Category: Behind the Scenes at the Teleconferences



07.30.2010

After Tropical Storm Bonnie passed, operations to place a plug at the bottom of the relief well to maintain integrity resumed only to find that at the last 40-65 feet, a wall of sediment collapsed into the well.

Ret. Admiral Thaad Allen stated that, “this is not a huge problem”.  Yet, the lack of reassuring talk after this statement on whether or not this collapse had weakened the well’s integrity, left me feeling otherwise.

The next step for the relief well is to lay the final casing line which was to take place this Saturday and Sunday; however, this operation cannot commence until all of the debris is removed. This removal process is expected to take 24-36 hours.

Several weeks before, question after question were dismissed by BP and the federal government about the relief well failing saying that it was highly “unlikely” so the focus was not on a “back up plan for the back up plan”.

“Drilling back-to-back relief wells is a “belt and braces” approach, and “will assure ultimate success,” Former CEO Tony Hayward told reporters back in May.

If this is the forerunner of what we can expect as we near the drilling intersect, we need to start discussing the details of Plan K.

For if the relief well fails, we run the risk of introducing an additional 240,000 barrels per day into the Gulf of Mexico.

Failing to acknowledge the risk will not make it go away.

Hasn’t BP learned that by now?

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.

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07.20.2010

In a dire attempt for BP to seem as they are exhausting all possibilities, a “new” option to seal the well was announced. Let’s be real though, not only is it not a new concept~ it’s a dangerous one.

The “static kill”, while still in it’s infancy design and implementation stage, is the latest attempt to keep the well closed in until the relief wells are fully operational later this month.

However, if one takes a closer look at this option- they will see that the static kill is really the top kill option with a new name.

Similar to the top kill option that failed a while ago, the aim would be to send down heavy drilling mud through the blowout preventer valve system that sits on top of the well and then inject cement into the wellhead to seal it.

The only difference that has been noted thus far is the rate of pressure.  Since the well is now capped, the pressure can be considerably lower and more controlled.

The past few weeks, there has been numerous talks about the integrity of the wellboard.

The current psi is reading at 6811 psi with a rate of 1 lb/hr and is much lower than what officials anticipated.

Additionally, there was a leak found 2 miles away from the well and methane bubbles and small amounts of oil coming from the top of  the blow out preventer.

All of these signs are pointing to the well being compromised but BP continues to minimalize the severity of the situation.  Just as they have done since the rig’s explosion on April 20th.

When will we learn that we cant take BP at their word and that it is imperative that we draw our own conclusions of the severity of  “minor anomalies”?

If the capping stack is holding the oil in place as we wait for the relief wells intersect, which should be operational by the end of this month, why are we forcing this godsend?

Additionally, there is a tropical wave north of Puerto Rico with a 40% probability that it will develop into at least a tropical storm and a track forecast of this storm turning into the Gulf which would complicate matters.

Until we are certain that there are no additional leaks and that we will not be affected by a slew of crippling weather, implementing this “new” concept would be irresponsible, reckless and dangerous.

The only thing that is certain is that BP is not taking the environment into consideration as they are only looking for the quickest way, not necessarily the best way, to put an end to the constant string of bad publicity.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.


07.19.2010

Overnight, there was a teleconference call between the Coast Guard & BP and a heated discussion on whether or not to reopen the choke lines was placed on the table.

A possibility of methane gas residing over the well and a seepage leak found 2 miles away from the wellboard may be the culprit for the low pressure reading of 6792 psi for the Maconda Well.

With these new findings, Ret. Admiral Coast Guard Thaad Allen sent a letter demanding BP to step up their monitoring progress and threatened with reopening the well and redirecting the oil to 4 production platforms on the surface to relieve the pressure that is compounding under the sea floor.

However, in order to reopen the well- it would allow 3 days worth of oil to be released into the Gulf of Mexico. A side factor that has many of the Gulf residents on edge.

Allen is concerned that with the continued boxed pressure, other uncontrollable leaks could spring up on the ocean floor such as the small one found late last night and I get the impression that he will be pushing for the 4 production platform if the testing results do not get significantly better.

BP is pushing to keep the well capped, and I cant say I blame them considering their stock dipped yet another 5% yesterday, and despite the Coast Guard’s concerns, another 24 hour test will be conducted as long as BP vigorously monitors and analyzes the sea floor.

At one point, I was thrilled that the oil was capped. Now with new seepage lake found, I am hesitant to keep the oil well closed in. One big leak; in theory, should be easier to troubleshoot and cap then a bunch of random leaks on the seafloor.

