BP Well Bore/Casing Integrity Issues and Senator Nelson’s Statements

One week ago, on the morning of June 7, I wrote about questions on the substantive physical integrity of the BP Macondo well casing and bore, and statements by Florida’s Senator Bill Nelson on the same, as well as potential resulting seepage from the sea floor surrounding the well head. To say the least it raised a few eyebrows.

I have again attached the FDL video from the appearance Nelson made on the Andrea Mitchell MSNBC show where he became the first official to materially discuss the game changing issue of sea floor seepage from a structurally compromised well below the surface. Since Nelson first made the statements and raised the questions, I have spoken to his office several times.

Here is a quote given directly to Emptywheel/Firedoglake by Senator Nelson:

Why do scientists and others suspect the well casing is breached beneath the seafloor? Well, for one, in one of my briefings I learned that a lot of mud used in the so-called “top kill” attempt didn’t come back up after it was pumped down there.

Clearly, from Senator Nelson’s quote, he has received multiple briefings in addition to the information in the public domain, and he is hearing other private disturbing reports. Quite frankly, this should be of no shock in light of that which is, and was, already in the public domain. In this post, mindful of the fact there is likely a wealth we in the public do not yet know, I would like to delve into the public evidence Senator Nelson was relying on and why this is an issue that should, and must, remain squarely in the forefront of public and media conscience.

First off, it is clear Senator Nelson’s measured statements to Andrea Mitchell were not an off the cuff or uninformed gaffe by Nelson. Quite the contrary, he and his staff had been probing the issue of the integrity of the well bore long prior to the MSNBC appearance. On June 2, Sen. Nelson directed the following correspondence to BP:

June 2, 2010

Mr. Lamar McKay
Chairman and president, BP America, Inc.
501 Westlake Park Boulevard
Houston, Texas 77079

Dear Mr. McKay:

I understand the priority of your company right now is capping the Deepwater Horizon well. But new information about the accident has come to light in two recently published accounts that raise serious questions I hope you can promptly address.

Specifically, a recent Wall Street Journal account indicates that BP altered the design of the Deepwater Horizon well even up to five or six days before the rig exploded. And one of these design decisions, according to drilling experts cited in the Journal, could have left the well more vulnerable to the blowout that occurred April 20.

Also, a Washington Post report cites sources including a BP official saying that sometime during or after the recent abortive top kill operation, new damage was discovered inside the underground well. Some of the drilling mud that was forced into the well was moving sidewise into rock formations, sources told the newspaper.

If the sourced information is accurate and mud leaked out the side of the well casing, oil and gas likely are leaking beneath the seafloor as well, according to Professor Ian R. MacDonald, an oceanography expert at Florida State University who advised my staff.

Both of the published accounts, then, raise serious questions. Please address these accounts and provide my staff with any and all information and documents regarding the following:

· The discovery of breaks or leaks in the well casing beneath the seafloor;
· Records of any monitoring BP is undertaking of the Deepwater Horizon wellbore for structural integrity;
· Records of any monitoring of the seafloor surrounding the Deepwater Horizon well, including any geological or geophysical information showing changes in the formations within the proximity of the Deepwater Horizon well;
· Records reflecting whether any oil, natural gas, or residual drilling mud might be migrating to the seafloor beyond the boundaries of the casing, including any analysis of how this might impact the drilling of two relief wells or other methods to mitigate the flow of oil;
· All documents related to BP’s casing strategies for wells in the Macondo prospect.

Thank you in advance for your prompt response.

Sincerely,

Bill Nelson

The first of the two articles Nelson relies on in his June 2 correspondence to BP is from the Washington Post on May 31, 2010. After noting that drilling experts were afraid the failed “Top Kill” attempt by BP, which involved shooting drilling mud down through the heavily damaged blow out preventer (BOP) and into the well “might have done further damage to the well”, the Post article stated:

Sources at two companies involved with the well said that BP also discovered new damage inside the well below the seafloor and that, as a result, some of the drilling mud that was successfully forced into the well was going off to the side into rock formations.

“We discovered things that were broken in the sub-surface,” said a BP official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He said that mud was making it “out to the side, into the formation.” The official said he could not describe what was damaged in the well.

Therein lies the issue at the heart of the issue regarding the lack of well integrity; with the Post citing multiple (if some unnamed) sources confirming the well casing was completely breached to such an extent that, when the Top Kill attempt was made, they lost drilling mud out through the breached casing, well walls and into the surrounding rock formation. Now the other thing I find absolutely fascinating about this Washington Post article in the discussion of Dr. Steven Chu and the Department of Energy (DOE) tucked in toward the end:

“At the end of the day, the government tells BP what to do, and at the end of the day, we will hold BP accountable for all of this,” she said.

She also sought to portray the administration as in charge and engaged. She said an administration “brain trust” led by Energy Secretary Steven Chu urged BP to stop adding pressure to the well through the top-kill maneuver because “things could happen that would make the situation worse.”

But she stopped short on CBS of saying that Chu ordered an end to the top-kill maneuver.

Well, Carol Browner may have “stopped short” of saying that Dr. Chu and the DOE were the ones who ordered the premature termination of the ill fated Top Kill attempt by BP, but it is pretty clear that is exactly what happened.

A decent question is by what mechanism did Chu and DOE come to be so in the middle and calling the shots on the Top Kill operation? Not that DOE has no interest, but MMS/Department of Interior are the lessors, and generally the well operation authority, for the government for this area of the Gulf; why is DOE micro-managing well operations? A copy of the actual BP lease for the Macondo Well at Mississippi Canyon 252 is here. And who else from DOE beside Steven Chu was tasked to this “brain trust” and calling shots for the BP Macondo catastrophe reclamation effort? What information and evidence regarding the compromised and blown state of the Macondo Well are they still withholding from the public? Oh, and another thing, under the terms of the lease, BP was, and is, supposed to be providing weekly reports, well logs and other information to MMS. Where is all that information, and why is none of it, apparently, available to the public?

The Wall Street Journal article Nelson cited only reinforces the the above facts, issues and questions, but also gives a view of how rickety the BP casing work was on its Macondo well, why there was an almost immediate blowout and why it is a given there is little, if any, integrity of the well bore:

By April 14, when BP filed the first of three permits that would later be amended, the London-based oil company had already faced many problems with the well, including losing costly drilling fluid and fighting back natural gas that tried to force its way into the well. The problems had caused BP to use eight pieces of steel pipe to seal the well, rather than the planned six pieces. The permit filed on April 14 dealt with the eighth and final section, which hadn’t yet been installed in the well.

BP had hoped to get a 9 7/8-inch pipe—big enough to handle a lot of oil and gas—into the reservoir. But for the final section, the largest pipe they could fit was a 7-inch pipe. The company had to decide whether to use a single piece of pipe that reached all the way from the sea floor down to the oil reservoir, or use two pipes, one inside the other.

The two-pipe method was the safer option, according to many industry experts, because it would have provided an extra layer of protection against gas traveling up the outside of the well to the surface. Gene Beck, a longtime industry engineer and a professor at Texas A&M University, said the two-pipe method is “more or less the gold standard,” especially for high-pressure wells such as the one BP was drilling.

But the one-pipe option was easier and faster, likely taking a week less time than the two-pipe method. BP was spending about $1 million per day to operate the Deepwater Horizon.
……
At 9:54 a.m. on April 15 BP filed another permit informing the MMS of a correction. Rather than using a 7-inch-wide pipe the whole way, it planned to run a tapered pipe that was wider at the top than at the bottom. This was approved by the MMS seven minutes later.

Then, at 2:35 p.m., BP filed another revision. This one informed the MMS that it had “inadvertently” omitted mention of a section of pipe already in the well. Four and one-half minutes later, MMS approved this permit also.

