Patterico's Pontifications

6/14/2010

Troublesome BP Well Prediction

Filed under: Environment — DRJ @ 11:23 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

President Obama flew to the Gulf Coast today to begin a 2-day visit to Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. However, his spokesman’s talking points weren’t on how to stop the oil but instead on how to force BP to escrow funds to pay for damages:

“The White House said Monday BP appears willing to set up a massive victims compensation fund, as President Barack Obama set out on a fact-finding tour in the stricken Gulf Coast that he said would help him get tough with the oil company’s leaders.

Spokesman Bill Burton, speaking to reporters traveling with Obama aboard Air Force One to the Gulf, said the White House and BP were “working out the particulars,” such as the amount of the fund and how it will be administered. The account would be run by an independent third-party entity, Burton said, and would run into “the billions of dollars,” although he wouldn’t give a specific amount.

“We’re confident that this is a critical way in which we’re going to be able to help individuals and businesses in the Gulf area become whole again,” the spokesman said.”

The change in tone is not a surprise because, increasingly, it appears the only hope to stop the oil is a relief well that won’t be completed until sometime in August. Why can’t something be done sooner to stop the spill? Via Doug Ross:

“I took some time to go into a bit of detail concerning the failure of Top Kill because this was a significant event… the system below the sea floor has serious failures of varying magnitude in the complicated chain, and it is breaking down and it will continue to.

What does this mean?

It means they will never cap the gusher after the wellhead. They cannot…the more they try and restrict the oil gushing out the bop?…the more it will transfer to the leaks below. Just like a leaky garden hose with a nozzle on it. When you open up the nozzle?…it doesn’t leak so bad, you close the nozzle?…it leaks real bad…

…Contrary to what most of us would think as logical to stop the oil mess, actually opening up the gushing well and making it gush more became direction BP took after confirming that there was a leak. In fact if you note their actions, that should become clear. They have shifted from stopping or restricting the gusher to opening it up and catching it. This only makes sense if they want to relieve pressure at the leak hidden down below the seabed…..and that sort of leak is one of the most dangerous and potentially damaging kind of leak there could be. It is also inaccessible which compounds our problems. There is no way to stop that leak from above, all they can do is relieve the pressure on it and the only way to do that right now is to open up the nozzle above and gush more oil into the gulf and hopefully catch it, which they have done, they just neglected to tell us why, gee thanks.”

There’s more at the link. As I understand it, the well casing was defective so cracks developed in the well bore. As noted above, this would explain why the top kill procedure was not successful — because the heavy drilling mud dissipated rather than pushed the oil/gas down the well bore — and why the recent goal was to capture the oil rather than try to seal off the hole.

It would also be consistent with claims that BP’s well had a cementing design flaw and/or because BP failed to adequately test the cement bond.

If so, this makes the relief wells the best hope to cap the well. According to BP’s website, Relief well #1 has almost reached 14,000 feet, with a planned intersection at 18,000 feet.

— DRJ

UPDATECongress is waiting for BP:

Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) wrote to Hayward yesterday in advance of his scheduled testimony on Thursday before a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“The committee’s investigation is raising serious questions about the decisions made by BP in the days and hours before the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon,” the lawmakers wrote.

They cite company documents obtained during their investigation, including an e–mail from a BP engineer that refers to the doomed Macondo well as “a nightmare well” five days before the explosion that killed 11 workers and set off a massive oil leak that is still gushing into the Gulf of Mexico nearly two months later.

“In spite of the well’s difficulties,” Waxman and Stupak write, “BP appears to have made multiple decisions for economic reasons that increased the danger of a catastrophic well failure. In several instances, these decisions appear to violate industry guidelines and were made despite warnings from BP’s own personnel and its contractors. In effect, it appears that BP repeatedly chose risky procedures in order to reduce costs and save time and made minimal efforts to contain the added risk.”

39 Responses to “Troublesome BP Well Prediction”

  1. This graphic helps to understand the magnitude as well. http://www.ouramazingplanet.com/infographic-tallest-mountain-to-deepest-ocean-trench-0249/

    norma (21714b)

  2. you know, i don’t truly blame obama for the accident and the leak.

    But i do blame him for failing to contain it. They should have been on this from day 1. imagine if they got the controls out there from the beginning. they could have concentrated their efforts in a relatively small space, instead of miles of coast line. now they are scrubbing birds and hoping they don’t fly back into that sh-t. complete idiocy.

    This is percisely why i demand that my presidents have significant executive experience before becoming president. in the last cycle, the one with the most executive experience was the republican vice presidential candidate. And she didn’t have much. i have no confidence any of them would have gotten this right.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  3. I updated the post with news from Congress.

    DRJ (d43dcd)

  4. As I commented the other day, when Obama finally decided to take action it was to attribute blame and plan litigation.

    MD in Philly (5a98ff)

  5. What can you expect from an academic and lawyer. Litigation is all he understands. If there is a realy fair investigation by a fair-minded panel, I believe that most of the blame will fall on the government regulators and the Obama administration. BP’s actions or lack of action, after the accident, will be found to be the result of the government regulator’s conflicting directives.

    Longwalker (996c34)

  6. Paper on whether this area would be safe to be drilling in from 2003 and what a trigger mechanism like this could do. http://www.onepetro.org/mslib/servlet/onepetropreview?id=OTC-15269-MS&soc=OTC

    norma (21714b)

  7. The delay is achieving exactly what Barry was hoping for. A stupid reason to have a moratorium on drilling which is tantamount to grounding all aircraft after a plane crash. Secondarily he will use this to force cap and trade and all sorts of “green” initiatives of the type that bombed in Spain. Or at least he will try.
    I’ve said it before, from Barry’s perspective this all going quite well.

    Gazzer (d79016)

  8. > In effect, it appears that BP repeatedly chose risky procedures in order to reduce costs and save time and made minimal efforts to contain the added risk.”

    So you’re saying that they sent up the Challenger Shuttle despite all the indications to the contrary? Whoops, wrong problem… Let me restart:

    So you’re saying that BP made the same kind of stupid mistakes in this instance that NASA did in the past? That large bureaucracies are prone to make the same kind of mistakes, private or public?

    I make one prediction of a massive difference: It’s not going to be only the middle-management who gets fired at BP for this one.

    IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society (79d71d)

  9. I’ll make another pair of related predictions:

    1) by 2015 you’ll have largely forgotten about this event in its entirety.

    2) by 2020 you’ll have forgotten so completely about it that you’ll go “Oh, yeah, I remember that!” when someone else mentions it.

    In short, as a “disaster” it will have minimal long-term affect on most peoples’ lives, as well as far more limited long-term effect on the environment than is currently being predicted by the Chicken Little Brigade.

    Just like the Exxon Valdez spill.

    IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society (79d71d)

  10. i’ll make a prediction.

    1) by 2015, we will have largely forgotten, by the method of psychologically blocking traumatic events, the entire Obama presidency.

    2) by 2020 we will have completely forgotten it, except that whenever a democrat suggests taking over healthcare again, 90% of the public curls up in a fetal position and says, “find a happy place. find a happy place!”

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  11. I find it interesting the Obama administration was the recipient of a large campaign donation from BP. BP leases a site to drill a well from Obama’s government. BP gets exceptions to fore go certain safety precautions at the well site. The poorly designed drilling goes afoul and explodes killing 11 and beginning a large leak of oil into the gulf. Obama ignores the incident. Obama refuses help from experts in other nations who know how to deal with this. Prior to this incident cap and trade had no chance of sucess in the senate. Obama allows the spill to reach the shores of the U.S. Obama looks for who to blame for the leak, BP had already accepted responsiblity. Obama consults experts to afix blame. BP had already accepted responsiblity. Obama now wants to use the environmenal disaster which he did nothing to contain, to advance his agenda concerning cap and trade. Impeach Obama.

    Zelsdorf Ragshaft III (e70390)

  12. Believe me, both Congress and the President can safely be ignored until AFTER the well is sealed – at which point they’ll try and take credit while blaming Bush and trying to sue pretty much everybody for any money they can get.

    Oh, and Congress will then hurriedly legislate, but miss the point and end up making all oil-based products illegal.

    Frank Drebbin (8096f2)

  13. Meanwhile, a lonely CEO from a Maine company that already has miles of oil booms in their warehouse still can’t get his call returned from anyone in this administration.

    Dmac (3d61d9)

  14. Now let’s see that language from the Waxman/Stupak letter again:

    “it appears that BP repeatedly chose risky procedures in order to reduce costs and save time and made minimal efforts to contain the added risk.”

    Now insert “the Democrats in Congress” for “BP”, and you’ve got a summary of the Health Care Reform effort…”risky procedures…save time…minimal efforts to contain the added risk.” Yep, that about says it all.

    kevin (9d9e73)

  15. Did any of the “reporters” bother to ask Burton exactly where the administration would get the legal authority to compel said actions? Anyone care to bet on whether or not Barcky takes credit for things that they are not responsible for, and diverts blame on the things that they are responsible for. Tomorrow night’s TOTUS reading should be chock full of whoppers.

    JD (5546f2)

  16. Aren’t conservatives the ones who want minimal govt oversight and intrusion, ending all these pesky environmental regulations that restrict competition and kill jobs, and free markets?

    How’s that workin’ out for ya?

    JEA (6e7629)

  17. As for compelling BP to pay, who’d you rather have pay? The taxpayers? We’re paying enough.

    I’m not worried about some multi-national, multi-billion dollar corporation that is the gang who can’t shoot straight. I’m worried about the little guys you supposedly claim to be advocating for all the time.

    JEA (6e7629)

  18. JEA, first of all, your strawman is quite silly. It was not a lack of regulation that caused the well blowout. Meanwhile, the threat of oppression regulation like “Cap and Trade” is delaying economic recovery.

    As for compelling BP, you care nothing for extra-judicial acts compelling BP? Odd, just a couple of years ago, Democrats were crying aloud at far more trivial exercises of Presidential power actually within the scope of the Presidency. When did Obama obtain the power of the judiciary to render judgment?

    SPQR (26be8b)

  19. Slaughter any strawmen, JEA? That was straight from every leftwing hymnal. Maybe you could quote the legal authority that would allow the Executive branch to compel this.

    JD (a90c7f)

  20. Well [apology for obvious Reagan reference/pun], the regulation that forced them to drill in deep water sure is working out for the best, wouldn’t you say? Nobody EVER said “minimal gov’t oversight”; reduced regulation, Yes.

    And WHO said that BP shouldn’t pay?

    The average American is only “the little guy” beneath the shadow of the ever-growing gov’t.

    Icy Texan (43cdbb)

  21. SPQR – I have yet to hear one person/leftist even attempt to explain how or why BP should be responsible for compensating individuals and businesses for losses resulting from their political choice to issue a moratorium on drilling.

    JD (a90c7f)

  22. “Meanwhile, the threat of oppression regulation like “Cap and Trade” is delaying economic recovery.”

    I’m sure you have some actual evidence of this, don’t you?

    JEA (6e7629)

  23. Everyone knows that increasing taxes on practically every level of production will be good for the economy. Sheesh. Taxing companies for something we exhale is bound to be good for the economy. Plus, JEA would never argue with strawmen.

    JD (4b684a)

  24. He wouldn’t, because he’s outmatched on IQ.

    AD - RtR/OS! (780d5b)

  25. JEA, you really are not paying attention are you? You think that business in the US is ignoring the pending “Cap and Trade” legislation? You think that business in the US is ignoring the huge rise in tax rates that is only six months away? And you think none of that has anything to do with the non-existent economic recovery?

    Brilliant.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  26. Prove it, SPQR. Prove it. lol

    JD (4b684a)

  27. Comment by SPQR — 6/14/2010 @ 7:08 pm

    Market closed, Down 20-pts today!

    The Malaise continues.

    AD - RtR/OS! (780d5b)

  28. Why don’t they go through the courts, like everybody else?

    Oh, that’s right, Barky is bigger and better than the courts.

    Patricia (160852)

  29. Patricia – They get to deem things, rather than actually just following the law. Kind of like how they want to increase the limits of liability by over $9,000,000,000+ after the fact.

    JD (4b684a)

  30. Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and…

    Good God, not this idiot again…

    Blacque Jacques Shellacque (9fe4a5)

  31. Don’t kid yourself, we’re going to pay. We’re the only people with money. BP can only pay what they’ve collected from us through sales, the government can only pay what they’ve collected from us through taxes (or through inflation.) We are paying.

    htom (412a17)

  32. I kinda suspect this BP ass kicking tough guy slamming from Obama is a ruse.

    They won’t breach the damage cap. So instead, they will note that there was more harm and enact a massive tax on petrol products to pay for it. BP won’t be the only one harmed (lol, oil companies won’t be the only ones harmed).

    Never let a crisis go to waste. If you were of the opinion that taxes should be drastically higher and energy production much lower and government more powerful, and you also felt that crises should go unwasted, morality be damned wouldn’t you behave exactly as Obama is?

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  33. “JEA, you really are not paying attention are you? You think that business in the US is ignoring the pending “Cap and Trade” legislation? You think that business in the US is ignoring the huge rise in tax rates that is only six months away? And you think none of that has anything to do with the non-existent economic recovery?”

    I’m asking for EVIDENCE, not an opinion, which is all I’ve seen here. I work for a big company and I haven’t seen any indications of it here. Show me some evidence and I’ll change my mind. WTF is so hard about that????

    JEA (dffa7e)

  34. JEA, just to be clear, are you asking for evidence that Cap and Trade will prevent some economic recovery, or are you asking for evidence that it already has?

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  35. Ask the folks in Spain, how well cap n trade has worked for them, hint, they need a bailout right about now.

    ian cormac (3e942b)

  36. Dustin – it is asking for evidence that the pushing of cap and trade is keeping business from pushing ahead at this point. It is asking for something that cannot be shown, unless some company states that they are not increasing hiring or investment because of cap and destroy. In other words, it is being mendoucheous. What is known is that tax and destroy will kneecap business, raise taxes and prices on all Americans, and will adversely effect the economy as a whole.

    JD (51cca5)

  37. “JEA, just to be clear, are you asking for evidence that Cap and Trade will prevent some economic recovery, or are you asking for evidence that it already has?”

    That it already has. I read Forbes too.

    JEA (53fe4f)

  38. See, I was right 😉

    JD (6837b4)


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