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I might be wrong...I thought I saw a light coming on
July 9, 2010 9:14 PM   Subscribe

There have been worse oil spills in history. The Lakeview Gusher followed by the Gulf War Oil Spill are the two worst in history. Another is the Ixtoc I Oil Spill which was also in the gulf. This gives us a good frame of reference for what to expect right? We will cap this thing by the end of next month right? Or is the government lying to us about what's going on in the gulf of mexico? Is Mat Simmons crazy? He believes that oil is covering 40% of the gulf beneath the surface. Does this man know what he's talking about.

Note that while I find Mr. Simmons claims a little out there (because of his political links to the George W. Bush) the following article has given me pause. If what Dr. Rinehart is claiming to be true is true things may be on the order of several magnitudes worse than anyone is telling us. I hope he doesn't know what he's know what he's talking about and after reading this article you will too.

"The Macondo Well has all the earmarks (based on current response, length of time to drill the relief wells, high pressure hard cap designs/fabrication) of being a super high pressure blow-out that is into the earth’s mantle. The “red oil” that is being seen floating on the GOM surface could be from the earth’s mantle (Where is the chemical signature for this oil after 70 days?). If this well had only been in the range of 14,500 psi well bore pressures, we would have already drilled the relief well and sealed it off (by day 40 at the latest with 7000 barrels of mud). However, since this has not happened, one can assume the situation is in a transition of going from very bad to worse with maybe three options left. Try and seal it with massive amount of super heavy mud (try and seal cracks/fissures) while attempting to adjust the well bore pressures with a massive cylindrical pressure vessel(s) on both relief wells and Macondo, attempt to seal it (way down-hole) with a small nuke if the granite cap is not fractured (maybe start with one-kiloton weapon), or let it flow for thirty+ years and contaminate the world’s oceans/environment (unacceptable or not?!). If the granite cap is badly fractured this could preclude using a 10-kiloton nuke (or any weapon to try and seal well bore) near the bottom of the well bore. If bottom kill does not work, this mega-disaster has implications of biblical proportions because there may not be an option other than trying to capture as much oil as possible with fleet of specifically-designed super tankers (both clean-up and separation/storage) for decades to come."

"Air quality issues are and will continue to be a major issue despite no real information forthcoming from USGS. There is currently a hot pipe (i.e., BP well blow-out) running through a massive methane hydrate formation (1200m thick?) that is possibly heating the formation and venting large amounts of methane gas underwater in addition to the one-half ton of methane being produced by the well for each ton of oil (ref; Dr Samantha Joye – Univ. of Ga. Researcher aboard RV Walton). This could be the real origin of the massive underwater methane/oil plumes and it there maybe more than one major source. NOAA/EPA has two codes for running Air Quality predictions (in fact there are several options/predictions being run). The output of a code from OILSPILL (surface oil) is input to AIRMAP to prediction onshore concentrations of benzene, hydrogen sulphide and methylene chloride depending on actual wind son data. Where are the predictions and IVV/validations by independent Universities of air quality on Gulf of Mexico (numerous websites have commented on total lack of data other than TV station in New Orleans)? Benzene is a known carcinogen (unsafe at 10 ppb or less) and hydrogen sulphide can cause deaths at 3000+ ppb. It is a major irritant and dangerous at levels of 50 ppm."

BP Hard Cap Installation And Relief Wells Wellbore Problems

When I first began reading this my first impression was that this guy was a conspiracy theorist much like I have been writing Mr. Simmons off as. Then I checked his c.v. and got a sinking feeling in my gut.

Here are the rest of his articles on the disaster in sequential order.

Proposed Solution(s) to Gulf BP Oil Spill

Design Considerations for a Shock-Hardened Deepwater Drilling Rig and Plausibility Argument for the Loss of the Deepwater Horizon Drilling Rig

Deepwater Drilling Gulf Of Mexico Fundamentally Flawed Protocol In Use Of Cement
posted by AElfwine Evenstar (105 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yikes!
posted by Balisong at 9:25 PM on July 9, 2010


I don't know the mechanics of this very well at all, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the reason BP is so adamant about using dispersant is because it is trying its damnedest to conceal the total amount, while making subsurface patches more difficult to trace back to the damaged well.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:41 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seriously? Into the mantle? Red oil? I guess this guy has never seen weathered petroleum before.

Pro tip: There is no oil in the mantle, since it's made out of dead biomass.
posted by wierdo at 9:42 PM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ok, I'm going to close my eyes and count to three, and when I open them again, this all had better be just a bad sci fi distaster flick.

1...

2...

3...

dammit.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:44 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, and yes, Simmons has gone certifiable. He's quite plainly attempting to push BP to zero so he'll make a cool $300,000 from his BP shorts by making outlandish claims with zero basis in reality.
posted by wierdo at 9:44 PM on July 9, 2010


How would oil be "below the surface"? Oil floats, doesn't it?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:44 PM on July 9, 2010


> How would oil be "below the surface"? Oil floats, doesn't it?

Dispersants cause it to clump and sink.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:45 PM on July 9, 2010


rense.com and abiotic oil? I dunno.

When it comes to astrophysics I'm sure Dr. Rinehart is top notch, but maybe not so much when it comes to geology. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a terrible disaster, but (fingers crossed) it should be almost over. I'm no geologist either, but it seems really unlikely that there's enough oil down there to flow for thirty years.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:47 PM on July 9, 2010


Burhanistan wrote: "Dispersants cause it to clump and sink."

What sits under the water is the fraction of asphaltines which do not float on water. The lighter stuff does indeed float to the top, where much of it evaporates. What the dispersants may be doing is allowing the heavier parts to separate out more easily, rather than stay bound together with the lighter bits which make the whole shebang float.

A "clump" of oil (as in the oil as it comes out of the ground) would float regardless of its size because it's buoyant. It's the same mechanism as a helium balloon floating in air. If all you've got is helium, it doesn't matter how much there is, it'll float if it's not in a container.

I would speculate that the asphaltines and other relatively heavy parts of the oil would get left behind anyway and become submerged after a while as part of the tar ball formation process. Not sure about that, though.
posted by wierdo at 9:53 PM on July 9, 2010


Seems to me it doesn't matter how credible someone is--when you're talking about a blown gusher a mile underwater that you can only barely see with freakin' robots, with more drills coming in, nobody's gonna be able to tell you how fubared things are going end up. And when they start talking about nukes? C'mon. How is that going end well?
posted by Camofrog at 9:58 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


> How would oil be "below the surface"? Oil floats, doesn't it?

Dispersants cause it to clump and sink.


Many of us, while concerned about the environmental impact of the oil,
are even more concerned about the impact of the toxic dissolvant being used to, YES, hide what we see.
The ocean floor is very murky right about now.