Last year, the MMS floated a proposal to require all companies to “document and analyze” all major changes. BP responded during a comment period that the proposed safety rules were unnecessary.

Less than five days and a whole lot more warning signs later, the Macondo well had blown, the Deepwater Horizon rig had exploded and was on fire and the biggest environmental disaster in American history was well underway. And now, 55 days later, and a series of ever more destructive and futile attempts to stanch the flow of hydrocarbon from the mouth of the Macondo, we stand with a well head leaking more than ever into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and its fragile ecosystem. Not to mention serious concerns as to whether the oil and gas pollutants are also seeping up from the immediately surrounding sea floor.

To return to the original issue of this post, it appears quite clear Florida’s Senator Bill Nelson was on very solid ground with his statements about the compromised state of the Macondo well casing and well bore walls, there is a record of everyone from BP officials to government officials to drilling professionals to outside experts agreeing on the substantial loss of well integrity. The only part of the well that appears to still have any known integrity is the cement collar immediately below the well head, and there is little reason to believe even that will necessarily remain intact under the circumstances.

The only question at this point whether or not there has been seepage or leakage detected from the sea floor surrounding the Macondo well head as suggested by Senator Nelson and Professor MacDonald and, if so, to what extent. Senator Nelson and the public are entitled to answers from BP, and for that matter from the Obama Administration and its officials, to the material and germane questions raised in Nelson’s June 2 letter to BP, and they are entitled to them immediately. Lastly, the Obama Administration, the DOE and its head Steven Chu, and BP should all explain exactly what role each played in the ill fated Top Kill and Junk Shot operations, and why the DOE, and through what agents, was so centrally involved in the Top Kill/Junk Shot and what damage they caused to the Macondo well structure in the process.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

109 replies
    • bmaz says:

      No kidding. Jeebus, that is incredibly thorough. And scary, but I am sad to say it is pretty much just a better and more intelligently reported version of what I have been trying to get across for some time now as to lack of well integrity and what the worst case scenario would be. Fantastic and detailed explanation, of what many have seen and felt, but have not been able to describe like that. I need to add a bit of that in this post I think.

      • prostratedragon says:

        [Awake from a fitful nap] Quite so. And it fits more of the available facts, unfortunately, than most explanations that do not involve BP/USG trying to hide an all-out fuckup.

        I’m glad to see that Sen. Nelson is making it hard to dismiss him as merely some doddering gent who doesn’t understand technology.

    • temptingfate says:

      Thanks for finding and posting this comment. Very serious reading from someone who clearly understands this situation better than most of us, bmaz notwithstanding of course.

      If the only solution suggested by BP, and perhaps some of the government officials as well, has been to let the thing drain while hoping to catch some of the runoff then it seems the unwillingness to take control of the problem from BP may have been a good political decision but fairly catastrophic in hindsight. If the OilDrum comment is accurate and the potential for the sea floor to collapse is headed toward being inevitable then the actual process of getting the best oil cleanup companies in the world here, in spite of the Jones Act, should be one of the highest government priorities.

    • klynn says:

      A great link thank you. A sad reality.

      bmaz, could we get a renown subterranean sea floor geologist on the Lake to discuss this?

      Questions arise for me such as:

      Should all Gulf Coasts be evacuated due to risk of ocean floor failure and seismic activity which could create vastly devastating tsunamis?

      Will a collapse create a domino effect and damage other GC off shore rigs dumping more oil in to the GC?

      Would collapse trigger a seismic domino effect?

      • Mason says:

        Excellent questions.

        If the seafloor in the vicinity of the well were to collapse and cause a tsunami, I suspect it would hit the Louisiana coast within minutes because it’s only 50 miles away. Petroleum geologists ought to be able to ballpark the likelihood of a collapse, assuming BP shares what it knows. Marine geologists and oceanographers can help us with the tsunami issue.

        Bmaz, can you assemble a panel of experts and do a GritTV type interview?

  1. scribe says:

    BMAZ: 2 possible explanations to some of your questions, more in a general sense than specific.

    First, why Chu & Co. and what role do they have? It seems to me (Occams’ razor tells me) that Obama decided early on that Interior and especially MMS were seriously, if not fatally, compromised in dealing with BP. The two rapid – within minutes – approvals of BP’s proposals for (really, really major) modifications to their drilling plans tell me that either those changes and their approval were prenegotiated* or MMS paid no attention to them and rubber-stamped whatever BP threw into their plate. MMS and Interior were part of the problem and could not be counted on to be part of the solution. So, who to put in charge from the government side? Pick the Nobel Prize winner who also – b/c of his nuclear experience – would have some working knowledge of things like pumps, piping and pressures, the ability to learn and, probably as important, the gravitas to dragoon whomever needed into helping solve the problem. Most importantly, Chu & Co. had no prior involvement with the well and therefore had clean hands.


    * When I worked in foundation engineering, we’d frequently get requests to change foundation designs – almost always to enhance someone’s profitability by substituting a cheaper method for the designed/bidded – and the changes would be negotiated and an OK pre-arranged before any formal paper request hit anyone’s desk. Most often, the draft designs and such would disappear into the hands of the party seeking the change and all that would remain would be the change design and the approval. And that comports with the speed with which MMS approved BP’s changes. This method works when things don’t fall apart. It works most smoothly when the parties have a history of working closely together and in a non-adversarial manner.

    Second, as to the timing and line of authority in calling an end to both the Junk Shot and Top Kill, it seems clear to me that recognizing the drilling mud was flowing out through the sides at some point below the surface was not as difficult as one might imagine. Back in the day (before law school) I had a job which involved sampling and logging the drilling of soil test bores. Those borings were taken to rather shallow depths – only a couple hundred feet at most – to determine the soil conditions and facilitate building foundation designs. But they used drilling mud and so on. After doing them for a while, one got a real sense of what was going on far below your feet. The way the machine was bucking, whether the level of drilling mud suddenly dropped (an indication there was trouble below), color and texture changes in the mud (a new soil stratum) and so on were all things one learned to read. Same principles as are involved in Deepwater Horizon, but their work is manifestly more developed and less analog than our watching color and listening to the way the rig was bitching. Nonetheless, if as the report you cite says the topside folks at Deepwater Horizon noted they were not getting mud back during Top Kill, that would be a huge red flag because the mud had to be going somewhere. If it wasn’t coming back or staying in the well, it was going out somewhere. If it wasn’t coming out the BOP (confirmable through the ROVs and video), it had to be coming out subsurface. And, if it was comng out subsurface, it stands to reason that (a) oil was, too, and (b) pushing more mud into the same broken pipe would only make the problem worse. I have little doubt that, in the preparation for the Top Kill and Junk Shot, the planning included devising a decision tree on what to do, when and why. This is simply too big of a deal – in all dimensions – to not have had a decision tree worked out in advance of trying anything. Going without one would be like trying to play in the NFL without a playbook and without practice, or trying a moonshot without running simulations (rehearsals, really) in advance. So, in this context, Chu was just the Decider pulling the trigger on a pre-designed decision: IF “a” AND “b” AND “c”, THEN (“terminate Top Kill”) ELSE (“continue Top Kill” AND “continue testing ‘a’, ‘b’, and ‘c'”).

  2. sojourner says:

    At 9:54 a.m. on April 15 BP filed another permit informing the MMS of a correction. Rather than using a 7-inch-wide pipe the whole way, it planned to run a tapered pipe that was wider at the top than at the bottom. This was approved by the MMS seven minutes later.

    Then, at 2:35 p.m., BP filed another revision. This one informed the MMS that it had “inadvertently” omitted mention of a section of pipe already in the well. Four and one-half minutes later, MMS approved this permit also.

    Last year, the MMS floated a proposal to require all companies to “document and analyze” all major changes. BP responded during a comment period that the proposed safety rules were unnecessary.

    Just wondering — were these actual approvals, or simply acknowledgements that MMS had received the revisions?

    If they were approvals, someone at MMS was sure quick to respond! Were they even paying attention? It makes you wonder.

    Great work!

    • scribe says:

      What I said upthread:

      The two rapid – within minutes – approvals of BP’s proposals for (really, really major) modifications to their drilling plans tell me that either those changes and their approval were prenegotiated* or MMS paid no attention to them and rubber-stamped whatever BP threw into their plate.

      and

      * When I worked in foundation engineering, we’d frequently get requests to change foundation designs – almost always to enhance someone’s profitability by substituting a cheaper method for the designed/bidded – and the changes would be negotiated and an OK pre-arranged before any formal paper request hit anyone’s desk. Most often, the draft designs and such would disappear into the hands of the party seeking the change and all that would remain would be the change design and the approval. And that comports with the speed with which MMS approved BP’s changes. This method works when things don’t fall apart. It works most smoothly when the parties have a history of working closely together and in a non-adversarial manner.

      That BP and MMS had a history of “working closely together” and “in a non-adversarial manner” is both indisputable and at the causal nexus of the whole catastrophe.

  3. klynn says:

    How can anyone trust the decision making process of MMS/ Dept of Interior? Cheney has that gov. agency so stacked with “his people” that cleaning house must be a difficult task.

    I am not sure “why” DOE stepped in to call the shots except for the possibility of integrity issues with MMS and the oil industry.

    Especially after 2005 when:

    Regulations permit oil and gas industry to regulate itself. The Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service—the agency responsible for managing oil and gas resources on the Outer Continental Shelf and collecting royalties from companies—decided in 2005 that oil companies, rather than the government, were in the best position to determining their operations’ environmental impacts. This meant that there was no longer any need for an environmental impact analysis for deepwater drilling, though an earlier draft stated that such drilling experience was limited. In fact, MMS “repeatedly ignored warnings from government scientists about environmental risks in its push to approve energy exploration activities quickly, according to numerous documents and interviews.” And an interior general analysis even found that between 2005 and 2007 MMS officials let the oil industry to fill out their own inspection reports.

    If I were a leader needing a third party to oversee this work, the next best agency with the tech know-how would be DOE.

  4. Rayne says:

    DOE’s role makes perfect sense since they are responsible for a number of R&D projects related to fossil fuels, including methane hydrates.

    And let’s not forget one of the most obvious factors here, the backgrounds of the leaderships at DOI and DOE.

    Given the nature of the problem, would you assign this massive problem-solving task to a career-long attorney-legislator, or a nuclear physicist?

    No offense, bmaz, but one of these two people has the science background necessary to see through potential science-based bullshit combined with a little less political background which might get in the way of decision-making.

    Note, too, how very little the public has heard from Chu. Very, very little. I think there’s a reason for this beyond the politics.

    In re: the annulus — weren’t there early reports of chunks of rubber in the BOP? were there ever any questions about the kind, nature, amount of these chunks?

    • bmaz says:

      Well it may make perfect sense to you to have the government blithely have a normally uninvolved, out of the chain of command, step in and be making the most critical decisions on this project without any formal appointment or specific tasking to do so, and without any admission by the Administration that such is what is going on, simply because the agency and its officials may have some amorphous interest in “methane hydrates”, but to me it seems like a sloppy and asinine way for the Obama Administration to handle the matter and could cause all kinds of legal issues in the myriad of litigation that will be persisting for years, if not a decade over this mess.

      When such monumental decisions are made by the government as opposed to the private entity the government is claiming responsible, there certainly ought to be a clear, proper and publicly specified designation of chain of authority. there was not here, and it had nothing to do with “hydrates”. And now the Administration is apparently disingenuously refusing to even address the exact manner in which this was authority was exerted; why do you think that is if it all makes so much sense? And lastly why is there no information being disseminated about the decision making process and no disclosure of the structural integrity facts that led to it. There are very sound legal reasons for asking the question; that is why.

      • Rayne says:

        The risks have pretty much all been shunted off onto the public already; only the nominal monies our government will demand of BP are yet to be negotiated, and the method by which they tried to stop this oil volcano has really very little to do with the money part at this point. You know damned well we will never get dollar-for-dollar what we will be owed by BP; it will be far less so as not to cause an international incident or a greater rebellion among the MOTU.

        So if the government gets involved in telling BP how to shut this down — in any manner the government chooses, chain of command be damned — what of it? The government fucked that pooch when they gave BP permission to drill at this site on multiple occasions. They already bear an enormous amount of blame for this disaster, and no chain of command formality is going to stop that.

        Didn’t we go through the chain of command crap with FEMA and DHS and Katrina anyhow? Frankly doesn’t seem to matter in the end; the people were already fucked.

        [edit: oh, and would it really, really matter if any other president was at the helm, other than we wouldn’t have a physicist at head of DOE? really? do you think BP’s responsibility and financial burden would have changed?]

        • bmaz says:

          Legally that is bunk. If you do things pursuant to your designated authority you protect yourself from litigation allegations such as described at least to the maximum extent possible. When you start freelancing like appears to be the case here without formally designating, you leave hanging curveballs. It is really quite elemental and why you focus on this is somewhat baffling; it is not that it cannot be done, or even perhaps should not be done, it is that it should be done properly and through proper designations. Here that does not, at this date and with this information set we currently possess, seem to have been done. We deserve a complete delineation of what went down in this regard if it is all legitimate and an end to the secrecy surrounding the issue and facts behind it.

          It is a serious misunderstanding of complex environmental litigation, and regulatory immunities, to think the government was completely or even necessarily on the hook simply for granting permits. I think things should be done properly, with proper designations, transparently and with due process to all – including BP, Transocean et al. – that is the duty owed to the public and the participants. It should be honored. If Chu and his DOE team (who we have no current information on) and his stupid “brain trust” were going to be the official authority for this purpose they should have been clearly and officially tasked for that purpose. Heck, maybe they even were; we don’t know because of the amorphous handling of the issue and shroud of secrecy in relation to their conduct and basis therefore. I think that is wrong; you are just fine with it. I’ll stick with my view thank you very much. You are certainly free to continue arguing for the contrary. This is, however, a silly diversion from the important point of what the true state of well integrity is, and what implications that has for the geologic and environmental situation is.

          • Scarecrow says:

            The President is blessed to be caught between those who criticize him for not relying on the nominal chain of command/designated authority and those, with only straw for brains, who would criticize him if he did.

            It’s apparent to me that the government’s corporate oversight/regulatory system is so hopelessly corrupt and dysfunctional that to rely on it to make rational/wise decisions in the public interest during a crisis would border on criminal recklessness. I don’t know whether Chu et al are making the decisions, or merely advising the Coast Guard Admiral what to do — either is fine with me — nor can we tell from the limited information whether the decisions are wise or not. But I’m personally relieved that the WH has the sense to realize it needs better brains in the decision-making process than those possessed at DoI, let alone MMS.

            In normal circumstances, when we have established, tested procedures for how to solve a problem, there’s a powerful argument for following those procedures/protocol and even relying on the nominal chain of command unless they’re clearly so incompetent they can’t follow their own rules — but when it’s clear the there are no precedents/procedures for what is happening, there are no validated decision trees, and all we have is an out of control catastrophe created by an incompetent, compromised decision-making process, the first thing you do is preempt it and put in people you trust. That’s how executives are supposed to behave during crises and emergencies.

            Get the best minds you have in there and let them deal with the problem as best they can, knowing this may be more difficult than even they can solve. But leaving mediocre minds in charge when there are no guidelines or useful precedents is unacceptable. The lawyers can deal with it later.

