The Official Flow Rate: 12,000-19,000 BBL/Day

The head of the USGS just did a press conference to announce the government’s official estimate of how much oil is flowing into the Gulf. The official estimate is that the flow rate is 12,000-19,000 BBL/day.

To get the estimate, the team used two different methodologies, then adopted the rate of overlap between the two methodologies: One team calculated how much oil is on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, using data collected from NASA on May 17. It estimated that between 130,000 – 270,000 BBL of oil were on the surface on May 17. In addition to what is on the surface, the team calculated that a similar volume has been burned, skimmed, or evaporated. It’s initial estimate based on the estimate of how much oil was on the surface gave a rate of release of 12,000-19,000 BBL/day.

The second team developed an estimate by observing the flow video and estimating the fluid velocity and volume. This methodology was limited because it had a limited window of data to choose from (and it sounds like they didn’t get good quality video until the last week and a half). This team then estimated how much was oil, gas, hydrates and water. It’s lowerbound estimate was 12,000-25,000 BBL/day.

The team as a whole then checked these results by estimating what was coming out of each leak, which came up with the 12,000-19,000 range.

McNutt made two caveats before announcing the amount.

  • Administration response has been based on worst case scenario (she seemed to want to suggest that the response wasn’t hindered by bad estimates from BP).
  • The numbers are still preliminary–the scientists are getting new data.

Interestingly, one thing McNutt noted is that about 75% of the volume coming out of the pipe was gas.

437 replies
  1. Leen says:

    Holy Mackerel

    “It estimated that the flow was between 130,000 – 270,000 BBL of oil were on the surface on May 17. In addition to what is on the surface, a similar volume has been burned, skimmed, or evaporated. It’s initial estimate, rate of release 12,000-19,000 BBL/day”

    “modest” in BP’s book.

    • bobschacht says:

      It estimated that the flow was between 130,000 – 270,000 BBL of oil were on the surface on May 17.

      Leen, that’s a misquote. EW does not use the word “flow” in that sentence, and it confounds the issue of how much is there, vs. how much is being added each day. EW wrote,

      It estimated that between 130,000 – 270,000 BBL of oil were on the surface on May 17.

      So that’s how much we can see.

      In addition to what is on the surface, the team calculated that a similar volume has been burned, skimmed, or evaporated.

      What is missing from those categories is the amount that has been broken up by Corexit, so the total volume estimate is conservative.

      Bob in AZ

      • Leen says:

        took that right from EW’s piece. Did not change it. Don’t know what happened. Maybe she changed it..I did not. Copied exactly what was there earlier

          • Leen says:

            Thanks. Knew I had not changed your words.

            The fisherman that Amy Goodman interviewed said oil clean up workers are not being allowed to wear respirators during clean up.

            Coast Guard Grounds Ships Involved in Spill Cleanup After 7 Fall Ill; BP Reportedly Preventing Fishermen from Wearing Respirators
            At least seven fishermen involved in the cleanup of the BP oil spill were hospitalized on Wednesday after reporting nausea, dizziness, headaches and chest pains. The fishermen were likely exposed to both the leaked oil and chemical dispersants. As a precautionary measure, the Coast Guard has ordered all 125 commercial ships helping with the cleanup to return to land. For weeks, cleanup crews hired by BP have been reporting health issues, but their complaints have largely been ignored. We speak to Clint Guidry, president of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, and Albert Huang, an environmental justice attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

            • Leen says:

              Yowser. The fisherman from the Gulf that Goodman interviewed ( Clint Guidry) just ended that interview by saying “if the oil company is such experts. Why are they trying to kill my fishermen”

              This was after he suggested that the oil clean up should be government controlled. And his comment is in reference to BP not allowing clean up workers to wear respirators.

  2. klynn says:

    The numbers are still preliminary–the scientists are getting new data.

    So might some of that “new” data be the under water plumes?

    • emptywheel says:

      The big issue is the quality of the video. I didn’t get to ask a question, but Dr. Lubchenco (from NOAA) suggested yesterday that BP hadn’t turned over video in sufficient quality to make this estimate. McNut said that there was a problem with the size of the videos. In any case, w/o high quality vids, they couldn’t figure out what the content of the flow was.

      • papau says:

        The percentage that is gas is key – little gas means 75000, 75% gas means 20000.

        Seems the question could be easily answered by sample or sensor – if BP wanted an answer not tied to video.

      • klynn says:

        I mentioned the underwater plumes because the NASA data shots for estimating do not include underwater plumes just water surface area.

        Thus, I bet the numbers are on the higher end if the area of the plumes were included.

      • bobschacht says:

        I didn’t get to ask a question, but Dr. Lubchenco (from NOAA) suggested yesterday that BP hadn’t turned over video in sufficient quality to make this estimate. McNut said that there was a problem with the size of the videos. In any case, w/o high quality vids, they couldn’t figure out what the content of the flow was.

        EW, if you are able to communicate with Dr. Lubchenco &/or McNut, could you beg them please please pretty please provide us with some better diagrams of what is going on down at the wellhead than BP’s prettied up, idealized diagrams? Something more like the initial diagram that NOAA helped produce, only with a lot more detail? The BP diagrams don’t show any broken pipes or leaking manifolds, so we can’t see clearly where the problems are, and what is being done.

        Bob in AZ

  3. bmaz says:

    Like to know how they calculate 75% of flow is gas. I am a dope with no experience in such things, but that sure seems counterintuitive to what has been visible in the meager video feed BP has graciously allowed the dirty unwashed public to see.

    • PJEvans says:

      i understand it’s color – gas is lighter color than oil, and it also behaves differently.

      • bmaz says:

        And JTMinIA – Yep, I get that. Still counterintuitive to what I saw in the “spillcam” for all those days. Not that I have a clue understand you, and not that I am necessarily calling foul or anything, just would not have been my guess based on my limited viewing. I am just musing, pay no attention to me….

        • JTMinIA says:

          Keep in mind that various people might have differing motives for trying to argue that a large proportion of what’s coming out is methane, instead of crude oil, so take the estimate of 75% with copious salt. You don’t have to clean methane up; you just let it evaporate. Plus, I’m not sure if methane counts (as much) against you in calculating the daily fine for the spill.

          • bmaz says:

            Oh yeah, agreed completely. I will say this much, I am currently embroiled in a heated, knock down, drag out fight with Marcy over who likes Marcia McNutt more. Personally, I am certain I am ahead on points. A roundabout way of saying that for some reason or another, I halfway trust her from the background she has.

            • JTMinIA says:

              Big time.

              But without something like cap-and-trade, how much “greenhouse gas” you emit is not in any way punished.

          • Larue says:

            I’d suggest as have many others from day one, our info (consider BP as the primary source for the most part) is scattered and inaccurate . . . but from scientists early on to recent science based efforts apart from BP science it don’t take a rocket scientist to think there’s a million gallons of oil daily gushing from the over all gushers.

            1) How MANY leaks/gushers? We don’t see them all, not from the get go.
            2) What was flow rates from them?

            BP is gonna lie, we know that.

            And I’ll be damned if that vid of the broken riser pipe was gushing only 5K Barrels per day . . . and we KNOW there were other leaks, but we didn’t really see them much, did we.

            And given that if there WERE a minimum 25K Barrels daily gushin . . . well, we know the surface is moving, it’s on shore in LA as some folks said, 3 foot deep in the water line at shore’s edges.

            We know the surface oil is spread out over HUGE square miles . . . we know there’s plume’s below at 3 miles wide to 10 miles wide to more as of this morning.

            If a million gallons a day have not gushed forth (bull on the 75% gas crap, BP lies) from this disaster, I’m a twit.

            The Oil Drum has made cases for 25K barrels daily . . . some even more.

            Now to find out how the Top Drill is setting up . . . .

        • DWBartoo says:

          A-musing are ya, bmaz?

          As you said: “Pressure is pressure”.

          It just depends WHO is UNDER it.

          (Or who needs it applied in a conscientiously applied program of regular electoral care and periodic visits to the woodshed.)


        • DWBartoo says:

          bmaz, what do you know about District Judge Lynn Hughes of Houston, who Bee Pee wants to handle all cases against them. It is said that the judge has “oil ties”.

          (The things people wear around their necks … my, my …)


          • bmaz says:

            Know nothing whatsoever. I have some significant lawyer friends in Houston; I will see what they have to say.

            • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

              The only silver linings that I see: if these estimates don’t completely tank BP’s remaining, miniscule molecules of credibility (since their figures were 1,000 – 5,000 gals/day), then we’ve got a lot of zombies walking around.

              Also, it’s so fascinating to watch the same creeps who swaggered around bragging that government was always incompetent and irrelevant bleat and plead for Obama to take over. Sheesh.

              Look forward to whatever bmaz can discern about the Houston judge, although I kind of dread hearing how bad the ties are likely to be.

                • BoxTurtle says:

                  This could be considered a stupid test for the country as a whole.

                  For crying out loud, how many more of these do we have to fail before someone tells us we’re idiots?

                  Boxturtle (Just like BP’s managers, gonna keep testing until we get the result we want)

            • DWBartoo says:

              Thanks, bmaz, I am, with NO political strings or implications attached, looking forward, to whatever you discover, regarding Judge Hughes.


    • BoxTurtle says:

      PLEASE don’t ask me to explain the math, it’s been way to long and I do not want to go back to my old engineering texts.

      But we know the characteristics of the water, and how it behaves at that depth. We have samples of the outflow, which gives us the characteristics of the oil. Thus, we can model how the emission cloud should look at the leakage point if it was 100% oil.

      We also know the characteristics of the gas. Thus we can model what the emission cloud would look like if it were pure gas.

      Then we use really ugly math to model the leak until it matches what we really see. I notice they do NOT give us a range of values, which any legit analysis would include. They’re probably hiding a rather large margin of error.

      Boxturtle (The above is HORRIBLY oversimplified)

        • BoxTurtle says:

          No. I just HATE anything to do with three dimensional calculus. But we used to to modeling of this sort at a place I worked and I would help to set up the SAS exits for the really complicated stuff.

          It was painful, and occasionally generated large margins of error which we ALWAYS listed in our reports.

          Boxturtle (Disclaimer: It took me two tries to pass both Calc III and Differential Equations)

          • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

            Oh, gawd….!
            Do not — do not! — say “matrices” or “matrix”!.

            Please. I beg you ;-)))

            On the upside, having dealt with those monsters helped me think about AIG-FPs derivatives formulas structures.
            REAL engineers would have said, ‘there’s too damn much uncertainty in these matrix formulas’.
            Wall Street, OTOH, said, “We are the MOTFU because we can hire people who know 3-D calculus.’

            And add onto this grim fact the notion that there are probably ‘credit derivative swaps’ out there that we don’t know about, built to pwn the price of oil. Hence, the oil is sitting in tankers in fiords somewhere waiting for oil spot prices to soar, which means the tankers are unavailable for hoovering up the spill.

            I may be nuts, but the past few days have absolutely convinced me that Congress needs to recognize that there are overlays between derivatives and FinReg, and this BP disaster.

            At any rate, a good first step would be to completely demolish any remaining credibility of BP.
            Which is why this post is great.

            • posaune says:

              can you imaging if mathematicians and risk analysts had to be licensed?
              for that matter, whose engineering seal was on the drawings for the BOP? love to know that answer.

              • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                Hooooly sh!t.
                Now that’s an interesting observation.
                If they’re not ‘lawyered up’, then they must be brain dead.

                • posaune says:

                  uh . . . unless the CDs were produced in China. (just came to me that BP prob outsourced the CDs, might be India, actually). So, then, who signed off in the US, or did they just shuffle that through with the rest of the application that didn’t need a permit.

                  • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                    ….or did they just shuffle that through with the rest of the application that didn’t need a permit.

                    I’m going with your ‘B’ option, myself…

            • BoxTurtle says:

              ODE, though we touched on partial. PDE was the next course, which thankfully, was not required for my degree.

              Boxturtle (Assume a solution exists. *shudder*)

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        FWIW, I had an interesting conversation with a couple mechanical engineers over the weekend. Their summary: the technical obstacles to figuring out, and solving, the engineering problems are huge, and fraught with uncertainty.
        Shorter: what the hell was BP thinking drilling that deep with no backup plans?!

        (FWIW: if Schlumberger employees really were on that rig until near the end, they ought to have some very interesting info.)

        • BoxTurtle says:

          Shorter: what the hell was BP thinking drilling that deep with no backup plans?!


          Boxturtle (Was this a contest? What do I win?)

          • Leen says:

            Somewhere (Cspan I think) it was reported that in Canada it is required to build a seperate line(the that BP is building now) to be the backup to closing the well down.

            • DWBartoo says:

              It is obvious that Bee Pee executives never, in a million years ever expected themselves to be “on the line” about anything.

              Their intent was to just become obscenely wealthy, be knighted and live the jolly life of neoliberal sainthood.

              This “accident” must have come upon them as a very nasty, and completely “unfair”, shock.

              But, in the end, they will all keep their ill-gotten booty and face nothing worse, as an “accounting”, than the arrogant, but powerless, disgust of all the “little” people whom the BIG people have treated as dispensable nothings.

              When “this” is over, the “partnerships” with governments like our own, will become the “focus”. Maybe the execs will play it “cool” and let the governments woo them?

              Life is rough at the “top”. And so terribly misunderstood.



              • Leen says:

                They all ready have the booty $$$..they can take the bit of humiliation that they may suffer during another investigation, panel, news conference. Just like the Wall Street executives they walk out and get into black shiny expensive vehicles, drive of fly to multi million dollar homes and take multi thousand dollar vacations. Send their kids to the Ivy league schools where their off spring learn the same elite rules and the cycle continues to repeat itself. All the while our leaders and Reps repeat to the peasants “no one is above the law, no one is above the law”
                We are a democracy, a democracy, the playing field is level.

