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  • Deepwater Horizon – Worse To Come

    The April 20, 2010 well blowout and fire at the Deepwater Horizon oil platform in the continues to hemorrhage oil into the Gulf of Mexico. More troubling are the signs that the high-pressure discharge of oil, gas, and particulates is weakening the geology of the ocean floor around the wellhead. Cracks have formed in the ocean floor and oil has begun leaking from those cracks as well as from the wellhead itself, suggesting that the integrity of the well shaft itself has been compromised, either by the high pressure flow or damage sustained during the failed efforts to “top-kill” the well with high pressure mud.

    The appearance of cracks in the ocean floor suggest that the pressure of the blowout has not only weakened the structure of the floor but may also have partially hollowed it our under the well head, raising the possibility of a partial collapse of the sea floor. Some not-very-well-sourced reports have raised the possibility of an imminent large-scale collapse of the seafloor in the area of the well. Let’s hope those are just hysterical crackpots being themselves.

    Of interest is the fact that no one outside of BP knows the details of the geology under the well site because BP did the geological survey and refuses to release the information – classifying it as proprietary trade secrets. Beyond that, no one has any experience with an event of this type or magnitude, and so no one knows what’s likely to come next. Some sort of geological activity ...




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  • #2
    Every word beyond the first sentence is 100% abject nonsense, factually wrong and belies a total ignorance of geology and petroleum engineering. The “supporting” link is so riddled with pseudo scientific babble, that it's not even accurate enough to qualify as bad science fiction.
    Last edited by The Doctor; 10 Jul 10, 17:04.
    Watts Up With That? | The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change.

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    • #3
      I tried to post this comment on Great History blog post

      How many semesters of geology did you flunk?

      Every word in your article, beyond the first sentence, is abject nonsense. This sentence is a lie:

      "Of interest is the fact that no one outside of BP knows the details of the geology under the well site because BP did the geological survey and refuses to release the information – classifying it as proprietary trade secrets."


      BP's partners (Anadarko and Mitsui) know exactly what BP does about the geology. The MMS has all of the data that BP has. Operators have to provide all data to the MMS - even on "tite holes" and proprietary geophysical surveys. All of the companies that bid against BP in OCS 206 on March 19, 2008 know enough about the geology to have bid up to 10's of millions of dollars on the lease. BP's high bid barely beat out small independent LLOG...
      BP Exploration & Production Inc. $34,003,428.00
      LLOG Exploration Offshore, Inc. $33,625,000.00
      Noble Energy, Inc. $17,225,650.00
      Red Willow Offshore, LLC $14,075,000.00
      Eni Petroleum US LLC $4,577,115.00
      Anadarko E&P Company LP $2,145,950.00

      Only one of BP's competitors for the lease, Eni, was a major oil company. The rest were small, mid-sized and large independents. All of those companies knew enough about the geology to bid on the lease. I don't work that particular area, but I know enough about the geology to know the approximate size of the reservoir, thickness of the sands and that the sands are Middle Miocene age and trapped against a Cretaceous unconformity. Any company that is a member of the Offshore Oil Scouts Association (OOSA) also knows a great deal about the drilling procedures and hole conditions.

      This bit is sheer crackhead conspiracy nonsense...

      "The appearance of cracks in the ocean floor suggest that the pressure of the blowout has not only weakened the structure of the floor but may also have partially hollowed it our under the well head, raising the possibility of a partial collapse of the sea floor. Some not-very-well-sourced reports have raised the possibility of an imminent large-scale collapse of the seafloor in the area of the well. Let’s hope those are just hysterical crackpots being themselves."


      If you had the slightest clue as to what you were writing about, "hope" wouldn't come into play.

      This bit isn't even realistic enough to be bad science fiction...

      "At the other end of possibilities is a sudden and fairly large collapse of the ocean bottom which could release up to several billion barrels of oil into the ocean (this is, by the way, possibly the largest single oil deposit on the planet) as well as creating a tsunami which would at least affect the other nearby deep drilling platforms, and could (depending on intensity) devastate all of the Gulf states."


      That's idiotic. It's physically impossible.

      Where did you get this bit? "This is, by the way, possibly the largest single oil deposit on the planet." It was a nice discovery before BP FUBAR'ed the T&A by poor-boying things to save a few days of rig time. If this was "possibly the largest single oil deposit on the planet," BP would not have been T&A'ing it for a future completion and subsea tieback. They'd be fabricating a TLP or some other dedicated facility - And they sure as Hell would not have poor-boyed the T&A.

      (It appears that the comments on the Great History blog posts are disabled; as no comments are visible after the blog post.)
      Last edited by The Doctor; 11 Jul 10, 08:01.
      Watts Up With That? | The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change.

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      • #4
        Here is a link to a good review of the disaster to date along with a non-hysterical look at the developing geological problems.
        Good grief!

        This "good review" is primarily sourced from an idiotic blog post on the Oil Drum!

        Even the alleged "real source" cited, a Newsweek story, is sourced from that same idiotic Oil Drum post.

        ad infinitum
        Watts Up With That? | The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change.

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        • #5
          I'm with the Doc on this one, Catastrophic collapse of the seafloor just doesn't work.

          A few things to consider. For that idea to be real, the oil would have to be in a void like an underground cathedral, with the rock above it like a supporting beam which would suddenly collapse as the supporting oil is drawn away.

          Firstly, Oil reserviors are not giant storage barrels under the ocean, they are honeycombs and layers of rock full of (relatively small) voids.

          Secondly, even if the oil was in a giant cavity, the rock mass above it is not like a steel reenforced concrete Bridge beam that would hold up the roof then suddenly collapse. Any rock mass would be full of joints and faults and will slowly and gently settle in thousands of small movements.
          Last edited by Chukka; 11 Jul 10, 18:23.
          One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions - Admiral Grace Hopper

          "The eunuch should not take pride in his chastity."
          Wu Cheng'en Monkey

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          • #6
            The blog post author, Frank Chadwick, very courteously replied to my comments...
            Doctor and David, thanks for joining the discussion, although I think you go pretty far over the top on this one. When you say that everything I wrote after the first sentence is either factually incorrect, a lie, or nonsense, you put yourself in a pretty interesting corner. My second paragraph deals with the worst-case seabed floor collapse theory by saying that it is not very well sourced and that it is probably just crackpots being crackpots. What would you consider that assessment — incorrect, a lie, or nonsense? I bet none of the above, because if you did consider it any of those, you have just joined the ranks of those predicting a tsunami which will destroy the Gulf Coast and kill millions, which I doubt was your intention.
            David and The Doctor are one in the same. I thought my first comment had not posted.

            I have been an oil industry geoscientist for almost 30 years. I have worked the Gulf of Mexico for more than 20 years.

            I can assure you that your entire blog post beyond the first sentence is nonsense.

            The seafloor collapse/tsunami thing is not a "worst case scenario." It is physically impossible. Suggesting that it is a worst case scenario is either a lie or a demonstration of scientific illiteracy.

            The erosion and/or degradation of the casing in the well could not lead to such a thing happening. The worst case scenario is that the wellbore would be so compromised that they can't shut it in with a containment cap system. However, they have more than enough production vessels on hand to produce the entire flow until the relief wells can effect downhole plugging. Furthermore, sand flow would eventually plug the well. We spend lots of money in the Gulf of Mexico installing gravel packs and other sand control equipment because sand flow plugs wells. If this well was producing a lot of sand... Someone would have noticed it by now.

            Readers are always right to ask for sources and I am happy to provide them when there is some controversy involved.

            The possibility of the well shaft being compromised, either by erosion due to the leak or damaged caused by the failed top-kill attempt has been widely reported, specifically in a June 23 Newsweek article (link), a June 29 BNET article (link), and a well-sourced June 18 article in the New Orleans Times-Picayune (link).

            Newsweek reported, “It’s possible that hydrocarbons are leaking out the bottom or sides of the well. If so, they might erode surrounding sediments and undermine the foundation upon which the 450-ton blowout preventer sits.”
            The Newsweek article was sourced in part from the idiotic Oil Drum blog post.
            Bob Bea, professor of engineering at the University of California, Berkley and organizer of the Deepwater Horizon Study Group, quoted in The Times-Picayune article, has said there is definite reason to think that oil and/or gas is leaking from the well from places other than the containment cap. “The likelihood of failure is extremely high. We could have multiple losses of containment, and that’s going to provide much more difficult time of trying to capture this.”
            Bea is talking about the risks of an underground blowout. Not some idiotic idea that the oil and gas will erode the casing to the point that the BOP stack topples over.

            Beyond the mainstream media, there has been a lot of activity on message boards frequented by current and retired professionals in the energy business. The highest profile posting has been on The Oil Drum site, and a post by “dougr” has been widely reported and commented on. It is probably the most authoritative-sounding of the “worst-case” arguments. (link)

            Also, here is a very detailed and cogent reply to the “dougr” post, also on The Oil Drum site, from “shelburn,” a retired manager for an offshore underwater services company. (link)
            The Oil Drum is an interesting website and it does occasionally have some well informed articles. But it is also riddled with crackhead conspiracy crap.

            In my third paragraph I say, “Of interest is the fact that no one outside of BP knows the details of the geology under the well site because BP did the geological survey and refuses to release the information – classifying it as proprietary trade secrets.” David brands this sentence a lie. Lie is a pretty ugly word.

            To the best of my knowledge, the sentence is correct. The fact that BP may have shared information with its partner firms is irrelevant, the fact that other firms may know enough to bid on a lease is irrelevant, and sharing of information with the MMS is also irrelevant. None of those claims specifically denies the claim made, which is that it has proved difficult or impossible to independently assess the geology of the well site as BP considers the geological survey information a proprietary trade secret.

            David Phillips, on June 29 wrote for BNET, “We know little about the underlying geology of the spill site since BP has held that information close, claiming that it’s “proprietary” data. Scientists are clamoring for BP to publicly release geological survey data. . .”

            Newsweek on June 23 wrote, “The likelihood of a complete collapse is difficult to assess, in part, engineers and legislators say, because BP hasn’t shared enough information to evaluate the situation.”

            The Time-Picayune on June 18 wrote, “(Professor Bob) Bea (of the Deepwater Horizon Study Group) said BP isn’t sharing enough information for others to know. If there is oil and gas escaping from the sides of the well, it could erode the sediments around the well and eat away at the support for all the heavy equipment that sits above”
            Bea did not say that. The reporter said that "it could erode the sediments around the well and eat away at the support for all the heavy equipment that sits above." The only actual quotes of Bea had to do with concerns about wellbore integrity.

            Furthermore, withholding information on the spill based on the proprietary trade secret claim is nothing new for BP. On June 9 the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Institute released a letter from Andrew Stephens and Devon Humphrey (link) which said, in part, “Almost every map and geographic display representing the Deepwater Horizon Incident is sourced by GIS data. Current GIS management processes indicate that BP is treating GIS data as proprietary information, and these data are currently being stored behind the BP corporate firewall.”
            GISI has nothing to do with geological data.

            As far as trade secrets… The Gulf of Mexico is heavily covered with multiple 3d seismic surveys that are shot, processed and sold by geophysical contacting companies like Western-Geco, TGS and CGG-Veritas. Both Western-Geco and TGS have 3d surveys available for purchase that cover Mississippi Canyon and the Macondo discovery. The TGS survey is a new wide azimuth survey. All of the well data in the surrounding area are also available for purchase from various vendors. All of the companies that bid against BP had the same (or nearly the same) data. This area is not a frontier region. Every company working Mississippi Canyon (dozens of companies) is very familiar with the geology of the area. The only data that were not publicly available 90 days ago were the logs and detailed well data from the Macondo well itself. Normally, companies are allowed to hold data for two years from the date of well TD. Then those data have to be publicly released. However, BP has had to give the gov't all of the data right from the beginning. No company is allowed to withhold data from the gov't. BP also had to share all of the data with their partners, Anadarko & Mitsui. General data about the well are available to all members of the Offshore Oil Scouts Association (OOSA). As the result of the various congressional investigations, BP's well logs and all of the drilling data are easily obtainable by anyone interested in obtaining them. The US House Committee on Energy and Commerce has a lot of documents pertaining to BP's blown out well on Mississippi Canyon Block 252. Most interesting to me was a copy of the resistivity log over the pay zones...



            The arrows point to the pay zones. It's a nice looking log; but not really very spectacular looking. The really interesting thing to me was the pore pressures. The main pay sands from 18,075' to 18,155' are not abnormally pressured. 12.5 to 12.6 pound per gallon is very normally pressured for that depth. It might even be a tad bit under-pressured.

            It also appears that they may have encountered a pressure inversion. Geopressure generally increases with depth. The pressure at 17,730' was 14.1 ppg and 13.01 ppg at 17,820'. They were drilling the well with 14.5 ppg mud and were having a lot of problems with losing mud into the formation.

            Committee on Energy and Commerce Documents Page

            A copy of the resistivity log over the pay zone is on PDF page 6 in this document... BP - Production Casing & TA Options-Liner Preferred Long Version

            There is nothing being kept secret by anyone regarding the geology of the area.


            As to the deposit being the largest on the earth, that statement was incorrect and I appologize for it. Although it appeared in an open source, I’m now not sure what the original source was thinking – possibly that it was the deepest deposit currently being worked rather than the largest. Mea culpa.
            In the Gulf of Mexico, there are more than 120 wells producing from reservoirs deeper than 20,000' below sea level and more than 70 producing from reservoirs more than 20,000' below the seafloor. Macondo's main reservoir is about 18,200' below sea level and only 13,200' below the sea floor.

            As far as water depth... There are more than 120 productive wells in the Gulf of Mexico in water depths greater than 5,000'... Deeper water than Macondo. There are 30 in water depths greater than 7,000'. The deepest water depth of a completed well in the Gulf is 9,356'.

            For the record, the largest oil deposit in the world is the Ghawar field in Saudi Arabia, with an estimated original volume of 96 billion barrels, of which about 55-60% have been extracted to date. BP’s Tiber Prospect in the Gulf, discovered in 2009, is pretty large but nowhere near as large as Ghawar – maybe 4 to 6 billion barrels. The Macondo Prospect, which Deepwater Horizon drilled into, is smaller, but both deposits are part of a fairly large region of oil in the Gulf held in the Lower Tertiary strata and estimated as holding up to 16 billion barrels.
            Macondo is not a Lower Tertiary reservoir. It is middle-Miocene. It is about a 50 million barrel discovery. This is nice; but far from one of the largest in the Gulf of Mexico, much less world. It's not even close to the largest discovery in Mississippi Canyon in the last five years. As far as this being related to BP’s Tiber prospect… Tiber is a Lower Tertiary discovery in Keathly Canyon Block 102. KC 102 is over 300 miles to the southwest of MC 252. Tiber and Macondo are more than 300 miles and 10’s of millions of years apart. They are not related to one another geologically or geographically.


            I apologize for my rudeness. Bur lies and misinformation about this spill (like your blog post) are being used by politicians and people in the media to threaten the jobs of hundreds of thousands of oil and gas industry professionals.
            Last edited by The Doctor; 16 Jul 10, 10:33.
            Watts Up With That? | The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change.

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            • #7
              Dave you not only owned him, I almost feel like offering you a mop so you can clean up the mess you made of him
              Life is change. Built models for decades.
              Not sure anyone here actually knows the real me.
              I didn't for a long time either.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by les Brains View Post
                Dave you not only owned him, I almost feel like offering you a mop so you can clean up the mess you made of him
                Almost three months of lies and misinformation in the news media (including Fox News) and on the Internet has put me in "no quarter" mode...



                Particularly when the lies & misinformation intrude into this forum.
                Watts Up With That? | The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change.

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                • #9
                  leave it to Doc to defend the oil companies. That's where his money comes from so remember that before swallowing his oil-apologies.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CupASoup View Post
                    leave it to Doc to defend the oil companies. That's where his money comes from so remember that before swallowing his oil-apologies.
                    If Doc is shillin, he's damn good...even without the graphs.
                    How many Allied tanks it would take to destroy a Maus?
                    275. Because that's how many shells there are in the Maus. Then it could probably crush some more until it ran out of gas. - Surfinbird

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by CupASoup View Post
                      leave it to Doc to defend the oil companies. That's where his money comes from so remember that before swallowing his oil-apologies.
                      So... The entire post was over your head? Did you at least understand the one-syllable words?
                      Last edited by The Doctor; 19 Jul 10, 10:03.
                      Watts Up With That? | The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change.

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                      • #12
                        Hehehehehehehehehehehe

                        Hey wait, if that is true, Doc has been cheaping out on me for all of my support. Hey Doc, how about slipping me some of that oily money man, I could use a bit of help here eh
                        Life is change. Built models for decades.
                        Not sure anyone here actually knows the real me.
                        I didn't for a long time either.

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                        • #13
                          Someone going by the handle "Naturalist" has joined the discussion...
                          Don’t pay attention to them they are probably shills, ostriches or kids anyway.

                          LINK
                          "Them" refers to me (David and The Doctor).

                          Why is it that the rhetorical skills of most Enviromarxist Libtards consist of nothing more than ad hominem and appeal to authority arguments?
                          Watts Up With That? | The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by les Brains View Post
                            Hehehehehehehehehehehe

                            Hey wait, if that is true, Doc has been cheaping out on me for all of my support. Hey Doc, how about slipping me some of that oily money man, I could use a bit of help here eh
                            The "oily money" has been kind of thin since September 2008.
                            Watts Up With That? | The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change.

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                            • #15
                              Good to know that Apocalipse will be postponed.
                              Kosovo is Serbian.
                              I support United Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
                              Behead those who say Islam is violent!

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