            • bmaz says:

              I do not disagree with one iota of what you say. I do, however, very strongly believe it should be done with clear cut and above board formal tasking. Why the hell is that suddenly too much to ask as opposed to blithely having the Administration simply freewheel in knee jerk reaction to public pressure. If you want freaking Chu and his team in charge, fine, make it clear and do it formally and on the record. Make it proper and leave no question for lawyers to exploit later. Why is this just suddenly just too much to ask??? It is a blindingly simple thing to do, why should it not be done? Whatever Obama’s “decision tree” is going to be, are you really arguing it should be an invisible and unknown tree? Really? I find this simply stunning. Do you also approve of the non-disclosure of data, facts and information, not to mention flat out deception of the public, attendant to this matter? Really, we should just bend over and be thankful for that? Sorry, I cannot, and will not, do that.

              • Scarecrow says:

                You respond to “strawman” arguments I didn’t make. You suggest I advocate withholding information and deceiving the public. I never suggested anything of the kind. You suggest I believe any assignment of authority should remain forever hidden. Never said that.

                • bmaz says:

                  First off, when I say “I do not disagree with one iota of what you say” I find it pretty incredible you now accuse me of turning you into a strawman (irrespective of your status as a Scarecrow).

                  It is what you did not say that concerned me. Your concluding statement was:

                  Get the best minds you have in there and let them deal with the problem as best they can, knowing this may be more difficult than even they can solve. But leaving mediocre minds in charge when there are no guidelines or useful precedents is unacceptable. The lawyers can deal with it later.

                  Said language seems to accept and ratify the way things have been done by the Obama Administration in this instance; however, knowing you, I found it hard to believe this was what you were really saying and questioned you about it. Saying it is a “strawman” argument is a incorrect depiction of the nature of the attempted discussion. And if I was a bit reactionary, I apologize; I have just now realized that the title of the FDL version of this post made this somewhat middle of the pack discussion point regarding Chu the apparent raison de’etre of the entire post, when it never really was. Now I understand why it keeps coming up in such a fashion. That is okay, so be it; now I understand that what was so frustrating has a rational and innocent explanation. I just did not know it. Either way, I do indeed have questions about Chu, I am nowhere near the only one who does; but the all pale in comparison to the lack of information and secrecy surrounding this venture on the part of both the government and BP. This is not a states secrets/national security issue; there is no reason for the disingenuous nature of conduct from the “unified response team”. That is my prime contention; as to Chu, I don’t have an issue with him being involved, I agree MMS/Interior is corrupt and inept so I welcome brighter minds. I do widh it was accomplished via clear, proper, obvious and transparent means for the sake of propriety and to ward off future legal claims of impropriety and due process violation (both actual and effective).

                  • Scarecrow says:

                    We’re cool. I’m normally sympathetic to your “follow the rules” and hold the right people accountable arguments. I just think there are no rules here, and given the compromised government we’re left with, the “right people” is now the POTUS — which means he’s flying blind and has to go with whomever he trusts at the moment. So if he trusts Chu (or X), he can put Chu/X in the control center, have him advise the Admiral and make clear to BP what our best/brightest think should be done. Short of taking over operations, I don’t know what else they would do in dealing with the gusher. On the surface and on the shores, it’s another matter, and I’d want very clear lines of federal authority that the states/locals can understand and follow; I wouldn’t leave BP in charge of deciding who gets hired for cleanup or where they go or what gets cleanup priority.

        • Indie says:

          BP should be bankrupted into oblivion by this disaster but, of course, it will not. Like GM and TARP recipients, ‘too big too fail’ will be the mantra.

          If BP is allowed to survive, when it should be allowed to fail…while we watch the Gulf die and livlihoods destroyed Obama and the Dems bear the brunt of the anger from The American people.

    • cbl2 says:

      weren’t there early reports of chunks of rubber in the BOP?

      yes. the 60 Minutes piece had a survivor reporting chunks of the annular’s rubber were coming up 4 wks before the explosion – on deck staff told to ignore it. there was some debate at the Oil Drum as to the significance – never did see anything definitive

      • alibe50 says:

        If they found chunks of rubber from the annular 4 weeks before the explosion, they all knew the well was probably screwed. Isn’t this about the same time as Goldman Sachs and Tony sold their shares? Sounds like insider information if you ask me. And then it sounds like a felony in the making. Am I wrong about the timing. Timing is everything. And so is criminal behavior.

        • fatster says:

          “Since he [Tony] disposed of 223,288 shares on March 17, . . .”

          LINK.

          What I found for Goldman is contained in a 1st Q report, but without actual date of sale. LINK.

          • temptingfate says:

            Certainly looks like not-quite fat Tony has some explaining to do. Goldman could easily say that they made their sale reflexively based upon information about the other sale, which they might have even processed.

            • fatster says:

              and alibe50 @ 40 So far, I’m having no luck getting to the date the rubber fragments blew. Did you find it? Thnx.

              • alibe50 says:

                The fact that we can’t nail it down makes it even more suspicious. And like they couldn’t doctor the books!

                • Mason says:

                  Explosion: 4/20/2010

                  Heywood sells 223,288 shares: 3/17/2010

                  Rubber annulus chunks found approximately 4 weeks b/4 explosion: 3/23/2010

                  • fatster says:

                    Yay, Mason!

                    I’m sure it goes without saying that the feds are right on top of this matter, and are investigating it even as we type.

                    • Mason says:

                      I’m sure it goes without saying that the feds are right on top of this matter, and are investigating it even as we type.

                      Inspector Clouseau is too busy searching for clues by torturing underpants bombers.

                    • fatster says:

                      That would be the perfect video to get my mind off this madness for the evening. Don’t have it, though. Sigh.

              • alibe50 says:

                I listened to the 60 Minutes broadcast again. They said 4 weeks before the explosion that somebody goofed and when testing the BOP used too much pressure and must have split the rubber annular because after that event, they found rubrer chunks and told them but apparently ignored. Or maybe they reported this and people in the know with insider info sold their shares. 4 weeks is a rather vague term. Very suspicious to me. But what do I know.

  5. Jim White says:

    She said an administration “brain trust” led by Energy Secretary Steven Chu urged BP to stop adding pressure to the well through the top-kill maneuver because “things could happen that would make the situation worse.”

    So, after discarding top-kill, they went to the top-hat, which also adds pressure to the well, presumably also adding the risk of further damage. And that continues to this day.

    Another point that occurs to me (without having read the more detailed version linked in comments) is that during the short period in which the public story was that the top-kill appeared to be working, we were told that what we were seeing coming out of the riser was drilling mud. Presumably, most of the mud being pumped into the well was indeed coming back out, but the fact that we know some mud was being lost horizontally leads me wonder just how accurate their mass balance (and flow estimates from the riser initially and BOP now) calculations are.

    If the breach is relatively small and only a small fraction of the drilling mud was lost, that means that BP is able to get a much more accurate reading of the flow than they and the government have admitted until now. With the sloppy numbers they have been putting out as the flow estimates, there is no way that they would be aware of something like 10% of the mud being lost if that really is the accuracy with which they can measure the flow. I think the loss would have to be something like half or more for them to be aware, and that sounds to me like the breach would be quite substantial.

    The Gulf is so fucked. Either the well is severely compromised or the government is.

    • bmaz says:

      It was clearly not any insignificant level “lost” from my understanding and, as you say, it couldn’t be really as really across the board no one involved, officially or unofficially, seemed to have any doubt about the conclusion reached in this regard. Go read that comment linked by Prostratedragon @1. There is simply a ton of information there. I am not certain that all the assumed facts are necessarily correct, there is no way to know for anybody extrapolating out this way, and it is indeed a “worse case scenario” that may well not play out, but I think we are a lot closer to it than people – and our government’s leaders – want to imagine or admit. And the planning and response should be oriented to the worst happening instead of mindlessly spewing and acting on “best case scenarios” that are already ludicrous.