I reside in SE coastal Georgia and have accepted the fact I may soon have to stop eating seafood regardless of origin.
posted by will wait 4 tanjents at 10:02 PM on July 9, 2010


The strategy of detonating bombs at the site of the oil leak in order to stop the breech has been used successfully before in Russia under similar circumstances.
Mostly tired of the hand-wringing
while accepting I do not understand the agenda that allows it to be.
(Notice I did not say nukes)
posted by will wait 4 tanjents at 10:08 PM on July 9, 2010


(fingers crossed) it should be almost over
wow. is this what people really think? if they plug it tomorrow, there's still 81 days of oil waiting to wash ashore.

How would oil be "below the surface"? Oil floats, doesn't it?
there are lots of reports stating that only 1% of the oil is on the surface. lots of reports showing crude creeping under the booms (which, oddly enough, are still not proper & fucking).

so he'll make a cool $300,000 from his BP shorts by making outlandish claims with zero basis in reality.
simmons is a national hero. perhaps we'll never know this for sure, but the truth continues to edge closer to his story. do you really think he can close those shorts without the sec coming down on him? you really think he's putting up with horrific personal attacks just for a bit of cash (to him at least)? is (former shell oil president) jon hoffmeister also gaming the system? (see his words here)

remember the ridicule simmons was subjected to when he said 100,000 bbl/day while the coast guard was still sticking to 5,000? the (upper range) official number is now up to 80,000!

detonating bombs at the site of the oil leak in order to stop the breech has been used successfully before in Russia
mostly successful, yes, but these were above ground gas wells.
posted by kimyo at 10:12 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]




I'm kind of fascinated by this obsession over the exact quantity of oil flowing into the gulf. It's as if - if we could only know precisely how fucked up everything is, it would make sense.

There's a metric shit-ton of oil in the gulf. No more, no less. It's kitchen-sink-throwing time. It doesn't matter how much oil is there, exactly, we should do nothing less than absolutely everything possible. All this speculation over whether it's "a lot" or "a whole lot" or "sweet jesus" makes absolutely no difference. Unless the whole world puts down their hammy sammies and starts cleaning this shit up, the Gulf as we know it is toast. Also, I have been drinking.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:20 PM on July 9, 2010 [18 favorites]


I would like to say that here on the Gulf Coast of Texas, we're still not seeing any of the oil. I have no idea how long it will be until it makes it here, or if it ever will, but the 'entire Gulf' has not been destroyed. Yet.
posted by Malice at 10:24 PM on July 9, 2010


I ran across these articles/forum posts a week or so ago. The Oil Drum is a fairly well respected professional forum, and it's certainly got a range of opinions- it's worth spending time time perusing.
deepwater oil spill- comment 1
response to comment 1

if some a that stuff don't scare the c&*p outa ya, then I dunno what will!
posted by drhydro at 10:33 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


"wow. is this what people really think?"

Well, not any more. Sigh...
posted by Kevin Street at 10:40 PM on July 9, 2010


kimyo wrote: "remember the ridicule simmons was subjected to when he said 100,000 bbl/day while the coast guard was still sticking to 5,000? the (upper range) official number is now up to 80,000!"

Where do you see that 80,000 number? I see that reported as the amount of capture capacity BP wants online. Makes sense that they'd want some to spare, given that they're also sucking in water and as a backup. Using the latest official estimate I can find, it would be equally valid to say that he's completely off his rocker because only 35,000 barrels a day are coming from the well as it is to say that he's somewhat close because 60,000 barrels a day are spewing forth.

There's a lot of hysteria on this, I guess because the news media is doing an utterly horrible job of reporting accurately on this. Combine that with BP not being particularly communicative, and we end up with a situation where people are filling in the details with their worst fears because they don't have the facts.

Toss in assholes like Matt Simmons, who should know better, and it's no wonder people aren't satisfied with the realization that the situation is already a clusterfuck and instead go looking for conspiracy and doomsday predictions.
posted by wierdo at 10:45 PM on July 9, 2010


"instead go looking for conspiracy and doomsday predictions."

Possibly, but when well respected and published physicists start using terms like "biblical proportions" that makes me sit up and take notice. Dr. Rinehart isn't exactly the type of guy I would lump in with Alex Jones or Fox Mulder. I wasn't taking Mr. Simmons seriously until I began reading the linked articles. While I am not so sure about abiotic oil the main points he is addressing are not really connected to this throw away comment.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:03 PM on July 9, 2010


So far, any time BP or the Gummint say "It's X", they always come back alter with "Actually, it's worse than X". Any time BP says "We're gonna try Y to stop the leak" the result is "Y didn't work".

From where I sit, ain't nobody going broke betting on "It's worse than we either think or are told".

That line about a hurricane "painting the gulf coast black"...

This is become a horrible mash-up of Peter Watt's Starfish and Crack in the World
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:13 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


if some a that stuff don't scare the c&*p outa ya, then I dunno what will!
shelburn doesn't address the casing failure, he spends most of his time talking about the bop lean (the condition of the bop is meaningless if they have control of the well, it is a way secondary issue). also, i've read more than a hundred shelburn posts, many of which essentially say 'hundreds of people are working 24 hours a day to fix this'. (read some yourself and see).

Combine that with BP not being particularly communicative
i regret that i have only one face to palm for my country.

Toss in assholes like Matt Simmons, who should know better
in your view is there even the slightest possibility that he is right?

specifically:
1) wellbore is compromised, cannot be plugged 'traditionally'.
2) flow rate is between 100,000 and 160,000 bbl/day
3) 40% of the gulf's floor is covered with a ~ hundred-foot layer of oil.

you're sure there's no chance that this is a chernobyl-level event? is it hysteria-inducing to ask that question?
posted by kimyo at 11:14 PM on July 9, 2010


Where do you see that 80,000 number?

When do we get an official number? What do you believe the number to be? 60k barrels a day? 40k?

hysteria... conspiracy and doomsday predictions

So far the entire history of this spill has had the authorities dissembling and the "hysterical" numbers proven right. And the fact is that this vast spill has not been stopped, however many tens of thousands of barrels a day it is, and there is not even a plan to do so as far as I know.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:16 PM on July 9, 2010


Oh, and let me again express my dismay that Obama turned out to be quite such a tool of the military-industrial complex.

In a rational world, there'd be a host of independent observers looking at the Gulf at all depth so that, if Simmons' claims are bullshit, I could just instantly say, "No, Dr. Fubar from Woods Hole did a study and..." but no, the Obama/BP group has decided that we just don't get any reliable information at all. It's not like there aren't any volunteers.

That fact alone makes me wonder if Simmons' claims are true. You wouldn't have to let observers that close to the spill and the rescue operations to easily disprove those claims, would you? Why can't I find even one independent observation on this vital question?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:27 PM on July 9, 2010


I believe in one of the videos I posted Simmons makes the claim that the Russians used nukes on 4 separate occasions to seal blown out wells. Makes you wonder why Medvedev was in Washington recently and what exactly was the topic of discussion as him and Obama were taking their walk in the park. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that they weren't talking about a spy swap. How's that for a conspiracy theory?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:41 PM on July 9, 2010


Ok, I'm going to close my eyes and count to three, and when I open them again, this all had better be just a bad sci fi distaster flick.

