar exams? Want to trust you future, say if you are the subject of criminal charges to the johnny work up lawyer? I think not.

deleted as redundant.

Actually one of the few times I used my PE Seal was to write a letter to an offshore operations team for a deepwater production platform. The operatiosn team wanted to move a check valve. If was after a tee on the outlet of a production separator where the line from a test separator was connecting back to the main production. Problem was the original designers had protected the line with the relief valve on the production separator. They had taken a spec break on the test separator outlet line at the valve. If the check valve had been moved the relief protection for the line would have been eliminated. A clear violation of API 14C. The operations team did not want to listen to what the code required. Some how they had it in their head this would have been a better design. Because they were proposing doing on the work as a maintenacne project on their own without the main office input, I was extremely concerned that they were going to create a high risk situation for them. Becaused of this concern I wrote a letter defining the issues, decribing the possible outcomes and recommending that they do not make the change. By stamping the letter with my PE seal they understood just how serious I took this. They decided not to make the change. I had to stick my neck out to do this, because I was a contractor in their office, but that is what truly professional people do.

The term engineer is widely misapplied in multiple industries. We grow up hearing about railroad engineers as an example.


That might be construed as an example of you corruptring the traditional meaning of the word. The traditional meaning of the word engineer is "one who operates and engine"

Typically on a ship the person in charge of maintanence and operation of the engines is given the title engineer.

Didn't the people that desiged the macondo well have degrees from engineering schools?

You know Jinn, in a way you are right, but unfortunately, in the context of "the public" there is a confused meaning to the Noun: Engineer, and the media doesn't help. Depending on the desired projection, engineers turn into scientists and scientists turn into engineers. Kind of an astrogate idea. But I don't think in the modern era, the word Engineer always conjurs up a rail engineer. So one might say the "title" engineer might or may be contextual. But I did take the liberty of seeing what Wiki thought about it here is the primary.

1.a person trained and skilled in the design, construction, and use of engines or machines, or in any of various branches of engineering: a mechanical engineer; a civil engineer.
2.a person who operates or is in charge of an engine.
3.Also called locomotive engineer. Railroads . a person who operates or is in charge of a locomotive.

Notice that Wiki's first definition basically is talking about the same engineer this debate is all about.

Obviously, the debate is particularly distastful to those that do not have the accreditation, but have invested in gaining their skills through OJT and highly focused course work from their companies that supports just their narrow field of immediate work.

"Didn't the people that desiged the macondo well have degrees from engineering schools?" I have no idea. Those "engineers" could have easily been one or more of the OJT Company designated engineers. That would be ok if there is a supervising Registered Engineering reviewing and checking and finally stamping! Was that designer required to have an appropriately related degree from an engineering school or might they simply have a degree in business management. How good are the skills they gained? Just the education does not guarantee uniformity of skill, but going on to the required OJT and then the licensing requirements goes a very long way towards gaining the confidence that this person is qualified.

Finally, you say "Typically on a ship the person in charge of maintanence and operation of the engines is given the title engineer." Specifically, I focus on the word "GIVEN". Not EARNED!


"Didn't the people that desiged the macondo well have degrees from engineering schools?" I have no idea. Those "engineers" could have easily been one or more of the OJT Company designated engineers.


Sounds like you don't have a clue. You don't know the English language usage of the word and you don't know the specific facts of the issues you are railing about.

FYI, the drilling engineers that worked on the design of the Macondo well all have at least a BS in petroleum engineering. And no they could not have easily become engineers designing BP's deep water wells with H.S. education and OJT.

Jinn, when did you review the credentials of the design engineers of the Macondo well? I know I was astounded to find out the background of the standin OIM on the DWH.

Jinn, awildduck is right about the usage of "engineer".

The word was used at least as far back as 1325 to describe someone (like Archimedes) who designed and constructed war machines (like catapults) or civil works (like bridges). This usage was established centuries before the engines you mention (in locomotives and ships) were invented. See these:

The original meaning is still in use, for example the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, who are much more likely to be designing and building airstrips, bridges, and levees than driving trains.

Even in today's usage, engineer as designer or builder takes precedence over engineer as operator, as most any dictionary search will show you.

Please remember that you are not a real Jinn, and just because you've conjured up something, that doesn't make it real. At least not to the rest of us.

I responded to the statement

"The term engineer is widely misapplied in multiple industries. We grow up hearing about railroad engineers as an example."

That statement is incorrect. Industry has been using term engineer to mean one who operates or maintains engines or other power machinery long before there was any licensed PE's.

Jinn, you wrote:

The traditional meaning of the word engineer is "one who operates and engine"

That statement is incorrect, as the links above show.

Industry has been using term engineer to mean one who operates or maintains engines or other power machinery long before there was any licensed PE's.

That statement is technically correct but misleading. Professional civil engineering societies existed in the 1700's, the British Institution of Civil Engineers was founded in 1818. The use of the word engineer as an operator didn't show up until later, in 1832 in America. This information is easy to find, Jinn, so why are you digging in your heels and insisting your personal definition is right and everyone else is "incorrect"?


The traditional meaning of the word engineer is "one who operates and engine"

That statement is incorrect, as the links above show.


The statement was quote from your link. And you gave the dictionary definition:

2.a person who operates or is in charge of an engine.
3.Also called locomotive engineer. Railroads . a person who operates or is in charge of a locomotive.

How can you insist those are not correct usage of the word?

Hello, again Jinn, You sure are death on engineers, those worthless do nothing people who cause nothing but trouble in the patch. Well I did want to give you something to rail on. Anyway If you carefully read my post I did not say they were incorrect. But those applications of the term engineer serve to causes a lessening of value of the term, as someone else pointed out. And even in the post they were the 2nd and 3rd ALTERNATE definitions. Missing was sanitation engineer, janitorial engineer etc. So if you want to apply the suffix Engineer to any and all jobs willy nilly then the term engineer distinctly loses value.

Did you know that the AP news organization goes to great length protecting the prefix 'doctor'. Let's suppose I earn a Phd in XX engineering from an accredited university or college, e.g. pick Harvard or Yale, or MIT. After completing my course work and passing the exam and writing my required paper on a new area or development in my chosen field I am then authorized to prefix my name with Dr. I am entitled to be addressed as Doctor. But the AP in their journalist's hand or guide book is very specific, that the term Dr. will only be applied to that protected class of practitioners in the medical field who have earned the right to add the suffix M.D. In fact in my obituary they won't even allow the Obit to use the prefix Dr. So why is it you want to denegrate the class of people that have paid their dues and earned the right to add the suffix BSXX, or MSXX or Phd XX to their names and not allow the refuse truck driver to be called a sanitation engineer, or the train engineer to be called an engineer, who as Francis points out is called more properly Driver in the rest of the world.

The statement was quote from your link.

Jinn, you took the quote out of context. From the Wiki article on engineering:

"when an engine’er (literally, one who operates an engine) originally referred to “a constructor of military engines.”" [my bold]

You got 4 out of 5 of the words right, but you turned the meaning upside down. Original meaning was designer/builder, not just operator.

And you gave the dictionary definition:

Wrong, awildduck gave that definition, not me. Interesting that you left out the primary definition:

"1.a person trained and skilled in the design, construction, and use of engines or machines, or in any of various branches of engineering: a mechanical engineer; a civil engineer."

How can you insist those are not correct usage of the word?

What? I never said that (and neither did duck).

Are you so prejudiced against Professional Engineers that you think it's OK to quote out of context, selectively edit, and just plain make stuff up in order to keep this argument going? You demonstrated previously that you can't even do a thermal expansion calculation on well casing, what do you have against people who can?

OB, _10! right on. great response duck

I might point out that this curious use of "engineer" to denote none-engineering roles - like operating a locomotive seems peculiar to the USA. There seems to be some element of cultural bias in insisting that the word has a universal multiple meaning. The rest of the world does not call locomotive drivers "engineers". (Unless they have slavishly picked it up from the US. I don't know what the Canadians might use for instance.)

The British invented the steam locomotive, in the UK they are operated by "drivers." Misusing the term in the US should not be allowed to dilute the value of the word, and does not dilute it in the rest of the world.

awildduck; As if the word came from my own mouth. I could not have said it better. It is amazing how if you have the education and the experience it drives you to the same conclusion. The testing and the paperwork are only a validation of the ability.

The real threat is as the regulation requiring licensing advances the attempts will continue to dilute the requirements to allow the more marginal to continue to practice. There are some fields where we cannot afford to take the risk. If it cannot be done safely should we really be doing it? I think it can be done safely and I think it may just take a bit more time and cost a bit more. The American public must be told that the true cost of safety to both the workers and the environment is a slightly higher cost for their energy. Then the pressure gets put on to move the production to international waters. The bottom line there is that even in places like Nigeria, China or Indonesia they are starting to ask the question why should we be any less safe or why should our environment be any less protected. Is our life worth any less that it must be cut short or our children borne with defects by the carcenogenic pollutants being spilled into our river deltas, pollution to our air and on our lands. This is one planet and we all eventially suffer. So these regulations need to be universal. If that puts me in the camp as being an environmentalist, so be it. But as an engineer I want to do it as economical and responsible as possible. There is still profit to be made, we just have to do it responsibly.

Yikes, DE, I must have missed your post on an earlier post through the thread. Thank you for your vote. Oviously, what seems obvious to you and I seems opaque to many of the others.

Any time we try to change a way of doing business that has been in operation for a long time it is going to encounter a LOT of push back. But it is certainly important, very important, to have the debate and try and change a few minds else, mediocrity will reign supreme and more disasters will follow. I have been on the side of increasing education and finer culling of the applicants ever since I went into management way back when and got burned bad by the selection of a previous manager of my unit. It taught me a career long lesson. He was of the "most anyone can do the job" mindset. A couple of years after I took over his unit and he had a few more "accidents" he was removed from management.

I think all engineers at all levels strive to do their best within their capabilities. It is the "natural" way. But at the same time there is the other group and they are much less focused on technical or safety or product goals, and mostly on their career aspirations. Opps. I think BP got the lesson in spades, pay attention to good design and focus on safety, it is cheaper in the long run. A prime focus on quarterly revenue, profit etc. at the expense of the long range can be short term profitable and long term a disaster.


Oviously, what seems obvious to you and I seems opaque to many of the others.

Nope, please continue the debate, I am enjoying it. BTW have either of you considered how the Peter Principle may relate to promoting through experience in the industry?


OK Duck, time to pull that nose back down to earth. In the dawn of the industrial age the men who built and operated machines (engines) were engineers. People like Thomas Savory, Thomas Newcomen, and James Watt and the people that were trained to operate these machines were "engineers". So yes the man who operates a locomotive is a locomotive engineer and the man who operates a power plant and other stationary facilities is stationary engineer and a marine engineer (yeah, they are licensed, by the way) is in charge of the operation and maintainance of every mechanical bit of his vessel and the man at the pump panel of a fire engine (there's that word again) is an engineer.
The use of the term in a educational sense came about with founding of the U.S. Military Academy, to make sure that our officers were up to speed on the "engines of war" The term spread to other disciplines. I would say that you snooty degreed engineers owe your education and occupation to the marginally educated, greasy handed men with imagination and vision who came before.
A little humility might be a good thing.
While none of the deficiencies of the well design by degreed engineers may have been the direct cause of this incident,it appears that every decision was approved from the beach by them until Jason Alexander, instead of shutting in the well, called his licensed OIM. If only he had acted on that high school education and OJT you seem to disdain we wouldn't be having this discussion.

and tdmidget, best practices are a far cry from having performance based regulations. Without performance based regulations you have no hurdle to top, no door to pass through. It's simply a case then of what the designer, with all of his biases, thinks is best. I see this in the building industry all the time. There are far more manuals of best practices than you have fingers and toes. And Yes the API's are good! But I would hope you can understand the difference. Best practices can change daily, Performance Codes are close to tablets of stone. For example, again: a beam deflection PERFORMANCE CODE OR REQUIREMENT of 1/740 or one part of deflection for 740 parts of length is totally independent of how you achieve the requirement. One engineer might submit an I-beam another an H-beam, a third a tubular beam a forth etc etc etc. But each submission has to mathematically demonstrate adherence to the 1/740 criteria. There is also a strength of materials consideration which I'm going to ignore here. A best practices manual might assert that it is most cost effective to use the steel H-beam, but responding to the performance code allows an engineer to be highly creative and submit a new, never before seen, much more cost effective design, along with the calculations to support the design to the code enforcement body for approval. If the code enforcement body agrees, and many have elite engineers in their employ, then the design might show up in the next best practices manual. I just can't imagine your going to a "doctor's" office for a medical problem, where you know the "doctor" is simply a doctor because he has been checking for hernia's for 15 years. Most people would be looking for the credentials of the doctor. Isn't that why you see the educational background hung on the walls of the doctor's office, but on second thought maybe you do prefer the practioner who hangs out in the northern plains of Mexico. I don't know.

the back and forth above with Mr Midget is making my head hurt.I am so thankful that I am no longer in the trenches and have the possible requirement to have a PE sign off on any of my decisions. I am also thankful that the company I spent my entire career with rewarded employees with promotion to successive higher and higher levels of supervision and management based on demonstrated skills in several areas, not the least of which was economic, safe, and technically correct decisions. Those that hang their hats on the title PE have a lot to learn about business, responsible risk taking, cost/benefit analysis and more.

Hang in there, Mr Midget. Those that think that a PE title makes them a mental wizard have a lot to learn. Not accusing anyone on this board, just say'n.

Time has shown that there are many ways to do things in the oil patch. Experience has shown that some of those ways are safe and some not. Facts show that schools can not keep up with the technology and practices that are ever evolving in the oil patch. Back when I went to college, who would have ever thought one could/or would want to pump nitrogen into cement? Or, who would have thought that a well influx could be modeled and procedures developed to pump out a kick at constant pressure? Well control schools sprung up everywhere in the sixties teaching kick control because the colleges were not up to speed on the technology.

Requiring a PE stamp means nothing regarding safety, in my opinion. Documenting best practices is the way to go.

I recall vividly back in the 70's when a group of Oil Company Top Executives formed special task forces within API to develop and publish Standards and RP's on various subjects because of problems within the industry. These task forces were of such high priority that they were staffed with the best of the best subject matter experts and operated on a fast track basis. Seems to me it is time for another round of this regarding drilling.

When I received my BSME from a top rated school I didn't know there was such a thing a a PE, it wasn't discussed in classes etc. Therefore I didn't take the initial EIT exam. Later the jobs I had in corporations placed, in my perception, zero value on having a PE for pay or promotion so I saw no point in studying for the exam. I spent my time getting an MBA which did enhance my value to the corporation and which I was better at than math and design. In addition, as discussed in earlier posts, I figured that having a PE could make one individually legally liable for a decision rather than as an agent for the company.

An instructor I had for thermodynamics was from Hungary and he made a point of saying that engineers with degrees in Europe were accorded much more respect than in the states (e.g. they were called for instance Engineer Smith or Engineer Jones much like an MD is addressed as Doctor Johnson).

My experience in travelling in Europe and Asia is that they pay far more attention to formal intellectual accomplishments than in the US. In France for example your results on the Baccalaureate exam after High School determine the rest of your life; what school you attend, and based on the school what jobs you are considered for.

I travelled with a US college professor in Germany once. He got rock star treatment when we checked into hotels; the staff practically prostrated themselves in front of him. A friend of mine in Korea told me that the top students were treated the way athletes are here.

Is that better or not? Certainly one good thing about it is that the people there place a much higher value on education. Korea's students test at the top of the heap in international competitions, while in the US where academic performance or being intellectual sets you up for getting beat up after school. We test dead last among developed countries in many areas. Here we are in the 21st Century and there is still debate about teaching evolution in schools. Around the world this makes the US a laughingstock. Seriously.


In many other countries there a laws that prevent people from using the title Engineer without having some prescribed background. Part of it is the same as it is with the medical profession. You can't operate in an area of public trust without having gone through the process of an accredited training process. In the US I've seen jobs like Materials Handling Engineer i.e. forklift operator.

Personally I think the more formal way makes a lot of sense. It fosters stronger attitudes of respect for professional ethics and the idea that you are an engineer first and a company man second.

You can get away with less formal Wild West ideas in a nation where there are miles between houses. The US isn't that sort of place any more.

speaker +10. My grandfather and Great grandfather were both structual engineers and as such were awarded high status. That status has certainly eroded. Much due to the "vision" of company and corporate management that they could do as well with the "OJT engineer" and pay out a lot less in cost. Until the other bills came to roust. That is clearly what happened in my corp. which operated both in design, manufacturing, and sales; world wide. Then the multitude of problems with the equipment, on the Mfg Floor etc. started coming due and management was suddenly asking the embarrassing of who did the work. The disparity became apparent after about a 20 year turn about that bush. It was an expensive lesson for upper management.

I understand that lots of people in the Patch are abhorrent that others might want to alter the traditional path to these jobs. But it is either improve the backgrounds etc or always install underrated BOPS.


EDM - I've got a little headache too. I think every position on this subject is correct..and wrong. There might be a perfect solution on there on paper. But the reality is difficult to reach. Most of us in the oil patch can roll out some anecdotal support for either side of the debate. To this day the cmt "engineer I have more confidence in than any other I've ever worked with has only a high school degree. A close has a PhD. in CE but likes working in the field even though he could probably hold a top management slot in someone's lab (he really, really likes working rotation). And like everyone else I've worked with hands that have a wall full of degrees and are licensed who I wouldn't let walk my dog let alone manage a project for me..mostly because of a poor attitude especially towards safety. I know they've been pushing licensing for pet. geologists in Texas for a while. But I've seen the licensing process and, not meaning to slam any qualified Texacan geologist who does hold a license, just about any geologist that can bang two rocks together without busting his thumb could get a license. So the obvious: not all "licenses" are equal. For the last year, for the first time in my 35 years, I've had full authority over who works on my wells and who doesn't. And full responsibility for how they get the job done. A lot different than a theoretical chat about qualifications. So when it came down to I relied on factor more than anything else: not years of experience, degrees and training courses, licensing, etc. It was typically based on personal recommendations from folks they worked with. Not as easy an approach as some might think. Most don't like to put a stink on anyone unless they have a very good reason. And the person I'm asking for a recommendation has to believe I won't burn them with any comments they offer. And, of course, I have to have a high confidence in the person I'm asking.

This process has frustrated me more than once. But I work for a private company risking one family's money so it's a very important responsibility for me. needless to say a big difference than reporting to an accident investigation committee than sitting across from a lunch table and looking into the eyes of someone who just lost $5 million on a rig accident and feels personally responsible for any injury/death. Like many I've always wanted the authority to control my destiny. But now that I've got it I better understanding of the price tag that comes with it. Makes appreciate the good managers I've worked for all the more.

Check out the fact sheet on the new "Drilling Safety Rule", at:


Note the first three bullets:

Provisions in the rule addressing well bore integrity are:

Making mandatory the currently voluntary practices recommended in the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) standard, RP 65 – Part 2, Isolating Potential Flow Zones During Well Construction (an industry standard program)

Requiring submittal of certification by a professional engineer that the casing and cementing program is appropriate for the purposes for which it is intended under expected wellbore pressure;

Requiring two independent test barriers across each flow path during well completion activities (certified by a professional engineer);

Sounds like at least some requirements for PE certification is coming, like it or not.

Edit: change to first three bullets

My apology to all who's head hurts, I just took 3 advill. I think in a way Rock has a good point. In family owned and operated companies the selection of skill is very tightly controlled to just a few of the very top top people, and thus very likely top drawer selections are made, e.g. the rock!. But what we are discussing is an industry with tens of thousands of personnel with a full spectrum of skill level in any one position like OIM are employed and were hired by a wide range of people some who shouldn't hire the dog catcher.

So the process of advanced education, minimum requirement for OJT and finally stiff licensing requirements yields a much more skilled group that is much more mobile across the job front. The process significantly raises the average skill level, far above where it is without those requirements. If an engineering degree weren't a good thing for the world corporations does anybody believe the schools would continue to survive. Not a chance. The large corporations by hook and crook, have learned the value of the education, so they require it and pay more for it. And the farther up the ladder the requirement exists the more it costs and typically the more value it returns to the company. The person who worked his/her way up the ladder in a company is much more job vulnerable, and typically finds it impossible to say NO even when their life might depend on it. Isn't the DWH a perfect example. Also, if a company goes under because a blowout bankrupts the company or something else goes wrong who will be able to find a new job easiest, The one who followed and has the full accreditation or the one without public credentials. I know who I would hire first, the other person would fall under a microscope before I signed him on.
I agree with Rock, you can always find the jerkwater licensed engineer, or lawyer or doctor, or any discipline you choose. that will always be true. But "on the average" the path related above truly turns out a better engineer, rig operator etc., which is especially important given the large number of companies involved and the extreme risk involved.

And a side comment. This is quite a debate and then a few days ago I was concerned that we wouldn't have anything meaningful on the thread. Opps!


duck - "on the average the path related above truly turns out a better engineer, rig operator etc." And there in lies the most difficult aspect of safe drilling to overcome IMHO. There are so many single control points (as we are designed now) that can kill you if that person slips up. Your average engineer on the well might be in the 99th percentile but you've got a hand with GED who goofs off and misses a flow check. Redundancy would certainly help this problem, of course. But every company will push such an effort only to it's own sense of necessity.

Since we gegan this discussion I started considering putting 4 comen instead of two on my rig when we start drilling in the GOM next year. As I envision it the #2 coman on tower doesn't need to be very experienced. I see mostly see him checking to make sure everyone else is doing thier job. For those that don't understand, normally the coman spends the majority of his time sitting in his office and not wandering around the rig. That’s not a knock on them...just what the job typically demands. Having a #2 coman wandering the drill floor and mud pits would be cheap insurance. Even a shallow water rig op can run $300,000/day. Adding a couple of low level coman would add around $3,000/day or about 1%. A DW rig can run 3x tomes that much daily costs....really cheap insurance in that case.

I haven’t brought the idea up internally yet so I don’t know how it will be received. But for a small privately owned company even a small shallow water nightmare would be damn near fatal.

Happy weekend, Rocky!

I haven’t brought the idea up internally yet so I don’t know how it will be received

I'm gonna trust your presentation skills here.

Rock, the points DE and I are making look at "the entire process" of drilling a well, from concept to production. There is no one choke point in the process where you make a single improvement, like licensing and walla every thing is all better. What we are saying is that the more you upgrade skill and training, and require practitioners of these the various disciplines to basically demonstrate their skill (licensing) the higher becomes the probability of a safe product, a cost effective product. Surely, no one looks at Macondo as being cost effective. Carrying the concept all the way out onto the rig simply continues the process upgrade. And again we are not looking simply at a single company but at the generality of drilling wells.

You see a particular weakness on the rigs, i.e. the need for more eyes and ears for the coman function. That is, I believe, aimed directly at improving safety, as it works to reduce missed signs etc. from the well. A design corollary might be requiring two sign-offs on the well design or particular portions of the design that entail more risk, or have a lower level of design knowledge. It seems to me that your idea does solve one of the key operational problems from the Macondo. In the space programs nearly every function on the craft can be read on a console back in the control center and they have a lot of people and computers watching all the readouts for anomalies. I would also think that increasing the level of both automation and remote readout or sensing would bring a new level of control and safety to the rigs.

duck - I was following your discussion but just taking some shots from the sidelines. Improving any process is always a good ongoing exercise. But there is a problem with getting the best trained engineers on a project: there is seldom one best way to design a well. There are dozens of design elements and in 35 years I've not once seen two engineers agree on all the critical elements. As you surmise the planning stage is something of a committee effort though, obviously, all members are not equal. So two highly degreed and licensed engineers: one wants to run centralizers every joint of csg and the other wants one every other joint. Remember more is not always better...too many and you can end up with serious and expensive problems. And the centralizer question is rather simple compared to mud weight programs, csg setting depths, etc. Every well I've ever seen has been a compromises of opinions. Having the smartest guys you can get in one room should improve your odds of getting it right. But you'll seldom every get 100% agreement by all on every aspect.

And the other obvious point: I've never seen a well plan, no mater how perfect, that couldn't fail due to poor implementation on the rig. There is the plan, there is how the plan is not implemented properly, there is how the plan is altered properly while drilling since no plan works when the basic assumptions are not met, there is how the plan is altered improperly when the basic assumptions are not met, there is how the plan isn't implemented when the rig management isn’t aware the plan isn't being followed (like the mud returns not being monitored properly). I’m sure you get my point. Often there's time for consultation so your mlti-sign off approach would be valuable. But on some occasions one man has to make a critical decision in a minute or so. At that point it's all on him.

Improving the training/licensing of the hands involved will help, of course. There's no debate there. But what aspect of our complex technical society wouldn’t that be true: doctors, airline pilots, firemen, welfare workers, etc. The question is how is that done. I doubt new regs, in and of themselves, will make much difference. Same with license requirements IMHO. Let's not forget: staff engineers don't make the final call: management does. And some of them aren't even technologists let alone licensed. New regs closely monitored by independent third parties with significant financial penalties...now you've got something which can change the culture we have today. But not just in the oil patch but in every other endeavor in our society.

Rock, I think is essence I agree with all you say. But a few nuance gray areas. I witnessed and supervised engineers and in my arena as in all technical fields there is usually more than one solution to a problem and the approaches will differ 'usually' by degree. But even then two approaches might also be radically different. And yes eventually management makes the call, whether it is a technical manager, e.g.Chief Engineer or the All purpose manager. But that is what they get paid the big bucks for, to make the call. On the other hand in your illustration I might be willing to bet that the design exposure is low and that a refereed debate usually resolves with the participants agreeing on a final approach. Not as usual in the widely divergent design situation where it's most likely going to boil down to "the call". It's the ref with the white hat on the field.

As far as "improving the process is always a good exercise." In my view here it seems to substantially more than an exercise it is pretty much an imperative, and I think projected changes starting to surface fall in that direction.

On the Rig, AND I'M NOT AN OIL PATCH GUY, but having followed Macondo on TOD, I still believe strongly that increased skill, same process as for the engineers, licensing beyond being a ships master via the CG, and then regulatory designation of top dog on the rig on the drilling operation are clearly needed. And again I'm not talking about individual situations such as your company I'm talking about the general case. Because in field operations of all kinds, there is a clear need to have someone on the spot who is the top buck stopper and authorized to make the difficult calls. I would speculate that the top person is most likely the OIM and the company man is not. Marking this position by regulatory designation, would I think end the squabble as happened on DWH and certainly was a contributory factor. As we move into the Licensed Engineer arena it clearly can result that non-licensed management will not be able to make the call. This is why it is required that an engineer with stamp is the approver. He may have to justify his design / or whatever to management by he has to step up and stamp and sign and it is his license on the line and his ability to continue to work in the field that is on the line. The reg. PE is the defacto top buck catcher say on a design. But even after that that person has to gain approval from the code enforcement unit.
Your next comment on training/licensing is true, the process that DE and I are promoting improves the key participants. As we move forward in time, and forced by increasing technological complexity, society is forcing more and more structured training on nearly every job. Residential construction is something view and nearly anyone with a little OJT can go do it. But today with the complexity of the modern codes there is not a chance someone can start knocking together houses and have them pass inspection on the first try without several years of training. And if you want to be a contractor you are going to have to study some more and then pass the test and be able to show a measure of experience. Up here even the hair dresser / barber has gone to school, passed the exams finally obtained the license, and yearly goes back for refresher education.

When you say new regs, it is not clear what regs you are referring to. When I mention performance code I am referring to specification that are generic not specific. I keep using beam bending as the example because most everyone can understand. But given a particular application the code will specify allowable sag or deflection due to both dead and live weight and e.t. might specify 1/740 or one unit of deflection for 740 units of length. This is not a direction to the design engineer on how to do the implementation. He might use a steel H or I beam or one of a variety of wood beams or maybe a wood tube. Designer's call provide he meets 1/740 as one criteria. There are others but I choose that one for simplicity. I cannot imagine that a group of smart engineers can write similar specs for wells, WITHOUT spelling out method and/or materials for example. API RPs are just that they are best practice at a given time and will change, the performance spec should not unless a flaw is found. So yes I do believe that performance specs made into Code will make a difference in overall performance in the industry. Again, if performance codes didn't make a difference in the whole range of the construction industry, they would have been done away with long ago, too much money at stake. Case in point. Within the last decade there were increasing requirements for smoke detectors, and the performance gate was raise steadily with the subsequent outcome that fire deaths especially in residences are dramatically decreasing. Why are fire deaths decreasing, because it is very cost effective to install detectors so the resistance level is low, both by the contractor and the space owner. It was a topic of debate originally that it won't help people will just leave the Bats out or leave them unplugged etc. But people have come to the understanding of their value and are self installing, without the code people inspecting or pushing. And just to bring it home, performance not implementation specs must be cast in code to insure that all BOPs are capable of doing their job. This precludes having the wrong segment or under rated pressure or insufficient shear capability. Performance not implementation methodology

It just seems obvious that based on DWH, process improvements and design improvements are required at all levels. and is should be by intent not by chance.

Rockman I think you are on to something. I have not seen that these comen had any particular knowledge and apparently less authority than we had assumed. It appears that they had to call the beach for every question. So, are they serving a useful function or are they just the guy who makes the phone call?
Your method would give that no. 2 coman some real experience and knowledge before he was put in charge. He might then know a valid test from smoke blowin'.
It's also just like having two men in the cockpit. They should be peer checking on every decision.

Rock, one point I missed earlier, was clear identification and assignment of the "buck stopper" on a rig. The Macondo rig seemed to have a clear issue in this area. And it would again seem like the only way to end any general ambiguity of the individual is via regulatory assignment and licensing.
I would speculate that on a rig owned by a small closely held family etc. that there is probably pretty clear identification of the "buck catcher". But on these other multi-partner leased operator rigs the opportunity, as shown by Macondo event, is ripe for the ambiguity and a fatal debate or non-debate on the rig. Thoughts?

I think the Formal Education vs. OJT debate is somewhat of a strawman. We've all met idiots (in all fields) who somehow slipped through the education system. And we've all met exceptional people who have mostly or completely OJT.

However, in my experience, the very best folks, the ones who are very good at both routine jobs and who also can handle the really unusual and unexpected problems, almost always have both a solid foundation in theory AND lots and lots of experience. And they are almost always people who are committed to continue learning and staying on top of changes in their field.

My 2 cents worth. Interesting debate.

I agree. There was a big divide between Engineering and Ops. and Mtnce. at my employer.
Besides the usual squabbles there were arguments that affected plant safety and quality control.

AG, I would hope it is not just "a strawman" but a process improvement be put forth. I do agree that there are quite excellent practitioners of technical design that are OJT based, but when you are dealing with an industry as large as the oil industry, I would assert that it is not a good plan to rely on the hopefull skills of OJT. You would man the space program like that.

In my advanced development group, I had over a period of years found a core group of engineers to whom I could give an "insolvable", per the regular engineers, problem. Looking back I would tell you that 90% of the time a solution was developed. These guys, to a man, were highly educated well over half with advanced degrees past a BS, a few were PE's (PE qualification was not a prereq to practice in our arena), All had lots of experience and all had open minds to new approaches, if one guy couldn't solve the problem, the collective strength of this particular group usually did. Lots of experience is certainly a necessity for top position engineers but education is the cornerstone, the bedrock of top engineers.

I think there is possibly some misapprehension as to the intent of the title PE, and what that means.

From where I stand, PE does not mean "university degree." Sure there is a strong correlation between the two, since a degree provides an easy way of demonstrating some baseline level of competence. However the intent (if not the implementation) of PE, is all about the "P".

A PE, means the person is deemed a "responsible person" and has demonstrated that they can be trusted to behave in a responsible manner in performing their job. This involves ethics, understanding of legal issues pertinent to the job, wider responsibilities to society entailed by the job. Now, critical in here is the point that the PE is competent, but to get a PE qualification competence is (or should be) a prerequisite, not a component of the qualification.

So, pertinent to this discussion, a PE is competent enough, experienced enough, and ethical enough to know when they are no longer within their bounds of competence, and instead of fudging it, will explicitly ensure that the job is performed by someone who is competent.

Now historically professions have been managed as guilds. Which as well as managing the qualifications, also act to protect their member's interests in other ways, one of which has always been to limit entry to the guild. But typically the ethical performance of the member is judged just as highly as the technical. Indeed possibly higher. Think about other professions. Doctors can be deregistered (and usually make the news when they do) for unethical behaviour. Doctors sleeping with their patients is a pretty sure way of being deregistered.

As has been observed, getting a PE qualification can be viewed as merely being a ticket to being the person who takes the blame. In some ways yes - this is true. And the converse. If you are not up to being the guy that takes the blame, don't do it, but don't complain if you can't get promoted beyond a given point. If you are not up to facing responsibility, that is your choice.

So, in a simplisitic fashion, I would regard drilling operations as looking like they could do with some application of the "certified professional". One place is the position of toolpusher. DWH would appear to be an example of where a professional certification for the position would be have been valuable. Why? Because it would have made explicit to everyone what the role, responsibility, and power of the toolpusher was. Most importantly to the toolpusher himself. Professional certification includes examination of understanding of the ethics of application of competence. Knowing when not to guess, and when to ask for assistance. Knowing enough not to guess why the negative test was not working out, and knowing that there was an ethical and legal obligation that fell directly on his shoulders, not anyone else, to ensure the tests are done right.

A PE toolpusher would have the legal standing to ignore the coman (unless the coman just happened to have a toolpusher PE qualification - in which case the coman would be taking personal responsibility for decisions made). This personal responsibility is important. It seems the coman finds himself as acting as little more as the company enforcer. And thus feels little to no personal responsibility, and yet does wield significant power.

There is absolutely no reason not to (and most engineering related professions do) allow for on the job experience to count towards the technical knowledge component of a professional certification. Again, the PE qualification is about being up to the job of taking responsibility in a legal and ethical manner for the work. It is not about having a university degree. A PE may supervise non-PE engineers and other technical people, man of which may be smarter than him. But it is his ultimate responsibility to sign off that he is satisfied with the quality of the job.

A PE is all about taking responsibility. Someone who is doing a critical job, but is resistant to taking a PE qualification because of the responsibility than comes with it, should probably not be doing that job. Not for any technical competence reason, but if they are not prepared to take that responsibility, I would not be prepared to trust them.

Well Francis, in some ways I like some of what you say. To wit: "A PE is all about taking responsibility. Which makes it sound somewhat voluntary. Rockman seeks that responsibility and then executes the same responsibility in a very ethical, focused manner. Not true for all.
You state that PE does not imply University Degree so I thought it instructive to post the following from Wiki since it is so tooooooo the point.

In the United States, registration or licensure of Professional Engineers is performed by the individual states. Each registration or license is valid only in the state in which it is granted. Many Professional Engineers maintain licenses in several states for this reason, and comity between states can make it easy to obtain a license in one state based on licensure in another state without going through the full application process.[1] The licensing procedure varies but the general process is:[2]

1. Graduate with a degree from an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology accredited four-year university program in engineering.
2. Complete a standard Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) written examination, which tests applicants on breadth of understanding of basic engineering principles, and optionally some elements of an engineering specialty. Completion of the first two steps typically qualifies for certification in the U.S. as an Engineer-In-Training (EIT), sometimes also called an Engineer Intern (EI).[3]
3. Accumulate a certain amount of engineering experience. In most states the requirement is four years, but in others the requirement is lower.
4. Complete a written Principles and Practice in Engineering ('PE') examination, testing the applicant's knowledge and skills in a chosen engineering discipline (civil, electrical, industrial, mechanical, etc.), as well as engineering ethics.

For standardization, the EIT and PE exams are written and graded by a central organization, NCEES. However each state's Board of Professional Engineers individually sets the requirements needed to be allowed to take the tests, as well as the passing scores. For example, in some states applicants must provide professional references from several PEs before they can take the PE test.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have engineering boards that are represented by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), which administers both the FE and PE examinations[4].

I think the above is self explanatory and I can't possibly improve upon.


EDM, you are right on. The "Gummint" might be able to set minimal standards but best practices evolve daily. The problem is that the Oil industry needs to realize that they are all rowing the same boat. The nuclear industry learned this the hard way and if we are lucky this will be their Chernobyl. The nuke people are on a party line, what one knows the others know. (I'm chuckling imagining some of these young'uns wondering what a "party line" is.) They talk to each other constantly. Any of them can tell the last time I counted out of any other. If I get a traffic ticket I h ave to report it. Things are predictable here, my employer has all plans and strategies approved long before we start. A coman at every turn, not to tell us how but to insure that the plan is followed and if any problems the work on a solution begins immediately.
It appears that in the oil patch the situation can change too rapidly for this rigid structure. However it can be modified to work. The coman on the rig MUST be there to insure best practices are followed and chances not taken, not to see how fast and cheap we can do it.
In the Nuclear field if the man in charge had been distracted for a day with VIPs (which will not happen) then a stand down would be decreed and you would restart almost from scratch. When we take a break and return we must go thru CCV (correct component verification) and review where we were when we left, even though every action is recorded.
This is industry practice, not government requirements. The attitude is: we can't afford a mistake, we can afford to avoid one.
As I said , the oil patch can't be quite this rigid due to a risk that may change foot by foot. But the practices to deal with problems are there and get better , probably with every well. They must learn to communicate and quit try to pinch one more penny than the other guy.
Licenses seem fine but ask a cop how many people he stops without one. If you are a kiss ass, work for a wink wink rule bender/ignorer, and think only of payday, a license is merely a ticket to the next opportunity to take a chance.
Way more beneficial than a license is the ability to find out with a few keystrokes, does this guy take chances? Is he on the safety team? Does he follow rules/ best practices?
But this all has to start with a commitment to safety. Do you hire a man to work safely or to save some bucks?

I noticed lots of discussion of PE but no mention of new regulations so I'm not sure if they are related. As of 6/8/10, the new NTL-05 regulation is currently required for all shallow/deep water permits. One excerpt says the following:

"Thus, before you begin any new drilling operations using either a surface or subsea BOP stack or resume drilling operations that were suspended under NTL No. 2010 N04, you must have all well casing designs and cementing program/procedures certified by a Professional Engineer, verifying the casing design is appropriate for the purpose for which it is intended under expected wellbore conditions."


I haven't had time to catch up on the previous thread, but this morning's news has comments by Mark Zoback, a member of the NAE committee. So let us look up Mr Zoback http://pangea.stanford.edu/~zoback/

What we find is a guy who is an academic geophysicist. Haven't we had enough academic geophysicists already? First red methane tidal waves from a Northwestern prof, now this.


As an engineer, I would like Prof Zoback, the scientist, to tell us where and when the next magnitude 5 earthquake will take place along the San Andreas Fault according to the research of his SAFOD - San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth.

"Theory" doesn't mean "shaky hypothesis" and this kind of fluff belongs at HuffPo. It's been quite discouraging to see formerly reasonable info sources take flying leaps.

I never did read the " Red methane tidal wave of death" , but somewhere along the line I encountered the " Flaming radioactive oil hurricane ".

Maybe I'm still having trouble picturing the process. I was under the impression that any time that fluid over formation pressure ( cement/mud/etc) is pushed into a formation, that this is technically fracturing the formation. Or is there a determined bottom line of a differential in pressures necessary to " frac", or is it based more on volume, or both,but also based on pore counts of the particular rock/substrate ?

I read that formations that will produce sand are cased with different types of screening systems to prevent sand from entering the well. I was also under the impression that loose sands are shallow ? I am having trouble picturing a pocket/layer of loose sand 18k' under the floor of the ocean. Was the well designed with any type of screen system @ BOH ?

So what if they did "frac" the formation ? How long does it take to get results from a fracturing process like that ? Isn't "frac'ing" really a wide variety of techniques and timescales ? Is Zoback saying that while the cement was curing and contracting, that pressure from the formation was building and pushing through the cement, causing the "micro-annuli" ?

Injection pressure and fracture pressure are two different things. To inject fluid into the formation, you merely have to have surpass the pore pressure. To fracture the formation, you have to surpass the minimum stress of the formation rock. In some formations, these pressures are very close. In others, they are not. http://eg.geoscienceworld.org/content/vol13/issue2/images/large/eg05010-... shows an example of pressure over time given a steady injection rate. LOP is where they began to inject fluid into the formation, and FBP is the pressure it took to initiate a fracture.

Regarding sand production, the sand is of course packed in very well prior to the well being drilled. While the well is being drilled, you (usually) have kill-weight mud in the hole, so the pressure on each side of the sand grain is the same still, even though there's only fluid in the wellbore now. When the well is being produced, the pressure in the wellbore is lower than the pressure in the surrounding reservoir. This causes the oil and gas to rush into the wellbore. If the sand grains are poorly cemented (ie held together via compression, not a physical substance) the formation fluids may push the sand into the well instead of taking a circuitous route around it.

Understand. Thanks spartan.

Rocks are much stronger under compression than they are under tension. Any excess of fluid pressure over the compressive stress caused by the weight of the overburden reduces the effective compressive stress on the rock. When the amount of overpressure is close to the strength of the rock in tension, a small increase can cause fractures to open. You can think of the fluid pressure as trying to float the rock above it and not be far wrong.

Mark Zoback has been studying how rocks fracture for his entire career. Don't assume that "academic" means "theoretical"; he has a lot of practical experience, including drilling experience. The point of the SAFOD was to study changes in the ways fractures form as pressure and temperature increase deep in a fault zone.

More from WSJ and Siobhan Hughes.

Scientist Says More Than 50% of Oil Still in Gulf

This is puzzling to me, and I wish Ian MacDonald would offer more explanation for his views. It's been estimated that only 20% of the materials from Ixtoc went into sediments, and that was a medium rather than a light crude, with more heavy materials; there were tar deposits 1-2 feet thick in places. Louisiana light sweet crude typically contains less than 10% tarry materials (wax, resin, and asphalt). A recent research article guesstimated "conservatively" (ie, low-end) that Macondo crude was 80% biodegradable for purposes of estimating oxygen demand.

It is true that tar mats covered in sediment will be around for the rest of IM's life, but how in the world do you get from tar residue to 50% of the spill? Is he thinking the brown floc holds 40% of the total spill? Is he saying the brown floc is massively resistant to biodegradation?

Gobbet, these are questions I'd love to see you email to MacDonald (and really love to see him answer for you). Very hard to see how what you and he are saying can logically co-exist, so I share your puzzlement.

In the commission hearing video linked elsewhere, MacDonald says that a lot of "heavy oil" was deposited off the beaches and quickly covered with sediment. He said (correctly) that buried oil does not continue to degrade at a substantial rate. He also said this buried material could be "resuspended" by storms. What continues to puzzle me is how this material could sink to the bottom unless it has already been heavily weathered and much reduced in quantity.

In the same hearing, Camilli said his group has a technology for mapping sedimented oil residues with a rover vehicle that sniffs out the slight release of hydrocarbons from the bottom. This tool has not been used in the Gulf. However, his previous experience was that the deposits were localized "mud puddles."

This is now showing up on the web in spots as

"WASHINGTON – Five months after the initial explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, the Gulf of Mexico is still more than 50% contaminated with crude oil that leaked from BP’s broken well, a presidential panel has been told."

the Gulf of Mexico is still more than 50% contaminated with crude oil

Good Lord, how could you botch a paraphrase more thoroughly than that?

Janet Raloff politely wonders whether MacDonald pulled that 50% number out of his annulus.

MacDonald didn’t explain how he arrived at the percentages that he reported. At one point in his testimony he referred to making, early on, back-of-the-envelope calculations of spill-flow-rate estimates for the accident. Not clear was whether the numbers he gave on oil surviving in the Gulf were similarly suggestive versus well-researched.

That's a nice change from the usual reportorial breathlessness.


When I was in Venezuela Back in the late 90s I was doing some work in the Orinoco belt. There the were blending lighter oil with the Extra Heavy oil to get a reasonably heavy oil. We took sample of the oil & water blend in a soda bottle. We let it sit the entire time I was there (about five weeks) and during that time we got three layers. Oil on top, water in the middle and shoe polish on the bottom. The shoe polish was the heavier oil fractions that contained asphaltenes and had precipitated. It had an API gravity of about 10 degrees which is heavier than water. I read somewhere the asphaltenes in the Macondo well was about 1% of the entire oil volume. So it is reasonable to expect about 1% of the oil released to be on the bottom. At an average rate of 54,000 BOPD rate that would be about 6,000 acres of 1/8" thick oil sludge or slightly less than 10 square miles.

There are heavy fractions besides asphaltenes--waxes and resins-- that are relatively persistent and contribute to tar formation. I'm not confident about this, but I think the persistent heavy fractions that will be sedimented could amount to something like 10% of the original oil materials. Some would deposited diffusely as specks in the offshore bottom sediment. But tar aggregations tend to settle disproportionately in inshore waters because, in the shallows, they pick up mineral sediment that helps to sink them, and also they are less bouyant in water with lower salinity. So the problem is probably greater than your analysis suggests, but I hope much less than MacDonald is saying.

Additional oil is sedimented through biological processes, but it seems these materials would biodegrade more rapidly than tar, unless they are buried immediately. We're waiting for more information about this "floc" sediment. See the TOD posts on this search page:


You may be right in part. Asphaltenes are stabilized by the resins and as the pressure and temperature drops due to flow across a restriction it can cause a phase change condensing paraffin hydrocarbons which "wash off" the resins and lead to asphaltene precipitation. When they floculate in a separator they can cross link and create a membrane that causes all kind of problems with standard stokes law type separation.

However, on the bottom of the ocean I would expect it to be more like the small black "snowflakes" that appeared to fall down around the subsurface equipment and caused the dark discoloration over time. Tends to look like shoe polish. The dispersants used may have helped unstabilize the asphaltenes as well but that is a guess. Testing could confirm.

Thanks, DwE. One of the pictures in Samantha Joye's current blog post (Sept. 6) shows the tiny black snowflakes you are visualizing.


These are embedded in a matrix of what I guess to be mostly biogenic material, but so far no one seems to know exactly what it is. It might or might not contain oil materials that are not heavily degraded, along with dead plankton, bacteria, feces, and mucilage.

Have you looked into initiators for polymerization in propylene glycol..? Something interesting about certain glycols are their susceptibility to polymerize under certain conditions. Don't know if you have ever seen " strings" form in anti-freeze, but some of what I saw on the live feeds, ie: " snot-like strings " made me wonder about it. ..Idk..

WSJ updated their headline to "Scientists Clash Over Amount of Oil" and added

"It did not sink all to the bottom—it can't," Terry Hazen, a senior Energy Department scientist told reporters during a break in a hearing before the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.

Maybe another reporter will give a fuller quote. I'm guessing Hazen means you can't have >50% sedimentation of light crude because tar doesn't sink until most of the oil materials have weathered off.

Stuxnet worm + Iran + mainstream media = Global nuclear meltdown
What's wrong with the wild-eyed speculation in mainstream coverage of the Stuxnet worm? Let me count the ways.
By Woody Leonhard | InfoWorld

The latest round of Stuxnet revelations hit manic levels in the mainstream media over the weekend, and the unsubstaniated, uninformed, unconscionable wild-eyed speculation I've seen stinks to high heaven. Several so-called reporters should be strung up and goose-marched back to J-School.

Maybe Stuxnet coverage could become BeePee's next project.

Now ... if the Iranian would just put up video feeds from ... Oh ... never mind.

From the cited article:

entails a leap of faith spanning several chasms, a handful of continents, and one or two parallel universes

Now, let's see, where has this also occured recently? Looks like a pattern here.

A small dose of sanity amidst the media's dementia
Rob Rosenberger

Rather acerbic.

Stuxnet hypemeister Nancy Bartels grabbed Joe Weiss’ trumpet and blew reveille for the coming of the digital Antichrist!

EDIT: moved to better location

Chile: trapped miners get Brad Pitt, censored news
Though some miners have requested them, sending down personal music players with headphones and handheld video games have been ruled out, because those tend to isolate people from one another.
"With earphones, if they're listening to music and someone calls them, asking for help or to warn them about something, they're not available," Iturra said. "What they need is to be together."...
The rescue team reluctantly agreed to the requests from some men for cigarettes, but alcohol was ruled out, part of an overall routine designed to keep the men focused.


I hope they do not send cigarettes but no lighter.

I thought smoking in mines was ..uh...dangerous ?

Not only that but why risk it for Marlboros?

Yeah, for me it'd have to be a good cigar or something more appropriate for the occasion.


Yeah, I'm kind of blunt at times but I try to be PC when possible. Sorry. Maybe a short, fat cigar then? :)

Even having smoking materials eg cig & lighter or matches is against the law in coal mines because of methane. I don't think so nor is it dangerous in hard rock mines eg copper mines.

edit to add

There are lots of other lung hazards in hard rock mines - silicosis, asbestos mines, lung cancer from radiation in uranium mines ect.

It kind of reminds me of the movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, where Newman & Redford (?) escaping were about to jump off a fairly tall cliff into a stream below. One of the two said something like he wouldn't jump because he might drown in the water below. The other thought he was about crazy since the fall might kill them anyway.

Looked like fun to me :)

Do you know what kind of legal paperwork I would have filed by now? Deny me a damn Playstation. I would be pissed about that one. And if they cut me off from Bama football, I would not be responsible for my actions.

Hooboy, Bama almost lost to Arkansas. What's the world coming to?

As for the legal paperwork. After your complaint made it's way through the court system you'd (hopefully) be out. I guess they are denied music players, alcohol, etc. I suppose it's probably a good idea. I gotta say, I sure am glad it ain't me.

BTW, I hope BP/US Gov't still plans to right things for y'all down there and follows through. You're still in our prayers Gulf people.

Hooboy, Bama almost lost to Arkansas. What's the world coming to?

Worse, I heard the Saints lost -- eaux neaux!

(P.S. Don't diss Arkansas, those folks in Fayetteville provided a whole bunch of mah edumacation.)

Yeah, Saints need a new kicker. Arkansas? Don't feel too bad, I went to LA Tech. :)

Any team in the south beats these Yankees up here. Heck, my best hope is LA Tech beats Boise St. this year. Gotta run. Have a nice day all.

Diss the Hogs? They dang near beat us. As for the paperwork, in the US Obama and the feds would be in charge of approving items in the tube within 24 hours. I would be able to get an emergency injunction on a Federal Judge's desk in 48 hours. The judge would rule on it in some fashion too, although he could just reject it or put it off.


Smoking in mineral mines is dangerous because it gives you cancer. I wouldn't give them the means to foul the air, let them kick the habit. I would send them some dominoes, and checkers and chess games.

I wouldn't give them the means to foul the air, let them kick the habit.

Quitting smoking tends to make folks irritable and even depressed. That's the last thing they need down there.


To flesh this comment out a bit, the danger of silicosis and cancer from other particulates is far higher to smokers than non-smokers because smoking destroys the natural mechanisms the lungs have to protect them from inhaled particulates.

A smoker exposed to asbestos increases his chances of getting the disease by a factor of 60 or so.

I hope they do not [do?] send cigarettes but no lighter.

Excellent idea.

A lot of folks think meat is bad for people, too, so as long as we've got those guys stuck where they can't get at us, what say we put 'em on a strict vegan diet while we're at it?

And in the latest round of acting like a NAZI, Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon bans videotaping the discussion of oil spill related issues in the Orange Beach City Council Meeting. In possible violation of state law and right after settling a sexual harassment case and putting a tax increase on the ballot. The Mayor was the accused in the case. This Mayor is also the one that built the 5 million useless metal boom system at Perdido Pass in Alabama. The one that talked to Obama for thirty minutes and acted like an adviser to the POTUS. The IT guy that thinks he can engineer.

Political Skinny: Orange Beach mayor bans videotaping of public hearing

Orange Beach settles defamation suit in sexual harassment case, pays former planning commissioner $47,500

Orange Beach to vote on property tax increase Tuesday

Edit: Manbearpig where the hell are you? This is YOUR mayor! He is looking like your biggest conspiracy right now.

Official, BP re: Corexit, Transcript of Facebook Q&A Session with Dave Rainey of BP's Gulf Coast Restoration Organization (GCRO)

Question: The first of those questions comes from Kim Moore, who asks: What is the last date that BP used Corexit in the Gulf of Mexico?

Dave: Thank you for your question, @Kim. The last day on which we used dispersant to fight oil on the surface of the water was July 19, shortly after flow from the MC 252 well was stopped on July 15.

Since then only one very small application took place for safety reasons on September 4. As the capping stack was brought to the surface, some hydrocarbons contained in the stack escaped to the water within the moon pool of the recovery vessel. Five gallons of dispersant were applied to reduce potential worker exposure to vapors in this restricted area.

Question: The next question is also from Kim Moore, who asks: Does your company plan to use any more Corexit in this region?

Dave: @Kim – The only situation where we might use dispersant in the future would be for safety reasons in situations similar to the September 4 application, as the remaining equipment is recovered from the seafloor.

Bullet points:

About 1.83 million gallons of dispersant were applied – this is slightly less than three full-size swimming pools.
98% was applied more than 20 miles from the shoreline
No dispersant was applied closer than 8 miles to the shoreline.

If the Corexit-as-disaster people want to challenge BP, there are the figures.

Look at the video. Looks closer than 8 miles to me, but I do not have my tin foil hat on right now;)

Look at the video. Looks closer than 8 miles to me

Huh? Cockpit shots of blue sea with red oil slicks, nada mas.

You did not see the land masses? I will get the time marks.

Edit: 39-45 Land mass appears, 1:00 I thought I saw coordinates on the clipboard, 2:19 anything usable?, 3:35 map usable?

Admittedly all thin but I do not buy the 8 mile thing. From the response team or Eminem.

Admittedly all thin

Way too thin for me. Time marks in an edited montage tape mean nothing, and neither of us knows squat about those co-ordinates.

I did see an 89N. This was all hashed over at the time and discounted, but I thought even you do not believe the 8 mile story. I wonder if the log that the pilot was filling out is subject to a request or if an image has already been posted?

Edit: And time marks are useful for me to point out to you and others what I was looking at. I did not say timecode. Thanks ;)

I thought even you do not believe the 8 mile story

I don't recall ever having formed, much less stated, an opinion on that. But I can't imagine what use they'd have had for Corexit other than as Rainey identified, since we know (for the umpty-umpth time, TF) it only works on fresh oil.

What's with this "even you" stuff?

My bad. I will wait for new reports. You have no opinion about the reports until now. I stand corrected. I do not buy it. Peace, going to bike.

Edit: and I did not mean on the weathered stuff, I meant when it was happening fresh. I think few believed any spraying on the weathered stuff. I am talking about June, and that was why I was really not sure. I thought.. again my bad.

Okay, enjoy your bike ride.

Let me clarify my point about the video a little: because it's edited, not raw footage, we have no idea of how various shots in it relate to either time or space. I assume (but don't know) the glimpse of shoreline occurs as they're flying out to the target area (depending on their cruising altitude, they could be beyond eight miles out and still have the coast in view). The glimpses of dial/map/log could come at any point during the flight. But all we see when the audio includes "Spray on" is sea surface that could be anywhere. So as to locating the spraying site, this interesting tape is utterly inconclusive.

The toes of the Bird's Foot are 15-25 miles long and one of the shorter ones is on the map.

{edit to add} If the plane image on the map represents their position, they are maybe 20 miles beyond the delta.

Quite a bit after the land mass (0:40-0:50), one person said "this is the five mile line" (1:31), (can't cipher markings on the map at 2:19 but the land mass looks miles behind them at that point) A while later was the oil slick (2:21), and then "spray on" (2:43). So
So they could've been at 6 miles out, or way beyond 8.

I never did get a response from the law office that was touting the Boston Chemical lab analysis. They were chasing ambulances in NOLA recently, however.

As far as I know, Marco Kaltofen, P.E., (Civil, Mass.), Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering Worcester Polytechnic Institute never retracted the statement that they had found dispersant on Horn Island.

A Boston-based engineering company, hired by a New Orleans law firm to take samplings in Gulf waters, recently found high concentrations of dispersant near an oil patch between Horn Island and Biloxi.

Boston Chemical Data Corp. President Marco Kaltofen said his group was collecting samples Aug. 9 at Horn Island when they came across a brown, foamy material near an iridescent sheen of oil. The team a detected chemical odor, he said.

“We certainly didn’t expect to find dispersant in that area,” Kaltofen said.

He said he was under the impression BP had stopped using dispersant in the waters in July, but his team found significant chemical concentrations of 780 parts per billion.

The sample, sent to a lab in Colorado, tested positive for three main ingredients in the dispersants used in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Kaltofen said.

Kaltofen said his company was hired by oil-spill attorneys from law firm Smith Stag LLC, and started collecting samples in May.

Boston Chemical Data is a pretty big company that needs to preserve a reputation, so I doubt they are lying. There could have been an error in the lab. There could have been a fluke event like someone flushing out a tank illegally in that area. The sample was collected 21 days after the last Corexit application (Aug. 9 IIRC), so it's barely possible that they found leftovers from spraying. According to a French study, Corexit 9500 degraded to undetectable levels in 28 days.

The Smith Stag legal consortium has paid for at least 4 months of water, air, and seafood testing involving boats and well-paid professionals. They mean business and are probably hoping to touch BP for a few billion.

One thing is clear, certain lawyers have been encouraging the Corexit hysteria (I'm not pointing at Smith Stag here). I'm curious as to whether law firms have been involved in what we might call the Fishermen United Against Gulf Seafood campaign, which has featured some professional-looking media work. I wonder if any of the Oil Truthers, health advocates, or seedy local chemists are on somebody's payroll. Probably not, but sites like FOSL make one wonder.

Anyone know what they're using to clean vessel hulls, and do they contain those three main ingredients? just curious

EXCLUSIVE: DOJ Refuses to Revoke BP's Probation Over Safety Violations at Texas City Refinery

DOJ will allow BP to spend two additional years to correct hundreds of safety problems that have plagued the refinery - the third-largest in the country - for a decade and have played a part in the deaths of 19 people over the past five years.

Well, I read the Dooher letter pdf but await a more reliable explanation of it than Jason Leopold's. Been burned by believing his claims too many times before to listen to him further.

You're an idiot. Why don't you go over to Democratic Undergound or Daily Kos and leave negative comments there about Leopold. Fact is, he's been doing the best work on BP for the past six months. 60 minutes and CNN think so and that's obviously why they stole his story.

The guy posts the actual letter from the Department of Justice and interviews the lawyers for the victims and the speaks to government people ON THE RECORD and that's not good enough for you because you were supposedly "burned"? GET OVER IT!

Well hello to you too, carrierobertson, whoever you are.

It's time. Can I get a little virtual clink on that? Come to find out, we also have Arkansas in common. :)



Carrierobertson, go read the rules for this site. Personal attacks are simply not allowed and are totally unacceptable. If you want to debate Lotus, do it with the facts or your non-attack opinions but don't attack the poster personally. Suggest you take a time-out on some other site, and think about how if you want to post here you can do it without being in attack the person mode. We have plenty of disagreements here but for the most part we can the personal hammering.


Dear Sir or Madam robertson,

You have apparently registered here at TOD specifically to launch a personal tirade against one of our more treasured community members, lotus. Can't tell how long you have been lurking prior to the 15 minutes ago that you registered and almost immediately insulted my friend.

Fact is that I disagree with her perception of Mr. Leopold myself, but I was going to explain my opposing opinion after some thought on how she has obviously come to have a negative view of Jason Leopold. I can understand it.

I can assure you that lotus is anything BUT an "idiot." If you choose to continue this conversation, I hope you will rethink your approach. Such posts are perfectly acceptable in the comments on YouTube videos, apparently; but I think the majority of TOD posters will agree that reason and civil discourse in the exchange of opinions and sometimes contradictory information are primary goals here at TOD.

***End of this evening's Granny Lecture***

Thank you, duck and Lizzy. Now, it's possible that Jason Leopold may have mended his ways in the five or so years since bad experience led me to swear off him (and truthout and teevy "news"), but unless/until bmaz or someone else I've learned to respect -- like, say, one of y'all -- vouches for the interpretation he presented, I remain wary, to say the least.

seriously, Lotus, your reading skills are very poor. I do hope you have sworn off the NYT and the WaPo and every other MSM outlet for falsely reporting IRaq had WMDs.

Apparently quoting from documents and providing those documents and quoting people on the record is now "an interpretation."

What is it about the DOJ's letter that says "we're not seeking a probation revocation" or the DOJ flak quoted on the record confirming that that makes it difficult for you to understand?

Are you hanging around Christine O'Donnell?

carrier, what part of don't knock the poster don't you understand, or is it possible that you are incapable of understanding? If it is the latter, please say Bye Bye to this site. Your participation is not wanted with that ugly approach.

""seriously, Lotus, your reading skills are very poor. I do hope you have sworn off the NYT and the WaPo and every other MSM outlet for falsely reporting IRaq had WMDs."" THIS SIMPLY CONTINUES YOUR PREVIOUS ATTACK ON Lotus and demeans her abilites and character etc.

Knock it off or leave.



Not really...I always make a point of reading all comments from lotus. But I'm so busy at work right now I'm hoping I'll get run off from TOD for a while until I have more spar time.

Oh...and did I mention: LOTUS IS AN IDIOT! LOTUS IS AN IDIOT!

If you read all her posts you'd knew she's having puter probs at the moment. LOL That'd be a good chess move, IF her puter doesn't crank back up :-D

Oh yeah? Wull,


In fact, he's so big a doof, we can't wait for 'im to finish busting that well's ornery chops and get back here to doof some mo', idnat right?

All together now: ROCKY'S A DOOF! ROCKY'S A DOOF!

seriously, Lotus, your reading skills are very poor. I do hope you have sworn off the NYT and the WaPo and every other MSM outlet for falsely reporting IRaq had WMDs.

Apparently quoting from documents and providing those documents and quoting people on the record is now "an interpretation."

What is it about the DOJ's letter that says "we're not seeking a probation revocation" or the DOJ flak quoted on the record confirming that that makes it difficult for you to understand?

Are you hanging around Christine O'Donnell?

lotus, I've reread the Truthout article by Leopold and the linked documents. Looks to me like he's got it down. The linked documents from OSHA, etc., seem to back him up. All that's missing is, like he says (or the lawyer said), any "communications" between DOJ and OSHA that may have occurred in working it all out. Whether the judge and/or DOJ really intended to leave that hole through which BP made the end run is also a question left, I think. Think somebody from OSHA was quoted as having said something like "we won't be tricked again." It is all really weird. I think that were I that judge, I would be really pissed. Pretty clear that BP lawyers must be some of the slipperiest in the world; not so clear, why the Judge/gov't is letting them get away with it. It seems to me that this "end run" is being "allowed." I wonder why. I looked up the percentage of fuel supplied to the military by BP, and it seems to me that we could "live without them." But there is much I cannot know. Gimme back your take on it.

I can't find that Leopold mentions BP's very willful, and downright arrogant violation of a month-or-so-long gas release from the Texas City facility not long ago. Why was that not cause for revocation of their probation right there on the spot? I'll have to do some checking up on that. It happened during the worst of the gushing from BP's Hole in the World, as I remember, and made news for a day or so. Texas City officials and residents were furious. And there was something about BP PO-lice along with some local cops threatening a photographer who was taking pix of the plant from off the property. Suddenly, I just heard no more about it. Yup, must do some searching on that one.

And just for fun:

"HBO released a previously unaired 1998 television clip of Christine O'Donnell, now
a Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Delaware, in which she said evolution is a myth.
'Why aren't monkeys still evolving into humans?'"

--from "Harpers" weekly e-mail news update, this week

"HBO released a previously unaired 1998 television clip of Christine O'Donnell, now
a Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Delaware, in which she said evolution is a myth.
'Why aren't monkeys still evolving into humans?'"

--from "Harpers" weekly e-mail news update, this week

I'm starting to wonder if reverse evolution isn't happening? Some people appear to be de-evolving back into monkeys!

Reminds me of the preface to 'The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy'

"Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of
the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow
Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an
utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life
forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches
are a pretty neat idea.
This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most
of the people on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many
solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were
largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper,
which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of
paper that were unhappy.
And so the problem remained; lots of the people were mean, and
most of them were miserable, even the ones with digital watches.
Many were increasingly of the opinion that they'd all made a big
mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some
said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should
ever have left the oceans."

Alaska, there is nothing to wonder about. It is already a fait acompli. Whether humans go so far as monkeys remain to be seen, but Idiocracy is very much alive and well. Hence the fundamental flaw in Democracy (and that works BOTH ways, against Red AND Blue partisans).

HBO released a previously unaired 1998 television clip of Christine O'Donnell, now a Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Delaware, in which she said evolution is a myth.

Might as well link the clip (I chose the one with bonus footage).

Yoohoo, Lizzy, I'm home!

Thanks for this book report. I got me a huge bowl of catchup to glom through now that this confuser's outta the hospital, so here's what I propose: I'll provisionally adopt your take on the Leopold post until I have time to read/weigh it myself. Then (especially if mine varies from yours) I'll sing out. Will be looking hard for any Texas City-related hint too because that episode always sounded like a dictionary illustration of "egregious."

As for Sister O'Donnell (and Brothers Miller and Paladino): Glorioski, Uncle DeMint sure has an eye for talent, don't he?

Well, I apologize but that comment just teed me off. I've been a reader hear for more than a year, before the Gulf disaster got everyone around. And I have found the comments to be intellectually stimulating but lately, for me at least, it's like reading comments on the Huffington Post. That's my opinion. So yes, I did register just to respond to lotus. I read that story and it pissed me off that the govt won't do anything and then to just attack the writer, Leopold, who is just reporting what the Department of Justice's own letter says makes no sense. The letter is right there!

Hey everybody, let's welcome Robert Gibbs to the board!



Here are 7 videos covering today's meetings of the National Commission on BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. The scientists panel video includes Bill Lehr, Ian McDonald, Richard Camilli, Mark Sogge, and Terry Hazen

For those looking for NOAA documents, I found a page that has links to many. One report I hadn't seen before is a 3rd JAG report covering oxygen depletion:

Thank you for that link!
Speaking of NOAA, here are the marinetraffic.com tracks of the NOAA Vessels Pisces and Gyre right now near the macondo: http://tinyurl.com/26x8vnr and, from the Pisces this morning, Press Briefing by Federal On-Scene Coodinator Rear Admiral Paul Zukunft, September 27, 2010, describing this research operation: http://tinyurl.com/3ydkfzr Gyre has been near the site several times in the past few days.

These videos are pretty good. I hope I don't stay up too late watching them. Ian MacDonald had a suggestion that would affect those on the rigs. He thought more Ocean Observatories were needed in the Gulf to study ocean currents and sealife and he thought the best location for these is on gulf oil production platforms. Also, I thought Lisa Jackson is doing a great job frankly explaining the difficult decisions regarding the use of dispersants and trying to ensure a close eye was kept on BP to prevent overuse.

To the Deep Water Followers,

It is 11:00 pm CDT and there are 67 comments for the day. We pushed and prevailed on Gail to preserve the DW thread, but I think today there are only 2.5 actual on going discussion items. I haven't seen posts by some of the main participants for several days. My opinion, nothing interesting going on with the DW thread.

It would seem that there must be some additional areas of interest.
* I would think the ongoing hearings etc in Washington and else where would be of interst
* from my personal interest area, I am interested in how we can implement current technology to reduce the emissions problem and here at home I've made some proposals. But I have no idea that folks on the DW thread might be interested. It is no farther off thread than the worm situation with I find very interesting.
HOPEFULLY some others can add to the list of interest and we can get some discussion going. Else, I think this thread is going to die an agonizing death, or sudden death at the hands of Gail.


I have been following the threads on an ongoing basis. My career field is in computers and therefore, I don't have a lot to say about the BP or any other well.

I have been learning a lot though about oil well drilling since I've been visiting here I strongly suspect that there are others who are also not from the patch but nevertheless come here to learn.

I came here through postings on the Free Republic website and I believe that others also came here after reading about this site there.

I do appreciate the continuing postings here as the BEST way for anyone to keep up with what is happening in regards to not only the BP well, but also other things regarding the patch. Dan

edited for typos, Dan

Computer trouble here -- back ASAP. PLEASE KEEP GOING, Y'ALL.

Several of the subthreads in the last couple of DWH discussion threads have been very interesting. I don't think that continuing these threads has been a waste of time at all.

I'm going to have to agree. Today was remarkable in content. So I'm glad that I like, I think Mark Twain, who predicted the early death of this thread is / was hopefully wrong.

It is a good site / thread with good people. At the rate we are going we might clear 300 posts by morning. Wow.


Spill panel: Federal confusion lost public trust

The Obama administration's repeated low estimates of the huge BP oil spill undermined public confidence in the government's entire cleanup effort, leaders of a White House-appointed commission declared at an investigatory hearing Monday. One likened the mistakes to Custer's disastrous decisions at Little Big Horn.

Federal officials botched the government's response, a local official and government and university scientists contended as the commission focused on the questions of who was in charge and how much oil spewed out of the well into the Gulf of Mexico.

Eventually, U.S. officials said the spill was about 60 times bigger than originally estimated. Instead of 42,000 gallons a day, the volume of leaking oil was closer to 2.4 million gallons a day.

"There is a tendency to forget the fact that this property out in the Gulf of Mexico where all this is happening belongs to all of us," he said. "We are the landlord. They are the lessees. And we need to start acting like a landlord."


It's true that the botched flow estimates contributed a great deal to the loss of public trust. People interpreted it as lying. But it seems to have been simply cluelessness. The capacity to estimate flow accurately from a blown-out undersea well is not an established responsibility of the federal government. Evidence of cluelessness (vs. lying) is that BP designed the milk carton thing to contain only a small flow and brought on site a processor that could only handle 15,000 bbl/day. From this experience everyone has learned that expert optical analysis of the flow is reasonably trustworthy, while other methods are not.

The other really terrible PR move was Carol Browner's misinterpretation of the oil budget when she went on the Sunday news/talk shows. That should have been immediately and vehemently repudiated. If it was deliberate, dumb spin, whoever was responsible should have been canned.

People interpreted it as lying. But it seems to have been simply cluelessness.

I remain astounded at how often people simple don't get this.

First law of conspiracies - Never attribute to conspiracy that which can adequately be explained by incompetence.

It seems that the average person believes that their government is essentially schizophrenic. On one hand, governments are manifestly incompetent at the day to day duties that we entrust to them. Yet they reserve the chillingly competent, super smart guys for the black helicopters. Yet go talk to your friends that work for the government, and you discover, that like you, they are ordinary people, with ordinary worries, and ordinary foibles. And they made ordinary mistakes. Being in the employ of the government does not turn some switch in their heads that makes them either blithering idiots or pathological liars.

But I guess such notions makes for good TV and movies, and saves having to think.

First law of conspiracies - Never attribute to conspiracy that which can adequately be explained by incompetence.

It seems that the average person believes that their government is essentially schizophrenic. On one hand, governments are manifestly incompetent at the day to day duties that we entrust to them. Yet they reserve the chillingly competent, super smart guys for the black helicopters.

Yes! People somehow believe that the same officials are total idiots, yet at the same time able to pull of conspiricies of incredible complexity.

People somehow believe that the same officials are total idiots, yet at the same time able to pull of conspiricies of incredible complexity.

I think there may be quite a few people who don't make a significant distinction between "mistake" and "lie." If an official says something that later proves untrue, they refer to it as a "lie" regardless of whether they think the misstatement was intentional or inadvertent. And they're perfectly willing to accept that the official sincerely believed the statement was accurate--but they still call it a "lie," because, well, it wasn't true! For such people it's more of a conceptual/language problem than paranoia about conspiracies.

And yet, there are laws about conspiracies on the books and one can go read http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6984#comment-724489 and see an exchange about what did/did not happen about an event in the past.

8% of the population are 'born' sociopaths. Simple statistics and promotions based on their actions/higher profits will place those kind of people in positions of power. Combine that with a twist on Upton Sinclair/the mob - 'if you are being paid well, you'll keep your mouth shut and participate as you've seen the sociopaths rise to the top.' - it is a recipe for all kinds of nastyness.

Well to be fair, to gain my trust you have to provide correct information. If the reason the information is bad is you are incompetent or it's because you are lying it really doesn't matter so much to me. Malice or incompetence I'll make the decision that you aren't to be trusted and that's it.

Chances are I'll think you are stupid before I think you are lying, but that's just me. I can see how people might make a different choice.

It seems that the average person believes that their government is essentially schizophrenic.

No more 'schizophrenic' than most other organizations over X people. (where X is 10-12, 25, 50, or 150 depending on the speaker)

The path down conspiracy claims is a lack of honesty, what with sunlight being the best disinfectant and all.
Have an open and honest process and its hard for claims of conspiracy to take hold.


Councilwoman Pattisue Carranza… said, “I don’t think it’s time to raise flags. But there’s a message out there that needs to be one of be cautiously aware of your own body. What kind of warning do we put out that’s a positive warning and not a panic warning? You want to be honest with people and tell them this is what’s going on, but you don’t want to alarm them.

You are either honest or not. You honesty is either alarming or not. If the honesty is alarming and you opt to not say anything - well - now you have a problem.

Are "we" in the land-o-problems yet?

I remain astounded at how often people simple don't get this.
First law of conspiracies - Never attribute to conspiracy that which can adequately be explained by incompetence.

What does conspiracy have to do with any of this? People were suspicious of the flow rate estimates because THEY WERE WAY TOO LOW, and because fudged numbers are as common in politics as outright lies.

Gobbet, the original estimate was that the spill was flowing 29 gallons a minute. That slow of a flow rate out of a 21" pipe would barely lift the oil 2" above the top of the pipe. Gas would bubble out, but in no way could that low of a flow rate produce the 200-300' flames on the DWH.

I get that the 1,000 and 5,000 bbl a day flow rates were produced after the rig sunk, and the kinked risers were cited as reason for the low flow. The slick was growing at a much faster rate, and one look from an ROV at the main leak would immediately tell you the estimate was incredibly low. I have seen 1,000 gallons a minute flowing out of a 12" pipe before, and it wasn't as violent looking as the flow coming out of the 21" riser in the first released picture (21" is 3x the area of 12" pipe).


First and foremost, BP has a responsibility to its shareholders. They would be doing their shareholders a great disservice if they did not try to understate the size and impact of the spill. Fines are given out based on amount of oil spilled and negligence. Keeping the amount spilled lower than actual is very important. Designing a processor too small to collect all of the oil and cementing the well before the larger processor could be put in place was genius. What if the larger processor would have been put online and found to be too undersized to collect all the leaking oil. The spill estimate could have doubled.

I thought the dramatic increase in advertising spending by BP was also a good move. Having BP's links come up at the top of search engines and getting their TV commercials in heavy rotation helped with their public image. The 500 mile no fly zone was pretty helpful from a PR standpoint.

The heavy use of dispersants at the leak location was another good move. It cut down on the amount of oil reaching the surface, and thus made the leak even harder to estimate size wise.

If I was a shareholder I would give their response a B. I would have given them an A, but I think the failure to block the ROV feeds from the public hurt their share prices.

To me it doesn't make a bit of sense to suggest that BP would deliberately bungle their collection attempts in order to camouflage the flow rate. BP's overriding interest was to minimize the spill and keep oil away from the shore and inshore areas in order to minimize actual damages and the resulting liability as well as the enormous damage to their brand name. The cost of a big spill is in tens of billions; the per-barrel spill penalties are a minor factor.

And obviously the government's interest runs against allowing BP to fudge the flow estimate.

Neither party had any idea what the flow rate actually was. For the first week or two, the flow rate may actually have been only moderate.

Negligent fines are $4,300 a barrel. Lets say BP spilled 6 million barrels of oil into the gulf, but the courts could only prove that 3 million barrels were spilled. That would be a savings of 13 billion dollars. That is a massive savings.

Would the government be better off collecting as much money from BP as possible, or would it be better to completely hammer them into bankruptcy? What does it say about the government if they were found to to be approving negligent deep water practices?

BP internal documents had a worst case scenario of 100,000 barrels per day. I'm sure BP has some incredibly smart people working for them that couldn't have possibly misjudged the flow rate by 50x.

There is no Federal Bureau of Deepsea Blowout Flow Rate Estimation, nor does BP have a Division of DsBoFRE. Prior to this, probably nobody involved on either side had ever seen a video of HCs massively discharging in the water. NOAA and the Coast Guard made the early estimates by measuring the slick and guessing at its thickness on the basis of a color chart that, according to testimony before the commission yesterday, can be off by two orders of magnitude. Also, they did not know that a sizable fraction of the oil was stalling out 1000 meters down.

The worst case estimate of 100,000 bbl/day was not a BP secret. It or a similar number was in the response plan, IIRC. A video was linked here showing it was discussed (and not dismissed) in an early BP/government gathering including, as I recall, Lisa Jackson. I think it was never a serious estimate, but just the worst case anyone could imagine for a reservoir anything like this. The fact that it was discussed as a possibility just indicates that no one had any solid idea how much was flowing.

Then when they stood up the flow rate group, the teams, which included high-level independent experts, were all over the map with estimates ranging from 8,000 to 60,000. The optical analysts produced the upper outlier, which turned out to be correct, but it was outside the consensus range. Later a Woods Hole group produced another accurate estimate using a type of sonar technology in conjunction with a sample taken at the wellhead. So now we know how to do this, but I don't blame the bureaucrats for not knowing in May or June. I think they thought each estimate was plausible when they made it. They probably leaned toward the low end of range estimates.

I guess I just don't see what was so hard about coming up with a ball park estimate. If you know the size of the pipe and can get a decent estimate on the velocity, then you can easily generate a flow estimate.

21" pipe = riser diameter
2' per second = scale video footage based on known pipe size, then track particles coming out of the pipe.

The math works out to 35 gal/sec or 72,000 barrels/day.

Lets reverse the math to see how poor the guesses of 1,000 and 5,000 barrels a day were:

A 21" pipe, with a flow rate of 1,000 barrels a day would be coming out of the pipe with a velocity of .027 feet per second (1.6 feet per minute). That is a snails pace.

The 5,000 barrel a day estimate would have a velocity assumption of .135' per second (8' per minute).

BP had access to underwater video from day one. Its not possible for them to miss the correct estimate by a factor of 50 or 10. Most experts say the particle image velocimetry technique should be accurate within a factor of .2.

I was under the impression that the flow was choked back, in essence, by the annular preventer closed around the DP, as well as the two lower shears. Wouldn't that lower the amount significantly, that was flowing ?
Has anybody here tried solving M=pva now that we have more numbers to input ?

Not to downplay what happened, but I just don't believe that 70k or more barrels a day were flowing. I did, at one point, before I knew the situation of the BOP. But now...not so much.

Also, for you engineers here :. Wouldn't the Joule–Thomson effect tend to skew particle velocimetry techniques ?

"I was under the impression that the flow was choked back, in essence, by the annular preventer closed around the DP, as well as the two lower shears. Wouldn't that lower the amount significantly, that was flowing ?"

What the flow is doing in another section of the pipe shouldn't change the measurement process. 2 feet/second out of a 21" pipe is what it is. I'm sure the partially closed areas of the BOP helped reduced the overall flow, but not the flow measurement at the end of the riser.

Think about flowing 30 gallons a minute through a 1/2" pipe and the velocity of the water will be high. Now think about what 30 gallons a minute would look like coming out of a 2" pipe (the velocity will be much slower). The flow would be the same but the velocity would be different. Now attach the 30gpm flowing 1/2" pipe to the end of a 1000' section of 2" pipe. If you measure the flow at the end of the 1000' pipe it will be 30 gpm (possibly a little less due to friction), but the flow measured at the end of the pipe is still the measured flow.

What I am getting at is which PIV technique they used exactly to come up with flow rates, there are different methods.

In the case of something like a crude oil, the particles will, due to their higher density, and the different fluid densities, not perfectly follow the motion of the fluid. Whether they were tracking blobs of oil, or sand, to come up with a flow estimate, could lead to very different results.

That's all I'm sayin'.

I think you've cracked it! I'd expect a call from the flow rate team imminently! :-)

Seriously, I think you are right when you say there is probably an uncertainty factor of at least 2 in the rate estimates for any given day, whether made by velocity analysis or wellbore modelling.

Given my profession I'm biased in favour of the latter approach. If you are interested there is a relevant appendix to the BP internal investigation report which reports blow-out modelling using OLGA software. Based on matching to observed pressures as the well unloaded the contractor concluded that there were substantial restrictions to flow at the sandface/shoetrack, but nevertheless at the moment of the blowout the well was capable of delivering at rates between 40000 and 60000 b/d depending on whether the flow was through the dp-casing annulus or the dp itself.

In my view the uncertainty range on these figures would be large, and conditions would also have changed over subsequent days and weeks with closure of rams, and erosion both at surface and downhole. 

Using extra data available to BP (for example the trend in flowing wellhead pressure measured at the BOP over the flowing period, and the shut-in reservoir pressure in July), an appointed expert would have a reasonable chance of building an integrated reservoir / well model and producing a rate vs time estimate with an appropriate uncertainty distribution. 

Given that the range would likely be at least +/- 50%, it's use would be somewhat academic, and open to challenge in court. Nevertheless the overlap with uncertainty ranges from other techniques would be interesting and might help narrow the range a little.

I think you are a bit unfair about the early low rate estimates. The shear rams were triggered about 3 hrs before the rig sank, and the multiple riser and drillpipe kinks will have provided additional restriction. There is rov footage of the early days after the riser fell which indicated minimal leakage, and the coast guard estimates of 1000 - 5000 b/d may have been very reasonable. Erosion to produce the gusher we eventually all saw probably took some time, and I understand the reticence on the part of any authority or bp to put a hard number on it. 

Heh heh. I know my method is very basic and has many holes. I mainly wanted to show how ridiculously slow the oil velocity would have to be coming out of the end of the riser to match their estimated flow rates.

The first underwater ROV video/pictures released were from around 5/11, and there was already a 50K+ flow going at that point. That first video was absolutely blasting oil out of the 21" pipe. There is absolutely no possible way they could look at that video and miss the flow rate by a factor of 12 or 60.

Did BP ever release any underwater images or pictures from earlier on(say April)? They had ROV's in the area before the DWH sunk. Release some pictures and photos of the leak from April, and I might change my mind based on what I see.

Why did they wait until 3 hrs before the sinking to shut the rams? If they were shut, then show me video of the ROV inspecting the fallen riser pipe with no leaks or only with leaks small enough to justify a 1000 barrels a day.

For what it is worth, BP told the House Energy and Environment Committee on May 4 that the flow rate might be as large as 60,000 BPD.

There seems to be a strong undercurrent that BP was working very hard at hiding the true flow. In reality they came up with a pretty plausible number within 2 weeks. Remember, the flow was coming from several places in the bent riser, not just from the nice clean top of the capping stack. Perhaps they could have done it in 13 days, or even 3 days, but does it really make any serious difference? There were no skimmers to deploy instantly, nothing to clean up on the shore, etc.

There were no skimmers to deploy instantly, nothing to clean up on the shore, etc.

I posted this elsewhere, showing that there was a lot of skimming and booming going on in the first week of the spill.


This was done mostly by BP's cleanup contractors, who were kept on permanent retainer by the oil companies and were supposed to be able to handle the largest imaginable spill. Of course in reality the skimming capacity was laughably inadequate and the booming effort, though very busy, was poorly directed. We need to keep reminding ourselves that, in our system, spill containment and cleanup is supposed to be completely privatized, with supervision by government.

I just reread the TOD thread for May 6-10, and BP's upper estimate of 60,000 is discussed there. But BP had also done an estimate based on measuring the slick that said 1000-25,000 bbl/day. Ian MacDonald had done a slick estimate of 26,500 that he considered a minimum estimate. The bottom line is, uncertainty and confusion.


Try as I might I can't find any footage or stills of those early ROV surveys to link, so you are quite right to be sceptical. 

The crew tried to close the shear rams during the blowout, and the ROVs tried repeatedly in the hours that followed. It appears they only succeeded just before the sinking when they triggered an auto-shear function.

If I remember right BP's Oil Spill response plan had a 250,000 BPD maximum rate but it was assumed only for a maximum of ONE Day. I believe the prescriptive regulations for how to develop an oil spill reponse required it to be based on that one day period. Bad assumption by the regulators not the oil companies. Reason why prescriptive regulations are bad.

The exploration well they used as a hypothetical was MC 254....

I believe the prescriptive regulations for how to develop an oil spill reponse required it to be based on that one day period.


The permit application requires the applicant to estimate the discharge from a worst case blowout. Part of the lease holders responsibility to contain an oil spill is to end the flow. If it takes more than one day to stop the flow that isn't the government's fault - it is the lease holder's fault.

The lease holder is also required to have the capability to drill a relief well. Do you believe the regulators expect a relief well to be drilled in one day?

DE - Amazing: the plan assumes a potential of 250,000 bo flow for one day and then stops. I suppose we're to assume that after watching the well flow 1/4 of billion bo into the GOM BP decides it might be a good idea to activate the BOP. Maybe they were anticipating a bridging over. So it flows 250,000 bopd and then decides it time to collapse. All things are possible I suppose. But not all things are probable.

And obviously the government's interest runs against allowing BP to fudge the flow estimate.

The sitting government's interest generally lies in downplaying problems that upset the public.

Low estimates could have been corrected long before they became a problem from a revenue standpoint.

Edit: Added "sitting."

Your comments are reasonable, but in IMO there is still no evidence of lying or wrongdoing. At worst, they knew they didn't have a clue and lacked the courage to say that to reporters who were badgering them for a flow estimate. Or maybe they thought they had a rough idea of the flow and leaned toward releasing figures toward the lower end of their range of estimates. To me it looks like bumbling that was not really harmful except insofar as it was interpreted as lying.

You may be right. I was simply pointing out that it is not unreasonable to believe members of the government could get together on a lie. Someone upthread suggested, unintentionally perhaps, that anyone who thinks it happened in this case is a conspiracy theorist.

amount of oil spilled and negligence. Keeping the amount spilled lower than actual is very important. Designing a processor too small to collect all of the oil and cementing the well before the larger processor could be put in place was genius.


