The chasm between Apollo and the Gulf

There is no valid analogy between the Gulf spill and Apollo 13

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/42773000/jpg/_42773641_harrison_schmitt203.jpg

I am honored to present this guest post by Apollo 17 astronaut and geologist Dr. H. Harrison Schmitt – Anthony

President Obama’s Administration and its supportive media repeatedly say our 1970 Apollo 13 experience is analogous to the effort to contain and cap the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Not hardly!

The rescue of Astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert, after an oxygen tank explosion on their spacecraft, illustrates how complex technical accidents should be handled, in contrast to the Gulf fiasco. Nothing in the government’s response to the blowout and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon and its aftermath bears any resemblance to the response to the Apollo 13 situation by the National Aeronautic and Space Administration and its Mission Control team at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston.

“Failure was not an option” for Gene Kranz and his Apollo 13 flight controllers and engineers. In contrast, failure clearly has been an option for President Obama and those claiming to have been on top of this situation “from day one” in his White House and in the Departments of Interior, Energy and Homeland Security. With no single, competent, courageous and knowledgeable leader in charge of a comparably competent, courageous and knowledgeable team as we had with Apollo 13, the Administration has been doomed to failure from the start. The President, without any experience in real-world management of anything, much less a crisis, has no idea how to deal with a situation as technically complex as the Gulf oil spill.

Apollo 13's damaged Service Module, as photographed from the Command Module after being jettisoned.

Whatever may be the culpability of British Petroleum and its federal regulators in causing and dealing with the accident, it has been left to BP engineers and managers and to Gulf State officials to respond as best they can in a regulatory environment that is politically charged, incompetent, fearful and hesitant.

Absolutely no reason exists to assume that any part of the Federal Government has engineering expertise comparable to the petroleum industry that can be applied to this or any future energy-related crisis. Certainly, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and Energy Secretary Steven Chu have no more experience in these matters than does the President.

Salazar’s empty threat to “push BP out of the way” has no basis as a realistic option and best illustrates the floundering of the Obama Administration. Indeed, from “day one,” the expertise of the entire U.S. and British drilling and production industry should have been mobilized to combat this spill, with a single experienced engineering manager in charge. It still is not too late to start doing it right.

A more appropriate analogy from the Apollo era would be the recovery from the tragic fire during a pre-launch test on January 27, 1967, that took the lives of astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee. The Apollo 204 fire occurred in the clearly recognized crisis atmosphere of the Cold War, in which America raced to demonstrate to the world the superiority of freedom over the Communist oppression of the Soviet Union. The Deepwater Horizon explosion took place in the equally apparent crisis of America’s dependence on sources of oil from foreign nations governed or intimidated by our enemies or economic competitors. There, however, the validity of the 204 fire analogy ceases.

Charred remains of the Apollo 204 command module.

The NASA’s response to the 204 fire was to rapidly implement its previously well-formulated, objective investigation of its causes, both technical and managerial. Managerial responsibilities were identified, and George Low and his engineering team made appropriate changes without a prolonged exercise in finger pointing or the delays of another Presidential, buck-passing “commission.” NASA of that day moved forward and even accelerated the Apollo effort to its successful conclusion. Apollo 8’s Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders orbited the Moon less than two years after the 204 fire. Seven months after that, on July 20, 1969, Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, with Mike Collins in orbit overhead, landed on the Moon.

The lessons from the 204 fire were applied and we moved on. In contrast, President Obama’s and his Administration’s otherwise rambling response to the Deepwater Horizon explosion has been to stop offshore oil exploration by the United States. How misguided and, indeed, how either ignorant or devious can our President be!?

President Obama has shown repeatedly that the best interests of the American people are a lower priority than his ideological goal of changing America from what it has been, to some mystical, socialist utopia with a renewable-energy-based standard of living equivalent to that of the late 1800s. As if the Administration could not make its ineffective, disjointed response to the Deepwater Horizon accident any worse, it did not even use previously established sea surface burn-off and dispersant procedures to minimize the effects of the spill.

In addition, it has inexcusably delayed approving and assisting in Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s request to protect the state’s shores and wildlife habitats, by building offshore sand barriers – as unnecessary as having to make that request should have been. And this is the government that Congress and the President want to run healthcare, immigration, banking, carbon emissions, auto manufacturing, and everything else in American life?

The geologists, engineers, and on-site managers responsible for the Deepwater Horizon drilling effort understood that drilling to an oil reservoir through 13,000 of rock in 5000 feet of seawater would be very difficult. They knew that their geophysically defined target, typical of Gulf petroleum reservoirs, would be a complex mix of crude oil, natural gas and brine, contained in porous and permeable rock. Because of the rock and water depth, the reservoir also would be under very high pressure. In this situation, a reliable blowout preventer, a crimping device installed on the pipe near the floor of the sea, would be essential to reduce the risk of both a spill and potential explosion on the Deepwater Horizon.

Current information indicates that BP installed a defective blowout preventer and did not have a deep-water, robotically emplaced crimping technique as a backup to the blowout preventer. Essential to the prevention of future accidents will be an objective, complete technical and managerial investigation of why a geological and engineering situation of known risks spun out of control. The primary question is, will such an investigation be possible in the politically charged, adversarial “boot on the neck” atmosphere created by President Obama and his team? Imagine if such an atmosphere had surrounded the 204 fire investigation and recovery.

Responsibility for the Deepwater Horizon accident ultimately lies with the chaotic regulatory environment for petroleum exploration created over recent decades by the Congress, courts, Department of the Interior and environmental pressure groups. Will we learn anything about regulatory overkill from this tragic loss of eleven lives, extensive environmental damage, and disruption of business and employment in the Gulf?

Elimination of access to most on-shore and near-shore oil production prospects has driven American exploration away from more easily discoverable and producible resources – and into the much more dangerous and technically challenging deep waters of the seas and oceans. Even then, drilling and production accidents are exceedingly rare, in spite of the geological, engineering and weather-related difficulties that explorers and producers face as a consequence of these misguided restrictions.

Long-term, history reminds us that naturally and accidentally released oil in the oceans disappears due to bacterial action. Remember that the fuel oil which blackened the world’s beaches as a result of World War II ship destruction disappeared after only a few years, and ocean life survived. The Gulf oil spill will not be this Nation’s most serious environmental crisis: World War II tops it by orders of magnitude in more than just this respect.

If America and freedom are to survive indefinitely, the next Congress must begin to restore sanity and intelligence to national energy policy. Until economically competitive alternatives become fully feasible, fossil fuels will remain the mainstay of our economy. Our dependence on unstable foreign sources of oil has become one of our greatest national security vulnerabilities, and only domestic production can solve it in the next 50 years.

The 2010 elections thus become a critical starting point to bring rational, constitutional, America-first thinking back into the Federal Government.

______________

Harrison H. Schmitt is a former United States Senator from New Mexico, as well as a geologist and former Apollo Astronaut. He currently is an aerospace and private enterprise consultant and a member of the new Committee of Correspondence.


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215 thoughts on “The chasm between Apollo and the Gulf

  1. My heart is broken that we will no longer be advancing in space tech. Our new plan will be to hope other countries are as safety oriented as our own was. I had hoped we would advance from building space stations, in space to building interplanetary crafts in space but alas.. now we pay to fly. The moon missions will be a distant memory and money that could have been spent keeping the program alive will go to the biggest lie of the century. SIGH!

  2. It is a sad sad day that a once mighty nation is now run by incompetents only interested in bring her to her knees. I hope the next election see this turned around but I am fearful the “brainwashing” of the last fifty years runs too deep.

  3. Kudos to Dr. Schmitt for putting the Deepwater Horizon blowout and explosion in historical context, and doing so brilliantly. At some point we will need to pursue the most difficult energy supplies, but at present we are blessed with ample reserves of coal, oil, and natural gas. It is not only time to restore “sanity and intelligence” to our energy policies, but to the scope and direction of the government and the nation. And it is way past time to turn back from the swamp of bureaucratic socialism, lest we continue to flounder under the incompetent and misguided leadership we are seeing today.
    Thanks, Anthony, for posting Dr. Schmitt’s essay.
    /Mr Lynn

  4. I have been learning about the progressive movement and our brainwashing started around 1870. The concept is that our leaders can go to school and learn how to lead. The problem with that idea is to be able to lead you must be able to deal with the unexpected and the unknown. This is not learned in school but is instead learned by dealing with it every day. I developed the skill by being a Renaissance woman. I will offer to help people with problems I have never worked on before just because it improves my problem solving skills. As the results, people who know me well often come to me for my advice.
    When we stop looking for leaders with advanced degrees and start looking for people who who work with their hands and heads we will regain our former glory.

  5. Harrison Schmidt is absolutely, noneqivalently not a Schmidtbird unlike one Gaven person.

  6. Interesting that Dr. Schmitt mentions a crimping device. That was my proffered solution some weeks ago on another thread in here. It was met by the response of a “you can’t do that” and “how would you even get it down there”. Staunch the flow until the intercept wells are drilled and packed. Today, they are sawing the pipe off as the adminstration pre-resigns itself to zero control.
    I agree with Dr. Schmitt: Everything done since day 1 seems to have the effect of prolonging the disaster.
    The Daily Dilly-Dally in the Gulf.

  7. I can’t believe President Obama has his administration working on criminal charges and encouraging lawyers to develop lawsuits when all efforts should be on capping the well and cleaning things up. He should wait until the dust settles before diverting the attention of those who should be fixing things.
    This is not the time to play politics or engage in political thuggery. But this is what we get.

  8. It is sad to say that the response of the current Administration has been nothing like that of Apollo 13. With Apollo 13, engineers and managers checked their egos at the door to solve the life and death problems at hand.
    The Deepwater Horizon accident reaction is permeated with egos and threats by politicians and lawyers who are “so in to themselves” that it hurts us all. You wonder how they can break away from their mirrors.
    Let’s see if a court order will stop the leak .. useless gits.

  9. Yes the idea that we can replace fossil fuels with renewable energy NOW is the most misguided idea ever! It will take decades if not centuries to switch back to renewable sources, and it won’t be with the current renewable sources alone, that’s for sure.
    If there is a analogy between man and world economics fed by renewable energy than it is that of man who is already mallnourished and just has been told that from now on only vegetables and fruit will be available, but in small amounts and only under heavy regulations that say where, when and how much you can eat.

  10. So someone tell me why we can’t just drop large boulders on the site, followed by ever smaller aggregate to fill in the holes? Seems easy to me – boulders sink even to 5000 ft and would diffuse the flow which could then be plugged by the smaller rocks and so on.

  11. Thank you Sen. Schmitt for those words. As much as anything else you wrote, the fact that you mentioned the involvement of three cabinet secretaries, speaks volumes about the expansion of government bureaucracy. I hope the next Administration chooses to oppose the trend and scale back on the number of cabinet posts, and Executive branch size in general.
    The spectacle of watching the President and three cabinet secretaries posture while the only practical efforts have been made elsewhere just underscores the distinction between unproductive and productive forces in our society.

  12. “Responsibility for the Deepwater Horizon accident ultimately lies with the chaotic regulatory environment for petroleum exploration”
    Couldn’t have said it better myself! I’ll tell you where it doesn’t lie: A company that OSHA statistics show ran up 760 “egregious safety violations, while Sunoco and Conoco-Phillips each had eight, Citgo had two and Exxon had one comparable citation.”

  13. It is simply amazing to me what people can do when there aren’t people pulling on your belt to slow you down. But people giving you wind to fill your sails to move you forward.
    This essay is extremely well written. Let us compare the world in which perception is more important than reality.
    If Reality, the purported reasons of the left are so important, then why aren’t we developing nuclear power? After all, electric generation accounts for 2B metric tons of C02 emitted into the atmosphere, whereas only 300M tons are accounted for by all transportation. I suppose Jane Fonda is more important than the reality. But, we are back to perception again, aren’t we?

