Caracas Gringo

'When the tree falls, the monkeys scatter'

Oilpocalypse

with 8 comments

BP seems to be admitting that it’s in very deep shit. But the general public in the US remains ignorant of the magnitude and likely consequences of the worst oil spill in US history. Worse still, is that the oil leak the news media have been covering could be the wrong leak. Some experts believe there is a much larger leak five or six miles away.

BP is looking increasingly to be a first-rate sleazeball oil company which is more interested in controlling the flow of information so as to keep the public in the dark, than in capping the fractured well. However, will US Attorney General Eric Holder investigate the possible criminal liability of US federal agencies responsible for regulating companies like BP? Considering that BP has the worst record of any company in the US, one would assume the answer is yes. But governments, and the US government is no exception, usually cover their own asses and leave it up to voters to set things right.

Meanwhile, here’s one forecast of a potential oilpocalypse.

Update: The MSNBC and UCAR links have kicked up a bit of storm among several readers. We obtained the links from MSM sites. Here’s another MSM site reporting that Engineers Say Deepwater Horizon Well Could Leak for Years if Not Stopped

Update 8 June:

Fears that the oil spill has worsened: “BP has stopped trying to calculate a flow rate on its own, referring all questions on that subject to the government. But the immense undersea gusher of oil and gas, seen on live video feed, looks as big as it did last week, or bigger, before the company sliced through the pipe known as a riser to install its new collection device.”

BP’s live feed of the oil spill.

NOAA finds “clouds of oil drifting underwater in the Gulf of Mexico as far as 142 miles from the wrecked Deepwater Horizon drilling rig.”

Gulf damage will last “for years if not decades”

’79 Gulf spill leaves sobering lessons for BP

The wildlife apocalypse along the Gulf Coast that everyone has feared for weeks is fast becoming a terrible reality.

Tracking the oil spill

The usual suspects lawyer up, and with good reason as the following article details.

A NYTimes analysis detailing how BP deliberately, consciously avoided multiple warning signs that a blowout was imminent at Deepwater Horizon, and how the US federal government allowed BP to place human lives and the environment at great risk as it focused on the bottom line financially. Some excerpts:

“New government and BP documents, interviews with experts and testimony by witnesses provide the clearest indication to date that a hodgepodge of oversight agencies granted exceptions to rules, allowed risks to accumulate and made a disaster more likely on the rig, particularly with a mix of different companies operating on the Deepwater whose interests were not always in sync.”

“As early as June 2009, BP engineers had expressed concerns in internal documents about using certain casings for the well because they violated the company’s safety and design guidelines. But they proceeded with those casings. Mechanical problems started in March with the Deepwater, setting the stage for the April 20 explosion. More than five weeks before disaster, the rig was hit by several sudden pulsations of gas called “kicks” and a pipe had become stuck in the well. The blowout preventer, designed to seal the well in an emergency, had been discovered to be leaking fluids at least three times. However, of the 126 people present on the day of the explosion, only eight were employees of BP. The interests of the workers did not always align.”

“In testimony to government investigators, rig workers repeatedly described a “natural conflict” between BP, which can make more money by completing drilling jobs quickly, and Transocean, which receives a leasing fee from BP every day that it continues drilling. Halliburton was on hand to provide cementing services, while a subsidiary monitored various drilling fluids. A different company provided drilling fluid systems, another provided technicians to operate the remote-control vehicles that are they eyes of the rig crew deep underwater, and yet another provided the well casing.”

“On April 1, a job log written by a Halliburton employee warns that BP’s use of cement “was against our best practices.” An April 18 internal Halliburton memorandum indicates that Halliburton again warned BP about its practices, this time saying that a “severe” gas flow problem would occur if the casings were not centered more carefully. Around that same time, a BP document shows, company officials chose a type of casing with a greater risk of collapsing.”

“Despite noticing cementing problems, BP skipped a quality test of the cement around the pipe. Federal regulators also gave the rig a pass at several critical moments. After the rig encountered several problems, including the gas kicks and the pipe stuck in the well, the regulators did not demand a halt to the operation. Instead, they gave permission for a delay in a safety test of the blowout preventer. Tests shortly before the well blew out found a buildup of pressure that was an “indicator of a very large abnormality,” BP concluded and disclosed to Congress in a preliminary report last month. Yet, the rig team was satisfied after another test was deemed successful, and it proceeded.”

Written by Caracas Gringo

03/06/2010 at 18:13

Posted in Uncategorized

8 Responses

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  1. The huge environmental liabilities and the huge economic and financial damage his leaks is alreay causing form Lousinana to florida (not mentioning the implosion of the tourism and real estate values) willl create the biggest avalnache of class action suits in american history against a single company (BP its directors and offshore contractors). The US government is also getting a lot of flack for this and possibly a litigation prone society might ven contemplate the possibility of suingthe US government for gross ommissions and not acting like a good father.Its going to be rough. BP America should even consider seeking protection under Chpter 11. No gas lines are anticipated as huge gasoline surpluses are waiting in the docks and besides, who´s driving to a polluted beach down south . It´s the pits!

    Like

    BOB

    03/06/2010 at 21:57

  2. I agree with your opinion of BP. You can cut just so many corners before something happens. I have read about the event from the perspective of someone with drilling rig experience. The Wall Street Journal has had perhaps the best MSM coverage of the event. After I read the May 11 article, where BP replaced the drilling mud with much lighter seawater prior to setting the final plug, I thought to myself, what were those idiots thinking? When you consider that the mud had a density of over 14 pounds per gallon, compared with seawater’s density of around 8.6 ppg,prior to setting the final plug, that was like popping the cork on a bottle of champagne- as one commenter put it.

    The mud is that heavy to contain the pressure exerted by the formation’s oil and gas. Unless you are DEAD CERTAIN that the seal between cement and formation is PERFECT, it is disaster to replace the heavier with drilling mud before the final plug is set.

    The lesson of the Macondo block is not “we did everything right and S#$%$ happened.” The lesson is that cutting corners with the belief that it S@##$ won’t happen if you do,is a very risky strategy. Drilling for oil and gas is always potentially dangerous. That is why you follow safe and accepted practices- they have a track record for keeping you alive.

    Like

    Gringo not of Caracas

    03/06/2010 at 22:25

  3. I watched the interview with Matt Simmons and Nicholas Pozzi. My first reaction was: what are they smoking? They each said several things that are ridiculous.

    Simmons is an investor, a finance guy. He must know something about the technology but it sure doesn’t come across here.

    First, Simmons watches the video of the first leak and concludes that it’s not big enough. He makes it sound like BP didn’t survey the entire riser. I’m pretty sure they did, and found three leaks: The one Simmons describes, where the riser is bent above the BOP stack; the end of the riser about a mile away, and another bend and crack near the end.

    Second, Ponzi says that the casing was installed without O-rings. That makes no sense: casing is installed as a series of metal tubes threaded together, and most connections involve metal-to-metal seals. There won’t be any O-rings in a casing string. Maybe he’s talking about the riser ? and not the casing, but he said this several times.

    Then he talks about “ballooning”, but doesn’t explain where this would be done. Nothing by that name is an established or standard procedure, at least not in pipeline repair or any other industry. (Is he thinking about angioplasty?)

    They go on to mention using a tanker above the spill. Exactly what are they going to use to get the oil out of the water into the tanker? “Smart pipe”? What the heck is that? Can I get that at the same store where we buy “unobtainium”?

    Pozzi says that BP is not doing “what the industry would have done”. Pardon me, but who is Nick Pozzi and who does he speak for? Here in Houston, a center of offshore oil technology, there’s nobody seriously questioning what BP is doing now. There’s no other experts who have “been there and done that”; not the Navy, and no other oil company or any other industry.

    They mention explosives: Those have been widely used for decades, most famously by Red Adair, to extinguish oil and gas fires by rapidly pushing away the fire and oxygen. In other words, they can be used to “blow out” the fire. But they don’t stop the oil and gas coming out of the well.

    Does anybody remember the US military blowing up caves in Afghanistan in late 2001? What do you get when you put explosives in a cave? A bigger cave.

    About the only thing they say that makes any sense is that they’re sorry about the people of Louisiana.

    Can’t close without mentioning the interviewer: He clearly has no idea what those two are talking about, but feels that he must tell us how smart they are and how grateful we should be for their contributions.

    My impressions were confirmed by a former colleague who has worked in oilfield servicing his whole life.

    Generally I like MSNBC but this interview was absolute nonsense.

    Like

    Steve

    04/06/2010 at 09:28

    • Steve,

      I hope I can clear up a couple of things for you. I have 30 years in the oilfield monitoring wells and 2 years as a consultant. I quit watching the idiots on TV and the print news after the firs 3 days.

      1. Each joint of riser will have an “O” ring installed before they are bolted together. I can’t remember the type connection but there are some special types of production casing that require “O” rings installed. Since I don’t know the grade that BP ran, I can’t say for sure about that.

      2. Ballooning is somewhat difficult to explain but here goes. Sometimes in deepwater formations you will encounter a formation that is weaker than the surrounding formations. This weaker formation will be okay until you extert additional pressure on it; i.e., when the mud pumps (or cement pumps) are off they are fine but with the additonal pressure when the pumps are on, they will expand. Not fracture like in older formations but expand. And when you turn the pumps off they will contract. So you see a mud loss in the surface pits with pumps on and a big gain when the pumps are off. If this occurs in a hydrocarbon-bearing formation, you will most likely bring some hydrocarbons into the wellbore when the formation contracts. Been there and done that and it’s not fun. I understand BP had reduced the MW to 14.0 ppg from 14.6 ppg due to mud losses. They could have been losing at 14.6 ppg mud weight and ballooning at 14.0 ppg mud weight. I would have to see the data that BP has but has not been made public yet to determine if it was losses or ballooning.

      3. I am not sure where this clown came up with Smart Pipe since it is not used widely in the oilfield. In fact, it is still experimental and very expensive to run. With the current tools in the industry, MWD tools are used to pulse up formation data via the mud column inside and outside the drill string. Smart pipe will do this through the drill string itself.

      4. Some fools out there are referring to the Russians using nuclear weapons to stop a blowout they had on land. What they don’t say is that it took the Russians four tries before they were able to seal the well. They did not do this at the surface but through a relief well.

      I hope this has not confused you even more.

      Larry

      Like

      0311

      04/06/2010 at 14:38

  4. Here’s a more in-depth science oriented look at just how much oil is actually gushing out and what the potential is (hint: trillions of gallons at 15,000 psi plus):

    http://pesn.com/2010/05/13/9501651_a_volcano_of_oil_erupting/

    Like

    m_astera

    04/06/2010 at 10:17

  5. CG,

    I enjoy reading your blog and I very much appreciate your getting your “take” on what is happening in Venezuelan politics. However, on this post, you are doing a disservice to your readers by disseminating sensationalist, exploitative, and non-scientific nonsense.

    Firstly, let me note that UCAR is a private (not associated with a University, as their name would suggest) corporation. Their mission is get funding from the NSF (National Science Foundation), thus they must always find ways to justify the urgency of their grant requests. One of the ways they use to squeeze more American tax dollars out of the Government is to produce alarmist “scientific” pieces such as the one you used and then count on the public outcry and alarm to pressure the Government into authorizing money for “more research”. If you don’t believe me, please do your own research on this. It is BIG business!

    Specifically on this article:

    1. UCAR’s expertise is “Atmospheric Research”. They are in the “Global Warming” or “Sudden Climate Change” business. But now, just when there is money to be made off of the undersea oil spill, they suddenly become Oceanologists.

    2. Note the paragraph, “The research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation, NCAR’s sponsor. The results were reviewed by scientists at NCAR and elsewhere, although not yet submitted for peer-review publication.” You should find out how many of NCAR funded papers ever get submitted for peer review. Although many of these papers are produced by University scientists, they are paid for by UCAR, looking for something sensational to give to the media.

    3. Note the sensationalist non-scientific language used:

    — “….. best knowledge… the scope of this environmental disaster is likely…, with impacts that have yet to be understood.”

    I remember reading similar “end of the world as we know it” articles when the Exxon Valdez released its cargo of oil. The fact is that only two or three years later, there was no noticeable effects remaining. The oceans are very, very efficient at repairing themselves.

    Look, I don’t want to say that it is not bad. It will probably affect fishing, marine life, and beach communities from Louisiana to Florida and even maybe beyond. But it will get better and in two years or so, it will be one with history, except for the law suits, which will go on for a decade.

    As Steve and Larry said, let’s pay attention to the real experts, not sensationalist, headline grabbing, organizations, who only exist to siphon Government money into their coffers.

    Like

    Roy

    05/06/2010 at 10:40


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