It's Official - Another BP Failure - Efforts To End Flow From BP Well Are Over, Coast Guard Says

Tyler Durden's picture

From Bloomberg:

BP Plc has given up trying to plug
its leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico any sooner than August,
laying out a series of steps to pipe the oil to the surface and
ship it ashore for refining, said Thad Allen, the U.S.
government’s national commander for the incident.

Undersea robots began sawing away damaged pipe today,
preparing for the first of those attempts, Allen said today at a
press conference in New Orleans. The new strategy, which is
subject to disruption by tropical storms and hurricanes, will
continue until relief wells being drilled can plug the damaged
well from the bottom, he said.

That will happen no earlier than August. BP on May 30 said
its “top kill” attempt to plug the well with mud and rubber
scrap had failed.

BP will try to install a snug-fitting “top cap” over the
gusher within 24 hours to 48 hours once the robots complete
severing the pipe. To get a good seal, BP needs a clean cut at
the top of the blowout preventer, a five-story stack of valves
that failed to prevent an April 20 blowout that killed 11 people
and started the spill, Allen said. Should the jet of oil and gas
drive the cap aside, another cap designed to let more oil escape
will be tried, Allen said.

“We’re talking about containing the well,” Allen said.
“We don’t want to restrict the pressure or flow down that well
bore because I don’t think we know the condition of it after the
top kill.”

Relief Wells

The drilling of a second relief well resumed May 30, Allen
said. It had been suspended for several days as BP and
government officials, including Energy Secretary Steven Chu,
weighed whether to use the rig that was drilling it to install a
second blowout preventer atop the damaged one. BP decided not
to, Allen said.

The odds of success for installing the oil-capturing system
are better than the 60 percent to 70 percent chances the company
gave for the top kill attempt that failed May 29, BP Managing
Director Robert Dudley said on NBC’s “Today” show. Cutting the
pipe may temporarily boost the flow of oil into the Gulf by as
much as 20 percent, Dudley said on CBS’s “Early Show.”

BP fell the most in 18 years in London trading today after
top kill failed to plug the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Top
kill was an effort to pump fluids into the well to hold back the
oil and gas long enough to allow a cement seal to stop the flow.
BP is now trying to capture the oil, estimated by government
scientists last week at 12,000 barrels to 19,000 barrels a day,
while it drills two relief wells to permanently stop the leak.

‘Risks Are Lower’

“This is a lower-risk activity than what we were doing
with the top kill,” Dudley said of the cap. “We’ve gone down
this path because the risks are lower. The engineering, while
not simple, is certainly simpler than what we were trying with
the top kill.”

Video on BP’s oil-spill website showed a circular saw
making preliminary cuts on a smaller pipe that’s part of the
riser, the cluster of lines that once extended from the well to
the drilling rig, said Jon Pack, a BP spokesman. Shears were
already grasping the riser, he said.

BP fell 63.35 pence, or 12.8 percent, to 431.45 pence at
3:39 p.m. in London, the biggest drop since 1992. The company
has dropped 34 percent since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig
exploded on April 20.

Disappointed Hopes

“The market had hoped they’d get it under control and they
haven’t,” Peter Hitchens, an analyst for Panmure Gordon UK Ltd.
in London, said today in a telephone interview. Hitchens rates
the stock at “buy” and owns none. “Clearly, the damages and
costs are going to go up.”

President Barack Obama will meet today with the co-chairs
of his oil-spill commission and then give a statement, according
to a schedule provided by the administration.

BP plans “in a couple of weeks” to reverse the system of
pipes and hoses that injected mud into the well for top kill,
achieving another route to storage on the surface, he said. As
part of the top-kill effort, BP had to remove a tube from the
riser that was capturing as much as 6,100 barrels a day from the

Engineers also are working on a free-standing riser pipe to
be installed later this month that would allow tankers to take
on oil, Dudley said. That equipment would include a quick-
disconnect coupling so tankers could depart ahead of a
hurricane, Dudley said on CNN today. Hurricane season starts in
the Gulf today.

