- BP and the Coast Guard are watching the pressure at the
wellhead very, very closely because of what it will mean for the future
prospects of this well. Pressure readings under a critical threshold usually
mean that there may be leaking elsewhere in the system. If there is a single
leak, it will be more easily diagnosed and remedied depending on where
it is. If there is more than one leak present, a whole set of different
challenges emerges. Most importantly, keeping the system under pressure,
when leaks exist anywhere, will inevitably increase the potential for those
leaks to worsen.
- "One mysterious development was that the pressure
readings were not rising as high as expected, said retired Coast Guard
Adm. Thad Allen, the government's point man on the crisis." (Per AP
Article of 7/17/10: "BP, scientists try to make sense of well puzzle")
- At this juncture of monitoring, everything points to
the distinct possibility of leakage further down in the well system. BP
will, therefore, be forced to open the valves to release oil in order to
relieve some of the pressure. If the system is kept under pressure for
any length of time, the likelihood of exacerbating any leaks increases
rapidly, which will then create serious problems, as if BP doesn't already
- "Admiral Allen added that the possibility remained
that the well had been breached and that oil and gas were escaping into
the surrounding rock and perhaps even into the Gulf." (Per NYT on
- How did we get here? To a place where leaks have quite
possibly opened up deeper in the well system. As follows:
- In a high compression well such as this one, the effluent
is moving up the pipe at a very high speed due to the extraordinary pressures
pushing up from below. The methane gas component of the upsurging hydrocarbon
brew changes its state at this speed and affects the characteristics of
the entire effluent coming up the pipe in the following way. As methane
ascends, the bubbles expand causing a discernible acceleration in velocity.
The interaction between effluent speed, geological debris and any additional
bump from acceleration can give rise to catastrophic ejections, explosive
potential, stretch and inline cavitations. All one has to do is examine
an oil pipe which has sustained a similar flow rate to find evidence of
- The critical result of this "methane gas effect"
is that a more intensified kind of friction begins to occur within the
pipe between the rising effluent and the inside metal surface. The longer
this situation is allowed to persist, the more the piping will become eroded
from the inside out. As the surface becomes increasingly attenuated, cavitations
begin to develop on this inside surface of the pipe thereby creating weak
points. Given the relentless pressure in the system, and depending on the
grade of the pipe steel, the weak points at the joints and seams can become
compromised, as the subtle bends and leanings will receive a greater amount
of frictional activity and impact. There is also the possibility of breaches
deeper in the system, which could be practically impossible to remedy in
any meaningful way.
- "Benton F. Baugh, president of Radoil Inc. in Houston
and a National Academy of Engineering member who specializes in underwater
oil operations, warned that the pressure readings could mean that an underground
blowout could occur. He said the oil coming up the well may be leaking
out underground and entering a geological pocket that might not be able
to hold it." (Per AP Article of 7/17/10: "BP, scientists try
to make sense of well puzzle")
- Another phenomenon occurs with methane that must also
be considered in the sinking of the $350,000,000 Deepwater Horizon.
- Per Wikipedia:
- "When drilling in oil- and gas-bearing formations
submerged in deep water, the reservoir gas may flow into the well bore
and form gas hydrates due to the low temperatures and high pressures found
during deep water drilling. The gas hydrates may then flow upward with
drilling mud or other discharged fluids. As they rise, the pressure in
the drill string decreases and the hydrates dissociate into gas and water.
The rapid gas expansion ejects fluid from the well, reducing the pressure
further, which leads to more hydrate dissociation and further fluid ejection.
The resulting violent expulsion of fluid from the drill string is one potential
cause or contributor to what is referred to as a 'kick'."
- Then there is the matter of how BP's cementing plan may
have provided another very weak link in this whole chain of events. A careful
study of the diagram below will reveal some serious issues that have come
into play, both before the blowout and after. Clearly, if there are significant
breaches in the system, the points of deficiency outlined in this chart
should serve as a guide as to where the trouble-shooters ought to look.
The real challenge here will be how to solve any of these potential problems
given an active well status under tremendous pressure. Click on the following
link to view the diagram:
- The confluence of circumstances which are of greatest
concern are delineated by the following points of information:
- (1) This gusher flowed with great velocity for 86 days
and therefore produced a lot of wear and tear in the system.
