Deepwater Oil Spill - A Longer Term Problem

This is a reposting of myTOD post because they closed the comments down I figured we could start the discussion again here.

OK let’s get real about the GOM oil flow. There doesn’t really seem to be much info on TOD that furthers more complete understanding of what’s really happening in the GOM.
As you have probably seen and maybe feel yourselves, there are several things that do not appear to make sense regarding the actions of attack against the well. Don’t feel bad, there is much that doesn’t make sense even to professionals unless you take into account some important variables that we are not being told about. There seems to me to be a reluctance to face what cannot be termed anything less than grim circumstances in my opinion. There certainly is a reluctance to inform us regular people and all we have really gotten is a few dots here and there…

First of all…set aside all your thoughts of plugging the well and stopping it from blowing out oil using any method from the top down. Plugs, big valves to just shut it off, pinching the pipe closed, installing a new bop or lmrp, shooting any epoxy in it, top kills with mud etc etc etc…forget that, it won’t be happening…it’s done and over. In fact actually opening up the well at the subsea source and allowing it to gush more is not only exactly what has happened, it was probably necessary, or so they think anyway.

So you have to ask WHY? Why make it worse?..there really can only be one answer and that answer does not bode well for all of us. It’s really an inescapable conclusion at this point, unless you want to believe that every Oil and Gas professional involved suddenly just forgot everything they know or woke up one morning and drank a few big cups of stupid and got assigned to directing the response to this catastrophe. Nothing makes sense unless you take this into account, but after you do…you will see the “sense” behind what has happened and what is happening. That conclusion is this:

The well bore structure is compromised “Down hole”.

That is something which is a “Worst nightmare” conclusion to reach. While many have been saying this for some time as with any complex disaster of this proportion many have “said” a lot of things with no real sound reasons or evidence for jumping to such conclusions, well this time it appears that they may have jumped into the right place…

This was probably our best and only chance to kill this well from the top down. This “kill mud” is a tried and true method of killing wells and usually has a very good chance of success. The depth of this well presented some logistical challenges, but it really should not of presented any functional obstructions. The pumping capacity was there and it would have worked, should have worked, but it didn’t.

It didn’t work, but it did create evidence of what is really happening. First of all the method used in this particular top kill made no sense, did not follow the standard operating procedure used to kill many other wells and in fact for the most part was completely contrary to the procedure which would have given it any real chance of working.

When a well is “Killed” using this method heavy drill fluid “Mud” is pumped at high volume and pressure into a leaking well. The leaks are “behind” the point of access where the mud is fired in, in this case the “choke and Kill lines” which are at the very bottom of the BOP (Blow Out Preventer) The heavy fluid gathers in the “behind” portion of the leaking well assembly, while some will leak out, it very quickly overtakes the flow of oil and only the heavier mud will leak out. Once that “solid” flow of mud is established at the leak “behind” the well, the mud pumps increase pressure and begin to overtake the pressure of the oil deposit. The mud is established in a solid column that is driven downward by the now stronger pumps. The heavy mud will create a solid column that is so heavy that the oil deposit can no longer push it up, shut off the pumps…the well is killed…it can no longer flow.

Usually this will happen fairly quickly, in fact for it to work at all…it must happen quickly. There is no “trickle some mud in” because that is not how a top kill works. The flowing oil will just flush out the trickle and a solid column will never be established. Yet what we were told was “It will take days to know whether it
worked”…“Top kill might take 48 hours to complete”…the only way it could take days is if BP intended to do some “test fires” to test integrity of the entire system. The actual “kill” can only take hours by nature because it must happen fairly rapidly. It also increases strain on the “behind” portion and in this instance we all know that what remained was fragile at best.

Early that afternoon we saw a massive flow burst out of the riser “plume” area. This was the first test fire of high pressure mud injection. Later on same day we saw a greatly increased flow out of the kink leaks, this was mostly mud at that time as the kill mud is tanish color due to the high amount of Barite which is added to it to weight it and Barite is a white powder.

We later learned the pumping was shut down at midnight, we weren’t told about that until almost 16 hours later, but by then…I’m sure BP had learned the worst. The mud they were pumping in was not only leaking out the “behind” leaks…it was leaking out of someplace forward…and since they were not even near being able to pump mud into the deposit itself, because the well would be dead long before…and the oil was still coming up, there could only be one conclusion…the wells casings were ruptured and it was leaking “down hole”

They tried the “Junk shot”…the “bridging materials” which also failed and likely made things worse in regards to the ruptured well casings.

“Despite successfully pumping a total of over 30,000 barrels of heavy mud, in three attempts at rates of up to
80 barrels a minute, and deploying a wide range of different bridging materials, the operation did not overcome the flow from the well.”

80 Barrels per minute is over 200,000 gallons per hour, over 115,000 barrels per day…did we seen an increase over and above what was already leaking out of 115k bpd?..we did not…it would have been a massive increase in order of multiples and this did not happen.

“The whole purpose is to get the kill mud down,” said Wells. “We’ll have 50,000 barrels of mud on hand to kill this well. It’s far more than necessary, but we always like to have backup.”

Try finding THAT quote around…it’s been scrubbed…here’s a cached copy of a quote…��9CThe+whole+purpose+is+to+get+the+kill+mud+down,”+said+Wells.+“We’ll+have+50,000+barrels+of+mud+on+hand+to+kill+this+well.+It’s+far+more+than+necessary,+but+we+always+like+to+have+backup.”&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

“The “top kill” effort, launched Wednesday afternoon by industry and government engineers, had pumped enough drilling fluid to block oil and gas spewing from the well, Allen said. The pressure from the well was very low, he said, but persisting.”

“Allen said one ship that was pumping fluid into the well had run out of the fluid, or “mud,” and that a second ship was on the way. He said he was encouraged by the progress.”

Later we found out that Allen had no idea what was really going on and had been “Unavailable all day”

So what we had was BP running out of 50,000 barrels of mud in a very short period of time. An amount far and above what they deemed necessary to kill the well. Shutting down pumping 16 hours before telling anyone, including the president. We were never really given a clear reason why “Top Kill” failed, just that it couldn’t overcome the well.

There is only one article anywhere that says anything else about it at this time of writing…and it’s a relatively obscure article from the wall street journal “online” citing an unnamed source.

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

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

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

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

BP started the top-kill effort Wednesday afternoon, shooting heavy drilling fluids into the broken valve known as a blowout preventer. The mud was driven by a 30,000 horsepower pump installed on a ship at the surface. But it was clear from the start that a lot of the “kill mud” was leaking out instead of going down into the well."

There are some inconsistencies with this article.
There are no “Disks” or “Subsea safety structure” 1,000 feet below the sea floor, all that is there is well bore. There is nothing that can allow the mud or oil to “escape” into the rock formation outside the well bore except the well, because it is the only thing there.

All the actions and few tid bits of information all lead to one inescapable conclusion. The well pipes below the sea floor are broken and leaking. Now you have some real data of how BP’s actions are evidence of that, as well as some murky statement from “BP officials” confirming the same.

I took some time to go into a bit of detail concerning the failure of Top Kill because this was a significant event. To those of us outside the real inside loop, yet still fairly knowledgeable, it was a major confirmation of what many feared. That the system below the sea floor has serious failures of varying magnitude in the complicated chain, and it is breaking down and it will continue to.

What does this mean?

It means they will never cap the gusher after the wellhead. They cannot…the more they try and restrict the oil gushing out the bop?..the more it will transfer to the leaks below. Just like a leaky garden hose with a nozzle on it. When you open up the nozzle? doesn’t leak so bad, you close the nozzle? leaks real bad,
same dynamics. It is why they sawed the riser off…or tried to anyway…but they clipped it off, to relieve pressure on the leaks “down hole”. I’m sure there was a bit of panic time after they crimp/pinched off the large riser pipe and the Diamond wire saw got stuck and failed…because that crimp diverted pressure and flow to the rupture down below.