                Complete utter bullshit

                That interview over at Democracy Now is worth the listen

                • DWBartoo says:

                  We are a hypocrisy. The playing field is greed, the “players” hip and very astute. The clever shall control the earth, the meek shall get a 3by6 foot plot, six feet down.

                  But it is a shame about the rule of law.

                  (Complete, utter, and total bully-poop-poop, as you say, Leen; yes indeedy!)


                  • Leen says:

                    “It’s a shame about the rule of law”

                    I tell ya the peasants I talk to still want to believe. But with all the evidence ( false Niger Documents, other false pre war intelligence, dead and injured bodies in the way)It is just down right assinine to believe it when Obama, Holder, Whitehouse, Feinstein etc repeat this horseshit and often repeated line.

                    • DWBartoo says:

                      One wonders if Obama et al, snigger to themselves when they unctuously intone the obvious canard?


              • nbohlen says:

                DW – There is something that you can do to make our `little people disgust` heard by the `BIG people` and assure BP doesn`t keep their `ill-gotten booty.`

                Boycott BP. Democracy for America just started this campaign today to buy our gas from Anyone But BP:


                The more people that get involved, the greater the economic pressure on BP. By recording how much people are spending on gas from anyone but BP through, DFA can really ramp up the public pressure on BP. We are no longer `dispensable nothings,` but exerting our collective power as consumers. In this way, we can put BP`s priorities straight, putting the clean-up effort ahead of their bottom line, and also hold them accountable ourselves instead of waiting for the government to act.

                • DWBartoo says:

                  I confess, nbohlen, I have not bought gasoline from Bee Pee for years, don’t use Castroil any longer, and have urged others, for many moons, to consider the “source”.

                  However, an organized and publicized national boycott is good exercise as well as good “practice”.


                  • bmaz says:

                    Castrol HD grade straight 30 and 40 weight motor oil is still the finest non-synthetic oil on the common market.

                    • BoxTurtle says:

                      Let’s face it, they’re ALL scum. But my car needs oil, even if it’s electric.

                      If I gotta deal with scum anyway, I’ll deal with the one with the best product.

                      Boxturtle (Can we boycott MMS?)

                    • DWBartoo says:

                      Well, I went to Amsoil, BoxTurtle, a synthetic, with a substantial history, and have not been disappointed. (Amsoil, like synthetics generally, will however, “leak” through places that Castroil 30 and 40 will not).


                    • DWBartoo says:

                      In fact, leaving an almost-permanent residue, teflon-like in nature, on surfaces that attain “sufficient” temperatures.

                      However, when combined with proper filtration, exceptional mileage may be obtained on well maintained classics.


      • scribe says:

        The short version of the ugly math is that, at that depth, pressure and temperature, the mix of “gas” (i.e., natural gas, a/k/a mostly-methane) and oil (itself a complex mix of hydrocarbons) will be in a liquid state. That liquid, in turn, will lose (some percentage of) the “gas” as it either “freezes” out (i.e., the methane binds up with the water to make methane hydrates which then come out as sorta-solid sorta-crystals) or bubbles off on its own way to the surface. But the core takeaway is that the combined flow could (big emphasis on COULD) be modeled as a singular fluid of a density less than that of the oil itself, the density depending on the exact composition of the mix.

        That (variable) density would be an essential term in determining the flow, b/c we know (or can find) the velocity out of the pipe, the size of the pipe, the relative pressures, etc. So the proportion of gas is essential to know. It’s kind of like the physics explaining why big boats don’t follow exactly in the wake of other big boats. The air bubbles in the wake (put there by the props and the flow around the wake-making boat) make the bubbly wake water less dense than plain old water. That less dense bubbles-n-water then is not sufficient to support the following boat (because boats float by displacing a weight of water) and the following boat would suddenly find itself sinking.

        Of course, since no one knows (or, if they know they aren’t telling) the exact composition of the flow, so all the calculations are going to be suspect. I’m sure BP knows (or, pre-blast, knew) the exact composition of the well flow; it’s how they calculate how many dollars they can get out of it. Of course, that information would also be a valuable trade secret so they won’t be talking.

        But, setting all this aside, the big question I have is this: Now that Broken Pipe’s volcanic gusher has frittered away (some substantial portion of) the gas pressure driving the oil out of the well and out of the ground, how does Broken Pipe propose to get out the opil still remaining. The depletion of gas pressure is the largest (and usually earliest) cause of oil wells running dry. Without that pressure to push the oil out of the pores in the rock, it stays put. Has anyone ever done “enhanced recovery” at this sort of depth? Or will that be another science experiment the public will have to pay for – directly or indirectly?

        • sojourner says:

          There are some pretty massive reservoirs down in that area. To be sure, there is probably some damage to this particular formation due to the uncontrolled pressure. The economics are such that BP would have to drill more wells to fully define the reservoir and the estimated reserves before they go putting up permanent production platforms.

          There are many oil people along the Gulf Coast who are really pissed at BP. While accidents will occasionally happen, this one appears to have been sheer stupidity. BP cut many corners to try to save a few nickles.

          BMAZ might be able to better answer this, but the question about capping the liability for BP — does that refer to government penalties, or to civil litigation?

          • PJEvans says:

            The betting is that they’ve been cutting these corners for a while, without the well blowing up.

            I hope that the regulators, as well as (and most particularly) BP and the oile companies start taking the precautions and following the procedures that they claim to be using, instead of cutting the corners and rushiing the jobs.

            • sojourner says:

              Oh, I am sure that that is the case… In actuality, BP and some of the other biggies probably think that they have drilling down to a science. It is exactly that sort of thinking though that invites Murphy to come along and bite them in the ass and prove that they do not know squat.

              There are many companies that drill offshore, and do so safely. Gulf Coast formations are notoriously difficult to predict due to faulting and abnormal subsurface pressures. Blowouts happen fairly often, but they are also contained with appropriate equipment and safeguards. There are some that make major headlines when even the safeguards don’t work.

              BP just outfoxed itself — and there are many people who work the offshore who are mad as hell at the mess it has created.

        • Larue says:

          You mean that despite the pressure differential from 18K ft (or 30K depending whom you believe about BP drilling WAY past the 11K ft. permitted depth) to ocean floor at 5K ft, that without gas oil would remain in the higher pressure chamber and not seek a way out thru the drill hole, where pressure is lesser?

          I don’t understand how that works, can you explain it? Thanks!

          • PJEvans says:

            They didn’t drill past the permitted depth, it’s that the depth is measured from the drill floor, so it’s below-sea-floor distance plus 5000-odd feet.

          • scribe says:

            When you let enough gas out of the reservoir, through the drill hole in this instance, at some point there is not enough gas pressure left to push the oil out. Then, you are left with oil trapped in the ground which, enterprising oil companies will say, has to be recovered. And ten they come up with all sorts of schemes: steam injection, air injection, water injection, you name it, all in the interest of replicating the pressure the naturally occurring gas used to provide, to push more oil out through the drill pipe.

      • JTMinIA says:

        I won’t do the math for you either, but can explain it in a non-technical manner.

        Keep in mind that the stuff coming out was under a lot of pressure until the moment it emerges from the pipe. It could be as high as 10,000 psi; it’s probably much lower due to the flow, but it’s still way above the 2,400 psi of the sea water is it entering.

        When the pressure drops, the crude oil doesn’t change state. It remains a liquid. So it expands so little we can ignore it.

        When the pressure drops, the liquid methane does change state. It switches to being a gas and, therefore, expands quite a bit and the amount of expansion is a knowable value. Therefore, you can estimate the proportion of liquid methane coming out if you can measure by how much the plume expands as it exits the pipe (assuming you also know total flow, temp of water, blah, blah, blah).

      • PierceNichols says:

        They also have the data from the RIT flow, which was about 5000 cu ft of gas per barrel of oil… which works out to a flow of approximately 75% gas at depth.

        • PierceNichols says:

          One thing to add — the oil and gas mixture is hot when it comes up the well, so you can assume that the methane will be gaseous as it comes out of the leaks.

  4. Leen says:

    Scarecrow has a good one up over at Seminal

    Breaking: Obama to Fire MMS Director, Extend Partial Drilling Permit Moratorium, Cancel Some Leases

  5. Leen says:

    AP: Director of the U.S. Minerals Management Service Fired

    Elizabeth Birnbaum has been fired from her position as head of Minerals Management Service (MMS) according to an AP report. The MMS is charged with the management of the renewable energy, oil and gas, and mineral resources.

    Federal officials and BP executives will today provide updates on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill response as an attempt to stop the leak by blasting mud and cement into the breach through a so-called “top kill” maneuver continues. Executives from BP and Transocean are testifying at a House Natural Resources Committee hearing examining how the spill will affect America’s offshore oil and gas policy. Read More »

    Earlier, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) appeared on the Washington Journal to give her opinion on efforts so far and potential federal aid for her state. Later, President Obama is expected announce new offshore oil drilling regulations in advance of his trip to the region on Friday.

    • DWBartoo says:

      Elizabeth Birnbaum may well have needed to “go”.

      But there is a certain convenience about this “development” which compares it to Rand Paul’s “reorganization” of his election team, after a “screw-up” of sorts.

      Would it be fair and reasonable to ask both Obama and Paul a simple question?

      To wit: “WHO is in ‘charge’ here, you, or some ‘bad-apple’ underling?”

      (Maybe they could “practice” their “answers” in front of a mirror?)


      • JTMinIA says:

        It’s driving me nuts how some “conservatives” (i.e., people against regulations) have been attacking Obama LLC for a lack of response, etc. I’m not sure if they are too stupid to connect the dots or just assume that we are, but the implied idea that the role of the federal gov’t is to clean up the mess while having no say on the issues that determine whether a mess is made is incredible juvenile. And I really mean “juvenile,” since that’s how children behave.

        • DWBartoo says:

          Many children behave with more consideration and maturity, than we are seeing from a very large group of supposedly ADULT people. From the “top” to the … well … bottom.

          We must have mythed a whole lot of something as a society, don’t you imagine, JTMinIA?


        • diracfock says:

          Can we remember some history here? (1) Businesses exist
          only to make money and will cut corners/costs as much
          as possible ,(2) Business,at best,is only constrained
          by good regulators/regulations;(3) Republicans (and
          others (e.g.Blue Dogs) don’t want good regulations/
          regulators. They’d prefer to dismantle agencies.If
          they can’t dismantle them,then they appoint lazy (or
          corrupt)regulators.Think Grover Norquist here (drown
          government in a bath tub,after making it small enough).
          These people NEVER admit to needing government except
          in extreme circumstances (4)Government doesn’t have the
          practical capability to solve these large problems due
          to decades of being “squashed” (including lack of
          support for whistleblowers,etc).It does have some
          intellectual power in some of its agencies (National
          Academy of Sciences,NOA..)some of which has just been
          brought to bear. (5) Note the failure of BP/Govt
          to get OTHER oil COs involved. What happened to the
          suggestion from the retired Shell President on using
          mega tankers to such up the surface spill? (6) Keep
          on eye out to see if the U.S. adopts all the safety
          precautions of the Europeans and Canadians.Bet we

            • DWBartoo says:

              If you’ve time, diracfock, you may use “edit” to repair such thingies, within the initial comment.

              Your name is unfamiliar to me, so, perhaps you are new to this site?

              Welcome aboard, if that is the case, if not … carry on.

              Thanks for joining the discussion.


              • diracfock says:

                Thanks for the welcome.I follow the site daily and
                have made a few earlier comments. I noticed the edit
                facility after creating the 2nd response.
                To my original list of why the Govt can’t do as
                much as it used to we can add :outsourcing,NAFTA,hollowing out of the
                govt labs;business focus on only short term research,
                etc. Items familar to most of us.

                • DWBartoo says:

                  One hopes you will comment more often, diracfock, as you’ve a wonderful, spare style of writing (much in contrast to my own verbosity) that I should like to see far more of.

                  I observe many deep and thoughtful commentators here at the Wheelhouse, and you would, and do, fit well amongst them.


  6. JTMinIA says:

    Note that by “gas” I suspect that they mean “natural gas” (as in: methane) and not a substance in the gaseous state. At that temp and pressure, much of the methane would be a liquid. So don’t look for 75% of the flow to be bubbles.

  7. bobschacht says:

    The peculiar thing to me about the gas vs. oil thing is that in the pictures of the manifold with multiple leaks, the two leaks on the right are brown, and the one on the left is whitish. Why should they be different?

    We need better diagrams of what is actually down there, not prettied up idealized BP propaganda pieces.

    Bob in AZ

  8. SteveInNC says:

    I ran across this bit of information yesterday, which while not immediately applicable to the discussion of the BP leak/spill/catastrophe, is relevant to the larger discussion of the (de)merits of offshore drilling, and possibly of interest to the group here.

    Apparently, hurricanes can induce very strong currents near the seafloor in up to 90m (300 ft) of water. The authors of the study are concerned about the possible effects on undersea pipelines. Imagine: hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico … who could predict that? /s

    • tjbs says:

      This is what is known at the FBI as a clue, Obama……..

      Get the empty tankers outfitted with giant suctions devices and sonar to drop in the center of the plumb then separate the oil from the water. Suspend BP’s ability as a criminal, remember they are people too, to conduct any further criminal activity by freezing their assets as a terrorist organization. Attacking the sovereign United States Of America, no difference between them, or should I say, they and Al Quidia or the Taliban, so round them up sheriff Holder or are you too busy with the torture investigation?

    • Leen says:

      And on the BBC this morning they reported that BP is committed to cleaning up the oil on the “surface”. What the hell does that mean? they repeated “surface”

      Are they not responsible for what is below the “surface”

      The Gulf of Mexico oil is coming out of our MSM talking heads (Joe Scarborough, Dylan, Chris, Ed, Keith, Rachel) ears eyes and mouths.

      You may not know…seems the wars in Iraq and Afghanista are over. No coverage

  9. alan1tx says:

    Soounds like some good news finally:

    As of now, the oil has stopped:

    Adm Allen told US media the “top kill” procedure, which began on Wednesday, has pumped enough drilling fluid to block all oil and gas escaping from the well.

    “They’ve been able to stabilise the wellhead, they’re pumping mud down it. They’ve stopped the hydrocarbons from coming up,” Adm Allen told WWL First News radio.

    • JTMinIA says:

      Keep in mind that until and unless they can get a concrete plug installed, what’s happened is that they have switched from leaking a ton of oil and gas into the ocean to leaking a ton of mud into the ocean. If you read up on what’s in drilling mud, it’s nothing to cheer about.

      • Larue says:

        The amount of mud poured into the BOP is sig less than the daily outflow of gushing materials, I believe.

        Overall, compared to some 20-30 MILLION gallons of gushed product, almost negligible.

        Not that the mud ain’t toxic in and of itself to marine life.

        Any hardhat oil folks wanna chime in on my thoughts about this?

        • sojourner says:

          How the production usually works is this… (in a simplified version)

          Think of an underground dome, made of impermeable rock. Beneath that dome lies layers of porous rock or sand. Anyway, that dome creates a pocket to which oil and natural gas migrated over millions of years. Natural gas, being lighter, sits at the top of the dome and is highly pressurized. Of course, the oil just sits there beneath the gas above any underground salt water formations.

          The trick in a situation such as this is to define the edges of the field, the thicknesses of the productive sands, the levels of any oil and salt water contact, and the levels of oil and gas contact. To begin producing, you drill your well and perforate oil sands located a bit lower in the dome. Gas pressure pushes the oil into the wellbore and up to the storage equipment or pipeline. In reality, there is almost always some natural gas in the oil, so there will be some level of gas production as well.

          Basically, what has happened is that a poor or questionable cement job allowed natural gas and oil from all levels of that dome to seep into the casing. When the well blew out, the pressure down below also probably began eroding the remaining cement around the casing so that there is just an open hole into the dome. It is basically just uncontrolled production, which could cause some major pressure or reservoir problems later.

          I hope that helps!

        • JTMinIA says:

          Yes, the leakage of drilling mud is less, in volume, than the leakage of oil (was). Mud is thicker/heavier/more-viscous than oil, just as blood is thicker than water.

    • Leen says:

      Let’s hope so.

      Now all of you folks concerned about improved standards and regulations, enforcement of those regulations, clean up, accountability just “move on, turn the page, next chapter” Don’t be about “vengeance, witch hunts, retribution” Just move on all ready. Forget about accountability and justice will ya.

  10. JTMinIA says:

    Follow-up to above: no wonder the silly top hat didn’t work (if a lot of what’s coming out is liquid methane). When the methane changes from liquid to gas, it absorbs a lot of heat. (This is why sweating cools you off.) So the water around the plume must be even more cold than mile-down ocean water normally is. Ergo, the hydrate ice on the top hat.

  11. clemenza says:

    Where are what, 39 days in? Nobody could ever give us a good estimate.

    But, look how just hours after “success” of the Topkill, voila’.

    Everything’s under control now, so forget it ever happened.

    North Korea, North Korea.

  12. Nell says:

    Allen said some mitigating things that the LAT/Trib declined to put in their story, and the response from the combined ops center is much more guarded:

    The oil spill response unified command, which includes both BP and the Coast Guard, said it could not confirm or deny the report, which cited Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen.
    BP shares were up more than 5 percent in London trading.

    Allen told National Public Radio that BP engineers had “been able to force mud down and not allow any hydrocarbons to come up.” But he added this did not mean the well was sealed or that the problem was solved.

    BP Managing Director Robert Dudley said earlier on Thursday the procedure was “moving the way we want it to.” But he told NBC’s “Today Show” it was too early to say whether it had been successful.

    It’s not bad news, so that’s a change. Certainly they’re a lot more focused on getting their stock price up and heading off the removal of the liability cap than they are on the health and safety of anyone in or near the Gulf. But after the shredding of their flow estimates, they can’t afford to seem to be saying ‘Top Kill worked!’ and then have it blow open again as the stock market opens and Congress reconvenes…

  13. JohnLopresti says:

    I wonder if federal district court vacancies of long standing are in the region in which the current spill*s disputes will be adjudicated.

    When president O makes this week*s Friday visit, I wonder if the erstwhile O*Keefe will be attending to create some editable video; O*Keefe and his clatch of exhuberant conserv-a-film artists got misdemeanor parole for the Landrieu phone closet caper. Taping a presidential visit might count as community service.

    19kBBL/dayx35days=28 million gallons spill.

    Counseling to bTurtl, read Laplace, Mersenne, and Fourier in spare time; the pace lets the reader appreciate their individual approach, instead of cramming for the exam. Even Newton, leisurely viewed, can make *mechanics* appear a worthy trade.

    • Nell says:

      19kBBL/day x 35days = 28 million gallons spill

      What am I doing wrong? 35 x 19,000 = 665,000?

      • BoxTurtle says:

        Technically, John is wrong. He’s using barrels on one side of the equation and gallons on the other.

        Corrected: 19,000BBL/Day x 35 days x 42 gal/bbl = 27,900,000 gal.

        Boxturtle (My math prof would have given partial credit, my physics prof no points at all)

        • JTMinIA says:

          > “Boxturtle (My math prof would have given partial credit, my physics prof no points at all)”

          And if you did this in my Methods course, your grade would depend on how many buttons on your shirt were undone. tee hee

          • BoxTurtle says:

            I don’t know that I ever wore a shirt with buttons during my entire University education.

            Typically, I wore the tshirt from whatever rock concerts had come through most recently. I take it I’d be heading to the drop line?

            Boxturtle (Currently wearing a Jimmy Buffett shirt from Riverbend last year)

        • DWBartoo says:

          I shall never, ever, look at a turtle again without thinking, “Hmmm is this one a math whiz like BT?”

          Your lessons are much appreciated.


    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Counseling to bTurtl, read Laplace, Mersenne, and Fourier in spare time; the pace lets the reader appreciate their individual approach, instead of cramming for the exam. Even Newton, leisurely viewed, can make *mechanics* appear a worthy trade


      Although those authors are not on my normal ‘to read’ list, I loved this comment ;-))

      I can, however, highly recommend “Is God a Mathematician” for general readers like myself. Some of us need a good ‘translator’ for a good overview, and Livio’s writing is terrific.

      Not all of us have your synaptic configuration, JohnLopresti ;-))
      Nor your ‘mechanical’ turn of thought.
      (Wish I did, but it’s not in the cards…)

  14. Hugh says:

    1) The surface analysis has to be wrong because we know a lot of oil is suspended in the water column in what have been referred to as plumes. So it is likely there is a serious underestimate in the spill rate.

    2)While this is a gassy well, 75% gas seems high. I could be wrong but I seem to remember that over at the Oil Drum they were talking about 40% gas.

    In other words, it is likely that the flow rate was about twice what the government was saying. This would put it back in the range of 25,000-30,000 bbls/day that many of us have been talking about.

    As for the gas, I believe most of that never makes it to the surface. Rather it turns into droplets that rain down on the seabed. Hope this helps.

    • JTMinIA says:

      40% gas in what comes up the pipe and 75% gas in what you see in the water, if both are by volume, could well be the same thing. Again, keep in mind how much larger methane is when in gaseous form than when it is a liquid.

      • JTMinIA says:

        Boyle’s Law only applies to gases, pinhead (aimed at me, not anyone else).

        The methane doesn’t need to switch states in order to be much larger in the plume than in the pipe. Squeeze crude oil with 10,000 psi instead of 2,400 psi and it doesn’t get any smaller, really. Squeeze gaseous methane by 10,000 psi instead of 2,400 psi and it shrinks to a quarter of it’s size.

  15. Nell says:

    So, even at the low end of the new official flow estimate, which may be itself turn out to be a big under-estimate once more is known about the methane/oil ratio, 17 million gallons of oil have been spewed into the Gulf. Almost twice the size of the Valdez spill, and into the Gulf at the spawning season and just before the hurricane season.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      Heh. And just as I predicted, it’s a grumpy tech telling the truth that backs ’em into that hole.

      It ain’t gonna matter if he takesthe 5th, that tech is going to talk and he’ll make a great witness on the stand. And so will his buddies.

      Boxturtle (Karmic backlash is a bitch)

    • scribe says:

      Well, now we can see whether the feds are willing to treat these terrorists like they treat browner terrorists who leave their smoking Pathfinders parked in Times Square: have the local police pick up their families for “questioning” and give these witnesses the opportunity to sing now, or sing in Bagram forever.

    • scribe says:

      Oh, yeah. I told you guys over a week ago that the likely precipitating event was a pissing contest on the rig about speeding things up to make more money for BP, and that the presence of the BP executives on the rig that day was to use their presence topush things along more quickly.

      Not that what I said was not obvious to pretty much anyone with eyes.

      • sojourner says:

        Gosh, Scribe! How did you know that we used to have pissing contests off the helicopter pads? (I know, I know… TMI!)

      • BoxTurtle says:

        I’d suggest an alternate scenario: The execs were there to celebrate an on time capping, having been told repeatedly by local management that things were on schedule.

        But things weren’t on schedule and I’m betting that at least the last 72 hours before the scheduled capping you could hear the whips cracking as far away as Nashville. A lot of bad decisions were likely made and a lot of work was rushed during that time, but the execs didn’t know it. And they’d never have found out, had the well not blown.

        If the execs wanted to pressure things in person, they’d have been there days earlier.

        Boxturtle (That’s how it normally worked where I worked)

        • sojourner says:

          I tend to agree with you. I think that would also explain why Schlumberger never got to run the cement bond log. The fact that the pressure testing failed probably scared someone, because they would have to do a squeeze job and re-cement the casing. That someone — whoever he might be — was more concerned with the execs coming out to celebrate.

          I have never seen anything mentioned about this, but this may have been a major discovery for BP and partners — thus a major cause for celebration! These used to be called “wildcat” wells in older days, because you never knew what you would run into…

      • tjbs says:

        As long as no drugs were involved ,otherwise they would have to be quarantined or sequestered or held by the company a couple days till the drugs cleared their system.

    • substanti8 says:

      For the sake of protecting their stories, they should put those two guys on a suicide watch.

      And BoxTurtle @ 27 wrote:

      I would help to set up the SAS …

      SAS???  Aggghhhhhh …!!
      (runs screaming from the room)

  16. Larue says:

    Minding my manners, thanks Mz. Wheeler for the post.

    Bmaz, as always, all over it.

    And a special thank you to BoxT and Pierce, and all you others who obviously know your science/math and continue to help us poor lay people grok it all.

    I’m always in awe of this forum and it’s contributors, authors and those who comment alike.


  17. Surtt says:

    Perhaps a stupid question, but how much mud is coming out now and/or how much is being pumped in?

    Knowing how much it takes to keep the oil down should give them an accurate read on how much was being spilled.

    • PierceNichols says:

      Not necessarily true. There’s too many variables at play here. They include (but are in no way limited to):

      a) Properties of the mud
      b) The nature of the flow restriction(s) in the BOP and the riser.
      c) Properties of the oil/gas/sand mixture coming up the well
      d) State of the wellbore
      e) State of the geology surrounding the wellbore, both within and above the payzone.

      There are others I don’t know about or haven’t thought of.

      • Surtt says:

        a) Properties of the mud
        Um, they do not know the properties of the mud????

        b) The nature of the flow restriction(s) in the BOP and the riser.
        d) State of the wellbore
        e) State of the geology surrounding the wellbore, both within and above the payzone.

        Does not matter, we are only interested in what is coming out, not how it gets out.

        c) Properties of the oil/gas/sand mixture coming up the well
        They should have at least a guesstament by sampling and testing during the drilling process.

        Not saying the can give an exact number, but they should have a good idea of what is/was leaking.
        Better then 5,000 to 50,000 barrels anyway.

        • Surtt says:

          BTW, I think BP has a very accurate estimate of the leak they are not willing to make public.

          • BoxTurtle says:

            I doubt you’ll find anyone here who will disagree with that!

            Some other entities that have better than public estimates (not an exhaustive list):

            1) BP’s competition.
            2) Any firm that trades in energy stocks.
            3) Any firm that trades in energy.
            4) Lisa Murkoski (R, Ak)

            Boxturtle (Notice there ain’t no scientists on that list?)

            • chetnolian says:

              Oh yes you will! I don’t think anyone including BP really has a clue.

              But I do agree with your 108 scenario, which matches my lifetime experience of business. No one, and I really mean no-one, would have consciously taken a decision which he realised had a significant risk of causing the 12 guys to die (even before all the rest). That doesn’t mean people didn’t take really dumb decisions. It happens all the time, it’s just the consequnces aren’t usually so serious.

              By the way this whole sad episode probably proves a truism; a really improbable event becomes 100% probable when it happens.

        • fatster says:

          They don’t want to know. They just want a low number since the civil penalty cost is figured by barrel ($1100 to $4300).

    • Larue says:

      Great question and thought . . . I wonder how one DOES measure flow rate and volume of mud spillage. (edited after reading #89 from Pierce)

      Your answer is in one of those Oil Drum Diaries posted by Headingout . . . they are INCREDIBLE summary’s of what’s going on, and I know your question re: mud flow and mud volume to be pumped is in there. What’s being leaked, I don’t know and don’t think is covered in the three links.

      But knowing what’s pumped in or on hand TO be pumped in will show the proportion of mud to oil already/presently gushing. Comparatively MUCH less mud . . . . MUCH less. If I recall the number.

      • PierceNichols says:

        The Oil Drum is the only good source of information and analysis on the subject I know of.

  18. Synoia says:

    Interestingly, one thing McNut noted is that about 75% of the volume coming out of the pipe was gas.

    Is this well then 25% more productive than DC?

  19. JTMinIA says:

    Most flow characteristics are proportional to the square of properties such as density and viscosity. So, if you’re dying for a wild-arsed guess on how much mud is leaking out, start with a quarter of the previous flow of oil and gas on the grounds that mud is about twice as dense.

    • JTMinIA says:

      I saw the “ygm” and started wondering why you would be referring her to a small and obscure airport in Canada (named for a Dwarf, no less)…. Then I remembered that there are lots of new acronyms that old f*rts like me do not know.

        • DWBartoo says:

          But you aren’t going to give anything away, right, Petro?

          I suspeculate that you’ve heard from someone who knows or understands something?

          (Red herrings are hereby alerted, but like their fellow fishes, they are currently preoccupied … )


        • JTMinIA says:

          What a weird world. I was just thinking this very morning about how much I missed autocrossing (which is “auto racing” by dodging traffic cones in parking lots). YGM (aka Gimli Airport) is quite famous among autocrossers – at least for those who have raced in Canada, as I have – because, in the middle of an event, a 767 glided in right on top of the course. (The plane had run out of fuel about 5 miles up, in the middle of nowhere and Gimli was the only airport that could be reached.) Not only did you have the freakish event of a 767 landing on top of the racers without any warning (since a gliding plane is just about silent), but the people on the plane were darned lucky that there were autocrossers around since they had fire extinguishers to put out the small fire in the nose of the plane.

          Sorry for the OT, but freakish coinkydinks are cool.

  20. TarheelDem says:

    The official estimate is that the flow rate is 12,000-19,000 BBL/day.

    At today’s price of $74.53 a BBL of crude oil, BP was losing $1.4 million a day in lost sales.

    At today’s price of $4.30 per thousand cubic feet, BP’s losses would depend on the pressure of the flow under normal temperatures. Good luck estimating that.

    So, in loss of resource, BP is $40 – $50 million or so in the hole if it’s 100% crude, which it is not.

    That explains a lot about the scale of BP’s initial efforts.

  21. dustbunny44 says:

    As a late poster, I’ve gotta say I’m convinced BP has been under-reporting, misreporting, or just lying about this, arrogantly, from the start.

    Also, saw this on slashdot on 5/13:

    Seems to be quite overblown re: estimates, but I kinda consider it the unreasonable high-side (“an earth-extinction event”); BP is already giving us the unreasonable low side estimates.

  22. fatster says:

    “BP had to halt its ambitious effort to plug its stricken oil well in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday afternoon when engineers saw that too much of the drilling fluid they were injecting into the well was escaping along with the leaking crude oil.”

    But they’re still optimistic.


    • R.H. Green says:

      Thanks for the link. Makes you wonder how BP is able to enforce its secrecy edicts. The treehugger article indicated that a plane was denied permission to flyover; that is, could not take off with journalists photographers, or scientists aboard

        • fatster says:

          So, they’re in charge of the earth (telling US citizens who happen to be reporters that they can’t walk on their own beaches), the sky (telling reporters that they can’t be on flights over the gusher zones) and now google. We are so screwn.

          • skdadl says:

            “Screwn”? You sure of that conjugation? I thought we had agreed at one point on “scrod,” although my memory is notoriously foggy.

            • fatster says:

              Your memory is quite accurate, dear skdadl. I’m so beside myself that I forgot our agreement on this important grammatical matter. (I still do recall the conjugation of sh*t, though, so don’t push me, or I’ll just revert to it, since we’re so covered with it courtesy of BP and other powers that be.)

      • substanti8 says:

        Makes you wonder how BP is able to enforce its secrecy edicts.

        No, that’s not what happened!  Read it again, and put the blame where it belongs.  The Temporary Flight Restriction – over the whole damn oil spill – was issued by the Federal Aviation Administration, which is a division of the Executive Branch of the federal government.

        So this censorship of photographs was brought to you by the same administration that is delivering “hope and change” to the oil-addicted empire.

        BTW … how many commenters in this peanut gallery are still driving cars?

        • bmaz says:

          Yes FAA is the only one who can impose flight restrictions for private aircraft. That is pretty far out to be a valid restriction at the altitude that would have been sought; totally fucking bogus.

          That said, I got two cars and drive them both without any compunction whatsoever.

          • Hmmm says:

            So who’s gonna be first to go to court over the FAA’s imposition of a no-journalism zone? And why aren’t they there yet?

          • substanti8 says:

            totally fucking bogus

            Maybe you should actually read the FAA notice.

            I got two cars and drive them both without any compunction whatsoever.

            No compunction?  Under the circumstances, that’s simply idiotic.

              • substanti8 says:

                We have millions of gallons of oil pouring into the Gulf ecosystem, and about two-thirds of that oil would have gone into gasoline engines for transport.  Anyone who wants to defend their addiction to the internal combustion engine is an idiot at this point, because it seems that no evidence – no matter how horrific – can release their death grip from the steering wheel.  Anyone so utterly clueless is obviously a few fries short of a Happy Meal.

              • substanti8 says:

                Actually, your idiocy is a way of telling future generations to “fuck off.”  Nice going, Beavis.

                “Lead author Professor Anthony Costello (UCL Institute for Global Health) says that failure to act will result in an intergenerational injustice, with our children and grandchildren scorning our generation for ignoring the climate change threat – with moral outrage similar to how we today look back on those who brought in and did nothing to stop slavery.”

                • bmaz says:

                  Alright. Here is the deal. Los Suns just lost on a last second scavenger basket by fucking Ron Artest, it is allergy season here and I have a sinus headache combined with just a couple of margaritas. I live in a city that for my purposes and location has no mass transit. Oh and I grew up around cars and like them. You are making me cranky. Next time you screw with me, I will bounce you. Life ain’t fair, but there you have it. Or, we can all get back to what we were doing and play nice. Ball is in your court.

                  • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                    sh!t. Now I soooo look like a brown-noser.

                    I need another Chocolate Martini.

                    • JTMinIA says:

                      Not only a lush-bot (brown-noser), but it also got my competitive juices flowing. I sort of wanna go with my family to AZ in a month, locate an autocrossing event, and challenge bmaz.

                      Yo, bmaz, do you have Live for Speed? (Not Need for Speed; Live for Speed. It’s free on the net and has the most accurate physics engine ever.) If so, we need to set up a night when I’ll serve an EW-regulars-only internet race.

                    • JTMinIA says:

                      OK, but my wife won’t let me go door-to-door without a cage until our youngest hits college. [hangs head in whipped shame]

                    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                      Oh, yeah.
                      All the men around EW’s are such a pack of brow-beaten weenies.

                      /s (is there an icon for ‘triple-snark’? /s3. I can’t do exponents in the blog comment box…


                    • Petrocelli says:

                      All the men around EW’s are such a pack of brow-beaten weenies. – rotl

                      Yep, that’s why we hang here … cuz we get to act all schmart an’ stuff …

                    • bmaz says:

                      Got the same issue (my wife would probably okay it if she could get a new life policy in force in time). Plus it has been an awful long time since I was on a track in anything close to anger.

                    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                      Oh. My. God.
                      That would be so great!!!!

                      (Can you get Petro to serve some Chocolate Martinis during the event…?)

                      As for this plume and plugging up the well business, I’m just agog at the knowledge and curiosity around here. I have the devil of a time figuring out what’s what down at that level; I can’t even fully conceptualize the psi.

                  • substanti8 says:

                    You are making me cranky.

                    Well, I get cranky when people shoot from the hip to defend their addiction to the internal combustion engine and its monumental destruction.  And you’ll get no sympathy from me by referring to the bread and circus of professional sports.

                    Next time you screw with me, I will bounce you.

                    That would be a childish abuse of power.  How ridiculous and immature it would be to censor someone who posts valid arguments that you don’t like.  I hope you reconsider.

                    My initial response to your flippant remark about your motor vehicles was entirely reasonable – especially in the context of the worst oil spill disaster in the history of the United States, and especially because I immediately backed up my charge with further evidence about an even worse catastrophe – global warming.

                    Next time someone suggests that Americans need to stop driving cars, I suggest you keep your love of motor vehicles to yourself, because it’s an indefensible position.  And isn’t this Marcy Wheeler’s blog?  Who are you?

                    • bmaz says:

                      Who am I? I am a guy that likes cars a lot more than I like pushy belligerents that think their view is inherently more meritorious than others. For the record, should the time come, it will not be because of your views and your relation of them; it will because you are being an asshole about it. So, again; your views are welcome, but be nice or be gone.

                    • substanti8 says:

                      inherently more meritorious than others

                      Inherently?  No.  Views supported by superior evidence and argument are the ones with greater merit.  The bottom line is that people driving cars creates a demand for offshore oil drilling.

                    • bmaz says:

                      Well how the hell else you think I am going to get around? I have a lot of huge city I have to cover and not dick for public transit; you think I have a magic teleporter or something? At some point you gotta do what you gotta do. Sorry if that offends you.

                    • substanti8 says:

                      It’s true that much of the country is plagued by pathetic or non-existent public transit.  The main alternative is basically your own legs – bicycling and walking.  That requires two things that most urban dwellers don’t have but could acquire:

                      1.  physical conditioning
                      2.  reduced expectations about distance

                      In my decades of observation, the overwhelming majority of Americans are physically capable of bicycling at least 10 miles per day.  And even pathetic bus systems usually have bicycle carriers these days.  So one can commute quite far to work by bicycle.  A typical average speed is 12 mph, or 5 minutes per mile.  So a 5-mile commute to work would take 25 minutes.  In most cities at rush hour, you wouldn’t get there much quicker.

                      Rain and snow are not huge problems, especially with all the water-repellent gear that is available.  A bigger problem is the lack of workplace accommodations (such as bicycle parking and changing rooms).

                      With both walking and bicycling, many of the obstacles amount to a “chicken and egg” syndrome, in which local governments fail to build the infrastructure (sidewalks, paths, lanes, etc.) until they see the demand, but the demand is deterred by the lack of infrastructure.

                    • bmaz says:

                      Dude, I travel all over a metro area of well over 4 million people and about 1200 square miles, often to courts on one side to the other. In a suit. And it is hotter than hell. Biking is not an option. And I like cars. You will pry my cars from my cold air conditioned dead hands.

                    • substanti8 says:

                      I don’t understand why you need to travel so much every day.  To what kind of “courts” are you referring?  Legal?  Most cities have their municipal courts in one location.

                      You will pry my cars from my cold air conditioned dead hands.

                      Yeah, you’ll need to work on that problem, lest you wind up like those unfortunate drowning victims on the Tennessee interstate earlier this month.  ;-)

                      If I were living in Phoenix, I would move.  It’s one of the most unsustainable large cities in the country.

                      By the way, since you mentioned the Suns earlier, you might be interested in this recent article from Forbes Magazine:

                      America’s Best Cities for Bikers

                      1.  Portland, OR
                      2.  Minneapolis
                      3.  San Francisco
                      4.  Seattle
                      5.  Tucson, AZ
                      6.  Sacramento
                      7.  Washington, DC
                      8.  New Orleans
                      9.  Denver
                      10.  Mesa, AZ

                      Again, the relevance of all this to the BP disaster is that two-thirds of their oil goes into gasoline for motor vehicles.

                    • bmaz says:

                      I travel to all kinds of courts federal, state, county and municipal courts in about six different cities in the valley. it does not make a whit of difference whether you understand or not; I do not live in your granola world. We are not all the same and that is okay. This is where I and my family live; I was born here, I will undoubtedly die here. And i don’t give a fuck about biking other than for pleasure when the weather permits; I like cars and will drive one of some variety and propulsion mechanism until I can not do so any longer. If you want to live some alternative lifestyle transportation wise, that is your prerogative and I salute that. But it is not your place to tell me how i must live. You have made your point, for what it is worth; prattling on serves no purpose and is annoying.

                    • bmaz says:

                      Heh I been having fun. Probably be up for a bit as I got enmeshed in this conversation and doing some real work along side that I got lazy and let the comment count climb too high, which means I need to whip up a new post before the early risers crash the party house in the morning. And those folks on the east coast are way ahead of when I get the cobwebs cleared out.

                    • substanti8 says:

                      I understand your perspective, but your motoring lifestyle has severe consequences for future generations – to such an extent that it is rightly characterized as a key part of what threatens to become the greatest intergenerational injustice in human history.  In contrast, people like me have made a conscious decision to reduce our impact on others.  So our differences go far beyond personal choice.

                      But it is not your place to tell me how I must live.

                      That’s simply not true.  The demonstrable fact that your lifestyle has such a disproportionate impact on the rest of humanity does, indeed, give me the right to reprimand you.  I’m sorry if you don’t like that, but our conflict is a direct result of too many people chasing too few resources.

                      There are 6.8 billion people in the world, and 310 million of them live in the United States.  There are about 800 million cars and light trucks in the world, and nearly a third of them – about 260 million – are in the U.S.

                      That leaves 540 motor vehicles spread among 6.5 billion people, or 12 people per vehicle.  Clearly, the overwhelming majority of the world’s population drives rarely or never.  So what makes Americans so special that they each feel entitled to drive thousands of miles every year to the detriment of the life support of future generations?

                    • Leen says:

                      good for you SS8. You must be fully aware that people who may be consuming more than their share do not want to have their own shit put in their faces. Although it is somehow perfectly acceptable for those same people to point out others serious shortcomings and crimes.

                      Thanks for walking the talk.

                      I come from the generation who seemed to be on that path back in the 60’s and 70’s taking on simpler lifestyles. You know “living more simply so others can simply live” For many this idea was a passing fad a fancy. Some changed those consumptive lifestyles permanently.

                    • newtonusr says:

                      bmaz, you are a dork and a doofus, and an unrepentant polluter and charlatan, because you don’t live in the future.
                      You should get right, you know?

                • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                  I’m a big fan of McKibbon’s work myself, and probably everyone around here agrees that we need all kinds of social, economic, and legal changes.

                  Bmaz has a particularly remarkable, indeed amazing, background with respect to engines and autos. I don’t think that you quite realize you are addressing your comment to a man who is kind of like the Russell Crowe of auto owners. Or the Roger Federer of auto drivers. Or the ‘Bill McKibbon’ of auto enthusiasts.

                  He also has done some remarkable work in the past couple of years making the whole topic of engineering — which is required to drive better technologies — part of the FDL and EW conversations.

                  You probably have good intentions, but you are really not at all aware of who you are addressing.

                  Bmaz has stunning background, and he knows what he’s talking about and has — literally — ‘world class’ contacts.

                  He’s a credible advocate for protecting patents and engineering technologies to move forward on a lot of fronts. You should be honored to be on the same thread with him.

                  • substanti8 says:

                    probably everyone around here agrees that we need all kinds of social, economic, and legal changes.

                    Actions speak louder than words.  If they’re still driving cars, then they’re still shifting the burden of their hyper-mobile lifestyle to future generations.

                    Bmaz has a particularly remarkable, indeed amazing, background with respect to engines and autos.

                    So what??  Your argument is illogical.  Neither passion nor experience with a destructive activity can excuse the destruction.  I’ll refrain from drawing analogies, although there must be hundreds.

                    engineering … to drive better technologies

                    McKibben and many others have explained that improvements in technology will have a small effect on the problem.  We cannot “engineer” our way out of this mess and into a new-and-improved happy motoring future.

                    Technology is the application of intelligence to available net energy and raw materials.  When those become scarce – a process that has already started – it really doesn’t matter how smart we are (or think we are), because our technology cannot create solutions out of “thin air.”  In other words, notwithstanding the modern industrial worldview, technology is not magic.

                    you are really not at all aware of who you are addressing.

                    Sorry, but it matters little who he is; what matters is what he writes.  Rhetoric in defense of the car culture deserves to be confronted.

                    The Kübler-Ross grief cycle is probably applicable to the American obsession with motor vehicles:


                    • bmaz says:

                      I knew Kubler Ross, she lived in Scottsdale a few houses down from one of my professors who was also a friend of my mothers. She rode in my car with no complaint whatsoever. Be nice or be gone.

                    • Leen says:

                      One more example of Bmaz’s responses to anyone who challenges him with reasonable arguments.

                    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                      Leen, I live in the Seattle region. I sometimes ride my bike, but mostly on bike paths. Getting to a bike path is damn dangerous.

                      Roads in the US have not been designed for bike transportation. It’s a whole other story.

                      If bmaz were to try and ride a bike around his city, he’d have to ride it very early am, or else late pm. Or else he’d risk serious health problems in the heat, and from roads designed for cars.

                      It’s not as simple as lecturing people to ride bikes.
                      You have to redesign roads and roadways so that they are SAFE for riding bikes.

                      And before you start to lecture me about this, I have a ream of health insurance forms involving serious family accidents related to biking, and also autos. If riding a bike lands someone in ER because the roads are so badly designed that drivers don’t see bikers, then simply lecturing people about the virtues of biking is sheer stupidity.

                      Posaune knows a **ton** about this stuff.

                      And frankly, we could put hundreds of thousands of Americans back to work simply redesigning roadways to plant trees and put in bike paths that are physically separated from cars.

                      But to do that would require political skills and courage of a magnitude we’ve not yet seen.

                      Meanwhile, if bmaz rode a bike in his city, he’d need to take out an insurance rider just for cycling.

                    • Leen says:

                      That argument that was going on went far beyond riding a bike. Rather obvious.

                      SS8 was challenging life style and consumption choices. Made some great points and backed them up. Bmaz asked/ told that person to be gone because of the challenge. Weak

                    • bmaz says:

                      No, I said that because he was being insulting and belligerent; I consistently stated that stating his position was fine. But to prattle on repetitively belittling me and my family’s way of life when there is no other choice, and telling me where my business should take me (but no further) when he does not know shit about what I do was unnecessary.

                    • substanti8 says:

                      I thought I was done commenting here until I saw this writer making the same argument that I did:

                      If we’re willing to just be whores for oil, should we be surprised when we get treated like trash by BP, by Shell, by Exxon?  To hell with the large fascist corporate pigs.  You can do something, you yourself, to take money out of their pockets.

                    • substanti8 says:

                      Thanks for your support.  Here’s the data I was seeking earlier.

                      1.  On-Street Bicycling Safety Fact Sheet

                      “Bicycle safety is a complex subject and many findings contradict the ‘common sense’ of motor vehicle drivers….

                      •  Health benefits of bicycling outweigh risks by 20 times.  Bicycle commuters have a 40% lower overall mortality rate.

                      •  Compared with motor vehicles, bicycles are far less likely to kill or seriously injure others, and they don’t pollute.  So for the vehicle operator, driving and bicycling share the same low accident risk.  But for bystanders, the bicycle is the far safer option.”

                      and …

                      2.  Modern Bicycling Myths

                      Activity         Fatalities per 1,000,000 Exposure Hours

                      Skydiving              128.71
                      General Flying       15.58
                      Motorcycling             8.80
                      Scuba Diving            1.98
                      Living                         1.53     (all causes combined)
                      Swimming                 1.07
                      Snowmobiling          0.88
                      Motoring                    0.47
                      Water skiing              0.28
                      Bicycling                   0.26
                      Airline Flying             0.15
                      Hunting                      0.08

                      If we want a world without oil spill disasters, then we need Americans to use far less petroleum — not when it’s “convenient” and not when we get around to it, but NOW.

                    • JTMinIA says:

                      Not that I want to have much to do with this argument, but those stats for fatalities per million hours are misleading in two ways.

                      First, that the rate for being on a bicycle and not the rate for riding a bicycle from Point A to Point B. The latter, which is what is relevant to a discussion on biking to work, is much higher.

                      Second, assuming that it takes, e.g., three times as long to bike to work as drive, the odds of being killed on the trip is higher for biking than driving. When you’re talking about biking from Point A to Point B, it’s deaths per mile that matters, not deaths per hour.

                    • substanti8 says:

                      Returning to my computer, I cannot find the data that I remember.  Bicycle usage is barely tracked in this country.  So it’s difficult to find reliable data on bicycle fatality rates and impossible to determine injury rates.  But I did find this concise summary of motor vehicle destruction (see details below).

                      As a general rule, the greater the number of bicyclists in an urban area, the lower the individual risk – until we reach the density of Copenhagen, where bicycling is so safe that bicycles outnumber cars, and the riders don’t even bother to wear helmets.

                      This is your future.

                      This is your past:

                      •  There are more than six million car accidents each year in the United States.

                      •  A person dies in a car accident every 12 minutes and each year car crashes kill 40,000 people.

                      •  The leading cause of death for individuals between 2 and 34 years old is motor vehicle crashes.

                      •  Someone is injured by a car crash every 14 seconds and about two million of the people injured in car accidents each year suffer permanent injuries.

                      •  Over 25% of all drivers were involved in an auto accident in a five-year period.

                      •  Excessive speed is the second most common cause of deadly auto accidents, which accounts for about 30% of fatal accidents.

                      •  Car crashes cost each American more than $1,000 a year; $164.2 billion is the total cost each year across the United States.

                      •  Car accidents are the leading cause of death for kids between 2 and 14; About 2,000 children die each year from injuries caused by car accidents.

                      •  Each year, almost 250,000 children are injured in car crashes, meaning nearly 700 kids are harmed every day.

                      •  Car accidents are the leading cause of acquired disability nationwide.

                    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                      I actually find the whole question of technologies interesting, but it’s late, I’m tired, and I have to get some zzzz’s.

                      So I don’t mean to be rude, but I’m off.
                      I’ll check back tomorrow to see what bobs and JTMinIA and bmaz and Hmmmm have managed to suss out.

                      Your comment is worthy of several long threads, and I happen to think that you raise some timely topics. However, not on this particular thread where I think there’s ‘a whole lotta thinking going on’ about a very specific set of problems.

                      And whether or not technologies will solve our problems, I’m firmly of the view that Cong. Markey, by INSISTING that the video feed of this damn mess be made public, along with Google Earth, along with the Toobz and social communication, are essential to finding a path forward.

                      If you get a chance, read Riki Ott’s “Not One Drop”. It’s a masterpiece.
                      She begins by saying that of all the damage done by the ExxonValdez, the breakdown of social relationships, the damage to the network of community, was the most tragic. And that only when the social net began to be mended did people begin to heal.

                      So my parting thought is this: without better, more decent social connections, we’ll all be lost. I’d say that this thread, and the remarkably sharp minds on it, are the best place that I would know to start. Take advantage.

                      bmaz poses some weird kind of genius.
                      But don’t quote me!
                      He’ll think I’m only brown-nosing, and that would screw me around these parts.

                      Take care, all…

        • R.H. Green says:

          “Read it again”. Amen to that. I did reread it, and I read your link as well. One can easily see that the air above and around the leak zone could be thick with helicopter traffic attending to the crisis, and poparazzi (sp?) should be controlled. Yet the FAA restriction is for only from the surface to 3000 ft. Entirely reasonable. But the treehugger story has BP denying access to selected passengers.

          • bmaz says:

            Yes, but they have consistently been enforcing it upwards throughout the affected area from what I have heard from the ground there.

            • R.H. Green says:

              I don’t doubt it. The substantial one does point to what seems to be a strong government/business partnership at work. I was trying to get to et Mr Hostile to wipe some of the slobber from his chin; probably ineffective.

              PS Speaking of McNut, I got a good close look at that McCain sign. It was done post-printshop with spray can and stencil. Can’t tell it from 50 feet.

    • posaune says:

      WOW, what an interesting air rights question! Do they own the air space over the drilling platform or the entire air space envelope over the mineral rights field? Of course, they’ll claim the latter, but, bmaz, what about that Pennsylvania Coal case that went to the Supremes in the 30’s re surface areas & mineral rights?

      • bmaz says:

        No, BP does not own or control the airspace; that is solely the province of the FAA which has, from what I can find, entered a restriction (known to pilots as NOTAMs) at the request of the Coast Guard out of the unified oil spill command center. Here is the applicable NOTAM. Now I have not been current in a good long while, but I have long had my certificate and I can tell you that there is no substantive reason for this ban/restriction. Helicopter traffic would be lower and any commercial flights that might be traversing the area would, even on approach, be higher than the altitudes that a journalistic overflight like this could use. Even if they wanted to go lower, there is not so much helo or seaplane activity that it would provide any issue whatsoever as long as all were subject to some terminal or regional control, which they certainly would be. There is no practical need for this ban on limited overflights by credentialed media. None. Notice how incredibly HUGE the restricted area is. It is NOT about flight traffic, it is about hiding what is going on.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          A rather moving segment on Maddow tonight, with the Congressman (Melancon?) from the LA marsh region. Hearing him talk makes me suspect that if you took blood tests among a lot of fishermen down in Louisiana, you’d find indicators of PTSD, given the hurricanes and now this spill. Jeebuz.

          Contacts in Alaska, who’d know the facts, said that Exxon bought up all the plane and helo time after their spill. Meant the media had one helluva time getting into the air.

          I can see the Coast Guard not wanting commotion in that air space.
          But ‘trust’ and credibility aren’t enhanced by no-fly rules.

  23. bobschacht says:

    It was just announced on the Ed Show that BP’s mud pumping “top kill” is on hold to consider the effects. I guess they want to see if the oil starts to vent again (we’ve mainly been seeing mud gushers since they started top kill). But I don’t see any change in the WKRG live stream video.

    Oops, now I see fatster @ 141. We’ve been saying the same thing for 24 hours, but Thad Allen and BP were pooh-poohing the significance of that phenomenon yesterday. That’s why I think they want to see if the oil starts venting again as before.

    Bob in AZ

  24. bobschacht says:

    Suttles on CNN now, reporting that they suspended mudding because they ran out of mud! He also said that they were discouraged by so much mud venting from the riser, but they’ve got new supplies of mud now, and are resuming the top kill.

    Bob in AZ

      • fatster says:

        Assuming that headline I just linked at 151 is accurate, tjbs, then presumably they’ve already crammed three shiploads (tankers?) of “mud” down that pipe and now are going for more. Is that a correct statement? Thank you

    • fatster says:

      BP has restocked vessels with more mud to plug Gulf oil leak, may also try ‘junk shot’


      So, we spent one month watching the oil gush out. Are we going to spend another month watching mud gush out? What next?

  25. fatster says:

    Related O/T. While we witness the destruction of the Gulf of Mexico, Chevron is coming under heavy fire for the devastation it created in Ecuador. Their shareholders’ meeting in Houston ended in “chaos,” as people (including author Antonia Juhasz) took to the floor. Loudly.


    Go People!

  26. rosalind says:

    not related OT: the latimes has a nice post up highlighting the work their two reporters, Ken Bensinger and Ralph Vartabedian – 2009 Pulitizer Prize finalists for National Reporting – did on their Toyota stories. the post has a video interview with the two, and links to all the articles in the series.

  27. bobschacht says:

    On CNN just now: BP stopped the mudding operation for *16 hours* and didn’t tell Adm. Thad Allan, who’s supposed to be in charge! They know that because Adm. Allan was on CNN talking as if the mudding operation was continuing, when it wasn’t, and hadn’t been, for hours.

    The Obama admin. is facing bad cred issues here.

    Bob in AZ

    • bmaz says:

      They fucking stopped last night. It is not just all according to plan, they have a leakage issue and are just continuing their dishonesty.

  28. fatster says:

    The second team providing estimates that EW discussed in her post is headed by an actual scientist (!!) from UCSB. Interesting quotes from him, Ira Leifer, and other interesting info are in this article.

  29. JTMinIA says:

    Consider the following possibility:

    The leak from the pipe to the annulus is near the top.

    The volume of the annulus zone (from top to bottom of the bore) is not enough to allow the mud the hold the oil and gas down.

    Therefore, you can fill the entire annulus area with mud and it won’t stop the flow of oil (unless you add in the extra pressure from the mud pumps).

    Therefore, if you were planning to pump in mud until it could hold down the oil and gas on its own, you will keep pumping in mud forever, since the mud is flowing out the bottom of the bore into the reservoir.

    Therefore, you will definitely (and repeatedly) run our of available mud before you succeed in stopping the flow of oil and gas.

    • bmaz says:

      That is in the vicinity of what I said earlier (I think here somewhere, but certainly a bit ago on Scarecrow’s thread up at FDL) and what I was getting at when I said above when I said they have a “leakage issue”). Here is what I said at Scarecrow’s:

      Also, I think that closing up those “leaks” [junkshot] they are losing all the mud out will, at least to some significant degree, increase the pressure the BOP and the feed fittings are under, as well as the well casing and, if not sealed right (and it is not) probably the well walls. This is potentially a big problem, may be touch and go……

      This has gone better than I gave it credit for, but I do not think everything is hunky dory in the least.

      • JTMinIA says:

        I haven’t worried too much about the BOP popping off the seabed if the leaks are plugged. The reason I say this is a very weak argument, but here it is: the BOP was cemented to the seabed by TransOcean and they did it without any stupid input from BP. Therefore, it was probably done right and can take whatever the reservoir car dish out.

        • bmaz says:

          The thing is fucking HUGE too. But the BOP itself can apparently further blow out. And you can blow out any seals that do exist for the casing out to the well wall and, if so, the gig is up.

          • Hmmm says:

            Remember, early in the incident fistfuls of chewed up rubber came up the pipe– something that never should have happened. Was that annulus seal gasket, or BoP seal gasket? Or sumpthin’ else…?

          • JTMinIA says:

            Oh, yes, and that’s the danger of a junk-shot. Might open up a bigger channel through the BOP. This is why, from what I’ve read, they use bits of car tire and such. Less likely to grind open a bigger channel if it doesn’t jam up.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Matthews Simmons has been a guest on Dylan Ratigan’s show at MSNBC today and yesterday; he hypothesizes that there’s a leak we don’t know about that’s not being viewed (at least, to our knowledge). Also, he surmises the possibility that some aspect of the bottom of the well snapped off the floor of the ocean and is riding around still clattering off the bottom of the rig.

          Okay, I’ve totally misquoted the man.
          That’s my understanding of what he was saying.
          Clearly, I have zero background in the oil industry…

          • JTMinIA says:

            I’ve seen two very different theories on “unseen leaks.”

            The first matches what you said. There’s the leaks at the BOP (mostly where the riser is bent at the top … what I mislabeled the manifold yesterday). There’s the leak at the end of the rise, half a mile away. And then there’s one or more unseen leaks at other places along the riser. (Remember: the riser is a mile of bent tubing at this point.)

            The second theory is that the act of drilling and faulty sealing has opened a place where oil and gas can get under the sea-bed, but not very far down. The oil and gas has found a place to reach the floor; this is most likely nowhere near the crumpled riser or BOP or sunken rig. This is where the extra plume is coming from.

            Both of these seem possible. No idea which is more likely.

            • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

              Okay. I’m guessing some of both.
              Because there’s evidence to support both.

              And that also explains the plume that Rick Steiner was discussing on KO the other day.

            • bobschacht says:

              There’s the leaks at the BOP (mostly where the riser is bent at the top … what I mislabeled the manifold yesterday). There’s the leak at the end of the rise, half a mile away. And then there’s one or more unseen leaks at other places along the riser. (Remember: the riser is a mile of bent tubing at this point.)

              Yes; this is what the Coast Guard/NOAA/BP/Transoceanic diagram shows.

              Bob in AZ

              • JTMinIA says:

                That diagram corresponds to the first of the two theories I gave earlier. It’s the more popular and less dramatic idea. The second idea is that the drilling and/or faulty cementing has opened a channel from the bore into the strata a little way below the floor. The unseen plume is where that channel reaches the water.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      I read this comment, JTMinIA, and just had to log in to say that you make a ton of sense. Whoa… this is one creepy scenario, but it sure does fit with what we’ve seen so far. Also your @164.

      Mamma mia…!.

      (Now to finish reading thread…)

      • Hmmm says:

        I think there are poured concrete annular seals several times between the wellhead and the top of the reservoir, with the pipe diameter decreasing at each one, so at a max you’d have to fill up one seal-to-seal span. Assuming the seals actually do their intended jobs, that is.

  30. JTMinIA says:

    Scary story #2:

    Recall that the well failed a “negative pressure” test, but passed the “positive pressure” test. This suggests that the leak is such that it allows outside material into the pipe, but doesn’t allow material inside the pipe to escape. (Think of the leak as a one-way valve.)

    Therefore, when the pressure outside the pipe is higher, such as when you aren’t doing anything special, oil and gas can flow into the pipe, up to the the BOP (which is broken), and into the ocean.

    But when you try to reverse the direction of flow, by pumping in mud under pressure, the leak shuts, the mud doesn’t go where we want it to, and, instead, shoots out all the leaks in the BOP (and manifold etc).

    Thus, when they try to top-kill, it fails and only leaks mud.

    If you stop doing the top-kill, it will go back to leaking oil and gas.

    Only solution I see if the above is correct: junk shot. Suck it up, BP, and face that it won’t be easy to get this well to be productive and just clug that damned leaks. Stop trying to make it easier, later, to get the well to be productive and stop the bloody leak.

    • bobschacht says:

      Suck it up, BP, and face that it won’t be easy to get this well to be productive and just clug that damned leaks. Stop trying to make it easier, later, to get the well to be productive and stop the bloody leak.

      This is where Adm. Thad Allen is getting taken for a ride. He is not asking enough questions.

      Bob in AZ

    • DWBartoo says:

      One hopes that sediment travels to the end of the universe and bounces back into Obama’s mind, JTM.

      A “jumped” junk shot.

      Golf balls to the Gulf!

      Stay the Course!

      There are always more holes.

      Obama might open the discussion with a greeting favored among some at this place, “I fart in your general direction.”

      (Credit due Southern Dragon and bmaz, who both appreciate the term’s subtle and appropriate aspects …)


  31. Hmmm says:

    I have no idea whether they’re on a sensible track or not, but FWIW the doomsters are synthesizing a theory that seeks to incorporate the high gas content at the BoP, the top kill failure, and the rumors of a separate oil plume 5-6 miles NNW of the wellhead. They hypothesize an additional break in the pipe (or I guess in a poured concrete annular seal) somewhere under the sea floor, after the pipe has started angling down and to the side. The theory is that oil is leaking out at that break point and exfiltrating up through the puddlinglike seabed and from there into into the water column; the departing oil leaves more room in the pipe for gas in the section between the lower break and the BOP.

    Just for interest.

    On reflection, I guess it would also explain the reported statements from BP that the escaping oil volumes at the wellhead site “don’t matter”.

  32. Hmmm says:

    Huh, thinking about the pressures that the BoP’s designed to handle… if any of the BOP pinchers functioned partially, crushing or narrowing the pipe without actually stopping the flow, wouldn’t that tend to act as a Venturi, significantly increasing the flow volume — and more importantly, interior fluid pressure — at that point?

    Bit worried about that overpressure as a potential point of failure as this flow goes on and on and on, and maybe also in the context of the top kill maneuvers where the BoP has to contain the meeting of the downward force of the mud and the upward petro flow. The BoP pipes might not have been designed to sustain the kind of overpressure the venturi would introduce, under the assumption that once the pincher(s) got triggered, they’d have functioned fully and cut off the flow totally (fluid pressure = normal and fluid velocity = 0).

  33. dustbunny44 says:

    While I don’t have any experience with any of this, I’ve gotta believe that the Navy is running sub(s) down there checking sonar patterns through the oil plumes. I don’t think there are many places in the world where you would see this kind of volume of oil dispersal, and the environment would be something they would want to know how to operate in, in the event someone uses oil plumes to obfuscate things during sub warfare. Since sonar is very precise, if it’s possible to map the undersea patterns of oil plumes, they are probably doing it. Whether they bother to tell us is another thing, and if they are indeed doing this they might just keep it under their hat as tactical training advantage.
    Does anyone have experience with this environment and care to comment?

      • JTMinIA says:

        They just switched views. When it goes back to the one with a single leak, you’ll see the piece of tire. The multi-leak whatever doesn’t seem to be affected at all (so far).

        • fatster says:

          Many thnx to you, too, Petro! They seem to be the same, for the moment anyway.

          Is that the same manifold thing we watched endlessly last night? If so, has it sprung another leak or two or are we just seeing it now from some other angle?

          • JTMinIA says:

            Don’t think it’s the manifold. At one point, the view let you see the label on it. It seems to be the riser, just above the BOP, bent over since the riser is now laying on the floor of the Gulf, instead of going up to the rig.

            • bobschacht says:

              Don’t think it’s the manifold. At one point, the view let you see the label on it. It seems to be the riser, just above the BOP, bent over since the riser is now laying on the floor of the Gulf, instead of going up to the rig.

              Thanks for the further clarification, but I’m confused. The thing we were calling the manifold yesterday is not just a pipe, but some kind of tank(?). But I’ve also heard ref. to the “riser pipe,” which was a mile long, right? The Coast Guard/NOAA/BP illustration points to the pipe as the “riser”, which comes out of the top of the BOP, according to that illustration (which does not show any “manifold” that is in all of the BP diagrams.)

              That multi-leak gizmo now seems to have about 5 leaks in it.

              Some of the previous videos showed what looked like the bent pipe at the top of the BOP, like that shown in the illustration cited above.

              I wish we had a better diagram.

              Bob in AZ

              • JTMinIA says:

                The new theory – that the tank-looking thing is really a pipe bent over – got a big boost in support about three hours ago when they moved the ROV. For a few minutes, you could read the label of it. It said “TransOcean Riser” on it.

                Now, I know we’ll all dirty effing hippies here, so why would we trust TransOcean to label the riser with the word “riser” (as opposed to some tank on the manifold)? But, for once, I’m gunna let the man tell me what to think on this one. tee hee

                • bobschacht says:

                  The new theory – that the tank-looking thing is really a pipe bent over – got a big boost in support about three hours ago when they moved the ROV. For a few minutes, you could read the label of it. It said “TransOcean Riser” on it.

                  OK, here are some more pictures. Here’s a schematic of a BOP with labels.

                  Here’s a photo of a BOP— in vertical position. Flop this thing over on its side, and the right hand part looks like what we’ve been looking at with the multiple leaks. The scary thing about that is the suggestion that the whole BOP was dragged over on its side by the collapse of the riser pipe. If that is true, we are in big time trouble, because it might mean that the pipe going into the wellhead from the BOP has become bent over.

                  But then all this stuff is new to me.

                  Bob in AZ

                  • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                    The scary thing about that is the suggestion that the whole BOP was dragged over on its side by the collapse of the riser pipe. If that is true, we are in big time trouble, because it might mean that the pipe going into the wellhead from the BOP has become bent over.

                    Okay, so follow-up question: if this is the case, is it possible that there is any pipe under the sea floor that might have become twisted or broken, because it was attached to that device. That could mean a series of leaks from pipe that is harder to locate would it?

                    (I have no idea; I don’t really understand whether/how much pipe is below the ocean floor, and whether it might have been ripped about due to the force of the explosion. So I don’t mean to be at all alarmist; just trying to understand what any pipe beneath the ocean floor might look like, or what risks it could pose.)

                    • JTMinIA says:

                      No way that the BOP is on it’s side. If it were, there wouldn’t be flow through the BOP; it would all be gushing from the gaping hole in the floor of the Gulf.

                    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                      But I think that it **is** gushing up from the ocean floor; and also that the BoP probably got pushed off its base in the explosion. Because that location of the video stream doesn’t appear to be the source of the 22 mile x 6 mile plume, right? Think about the capacity of oil; that much oil can’t be coming from that one location you are watching, can it?

                      (Sorry, I have not done my homework; I’ve not gone over to the oildrum, so if I’m wasting your time just scoff.)

                    • Hmmm says:

                      Here’s a diagram that shows the setup pretty well:

                      just mentally move the ROV up and flop it over to the left side.

                      The camera’s looking down on the bend in the damaged riser pipe, which goes away into the distance towards the top of the video frame.

                      I wonder whether the left/right flow changes that we see might be the result of adjusting the valves connecting the manifold with the two feed lines, since those come into the BoP in different places.

                    • bobschacht says:

                      In response to JTMinIA @ 318 (show text)

                      Here’s a diagram that shows the setup pretty well:

                      just mentally move the ROV up and flop it over to the left side.

                      The camera’s looking down on the bend in the damaged riser pipe, which goes away into the distance towards the top of the video frame.

                      Here’s a direct link to the illustration. However, keep in mind that this is a BP graphic. It does not show where the leaks are, and the only damage shown is the bent riser pipe. I don’t think that the multiple leak video we’ve been seeing is just the bent riser pipe. It’s got to be part of the BOP.

