Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mud is Thicker Than Water

I captured this video an hour or so ago, the morning of September 2. On first glance it appears to be simply more proof that BP and Thad Allen are lying when they insist nothing is leaking from the well. We've known that for over a month, ever since they claimed that "top-kill" successfully ceased all communication between the well equipment and the petroleum reservoir. This is interesting because that which is leaking from the equipment is sinking, not rising.

Everyone knows that oil is lighter than water and floats to the surface, as does methane gas. Even the methane hydrate crystals that foiled BP's very first containment attempt have a specific gravity of 0.95 and thus float instead of sink. So whatever is coming out of this new leak is heavier than water, and the only liquid I know of which has been involved in the Macondo Experiment is drilling mud.

Drilling mud was pumped down the well under enormous pressure during "top-kill," followed by the cement plug which BP says completely sealed the well. We know that that seal is incomplete because of the videos on Youtube showing oil bubbles leaking from the top of the capping stack, like this one I captured a couple days ago:

I am assuming that this is a leak being fed from below, rather than new drilling mud (if that is indeed what this is) being pumped from higher up on the well's equipment stack because for one, if the well is sealed with the cement plug there would be no reason to pump more mud down, and also because BP and Allen say they have suspended all operations to remove the old BOP and replace the new one. Yet one more in an endless series of delays, they called off the DDII and DDIII ships and suspended operations until this latest hurricane gets far enough up along the Eastern seaboard that wave heights return to normal in the Gulf.

So, assuming these things, we appear to have drilling mud coming up from somewhere down below. This is not good if it is the case. It would mean that the cement plug is failing. Compare the flow rates of the oil droplets leaking from the top of the capping stack to the much heavier plume coming out from the lower piece of equipment. If the cement plug is deteriorating it is because of the enormous pressure in the petroleum deposit still trying to force its way through to the wellhead.

We know from Thad Allen that the drill pipe has almost no integrity, paraphrasing him, and that the well casing itself is also shattered. So there are pieces of broken metal floating around in there, being pushed up and around by the oil and methane from below, essentially acting like a sandblasting system. What if the petroleum is using the broken pieces of metal from the pipe and casing to eat away at the cement plug? If this is drilling mud coming out from the deep it could bode very badly for the efforts to finally kill this nightmare well.

If the cement plug is eroding and more oil and gas are again making their way to the wellhead, there is the potential for another blowout. When BP takes the old BOP off to replace it with the new one, there will be period where the stack has a reduced margin of safety in terms of the psi it can withstand. The probability is minimal, but it does seem possible to me that if an ill-timed methane kick came up like the one that doomed Deepwater Horizon, while the stack is partially disassembled, this thing could open wide up again and we would be back to square one. Back to April 20, sans the burning drilling rig.

The odds are minuscule, and that is assuming I am correct in guessing that this is drilling mud coming from below. That's not even certain -- it could be some sort of engineering test which I do not understand, but according to BP's web site they are not performing any operations at the site due to the storm in the Atlantic, simply monitoring the equipment with their ROVs and performing biological surveys. I hope I'm wrong, or even if I'm right about the well maybe starting to open up again due to natural forces, I hope the equipment holds the pressure back until the new BOP is installed, the relief wells completed and the well(s) finally killed.

I'm just throwing out the possibility that the disaster may be farther from over than BP and Soetorobama would like to believe. And for once, no conspiracy theories from me here. I think both entities are actually finally trying to kill the well(s) now that their carbon tax has been shelved. But they are having problems and this new leak, whatever it is, certainly won't do anything to help speed up the process. One of the most ironic things I've found in the whole affair is that in BP's application for the two wells, they swore that no experimental equipment nor procedures would be used. What in the hell were they thinking? This whole Macondo Experiment was a mad scientist's worst nightmare.

1 comment: