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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Capped?

Just coming in is news that the gusher in the Gulf of Mexico has been capped, and that no more oil is flowing. This from the New York Times:

“I am very excited that there’s no oil in the Gulf of Mexico,” Kent Wells, a senior vice president for BP said in a teleconference on Thursday, “but we just started the test and I don’t want to create a false sense of excitement.”

Umm. I don’t know who’s going to break it to the unfortunately named Kent Wells, but there are still, in fact, hundreds of millions of gallons of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, and more than a million gallons of dispersant.  Also no comments on whether the other leaks that were reported further down the pipe are still leaking.

Oil stopped flowing at 2:25 p.m. local time, Mr. Wells announced, when engineers closed the choke line, the final seal of the well. Engineers and scientists will now examine the results of the pressure tests every six hours to determine the pressure levels.

And on Day 87, we hold our breath.

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No Responses to “Capped?”
  1. Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

    Here here strangelet precisely on target.

    I too am no expert in petroleum geology, engineering or production but I have rubbed elbows with these folks off and on.

    I am not too clear on exactly how the relief well is going to be employed to “kill” the well but I am fairly confident that the people in charge of that effort are very experienced and trying hard to think of everything that could go wrong.

    This thread is now probably moribund but it would be fun discussing what they plan to do and how.

    • bubbles says:

      This thread is now probably moribund but it would be fun discussing what they plan to do and how.

      we can always take this thread and continue on an open thread. i am sure the subject will be one we will want to revisit. well done KN.

  2. Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

    Here here strangelet precisely on target.

    I too am no expert in petroleum geology, engineering or production but I have rubbed elbows with these folks off and on.

    I am not too clear on exactly how the relief well is going to be employed to “kill” the well but I am fairly confident that the people in charge of that effort are very experienced and trying hard to think of everything that could go wrong.

    This thread is now probably moribund but it would be fun discussing what they plan to do and how.

    • bubbles says:

      This thread is now probably moribund but it would be fun discussing what they plan to do and how.

      we can always take this thread and continue on an open thread. i am sure the subject will be one we will want to revisit. well done KN.

  3. bubbles says:

    KN told us about there being 30,000 producing oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico. who knew?
    doesn’t that seem an awful lot? who are these people and how did they get permission and why the heck doesn’t the media do it’s blessed job? why aren’t George Bush and his cronies under indictment for feckin’ up our country? i am in a bad mood because of a bad tooth so maybe that’s why i want them all to go the prison for gross mismanagement, treason and for being stupid.

    • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

      I have to correct myself bubbles, that should be 30,000 wells, probably only a small fraction of them are still producing.

      In a perverse sort of way all that drilling in the GoM actually had some beneficial effects on the ecosystem before this disaster. The platforms provided new shallow water substrate for reef-like communities to blossom and flourish. Sadly, there is a chance, many of those will be severely impacted by this massive release of oil. Even more sadly we have no idea what that chance is, what we could do about it or how we could do it.

      I won’t go into the politics thing, though I am marginally on your side I think except to say that the only hope we have of actually correcting this kind of situation is by being dilligent and that basically means voting and getting others of like mind to vote who might not be motivated. Let’s hope we can do that for a long while.

      • bubbles says:

        being dilligent and that basically means voting and getting others of like mind to vote who might not be motivated. Let’s hope we can do that for a long while.

        i will do my darndest KN. last election i darned near caught an attack (lower east side speak meaning ‘i nearly had a heart attack i was so excited’) trying to get the young men and women to go register to vote. i went to the library and got voter registration cards to give to the teens in my neighborhood. i know we had it locked down when on election day i saw many youngsters walking in to vote and coming out with big old smiles and wearing Obama gear. i was so very proud.

        • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

          That was certainly a factor in the last national election. You are to be commended for your efforts and the intention behind them.

          I can’t do much really from here, but hopefully my epic project will end before 2012 and I can be more proactive. I did use skype in the last election to make phone calls though. I got some interesting reactions —

          What most people do not seem to understand and I know that generalization is probably untrue, or at least hope so, is that “our country” as the saintly Sarah is so fond of saying is like a case for triage. We have stopped the bleeding. Unfortunately without major surgery, the prognosis is not good.

  4. bubbles says:

    KN told us about there being 30,000 producing oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico. who knew?
    doesn’t that seem an awful lot? who are these people and how did they get permission and why the heck doesn’t the media do it’s blessed job? why aren’t George Bush and his cronies under indictment for feckin’ up our country? i am in a bad mood because of a bad tooth so maybe that’s why i want them all to go the prison for gross mismanagement, treason and for being stupid.

    • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

      I have to correct myself bubbles, that should be 30,000 wells, probably only a small fraction of them are still producing.

      In a perverse sort of way all that drilling in the GoM actually had some beneficial effects on the ecosystem before this disaster. The platforms provided new shallow water substrate for reef-like communities to blossom and flourish. Sadly, there is a chance, many of those will be severely impacted by this massive release of oil. Even more sadly we have no idea what that chance is, what we could do about it or how we could do it.

      I won’t go into the politics thing, though I am marginally on your side I think except to say that the only hope we have of actually correcting this kind of situation is by being dilligent and that basically means voting and getting others of like mind to vote who might not be motivated. Let’s hope we can do that for a long while.

      • bubbles says:

        being dilligent and that basically means voting and getting others of like mind to vote who might not be motivated. Let’s hope we can do that for a long while.

        i will do my darndest KN. last election i darned near caught an attack (lower east side speak meaning ‘i nearly had a heart attack i was so excited’) trying to get the young men and women to go register to vote. i went to the library and got voter registration cards to give to the teens in my neighborhood. i know we had it locked down when on election day i saw many youngsters walking in to vote and coming out with big old smiles and wearing Obama gear. i was so very proud.

        • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

          That was certainly a factor in the last national election. You are to be commended for your efforts and the intention behind them.

          I can’t do much really from here, but hopefully my epic project will end before 2012 and I can be more proactive. I did use skype in the last election to make phone calls though. I got some interesting reactions —

          What most people do not seem to understand and I know that generalization is probably untrue, or at least hope so, is that “our country” as the saintly Sarah is so fond of saying is like a case for triage. We have stopped the bleeding. Unfortunately without major surgery, the prognosis is not good.

  5. strangelet says:

    This is a really scary period of time with respect to the blowout. There seems to be a thread of “will the cap hold?” on the intertubes. This is the wrong thing to worry about. The cap will almost certainly hold. What the test period is for is to see if capping the petroleum flow will cause other parts of the wellbore to rupture and create new leaks. Concern about that, BTW, is why the govt delayed the closing of the cap valves for a day or so. If the casing ruptures far enough below the surface, even the relief wells may not work.

    Still, given that the cap got fabricated, they have to try it. If there is no substantial new leak, this just turned into an unconventional oil well. If there is a new leak, they may be able to use that information to optimize the relief well.

    Disclosure: I have no expertise in this area. Also, too, I am happy that the government has apparently finally mustered enough in-house expertise to ask questions that BP needs a couple of days to answer.

  6. strangelet says:

    This is a really scary period of time with respect to the blowout. There seems to be a thread of “will the cap hold?” on the intertubes. This is the wrong thing to worry about. The cap will almost certainly hold. What the test period is for is to see if capping the petroleum flow will cause other parts of the wellbore to rupture and create new leaks. Concern about that, BTW, is why the govt delayed the closing of the cap valves for a day or so. If the casing ruptures far enough below the surface, even the relief wells may not work.

    Still, given that the cap got fabricated, they have to try it. If there is no substantial new leak, this just turned into an unconventional oil well. If there is a new leak, they may be able to use that information to optimize the relief well.

    Disclosure: I have no expertise in this area. Also, too, I am happy that the government has apparently finally mustered enough in-house expertise to ask questions that BP needs a couple of days to answer.

  7. Rene says:

    keeping hopeful. cried when it stopped-just wish it would last…

  8. Rene says:

    keeping hopeful. cried when it stopped-just wish it would last…

  9. Zyxomma says:

    This is welcome news, and I look forward to the next 48 hours with tempered hope. Thanks to Krubozumo Nyankoye for continuing to post “translations” of BP-speak for those of us not in or related to the oil industry. I have followed the recommendations to visit the oil drum, and despite the jargon, understand much better than before. Thanks, KN.

  10. Zyxomma says:

    This is welcome news, and I look forward to the next 48 hours with tempered hope. Thanks to Krubozumo Nyankoye for continuing to post “translations” of BP-speak for those of us not in or related to the oil industry. I have followed the recommendations to visit the oil drum, and despite the jargon, understand much better than before. Thanks, KN.

  11. bluebanshee says:

    Contrary to the burbling Mr. Wells it is not yet clear that the cap will indeed work. I just got an email news flash from the website RawStory saying that it will be at least another 48 hours before we know that this latest “cap” is working — I feel like we should be playing the “Jeopardy” theme for the next two -three days while continued testing is done. Here’s the link with the more technological folks from BP commenting. http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0715/bp-oil-longer-flowing-gulf/

    • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

      The cap is obviously working. The 48 hours is intended to determine that there are no other weaknesses in the well. If it passes that test we are good to go on shutting it in if a hurrican developes.

  12. bluebanshee says:

    Contrary to the burbling Mr. Wells it is not yet clear that the cap will indeed work. I just got an email news flash from the website RawStory saying that it will be at least another 48 hours before we know that this latest “cap” is working — I feel like we should be playing the “Jeopardy” theme for the next two -three days while continued testing is done. Here’s the link with the more technological folks from BP commenting. http://rawstory.com/rs/2010/0715/bp-oil-longer-flowing-gulf/

    • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

      The cap is obviously working. The 48 hours is intended to determine that there are no other weaknesses in the well. If it passes that test we are good to go on shutting it in if a hurrican developes.

  13. gm says:

    The quote from Mr. Wells is not what he actually said. The New York times misquoted him and now it’s getting spread all over incorrectly. I heard him. Also just checked transcript.
    “I’m very pleased that there’s no oil going into the Gulf of Mexico. In fact I’m very excited there’s no oil going in the Gulf of Mexico.” Note that the context of this was saying not to get too excited. . .Let the test proceed.
    If anybody hasn’t looked at Mr. Well’s video tech briefings on bp’s website, they’re actually pretty informative. Guess that’s why I hate to see him misquoted. Quoting the NYT quoting somebody has its hazards!

    • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

      That is interesting. It seems that since Murdoch was able to get a favorable court ruling on the subject of telling pure and unadulterated lies as if they were “news” all the media have decided to jump on the band wagon. Omit one word, get the spin you want.

      Disgraceful.

      • nswfm says:

        The NYT has been disgraceful since Judith Miller and the Valerie Plame outing, if not before. They didn’t retract after ACORN was killed by that lying little sh:t O’Keefe, the “pimp,” as seen here:
        http://www.bradblog.com/?p=7689

        • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

          I generally agree, the whole acorn expose was really a fraud and congress went along with it hook line and sinker without a single objection. Meanwhile billions of dollars are funneled into right wing interests without the slightest scrutiny. Just take a list of “contractors” for the war in Iraq and you will have a list of defendents.

