BP Admits That - If It Tries to Cap the Leak - the Whole Well May Blow → Washingtons Blog
BP Admits That - If It Tries to Cap the Leak - the Whole Well May Blow - Washingtons Blog

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

BP Admits That - If It Tries to Cap the Leak - the Whole Well May Blow

As I previously noted, oil industry expert Rob Cavnar said that BP must "keep the well flowing to minimize oil and gas going out into the formation on the side":

This has just been confirmed by BP.

Specifically, BP's Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles told CNN last Thursday that BP's data indicates that BP can't cap the leaking oil, or it might cause the well casing to blow out:

Suttles denies that there is evidence that the well casing has already blown out beneath the sea floor.

But many experts - including experts working for BP - say that there is damage beneath the sea floor. Indeed, Matt Simmons told Bloomberg today that America's top research vessel - the Thomas Jefferson - found that the well casing is gone, and can no longer even be seen on the sea floor, having been destroyed:


  1. The so-called "nuclear option" is a damned-fool's option. It is like blowing up the dam to put out the fire in the town below the dam.

    If the nuclear option were tried, and it were to be successful, -even for just a week-, it would herald in a new age of blowing stuff up with nuclear bombs in an effort to fix them, because (in the case the fix lasted only a week) some other fool-scientist would say, that A LARGER BOMB SHOULD BE USED. BRILLIANT!

    That's "scientific" for everyone looking on in awe at the sheer stupidity.

    If the nuclear option is used and it isn't successful, it's just like having poured even more toxic "dispersants" into the Gulf of Mexico in order to look like we're being scientific about things. BALONEY!

    Give the scientists a bunch of bananas and send them back to the jungle.

    Look, FOLKS, science sometimes has no solution.


    The very first thing that needs to be done, is to shut down ALL the off shore oil rigs around the country that are all-too-obviously scientific accidents of mass destruction, JUST WAITING TO HAPPEN.

    That is the only obvious lesson. This isn't some Star Trek challenge that is going to work out at the end of an hour's episode.

    And anyone else drawing other conclusions from these events should have their wooden head examined for termites.

    Environmentalists are dangerous, more dangerous than most scientists. Environmentalist want us to believe they are some kind of species'-saving religion-of-a-science. BALONEY.

    Environmentalists are just more scientists who want to blow things up, -to see if that doesn't make things better.

    HEY! I'm talking to you! Listen!

  2. What is outrageous are the Lies, Secrets and Cover-Up coming from BP and our failed, subservient government in response to this National disaster.

    Science, technology and regulation has been neutered, gagged and is but a myth.

    The in-house world criminals of Big Oil and World Banksters are in charge with the controlled mass media and Truth is powerless against them.

    World chaos, control and profit are their game and only revolution will set things right again. Nationalize Big Oil, World Banker, and World Insurance for the public good and bring the criminals to justice!

  3. You have to wonder what else BP and Obama are not telling us. I live in Texas. We figure the first hurricane that hits anywhere near La. will send all that crap to our coast. BP has effectively killed the Gulf of Mexico for generations to come. Bp will walk on this. They can't fix it, much less pay for it. They've ruined countless hundreds of thousands of lives.

  4. Hold on a tick, windcatcher. You would have these criminals become even closer through state control and nationalization? Public good?! I am all for public justice, but we need freedom and decentralization, not more National Socialism.

  5. "Public's lack of trust"? Not so. I think the public trusts that most everything said by a politician or a business executive is a lie.

  6. The nuclear option? Uh,well, that might not be a good idea. A large explosion WOULD crush the bore closed.. but would also fracture the surrounding strata, and the oil would then have many routes through the cracks in the earth to the sea floor and continue gushing out. Maybe hundreds of times greater volume than at present.

    I'm glad I don't live along the coast down there.

  7. The BP oil spill is 20 times worse than the media is telling us. The media is staging the clean up for the public so they won't get paranoid. It is like stopping a tidal wave with a broom. Don't believe what you are seeing on television. BP is burying animals and there is a stench in the air from all of the dead animals. The local people have taken it upon themselves to try and clean up the mess themselves. There is a extremely toxic and carcinogenic chemical being used to break up the oil that is polluting the environment even more. This is an environmental nightmare. The president is saying that "we are doing everything we can" but what is being done is not enough. BP is a diabolical company. They are only interested in profit. Call your congressman and complain to the United States government and tell them to stop lying to the American public.

  8. Pardon me when I say the truth of the matter is, There is no easy solution to this problem.
    You are exactly right though the government should never have ever let this happen that area is unstable, geographically there are mud volcanoes and at least 4 are active in that region surrounding the massive oil lake that was discovered on the gulf floor, Personally I believe it was a poorly built well in an area that should never have been drilled, and it just so happened that a near by volcano or underground explosion happened and caused the well to leak. But one thing they are absolutely right about, is that if the flow is cut off, and if as previously suggested by someone in an above comment, They cut off all oil wells in the gulf, that is ONLY going to make the lake of oil swell, and put more pressure on our broken well that is leaking into the gulf, and THAT I assure you will cause a much larger problem than we have on our hands now.
    But I am no expert, I have no solution on how to make this stop when it should not have happened in the first place :-( I am more enraged everyday.

  9. In a civilization that calls its citizens CONSUMERS, perhaps all who use any petroleum product (of which there are hundreds of thousands) should all be looking in the mirror at whose to blame. BP was simply going about business as usual, providing a well priced commodity to an oil voracious citizenry while trying to please their stockholders. Yeah, they screwed up, and this one is possibly an extinction level event.
    All this blaming and finger pointing is much like coming home to your house on fire and instead of picking up a hose and dialing 911 on the cell phone, you stand there and start screaming at the spouse and kids to see who left the burning cigarette in the ashtray.

  10. I think nuke is the only option, particularly if the casing has been breached. Think about a leaky hose - if you open the nozzle, the leak is less active and if you close it, the leak is worse. That's what a cap would do to a breached casing.

    The viability of using a nuke depends on the depth of the bore. If it's deep, the bedrock would be turned to glass and the bore contained without damage. If not, the risk of fissures is presumably real. Either way, this is a decision that experts need to make. Sorry folks, but we're not up to it.

    It's not enough to scream about how stupid BP is. They piss me off too, but the imperative is to stop the flow. If the relief wells fail due to the casing being breached and another two months are lost... goodbye Gulf.

  11. Matt Simmons' 'I can't see it so it's gone' comment is silly. Well casings can't be seen on ANY oil well, once the casing is in place.

    ZOMG! All the oil wells have lost their casings! And when I stand up, my LAP disappears!

    Then there are his comments about the "well head is leaking several miles away from the BOP"... The BOP is the well head, so how can it be several miles away from itself?

    Matt is a good guy, but he's really flaunting his ignorance about this situation. It's disappointing and it's scaring the stuffing out of a lot of people who trust him.

    Someone needs to show Matt a diagram of an oil well: he's either confused, or he's shorting BP's stock. My guess is the latter.

  12. While I agree with most of the commentary thus far, this statement: "I think the public trusts that most everything said by a politician or a business executive is a lie. " is not a wise axiom. If this is automatically presumed, then the only thing they would need do to cause you and I to make bad decisions would be to tell the truth.

  13. IMO, there are still real questions about Matt Simmons' views. For example, experienced oil types at theoildrum.com say the Blow Out Preventer (all 4 stories of it) is NOT supported by the mushy sea-bed, but by the well-head and well casing below it. If all that is blown, as Matt says, what is keeping the BOP upright? (Although others note that BP seems to have installed an "inclinometer" to measure the lean of the BOP, which may be falling over...)

    Second, while Matt talks about a dense black lake of oil hovering below the Gulf surface, most of the science reports I've seen so far describe a large body of oil so thinly distributed it cannot be seen by eye or camera, but only by sensitive equipment. Matt doesn't tell us that.

    Still, as you catalog in this excellent blog, events seem to be going more and more in Matt's direction, and he may have info from the scientists we do not. The jury is out, and the possibilities horrible.

    Note that the Russians only used nuclear weapons on GAS blow-outs (not oil) on LAND. It's never been done undersea, much less under a mile of sea water. The Gulf bottom is much different than the land conditions the Russians faced. It might not seal up at all into "glass".

    I've covered a series of rumors about the Gulf, some of them crazy, some of them possible, in my latest Radio Ecoshock Show. You can download the 20 minute MP3 here:


    Thanks for your good work!

    Alex Smith
    Radio Ecoshock

  14. The truth of the matter is that there is NO solution to this catastrophe. The oil will spill until it is all gone. BP (and America's insatiable appetite for oil) has killed the GOM, and probably the Atlantic Ocean as well.

    Not the environmentalists. Environmentalists don't drill oil wells.


  16. IT should not be lost on anyone that the oil explosion-spil occured on april-20th HITLERS BIRTHDAY!

  17. The broken well lies in what is called the Mississippi canyon, if someone sets off a nuclear devise it might well create a MASSIVE earthquake that could split the usa right up the mississippi river all the way to Canada ??? who wants to risk that...ever heard of the NEW MADRID FAULT LINE..might want to read up on that one.

  18. No Don

    It is more like blowing up the dam to put the fire out that is destroying your only food source. Do you try it or spend your last days starving to death and wondering if you should have tried it?

  19. Fascinating. In addition, please see the latest about methane and levels of radioactivty in and around the leak.

    This whole thing has such an Atlantis feel about it. Throw in the fact that the Rig Atlantis sits looming (it is HUGE) just miles away and the whole system is de-stabilized.

    We are indeed in "strange" days and stranger times.



  20. A few comments for clarification, and for those who do not know about drilling and such.

    Casing in a well is simply large, thick-walled pipe placed into the bored earth to (among other things) prevent the soil around the bore (formation) from collapsing into the bore hole. It is placed there in stages, so that the second casing in is smaller in diameter than the previous one, and so on down to the full depth of the well. The casing is, therefore, telescoped in, with the small end of the telescope deeper in the well. As each new casing is placed, concrete is forced around the bottom opening to make sure everthing which passes upward in the well stays inside the casing. If this concrete is poorly mixed, or not allowed to cure properly, anything inside the casing MAY get out of the casing and into the formation. The very first (and largest) piece of "casing" has a flange on top of it that sticks out of the ocean floor. It is this flange onto which the BOP is mounted.

    Apparently, the BOP is still over the well, and all of the oil coming out is still passing through it. For the casing to be "missing", it would have to have either blown directly out of the top of the BOP (destroying and dislodging it), or it may be eroded away by swiftly moving particulate under high pressure. This second is possible in this case, because presumably the very lowest (smallest) casing was not sealed properly, and an its lowest end is very exposed to the pressurized leak. I would say that anyone thinking of capping this well would have to consider the fact that high pressure fluids may decide to move up the OUTSIDE of the casing, which means any weak places in the formation could be intruded upon and "filled" or "eaten away" with fluids. This could lead to new and expanding caverns in weak areas, which, if close enough to the surface could certainly rupture out into the water - then all is lost. I believe such intrusion has likely already occurred.

    Anyway, the nuclear option seems reasonable at first, except (as has been pointed out elsewhere), if it doesn't seal the hole, then all of that radioactive material is going to come up into the Gulf waters. Of course that is more unacceptable than having oil everywhere, no? The idea should be dropped.

    BP is currently drilling "relief wells". These wells are to intersect the existing well at some depth, and BP will then be able to do something to seal the well without having to push something headlong down into the existing flow. If, for example, an attempt were made to push something down into the hole and inflate it to seal the leak, as soon as the inflated item reached somewhere less than the necessary diameter, it would have so much pressure behind it that NOTHING I know of could keep it from popping out of the hole, no matter how fast the inflation was accomplished. If casing is still in place where the relief wells intersect, I believe a successful plugging will take place. If the casing is missing, it is likely that the whole formation would have to be sealed somehow, which I suspect is impossible. Unfortunately, the casing was never designed to withstand erosion like it is experiencing, and my guess is that it is long gone by now.


  21. It always amazes me when I read the poop people write on these pages. As if any of you know anything about this! You are all ignorant of the scope, depth and breadth of this disaster yet spew off like experts. If you knew what this is really all about you would lose your minds.

    Just try to remember people that we live in a fabricated media world where you will never be told the truth, never be exposed to what we insiders know, and are really just a curiosity and a consumer. That you know nothing and that you don't know this is what makes you all so farcical. Go watch a football game trained seals.

  22. Dear Don,

    We have only two options and they are both extremely bad. The First is to let this oil keep gushing in the hopes we can collect all the surface oil with Costner type inventions..until the sea floor collapses and the tsunami wipes out the coasts of every country in the GOM...or ..barring that, allowing deep water oil plumes to continue spreading until caught in the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic is contaminated.
    OR we attempt to seal the fissures and breaks in the well with the drastic measure of detonating a small nuclear device under the broken well-cap.
    Stupid idea? better to detonate a mile under salt water and take your chances..than to wait for hurricanes and tsunamis to wash death and destruction over every coastline in the Gulf.
    As for radioactivity..the oil coming up is ALREADY registering spikes in the Geiger counters..and that is one reason crews and boats are being pulled out of certain areas.
    BR has admitted the well casing is not only breached but gone..so even relief wells won;t shut down the leak..no matter how many you drill or how soon they are drilled.
    So my question to you is..What would YOU do to fix this? And would it be based in science or wishful thinking?

  23. Look at these idiot conservatives NOT blaming the deregulation of the industry under the oil whore Bush. No they wouldnt do that would they, thats too easy. They need to blame Obama for not sticking his thumb in the well to stop it. Look morons, theres a big difference between a Hurricane that blows through, and a president that twiddles his thumbs instead of cleaning up the mess, versus an ONGOING corporate caused CATASTROPHE and even the industry EXPERTS being stumped. How about that idiot Texas Republican that apologize to BP?? There's your Republican corporate states of America. Since we're starting the blame game, how about Dick Cheneys Haliburton and their substandard concrete job? You conservatives are assholes as well as stupid.

  24. people are blaming it on BP and science. incredible!
    no one wants to think abou their oil guzzling life style?
    nothing comes free.

  25. I fail to see why they cant put a stack or column on this gusher,built up in modules , a heavy matearial such as iron ore could be used to support the structure ,layed up in a conical shape as the modules are attached,at least then you would have a hub to attach multi bleeds from.

  26. if they try to nuke it, they will kill off all life on the surface of the earth with a giant methane gas explosion(while "they" hide in bunkers), considering more methane is being released then oil, and the fact that protests were made before deep horizon even began drilling that the site they chose (for this purpose?)may be the biggest ancient methane bubble on earth. also, a giant methane gas release from the oceans + a consequent explosion could have killed off the dinosaurs.

    bottom line to me is, if the cabalists think they can survive it while killing off the rest of us, they are surely insane enough to try it.

    and to leading: fool, if "they" didn't sell us oil gussling cars, food/toys/cars/everything made of "disposable" plastics that are made from oil when they could easily and be more solidly built from other materials, then we wouldn't be dependant on oil. they have made us dependant on their products in order to make themselves rich. stop being so self deprecating.

  27. If all else fails try God
    Looks like he's the only one that can stop this
    Just depends on if we ask him
    Ask and you shall receive
    What could it hurt?

  28. Just looking at BP's diagram of the relief wells.


    I know nothing about this sort of thing, so does anyone here know how the drilling of the relief well is guided so that it hits the original well (both of them just a yard across or thereabouts?) at a depth in excess of 18000 feet? I just can't imagine how they do it.

  29. @Acadder

    It seems that BP will be killing the main well by pumping "a specialised heavy liquid" down the relief well which, as it is denser than oil will create a "hydrostatic pressure" that kills the flow, or so they say.

    Presumably the idea is that a column of sufficient height exerts such a high pressure that it overcomes the pressure from below and stops the flow, but I can't quite get my head round it, I must admit! In my mind's eye, I can imagine that if sufficient of the heavy liquid enters the upwards flow, it will fill the main well with the liquid, too, thus guaranteeing to stop the flow once the column is sufficiently high in both the main and relief wells. However, too meagre a flow of the liquid would presumably just be swept upwards as small globules in the high speed flow in the pipe and ejected at the top?

    Also, I haven't quite worked out how dense the liquid would have to be to overcome the pressure in the height available (the pressure obviously overcomes a column of water that high!) but in this case I imagine that even if it took the world's entire output of mercury to do it it would be worth it!

  30. The guy that said the well casing is severely damaged is obviously wrong because the oil is coming out the top of the well. It would not come out the top of the well if the casing was damaged like he said.

  31. In an attempt to add technical expertise to the myriad concerns expressed, I am writing to explain the issues having been a licensed petroleum engineer for over 30 years and based upon the comments am the only one who has actually been on a rig floor.

    The relief wells utilize tools that accurately measure the inclination and azimuth at the bit. It is a simply geometry calculation to know precisely where the hole is. Similar measurements exist in the blowing out well. In addition, the casing of the well to intersect also gives off a magnetic field. It's not easy, but has been done many times.

    The hydrostatic heavy of a weighted fluid is easily calculated. Fresh water weighs 8.33 pounds per gallon and has a hydrostatic head of .433 psi/ft.The bottomhole pressure is around 13,000 psi. The depth of the well is approximately 18,000' from ocean surface. There is no problem calculating the weight of fluid to match the reservoir pressure.

    The bottom kill will eventually work. During normal kill operations we have the ability to control the flow rate at the surface, thereby restricting the escape rate to match the rate we are pumping in at the bottom. It will be more difficult and will therefore require several circulation volumes to kill as the weighted fluid is diluted with lighter oil. Howvever, if it takes 15#/gallon mud, recognize that the volume we are trying to fill is only 350 barrels. The first shot will probably start injecting at 15#/gallon and the fluid returned at the top may only weigh 10#/gallon. This hydro static head will slow the flow rate by holding more back pressure. As they continue to circulate the weight out will continue to increase until the formation is balanced and the well stops flowing. Then the cement will be pumped and it's done.

    Concern about a shallow casing failure is only a factor about reducing the height of the weighted column. If we can only get a 12,000' column of mud instead of 13,000', then the mud weight will be increased to compensate for less height.

    The nuke option is completely insane. Take it from someone who has worked in Russia in the oilfields. Remember Chernobyl, the Russian oilfield technology isn't much better and I assure you is not something we want to emulate.

    Finally please ignore Matt Simmons he has no idea what he's talking about and has never been on a rig floor when it is trying to blow out,I have. At best he's a banker and at worst he's a journalist, I can't remember a time that I've called either profession to solve a technical problem.

  32. How many a man has thrown up his hands at a time when a little more effort, a little more patience would have achieved success?
    Elbert Hubbard
    US author (1856 - 1915)

  33. Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped.
    Elbert Hubbard
    US author (1856 - 1915)


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