  14. “Certainly, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and Energy Secretary Steven Chu have no more experience in these matters than does the President.”
    Every one of them and most of the newspeople and even pundits that they have talking about the blowout has no clue, and make it apparent in manifold ways whenever they say anything about the efforts to stop the blowout. Obama says “We have to stop this crisis”, but as Mr Schmitt pointed out, they are distracting and interfering more than helping. The administration has not done much to organize clean-up and containment of the oil slick, which they could manage very well, and done some good for the people living on the Gulf coast. They certainly have no expertise in shutting in oil well blowouts, and have to leave that up to the companies involved.
    This has been a tragic accident, and it’s irritating to see those twits trying to score political points talking about things they really know nothing about. It makes you wonder how much they know about health care, banking, making cars, or climate change.
    Ah well, don’t get me started…

  15. Paul says:
    June 1, 2010 at 9:35 pm
    I think so too. Then cap the aggregate with marine concrete. It’s a mile down. Even boulders would drift, so don’t know if we have the equipment req’d to deploy an idea like this close enough to achieve proper placement. It wouldn’t be quick, but it seems it would be faster than waiting until August.

  16. Sen. Schmitt, wish every person could hear such words, properly tied back into the manytimes forgotten past. Perhaps you can now get a little MSM exposure with such a well written essay.

  17. Great analysis! I took the liberty of submitting a post on Andrew Revkin’s NYTimes DotEarth blog pointing to Dr. Schmitt’s essay. It will be interesting to see if it clears moderation and, if so, how long it takes for the usual trolls to show up.

  18. Wow. Extremely well-said.
    Senator Schmitt gets at what is wrong with the entire system on a deeper level.
    If only there were more politicians like him…(who are career scientist/physicist/engineers)… as opposed to most of the ilk in our political system: attorneys and MBA’s.
    Schmitt is addressing a catastrophic failure of the entire system.
    And until the bureaucrat-morons of our species who are running the world, are finally pushed out of the way by Natural Selection, we will see many more catastrophic failures like this one.
    But then again by then, it might be too late for us. The morons would have sunk the ship for us all, and we all perish.
    One can only hope for the best though….and I would vote for this guy for President.
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  19. Just as I finished reading this wonderful essay, I looked up at the news. There was a story that a group of scientists asked James Cameron to add his expertise during a brainstorming session on how to stop the spill! WOW!! No more fooling around! It’s time to call in the real experts!
    They say it’s because he has experience filming under water. (Don’t we have oceanographers and submarine technicians with such experience?) I think they just really liked “Avatar”.

  20. Here’s what they really did on Day One:
    http://preview.bloomberg.com/news/2010-05-20/anadarko-deep-water-wells-approved-by-u-s-while-gulf-rig-still-in-flames.html
    Corky Boyd says:
    June 1, 2010 at 9:27 pm
    “I can’t believe President Obama has his administration working on criminal charges and encouraging lawyers to develop lawsuits when all efforts should be on capping the well and cleaning things up. He should wait until the dust settles before diverting the attention of those who should be fixing things.”
    Diverting attention from their own culpability in this is the primary objective of these political weasels. But its not going to work. Obama et al are revealing themselves for what they are – totally incompetent managers but devious manipulators.
    What I find most astonishing is how they have ignored, for a month now, the pleas from Louisiana governor Jindal et al to build those sand berms to keep the oil out of the wetlands. Much simpler to clean up sand than marsh. The only bright side to this is that the EPA, perhaps THE most corrupt and dishonest agency in the whole government (and that is saying a lot!), will be deservedly blamed for this inexcusable delay.
    This whole scenario is truly depressing. Accidents happen but the federal government response has been unbelievably abysmal. That’s why they are scapegoating BP… and with their dud of a CEO, that has been toooooo easy.

  21. Paul says:
    June 1, 2010 at 9:35 pm
    So someone tell me why we can’t just drop large boulders on the site, followed by ever smaller aggregate to fill in the holes? Seems easy to me – boulders sink even to 5000 ft and would diffuse the flow which could then be plugged by the smaller rocks and so on.
    ================================
    Damn interesting idea. I hope you forward it to BP. Sounds like they need all the help they can get.

  22. 1 June: UK Telegraph: Volcanic ash: Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary in withering attack on Met Office
    “I don’t mind paying passenger right to care when it is our fault. But if it is not our fault and some stupid regulator or government has closed down airspace, because some idiot in a basement in the Met Office in London spills coffee over the map of Europe and produces a big black cloud, we shouldn’t be paying for your right to care,” Mr O’Leary continued.
    “The made a complete dog’s balls of it yet passed this cost onto the airlines We paid compensation for their mismanagement for and incompetence.” …
    The Met Office defended its handling of the volcanic ash crisis. “We work to recognised international standards which are set aviation industry itself. Our model can be configured to provide forecasts to any tolerance of ash that is deemed safe by the aviation regulatory authorities.
    “The advice we produce always combines information from radar, satellite and research aircraft. We use this material to create and verify our forecasts…
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/7794331/Volcanic-ash-Ryanair-boss-Michael-OLeary-in-withering-attack-on-Met-Office.html

  23. I am no fan of Barack Obama. In fact, I would still like to see the man’s birth certificate. I think the Sestak scandal is an impeachable offense. But that said, I do not see any particular failure on Obama’s part in the Gulf spill. The regulatory problems were there before he became president. Obama has not failed to provide resources to cap the hole in ocean floor. The problem is every creative idea tried so far has failed. No one knows what to do. I would rather see people criticize Obama for his failures rather than for things which are not really his fault.
    And please, I’m not saying Obama is not inexperienced or incompetent. I am only saying that even an experienced and competent president would not do any better with this current problem in the Gulf.