  6. tjbs says:

    Gene Beck, a longtime industry engineer and a professor at Texas A&M University, said the two-pipe method is “more or less the gold standard,” especially for high-pressure wells such as the one BP was drilling.

    Greed drives BP and the second pipe would cut down on volume deliverable over the life of the well.

    Seems to me what we have is a pipe bomb effect with the explosion. Gunpowder is harmless burned in the open but confine it and boom. This explosion happened in at first a very confined area and expanded as the explosion grew with enough residual force to lift the entire contents of a mile long 21″ ID pipe. Before the well cleared I bet there were some pipe seems splitting from the explosive force as well as the plugs disintegrating .

    As this is a terrorist act by a friendly company the President should seize the assets and offices and place Homeland Security in every office making the little people have the same real time information as the Big People.

  7. prostratedragon says:

    Right now I’m reading the Rolling Stone article on the regulatory debacle that is the MMS, and Obama’s failure —why gets to be a good question with a disturbing set of possible answers, why Salazar, why all of it— to corral that agency before even considering any new drilling applications.

  8. econobuzz says:

    In my mind, the tragedy here — from a public policy standpoint — is that we have an object lesson that a virtually unregulated corporation in pursuit of profit has brought us to the brink of an apocalyptic disaster. This isn’t an auto company selling cars that wind up killing drivers — as horrific as that is. This is the possible unleashing of toxic oil that could affect the world for decades.

    Almost 8 weeks into this, and the American public still thinks that a few beaches will get oiled and a few birds and fish will die. I continue to believe that the actions — or inaction — of Obama are deeply immoral in this regard.

  9. TalkingStick says:

    As to the question why DOE is involved. My answer is as simplistic as Obama’s thinking. Chiu has a Nobel Prize. Obama is impressed with the credential, regardless of his area of expertise, and he thought it would impress the public. Remember how often they repeated “Nobel Prize” there for awhile. Fools!

    • diracfock says:

      Chu & Co. Hopefully,you are not correct;rather that the
      opinions Scribe,Rayne and bmaz are applicable. Chu can
      call on the govt labs: Lawrence Livermore,Los Alamos,
      Argonne to get involved. Despite the privatization of
      the first 2 (see APS NEWS June 2010,Volume 19 “It’s a
      Bumpy Ride to Private Management for Los Alamos,Livermore” and decades of RIFs there is still competance there. ANL did some of the post analysis
      on TMI for example.Chu can also call for outside scientists to get involved,
      and employ peer evaluation processes to select the best ideas.

      • TalkingStick says:

        I would feel better if they were consulting and bringing in petroleum engineers and geologists rather than nuclear physicists.
        .

  10. klynn says:

    Nelson’s webpage is worth a visit.

    Funny, I have been mentioning the issue of states’ rights as info continues to be withheld by BP and the Gov. Reading Nelson’s Twitter just confirmed my previous comments on this issue:

    Feds didn’t alert FL yesterday when they boomed state waters due to oil contamination. Hear what I think about that http://bit.ly/dAFDQ7 9:00 AM Jun 10th via web

    Amazing.

    • klynn says:

      The citizens of Europe and GB should pay attention to the fact that this is going to hit the Gulf Stream and oil their shores and destroy their fishing industry and tourist industry. For GB alone, the destruction of their fishing industry will be devastating. GB citizens should be putting pressure on BP, selfishly so.

    • jedimsnbcko19 says:

      Thanks for this information.

      This article is very scary, considering we have a bunch corporate politicans in DC, who can care less about the planet and human life.

      Are politicians Human?

      very good article

  11. sirena7cs says:

    Excellent post Bmaz. Thank you!
    I live on the Gulf Coast and so have been following this quite carefully.
    Reading as much as I can and sharing it with friends.
    Would you mind if I reposted this on another site?
    It’s so good that I’d like to be able to share.
    Of course I will accredit to you.
    Please let me know if that’s okay?
    Thanks again,
    Sirena7cs

  12. jameshester12 says:

    25 great reading.
    I still wonder if Govt. or BP could disclose the pressure readings at the well head. That would answer some of the questions lot of people are struggling with and would shed light on the extent of the damage. Normally, at the well head, a 1,500-2,000 pounds per square inch is excellent pressure that allows free flow of oil. There some numbers in the print that the pressure at this site is above 20,000 and could go as high as 70,000 psi. Higher pressure and consequent explosion means more damage to the pipe and surrounding area.

  13. bobschacht says:

    Good piece of work, bmaz…

    One more additional factor: The administration was under a lot of pressure to “plug the dam* leak”. It is possible that at first, Chu and the DOE pushed too hard, but then reversed course when they realized what was happening in the well bore. The one thing lacking from your post above was correlating the day-by-day with public pressure to fix the dam* thing.

    Bob in AZ

  14. klynn says:

    The one thing lacking from your post above was correlating the day-by-day with public pressure to fix the dam* thing.

    I do not think I would call it “public pressure to fix the dam thing.” The better language would be “public necessity” due to real environmental and economic impact.

  15. bobbyd12 says:

    One of, if not the fundamental issue here is the complete breakdown of a U.S. Government Agency. Sad to say, the majority of our agencies are “exactly” the same. U.S. Agencies are taught to be “reactive” not “proactive.” Yes, we have laws which we as a government employee are required to enforce and the majority of workers start their careers gun-ho and ready. The problem begins though at the first line Supervisors level. All agencies have a Manuel of Standard Operating Procedures that are written for every situation. Unfortunately, the SOP is thrown out the window by First Line Supervisors. These first line management people take it upon themselves to determine which laws are to be enforced, and which are not. Lots of times you will have different Supervisors on a shift interpreting the exact same situation in different ways, thus throwing the SOP out the window. This in turn becomes a morale killer for the workers who actually try to enforce the law as intended as we see nothing more then a hodgepodge of nonsense. That starts the “screw it” effect, my term. The front line employee then develops the same attitude and starts to look the other way knowing damn well not to waste his time and effort on something the front line supervisor is going to ignore anyway. To complain will get you nothing but misery and lack of advancement, so why bother. As you get further in your career you realize the best thing to do is drink coffee, get overtime and dream about retirement. Believe me, I am not bitter nor upset because I realized a long time ago how things work and it’s best to just go with the flow. If the people want “real change” in their agencies they need to demand one simple thing, follow the damn SOPs. They were written for a reason and the majority of them are accurate and should be followed to the letter. Guaranteed this would not have happened at MMS if SOPs were followed and enforced. And on a last note, this isn’t a Republican or Democrat problem, I have worked in government under both Administrations for many years and it is exactly the same problem.

  16. qweryous says:

    Excellent summary of this information Bmaz.

    Thad Allen describes the decision making process in this quote from a transcript of Thad Allen interviewed by Candy Crowley on CNN May 23, 2010- (prior to “top kill”).

