Great Analysis Of Exactly What Is Going On
The BP Deep water horizon, Macondo Well Blowout.
and what we are facing in the Gulf.
I want to try and put in simple terms what we are facing as far as what is coming in this potentially catastrophic well blow out event. It's going to be a long post, but an important one, it is of critical importance if you are not fully aware as you can be of what is going on, what the action plan is and what is taking place, because this event may very well affect us all...as in GLOBAL. There is a lot of partial truths..a lot of falsehoods, a lot is not being said and a lot of lies are out there, I think we all see this...we all want some answers...we all want to have a grasp of what is happening. First of all, don't feel bad if you don't understand what is going on or feel sort of lost, this is an extremely complicated event. I hope I can inform people and give them some basic factual knowledge and I never ever mean to "Talk down" to anyone...I only want to inform and hope everyone that wishes to learn does learn...I also hope the "pros" fact check me and assure all that I do say is true and factual and if is not...then speak up......and also add in regardless.
With that being said I will try and instill the sense of urgency and seriousness that I personally feel about this....this is a bad one people...we are close...real close and all this is a very real, present and IMMINENT Danger. Trust me when I tell you that people who know are scared of this, it is THAT bad. People who deal with things that would scare most people half to death they deal with as a matter of course every single day...men who operate enormous machinery that most of us will never see or ever be around....I run and own some pretty big stuff...bigger and more powerful than cars or trucks, but the scale of some these oil and gas industry machines?...they dwarf these things...things so huge that most buildings cannot house them.....literally gargantuan equipment and all that is associated with it, huge forces and the people who operate these monsters?...they are worried, very worried....and they rarely worry, if ever....and I am worried...which is also not the norm.
This is an edge of the abyss situation that we are facing in my opinion. Forget what you see now...this oil slick is minuscule in order of magnitude of what could happen..what is near to happening and what ABSOLUTELY WILL HAPPEN if it cannot be stopped. I cannot impress this enough...NEAR...because it truly is near. You probably sense it...know that this could go big...well it can...and although you might not understand exactly what is going on you can understand that we are not being told everything and it is difficult to form a clear picture. I hope to make some things clear and give people enough of an information handle to "get it".
First, "What happened":
Simply put, this well had a "blow out" what that means is that explosive high pressure gas rose through the well pipe up from miles under the sea and the pressure blew off all the well control gear, valves etc etc. In this case...it also ignited and exploded, destroying the deep water horizon drill rig and killed 11 men. The reasons for this are certainly complex and will be argued on a technical level, forensic examination and investigation will be done to the most minute detail and certainly some reasons will be found and likely some questions will still remain. Changes industry wide will be implemented etc etc but all anyone needs to know right now is that this well system failed in some way to handle the immense pressure of the gas that infiltrated the well system...and all, or enough, of the complex safety systems failed. There will be time for blame later, there is an urgent matter at hand and what I want to focus on is what is left, what is happening and what is being done about it...
What is left of the well system and what is down there:
The well system doesn't really begin at the bottom or the top of the system itself. Where it really begins is at the well head which is the interface of the earth and the hole in the ground. The drill system goes up...the well bore system goes down...I call them systems because they are complex animals...the actual complexity is something not to be concerned with right now...but it is at that interface where the battle of man vs earth really begins.
Fighter earth is pretty simple..oil or gas..which man wants...mostly under massive pressures and in this case, very much so..held far away in a cavity tucked away which earth can easily hold under these enormous pressures...fighter man above?...not so simple....because we must use complex machines, valves and pumps etc etc to create our own pressure to combat earth and drive through and pierce that cavity and take the oil and gas. We create incredible pressures with dense fluids (mud) to equalize what earth does naturally...when they become out of balance?...we lose the fight...earth beats us and up shoots the "product" and we go boom or splash. To combat this if it does happen, we use what is called a "blow Out Preventer" or BOP for short....this is one of the few pieces left down there now and it attach's to well head...it's our first line of defense..and this is the "safety system" that you hear failed in this instance...
