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The top kill: Cross your fingers

You should be able to go to this BP page and see a live feed from the sea floor and get a sense of whether this top kill maneuver is working.

But it could get ugly, and that doesn't necessarily mean it has failed. Here's the statement from BP:

"Throughout the extended top kill procedure - which may take up to two days to complete - very significant changes in the appearance of the flows at the seabed may be expected. These will not provide a reliable indicator of the overall progress, or success or failure, of the top kill operation as a whole. BP will report on the progress of the operation as appropriate and on its outcome when complete."

So don't panic, BP is saying, if it gets kind of apocalyptic-looking down there.

Here's my story on the top kill .


Huge ships and drilling rigs now crowd the surface 5,000 feet above the blown-out well. Two rigs are drilling relief wells but are not expected to complete their work until August. Parked in the middle of everything is the command vessel for the top-kill operation, the 312-foot Helix Q4000. Close by will be the 381-foot HOS Centerline, one of the largest supply ships in the world, capable of pumping 50 barrels of mud a minute. Two other backup ships carrying mud will be nearby.

All the work at depth is performed by the remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), numbering 12 by latest count, and operated from the surface ships while BP engineers monitor the process from Houston. The ROVs have tinkered with the five-story blowout preventer that sits atop the wellhead. They fixed a leaking hydraulic line, for example, using an ordinary wrench pinched by a robotic arm. They also removed the "yellow pod," the brain of the blowout preventer, and engineers repaired it at the surface before replacing it at depth.

On Tuesday, the BP engineers began diagnostic tests on the blowout preventer. This is a critical phase in which the company will learn how much pressure must be overcome when the drilling mud is injected into the well. It could also lead them to abort the maneuver.

"We've got a crack team of experts that are going to pore over the diagnostic data," Wells said. "There is a remote possibility that we would get some information that it wouldn't work."

If all goes as planned, a 30,000-horsepower engine aboard the HOS Centerline will pump mud at 40 to 50 barrels a minute to the Q4000 command vessel, then down a newly installed pipe to the gulf bottom, and then through flexible hoses into multiple portals in the blowout preventer.

What happens next would be all-important. The mud would have to go somewhere. The hope is that so much of it would be forced into the blowout preventer that, even as some of it surged up the riser pipe and into the water along with oil and gas, much of it would go to the bottom of the well. The well would lose all pressure and would become static. Later, BP would inject cement down the wellbore to permanently seal the well....

The danger is that the top kill could worsen the situation. The powerful injection of mud might destabilize the blowout preventer, or punch a bigger hole in the sharp kink in the riser just a few feet above the blowout preventer. If the mud doesn't beat back the spill, that could mean a mess of mud mixed with a larger flow of oil and gas.


Here's the story in the Times.


On the question of how much oil is leaking: I spoke today to Greg McCormack of the University of Texas. He says the flow is probably higher than the original 5,000 barrels a day estimate, but not in the range of the 95,000 barrels a day estimated by Purdue's Steve Wereley and widely reported in the media after NPR gave it such prominent play.

"The best flowing wells in the deepwater are around 30,000 barrels a day. This one would be three times the best flowing well? It's hard to imagine that," he told me.

"The best that I can say is that it's between 5000 and 30,000 barrels a day....The amount of oil that you have is going to be half to a quarter of what it looks like. There's going to be tremendous amounts of dissolved gas in that oil."

(Like I been sayin'...)


Meanwhile -- and this is solely for those of you who subscribe to such publications as Blowout Preventer Weekly -- here's the bulk of the letter released by Henry Waxman tonight that gets into the weeds of what went wrong before the blowout. BP has done its own internal investigation, and the company briefed Waxman and other congresspersons. Here's the summary letter, and we'll presumably see the full BP report at some point. Basically, there were warning signs galore. And the blowout preventer and other systems were no-go when the chips were down:

The information from BP identifies several new warning signs of problems. According to BP there were three flow indicators from the well before the explosion. One was 51 minutes before the explosion when more fluid began flowing out of the well than was being pumped in. Another flow indicator was 41 minutes before the explosion when the pump was shut down for a "sheen" test, yet the well continued to flow instead of stopping and drill pipe pressure also unexpectedly increased. Then, 18 minutes before the explosion, abnormal pressures and mud returns were observed and the pump was abruptly shut down. The data suggests that the crew may have attempted mechanical interventions at that point to control the pressure, but soon after, the flow out and pressure increased dramatically and the explosion took place.

Further, BP's preliminary findings indicate that there were other events in the 24 hours before the explosion that require further inquiry. As early as 5:05 p.m., almost 5 hours before the explosion, an unexpected loss of fluid was observed in the riser pipe, suggesting that there were leaks in the annular preventer in the BOP. Two hours before the explosion, during efforts to begin negative pressure testing, the system gained 15 barrels of liquid instead of the 5 barrels that were expected, leading to the possibility that there was an "influx from the well." A cementer witness stated that the "well continued to flow and spurted." Having received an unacceptable result from conducting the negative pressure test through the drill pipe, the pressure test was then moved to the kill line where a volume of fluid came out when the line was opened. The kill line was then closed and the procedure was discussed; during this time, pressure began to build in the system to 1400 psi. At this point, the line was opened and pressure on the kill line was bled to 0 psi, while pressure on the drill pipe remained at 1400 psi. BP's investigator indicated that a "fundamental mistake" may have been made here because this was an "indicator of a very large abnormality." The kill line then was monitored and by 7:55 p.m. the rig team was "satisfied that [the] test [was] successful." At that time, the rig started displacing the remaining fluids with seawater, leading to the three flow indicators described above.

Several concerns identified by BP relate to the cementing process. Cement work that was supposed to hold back hydrocarbons failed, allowing the hydrocarbons into the well bore. The float collar used in the cementing process did not initially operate as intended and required 9 attempts with higher than usual pressures to function properly. Moreover, the float test performed after cementing may not have been definitive, leading to concern that there may have been contamination of the cement due to density differences between the cement and the drilling mud.

In addition, key questions exist about whether proper procedures were followed for critical activities throughout the day. Negative pressure testing was initially done on the drill pipe rather than the kill line, even though the drill plan specified that it would be done on the kill line. After anomalous results, the negative pressure testing was conducted on the kill line and ultimately accepted. Evidence suggests that spacer fluid used during the displacement of drilling fluid with seawater did not rise above the BOP to the level required by the drilling plan; this increased pressure in the drill pipe and may have interfered with later pressure testing. In addition, the method of displacing the drilling mud with seawater may have interfered with the monitoring of the flow levels from the well because the mud was transferred to another boat instead of measured in the mud pits. Moreover, mudloggers were not informed when the offloading of drilling mud to the other boat was stopped.

Several concerns about the blowout preventer were identified by BP including the failure of its emergency disconnect system (EDS), the failure of its automated mode function or deadman switch, the failure of the BOP's shearing functions, and the failure of the remote operated vehicle interventions. The BP investigation has also raised concerns about the maintenance history, modification, inspection, and testing of the BOP.

There WILL be a test.

By Joel Achenbach  |  May 25, 2010; 9:20 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Gulf oil spill: Who's in charge?
Next: Oil well top kill: Mud beating oil


Drill, baby, drill!

Posted by: simpleton1 | May 25, 2010 11:28 PM | Report abuse

'A containment dome, 50,000 pounds of mud and deep-sea robots' does sound like the punch like to a joke, or a "Would you believe..." line from "Get Smart."

And I hope the Top Splat works - really.


Posted by: -bc- | May 25, 2010 11:31 PM | Report abuse

I would also add that based on what I know to to this point, someone at BP might want to consult a urologist before beginning Operation Top Splat, too. But that's just me.

Posted by: -bc- | May 25, 2010 11:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm too fascinated watching Waldo play with his erector set. I'm waiting for Bruce Dern to show up with Huey, Louie, and Dewey.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 25, 2010 11:49 PM | Report abuse

'Hand me the envelope.'

'Here you go sir.'

'May BP need you for a junk shot.'

'Ho, ho. Very funny sir.'

'A containment dome, 50,000 pounds of mud and a deep-sea robot'

'A containment dome, 50,000 pounds of mud and a deep-sea robot'

'Name a flop, some glop, and a glorified underwater mop.'

'Hi oh!'

Posted by: yellojkt | May 26, 2010 12:01 AM | Report abuse

We need Walter Cronkite and Wally Schirra back to give us play-by-play on the live feed from the drill spill. Those guys were great on commentary in tense moments during space mission coverage.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 26, 2010 12:12 AM | Report abuse

Or Carnac and Ed will do, I suppose.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 26, 2010 12:19 AM | Report abuse

I'm glad I didn't catch Waldo playing with his erector set.

Posted by: Yoki | May 26, 2010 1:46 AM | Report abuse

Hermetic seal.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 26, 2010 2:01 AM | Report abuse

Waldo is still playing. He keeps picking up hoses and moving them around.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 26, 2010 5:48 AM | Report abuse

God loves us so much more than we can imagine through Him that died for all, Jesus Christ.

Good morning, friends. Well, I've said my prayers. Now it's your turn.

Have a great day, folks,and love to all.

Posted by: cmyth4u | May 26, 2010 6:09 AM | Report abuse

Probably just Huey and Louie, Yello. But we will always remember Dewie. But, you know, he got careless.


Yeah, I figgered it all had somethin' to do with that "sheen test."

This all is also starting to remind me a bit of the 2000 recount, with the part of the Hanging Chad being played by the Top Kill.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 26, 2010 6:45 AM | Report abuse

Maureen Dowd actually has a pretty decent column on the spill today.

Best line:

"As when derivatives experts had to help unravel the derivatives debacle, now the White House is dependent on BP to find a solution to the horror it created. The financial crisis and the oil spill are both man-made disasters brought on by hubris and avarice."

Posted by: Mo_MoDo | May 26, 2010 6:46 AM | Report abuse

I'm counting on BP to tell us when to panic.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 26, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Morning, all. Saying my prayers, too, Cassandra. It's time for this nightmare to be over.

Posted by: slyness | May 26, 2010 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Joel, For your follow-up, you might like to research this piece on Booming School:-

(Note: You may need to clean the language up a bit.)

Posted by: strum | May 26, 2010 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Although I'm as emotionally exhausted over this leak as anyone, I think it's important to note that the Top Kill isn't the final option. It isn't like Bruce on the Asteroid, ya know?

There are still lots of other things in the queue, including the new and improved containment vessel, the junk shot, and replacing the BOP.

On the other hand, even if the top kill works completely, this doesn't mean it's time to break out the fruity drinks and gumbo. There is still an unknown amount of oil lurking about the gulf, much of it unseen.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 26, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Incredible viewing.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 26, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

One interesting result of this leak is that, except for a few loose wingnuts like Rand Paul that have come completely unscrewed from the Incorruptible Bolt of Reality, I guess there is some consensus that what we really need now is: Bigger Government. Not more regulation, really (although there certainly will be some stupid and counter-productive laws passed that demand punitive measures of the sort that will prevent anyone from coming forward with honest assessments of their own failings), but more and better-trained and better-empowered and maybe even better-paid regulators, to prevent things like this from happening in the first place. We'll see if that awareness persists past the closure of the well, which we can all hope will occur no later than Friday. I hope.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 26, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Traditionally, Tim, they create a brand new department of government to attempt to disguise the history of clear failure to enforce already-existing regulations.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 26, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

i didn't understand how the dispersant used by BP worked. i envisioned it as an emulsification agent. then, i heard this report:

it would seem that the dispersant eumlsifies, and also surrounds the molecules of oil making it denser than seawater, and the oil collects near the bottom of the water column. thus, the benthic flora and fauna will be mired in muck. the problem is that a) the spill rate from the well is still unknown; b) the environmental impact of using the quantities of dispersant to mitigate a spill of this magnitude is unknown; c) the quantity of oil at the bottom of the wate column is unknown; d) mechanisms by which the well is going to be capped are untried; and e) by all accounts, this is seat of the pants engineering, a la apollo 13, based on the initial assumption that the probabilities of a disaster of this magnitude were beyond the limits of statistical confidence. fantastic in every sense of the word.

Posted by: -jack- | May 26, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Closely related to what Jumper describes is the tendency of the government to create new layers of bureaucracy staffed with people from the lower levels of bureaucracy who are now, somehow, supposed to become smarter.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 26, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Precisely, Jumper. The Department of Regulation of the Regulatory Department of the Failed Regulations adopted under Bill 20.1539a(b).

The link about Boom School is great. I now see that my yarn supply is woefully inadequete.

*wishing you all a good morning*

Posted by: talitha1 | May 26, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

strum, thanks for that link to the Booming School. I'm laughing my butt off at the section on terminology and nomenclature. I was in the Merchant Marine once upon a time, and you know what? We used EXACTLY the same nomenclature. Exactly.

'Morning, Boodle.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 26, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

Warm muffins, coffee, OJ and leftover blueberry shortcake on the table. I thought there were going to be many more at last night's gathering than there were, hence the leftovers.

Prayers said, Cassandra. Thanks for reminding us all.

So glad home computer is operational, Mudge.

Mr. A, may I please be excused from the test? I don't know the difference between BP and BOP and my Q4000's EDS is sure to fail, resulting in mud splattering all over the boodle.

Or something like that.

Anyway, it won't be pretty and I'm not going to pay for the cleanup, which could take months.

Posted by: MsJS | May 26, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I ran across the Boomer School a few days ago and it is both hilarious and informative. Now whenever I see the photos of the single line of boom material, I just cringe. And I only took the online correspondence course class.

His other diary entries are very enlightening as well. A great folk storyteller. I just wish we could use in the boodle all the technical terms he uses.

Speaking of technical terms, does anyone else find the prevalence of words like 'kill', 'shot', and 'stab' in the shut-off option names perhaps a little heavy on the violent side?

Posted by: yellojkt | May 26, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Here's a photograph and story about the HOS Centerline mentioned in Joel's piece. (HOS stands for the company that owns her, Hornbeck Offshore Services; HOS isn't some sort of nautical terminology. Depending on her propulsion system, she's properly the M/V HOS Centerline or the SS HOS Centerline, but that strings together too many acronyms. But HOS is part of her name, so it can't be shortened or omitted in first reference.

By coincidence, the Centerline is almost exactly the same length and general configuration of the tanker I served on in the Merchant Marine in 1966, except along the open central deck you see, my ship had 3 large tanks extending above deck level. The engine room is aft, under the "house" (superstructure) all the way aft.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 26, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

yello, RD, thanks for those way cool references. The Valley Forge may be gone and the rest of the fleet may have jettisoned their domes, but Dewey's still got the watering can. When I was young, that movie got to me almost as much as "Brian's Song." [I know, I'm a sap.]

Was wondering if anyone was considering a remake, but y'know, they already made Wall-E.

As far as the dispersant goes, I'd also been wondering if BP could equip those undersea robo-drones with some wet vacs and set them to vacumming up the floor of the Gulf. Here's some incentive: recover the oil for processing and resell it.


Posted by: -bc- | May 26, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Google only gives me links to "She Bop" and "Blitzkrieg Bop" when I search for "bop video live."

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 26, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

I am going to address the leak by having a big ol' BLT.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 26, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

yello, given the nature of the oil bidness, I wouldn't expect to see terms like "cuddly" or "harmonic".

Posted by: MsJS | May 26, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

There have been a lot of reporting on guys claiming to have used supertankers as giant hoovering machines during an enormous hitherto little known spill in the Arabian Sea/Persian Gulf many years ago. Here is but one link:

Don't know why this isn't in BP's toolbox yet (or if it isn't), but it sure can't hurt any. Again, BP's wimpy PR efforts are definitely backfiring against them. If they truly are doing everything they can to stop the oil before it hits the marshes, they aren't getting that message across effectively. And the use of dispersants is going to end up looking like a bad call.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 26, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Ooooh! Ooooh! I just got to speak Swedish with some new prospective clients! Surprised the H outta them (my colleagues are at a conference/trade show in downtown DC and are hunting and fishing for new clientele -- it's an international conference, and I *really* wish I got to be one of the lucky ones, but, alas ...).

I look forward to the day when the rape of our planet is not foremost in the thoughts of rampant capitalists (or the so-called economic system of any other flavor). She's not called "Mother Earth" for nothing, people.


Good morning, Cassandra! MsJS, good luck to your Blackhawks. dbG, good luck to your Flyers. See? I've got absolutely no skin in this game anymore, so I can be an equal opportunity booster. BTW, for all the hockey fans out there, Steve Yzerman has left the Detroit Red Wings front office to go head up the Tampa Bay Lightning. There was some discussion in the Detroit Free Press this morning that when Scotty Bowman went to Chicago, the Blackhawks became a contender, and now with Stevie going to the Lightning, perhaps the same thing will happen. Yzerman was a great player and terrific leader. The Wings will miss him, but always honor and cherish him.

Hey, Yoki! Have you recovered yet? Look at it this way -- it's almost (*gasp*) June, and the new season starts in less than 6 months!

Posted by: -ftb- | May 26, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Jumper, try Be Bop.