Changing Winds

Southwest winds predicted this week would push oil from the
well to a wider area of the U.S. coast, the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration said in a May 31 statement on its

“Results indicate that oil may move north to threaten the
barrier islands off Mississippi and Alabama later in the
forecast period,” the agency said. As of yesterday, the Unified
Area Command in Robert, Louisiana, reported oil along 100 miles
(161 kilometers) of Louisiana coastline.

BP has spent $990 million on the spill response, according
to a statement today. The company has paid $39.4 million in
damage claims as of May 31, the unified command for the spill
response reported yesterday. BP reported 30,619 claims and has
denied none, it said.

BP needs the equivalent of a lottery win to succeed with
its first attempt with a relief well, David Rensink, president-
elect of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, said
in an interview.

Permanent Seal

The relief well aims to intercept the damaged hole at an
angle thousands of feet below the seabed and permanently close
it with heavy mud and cement. The method is the surest way for
BP to end the largest oil spill in U.S. history, yet initial
failure is “almost a certainty,” Rensink said.

“What you’re doing is trying to intersect a well bore that
is probably roughly a foot across with another well that is
about a foot across,” he said. “It’s a hit-or-miss sort of
thing. Ultimately the relief well will work. It’s just a matter
of time, of continuing to poke at it until you intersect it.”


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Turd Ferguson's picture

This is such an absolute disaster, it makes me want to puke every time I think about it.

Panafrican Funktron Robot's picture

Read further down, when it starts talking about the "flotels".  Yeah, that's a fantastic idea as hurricane season begins.  What the fuck are they thinking?

Cursive's picture

With the current economic depression, there is actually a glut of storage containers worldwide.  So much so, in fact, that brokers have begun selling them to people.  We are going to see a lot more "creative" use of storage containers.

There are better websites than this, it was just the first one I found.

ZerOhead's picture

They are awesome... For around $2,000 I get them delivered and convert them into on site environmental remediation systems for our problem properties with air strippers and GAC carbon fitlration units. They lock up tight and keep the curious out.

bombdog's picture

Here's a good one... more novel uses for a container

WaterWings's picture

Yep. China and Russia don't need to sneak nuclear armed subs past our's all hidden in plain sight.

WaterWings's picture

Hooray! Local farmers know that salt water can ruin crops further inland - oil is lighter than water...hmm. Slippery roads? Oil soaked vegetation and wood leading to massive fire hazards? Coastal Superfund Zone declared? BP is still using dispersant (4X more toxic than oil - ordered to stop by EPA weeks ago) to keep oil off surface...chemical rains...where will these people live? How many years to recovery, if ever? FEMA tent cities set up around the country? How long will it take locals to decide they can't live there anymore? Will they wait to the last minute? Will the gov't continue to lie/obfuscate/drag feet? The point of no return has passed and the oil is still flowing.............

Cursive's picture

I'm 2 hours inland and I'm pissed/worried.  The "oil rain" theory, which may be bogus, is some scary shit.  It is difficult to remain constructive on our formerly fine country when the level of incompetence is this high, the incompetence is abetted by authority and the citizenry is asleep.

WaterWings's picture

BP tells the Coast Guard what to do. Literally. No media allowed to fly below 3000 feet. Citizens threatened with arrest. I'm almost ready to buy a ticket down there and run around on the up local media, "Get ready for a show!"

Thoreau's picture

I'll bring the Mossberg and ride shotgun!

Hephasteus's picture

I'll bring the cigars and help catch us all on fire.

WaterWings's picture

We'll swing by and grab Velo - give her a raincoat and a fire extinguisher.

Cursive's picture

You've probably already seen this, but Mish posted a great on-the-ground blogger video on Sunday.

ZerOhead's picture

Top Kill is dead! Time to try Bottom Kill!

Long live the Quicksilver Bullet!

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

“We’re talking about containing the well,” Allen said. “We don’t want to restrict the pressure or flow down that well bore because I don’t think we know the condition of it after the top kill.”

