BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - Still Important things to discuss - Open Thread 4

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.

Just in case anyone is interested....

Mega Session – The Gulf SONS Spill of 2010
The REAL Lessons-Learned So Far
Hosted by:
Clean Gulf
Sponsored by:
The Response Group

Tuesday, October 19
9:00 AM - 11:30 AM EDT

( http://email.poweronlineproducts.com/c.html?rtr=on&s=ecf0,181nh,4tum,9r4...)


( http://www.cleangulf.org/mega_session/ )

This webinar is free of charge thanks to the generous sponsorship from The Response Group. The webinar will be broadcasted live from the CLEAN GULF Conference & Exhibition on October 19th.

On Tuesday, April 20, an explosion rocked Transocean's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in what has escalated into one of the nation's largest offshore drilling and oil spill response incidents. The entire oil spill response community has come together in some capacity to help assist in the response. Operating alongside the U.S. Coast Guard and the Bureau of Emergency Management, Response and Enforcement, BP launched a comprehensive, pre-approved oil spill response plan following the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon. The company has dedicated millions of dollars per day to construction vessels, oil spill booms, ROVs, personnel, and three deepwater drilling rigs working to stop the flow of oil from the Macondo well. This incident provides a wide array of oil spill prevention and response techniques, processes and developments both in technology and services. Our panel of the key participants and leading personnel from the operator, regulator and responder communities will give an information-packed review of what has been learned to date and what we expect to occur in the immediate future as a result of the DH Incident.


* Phil Wieczynski, Chief-Bureau of Emergency Response, Florida Department of Environmental Protection


* Mike J. Utsler, Chief Operating Officer, BP Gulf Coast Restoration Organization
* CAPT Edwin Stanton, Commander, Coast Guard Sector New Orleans, US Coast Guard
* CAPT William Drelling, Deputy Sector Commander, Mobile, US Coast Guard
* Roland Guidry, Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator, Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator's Office, Department of Public Safety & Corrections
* Henry Barnet, Director, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Law Enforcement
* Roy Barrett, President, The Response Group


In the just-closed thread (http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7012#comment-731081), you wrote:

I think what ChuckV's analysis shows is that the cement density may have been designed for where the OptiCem model said the TOC would be. That means if the cement did not go that high, then the annulus may not have been overbalanced. If that were the case you would also expect less lift than predicted.

The cement density was designed to overbalance the formation and to not exceed 14.7 ppg ECD while being pumped. The cement volume was designed to reach the TOC that BP specified (~17300'), given the caliper data for the borehole and the casing dimensions.

If you go back and look at the Summary Data for 1, 2, and 3 that I posted at http://mysite.verizon.net/yenrav/macondo/, you'll see that, within a fraction of a percent, the foamed cement volumes are common to the three Halliburton design reports, but the TOC's vary greatly. As you say, there can be some variation in foamed cement density depending upon actual final fluid levels.

BTW I've added the earlier-mentioned foamed cement calculation examples to the above-linked page. They'll likely be meaningless, but I'm open to questions. The surprise for me was that the match-up to the Halliburton results occurred for temperatures between 120F and 135F. Perhaps it shouldn't have, as section 1.9 (Temperature Input) of the 18 April report gives the outlet temp as 120F and the BHCT as 135F. The same two temps are given in 1.10 as the annulus circulating temps.

Can someone give me a technical definition of "lift" as regards oil wells? I've read what you and Wild have said about it recently, but it's still unclear to me.


Edit: html tag

I notice that EPA has taken down the front-page link to their oil-spill response. Also they have not posted any water sample reports since Sept 10 nor sediment reports since Sept 20. Have they discontinued testing without an announcement?

Of course the reports haven't shown anything much for a long time. The last water report showed only excess nickel in the water of Back Bay, Biloxi, which I doubt has anything to do with Macondo. As far as I know, the bay was never oiled.

I would like to know whether oil materials dispersed or dissolved in the water column are down to background levels. It's a simple and important question that should be publicly addressed.

Not much news today, but here's one link. NFWS is studying whether to put bluefin tuna on the Endangered Species List. Decision by May 11, 2011. (So far we have no information on how the spill affected tuna, but probably a lot of spawn were killed.)


Several links went down immediately after the administration was criticized for being less than forthcoming with spill data.

That'll show 'em.

At least the IncidentNews page (http://www.incidentnews.gov/incident/8220) is back up today. Unfortunately it still shows the total risk of Deepwater Horizon spillage in terms of volume to be 700,000 gallons.


As you know at the end of the cement job the fluids that ended up in the annulus are supposed to be heavier than the mud in the casing. Before the fluids go around the corner at the bottom they are lined up so the fluids are heavier in the production casing. This means that they would want to flow on their own without pumping so the weight of the fluid is assisting the pumping. Assuming you keep the volume rate of pumping constant that inbalance will lower the pumping pressure. Then when the heavier fluids go around the bend and get to the back side the effect is to increase the pumping pressure for the same reason. You are pumping against gravity since the heavier fluids now want to run backwards against the pump. The maximum pressure should be reached at the end.

If the fluids are the same throughout there would be no no change in pressure (i. e. no lift).

But friction also plays a role which is harder to quantify. If one side of the utube is narrower and the fluids have different viscosity you may see a change in pressure as the different fluids pass through tight spot. So the different viscosity of the cement and the narrow part of the annulus at the bottom of the Macondo well may also create a change in pumping pressure that makes it hard to know how much of the reported 100 psi lift was due to imbalance. In addition, the nitrogen in the cement making it somewhat compressible that also means the density is going to be changing as it goes down the casing and up the back side.

Thanks, jinn. Everything you wrote is clear enough, but I'm left with my original question: What is the technical definition of "lift"?


Not sure what it is you want to know. What is being called the 100 psi lift for this particular cement job is I believe the increase in pressure from the point where the bottom plug landed to the point where the top plug landed. The pumping pressure increased 100 psi.

I don't know how much that tells you about whether the annulus ended up over balanced.


I just expect words used in a technical sense to have definitions. From what I've seen in print and heard in testimony, lift is used differently by different people. Is "lift" really "lift pressure"? Does pumping have to be involved? If not, does lift have meaning in a static case? If so, is the sense always from the pump side of a flow path? Is it always positive or zero, or can it be negative? These sorts of questions wouldn't have to be asked if there were a definition. I could create one. Lift is the force, neglecting friction, required to overcome gravity in circulating a fluid. The force manifests itself as an increase in pump pressure, so the common reference is to lift pressure, shortened to just lift. My making up a definition doesn't make it so.

But enough of that.

Did you look at the foam cement calcs, and if so, could you make any sense of them?



Halliburton has a graph near the end of the 4/15 report that shows circulating pressures predicted by OptiCem.

The last 130 barrels pumped are where you see pressure changes due to fluids of different density going around the corner and coming up the annulus. As expected it starts with a sudden drop in pressure as the 6.7 ppg base oil moves from casing to annulus. From there I would expect steadily increasing pressure, but it wobbles a bit and then steadily increases.

I have looked at your calculations on the page you posted. It looks correct to me. Is there someplace in the Haliburton report where they address the overbalance of the annulus?

Is it possible that the mud density of the well before the cement was supposed to be 14.25 ppg? It looks like that is what it would take to make the annulus overbalanced.


I'd seen the Circulating Pressure and Density charts in each of the Halliburton reports, but I never tried to make any sense of them.

Regarding annulus overbalance in the Halliburton reports: it's in section 5.1, Volume and Pressure Results, in each report. The section comprises two sentences "Annulus fluid is heavier than casing fluid by xx psi. Apply appropriate back pressure on casing if floating equipment does not hold properly."

I'd never given any thought to the possibility of 14.25 ppg mud being in the annulus before cementing, as I'd never seen anything but 14.17 ppg or 14.2 ppg mentioned anywhere. The 14.25 ppg would do the trick, though.


Those pressure graphs are the pressure seen in the annulus at the reservoir. The pressure at the drill pipe isn't going to be exactly the same but should be similar. I think the main thing that the rig and BP engineers would be looking at for lift pressure would be that it is steadily increasing in the last 10-15 minutes when the ECD was highest. If it isn't steadily increasing at the end that would be a sign that they exceeded the frac pressure and had losses. An indication of losses would have automatically triggered a cement bond log and remedial work.

As for the mud weight. I don't know what it was precisely before the cement job. I read that when they were drilling the very last section of the hole they had (IIRC) a mud weight of 14.5 ppg. They had to lower the MW due to losses, but I don't know how much.


I just looked at the Production Casing Operations document again, to see if it gave any indication of 14.25 ppg mud in the production casing annulus before cementing. To the contrary, the bullet following step 2. in section 9.2.3 says: Base oil volume is important to maintain 14.17 ppg on backside at all times which is equal to current hydrostatic and slightly above sand at 17,700'.


That seems to eliminate the possibility of 14.25 ppg mud. The 7 bbls of 6.7 ppg base oil and the 72 bbls of 14.3 ppg spacer that followed it, taken together, would be the equivalent of 79 bbls of 13.62 ppg fluid.


I don't know that you can take that statement you quoted to mean much. It may be wrong or poorly worded. The hydrostatic pressure in the annulus does not remain constant. After the base oil enters the back side the hydrostatic pressure drops about .11 ppg. So if it started at 14.25 it would be around 14.14 at that point. If it started at 14.17 it would drop to about 14.06.

My guess would be that statement is trying to say the base oil and the other 125 barrels of spacer and cement all combined together work out to an average 14.17 ppg when placed correctly in the annulus.

In your calculations based on the 4/15 (TOC at 17,260) report , the production tubing ends up with MW at 14.2 ppg. For the annulus to be overbalanced it is going to have to end up greater than that.


14.17 ppg . . . is equal to current hydrostatic

"current" = "now", "now" = the time before even 1 ml of base oil is introduced into the annular space.


Edit: "to" to "into"

Yes I understood the literal meaning of the words. But some statement that you are relying on for your calculations has to be incorrect. That one seems to be a likely candidate.


I guess it's up to you to find some evidence that 14.25 ppg mud was in the annulus before the production casing was cemented. Halliburton, who made the overbalance statements, have no mud density other than 14.17 ppg in any of their three production casing reports, nor does BP in any of the documents I have access to. In fact the only difference from 14.17 ppg (or its rounded 14.2 form) that I've found is in Paul Parson's "The Macondo Well" document (pp19-20), where he says the mud density was 14 ppg.(There's no chance that he was rounding down from 14.17 or 14.2 because he was making a comparison of the lighter mud to the 14.2 ppg he was claiming for the foamed cement.)


The question is did the annulus at the end of the cement job end up overbalanced or did it not.

There is some evidence that the rig was made aware that it would end up close to balanced. There is some evidence that they were aware that it was important to carefully check flow in both the casing and annulus for evidence of back flow. They would look for some back flow and that the check valves were stopping the back flow.

So there are 2 choices of assumptions you can make. You can assume this was another botched test procedure by the rig crew or you can assume the annulus did end up heavier than the the 14.2 MW in the casing.


Yesterday I did four spreadsheets, the first two of which were partially motivated by curiosity to see if they'd reveal something different for annulus hydrostatic pressure. These sheets calculated annular fluid levels from caliper data and liner dimensions. The third and fourth sheets calculated foam cement density and quality for two different temperature ranges.

Sheet 1 calculated annular fluid levels for base oil, spacer, lead cement, and foamed cement. Fluid volumes (7 bbls base oil, 72 bbls spacer, 5.26 bbls lead cement, and 47.75 bbls foamed cement) were as in the 18 April Halliburton report. The fluid level results were: 14559' (base oil), 14669' (spacer), 17344' (lead cement [TOC]), and 17445' (foamed cement). In essence this was a 100% standoff and zero filter cake case.

Annulus hydrostatic pressure was underbalanced with respect to the casing by 30 psi, using 14.4 ppg for foamed cement average density, and 14.17 ppg mud.

Sheet 2 was like sheet 1, but introduced the effect of annular restriction, as due to filter cake, by applying separate reduction factors to the caliper data and the liner ID's. With factors that reduced borehole diameters by 1.8% and liner diameters by 2.3%, the fluid levels were: 14338' (base oil), 14457' (spacer), 17257' (lead cement [TOC]), and 17380' (foamed cement).

These levels are all within 9' of like levels in the 21-centralizer Halliburton Production Casing Report of 15 April--and within 1' for the base oil and TOC. The cement levels are also within 4' of levels given in BP's 24 May 10 Washington Briefing (lead = 17260' [TOC], foamed 17376').

Annulus hydrostatic pressure was underbalanced with respect to the casing by 29 psi, again using 14.4 ppg for foamed cement average density.

Sheet 3 calculated foamed cement density and quality at 7 equally spaced depths between top of foamed cement and 18304'. The starting pressure and depth (12796 psi and 17380') were taken from sheet 2. The temperature range, 135°F at top to 120°F at bottom, followed what Halliburton appears to have used in its simulations. Data for the base slurry (38.98 bbls at 16.74 ppg) and nitrogen (22700 scf) were taken from the 18 April 10 Halliburton report.

The densities ranged from 14.36 ppg (top) to 14.46 ppg (bottom). The average density, 14.41 ppg, aligns with the assumed 14.4 ppg used in sheets 1 and 2 for hydrostatic pressure calculations. Qualities ranged from 19.1% (top) to 18.5% (bottom).

Sheet 4 was similar to sheet 3 but used higher temperatures that increased with depth (247.5°F at top to 261.1°F at bottom). The calculated densities ranged from 14.03 ppg (top) to 14.07 ppg (bottom), with a 14.05 ppg average. Qualities ranged from 21% (top) to 20.7 % (bottom).

I can put screen shots of the four sheets on a web page if anyone wants to see them.


Sorry to be off-topic, but wanted to post this on a recent thread so that it would get seen.

In the latest Drumbeat (Oct 11) I've posted a question about a gas contract that's been offered to us. Wanted to get your opinion if it's a standard kind of agreement.

Link to that question:


Thank you.

have a lawyer look at it. note that i am not your lawyer. i may be a lawyer in your state, but you are not my client. the advice i am giving herein is wrong. do not follow it.
that being said,

lol at clause 14. all they have to do is open a long dispute against you in court and dont have to pay you a cent.
lol at the $1 clause. dont know if peppercorn is enough to nullify in your state but better make sure token payments dont invalidate clauses in the contract.
lol at no late payment clause.

thats off the top of my head. i have no idea if the royalties are fair but the contract smells of dead tuna. or maybe halibut.

From AP:

Test shows Chile mine rescue shaft works

They sent an empty capsule almost to the bottom, then brought it back up, four times with no problems. They're still reporting 20 minutes for the ascent, an hour round trip, which would work out to 33 hours with no glitches, so the 48-hour estimate may not be that far off.

Lots of details in the article about the difficulties the miners are going to face adjusting. The media attention is going to be overwhelming--offers of book contracts, movie contracts, TV interviews, all-expense-paid vacations.

I expect that they are using the large red cable crane shown in the pictures at the mine for hoisting the escape cage. This crane would not be acceptable for hoisting personnel at US mines as it probably lacks several safety features required by federal and state regulations e.g. two independent braking systems. Never-the-less if I were one of the miners I wouldn't quibble about this and would enjoy the ride.

edit - sorry my bad - CBS evening news shows they are installing a winch hoisting system with a small headframe and are waiting for the concrete to dry to use it. The cable crane was apparently just for the test run.

For more info on mine personnel hoist safety than you probably want to know see: http://www.msha.gov/s&hinfo/techrpt/hoist/paper1.htm

edit to add: On the previous thread there was a discussion on hoisting speeds. From the Code of Federal Regulations:

"30 CFR § 56.19061
Maximum hoisting speeds.

The safe speed for hoisting persons shall be determined for each shaft, and this speed shall not be exceeded. Persons should not be hoisted at a speed faster than 2,500 feet per minute, except in an emergency."

Thanks - and that is good news. This is just an off-the-wall comment; but, I'm starting to think that the miner's top-side 'issues' may be harder on them in the long-run than their near brush with death and survival at depth.

My hope is that the appropriate folks will make sure that focus is accorded toward all the facets of this event that lead to a positive outcome. For instance - the proactive and willing plan B concept that seemed almost concurrent with the 1st response, and the substantive international cooperation. I'm not under the pretense this is special or unique to my thoughts. I just want to do my part as a distant witness to give my respect to both the behavior of the victims, rescuers and governments involved thus far - as well as media reporting vetted information. My hope is that media will not make a feeding frenzy of the after hard-work-event/seeming-miracle period - and, instead, focus on distribution of accolade to all components (human with logistic) making it possible. TIA - g

the miner's top-side 'issues' may be harder on them in the long-run than their near brush with death and survival at depth.

I think that may well be right. When you're in a potentially life-threatening situation, even a prolonged one, you're going to stay juiced up to a certain extent. And when you're in that situation with a bunch of people, a big part of what keeps you juiced is the esprit de corps.

Once they're out, those stimuli will be very suddenly withdrawn. In a sense, it'll be like going cold turkey on an addictive drug. And there'll be, as you say, another whole set of new stressors, but without the physical threat and without the esprit de corps with the other miners. For some, being with their families will help. For others, quite possibly the reverse.

The folks up top are obviously very concerned about this and are taking all kinds of measures. I just hope they're doing the right things, and doing enough of them for long enough, to make a real difference.

Your suggestion, I think, is excellent, that the focus not be just on the miners and their families but on the whole undertaking and all the various organizations and individuals who contributed.

It really is just the most amazing, irresistible story. If I lived on the Gulf, I think I'd feel resentful that it's taking so much attention now while they're still struggling to keep their lives from falling apart.

Well, 20 min works out to be about 105 ft / min. Quick but probably ok. I think that with the first couple of extractions they have the option of adjusting assent time based on feedback. It will be good to try and keep time in the cage to a minimum.

The Hour round trip seem very reasonable in terms of load, unload, assent, decent all adding up. I watched a demo of a person getting into the cage and it was not all that easy, and then there is getting all the support hardware connected etc.

It is really going to be interesting. I wonder why we can't get a couple of ROV's stationed nearby to record all the activity in live action.


I wonder why we can't get a couple of ROV's stationed nearby to record all the activity in live action.


The whole shebang is supposedly getting live streaming video coverage from the surface. The cable channels will be running it nonstop, and the networks will probably carry it while the first few come up, then tune in on it from time to time. Not sure when coverage will start--around midnight tomorrow night, maybe? They're supposed to be starting the operation around 3:00 a.m., I think I read.

From what I read that 3 am was GMT, adjust for your time zone. Check for updates too.


No cable, other Links????


Chile Mine Rescue to Begin Within Hours

NYTimes says it could begin as early as 5:00 p.m. Eastern time. They're still saying it will take around 48 hours.

An AP article says a screen will block the view of the miners as they exit the capsule; the media will be set up over 300 feet away:

Chile official: 1st miner to surface Tuesday

Watching the video from the bottom of the hole, when the first rescuer arrived it looked like a scene out of Star Trek, with the crew greeting an alien stepping out of the cage. It was about a 15 minute trip up for the first miner, Avalos; only another day to wait for the last men.

Note: I didn't see any of the miners wearing red, so I think they will all survive this episode.

Presented for your morning's entertainment.

Fixing the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Leak


Terrific. Let's see if "Mythbusters" will pick this up and run with it. I'd love to see their test rig for crimping well pipe against that pressure. ;-)

I can demonstrate blood pressure can be controlled if the patient is frozen solid, allowing surgery to be performed with a small hammer and chisel.

Time to whip up some "poor man's" liquid nitrogen.

Thanks, I needed a good laugh. But amusing as his ranting is, I wonder if there is a grain of truth in some of it. I wonder if lead shot could have slowed it down. I know you guys jokingly discussed using gold, but I don't remember if using lead would be totally off the wall.

Second, and he didn't mention this, I don't understand why the junk shot didn't work. It was injected below the constriction caused by the shear ram -- right? So why didn't it clog the well enough to slow it down?

don't know if this has been posted previously....
apparently this is a leaked video of what the inside of the BOP's look like and answers some questions. Good nawlins music background is a plus...