                      Bob in AZ

                    • Hmmm says:

                      Well, OK, but like JTMinIA I see no basis for that belief, nor that the BoP’s not where it should be. Happy to look at any info you may have.

                    • bobschacht says:

                      Well, OK, but like JTMinIA I see no basis for that belief, nor that the BoP’s not where it should be. Happy to look at any info you may have.

                      The only “info” I have is trying to make sense of what I’m seeing in the live feed with the multiple leaks. I still don’t understand what part of the riser or BOP that we’re seeing. I’ll accept that the BOP– which, after all, is a very large structure– remains upright.

                      Bob in AZ

                    • bobschacht says:

                      No. I’m going with JTMinIA’s theory that its the plenum on top of the BOP. But I’d like a photo of what that looks like…

                      Bob in AZ

                    • JTMinIA says:

                      I’m taking that diagram to which you linked seriously. The camera shot is at downward angle, aimed at the plenum on the top of the BOP, just below where the riser attaches. The bent pipe is away from us, so we didn’t see it yesterday, either. The collapsing of the riser has distorted the plenum and torn some leaks. They are watching these holes in particular, as opposed to leaks farther down the riser, since these would be the first to be plugged or made worse by the junk.

                    • bobschacht says:

                      I’m taking that diagram to which you linked seriously. The camera shot is at downward angle, aimed at the plenum on the top of the BOP, just below where the riser attaches. The bent pipe is away from us, so we didn’t see it yesterday, either. The collapsing of the riser has distorted the plenum and torn some leaks. They are watching these holes in particular, as opposed to leaks farther down the riser, since these would be the first to be plugged or made worse by the junk.

                      That makes sense to me. Thanks for engaging in this discussion and helping my understanding.

                      Bob in AZ

                    • bobschacht says:

                      The new diagram from the WaPo that I just gave the link for does not show any bends like that; but then, it shows the riser pipe going straight up, and not all bent over, so it is a concept diagram.

                      Bob in AZ

                    • bobschacht says:

                      Thanks– but the riser there is the bent riser pipe. Where do you see the multiple leaks coming from? The multiple leaks thing is not just a pipe.

                      Bob in AZ

                    • Hmmm says:

                      I think it is. This picture is a close-up of a bent, damaged pipe, bent away from the camera.

                    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                      it shows the riser pipe going straight up, and not all bent over, so it is a concept diagram.

                      right, its a conceptual diagram. And simple enough to be nice and clear.

                      But think — the power of that explosion must have twisted the pipes, eh? So the conceptual diagram is good for showing the ideal basics. But we all know that explosions twist and distort materials. So I’m thinking that piping under that much psi, with all that methane hurtling up through it…. well, ummmmm… I wouldn’t want to embarrass myself by getting into too many analogies about things ‘waving around’ but it’s hard to imagine that the pipe remained calmly in place under that much psi.

                    • JTMinIA says:

                      The explosion was a mile up, on the rig. When the blow-out occurred, there was a rush of stuff up through the BOP into the riser, but no explosion took place near the BOP.

                    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                      Aha. I had supposed the explosion much closer to the BoP.
                      However, the idea of the BOP being offbase would be more consistent with what I understood from Matthew Simmon’s analysis (on Ratigan’s show today).

                      Hmmmm @334: I’m with whoever said upthread that probably some of these guys should be on suicide watch. Including whoever messed with the equipment.

                      I’m starting to suspect that the only people who might come out of this looking decent are the US Navy. Good to hear bmaz is giving McNutt the seal of approval.

                    • bobschacht says:

                      The US Coast Guard/NOAA diagram shows the wreckage. It suggests three widely spaced leaks: One near the bent end of the riser pipe near the BOP, another far down the pipe, and a third at the end of the fallen riser pipe. The wreckage of the platform is shown nearby.

                      When they were talking about sticking the little pipe into the big pipe to suck up the gushing oil and gas that was being shown a lot last week, that was at the end of the collapsed pipe. It shows the fallen riser pipe with several bends in it.

                      Bob in AZ

          • Petrocelli says:

            I was wondering the same thing … whether it has sprung more leaks or just a different angle.

            • prostratedragon says:

              This looks like the same angle from most of the evening, but BOP doesn’t look too good at the moment, to me.

              On the left side of the image, I think I see two new streams on either side of the one which, last night, was the smallest; all are larger than that one was yesterday. Also, of the big central streams, the one on the right seems to have acquired a sort of secondary tear in the unit with a flow that’s consistently of a lighter color than the main flow, as if they’re not really coming from the same internal chamber. Everything is a different color since they restarted whatever they’re shooting down there tonight, too. (I’ve been watching the WKRG feed.)

              • bobschacht says:

                BOP doesn’t look too good at the moment, to me.

                Some of the news reports are now showing a BP animation of the BOP that shows leaks at several parts of the BOP. Unfortunately the BOP as illustrated doesn’t look anything like the multiple leaking thingy that we’ve been watching.

                Bob in AZ

                • prostratedragon says:

                  Yeah, the BOP I’m looking at has a serious billow problem over its right (image left) shoulder.

                  • JTMinIA says:

                    Actually, the BOP is now doing an impression of Rod Blagojevich (looking to right). It’s pretty good, IMO. Especially the hair.

                    • bobschacht says:

                      Actually, the BOP is now doing an impression of Rod Blagojevich (looking to right). It’s pretty good, IMO. Especially the hair.

                      I don’t see how you visualize Blago in that, but the live feed I just looked at from has gotta have mud spewing out of the middle leaks, and gas out of the left leak????

                      Bob in AZ

                    • JTMinIA says:

                      If you had been here for all the low-cal chocolate martinis and Micky-D fries, then you’d not only see Blago, but the ghost of Farrah Fawcett and M.I.A. admitting the Tamil Tigers are terrorists.

                      Friends don’t let friends surf the internet sober.

                    • bobschacht says:

                      …low-cal chocolate martinis and Micky-D fries…

                      Geez, do you got any non-alcoholic versions of that? I have to abstain for medical reasons.

                      Bob in AZ

  34. Hmmm says:

    So what’s that black thing where the leak’s coming out?

    [edit:] I think it’s junk…?

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        I’m experiencing a feeling,

        You have feelings?!
        You realize that disqualifies you from ever working for Goldman Sachs, do you not?

    • bobschacht says:

      A piece of tire.

      I would take that as a very good sign that the junk shot is working.

      But I don’t see it in the live cam at

      Go Suns!

      Bob in AZ

      • JTMinIA says:

        It’s been at least 30 min since they last showed the leak that seemed to have a piece of tire in it. Teasing b*st*rds. (Alternatively: the piece of tire ripped a bigger hole and they’re hiding this.)

        • Hmmm says:

          Naw, it’s right there on the right, with the little whitish plume. Just zoomed out now.

          • JTMinIA says:

            I’m less sure of that one, although I saw it start and seemed like the black bit appeared at the same time. But I’m much more confident about the bigger black thing in the other view. That’s what convinced me the junk-shot had started. A big black bit appeared and the little plume cut in half.

          • fatster says:

            I’m at wkrg, and I’m also very ignorant (but you knew that). Anyway, is all the spewing we see coming up from the same pipe? If so, why are the plumes different colors?

            • Petrocelli says:

              I think the brainiacs at oildrum said that the plumes are different colors because of the way the spotlight is shining on them – play on light and shadows.

            • Hmmm says:

              Because this is not musical instrument software, I do actually not know what the hell is going on.

              Here is how I’m pseudo-understanding what I’m seeing, which may be 100% wrong: There are 4 fluids-gasses here:
              1 – Seawater (clear)
              2 – Oil (brownish)
              3 – Methane (yellowish/whitish)
              4 – Drilling mud (brownish)

              Items 2 & 3 are coming up the very long tube from the reservoir into the BoP, and rather than being evenly mixed seem to be separated. Perhaps because of rounding bends in the BoP, or from running horizontally under the seafloor for the last few miles, or something else — I’m not sure.

              Item 4 is coming up two little tubes into the BoP, from a manifold sitting on the bottom next to the BoP. The manifold receives a pressurized feed from a surface ship where the drilling mud is created in practically unimaginable quantities and at incredible speed.

              So IIUC items 2, 3, & 4 are all mixing together inside the BoP plumbing, which has cracks and is leaking items 2, 3, and 4 in various places around the BoP. Depending on the position of a given leak inside the BoP plumbing, it picks up some mix of 2, 3, and 4, depending on the internal flow conditions, and that mix changes over time as the upwards and downwards flows change. So any given leak changes color and vigor over time. But because of the color similarities (and lighting condition vagaries) it’s often hard to say which material is flowing at any particular site.

              But I’m probably all wrong…

              • fatster says:

                You’ve surely given that a lot of thought, Hmmm! I’m most impressed. As always, most appreciative, too.

                Maybe I should just look upon that manifold thing as a pipe organ. Now, if only we could figure out the harmonics.

                • Hmmm says:

                  You’re too kind, I was much too wordy.

                  I’m now thinking this picture is not the BoP manifold, but rather the damaged place where the riser pipe got bent over, that’s why there are leaks there — the metal failed when the pipe fell down.

  35. JTMinIA says:

    Not one of the leaks in the riser stub (which I called the manifold yesterday, but it isn’t) is showing any sign of being plugged by the junk. Bummer.

    • bobschacht says:

      Not one of the leaks in the riser stub (which I called the manifold yesterday, but it isn’t) is showing any sign of being plugged by the junk.

      Thanks for the clarification. Where is the riser stub wrt the BOP and the manifold?

      Bob in AZ

      • JTMinIA says:

        The riser comes right out the top of the BOP. It is bent over (more than 90 degrees) almost immediately, because the mile of riser pipe is lying on the floor. Those funny waves are the kinks in the pipe. It is bent directly away from our viewpoint.

      • JTMinIA says:

        Oops. You also asked about the manifold. It’s 50 feet to one side, sitting on the floor. At this point, I doubt we’ve ever seen it, but I’m not sure.

        • bobschacht says:

          You also asked about the manifold. It’s 50 feet to one side, sitting on the floor. At this point, I doubt we’ve ever seen it, but I’m not sure.

          Thanks. All the BP animations show that the mud pumping goes through the manifold, and then to the BOP. Is that your understanding? If so, can flow only go through the manifold to the BOP, and not vv.?

          If so, to use a very crude analogy, then the manifold functions like an implanted IV — something you can plug into to inject something into the target, without having to plug into the target each time.


          Bob in AZ

          • JTMinIA says:

            “Crude analogy”??? Was that on purpose?

            Anyhoo, you asked the one question I’ve been trying to get an answer to all evening: what stops oil and gas, when you stop pumping the mud, from backing into the manifold, etc. I have zero idea what the answer is.

            To be clear: yes, my understanding matched the diagrams you’ve seen. Mud goes from rig to manifold to kill and choke lines to inside BOP.

            • Hmmm says:

              what stops oil and gas, when you stop pumping the mud, from backing into the manifold, etc

              I think it’s the mass of the mile-long column of heavy drilling mud in the pipe going up to the boat, isn’t it? Since there’s another path out for the gas & oil, and it presents less resistance, that’s the way it flows.

              • JTMinIA says:

                1 mile of mud = about 4800 psi. What’s coming up is at around 8000 psi. 1 mile of mud ain’t enough. Need 2.

                • Hmmm says:

                  Then I guess there must also be pumps and/or valves at the top keeping the line down pressurized. So?

                • bobschacht says:

                  1 mile of mud = about 4800 psi. What’s coming up is at around 8000 psi. 1 mile of mud ain’t enough. Need 2.

                  No, I think what it means is that you have to push that one mile of mud.

                  Bob in AZ

  36. JTMinIA says:

    Anyone heard the latest wing-nut theory? North Korea attacked the rig because (a) North and South Korea are still officially at war and (b) the rig was in supposed international water, making it a valid target.

  37. Hmmm says:

    BTW, Did we ever get an answer about the how and when and who of the replacement of the operable ram with the inoperable test one? That needs to get tracked down.

  38. JTMinIA says:

    OK, if the wing-nut get their “North Korea did it!” theory, then I get mine.

    1) The US Navy has a sub that can go a mile down.

    2) Red Adair (of Gulf War I fame) can plug this sucker in ten minutes if he’s sent down there.

    3) But Red Adair is an out homosexual so he can’t be allowed on the sub.

    4) Ergo, the sudden rush to repeal DADT.

    whatcha think? Do I start my own website now?

    • Petrocelli says:

      *smacks forehead*

      Of course, teh gay sabotaged this Well to force Congress into repealing DADT … now it all makes sense !

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      whatcha think? Do I start my own website now?

      Absolutely ;-)

      As for Red Adair… this is one of those times that my credulous nature is going… huh…? Mr Texas Wildcatter?!

      Actually, IIRC he plugged up a North Sea oil rig or two… late 1970s? I was in Europe at the time and he was being lauded, provided he could shut the damn thing down.

      The latest Brit elections, with the Cameron-Clegg duo offering up a vision of compromise, seems to have included a remarkably high number of wind turbines (in the ocean) photos. (Clegg studied some environmental philosophy in MN, so I’m almost guardedly hopeful.)

      Figure that in the space of 35 or so years the Brits have figured out how to get some energy out of the sea with turbines… then think how much power the fall hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico could generate.

    • JTMinIA says:

      If they are in the middle of a junk-shot, it would go up. They have to inject at a much higher pressure than the oil and gas, especially when shoving bits of tires through a 4″ pipe.

  39. JTMinIA says:

    Is it me or did the leak about two-thirds of the way across from left to right just drop in flow and acquire a little black thing (piece of tire?)?