Nah that wasn't genius. By your line of reasoning that was really very stupid. With the capping stack in place they now had the means to throttle the flow. They could have hooked up all the lines and risers they had assembled and collected 20,000 bpd. And then claimed it never flowed more than that.

The whole purpose of the integrity test after they put the capping stack on was to determine how much back pressure the well could stand. They fully expected to reopen the valve shortly after closing it in but they knew they would have found out how much pressure the well would be able to take.

After they did discover the well had integrity, they could have hooked up a line and dribbled 1000 bpd into a ship. Would you have then believed it was only leaking 1000 bpd from the beginning?

By cementing the well and not collecting some oil for at least a day, BP missed a big opportunity to present the flow as much smaller than it was.

Good point. I wouldn't call it a "stupid" plan. It would have been a good plan based on their assumption that the well had lost integrity. I think they were a little shocked when they found the well was only 1000-2000 PSI below what would be considered full integrity.

By cementing the well and not collecting some oil for at least a day, BP missed a big opportunity to present the flow as much smaller than it was.

They had already collected 25K+ barrels a day, and ROV feeds showed oil still blasting out from all sides of the cap.

@jmygann et al


Spill panel: Federal confusion lost public trust

end snip

I think in the end what roasted my already minuscule supply of 'give em a break' vis the emergency response was the fact that the FEDS/EPA

just about completely trashed the preloaded response plans.

I had spent a lot of time working with Politicians (many of whom I could not stand) after Ixtoc I debacle and was really pleased in the 80's when there were finally (several years after the Ixtoc blowout) a set of preloaded response plans that could be fired up without waiting for the EPA etc to bless the reactions.

So guess what the EPA wouldn't authorize the pre loaded plans, wouldn't get moving and in the end the .gov spent a lot of time fouling up the clean up efforts (yer cleanup up boat didn't pass our inspection it cant ship out, instead of you will need x get it and get moving).

It wasn't confusion, that was to be expected due to the scale, it was the mendacious, malicious and pervasive efforts to gum up the clean up operation (see the EPA v Louisiana on the sand berms)

pre loaded plans my Bleeeeppppp

they weren't worth the paper they were written on because the .gov refused to follow them.


full disclosure, In the 80's I was based out of S. TX and really love South Padre Island, even with the hotels everywhere it is one of my favorite beaches. I just can't wait til some hurricane cleans all those sorry hotels off my beach. South Padre took a nasty hit from Ixtoc I and if you dig down 5 or 6 feet in Andy Bowie park you will still find oily sand in the dunes. grrr.
That why I was pleased the rapid response plans were developed I just hoped they would never be put to use. I enraged me when the EPA/.gov worked to gum up the plans.

So your idea is the EPA and other agencies acted dishonestly and with malicious intent to foul up the response effort? Why in the world would they want to do that?

And about the preloaded response plan. Are you referring to the boilerplate BP submitted to MMS? As I recall from reading it back in May, this called mainly for mobilizing their pre-positioned cleanup contractors to skim, set boom, and apply dispersant. How did the government gum up those activities? There was certainly a lot of disorganized flopping around for the first two months as state and local governments, BP, spill contractors, and the Coast Guard tried to do various poorly coordinated things. I think you should consider Francis's post above about the roles of incompetence vs. malice/conspiracy.

According to the system we had in place, it was BP's responsibility to get the cleanup done through their contractors. I don't think anyone believes the private sector was doing a great job before the government began exerting more control around the second week in June. The fact is, nobody in any sector really knew what they were doing. The performance probably improved somewhat as time went on.

I watched a National Geographic video that illustrates how in-situ burning of oil appeared to lack any beforehand training or tools. It is 1 of 7 videos by National Geographic called, "Can the Gulf Survive"

The 7th and last video illustrates the unpreparedness of oil response. 3/4 thru video, a Coast Guard reservist on a small "igniter boat" uses an improvised device to start in-situ burn of oil. The device is two milk jugs filled with kerosene, marine flare and foam wrapped in duct tape and thrown into oil.

The 6th video shows BP's Command Center (the hive) on the day the well was capped.

Oh, and the disturbing 5th video, scientist John Paul discovers Mutant DNA in deep subsurface...

Paul and his colleague Hollander are the scientists who confused reporters into writing that the deep subsurface oil (actually microscopic flecks they found in the sediment) threatens to rise up through the DeSoto Canyon and eat Pensacola.

Thanks for the additional insight into Paul and Hollander. I'm not familiar with their names and was curious if publicity was a little more important for them than it should be. I guess National Geographic has a lower bar than I would have expected for their publications.

What I said shouldn't be taken to discredit Paul's work. PAH oil fractions are mutagenic, and it may be solid and important work. But the USF team, like some others out there, do seem eager to catch the attention of reporters.

I enraged me when the EPA/.gov worked to gum up the plans.

I was enraged that EPA didn't follow the pre-plan to protect the Gulf of Mexico walrus population!

Don't know about that A_geo. I didn't hear a single report of dead or sickened walruses. :)

Did they ever phone the dead guy?

I am claiming credit for the lack of dead or sickened GOM walruses for my fund-rasing efforts to protect the huddle. See http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6757#comment-684436

Yes, a classic.


Not a single GOM walrus died on our watch! Personally, I think it was the Lady GaGa endorsement that did it.


Thanks for reposting that, bb. It's great! Lizzy

What exactly are these "pre loaded plans" you mention over and over. Are they written down somewhere? Or is it just exist in your imagination?

It is my understanding that in order to get a lease to drill oil offshore an Oil company is required to provide proof that they are capable to handle the absolute worse case spill. In accordance with this legal requirement, BP stated in their application for drilling permit that they had the manpower and equipment in place to handle a spill of 150,000 barrels per day.

That was how the spill was supposed to be cleaned up using the means that BP promised they had in order to get their drilling permit.


the pre approved response plans were written process / procedures inherent to drilling on Fed leases.

they are written down the preload part was supposed to be 'get moving all this (whatever) is preapproved'.

what happened was the EPA/MMS, whomever said 'nothing is approved' and demanded site specific stuff. It

appears the Feds then took 10 to 14 days to get their approvals together. (some of this I got second hand from

people who were wondering why they were twiddling their thumbs, answer from upstairs was 'don't move, no


that's why you see all the Walrus comments, alot of the pre approved response plans were cut and paste from the

Exxon Valdez mess. The only large marine mammals in the Gulf (besides Dolphins) are Manatees, which I have not

found any impact info on so far. The Caribbean Monk seal has been extinct since the


Here is the Current Ops report for April 29, a week into the spill, which began the morning of April 22:

Operations and Ongoing Response – April 29, 2010
Assets Deployed To Date-Additional 25 Vessels Arrive
Total response vessels: approximately 75
Boom deployed: 174,060 feet
Boom available: 243,260 feet
Oily water recovered: 763,560 gallons
Dispersant used: 98,361 gallons

Dispersant available: 75,000 gallons
Overall personnel responding: more than 1,000

So, it's not obvious that people were twiddling their thumbs waiting for permits.

I'm still not getting your complaint. Are you saying that BP had all the equipment and manpower lined up and ready to go, but they had to wait 2 weeks for somebody in government to say "OK go ahead you can start skimming now"?

On the Moratorium front, Chevron has quietly drilled a deepwater well off the coast of North America which is the first since the Macando disaster. Haven't heard about it? Neither had I until today. Looks like Canada will make even MORE money off this mess than they already have.

Markey to BP Commission: On Flow Rate, Ask What Did BP Know and When Did They Know It
see Flow Rate Timeline

Exemption to Dispersant Monitoring and Assessment Directive - Addendum 3

How the oil-disaster flow estimates have evolved (June 15th, 2010)

"BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles estimated the flow from the well at 53,000 barrels per day in a June 6 interview with CNN."
hxxp://...? I remember watching it but can't find interview

Dudley said (June 23) no one knows how much the well was producing but that government estimates 35,000 and higher than 60,000. (2:50)

human interest
Did butterfly save miners lives?

Speaking of Stuxnet and possible USA power system threats ...

I finally got around to reading the new issue of Scientific American that was delivered last week. On page 16 of the October issue is an Forum column article by Melissa Hathaway titled "Power Hackers, the national smart grid is shaping up to be dangerously insecure." The article doesn't talk about Stuxnet specifically but the overall vulnerability of the grid.

The federal government has catalogued tens of thousands of reported vulnerabilities in the 200,000-plus miles of high-voltage transmission lines, thousands of generation plants and millions of digital controls.

See http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=power-hackers

May have been posted before but this is an interesting piece on new regulations:

Should be an appropriate topic for this thread. I'm hoping the government(s) don't throw the baby out with the bath water!!

Here's a new aggregator of scientific, technological, political, and social information related to the BP oil spill. It's intended to provide substantive material to educators for use in teaching, and it should be valuable to TOD particpants.
Part of the announcement:

We are pleased to announce the Online Clearinghouse for Education & Networking: Oil Interdisciplinary Learning (OCEAN-OIL). OCEAN-OIL is an open-access, peer-reviewed electronic education resource about the Deepwater Horizon disaster that is funded by the National Science Foundation. OCEAN-OIL will house curricular resources (including videos, images, articles, demonstrations, presentations, lesson plans, exercises and syllabi), and will span the scientific, technological, political and social dimensions of the oil spill. The content will be broad, including past examples of marine oil disasters, historical perspectives, broader questions about society and energy and environment, ecological and human, engineering, biology, etc. The initial list of topics is included below—we welcome your ideas for expansion.

OCEAN-OIL is administered by scientists and graduate students at Louisiana State University, Boston University, and the National Council for Science and the Environment. It is part of the Encyclopedia of Earth (EoE), the web's fastest-growing, authoritative electronic source of information about the environments of Earth and their interactions with society.

With best regards,

David E. Blockstein, Director of Education and Senior Scientist, National Council for Science and the Environment
Cutler J. Cleveland, Professor of Geography and Environment, Boston University
Lawrence J. Rouse, Professor of Oceanography, Louisiana State University
Vincent L. Wilson, Professor of Toxicology, Louisiana State University

The Featured Article appearing today http://www.eoearth.org/article/Deepwater_Horizon_oil_spill
is a very long overview piece published 11-Aug-10. The "Ocean Oil" topic lists 518 articles to date. Enjoy.

Whoever is operating Olympic Challenger – ROV 1 is having too much fun sneaking up on those hoses.

AP source: No administration negotiations with BP

(AP:WASHINGTON) A Justice Department official says no settlement talks are taking place between the Obama administration and BP over fines for BP's massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The Justice Department official spoke on condition of anonymity because criminal and civil investigations of BP are continuing.

I love it when they play info leak games like this. Sometimes it's true, sometimes it's wanting to make the department or administration look good, sometimes it's a shot across the bow to warn the other players that it's time to get serious...and sometimes it's from someone who doesn't really know what's going on.

There's a fine art to it when it's done well. I've been watching this particular game since the 60s before I realized the (sometimes) finesse involved.

One of the fine quotes from the UK TV series - Yes Minister - "The ship of state is the only ship that leaks from the top."

Oil firms not fully cooperating with White House commission looking into BP spill, panel's co-chairs say

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Companies involved in the BP oil spill are failing to cooperate fully with a probe by a White House commission and their stance could hamper its final report, the panel's co-chairs said on Tuesday.

Panel Says Lack Of Subpoena Power Hinders Oil Spill Probe

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- The co-chairmen of a presidentially appointed panel probing the BP PLC (BP, BP.LN) oil spill said that a lack of subpoena power is hindering their ability to fully investigate the causes of and response to the disaster.

"It really strikes me as unjustifiable for the Congress not to give full authority for us to use all of the instruments of the investigative process to resolve this," William Reilly, a co-chairman of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, told reporters.

snakehead, your first link goes to a different story than the one with that headline; and your second goes to somewhere "Not found" on TOD... Try again?

First one still goes to a story headlined "Oil spill penalties should go to Gulf Coast, advisors say," not to "Oil firms not fully cooperating with White House commission looking into BP spill, panel's co-chairs say."

As to the second one about subpoena power--no surprise, Senate Republicans are blocking it. House has already voted to grant the panel subpoena power.

Well, the hell with the LA Times then. http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE68R6FN20100928

'Aaaat's better, thank you.

This makes one wonder:

[Commission co-chair Bill Reilly] said he was surprised by testimony at the commission on Monday from Interior official Michael Bromwich that many offshore oil projects would take time to resume once the department had lifted its deepwater-drilling moratorium.

Surprised? Really?

Count your fingers and your toes. The Republicans have NO POWER to stop legislation in the Senate. They simply don't have the votes. The "objection" of the Republican conference was to the specific wording of the bill as presented in the Senate, which included among other things the ability to add items (unspecified) as desired without debate or discussion. Just political theater to try and nab more voters before the election.

Since the Health Care bill was passed without being read, along with at least 3 other bills that come to mind, the Republicans were just doing their job, in this era of "Open and Transparent Government" (Obama), which of course has turned into one big lie after another. Of course the Republicans had their own political theater after the Health Care vote, forcing the Democrats to support things like ObamaCare drug benefits going to buy Viagra for sex offenders.

But no reason to bring politics into this, I'll just get jumped on by the majority on this site, which is liberal, so not much point in pointing out the truth, partisans just plug their ears and yell, "na na na na". We'll see what happens in a month or so to the representational majority. I'm guessing the next speaker of the house won't say, "If you want to know what is in the bill you have to vote for it".

widelyred, counting fingers and toes does not yield political fact, as we have a number of fence jumpers on both sides of the aisle. It used to be way back when, when most of the members were fence jumpers but they had the ability to jump the fence into the corral and cooperate so as not to be trampled. But most are weak vision of the old and simply don't have the muscle to jump the fence and work constructively. I'm part of the angry middle, before you accuse me of being left or right. We hired congress to run the country! we did not hire congress to not work together. Anyone can hire a jerk to be an obstructionist. They are called thugs on the streets of Chicago.

I love the rehtoric you use, "the Republicans were just doing their job"! I assume you mean of trying to bring gov't to a halt and have 4 years of zero progress. At least in Merry Old England, the back benchers, Loyal opposition, with emphasis on Loyal, when push comes to shove and it's time to run England can be found negotiating and reaching compromise. The word Compromise seems to have been deleted from the oppositions dictionary.

OK sorry, you hit one of my red hot buttons. I'm just tired of the far right and far left commandeering the nation's agenda, they are only 15 or at best 20% of the constituency yet have the loudest mouths and could care less about the real operation of the country. This country is shortly to fail the superpower test and be come a second class nation at the speed with which we are slowing down.

The Republicans have NO POWER to stop legislation in the Senate.

Here's Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) exercising his lack of power to block a bill that would have given subpoena power to the commission.


Edit: Fixed typo.

Here's Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) exercising his lack of power to block a bill that would have given subpoena power to the commission.

Thank you. I couldn't figure out how to begin to address that kind of stark up-is-downism.

According to a DeMint aide, he was told by the GOP leadership to hold up the bill because no one in the Senate had been given the time to read it. (sound familiar)? The objection was dropped in July.

Full text:

Thanks for posting that, MickM; I didn't know what had become of DeMint's hold. I still don't know what happened to the bill itself. I'm not too interested though, since Vidrine & Co. refuse to testify when subpoenaed anyway.

But my comment was about the power of the minority party to affect legislation in congress. The DeMint video was just an example.

He had placed a "secret hold" on the bill (ie, he didn't order the hold - he served as proxy for the anonymous senators who did). A secret hold lasts six days, after which the senators who ordered it must come forward or lose their hold. But it can last forever if at least two proxy senators are available to place successive secret holds in 5 day increments.

To say that the minority has no power to block legislation in a body that allows such maneuvers is naive.

Predictions of oil on Atlantic beaches off

WASHINGTON, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Predictions this summer of oil-fouled beaches across Florida and all the way up the East Coast from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill got it wrong, scientists say.

National Center for Atmospheric Research scientist Synte Peacock said that as of Friday there have been no reports of oil or residue from the spill anywhere along the East Coast, USA Today reported.

NOAA ship Pisces reports NO visible oil found in either plumes or sediments 5 days into 10 day cruise.


EDIT: correction to visible oil

Be very, very afraid. New weight loss method possibly coming.

Plumes of Corexit/oil mix causing microbes to have "Mutant DNA" that can be "passed on" and just you wait till the mutant Corexitized bacteria enter their human hosts.

After listening to this, I'm heading to my specially-prepared hermetically-sealed bunker until the obviously-coming zombie plague passes. I have space; any you guys, want to come along? I learned from Zombieland that you have to bring your own Twinkies though. Of course, since it's a Corexit-free zone, you will also have to pass the DNA screening first.

Need a chef on board ?

Can I be your sous chef? I'll bring my knives and water stones!

Absolutely, but you'll be working 12 burners, and if you have something like Mise en place tattooed on your arm, you better understand the concept, unlike the last guy that lost his job to me( one of Emeril's protege's) All I ask is that you come to work on time, or early, be willing to work 7 days or more without a day off, stand for 10-14 hours a day, be able to weather a stream of cruel and dirty jokes, have a passion for what you do, wash your hands constantly, be able to make a proper fumet without f**king it up, choux pastry blind-folded, or be able to make a soup with whatever random 9th pans of crap I give you.
....And no seducing waitresses on the clock. Simple requirements.

Still in ?

PS, Jose's running late from his other job, so you'll be working the fryers too, but just until he gets here, ...shouldn't be long.....

And you are going to give all this up for science?.......

No, I am giving it up for money, and hopefully a vacation for my body. I'll always be a cook, I'm 3rd generation, it's in my blood. But after 20+ years, a little boring in terms of applications.But in a deeper sense cooking is science. Chemistry and physics. Charles' Law applies the same for a baker as it does for a petroleum geologist or an engineer. I went the intuitive route when I was younger, hence cooking and art studies. I received a chemistry set when I was 7. I chose not to follow the directions. Not saying I didn't read them, I just didn't follow them. I mixed everything together in a test tube and corked it. Then I shook it up. Then I waited. And waited. And it looked like nothing was happening, so I decided to examine the cork a little closer. At that point, the cork shot off and broke my nose.

The chemistry set immediately disappeared, packed away in some recess of the attic, to be replaced with a French horn(to my horror) and a set of encyclopedias.

The French horn disappeared shortly thereafter.

How I ended up as a chef, I have no idea really. It's more of a fall-back on kind of career, jobs are easy for me to come by with a good resume, but I've actually studied and done a great deal of different things in life so far. I have always had an ability to learn something fairly rapidly, than improve it, through unorthodox methods and observations, partially intuitively, partially from curiosity. I would like to apply this in some different fields, and ultimately....I get bored easily, and I'm bored to tears with cooking.
I can no longer bring myself to pay homage to Escoffier and Carême.

And if it turns out I'm too stupid to be a scientist for reals, I can always cook omelettes.

Edit: I would like to state for the record, I had nothing to do with the missing French horn ;)

I'm all in! I will do it. Choux paste? It may take a bit to do it blind. And you dont want me to run the pastry bag is all. You are gonna have to make the HO HOs and Twinkies. Yeah?

Isaac: Genoise is what we will need for the Twinkies! 12 burners? How big a bomb shelter is comfy constructing? No stranger to long days. What if the fish carcasses dont pass the DNA test? Am able to do soup with whatever you throw at me. Got a thick skin. To far along to indulge in seducing pretty girls. Plus, I can do plumbing. No Spanish though.

"How big a bomb shelter is comfy constructing?"

I was hoping in an old missile silo, or 2. Need room for Lobster tank and hydroponics/aquaculture 'note to self', ice carving room/ blast freezer. It can go next to the movie theater.

What? What? I'm not building a shelter! And I wouldn't tell anyone if I was. More mouths, less food! But, um... yeah, so what if I have made sure to always own at least one non-computerized vehicle, just in case everything containing transistors is wiped out by electromagnetic pulse. I'm not paranoid, I'm prepared!

How about combining the two - aquaponics. Fish make plant food, plants make fish food. Always wanted to try that, sounds fun.

Shhh...we have to have an alternate foodsource for when we run out of canned goods and fresh lobster.

Oh, goody... Can I come as the Granny? I'll straighten up around the place and even clean up the stuff that Isaac throws at GWS22B (that misses the soup pot); and I'll promise to go light on the Granny Lectures--only when necessary, really necessary--as you know. I will also leave my FRENCH HORN behind, if you'll let me bring a few good CD's of the CSO, my old high school buddy at the helm of the brass section [she brags, dropping no names]. I am not a pretty girl, so it should all work out okay. RIGHT????


my old high school buddy at the helm of the brass section

Wow. Did a search for more of him, found the finale of the Brahms Horn Trio, which I can't recall ever hearing--how have I missed it? Wonderful performance:


Glad you likee, Swift. He got that job when he was 26, after graduating from Carnegie and working a few years. Check out the vid of his playing the obblegobble in the Mahler 5th. I got to see the CSO perform that symphony at the Phila. Academy of Music once. It was truly breathtaking. I keep thinking I'll read of his retirement any season now. Did you check out Stephan Dohr? He's no slouch, and I've wondered if he might be the chair's heir apparent.

I think we DW Thread devotees are going to lose our forum. I'll keep an eye on TOD's other threads for those that might attract some of these folks back to talk more about what will continue to be the "fallout" from the latest human attempt to challenge Nature to the max. Hope it stays together long enough to get through the next set of hearings with some comments from our "subject experts." We'll see. Thanks for your contributions. Hope lotus gets her computer fixed soon. Lizzy

The CSO under Fritz Reiner was the very best in the world. Their reputation continued after Reiner died, but under sir Grorge Solti they became very sloppy and inprecise. Phil Farkas was the lead horn player and he was regarded as the best the world had to offer.