Contrary to what most of us would think as logical to stop the oil mess, actually opening up the gushing well and making it gush more became direction BP took after confirming that there was a leak. In fact if you note their actions, that should become clear. They have shifted from stopping or restricting the gusher to opening it up and catching it. This only makes sense if they want to relieve pressure at the leak hidden down below the seabed…and that sort of leak is one of the most dangerous and potentially damaging kind of leak there could be. It is also inaccessible which compounds our problems. There is no way to stop that leak from above, all they can do is relieve the pressure on it and the only way to do that right now is to open up the nozzle above and gush more oil into the gulf and hopefully catch it, which they have done, they just neglected to tell us why, gee thanks.

A down hole leak is dangerous and damaging for several reasons.
There will be erosion throughout the entire beat up, beat on and beat down remainder of the “system” including that inaccessible leak. The same erosion I spoke about in the first post is still present and has never stopped, cannot be stopped, is impossible to stop and will always be present in and acting on anything that is left which has crude oil “Product” rushing through it. There are abrasives still present, swirling flow will create hot spots of wear and this erosion is relentless and will always be present until eventually it wears away enough material to break it’s way out. It will slowly eat the bop away especially at the now pinched off riser head and it will flow more and more. Perhaps BP can outrun or keep up with that out flow with various suckage methods for a period of time, but eventually the well will win that race, just how long that race will be? one really knows…However now?..there are other problems that a down hole leak will and must produce that will compound this already bad situation.

This down hole leak will undermine the foundation of the seabed in and around the well area. It also weakens the only thing holding up the massive Blow Out Preventer’s immense bulk of 450 tons. In fact?..we are beginning to the results of the well’s total integrity beginning to fail due to the undermining being caused by the leaking well bore.

The first layer of the sea floor in the gulf is mostly lose material of sand and silt. It doesn’t hold up anything and isn’t meant to, what holds the entire subsea system of the Bop in place is the well itself. The very large steel connectors of the initial well head “spud” stabbed in to the sea floor. The Bop literally sits on top of the pipe and never touches the sea bed, it wouldn’t do anything in way of support if it did. After several tens of feet the seabed does begin to support the well connection laterally (side to side) you couldn’t put a 450 ton piece of machinery on top of a 100’ tall pipe “in the air” and subject it to the side loads caused by the ocean currents and expect it not to bend over…unless that pipe was very much larger than the machine itself, which you all can see it is not. The well’s piping in comparison is actually very much smaller than the Blow Out Preventer and strong as it may be, it relies on some support from the seabed to function and not literally fall over…and it is now showing signs of doing just that…falling over.

If you have been watching the live feed cams you may have noticed that some of the ROVs are using an inclinometer…and inclinometer is an instrument that measures “Incline” or tilt. The BOP is not supposed to be tilting…and after the riser clip off operation it has begun to…

This is not the only problem that occurs due to erosion of the outer area of the well casings. The way a well casing assembly functions it that it is an assembly of different sized “tubes” that decrease in size as they go down. These tubes have a connection to each other that is not unlike a click or snap together locking action. After a certain length is assembled they are cemented around the ouside to the earth that the more rough drill hole is bored through in the well making process. A very well put together and simply explained process of “How to drill a deep water oil well” is available here:

The well bore casings rely on the support that is created by the cementing phase of well construction. Just like if you have many hands holding a pipe up you could put some weight on the top and the many hands could hold the pipe and the weight on top easily…but if there were no hands gripping and holding the pipe?..all the weight must be held up by the pipe alone. The series of connections between the sections of casings are not designed to hold up the immense weight of the BOP without all the “hands” that the cementing provides and they will eventually buckle and fail when stressed beyond their design limits.

