Gulf Oil Crisis – Facts from Fiction, Part 3 of 3

Gulf Oil Crisis – Facts from Fiction, Part 3 of 3

Part 1 Here: Gulf Oil Crisis – Facts from Fiction, Part 1 of 3

Part 2 Here: Gulf Oil Crisis – Facts from Fiction, Part 2 of 3

The Plumber and The Sketch

If you’ve heard the recent press reports concerning the “mystery plumber” and “the mystery professor” you’ve heard the President’s various spokesman repeat some variation of the following, 

“an anonymous plumber … and he sent in a sketch …”.

The Administration has specifically implied that the “plumber” used his “knowledge” and “sketched” the design used to “build a better shut off device” to complete the July 12 repair? While not specifically stated by the President’s spokespersons, several news commentators have implied that a significant part of the 80 plus day delay in stopping this oil flow was due to the complicated process of “fabricating” the new and unique “shutoff device” “sketched” by our mystery plumber” .

 If nothing else, this Administration is brazen. Incompetent, but boldly brazen!

As I mentioned earlier in this post, the replacement BOP was obtained from Cameron International, the company that designed and built the original BOP. It was apparently, “on site” as early as May 2, if not earlier. One could check to confirm when the Discoverer Enterprise arrived on scene.

The Cameron Company invented BOPs in the 1920’s and has been fabricating “3 stack” 20,000 psi rated BOPs” for over a decade. The photo below was taken from Cameron’s on line catalog. It is a photo of the 3 stack BOP used to repair the well.

Cameron Double Ram BOP

Unless our “mystery plumber” and the “mystery professor” were founding members of the “Psychic Friends Network”

Cameron Triple Ram BOP

and had their phone call and exchanged the sketch 10 years before the Macondo Well Blowout took place, the “mystery plumber” had nothing to do with “sketching”the BOP used to “repair and seal” the well on 07/12/2010.

May 4th, 2010 Containment Dome

BP puts containment dome on gushing oil geyser. The well has been capped, more or less. BP engineers Thursday night guided a containment dome onto the hydrocarbon geyser shooting from the Gulf of Mexico oil well — a desperate and iffy attempt to capture the leaking oil and funnel it to a ship on the surface.

May 8, 2010

The effort to place a massive containment dome over a gushing underwater wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico was dealt a setback when a large volume of hydrates — ice like crystals formed when gas combines with water — accumulated inside the vessel, a BP official said Saturday.

The dome was moved off to the side of the wellhead and is resting on the seabed while crews work to overcome the challenge, a process expected to take at least two days, BP’s chief operation officer Doug Suttles said.

Suttles said the gas hydrates are lighter than water and, as a result, made the dome buoyant. The crystals also blocked the top of the dome, which would prevent oil from being funneled up to a drill ship.

“We did anticipate hydrates being a problem, but not this significant,” he said.

Two options officials are weighing to resolve the containment dome problem are heating the dome or adding methanol to dissolve the hydrates, Suttles said, adding that they are continuing to assess other methods to capturing the oil. Suttles said that another possible solution would be to “take ground up material of various types and try to inject it into the blowout preventer at the bottom of it and it will flow up and plug it up,” an operation he compared to stopping up a toilet.

The maneuver is called a “junk shot,” Suttles said.

What happened to replacing the BOP?

May 9th, 2010 – Top Hat 1

Top Hat 1 being lowered into Gulf

Chief operating officer Doug Suttles said Sunday that BP is thinking about putting a smaller containment dome over the massive leak after a four-story, 100-ton box became clogged with ice like crystals a day earlier. BP believes a smaller dome would be less vulnerable because it would contain less water. A day after ice like crystals clogged a four-story box that workers had lowered atop the main leak, crews using remote-controlled submarines hauled the specially-built structure more than a quarter-mile away and prepared other long-shot methods of stopping the flow.

May 12th 2010

New ‘Top Hat’ dome at Gulf of Mexico oil spill site – BP. A new steel dome has been placed beside the damaged oil well that has been polluting the Gulf of Mexico since last month’s drilling rig disaster, BP says. Dubbed the “top hat”, it is smaller than a first container dome which had to be set aside after becoming blocked by crystallized gas hydrates.