1...

2...

3...

dammit.
posted by Salvor Hardin


Looks like someone fucked up their calculations.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 11:46 PM on July 9, 2010


I believe in one of the videos I posted Simmons makes the claim that the Russians used nukes on 4 separate occasions to seal blown out wells.

Gas wells, not oil wells. Gas wells on land, not a full mile below the surface of the water (can our nuclear weapons even operate in such conditions?).
posted by dirigibleman at 11:50 PM on July 9, 2010


Ain't nobody gonna set off no nukes in the Gulf of Mexico.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:51 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


How would oil be "below the surface"? Oil floats, doesn't it?
So I take it you havn't actually been paying attention to this story at all? Underwater plumes of oil have been widely reported. And anyway, since it's a mile underwater even if it was eventually going to reach the surface, some of the oil could take a long time to reach it.
I would like to say that here on the Gulf Coast of Texas, we're still not seeing any of the oil. I have no idea how long it will be until it makes it here, or if it ever will, but the 'entire Gulf' has not been destroyed. Yet.
But people in Florida are.
So far the entire history of this spill has had the authorities dissembling and the "hysterical" numbers proven right.
Exactly. It started out at 5k, then it was 16k. Then 20k. And then 60-90k or something like that, the last time I heard and official number. The original "hysterical" projection of 90-100k was actually close to right.
posted by delmoi at 12:02 AM on July 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Ain't nobody gonna set off no nukes in the Gulf of Mexico."

Not that they will ever tell us about.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:02 AM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seismologists in several countries would know if a nuke was detonated. It's not going to happen.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:32 AM on July 10, 2010


Ain't nobody gonna set off no nukes in the Gulf of Mexico.
would you guys all hate me if i confessed that i stand to make a lot of cash if they nuke it? (my company does the software/mathematical modeling).

i can recuse myself from further posts.....

before i go:
new simmons interview (cnbc/kudlow) wherein he states 'there is now sufficient scientific evidence.....coming up thru 5 stories of steel were the 2 shafts of the casing....so if's there's no casing in the well, there's no other known way to put the well out than to [use] an explosive device....(on the relief wells) it's a sham."

Seismologists in several countries would know if a nuke was detonated.
today, satellite scientists in several countries have clear shots of the extent of the damage. we aren't seeing those photos.

do you really reckon they'll tell you if they're going to set off a nuke? certainly not before. probably not after.

(just kidding about my nuke modeling biz. or am i?)
posted by kimyo at 12:46 AM on July 10, 2010


Seismologists in several countries would know if a nuke was detonated. It's not going to happen.

So? Test ban treaties actually do allow for "peaceful" use of nukes and the Russians used them in mining on occasion.
posted by delmoi at 1:01 AM on July 10, 2010


I don't see how it could be politically feasible. Republicans fly into a frothy, blood flecked rage every time they hear the name "Obama." Just imagine how much they'd scream if he used a nuclear weapon to solve an environmental problem. Doesn't matter if there was no other choice or even if it worked. They'd dine out on that all the way to 2012.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:16 AM on July 10, 2010


3) 40% of the gulf's floor is covered with a ~ hundred-foot layer of oil.

Assuming the 100,000 bbl/day estimate is correct, there's only (!) been enough oil released to date to cover around eight American football fields to a depth of 100 feet.
posted by Lazlo at 1:17 AM on July 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


lupus_yonderboy: "In a rational world, there'd be a host of independent observers looking at the Gulf at all depth so that, if Simmons' claims are bullshit, I could just instantly say, "No, Dr. Fubar from Woods Hole did a study and..." but no, the Obama/BP group has decided that we just don't get any reliable information at all."

That's the part that has been bothering me the most: this is a disaster of nearly unprecedented proportions, and, as sad as it is, we should be making the most of it. There should be scores of observers and analysts out there collecting data and informing the public. There should be FEMA and other governmental organizations taking measurements and posting them. There should be teams of scientists from other countries (because, hey, it could happen there, too) examining the efficacy of attempts to minimize damage.

It may well be that all these things are happening right now, but in that case there is way too little publicity - there should be public websites on this topic, there should be live feeds of the data coming in, there should be more involvement of the public and less attempts of "damage control" by hiding important information. Granted, a tactic this might not cast the government or BP in the best light, but hasn't that horse left the barn already? I mean, could the public opinion really be worse if they just put up a summary of things they tried and failed with?
posted by PontifexPrimus at 1:27 AM on July 10, 2010


Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey wrote: "So far, any time BP or the Gummint say "It's X", they always come back alter with "Actually, it's worse than X". Any time BP says "We're gonna try Y to stop the leak" the result is "Y didn't work".

From where I sit, ain't nobody going broke betting on "It's worse than we either think or are told".
"

Well, that's not really accurate. BP's worst case estimate was 100,000 barrels a day. The flow rate analysis people have come up with between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels a day. Nobody knows exactly because the fraction of gas varies significantly in a short period of time, so it's difficult to come up with a more precise measurement.

The reason I think Simmons is an idiot is because he's claimed that the liner and casing are completely compromised and forcing oil up through the seabed, which he had no basis for to begin with and no evidence of it has been shown. He's also made the claim that the BOP is about to fall over, which it is not. He also made a claim that the BOP was blown off the wellhead and is currently resting a large distance from the original site of the well and that the actual well is spewing oil into the gulf somewhere else.

All of this stuff either directly contradicts the observed evidence or is physically impossible.

Moreover, let's all hope for continued good progress on the relief well. With good luck, the wild well should be killed by the end of the month, although we're most likely looking at August unless we have bad luck, in which case it could take longer.
posted by wierdo at 1:30 AM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


there's only (!) been enough oil released to date to cover around eight American football fields to a depth of 100 feet.
a plume 600 miles x 400 miles x 100 ft at a concentration of .5 parts per million contains 11.2 million barrels of oil. (40% of the gulf area reported here as 600,000 sq miles)

100,000 barrels a day for 80 days is 8 million barrels. close enough for (new orleans) jazz?
posted by kimyo at 1:35 AM on July 10, 2010


And what of the oil that has been collected? The claim is ridiculous unless the flow rates are being even more drastically underreported than you seem to think they are, kimyo.
posted by wierdo at 1:39 AM on July 10, 2010


General Facts about the Gulf of Mexico

...the basin contains a volume of 2,434,000 cubic kilometers of water (6.43 * 1017 or 643 quadrillion gallons).

Would someone better at math than me please tell me how many Exxon Valdez it would take to fill the Gulf of Mexico?

I'm coming up with 21,433,333,333

or expressed as a fraction 1 Exxon Valdez over the volume of the gulf is
4.665629860031104199066874027993779160186625194401244... x 10^-11
posted by vapidave at 1:46 AM on July 10, 2010


which he had no basis for to begin with and no evidence of it has been shown
what is your explanation for the 2 pieces of (casing?)/(drill pipe?) side by side in the bop?

that is pretty solid evidence in my book. thad allen has said 'casing failure 1000' below the bop'. what else do you need? there's the bad cement job. the missing centralizers. if the in-reservoir pipe was in place, they wouldn't be seeing anything near 60,000 bbl/day.

And what of the oil that has been collected? The claim is ridiculous unless the flow rates are being even more drastically underreported than you seem to think they are, kimyo.
i've seen days when they collected 20,000 barrels (don't know if this is oil-only, or 'fluids').
i've seen days when they skimmed 20,000 barrels (in the vicinity of the deepwater, not near shore collection).

i haven't seen good numbers on what has been burned.

maybe we can say they're averaging collection/skimming/burning of 50,000/day? (personally, i doubt it is that high).

but, if so, that still leaves 50,000 - 110,000 barrels leaking free every day. bp's well permit said an uncontrolled blowout would produce 160,000 bbl/day. there is no better way to describe this well than 'uncontrolled'.
posted by kimyo at 1:56 AM on July 10, 2010


This post is part speculation and part batshitinsane. The latter tends to discredit the former. Boo.
posted by ryanrs at 2:07 AM on July 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


Doesn't matter if there's damaged/no casing down there. The relief well is designed to intersect and then kill the area that's flowing using accepted and proven drilling techniques. It started flowing because BP didn't use their own procedures. Simmons doesn't know what he's talking about in this instance - red oil? Give me a break.
posted by arcticseal at 2:22 AM on July 10, 2010


Simmons doesn't know what he's talking about in this instance - red oil?
simmons didn't say anything about 'red oil'.

rockman in a comment on the oil drum says that damaged/no casing does matter, does affect the chances of success.
    If they get the mud weight too high and fracture into the rocks all the mud could go into the rock instead of up the casing. Thus no chance to kill the well. Also, such lost circulation could cause the relief well hole to be lost or even blow out the rig drilling the relief well. Lost circulation is always bad. Sometimes it can cost you money...sometimes lives.
posted by kimyo at 2:42 AM on July 10, 2010


It's drill pipe, not casing.
posted by wierdo at 3:07 AM on July 10, 2010


I'm not taking anyone's predictions seriously. Nobody who learned about BOPs and casings on Earth Day this year is even remotely qualified to offer speculation and BP is obviously not being forthcoming about what their data shows.
posted by Skorgu at 4:24 AM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nuclear weapons are often tested underwater, aren't they? Not saying I think this is the solution but to answer those questioning the viability of using nukes.
posted by GamesRmeLife at 4:34 AM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


just kidding about my nuke modeling biz. or am i?

Doesn't really matter since you seem to be using these posts as some sort of performance art.
posted by yerfatma at 5:48 AM on July 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


kimyo, A hundred feet of water containing .5 ppm of oil is NOT the same as "a hundred-foot layer of oil". This disaster is already bad, stop with the hyperbole.
posted by ymgve at 6:55 AM on July 10, 2010




"This post is part speculation and part batshitinsane. The latter tends to discredit the former. Boo."

Which part is speculation and which part is bat shit insane? I will admit I am not sure I buy everything that Simmons is claiming, but Dr. Rinehart's opinion is a little harder to dismiss. Did you actually read Dr. Rinehart's articles? Is this batshitinsane or just speculation:

"Background - In December 2005 (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090804090942.html), scientists aboard IODP (Integrated Ocean Drilling Program) Expedition 312 approached mantle depths while drilling to investigate superfast seafloor spreading rates. The research expedition penetrated volcanic rock (gabbros) and reached a fossil magma chamber lying 1.4 kilometers beneath the seafloor.

The Moho, or mantle, lies beneath the gabbros layer of ocean crust at depths that vary from about 5-10 km. beneath the ocean floor, to about 40 km. beneath the continents, to as much as 70 km. beneath some mountain ranges. This shows that one could possibly expect to be drilling the earth’s mantle by 18,000 ft+ (BP’s Macondo could have been drilled much deeper than 18,000 feet). The deeper you drill the higher the temperatures and pressures which will be encountered. There are other wells within a 50-mile radius of Macondo may have had reservoir pressures of 14474 psi at temp of 212 F at a depth of 15,000 ft (Ref: JPT (Journal of Petroleum Technology, June 2009, www.onepetro.org))"


Here he seems to be just laying out the relevant facts that one needs to make an educated opinion about what may be going on in the GOM as none of our elected leaders or corporate overlords seem to be able to tell us what the fuck is actually going on. He then goes on to express his opinion about what is going on based on the known evidence. Is this speculation? Yes most probably. Is it batshitinsane? I really don't think so. Of course that is just my opinion.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:07 AM on July 10, 2010


Here's why I'm skeptical--this guy is an investment banker for oil companies. He finances oil mergers. So its in his interest to push "peak oil" theories and say a lot of shit that will make the price of oil go up. He's smart and knows that liberals are likely to dominate the next 8-10 years of politics and so he pushes theories that liberals like for his economic benefit.

He reminds me of T. Boone Pickens. Dude was Mr. Oil and Gas until the political winds shifted. Suddenly he's all over the air with the "Pickens Plan" which is all about building our capacity for clean energy. Sounds great right? Oh, and the footnote to the plan is, we need to transition by going to natural gas right away. Hmmmmmmm . . .

My question is this. What do the watchers say, as opposed to the players?
posted by Ironmouth at 9:40 AM on July 10, 2010


"My question is this. What do the watchers say, as opposed to the players?"

That was exactly my opinion until I read Dr. Rinehart's article. I would say he is probably not a player. So what is your opinion about what Rinehart is saying?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:56 AM on July 10, 2010


If anyone tells you that someone has drilled into the mantle, they are batshitinsane.

Yes, temperature increases with depth. It's due to pressure, not the mantle.

The blown out well is under 5,000 feet of water on the edge of the continental shelf, not out in the abyssal plains or deep trenches, where the minimum crust thickness is only somewhat greater than the depth of the Macando well.

That claim is like the Weekly World News saying we drilled a well to hell.
posted by wierdo at 11:47 AM on July 10, 2010


> So? Test ban treaties actually do allow for "peaceful" use of nukes and the Russians used them in mining on occasion.

So? You actually think anyone is going to use a nuke down there? There's argument for real possibilities and there's just quibbling.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:55 AM on July 10, 2010


Matt Simmons (Who wrote the 2005 book on oil called “Twilight In The Desert” and Chairman Emeritus of Houston based Simmons & Company) is saying there is a strong possibility based on the results of an underwater vehicle commissioned by NOAA that the main wellhead is five to seven miles from the current BOP which was probably pulled off the wellhead by the sinking of the drilling Rig.
This tells me everything I need to know about Dr. Rinehart. If he truly has done what he says he has, he should know better than to buy into that utter bull. The BOP has to be on top of the well. if it were not, it would have sunk into the mud and would also not be spewing forth a bunch of oil. Given that the coordinates at which the ROVs found the wellhead are the same coordinates at which it was drilled, that scenario can be safely called batshitinsane.

