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Riser cutting and LMRP cap procedure [oil spill wonks only]

They're cutting the riser. See this feed from BP.

Game time, friends.

Here's the Kent Wells briefing from BP on the LMRP cap procedure and why the 30,000 pounds of drilling mud pumped into the well didn't kill it. This guy is a great explainer and the graphics are excellent. The video gives you a sense of how freakin' dark it is down there.

We need some good news, folks.

By Joel Achenbach  |  June 1, 2010; 9:27 PM ET
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Next: No-Drama Obama meets drama


Nice to have a double-reciprocating sawzall working a mile deep.

Do remotely controlled robotic vehicles measure twice and cut once?


Posted by: -bc- | June 1, 2010 11:01 PM | Report abuse

We are always ready to wonk for you, Joel.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 1, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

EYE am interested.

Posted by: Yoki | June 1, 2010 11:21 PM | Report abuse

That's a lot of gadgets. I see moviemaker James Cameron is being consulted for his underwater expertise. Maybe he'll make a movie out of this spill. Maybe with some bright blue ginormous squids?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | June 1, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Tim Taylor would be so proud. Rawr, rawr, rawr!

Posted by: yellojkt | June 1, 2010 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Jeez Kent Wells' technospeak almost made me forget about the poor dead jellyfish!
That man is scary mesmerizing.

Posted by: DNA_Girl | June 1, 2010 11:49 PM | Report abuse

if i understand all of this: 1) the technology that has been utilised to this point has been used somewhere at some time in the past, but not at these depths; 2) bp had a contingency plan that was nascent, and nearly certainly not designed to deal with catastrophic failure; and, 3) the technology shown in the video link has most likely been engineered and constructed in the past 43 or so days. thus, classic application of the scientific method. reactive, but classic.


Posted by: -jack- | June 2, 2010 12:14 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: -jack- | June 2, 2010 12:53 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Yoki | June 2, 2010 12:57 AM | Report abuse

iko iko all day


Posted by: -jack- | June 2, 2010 1:03 AM | Report abuse

Urban Meyer had esophageal spasms "like a toothache in the chest." It must have been very persistent and shown up for no particular reason--it evidently took a while to determine that it was esophagus, not heart pain. If so, it's amazing that he managed to finish a frenetic football season.

I've suffered from what I first thought was heartburn and recently figured might be spasms, always triggered by eating, usually by something like overcooked chicken. Dry-meat syndrome. If I hadn't been certain from the start that each episode was strictly a matter of reacting to food, I would have called an ambulance, pronto.

Could Meyer have been in Rome at the same time as the Boss?

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | June 2, 2010 1:37 AM | Report abuse

Dave, hope you check it, and be well.

Posted by: Yoki | June 2, 2010 1:40 AM | Report abuse

Yikes. This morning brings a big old snapping turtle wandering our side yard next to the garage (in an area of pea gravel). I am not certain, but it seems to be looking for a nest spot. Saw a smaller turtle last week, figuring they have inhabited the pond. This thing is mean looking and about a foot in diameter.

Posted by: steveboyington | June 2, 2010 6:02 AM | Report abuse

So where have they been hiding this Kent Wells guy? Finally somebody that speaks Engineer. Now they need somebody that can show off real beach clean-up rather than these Potemkin Village photo-ops they stage.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 2, 2010 6:33 AM | Report abuse

A cheap shot, but a great line from Maureen today:

///With as much as 34 million gallons of oil inking the Gulf of Mexico, “Yes we can” has been downgraded to “Will we ever?” ///

Posted by: Mo_MoDo | June 2, 2010 6:41 AM | Report abuse

Very cool that that MCR video was shot in Asbury Park.

And speaking of angst-ridden teenagers, the problem is that they have too much brain. And don't know how to use it.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 2, 2010 6:49 AM | Report abuse

CqP, I can mail or meet you for lunch in havre d grace the weekend after this one. Or is it grace de havre? You could have it planted, actually, by the time I see you. I'll check out shipping today. Please email me your address in case I can't find it.

I'm delighted to have found it the best of homes.

It'll take about 22 bags of topsoil and 1 of peat to fill to near the top. If you have it all waiting, you can assemble and fill in about an hour. What will you plant?

Posted by: -dbG- | June 2, 2010 7:16 AM | Report abuse

"if i understand all of this: 1) the technology that has been utilised to this point has been used somewhere at some time in the past, but not at these depths; 2) bp had a contingency plan that was nascent, and nearly certainly not designed to deal with catastrophic failure; and, 3) the technology shown in the video link has most likely been engineered and constructed in the past 43 or so days.


That's a really great job of framing the issue. You read that setup and you just know the story is going to end tragically. It's the oil well equivalent of the private in the war movie who introduces himself by saying "I volunteered for this because I want to fight for my country and I can't wait to get home in one piece." Buh bye.

Posted by: simpleton1 | June 2, 2010 7:30 AM | Report abuse

Do we have red shirts running the spill containment operation?

Posted by: yellojkt | June 2, 2010 7:35 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for keeping us properly informed Joel.

Posted by: MissToronto | June 2, 2010 7:41 AM | Report abuse

Yello, as long as the oil doesn't become sentient and zap Lt. Yar, I think shirt color's irrelevant.

*hitting-the-Diet-Pepsi-a-little-earlier-than-usual Grover waves* :-)

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 2, 2010 8:01 AM | Report abuse

I am eager to learn if removing the damaged riser actually increased the flow, as many expected. If it didn't increase the flow, then a clogged cap will still be consistent with the philosophy of "first do no harm"

Unfortunately, if the flow is significantly greater than before, then we are moving towards open heart surgery. You know, where the likely outcome is either improvement or death. Or at least a bad case of the Zombies.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 2, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't say hearing "Time of the Season" is all that bad, RD_P...

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 2, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Maybe someone could go down into that scary sinkhole in Guatemala and see if they can spot the oil leak from underneath...

Posted by: -TBG- | June 2, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

HaHa! Well done Scottynuke! It took me a moment though...

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 2, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

At first I thought it was fake, TBG, because it was so perfectly circular. But then I thought about it and realized that nature would force it to be perfectly circular. Any outcroppings would have increased stress and collapse. Sort of like why a bubble is a perfect sphere.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 2, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

I read estimates that they expect flow to increase by up to 20% during the change-over. If the major restriction is the partially closed BOP valves, that makes sense. If the major restriction is the bend in the riser, all bets are off. But I doubt it. Again, these guys know more than they are telling us. I think they figured that at this point they have carte blanche to try whatever they think will work.

What I don't understand is if the LMNOP works, why do they still want to siphon fuel in reverse out the Top Gun hoses? It would seem that if the wellhead were capped they could go back to the hot mud injection treatment. There is something about the pressure in the well they aren't telling us.

Or they just want to suck off as much oil as they can under the name of 'containment' to subsidize their operations until they are forced to close the well at the base. But that is the cynical me again attributing mercenary hidden motives to a giant multi-national corporation.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 2, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

That place is a beehive right now. You can see how BP is spending so much money. All that stuff costs.

Jumper and others much more in the know.... the second and third backup systems they are or are about to work on seem to involve lots of different manifolds and valves and connections to seperate and deal with the oil and gas. I am talking about the use of the injection ports to pull out oil and gas.

Is that type of system typical? It seems to me the more complex the system the more potential locations of trouble.

One last question... I assume any deep well has a lot of gas in it, and certainly the gas will be the first to go, and should lessen over time. Does this deep well with the large percentage of chunky gas make the complex manifold system more vulnerable?

Thanks in advance. Looks like the turtle had some false labor. She dug a hole in the gravel and sat there for a couple hours, then skeedaddled. She didn't cover the hole. Looks like no eggs. I'll keep my eyes peeled for future attempts.

May have to get some protective fencing if she is successful. Lots of raccoons and skunks here, and I hear they love turtle eggs.

Posted by: steveboyington | June 2, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

Warm muffins and banana bread, coffee and OJ on the table.