          • ValleyIndependent says:

            Agreed.

          • VTJen says:

            My Senators did not fall for it. They were 2 of the few dissenters to the ACORN take down.

          • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

            VTJen

            I stand corrected, I actually knew I was wrong – the vote was very lopsided but not unanimous. I like to think that ACORN has already arisen from its ashes. I think that the events of the past two years or so are clear and simple and I hope that they will not be forgotten. But we shall see….

        • A fan from CA says:

          Sure hope the suit against O’keefe and his little friend for illegally recording the conversation in San Diego throw the book at them. Didn’t they also set up the Oakland office too? If so, there are more potential lawsuits in CA against these guys. Wonder if they could also get faux for showing the illegally obtained tapes?

  14. gm says:

    The quote from Mr. Wells is not what he actually said. The New York times misquoted him and now it’s getting spread all over incorrectly. I heard him. Also just checked transcript.
    “I’m very pleased that there’s no oil going into the Gulf of Mexico. In fact I’m very excited there’s no oil going in the Gulf of Mexico.” Note that the context of this was saying not to get too excited. . .Let the test proceed.
    If anybody hasn’t looked at Mr. Well’s video tech briefings on bp’s website, they’re actually pretty informative. Guess that’s why I hate to see him misquoted. Quoting the NYT quoting somebody has its hazards!

    • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

      That is interesting. It seems that since Murdoch was able to get a favorable court ruling on the subject of telling pure and unadulterated lies as if they were “news” all the media have decided to jump on the band wagon. Omit one word, get the spin you want.

      Disgraceful.

      • nswfm says:

        The NYT has been disgraceful since Judith Miller and the Valerie Plame outing, if not before. They didn’t retract after ACORN was killed by that lying little sh:t O’Keefe, the “pimp,” as seen here:
        http://www.bradblog.com/?p=7689

        • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

          I generally agree, the whole acorn expose was really a fraud and congress went along with it hook line and sinker without a single objection. Meanwhile billions of dollars are funneled into right wing interests without the slightest scrutiny. Just take a list of “contractors” for the war in Iraq and you will have a list of defendents.

          • ValleyIndependent says:

            Agreed.

          • VTJen says:

            My Senators did not fall for it. They were 2 of the few dissenters to the ACORN take down.

          • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

            VTJen

            I stand corrected, I actually knew I was wrong – the vote was very lopsided but not unanimous. I like to think that ACORN has already arisen from its ashes. I think that the events of the past two years or so are clear and simple and I hope that they will not be forgotten. But we shall see….

        • A fan from CA says:

          Sure hope the suit against O’keefe and his little friend for illegally recording the conversation in San Diego throw the book at them. Didn’t they also set up the Oakland office too? If so, there are more potential lawsuits in CA against these guys. Wonder if they could also get faux for showing the illegally obtained tapes?

  15. ValleyIndependent says:

    I’m glad for whoever it was that had the idea used to cap the well, and willing to give Mr. Wells from BP a pass for being “excited.” I’m guessing what he really was is “relieved,” and I have to admit that after 87 days of watching the situation continue to get worse, this is good news. My hope is that those plans end up in the public domain so next time something happens, it doesn’t take 87 days to figure out how to fix it.

    • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

      VI – I think they already are in the “public domain” as everything BP is doing and trying to do is undergoing review and criticism by people with no connection to it or the industry in general. IOW they are being regulated. For the first time in at least 10 years. Perhaps even longer.

  16. ValleyIndependent says:

    I’m glad for whoever it was that had the idea used to cap the well, and willing to give Mr. Wells from BP a pass for being “excited.” I’m guessing what he really was is “relieved,” and I have to admit that after 87 days of watching the situation continue to get worse, this is good news. My hope is that those plans end up in the public domain so next time something happens, it doesn’t take 87 days to figure out how to fix it.

    • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

      VI – I think they already are in the “public domain” as everything BP is doing and trying to do is undergoing review and criticism by people with no connection to it or the industry in general. IOW they are being regulated. For the first time in at least 10 years. Perhaps even longer.

  17. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign says:

    I recently talked to a psychic type person on behalf of a friend. Our conversation turned to the oil spill, and this woman who is full of love for humanity (and all other creatures great and small) told me that she has been sending prayers full of love and hope to the Gulf of Mexico residents. She has felt heavy at heart from the knowledge that the region is full of sadness, anger and despair from all those across the globe who are focusing their negative emotions there. She told me it is a region of darkness and needs to be cleared, not exactly in those words.

    Whatever I believe about this kind of knowledge / spirituality does not take away from her very wise words and the impact they had on me. Thoughts and beliefs create energy. I find it fascinating that there are people who can visualize this energy on a global scale. I find it fascinating that there are people who see auras. I’m just throwing this out there as food for thought!

    OK, so here I am pondering this and sis sends me this video link. Yes, I made myself feel hopeful due to this very strong and caring person telling it like it is – and I hope a little bit of that energy made it south.

  18. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign says:

    I recently talked to a psychic type person on behalf of a friend. Our conversation turned to the oil spill, and this woman who is full of love for humanity (and all other creatures great and small) told me that she has been sending prayers full of love and hope to the Gulf of Mexico residents. She has felt heavy at heart from the knowledge that the region is full of sadness, anger and despair from all those across the globe who are focusing their negative emotions there. She told me it is a region of darkness and needs to be cleared, not exactly in those words.