To be honest, I don't get why otherwise intelligent people are believing this shit. Is it because of the lack of information from BP? Think about it for half a second. Through what physical process could something on the order of eight million barrels of oil (to use kimyo's estimate) have spewed forth from a wellhead and BOP not actually connected to the reservoir? You really think the BOP and thousands of feet of casing blew out of the borehole, traveled some miles, then managed to drive itself down through the muck like a straw in an orange and tapped some heretofore unknown reservoir?
posted by wierdo at 11:58 AM on July 10, 2010


Oh, and I think you've got the wrong Dr. Stephen A Rinehart. The NASA one is an astrophysicist who got his BS in 1994. The one writing the batshitinsane stuff claims to be an engineer who has practiced for 45+ years. I can see you've been examining the material quite closely, AElfwine Evenstar.
posted by wierdo at 12:07 PM on July 10, 2010


"Oh, and I think you've got the wrong Dr. Stephen A Rinehart."

It appears I do. When I made the post I found his other articles by clicking on his name in the original article. I put them in as an afterthought. If I had read the first one I would have seen the reference to him being an engineer for 45 year. Now that I look at it more closely I am noticing that the emails are different from the C.V. page I linked to and the one on the article.

As it appears the author is not who I thought it was I have to retract my statements in support of this info. Which actually makes me glad because as I said in the fpp I hope that he is wrong. I guess I owe metafilter an apology for not checking this out enough. Sorry. My bad.

It does piss me off, and make me suspicious, that he's using the same initials as Dr. Stephen A. Rinehart of Nasa. Not that it's impossible for him to have the same initials. Unfortunately I am not able to find out who the hell this guys actually is. How do I go about getting a mod to either delete the fpp or at least edit it so that the erroneous attribution of the article is taken out?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:07 PM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


http://www.holysouls.com/sar/rosarymiracle.htm

I think I found him. Yeah this guys definately a kook.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:09 PM on July 10, 2010


Sorry for the snark. There was no need for me to be rude. It's not so much about your post, it's just that it seems like I've been debunking this sort of alarmism both online and in personfor months now and it keeps popping up in new forms.

I think the situation is an utter disaster as it is. We don't need extra helpings of freakout for that to be so. Reality is fucked up enough.
posted by wierdo at 6:41 PM on July 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


If there is a several mile wide methane bubble tens of feet thick hovering above the ocean floor at the drill site, couldn't a nuke going off at the drill site cause turbulence in the waters that would release the highly pressurized methane bubble into the atmosphere?
posted by millardsarpy at 6:45 PM on July 10, 2010


Well good. —Could someone tell @ebertchicago that he's lit up Twitter with an article based on batshitinsane speculation?
posted by kipmanley at 6:46 PM on July 10, 2010


Hmmm wierdo don't worry about the snark I was in the wrong attributing this article to the wrong person and it was well deserved. That being said I am going to have to respectfully retract my retractions :( It seems his expertise and experience actually lend him more believability. Granted he seems to be batshitinsane about religion. Here is his C.V. - Phd Georgia Institute of Technology, recieved a Nasa fellowship, 35 years working for defense contractors, DOD consultant on numerous projects, and a senior program manager for Shell oil company. Here is a audio file of him being interviewed.

http://www.fintandunne.com/audio/BeautifulTruth-10-06-02.mp3

via

We know that the MSM loves a good DOD talking head type so why haven't we seen the Dr. on any MSM cable news or print news outlets? Now everything considered I am still hesitant to accept this at face value and I hope to god that this wrong.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:56 PM on July 10, 2010


Sorry that Hmm was not supposed to be there...ignore.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:13 PM on July 10, 2010


Mr. Ebert's link reminds me of Alex Jones crossed with Glenn Beck. Quick Google searching shows that the claims made regarding the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson are completely unsubstantiated, excluding one. (that the ship did find that a known methane seep southwest of BP's gusher is still seeping methane)

The methane-caused mass extinctions are a credible theory, but not one that applies to this situation for several reasons. Firstly, the oil is not as hot as is claimed. Secondly, the gas mix is not terribly unusual for wells in this area. Thirdly, the chance of the blowout well causing a mass release of methane from hydrates on the seafloor is very low, as the increased temperature would only exist in a limited area near the wellhead and the extreme pressure at that depth makes them less likely to decompose.

So basically this person is postulating that there will be enough methane released from this well to asphyxiate the Gulf. That is simply not plausible without any supporting evidence whatsoever. The volume of gas simply isn't high enough to have the postulated effect. If the hydrates were to let loose, that would be a big problem, but that's highly unlikely. Warming ocean temperatures will increase the chances in the longer term, not some dinky oil well.
posted by wierdo at 8:51 PM on July 10, 2010


kimyo, A hundred feet of water containing .5 ppm of oil is NOT the same as "a hundred-foot layer of oil". This disaster is already bad, stop with the hyperbole.

it's really not hyperbole, it's multiplication. noaa has been reporting concentrations of .5 ppm in the plumes: this more recent noaa publication says they've found concentrations of 1-2 ppm.

So basically this person is postulating that there will be enough methane released from this well to asphyxiate the Gulf. That is simply not plausible without any supporting evidence whatsoever

i didn't find that article to be particularly credible. but the low-oxygen methane/oil plumes are still a real problem:

Dead zone in Gulf linked to oil
    The researchers measured low oxygen levels along the entire 40-mile stretch they sampled around Dauphin Island, Ala., from about 40 miles offshore to within a mile or two of the shoreline. The bottom layer of water was oxygen-depleted at depths of about 30 feet close to shore to 100 feet further out, along the continental shelf — a rim of shallow water tracing the coast from Mississippi to Florida.
    "It's not little local pockets," said Monty Graham of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, who is tracking the zone. "It's over a regional scale. It wouldn't surprise me if there were a band of low oxygen over that entire area between the Mississippi River and Apalachicola, Florida."
    "The low oxygen was pushing up very close to the shore," he added.
    "The effects off the shelf might be longer," Graham said. "If you drive the oxygen down at 1200 meters (3600 feet), there is nothing to replace that oxygen rapidly. You might see a low oxygen signature for years, maybe even decades."
posted by kimyo at 10:43 PM on July 10, 2010


The oxygen depletion in the water is indeed a concern. It's not going to result in the sort of catastrophe postulated in the article, though. It will, if it gets much worse, start killing more sea life. Bad news to be sure, but not the death of the people of the gulf coast in a firestorm.