A subsea BOP is not a minor piece of equipment that might be merely the size of your refrigerator or a truck...in fact the one down there now is 60 feet tall and weighs 450 tons...that's 6 stories tall easy and it is a Massive piece of equipment....to give you all an idea?...I have some pictures of one that is probably an exact copy of the one on this well. Same company made it..and it's on a very similar site with almost identical specs...so this will be almost exactly it...right down to the "Yellow pod" which is it's control/brain...it's a huge piece of complex gear..here is what one looks like...
LMRP seperated to transport:
All together on a flat bed:
The bop is like a big hollow assembly "Stack" with hydraulics attached to it that fire big sharp piece of steel called shear rams across the hollow that can snip the drill pipe clean off and seal the hollow shaft, like a dog nail clipper, but it stays closed.
The drill goes through the BOP assembly which really consists of two pieces...the bop and LMRP..."Lower Marine Riser Package" the LMRP sits on top of the bop which is what the "Riser" attach's too and they are both hollow stack ups with rams that fire to seal the well off.
The "Riser" is a very large and thick steel hollow tube that "rises" to the surface and attach's to drilling equipment. The drill goes through the Riser...then the Lmrp..and then the bop...enters the earth and drills down. The drill is also hollow because it makes it lighter...so when you hear "Drill pipe"...it is because the long drill "shaft" is really a hollow pipe with a drillbit on the end. You have probably heard these terms used a lot lately, so now you know basically what they are.
All 3 pieces do remain on the sea floor, although not fully intact or workable as to what they were made for...and all 3 come into play as to what is now happening...and what will happen.
I will base the following on the facts as presented to me as I know them to be real and true. If anyone wants to play....it's all gone man!!!...IT'S A GIANT HOLE IN EARTH AND A VOLCANO MAN!!! or...it's all fake like the mooon landings!...all a show! or ZOMFG there is a million PSI down there and it's tapped in a quadrillion cubic feet of gas!!!...then I suggest you all use your own BS detectors and decide for yourselves what is real or not...and if any of the latter was true?...well...then there is no need to bother with reading this anyway...
What happened when the well blew out was that the bop failed to close...it should have snipped off the drill pipe and we wouldn't be here...but it didn't....I believe it tried to...but it didn't have the power to or something went wrong...I believe it is partially closed and perhaps squished the drill pipe some and is helping to restrict the flow...no one outside of BP really knows and maybe they even don't...but it failed for whatever reason...So the well blows up gas and oil...then explodes on the rig...2 days later the rig sinks...the well is blowing gas and oil up the whole time. When the rig sinks, the riser pipe is still attached to both the BOP and the rig, the drill pipe is still inside the riser pipe..a pipe inside a pipe.....it gets all bent up and twisted as the entire rig falls to the sea floor...sometime along the way down the riser and drill pipe inside it break off from the wreckage somewhere along that 5000 foot long pipe. It snaps apart and oil and gas start gushing out the end opposite the BOP. The portions closer to the well BOP are bent up from the crash and the end attached to the bop assembly?...stays attached, but it is bent over...the rig wreckage comes to rest on sea floor about 1500 feet away from the well, no longer connected to it....the pipes still attached to the well are gushing out oil even though it's mostly "kinked" up like a bent up garden hose and damaged....
And now...begins the fight against the open leaking well...
So of course this is a disaster...but BP owns a leaking well so they must act on that. They deploy ROVs to see what is going on...but I'm sure they already know...they have an out of control well at 5000 feet deep in the Gulf that is gushing oil...it's only a matter of "How bad"...at first it might not have been "real bad"...but it is now...and I will tell you why later...so BP tries to close the bop again with ROVs hitting failsafe dead kill valves...they fail...they cannot close the bop rams....maybe the drill pipe is bent to hell in there...maybe it's just too weak or damaged now, maybe it's a bad build...but it won't close..and it would appear they have given up trying...The whole time...oil and gas is rushing through as much as all the restrictions allow, those restrictions being the kinks in the hose...the maybe squished up pipe inside the bop and the partially closed snip system...but it is gushing oil and gas through under the high pressures of the well....leaking out causing the "oil slick spill".....but this is far from the only problem...
Oil as it comes up from the earth is not exactly "clean"....in fact..it has a fair amount of crud in it....sand, hydrocarbons, other solids...and these impurities, they are abrasive...just like sand paper...or more like a "Sand blaster" in this case...so this abrasive mix of oil, crud and gas is rushing through the steel tubing and the machinery of the BOP under enormous virtually inexhaustible pressure...and it's chewing away the steel pipes and parts that are holding it back from rushing more...wherever there is a kink or something in the way?...there is the force of the abrasive fluid slowly eating it, wearing it away, same for whatever leak that has high pressure fluid blasting through it...which may not be the ones you see, but ones inside what is left of the pipes that the fluid is really shooting out of or past.
So the "Leaks" get bigger because they are being eroded away, when that happens?...more fluid gushes past and they get eaten more, the faster it can leak, the more it will eat, the more it chews away, the faster it goes like a dam made of ice slowly but surely melting....and it will eventually go faster and faster until all the parts are worn thin enough that they will fail and explode off and the gusher will be more and more open...until it's wide open...no restrictions...THAT is inevitable, it WILL happen if this well cannot be stopped from flowing, it is only a matter of time and how much time is only a guess...but one thing that is certain...it will continue to gush more and more until it does eat everything away and is wide open.
Right now there are guesses as to how much flow is actually gushing out, but suffice to say...it's a lot...there are figures from 5,000 Barrels Per Day to 100,000 BPD....some are from video analysis of the "Plume video", some are from surface area calculations of the "Seen oil" slick..but even BP says they are all just guesses and even they are not sure...but take for example a low range number...like 10,000 BPD...next week it will be 15,000 BPD...+5k....next 25,000BPD....+10....next 40,000BPD...+15...and will increase in a geometric progression until it is wide open...estimates of that wide open flow rate are also guesses but IMO it could easily be 100,000 BPD if it blows out completely....and IT WILL BLOW OUT COMPLETELY if it cannot be halted or if for some reason nature slows or stops, which is highly highly unlikely. Even if there is 25% gas it is still 75k BPD of oil...over 3 million gallons per day...a couple of Exxon Valdez spills PER WEEK...and I used conservative numbers as you see...so it could easily do much worse...in fact my estimate could be the "Best case"...as bad as it is. The "Gas" escaping presents a whole other set of problems which depending on how much gas could escape might even be worse....but for another thread...Right now it is overall flow and mixed "Product" gushing out...and nothing in this flow is good for anything.
So there are really only 3 major pieces left...the BOP assembly bolted to the well head, the Riser pipe which is a 21" diameter steel tube with 1 1/2" thick walls and the drill pipe laying inside it...both pipes broken off laying on the sea floor gushing out fluid. There were 3 "leaks"....now they say 2, because one was the drill pipe end which is broke off farther away from the well head and is sticking out of the riser pipe, they capped that off, so it probably did not have a lot pressure in that leak, in fact BP said it did not decrease the flow...which makes sense if it is just broken off and laying inside the larger riser pipe, just held in by being bent up.
The 2nd leak we see in the "Plume video"...it is obvious the main flow is coming out the large riser pipe still attached to the BOP, but the "Other leak"...we are not getting any video of...and THAT one?...it is very likely that there is a lot more pressure there, it may be smaller and thus flowing less overall, but chances are it's blasting out a lot faster. This leak is where the pipe is bent over at the top of the BOP assembly and we have heard little about it, really just graphics with an illustration of something shooting out, but it is THAT leak, which MUST BE GROWING and is near the first bad kink over, that is probably where the Pipe which is being eroded will fail and be blown off the blow out protector...and THAT is inevitable...it WILL happen and is only a matter of time before it DOES HAPPEN.
Behind every restriction the pressure is greater than in front of it. Just like your garden hose swells up behind a kink...this is no different...so when that restriction blows away...the flow will increase greatly.
That is what they are up against...a broken bop tower attached to the well head...a leaky bent pipe coming out of that...and a "corrosive" (abrasive) fluid under high pressure shooting out the leaks and eating it all away at the same time. The clock is truly ticking and the erosion of the components will not and cannot be stopped as long as it's flowing.
What are they doing to fight it:
We have seen the cofferdams, outhouse, top hat both fail. Not surprising really, what happened was the large dome clogged with ice/hydrates...when the gas from the well shoots out it is very cold...the whole area is also under massive pressures because it is 5,000 feet below sea level which is about 2,200 pounds per square inch of pressure..everywhere....those are conditions under which these "hydrates" can form...and they are forming, it is probably like a hydrate snow storm down there. Methane Hydrates are merely Crystal structures of methane gas trapped inside water ice. So the first "outhouse" got clogged with these ice structures they believe now because it too big, had too much seawater in it, so more chance to create ice...failed...left to the side on the sea floor...the next "Top Hat"...smaller size so less water to make ice...they also had hot water and anti-freeze pumping systems on both to stop ice formation...yesterday we learned that the "Top Hat" was "set back"...no explanation...also seems to be set aside like it just wouldn't work....today we learn that they intend to stick a smaller tube up inside the leaky pipe.
All 3 of these methods were never intended to, or ever could "Stop the Leaks". All they can do is suck up some of what has already leaked out using their 3 different methods. This is not a bad thing because it will gobble up as much oil as they can and that will be that much less that leaks out into the Gulf....how much less?...until they get one to actually function?...no one knows, but all 3 of these things are a sideline to the main problem and main mission, and THAT mission is to stop the leaks.
Here is a giant sized picture of what it ought to look like down there, it also shows the new "Tube insertion" suc*** outer deal...woopeee!
[link to www.flickr.com]
BP knows they have they have a ticking time bomb, and how many ticks we get?...is only a guess, but they are well aware that is a finite number...and it's counting down unrelentingly 24/7...if you noticed...BP had the Bop's brain removed...there is a reason for this...and believe me when I tell you this is their number one priority mission and all these suc*** domes are more to make regular people feel good about less oil leakage, Yay! save Flipper and tippy the turtle!.... but they are not the Alpha priority for the engineers whom are well aware that a far greater and inevitable danger looms.....maybe why these measures seem half assed to us...likely because they are..and ultimately even if they did work?...they wouldn't have anything left to work on for long because the riser pipe is going to be blown off the blow out protector and there Won't be any oil shooting out the pipe laying on the sea bed...because it will no longer be attached to the well...BP has plenty of manpower and money so they can throw some at those things and it will make people glad to see that they are doing something...but that's all it is...the real mission is a technological challenge and is taking some time to setup...so if we all saw nothing happening?...people would be berserk by now...so you get some candy while you wait for the real thing...
The real missions are two approaches to the same thing, ultimately killing this well...sealing it off with cement and heavy fluids in the well's bore itself...that is the ultimate goal...and it's the only thing that will stop this....
The first part is the "relief" wells, these are long term long range solutions with a time frame of 90 days to drill the wells given to us....one was started on May 3rd...a second one should be started soon. They will intersect the existing well down at about 18,000 feet below the sea floor and through them they will pump in dense fluid and cement...and hope they clog it and seal it off from below...another Transocean deep water drill rig is there doing that now..
ROBERT, La. - The ultra-deepwater semisubmersible rig Development Drill III had begun operations for drilling a relief well Monday, May 3, 2010. A relief well is designed to drill down and intersect the existing well bore and pump heavy fluids and cement in to stop the leaking oil. Photo provided by Transocean.
[link to www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com]
They have released info that the first one was 9,000 feet down already...however..remember they have "turn" the drill...so to get 18,000 feet down and turn toward the existing well the actual length they must drill is longer...it also very tricky...they must hit the well bore that is there...it's been done before..but it is not too easy and it will take time....and time is one thing that is slowly ticking away....and if the well does blow wide open, which is inevitable...I would guess the task of clogging it becomes more difficult...because it rushes more fluid faster...they may have to wait for the second relief well to pierce through and capture more of the flow...I doubt anyone is really sure of what it might ultimately take, but in the only well blowout that was even close to this one, they did need 2 wells...and that one... was a weaker flow...
There was a blowout which was close to this... the IXTOC I blowout in the bay of Campeche in the Gulf of mexico. However much is very different...and this blowout now is very unique. The IXTOC I blowout is the largest accident spill/leak in History. It leaked an estimated 3.3-3.5 Million Barrels of oil...140 some odd Million Gallons. It flowed virtually full wide open for 9 months before they could stop it. They tried to close the bop, but it started to rupture valves and they had to open it to prevent it from being destroyed and ripped out completely from the well head, which would have made the task of capping it much much more difficult. The IXTOC I well blew out oil and gas at a rate of 10,000 - 30,000 Barrels per day...we may perhaps be at that rate already at the Macondo blowout...I doubt anyone is sure, but easily possible. One thing which is very different is that IXTOC I happened in 50 meters of water...about 165 ft deep....this one is in over 5,000 feet of water...divers can easily reach 165 deep...this is impossible at 5,000 ft...so everything must be done with remotely operated subs...making the task of working around the well head far more difficult.