I have several old vinyl recordings of the CSO under reiner and the recordings done then are much better than the ones made after he died.

Edited Farkus should be Farkas Dan

Lizzy, pretty is as pretty does, so don't be too nice to them in that shelter or they'll end up fightin' over you.

OTOH, I s'pose that could be entertaining. ;-)

Heh. Heh. I have my gentleman manners on, as long as she leaves the toe nail polish at the blast door.

I would love to, one time, hear from somebody spreading these stories, explain, in-depth, how COREXIT products alter DNA. I keep hearing this, but no corresponding facts.

Nifty videos:

March 2008-Craig Venter: On the verge of creating synthetic life


May 2010-Craig Venter unveils "synthetic life"


Or are people saying that when the new found microbe runs out of it's favorite food, it will turn to it's next logical choice,which is......lol,humans ?

I would love to, one time, hear from somebody spreading these stories, explain, in-depth, how COREXIT products alter DNA.

The expert seems to believe that the bacteria will be genetically altered by their exposure to their environment and pass along new characteristics. Then their "human hosts'" DNA will be altered by the same mechanism. How it works: http://wapedia.mobi/en/Inheritance_of_acquired_characters

See also

HHmmm. There's no denying that certain, if not most or all,microbes have the ability to adapt rapidly in response to environmental stimuli. Opportunistic, yes. I have read papers recently that dealt with examining the ability of different microbes to "exchange" certain attributes, by "trading" DNA, although I don't exactly understand the process in it's entirety, it blurs the lines for classifications.

It would be interesting to hear from some doctors or dermatologists on the gulf coast about the supposed recent rash of skin aliments.. ..I keep seeing the same 3 photos of somebody's scabby legs getting circulated, and have yet to actually run into anybody online who had the supposed rash/boils/buboes/whatever. Or if perhaps one of the CT'ers could narrow it down a little. I already voted for Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

I kind of like BeePee's take on it.

" The COREXIT, it's the bugs they made to eat the oil, it's a bug, man. Then you got the alien blob entity, and throw in a little demonic possession,..oh yeah, ..Houston, we got problems ."

On Spontaneous Alteration of DNA?
During its process of cracking hydrocarbons, COREXIT causes a spontaneous exothermical reaction to occur, whereby neoplasmonic splitting induces unexpected cloning of random monomaniacal hybridization of anti-idiotypical expressions causing reverse hydrogen and carbon multocidation moleculers, thusly, further inducing once hydrophillic tendencies and propencities to alter its normal atomical structures into multitudes of previously unknown compounds, such as paranormalalkamethakenacetylezenes, with abilities to somewhat mimic familiar shapes.

Hope this helps.

(psst, don't encourage me)
you guessed it, I'm up pass my nappytime.

OOO ..ooo...I know,..Let's blame it on sonar from the ROV's ( sorry ROVman):

Ultrasound-mediated DNA transfer for bacteria


Oh no's..'feigns horror'...what have they done to us.

Oh look, an ROV spying on mutant humans
Someone alert BPOD.

Errr, that looks like it is about to pounce!


He's quaking with rage..counting the days.


We are among you. Silently we wait. Observing. Watching. Waiting...

Rovman, thanks for the warning. I guess we need to be very careful where we skinny dip now.

Just think, I used to only worry about snapping turtles and catfish. Anybody ever go noodling for an ROV ?

"BP's E&P Boss Steps Down In Major Safety Shakeup" (Wall Street Journal)

BP PLC's (BP) Exploration and Production division head Andy Inglis will leave the company as part of a broad restructuring designed to improve safety and rebuild confidence after the disastrous Gulf of Mexico blowout and oil spill, BP said Wednesday.

BP will also create a new Safety and Operational Risk division, with staff assigned to every business unit who will have the power to intervene if safety standards are breached, the company said in a statement. The new unit will be headed by Mark Bly, who led BP's internal investigation into the causes of the Macondo well blowout.

From the WSJ, I got the full article through Google, but when I try to link to it, it takes you to the pay site.

This strikes me as a move in the right direction for BP. Nothing like seeing a few top heads roll to focus the rest of management. Let's hope the new safety division is not just a paper tiger.

New BP boss launches safety crackdown after oil disaster

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/boss+launches+safety+crackdown+after+d...

Take your pick.

Iran announces new delays at Bushehr nuclear plant – but denies Stuxnet link,

Computer virus forces Iran to delay production of nuclear energy,

Made Up Tabloid News of the World HuffPo pseudoscientist and scareblogger Jerry Cope tries again:

In its continuing effort to protect the public from toxic chemical exposure due to crude oil and Corexit dispersants, the City Of Orange Beach, Alabama, is hosting the Thunder on the Gulf boat races to bookend the 39th Annual National Shrimp Festival the weekend of Oct. 15... The massive horsepower of the super boats, each with two fifteen-hundred horse screws will turn the shallow water along the Alabama Gulf Coast into a toxic brew of crude and dispersant mixture


File it next to your Vaccinations Cause Autism heap.

much LOL & LOL & LOL. Just great. How to turn a race picture into an ecological disaster story. Wonder what the writers smoke at Huff Po. Must be really good stuff.

must be a very odd Creole dialect - I speak a little French, but I'm having a hard time making this out ......... ;-)

Here's hoping Orange Beach sues him and HuffPo.

"The Honorable Mayor has repeatedly insisted that the water is fine, the beaches are safe, and tourists should come play and enjoy the seafood as usual."

Actually, since Orange Beach is crawling with Corexit sleuths, Mayor Kennon has catered to the popular concerns, promised to "get to the bottom of this," and used BP money to do independent testing in addition to ongoing testing by BP's contractor and EPA. The city website has a page with test results. I haven't seen any comment by him as to whether conditions are safe or not.

Article on cleaning up Louisiana marshes has some interesting details. Billy Nungesser complaining about the federal government is not among these. Enjoy the writer's creative spelling of Pass a Loutre.


Money money money

BP Announces $500 Million Independent Research Initiative

HOUSTON - BP and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance today announced plans for the implementation of BP's $500 million Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GRI) to study the effects of the Deepwater Horizon incident and the potential associated impact on the environment and public health ...The GRI will be managed by a board comprised of scientists from academic institutions with peer-recognized credentials. BP and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance will appoint an equal number of research scientists to the board.

An interview video I watched also mentioned the new $500 million research initiative. Dr. Adashi interviews Dr. John Howard, Director of CDC-NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) about the impact of oil spill on nation's health (31 minute VIDEO).

Howard discusses numerous gaps in research that need to be filled. Work has begun on long term and behavioral health effects. Dispersant and surfactant impact on health are discussed and acute toxicity studies with animals are underway.

I think the first book about Deepwater Horizon incident is out. It is called, "In Deep Water" with subtitle, "The Anatomy Of A Disaster, The Fate Of The Gulf, And How To End Our Oil Addiction". The book has two co-authors, Peter Lehner and Bob Deans. Lehner appears to be a first-time author and Executive Director of National Resources Defense Council and Deans has a previous historical book about James River in Virginia.

At a quick glance, I'd expect the book to be very biased for environmentalists and against the oil lobby. The video on website appears to blame the oil lobby for our current way of living.


There are apparently dozens of books being written on this subject. NYT reported 20-Jul on this (the article is worth reading even now)

One book is being hastily written so it can come out in September. Next spring a traffic jam of titles could converge on the first anniversary of the spill.
Wary of covering the same territory, the publishers and authors who have announced deals so far have tried to approach the story from different angles.
OR Books, the publisher of “Going Rouge,” a book of critical essays about Sarah Palin, is rushing to produce what could be the first book on the disaster, “Deepwater Horizon: The Oil Disaster, Its Aftermath and Our Future,” by Peter Lehner, executive director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, written with Bob Deans.

The best books IMO will come out late, not early, and be well marinated in data. This reader plans to look for data now, synthesis later.

In a Computer Worm, a Possible Biblical Clue

"Myrtus" could be an allusion to the biblical Esther, who preempted a Persian plot to destroy the Jews.

Drilling Plans Off Cuba Stir Fears of Impact on Gulf

The Cuban oil industry isn't prepared to deal with a major oil spill, having neither ROVs nor available relief well drilling platforms.

Since the myrtle plant was sacred to Aphrodite, we may conclude that the worm is part of a Greek plot to destabilized fundamentalism by encouraging promiscuity. I'll be glad to explain this on TV.

Hmmm. There's also Myrtus ugni or " Chilean Guava ",one of Queen Victoria's favorite fruits.

..there's 9203 Myrtus, an asteroid:


And also a college in Amsterdam, Myrtus college, that teaches various computer sciences, among other things, but can't find much info.

More on 'ol Stuxie , from a Kaspersky lab guy:


there's 9203 Myrtus, an asteroid

Oh, I like this one! It's the Myrtusians who dunnit. No wonder it's so hard to trace! They're probably the ones creating the spectacular spirals over Canada and Norway, too.

Stuxnet 'cyber superweapon' moves to China

BEIJING (AFP) – A computer virus dubbed the world's "first cyber superweapon" by experts and which may have been designed to attack Iran's nuclear facilities has found a new target -- China.
The Stuxnet computer worm has wreaked havoc in China, infecting millions of computers around the country, state media reported this week.

Stuxnet pinned for killing Indian satellite

While Stuxnet had found its way into Iran's first nuclear power plant, Carr said the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) - which used the vulnerable Siemens devices - had also fallen victim to Stuxnet.

On 9 July, half the transponders on India's three-year old INSAT-4B satellite shut down unexpectedly due to a solar panel failure.

According to Carr's research, which he will present at the Abu Dhabi Black Hat conference in November, two staff at ISRO's Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre confirmed it used Siemens S7-400 PLC and SIMATIC WinCC which allegedly "will activate the Stuxnet worm".

Carr suggested that China was behind the attack.

One effect of Stuxnet is clear. It makes speculation rage.

snakehead, that's a bad link. Here's the good one:


Here's two more clues. Symantec reports finding a "do not infect" indicator using the digits "19790509". This is the day an Iranian convicted of spying for Israel was executed in Tehran. Also, was found a "kill date" of 06/24/2012 which would disable Stuxnet.


Removed : Pointless

The US government wasn't ready to deal with a major oil spill either. The oil spill was handled by private contractors. The question is, will the USA insist on keeping an embargo which seems to be useless, and allow an oil spill to kill the Florida Keys, or would it change its position and allow US based companies to provide services such as ROVs and drilling rigs to work on a spill in Cuban waters?

Interior Dept. sets new offshore drilling rules

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has announced new rules requiring that offshore drilling rigs certify that they have working blowout preventers and standards for cementing wells.

More later.

EFF Sues Newspaper Chain’s Copyright Troll


Thanks for the news about pushback against Righthaven. I also hope EFF files a complaint with the Nevada Attorney General. If the proper authorities find Righthaven has acted to enrich itself under the guise of protecting copyrights, those behind the ploy should be prosecuted.

Wishful thinking. But I wish so, too.

... acted to enrich itself under the guise of protecting copyrights ...

But isn't the whole purpose of a copyright to enable the holder to enrich themself?

I'm not saying Righthaven and Stephens Media don't need their behinds kicked, but it should be for overly restrictive interpretation of fair use law, or extortionate practices, or something similar.

Used to be it was pretty expensive to reproduce a copyrighted work - the capital cost of the equipment needed to do so, and the labor to make the copy.

Now it's so easy and cheap that everyone with a computer and an ISP can do it, and have the resulting illegitimate copy used by thousands of others.

The legal system needs to catch up to technology, and the process, IMO, is not going to be pretty.

I agree a copyright owner deserves the ability to enrich themselves unfettered by competition from someone else using the same copyright. However, this enrichment should be due to the qualities of the copyright. My accusation would be Righthaven is enriching themselves due to the quality of their litigation skills.

I watched one video of a journalist, who's copyright had been sold to Righthaven, explaining he wanted eyes reading his work where it was published rather than elsewhere. I respect his opinion and agree with it. I would think if I copy a few excerpts from article and include links to article, this will encourage other eyes to click on link and go to publication as journalist intended. That is what I do when I see excerpts and a link of interest. An unrelated question is should I receive a sales commission for getting eyes to view the publication.

Righthaven has had a direct impact on me. Thru the use of domain blockers in my browser, I am boycotting all publications associated with Righthaven. Henceforth, my eyes will never visit their websites. I just hope the journalist is aware of this impact and is ok with it.

I also researched the lawsuit against Angler and went to Angler's website to see what was copied. I found the article in question and I compared with article in publication provided by link. The copied article contained almost everything written and was only missing the last paragraph or two. Personally, I would consider this a copyright infringement because the voluminous nature of copy might not encourage eyes to click on link.

The little I've read concerning fair-use says it's ok to copy the title of article, the first paragraph of article and link to article. I would wish that a few excerpts could also be included, but what I've read says that is infringement. And I understand it would be very difficult to legally define a few excerpts from too many excerpts. I can see why one would err on the side of caution and just say no excerpts except first paragraph.

EDIT: typo corrected

EB-164 Incident, http://www.incidentnews.gov/incident/8251?f=1373518007
Gulf of Mexico, W of Flower Gardens NMS 2010-Sep-29

On Thursday night, 29 September 2010, the NOAA SSC was notified by MSU Galveston of a well leak in the Gulf of Mexico. The location is far offshore (more than 100 miles SSE of Galveston, Texas) and roughly 25 miles W of the West Bank of the Flower Garden National Marine Sanctuary. The RP stated the well, when producing, was primarily a gas well; there was an observation of some oil or condensate coming from the well that created a 10 mile light sheen yesterday.

You birds are funny.

Mexico could join suits over BP oil spill: Attorney

MEXICO CITY (Reuters)—Mexico's federal government could join a list of its states suing the companies blamed for the disastrous Gulf oil spill, claiming damage to fishing and tourism, the plaintiffs' attorney said on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, three Mexican states sued British oil giant BP and its contractors Transocean, as well as affiliated businesses.

The northern state of Tamaulipas—which shares a border with Texas—and Veracruz with its long coastline on the Gulf of Mexico, both said the spill posed risks to beaches and marine life that would cause lost profits and potentially large clean-up bills.

Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula, home to major tourist destinations like Cancun, also filed suit in a Texas court on Sept. 15.

"We expect the rest of the (Mexican) Gulf states will join the endeavor and potentially ... Mexico," said lawyer Enrique Serna, whose San Antonio-based practice represents the states.

Before they are allowed to sue they should be required to pay up for the IXTOC 1 damages.

Here's an interesting article about beach-cleaning machines that I don't recall being discussed on TOD. Has an iconic picture worth a thousand words. The article is new but reference to ongoing use of 25 beach-cleaning vehicles surprizes me.
Any comments from people on the scene?

ManBearPig, have you seen this?

"With the heat, the oil returns to a semi-liquid form during the middle of the day, so you cannot use mechanical equipment to clean the beach during the day, as it is not effective."

Have you seen MBP? The money hit here and all the locals disappeared. WTH, drugs and hookers? The local governments got the money too and are acting crazy. Must be the money to pay for lawyers has made them bold. Freaking politicians. They are trying to ban my videoing. I hired my own lawyer and he is a judge too. He thinks we are going to win. We shall see.

I don't think he is interested. Seems to have his mind made up that cleaning beaches at night is evil. I gave him the BeachTech link (my beach community has used them too on another coast) on his first few posting here but he only wanted to troll.

BTW, my beach community has a large program to clean its beaches just as part of its regular maintenance and bought the equipment (both the township and its county) to do it with their own crews. Doesn't the Gulf coast do this too? I've always assumed that any urban beach front gets cleaned by its local jurisdiction, even pre-spill.

We're using the mechanical sifters to pick up bottle tops, glass, etc.; things that cut people's feet and get left behind on most high-traffic beaches in urban areas. Of course, simply making the beach look good for the tourists so getting things like seaweed, flotsam, jetsam is a large part of it too.

They regularly use such equipment.

Thanks TF; thought so. MBP must have nver noticed them before.

I haven't seen much discussion of weaknesses in the official "suggestion box" for BP's DHR spill. (Please advise if there are better places for this discussion.) I'm particularly interested in how the process could be improved for future disaster response.

When I decided to send a suggestion on catching the leaked plume before it escaped the wellhead vicinity, I tried the 200-word-or-less online form on the deepwaterhorizonresponse site. When that looked to be a bust, I found on the same site a link to the Coast Guard's fedbizopps solicitation for proposals, and submitted a white paper. It sat unread for 16 days, was "screened" for 12 days, and it took 8 days to write a form email (misspelling my address) saying the proposal was "not needed" and that they didn't have time to say why because there were so many submissions.

Now I'd heard they were "overwhelmed" by over a thousand suggestions (I'm not sure if those were all formal white papers) per day, but if you run the numbers that doesn't wash. Just 50 people reading only 100 words/min could do a cursory pre-screening of 1600 such white papers in 8 hours, and fast-track the most promising ones.

If a spill-stopping idea or plan did come in, this approach could speed up implementation by over two weeks, at a rough order of magnitude cost of perhaps $10K/day (at $25/hr), or maybe double that for overhead. I figure the cost of the spill at near $100M or more per day of spill, so as Senator McCaskill said in the Arlington Cemetery hearings, this was not about a lack of resources!

What am I missing here?

I could go on about how more basic info should have been made easy to find (e.g. what are the ocean currents at the wellhead?, how expensive is ROV time?), or how posting some past suggestions would improve the quality of future ones, or the value of actual feedback to the submittors. These all seem quite cost-effective to me, compared with 50,000 people working cleanup and the ecological and economic disruptions that might have been lessened.

The real Catch-22 was I saw no easy way to correct these shortcomings. A good start might have been having "Communications and Planning" be a 6th Technical Gap Area in the fedbizopps solicitation. I might think it was a good idea to make each proposal a "private blog" which reviewers could comment on (with tags to allow the submittor to see or not), but whom would I tell? I assume Thad Allen would not have said of the pre-screening analysis "Nah, nothing will come of the suggestion box anyway," but how do you reach someone that busy?

So am I off base, or have others had similar experiences? Does anyone know how we can improve the process for future disasters, or whom to contact to get the ball rolling? Has the deepwaterhorizonesponse site improved since I last saw it? Is the Marine Well Containment Company anything to put our hopes in? I'm open to any suggestions.

I bet BP will find ample time for the team of patent lawyers to scrutinize each and every submission.

My assumption has been they are doing this, but I've given the benefit of doubt that they wouldn't actually prolong the emergency just to gather more patent ideas. Some of the response inefficiency must be from the "fog of war" rather than incompetence, callousness, or malevolence. I just want to clear the fog.

The original Broad Agency Announcement said "Offerors are hereby notified that it is highly likely that White Papers may be shared with several different Government agencies and other interested parties (which may include contractors) for review and consideration." I figured stopping the spill was more important than guaranteeing money from my suggestions.

As it turned out, my suggestions weren't used (I wasn't told why) but no competing plan was used either. I would have been delighted to see a superior plan used, but no. There was no request for further information or for reply to objections, nothing. Just five weeks waiting and watching oil spill. (And doing what I'm doing now: trying to figure out how to make the process better next time.)

Which would be a huge win for the person who submitted it.

Why? Legally you can't patent something you didn't personally invent. Further, companies can't patent anything. Their employees can, and they can assign ownership of the patent, but a patent can only be granted to a person, and that person must be the inventor. If BP found something patentable, they could, fraudulently, patent it via an employee. However this would leave them open the very damaging litigation. A paper trail that led back to the real inventor would leave them in a hopeless situation. Also, the person whose name was on the patent would find themselves in a personally difficult situation, having to claim they they personally invented the idea.

In reality the only viable process for a good, patentable, idea submitted to BP would be for BP to approach the inventor and cut a deal.

In reality BP will have thrown the lot out. Patent lawyers are the last person you want scrutinising the submissions anyway. Lawyers evaluating engineering ideas?

Good point (I'm no patent expert). In my parallel comment I should have said something more like "they wouldn't actually prolong the emergency just to gather more [business or operational plans]."

Well, sure, that's how it's supposed to work. You think they wouldn't do it if they were reasonably sure they could get away with it?

Most big companies have a formal submission procedure for ideas submitted from outside sources to include a written agreement in order to protect themselves. A long time ago I used to handle some of these unsolicited ideas with the advice of our patent attorney. I once told a fellow we had no interest in his idea (we really had no application for it in our company or ways to test it) and it turned out to be rather successful elsewhere.

For info see:


This is like Hollywood studios receiving story ideas from outside which are later claimed in suits to have been incorporated into a movie.

Folks, thanks for the feedback so far; it's as much as I've gotten from any government, industry, media, or other source other than a company I found which does the sort of underwater capture that I proposed (but they couldn't get anyone to talk with them).

However, I know someone here must have some opinion more directly along my main questions above. Are things like speeding up screening of suggestions practical and how do we make sure such things are done next time?

I really think making such changes, and implementing them quickly once someone thinks of them, is vital in disaster response. There are many pitfalls involved, logistics and laws and intellectual property rights to consider among them, but those obstacles won't resolve themselves. The response effort has accomplished a lot, but I hope even those most proud of those successes would be among the first to say we can and should do better.

Discussions at TOD and elsewhere are addressing many such improvements. I would like to get your impressions of my engineering ideas for catching leaked oil (should I start another sub-thread for that?), but I think the cybernetics issues are even more important. There will always be unanticipated problems, and we need an understanding of how to address them rapidly and in scale, and a culture of making that a priority.