    CROWLEY: I want to play you something that the secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar, said recently in a conversation I had with him, the same day I talked to you.
    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
    KEN SALAZAR, INTERIOR SECRETARY: Our job is basically to keep the boot on the neck of British Petroleum to carry out the responsibilities that they have both under the law and contractually to move forward and to stop this spill.
    (END VIDEO CLIP)
    CROWLEY: Now in what way have you kept the boot on the neck of BP? What have you forced them to do? Because from the outside looking in, it looks like BP is in control and doing their thing. That’s the perception.
    ALLEN: Well, first of all, BP’s operation is being run out of Houston, Texas, and from the start, we have put Coast Guard people down there, Department of Interior people. The secretary, too, from Energy…
    CROWLEY: What are they doing, though? Are they saying, BP, do this now? Or is BP saying, hey, we’re doing that, and you go, check?
    ALLEN: Well, what is happening is there is — it’s really a collaboration, including the rest of the oil industry as well. Last week we had what we called a scientific summit conference call. Secretary Salazar, Secretary Chu. BP had to go step-by-step on how they’re going to this top kill that’s going to be attempted in a couple of days.
    And all of the assumptions of BP before were questioned by people like John Holdren in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. So as these ideas are brought up, and courses of action are determined, metaphorically being pull through a knothole by some of the best minds in our country from the Sandia Labs and places like that.
    So there is a lot of oversight going on there.”

    This same interview is referenced in a Seminal diary I posted “Disturbing
    Possibility: Is the Gulf OIL Disaster Data Behind a BP Corporate Firewall?
    “.

    The letter which is the subject of the Seminal Diary is also referred to at The Oil Drum- in the comment previous to the one linked in this thread by prostratedragon @1.

      • Mason says:

        The excellent diary by qweryous that you referenced raises a presumption that Obama is aiding and abetting BP’s efforts to conceal behind their corporate firewall all of the raw scientific data collected by various government agencies regarding the extent of the spill and the GPS locations of the number and type of dead animal carcasses found. This has prevented the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command Structure (ICS) from doing its job in the Unified Command process of the BP Deepwater Horizon Incident.

        I don’t know if this is criminal, but it should be if it isn’t. It certainly isn’t transparent and it’s beyond stupid because it eliminates a valuable and necessary resource. Removing the original letter complaining about the diversion from the website raises even more suspicions that Obama is more concerned about suppressing the truth to protect BP than he is about stopping the blowout.

        Obama has some serious splainin to do and I would love to cross-examine him under oath!

        Here’s the link to queryous’s diary again.

        • bmaz says:

          You check out my link to the actual BP lease agreement? That and related pro forma documents that also get executed on these matters absolutely give the government right to demand all such data. There is no reason other than desire by the government to not disclose.

  17. fides2 says:

    Is there a link or discussion somewhere on this site that addresses the worst-case scenario for the residents of the Gulf states and Cuba?

    I know that both BP and the administration knew early on that they had a catastrophe on their hands. Obama’s subdued responses in his very first press conference betrayed him.

    I am wondering just how bad things can get for Florida and Cuba. I would not want to live in a state or country that is surrounded by toxicity in one form or another.

    And could this be part of the reason that the flow of information isn’t nearly as robust as the flow of oil gushing from the ocean floor?

  18. Indie says:

    The Washington Post is reporting that Obama has suddenly discovered the virtue of foreign assistance in the Gulf. What a difference a month od bad press makes!

    Salvage the Obama brand! Cover up the incompetence of this administration. That is what is MOST important.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/13/AR2010061304232.html

    How much oil could have been skimmed or burned off the surface this past month and a half?

    All hail the Pragmatist in Chief.

  19. tropicgirl says:

    Kudos— Keep pushing, shoving, demanding and digging for info. The fools in government are lost souls but the people are not.

    “”The evidence is growing stronger and stronger that there is substantial damage beneath the sea floor. Indeed, it appears that BP officials themselves have admitted to such damage. This has enormous impacts on both the amount of oil leaking into the Gulf, and the prospects for quickly stopping the leak this summer.
    On May 31st, the Washington Post noted:

    Sources at two companies involved with the well said that BP also discovered new damage inside the well below the seafloor and that, as a result, some of the drilling mud that was successfully forced into the well was going off to the side into rock formations.

    “We discovered things that were broken in the sub-surface,” said a BP official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He said that mud was making it “out to the side, into the formation.”
    On June 2nd, Bloomberg pointed out:
    Plugging the well is another challenge even after BP successfully intersects it, Robert Bea, a University of California Berkeley engineering professor, said. BP has said it believes the well bore to be damaged, which could hamper efforts to fill it with mud and set a concrete plug, Bea said.

    Bea is an expert in offshore drilling and a high-level governmental adviser concerning disasters.
    On the same day, the Wall Street Journal noted that there might be a leak in BP’s well casing 1,000 feet beneath the sea floor:

    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 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.

    On June 7th, Senator Bill Nelson told MSNBC that he’s investigating reports of oil seeping up from additional leak points on the seafloor:

    Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL): Andrea we’re looking into something new right now, that there’s reports of oil that’s seeping up from the seabed… which would indicate, if that’s true, that the well casing itself is actually pierced… underneath the seabed. So, you know, the problems could be just enormous with what we’re facing.
    Andrea Mitchell, MSNBC: Now let me understand better what you’re saying. If that is true that it is coming up form that seabed, even the relief well won’t be the final solution to cap this thing. That means that we’ve got oil gushing up at disparate places along the ocean floor.

    Sen. Nelson: That is possible, unless you get the plug down low enough, below where the pipe would be breached.

    Indeed, loss of integrity in the well itself may explain why BP is drilling its relief wells more than ten thousand feet beneath the leaking pipes on the seafloor.

    Yesterday, recently-retired Shell Oil President John Hofmeister said that the well casing below the sea floor may have been compromised:

    [Question] What are the chances that the well casing below the sea floor has been compromised, and that gas and oil are coming up the outside of the well casing, eroding the surrounding soft rock. Could this lead to a catastrophic geological failure, unstoppable even by the relief wells?

    John Hofmeister: This is what some people fear has occurred. It is also why the “top kill” process was halted. If the casing is compromised the well is that much more difficult to shut down, including the risk that the relief wells may not be enough. If the relief wells do not result in stopping the flow, the next and drastic step is to implode the well on top of itself, which carries other risks as well.

    As noted yesterday in The Engineer magazine, an official from Cameron International – the manufacturer of the blowout preventer for BP’s leaking oil drilling operation – noted that one cause of the failure of the BOP could have been damage to the well bore:

    Steel casing or casing hanger could have been ejected from the well and blocked the operation of the rams.
    Oil industry expert Rob Cavner believes that the casing might be damaged beneath the sea floor, noting:
    The real doomsday scenario here… is if that casing gives up, and it does come through the other strings of pipe. Remember, it is concentric pipe that holds this well together. If it comes into the formation, basically, you‘ve got uncontrolled [oil] flow to the sea floor. And that is the doomsday scenario.

    Cavner also said BP must “keep the well flowing to minimize oil and gas going out into the formation on the side”:

    And prominent oil industry insider Matt Simmons believes that the well casing may have been destroyed when the oil rig exploded. Simmons was an energy adviser to President George W. Bush, is an adviser to the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre, and is a member of the National Petroleum Council and the Council on Foreign Relations.

    On May 27th, Simmons addressed this issue on MSNBC.””

    THE OTHER PROBLEM NOT BEING DISCLOSED ARE THE MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF TOXIC CHEMICALS BEING RELEASED. This has the potential for massive evacuations…

    “”On May 14 WWLTV in New Orleans ran a report on the levels of Hydrogen Sulfide and Benzene in the air at that time. 5-10 parts per billion is the established allowable amount for Hydrogen Sulfide. WWLTV reported that on May 3 the level was recorded at 1,192 ppb. (Pastor Williams) said his sources report the level detected in the Gulf at 1,200 ppb and the amount poses a serious and even fatal health risk.

    “The media coverage of the BP oil disaster to date has focused largely on the threats to wildlife, but the latest evaluation of air monitoring data shows a serious threat to human health from airborne chemicals emitted by the ongoing deepwater gusher,” the Institute for Southern Studies blog reported on May 10.

