Senator Nelson: The BP Well May Have Lost Structural Integrity Beneath the Sea Floor → Washingtons Blog
Senator Nelson: The BP Well May Have Lost Structural Integrity Beneath the Sea Floor - Washingtons Blog

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Senator Nelson: The BP Well May Have Lost Structural Integrity Beneath the Sea Floor

On May 31st, the Washington Post noted:

Sources at two companies involved with the well said that BP also discovered new damage inside the well below the seafloor and that, as a result, some of the drilling mud that was successfully forced into the well was going off to the side into rock formations.

"We discovered things that were broken in the sub-surface," said a BP official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He said that mud was making it "out to the side, into the formation."

On June 2nd, Bloomberg pointed out:

Plugging the well is another challenge even after BP successfully intersects it, Robert Bea, a University of California Berkeley engineering professor, said. BP has said it believes the well bore to be damaged, which could hamper efforts to fill it with mud and set a concrete plug, Bea said.

Bea is an expert in offshore drilling and a high-level governmental adviser concerning disasters.

On the same day, the Wall Street Journal noted that there might be a leak in BP's well casing 1,000 feet beneath the sea floor:

BP PLC has concluded that its "top-kill" attempt last week to seal its broken well in the Gulf of Mexico may have failed due to a malfunctioning disk inside the well about 1,000 feet below the ocean floor.


The broken disk may have prevented the heavy drilling mud injected into the well last week from getting far enough down the well to overcome the pressure from the escaping oil and gas, people familiar with BP's findings said. They said much of the drilling mud may also have escaped from the well into the rock formation outside the wellbore.

Yesterday, Senator Bill Nelson told MSNBC that he's investigating reports of oil seeping up from additional leak points on the seafloor:

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL): Andrea we’re looking into something new right now, that there’s reports of oil that’s seeping up from the seabed… which would indicate, if that’s true, that the well casing itself is actually pierced… underneath the seabed. So, you know, the problems could be just enormous with what we’re facing.

Andrea Mitchell, MSNBC: Now let me understand better what you’re saying. If that is true that it is coming up form that seabed, even the relief well won’t be the final solution to cap this thing. That means that we’ve got oil gushing up at disparate places along the ocean floor.

Sen. Nelson: That is possible, unless you get the plug down low enough, below where the pipe would be breached.

Indeed, loss of integrity in the well itself may explain why BP is drilling its relief wells more than ten thousand feet beneath the leaking pipes on the seafloor (and see this).

And Rob Cavnar, an oil industry expert, called directly on BP to be transparent about the explosions that caused top-kill to fail and address the reports of the massive subsurface leaks on the internet that have been by the underground blowout:


  1. Just Nuke the Place,Thats what were GOOD AT

  2. "Indeed, loss of integrity in the well itself may explain why BP is drilling its relief wells more than ten thousand feet beneath the leaking pipes on the seafloor (and see this)."

    And here I was thinking it's just because that's how deep the well is ... that's why it's called a 'bottom kill', isn't it?

    Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately - oil companies have geologists that have more knowledge about the rocks in that location than you or I. And the fact they're drilling deep doesn't set my bullshit detectors off in any way.

    I think the more interesting story is that this further indicates all these wellhead games are just a sideshow and the only thing that has any chance of actually working is the bottom kill.

    Just be glad they weren't drilling into hot mud atop a volcanic region -

  3. This means that my proposal to nuke the seabed near the piping is the only way to prevent this undersea oil volcano from becoming a undersea oil super-volcano.
    Earl of Stirling
    news blog EUROPE

  4. Nuking the blowout gives a 70% chance of it working. On the other hand Nuking the Blowout would 100% kill all life in and around the gulf for years to come. Birth defects, Cancer, Radiation poisen. These are the affects people living around the gulf would also face.

  5. hi:

    i stopped coming to your blog because you said you were taking a break. i know you said it was not clearly defined, but it seemed like a goodbye kiss.

    lo and behold i checked your site today and found new stuff.

    i'm not complaining, i'm happy you're back at it but i wanted to urge you not to quit. you're blog is fucking excellent.

    one suggestion if you get tired of it in the future. shorter posts. people will forgive you, at least i will.

    whoever you are, keep at it.

  6. Understands:
    I’m not so sure a nuke would kill all life, or any for that matter I believe the point would be to do it far down the pipe in the bedrock, more or less turning the bedrock molten and letting it re-harden. This far down below the surface and should prevent much of the radiation from hitting the sea, if I understand things correctly.

    Also, interesting article about pumping the ‘lake of oil’ out of the water. Apparently other countries have offered help...what do you think our response was?

  7. The base of the wellhead is leaking because the bore hole pipe is ruptured deep into the hole.

    The oil appears in cracks on the sea floor around the wellhead, which proves that the well pipe is ruptured below it.

    Plugging the BOP will only increase the pressure on the ruptured pipe below it and will not stop the flow.

    The simple solution, using known heavy marine pile driving technology, is to lower a 4’ pipe over the BOP and wellhead and drive the piling 200’ ( or deeper) into the sea floor which would seal the bore hole and the ruptured pipe inside it deep into sea floor.

    The bore hole pipe is 21 inches and the pile pipe is 48 inches in diameter. The oil flowing into the larger pipe at the surface reduces the 9,000 pound per square inch to less than half that pressure.

    The weight of the concrete that is poured into the bottom of the pile from the surface pushes the oil back down the hole because of the greater weight of the concrete. The column of concrete about 30 feet from the sea floor sets-up and seals the leak. The pile is than cut off above the concrete and can be used to seal multiple leaks using the same procedure.

    It would take 83 sections of welded 60’ pipe and 76 valves to get to 5,000 feet in depth and could be accomplished in a few days. The engineering problems of Hydrostatic Pressure in the open pipe and Atmospheric Pressure in depth are controlled with the valves.

    Think of the ocean as a great pressure tank and the deeper you go, the more pressure you have. No one has ever lowered an open pipe down into deep (147 atmospheres). When they do, it will be discovered that the ocean is the source for the greatest (hydrostatic) hydroelectric renewable energy on earth. Renewable energy is free energy and Big Oil doesn’t want it.


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