Ohhh, so many of those grilling ideas sound fabulous. I shall confer with MrJS to determine what's tickling his taste buds. Many many thanks.

yello, the 'increase by 20%' term is intriguing. Since we don't know how much oil was leaking before, where does this guesstimate come from?

Mo_MoDo, I partially agree. It was a cheap shot.

Off to create some good news.

Posted by: MsJS | June 2, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Yello, I think you were otherwise engaged over the weekend, but I'd noticed (and Boodled to that effect) in some reporting that there were reports that during the top shot there was leakage of mud and possibly oil of the sub-seafloor riser into the seabed.

I take it that there may be damage to the well below the sea floor, and concern that if they cap above that, it would constitute a weak spot that could leak or even burst. I suspect a problem below the sea floor would be even less controllable (and the oil capture more difficult) than a big open pipe up top with a capture dome over it.

As to that damage having occurred during - or been exacerbated by - the top shot is a matter of conjecture, IMO.


Posted by: -bc- | June 2, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I imagine that putting a cap on top of the BOP while fighting a 14,000 psi flow would be challenging when all you have are slow and ungraceful ROV's and you might be trying to jam that doo-hickey down there on the end of a stick from a mile above. I believe we have been told that the riser is, what, 9" diameter? With approximately 2000 psi pressure from the water, that means that the upward oil flow pressure exerts (14,000-2,000)*pi*4.5^2 = 763,000 pounds upward force = 381 tons upward force. I suspect they haven't "simply" capped the BOP because there's nothing simple about it.

I suppose you could stick a heavy-duty plastic bag-type arrangement into the leaking vent on the end of a skinny piece if tubing, then once it's inside start to fill it with cement so that it expands and pinches off the oil flow until the oil pushes it back up against the constriction at the top of the BOP until it sticks in place. The big problem is that it leaves you dependent on the BOP. I would imagine that any kind of "permanent" solution means corking the well below the BOP, since the BOP inevitably will fall apart/burst some day and the leak will resume.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 2, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

SCC: "Yello, I think you were otherwise engaged over the weekend, but I'd noticed (and Boodled to that effect) reports that during the top shot there may have been leakage of mud and possibly oil out of the sub-seafloor wellpipe into the seabed."

Boy Howdy, do I need an editor.


Posted by: -bc- | June 2, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

From previous Boodling:

"Back to the Gulf for a moment, I noted in Mufson and Hilzenrath's piece, these lines:

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

"'We discovered things that were broken in the sub-surface,' said a BP official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He said that mud was making it "out to the side, into the formation.' The official said he could not describe what was damaged in the well."

Which makes me think that if the riser were closed off completely at the wellhead/BP, that some oil could vent out of those damaged areas below the sea floor, and that there's a chance that damage could become even worse. Perhaps not, but I don't like what I think I'm seeing between the lines there.

August seems like a short time away in terms of a summer (as adults, anyway), but at 20,000 barrels of oil in the Gulf per day, it may seem like Summer forever.


Posted by: -bc- | May 31, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse"


Posted by: -bc- | June 2, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Note that BP stock has fallen in value by 67 Billion dollars, including 23 Billion dollars since the failure of the top kill.

I really don't think that the market value of any recovered oil factors into their financial outlook.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 2, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

I certainly won't call this guy to help me with the wee turtles.

Posted by: steveboyington | June 2, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

This Kurtz article annoys me:

Since when does any commentator have the right to dictate to me the proper way for a President to present himself? I rather like the way Obama reacts to these kinds of situations. I don't want the President to be Dr. Phil.

But what really gets me is the way that because one pundit makes an assertion, this is picked up by other pundits as proof.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 2, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

hell-o, y'all

Is online grumpiness contagious or even curable? However, many thanks to Scottynuke for linkage to Zombies. I've been wandering the music trail ever since.

Aaaaaaannnnd, the BP spokesman in the Kit fills me with uneasy reassurance. As Joel said, we need good news. I'm not convinced. I've not backboodled, but has anyone noted the irony that his name is Wells?