- (2) The gravel, mud, stones, sand, oil and gas mix rushing
through the pipe at excessive speed has undermined the integrity of the
well system to a degree not known.
- (3) Over the course of the aforementioned period different
quick fixes were attempted, which were not always in the best interest
of maintaining the integrity of the entire well system.
- (4) BP has drilled in an area that was known to be a
very high risk prospect for a variety of reasons, the most significant
- (5) Because this is a high compression well, the pressures
involved exceed the capability of much of the technology and equipment
that has been utilized. (i.e. BP is in over their head both literally and
- (6) BP made many missteps over a three-month period that
have unequivocally caused unintended consequences to the system, as well
as collateral damage to the area, the repercussions of which may not manifest
until a later date.
- (7) We know the formation structure around the wellhead
has changed. The relationship of the wellbore to the casing, in the wake
of a subsea explosion that occurred during the events that sunk the Deepwater
Horizon, has most probably been impacted. The BOP and riser were substantially
affected by this trauma, and therefore the pipe and wellhead may very likely
have shifted a few degrees.
- Furthermore, the cement that holds the well casing in
place is undoubtedly under assault by oil, gas and debris under high pressure.
As the cement holds the casing and production line in place, a breaching
of this architecture is quite possible if it has been sufficiently compromised.
- (8) The convergence of these various factors may have
caused breaches in the system that are below the relief wells, and therefore
will be extremely difficult to address with any degree of finality.
- As of this date, we do not know with certainty if there
are leaks in the system. However, in light of BP's track record for grossly
misrepresenting the truth, as well as the US Federal Government's passivity
and lack of response in the face of this extraordinary pattern of misrepresentation,
we can only conclude that it is extremely unlikely that we will receive
an accurate status regarding the integrity of the current capping application.
- From this point forward, now that the gusher has been
capped, it is likely that the true state of affairs will be concealed by
BP and its agents spread across the media and Oil & Gas Industry. In
an effort to spin it positive at all costs and perform the
damage control necessary to return things back to where they were, this
company and industry will proceed with a well organized and focused program
of information control. It's what the Oil & Gas Industry has done quite
well for over hundred years.
- After all, BP's very existence is at stake, and therefore
it will assume the posture of a cornered raccoon! The flow of accurate
information regarding the actual condition of the capping system, the changes
in the seafloor, and the emergence of additional leaks will be determined
by BP spinmeisters. Therefore our sleuthing becomes proportionately more
penetrating and prosecutorial in both tack and tone. Simply put, we won't
believe a word they say, even with doctored video backing them up!
- HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM! A HUGE PROBLEM ! ! !
- Houston is the current location of BP's US National Headquarters.
Per Wikipedia, "BP America's headquarters is in the One Westlake Park
in the Houston Energy Corridor, Texas." Houston is also home to many
other oil and gas companies, as well as their affiliates that operate throughout
the 48 contiguous states.
- Perhaps we should begin to look there to find a deeper
source of the problems that have ceaselessly appeared throughout this catastrophe.
We speak of the standard operating procedures that have evolved throughout
the entire industry, as well as a status quo which has produced the most
conducive environment for this kind of disaster to take place around the
- Without any doubt, these calamitous events will continue
to take place in the future with even greater consequence. Due to the organic
changes that the planet is experiencing, and especially the quite profound
and fundamental nature of these geological, oceanic and atmospheric transformations,
the most dangerous practices of our civilization will produce quicker and
more dramatic feedback from Mother Earth. The Gulf Oil Spill is but a foretaste
of things to come, if we do not change our ways both individually and collectively.
- Step # 1 is to begin transitioning the world away from
the hydrocarbon fuel paradigm. She Mother Earth can no longer
maintain a clean enough environment for nearly 7 billion humans to live
a quality life while utilizing oil and gas resources. It now represents
an energy platform that is as obsolete, as it is destructive, to almost
every living thing (There are certain types of bacteria and other microbes
that just love the stuff!).
- Dr. Tom Termotto
- National Coordinator
- Gulf Oil Spill Remediation Conference (International
- Tallahassee, FL