  40. substanti8 says:

    Earlier this month, Bill McKibben offered some brilliant insight into why burning oil to haul your ass around is extremely unreasonable:


    “Dirty as the water is off the Mississippi Delta, that’s barely the tip of the damage from fossil fuel.  If that oil had traveled down a pipeline to a refinery and then into the fuel tank of a car, it would have wrecked the planet just as powerfully.  We now realize, as we didn’t on the first Earth Day, that the slick of carbon dioxide spreading invisibly across the atmosphere is driving change on a massive scale: by raising the planet’s temperature, it’s melting everything frozen, raising the level of the ocean, powering ever stronger storms.  In the Gulf, and in every other ocean on the planet, that extra carbon is turning seawater acid.  You can’t see it, but it’s wrecking marine life far more effectively and insidiously even than the spreading oil.

    And there’s no way to prevent global warming with better valves.  The only way is by ending our addiction to fossil fuel with great speed.”

  41. JTMinIA says:

    Hey, if he gets to be “substanti8” then can I claim “building7”?

    Pretty please.

    ps. I don’t need 6. Kevin Bacon’s cousin was my best man, so I’d jump all the way to 2.

    • Petrocelli says:

      LOL !!!

      Howazabout this theory … The Mehicanos sabotaged the Well, in response to Arizona’s new Law. Calderone is sending a message – “You fuck with my people, and I’ll make your Beaches as dark as Bobby Jindal !”

  42. Hmmm says:

    Pop quiz: If the number and size of plumes are increased over yesterday, then how would that be distinguishable from a situation in which BoP metal fatigue and failure is running amok and the amount of time available for success in any maneuver requiring an intact BoP is short, perhaps very short?

    • prostratedragon says:

      For number is there any argument, considering that the stuff was already flowing out at a good clip last night? How much more pressure could they step up, 2,3,5 times maybe? If we can see a leak now, we could have seen it yesterday if it had existed I’m thinking. Maybe that settles it adjusts one’s priors right there, though considering just rate or size by themselves might let a person cling to the notion that this isn’t going down to the wire at best.

  43. Hmmm says:

    Dude on theoildrum sez: “top kill has never worked on a flowing well… EVER in the history of drilling…”

  44. JTMinIA says:

    Dude on theoildrum is an idiot, then. It’s been done many times; just never a mile down.

        • Hmmm says:

          Thanks. Checked theoildrum and he’s saying that in past it’s always had a BoP that was able to contribute significantly to the topside pressure, unlike here. Sorry for propagating a too-shortened version of the guy’s statement.

          • bmaz says:

            Yes, that is what I gather too. It is really a double edged sword on the pressure front – they cannot lose too much out the leaks or they do not get the mud down; they build up too much pressure and they potentially bugger up several areas from the BOP/line fittings to the well casing and walls.

            And I still have half an inkling they are already having issues as to the casing and well walls.

  45. JTMinIA says:

    A more likely explanation of the colors is that the crack are difference widths, so they are acting as filters of different values. Thus, different ratios of mud components are coming out different cracks.

    • fatster says:

      You’re trying to make me think, aren’t you? At this hour, too! OK, I’ll try (I’m blonde, ya see).

      Srsly, thnx.

    • prostratedragon says:

      That works better for me that light; I saw some big color gradients near the exit holes, where the light is pretty uniform. And one small, almost white stream that split off from a main one near the center of the thing has just disappeared, as if its vent hole were small enough to be blocked more easily.

      • Hmmm says:

        I think the white jet was methane. Sometimes the flow pattern inside the bend has the methane passing across that hole and we see it escape, usually it’s off to one side or the other a bit and we don’t.

        • JTMinIA says:

          If it’s methane, then we know (for sure) it isn’t the manifold. The manifold is on the feed line down from the (new) rig. It only has mud in it and mud doesn’t include methane.

        • prostratedragon says:

          Methane? Crystals of the hydrate, maybe? Methane itself is invisible, and that looked more like a smoke than a bubble flow to me, though the low-d nature of the images must be conceded.

          Anyway, it’s been gone long enough to make my loop marker list.

          • Hmmm says:

            Well, I’d be pretty surprised if methane gas at high temperature escaping into seawater at low temperature and high pressure were invisible.

  46. JTMinIA says:

    Hmmm –

    Remember: if they are in the middle of a junk shot, then the pressure is higher right now than it’s ever been. Not only have to inject mud at a higher pressure than the gas and oil, but really gotta inject when you’re shooting bits of rubber through a 4″ pipe.

  47. Hmmm says:

    You guys mean that when the riser collapsed over the continuation of the pipe through and past the BoP might also have been bent sidewise, damaging the sides of the bore and/or its seals against petro coming up the hole? Yuck.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Wow, that makes it quite impressive to see how many things had to go wrong. Basically, everything had to go wrong.

      So that helps explain a bit more why sojourner says that people in the Gulf region are ‘disgusted’ with BP. I mean, that’s a lot of things to screw up.

      As for your @325, I can’t speak for Petro, but her culinary skills seem pretty wide ranging and I’ll bet she could come up with a pretty refreshing seltzer or two.

      • bobschacht says:

        As for your @325, I can’t speak for Petro, but her culinary skills seem pretty wide ranging and I’ll bet she could come up with a pretty refreshing seltzer or two.

        Hey, I could use something like that!

        Bob in AZ

      • Petrocelli says:

        *Breaking* … Petro is a “He” … double checking … yep, most definitely a “He”!*g*

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          I’m totally mortified.

          Oh, sh!t.
          Now I won’t sleep.

          I thought you made some mention about kiddos a few times, and although I first thought you were male, then something someone wrote made me think you were …. ummmmm… ‘a mom’.

          Oh, dammit.

          I will NEVER live this one down.


          Will you still be nice and make me Chocolate Martinis?
          Cause I think that I need a super-triple-quadruple one after this bungle.

          • Petrocelli says:

            LOL … no problem, I was just yanking yer chain. But I am a guy. *g*

            Sending you a Mega Choc Martini …

            G’nite !

            • bobschacht says:

              Wait’ll I break the news to Bob, that e-Drinks have no medical side effects … *g*

              {hic…} …wha…?? Then why are my eyes getting bleary?

              Bob in HI

      • Hmmm says:

        I think the camera is pointed straight at the bend in the riser pipe where it comes off the top of the BoP. The leaks are the holes that opened up when the pipe was bent and failed. So the camera is pointed downwards at an angle. Or I could be utterly wrong.

        • bobschacht says:

          I think the camera is pointed straight at the bend in the riser pipe where it comes off the top of the BoP. The leaks are the holes that opened up when the pipe was bent and failed. So the camera is pointed downwards at an angle.

          What I’m seeing when I see the multiple leaks video does not look like a bent 6 inch pipe to me. If it is, then the leaks we’re seeing are all bunched together and are pretty small. Is there a scale anywhere in those videos?

          Bob in AZ

              • Hmmm says:

                Read that at either doomers or theoildrum. People seemed to agree. This accommodates the big drilling pipe that comes all the way down from the rig on the surface, remember. Don’t think 6′ would do it. Where’s the 6″ figure come from?

                    • bobschacht says:

                      I just looked at the live feed and they were attempting some kind of operation. The ROV was also moving the camera angle around a bit. The big thing in the middle with all the leaks is flanked by smaller hoses? and one of the hoses (on the left) seemed to have some kind of clamp on it.

                      The main unit with the leaks seems to be attached by some kind of collar to something below. I suppose the “main unit” could be a 21 inch pipe, but if it is indeed the end of the riser pipe, who would care if it was leaking? They’re not talking about stopping leaks in the riser pipe; they’re talking about gumming up the BOP so the oil can’t get to the riser pipe.

                      Bob in AZ

                    • Hmmm says:

                      I thought maybe the clamp on the left was an ROV arm keeping the cam in place. I guess they’re worrying about the BOP coming apart before the junk shot succeeds.

                    • bmaz says:

                      Mime problem.

                      Because you don’t have a plug-in installed for this MIME type, this content can’t be displayed.

                      Don’t make me go find a descriptive sad mime picture! Or Watertiger’s sad dolphin mime….

                    • bmaz says:

                      I just checked out CNN (apparently the mimes have not taken it over yet) and it is relatively the same view as has been predominant for several days. but a lot of shit blowing out of what looks to be bigger holes or rips and it looks consistently like mud to me. Either the holes are bigger or the pressure has been jacked up this run, or some of both. That much seems clear.

                    • bobschacht says:

                      Reckon the image could be a 21″ bent pipe?

                      Thank you for your persistence. How can I see if I don’t know what I’m looking at? (That’s supposed to be an existential question *g*)

                      I don’t know all that much about what the plenum on top of a BOP looks like, either. But I’m trying to learn.

                      Bob in AZ

                    • Hmmm says:

                      I apologize Bob, I didn’t mean to be such a jerk about it. Regretted that as soon as I submitted it. You’re fine. Slightly tense day here today, my fault.

                    • bobschacht says:

                      No prob. You’ve almost got me convinced.

                      What matters? How can we tell if the top kill is working?

                      If the multiple leaks that we’re seeing are just near the broken end of the riser pipe, where it attaches to the top of the BOP, if the top kill works, the gushers will probably stop gushing. But if they stop gushing because the holes are plugged with junk or gunk, it will just push the gas and oil further down the broken riser pipe, to gush out somewhere else.

                      Well, we’ll see what the morrow brings.

                      Bob in AZ

      • JTMinIA says:

        I don’t think that either ram section (remember: the one in use is a double, so stack that diagram twice) is leaking. The BOP, I believe is fine, just not working because pinheads messed with the controls. The leak we’re looking at is in the plenum on the top, just below the riser. I say this not only because of what things look like, but also because you wouldn’t try a top kill if there was a problem below the two ram sections.

  48. JTMinIA says:

    I don’t know why you all are suggesting the BOP is in any way shifted or off it’s base. If it were, then they would have said so and they wouldn’t be wasting all this time trying to clog it. Yes, that fits the idea that the first thing they tried was a top-hat, but if the BOP is off the well-head then the only options are top-hat and a bomb. Messing around trying to clog the BOP (junk shot) or use it to do a top-kill are wastes of time.

    (Not that BP wouldn’t waste time; just that they wouldn’t be so obvious.)

  49. JTMinIA says:

    Note that the Deepwater Horizon had a double BOP as well as a single, so take that pic I posted and stack two of them to get the middle section of the BOP in use.

    The diagram from OilDrum is useful in that it connects the dots between the label on the thing we’re watching and the shape of it. Seems to be the plenum on the top of the BOP where the riser connects. That fits.

    I also guess that the BOP could be tilted a little and still be bolted to the well-head. But it can’t be on its side. As to where’s the rest of the oil and gas coming from, we covered that a while ago: from other leaks in the mile of riser pipe, from the end of the riser pipe, from fissures in the Gulf’s floor, etc. But I had to insist and jump up and down and stamp my little feet: there’s no way that there is a major leak below the BOP or they would only be trying top-hats.

    • bobschacht says:

      The diagram from OilDrum is useful in that it connects the dots between the label on the thing we’re watching and the shape of it. Seems to be the plenum on the top of the BOP where the riser connects. That fits.

      So you’re saying that the multiple leaks view we’ve been watching is the top of the plenum? Why did it get leaks there? Was the plenum part of the BOP that got the cement treatment, and what we’re seeing is leaks in the cement?

      Bob in AZ

      • Hmmm says:

        Not concrete. It’s a metal pipe, the very bottom of the riser, where it connects to the top of the BoP. It has leaks now because the pipe broke in places when it got bent over.

        • bobschacht says:

          Not concrete. It’s a metal pipe, the very bottom of the riser, where it connects to the top of the BoP. It has leaks now because the pipe broke in places when it got bent over.

          Then what part of this rig did Halliburton apply cement to, that failed?

          Bob in AZ

          • Hmmm says:

            Cement goes at the bottom, in the hole. The BOP by contrast is a creature of plumbing that sticks up naked from the sea floor, to a height of about about 40′ IIUC before the riser attaches. I think the place where the BOP meets the sea floor is filled with cement… or is supposed to be, don’t know if that’s where the final, un-done cement job was supposed to go.

      • JTMinIA says:

        The cement is nowhere near the BOP. The cement is between the pipe going down the hole and the walls of the hole. The BOP is attached to the top of the pipe, right at floor level. The cement makes it so attaching the BOP to the pipe is the same as blocking the entire well with the BOP.

        I think what’s throwing you is how the faulty cement is at fault. The cement not only blocks the area between the outside of the pipe and the walls of the hole, but also seals the pipe from outside. Faulty cementing allows gas and oil in the area outside the pipe to get in, such that the bottom plug no longer stops stuff from getting into the pipe. The cementing was so bad that pressure inside the pipe was too much for mere sea water to hold down and they had a blow out.

        • bobschacht says:

          Thanks for that explanation. I’d like to see a nice diagram to go with your explanation– that would help my understanding.

          So the cement job was below the BOP, basically around the wellhead?

          Bob in AZ

  50. Hmmm says:

    When you’re criticized for doing an ad hominem, is it a good idea or a bad idea to respond with a further ad hominem? I always forget how that works…

  51. JTMinIA says:

    Here’s something crazy. Flip the picture. (After all, mud is heavier than water, anyway). Now do you see a pipe out the top of a plenum?

    edit: bedtime! cheers

  52. bmaz says:

    I just think they have got too many leaks at too many of all the the wrong places. The mud they are blowing in the hole (as opposed to that blowing out the leaks we see in the water and those we don’t see in the well hole itself) is keeping the oil tamped down. For now. But it is fools gold and ain’t gettin er done and if they back off of the pumping for any extended period of time, the oil and gas flow cranks right back up again. Sure hope I am full of hooey on that though.

  53. bobschacht says:

    We’ve got a Johnny One Note on this thread, who knows but one tune, and plays it incessantly, even though it’s off topic.

    Give it a rest.

    Bob in AZ

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