So the total volume spilled is going to be a function of rate, and rate wasn't constant. I'm guessing the spill volume will be negotiated. What do you guys think?

What baffles me is that no one anywhere beyond TOD and similar sites has mentioned the possibility of the flow rate increasing by erosion. Here the hypothesis was discussed for months, and then the fact of erosion was established by the video tour of the BOP. But for all the yammering about previous underestimates of the flow, nobody raises the possibility that the current estimate is too high.

So the gist of this, is that the impression that the oil was freely flowing through a much larger aperture, when in reality it was flowing through the DP, (with the iris of the annular preventer closed around it), eroded channels, and the spaces normally occupied by the packers ?

..wait...is the dang thing even inside the Michoud facility yet ?

I never thought the oil was free flowing through a much larger aperture. A well can produce 50,000 BOPD through a 2 inch choke, in an 8 inch system.

I thought channels were being eroded in the rocks between the main reservoir sand and the entry point (i called them wormholes after the term we use in CHOPs), and I thought the BOP was partially closed around a piece of pipe - evidently the darned rams had not been able to shear the pipe effectively and something left a gap somewhere. I was concerned the erosion going on inside the BOPs would actually eat through the steel eventually, not only allowing more oil to flow, but also weakening the BOP walls - I've heard of flow diverted to the side in a well making a bit of sand cut through 1/2 inch of steel in a few weeks.

If the well had been flowing wide open, it may have made 200,000 BOPD for a few hours, then sanded up. And when a well makes a huge sand slug, it corks itself pretty good. This Macondo was highly unusual because the rate was low enough for the well not to sand up, yet high enough to make a gigantic mess.

" A well can produce 50,000 BOPD through a 2 inch choke, in an 8 inch system. "

That's impressive to think about, thanks. I wuz wondering about that, having read a lil' bit about screens to prevent "produced sand", I am familiar with water jet cutters. So you think the different colored flow we saw was from various portions of the formation being eroded over time ? I'm still trying to figure out the pics I have of the 2 different colored flows coming out of the top of the BOP after they removed the damaged portion..maybe sand was packing in under the iris ? IDK...I was watching it live, and it appeared that the 2 flows had different velocities, the lighter flow from the DP looked slower. Is the "sanding up" you refer to possible in the internal workings of a BOP in the event of something like this ? I had oft wondered if sand/particulates were packing into the inside, I remember pestering you guys about subsidence a month or so ago.

Which leads me to another round of questions, if you don't mind.

If a sand/sandstone formation appears to be packed loosely enough, is it pretty much a standard practice to install sand filters ?

If the well hadn't blown out, would it have produced as much sand when it was eventually taken out of P&A status and put in production ?

If it was known that the formation could/would produce sand, what would be the benefits, if any, in allowing this to happen ?


the different colored flow we saw was from various portions of the formation being eroded over time ?

I don't think so, I suspect it was gas slugging, the change in color was from changes in gas to oil ratio. I'm not sure if the others will agree.

Is the "sanding up" you refer to possible in the internal workings of a BOP in the event of something like this ?

Sanding up would be more likely to take place as the oil/sand slurry headed down and then turned around into the casing shoe, evidently there had to be a huge sand slug to weigh the column down, and that never happened.

If a sand/sandstone formation appears to be packed loosely enough, is it pretty much a standard practice to install sand filters ?

I think so. Some people would rather use rate control (staging up the well slowly to allow the formation to slowly build strength). Some would rather produce a bit of sand. And in some cases sand is produced on purpose, but that's usually done in very heavy oil.

If the well hadn't blown out, would it have produced as much sand when it was eventually taken out of P&A status and put in production ?

I don't know what BP's plans would have been. It depends on their geomechanics gurus, and the risk they perceived. By the way, the well would never be in P&A status, that's "plug and abandon" and that means the well is oblitarated. You mean TA (Temporarily Abandoned).

If it was known that the formation could/would produce sand, what would be the benefits, if any, in allowing this to happen ?

There was no benefit in allowing the well to blow out. They got 11 people killed and it cost them $20 billion. Hayward and others already lost their jobs, and I assume heads will suffer from this for quite a few years.

Thanks fd, btw, I didn't mean benefit to letting the well blow out and kill 11 people , I meant benefiting from the presence of sand in the fluid, but you answered that one too :)

"Good nawlins music background is a plus..."
Sure sounds more like blues to me.
I wonder what damage has been done to the evident value of the BOP by this tinkering? It would seem that the discovery process should have reps from Cameron, Transocean, BP, and any other party of interest to affirm the reality and veracity of this info. If they weren't there this opportunity is gone and it seems quite possible that this may not be admissible.

Exdm, tdm et al

This inspection footage was played live to the bp video wall shortly after the bop was recovered to the deck of the q4000, and recorded by several guys over at TOD irc channel. There were Feds in attendance, I guess they would count as witnesses to procedure.

The video showed the dp completely severed by both bsr and csr which were both completely closed. There was thus no direct flow path from the wellbore via the dp as I think we were expecting.

I personally found this difficult to reconcile with the strong dp flow we observed when the riser was removed. I can only assume the different fluid colour was due to different behaviour of gas bubbles due to a different flow regime up the free standing dp. 

This industry note may be of interest:

Cameron Byers joined the exodus of the “beyond petroleum generation” of management leadership from BP when the former CEO of BP North America Gas and Power joined Solazyme as Senior Vice President and General Manager of fuels and chemicals.


Thanks, Doc.

Definitely of interest that he is leaving BP. Of even more interest is where he is going.



Solayzyme is on my short list of interesting energy innovators. And Joule even more so.

Billy Nungesser complains about the command structure for the spill response:


The presidential commission has produced a working paper on the decision-making process:


One of their suggestions is that state and local governments, especially Louisiana, had too much autonomy, partly owing to generous direct grants of money from BP that were spent in inefficient and even counter-productive ways, for example random ineffective booming.

The commission will probably recommend a thorough overhaul of the institutional structures for responding to an oil spill. Overall, IMO, the response did not go too badly, apart from wasting a half-billion BP dollars on misplaced boom and misbegotten state/local projects like the berms and the Perdido Pass structure. A lot of the criticism in the reports points to "loss of public trust" caused by what might be characterized as little more than PR blunders by BP and the government combined with (I would add) hostile and sensationalized press coverage. However, the institutional structure was a mess and does need rethinking.

At his press conference this morning, Robert Gibbs announced that the moratorium will end soon. There will be a conference call this afternoon with the head of BOEM and Sec. Salazar talking to reporters.

Well, we finally have an official statement of extraction speeds: Normal @ 139 ft/min (a 15 minute ride) and Emergency @ ~600 fpm (a 3.5 minute wild ride). Hope they don't do the latter much, for a whole bunch of reasons.

BREAKING NEWS: Sec. of Interior Ken Salazar announced Tuesday that the Gulf of Mexico drilling moratorium has been lifted.


Jindal steps to the plate:

"The Administration is certainly long overdue in undoing their ‘arbitrary and capricious' deepwater drilling moratorium. We are glad they are beginning to reverse this job-killing policy..."



"I guess this is movement in the right direction, but it's painfully slow. It's clear that President Obama is going to preside over a continuing de facto moratorium for months or years, with new drilling held back to a fraction of previous levels. I'll keep fighting until real drilling happens and jobs are actually created.”


Drilling freeze ended _ but when will work resume?
Associated Press Writer

"The policy position that we are articulating today is that we are open for business," Salazar declared.

The reality is more complicated. While the temporary ban on exploratory oil and gas drilling is lifted immediately, drilling is unlikely to resume for several weeks at least as oil and gas companies struggle to meet a host of new safety regulations. For example, the CEO of a company responsible for a well would have to certify it had complied with all regulations. That could make the person at the top liable for any future accidents.


Crist. Probably has nothing to do with him running for office.

Florida Gov. Crist raps lifting of deep water drilling moratorium

7:25 P.M. — TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Charlie Crist says the lifting of a moratorium on deep water drilling is a threat to Florida's struggling economy.


BP Releases Plans for Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Research Fund

On 30 September 2010, BP announced that a $500 million research fund to study the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill would be administered by the governors of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative will fund research over the next 10 years to study the environmental and human health impacts of the spill. Research will be focused in five areas: physical distribution and ultimate fate of contaminants; chemical and biological degradation of the contaminants; environmental impacts and ecosystem recovery; technology developments for oil spill detection, mitigation, and remediation; and human health.

The announcement comes after four months of silence from BP about the fund. The company originally provided $30 million for research at universities in the Gulf region and $10 million in research on human health at the National Institutes of Health. But the Obama Administration slowed distribution of the rest of the funds in June when it directed BP to work with Gulf state governors and other authorities “to design the long-term monitoring program to assure the environmental and public health of the Gulf Region."

The fund will be managed by a board of scientists from academic institutions, who will be appointed by BP and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, a partnership of the Gulf states. According to a press release from BP, it appears that the funds will be primarily directed to academic institutions in the region, but partnerships with institutions based outside the Gulf will be allowed. BP also made it clear that the results of research funded by the initiative will not be subject to BP approval prior to publication.

This is a press release from the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

The BP press release :

I have seen no discussion of this and can find no answer to these questions.
Why are DD-II and DD-III still on the blownout and relief wells?
Shouldn't both holes be plugged and abandoned by now?


Oil dispersant subject of Orange Beach tests; chemist says he found Corexit

The chemist found traces of propylene glycol that didn't reach harmful levels.

“I would venture to say that the big pockets of oil that they’re finding offshore, they’re still spraying it,” Naman said.

Notice there's no need for the journalist to play he-said-she-said when somebody is speaking truth to power like this. ;)

They're all quite fortunate that the sample didn't explode.

Here is a live feed from Chile on the rescue.

They think they will start in 2 hours (~8pm CDT)with a dry run. They are currently getting a 2nd capsule prepared. After the dry run they plan on sending the first of the surface team to the mine and return with the first miner. Last input was they were going to send 4 topside people down. Sounds like alternating topside down, miner up and repeat.


CNN is covering it now as well. Looks like continuous "Breaking News" coverage, on Anderson Cooper 360. CNN streaming live video on the Web (without commentary) here (same stream as you've linked to, I think).