It will be interesting to watch this delicate tight rope that the Coast Guard will be walking. Waiting too long could cause irreversible damage. Taking preemptive measure could release more toxic oil (which will be fought with toxic Corexit dispersant) into the atmosphere.

At this point, all that the Gulf residents can do, is fall down on our knees and ask for forgiveness and pray for mercy.

If you need me, I’ll be at the altar.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.


07.16.10~

Top Hat #8

After 7 attempts at an oil cap to contain the crippling gush of oil;  the 8th containment cap may be the prodigal son. Watch a visual confirmation here:     http://www.ustream.tv/pbsnewshour

Currently, the pressure reads at 6745 psi  and has been climbing approx 2 psi/hour.  A disheartening number for the residents of the Gulf Coast who were hoping that the psi’s were in the 9000 range.

Normally, this low pressure would denote that the well board is compromised and oil will need to be released onto the 4 production vessels which was said by Coast Guard Admiral Thaad Allen to “have the capacity to hold 60-80k bpd”.

However, the general consensus seems to be leaning towards the belief the well has low levels of oil because it has been gushing for so long as opposed to stating that there is another, unfounded, leak.

It was felt that the continuation of testing should continue because the majority of the other factors were positive.

During the integrity testing , all the valves are closed which allows the oil to be fully captured.

The Gulf Coast residents can sleep easier tonight knowing that the testing will continue for at least another 24 hours

At this point in the game, any break from the oil is happily received.

Relief Well Progression

After a little over 24 hours of the subsiding of the drilling of the relief wells for the well integrity test, DD3 and DD2 have been put back into production.

As of this morning, the Relief Wells are nearing the end of the precision phase of the relief effort, using magnetic ranging to give direction to assist steering the drill bit towards the blowout well bore and have drilled within 14.8 feet laterally from the well with an angle of 1.9 degrees.

So close, yet so far away for us Gulf Coast residents who are waiting for the intersection with bated breath.

Once the ranging is completed, the next step for the Relief Well will involve the drilling of 24 ft to the casing point which is hoping to be completed, by the middle to end of next week (July 21-July 25, 2010).

The final drilling intercept to kill the well will be the last week of July, a positive jump from the initial completion date of mid-August.

A friendly note to my local friends~ Enjoy your rest tonight. You’ll need your strength for the next coming days.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.


Oil Plume’s Movement as of 06.29.2010

According to the NOAA oil plume model, winds and currents will prevent further eastward movement of the oil plume along the northwestern Florida coastline. However, areas of Choctawhatchee Bay, FL will continue to receive impact as the oil plume moves slightly northwest and closer the shoreline.

At this point, the wave conditions and current have changed the oil direction and has turned it back towards the areas of the Mississippi Sound and areas around Chandeleur Island, LA and Breton Sound, LA.  The CoastGuard has stated their concern with this change of movement since these areas have been severely impacted and stated that they would send additional reserves to that area.

Tropical Storm Alex and its impact on the Gulf’s oil spill

Another hot topic is that of Tropical Storm Alex. According to NOAA.gov,  Tropical Storm Alex presently has maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, but is predicted to strengthen to a hurricane today. The track is on a NW quadrant; however, a gradual turn towards the West-NorthWest is expected.

Tropical Storm Alex is NOT interfering and is NOT expected to interfere with the current capturing/production of the oil spill in the Gulf.  The only impact that the Tropical Storm will have on the operations will be a potential delay of the any preparations  of the Helix Producer which will be the third production vessel in which was planned and coordinated as such to help reach the capacity of 53,000 barrels of oil collected by the end of the month of June.

As of now…

Approximately 188 miles of Gulf Coast shoreline is currently oiled—approximately 34 miles in Louisiana, 45 miles in Mississippi, 48 miles in Alabama, and 61 miles in Florida. These numbers do not include cumulative impacts to date, or shoreline that has already been cleared.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.


06.18.2010

Living off the coast of Florida my entire life, I am well aware of the impact of hurricane season which officially started on June 1st. Many fears run rampant along the Gulf Coast of how a hurricane or even a tropical storm could adversely affect our shorelines by bringing more oil than assumed further inland.

The Coast Guard has appeared to taken a proactive stance in the preparation for hurricane season as I prompted them about the severity of this situation backed in late April in a previous teleconference.