[link to www.industry-tac.org]
The second and most important "Plan" is the top kill...or so called "Junk Shot"...this the BP engineers have been quietly working on and for the most part, it has been away from the eyes of the media, but make no mistake people, this is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THEY ARE DOING RIGHT NOW. From the little I can find about this they have removed the control brain from bop, they did this so they can control some valves differently than how the stack was designed to control them. They have fabricated a "Manifold"..this is just a few pipes that can be shot into one depending on which one they choose to open, a multi-port type apparatus. They intend to fire the "junk" into the choke and kill valve ports, which are at the very bottom of the entire bop assembly. They are usually attached to the very top rams of the blow out preventer and if the giant snipper rams closed?...those posts send extreme pressure via heavy pipes to help seal off the bop system by using the wells own pressure against itself...it's all part of the failsafe system...which failed.
So what they do is fire the "Junk shot" into the partially clogged already bop through these valve ports...and hope it clogs it off a whole lot more or even completely, but clogged enough for them to mad dash pump kill fluids and cement down into the well, through the same ports ...if it works. The junk as silly as it sounds is made up of different sized pieces that can create the optimum "clogs"...yes it is hunks of old tires, golf balls, pieces of rope with knots in it and other stuff of all varying sizes and shapes...right now they are and have been trying to create the "recipe" that will work, and they will try several recipes until they either give up...or it works.
There are problems which may be associated with this...if the connection at the well opening where the bop attach's is damged?...it may fail, because the pressure is going to increase under the clogged bop because it will be holding back more pressure...like a now working cork.....and from the mechanics of this "Junk shot" really being almost irreversable...if it does begin to come unglued?...I doubt they could stop it, they might be able to open some valves and relieve the pressure...but all that leads to one thing...the whole well is even more open...blowing out more gush..
If the Top Kill/ junk shot / clogger fails to work...the only other short term remedy will be to literally saw off the top of the stack tower and try to attach an entire new bop on top of the old busted one...that includes all the possible damage coming into play of course...and it also includes the whole thing being virtually wide open...because the entire riser pipe must be sawed off to do this. At that point if there is any busted up pipe inside the old bop or chunks of crap, that may get blasted out...if the rams are partially out in the stream, they might get train wrecked...because they are worn already, they must be.
There is no doubt that some damage was done to the connection because 5000 feet of massive pipe was pushed, pulled, shoved and bent around when the whole thing came crashing down....how much damage or not or even if it is leaking there we are not being told, but 60 feet tall of 450 ton blow out preventer being pulled on by a 21" diameter heavy steel pipe with a gigantic ship on the other end is going flex and torque whatever it is connected to...that you can count on, whether it took it and is still ok, take a guess cause I don't know...I truly HOPE it's at least ok enough to handle the top kill shot...because if it isn't...we are in very serious trouble and no one is talking about the well casing run all the way down itself possibly being damaged anywhere along the way...if that happened?...then the whole thing could tear itself apart, blast out of the sea floor and there won't BE anything left to clog up...just a real deep hole that will get bigger and bigger blasting out more and more as it does...and who knows where that nightmare will take us...but you can count on it being nowhere good, that's for sure...it would guess it would be like nothing mankind has seen...because we might not survive that one....it's just that huge an unknown...a roaring hole into a massive oil and gas deposit...I doubt anyone can calculate where it would end, or how much damage would be done...but "LOTS" would be an understatement.....
Anything after the top kill shots is desperation time, because the well will have to be opened up a whole lot more than it is now for anything else to be accomplished. If the riser is worn down and tears off before the top kill happens, that new BOP may take over the shot as the primary mission...they are prepared to some degree for this and there is a new bop on the rig in position, that has been disclosed.
So this the "Plan"
Ongoing: drill relief wells the whole time.
1. Suck away what they can, if they can. This does NOTHING but remove "some" oil from entering the sea.
2. Top kill clog shot. If it works, they will pump in heavy "mud" and then cement immediately and the well will stop gushing, it will be effectively "Killed" sealed off, leak over. <<<PRAY THIS WORKS!
3. New bop install. Saw the top off. If they get to this point the well is blowing out far more than it is now. They will have to put the new unit in place through that raging stream.....via remote subs...a very very difficult task to be sure. This is desperation time....
4. Relief wells connect and pump in fluid and cement and kill the well from 18,000 feet down...if they can, still a challenge....90 days out minimum from may 3rd when the first well began. They should be able to slow down the flow even if they cannot kill it with one well...the second well is 90 days away from...Sunday May 16th..
That's it guys...it's all we got and the situation is dire....aside from the extreme possibles like exploding a massive charge to crush the thing closed...and THAT IS being discussed...if it takes an atomic bomb to do it?...we may very well face a situation THAT desperate....this thing is an almost unimaginably powerful monster that we have just stabbed with a knife and spit in the face of.... and it's in a very weak cage, it doesn't sleep, it doesn't need to eat and it only gets stronger and more fierce as time goes by...it's going berserk and it's wrecking it's cage, tearing at it, screaming, bolts starting to pop loose and it's not going stop smashing and bashing anytime soon...oh and btw someone just handcuffed you to the bars and you cannot get away now.
I say this because the amount, the insane volumes, of gas and oil that could be released if this thing blows apart are truly of nightmare proportions...this one isn't in the south western gulf like the IXTOC blowout was...the GOM is sort of separated into two portions and the western side is sort of trapped...the Eastern side is not and the "Loop current" which connects to the "Gulf Stream" flows right through this side...it will carry the oil spillage out into the Gulf stream and all the way up the eastern seaboard all the way to the UK and Europe where it ends. There will be who knows how many cubic feet of gas released into the atmosphere and the surrounding area with an untold amount of toxins...the economic implications are dire...the fishing industry annihilated, beaches and tourism to them destroyed...and who knows what other effects there will be..it's a very very bad disaster to say the least...it's bad enough NOW...and THIS IS NOTHING COMPARED TO WHAT MAY HAPPEN...and WILL HAPPEN if they cannot stop this thing...you must get your head around that, nothing will stop this from blowing apart and going wide open if the rush of fluids cannot be halted, it is a CERTAINTY.
It's beyond our control as regular citizens really...we ALL should be screaming at our leaders that we do realize the consequences and to take this seriously...and I mean like War footing seriously, because it could get that bad....we can and should be aware of the historic nature of this thing because it IS being downplayed in the media...it could create mass panic if people really knew..and it still might if it does blow apart because there won't be any booms, any suc*** hats or tubes or anything else that is going to do jack shit to stop it...it'll be like trying to blow a tidal wave away with a soda straw and everyone become well aware of just how weak and puny Man is compared to the forces of nature. If the well does cut loose? we are talking thousands and thousands of square miles of toxic crud....I'm not even sure the well drilling rigs would even be able to operate in the area...a massive rush of gas can sink ships...the gas is not breathable and it's Explosive too...One thunder storm comes by and a lightning strike?....BOOM...I'm sure the men working there realize they are probably in one the most hazardous work zones they have ever been in...I don't think it's an ELE or something of that order, but we don't need to be wiped out to be stuck enjoying a giant bowl of SUCK...for a very long time...
And all the while?...the wear out, blow apart countdown timer is ticking away on a huge time bomb that WILL go off, but no one knows when...and they are racing against it and it never stops ticking away....I truly hope we win that race...
I am telling you all this so that you will understand what we face..and also so that if you live near the Gulf you can make preparations for the possibilities...which could be incredibly bad...panic evacs or just plain mass panic, badass noxious fumes or worse...I guarantee that NO ONE knows for sure.
They really only have one shot here...and that is the top kill, Watch for it and pay attention, be aware what this all means to ALL OF US and I hope I explained things well enough to be understood by anyone. The top kill shot should be coming soon...I hope...as soon as possible....if you hear it failed...or if the well blew itself apart before they can do it...get the f*** ready, because Pandora's box is about to open wide and the closest thing to the SHTF for real that we will likely see in our lifetimes is about come charging out at full rampant force...and it's a very large and deep box....