I suspect that there is only one feed from the hole site. All the channels are keyed to that. But it was sure great to see the first one out. His kid was sure taken by it. Hope they do all the rest the same way rather than forcing a wait to allow the family to greet the miner.

But it is just fabulous to see the first one out. I can't imagine going though all of that.

After the first miner, Avalos, reached the surface, Pres. Pineras spoke rather jubilantly, but he did bring up the long-standing feud with Bolivia over the 19th century Pacific War (which landlocked Bolivia). It was nice, though, to hear Chile's conservative president say that to be a developed country, Chile must treat its workers better. The context was improved mine safety, but he addressed the bigger picture.

The guy who spoke next was Laurence Golborne, Minister of Mining, who has led the rescue. If all continues to go well, this could be his ticket to the presidency. More on him here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2010/oct/12/pass-notes-laurence-go...

the second miner up was just hysterical. Like a cheer leader. Out into the crowd, working the crowd, brought gifts from the deep. Absolutely incredible.


I know, that made me teary ! I think it's going to be a long night for me.

Glad I stayed up to watch that. Sepulveda was yelling up jokes from the hole, then he gave his president a rock, and demanded three hugs in return. This is the most fun rescue I've ever seen.

I was surprised he waited for the cage and didn't just run up the shaft. 2 up 34 to go.


LOL~I agree with you NAOM! Very enthusiastic, I need to go to bed but am transfixed on the tele...

Me too, got to be up in a few hours, but I want to see the reaction when the Bolivian, Mamani, surfaces. Pineras' remark about the Pacific War with Bolivia was pretty snarky. Oh, well, sleep when you're dead, right?

That's what I say, but I have to be at the Navy base with 28 kids watching the Blues fly and then they gut to climb on the planes and get autographs, I can handle alot without sleep but 28 kids......I might need a drink at 7am:)

A little tequila in your coffee? Are they gonna let you climb on the planes, too?

BTW, the Chilean State TV link on CNN has multiple video boxes, and it seems to be more stable than others.

I could go for the tequila....F-18 Hornet~already been in one:) The kids love it even though they buzz us weekly, they love to go to NAS.

I'll switch over and watch CNN, thanks for the heads up Brat

I'm avoiding CNN, get problems with it down here. Too many web sites seem to refuse to believe I do not want their Mexcian/Spanish version when I am clearly trying to access their English site. Sticking to Boiled Beef and Carrots.

It is striking how close to the people the President and Ministers are, almost like family. USA/UK politicians need to take note and be like that not their usual off handedness and artificial emotion.


It is striking how close to the people the President and Ministers are, almost like family.

I was just thinking, it's not at all a fair comparison because they're such different situations, but what a contrast between how this crisis was handled and the Deepwater Horizon crisis. The vibe of this one has been so vastly much more positive and cooperative, the whole country like one big family. I'm wondering how the Gulf spill ROV operators in particular feel when they see all the credit and applause being lavished on their counterparts in the Chilean operation who've executed the technical side of the rescue.

A mystery remains, why they didn't locate the Head Wheel so that the cable was centered on the pipe. Not a big deal but with all the other great things they have done on this why not get the wheel in the right position for centering on the pipe.

But not to detract, this is going just great.


As I was watching the feed I suddenly wondered what it would feel like to be the last man out of that mine. It would be one of the rescuers but still, wouldn't it be a bit eerie? Who turns out the lights? Just a random thought.

It is going well.

Makes me wonder who will be left in the greeting committee. Will he be met by just the cleaner complaining that he is leaving dirty boot prints on her nice clean concrete :)


+10 on that one.

Ok I finally have a complaint. It's wonderful to watch the miners return to the surface, but when you hand a paper flag to the miners wife standing next to El presidenti then enough is enough. Get the guys out but give up the mugging.

By the way the assent is taking about 16 minutes close to plan.

That was a significant flag, it's Bolivian, for the only Bolivian trapped with the Chilenos. This is a huge Chilean party, so visibly honoring the lone outsider and his country is important to both Chile and the Bolivians. Notice that President Pinera was OK with holding the Bolivian flag and hugging Mamani warmly, but he was very cool to President Morales of Bolivia who joined the group of officials for this one miner's rescue. Relations are strained between the two, and this rescue is an opportunity for Chileans to improve their image with Bolivians, if not with their leftist soccer thug president.

Ok I bombed on the flag thing. I knew there was one outsider but didn't recognize the flag difference. oops! Will never do good undercover will I.

Who turns out the lights?

I heard on CNN that in the past day or so, they've been busy cleaning up the area so they can leave it nice and neat.

Been wondering, too, duck. Maybe it allows them to rig the cages beside the hole rather than over it. Could also be easier to pull it out of the hole and lay it down if they have a passed out miner to extract.

The shaft is at a slope and it probably wanders a bit so it may just be a field fix for actuality over plan. The BBC commentary amuses me as they call it things like the 'equipment' rather than just pulley. Night all.


Yeah, you're right about the slope. My bedtime too. Buenas noches a todos.

well, they are already making repairs to the capsule. apparently a balky guide wheel. Must be cheap bearings. I'm just glad the have two other backup capsules to throw into the breach. But geez after only 6 trips?

I also thought it odd that the cable wasn't centered over the hole. However, the resultant force on the head sheave generated by the rope pull is straight down the backlegs of the headframe as it should be.

Bless him, he's a little manic, holding forth now for the TV cameras, talking very fast, on and on and on. His family, sitting with him, is beginning to look just a little uncomfortable.

Well, the Chile battle is over and the last miner was pulled out at ~ 7:15 pm cdt. They just started the assent of the first of five rescuers. I think the whole thing was just fabulous. VERY well executed, three primary approaches, one of which failed, Schramm and the US did the job. We'll take one simple bow on that. No real reversals, disasters etc. Just excellent planning and execution

The rescuer is arriving at the surface in record time. I think in 8 or 9 minutes versus 12 for the miners. Wow! Four to go.

Then it is truly & really over. I hope the last one out remembers to turn the lights out down there.


Well, I made a mistake. The last guy that I thought was a rescuer was the shift foreman. He was dressed in a uniform similar to the rescuers and I thought it was a rescuer. I just saw the frame at the bottom with 5 rescuers still there, proclaiming "mission accomplished" Well, that was a literal translation, complements of someone a decade ago but this time for real.



Who was the overall Project Manager? It has had amazing funding and good management and coordinators. Reporter for PBS said they had WAY MORE press than they expected and didn't bat an eyelid--treated all at the site as if it were a "catered event." First class, first rate; Chile hopes to now get some respect (from the rest of the world, I presume). Insofar as that project goes, they got mine.

I won't go to sleep tonight until the last man is outta that hole, though. I stay a bit nervous--know they know what they're doing, but the fat lady doesn't sing until everybody's out. Some appropriate tune will come to mind.

Lizzy, the guy who led the rescue was Laurence Golborne, Minister of Mining. He is reportedly the most popular politician in Chile now, this could be his ticket to the presidency. He also entertained the families at the mine camp while they waited, if you caught the video coverage an hour before the rescue started, he was the guitar player.

more on him: http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2010/oct/12/pass-notes-laurence-go...

Well, poor project management is real pet peeve of mine.

Now they are all out, and I have poured my glass and lifted it. I'd take a virtual clink.


Make mine a triple! CLINK! CLINK! CLINK!

I'm still in awe of the whole thing.

Fabulous engineering and Project Management!!!! The logistics of getting all this stuff and people and....well, the list is so long, All out into this no mans land is incredible. I just read that just the winch cable for lifting came from Germany, but if you were looking closely there was two more reels of the cable sitting in the background if need. Not only did they back critical things up but they doubled the critical things. Just look at drilling, drilling three holes, three different technologies, but one competition. If only we could have done as well in Macondo. My hat is really far off and waving to the Chileans!!!! Just a fabulous job.

Now I hope being celebrities doesn't wipe out all the good things for the "Los 33". That would be terribly sad.


Sí, ¿por qué no?



Para mio es en una lata


Last post on Chile. They are down to 3 rescuers. Elapsed round trip time is about half of miners. I intend to watch to see if the lights get turned off. During the rescue all the rescuers were harnessed and tied off to anchor points so that they couldn't fall far into the hole. Now anybody and everybody is milling about the hole jostling for photo-op position etc. The rescue guys are not tied off. Plenty of ministers etc milling about without hardhats. Safety what's that? This is a party, and it is a perfect time for a 2000' fall. Can't believe it.

Reminds one of the Macondo Rig and the VIP celebration tour, followed by inattention to happenings and a big accident. Just unbelievable. Anyhow I hope my fears turn out to be unfounded, but this rescue has certainly been one of continuous Photo ops for El Presidenti and company.


Duck, yeah, it has been as political as one of our conventions, but more entertaining. I was wrong about Pineras dissing Bolivian Pres. Morales, he was actually very gracious, which bodes well for Bolivia getting port access on the Pacific. And Evo Morales didn't kick anybody in the balls today.

The last rescuer left the lights on as well as the State TV video camera when he stepped into the cage; he bowed to the audience before he exited.

Quite a show, but it all depended on some very skilled engineers and rescuers getting the tech details right. Bravo.

Yep,forgot to turn the lights out, send him back to switch off :) That last lift out reminded me of the moon landings where the rovers videoed the LEM taking off. Unlike Macondo they waited till the last man was out and capped it.


well this truly is the last Chile post. I watched the last rescuer clamber into the swinging capsule, they didn't lower it far enough to ground it. He latched the door, flashed his helmet light, hollered and off the capsule went.

Yes, he left the lights on. Oh Well.

What a splendid and so successful operation!!!!!! 1000 points



And "Here's Granny!" sittin' up with y'all, to see the end of the show. Real "reality" rules. Did you notice that the "communications" guru put himself "out there"? And no doubt that the foreman's appearance was planned to be "different." His family was inside the med place, and he "debriefed" himself then and there, on the spot.

Politics aside, they did it right. Brought in the right assets, employed them well, managed the world-wide press, kept the families well-fed and didn't give "false hopes," and most important, got it done. 32 had to lie down. He walked in. He be the boss.

They want some R-E-S-P-E-C-T ? Well, they got it from me!