A second, smaller oil containment box was lowered into the sea near the blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico. The box was being slowly submerged to the seabed Tuesday. But it won’t be placed over the spewing well right away. BP spokesman Bill Salvin says engineers want to make sure everything is configured correctly and avoid the same buildup of ice crystals that stymied their first attempt at using a larger box that was about 100 tons. This box will be connected to a ship on the surface by a pipe-within-a-pipe when it’s lowered. Crews plan to pump in heated water and methanol so ice won’t build up. Salvin said undersea robots will position the box over the gusher by Thursday. More than 4 million gallons of oil have spewed from the well since a drilling rig exploded April 20.     


Top Hat 1

May 14th 2010 Insertion Tube – The Siphon

BP PLC will attempt to stop oil from continuing to leak into the Gulf of Mexico by inserting a tube into the leaking pipe, officials said this afternoon, a process that could start overnight. Officials with the company and the federal government chose that method over an attempt to cap the spill with a so-called “top hat,” which would have involved lowering a structure around the leak site. Still, the top hat option could still be used as a backup, according to Doug Suttles, chief operating officer for BP.  [Installing this “Top Hat” would require “cutting the riser pipe” – the Top Hat won’t fit over the “kinked riser” – Is that why the Feds have moved on to a “different repair”? So the Feds, the Obama Administration, is calling the “repair shots” and making the repair decisions.]  

A siphon pipe? What happened to the “Top Hat”? What happened to the 2nd BOP? I can’t get my head around their decision making process, frankly, it appears to be a flawed process that lacks proper prioritization…

Researchers who have analysed underwater video from the leak site estimate as many as 70,000 barrels of oil are leaking into the Gulf per day, with a margin of error of plus or minus 20%, significantly higher than earlier estimates. BP tries to thread a tube into the broken wellhead in an effort to collect some of the leaking oil in surface ships.

May 17th  

An undersea straw inserted into the end of the Deepwater Horizon’s broken oil pipe has given BP its first success in the nearly month long battle to lessen the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The siphon is collecting 1,000 barrels of oil a day – roughly one-fifth of the oil leaking from the wellhead, by BP’s estimates, though some scientists suggest the amount of oil leaking in the Gulf oil spill could be much greater.[1 barrel out of 5? No, 1 out of 70]

Is this how you measure success, siphoning 1,000 barrels out of a possible 70,000 barrels of oil leaking into the Gulf. I find this amazing. It must be easy to amaze me lately. If they knew the diameter of the siphon pipe, a pipe they have selected and inserted, they can calculate, in advance, the maximum siphon rate. I found it … siphon pipe is 4” in diameter inserted into the 21 inch riser …. Hmm … why did they bother to report the outside riser diameter … oil doesn’t flow through the whole riser, just the 9 7/8 production pipe, so at best,  we have a 4”siphon inserted into a an approximate 10” pipe… won’t be long till this is abandoned I hope …. The siphon is better than nothing, but just barely.  What happened to the “Top Hat” and the “2nd  BOP”?

May 21st 

Officials with BP say they’re nearly ready to try another method to try to stop the flow of crude oil that has been spewing into the Gulf of Mexico for over a month. The “kill shot,” which could be attempted as soon as this Sunday, involves first injecting massive amounts of heavy mud into the well head on the Gulf floor, followed by cement. Suttles said that BP is now trying the “kill shot” approach after more than four weeks, due to both the complex nature of the operation, and the desire to keep from making a bad situation much worse.  “The philosophy since the beginning as been to not take any action which could make the situation worse,” he said. Other attempts so far to stem the flow of oil have met with zero, or limited, success.

BP says a tube inserted into the gushing, broken pipe is now extracting about 5,000 barrels of oil a day, siphoning it to the surface for offloading onto waiting ships. However, as BP now admits that the amount of oil actually spilling out is unknown, that means no one knows what percentage of the overall spill that the tube method is actually capturing. [5,000 out of 70,000 barrels or 7% of the total]

Let me see now, 2nd BOP is trumped by “Top Hat”, which is trumped by “Pipe Siphon”, which is trumped by “Kill Shot”, which is really called the “Top Kill”. (The writer confused “Kill Shot” with “Junk Shot”), and “Junk Shot” trumps a 2nd BOP too.  A “Top Kill” shares some similarities with a 2nd BOP. A successful “Top Kill” has the potential to “shut in” or “shut off” the well. The “Top Kill” however, is a one way street, once “Killed”, the well remains “dead” or closed. If the 2nd BOP operates as designed, you can open and close the well, close the well off or produce oil as you like… 

May 26th Top Kill Starts

The top kill is underway, success uncertain. BP engineers are pumping mud at a furious rate into the damaged blowout preventer that sits on the uncapped well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. The hazardous-but-high-reward maneuver comes five weeks into the oil spill crisis amid an intensifying atmosphere of political recrimination that has spread from the Gulf Coast to the White House and Congress.  [There is a tremendous amount of misinformation, the BOP may have failed, but to describe it as “damaged” may not be accurate. The BOP “failed” because “valves” failed to shut, which means that you may have a completely “undamaged” BOP with the valves stuck in the “open position”. Fluids will pass through the BOP “unchecked”. The BOP will not function as designed, but it may have no “internal damage”. Five weeks since the Obama Administration received and discussed my idea publicly … I wonder what is going on … emailed the Unified Command Center again. One additional thought about the BOP: The BOP is a safety device and is designed to close the well off – the BOP’s primary safety function – close the well in an emergency, but not its only function. The secondary function is to allow oil to pass through the BOP – the majority of the BOP’s” life” is spent doing exactly what is doing today – sitting with valves open, letting oil pass through it… not understanding this point leads to many misperceptions by the general public. ]

…but this will only be a prelude to a permanent seal using cement.

May 30th – Top Kill Fails

Gloom grows as BP’s ‘top kill’ effort fails. BP acknowledged the failure Saturday of its latest “Top Kill” operation to tamp down oil gushing from its blown-out well, and launched a new interim effort to contain the flow. “After three full days, we have been unable to overcome the flow from the well, so we now believe it is time to move on to another option,” said BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles at a news conference with federal officials in Robert, La. In a surprisingly somber statement from the company that has sought to reassure the public over the last 40 days, Suttles acknowledged: “This scares everybody — the fact that we can’t make this well stop flowing or the fact that we haven’t succeeded so far.”

Ok, we have “Junk Shot” and “2nd BOP” on the bench … I wonder who goes in next?,0,1846585.story

June 1st 2010 – Junk Shot Fails

BP will “move on to the next option” after several attempts to stuff solid material and pump mud into a breached Gulf of Mexico oil well failed to stop the flow, according to a BP spokesman. …
Top BP executives said Saturday that engineers and scientists had decided to try a new technique of stopping the flow after three attempts to pump mud and 16 tries to stuff solid material into the well failed. That option: placing a custom-built cap to fit over the “lower marine riser package,” BP chief operation officer Doug Suttles said. BP crews were already at work Saturday to ready the materials for that method, he said.

There goes “Junk Shot”.

A new flow of oil emerged from BP’s damaged undersea well in the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday evening after a remote-controlled submarine successfully cut into the well’s riser pipe. (Actually, it was a remote controlled submersable vehicle, ok, you could call it a submarine). 4th – LMRP “Top Hat 2”i June

BP CEO Touts ‘Milestone’ Maneuver in Efforts to Cap Gulf Oil Spill: BP CEO Tony Hayward said the company should know within 12 or 24 hours whether their latest attempt to cap the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is working, touting a “milestone” maneuver that he admitted was risky. Hayward hailed the company’s work Thursday after underwater robots successfully sheared off a busted oil pipe spewing millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf, telling reporters that the company would have a “fully sealed” containment system in place by the end of June. Government officials have warned that cutting away the pipe could, at least temporarily, increase the flow of oil by 20 percent. 

The riser has been cut, so step one in my suggested repair has been completed. I would have cut the “riser” above the “kink in the riser” above the BOP, to restrict the flow of oil, until I was ready to add the 2nd BOP. I can’t believe all the oil escaping from around this “Top Hat 2”. Is this considered acceptable until the relief wells are completed – what happens if the “cement plugs” placed by the “relief wells” doesn’t take?

June 17th Congressional Hearings


June 23 Robots Bump “Top Hat” 2

Oil spewed uncontrolled into the Gulf of Mexico again Wednesday after an undersea robot bumped the cap being used to contain it, forcing BP engineers to remove the device and then scramble to reattach it.

The latest setback left nothing to stem the flow of oil at its source. A camera recording the well showed huge clouds of black fluid coming

06/23/2010 Robot Strikes "Top Hat 2" - Hat removed

out of the seafloor. BP hoped to quickly replace the cap, which since June 4 had been carrying some of the oil gushing from the blown-out well to a surface ship.