Okay, enough grandiosity for the moment. The short version of my main engineering proposal was "position fuel bladders over the plume until they fill, then replace them." There are problems to address, though I expect venting (or collecting) the methane is high among them. I think we can deal with volume, strength, handling, ballast/anchoring, obstruction of other operations, and so on, and I don't see why the approach couldn't be implemented fairly quickly. Depth should be less of a problem than with rigid containment equipment, and difficulties like methane ice might be irrelevant (or even useful by slowing expansion and resulting bouyancy issues). It would reduce the urgency of capping or killing, and unlike a riser to a ship it might even be possible to continue collection operations control from a shallow submarine depth (anybody?).

No, I've never tested the bagging approach (though I believe others have, and we just missed a great field testing opportunity). If there isn't a quick smackdown of the idea or existing discussions of it already, should we open a new sub-thread on it? (Is there a difference between "Start new thread" and "Post a comment"?)

(But I still wonder what I'm missing about how to improve the suggestion box!)

The Gilmer Mirror - Alabama’s Gulf Coast Has Big Red Snapper and Plenty of Them to Catch

Captain Johnny Greene of the charter boat, “Intimidator,” based in Orange Beach, Alabama, says, “The reefs are loaded with red snapper right now. Because of the oil spill out in the gulf, these reefs haven’t had much fishing pressure all summer long. There are so-many snapper in the gulf that they’re moving into the near-shore reefs. So, even 4- and 6-hour charters should be able to catch their limits of snapper this fall.”

With the average size of the snapper on the reefs between 6 and 12 pounds, anglers will find an even larger number of snapper 12 pounds and over than ever previously.

On the other hand, does anybody have a reasonable guess as to what the black stuff is in this video, I mean besides the possibility that it's a low rent parlor trick?

I'm going fishing!


Well I'm in California so I won't be in Alabama anytime soon, but I CAN dream....

Could be a hoax like the oil that "rained" into someone's backyard early in the spill. In the first pic the material is in the muscle tissue under the skin. The only way I can think of that oil could get there would be if someone peeled the skin back and dabbed it on. Also the first and third pictures show unusual fish-cleaning technique, skinning before filleting. And there's a handy ad for a lawyer attached.

I spotted the ambulance chasing. There's never anything approaching a documented chain of events/samples in these sorts of videos.

Gob, yeah, I'm with you on this, that's sure a funny way to filet a flounder.

Besides, if I found this the first thing I'd do is get curious, rub it between my fingers and smell it. If it's oil, it would smell, and you would expect them to mention that. Like this report:

Tuesday was supposed to be a very productive day for B&K Crabbing, but when one of the fishermen brought his catch back to the dock, seafood dealer Kevin Heier says he knew something wasn’t right.

“We dumped them in ice water, picked the box up, dumped them on the table, and the smell like to knocked us down,”

from here: http://conservationreport.com/2010/09/20/fisheries-fishers-claim-crabs-c...

anglers will find an even larger number of snapper 12 pounds and over than ever previously

Ever? In the 50s, when I was a child and Destin was a little-bitty village, it was the only place my dad wanted to vacation. So on many a June afternoon, we watched Capt. Dave Marler's two fishing boats come in solidly-curtained with red snapper and grouper way longer and heavier than my brother and I. What good suppers their filets made.

BP sees no 'gross negligence' in Gulf oil spill: new chief

CHICAGO (AFP) - BP does not expect the US Justice Department to accuse it of "gross negligence" at the conclusion of its investigation into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, incoming chief executive Bob Dudley said Friday.

For those interested in the flow rate and the fate of the spilled Gulf oil, the c-span hearing cited by brit above is must-see video.
To accompany the three brief science reports, you should refer to their slides here:

The Camilli and Hazen reports cover familar ground if you've already understood their peer-reviewed science publications discussed in past weeks on TOD. But there are two things here new to me.

One is Camilli's slide 5, which shows how WHOI calculated flow rate and cumulative spill amount.

The other is MacDonald's slide 13, which shows that all his mass spec graphs of oil composition are of surface oil, not deep plume oil. And he states in the Q&A that he has no subsurface sampling capability. This explains why his evidence on oil decomposition differs from Hazen's evidence, which is on deepsea plume oil.

Yet MacDonald also states in the Q&A that much of the oil has sunk to the bottom, without providing any documentation. I'm curious to know how he knows this without subsurface sampling.

The Q&A is well worth listening to. I found the questions by Don Boesch to be particularly penetrating, and several others quite constructive as well. All in all, the hearing provides richer context than I have derived from reading alone.

NRD, it looks like MacDonald is still using fairly crude approximations of sheen thickness, and a fudge factor of 2 to account for dispersion and evaporation. And Camilli presents a WHOI chart with linear flow rates from day one, with no adjustments for ram closure on day 2, or acceleration after top kill erosion and riser cut.

I expected more sophisticated results by now. Has anyone else produced a better flow model?

OFB, your points are helpful and would naturally lead to more sophisticated scenarios. The estimates of crude do appear to be crude! I haven't seen anything more, but there may be quite a bit more in use but kept confidential by the various legal teams.

Thank you.

Its clear from this hearing that coming up with a flow estimate is quite easy. The mandatory response should be to send down an ROV with acoustic velocity sensing capabilities and collect a composition sample. This method would work even with multiple leak points.

The surface slick counting method doesn't work too well for deep water releases, but is within a factor of 2 or 3 provided the right chart is used. NOAA relies on this method.

Bill Lehr and BP come off looking pretty bad in this hearing. The NOAA failed to use their own guidelines on oil slick thickness, and decided to go with the charts in BP's regional response guide, which contained fraudulent conversion figures for dark oil (producing "artificially" low numbers). BP also denied Camilli access to taking isometric samples, until they were forced to allow it 2 weeks later.

No evidence. Purely word of mouth. Remember when Jed Clampett hit a bubbling crude and banked. Gulf Shores is full of Jed Clampett wannabe's. I have heard most all claims are paid in full or more. Something happened. [end speculation and stuff I would deny later]

P-R headlines:

Oil spill claims payments reach $771 million

(Feinberg, tired of getting fussed-at, has installed a wider spigot.)

OT but interesting from Ben Raines: Bull sharks making homes in waters of south Alabama

(Watch where you poke your tootsies in the Dog or Fowl Rivers.)

Only slightly more OnT: Snapper season opens today; activity picking up around marinas

(Still slow but improving.)

Oil from BP spill traveled 500 kilometers: Scientists

MIAMI - Traces of oil from a ruptured BP well in the Gulf of Mexico have been found at a depth of 1,000 meters (3,200 feet) and up to 500 kilometers (300 miles) from the spill site, according to a new analysis.

A team of scientists aboard the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise reported results Thursday from 10 days of sampling around areas affected by the worst oil spill in history.

Nice find, snake. The news article is based on a Greenpeace blog post.
According to the blog, the samples were taken from the area of the Macondo 252 wellhead and westward 300 miles. It states that they found evidence of oxygen depletion, found the "essence" of the oil plume, and have not yet analyzed the deepsea plume and mud samples. Yet they already conclude that the oil has not "magically disappeared" as "the government and BP would like us to believe."

So we have the story before the data. I wonder if we ever will see the data, especially vetted by the peer-review science process. Interesting if true, as my old professor often said.

I wonder if we ever will see the data, especially vetted by the peer-review science process. Interesting if true, as my old professor often said.

I've never seen Greenpeace publish in a peer-reviewed journal, or have any of their work reviewed positively by a government regulatory agency. They do a good job of getting their work mentioned on a lot of blogs though.

Speaker, the Greenpeace ship has a group of scientists from various universities on board. All results from the research will be published by the scientists themselves and go through the normal peer review process. Greenpeace is providing 'transportation' for these scientists and helping with setting up research equipment, that's it.

Cuba and Spain to Drill in Gulf of Mexico; Americans Can’t

Cuba and the United States have drawn a line that divides the Florida Straits waters between Cuba and Florida in half. That means that Cuba and China could drill for wells 45 miles from the shores of Florida and the United States could do nothing but watch. American jobs would migrate to Cuban and Spanish citizens. And any oil leak would put Florida in just as much peril as Cuba.

And then there is the possibility that with underwater lateral drilling, these well in Cuban waters, could tap into oil reservoirs under waters that fall within U.S. jurisdiction.

"And then there is the possibility that with underwater lateral drilling, these well in Cuban waters, could tap into oil reservoirs under waters that fall within U.S. jurisdiction."

Is this not what Sadam used as an excuse to start the first Gulf War when Iraq accused Kuwait of slant drilling into its reserves?

As an aside I read somewhere that the US didn't discourage Sadam (in a meeting with our ambassador saying we had no interest in local disputes) from bullying Kuwait because Kuwait was using its oil money to manipulate (and upsetting) the European currency market. Sadam just went too far and took over Kuwait.

Heart Wrenching Story Warning-

Lawsuit: Man who tried to save drowning toddler became ill from oil
A Saraland man who tried to rescue a drowning child in rough Gulf of Mexico waters near Orange Beach became severely ill after swallowing oil and chemical dispersant, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Mobile.
BP spokesman Justin Saia said he has not seen the lawsuit and could not comment on it.


Beepee captures clear video of morphed alien creature, out of water.., uncoiling it's tentacles. Shocking. 3:05 in the video.


" people that have been swimming in those waters and eating infected sea food have that thing in them and its going to use humans as a "host" to make a hybrid aquatic human species... That is scary, its mutating as I type this..."


Folks, I feel I am under attack by the City of Gulf Shores.

New law in Gulf Shores puts limits on filming shows such as "Redneck Riviera"
Mayor Robert Craft said that the law, passed Monday, wasn’t written to single out the show, but "was evidenced by the potential of that happening," and "it pointed out to us that we did not have permitting in place."
Perry Roquemore, executive director of the Alabama League of Municipalities, said that some cities across the country require permits for filming, but he was unaware of another in the state.
He added that cities also look at the film industry as a potential benefit to revenues.
"You’ve got to balance the benefit to the economy to the disruption of the city," Roquemore said.
The Gulf Shores ordinance states that filming "has the potential to disturb the peace and tranquility of neighborhoods, to interfere with ordinary commercial activities, to pose traffic flow and emergency vehicle access problems, to cast the city, its facilities, businesses and residents in an intentionally false and injurious light."

Can't video without a permit. For posting here. I have already retained counsel and plan to file an injunction in court by close today. The Honorable Robert Craft can kiss my ass.

Edit: Copy of ordinance here.
If any of you legal minds have a little time, I think you find this thing FULL of holes, but I AM NOT A LAWYER!

Many large urban jurisdictions require permits for film/video crews because large shoots can be (usually are!!) indeed as disruptive as discussed. However, most of the good local laws are written specifically to exclude smaller scale applications such as news reporting and personal video. The well-written well-court-tested laws aren't meant to reduce free-speech only put some controls in place when the size of a production starts infringing on other people's rights.

In other words, news reporters don't need permits to do a stand-up street-side or to shoot. However, a fleet of 18-wheeler production units, gaffers’ trucks, catering vehicles and honey-wagon better queue-up at city hall to get their permits.

BTW, production companies are well-versed in coping with these laws becuase they are very common.

I take it that the City of Gulf Shores over-reached? Not unheard of when a smaller city starts doing this for the first time.

Edit to add for comparison:
City of Dallas film permit info: http://dallasspecialevents.com/commercial_filming.html and http://www.filmdfw.com/information/cod_permit_info.htm

City of Los Angeles film permit info: http://www.ladot.lacity.org/tf_Film_Permit.htm and http://www.filmla.com/

I think this is the paper that Symantec produced for VB2010. The others that were promised must be out too but I haven't had a chance to look this week. TGIF so my pesky day-job won't interfere with my Internet surfing.

Leaving early today to get a head start on the weekend after a very long week.

Thanks for the link, snake.

The malware communicated with two command and control servers on the web and these servers were accessed via dns names. The dns names and the location of servers may offer clues.

"www.mypremierfutbol.com",, Frederiksberg, Denmark
"www.todaysfutbol.com",, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I'm not so sure if I agree with some of news articles claims that a state actor rather than a highly motivated, highly intelligent and upset controls programmer pulled off Stuxnet. I am a former controls programmer (not Siemens), and I was given a written offer to relocate when the plant I worked at was shut down. Three days before the moving van was scheduled to pick up my belongings and move them 1000+ miles, I was told nevermind. I was given option to take severence pay or talk to a lawyer. I moved on and have been happy for doing so but this hypothetical Siemens programmer may have a score to settle.

Out of idle curiosity, I searched Ebay to see if I could build a Siemens control system. Yes, I can...

Four components
1. S7 300 Siemens digital input card can be purchased on Ebay for $40
2. SIMATIC S7/300 CPU315 Siemens can be purchased on Ebay for $600
3. SIEMENS PREMIUM STUDIO 2009 STEP 7 WINCC DVD can be purchased on Ebay for $220
4. Siemens Profibus PCI Card can be purchased on Ebay for $300

Stuxnet is pretty big to have been cobbled together by an individual. However I think that info about the source is far too uncertain to justify pointing fingers at Israel or to state that the target is Iran, much less any particular installation. For instance,

On July 17th, ESET identified a new malicious file related to the Win32/Stuxnet worm. This new driver is a significant discovery because the file was signed with a certificate from a company called "JMicron Technology Corp". This is different from the previous drivers which were signed with the certificate from Realtek Semiconductor Corp. It is interesting to note that both companies whose code signing certificates were used have offices in Hsinchu Science Park, Taiwan.

Also, the biblical reference to Myrtus is just as purely speculative. A simpler explanation could come from botany, for instance.

Yes, you are probably correct. I am amazed at the number of Windows OS software breaches Stuxnet uses. These are not in tecnical literature and would take a tremendous effort to find. It's possible someone at Microsoft knew of these breaches but thought the risk of their discovery was low. I hope this is a big wake-up call for Microsoft to do a better job of locating and removing breaches.

Reuters leaves the "in August" information out of the headline. No information as to followup sampling. Cascading around the scareblogs with no attention to time frame.

U.S. oil spill waters contain carcinogens: report

(Reuters) - University researchers said on Thursday they recently found alarming levels of cancer-causing toxins in an area of the Gulf of Mexico affected by BP's oil spill, raising the specter of long-lasting health concerns.

Oregon State University (OSU) researchers found sharply heightened levels of chemicals including carcinogens in the waters off the coast of Louisiana in August, the last sampling date, even after BP successfully capped its runaway Gulf well in mid-July.

From a USA Today piece, 8/2:

Chemist Kim Anderson of Oregon State University in Corvallis heads a team tracking how much of the worst toxins in the oil — organic chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons — have been dumped in the water by the spill. They'll be measured at four sites off the coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Earlier samples from Louisiana alone showed that by June 7, concentrations of the toxic chemicals had risen 40 times higher than levels on May 1, although the water looked clear of oil.

Also it would make a huge difference whether the last reading was taken in early August, two weeks after capping, when fairly fresh oil was in the Grand Isle area, or four weeks later. As I understand these are passive collectors that would be influenced by conditions prior to the time readings are taken.This work by the OSU team should be valuable because they have pre-spill (or pre-arrival) baseline data. However, it is odd that they would announce in October observations made in August. I can't find any indication that they were waiting for peer review or publication.

One of the conventions of newswriting for this incident seems to be that actual conditions never change, but various persons make contradictory statements about this unchanging volume of unchanging crude oil, which the government "claims" has "disappeared" (Snort! As if!), except when the government is forced to "admit" otherwise because the brave independent investigators have "discovered" some of the "missing" oil, which of course has been "lurking" out in the Gulf.

In fact it seems impossible to write about the spill aftermath without reference to this story line that the media have settled on.

the conventions of newswriting for this incident

Before finding its way to TOD, my news-addiction fed on national/international politics and government, where the doof-ups of lazy and/or ignorant reporters also drove me crazy. But I declare, what they've done to the science, engineering, and technology of this story (recognized only after I found this body of experts who could point it out to me) is, if anything, even worse.

So, two thoughts:

-- the rare reporters who've done justice by their sources this summer are national treasures.

-- the percentage of the public that understands what's happened since April 20 even sort-of correctly must be tiny (probably about equal to the readership of TOD, no more).

How frustrating, not to mention scary.

Certainly, herd-like behavior in pursuit of the consensus storyline besets and corrupts political reporting, but at least most political reporters get that they need to know something about politics, whereas reporters on the oil-spill beat apparently don't need to know anything about oil spills.

The supposed unchanging volume of unchanging crude oil even sneaks into the excellent Turtle People article:

Godfrey still had nothing optimistic to say about the fate of adult sea turtles in the gulf — those that swim at depths where the oil and dispersant are potentially now concentrating,

He seems to be drawing on the "BP sunk the oil to the bottom" meme. I read yesterday that dispersant "causes the oil to congeal."

"Congeal" might be one of the elongated mutant fish swimming through the unchanging oiled Corexit. :~)

Grabbing whatever bits and pieces of information swim by and fitting them into a familiar frame is standard operating procedure in journalism. The idea is to enable the uninformed reader to understand the story, but the problem is that the framer predetermines the story's meaning and lessons learned. There's a whole body of "framing theory" literature taught in J-school to make the students aware of this behavior. As you might guess, you can classify and map the various frames applied. Maybe we should try laying out the frame-map for the Gulf oil spill story, with some attention to who is framing what.

There are several books on this subject, including News Narratives and News Framing by KS Johnson, but I haven't read any of these.

But along this line, I'm currently reading a great book, Getting It Wrong by WJ Campbell, on 10 of the greatest misreported stories in American journalism. My favorite chapter so far is on Jessica Lynch, the fighting clerk in Iraq, because the heroic story was concocted by the press with no prompting from the military and despite (somewhat delayed) denials by the individuals involved. But the last chapter on Hurricane Katrina promises to be even more amazing.

Thanks for that reco, NRD. Getting It Wrong sounds like a book I want to read.

My transcription of Terry Hazen's presentation in the 27-Sep oil spill hearing:

Slide 1: “So we have a large team…you see some of the 40 people that have been involved. We’ve been focusing on the microbial community structure down deep, and what I’m going to talk about today is only what was published in Science and thoroughly vetted and peer reviewed.”

Slide 2: “… So what we did initially was to look at where we had… You can see in the upper panel at 1 kilometer we see this big spike of hydrocarbons from the CDOM, which is a fluorescence indicator for the hydrocarbons. And then out at 5 kilometers you see that spike goes down, and those dots that you see are the actual bacterial densities, so they basically double out at 5 kilometers. And then at 10 kilometers they’re still up but the plume has gone down (…at 1100 meters) and basically this coincides perfectly with what Dr. Camilli showed. And then outside of the plume in that last panel we see that there’s no difference in the bacterial densities and we don’t see this plume. We also see dissolved oxygen changes that occur, not at 1 kilometer (but just minor), some significant changes in dissolved oxygen at 5 kilometers, but less at 10 kilometers, and none outside of the plume.”

Slide 3: “We also have done a lot of sophisticated analysis in terms of 16S rRNA and phospholipids, and they look amazingly similar. There’s differences between the community structure in terms of what’s in the plume and what’s outside of the plume, and it decreases in diversity but it increases in those amounts of petroleum degraders and organisms capable of degrading petroleum, particularly Macondo well oil.”

Slide 4: “We found a particular species that hasn’t been described before. Not only is it a new species, it’s probably a new genus. 95% of the clones – this is another assay that we’re using – were this one type of Oceanospirillales, whereas outside the plume only 5%. So it’s quite a bit of difference in terms of community structure.”

Slide 5: “This gives you a visual of this particular organism, probably the Oceanospirillales. We’re doing a lot of sequencing on this and subsequent studies, and you can see at one kilometer at 1100 meters how that bug has just started to divide and it is incompletely divided. It’s over 20 microns long in complete division, but out at 10 kilometers we see much higher densities and in fact you can see that it’s – how should we say – it’s fat and happy. “

Slide 6: “We also took samples back to the laboratory and looked at them in terms of these flocs that we saw, and these flocs are what’s left of the oil when we took it back at 4 degrees, so even though we took it back to the laboratory within 3 or 4 days all the oil was degraded from the plume samples because these bugs were adapted to degraded oil at such low temperatures. They actually grow better at 4 and 5 degrees than they grow at 20 degrees.”

Slide 7: “We made estimates from 4 different techniques, using both changes in the alkanes (which is 80% of the fresh oil without the methane) and both BP data and our own data we also took mixed consortia and microcosm water back to the laboratory and estimated a – basically – a half-life of 1.6 to 6.1 days. Now that’s quite fast, but it’s within the range of what we normally see and it’s within the range of what we’ve seen in previous studies and it’s giving a fairly wide range, but all the data basically supports that.”

At around the 49 min mark, Donald Boesch has an interesting exchange with Dr. Hazen.

Boesch seems to be implying that there is some new data arising that isn't quite as glowing as Dr. Hazen's findings. Boesch seemed to be asking about the difference between gaseous and liquid hydrocarbon degradation.

This generates a few questions:

Was the Hazen report focused on the decomposition of only the most volatile gaseous hydrocarbons trapped at depth in plumes?

Are natural gases included in the oil spill estimate?

It seems like there is a huge amount of natural gas that was suspended in the water column. Was there ever a figure on what percentage of the spill was natural gas? Did any of it bubble to the surface or did it mostly get trapped at depth (obviously collection equipment burned up quite a bit)?

The oxygen depletion may become much worse than I thought.

The Hazen report focused on the bacterial community, its composition and growth in response to the HCs in the deep plume they tracked. They also measured oxygen depletion as a result of bacterial action and took fluorescence readings to roughly measure oil content.

Among the HCs, they focused on the alkane fractions of oil, not on natural gas or the volatile aromatic fractions. Alkanes are the most easily digestible fractions. The team lifted samples of plume water, maintained the cold temperature, and observed that the bacteria gobbled up the alkanes in a few days.