Coast Guard Admiral Thaad Allen stated that the current production system can siphon up to 53,000 barrels a day by the end of June, if everything goes according to plan. Once this maximum recovery has been reached, consideration for  installing a floating riser package will be placed on the table.  The floating riser package will consist of a section of riser pipe 4000 ft long which will be anchored with buoys on top that will allow flexibility to disconnect and reconnect if a hurricane is threatening the recovery process.

Additionally, the final determination on July 1st- of replacing the containment cap by unbolting the the final section of riser pipe that was sheer cut and replacing it with a multi sitting device that is permanently bolted and sealed so that the oil can be  siphoned to production tankers above water. If this effort is successful, it is estimated to capture approximately 60,000- 80,000 barrels per day of the leaked oil which is a far jump from the current 25,000 barrels of oil a day being collected.

However, if this process is completed- it will leave the well vulnerable for an indefinite amount of time and, of course, this recovery effort has not been done within a depth of 5,000 ft- so there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration because this process could actually damper our recovery efforts.

However, it is important to note that even if this process is successful- it will not capture all of the oil, leaving a percentage of oil to continue to leak into the Gulf.

The only REAL recovery effort is the drilling of the two relief wells. The current depth of the first well drilling is 10,677 ft below the sea floor and the second well drilling has drilled as far down as 4,662 ft below the sea floor. As the current operation stands, the angled relief wells which will intersect the gushing well to relieve the pressure will not be ready until mid August– which is approximately 2 months away.

Between the current recovery efforts, hurricane season upon us and oil puddles lapping onto the shores as far East as Okaloosa County, FL— the hopes of the Gulf Coast residents are diminishing exponentially to practically nonexistent. The only thing that can save the Gulf residents is strong local leadership, a loud voice and a determined humanitarian spirit.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.


As the tar bars wash upon the shores of Santa Rosa County, FL and oil sheen looms in the distance- the realization of the effects of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill are apparently obvious. Florida is now under attack from the greed of big oil.

Deep Water Horizon, an exploratory well, exploded on April 20, 2010 when the drilling rig encountered a methane gas bubble and combined with fresh cementing and a lack of mud as a natural barrier- gas barreled up the pipe and exploded leaving 11 people missing.

Without fire boom on board or any safety measures indiciated at a well depth of 5000 ft; this left little to no options on how to stop the oil flow at its source, allowing anywhere from 12,000-25,000 (with higher numbers almost certain to be announced in the future) barrels of oil per day leaking into the Gulf of Mexico.

After several unsuccessful or weak attempts from BP with the top hat, the riser insertion tool, the top kill- BP has put forth another option: yet another cap in attempt to divert the oil flow onto a ship for collection.

As of date, 462,000 gallons of oil has been collected with the ability for the amount to increase as the additional vents are closed.

In a concerning fashion, BP is warning that the amount of oil could *increase* another 20% until all of the valves are closed. At that point, BP is estimating that this tool could capture up to 80% of the flow rate.

The main concern is keeping the pressure down so that it doesnt blow the imperfect seal and keeping the water out so that the gas hydrates do not form as it did with the large containment chamber.

However, even if the containment chamber is effective- it still will leave approximately 20% of the oil to leak into the Gulf of Mexico until the two relief wells are operational which would take until mid to late August as the current deadline stands.

If this attempt fails, BP says its previously failed techniques might still come in handy. A revamped version of its “top kill” procedure, which previously failed to inject mud into the leaking pipe and stop it up.

BP says within a couple weeks, it hopes it can actually use that failed hardware, which is still attached, to try to suck oil out instead. There are also more giant steel “top-hat” domes standing by.  However, the relief wells are the best bet to divert the flow of oil and those will not be completed until August.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.


05.27.2010

The “top kill” effort, launched Wednesday afternoon by industry and government engineers, had pumped enough drilling fluid to block oil and gas spewing from the well, said Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen, who is heading the federal response to the spill said, said on Thursday morning.  “The pressure from the well was very low, he said, but persisting.”

Once engineers had reduced the well pressure to zero, they will begin pumping cement into the hole to plug  the leak of the blow out preventer.

As of this point; however,  neither government nor BP officials had declared the effort a success yet, pending the completion of the cementing and sealing of the well.

The first ship containing 50,000 barrels of the mud mixture reportedly ran out early Thursday, although a second boat was on the way. Coast Guard officials and BP engineers on the scene said they were hopeful the process could be labeled a full success once cement was pumped in to fully block the pipe within the next few hours.