These are clear and present dangers to the battered subsea safety structure (bop and lmrp) which is the only loose cork on this well we have left. The immediate (first 1,000 feet) of well structure that remains is now also undoubtedly compromised. However…as bad as that is? is far from the only possible problems with this very problematic well. There were ongoing troubles with the entire process during the drilling of this well. There were also many comprises made by BP IMO which may have resulted in an overall weakened structure of the entire well system all the way to the bottom plug which is over 12,000 feet deep. Problems with the cementing procedure which was done by Haliburton and was deemed as “was against our best practices.” by a Haliburton employee on April 1st weeks before the well blew out. There is much more and I won’t go into detail right now concerning the lower end of the well and the troubles encountered during the whole creation of this well and earlier “Well control” situations that were revieled in various internal BP e-mails. I will add several links to those documents and quotes from them below and for now, address the issues concerning the upper portion of the well and the region of the sea floor.

What is likely to happen now?

Well…none of what is likely to happen is good, in fact…it’s about as bad as it gets. I am convinced the erosion and compromising of the entire system is accelerating and attacking more key structural areas of the well, the blow out preventer and surrounding strata holding it all up and together. This is evidenced by the tilt of the blow out preventer and the erosion which has exposed the well head connection. What eventually will happen is that the blow out preventer will literally tip over if they do not run supports to it as the currents push on it. I suspect they will run those supports as cables tied to anchors very soon, if they don’t, they are inviting disaster that much sooner.

Eventually even that will be futile as the well casings cannot support the weight of the massive system above with out the cement bond to the earth and that bond is being eroded away. When enough is eroded away the casings will buckle and the BOP will collapse the well. If and when you begin to see oil and gas coming up around the well area from under the BOP? or the area around the well head connection and casing sinking more and more rapidly? …it won’t be too long after that the entire system fails. BP must be aware of this, they are mapping the sea floor sonically and that is not a mere exercise. Our Gov’t must be well aware too, they just are not telling us.

All of these things lead to only one place, a fully wide open well bore directly to the oil deposit…after that, it goes into the realm of “the worst things you can think of” The well may come completely apart as the inner liners fail. There is still a very long drill string in the well, that could literally come flying out…as I said…all the worst things you can think of are a possibility, but the very least damaging outcome as bad as it is, is that we are stuck with a wide open gusher blowing out 150,000 barrels a day of raw oil or more. There isn’t any “cap dome” or any other suck fixer device on earth that exists or could be built that will stop it from gushing out and doing more and more damage to the gulf. While at the same time also doing more damage to the well, making the chance of halting it with a kill from the bottom up less and less likely to work, which as it stands now? the only real chance we have left to stop it all.

It’s a race now…a race to drill the relief wells and take our last chance at killing this monster before the whole weakened, wore out, blown out, leaking and failing system gives up it’s last gasp in a horrific crescendo.

We are not even 2 months into it, barely half way by even optimistic estimates. The damage done by the leaked oil now is virtually immeasurable already and it will not get better, it can only get worse. No matter how much they can collect, there will still be thousands and thousands of gallons leaking out every minute, every hour of every day. We have 2 months left before the relief wells are even near in position and set up to take a kill shot and that is being optimistic as I said.

Over the next 2 months the mechanical situation also cannot improve, it can only get worse, getting better is an impossibility. While they may make some gains on collecting the leaked oil, the structural situation cannot heal itself. It will continue to erode and flow out more oil and eventually the inevitable collapse which cannot be stopped will happen. It is only a simple matter of who can “get there first”…us or the well.

We can only hope the race against that eventuality is one we can win, but my assessment I am sad to say is that we will not.

The system will collapse or fail substantially before we reach the finish line ahead of the well and the worst is yet to come.

Sorry to bring you that news, I know it is grim, but that is the way I see it…I sincerely hope I am wrong.

We need to prepare for the possibility of this blow out sending more oil into the gulf per week then what we already have now, because that is what a collapse of the system will cause. All the collection efforts that have captured oil will be erased in short order. The magnitude of this disaster will increase exponentially by the time we can do anything to halt it and our odds of actually even being able to halt it will go down.

The magnitude and impact of this disaster will eclipse anything we have known in our life times if the worst or even near worst happens…

We are seeing the puny forces of man vs the awesome forces of nature.
We are going to need some luck and a lot of effort to win…
and if nature decides we ought to lose, we will…

Reference materials:

On April 1, a job log written by a Halliburton employee, Marvin Volek, warns that BP’s use of cement “was
against our best practices.”

An April 18 internal Halliburton memorandum indicates that Halliburton again warned BP about its practices,
this time saying that a “severe” gas flow problem would occur if the casings were not centered more carefully.

Around that same time, a BP document shows, company officials chose a type of casing with a greater risk of

Mark Hafle, the BP drilling engineer who wrote plans for well casings and cement seals on the Deepwater
Horizon’s well, testified that the well had lost thousands of barrels of mud at the bottom. But he said models
run onshore showed alterations to the cement program would resolve the issues, and when asked if a cement
failure allowed the well to “flow” gas and oil, he wouldn’t capitulate.

Hafle said he made several changes to casing designs in the last few days before the well blew, including the
addition of the two casing liners that weren’t part of the original well design because of problems where the
earthen sides of the well were “ballooning.” He also worked with Halliburton engineers to design a plan for
sealing the well casings with cement.

graphic of fail
Casing joint

Kill may take until Christmas

BP Used Riskier Method to Seal Well Before Blast

BP memo test results

Investigation results

The information from BP identifies several new warning signs of problems. According to BP there were three flow
indicators from the well before the explosion.

BP, what we know

What could have happened

  1. Before or during the cement job, an influx of hydrocarbon enters the wellbore.
  2. Influx is circulated during cement job to wellhead and BOP.
  3. 9-7/8” casing hanger packoff set and positively tested to 6500 psi.
  4. After 16.5 hours waiting on cement, a negative test performed on wellbore below BOP.
    (~ 1400 psi differential pressure on 9-7/8” casing hanger packoff and ~ 2350 psi on
    double valve float collar)
  5. Packoff leaks allowing hydrocarbon to enter wellbore below BOP. 1400 psi shut in
    pressure observed on drill pipe (no flow or pressure observed on kill line)
  6. Hydrocarbon below BOP is unknowingly circulated to surface while finishing displacing
    the riser.
  7. As hydrocarbon rises to surface, gas break out of solution further reduces hydrostatic
    pressure in well. Well begin to flow, BOPs and Emergency Disconnect System (EDS)
    activated but failed.
  8. Packoff continues to leak allowing further influx from bottom.

T/A daily log 4-20

Cement plug 12,150 ft SCMT logging tool
SCMT (Slim Cement Mapping Tool)
Schlumberger Partial CBL done.

Schlum CBL tools

Major concerns, well control, bop test.

Energy & commerce links to docs.

well head on sea floor

Well head on deck of ship

BP’s youtube propoganda page, a lot of rarely seen vids here…FWIW

I used to cover the energy business (oil, gas and alternative) here in Texas, and the few experts in the oil field – including geologists, chemists, etc. – able or willing to even speak of this BP event told me early on that it is likely the entire reserve will bleed out. Unfortunately none of them could say with any certainty just how much oil is in the reserve in question because, for one thing, the oil industry and secrecy have always been synonymous. According to BP data from about five years ago, there are four separate reservoirs containing a total of 2.5 billion barrels (barrels not gallons). One of the reservoirs has 1.5 billion barrels. I saw an earlier post here quoting an Anadarko Petroleum report which set the total amount at 2.3 billion barrels. One New York Times article put it at 2 billion barrels.

If the BP data correctly or honestly identified four separate reservoirs then a bleed-out might gush less than 2 to 2.5 billion barrels unless the walls – as it were – fracture or partially collapse. I am hearing the same dark rumors which suggest fracturing and a complete bleed-out are already underway. Rumors also suggest a massive collapse of the Gulf floor itself is in the making. They are just rumors but it is time for geologists or related experts to end their deafening silence and speak to these possibilities.

All oilmen lie about everything. The stories one hears about the extent to which they will protect themselves are all understatements. BP employees are already taking The Fifth before grand juries, and attorneys are laying a path for company executives to make a run for it.

I’ll repost here what I reposted over at the main DWH forum:



That piece was the single best thing I’ve seen about this entire tragedy since the gas exploded–and I include anything that I’ve seen from professional journalists. It really was one of those rare analyses that shed true clarity amid the fog of, in this case, a blowout.

As far as I’m concerned, you can’t be thanked enough. Too bad I seem to have lost the ability to give ‘thanks’ here.


Yes, thanks for that detailed post. Given the tremendous risk I simply don’t understand why all available resources aren’t being thrown at the problem. While I understand that a top kill can’t work at this point, I don’t see why some type of huge top capture can’t, and I don’t mean attaching to this giant dumbell with values balancing on a straw stuck in a champagne cork that we know as a BOP. Construction of something massive along the lines of the tophat, but big enough to cover the area in a worst case scenario and designed to address the crystals issue is one part of the resource mobilization I’d like to see.

The other is moving all available deep water rigs in the gulf to the area and have them all tap into the reservoir in an effort to reduce the pressure at the bottom of the well to help ensure the success of a bottom kill (essentially starve it to make killing it easier), or in the event that the relief wells and capture prove ineffective at least there’s a means to empty the reservoir through numerous proper wells so the vast majority of the call it 2 billion barrels is captured instead of leaking into the gulf. Aren’t there about 30 deep water rigs in the Gulf now sitting inactive? BP is going to have to pay for them anyway, so put them to work.

With regard to this many relief well approach I have a couple of questions to understand what’s going on subsurface. How thick is the reservoir at the well? I heard a height of 80 ft of zone that’s flowing into the well. Is that a good number? For a given volume of rock down there, and I mean away from the bore where it’s probably fractured and open, how much oil is contained? I’m trying to get a grasp of the distance the oil must now be flowing to get to the broken well. Does a cubic yard of typical GOM formation contain anywhere close to even a cubic foot of crude? Can heavy mud be pumped into a formation or is it too viscous?

Any info in these regards would be great.


You’re about to get more famous. See: Now that the piece is out there in the conventional mediascape and out of just blogworld, it probably will get picked up wider. Buckle up.

(The Mother Jones piece is featured on That puts it inside the Beltway, and among the chattering classes.)

The following question was posted by an anonymous reporter at yesterday’s NIC media briefing:

Q: Yes, hi. Thanks, Admiral. Do you believe the well pipes themselves are broken or leaking at all? And do you have any concerns about the integrity of the blow out preventer, the well borer, the sea floor that’s holding up the blow out preventer? Thanks.

ADMIRAL ALLEN: That’s a terrific question. Let me kind of take it in sequence. We have some idea of the condition of the blow out preventer and lower marine riser package. In combination, they call that the stack that sits above the well head itself. We know from some sonic testing that was done based on radiography equipment from the Department of Energy we have a partial closer of some of those rams but not a complete closer. And that was a problem for the top kill operation because we could not get enough pressure on top of the blow out preventer to force all of the mud down into the well bore to allow us to top kill it, if you will.

So we know that the, that there is, there is, and we also know that there is product rising up through the blow out preventer through the, where we cut the lower marine riser pipe. We’re not going to know the exact condition of that blow out preventer until we’ve capped the well, can remove the blow out preventer and bring it to the surface.

I’ve said on several occasions, I consider that blow out preventer almost the equivalent of this incident of the black box we would be seeking to find after an aviation accident because it can reveal a lot of information related to what happened at the time of the event. And the blow out preventer was key to that.

As you move below that and you go down into the well bore, I think that one thing that nobody knows is the condition of the well bore from below the blow out preventer down to the actual oil field itself. And we don’t know, we don’t know if the well bore has been compromised or not. One of the reasons we did not continue with top kill at higher pressures, there was a concern that if we increased the pressure too hard it might do damage to the casings and the well bore. What we didn’t want was open communication of any oil from the reservoir outside the well bore that might get into the formation and work its way to the sub sea floor and then result in uncontrolled discharge at that point. That has not happened and that’s the reason they’re taking such precautions and did not proceed any further with the top kill.

What we are doing is going down the very bottom of the well bore for this intercept and hopefully at that point they will start pumping mud in. And mud will first go up all the way and fill the well bore and then it will be forced down over the oil into the reservoir and then put enough weight of the mud to hold the oil in the reservoir. And then allow them to put a cement plug in after that.

So what I would tell you is we don’t know exactly the condition of the well bore. And that’s one of the unknowns that we’re managing around in terms of risks. And that’s the reason we didn’t go, didn’t go to excessive pressures on the top kill and decided that we’d deal with containment and then go for the final relief well.

It’s also strange that the flow estimates where 20,000 to 40,000 bbl/day early this week and now they are 60,000 to 80,000 bbls per day. Is the flow rate science improving or is the flow of oil increasing?


the DWH well has been a source for great debate among my family…according to my 84 y/o father who retired after 30+ years of geology and geophysics the potential for this well to breach has been a reality since it blew out…his comment “this is not new science…the longer it remains beyond control the greater the degradation and potential”…the “new science” is the learning curve we are now being taught in dealing with this at extreme pressures at extreme depth…one grass root principle of the physics of nature is that everything and everyone responds different when subjected to pressure…how many atmospheres/psi is at 5000’ anyway…5000’/33’=152atm x14.7psi=2234psi??


the DWH well has been a source for great debate among my family…according to my 84 y/o father who retired after 30+ years of geology and geophysics the potential for this well to breach has been a reality since it blew out…his comment “this is not new science…the longer it remains beyond control the greater the degradation and potential”…the “new science” is the learning curve we are now being taught in dealing with this at extreme pressures at extreme depth…one grass root principle of the physics of nature is that everything and everyone responds different when subjected to pressure…how many atmospheres/psi is at 5000’ anyway…5000’/33’=152atm x14.7psi=2234psi??[/QUOTE]

Re #7: Thanks,gCaptain, for bringing the various thoughts on this point together. Awfuller and awfuller.

Given the incomprehensible damage a total well failure would cause, along with real possibility they may not be able to bottom kill it using the normal relief well approach under way, why aren’t the majority of the now idle deep water rigs on location drilling a multitude of relief wells into that reservoir? It seems like a no lose decision to me, since BP already has to pay for the rigs and crew, and BP will need development wells later anyway, so this is not only risk mitigation and spill cost mitigation, but also offsets future operating costs using current spill expenditures.

They wouldn’t need to try to tap the bore to be effective, but instead have most shoot for the general vicinity of the well and others punch holes across the reservoir to avoid too much overcrowding of equipment at the surface. I see several real benefits:

  1. These relief wells will reduce pressure at the broken well, increasing the chance of success of the bottom kill, and reducing the leak flow rate, maybe to something they can capture 100%. It also means less erosion in the well, less stress on the top structure, thus reducing the chances of a catastrophic well failure.
  2. Provides a level of insurance for a worst case scenario, because whatever oil can be extracted via properly controlled wells can’t flow to the leaking well.
  3. Rapid production from the reservoir will help pay the damages incurred.

