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Energy - Part 1 of 3
BP’s Quest for
The Well from
Hell... And What They're Not Saying
DeHaemer, Editor Energy & Capital
(Friday, June 18th, 2010)
The Dwarves dug too greedily and too deep. You know what, they awoke in the
darkness of Khazad-dum... shadow and flame.
Saruman, The Lord of the Rings
Washington, DC -- There is
something primordial about BP's quest for oil in the Gulf of Mexico. It's an Icarus-like story of super-ambition; of reaching too far, delving too deep.
know if you've stopped to contemplate what BP was trying to do...
itself started 5,000 feet below the surface. That's the depth of the Grand
Canyon from the rim. And then the company attempted to drill more than
30,000 feet below that -- Mt. Everest would give 972 feet to spare.
Furthermore, the company sought oil in a dangerous area of the seabed.
unstable and many think BP sought it out because seismic data showed huge
pools of methane gas -- the very gas that blew the top off Deepwater Horizon
and killed 11 people.
More than a
year ago, geologists criticized Transocean for putting their exploratory rig
directly over a massive underground reservoir of methane. According to the
New York Times, BP's internal "documents show that in March, after
several weeks of problems on the rig, BP was struggling with a loss of 'well
control.' And as far back as 11 months ago, it was concerned about the well
casing and the blowout preventer.”
is that this methane, located deep in the bowels of the earth, is under
tremendous pressure. Some speculate as much as 100,000 psi -- far too much
for current technology to contain. The shutoff valves and safety measures
were built for only 1,000 psi. It was an accident waiting to happen. And
there are many that say it could get worse -- much worse.
are pointing to other fissures and cracks that are appearing on the ocean
floor around the damaged wellhead.
The University of South Florida recently discovered a
second oil plume in the northeastern Gulf. The first plume was found by
Mississippi universities in early May.
And there have been
other plumes discovered by submersibles. Some geologists say that BP's
arrogance has set off a series of events that may be irreversible. There are
some that think that BP has drilled into a deep-core oil volcano that cannot
be stopped, regardless of the horizontal drills the company claims will stop
the oil plume in August.
Need the Mudlogs
Chris Landau, for instance, has called for a showing of the mudlogs. A
mudlog is a schematic cross sectional drawing of the lithology (rock type)
of the well that has been bored. So far, no one has seen them. BP keeps
It is a dangerous game drilling into high pressure oil
and gas zones because you risk having a blowout if your mud weight is not
heavy enough. If you weight up your mud with barium sulfate to a very high
level, you risk BLOWING OUT THE FORMATION.
What does that mean? It means
you crack the rock deep
underground; as the mud weight is now denser than the rock, it escapes into
the rock in the pore spaces and the fractures. The well empties of mud. If
you have not hit high pressure oil or gas at this stage, you are lucky.
But if you
have, the oil and gas come flying up the well and you have a blowout,
because you have no mud in the well to suppress the oil and gas. You shut
down the well with the blowout preventer. If you do not have a blowout
preventer, you are in trouble as we have all seen and you can only hope that
the oil and gas pressure will naturally fall off with time, otherwise you
have to try and put a new blowout preventer in place with oil and gas coming
out as you work.
Obviously, the oil and
gas pressure hasn't fallen off
is that BP may not only have hit the mother of high-pressure wells, but
there is also a vast amount of methane down there that could come exploding
out like an underwater volcano.
heard a recording of Richard Hoagland who was interviewed on Coast to Coast
Hoagland has suggested that there are cracks in the ocean floor, and that
pressure at the base of the wellhead is approximately 100,000 psi.
Furthermore, geologists believe there are another 4-5 cracks or fissions in
the well. Upon using a GPS and Depth finder system, experts have discovered
a large gas bubble, 15-20 miles across and tens of feet high, under the
ocean floor. These bubbles are common. Many believe they have caused the
sinking of ships and planes in the Bermuda Triangle. That said, a bubble
this large -- if able to escape from under the ocean floor through a crack
-- would cause a gas explosion that Mr. Hoagland likens to Mt. St. Helens...
only under water.
The BP well
is 50 miles from Louisiana. Its release would send a toxic cloud over
populated areas. The explosion would also sink any ships and oil structures
in the vicinity and create a tsunami which would head toward Florida at 600
mph. Now, many people have called Hoagland a fringe thinker and a
conspiracy theorist. And they may be right. But that doesn't mean he isn't
on to something.
EPA finds high
concentrations of gases in the area
escape of other poisonous gases associated with an underground methane
bubble (such as hydrogen sulfide, benzene, and methylene chloride) have been
found. Last Thursday, the EPA measured hydrogen sulfide at 1,000 parts per
billion -- well above the normal 5 to 10 ppb. Some benzene levels were
measured near the Gulf of Mexico in the range of 3,000 - 4,000 ppb -- up
from the normal 0-4 ppb.
More speculation of doom
The Oil Drum,
an industry sheet, recently ran an article about the sequence of events
that tried to stop the oil spill. The upshot of industry insiders was that
after trying a number of ways to close off the leak, the well was
compromised, creating other leaks due to the high pressure. BP then cut the
well open and tried to capture the oil. In other words: BP shifted from
stopping the gusher to opening it up and catching what oil it could.
reason sane oil men would do this is if they wanted to relieve pressure at
the leak hidden down below the seabed. And that sort of leak -- known as a
“down hole” leak -- is one of the most dangerous kind.
No stopping it
that BP can't stop it from above; it can only relieve the pressure. So,
more oil is leaking out while BP hopes it can drill new wells before the
current one completely erodes.
BP is in a
race against time. It just won't admit this fact.
to the Oil Drum:
There are abrasives still present, a swirling flow
will create hot spots of wear and this erosion is relentless and will always
be present until eventually it wears away enough material to break its way
out. It will slowly eat the bop away especially at the now pinched off riser
head and it will flow more and more. Perhaps BP can outrun or keep up with
that outflow with various suckage methods for a period of time, but
eventually the well will win that race, just how long that race will be? No
one really knows...
Which leads us back to Mr. Landau's point about the mudlogs and why BP won't
know. Maybe I'm wearing my tinfoil hat too tight this morning. But this
stuff seems possible -- if it's only a worst case scenario.
What strikes me as odd is the way the leadership of BP
and the Obama administration is acting.
running around apologizing to everyone they can find. Obama says give us $20
billion in escrow and $100 million for the people Obama put out of work on
the oil rigs due to his six month ban -- and BP says, "Sure thing mate, no
And all of
this in a 20-minute meeting?
dealing with oil companies for a long time and it just doesn't add up.
Contrast it, for instance, with the Exxon situation in Alaska or the Union
Carbide disaster in India. Exxon fought tooth and nail for its
shareholders; it appealed court rulings for 19 years. Union Carbide wasn't
settled for 25 years. BP is rolling over like a simpering dog. Why?
reason I can think of is that the company knows -- better if not as well as
the Obama administration does -- that it will get worse.
All I know
is that this spill isn't even half over. Oil in the Gulf will lead the
news-cycle for the foreseeable future. And the companies that make products
that stop, absorb, or disperse oil have an endless supply of work. – FM Duck
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