Allen said one ship that was pumping fluid into the well had run out of the fluid, or “mud,” and that a second ship was on the way. He said he was encouraged by the progress.

“We’ll get this under control,” he said.

Meanwhile, United State Geological Survey Director Marcia McNutt, chair the Flow Rate Technical Group, declared this morning that the flow rate was that of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day (approx 18 million to 28 million gallons of oil)- a far jump from the latest revised estimate of 5,000 barrels per day.

That would make the 36-day leak by far the worst in U.S. history, surpassing the Exxon Valdez disaster, which spilled 11 million gallons into Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal took another boat tour of the oil spill area Wednesday and later repeated his call to get federal permission to dredge sand and create barrier islands to protect inland estuaries.

Louisiana officials say they can’t wait any longer, as more oil seeps into delicate marshlands in Pass a l’Outre.  “We don’t need to see a repeat of some of the situation we’ve seen recently,” Jindal said at Cypress Cove after surveying the damage for about four hours.

He said if BP and the Coast Guard don’t come up with a solution to removing marsh oil by Saturday, officials will move forward with their own action plan. “Our way of life in coastal Louisiana depends on it,” Jindal said.

Plaquemines Parish President Bobby Nungesser said that if nothing is done by Saturday at 8 a.m., officials will bring out a suction machine to gather excess oil. He said the spill will have the impact of the past four hurricanes in the area. “Once again we were dealt an untruth,” Nungesser said. “How much more are we going to put up with?”

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.


05.24.2010

BP Chief Operation Officer, Doug Suttles, stated that there have been 30 miles of marshes that were affected with 15 miles of the the affected marshes having “significant” amounts of oil in which required “several” clean up teams.

EPA Administrator, Lisa Jackson confirmed this statement by indicating that, ” The oil is really piling up” and is “more convinced now than ever that BP/TransOcean/Halliburton has a BIG job in front of them.”

Officials stand by, helpless, while oil rolls into the shoreline wetlands and coats the stalks and leaves of plants such as roseau cane – the fabric that holds together an ecosystem that is essential to the region’s fishing industry and a much-needed buffer against gulf hurricanes. Soon, oil will smother those plants and choke off their supply of air and nutrients.

In some eddies and protected inlets, the ochre-colored crude has pooled beneath the water’s surface, forming clumps several inches deep.

Pelican eggs were glazed with rust-colored gunk in the bird colony, and thick globs floated on top of the water. Nests sat precariously close to the mess in mangrove trees. Workers had surrounded the island in Barataria Bay with the booms, but oil seeped through the barrier.

Meanwhile, in Barataria Bay, in southeastern Louisiana in Jefferson Parish and Plaquemines Parish,  orange oil had made its way a good 6 inches onto the shore, coating grasses and the nests of brown pelicans in mangrove trees. Just six months ago, the birds had been removed from the federal endangered species list.

Over time, experts say weather and natural microbes will break down most of the oil. However, the crude will surely poison plants and wildlife in the months – even years – it will take for the oil to dissipate.

Since the existing oil is hard to clean up, it appears that efforts have shifted to preventable measures.

Talks are now being held to utilize several chain of sandbag berms, reinforced with containment booms, that would skirt the state’s coastline. In addition, the Army Corps of Engineers also is considering a broader plan that would use dredging to build sand berms across more of the barrier islands.

Louisiana Governor Jindal has utilized the sandbag berm concept that protect the marshes behind Elmers Island, LA.
“You can see this is heavy oil. We tried to stir this up, This isn’t light oil. If this land bridge wasn’t here, this oil would go right through, and there’s nothing to stop it from getting into those wetlands,” said Jindal.

Despite the urgency of the matter, the request- which has been put in over 2 weeks ago- is still awaiting approval.  Governor Jindel has concluded that matters needed to be put in his State’s hands and wisely authorized this action to take place. In addition to this action, Governor Jindel also urged the federal government to approve their request to dredge sand off the sea floor to build more berms to protect the wetlands.

Extreme measures have been discussed; such as setting the marsh on fire or flooding the marsh in an attempt to push the oil back. However, these measures could do more harm than good.

If the marshes are drier than average, setting the marsh on fire could burn the vegetation to its roots, essentially wiping out the entire marsh.

Likewise,  flooding  could wash away the natural barriers that provide protection against  flooding from hurricanes and other disasters — much like hurricanes Katrina and Rita washed away marshlands in 2005. State and federal officials spent millions rebuilding the much-needed buffer against tropical storms.

The future for the Louisiana marshes look bleak with the majority of the response concentrated on preventing the oil from entering with very little focus on absorbing the method.

“Just the compaction of humanity bringing equipment in, walking on them, will kill them,” said David White, a wetlands ecologist from Loyola University in New Orleans.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.


05.19.2010

CENTRIFUGE SEPARATOR

Kevin Costner has gone on the record to present a centrifuge for separating oil and water which BP will be testing by the end of next week.

To see a video of Costner’s centrifuge machine and explanation of idea, please click below:

GALLONS COLLECTED

600,000 gallons of oil have collected as of date.  4 controlled burns of surface oil have been completed- 1 lasted over an hour. Today, a burn lasted over two hours. Mother nature has been kind and favorable in this effort.

GOVT ASSISTANCE TO GULF STATES

$700 million has been granted to the Gulf States to emphasize the recreational value and help boost the fishing and tourism industry. Florida has been granted $25 million of the financial aid to Florida’s website, http://www.visitflorida.com/ and local tourist development councils will work in conjunction on how best to emphasize their natural resources.

HOT TAP RECOVERY EFFORT

Working on option to place another blow out preventer on top of the faulty blow out preventer as well as an option of a valve on top of the BOP where the riser exits. Two more pressure tests need to be completed before determining whether or not these two options are a viable recovery effort.

LOOP CURRENT

Overflight showed that there is light sheen in the loop current with heavier impact estimated very within 10 days.  Keep in mind that the loop current runs slow, is subject to change and is relatively far from South Florida.  These factors will allow the light sheen to dissipate, degrade or weather before it makes impact with Florida.

“I would have no reason to suspect any subsea oil within the loop current”, states NOAA’s Charlie Henry. “Im pretty confident in our observations.”

The bulk of oil is AWAY from the loop current. That oil is not in the immediate threat of entering the loop current. There are a lot of eddys, areas of warm water, that move the oil.  There are also chances that other eddies will form and move the oil away from the Gulf Stream.  NOAA will model and monitor the loop current daily.

MARSHAL IMPACT

There is more oil impact in a harsher condition than previously anticipated present on the Mississippi Delta region.  People are working towards protecting the marshes and mitigate the impact.  Unfortunately, nothing further was elaborated on the protection strategies.

RELIEF WELLS

Continuation of the first relief well will start today. Likewise, the drilling of the 2nd well will start today as well.  The wells are not expected to become operational until mid August 2010.

RISER INSERTION TOOL

“Performing well. We are very encouraged. We think this is a a sustainable operation now”, states BP chief executive, Doug Suttles.  The current flow rate is estimated at 3000 barrels of oil per day and about $14 million cubic feet of gas per day. Monitoring the plume subsea, about half of the volume that is coming out of the riser is estimated to be gas.

SUBSEA OIL PLUMES

NOAA still stands by the statement that people have “elaborated” on the subsea oil plumes. Charlie Henry from the NOAA states that the oil plumes that people are thinking of and whats been detected on the Pelican vessel on Sunday are two totally different things and it is important not for people to confuse the two.

Basically, they had detected hydrocarbons in different straits of water.  They are under the impression that these hydrocarbons are from the small droplets of oil that did not rise from the well and “other sources”. There is not oil appearance, the water is clear.   NOAA is still waiting on data to confirm information.

TAR BALLS IN CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS

Tar balls have washed ashore in Corpus Christi, Texas and are in the process of being analyzed. The Coastguard feels that these tar balls will not be associated with the oil slick; however, they are taking precautionary measures and have been staying in close contact with the state of Texas throughout the oil slick ordeal.

TAR BALLS IN KEY WEST, FLORIDA

The Coastguard lab in Connecticut confirmed that the tar balls are NOT in relation to the oil spill.

TOP KILL  RECOVERY EFFORT

This procedure is the next line of action to stop the gushing of oil at wellhead.  The reason for the delay in the top kill procedure, the hydraulic control of the choke and kill lines had to be reestablished and access to that choke and kill line needed to be reinstated to allow high pressure fluid. In addition, the yellow control pot that manages the choke and kill lines had to be retrieved and recalibrate from the wreckage.

Fluids that are used in this process are environmentally sensitive with drilling muds that can be discharged. Unfortunately, nothing was further stated regarding the specifics of the drilling muds.

All steps are moving forward and officials are optimistic to have the top kill effort be operational Sunday, possibly Monday.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.