    Whatever I believe about this kind of knowledge / spirituality does not take away from her very wise words and the impact they had on me. Thoughts and beliefs create energy. I find it fascinating that there are people who can visualize this energy on a global scale. I find it fascinating that there are people who see auras. I’m just throwing this out there as food for thought!

    OK, so here I am pondering this and sis sends me this video link. Yes, I made myself feel hopeful due to this very strong and caring person telling it like it is – and I hope a little bit of that energy made it south.

  19. Lacy Lady says:

    Hopefully this is the end. But the clean-up will go on for years to come.
    Now I wonder what rules they will abide by with their next escapade.

  20. Lacy Lady says:

    Hopefully this is the end. But the clean-up will go on for years to come.
    Now I wonder what rules they will abide by with their next escapade.

  21. pvazwindy says:

    Hey Kent, you’ve a sh*tful of oil in the gulf. Let’s wait and see if it works, before you make any more silly ass statements.

  22. pvazwindy says:

    Hey Kent, you’ve a sh*tful of oil in the gulf. Let’s wait and see if it works, before you make any more silly ass statements.

  23. Enjay in E MT says:

    Gonna keep fingers & toes crossed
    in the meantime, NOW they can work on actually
    getting the oil off the beaches,
    out of the water,
    and start some restoration for the Gulf.

  24. Enjay in E MT says:

    Gonna keep fingers & toes crossed
    in the meantime, NOW they can work on actually
    getting the oil off the beaches,
    out of the water,
    and start some restoration for the Gulf.

  25. Just a Thought says:

    Other news sources are quoting Mr. Well’s as having said “There is no oil GOING INTO the Gulf of Mexico”. Not to give the scumbags too much credit…. Let’s see how long THIS fix lasts.

  26. Just a Thought says:

    Other news sources are quoting Mr. Well’s as having said “There is no oil GOING INTO the Gulf of Mexico”. Not to give the scumbags too much credit…. Let’s see how long THIS fix lasts.

  27. Baker's Dozen says:

    Amen. An end to spill is a beginning.
    http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Cartoons/(photo)/2

  28. Baker's Dozen says:

    Amen. An end to spill is a beginning.
    http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Cartoons/(photo)/2

  29. leenie17 says:

    I remain skeptical but hopeful.

    The people, animals and environment of the Gulf are long overdue to catch a break since every possible thing that could go wrong has gone wrong. Let’s hope that Murphy’s Law has been repealed.

    • seattlefan says:

      leenie17, I share your sentiments. I’m holding my breath and hoping for the best. Murphy’s Law seems to be a law of nature and therefore …..if it were repealed, that would surely fail. I don’t like the prospects.

  30. leenie17 says:

    I remain skeptical but hopeful.

    The people, animals and environment of the Gulf are long overdue to catch a break since every possible thing that could go wrong has gone wrong. Let’s hope that Murphy’s Law has been repealed.

    • seattlefan says:

      leenie17, I share your sentiments. I’m holding my breath and hoping for the best. Murphy’s Law seems to be a law of nature and therefore …..if it were repealed, that would surely fail. I don’t like the prospects.

  31. BuffaloGal says:

    I’m grateful for the hopeful situation we have at the moment but my initial happiness has been replaced with realism. There’s talk of at least one more hole a mile away, there’s damage already done that will take forever to deal with and the danger of the methane build-up has barely been talked about.

    Ok ! I think I’ve balanced myself accordingly. Remaining hopeful for the end of spewing tho!

    • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

      BuffaloGal –

      Maybe I can reassure you a little bit with knowledge instead of hearsay, speculation and fear mongering. Not that you are doing that, but that that is apparently what is reaching you.

      First, there are some 30,000+ producing oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM), none of them are leaking significant amounts of oil though no doubt all of them leak a bit of oil, nothing is perfect.
      Second though, the oil is already there, under the ocean floor of the GoM and the nature of the geology alone is such that, there are thousands of places where it leaks out naturally. The difference is that they are not highly pressurized because they are near the surface (ocean floor). Oil seeps in oil country are to be expected. As to the methane issue, if you will excuse my expression, it is blown out of all proportion. Methane does dissolve in water and its oxidation does use up dissolved oxygen, but there is no danger at all outside of a fairly small radius of say a km or two from the ships capturing flow from the well of any methane buildup. So that is not an issue.

      Your statement about the damage that has already been done is true of course, though the word forever is a bit too inclusive perhaps. Here I will not take the role of apologist. This did not have to happen, so the consequences, are certainly ugly for the most part. I would hope that such an event would actually contribute to a more universal mindset respecting energy use, but I am not at all confident that will happen. I think, that much like the immense disaster that befell New Oreleans with Katrina this dark passage will fade into the background noise. And rather soon.

      Last but not least, I did not single you out to be critical, it just so happened that you mentioned two of the most common myths circulating about this event.

      • strangelet says:

        “Forever” is technically incorrect, of course. No matter what else happens, eventually the Sun will expand to incinerate the Earth (unless we move it or something), and all prior events on Earth’s surface will be cancelled.

        However, after viewing AKM’s photos from Prince William Sound, I’m inclined to feel that complete mitigation of the damage may well take egocentric “forever” — the rest of my life and that of my children.

        • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

          I agree, in human terms the place has been despoiled for generations. Slowly the despoilation will become less and less evident but I do not have an optimistic view of that either. On the contrary, what we today accept as “pristine” would be unrecognizable to a native american living just 300 or 400 years ago, so the return of the gulf fo some kind of normalcy will be relative to the overall amount of environmental degradation future generations must endure.

          Of course also, forever can be thought of as the limit of one’s own lifetime and be quite correct in that. With a warmer climate and waters, a more active and abundant microbial biota, and the major fact that the release of the oil was at depth from the beginning the consequences we see of the despoilation will be far less than its actual extent.

          This brings up the interesting topic of the use of “dispersants”.

  32. BuffaloGal says:

    I’m grateful for the hopeful situation we have at the moment but my initial happiness has been replaced with realism. There’s talk of at least one more hole a mile away, there’s damage already done that will take forever to deal with and the danger of the methane build-up has barely been talked about.

    Ok ! I think I’ve balanced myself accordingly. Remaining hopeful for the end of spewing tho!

    • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

      BuffaloGal –

      Maybe I can reassure you a little bit with knowledge instead of hearsay, speculation and fear mongering. Not that you are doing that, but that that is apparently what is reaching you.

      First, there are some 30,000+ producing oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM), none of them are leaking significant amounts of oil though no doubt all of them leak a bit of oil, nothing is perfect.
      Second though, the oil is already there, under the ocean floor of the GoM and the nature of the geology alone is such that, there are thousands of places where it leaks out naturally. The difference is that they are not highly pressurized because they are near the surface (ocean floor). Oil seeps in oil country are to be expected. As to the methane issue, if you will excuse my expression, it is blown out of all proportion. Methane does dissolve in water and its oxidation does use up dissolved oxygen, but there is no danger at all outside of a fairly small radius of say a km or two from the ships capturing flow from the well of any methane buildup. So that is not an issue.

      Your statement about the damage that has already been done is true of course, though the word forever is a bit too inclusive perhaps. Here I will not take the role of apologist. This did not have to happen, so the consequences, are certainly ugly for the most part. I would hope that such an event would actually contribute to a more universal mindset respecting energy use, but I am not at all confident that will happen. I think, that much like the immense disaster that befell New Oreleans with Katrina this dark passage will fade into the background noise. And rather soon.

      Last but not least, I did not single you out to be critical, it just so happened that you mentioned two of the most common myths circulating about this event.

      • strangelet says:

        “Forever” is technically incorrect, of course. No matter what else happens, eventually the Sun will expand to incinerate the Earth (unless we move it or something), and all prior events on Earth’s surface will be cancelled.

        However, after viewing AKM’s photos from Prince William Sound, I’m inclined to feel that complete mitigation of the damage may well take egocentric “forever” — the rest of my life and that of my children.

        • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

          I agree, in human terms the place has been despoiled for generations. Slowly the despoilation will become less and less evident but I do not have an optimistic view of that either. On the contrary, what we today accept as “pristine” would be unrecognizable to a native american living just 300 or 400 years ago, so the return of the gulf fo some kind of normalcy will be relative to the overall amount of environmental degradation future generations must endure.

          Of course also, forever can be thought of as the limit of one’s own lifetime and be quite correct in that. With a warmer climate and waters, a more active and abundant microbial biota, and the major fact that the release of the oil was at depth from the beginning the consequences we see of the despoilation will be far less than its actual extent.

          This brings up the interesting topic of the use of “dispersants”.

  33. Diane says:

    Why wasn’t this tried about, oh about 86 or 87 days ago?

    • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

      Diane – The primary reason is that the whole apparatus just employed in the last two weeks or so to cap and seal the well head had to be fabricated from scratch. Not an easy job for anyone concerned. The Oil Drum.com (no spaces) is a reasonably good site to find informed postings and reasonably informed commentary and their archives go back to long before the initial blowout.

      In case no one cares to read through several thousand comments and at least a few hundred postings a quick summary as to why it took so long follows.

      First of all it was a few days before they could even investigate the condition of the well head because there was a burning drilling platform floating a mile above it. Then there was the time lag in getting support ships from near and far with the necessary capabilities to the site, getting them coordinated and taking a look at what they had on their hands.

      One essential fact remains, after the failure of the BOP (blow out preventer) they were caught flat footed. So then came a period of trying to assess what was going on and what to do about it. Since I didn’t follow this as closley as I might have I can’t say when they attempted it but the procedure called a “top kill” gave indications that there might be serious compromises with the construction of the well below the mud line (ocean floor). That process involved pumping heavy drilling mud in large volumes into the well and trying to get it to sink instead of just being entrained and carried up into the ocean along with the flowing oil and gas. From what I understand the pressure at the well head in the flow is about 7,500 to 8,500 psi. That kill effort failed because they could not equalize their pumping pressure against the flow pressure and most of their mud was simply being ejected into the ocean. That was probably because the inlet for the mud was only 50 feet or so below the point where most of the oil was exiting the broken pipe, called a riser, that had connected the well head to the driling ship. In addition there were indications, probably fluctuations in mud pumping pressures etc. that there were other problems with the well’s integrity so they cancelled the kill operation in order to avoid making a bad situation worse.

      Of the several hastily thought out means of trying to capture the flow, only the second to last one worked, something called the LMRP for lower marine riser package lowered from a drill ship brought to the site and equipped willy nilly. By this time the well had been wild with totally uncontrolled flow for 45 perhaps 50 days. The drill ship had to have several capabilities and support vessels to accomplish that. The most important being the ability to process as much of the flow as possible in a safe manner. Initially that drill ship was able to process only about 25,000 barrels of oil per day. The flow exceeded that capability, probably by a factor of about 2 but maybe more. What I mean by process is that the hydrocarbons flowing out of the well are a mixture of heavy and light components. As we all know most of the heavy components are flammable, the light components are also flammeable and explosive and since they could not control the flow itself venting the flow to the surface and managing it was a very dangerous and difficult operation. I think the daily average of natural gas that flared (burned) per day at peak capture rates before this most recent cap was about 22 million cubic feet per day, that is nearly a million cubic feet per hour. Take a look at your gas bill and you will get an idea how much gas that is.

      So let’s assume that sometime back around perhaps mid May they went to work on contructing this latest piece of apparatus. It had to be designed, as the design began to emerge, they had to contact the manufactures of all the feed in components it would need and interrupt their normal supply stream, you don’t keep parts worth hundreds of thousands or even tens of thousand of $ in inventory. Normal lead time just for valve components might be as much as a year. Castings of the scale and perfection needed in these circumstances have precise tolerances and equally long lead times. So whatever was done to intercede in a myriad of industrial production streams to finally create and implement this capping device took a major effort and was no doubt amazingly expensive. Not only that, just as in the case of a medical or other type of emergency, haste can be your worst enemy. Deliberate, careful procedure with all due speed is the best you can do.

      I would guess off hand that there are a whole lot of people and probably hundreds of companies that contributed to this achievment who have busted their humps for the last 2 1/2 months to make this happen. The only appropriate thing to say at this point is to quote Churchill. That said, what next?

      From what I have seen so far tonight the plan is to test the integrity of the well for up to 48 hours. If everything is stable over that time they plan to resume capture since they now have the capacity to a) constrain/control the flow and b) the sea surface capacity to process all the flow they choose to allow to reach the surface. Anybody who knows anything about it and thinks about it a bit realizes that this is a very difficult choice, but in general I agree with it at this time for reasons I won’t go into because it would require explaining the situation with the relief wells, how they are going to perform the “bottom kill” that will eventually allow them to seal the well, and the many possible contingencies that relate to keeping a fleet of ships on station over a severe fire hazard during hurricane season for another couple of months.

      It would be possible to go into the potential downsides to returning to the capture mode but instead of that I would just point out the upsides to this achievement if the integrity test is even partially successful. One is that they have a means of shutting in the well if a hurricane arrives and forces all the ships off station. Another is that they have effectively stopped the flow of oil and gas into the marine environment, though they must still flare gas and oil at the surface, the environmental damage is much less and not significantly worse than every time you drive your car in qualitative terms. Last but not least, because they took the time to instrument the sea bed with geophones and no doubt designed into the containment cap every possible feature that would allow them to measure the flow and its characteristics, and have demonstrated that the device can function as planned, all such information is useful for the implementation of the up coming bottom kill operation which is no walk in the park under any circumstances.

      I don’t have any particular sympathy for the culture of maximizing profits no matter what that probably led up to this catastrophy, but is anybody here willing to argue with me that such a culture is in fact not almost universally lauded in the US? Even world wide?

      I hope this explanation is enlightening and meaningful to everyone here as to why the consequences of this “accident” were “allowed” to go on so long.

      • nswfm says:

        Clearly explained as usual. I’m putting aside my usual snark for the moment.

        “It had to be designed, as the design began to emerge, they had to contact the manufactures of all the feed in components it would need and interrupt their normal supply stream, you don’t keep parts worth hundreds of thousands or even tens of thousand of $ in inventory. Normal lead time just for valve components might be as much as a year.”

        The only thing I would add is that in this recessionary environment, many firms have reduced inventory to show better financial results, thus making it an even tighter supply chain. Always about the quarterly financials and making a good show for the investors….

        I still think people should be aware of this from the TPM link from above:

        http://www.propublica.org/blog/item/interior-blowout-preventers-on-bps-relief-wells-also-had-problems

        There’s a picture of Kent Wells, too. Maybe now Jindal and others in the Gulf area will get why we need to stop and look at what is going on with other wells.

        • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

          nswfm –

          Good point and it should be appreciated by all interested in the details of how this all unfolded. I did not bring up the issue of BOPs in general because I thought it was a bit tangential to the question I was answering. Why did it take so long? If the BOP had worked as it was intended to do, none of us would have ever have heard about any of this.

          There is a backstory to this of course and as well, the last ten hours or so on the Deep Water Horizon rig provide some pretty compelling evidence from what I have seen.

      • marlys says:

        Thank You!1!
        You are an outstanding educator, many of us are grateful for you taking time to comment & will share your insight.

        • vj says:

          Your Churchill quote was illuminating. I hope those folks get the kudos they deserve.

          • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

            So do I, not everyone involved in this mayhem is a bad guy and even those most directly responsible probably had no malice, they were just blinded by the profit motive. Not uncommon.

        • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

          You are welcome, I come here because it is civilized, and now and then there are topics to which I can contribute. If I inform others and broaden their knowledge that is my goal and my reward.

      • strangelet says:

        Two remarks:

        For those who want to blame BP, or MMS, for that matter (and I’m one of you), KN points out that the failure of the BOP caught them flatfooted. This is, how you say, the opposite of defense in depth. Drilling for oil through a mile of ocean and then another couple of miles of crust is, at this point, practically experimental. Whoever was responsible for FMEA clearly did not properly evaluate worst-cases.

        I assume that they will resume capture from the new cap as soon as possible, since that will reduce the internal pressure in the wellbore, and reduce the risk that the relief well will cause an uncontrolled rupture when it breaches the casing. Of course, it will also give them some petroleum, but they’ll need that to pay the fines and civil claims.

        • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

          Strangelet, you are quite correct. From what I have been able to gather with my limited abilities not only was there no actual plan in the event of a deep water blowout despite the lesson of Ixtoc decades ago, but the majors and maybe even many of the minor drilling companies and lease holders throughout the gulf fed the MMS essentially identical and bogus response plans.

          BP has pledged to donate any revenue from recovered oil at this well to a fund for wildlife but it probably won’t be much money as oil that has been weathered is worth less than half of fresh light sweet crude. Perhaps they will be able to store and transport greater amounts of degassed oil now with three recovery ships operating but they have been flaring around 6,500 bbl per day before now.

      • bubbles says:

        ah so. very enlightening…thank you.

  34. Diane says:

    Why wasn’t this tried about, oh about 86 or 87 days ago?

    • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

      Diane – The primary reason is that the whole apparatus just employed in the last two weeks or so to cap and seal the well head had to be fabricated from scratch. Not an easy job for anyone concerned. The Oil Drum.com (no spaces) is a reasonably good site to find informed postings and reasonably informed commentary and their archives go back to long before the initial blowout.

      In case no one cares to read through several thousand comments and at least a few hundred postings a quick summary as to why it took so long follows.

      First of all it was a few days before they could even investigate the condition of the well head because there was a burning drilling platform floating a mile above it. Then there was the time lag in getting support ships from near and far with the necessary capabilities to the site, getting them coordinated and taking a look at what they had on their hands.

      One essential fact remains, after the failure of the BOP (blow out preventer) they were caught flat footed. So then came a period of trying to assess what was going on and what to do about it. Since I didn’t follow this as closley as I might have I can’t say when they attempted it but the procedure called a “top kill” gave indications that there might be serious compromises with the construction of the well below the mud line (ocean floor). That process involved pumping heavy drilling mud in large volumes into the well and trying to get it to sink instead of just being entrained and carried up into the ocean along with the flowing oil and gas. From what I understand the pressure at the well head in the flow is about 7,500 to 8,500 psi. That kill effort failed because they could not equalize their pumping pressure against the flow pressure and most of their mud was simply being ejected into the ocean. That was probably because the inlet for the mud was only 50 feet or so below the point where most of the oil was exiting the broken pipe, called a riser, that had connected the well head to the driling ship. In addition there were indications, probably fluctuations in mud pumping pressures etc. that there were other problems with the well’s integrity so they cancelled the kill operation in order to avoid making a bad situation worse.

      Of the several hastily thought out means of trying to capture the flow, only the second to last one worked, something called the LMRP for lower marine riser package lowered from a drill ship brought to the site and equipped willy nilly. By this time the well had been wild with totally uncontrolled flow for 45 perhaps 50 days. The drill ship had to have several capabilities and support vessels to accomplish that. The most important being the ability to process as much of the flow as possible in a safe manner. Initially that drill ship was able to process only about 25,000 barrels of oil per day. The flow exceeded that capability, probably by a factor of about 2 but maybe more. What I mean by process is that the hydrocarbons flowing out of the well are a mixture of heavy and light components. As we all know most of the heavy components are flammable, the light components are also flammeable and explosive and since they could not control the flow itself venting the flow to the surface and managing it was a very dangerous and difficult operation. I think the daily average of natural gas that flared (burned) per day at peak capture rates before this most recent cap was about 22 million cubic feet per day, that is nearly a million cubic feet per hour. Take a look at your gas bill and you will get an idea how much gas that is.

      So let’s assume that sometime back around perhaps mid May they went to work on contructing this latest piece of apparatus. It had to be designed, as the design began to emerge, they had to contact the manufactures of all the feed in components it would need and interrupt their normal supply stream, you don’t keep parts worth hundreds of thousands or even tens of thousand of $ in inventory. Normal lead time just for valve components might be as much as a year. Castings of the scale and perfection needed in these circumstances have precise tolerances and equally long lead times. So whatever was done to intercede in a myriad of industrial production streams to finally create and implement this capping device took a major effort and was no doubt amazingly expensive. Not only that, just as in the case of a medical or other type of emergency, haste can be your worst enemy. Deliberate, careful procedure with all due speed is the best you can do.

      I would guess off hand that there are a whole lot of people and probably hundreds of companies that contributed to this achievment who have busted their humps for the last 2 1/2 months to make this happen. The only appropriate thing to say at this point is to quote Churchill. That said, what next?

      From what I have seen so far tonight the plan is to test the integrity of the well for up to 48 hours. If everything is stable over that time they plan to resume capture since they now have the capacity to a) constrain/control the flow and b) the sea surface capacity to process all the flow they choose to allow to reach the surface. Anybody who knows anything about it and thinks about it a bit realizes that this is a very difficult choice, but in general I agree with it at this time for reasons I won’t go into because it would require explaining the situation with the relief wells, how they are going to perform the “bottom kill” that will eventually allow them to seal the well, and the many possible contingencies that relate to keeping a fleet of ships on station over a severe fire hazard during hurricane season for another couple of months.

      It would be possible to go into the potential downsides to returning to the capture mode but instead of that I would just point out the upsides to this achievement if the integrity test is even partially successful. One is that they have a means of shutting in the well if a hurricane arrives and forces all the ships off station. Another is that they have effectively stopped the flow of oil and gas into the marine environment, though they must still flare gas and oil at the surface, the environmental damage is much less and not significantly worse than every time you drive your car in qualitative terms. Last but not least, because they took the time to instrument the sea bed with geophones and no doubt designed into the containment cap every possible feature that would allow them to measure the flow and its characteristics, and have demonstrated that the device can function as planned, all such information is useful for the implementation of the up coming bottom kill operation which is no walk in the park under any circumstances.

      I don’t have any particular sympathy for the culture of maximizing profits no matter what that probably led up to this catastrophy, but is anybody here willing to argue with me that such a culture is in fact not almost universally lauded in the US? Even world wide?