You may have read of another study (Valentine group) that said the bacteria were eating gas fractions (especially propane) more than oil. . Propane is the easiest HC for bacteria to metabolize. It is an alkane, so bacteria that ate the propane would be expected to move on to liquid alkanes. Thus there is no big conflict between the two studies, despite the way the press played it.

Natural gas is not included in the flow estimate, but is an additional 40% by weight. It almost all dissolved in the water 3/4 mile down, except much of the methane may have suspended there as hydrate crystals. There was no bubbling to the surface nor any elevated levels of NG in the air around the City of Ships.

Have I answered all your questions?

As reported so far, O2 depletion in the deep water is not a problem. Enough clean water diffused into the plumes to maintain good oxygenation. Methane is the biggest single fraction, so there was concern that methane digestion might use up the O2. However, methane is hard to metabolize and especially when in hydrate form. Hazen speculates that hydrates will very slowly rise to around 400 m and melt there, possibly producing a concentration of methane at that level.

da: Boesch is a top marine scientist and research administrator, and I know (from email) he's been following the science. Presumably he knows there are more data forthcoming, because Hazen has previously stated that his team's been on mission continuously since late May. And Hazen (and the others) pre-filed written comments, which might have included more detail than the verbal testimony.

I didn't infer, though, that Boesch was doubting Hazen's published work. He was probing deeper, beyond what's now published, asking about both the difference and the interplay of subsea biodegradation of dissolved gases (the Valentine et al. study) and fractions of the dispersed liquid oil (the Hazen et al. study). Keep in mind that the Valentine study says the plume(s) of dissolved gas may or may not have moved to different space than the plume(s) of dispersed liquid droplets, so perhaps some was in the same locations and some not. Hazen's response indicated that he and Valentine have discussed this and that there probably is interaction. And the interaction may be quite important. But it is not discussed explicitly in either of their publications. (Watch that space!)

Hazen stated that he and Valentine saw the same groups of organisms, and that co-metabolism of multiple compounds is known (from other research) to occur. He stated that the propane and methane consumers exude an enzyme that degrades over 300 other compoounds, including many that are in oil. He stated (as a hypothesis needing to be tested) that the extremely rapid population growth of the gas-consuming microbes may have facilitated degradation of other oil compounds. (It might be reasonable to simply assume this happens, given the coincidence of phenomena, but I infer that this dynamic has not been previously documented, so would need to be demonstrated by evidence.) Hazen also stated that the samples in which the alkane-degradation rates were measured lacked the dissolved gases, so gases would not have confounded his research result.

Finally, responding to a nicely targeted Boesch question (@52 min) Hazen said that as of the first week in August he could no longer detect any alkanes in new samples by the fluoresence technique, and he also tested chemically fixed samples for alkanes and found the highest concentrations to be 2 parts per billion (extremely low, lower than drinking water standards). This testimony is quite explicit and surely points to work we should be seeing in subsequent peer-reviewed publications.

IMO Hazen's comments demonstrate the proper scientific discipline of strictly limiting inference, interpretation, and conclusion to those meanings that can be directly supported by evidence. Where he made forward-looking statements, he was careful to identify ideas that are hypotheses, things that need further study, and things he has documented but has not yet reported out. After all, he knows we are watching and he evidently expects to be held to account for his representations. IMO this same discipline also has been followed by Valentine and Camilli. Not all the scientists we've been watching have behaved this way.

We had some discussion of the Valentine and Hazen studies here:

Wow, NRD, transcription is bloody hard work, so much thanks for bringing us this most interesting stuff (including the continuation below).

transcription is bloody hard work

FWIW, on the off-chance that any of you find yourselves needing to transcribe audio files (or the audio on video files) in quantity or on a regular basis, there's excellent free software that will make the job vastly easier (especially if you also invest in a pedal control). Also, earphones help a lot. (I've got lots of transcribing experience if anyone would like to pick my brains.)

Thanks for that link, SL. Many years ago, I had to transcribe some taped conversations for a paper I was writing -- took me several awful weeks. If only I could have afforded a court reporter . . .

Great tip, thank you. This looks really handy. But I'd miss the whimsical earrings of the court reporter (the Don King earrings are my favorite).

I see that the cspan videos are copyrighted and apparently can't be downloaded to make them available to the audio-playback software.

I see that the cspan videos are copyrighted and apparently can't be downloaded to make them available to the audio-playback software.

I'm not sure about this, never tried it, but check the docs for the latest version of ExpressScribe--I think it may be possible to use the program with streaming video. Or you could just record the audio as you played the video, then transcribe from your own audio file. You'd miss the IDs, but you could go back and look at the streaming video for those and add them to your transcript.

NOAA opens more Gulf waters to fishing after spill

(Reuters) - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said on Friday that it had reopened 5,628 square miles of Gulf waters off eastern Louisiana to recreational and commercial fishing.

About 11 percent or 26,287 square miles of U.S. federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico remain closed to fishing in the wake of the BP oil spill, NOAA said in a statement.

No oil or sheen has been documented in the area just reopened since August 6. It was the seventh reopening of federal waters since July 22.

Thanks for the good news. WalMart is selling many new HDTV's here.

Something more from the 27-Sep oil spill hearings, of possible of interest to those arguing that the government was slow to estimate the amount of oil flow:

Terry Garcia, Commission Member: “Dr. Camilli, you indicated that you were contacted by the Coast Guard early on, to come down to Louisiana and assist in estimating the oil, and in your written testimony you indicated that you were denied permission by BP to the staging area in Houma. I think I heard you say in your oral statement today that BP also prohibited you from using samplers. Were you given a reason? What was going on?"

Richard Camilli: "The issue of the samples revolved around what was deemed as safe and acceptable. Much of the, many of the assets that were used at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution are actually owned by the Navy. As such they fall under NAVSEA guidelines for safety, and the samplers that were in question are designed to hold samples at the ambient pressure where they were collected - so at 1500 meters equivalent depth. Now these samplers that we had, they were certified using our Alvin standard, which requires a safety factor of 1.5 and designed for what’s called full Alvin depth which basically converts out to an equivalent depth of 6000 meters. We provided that information, although BP chose to use the American Bureau of Shipping, which requires a different standard. We tried unsuccessfully to get them to recognize the standards that we use, and at that point, that’s when Dr. McNutt assisted us and was able to show that the ABS standards actually did not apply in this case, because these pieces of equipment were not actually bolted onto a ship. And so, and then we were allowed to return and make those sample collections."

Terry Garcia: "And how much time did this process take?"

Richard Camilli: "I think that process was something on the order of 3 weeks."

Terry Garcia: "I’m sorry?"

Richard Camilli: "Three weeks."

Terry Garcia: "Three weeks?"

Richard Camilli: "Three weeks before we could get back out onsite, and so it wasn’t simply a matter of getting an approval, it was to arrange so that we could remobilize and get back out onsite with ROVs and take the samples."

[Note: here is a webpage on WHOI biological samplers
that may pertain to the above Alvin terminology.]

Dr. McNutt assisted us and was able to show that the ABS standards actually did not apply in this case, because these pieces of equipment were not actually bolted onto a ship.

Sarcasm. For those who didn't see it, Camilli practically rolls his eyes during this testimony. He clearly doesn't think BP's concern over the samplers was legitimate.

Dr. McNutt assisted us

Stand by for Bruce T launch in 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 . . .

Sulfuric Acid spilled in the Mississippi River
Valero Energy Corp. reported that a leak in a transfer line at its Norco St. Charles Refinery released about 1,000 pounds of sulfuric acid into the Mississippi River Thursday, Bloomberg reported, based on a company filing to the National Response Center. Refineries are required to notify the National Response Center if they release hazardous substances in excess of reportable...

1,000 pounds. How much acid rain would be the equivalent? Say for example a 5 kilometer square raining at 1 cm/hr or expressed similarly.

Edit: Corrected for unit of spilled acid.

What is the concentration of the Acid?

It's a fairly pointless question because concentrated sufuric behaves in a completely different way to Acid rain.

I will try to get that for you. I was looking for more like when the Gulf dead zone issues came up and it was reported that human activity dumps 1 Macondo of oxygen depleting chemicals in the GOM every 5 days. That statement gave me a new perspective on the issue. I was just trying to see if this acid might have a parallel in a acid rain to acid spill comparison.

Edit: Try this. I saw everything but pH. http://www.valero.com/V_MSDS/SpentSulfuricAcid605.pdf

If I did the math right, this is just slight more than 65 gallons of spill.


1000 pounds is 454 kg, that is 4600 moles of sulfuric acid.
pH of acid rain might be 5, so we have 0.00001 mol of H+ in one L, so this gives us 920,000,000 L of actual acid (2 H+ per molecule). At 10 mm precipitation there are 10L of rain per sq.m so 92 km^2.

Dumping to river is quite different than acid rain, because acid rain dilutes itself when it mixes with lake or river water, but if you dump it in let's say ca. 1 minute of Mississippi flow, and distribute evenly you will end up with pH of 5 which is quite deadly to every living species. Spread over an hour and still pretty bad. There should be fish downstream belly up.

Hope did not miss a zero somewhere.

In one of life's strange coinkydinks, Thad Allen and Tony Hayward both get their lives back today. Best wishes to Thadmiral.

Sorry, got a little distracted by a very good news e-mail message.

So let's lift a glass of whatever to Admiral Thad, NatResDr, and to the Governor of the "not-so-stupid-and-corrupt-after-all" state of Tennessee, which just today filed a petition with the Department of the Interior, Office of Surface Mining, to declare a whole bunch of our North Cumberland peaks OFF LIMITS for mountain top removal mining! No sweeter words than "Not suitable for mining." Can't do much about private property, but when the state owns it, it is MINE!


(this place is just up the road from me, folks)

Wish I could make this at least 72 pt headline size:


That is good news, Lizzy, I'll raise a glass that the petition succeeds:


Dunno how he did it, but WOT OB SAID, Lizzy -- terrific!

I fully expect that OSM/BigCoal will attempt to quash this petition. OSM is a carbon copy of MMS, pretty much an agent for BigCoal. It should be VERY interesting. Don't know if you read the petition, but it has some good descriptive stuff in it, and also a bit of history of previous attempts to accomplish this.

It is actually chilly this morning, the birds are all tweeting and chirping, and I think that the "low" for tomorrow a.m. is to be around 42F. I can wear one of my snuggly cotton TURTLE-neck shirts, for awhile anyway. I've seen temps approaching 90 on Thanksgiving and Christmas days here, though, so I never put away ALL the hot-weather clothes. The cool is a relief, though. Long and unusually consistent HOT summer here, but fall is falling and the first bit o' red is fringing the dogwood trees. By the end of the month these mountains will be so full of leaf watchers from afar that you just wouldn't BELIEVE! Probably like summer at the beach. Trouble is that people driving cars and watching leaves are really dangerous. :)

Thanks for yeralls' support. And how DID you do that BIG TYPE size and neat type face, ofb?

Lizzy, I cheated. It's a cropped screenshot of text uploaded to Photobucket.

And one thing I learned from hanging out at roadcuts in your foothills: watch out for the cars with Florida plates, not only rubbernecking, but they've never seen a blind curve.

As a user of Florida plates, I'm still trying to visualize
"never seen a blind curve."

There's an html tag for formating text, but a bit of a pain in the neck. See the "styles" tag at http://www.w3schools.com/tags/default.asp
but I can't recall whether TOD supports this tag.

NRD, I guess it works both ways, I bet there have been plenty of drivers with Tennessee plates in the canal along Alligator Alley trying to visualize how they just ran off a perfectly straight road.

Thanks for the html link but it doesn't look like styles

are supported here.

W00T! -- Six pages worth of NYT Magazine:

The BP-Spill Baby-Turtle Brigade

... What I found in Alabama was a classic story of ordinary people called to do extraordinary things. But the extraordinary things were so eccentric, and the ordinary people were so unassuming, that it took me a while to realize that. In the middle of an environmental emergency that seemed to demand dispassionate and scientific decision making, it was an emotional connection to turtles — and, in some cases, a slightly overemotional one — that wound up making certain people indispensable. ...

Oh, so glad you found that! It will go into my files and be resent to several.

Maybe those Reptilian theorists got sumthin' after all? I love the part where Reynolds says he may be too anthropomorphic about these turtles.

"...Reynolds told me one afternoon at his condo a few blocks from the beach. “These are not our turtles. We feel like they are. But they’re reptiles, you know?”



Great story!

Note the night-ops thing mentioned again.

After BalloonJuice's Anne Laurie also noticed the Turtle People story, my alltime-favorite blogger, hilzoy, commented:

We are such a peculiar species. Some of us videotape people having sex and broadcast it live on the internet, or live to insult other people on blogs, or are hateful in other ways, for no apparent reason. And some of us spend our time helping tiny turtles to survive:

[quotes two grafs from the story]

I always wonder: what makes the difference? Why do some people look at a bunch of squashed turtle hatchlings and feel moved to stay up all night, year after year, protecting other tiny baby turtles, while others go in the other direction entirely?

The most attractive of TOD's qualities, for me, is that (with mighty few exceptions) the people here, no matter how rough-and-ready, "go in the direction" of kindness. Since I can't easily express how grateful I am for that, please consider this story a "thank y'all."

If the standard is a combination of colossal brainpower with good sense and humanity, hilzoy is not just your all-time favorite, she was/is objectively the best blogger in the country.

I'm so grateful Jon Mooallem's Turtle People article was posted. It's awesome. I want to hug all those folks.

Amen and Amen, Gob.

hilzoy is not just your all-time favorite, she was/is objectively the best blogger in the country

For folks unfamiliar with her, some background: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilary_Bok

I always wonder: what makes the difference?

I love nature shows, but many of them are little more than animal snuff flicks. Of course, we all know how cruel nature can be, but who needs to see a pack of wolves skin a deer alive, or a gang of chimps pull a stray monkey apart?

One day, I was in an electronics store browsing, and after about fifteen minutes, it occurred to me that the salesman had not pestered me once - a freak event in that store, where the salesmen work on commission.

He was glued to one of the televisions, watching one of those perverted nature shows, every bit as fascinated by it as I would be of a film about cuddlefish camoflauge. I could have walked away with something.

BP set to avoid US ban on drilling in Gulf of Mexico

BP has signed over six key Gulf of Mexico oil and gas assets as collateral for the $20bn (£12.6bn) compensation fund set up for victims of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the oil giant revealed yesterday.

The move will be seen as good news for the company, with analysts pointing out that the US government would have been unlikely to sanction the arrangement if it planned to prevent BP from operating in the Gulf.

Oil still being removed in Plaquemines Parish

Bay Jimmy, more specifically.


Judge asked to postpone trial for Gulf spill cases

Some of the companies sued over the massive Gulf oil spill are asking a federal judge to postpone until 2012 a trial designed to assign percentages of fault in the ill-fated Deepwater Horizon drilling project.
A court filing Friday by Halliburton Energy Services, Cameron International and other companies says they need more time to prepare for a trial on the case's "limitation and liability allocation issues."

OT, Stuxnet.

Iran arrests 'spies' aiming to derail atomic work

Tehran, Oct 2 (AFP) Iran's intelligence minister said today authorities had arrested several "nuclear spies" who were working to derail Tehran's nuclear programme through cyberspace.

Without saying how many people were arrested or when, Heydar Moslehi was quoted on state television's website as saying Iran had "prevented the enemies' destructive activity."

Posted at Slashdot:

"Liam O'Murchu of Symantec, speaking at the Virus Bulletin Conference, provided the first detailed public analysis of the worm's inner workings to an audience of some of the world's top computer virus experts. O'Murchu described a sophisticated and highly targeted virus and demonstrated a proof of concept exploit that showed how the virus could cause machines using infected PLCs to run out of control. Though most of the conversation about Stuxnet is still based on conjecture, O'Murchu said that Symantec's analysis of Stuxnet's code for manipulating PLCs on industrial control systems by Siemens backs up both the speculation that Iran was the intended target and that Israel was the possible source of the virus. O'Murchu noted that researchers had uncovered the reference to an obscure date in the worm's code, May 9, 1979, which, he noted, was the date on which a prominent Iranian Jew, Habib Elghanian, was executed by the new Islamic government shortly after the revolution. Anti-virus experts said O'Murchu's hypothesis about the origins of Stuxnet were plausible, though some continue to wonder how the authors of such a sophisticated piece of malware allowed it to break into the wild and attract attention."

But according to Allahpundit

Logically it seems more likely that another nation’s to blame for the worm and is tossing in a few red herrings to make Iran think it’s Israel

which seems plausible because as Jonathan Last notes

Stuxnet’s malicious drivers were able to present genuine signatures from two genuine computer companies, Realtek Semiconductor and JMicron Technologies. Both firms have offices in the same facility, Hsinchu Science Park, in Taiwan. No one knows how the Stuxnet creators got hold of these keys, but it seems possible that they were physically—as opposed to digitally—stolen.

Thanks for all these updates, snakehead. Where would we be without your news-addiction?

your news-addiction

True. I'm an info junkie. Where would we be? I don't know but possibly one step closer to trading recipes?

I'm an info junkie

Yup, I recognized the condition right off (takes one to know one).

Where would we be?

Deeper in the State of Confusion.

Lotus, some of us have derived great benefit from Snake's links on the Stuxnet threat. Maybe you should follow some of those links. This is not a computer virus where the only damage is to your computer, or wealth. This one can kill people big time. As a direct result of an early post by Snake on this topic at least one major corporation that I know of, initiated an emergency alert. AnyHow tks Snake and Lotus. It is an important topic for me, for family reasons. Juan.

Hi, Juan.

Maybe you should follow some of those links

You bet I have -- they're fascinating even if you're not in the IT professions. I hope your worry is a false alarm (at least as to people you know). Best luck!

Iran also arrested cyber spies back in March. Allegations claim these spies, called the People's Mujahideen Organization, are located in Iraq , and associated with an "American cyber war effort".

I haven't found very much said about the web servers that Stuxnet uses. I would think the files on the server would also be analyzed for clues to identity of perp.

There's plenty of info available about the original servers (see http://jsunpack.jeek.org/dec/go?report=a2fb7dc44bdf4e1fe7b5333b03b9d6ca9..., e.g) and some CT blogs have toyed with a more meaningful connection between Stuxnet and Serco. But it's also quite possible that the servers were hacked to launch Stuxnet, so the value of the info is questionable.

There's a fairly geeky but fascinating conversation going on at http://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=276994&page=12

Thanks for the links. I'll be quite comfortable at the geeky website and I'll go see what I can find out about the servers.

Stuxnet proof of concept video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3xfAHvW6EA

Uh . . .

What I gathered from that is that Liam O Murchu has the accent one would expect from someone of that name. I missed something, didn't I? What?

I'm not sure what. Stuxnet affects control systems. It's a demo of a Stuxnet-driven thrown out-of-kilter physical process. Spin motors too fast making them break, e.g.

NYT just put up an interesting story on the suspect claims Feinberg's having to deal with (and what's happening to some of them).

Just a thought. I honestly believe that the drill pipe was crimped and not cut by the BOP. I thought that the flow of mud in the center plume and the lack of it in the outer plume when the marine riser was cut off demonstrated that as a fact. However, the question upon lifting the BOP was; Where was the drill pipe? Did it break off as they were lifting it? What if it had not broken off when the rig hit the ESD. But the BOP shear rams actually closed. Remember the initial report was that the BOP was holding. Then there was a leak from the end of the fallen marine riser. Then it was leaking in several places. But what if the BOP did do its job initially but BP, in not knowing where the shear rams were, because of the fluid flow that was continuing to feed the rig fire was assumed to be coming from the well and not just fluid trapped in the marine riser that was boiling off. Maybe they cycled the BOP trying to ensure they were closed, while the rig was burning. What if they then dropped the 2,700 feet of 5 1/2 and 800 feet of 3 1/2: drill pipe. Now if the fluid density was not drilling mud but was porodcution fluid is it possible that the fall of 9,500 feet could generate enough force that the the end of the drill pipe punctured the base of the production casing just above the concrete at the shoe track. Was that near the pay sands? Just a hypothesis that someone might need to confirm with some calculations.

1) How long would a marine riser full of produced fluid generate enough vapor pressure to continue to flow at the rates of oil and gas burn demonstrated during the fire fighting efforts?

2) How much force would a 5 1/2 inch drill pipe fall at in the tapered production casing full of mud? a tapered production casing full of seawater? a tapered production casing partially full of both? or a tapered production casing full of production fluid?

As our experienced drillers have noted the real issue was getting produced fluid in the marine riser. Once that happened it was Katy bar the door cause it was coming up and expanding with a vengence. The marine riser was not rated for the any real pressure.

Also I am pretty sure that was why BP was unable to use the capping stack any earlier. They had to let the wells reservoir pressure decline to get the shutin pressure below the capping stack to below the hydrostatic test pressure of the Flexjoint. It was the weak lewak in that setup. Jinn was right back on the 24th. The ideal situation would have been to just pull off the LMRP at the HC connector above the BOP stack. There still would have been the drill pipe in the riser to deal with. Until the marine riser was cut off the drill pipe folded into the riser and trapped in the shear rams kept the LMRP connector compressed so it would not have released. Don't know why they did not try to do it again after the marine riser was cut.
Maybe they did and just didn't tell. Maybe BP or Sec Chu didn't want to place any stress on the wellhead. Remember the BP reports says they miscalculated the datum and didn't fill to the correct TOC (top of cement) to fully fill the surface and intermediate casing annuli that support the wellhead. Now was that calculation done by a .... Naw don't even want to go there.

Why have we not gotten any feedback as to what was keeping the LMRP in place. Theuy said they took it off the BOP Stack on the Q4000 to ship it to the NASA facility. They should have been able to detect there if there was anything wrong with the connector hydraulics when they separated the units.