Bottom Kill is all they can hope for at this point. The statement I cut and pasted above is very telling. There has never really been a good discussion on why "Top Kill" was so dangerous. And while I'm not an expert, it appears that since they didn't know the conditions inside the well nor the BOP, Top Kill could have caused more damage and instability to an already unstable system.

From what reading I've done. while BP hasn't come out and said it, that well below the sub-sea surface was severely damaged and they can't plug it even with a second BOP. And this was finally recognized when the Top Kill failed so completely. They now understand the well casing has been compromised and it's all "stall and contain" until they can try to plug it from the bottom.

Let us be clear here folks. Plugging from the bottom may not work considering the pressures down there and the porosity of the field. ZerOhead, didn't you say something like 30% at one point? Has anyone figured out how much cement they will need to pump into the field below the old well to plug this baby when the surrounding rock has a 30% porosity at that pressure? Oh my God.

ZerOhead's picture

30% is the number CD. But most of the strata above the reservoir are impermeable shales with only a few areas of porosity according to the drillers (when drilling mud 'disappears' during drilling it is actually entering these areas often causing more hydraulic fracturing... AKA fracing... or fracking) Mind you that they barely perforated the reservoir formation as best as I can recall.

Top kill... and anything that results in increasing pressure on the clearly compromised well casings and under the BOP... is dangerous since at any time the oil pressure may just 'POP' the BOP and wellhead off or result in the oil finding it's own path to the surface outside of the casing (ie. seabed leakage... very very bad!). The oil is not merely in the riser (small pressure cross section)... but underneath the entire wellhead casing (much larger diameter = much more force than the system was designed for)

I'll get you guys the well layout again...

Thar she be..

A 36 inch diameter means the oil pressure of around 8,000 PSI (numbers courtesy of Thad Allen..)

means let's see... 36/2 (radius) =18... then squared = 324... then times Pi = 1,018 sq inces... times 8,000 PSI equals...

Eight million one hundred and forty four thousand pounds of upward pressure on the BOP of course one has to subtract the weight of the water column above it to come out with a final answer of...

Just over 6 million pounds of upward pressure on the BOP and wellhead! Ouch!

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

I'm aware of the non porous cap over the field and the fact the well didn't penetrate too far into the field. I guess what I was thinking was what makes them think that they will be able to fill the "pores" in the field with the heavier mud and cement fast enough to overcome the natural movement towards the lower pressure area created by the open well?

I understand the well isn't completely open, that it is somewhat restricted by whatever cement pieces are blocking the well, combined with the partially closed rams. But they have said they don't wish to apply any more pressure from the top so the bottom kill ain't getting any help form above.

But with a 30% porosity, the oil has many paths to the well. They are going to need to hit very close to the bottom of the old well with the new well. Is drilling tech that good that they can hit the spot that close after drilling that far? What's the margin of error for hitting a spot that far down?

ZerOhead's picture

You do not need to fill the 'pores' just match the pressure of the oil producing reservoir and you are good to go!

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"I see" said the blind man. Of course, its the pressure differential they're dealing with, not the total pressure of the field.

Thank you kind sir for the education. In effect, they will be giving the old well a prostate problem and squeezing the well shut by applying just enough pressure with the mud and cement around the area of the old well penetration to stop the flow in the field.

One final thought. Won't they have the same problems with the new wells as the old well. I'm not talking about the sloppy drilling job or the finishing of the old well. I thought there were basic problems with the geology and pressure, which was the very reason they were drilling on the edge of the field.

ZerOhead's picture


If they attempt to intersect the leaking well by drilling horizontally through the reservoir (original plan.. ie. production well... hint hint...) they could make things much worse by radically increasing potential oil flows. If they drill to intersect just above the reservoir formation and succeed in breaking through to the leaking well (big if) then the pressure on the well will drop by a factor of two... or half pressure. So they still are not out of the woods but it gives them more options.

ColonelCooper's picture

Okay. I'm a pipeliner, not a driller, and I'm expecting to get the shit junked out of me.  Or at the very best, maybe somebody can tell me why this idea is out of the question:

We focus on "top-hat" style bandaids.  Why not something more along the lines of "top-catheter"?  Imagine something along the lines of a heli-coil, cross bred with an easy-out and a thread tapper.  It would need to be tapered to a slightly smaller O.D. than the I.D. of the casing.  This of course would be hollow, and taper into a riser pipe which could then be hooked onto in order to siphon the flow.  I doubt that any type of threads cut into the well would hold up to the pressure if it was attempted to valve it off, cap or blind it, but if the threads could stand the pressure increase from the slight bottleneck at the taper, it might work as a siphon until the relief wells are done??????

I understand this restriction would increase the head pressure at the well, and that is a major concern.  I know that every engineer under the sun is working on this, and it has probably already been discussed and dismissed. (maybe it's too dumb to even have been discussed) But.....  maybe it's like when the power goes out and the whole neighborhood  sits in the dark thinking that somebody else called the power company.

ZerOhead's picture

It would be great if that could be done... without the water in the mix there will be no hydrate formation.

Problem is the 21 inch riser is junked. You will require to cut away to a 100% uncompromised and circular portion of the riser first which may not be possible. Then you have to build a tap and die set for the same. That done you have to apply torque that these ROV's can't produce on a totally horizontal plain.

Not saying it can't be done... just that it will be extremely complicated... but it's nice to see you're not afraid to think. Welcome to the club!

The lower marine riser package will work I believe... it won't stop the flow and is susceptible to storms and leakage but it should get most of the oil under control.

And then we will soon find out EXACTLY how much oil is leaking!!! :)

Dr. No's picture

I was thinking about your mercury shot: I dont think it will work.  How do you deliver it?   I dont know if you can pump mercury so you would have to lower a 1000ft column of mercury into position and then dump it in? It would need to be all-in-one shot to counteract the oil PSI (6000+?)  Also, I am not sure if the capilary action of the mercury will support itself in the tube (tube diameter?) since the mercury is heavier than oil.  


If I am completely wrong, I will go back to drafting my plans for world domination and leave it to the engineers.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Um, could I sneak a peak of those plans? :>)

ZerOhead's picture

Yup... posted the way to do it back at the last thread... hang on...


It's all dependant on flow velocities in the lower pipes and risers... and to make those calculations we require the REAL numbers!... but it's not quite as simple as I am making it out. It will immediately reduce the flow from the moment it is injected but there are big challenges once the pool of mercury builds up above the 7 inch tapered riser. (Think of a cylindrical 'tube' of mercury building up on the inside surface of the pipe... where flows are slower due to frictional resistance and eddies at the taper... while the crude moves through the center)


While the oil gushes through the centre until that 'structure' becomes unstable due to the increasing weight of injected mercury... The velocity/pressure of the  oil will initially prevent the mercury from descending further until the accumulted mass approaches 100K Kg. At that point it will suddenly descend down the 7 inch tapered riser and literally slam into the reservoir rock inducing severe fracing. If it holds (which it won't since much of the mercury like previous drilling mud will 'dissappear' into the porous reservoir rock) then you are OK. The way around this problem is actually two-fold and while lengthy it's very simple... but I'm not sure anyone here wishes to hear how it can be done.


If they did I would tell them to inject only half of the mercury at first which will remain suspended by oil pressure/flow while placing pressure downward slowing the oil.... then with the pressure at the BOP reduced by over half actually... try a modified junk shot again... if it works the mercury will settle to the bottom of the string since the flow will be yet again reduced. If the junk doesn't plug just add more mercury reducing pressure until it does. If the mercury accelerates too fast it can be controlled by opening a valve on the second mudport to let the flow of escaping oil to briefly increase thus taking the Ooomph out of the hit when it descending column of mercury reaches the reservoir formation. Then just slowly inject the remaining mercury and once things stabilize send down a small amout of concrete to make a plug. Once it cures make a larger plug on top... rinse and repeat presto-chango no leak!


Oh well... I'm just an idiot kitty but thanks for the vote of confidence Dr. No!

Looks like I've lost Dr. No! Oh Nooooooooo! :)

The methodology with the proposed 'test' is back at the other thread!

LeBalance's picture

Ummm...why are some considering mercury, its just about the single most toxic element in the periodic chart.  I just spent the last six months detoxing from being poisoned with the stuff.  /argh!/

ZerOhead's picture

Elemental mercury has low bioavailability. Methyl mercury on the other hand is a real bitch. And dental amalgam (silver and mercury) is in the mouths of half of Americans.

Plus it's going to stay in the hole for a gazillion years... or until BP pumps it back up again with the last slurps!

sushi's picture

Any pictures of the giant condom they are going to use to cap this thing? If BP has trouble finding the XXXL they need I could lend them one of mine.

Panafrican Funktron Robot's picture

This is sadly a much better idea than what I've seen so far coming from BP.

WaterWings's picture

Oh, damn. Local authorities have not yet determined if the deaths of wildlife is related to the spill. Just like those workers were still "missing" (and not officially "burned alive") for three or four days.

DaveyJones's picture

It's probably just suicide

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

It's so sad that those four words could speak such truth with such volume regarding our collective insanity and the effect we have on all living things on this earth, excluding of course the humans.

DaveyJones's picture

you never miss a message, thanks. I started to watch the video on the Mish link above and I just kind of lost it with a weird wave of anger and sorrow. What the fuck is wrong with us?

Turd Ferguson's picture

Thanks for the link. The video from the biologist is terribly sad. 

AnAnonymous's picture

Too bad you dont puke everytime you think about it.

You could have helped to reduce the oil spill.

molecool's picture

The dispersent they use probably contains acidic components to break up the oil.

Noah Vail's picture

Tyler, you need to double check sources before you post this stuff as your rate of error is getting pretty high.

From AP, 12:10 CST:

Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen is saying that BP is in the middle of its first major pipe cut in the company's latest bid to contain the oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico. Allen, the national incident commander, said Tuesday that it could be as many as three days before oil can be contained and siphoned to the surface. BP has another major cut to do before a cap can be lowered on to the leak

Same Guy, totally different comments. There's more bullshit flowing than oil. and most of it is from the hate oil crowd.

JJP's picture

Is that the same coast guard that said the first attempt was working

Cursive's picture

Yes.  And Thad Allen's comments from last week rank right up there with, "Good job, Brownie."

reading's picture

It's Tyler's fault that Bloomberg is reporting that BP is stopping?  Seriously, there is definitely not more bullshit than oil -- it's been bullshit from the first time they blew that rig sky high.

sushi's picture

Bloomberg once again is following ZH's lead:


Efforts to End Oil Flow From BP Well Are Over, Coast Guard Says

By Jim Polson

June 1 (Bloomberg) -- BP Plc has decided not to attach a second blowout preventer on its leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico and efforts to end the flow are over until the relief wells are finished, according to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Thad Allen, who spoke at a press conference today.

Last Updated: June 1, 2010 13:41 EDT

Tyler Durden's picture

I am fairly confident 1-800-Bloomberg will promptly address your concerns.

reading's picture

You have got to be kidding me...what a complete line of bs they have been feeding everyone.

The guy from BP was on this morning saying they expected a 70-80% chance of success with this method. Pretty optimistic for a method that lasted less than 24 hours.

primus's picture

Yep, they can't cap this bad boy.

The risk of blowing out subsurface is way too great.

I wonder if they are going to proceed with cutting off the riser and getting the LMRP or if that is off the table also?

In other news,

"The shares have now lost more than a third of their value, wiping some $63 billion off BP's value, since the explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig six weeks ago."

A $63 bn blue light special!

Hello, Merger.

Shell, Exxon, Chevron, Conoco and the other super-majors are licking their lips right now.

Read more:


reading's picture

Aren't they saying they are not doing the LMRP?  

primus's picture

I thought the LPRM was for containment only? They said they are not going to attach a second BOP. But if all effort are now halted, I guess they decided not to cut off the riser.