As I wrote before, the situation is bad enough on its own to not need farfetched scenarios to drive home the point.
posted by wierdo at 2:43 AM on July 11, 2010


"He believes that oil is covering 40% of the gulf beneath the surface"

What does "covering" mean? How do you cover a three dimensional space? Surely you mean volume.
The math doesn't hold. 40%!?. 40% of the gulf is 8.57333333 × 109.
That is more than, get this: 7 billion, yeah billion, times the contents of the Exxon Valdez.

Stop it. Now. Your hysteria and poor math skills are making it easier for the oil companies and their minions to dismiss me and those that are interested enough to engage in the actual math.

Not to indict your intentions but go back to your bong asshole and leave this to the adults.
posted by vapidave at 2:57 AM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ok, that was a bit angry of me. I apologize but please keep your facts straight otherwise we are Black Bloc, looting Foot Locker or petulant idiots when that will convince no one. There is a difference between righteous and winning.
posted by vapidave at 5:15 AM on July 11, 2010


Vapidave it seems to me that there are several very real possibilities here which need to be taken very seriously.

1)That the well casing has been compromised down hole, 2) that well is at such a depth and such high pressure that capping it by normal means might be impossible by conventional means at this point, and 3) that the deposits over the reservoir have been compromised which have led to oil leaking directly out of the sea floor.(granted this is the least likely and most far-fetched)

The first two are not without precedents and are not hysterical, while the last one I would agree is a little out there and at that point we would be in uncharted territory. As far as the methane bubble killing everything well that kinda seems highly unlikely at this point and yes bordering on hysteria. This whole discussion would all be moot if there were more information forthcoming from the government and BP.

Now as far as Mr. Simmons is concerned I do think that he is using hyperbole when explaining what is happening in the GOM, but that being said the basic facts are that there are massive underwater plumes of oil which are creating huge dead zones. Oxygen depletion is also another huge problem which is going to cause untold damage for years. Also the dispersant they are using is probably the biggest wild card of the whole debacle. The fact of the matter is that we don't know what the long term effects of this shit will be.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:25 AM on July 11, 2010


a plume 600 miles x 400 miles x 100 ft at a concentration of .5 parts per million contains 11.2 million barrels of oil. (40% of the gulf area reported here as 600,000 sq miles)

600 mi x 400 mi x 100 ft = 126,720,000,000,000 cubic feet
at .5ppm (source: noaa) that is 63,360,000 cubic ft of oil.
at 5.61 cu ft per barrel we get 11,286,070 barrels of oil.

please keep your facts straight

please correct my math, my bong awaits, packed and ready.

if plumes at .5ppm are not a threat to marine life, why do we keep reading things like this:
    Like sea stars, plankton can't escape the oxygen-depleted waters. "In the bottom layer, all the plankton were a white color," Graham said. "The others were nice and pink-looking. The ones that were white at the bottom would indicate that they were probably dead for a while."
(from the msnbc article i linked upthread)
posted by kimyo at 11:37 AM on July 11, 2010


AElfwine Evenstar wrote: "1)That the well casing has been compromised down hole, 2) that well is at such a depth and such high pressure that capping it by normal means might be impossible by conventional means at this point, and 3) that the deposits over the reservoir have been compromised which have led to oil leaking directly out of the sea floor.(granted this is the least likely and most far-fetched)"

The well's pressure has been decreasing, not increasing. Last I saw, it was about 9,000 psi before the BOP. Not terribly unusual for that deep of a well. For comparison, pressure at the sea floor is about 3,000 psi.

Part of the reason the pressure is even that high is because of restrictions in the BOP slowing down the flow of oil and causing it to increase in pressure.
posted by wierdo at 2:35 PM on July 11, 2010


The well's pressure has been decreasing, not increasing.
is there a source on this?

regardless, bop psi is not an indication of the state of the casing. knowing bop psi doesn't allow you to rule out a second leak.

"We discovered things that were broken in the sub-surface," said a BP official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He said that mud was making it "out to the side, into the formation." (washington post 5/31/2010)

Discovery of second pipe in Deepwater Horizon riser stirs debate among experts (nola.com)
    It "presumably fell down beside it as a result of the explosion and the riser pipe being bent over," Allen said.
bp has precise measurements & video of the 2 pipes, and must know exactly what they are. there is no need for 'presumably'. unless....
posted by kimyo at 4:18 PM on July 11, 2010


"plume at .5ppm" yes. Lake no.

"He believes that oil is covering 40% of the gulf beneath the surface"

Please note the terms. Gulf and covering.

...the basin (gulf of mexico) contains a volume of 2,434,000 cubic kilometers of water (6.43 * 1017 or 643 quadrillion gallons). cite.

"The well's pressure has been decreasing, not increasing.
is there a source on this?
"

I'd be interested in the physics where relieved pressure increases the pressure.


"if plumes at .5ppm are not a threat to marine life, why do we keep reading things like this:

Like sea stars, plankton can't escape the oxygen-depleted waters. "In the bottom layer, all the plankton were a white color," Graham said. "The others were nice and pink-looking. The ones that were white at the bottom would indicate that they were probably dead for a while." '


We keep reading things like this because it increases the page count and viewership and the sobbing. Charismatic megafauna. I'm not disputing the threat. A very minor ppm or ppb of those molecules are a bad thing. I am very directly disputing the 40% because that would entail 7 billion, yeah billion, times the contents of the Exxon Valdez.
posted by vapidave at 5:03 PM on July 11, 2010


Not being able to find a second leak cuts the likelihood of a second leak. For one thing, the frac pressure of the rock in the wellbore is higher than the formation pressure, which would suggest that any fluid would exit the BOP rather than entering the surrounding rock.

A picture showing two pieces of drill pipe in the riser is not evidence of casing problems. There may be casing problems, but there's no evidence for it.
posted by wierdo at 5:45 PM on July 11, 2010


I'd be interested in the physics where relieved pressure increases the pressure.
one possibility: as time goes by, more erosion means more oil and gas escaping below the bop.

can you find any statement by bp or the coast guard that supports your contention that there is only one leak?

for clarity, this is my transcript of simmons' words from the original video linked above:
    1,100 meters below the surface of the gulf of mexico is a 3-400 meter lake of very heavy oil that has spread so fast that it is covering potentially 40% of the gulf of mexico.
i think he means 40% of the surface area, not 40% of the volume. he mentions having said previously 'the size of rhode island'. he sources the info from the research vessel thomas jefferson. unfortunately, the most recent trip is not posted online. here is the writeup on the previous trip.
posted by kimyo at 5:50 PM on July 11, 2010


For one thing, the frac pressure of the rock in the wellbore is higher than the formation pressure
if you are going to post claims like this, can you please support them? what is the source of these measurements? what is the number for frac pressure that you are using?

there isn't any rock in the wellbore. outside of the wellbore, for the first 1,000+ feet it's mud. if the gas/oil pressure is higher in the wellbore than in the formation, gas and oil would certainly escape below the bop. (given a fractured casing)

believe it or not, i want you to be right here.
posted by kimyo at 5:59 PM on July 11, 2010


The onus is on you to support your claim that there is a leak in the casing. I'm not going to try to prove a negative.

My source for frac pressure is the mud weight being used prior to the blowout and arithmetic. You'll note that at the estimated formation pressure, it would only take 10,000 to 11,000 feet of 16.2 ppg mud to produce the necessary pressure to stop the flow. Unless your muck layer is 4,000 feet deep, it's not a problem. Moreover, if oil and gas were escaping into the muck zone, we'd see it coming out somewhere, most likely right next to the BOP.

You don't seem very interested in my being right. You seem more interested in believing crackpot doomsday scenarios that have zero supporting evidence. I don't mean to be rude, but I can't think of any nicer way of putting it at the moment.
posted by wierdo at 6:10 PM on July 11, 2010


zero supporting evidence
so you dismiss the washington post and wall street journal articles? on what basis?

Unless your muck layer is 4,000 feet deep, it's not a problem
your mud weight calculations only apply if the casing is intact. bp said, in numerous msm reports about the reasons for top kill failure, that 'mud was escaping 1,000' below the surface'.

doesn't your argument rely on bp showing us everything? have they continued to earn your trust?
posted by kimyo at 6:38 PM on July 11, 2010


"...one possibility: as time goes by, more erosion means more oil and gas escaping below the bop."

Sorry to quell your rage fantasy but you are an idiot. Think cynically. If BP could pump anything like your numbers they would because it would lower the cost to extraction ratio.
posted by vapidave at 6:41 PM on July 11, 2010


"bp said, in numerous msm reports about the reasons for top kill failure, that 'mud was escaping 1,000' below the surface'."

Of the Gulf, yes.
posted by vapidave at 6:50 PM on July 11, 2010


Some sad photos.
posted by millardsarpy at 7:12 PM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Even if the reports are correct that the casing is damaged at 1,000' below the sea floor, it doesn't matter. The frac pressure of the formation is high enough that they can use 16.2ppg mud even with 20,000 feet of head. 16.2ppg mud would be enough to balance the last known formation pressure, even with less than 14,000' of head.

We'll know a lot more in a week or two when they intersect the annulus with the RW.
posted by wierdo at 7:25 PM on July 11, 2010


And I should mention that even if the casing is damaged below 11,000', they can use higher weight mud to make up the difference. What matters is the pressure being put on the formation. Lower head means less pressure for the same mud weight, so heavier mud can be used. They were reportedly using 16.2ppg mud when they had about 20,000 feet of head. (5,000 feet of water plus 15,000 feet under the seafloor)
posted by wierdo at 7:30 PM on July 11, 2010


Even if the reports are correct that the casing is damaged at 1,000' below the sea floor, it doesn't matter.The frac pressure of the formation is high enough
it is mud at 1,000', there is no formation pressure. there is no rock there. also you can't measure formation pressure using mud. what number are you using for formation pressure?

you give the number of 3,000psi (5,000' of water) at the seabed. are you saying the mud pressure is also 3,000psi? why is that sufficient to prevent the flow of gas/oil at 9,000psi?

"bp said, in numerous msm reports about the reasons for top kill failure, that 'mud was escaping 1,000' below the surface'."

Of the Gulf, yes.

sorry, no.
    BP PLC has concluded that its "top-kill" attempt last week to seal its broken well in the Gulf of Mexico may have failed due to a malfunctioning disk inside the well about 1,000 feet below the ocean floor.
posted by kimyo at 7:53 PM on July 11, 2010


Better start breadding those juggalos...
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:29 PM on July 11, 2010


Of the Gulf, yes.
sorry, no.

I stand corrected. Thank you.
posted by vapidave at 8:39 PM on July 11, 2010


msnbc/motley fool video
    Just one month before its April 20 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, BP claimed it could skim 491,721 barrels of oil a day in the event of a major oil spill. So now that it's not merely a thought exercise, how much has it skimmed each day? 900 barrels.
posted by kimyo at 10:07 PM on July 11, 2010


kimyo wrote: "it is mud at 1,000', there is no formation pressure. there is no rock there. also you can't measure formation pressure using mud. what number are you using for formation pressure?"

I'm telling you it doesn't matter a whit to the bottom kill attempt. The BOP could be gone and the top thousand feet of the hole could unlined and it wouldn't make a difference. The pressure before the BOP, last time I saw was 9,000 psi. That means the formation pressure at the bottom of the hole is approximately the same. It's certainly not double, which it would have to be for it to matter.

If that's not good enough for you, we can calculate the formation pressure by taking the mud weight they were using to drill the well and using the hydrostatic pressure formula to calculate the pressure that column of mud would be exerting at the bottom of the hole. The frac pressure of the formation is lower than that, otherwise they couldn't have used that weight of mud to drill the well in the first place.

Plugging in the numbers gives us the minimum possible frac pressure of a little under 17,000 psi. If they inject 16.2 ppg mud at the bottom of the hole, it will reach formation pressure once they have a mud column about 11,000 feet high, long before frac pressure is reached or the top 1,000 feet of the well is in a position to matter. The bottom of the well is approximately 15,000 feet below the sea floor. The top 4,000 feet of the well are completely irrelevant.

Actually, they should need less head, since they're filling two holes with mud instead of one, but that just complicates the math needlessly, since we're talking about a casing problem 1,000 feet down.
posted by wierdo at 11:11 PM on July 11, 2010


what does 'formation pressure' mean? the amount of force the mud can exert on the bare rock wall before it fractures? how can you possibly calculate that with mud weight? may i post this question at the oil drum?

That means the formation pressure at the bottom of the hole is approximately the same

this is not a conclusion you can draw. if there is a breach, you don't know the pressure at the bottom of the hole.
posted by kimyo at 1:14 AM on July 12, 2010


if you're referring to the mud weight prior to the deepwater explosion, please provide that info. (volume, weight, whatever you're working with).

post explosion though, you need to consider that the rock could already be fractured/weakened in multiple locations, lowering the formation pressure.

upthread i posted a comment by rockman from tod in which he expresses some doubts on bottom kill, is he coming over to the dark side or has he got valid concerns?
posted by kimyo at 1:25 AM on July 12, 2010


"Formation pressure" is the pressure of the oil/gas in the formation. The stuff that's trying to escape through the hole. We do know what it is/was because it was measured prior to the blowout.

The mud weight used during drilling was documented in some report or other to Congress. It's referenced somewhere on TOD if you want to Google it.

Rockman was pointing out how it's not a sure bet that it'll work. It'll be tricky, but every relief well operation is tricky.
posted by wierdo at 2:49 AM on July 12, 2010


We do know what it is/was because it was measured prior to the blowout.
how do you know that the formation pressure is unchanged? what is the measured number?

what numbers did you 'plug in' to arrive at 17,000psi?
posted by kimyo at 11:52 AM on July 12, 2010


Scientist Denies He Ever Predicted BP Oil Spill Would Cause Extinction Of Mankind (business insider)
    I also want to emphasize that in my theory, methane hydrates (clathrates) do not play any role.
    Methane hydrates are the volatile compounds that have been released in large quantities in the Gulf of Mexico. They may suffocate aquatic life or cause a pressure explosion. But they probably won't poison the atmosphere and destroy 96 percent of life on earth.
ryskin's response to Doomsday: How BP Gulf disaster may have triggered a 'world-killing' event
posted by kimyo at 12:13 PM on July 12, 2010


kimyo wrote: "what numbers did you 'plug in' to arrive at 17,000psi?"

As I stated previously, the mud weight and the column height, using the formula to calculate hydrostatic pressure from those two numbers.

Please explain what mechanism would cause the formation pressure to increase after at least 2.8 million barrels of fluid have been evacuated from the reservoir, if you're going to keep implying that my statement about the formation pressure is incorrect.
posted by wierdo at 12:43 PM on July 12, 2010


if you're going to keep implying that my statement about the formation pressure is incorrect.
your statement was that the measured pressure has decreased. please support this with links.

a variable you might not be accounting for the is amount of gas released relative to oil. as the gas expands to 160x its original volume, the formation pressure could vary dramatically (both up and down).

another mechanism for an upwards pressure change is erosion of the hole, especially at the reservoir end.

Carl Safina: The oil spill's unseen culprits, victims (tedtalk)
    The Gulf oil spill dwarfs comprehension, but we know this much: it's bad. Carl Safina scrapes out the facts in this blood-boiling cross-examination, arguing that the consequences will stretch far beyond the Gulf -- and many so-called solutions are making the situation worse.
posted by kimyo at 11:44 AM on July 13, 2010


kimyo wrote: "another mechanism for an upwards pressure change is erosion of the hole, especially at the reservoir end. "

Erosion increases the flow for a given pressure, it does not increase the pressure.
posted by wierdo at 1:49 PM on July 13, 2010


Also, if you don't understand how the formation pressure changes as said formation is depleted, I can't help you. You need to go read some basic texts or something.
posted by wierdo at 1:52 PM on July 13, 2010


Erosion increases the flow for a given pressure, it does not increase the pressure.
your argument requires that we've already seen/measured max pressure.

i'm saying that it is possible that we have not yet seen the full-on force of this reservoir, because of restrictions in the flow (as mentioned dozens of times in the msm) which are now eroding away. i'm not saying that the reservoir pressure will change. i am saying that what we measure at the bop can change, and in both directions, and for lots of reasons.

is there a published number for measured reservoir pressure? you've posted a lot of numbers, but no support to back them up.

i think you ignore rockman's point that a mis-calculation in mud weight could result in a broken formation and no second chances.

(looking for linkage) on all things considered today they said something like 'subsonar seabed radar scan completed today, new cap will completely shut flow off at the bop, subsonar will scan again, looking for 'belches' of oil/gas emerging from the seabed.'

that sure sounds like they're testing for casing failure.

do you have a position on drilling a 3rd relief well?
posted by kimyo at 9:04 PM on July 13, 2010


BP To Test New Cap On Leaking Well (npr)
    Basically you can think of this as a garden hose nozzle, those valves as a nozzle. If you gradually crank it shut and the hose is good, the water will stay in the hose and the pressure will build up inside the hose. And if the hose is not good, it'll spray out wherever it's leaking some place else down the hose. So that's kind of the analogy of what they're doing with the valve at the top and the well that's going down into the Gulf of Mexico.
    They also have been running a research vessel back and forth over the site and they're using acoustic signals to measure what's going on under the seabed.
    Apparently what they're doing is they can actually measure how much fluid is in the sediment below. And if they come back a little while later and there's more fluid in the sediment, they better worry their well is leaking.
posted by kimyo at 9:12 PM on July 13, 2010


All eyes focus on well integrity test; can cap handle pressure and stop oil spill? (nola.com)
    That will set off a period of testing which could bring excellent news -- that the pipe could shut off the flow or oil -- or bad news -- that the drilling pipe is leaking below the floor of the Gulf of Mexico.
    Allen said observers may be able to tell if there are leaks as early as six hours after all the valves on the cap are closed. If the pressure that builds up is too low, "that means oil is being diverted somewhere else and we'll have to try to assess that."
    Allen said efforts to siphon oil up to the surface would then resume. He said the ability to produce to 60,000 to 80,000 barrels a day to four ships would be in place by Sunday.
posted by kimyo at 9:33 PM on July 13, 2010


The reservoir pressure could not have been greater than the pressure exerted by the mud weight they used when drilling the well. That provides a maximum possible upper bound. As I mentioned before, I recall reading that BP stated in the congressional hearings or some documents they released as part of the hearing process indicated that the reservoir pressure was 12,000 psi before the blowout. It would not have increased from that.

They're not just testing for casing failure, they're seeing if they can shut in the well now that they have something to shut it in with. If you recall, the rams on the original BOP didn't function. As part of that, when there is some question as to well integrity, of course one would carefully monitor the situation while attempting to shut it in.

On the bright side, even if they don't get it shut in, they'll have 80,000 barrels a day of processing capacity available, so if the flow rate estimates are correct, it won't be long before all the oil is being collected or flared. (until a hurricane happens along, anyway!)

Regardless of whether they end up shutting in the well or collecting it, there's still much cleanup to be done.
posted by wierdo at 9:45 PM on July 13, 2010


Oil reaches Mexico’s Yucutan, near Cancun (cstars satellite photo)

Crude from Gulf oil spill found on 2nd Texas beach (ap)
    HOUSTON — U.S. Coast Guard officials say test results have confirmed that tar balls found on a second Texas beach were from the massive Gulf oil spill.
NOAA Hoarding Key Data On Oil Spill Damage (huffington post) posted by kimyo at 12:40 PM on July 14, 2010


Recently-retired Shell Oil President John Hofmeister made a similar point today: (zero hedge)
    I think the fundamental issue… is there are serious concerns about the integrity of the casing that is the well itself.
    And that by putting the cap on and doing the stress tests… that the integrity of the steel is insufficient to hold the pressure of the well.
    And if you lose the casing its game over.
    It’s like having a volcano on the bottom of the sea.
    If you lose the casing and oil starts coming up on the outside of the casing you cant stop it.
    There’s nothing you can do that would stop it…other than implode the well.
    There are many in the industry that feel the casing must have been damaged because of the power of that well, the pressure of that reservoir
posted by kimyo at 1:48 AM on July 15, 2010


We don't have exact measurements at the moment, but the casing is already under significant pressure thanks to the restrictions in the BOP. (partly closed rams, the drill pipe, and whatever else).
posted by wierdo at 3:10 AM on July 15, 2010


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