Posted by: talitha1 | June 2, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

RD and bc,
As I've said before, BP always seems to have a good technical reason for doing what they are doing. I agree that a hard cap has disaster potential written all over it, but if you are capturing oil, you gotta do something with it. Might as well refine it. Just because you are hemorrhaging billions, it doesn't mean you can't bend over to pick up some nickels.

It only becomes an outrage if they delay the final kill of the well to milk a little more oil out of the well after they have sunk (literally) so much cost into it.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 2, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

RD, I don't understand the notion that anyone is allowed to dictate Obama's emotive style. It galls me. And why do we keep hearing endless assertions that he hasn't called in all the angels of the heavens to kill the well? Good grief!

Posted by: talitha1 | June 2, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Adm. Allen sez the saw's stuck in the pipe... *SIGH*

Posted by: Scottynuke | June 2, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Yello - there is a difference between selling oil that you might recover and deliberately avoiding capping the well so that you can recover more oil.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 2, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

I'll see yello's cynicism and raise him.

Somebody's just made a fortune shorting stock.

the Zombies. Thanks for the prom memories.

Posted by: -dbG- | June 2, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Talitha, you had to rub it in.

Now I have a lyric cootie:

My name is Kent Wellington Wells,
I'm a dealer in magic and spells,
In blessings and curses
And ever-filled purses,
In profiteers, witches, and knells.

If you want a problem to "make tracks" –
If you'd drown angry publics in facts –
You've but to look in
On the resident Djinn,
Number seventy, Simmery Axe!

We've a first-class assortment of magic;
for describing a posthumous spill
With effects that are comic or tragic,
There's no cheaper guy at the shill.
love-philtre – we've quantities of it;
And for knowledge if any one burns,
We're keeping a very small prophet, a prophet
Who brings us unbounded returns:

For he can prophesy
With a wink of his eye,
Peep with security
Into futurity,
Sum up your history,
Clear up a mystery,
Humour proclivity
For a nativity – for a nativity;

He has answers oracular,
Graphics spectacular,
Tetrapods tragical,
Mirrors so magical,
Facts astronomical,
Solemn or comical,
And, if you want it, he
Makes a reduction on taking a quantity!

If any one bul***t lacks,
He'll find it all ready in stacks,
If he'll only look in
On the resident Djinn,
Number seventy, Simmery Axe!


Now I must run out fleeing in the streets before the rest takes form in my brain.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 2, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Well, Scottynuke, maybe the saw blade will help stop the flow.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 2, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

SCC: quoting a quantity, not taking a quantity.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 2, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

yello, I agree with you that BP ought to set about recovering the loose oil, if for no other reason than to help pay for all this. Heck, we've had discussions about wet-vaccing that dispersant-treated stuff off of the Gulf floor.

I have no way of knowing how much BP avoided permanently capping the thing in order to salvage profits, but I think they'd have been irresponsible to shareholders if they didn't discuss it, at least early on. Clearly, the greater irresponsibility at this point would be for BP to not take every possible reasonable (*there's* a subjective word. I'd consider nuclear weapons as unreasonable at this point, but that's just me) measure to mitigate the leakage into the Gulf. Permanently, if need be.

Can't see the sawblade situation and the BP video hasn't been rendering on my machine, but someone please tell me that the ROV bearing the saw was firmly affixed to the pipe itself from at least two points that are resistant to flexing? If that blade flexed relative to the ROV bearing it deep into the cut, they're going to have a tough time releasing it. May have to jettison the saw and get another, and continue working on the cut in another spot.

Normally I'd suggest applying oil to the blade, but...


Posted by: -bc- | June 2, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Oil Drum crunches the numbers:

///The greater change in the flow, however, will likely come because the riser and DP, while not providing much increased resistance, did raise the pressure on the downstream side of the BOP by about 500 psi. We know that though the pressure down at the formation was at around 12,000 psi, up on the upstream side of the BOP it fluctuates in the 8,000 to 9,000 psi range. The higher resistance on the downstream side, reduces the pressure drop across the BOP by that 500 psi, and the flow rate will be reduced accordingly (the gap size through the BOP is assumed not to change).

However, if the pressure drop across the nozzle was at 6,000 psi in the current condition, (which with an orifice size of 0.6 inches, would give a flow rate of 512 gpm), then raising the pressure drop by 500 psi would only increase the flow rate to 532 gpm, or a difference of 4%--which might suggest that there is something about the drill-pipe flow that was initially capped which we don’t know yet. Alternately it may be that they think that removing the bend in the riser might ease the forces on the BOP, relaxing the metal a little and increasing the orifice size. After all it has only to open up by another 0.05 inches to give the increase in flow that the White House are predicting.///

For reference, 512 gpm=17,500 barrels per day. I need to program the gpm to bbd conversion factor (34.286) into my calculator.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 2, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

"The White House are predicting?" That must be a British site.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 2, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Here's a gloomy Business Week story:

They mention the American Bird Conservancy, an important conservation outfit.

I'm sure they wrote the story before the saw got stuck.

The former Florida Republican chairman was arrested this morning. Law enforcement news conference at 11:30. Should be interesting--the guy has been accused of all sorts of lavish and self-enriching spending.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | June 2, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Saw is reportedly stuck.

It seems like everything these guys touch turns to merde. At some point (maybe that point was last week) don't you have to question whether it's more than constant "bad luck" and is actually incompetence.

I don't know exactly whom the Obama administration has advising them on this, and I'm assuming that it's not just people from MMS and the Coast Guard. Maybe it's time to try putting Exxon or Anadarko or some other company with deep drilling experience in charge of fighting the leak (albeit on BP's dime).

I appreciate that it's all unbelievably difficult, but is it possible that BP is so overwhelmed that they aren't up to the task any longer?

Posted by: Awal | June 2, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

St. Pete Times has a fine story by environmental reporter Craig Pittman on the likely arrival of oil at the beaches near Pensacola.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | June 2, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

My guess is just that BP is making it up as they go along. They jumped out of the airplane and are now trying to build a parachute out of pocket lint.

So I don't blame BP for these failures. I blame them for getting themselves into this problem to begin with.

In my view, before they drilled a mile down they should have done extensive experiments and figured out what was going to work, and what wasn't under as realistic of conditions as possible.

Yeah, it woulda been pricey. But not as pricey as this.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 2, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

The inside diameter at the top of the well is about 20". There is an 18,000 psi pressure at the bottom of the well. You have to reduce the pressure by the gravity head of the oil (13,000 feet * 0.9 / 2.2) or about another 5,000 psi. Since the actual pressure is 8,000 to 9,000 psi, there seems to some friction loss between the well bottom and the BOP, but under a no-flow condition, that would go away. So lets go with (13,000-2,000) psi * 10^2 * pi = 1700 tons of force to keep the top on. Even at 9,000 psi, that top has to hold with 1100 tons of force. That still seems like a tall order for forcefitting the LMNOP on top of the free-flowing riser.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 2, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

RD, you make a good point.

If enough surface area of that sawblade were exposed to the stream of oil and gas inside the pipe, I imagine it could easily bend the blade enough to get jammed, especially if the ROV and saw did not have a solid purchase relative to the pipe to only carefully expose as little sawblade as possible to the flow and to prevent or at least minimize the ROV's reaction to water currents down there.

If not - torques and flexing on multiple axes -- oy.

Maybe the stuck blade is due to something else. But I hope they considered all that jazz when they started this.


Posted by: -bc- | June 2, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I like your circular hole insight, RD.

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 2, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I think the testing goes the other direction.

Well 1: We spent $10,000,000 on safety and testing equipment and nothing bad happened.

Well 2: We spent $8,000,000 on safety and testing equipment and nothing bad happened.

Well N: We spent $10,000,000 * e^(-k*(N-1)) on safety and testing equipment and we killed the Gulf of Mexico. Proof we need to spend $10,000,000 * e^(-k*(N-2)) on safety.

There is a flaw in this reasoning, but I'm pretty sure you can find it on your own.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 2, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I am in need of therapy. All of Monday and half of Tuesday I again had a double tune cootie. Before it was 'Dog and Butterfly' with 'Dreamboat Annie' both by Heart which I can understand. This time it was 'Barracuda' by Heart and 'Roundabout' by Yes. Am perplexed. 'Barracuda' and 'Magic Man' OK... but Heart and Yes???

Posted by: omni3 | June 2, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

The saw they are using is not circular. It's a ribbon of diamond encrusted band they are going back and forth with like a hacksaw. The area of obstruction from the blade itself has to be minimal.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 2, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I know the saw isn't circular. I was attempting a bit of dark humor with Scottynuke. I've been known to try that from time to time.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 2, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Well, omni, my *Heart* goes out to you. But I don't think I'm familiar with those songs. *My* tune cootie from this morning was the first Brandenburg Concerto. Yeah, yeah, I'm one of *those* .....

Okay, then, snorting right along, and hoping the WaPo in all of its, well, "wisdom" doesn't try to refresh itself, thereby eating yet one more of my posts.

I certainly trust the boodle brains to fix the Gulf, 'cause those who are f@rting around with it right now don't seem to be solving the myriad problems. The CEO of BP (the Brit) says that he wants his life back. I want my Earth back! I think I win that round, don't you think? He can go back to his multi-million-pound flat in Belgravia and/or castle in the country after being bounced out, holding on to his golden parachute. What are the Gulf people going to do?

*muttering expletives*

Posted by: -ftb- | June 2, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

He's Belgravian? I thought he was British.

Oh, wait...

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 2, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Fahrenthold has a new story.

"As BP hacked away at the pipe at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, investors sawed off 15 percent, or $21.1 billion, of the company's market value Tuesday."

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | June 2, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Dark humor indeed. Clearly, 'do no harm' is no longer a serious factor.

I had a chain saw get stuck in a tree limb once because I was cutting the wrong way and the weight of the limb trapped the blade. Sounds like what happened here.

The giant gardening shears they used on the end of the riser could cut it out, but then you don't have the pretty clean cut they want.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 2, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I am told by someone who knows about such things that a collar of thermite would probably do the trick. In theory, it could even leave a very smooth cut.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 2, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Since April 20 BP shares have gone from $60.48 to $37.45 (as of about a half hour ago). That's a loss of 38%.

Can you spell 'takeover'?

Posted by: MsJS | June 2, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Collar of thermite? Sounds like eye of newt or something else belonging in a witch's stew. I'm sure we could all come up with the appropriate spells and hexes to lay on it.

What a mood I'm in . . . .

What page you up to, Mudge?

Posted by: -ftb- | June 2, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Smoother than a small thermonuclear device?

Posted by: yellojkt | June 2, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Anyone ever tried to cut something that was leaning over (like a bent riser pipe?). Very prone to jamming once you get far enough through to let the bent part bend more. The video mentioned that they were going to support the free end of the riser from above to prevent such a thing.

Those diamond wire saws cut well, but they will jam just as much as other mechanical saws will.

I don't blame BP for being shoddy. Jamming goes with the territory.

Posted by: steveboyington | June 2, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

My friend points out, though, that he isn't sure how thermite would work at those pressures.

Yeah, that old excuse.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 2, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Page 249 (start of chapter 14). Figuerola just got assigned to the case and made her first report: dirty work at the crossroads. And Salanader got her Palm and first messages from Blomkvist.
Yes, it may be the best of the three. Shaping up that way.

I'm almost starting to feel sorry for the bad guys: they have no idea who/what they're up against. Between the Knights of the Idiotic Table and the 62 members of the hacker squad, it ain't gonna be pretty.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 2, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm thinking the Administration has reached out to every quarter at this point...I wouldn't be surprised at all if they not only have people from other industry leaders neck-deep participating in the search for a solution, but also webs reaching out to people from places like NASA, JPL, etc. (Can you imagine the image boost to whoever stops this? Talk about incentive...)

Omni, I don't see anything wrong with that.

Have a happy day all.

Posted by: LostInThought | June 2, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Collar of thermite, pshaw.

Time to break out the FOOF.

P.S. That's a interesting/funny website for people interested in science/chemistry and things that go Boom!

Posted by: Awal | June 2, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Wow Awal! That's some intense stuff.

The thing about thermite is that it isn't an explosive. It just burns underwater at a temperature high enough to melt through steel.

Although it probably isn't the most prudent approach a mile down, it is the sort of thing that should be studied.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 2, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Hey Joel, interested to see another kit AFTER the finals. I agree, for now. I mean, mj wouldn't have LOST in the finals. Never thought i'd say it, but Kobe is gaining on him.

Let's Go Hawks!!!

Posted by: teddymzuri | June 2, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Geez Mudge, I'm only on page 81. Your updates are killing me as I want to read slowly enough to enjoy but I am dying to see what happens.

Posted by: badsneakers | June 2, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

You probably nailed it yello. It's a cultural problem getting an organisation to see money spent on prevention as well spent instead of wasted when nothing happens.

Posted by: qgaliana | June 2, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

badsneaks, I am so into this book I'm having Swedish meatballs for lunch.

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 2, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Ha! I understand perfectly Mudge.

Posted by: badsneakers | June 2, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

I had seen that description of the saw as a ribbon, too. But it sure *looks* like a circular saw.

I'm hoping the picture isn't necessarily oriented correctly, because if it is they started cutting from the bottom. Tree branches. Gravity. Binding. Dumb.

Posted by: rashomon | June 2, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

We used to use tools employing high pressure HF acid focused through tiny jets to cut pipe subsurface. No one liked to be near them, and that was guys who scoffed at most of our radiation sources. Like myself, though I used to step lively with the 50 mR source.

Here's some explosive cutting using standard agents, with diagrams.

It would need to be used twice, once for riser and once for drill pipe inside the riser.

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 2, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

As I mentioned earlier, I learned that branch cutting lesson the hard way. Much as BP is learning all the ways to not stop an underwater gusher. I had to buy my neighbor a new chainsaw. BP's is a little more expensive.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 2, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

BTW rashoman, the saw pictured in your link is an earlier saw, not the diamond-wire saw.

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 2, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

qgaliana, you are absolutely right. Companies are loath to spend any money to protect themselves proactively, and when **** happens, it will cost them at least three times as much. Throughout my career, I have tried over and over again to get companies to do intellectual property audits (and including software audits), so that *at least* they will know whether some torpedo patent or trademark (patents mean *a lot* more money) will take them down and/or force them to take a license otherwise much against their will.

And, the response is ***crickets***.

They just won't do it.

Mudge, you are just racing along. Sneaks, you will catch up, I'm sure. I'm dying to know what he had left in his computer when he died. There just *has* to be more.

Posted by: -ftb- | June 2, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

As Jumper said there are plenty of nifty pipe cutting tools that are in fact radial linear shaped charges. They do work well at high pressure, the oil industry developed them to cut pipes down the hole and to demolish oil rigs and other sub-surfaces structure. There is probably a good reason or two why they they don't want to use this well known technology on this particular riser.

Jumper, I once saw a submarine being cut in two with high pressure water jetting aided by a bit of garnet in the water. This tiny crew (5-6?) in fact cut a one inch thick 19ft diameter pipe in less than 24 hours, including set-up time. Most of their business was taking down big oil/fuel reservoir.

One of the company making those explosive pipe cutting devices made some specially designed to fell large trees from a safe distance. The things were working very well but it never caught on. And so the smell of exploded PETN never replaced the fragrance of chainsaw exhaust in the lumberjacks' perfect morning.

Posted by: shrieking_denizen | June 2, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Jumper. I hadn't seen it before, but I've seen it on a few sites today -- the Post had it up earlier. Why do I have a feeling that BP released the photo without explanation...

Posted by: rashomon | June 2, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

I want to know what happened to the chainsaw that got stuck, yello. Is it still there? Did you get salvage rights when you had to replace it?

I have a bad feeling that the "20% increase" is a semi-deliberate foul up, perhaps a willful use of innumeracy, meaning "We meant that how much is flowing now will be 20% of the flow we will get once the riser and drill pipe are cut through."

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 2, 2010 1:41 PM | Report abuse

For once I get to accuse someone else of being more cynical than me. If the restriction is in the BOP, the additional restriction of the bent riser is pretty small.

On the other hand, this could also be chance to up the predicted flow rate by a factor of 2 or more to re-align with reality.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 2, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Ah - had to actually look at a TV to see some video of the saw action. I guess it's a circular sawblade with a band/ribbon of diamonds affixed to the edge?

Clearly not a double-reciprocating Sawzall as I'd originally suggested, anyway.

Gotta admit, I like the thermite idea, RD. Might be worth setting up a test on some of the fallen riser along the Gulf floor in order to see if it would work under those conditions. Or for some experimentation in order to arrive at the right conditions/formula to get it to work.


Posted by: -bc- | June 2, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

yello, you know (Wells, I'd hoped you knew) that I've been sleeping with cynicism for weeks. You can't have him . . . no, no! I won't give him up!

Wilbrod, thanks for that. Did the walk help?

Posted by: talitha1 | June 2, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

I don't know what ad might be showing on your WaPo home page, but mine is showing an ad for Shakespeare Theater Company's production of "Mrs. Warren's Profession," under the heading, "Love. Lust. Commerce." The thing is, the photo shows a red-headed Elizabeth Ashley. Poor Padouk must be having an attack of the vapors.

*faxing Padouk some smelling salts*

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 2, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I thought "Love. Lust. Commerce." was the motto for the Minerals Management Service.

Posted by: Awal | June 2, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Awai, if I still had tea in my mouth, it would have landed all over my computer monitor. That was great!

Do thermites invade hot houses?

Posted by: -ftb- | June 2, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Alas, my home page just shows Northrop Grumman.

Here's a picture of the diamond saw ROV.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | June 2, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

My officemate just informed me that in the last few days, someone has erected a large white tent on a vacant lot behind our building, and here is what it contains:

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 2, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I once was salvaging some casing from an abandoned well and the operator had had some previous failure with jet cutters so he had us use 10 lbs of dynamite instead. This was about 8000 feet downhole. I have never seen such a shockwave before. It looked like something you'd see in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. (The rig was pulling with some static force to ensure the pipe would part when the charge went off.)

Posted by: Jumper1 | June 2, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Here she is, RD:

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 2, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Walk, lunch, shopping, life.

What tune cootie?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | June 2, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I'm still trying to figure out what it is that Obama is supposed to be doing that he is not doing. Doing what is needed looks like not doing much, because it means doing only one thing (the right thing). Deciding what is needed looks like doing even less. That's what he's doing. It would be nice if the naysayers and detractors all could grow up enough to understand what it looks like when grown-ups are doing grown-up things.

I understand that it would be lovely if he could force the oil well to stop leaking by simply expressing himself more forcefully. I live in something like the real world, however, and in this world, that doesn't work -- it gets Herodotus to write a chapter making fun of you for ordering men to whip the Bosporus as punishment for the seas refusing to calm when you ordered it, but it doesn't fix the problem.

I have immense respect for Obama's ability to resist the calls to JUST DO SOMETHING!!!! and instead to think and to act in a studied and deliberate fashion. Bush was very good at doing SOMETHING when events came upon him; and repeatedly, it turned out that what he did was not the right thing, and often the opposite of the right thing to do. I cannot think of another President in my lifetime that I would rather have in charge than Obama at this moment.

Posted by: ScienceTim | June 2, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Tony Hayward apologizes and a mismanagement lawsuit is filed against the BP brass.

Posted by: MsJS | June 2, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

What Tim said! Oh, what Tim said!

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 2, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

New Kit. And I'm going to call SciTim PreSCIentTIM from now on.

Posted by: yellojkt | June 2, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

New kit!!!!

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | June 2, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

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