Well, well, well…it appears all is not well in Macondo-ville after all…
According to most mainstream media outlets the Static Kill worked out just fine, in fact, they are now even debating the actual need for completing the relief wells.
Cue Thad Allen, circa August 3rd when talking about any possibility of not completing the relief wells to finally seal the Macondo:
“There should be no ambiguity about that,” Allen said. “I’m the national incident commander and this is how this will be handled.”
National Incident Commander Thad Allen said the final “kill” of the well should be done early next week, if it’s done at all. The federal government and BP have recently raised the possibility that they won’t need to perform the operation at all, since the well was plugged last month with mud and cement pumped in through the top.
Except, according to several sources…the static kill didn’t work, this well has not been plugged:
From Washington’s Blog:
The bottom kill – the procedure which all oil industry experts agree has the best chance of killing the leak – hasn’t yet been performed. The underwater cameras still show methane and oil leaking into the Gulf…relief wells are the best hope for permanently capping the well. But it is possible that BP has messed up the well so badly that the relief wells will fail.
From Robert Cavner, oil industry expert:
In actuality, this “static kill” did nothing that BP and Allen said it would do. Certainly the well is not dead or “static”. It hasn’t accelerated the relief well, but it has obscured the well’s pressures, making it more difficult to kill. Hence, these new tests to figure out what’s going on. BP and the government don’t really have a clue where the 2,300 barrels of mud and 500 barrels of cement went. They originally claimed it all went down the casing and out to the reservoir. I would set the probability of that actually having happened at zero.
From Fishgrease, another oil industry expert:
So now they got themselves a good old problem. We can’t see it, of course, and we’ll never get any pressure readings that will tell us exactly what sort of pressure drop caused those chokes to freeze. But let me tell you something that is true as death… it’s a LOT more hydrocarbon pressure then can be explained by anything residual in the BOP. The annulus is open to the reservoir and always has been.
So, some simple questions about this whole mess, also from Robert Cavner:
Since announcing success (sort of) of the static kill, mainstream media attention has dropped to virtually zero, though the well is obviously far from static, judging from the huge clouds in the water around the wellhead and manifold, as well as numerous ROVs surrounding the wellhead, providing no feeds to the public. The media has payed virtually no attention to these feeds and has asked no questions of Adm Allen or BP. BP has stopped briefing the public daily.
The problem is that there are lots of questions that remain unanswered. Here’s what I want to know:
Is the well dead?
What is the pressure on the well? Now?
If the well is open to the surface, what is the pressure?
How do you know all the cement went down the casing?
Why is the flex joint flange leaking?
Why are the ROV feeds no longer provided in a decipherable resolution?
Why are some ROV feeds not being provided?
Why are clouds of debris continuing to obscure the view several days after the well was supposedly static?
Until these questions are answered by BP, we have no real information to tell us that the well is dead, or even safe. As long as they continue to stonewall critical data, I’ll only continue to believe that the well is not “static” or safe.
To be fair to the other side, however, perhaps we can let Thad Allen, Mr. National Incident Commander explain:
“Sure, there’s a very low probability that we might have actually sealed the annulus with the cement that came down the pipe casing and came back up around it. What we want to do is understand whether or not there’s what we call free communication. In other words whether there, the hydrocarbons in the reservoir can actually come up through the annulus outside the casing, if that’s the case when we go in and we drill in we put the mud and cement we’re just going to drive that down and seal the well. OK? If there’s cement there and there’s no communication that means we have what we call stagnate oil trapped around that casing up to the well head. If you go in and you start pumping mud and cement in there the chances are you could raise the pressure and push that up into the blow out preventer. And that’s a very low possibility, low probability event but we want to, we want to test the pressure in the blow out preventer and see if we actually have pressure coming up that would indicate that we have free communication with the reservoir. If not that would change our tactics and how we do the final kill.”
What the hell does that even mean? I don’t know about anyone else reading this, but I’ve had the misfortune of trying to BS my way through a presentation when I really didn’t understand the subject matter and yeah, it sounded something like that quote above; its good to know he’s “in charge.” So, the Macondo well, I won’t claim to have a complete understanding of what is happening inside; I’m a social worker for christ sakes, not an engineer, but I am also a person that can follow a line of logic, and I don’t just blindly accept hand-fed information from mainstream media outlets.
That being said…
Something appears wrong here.
Things don’t seem to be what we’re being told.
People following this story have seen obfuscation tactics before from the Coast Guard and British Petroleum. People also are not strangers to complicity from the mainstream press and like Robert Cavner, unfortunately I am left with no choice but to be suspicious of what’s really happening with the “status kill.” I say unfortunately, because I too am no stranger to blissful ignorance and I had hoped that in regards to the well being sealed, this would be a state I could finally enter into, but alas, no such luck…for the following reasons:
1. If there is no open channel between the reservoir and the blowout preventer, why are oil and gas still leaking? If I fill a bottle with thick crude, then pour in a layer of mud and finally fill it with cement to the surface, even if I turn that bottle upside down, no oil will leak out of the top of my bottle. Even if there is some residual oil remaining on top of the cement, how much are we supposed to believe is there? And why does it have so much pressure behind it it is being forced out the top of the blow-out preventer? The seafloor should have a pressure reading of 2200 psi, but the pressure reading they did release, confirmed by BP Vice-President Kent Wells, is 4200 psi. This shouldn’t be possible unless pressure continues from the reservoir and pressure from the reservoir shouldn’t continue unless the well has not been adequately sealed by the “static kill.”
2. BP and the Coast Guard won’t release any new pressure readings or other data. They don’t release much information at all. By keeping people in the dark, especially engineers in the dark about data, images, nobody outside their locus of informational control can get a complete grip on the problem, nor say for sure a problem exists. In that regard, most of the public will dismiss outside speculations when people who are not BP and the Coast Guard say all is well. BP has the facts and can dictate the reality. Whether that reality is true or not is a whole different problem. Also, by maintaining control over data, if there is a problem BP and the Coast Guard chooses when anyone else knows. This buys them time to fix the problem if they can, or cover it up if they can’t.
Editor’s note: Cavner writes Adm. Allen pledged to get BP to release the current pressure data 3 days ago. The next day, when asked about it, he said it was released, but “nobody can find it.”
3. Mainstream press hesitancy to report opposing viewpoints: the mainstream press get their stories from access. If they don’t have access, they can’t get stories. If they can’t get stories they don’t have a job. So if the implication is that mainstream press will get cut off unless they maintain the company line, they will be skeptical of outside information, and much less likely to report it. An example would be the case of the Rolling Stone reporter who wrote about General McChrystal, resulting in the General being relived of duty. When that same reporter tried to cover Afghanistan, the Pentagon refused permission for him to embed with their troops, thus, cutting him off. So to not believe opposing viewpoints, just because they are not in the mainstream press is often not the best way to be informed.
4. British Petroleum and the Coast Guard benefit from a confused public. When they constantly change their story things get confusing. This renewed debate over the relief wells runs at direct odds with what they’ve maintained for months is the final solution to sealing this well for good. Also, when their statements are so nonsensical/muddled even engineers can’t grasp them in their entirety, this in turn confuses the public and a confused public quickly becomes a frustrated and/or bored public which causes them to stop paying attention. This definitely serves the interests of BP.
5. It seems they continue to find reason to stop drilling the relief wells. It almost appears they’re stalling and I’d like to know why. If this is being done in the hopes that BP can use them to extract the oil at some later date instead of sealing off the well for good, just freaking admit it already. Really, your hubris won’t surprise anyone anymore and it’s hard to believe that public impressions of your company can sink any lower, but then again…(I’m waiting for this argument: we have to get that oil, it’s the only way to pay for reparations and fixing the Gulf).
6. And finally, because the entire BP oil spill story has been one clusterfuck of denials, half-truths and misinformation for three months, why the hell should I be giving Thad Allen and BP the benefit of the doubt now?
Read the articles:
Have a nice day.