I got Be-Bop-a-Lula by Gene Vincent (1956).
(I'm hopeless at links, sorry)

Posted by: talitha1 | May 26, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

And here's a better photo of what they are calling the "command vessel," the beautiful and gracefull Helix Q4000. She's a heart-stopper, isn't she? Kinda reminds ya of the clipper ships of yore. Joel and I had a discussion a few weeks ago concerning calling the Deepwater Horizon a "ship," and using the term "abandon ship" when somebody has to jump off of it (I refuse to call one of these things a "her" like I would a normal shippy ship). Be that as it may, Joel was more right than I was, because the DH floated, and then sank, pretty much shiplike, and "abandon rig" would have been silly terminolgy.

But it does raise the largely irrelevant and nit-picky question of what exactly to call these things. A "rig" or "drilling rig" is as good a term as any, but I am pretty firmly opposed to "ship" or "vessel" as being generally misleading. In the nautical sense a ship or vessel is (with only a very narrow set of exceptions) a self-propelled object that transits water from A to B. These rigs aren't self-propelled, and are usually towed from placed to place, and then anchored in place and often ballasted down so they ride as smooth and level as they can in deep water. (In shallower water, they are simply giant oil derricks/platforms that are towed to their location and then planted on the sea bottom; they make no pretense of being ship-like). But rigs like the DH and the Helix are really just oil derrick/platforms set up on pontoons. To me that's not a "ship" nor anything shiplike.

I suppose they each have someone who is in charge of them, and I frankly don't know if he (or she, theoretically) is called a "captain" or not, but it doesn't matter. He and his crew don't do navigation, they don't "sail" her, they don't do the dozens of things traditional seamen do aboard a ship, except maybe chip rust and paint constantly.So when the Helix Q4000 is described as a "command vessel" I have trouble with that term. I don't have a better term, but basically, it's just some kind of big platform thing, and it's where the operation is being directed from. But no, it ain't a command vessel, not in my mind, and I think the term conveys the wrong picture to layman and some landlubbers.

Here endeth the rantlet.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 26, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

And a fine rantlet it be.

Posted by: MsJS | May 26, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps you're thinking of this song:

We-hell-I see them every night on the oil rigs--
Looking for new places for them to dig
Hey they’ve been drilling in a new location
And spilling all over the nation
Oop--no bop--

Do I care which beaches they spoil
Huh, yea, they wanna go drill n find some oil
Hey they say that an extra valve mighta worked
They say without oil I can’t go to work
Oop--no bop--no bop

No bop--bad bop--a—broke bop
stuck bop--new bop--a--screw bop
Be bop--be bop--a--lu--no bop,
I hope BP understands
No bop--bad bop--a—broke bop
stuck bop--new bop--a--screw bop
Be bop--be bop--a--lu--no bop,
Oo--oo--no--do--no bop--no bop

(whistle along here)...

Hey, hey—they say I don’t need tanning lotion
Because they can’t stop spillin’ all over the ocean

No, they don’t worry, and they don’t fret--
Ain't no law against them yet--
Oop--no bop--no bop--

Posted by: yellojkt | May 26, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

bc - yes, you are right. *Louie* was the one blown away as the Valley Forge crossed the rings of Saturn, while *Dewey* was the one left guarding the final garden dome armed only with Freeman's battered watering can and a bunch of, one hopes, really, really long-life tanning bulbs.

I am so embarrassed.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 26, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Nice bop.

That Booming School piece was great - informative, funny, and well ranted. Makes one kinda hope someone Who Matters read it, and passed it on. I have wondered about all those ineffectual-looking ropes of boom looped like string around the coast, with oil behind and before them.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 26, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Good rant Mudge. It sounds like those things are rafts. How about "raftform" altho' I guess that's sorta hard to say and it would become 'ratform' which is kinda ok with me right now.

Off to the cemetery to say 'hi' to mom, dad, grandmother and uncle (last two I never knew).

Posted by: badsneakers | May 26, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 26, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Hank being brilliant about the live cam:

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 26, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Latest McCain Campaign Commercial:

Posted by: russianthistle | May 26, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, I think of rigs as vessels in the sense of container (one that contains people and drilling equipment, for example), rather than a navigable ship. A beer mug isn't tecnhically navigable, but it is a vessel, isn't it?

One that needs to be externally powered and navigated from a bar countertop to my face from time to time.

Plus 'vessel' (or "wessel" as Lt. Chekov would say) is easier to say and write than "some kind of big platform thing."

But I'm a dumb layman and landlubber who can barely tie his own shoes, much less moor a battleship.

On another note, I heard on NPR this AM that the Feds are investigating and considering filing criminal charges, ranging from actions (or actions not taken) on the rig to corporate actions taken with regards to information and accident mitigation efforts as well as Federal Clean Water act violations, but are holding off until after BP gets the oil gusher under control. Absurd? Perhaps not so much.

And then there's a lot going on around MMS, too.


Posted by: -bc- | May 26, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I think of 'Captain' as a rank within an organization, like Police Captain or Cheerleading Captain or Army Captain or even Captain of the Genovese Crime Family. A position that comes with responsibilities and a chain of command.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 26, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Good point, LiT. The door sign for 'Captain' might say "Vessel not included" on the back.


Posted by: -bc- | May 26, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I read Hank's piece on being mesmerized by the live feed in the wee hours last night. It's what prompted me to wish for an Uncle Walter to do commentary. It's going to be a long wait for any results, and it's sure no Apollo 13, so perhaps silence is golden.

Loved the bop!

Posted by: talitha1 | May 26, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Kiptin, Kiptin, the wessel is not a Checov-Walter Koenig sort of other news, the hip color to repaint your 50s metal lawn furniture is:


That is the bunker password for the day. Although, I am betting that Frosti would select celedon.


Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | May 26, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

What continues to be highly absurd, bc, is that notion that the possible crimes you describe took place in 5,000 feet of water. I don't dispute the possibility of those crimes existing; I quite agree all sorts of mis-, mal-, un-, and other kinds of feasances may well have occurred, and in many different locations from boardrooms to wardrooms -- but not in 5,000 feet of water 40 miles offshore. There is no crime scene at the busted pipe there, and never was.

And of course you are being playfully obtuse about a beer mug being a vessel. But I know you know as well as I do that context matters, and we are talking about nautical matters, not flagons, mugs, flasks, bottles, jars, shot glasses, paint cans, tuns, kegs, nor Christ's chalice that Indiana Jones found, nor are we talking about veins, arteries, capillaries or any other kinds of corpuscular-delivery-type vessels, either. We are, of course, discussing only the once-beautifully and artfully made craft that my ancestors and I built and sailed upon the vasty deep. (Although yes, we had a number of kegs, casks, flagons, mugs, and other containment-type vessels aboard on at least two or three occasions that I'm vaguely aware of. Perhaps more. To say nothing of the butts of water that we kept near the scuttle, so we could wet our whistles when necessary, and exchange gossip and discuss the "Lost" finale.)

And yes, mooring battleships can be a tricky business. Kids, don't try this at home.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 26, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

A rig can be both, bc. There are platform rigs (fixed until they're towed to the next site) and navigable ships/barges called FSPOs.

Posted by: Yoki | May 26, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, not trying to be a pain, but I don't understand why you assert anywhere as out-of-bounds for a crime scene. Eleven men are dead, and that's where one of the initial acts leading to those deaths occurred. If there was a crime, why wouldn't that be a scene of the crime? Crimes can have more than one scene each.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 26, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Hank is right. That "spillcam" does look a little bit like the smoke-monster from Lost. Now we just need to find the heart of the island and uncork it long enough to kill it.

Or something...

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 26, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

My guess, LostinThought, is that Mudge is referring to criminal jurisdiction. Who has jurisdiction over allegedly criminal actions and omissions 5000 feet down on the seabed? It is an interesting question.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 26, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

"butts" of water, Mudge? Perhaps some (*snort*) clarification might be in order, Sire?

Posted by: -ftb- | May 26, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I thought the UN covered this, and even if they didn't, because the 'ship' was connected to the bottom, and the ship had a flag on it, the country whose flag it is has jurisdiction. If some Somali pirates pick themselves up a new tanker, complete with crew, at 100 miles out, someone's committed a crime, and that tanker is a scene of that crime. As is the dinghy.
If I had a person water skiing off the back of my boat, and they were smokin a big ole doobie, I'm pretty sure the Coast Guard would make a case that the waterskier was on the boat, and they'd take my boat.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 26, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone seen any clear indication that the "top kill" has actually started?

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 26, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

The Hanseatic League has taken over, again.

Now they call it "the multinationals."

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 26, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Butt can be a watertank, rain barrel, bucket for catching rainwater, etc.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 26, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

RD, the latest BP press release says only:

A series of diagnostic tests are currently underway on the Deepwater Horizon’s failed BOP to improve understanding of the status and configuration of the BOP and determine whether a ‘top kill’ procedure can be successfully executed. These tests involve pumping drilling fluids into the BOP to measure pressures and validate flow paths. When complete, a decision will be made on the execution of the top kill procedure itself.

Posted by: Yoki | May 26, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Which is why a 'buttery' is where great houses, Oxford colleges etc. stored their beer for commons.

Posted by: Yoki | May 26, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Criminal jurisdiction is complicated. The UN might have some kind of jurisdiction in this case, but that would not permit either the US government or any state government to bring a criminal prosecution. There might or might not be a criminal prosecution which could be brought at the Hague, but those proceedings tend to focus on treaty or protocol violations rather than common or garden variety crime. If an international statute did define a crime which could be charged in this instance, it might not look like the thing we think of as the crime, and an international trial certainly might not look like the trial we'd expect.

This is further complicated by the fact that it is pretty far offshore, and the criminal interface with admiralty/maritime law is murky. US federal criminal law applies only to US territory - practically speaking, embassies etc., military bases and Indian country, and waters within federal as opposed to state jurisdiction. Flying the US flag won't be enough to confer criminal jurisdiction. [If, as a BP project, it flew a British flag, one wouldn't automatically claim that they had jurisdiction.] If the rig is within US territorial maritime jurisdiction (I'm vaguely remembering earlier discussions about this suggesting that it is), then the US government might have some jurisdiction over any criminal actions or omissions on the rig itself. Unless Louisiana could claim some right to the coastal waters, in which case possibly the rig would come under state rather than federal jurisdiction. There is a good argument that any jurisdiction would extend to the seabed connection with the rig.

Under the boat scenario you describe, the Coast Guard would almost certainly take your boat (I don't know if they modified the law since I was working on that on the Hill) but that would occur in a quasi-civil forfeiture proceeding. You might not be charged with any crime.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 26, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

A butt can also be a murder weapon. See R. Shakespeare's Richard III Act One in re: Clarence, Duke of.

Posted by: kguy1 | May 26, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Jeez, why is this hard? The 11 men died on the rig, not 5,000 feet below it.
If there was a crime, then that is one of the possible crime scenes.

I don't assert that "anywhere" is out-of-bounds. I agree a crime scene can be pretty much anywhere. But I take "scene-of-the-crime" to be a quite literal term: it has to be WHERE a specific crime occured,, or the reasonably proximal site where the consequences occurred. So yes, if some idiot fires a stray shot, and six blocks away it hits a house and kills somebody inside, then yes, you can have two scenes, one where he pulled the trigger, and one six blocks away where the person got hit.

But those apply to physical crimes. Bernie Madoof swindled 50 billion bucks, or whatever the amount was. Where is the crime scene, exactly? Are you telling me that part of the crime scene might be Sean Penn's accountants office in Beverly Hills, where the accountant innocently agreed to invest Penn's money? And would the "scene" thereby include every other single location where a Madoff-related crimeoccurred?

In these kinds of crimes, there is no "crime scene" per se. Was the Oval Office a crime scene when Nixon, Haldemann and Ehrichman plotted Watergate, or when Clinton got his BJ?

There are crimes that have a physical locus, and crimes that do not have a physical locus (or not one where evidence is gathered). To properly be a "crime scene," there has to be something at that physical location that constitutes some sort of physical evidence that would have some useful evidentiary value in cort. But by your loose defintion, then all the islands where oil is washing up might also be criome scenes (because how are they different from the pipe itself 5,000 underwater?). The entire gulf itself would then be a crime scene, because that's where the oil went. And then the beaches of Cape Cod, and some poor oil-drenched seagull beciomes a crime scene, too.

Which is why this entire premise is absurd, and that's exactly the right word for it.

Pipe at bottom of gulf: not a crime scene, no matter how badly anyone wants to find the tragic death 11 men a mile away a crime.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 26, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Butts of water is exactly correct, ftb. It's where we get the term scuttlebutt to mean gossip. The scuttlebutt was where sailors gathered for their water-cooler chats, gossip and speculation.

Which is not to say there wasn't also grog aboard (I have no personal knowledge of this; it's only conjecture). But grog was kept under lock-and-key and very closely monitored.

Yup, drinking water. And often foul, if it came from casks below decks, or rainwater more often than not. The parcelling out of grog (rum) was a somewhat ritualized event entirely seperate from the scuttlebutt.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 26, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

They're lying to us now, they've been lying to us from the beginning. Whether it will take two days or five, whether if things look bad that means it's okay or it's a disaster, whether they even think this thing has a chance to work or they are just buying time, we have no idea. BP are liars. They can't be trusted. Maybe they're talking truth here, maybe not. We have no idea.

They are criminals.

Posted by: AdHack | May 26, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I'mom, thanks for treating the question seriously.

Mudge, no need to be an assw1pe about it. Just looking for an honest discussion on a topic neither of us are experts at. I'll ask someone else. Well, now that I think about it, no one else I know asserts that what happened on the bottom and what happened on the rig aren't physically connected.

If the cement was a problem, and equipment was connected from the rig to the equipment on the bottom, they'd be all one thing. A physical place. This wasn't an internet crime.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 26, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I just wanted to point out that there are two issues here.

First, is it possible that there is some physical evidence in the region around the BOP that relates to BP's liability? Well, it seems clear there could be. The locus of this disaster might well be in the well and not where the workers died. I mean, lets say that there is evidence for botched cement work jammed in the riser. Unlikely, but possible.

The second issue is if this would make this a legitimate crime scene? Search me. This is a legal question. As Mudge points out, there must me some limit.

But the real question is what impact this has on underwater activities. The idea that they would put up neutral buoyancy yellow tape and keep everyone away until the ROV CSI team finishes up is certainly absurd.

On the other hand, I think that all the video and other physical evidence gathered should certainly be preserved. I think it would be questionable if BP were to, say, destroy all measurements, tapes, and the like gathered around the BOP as "irrelevant" to any investigation - criminal or otherwise.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 26, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Time (London) reporter Frank Pope took a look around in the water.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 26, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm tired of crossing my fingers. I'm tired of praying. I'm tired of waiting for BP to come up with an answer when they should have had one before being granted the ability to drill in the first place. They are literally making this up as they go along.

Now we see on CNN the head of BP admonishing cameramen to "get out." We've heard reports of the Coast Guard threatening arrest of cameramen "under BP's orders." Their belligerent insistence on the most toxic dispersants is a transparent attempt to make the problem invisible, even at the expense of making the Gulf even more dead than it will be as a result of their penny-pinching negilgence.

This company has proven they cannot be trusted. We must seize the US assets of BP until such time as we are made whole. Only then will we see the kind of response from BP we should have gotten from the beginning.

Posted by: trippin | May 26, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Yoki. I guess they are still pondering.

See, this is where the government might have a role. Maybe the final decision to start the Top Kill shouldn't be with BP but should, rather, be with the Government.

The problem with this, as I mentioned before, is if the Government is the one who ultimately decides, the Government must then, I assert, bear some of the responsibility if this decision backfires.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 26, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I think we should all crack a butt of Malmsey.

Posted by: Yoki | May 26, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Interesting problem, kguy. Was it the butt that killed him, or the malmsey wine therein contained that drowned him that was the murder weapon?

In any event, the real Clarence was executed in the Tower of London, and most likely never placed in the barrel of wine. However, there is some outside chance his corpse was placed in the barrel post mortem (as they like to say on CSI) for shipment to the abbey where he was buried. This really does exist as a possibility, because when Horatio Nelson was killed at Trafalgar, the Navy shipped his body home in a barrel of brandy. The lesson being that shipping bodies in alcohol was not unknown as a means of preservating corpses for long-distance travel, when burial in situ was not an option.

N.B. When Clarence's body was exhumed, the corpse showed no signs of beheading, so they don't seem to know how he was executed.

But then we get into the nasty, tricky question of whether someone more-or-less lawfully executed by the crown's order may be said to have been "murdered." No murder, no crime scene. Which gets us to the even trickier question of when royal executions are "legal" and when they are not. British history gives us bunches and bunches of both. As Sherlock Holmes might say, I feel a learned monograph coming on.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 26, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Yoki said butt crack!!! *teehee*

Well, sorta... :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 26, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Front Page Alert, too...

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 26, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Oh, Yoki, let's keep playing in the wordary.

Cattery (neighbor has one)

Some buttered buttheads butting each other's butts with buttering rams; others, muttering, about the strong-armed (butted?) buttout commands of BP.


Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | May 26, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Just checked the live cam and it's still belching like a sandworm after a bad melange burrito.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 26, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

See, this is interesting. The NYT has the following with regard to the top kill:

"The Coast Guard gave BP approval to move forward with the maneuver after consulting with government scientists, but there was no word yet when it would begin."

So this implies that that while BP has the authority to decide it doesn't want to do the top kill, the government still has veto authority.

This, to me, confuses a bit who would be responsible if this goes terribly wrong and makes things worse.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 26, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

on the wonders of nature, particularly corn.

Posted by: -jack- | May 26, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

My vote is pro crime scene. Have no problem with Attorney General calling it such. Not that that piker has the nads.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 26, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Aw, you guys are so funny. Actually, I *had* figured it out, but it was much more fun witnessing the sincere efforts to explain.

I'm with you, Snuke -- I laughed at "butt crack" too.

Posted by: -ftb- | May 26, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Actually I think that Clarence was killed by a combination of overconfidence and poor balance. Once he fell in he just couldn't drink fast enough. Perhaps if he'd had some poutine...

Posted by: kguy1 | May 26, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Nice link, jack. I'm a corn fan. Not to mention it led to, via sidebar, this astounding story:

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 26, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "preservating"?? I've been reading the collected works of George W. Bush much too long.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 26, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Let me get this straight- the oil is coming out at a pressure of 20,000 PSI. They are going to shoot something into that kind of pressure with the hope that it sticks? I would be laughing my ass off it the situation was not so deadly serious. Keep drilling those relief wells, maybe in another 60 days they might be able to stem the tide. Until then, please spare me the idiotic ideas cooked up to appease the masses. When does the tar and feather crowd show up at BP headquarters? I'm in.

Posted by: bretb | May 26, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Concept borrowed from a comment posted under London Times reporter Frank Pope's article (cited above by DaveoftheC):

This is the MACONDO well (acronym).

Now, in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude", the village of Macondo is agricultual and isolated. The people of Macondo become aware of modern inventions and discoveries when a wandering minstrel, Melquiades, stumbles into town with magnets, a magnifying glass and "alchemy". The town leader, Buendia, is so overwhelmed by experimenting with and trying to comprehend these new discoveries that he neglects his duties and eventually goes mad. He's tied to a chestnut tree in the patio where he dies. (I paraphrased this from an online book synopsis cited by the commenter.)

The metaphor of technology overwhelming the agrarian society is, of course, only one of the author's many themes. It struck this commenter, as it has me, that Macondo is an apt named for this disaster.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 26, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

My jurisdictional comments have been pretty academic. There is a difference between a crime and a crime scene. It is possible to have one without a clear connection to another, as Mudge notes in the case of financial crime. It is also entirely reasonable, in my view, to refer to a place where 11 people died in an explosion as a possible crime scene. I even understand why, when speaking publicly, one might omit the "possible". My somewhat arcane musings about jurisdiction aside, I fully agree with the Dept. of Justice decision to investigate the entire Explosion/Spill/Cleanup continuum for criminal activity. I think to do otherwise would be remiss.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 26, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

talitha, I *loved* *loved* *loved* One Hundred Years of Solitude and I think it's the best (no, ***BEST***) book ever written!

*smiling in sweet memory for the rest of the day*

Posted by: -ftb- | May 26, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Also, bretb, you are welcome to stick around here. We're all mostly birds of a feather (minus the tar).

Posted by: -ftb- | May 26, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, dude, I was just asking a question about the wreckage and debris (any hard- or flash drives recoverable? Papers in safes, remains, etc? Some sort of black box data recordings? I dunno.) of the *DH rig* as part of an investigation, criminal or otherwise -- I wasn't specific about the wellhead or BP itself, was I? And wasn't asserting that it *was,* but was considering the question of why there's no video of it. Don't know why anyone assumed that.

We recover as much as we can of vessels of all kinds for evidence in investigations, particularly when there are fatalities involved - aircraft, ships, etc. don't we? Granted, it's in 5000 ft of water, but I think there's been equipment going up and down in the vicinity for the past month, hasn't there? Far be it from me to hypothetically consider the idea that some crucial evidence from the rig may been brought back up already and squirreled away, and being that there's no video of the wreck to compare it to, how would anyone know if it has been disturbed? Granted, overblown thriller stuff, but I'm just a deliberately obtuse landlubber who knows nothing about international or maritime law. Nuthin' on *my* shingle.

I do not know if there are any plans for such things, and again, I'm just asking questions. As apparently are the FBI, the Administration, folks on the Hill, etc., and mentioned that bit on NPR.
No need to get all wound up about it.

Speaking of which, I understand that the infamous Clinton BJ was not in itself the reason for the impeachment proceedings and criminal investigations, but the perjury. So that would not a crime scene AFAIK, dude.

If it makes anyone feel better to jump up and down and point at me and yell "Wrong, wrong, wrong," when I ask questions and pass along info from news reports, feel free.


Posted by: -bc- | May 26, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

If another boodler has already come up with the Macondo 'thang', please don't tell me. ;)

I'm not getting a stitch of work done but being here makes the waiting room so much friendlier.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 26, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

The tar shouldn't be hard to find. It's all over the beaches. Feathers too.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 26, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

*bouncing chair as a substitute for jumping up and down and pointing madly at computer screen*

bc bc bc, please ask questions! please please please!

Gotta admit I found 100 Years of Solitude about 20 years too long. Also, the ending was a bit too surreal, even for this particular book. But talitha's comparisons are nonetheless apt.

Posted by: MsJS | May 26, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

We are under assault here near the Naval Academy. The Blue Angels are flying so low overhead, I swear I can see the pilots waving to me as they pass by.

They scared the cardinal who built a nest in my climbing roses, and she's abandoned the nest. I hope it's just temporary.

The worst thing about the oil spill is that no one has any control over it. Being out of control is the worst emotional state there is, I think.

Posted by: rickoshea11 | May 26, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Indeed, I-mom.

Until we know, we don't.
I'm not smart or knowledgeable enough to make assumptions. And I'm a believer in asking (and answering as best I can) questions, even if they're absurd or stupid -- helps me keep my mind open to new ideas and thoughts. Challenging preconceptions. But that's just me.


Posted by: -bc- | May 26, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

My understanding is that the well pressure is a mere 14,000 psi, not 2,0000. When the drilling mud reaches bottom, it will be at the base of a column of material 5,000 feet = 60,000 inches high. In order to result in 14,000 psi applied pressure, the mud must have a weight density of 14,000/60,000 = 0.233 lb/in.^3 Converting these useless units to metric (454.55 gm/lb,1/16.39 in.^3/cm^3), we find that the required mass density for the mud must be at least 6.46g/cm^3. The density of liquid water is 1.0 g/cm^3, while the density of steel is about 8 g/cm^3 and the density of osmium is 22.6 g/cm^3. What I have found for the density of clay is only about 1.8 g/cm^3, which is insufficient. However, it is clear from what Jumper and Joel have said, that the "mud" is actually a carefully-crafted mixture (in this case, really, a colloidal suspension) of mineral/chemical components designed to achieve an intended density, chemical properties, and cohesiveness. I am not particularly surprised that such a goo could be constructed.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 26, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

According to this update, BP began the top kill procedure at 1:00 Central time.

Posted by: MsJS | May 26, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Okay Dokie. So it's being reported now that the top kill started about 2PM EST.

Let me go light the candle at my shrine to the patron saint of high mass flow rates.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 26, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

SciTim - BP has reported that the mud actually weighs twice what sea water does. What really matters is the Mass Flow Rate - which is determined by both the density of the mud and how fast it is being pumped.

The real uncertainty here, I have been led to understand, is what fraction of the mud will be forced into the well and what fraction will be forced out of the top of the BOP. That's were the risk comes in.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 26, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

This thing is like a leaky upside-down hydraulic press.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 26, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Tech description of the top kill

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 26, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Thanks LiT, MsJS, and Jumper, too.


Posted by: -bc- | May 26, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

All the reports I have seen put the density of the mud-goo as about double that of water, so 6 g/cm^3 is way too much. Since I am stuck in an IP world, I've been using 100lb/ft^3 (compared to 62.4 pcf for water) as a reasonable guess of the actual density.

The are not relying on the weight of the mud to stopper the hole, but the force of the pump on the ship. The pumps have to be able to force the mud against the full pressure of the oil coming up. You do get about 2000 psi 'free' just from the gravity head of working a mile underneath the atmosphere.

If the pump stops, the oil will just push out the mud, which is why the mud has to eventually be replaced by concrete/cement (let's not reopen that semantic can of worms). Once in place, the cement is held by adhesion to the side of the well to resist the pressure. Even just heavy stuff wouldn't stopper the leak since the oil and gas would percolate around any crack or openings. They have to push back the oil and then plug it tight.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 26, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

rickoshea, I was momentarily confused by your cardinal comment. Until you used the pronoun "she" I didn't immediately think of a bird and was a little startled by the image of a cardinal in full dress nesting amid your roses.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 26, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

What rd said.

And I'm with you, bc. Let the lawyers figure out when an accident becomes a crime. I've said before that negligence can be criminal and you don't have to be Professor Peacock with the candlestick to be responsible for something.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 26, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

I'm a little confused by what part of the BOP the ROV is showing. I guess the absence of anything gushing is a good thing.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 26, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Ivansmom, LOL. But with the state of the Church these days, I suppose anything can happen.

The barrage on my senses seems to be over now. I'll never understand why people think that watching planes flying so low and so fast is entertaining. I find it scary as heck!


Posted by: rickoshea11 | May 26, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Am trying to write a lucid story about mitigating pollutants in stormwater runoff, but it's hard to concentrate on surface waters when my mind is fixated about 5000' deeper. Hope this works...(and if Bob Ballard was able to dive two and a half miles in a sub to find the Titanic in 1985, I guess we haven't gotten a sub to the spill site because BP isn't issuing press passes?)

Posted by: AgAnnie | May 26, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I concur fully, dudes, that the density of the mud is not the critical component of the situation. Oil's density is less than that of sea-water (it floats, doncha know), so putting a dense material on top of a low-density material does not really accomplish the goal of squishing down the low-density material. I permitted myself to go off-target in my discussion, but what I was really reacting to was the notion that 14,000 psi is an impossibly high pressure that could not be contained or generated by any human agency. Clearly, it's well within the properties of manageable materials.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 26, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Joel's been busy:

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 26, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

RD, there's a piece of hardware that actually says "top kill" on it within camera range.

And now we're seeing stuff gushing.

There seem to be multiple cameras at work, so the images keep shifting.

Posted by: MsJS | May 26, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Joel - FYI - the third to last paragraph in that story has been overtaken by events.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 26, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Thanks MsJS.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 26, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I suspect we don't have a sub at the spill site because there are very few subs capable of that depth, and they already are largely spoken for. Something that was quoted in the Boodle or one of Joel's articles, recently... the Alvin is apparently close to being retired, and the other US submersibles capable of that depth have already been retired. The speaker cited only a couple other submersibles worldwide that could manage that depth.

Ballard does not own or control his own deep-diving manned submersibles. The really deep-divers are a very limited resource, government-owned, and people propose ages in advance to use them for research that has been reviewed and approved by peers and by NOAA. That kind of resource has operating costs typically measured in dollars per second, probably $10's per second. They COULD be brought into this situation, but only if someone demonstrates an actual need that could only be met by the agency of humans on the scene. Humans are good at evaluating complex visual data, but remote-controlling an arm that turns a wrench does not require that the remote-control wire be short. It can be long. 5000' long.

Posted by: ScienceTim | May 26, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

SCC: upon closer inspection it may read "BOP kill".

Posted by: MsJS | May 26, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

I had to pull out my 1985 PE Review Manual to look up the right formula. Hydraulic horsepower is:

Flow in gpm x Pressure in pounds per square foot / 246,800.

For 50 bpm (2100 gpm) and 14,000 psi (roughly 2 million psf) the hydraulic horsepower needed is 17,150. From a press release quoted at the Oil Drum:

"It is equipped with eight skid-mounted 3,000 brake horsepower Gorilla
 fracturing units can store 2.75 million lb of proppant. The vessel can provide up to 23,000 hydraulic horsepower and 80 bbl/min blending rates to meet high-rate fracturing and stimulation requirements of ultra-deepwater projects."

Now that is enough power to earn the respect of Tim Taylor and gives them about a 34% safety factor on flow or pressure.

2100 gpm is not a lot of flow. I got projects right now with rows of pumps that can do that flow. The head pressure is what is impressive. 1000 psi is enough to rupture most common pipe. Getting up to 14,000 psi is most impressive.

I imagine that the pumps are arranged in series so that you can add or subtract pumps as needed to meet the pressure.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 26, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for those heads up, RD.


Posted by: -bc- | May 26, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

What Tim said. One reason there are fewer deep-depth submarines is that ROVs are just as effective. BTW, ROVs have been on site for weeks.

Posted by: Raysmom | May 26, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

About an hour ago I ate a delicious Gyro. About a foot long and as think as my wrist. I'm stuffed.

Just read two excellent articles in the food section of the WaPo. One about brisket the other about vanilla.

Got me thinking about using vanilla as a secret spice in a brisket rub.

I am stuffed and hungry at the same time...



Posted by: omni3 | May 26, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Yello, I've heard of some high-perf hydraulic systems that deal w/really high pressures, well over that 14,000 psi.

Military aerospace -type stuff.

I recall a guy saying that pressure accumulators are important (and spherical where possible).

No firsthand knowledge of such things though.


Posted by: -bc- | May 26, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Spherical goes almost without saying. The more directions you can distribute that internal stress, the better.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 26, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse


In garden, pouring
ammonia on begonias:
top kill in progress.


Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 26, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Two provisos, yello. First, freshwater is 62.4 pounds per cubic foot, but seawater (saltwater) is approximately 64 pounds per cubic foot. (This the number burned into the brain of every naval architect, and is fundamental to all calculations of displacement.) Seawater actually will vary slightly depending on salinity, but for all practical purposes 64 lbs./cu.ft. is accepted. This also assumes sea level and normal air pressure. At depth it gets both colder and denser due to pressure. But one has to keep some things constant, so 64 pounds is accepted.

If mud is "twice that, we're looking at very nearly 128 lbs./cubic foot, not the 100 you used, although it may be close enough for ballpark, seat-of-the-pants estimates, especially since it seems to vary all over the map in density). The thing about the mud is it starts off like choclate milk while flowing, but it seems to solidy and gel, so its actual weight seems to be wildly dependent on time and place and condition, so that using any single number doesn't do much good. It may well flow at about your 100 pounds, but after solidifcation may wind up at 130 or so.

I saw somewhere a figure of 14 pounds per gallon for the mud, which is about twice the weight of seawater. A gallon of seawater weighs about 8.5 pounds per gallon* (see temp and pressure variable above). So dividing 8.5 into 14 gives us a ratio of 1.65, so the mud would weigh about

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 26, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

...120 pounds per cubic foot.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | May 26, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

R.I.P. Art Linkletter at the age of 97.

I can still remember watching his show as a kid. Once he asked a little boy what animal he wanted to be and he said an octopus so that he could "grab people and squeeze them with his testicles."

Posted by: kguy1 | May 26, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

So what you're saying Mudge, is that the mud weighs twice as much as sea water. I think I got it.


Posted by: DLDx | May 26, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

RIP Art Linkletter. I was just wondering the other day how old he would be now. Kids DO say the darndest things. *sigh*

Posted by: talitha1 | May 26, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Thinking of Wilbrodog's haiku, or dogku, a certain Japanese garden had, perhaps still has, a problem of visitors dropping ashes of their loved ones into the pond at the foot of Heavenly Falls.

No reported fatalities among the pond's koi, so not "top kill," but unhealthy for the fish and a problem for their keepers.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 26, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

Art Linkletter -- those shows were so funny. Just goes to show, the kidz are *always* listening. And then repeating.

Posted by: -ftb- | May 26, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Art Linkletter, I thought he died years ago. My dad used to love watching him interview kids.

The cemetery today was the neatest I've ever seen it. They've obviously invested in some very good trimming tools as the grass was cut right up to the stones.

I still marvel at the technical expertise here. I don't understand it so I'm glad that you all do. Meant to comment on that piece by Fishgrease. He made a lot of sense explaining the booms. Just saw a piece on the news of fishermen laying boom and I wonder if they are doing it right. If Fishgrease is correct, then I doubt it.

Posted by: badsneakers | May 26, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Linkletter told a story on his own son once. (Hope I'm getting this right)
After his first day of school he proclaimed he wasn't going back. Why?
"Well I can't read and I can't write and they won't let me talk."

Posted by: talitha1 | May 26, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

I have nothing to say about Linklater, except his shows always seemed cheesy and sentimental to me.

However, I think Neimann is brilliant, as always.

Posted by: Yoki | May 26, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Fun, Yoki!

Posted by: talitha1 | May 26, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Never saw his show, but I had his book about that show so know the testicles line. Very funny.

Sometimes cheese is good for life.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 26, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Mr.Tal just brought home a cheesecake.
Life is good with cheese, indeed!

Posted by: talitha1 | May 26, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I have no idea what it is, but something is definitely happening on the spillcam.

Posted by: MsJS | May 26, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

MsJS, I've been hoping someone would post a caption or -something- in the absence of play-by-play. It's frustrating to just stare at it like it's a dirty lava lamp.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 26, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

An envirocrisis appears to precipitate weirdness.

Posted by: shilohgun | May 26, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

ftb - One Hundred Years is one of the best books I've ever read.

My dream is to one day learn Spanish well enough to read it in the original. I understand that in Spanish it is lyrical.

MsJS, The writing is in the form of what I believe is called magical surrealism. So...surreal yes, but it can't, by definition of the form, be to surreal.

Posted by: omni3 | May 26, 2010 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Actually, magic realism.

Posted by: Yoki | May 26, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

You beat me to it, Yoki. In One Hundred Years, after Buendia dies and his spirit returns to Macondo, the magic compounds the dream. Magic realism. It's hard to express in words for a prosaic writer like me.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 26, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

"Magic realism" also describes the spillcam video -although conceptually surreal.

Posted by: shilohgun | May 26, 2010 7:30 PM | Report abuse

I don't know anything about Art Linkletter except the rumor about his daughter.

Posted by: omni3 | May 26, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad lots of people liked 100 Years. I'm glad I read it, but wouldn't put it in my top 10 or 20. A matter of personal taste. I read it in a book group and several thought it was an incredible read.

Yes, talitha, a play-by-play would give the spillcam video more meaning. I understand why it isn't available. Maybe I'll make up my own, heh heh.

Posted by: MsJS | May 26, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

i hear the russians solve seabed oil leaks that don't respond to containment or relief wells by setting off tactical nukes next to the site and smothering the leak that way. what are the odds of having to do that here? seems like the question ought to be asked of the govt and BP...

Posted by: a-littlebird-ptolemy | May 26, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

I sit corrected. But you can understand my err, no?

Posted by: omni3 | May 26, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Because it seems to me that the definition of Magic Realism is very similar to Surrealism in its dreamlike qualities.

The greatest novel ever "War and Peace" puhleeeze. a Bore and a Chore

But I still don't think all that much of "Citizen Kane" so just stick me in a corner with a cap

Posted by: omni3 | May 26, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Tactical nukes in the Gulf of Mexico raises the question of radioactive half-life in surviving seafood. Pre-cooked grouper from the middle grounds? Or shrimp in oil?

Posted by: shilohgun | May 26, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

In other news, I told my Spanish dog butt joke to someone who doesn't know any Spanish at all, I just explained it a little as I went along. He laughed at the slap

I also improved my otro uno joke...

Instead I say:

"Another More"

Posted by: omni3 | May 26, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

omni, I'll take my magic real, sur- or from a corner. Actually, my favorite place at a party or in a bar is sitting in a corner. You can observe without having to watch your back. ;)

Posted by: talitha1 | May 26, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

I actually liked your Magic Surrealism, omni. Makes perfect sense. I even had to look at it for a while, with a little bell pinging in the back of my mind. Sort of like those kindergarten exercises: What is wrong with this picture?

Posted by: Yoki | May 26, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

talitha, I'll be sitting right next to you. OK?

Posted by: omni3 | May 26, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

But you won't have much fun at the party if you don't come out and socialize with the rest of us. We're mostly harmless.

Posted by: Yoki | May 26, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

You can socialize from the corner just fine. Folks wander over to ask why you're there, realize it's quiet and the view is great, and they rest awhile. Also, your drink never gets jostled onto your shoes!

I'm teasing and I love to mingle and dance sometimes. But I do love the corner.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 26, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

I guess I'll be sitting next to you too Yoki. Feels like heaven

Posted by: omni3 | May 26, 2010 8:32 PM | Report abuse

I forgot to ask talitha if it was OK, but seems so

yes my own little peace of heaven

Posted by: omni3 | May 26, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse

Heard Joel ask a question at another of the BP conferences. They definitely have trouble with his last name.

Posted by: Bob-S | May 26, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

And the best thing about being in a corner: nobody can talk behind your back.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 26, 2010 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Scotty, can you check if AuntieHeaven is available as my next Boodle handle?

Posted by: Yoki | May 26, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Bob, was the accent BBC Brit this time? Last time the Asshshhschenbacshshshs did come through with that poshy toshy intonation.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | May 26, 2010 9:34 PM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, I don't think even corners can stop that susceptibility.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 26, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Someday we'll have a good discussion on significant digits and false precision.

Twice the density of water could be 95 pounds per cubic foot. Could be 160. 100 is a lot easier to punch into the calculator. For the pump horsepower calculation above, the density of the fluid is irrelevant since the pressure component of the equation adjusts for density. If we were measuring pump pressure in feet of head rather than psi, we would need to know the specific gravity of the fluid. And I have neglected the friction losses through the piping.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 26, 2010 9:55 PM | Report abuse

I've just been reading the site where the live feed prompted someone to remark "something just happened? Did they blow it up?"

Anyone know if there's some change?

Posted by: talitha1 | May 26, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Yes, shriek, that's what I was saying: the mud weighs twice as much as the water, but now you have all the math behind it. And it goes one step further. Because the mud weighs twice as much, you only need half as much pressure going down the well to match the pressure of the oil coming up. So if the oil is coming up at, say, 5,000 psi, you only need to pump the mud at about 2,500 p.s.i. to achieve equillibrium. Of course, you want more than that because you don't want equillibrium, you want to reverse the flow. But the point is, one doesn't to fret about the seemingly high pressure coming up, becasue you only need half as much going down.

I can do the math for you, which is pretty simple, if you want it. It's better than a simple assertion.

According to MSNBC, what is coming out of the pipe now is mud, not oil, but they aren't sure.

Just finished the second Larsson novel, been reading since 5:15 p.m. until now. Awesome. Just amazingly awesome.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | May 26, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

"Twice the density of water could be 95 pounds per cubic foot. Could be 160."

yello, that is the single most ignorant statement I have ever heard. You are never coming within a country mile of my HVAC system. Not ever. Clearly you are unable to multiply 64 by 2. Let me help you. First you multiply the 4 by the 2...

You picked the number that was easiest on your poor, tired calculator button?, because you'd rather wing a guess than use a real number that's in every textbook? Jesus wept.

Oh, screw it. Never mind.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | May 26, 2010 10:29 PM | Report abuse

What is coming out of the pipe at the spillcam seems to be coming out even faster than earlier in the day.

Posted by: nellie4 | May 26, 2010 10:46 PM | Report abuse

That is probably the drilling mud coming out of the leaks at a higher velocity and flow rate because it's at a higher pressure. If that is drilling mud instead of oil, it's a good thing.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 26, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Wish one could "really" tell the mud from the oil from whatever. It seems that the present gunk is lighter in color, but again, one doesn't know quite what they are seeing, the quality of the light, etc.

Posted by: nellie4 | May 26, 2010 10:56 PM | Report abuse

Aw, now don't go popping my little whims like soap bubbles, Talitha.

I meant physically, not metaphorically; nothing worse than strangers standing behind you and talking at you and then getting hissy because you "ignored" them.

By the time you do turn around, they've sometimes worked themselves up in such a righteous froth that even after you explain, they'll find a way to blame you for being deaf.

Think about that one for a minute, and you'll see why I dislike socializing in crowds.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 26, 2010 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, I lost whatever you were trying to say at 10:29 in the vitriol.

yello, temperature, pressure and flow could affect density in this case?


Posted by: -bc- | May 26, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I see
and know that little trick as well.
You feel the prickle on your neck and
turn to face a stare.
I'm usually rendered mute, but by that time they may be staring over your shoulder for someone else to bore a hole through.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 26, 2010 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Wilbrod. I guess I should apologize for being hearing. Sorry!

(We're not, all, always, so insensitive)

Posted by: Yoki | May 26, 2010 11:40 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Wilbrod was criticizing all hearing people, Yoki. She was merely being critical of people with small imaginations who become irate at a lack of response to the spoken word.

Why is everyone so cranky?

Posted by: Wheezy11 | May 26, 2010 11:50 PM | Report abuse

just to lighten things up:

Posted by: -jack- | May 26, 2010 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Alright kids, you're all just a tad to testy tonight. Just think of Winn Dixie, a movie I'm about to watch again before bed

And then there's this,

"Jump in the Line" as sung by Harry Belafonte:

Posted by: omni3 | May 26, 2010 11:58 PM | Report abuse

The wildly fluctuating number isn't the 64 (water density varies imperceptibly with pressure), it's the 2. 'Twice' is such a wildly loose term that it could be anywhere between 1.5 and 2.5. You can never be more precise than the term with the fewest significant digits.

Specific gravity is usually given in reference to 'pure' water at 4 degrees C (because that is the temperature it is densest at) and 1 atmosphere (14.7 psi).

The specific gravity of seawater ranges from 1.02 to 1.03 which is why brackish water is saltier as you go deeper.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 27, 2010 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Geek fight!

Posted by: seasea1 | May 27, 2010 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod and I aren't cranky. We're just continuing the "corner" thread that omni and I started earlier.

Joel's new piece is top headline as of now so I expect to get mudged any minute.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 27, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

or this:

Posted by: -jack- | May 27, 2010 12:05 AM | Report abuse

Mott The Hoople had another song? ;-b Thanks, jack.

Thanks, wheezy.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 27, 2010 12:06 AM | Report abuse

Omni, I *love* Winn Dixie. I want that dog so badly.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 27, 2010 12:07 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, now I really *do* see.
I didn't think hard enough. I'm sorry.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 27, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

and, finally, a cover of an old, old tune:

anytime, yello

Posted by: -jack- | May 27, 2010 12:14 AM | Report abuse

Here's a diversion, gardening and Dickinson:

Posted by: seasea1 | May 27, 2010 12:17 AM | Report abuse

I'm thinking that, instead of using very "thick" mud, the BP crew should consider having about 500 northerners make biscuits and then shoot the product of those efforts into the "hole."

Posted by: russianthistle | May 27, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

Well, I just had my late dinner. Had been having several people talk to me about Mojo and used it on some sirloin. I didn't have much time to marinate the meat, but it was really tasty. I took the marinade and thickened it up and added a bit of hot jalapenos to the sauce. Served it with a medium grain rice and it was pretty darn good. I took a half an onion and slivered it and grilled the onions after dousing them with the marinade for the last 6 minutes.

I have to say that I was very pleased and will do that darn thing again.

Check out Mojo, if you haven't ever used it.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 27, 2010 12:35 AM | Report abuse

What brand Mojo did you use?

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 27, 2010 12:57 AM | Report abuse

Apparently, bad stuff. True hearts, not.

Posted by: Yoki | May 27, 2010 1:10 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | May 27, 2010 1:18 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: talitha1 | May 27, 2010 1:21 AM | Report abuse

Now. I. Know.

Posted by: Yoki | May 27, 2010 1:41 AM | Report abuse

I had half the cast of the theater production of "Because of Winn-Dixie" picked out using us Boodlers, then realized it won't work. I had bc as Winn Dixie. which means we can only stage this show once a month

Aaaaooo, werewolf in Naomi

I'm still drying my eyes

Posted by: omni3 | May 27, 2010 2:10 AM | Report abuse

Himself and me

Posted by: Yoki | May 27, 2010 2:15 AM | Report abuse

I hear the rain

grab your gun and bring in the cat


bc, is that you

Posted by: omni3 | May 27, 2010 2:16 AM | Report abuse

OK, really now, my pillow has my name on it

Posted by: omni3 | May 27, 2010 2:24 AM | Report abuse

"The planned ITER fusion reactor in France is supposed to replicate conditions inside the Sun to produce limitless clean energy. But skyrocketing costs are putting the international project at risk. Now Germany's research minister has said Berlin will not write a blank check for the technology.",1518,696922,00.html

This is really unfortunate.

Posted by: rainforest1 | May 27, 2010 3:59 AM | Report abuse

jumper, I used Goya brand. I also looked into making my own. Buying a bottle was the much easier path for me.

Posted by: russianthistle | May 27, 2010 5:40 AM | Report abuse

What an adorable song, Yoki.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 27, 2010 5:52 AM | Report abuse

Mojo brands are proliferating. I think Publix even has a store brand.

Milbank's "Top Kill" story about the Interior Department is a reminder that Interior rarely gets much respect. Maybe if the Administration weren't preoccupied busy with all sort of things, Interior might be facing dismemberment.

Fish and Wildlife and USGS to Commerce, joining NOAA
Surface Mining and Mineral Management to Commerce? Or added to an independent regulatory agency like EPA?
National Parks and Bureau of Land Management to Ag to join Forest Service (or Parks to Commerce as the National Tourist Attraction Administration?)
Bureau of Indian Affairs? (I suspect HHS would resist)
Insular Affairs? (I guess not State)

Hike the DMZ:

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 27, 2010 6:04 AM | Report abuse

Well here is some good environmental news in my area, more land to preserve the Carolinian forest.

Posted by: dmd3 | May 27, 2010 7:30 AM | Report abuse

Wow, JA's articles on the front page of our local newspaper two days in a row. I could get used to this.

Posted by: gmbka | May 27, 2010 7:31 AM | Report abuse

Someday we'll have a good discussion on significant digits and false precision.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 26, 2010 9:55 PM

Yello, I have to thank you for bringing up that subject. It's one of my pet peeves and I've been surprised to see some very highly educated and intelligent folks confused about it. Seems like common sense to me but somehow people just get hyptnotized by all those numbers after the decimal point, and can't help believing that they mean something more than they do.

I'm sure you could give a good exposition on this subject and I'd be happy to see it.

Posted by: kbertocci | May 27, 2010 7:33 AM | Report abuse

Well, it looks like today will be the key day for the top kill. Sounds like we should have a good idea by tonight if it is working or not.

This discussion about the densities and the like misses the point. The top kill is basically the same thing as turning on your garden hose. When you do so you flush out the air, dirt, small creatures, and anything else that might be in the hose. The details of the densities don't really matter so long as enough water is being forced into the hose.

The problem, here, is that the hose attachment is really, really leaky.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 27, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

AuntieHeaven is already synonymous (pseudonymynous?) with Yoki, so what's the question again? :-)

Anyone else think that once JA gets back from the spill (hopefully quite soon if the top kill works [fingers tightly crossed]), we'll have to corral him and do the Dawn-and-garden-hose routine?

*really-really-really-really-really-looking-forward-to-the-holiday-weekend Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 27, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

My point is that there is *so* much uncertainty associated with the loss of pressure caused by the mud coming through the top of the BOP, that fixating on the details of the calculation is a bit silly. There's a great big factor here that is little more than a guestimate.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 27, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Another great story from Joel:

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 27, 2010 8:02 AM | Report abuse

The lack of shame award today goes (again) to the NH Union Leader editorial staff, who ran this piece today.

My guess is Obama could just answer: thanks, you made my point.

Ahh, the unhinged right. Do you think the anger is real... or more for show?

Posted by: steveboyington | May 27, 2010 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Good morning Boodlies!
Saturated here with approaching World Cup stuff here. If I see another futboler interview, Í'm gonna scream. Aaaaarrrghhh.

New computer with Spanish keyboard also creating fun moments.

Haff a gut day, everyone.


Posted by: Braguine | May 27, 2010 8:19 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Braguine | May 27, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

that spanish keyboard is quite fluent in American English, Brag.

Posted by: -jack- | May 27, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Good morning all. Looks to be another scorcher here today. Beats 4 feet of snow to shovel. And DC doesn't look like a pink Michelin man as she heads out the door to school.

YJ, I found it very easy to follow your thoughts, and PBKs are not known for their acumen on scientific matters. Using a round number *for illustrative purposes* sometimes makes it easier for someone not familiar with the nuances to follow. Oftentimes, when explaining a concept, I use the figure 100 and hack away from there, when really everyone knows I'm talking about hundreds of thousands, and not a number that ends in zeros. Once they see what it is I'm doing, I go back and punch in the real numbers for them. Because of the way you explained it, I can get a mental snap of what the math looks like and know that it's not as simple as multiplying by 2.

Having said that, I have a few how do they know the pressure now if they know the readings they were getting just prior to the big boom were wrong, and even if they successfully cement the thing shut, what are the chances it will become like a bad bottle of homemade wine that explodes all over the inside of the wine closet. But no one likes being ridiculed for asking questions (that's absurd!) so I'll wait until next time there's a glass of wine in front of me and a beer in front of you.

Mudge, did you misplace your glasses? can borrow mine. That was me, LiT, who complained about condescending tones, not YJ. You know...the tall brunette with the shoes. Sheesh. YJ and I don't even look alike.

Hopefully today will be a happy day for all. TTFN.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 27, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

New Kit!!!!


Posted by: DLDx | May 27, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Morning, all. New kit.

Posted by: slyness | May 27, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

As a person who grew up in an oil town, it strikes me that all these government and press types don't have the foggiest notion of what they're talking about and they just come across as a bunch of booger eatin' morons. Save the tech talk for those who know what they're talking about.

Posted by: carlbatey | May 27, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Any way to find out if "boogereatingmoron" is taken as a handle in the Achenblog?

I kind of like it.

Posted by: steveboyington | May 27, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

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