      I hope this explanation is enlightening and meaningful to everyone here as to why the consequences of this “accident” were “allowed” to go on so long.

      • nswfm says:

        Clearly explained as usual. I’m putting aside my usual snark for the moment.

        “It had to be designed, as the design began to emerge, they had to contact the manufactures of all the feed in components it would need and interrupt their normal supply stream, you don’t keep parts worth hundreds of thousands or even tens of thousand of $ in inventory. Normal lead time just for valve components might be as much as a year.”

        The only thing I would add is that in this recessionary environment, many firms have reduced inventory to show better financial results, thus making it an even tighter supply chain. Always about the quarterly financials and making a good show for the investors….

        I still think people should be aware of this from the TPM link from above:

        http://www.propublica.org/blog/item/interior-blowout-preventers-on-bps-relief-wells-also-had-problems

        There’s a picture of Kent Wells, too. Maybe now Jindal and others in the Gulf area will get why we need to stop and look at what is going on with other wells.

        • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

          nswfm –

          Good point and it should be appreciated by all interested in the details of how this all unfolded. I did not bring up the issue of BOPs in general because I thought it was a bit tangential to the question I was answering. Why did it take so long? If the BOP had worked as it was intended to do, none of us would have ever have heard about any of this.

          There is a backstory to this of course and as well, the last ten hours or so on the Deep Water Horizon rig provide some pretty compelling evidence from what I have seen.

      • marlys says:

        Thank You!1!
        You are an outstanding educator, many of us are grateful for you taking time to comment & will share your insight.

        • vj says:

          Your Churchill quote was illuminating. I hope those folks get the kudos they deserve.

          • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

            So do I, not everyone involved in this mayhem is a bad guy and even those most directly responsible probably had no malice, they were just blinded by the profit motive. Not uncommon.

        • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

          You are welcome, I come here because it is civilized, and now and then there are topics to which I can contribute. If I inform others and broaden their knowledge that is my goal and my reward.

      • strangelet says:

        Two remarks:

        For those who want to blame BP, or MMS, for that matter (and I’m one of you), KN points out that the failure of the BOP caught them flatfooted. This is, how you say, the opposite of defense in depth. Drilling for oil through a mile of ocean and then another couple of miles of crust is, at this point, practically experimental. Whoever was responsible for FMEA clearly did not properly evaluate worst-cases.

        I assume that they will resume capture from the new cap as soon as possible, since that will reduce the internal pressure in the wellbore, and reduce the risk that the relief well will cause an uncontrolled rupture when it breaches the casing. Of course, it will also give them some petroleum, but they’ll need that to pay the fines and civil claims.

        • Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

          Strangelet, you are quite correct. From what I have been able to gather with my limited abilities not only was there no actual plan in the event of a deep water blowout despite the lesson of Ixtoc decades ago, but the majors and maybe even many of the minor drilling companies and lease holders throughout the gulf fed the MMS essentially identical and bogus response plans.

          BP has pledged to donate any revenue from recovered oil at this well to a fund for wildlife but it probably won’t be much money as oil that has been weathered is worth less than half of fresh light sweet crude. Perhaps they will be able to store and transport greater amounts of degassed oil now with three recovery ships operating but they have been flaring around 6,500 bbl per day before now.

      • bubbles says:

        ah so. very enlightening…thank you.

  35. LoveMydogs says:

    Boy, those BP dudes need to hire some better PR people. They really have a knack for sticking their feet in their mouths. Continue to chew boys….

    I am very hopeful that this will at least have plugged the hole. But there is still so much damage done already….sniffle, sniffle, blow.

  36. LoveMydogs says:

    Boy, those BP dudes need to hire some better PR people. They really have a knack for sticking their feet in their mouths. Continue to chew boys….

    I am very hopeful that this will at least have plugged the hole. But there is still so much damage done already….sniffle, sniffle, blow.

  37. beth says:

    As spouse just snarkily commented: “With only [BP-reported] 1,000 to 2,000 gallons of oil gushing per day, and with that trifling amount having gushed for only the past 80-some-odd days, complete clean-up of the Gulf should now be a snap!” beth.

  38. beth says:

    As spouse just snarkily commented: “With only [BP-reported] 1,000 to 2,000 gallons of oil gushing per day, and with that trifling amount having gushed for only the past 80-some-odd days, complete clean-up of the Gulf should now be a snap!” beth.

  39. wynsplc says:

    This is good news, but before we start our “It’s Capped” parties let us remember that this is just the first step in a long series to tests to permanently shut down this well. But at least it is a start in the right direction.

  40. wynsplc says:

    This is good news, but before we start our “It’s Capped” parties let us remember that this is just the first step in a long series to tests to permanently shut down this well. But at least it is a start in the right direction.

  41. No oil? What is he on, Crack?

    I hope nobody cheers BP for this. They are demons and will try to make this look like they are big heroes. Please don’t let that happen.

    Hey God, if you’re there, please let this be the beginning of the end to this disaster.

  42. No oil? What is he on, Crack?

    I hope nobody cheers BP for this. They are demons and will try to make this look like they are big heroes. Please don’t let that happen.

    Hey God, if you’re there, please let this be the beginning of the end to this disaster.

  43. MonaLisa (inCT) says:

    Considering their ‘record’ so far, as to the efficacy of their methods of underwater-gusher-containment, let’s just say I won’t exhale in relief just yet….

  44. MonaLisa (inCT) says:

    Considering their ‘record’ so far, as to the efficacy of their methods of underwater-gusher-containment, let’s just say I won’t exhale in relief just yet….

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