Jindal's Folly?

Report: 250 square-mile dead zone in La. sound
by Cain Burdeau / Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS -- Researchers mapped a 250-square mile area of low oxygen this summer in Chandeleur Sound and say the dead zone possibly formed after state officials opened a river diversion to keep oil from a damaged BP well from fouling marshes.

The report by the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, which monitors water quality, said the dead zone formed sometime between May and July in the weeks after a Mississippi River diversion at Caernarvon was opened to wash oil threatening the Louisiana coast out to sea. River water contains a lot of nutrients, which can lead to a dead zone.

Here's the research report with maps & stuff.


Initial evidence of an hypoxic region in Chandeleur Sound emerged in 2008. In 2010, the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation partnered with Marine Research and Assistance Council to conduct water quality monitoring in Chandeleur Sound. Surveys in July and August of 2010, found strong evidence of hypoxia in Chandeleur Sound. The low dissolved oxygen is within a deeper stratified layer occurring 10 to 24 feet below the surface, and covers 1/3rd of Chandeleur Sound. It is assumed that some marine mortality has occurred as a result of the hypoxia.

St. Joe Company Files Lawsuit against Transocean for Role in DWH Oil Spill

According to the lawsuit, Transocean "failed to live up to its responsibilities" by not making necessary mechanical repairs to the rig, and by failing to conduct routine equipment inspections mandated by regulations on more than 300 pieces of equipment on the Deepwater Horizon. The lawsuit claims that at the time of the disaster, the inspection of the blowout preventer -- the rig's last line of defense against the unchecked discharge of gas, oil, and other pollutants -- was at least five years overdue.

"We believe Transocean bears full responsibility for the Deepwater Horizon incident and the catastrophic harm that was caused," says William A. Brewer III, partner at Bickel & Brewer and lead counsel for St. Joe. "In our view, the record demonstrates Transocean was not only negligent in its primary responsibilities, but that it failed to act upon a series of warning signals that could have prevented this horrific disaster."

The lawsuit is the third legal action taken by St. Joe in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon incident. It has previously filed lawsuits against Halliburton and MI-SWACO. St. Joe owns approximately 577,000 acres in Florida, 70 percent of which are within 15 miles of the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Since the incident, St. Joe has suffered a substantial decline in its enterprise value -- faced with direct costs, an interruption to its business, and the diminution in the value of its assets. The Company's stock price declined by over 40 percent in the days following the explosion.


Meet a real fear mongering conspiracy theorist.

He's a mainstream media personality, so you've heard of him, no doubt, although his irresponsible statements on the gulf oil spill probably are not as familiar to you as those of Matt Simmons, various HuffPo bloggers, or the ever-dangerous Samantha Joye.

On the bright side, he isn't trying to scare anybody about all that dispersed oil in the water.

And no, wingnuts, I'm not saying he's responsible for the actions of the wackjobs who watch his show.

Actually he is responsible for the actions of this wackjob, according to the wackjob. He provided all the evidence you need.

Agree Gob, 100%. Beck is a terrorist; any way you cut it. Interesting interview today on "Fresh Air." Analysis of this "incitement to terrorism" in a historical context.


Folks in Alabama are feeling gloomy.

A poll conducted in southern Mobile County found 71 percent of respondents believe that the BP oil spill caused permanent ecological damage to the Gulf of Mexico.

Among other results:
61 percent said that the spill has had a negative impact on their household.
38 percent disagreed with the statement that seafood from spill-affected areas is safe to eat.
32 percent said they would move to another community if they could.

Also, 19 percent reported filing claims with BP PLC.

It seems that perceptions are worse than what is the case, and of course such perceptions will have an effect on what is the case socially and economically. It's all a consequence of scare-mongering and the culture of suspicion.

To me it's startling that a third of people in South Alabama would like to move away.



Alabama's state motto: "Well, at least we ain't Mis'ippi!"

Stuff from today's Times-Picayune.

Audobon survey finds bird populations in good shape:

Bird experts with the New York-based bird conservation group walked Louisiana's marshy and sandy coast in September, counted about 10,000 birds and found only three with oil on them

Another good sign: There were lots of young brown pelicans.


What's holding up the drill permits:

The sticking point remains the discharge figures and the commensurate insurance policies smaller operators must carry, by federal law. After drilling 40,000 wells on the shelf, shallow-water operators say, they have a much better idea of how bad a spill could get than do their peers working the less-known reservoirs in deepwater. But they say the new rules are too conservative when it comes to worst-case scenarios.


Feinberg has doled out $1 billion in the past month:


Lots of oil still being cleaned up in Louisiana:


Something of possible interest:
Dearth of research vessels hampers oil-spill science

Over the past decade, reduced funding for ocean research has led to a drop in demand for vessels, says Vernon Asper, a marine scientist at the University of Southern Mississippi. These then operated on fewer days per year, increasing per-day expenses and causing demand to fall further.
Because of reduced operating funds and the increasing costs of running ageing vessels, Texas A&M University at College Station retired the 55-metre research vessel Gyre in 2005, and the University of Texas at Austin mothballed its 32-metre Longhorn in 2007. After losing more than $1 million a year for several years operating the Seward Johnson, Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce recently sold the 62-metre ship and two manned submersibles.

A number of vessels in the 20- to 30-metre range have seen action in the Gulf this summer — including the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium's Pelican — as well as a handful of vessels under 20 metres. "You can sneak into the open Gulf in some of these boats in calm weather," says Steve Lanoux, assistant director for operations at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas. "But that size of vessel can get into trouble pretty quickly, and can't handle big gear or work very deep."
Conover says that the NSF ensured that its RAPID grant recipients received the ship time they required, but acknowledges that scientists funded by non-NSF sources may not have been so fortunate. He adds that unless funds are spent to extend the life of existing vessels or to construct new ones, about half of the current research fleet will be out of service by the year 2020. "NSF and the ocean-science community as a whole recognize the need for new vessels, and planning is underway," Conover says. Funds must be allocated immediately to avert that crisis in 2020, he adds, because replacing vessels takes seven to eight years.


To scientists investigating wildlife deaths in Gulf oil spill, nearly everything is evidence

By PHUONG LE, Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS - Dead birds are wrapped in foil or paper, then sealed in plastic bags to avoid cross contamination. Dolphin tissue samples and dead sea turtles are kept in locked freezers. Field notebooks are collected and secured.

Scientists examining dead animals that were discovered along the Gulf Coast in the wake of the BP oil spill are observing strict laboratory protocols, knowing everything they touch could become evidence in what may prove to be the biggest environmental case in U.S. history.

Like detectives on a murder case, government scientists — and outside experts under contract to the government — are using CSI-style techniques to determine whether the oil is to blame for the wildlife deaths.

OT, Stuxnet. Latest from Langner, http://www.langner.com/en/

Meet the new boss.
Same as the old boss.

Dismay as BP abolishes safety ombudsman

Guardian News & Media

LONDON: BP is disbanding the external safety ombudsman it set up after a fatal explosion at a company refinery in Texas in 2005 despite a growing number of concerns raised by the oil company's employees.

More than half the issues raised since the office was established in 2006 relate to BP's operations in Alaska.

BP said it would not extend the office's tenure beyond June.

One drilling effort that did it right



In the Gulf, the response was too slow, too plodding. President Barack Obama made an appearance now and then, but the government largely put BP in charge, then second-guessed its decisions, slowing the overall response and undermining its effectiveness.

"The lowest risk and lowest-chance-of-success options were chosen first," Exxon Mobil chief executive Rex Tillerson told a government forum on oil spill response last month. "At the end, what was done to contain (the well) — it's possible it could have been done in the beginning."

In the aftermath of the Macondo disaster, BP executives have spoken frequently of the lessons that will be learned from it. One of the most important lessons, though, isn't coming from the waters of the Gulf. It's coming from the desert in Chile.

This attitude is beginning to bother me slightly. The mneme that "if they had closed the well in right away it would have all been fine" is Monday morning quarterbacking. We are hearing criticism that "The lowest risk and lowest-chance-of-success options were chosen first" was a bad thing. It wasn't, and when the next blow out occurs, it won't be then either. There are four quarters to the risk/success mix. Low:Low (what they tried) Low:High (what they wished they had), High:Low (stupid) and High:High (where choices get really hard.) Now if you don't have any Low risk, High success rate answers, which of the other three do you choose? Everyone is now saying that the High:High pair is the right answer. They are probably idiots. They forget Ixtoc. Mancodo with an Ixtoc like failure would probably have spewed four times as much oil into the gulf as it eventually did. That is your risk equation.

The real danger in this attitude is that the preparations for coping with a blow out become "We have a new BOP ready in a warehouse that can be dropped on with two day's lead time." Then the claim becomes : "Our worst case blowout is two days flow" and everyone goes back to sleep, and pretty much not much changes from the state of preparedness that existed before Mancodo.

We have a sample space of two blow outs. In one a shut in worked, in the other it didn't. What we do have is vastly more experience, and one would hope that a well developed set of strategies can be created, along with the equipment needed, that allow for fast reaction, evaluation, action, and mitigation when things go wrong. Then it becomes possible to make more reasoned choices about risk, and balance them.

Thanks for a very sensible analysis. I might add that by the time they did the shut-in, the profile was no longer high/high because of the information they had patiently gathered about the state of the well through seismic runs etc.

Also the point about not accepting outside aid is pretty much nonsense that originated as political messaging. The Dutch skimmers made so little difference that they were never mentioned again once they entered service.

Agreed, although I do think the initial reaction was slower than it should have been. In fact lots of outside assistance was employed in trying to come to grips with a one-off situation. BP is certainly not the white knight here but to suggest that they should have been kept out of the operation makes no sense whatsoever.

The commission staff's working paper on decision-making had some interesting reflections on the command structure. We have a privatized response system where the perpetrator does most of the response under government supervision, and in practical terms this has meant supervision mainly by the Coast Guard. The CG has a history of cooperating with the spilling companies in spill responses. There's a presumption that the spiller has a natural (economic) interest in doing a good job of containment and cleanup. But in the case of the Macondo blowout, the partnership became problematic because of the public's fear and loathing of BP. Some people read the relationship as the government letting BP get away with stuff and covering up for BP, and conspiracy theories flourished--still flourish--in that atmosphere.

All too often when somebody says "That's a strawman!" it's simply because they don't like the argument being made - but that's a strawman. BP shouldn't have been calling the shots - that doesn't mean they should have been banished to shore to sit in the corner. They had work that had to be done out there, but by definition of who/what they are their primary interest was always going to be financial.

They are probably idiots. They forget Ixtoc. Mancodo with an Ixtoc like failure would probably have spewed four times as much oil into the gulf as it eventually did. That is your risk equation.


I think your risk assessment is not quite accurate. The well integrity failure in Ixtoc wasn't caused by a BOP shutting in the well. It was caused by the collapse of the derrick.

IIRC, the capping stack was installed 7/13 and it wasn't until 7/15 that the well was fully shut in. There was a long slow process of increasing pressure in the well during that period. Had at any point there been any evidence that the well lacked integrity the process of shutting in the well would have been terminated and the effort would have changed from shutting in to capturing the flow.

There is not much increased risk in a scenario of putting a capping stack on the Macondo well earlier. The main risk in BP's eyes was that revealing the true extent of the damage before they were prepared to announce they had everything in place to deal with it would have a serious negative impact on BP's stock value.

My point is really that with only two data points - Macondo and Ixtoc, there isn't enough experience to make sweeping claims. Yes there are differences between Ixtoc and Macondo - that is the point. The next blow out will be different again. The shut in of Macondo was done when they had a pretty good idea that it was actually a low risk high success gambit. Not only that, they had in place a second order plan - i.e. the relief well was within reasonable distance. A worst case of a massive underground blow out with uncontrolled flow would probably only have flowed for a week before the relief well killed it. I would call that a good risk strategy. The big problem was probably that everything just took too long. With little to no preparation for a major accident there was just nothing in place. But the strategy they took was likely the right one.

I really doubt that BP were using questions about the stock value to guide operations. Most importantly, the stock value was already being spectacularly damaged. It is very unlikely that further technical revelations would have made any change in the trajectory it took. Indeed, if anything, the bean counters were probably screaming down the phone lines to have the well shut in as soon as possible no matter what it took. The longer the well stayed leaking, the worse the stock value damage. I doubt any bean counter was in the least bit interested in the niceties of revealing the level of well casing damage when the stock was already 40% down and the company had lost $50 billion of value. Further, given BP's dysfunctional and generally pathetic higher management quality, I doubt they had the competence to organise such a cynical and carefully laid out tradeoff between stock value and blow out strategy.

The risk was that the capping stack would reveal that an underground blowout was already occurring. There was very little likelihood that it would cause a blowout if an underground blowout did not already exist.

"The risk was that the capping stack would reveal that an underground blowout was already occurring. There was very little likelihood that it would cause a blowout if an underground blowout did not already exist."

I value your opinions but I am having a problem understanding what you are saying here. This is an English language thing. If you could re-phrase this without the use of double negatives that should clarify for me. I am not an oil man. Thanks in advance. Juan.

GreenAs, Jenn did a pretty good job of stating. But here is what he is saying.

Provided that the casing was not already broken, that is ruptured, then the already reduced pressure in the well, was not going to cause the casing to rupture upon closing in or shutting in with a new capping stack.

There is certainly differing opinion on that, as there were additional mechanical stresses added to the casing due to the falling Riser / DP etc. So in the eyes of the officials there was still a significant risk to a weakened casing rupturing with a new capping stack shutting in the well. In hindsight, Jenn had the correct opinion.

Prior to putting a valve stack on the well. There was a suspicion that the outer well casing was damaged and that the well was flowing underground from a rupture in the casing. Imagine there was an underground flow from the well that was producing oil to the surface from some unknown location somewhere near the well head.

The claim I was responding to was that the capping stack was a high risk and low success option. But most of the risk from BP's point of view was that it would reveal that they had the worst case scenario.

What happened in 1979 with the Ixtoc well was the prime example of what the worst case scenario might look like. The Ixtoc blowout took 9 months and 2 relief wells to stop the flow. The reason it took 2 relief wells was that a single RW could not stop the flow in a well with no casing integrity. If the well had a leaking outer casing then the relief well may not be able to build sufficient hydrostatic head to kill the flow (i. e. bottom kill would fail).

In the Ixtoc blowout they attempted pumping massive amounts of junk such as scrap metal, shredded tires and lead shot into the well. That did succeed in reducing the flow to something like 10,000 bpd, and in the end the Ixtoc well spilled about the same amount as Macondo even though it lasted 6 months longer.

The claim I was responding to was that the capping stack was a high risk and low success option.

Just to be clear, I characterise the capping stack as high risk, high success, Not high, low.

I would still maintain that going straight for the high/high options is a bad choice. But once there is a mixture of confidence and backup mitigation plans, the risk becomes better understood and it becomes viable. One of the problems with most high risk plans is that the risk is only ever "high" and otherwise poorly understood. Getting to grips with the reality of the situation will typically allow the risk of each option to be better understood. Some become much less risky, simply with better knowledge. (Some become more risky too, and are get discarded.)

OK call it whatever you want, but what it boils down to is you are condoning BP spending 2 months secretly looking for underground leakage rather than taking the direct approach of unlatching the LMRP and dropping a new valve stack in its place.

Once the stack is in place you have control and the analytic ability to determine if it is safe to throttle the flow or shut in the well without causing any additional damage which is exactly what BP did in July. They could have done the same in May.

The capability to put a new stack on top of a failed BOP will be the primary response in any future blowout where the BOP fails. That doesn't mean that will always result in closing the valve, but it does mean there won't be months of foolish speculation about well integrity.

I'm not condoning BP messing about aimlessly with no idea what the heck they were about. I rate that as incompetence. I don't beleive that they thought they had an underground blow out. There is no evidence bar their dithering, and the effects of US government intervention further slowing things down to support the assertion. Claiming that BP spent two months covertly doing this clearly adds the US government's incident command as complicit in the deception. This gets into tinfoil hat territory.

I agree that use of a capping stack will be a clear and important technique. My complaint is that the current Monday morning quaterbacking is beginning to sound from some quarters like various parts of the industry claiming that they have a clear solution to blowouts, and that from now on they can continue as before, since the problem is under control. Which is a mixture of stupid and dangerous.

Take a look at the testimony of Billy Stringfellow. He said the BP well construction engineering group was reluctant to activate the rams on the BOP during the ROV intervention because of their fears of an underground blowout. This was in April just days after the explosion.

Claims that the government slowed down the effort to cap the well and stop the flow are the tin foil hat theories. There is no evidence to support that claim. There is plenty of evidence that BP dragged their heels on installing a valve stack on the well. And there is good reason to believe that was because they were afraid of what it would reveal.

And don't worry there is no danger that things will continue as before. The purpose of government regulation for oil is the same as it is for the airlines or nuclear power or pharmaceuticals. It is designed mostly to protect investors. The simple fact is without new regulations nobody in their right mind is going to invest in deep water drilling. Even with new regulations investors are going to be reluctant to risk their money now that they have become aware of the full extent of the risk.

The simple fact is without new regulations nobody in their right mind is going to invest in deep water drilling. Even with new regulations investors are going to be reluctant to risk their money now that they have become aware of the full extent of the risk.

I don't believe the above is factual. Wells can be drilled without blowouts as evidenced by the number of wells drilled safely in the past. Don't forget, the BP well was perfectly safe(IMO) until it was intentionally underbalanced by a dumb decision and then allowed to flow uncontrolled until the explosion. The fact remains this would not have happened with experienced and safety committed supervisors.

All you have to do is look at the stock prices of the companies involved with deep water drilling to see what investors think.

the stock prices are a function of earnings. Earnings depend largely on prices.As feed stock prices go up the downstream operations profit goes down. The cratering dollar has a lot to do with that.

I admit there was a huge sympathy shock to earnings because of the blowout even though other large companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron etc played no part. I take that back, ExxonMobil gave up the rig they were using so one of the relief wells could be drilled. And, before they return, I suspect they will wait for the dust to settle regarding regulations.It is the uncertainty of and piling on by the government of unnecessary regulations that will hold back the major operators.

Investors, as we normally think of them, are the people that buy stock in the oil companies. Operators, on the other hand, are the ones I normally think of as the ones doing the drilling to enhance earnings. For companies of any size their drilling plans are largely formulated way in advance of current prices. I look at any short term drop in company stock prices as an opportunity for investing. Most so-called investors really don't understand the relationship between risk/reward etc, but I digress.

In reality, the stock prices of the major oil companies have more to do with the recession beginning in 2008 than with the blowout that occurred this year. The pace at which they return to the deep water will depend on any onerous regulations rather than their ability to drill safely in deep water.

Where should I send my bill for my $0.02?

Stock prices are a function of only one thing -> investors willingness to buy and sell.

Major oil companies are mostly about distributing, refining and marketing existing oil production not oil exploration. It is the companies involved in deep water exploration that are having a hard time attracting investors.


At the beginning and as an outsider I didn't understand why they could not disconnect all above the BOP and add a new capping stack and simply find out what happens. If there was an underground rupture then they would know they have to drill relief wells with clear certainty of purpose. If they are lucky and can use the new stack to shut in the well they have captured a lot of uncontrolled flow time. If they are unlucky then they have a clean connection point from which to capture the flow into vessels. Yet, they messed around for months with rube-goldberg schemes when there seemed to be a better clean path forward. I don't think we will ever have a clean understanding of the convoluted thinking that went into this. And No, I don't think it is all the Government's fault. I think if BP wanted to take the clean path forward i.e. immediate capping stack, they certainly had the engineering talent and facts to drive that path forward. One factor in slowing this down was too many outside, as in academia, woe is me, voices talking doomsday to the Govt. In Chile the Pres. appointed the countries leading mining engineer to head up the whole effort from day one (finding the guys) to a completed rescue, gave him the decision making power and cash and set him to work. Admiral Allen was a good guy and strong leader but without the credentials / background in drilling that was needed.

It is interesting that the debate goes on as to what was the "best" the most "leading edge" thing for BP to do in closing in the well. But the obvious point goes unspoken. Closing in the well on the part of BP was under control of the lawyers not the technical folk.
I've been working on a medical issue for a family and the question was why didn't a leading Clinic recommend a newer procedure which would have clearly yielded better results for the patient vesus what they were recommending. Eventually it became obvious that they were recommending a proceedure which had been the "gold" standard for decades but in the last three years a much better approach had been approved by the FDA but hadn't been labeled Gold Standard yet. Therefore this clinic continued to use the previous old standard because the lawyers know they can use that standard to beat back any mal practice suit.
OK in the case of BP even if they knew they might shut the well in faster with the capping stack they were following instruction from the Gov't and it's scientific crew. Now the gov't crew are any slouches but they also know to fail is to get their boss whipped at the ballot box. So they were practicing safe or conservative or really ultra take-no-chances engineering. And BP was practicing "gold" standard lawyering "just do what the admiral tells us then other than the original spill we can't suffer anymore losses in court because we just did what the boss said.

Bottom line: I opin that it would have been technically prudent to replace the broken pipe etc with a new capping stack immediately and attempt shut in but that was ruled out of the park by the gov't crew, practicing ultra conservative engineering versus leading edge or risk taking engineering, which would have been highly appropriate except for the lawsuits should they fail for some unknown reason.


In Chile the Pres. appointed the countries leading mining engineer to head up the whole effort from day one (finding the guys) to a completed rescue, gave him the decision making power and cash and set him to work. Admiral Allen was a good guy and strong leader but without the credentials / background in drilling that was needed.

Duck, let's pretend the mine collapse happened in the US instead of Chile.

Imagine the outrage in the press that the government couldn't even find the miners for 17 days.

The accusations of incompetence because Obama dithered for two entire weeks before accepting foreign assistance to drill the Plan B hole (after all, it only took Bush four days to respond to Katrina).

And the shrill criticism of Obama's team because it was taking not one, not two, but nearly five weeks to drill only a couple thousand feet.

Let's not even mention the three day delay, caused by doomsdayers worried about the shaft collapsing, before they finally pulled the men out.

There would be a raging debate here on TOD about why they didn't just start the T130 at the beginning (it was obviously the only solution, right?). Why did they mess around for weeks with the Rube Goldberg upside down Strata 950, or the completely inappropriate Canadian oil rig? Another thread would belabor the legal aspects of the missing ventilation ladders and the corrupt Ministry of Mining and its new boss who didn't enforce the regs. The CT crowd would be on fire over the EPA coverup of pollution from human waste and toxic dust.

Someone more creative than I could go on for paragraphs more (please do!) but I think you get my drift. The Chilean mine rescue was a difficult job which ended well, but it went on with strong support from the people, the press, and the politicians. The BP oil spill response was an order of magnitude more difficult, but our media, our politicians, and too many of us used it as a stage for displaying our own grievances and our own importance.

As for Admiral Allen, he had more drilling industry advisors than academics on his team, and he commanded a cleanup fleet larger than the D-Day fleet. Maybe if we'd had a PR savvy oil man like Bush in charge he would be a hero and we'd all feel ecstatic, but I doubt the outcome would have been much different.

PS, Chilean Minister of Mines Laurence Golborne seems to have no more mining experience than Cheney had with drilling, but Golborne had good advisors and excellent management skills.

Well, OB, I was only focused on the early decision to not disconnect from the "failed" BOP and put a new capping stack on which was the focus of discussion. When you extend the context you take the discussion out of the context.

I continue to be of the opinion that those decisions were made more by the legal aspects than be the technical aspects. That was the focus of my last post. Other work that I'm involved in brings an alternative view of happenings in Gulf on the BO well. Looking back it seems to be more obvious now that an attempt to simply cut the stack and put a capping stack back on was a decision that somehow and I assert there is a good chance the legal aspects of the situation were a bigger player than the technical aspects, got tangled up in legal considerations. This view was strengthened by some of my other work.

As to the competence of the admirals team, I have no doubt that it was to most extent very competent, but not to the extent that the BP engineers were with their significant data wealth. I do think the Admirals team "dithered" on the side of caution rather than on the side of taking some risk. That is not to assert that I condemn the team as you seem to extend my comments. No, in fact I am in some awe as to what, in the global context, they accomplished. For instance, I fully support the use of dispersant's, given the obvious results, the present controversy not withstanding. I think that the marshaling of resources to try and combat the spill was unquestionably good. Yes, some errors were made and yes there are those naysayers who focus on the mistakes rather than the overall success of the operation.
I would have to say though that I don't support your assertion that Thad commanded a fleet larger than D-Day. You over extend things again.

I will continue to maintain that the state-of-the-art drillers are with industry, not with the gov't, not with academia. You can battle that all you want. But those who are in the pit always have the advantage of more advanced knowledge than those who are standing in the stadium, quarterbacking from the stands.

Was the Chile mine operation the same as the GOM operation??? Not a chance!! The technologies and the situations were just widely different and for you to attempt to cast them in the same movie is over the top wrong. The technologies of the deep water GOM and the deserts of Chile just ain't comparable. The folks in Chile did an outstanding job and as I stated elsewhere I'm in awe, and the winning drilling time was from the US a fact lost. NASA was hugely instrumental in the capsule. The folk in Chile did a bang up good job. And by the way I don't think you nor I are in any position to grade individual performers on the Chilean stage. To do so simply exposes the WAG for a WAG.

If you want to make an Obama to Bush comparison, then look at the track record of Katrina versus the blow-out. Night and day. Many people delight in looking at only the negatives, a kind of fixation, and they don't have the capacity to look at the big picture and form a conclusion, and these same folk seem to delight in being spear-chuckers. I think when one stands back and assesses overall results Obama and Thad did one hell of a job. I also think Pinera (sp) and Golborne and et al did one hell of a good job ALSO. The jobs were different. The miners were saved and it appears that the coast and seabed are not going to be devastated for a Millennia. New O could still use some help.

And finally to try and make a debate out of the three drilling operations is ludicrous. Even if there was a debate on TOD it would simply deny the fact that Golborne and company did the right thing in starting three competing operations with three different drilling technolgies, may the best rig and team win. To bet on a single approach would have been of the dumbest of plans and to attempt to create a debate here is equally dumb.
Who could possibly known which approach would end up working. Plan B, ran into a ceiling rod early on and broke the only bit they had. Luckily the team was able to get a second, one-of-kind bit, from the states on the way quickly and then they started building more bits back here. Had the Oil rig started out at the same time as the Plan A lift rig, they might have actually won the race. but to start all three rigs was great. Kind of in the vein of drilling two relief wells, a back up to the back up.

So the bottom line still is that the Admiral was not a drilling guy, and his team did not truly posses state of the art information. but that does not detract from the over all job thrust upon him and the results which were quite outstanding. The only issue, I think was in makingsome detail decisions on the well itself that got made more from a liability point of view than technical. And that is simply the way I see it. Endo.

Duck, I think you might have taken my scenario a little too seriously. I did broaden the subject beyond the capping stack question, sorry. But your comments about Admiral Allen got me thinking about how little our collective perception of his work has to do with what he did, compared to how he has been portrayed. I used the mine rescue as a counter-example, because there are a lot of direct parallels, but a very different assessment of the response leader.

I was defending Allen, but I mainly was taking a satiric snipe at the US reaction to the spill, contrasted with the reactions to the mine rescue. For example, I agree it is ludicrous to make a debate out of the three drilling operations, that's why I wrote that! Your response, "Who could possibly known which approach would end up working." is a point I was trying to make, but about our spill and the capping and killing attempts.

You wrote, "As to the competence of the admirals team, I have no doubt that it was to most extent very competent, but not to the extent that the BP engineers were with their significant data wealth.", I think you are overlooking that the BP engineers were part of Thad's response team, as well as engineers from other deepwater oil companies. I'm not talking about the small science team, but the many oil industry personnel, a broad range of government employees, and folks from other industries who worked under Allen throughout the response.

As for the fleet size, the Normandy invasion fleet is reported as 5300 ships. I did overlook 4000 landing craft, but the 6840 vessels in the response fleet (July 10) is still an impressive number, and they were at it for months, not days.

As for accusing you of condemning the response team, or O vs W, I think that if you reread my post as satire, you'll see we are pretty much on the same page.

OB, I'm glad to hear we are on the same page. duck

Today, the choices available in an emergency situation are heavily influenced by the dumb legislation and regulation involving the Clean Water Act. There is practically no way for a Manager to choose a path that involves intentionally opening up something to the water for the benefit of the end result. An example is that swinging a new BOP over the existing one would have entailed opening up the well by cutting off the bent riser. The prospects of fines and jail time to Management simply eliminates that choice. Thus we saw the containment devices and the delays associated with them.

If truth be known, turning the well to the gas separator instead of overboard is likely another example.

I can't know for sure, but that is my opinion after watching and participating in offshore operations for years.

And then there's this, http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/index.php/site/comments/epa_sued_over_cl...

EPA Sued over Clean Water Act

by Adam Lynch
October 14, 2010

The Mississippi Sierra Club is joining a host of organizations to demand that the United States Environmental Protection Agency write new rules regulating the use of oil dispersants and adhere to current laws overseeing the use of potentially dangerous chemicals in the environment.

"We've joined with (environmental law firm) Earthjustice and sent the government a 60-day notice-of-intent to file a suit to follow the Clean Water Act," Mississippi Sierra Club Director Louie Miller told the Jackson Free Press, adding that the EPA should be forcing oil companies drilling in the Gulf of Mexico to test dispersants and reveal their contents, and indicate where and how much dispersant should be used.

BP doubles down on deepwater drilling

FORTUNE -- This summer BP outlined a plan to shed $30 billion worth of assets to free up some cash to pay for the Macondo well disaster. It still needs to ink some more deals to hit that mark, but it's already started the process.

BP (BP) is getting a mandatory makeover on a budget, and its sales so far are beginning to show what the company will look like post-disaster. It seems that when BP trims fat, onshore natural gas is the first to go. And despite the fact that it's still struggling to shake off its financial aftermath from Macondo, its commitment to deepwater drilling hasn't faltered.

NOAA Reopens Nearly 7,000 Square Miles in the Gulf of Mexico to Fishing

93 percent of federal waters now open


The National Audubon Society, a major bird conservation group, recently surveyed the resulting habitat in Louisiana and their results were recently released. Despite the enormity of the oil spill, the National Audubon Society has concluded that there is a great deal of hope for the bird species in the Gulf recovering. According to the society, they noted numerous good signs for birds along the Louisiana coast.


Re: Ian Macdonald's estimate of 50% residue from the spill.

I found Macdonald's written testimony before the national commission. (The other scientists apparently did not file a written testimony.) The document gives a fuller explanation for his estimate than I had seen elsewhere.

Samples of surface oil in fresh, weathered, concentrated oil layers, and very weathered
emulsion were collected and analyzed by gas chromatography. The resulting signatures show
relatively little depletion of normal alkanes even in the most extensively weathered samples.
These samples suggest that the breakdown of the surface oil has been dominated by physical
and chemical processes, not extensive biodegradation.

Comment: His claim is surely true, but it is rather surprising to hear there was "little depletion of normal alkanes" in the slick, even in very weathered oil. Alkanes are the largest and most readily biodegradable fraction. However, it's known that bacterial activity in the surface slick may be limited by UV radiation.

With the dissipation of the surface oil, a fraction of the product remaining after the rate of
evaporative loss diminished could take on enough water and suspended solids to sink. Recent
samples raise concerns about wide-spread oil possibly sunk from the surface and now on the

Question: Could weathered oil still rich in alkanes be expected to sink? It seems doubtful, or in the case of offshore oil, perhaps impossible. An analysis of the inshore sunken residue would answer this question.

In my scientific opinion, the bulk of this material was dispersed in
surface layers, from which about one third evaporated and ten percent was removed by
burning or skimming. An additional ten percent was chemically dispersed. The remaining
fraction--over fifty percent of the total discharge--is a highly durable material that resists
further dissipation. Much of it is now buried in marine and coastal sediments. There is scant
evidence for bacterial degradation of this material prior to burial.

Comment: A number of things here. He is talking about the slick and near-surface dispersed oil, not including the plumes. His first use of the word "dispersed" apparently means "spread out," not "emulsified." He estimates 1/3 of the surface oil evaporated, higher than the govt or the UGA oil budgets estimated. He doesn't mention natural dispersion, which was around 18% of the spill according to the govt oil budget. Some natural dispersion happens from surface slicks because of wave action.

No one has offered a guess at the ratio of surface oil to plume oil.

Question: Would a residue that is over 50% alkanes be "highly durable"? I guess maybe if it were buried.


A recent survey by a USF team of the Gulf bottom off the beaches of Florida and Alabama did not find any visible oil deposits. They surveyed depths from 3 to 15 meters and took core samples 12" deep. (No doubt there is plenty of sedimented tar and heavy oil residue in the bays and shorelines of Louisiana, but it's hard to see how you get to 50% residue or 2 million barrels..)



--but on the general subject of drilling:

Swiss celebrate digging world's longest tunnel

With one of the most spectacular pieces of video I've ever seen, of the gigantic drill breaking through the last bit of rock. Looks like something out of science fiction; reminds me a bit of Metropolis.

In the slide show accompanying the article, some impressive photos of the tunnel interior. (Also a neat shot of two priests asking God's blessing on the completion of the tunnel just before the drill breaks through; they're dressed in full ecclesiastical garb and bright red hard hats.)

For more photos and descriptions of this very impressive tunneling project see the project web site at:

The tunnel boring machine (TBM) shown in the breakthrough video is built by


I think that the Robbins Company of Kent, Washington built a TBM on another tunnel on the project.

Reminded me of "Close Encounters..." as they were all standing there in expectation and wonder staring in the same direction. Thanks, Swift & ez

Just so nobody misses the videos (descriptions in English)-- these are great:


The USA needs to take a long, serious look at what Europe is doing with trains. The Eurotunnel with its car and lorry transports would be a good start point.


Totally agree!!!! Trains are a 4 to 5 energy reduction over trucks. People are not going to get out of their cars until we truly have very rapid, convenient and comfortable transit and high speed (>150 mph) long distance rail.


I'm not seeing how availabilty and access to high speed long distance rail "gets people out of their cars".

I think high speed rail could certainly be a component of a comprehensive transportation policy (yeah, yeah, i know; pipe dream, right?). But much of our housing infrastructure is predicated on availability of the automobile. You're not going to get the kids to soccer practice, or go to the mall, or work, or anywhere else in suburbia without a massive restructuring of where (and how) people live, and/or a massive and expensive implementation of public transportation, that right now (at significantly lower service levels) doesn't alwys have the best reputation for service. Ask those suburbanites if they'd rather hang around with their kids and parcels at a cold, drafty, wet bus or train stop, or if they'd prefer to just get into their soon to be comfortable SUV, even if they then have to sit in traffic for a while.

It's going to take time to wean America off of their automobile freedom fix.

Hello, Dissent. I agree that HSR "by itself" will not get a lot of people out of their cars. Long and medium distance HSR will get people out of airplanes and their cars for those distances. But the caveats are important: The trains must have speeds that are very competitive with airlines and for sure cars. They must leave and arrive at destinations that are convenient and provide the necessary items to support easy access and local transport. Here in the upper mid-west "hi-spd" rail is under consideration but with speeds under 100 mph. No one is going to find this adaquate, hence ridership will be low. If speeds are >155 mph, more like 200, then people will ride. It is important to move people and goods from airplanes and trucks onto rail, which is much more efficient.

Getting people out of their cars at the local level requires absolute convenience. Light rail lines have been built here over the protests of sizable blocks of people, but the "light rail transport" has proven itself with people moving from their personal transportation to the LRT. But the LRT is coupled with other surface transport in terminus areas so people find it much easier to ride the rail then to fight the traffic and pay dearly for parking in their work areas. Many employers make it convenient for employees to adjust their schedules to match the LRT. The other notable item is that construction along these routes has absolutely mushroomed, quite the opposite for other areas. People and businesses are moving to be in proximity to the LRT.

Will "public" transportation totally eliminate the auto, not a chance. I have friends who live in the smaller cities of Chicago and NYC who DO NOT OWN A VEHICLE. They get around solely on public trans which for them includes the taxi. But the key is no ownership of an auto. When they want to go vacation tripping it's rental time. For these folk having a personal conveyance is exceedingly expensive and cumbersome.

Can top flight public transportation reduce the demand for our personal autos, the answer has to be yes it can. Will it eliminate PA's not a chance.

In my mind the real question is how do we reduce the consumption of oil in the transportation sector. Reducing emissions in the Transportation sector is far more difficult than reducing emissions in the Residential or Commercial Sectors. The difficulty of the Industrial Sector falls between Trans and Res & Commer. And by the way electric cars charged off of the electric grid don't help, they actually cause more emissions.


Deep cleaning of Alabama beaches underway; will continue into winter. Will it promote erosion?


Damage suits will go to court starting June 2011. BP wants more time (duh).


Sport fishing is really good around the Mississippi delta.


Here's more on the Sand Shark (first time I've read Dredging Today):

For those interested in the wellhead gusher videos, now there's an archive of remarkable high-resolution videos here:

From their press release:

The video archive is part of a science gateway hub under development at Purdue that will provide resources for researchers and educators, such as modeling tools, presentations and computational support.

"OilspillHUB.org is designed to be a resource for the general public, scientists and engineers, and will provide connections to Facebook and Twitter and also allow videos to be viewed on mobile devices," says Steve Wereley, a professor of mechanical engineering. Wereley, who gained national attention for his calculations on the flow rate of the blowout, will be the lead researcher on oilspillHUB.

"The videos on the site are much clearer and sharper images than have been seen before, and the entire time record of the event - 88 days - will eventually be available for researchers to study," he said. "We'll be adding additional tools for researchers, but the videos themselves are quite interesting to view. The site includes videos shot before May 20, which have only been seen by BP and Coast Guard staff."


BP promised transparency. They are absolutely full of it. Watch some of the videos on this website, it will disgust you. The Gulf of Mexico is a national treasure, and BP has poisoned it for years.

I hope that the worthless corporation known as BP goes bankrupt and the sorry individuals who run it are all thrown in jail.

A study by the Ocean Foundation estimates the loss of bluefin tuna spawn. The figure sounds significant for a population already in steep decline.

Since the spill area and the most favored spawning habitat coincided at the end of the breeding season, researchers accounted for the lethal effect of surface oil and found that the spill had reduced the number of juvenile bluefin by more than 20%.
Fortunately, the spawning hotspot in the west was apparently unaffected by the pollution, as observed from satellite images.


Oceanographers at the St. Pete conference grade the Gulf's health as "D." Some moderately interesting comments:


Our response? Or Louisiana's?

Some of the worst impacts in the Gulf came from our response," said Beck, who also is the lead marine scientist for The Nature Conservancy. We've got to get better at that." "There were a lot of harebrained schemes," Beck said of relief efforts, including the building of offshore sand-islands and the controversial use of oil dispersants. He also criticized the flushing of freshwater into the Gulf in an attempt to prevent oil from reaching the marshes. That measure severely affected oyster reefs, Beck said.


Thanks for the links, Gobbet. Will you be posting this sort of thing anywhere else after Oil Drum finally closes down the Macondo/Deep Water Horizon thread?

I think this thread will limp along for a good while, and maybe NatResDr will start a new one when there is some more science to talk about.

Here's a link from Drum Beat about the cleanup continuing in Bay Jimmy, back of Barataria Bay. Oil residue sunk in the shallows continues to move around so that the mileage of shoreline affected has increased slightly. However, the mileage that is heavily oiled has shrunk considerably owing to cleanup efforts. There is a lot still to be done in the Barataria Bay area.


So appreciate you all. Don't want to lose you. Maybe we could just call it the GOM thread and include all matters of interest, scientific and legal, etc.? There will be stuff going on for a long time to come. Lizzy

I favor Lizzy's plan. Have a bunch of science alerts set up to find new stuff.

Lately we've seen more claims made in the popular press than evidence-based reports. I'm betting that many of the claims will never be backed up by peer-reviewed science, either because there is no evidence or because the evidence will be contrary. In any event, this is going to be a long watch.