Put those rigs back to work, and working on something that helps solve the problem. Forcing them to sit idle on the sidelines, especially when they have to be paid anyway, is both morally wrong and economically wrong in my view.


I am impressed as well as concerned about your well documented explanations of this disaster. I have just checked both the AAPG and SPE sites to find out what their members are posting regarding this major industry problem and I am perplexed as to why there is no major blogging going on in these professional associations. Am I to believe that these international organizations and their member are all tight lipped about this massive problem? Why are they not coming up with informative information such as you have given the public?

Is everybody afraid of losing their jobs?

What is your analysis of this glaring dearth of commentary from these gruops other than the standard pithy “Sorry for your loss of life, income etc” which is accepted as being politically correct?


I think all the professionals want to, in the interest of continued employability, hide behind screen names. Have you also checked out and

There is an inhibition against publicly gloating: besides unseemliness (particularly in the case of a tragedy), there IS also a sense of “There, but for the grace of God…”

Is everybody afraid of losing their jobs?



"Meanwhile, observers monitoring the video feeds from the robotic vehicles working on the sea floor have noticed BP measuring a tilt in the 40-ton blowout preventer stack with a level and a device called an inclinometer.

Odone, the [B]BP spokesman, confirmed that his company has been monitoring the lean of the blowout preventer, which BP believes began tilting[/B] when the Deepwater Horizon rig sank and the riser pipe got bent. …

Bea said BP isn’t sharing enough information for others to know. If there is oil and gas escaping from the sides of the well, it could erode the sediments around the well and eat away at the support for all the heavy equipment that sits above. Bea said [B]reports that BP is using an inclinometer is significant news. “It tells me that they are also concerned,” he said."


Thank you John for the links to Cameron’s proposals.

Not all bad. Certainly not as bad as I anticipated!

We know that BP tried using a “junk shot” method, but my understanding is it was golf balls, rubber, string and other materials. Is there any indication that they tried using lead shot as was used in the Ixtoc 1 oil spill? Apparently that method was actually effective to reduce flow, possibly by causing bridging lower in the hole.

Thanks for this post.
Prayer is good!
So pray if you can.


Don’t know if you saw it, but this post was excerpted on Countdown (with Keith Olbermann) tonight 6/23, citing you by screen name, and Robert Cavnar basically concurred.

Hello, I just found this site as I have been looking for employment.
I normally work as a free-lance ROV supervisor, sub-engineer, pilot/tech world-wide. Unfortunately the world-wide slowdown in my industry caused by the primarily American induced “financial crisis” has caused the free-lance work worldwide to dwindle to a trickle and I find myself with only one more month of reserves before I must re-patriot to the States, abandon my life, home and 16 yr old daughter to live in a 1991 Ford pick-up while I search the US for work, any work. I may end up trying to work in the oil-spill, either offshore as a deck-hand (hear they are getting U$300 p/d) or as a beach collector. Any suggestions on how to line up possible employment online? I live in Brazil.

BTW seems to me they really screwed up by not employing a Oceaneering Hyd. Smart Flange with a welded bell-housing on one end and the other connected at the surface to Riser all lowered from the Enterprise, 100% capture. Hydrates creation not much of an issue since no infusion of seawater except what is already in the pipe. Once hydrostatic pr. raised high enough whatever crystals slush would be displaced. All they had to do (yes, I know) was cut the Riser leaving a 1-2’ ft stub for a ROV to aid in stabbing and set the Smart Flange with a hot-stab, routine work, purpose built. Yes, I suggested it to the poorly designed DWH site, no response yet. I sincerely doubt they are investing much energy into suggestions from the world on this one. Engineers protecting their backside. The containment dome engineering was embarrassingly poor. I had two good ideas on that one also. This response has been pitiful.

Anyway, if anyone could suggest a few ideas I would appreciate it and excuse me if this post is poorly placed.
Regards, Mark