When you put a man on the moon or in space, you make absolutely sure you have a well developed backup plan of what to do in case of a failure.  Out on the deep sea the same rules apply — you try to make sure there are no failures in the first place, and when one does occur, you need a clear plan to take control of the situation. Such a plan has been glaringly absent by BP in the wake of the explosion of its Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Now the company has experience yet another embarrassing setback.  On Wednesday morning operators using the containment dome to siphon off some of the spilling oil witnessed a “burp in the line”.  That “burp” turned out to be a serious problem with the containment dome, which forced BP to remove the dome.

July 1st – Hurricane Alex

July 10th – Flange Removed – 2nd BOP added

The final repair starts.

Following approval from the National Incident Commander (Admiral Allen), BP began replacing the existing lower marine riser package (LMRP) containment cap [Top Hat 2] over the Deepwater Horizon’s failed blow-out preventer with a new sealing cap assembly.

Installation of the sealing cap is proceeding as planned. The Discoverer Enterprise removed the LMRP cap [Top Hat 2] at approximately 12:40 PM CDT on Saturday, July 10. The Discoverer Enterprise then moved off station. Following the removal of the cap [Top Hat 2], a subsea dispersant wand was inserted into the riser. Two plugs and all six flange bolts were then removed. The Discoverer Inspiration is now moving on station.

We are progressing on plan to install the sealing cap,” Wells said, adding that the company earlier Saturday removed the Lower Marine Riser Package cap [Top Hat 2] that had been used to collect oil …
With the LMRP cap detached, BP is using remotely operated vehicles to remove the flange atop the blowout preventer altogether, including the stub of the riser pipe the ROVs clipped with hydraulic shears in June to prepare the well.

Remove two plugs and six flange bolts, attach a new seal and bolt down a BOP. 11 weeks late and  175,000,000 million gallons of oil later.   

July 13, 2010

The three ram capping stack was installed on the Deep Water Horizon LMRP at 7 p.m. CDT. The stack completes the repair. Following installation of the capping stack and in line with the procedure approved by the National Incident Commander and Unified Area Command, the well integrity test will begin July 13 on the MC252 well. new sealing cap.

Cameron 3 Ram BOP

 installation process.

Post July 14th, 2010 – Oil Flow  

Part 1 Here: Gulf Oil Crisis – Facts from Fiction, Part 1 of 3

Part 2 Here: Gulf Oil Crisis – Facts from Fiction, Part 2 of 3



The Government states that BP has been working at “our direction” …

 “CAROL BROWNER: So, BP works at our direction. We provide them with what we want, what our scientists want …

Well I want to know who made the decisions to try what and when …. who decided to delay the second BOP from May 2, 2010 until July 14, 2010 – a total of 73 days and and 180 million gallons (180,000,000) of oil …. You can’t have it both ways.

It isn’t BP’s fault if BP is working at the direction of the Obama Administration …. and if BP is working at the direction of the Obama Administration, that would go a long way to explain what has happened in the Gulf since April 22, 2010 …

Update 07/20/2010:

I’ve found it difficult to quantify the amount of oil that may have entered the Gulf waters unnecessarily, oil that would have been contained within the well had the proper repair been completed when it was first considered in early May 2010.

The difficulty in quantifying the volume of oil is directly related to the fact that there are such divergent estimates concerning the total amount of oil to have entered the Gulf: The range of estimates runs from 92,000,000 gallons (PBS/NPR) to 184,000,000 gallons …

I’ve decided, somewhat arbitrarily, to use the lower limit estimate until an accurate figure has been determined and verified. I’ve decided to adopt this method to avoid any implication that I am attempting to inflate the damage done to the Gulf by the Obama Administration’s unnecessary delay in capping the well.

Adopting this methodology results in the following estimates:

Estimated volume of oil to have entered the Gulf: 92,000,000 gallons

Total number of days oil leaked into Gulf:  86 (from April 22nd until July 14th)

Average amount of oil leaked per day: 1,070,000 gallons.

Number of days oil flowed into Gulf unnecessarily: 71  

The BOP used to repair the well was “on site” on May 2, 2010, Day 11 of the spill. It took 3 days to complete the repair once was it started. The well repair should have been completed by Day 15.  86 days minus 15 days = 71 days                                                              

Amount of oil that leaked into the Gulf between Day 15 and Day 86: 75,970,000 gallons

(71 days x 1,070,000 gallons per day = 75,970,000 gallons)

75 million, 970 thousand gallons of oil – and this represents the minimum estimate.

Whatever amount of oil is ultimately determined to have entered the Gulf, over 80% of the oil entered the Gulf after Day 15. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: