The Gulf - It Is Worse Than We Thought

The Oil Drum has an excellent bit of speculation (backed with knowledge) about what is going on with the blown out well in the Gulf of Mexico. (you should read the whole thing)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And what is the worst case?
According to BP data from about five years ago, there are four separate reservoirs containing a total of 2.5 billion barrels (barrels not gallons). One of the reservoirs has 1.5 billion barrels. I saw an earlier post here quoting an Anadarko Petroleum report which set the total amount at 2.3 billion barrels. One New York Times article put it at 2 billion barrels.

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

I wonder if mining oil shale might not be better relative to environmental risks than drilling for oil in deep water. The risks of oil shale are relatively well known; the real risks of deep water drilling not so much. Until now.

If you want to read up on oil shale may I suggest:

Oil Shale

H/T Diogenes at Talk Polywell

Cross Posted at Power and Control

posted by Simon on 06.15.10 at 04:38 PM


I wonder if mining oil shale might not be better relative to environmental risks than drilling for oil in deep water. The risks of oil shale are relatively well known; the real risks of deep water drilling not so much. Until now.

I am writing this not to put down oil shale but to point out that the issue was that BP ended up the way it did because it didn’t do things by the book. The issue was not unknown risks, but a company that bypassed standard procedures which put the well at risk. As a former engineer in oil drilling services, my take is that neither lack of better technology nor unknown risks were not the primary causes for the blowout: BP cut corners and paid the price. The WSJ’s excellent articles on the issue show that BP did not follow standard rig procedures. Moreover, they kept changing their plans. (No accident that Transocean hands were in a big disagreement with the BP company man, who apparently was following a change of plans from the home office.)

When rig safety is an issue, do not try to save time and money. When I read what BP had done, such as replacing heavy drilling mud with much lighter seawater BEFORE putting down the final bottom plug, I thought to myself: what were these IDIOTS thinking? As a commenter at one of the WSJ articles put it, that was like popping the cork on a bottle of champagne. Perhaps BP should have taken the money it contributed to the ∅bama campaign and used it for drilling safely.

It as if the decision maker went from an experienced engineering hand to a college freshman majoring in Outer Mongolian Gender Studies at San Francisco Community College, who got 300 on the Math SAT- and cheated to get that.- and whose only work experience was registering voters for ACORN.Whoever was making the decisions at BP kept passing the buck down the decision tree. Here is a review of the buckpassing, as best I recall.

1) Perhaps the most basic way to check on cement integrity is to call on Schlumberger to run a wireline test. Schlumberger has been the best in the world at wireline testing for a century, and they are not cheap. BP sent Schlumberger home that morning without running the test.
2) A less expensive way to check on the integrity of the cement is to run some pressure tests. BP at first said pressure tests were unsatisfactory and inconclusive. Then BP said the results were good. I conclude from all this that the results are murky.
3) Another way to check on cement integrity is to pump drilling mud down the drill pipe and then up the wellbore to check on gas at the bottom of the hole- called “bottoms up” in the oil field. BP stopped this test well short of completion.
4) If you have negative to inconclusive results on the above, you pump down the bottom plug with the high density mud behind it to keep the pressure in. If you are certain that there is cement integrity, you can speed things up and replace the heavier drilling mud with much lighter seawater, which ordinarily you wouldn’t do until the bottom plug is set. They weren’t certain, and they went ahead.
5) Kaboom.

In looking at how the decisions kept getting passed down the line, I can see how some think sabotage was involved. I don’t know any company man I worked with who would have been so stupid. Interesting that a big crowd of BP honchos visited the rig that day. Maybe decisions were made to try to look good to the big bosses. Who knows?

Tim Newman’s White Sun of the Desert has some good discussions on the issue- my comments included. Here are some of his postings on what transpired before the blowout. He has other good articles on post-blowout issues. The below articles also link to WSJ articles.

Fateful Decisions on the Deepwater Horizon
Back Pedalling over BP
Obama Talks Tough on Macondo Hearings
Macondo Failure Mechanisms Identified

The Oil Drum has a good discussion on what caused the blowout.

Gringo   ·  June 16, 2010 9:57 AM

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