    Today the Louisiana Environmental Action Network released its analysis of air monitoring test results by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA’s air testing data comes from Venice, a coastal community 75 miles south of New Orleans in Louisiana’s Plaquemines Parish.

    The findings show that levels of airborne chemicals have far exceeded state standards and what’s considered safe for human exposure.

    For instance, hydrogen sulfide has been detected at concentrations more than 100 times greater than the level known to cause physical reactions in people. Among the health effects of hydrogen sulfide exposure are eye and respiratory irritation as well as nausea, dizziness, confusion and headache.

    The concentration threshold for people to experience physical symptoms from hydrogen sulfide is about 5 to 10 parts per billion. But as recently as last Thursday, the EPA measured levels at 1,000 ppb. The highest levels of airborne hydrogen sulfide measured so far were on May 3, at 1,192 ppb.

    • Mason says:

      Today the Louisiana Environmental Action Network released its analysis of air monitoring test results by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA’s air testing data comes from Venice, a coastal community 75 miles south of New Orleans in Louisiana’s Plaquemines Parish.

      The findings show that levels of airborne chemicals have far exceeded state standards and what’s considered safe for human exposure.

      For instance, hydrogen sulfide has been detected at concentrations more than 100 times greater than the level known to cause physical reactions in people. Among the health effects of hydrogen sulfide exposure are eye and respiratory irritation as well as nausea, dizziness, confusion and headache.

      The concentration threshold for people to experience physical symptoms from hydrogen sulfide is about 5 to 10 parts per billion. But as recently as last Thursday, the EPA measured levels at 1,000 ppb. The highest levels of airborne hydrogen sulfide measured so far were on May 3, at 1,192 ppb.

      The extremely high hydrogen sulfide level is disquieting. According to geologist Chris Landau,

      The oil is either old oil, say almost as old as the formation, or they have drilled into a massive active fault zone that is reducing carbon dioxide to methane. IF IT IS HIGH IN HYDROGEN SULFIDE, it is reducing calcareous sediments to oil and more natural gas in the presence of salt solutions. Now they are providingmore saltwater, so via the Wurtz Synthesis more oil is going to be created than natural gas. The methane is going to be converted to ethane, propane, butane, pentane and other long chain organic compounds.You see if oil is being made now, at a very rapid rate in this area, the pressure is never, ever going to drop off along the casing and the oil is going to flow into the gulf forever.The only hope to reduce the pressure will be by sinking more new wells into this area and try and drain off the oil and gas as quickly as it is being made.

      ALL CAPS are my emphasis.

      Link.

  20. alank says:

    Again, the only way to shut in the well is with relief wells. The integrity of the wellhead is moot. As for seep, naturally occurring or otherwise, these are hard to detect and monitor even in the best of times.

    • Mason says:

      Relief wells may not solve this problem. It’s by no means certain that a relief well can shut this blowout down!

      • bmaz says:

        From what I can tell (and I been rooting around in this crap) the relief well(s) in order to be successful will have to come in just at the bottom of the well bore, but still sufficiently above the reservoir roof so as to not cause fracture. If they don’t get it right……..

        • Mason says:

          Exactamundo!

          Not only do they have to find a long thin needle in a haystack, which could easily take until after Christmas, but they can’t be too close to the reservoir below or too close to the breached casing above.

          Would the biggest Longshot Louie at Hialeah put a fin on BP gittin ‘er done?

          I don’t think so.

  21. Indie says:

    All Obama can do is try and persuade the public that the federal government and his administration are in charge…but truth be told BP and Wall Street will continue to run the show.

    The Obama administration has compunded the disaster in the Gulf. The oil spill reached Louisana’s marshland after the administration heeded green calls and failed to burn the oil off in time despite a plan-in-place since 1994 requiring no bureaucratic hurdles (only, apparently, political and ideological hurdles). Yes, that same oil spill that Louisiana’s governor sought to impede with barrier isles, permits for which the administration sat on and then denied (but-for a symbolic 2% granted). Not to mention the administration’s refusal to accept foreign assistance.

    Obama will talk tough and seize upon this crisis to push for a repackaged ‘cap and trade bill’ now touted as a ‘green economy’ bill. The reason for what used to be a global warming tax then a climate change tax is now a “green jobs” tax. Let’s see energy bills skyrocket and the cost of the working poor’s transportation rise so that BP can get the bill that it invented with Enron 15 years ago and has feverishly lobbied for ever since. Because, you know, $8 a gallon gasoline and windmill mandates will magically allow cars to run on pixies dust or something.

    http://dailycaller.com/2010/06/10/bp-is-asking-for-its-punishment%E2%80%94literally/

  22. Indie says:

    The collusion continues as Obama and his cronies seek to profit from the oil spill by pushing legislation that will make them all very, very wealthy.

    “So the truth is that BP has not only asked, for more than a decade, for the supposed punishment that President Obama now says is imperative he and the Senate now dole out in response to the Gulf oil spill. It has been pleading for it.

    BP, with able help from Enron, invented carbon cap-and-trade. For Obama to claim or even imply that furiously cramming-down this scheme in response, somehow getting back at the company which Sen. John Kerry now admits helped him write the very bill Obama referred to, is disgraceful either in its ignorance or its dishonesty.”

    Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2010/06/10/bp-is-asking-for-its-punishment%E2%80%94literally/#ixzz0qquBpNJL

  23. fatster says:

    What?

    BP eyes plan to capture up to 80,000 bpd from well
    LONDON
    Mon Jun 14, 2010 12:12pm EDT

    (Reuters) -” Oil giant BP has drafted a new plan, demanded by the U.S. government, that aims to raise the amount of oil it could capture from its leaking Gulf of Mexico well to 80,000 barrels per day but said the operation would be risky.”

    LINK.

    • fatster says:

      Just two days earlier:

      Scale of BP oil leak revised up to 40,000 barrels a day
      New estimate dwarfs original figure based on information provided by BP

      Tim Webb
      The Guardian, Saturday 12 June 2010

      LINK.

      • bobschacht says:

        So, BP sez it thinks 40,000 bpd are leaking out of the well, but then it says it could reap 80,000 bpd. What does that tell you about the 40,000 bpd estimate?

        Bob in AZ

        • fatster says:

          Oh, that estimate has changed a lot over time.

          “BP originally estimated the flow at 1,000 b/d, but the NOAA upped the estimate to 5,000 b/d over BP’s objections. ” LINK.

          And BP forcefully disagreed with that one, even:

          “Coastguard Rear Admiral Mary Landry said National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) experts now estimate that 5,000 barrels a day of oil are spilling into the gulf – far more than the previous estimate of 1,000 barrels a day.
          . . .
          “However Doug Suttle, chief operating officer for BP, disputed the new estimates yesterday, pointing to a diagram that plotted the leaks and saying he did not believe the amount of oil spilling into the water was higher than earlier approximations.”

          LINK.

          And from there it grew.

          But as you know, my favorite one came from NOAA prior to May 1st:

          “A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration video, shot as officials coordinated response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, shows that federal officials almost immediately worried that the oil well could leak up to 110,000 barrels per day, or 4.6 million gallons.”

          LINK.

          • Hmmm says:

            80,000 barrels captured per day? Let’s do a little math, shall we?

            Let’s make a generous estimate: They’re capturing 20% of the total escaping oil (upwell + ocean floor seepage)

            That would make the total out per day 80,000 / 20% = 400,000 barrels per day out of the ground

            Less the 80,000 captured, that would mean 320,000 barrels per day spilled into the Gulf

            The Exxon Valdez totalled 257,000 barrels spilled over the entire incident.

            320,000 barrels spilled per day at Macondo = 1.25 Exxon Valdezes per day.

            With no end in sight.

            The biosphere is so fucked.

            • fatster says:

              Please. You’re trying to impose logic or math on an outfit that eschews such. BP = Bluster & Prevarication.

          • bobschacht says:

            I think you missed my point. BP saying that it could reap 80,000 bpd from the well cap, it kinda made a mockery of their own claim, on practically the same day, that flow from the well was only 40,000 bpd, don’t you think?

            Sure there was a record of increasing estimates of the flow, but time passed between those increasing estimates. Here, there was no passage of time of any significance.

            Bob in AZ

            • fatster says:

              Oh, no, Bob, I’m in complete agreement with you. I was just trying to provide a little historical trail from their first attempt at obfuscation (1000 barrels/day), all the way through to the latest–which grew by 40,000 barrels/day on June 12 and then to 80,000 barrels/day on June 14–and those 80,000 are captured barrels.

              Sorry to have misled you. Didn’t mean to (and I know you know that).

  24. john in sacramento says:

    Haven’t read through the post or the comments so I don’t know if this has been mentioned

    BP Official Admits to Damage BENEATH THE SEA FLOOR

    On May 31st, the Washington Post noted:

    Sources at two companies involved with the well said that BP also discovered new damage inside the well below the seafloor and that, as a result, some of the drilling mud that was successfully forced into the well was going off to the side into rock formations.

    “We discovered things that were broken in the sub-surface,” said a BP official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He said that mud was making it “out to the side, into the formation.”

    Lots more

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2010/06/evidence-points-to-destruction-beneath.html

    Oh, and Marcy mentioned the broken disk

    On the same day, the Wall Street Journal noted that there might be a leak in BP’s well casing 1,000 feet beneath the sea floor:

    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 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.

    • john in sacramento says:

      Haven’t read through the post or the comments so I don’t know if this has been mentioned

      TTS (talking to self) ;-)

      It has; it’s already there. Money quote about the 17th paragraph down in bmaz’ post

      Thanks bmaz

  25. atillathebun says:

    I always supported this President. We needed change. But now we need leadership. This leak has gone on and on and on…and instead of mobilizing and getting “the best and the brightest” together to tackle this problem, this president chooses to do “fingerpointing and blaming” leadership.

    Well that dont cut it Mr. President. Wake up and smell the oil. People are suffering and your tongue wagging……

    Get off your chair and do something. Not yesterday…and not in a week…

    DO IT NOW !!!

    People are growing weary of talk, talk, talk…

    BP is not, I repeat Not capable of fixing this, neither is our Coast Guard. You should be calling “all hands on deck” for this one and giving a room full of really smart type people 24 hours to come up with a solution and 48 hours to implement and 72 hours for “lets get this done”…..something, anything, many things….just do it !!! stop daydreaming Mr. President !!

    This is your bay of pigs mr. president… take it on the chin and change your approach and call folks on the carpet and lets get this straightened out…. Now !!!

  26. iremember54 says:

    For people who don’t know much about wells. If the casing is split or a cement job failed to where that drilling mud was exiting into the formation as described, The best thing to do would have been keep pumping mud and then follow up with cement.

    The worst thing to do is say, “OH Well,” and stop pumping.

    Dr Chu and all the other Government people we have are close to idiots when it come to some things no matter how many degree’s they have.

    The Government told them to drill two relief wells, because it was told this is the only way to stop it. Each of those has the potential to have the same kind of blow out Deap Horizon had. There is no guarantee that the cement jobs or the casing will hold up any better in those wells.

    It would serve our Government right if one of those wells blew out also, and showed the American People how ignorant our Government is.

    We are seeing it now in the fact they didn’t suck up that oil spill from the start, and are now trying to clean up the mess they made by dispersing it, and letting it just spread out over the whole gulf.

  27. bmaz says:

    Jeebus! It is the entirety of what I wrote here lock, stock and smoking barrel. Where do people get off doing that?? do you have a link for the Oil Drum discussion where this appeared by chance?

    Thank you for the advisory! I have not seen you name often, please join us more often.

    • iawl says:

      “my bad” as they say bmaz, I am so sorry….. I have scrolled back up in the chatter on the oildrum IRC ….for that, go to http://webchat.freenode.net/
      (create password then type in #theoildrum)…anyway, now that I have scrolled backward up through the chatter I can’t find the hyperlink …so I must have arrived at that link in my note to you above some other way and I can’t remember how….I have so many different things up I can’t keep them straight:(

      • bmaz says:

        No problemo. Just curious what was the tenor of the discussion over this was. I have read Oil Drum off and on through this ordeal and find it a very good resource. They were mostly skeptical about the Nelson stuff and the extent to which the well may be compromised, but from my skimming through there last night it looks like they are coming around pretty much. Quite frankly I am glad they are around and appreciate their efforts. In a way it is a good interplay on the issues between here and there, at least it has been for me, in that they are professionals in the oil and drilling business and are making sincere efforts to weave that into the realities of the idiotic political game and system on the BP nightmare. On the other hand we are pretty experience in the political and legal arena and are really diving in and trying to be informed and accurate on the intricacies of the oil business and technology here.

        At any rate thanks for the info; much appreciated. I did send a nice little message to that other site warning them not to lift our material wholesle without permission again.

  28. Hmmm says:

    FWIW — BBC World Service just reported BP’s retained 3 investment banks and has denied they’ve been tasked with fending off hostile takeovers. Tonybaby sez he thinks BP will survive “in one form or another” despite the emerging recognition of this as “the Chernobyl of the petroleum industry”. Hmmm.

  29. bmaz says:

    Anybody seen the live feed today? Gushing like holy hell, and not into the “cap” either. Something has changed…..

    • fatster says:

      Please don’t say that. To quote somebody who was quoting somebody else on this catastrophe, “We are fucked!” McKay’s assertions about commitment to clean up the catastrophe was soooooo sincere.

      Markey’s now asking them about their copy-cat plans (including the walrus references). Good.

      Here we go with the barrels/day–1,000 then up to 40,000 now (actually, they’ve moved it to 80,000).

      • john in sacramento says:

        According to my calculations, 80 k is the absolute bare minimum (by giving them the benefit, of the benefit, of the benefit of the doubt)

        Click my name and at Science Friday post

        • fatster says:

          Thanks, john in sacramento. I already looked at that article and wrote you a complimentary comment somewhere here at EW’s place (probably back on that long, long thread about BP and the catastrophe). I hope you’re going to also cover Ami’s activities as the months move along. It’ll be such a fine day when we can say “Aloha, Dan.”

    • klynn says:

      You should post an update.

      Just went to look at it. You are correct. Something is up.

      No one is talking “what” the outcomes could be should the seabed fail.

  30. fatster says:

    Markey’s demanding McKay apologize! McKay is “sorry”. So far, his is an aggressive defense.

    Upton–you putting dollars into an escrow account? McKay won’t commit on a fund, but they will honor “all legitimate claims.” Upton wasting time trying to get a failing grade for Obama out of McKay.

  31. fatster says:

    Waxman now asking the others how they would have drilled doing things differently from what BP did. And they are talking, too–pedal, pedal. Waxman still concerned because all their plans were the same anyway.

    Barton up with the tired analogy of armchair, Monday morning coaching. He’s optimistic because these things are preventable! And blah blah blah.

  32. fatster says:

    Dingell asking about emergency plans. Does fed govt take over when there is a spill? Tillofson (??Sp)–Coast Guard makes final decisions, but done in a joint fashion. McKay–agrees. Dingell–has Coast Guard made recommendations with which BP didn’t agree. McKay–no, no conflict between administration and BP, debates of course, but no conflict. Dingell–should govt take over clean-up? McKay–current command structure is effective.

    Gotta go to do-not-miss medical appt. If anybody else back here in EPU-land, feel free to continue notes.

Comments are closed.