  24. “The Deepwater Horizon explosion took place in the equally apparent crisis of America’s dependence on sources of oil from foreign nations governed or intimidated by our enemies or economic competitors. ”
    This comment really bugged me because we are not at war with Canada nor ourselves. That’s where our oil primarily comes from, and has come from long before this incident. Saudi Arabia is number three, and last I checked they weren’t our enemies. And neither Canada nor Saudia Arabia are our economic competitors. They’re our trade partners.
    “President Obama has shown repeatedly that the best interests of the American people are a lower priority than his ideological goal of changing America from what it has been, to some mystical, socialist utopia with a renewable-energy-based standard of living equivalent to that of the late 1800s.”
    Yes, but Obama is not a green utopian. Obama is a good liar. What he wants is the nationalization of oil companies, not solar panels. Perhaps his aim is even that of an inter-governmental union ownership of all meaningful energy production (such as a North American Union or joint EU/NAU).
    To be fair, however, that sort of agenda doesn’t belong solely to him, nor to that of government soley in the present or near past. Understanding the motivations of government today, and how they plan to acheive those goals, requires understanding how money works…
    It’s really quite simple. Governments of the world sell debt on the open market. What doesn’t get bought is bought up by the various central banks. This causes price to continue rising above what the market is willing to pay, and thus yield to fall beyond what the market desires. But on the back of rising government debt, the corporations (the majority of bondholders) create credit to last them til payday. And as this process continues, the price of credit only goes higher.
    In the last year (maybe the last two) central bank buying has increasingly stepped up to fill in for what the market can’t afford. What this means is that the cost of credit is becoming too much. The private sector is going bankrupt, ie, in order to stay in the market for government debt. Priavte wealth to a large degree has been sucked into the black-hole of ever-lowering interest. It’s already happened to the banks and the automakers, not to mention thousands of small and mid-size businesses indirectly affected by these ongoing bankruptcies.
    At the same time as wealth is trapped in that game of zeroing interest, asset prices must by nessecity lower because once credit becomes too expensive, holders of all assets get nervous about growth (numerically speaking). So they devalue them in order to not be stuck with them. And worse, the assets devalue at the same time that central banks are increasingly _giving_ government more and more money, which would, at the end-stages, allow for government to pick up assets (like oil comapnies) on the cheap.
    Where the green mantras come in is purely reverse psychology. They know we don’t want nor can “go green”. They know it’s a pipe-dream. But they threaten and yammer on about this and that, so oil companies go into places they should as soon not. While there is an initial silver lining to this, it’s inevitably their/our demise …
    As price of creating new credit increases, expensive projects initially act as a counter of sorts. This is what “economical oil” is. It’s not what we think it to be. What economical oil is, are projects which are expensive enough to justify the borrowing of large amounts of credit (from all manner of private sources world-wide). The big expensive project will then, for a time, generate the returns by which the oil company can keep up with the rising prices of government debt (their ultimate source of credit).
    This is done because quite simply, we need the energy, and this isn’t lost on lenders and investors. To have the energy at all, oil companies must be able to afford more and more debt that so they can create more credit for themselves as the rest of the available credit in the market dries up. In order to do that, they must engage in the most “economical” of projects to attract the drying-up credit. The “mediocore” projects are deemed unworthy because they do not generate the returns they need.
    But with oil prices falling in this inevitable (asset) deflationary environment, it’s not looking good for BP. Their stock has already shaved off around 40% in the last five to six weeks. They’re going broke, fast. And with this disaster unresolved (imo, it never stood much chance of being controlled), there is every justification for government to nationalize them. This probably will not happen right away, though. The more likely case is that they will be sold off in parts to other companies (and BP execs, like the banking CEOs, given their golden parachuttes from the proceeds). But as the credit game continues, the buyers will in time fall to government take-over. It’s mathmatical certainty because the private sector is not made of infinite money. The central bank, on the other hand, is.
    Obama a green? Ha! There are no greens in government. To be a hippie tree-hugger is to be one of millions (billions, even) of used-up suckers, never mind our philosophical differences. A sucker is a sucker. Central bank-funded governments have always been red, and there isn’t a difference between “conservative” and “liberal”, “democrat” or “republican”. Neither side has a reputation for seeking the end of central banking, and that is how and why things are playing out the way they are today.
    It was a blessing at first (which we called capitalism, though I doubt Ayn Rand would approve) as government debt rose from a low point (courtesy of Paul Volcker) to allow for cheap, easy credit. Alan Greenspan continued it, and so did his replacement, Ben Bernanke. This will not last, and it hasn’t, which is why we’re still in a “recession”. Private sector wealth is disappearing faster than ever, replaced by direct cash hand-outs to the government by central banks.
    Anyone who thinks this all about utopias had better get real yesterday. Government is run by very nasty people that simply don’t want you to be free in any sense of the word. And they are well ahead of us because we were suckers that believed in so-called capitalism, and that it could last forever. We allowed ourselves to cast moral and intellectual (and maybe financial) support for what was really an outrageous idea (deep water drilling) that was only done because we allowed ourselves to be psyched-out by the threats of so-called greens.
    No sense blamming Obama (or any politician, for that matter). We did it to ourselves. It’s up to us to get ourselves out of it. If we do not, our grand children, or their children, or theirs will have to do something the founders of this country never intended for any of us to do again… Fight to the death for our freedom.

  25. Ah, America. Once she was a spacefaring nation. Alas, one more trip to space and that is history. Will we soon be so mired in our the socialist utopia that we never will venture into space again, except to beg an occasional ride from the former social utopias in Asia?
    Thank you Mr. Obama.

  26. To all readers who are discussing solutions: Recognize that a 21 inch pipe at 6000 psi creates right at 2,070,000 pounds force. Up. Against whatever you are trying to plug the hole with.
    Oil pressure is estimated at 6000 to 9000 psi at the leak, so your “solution” must be able to stop and hold 1000 to 1500 tons of force. If you are going to try to force something “down the hole” (to stop the flow) you must be able to “push down” harder than the oil is pushing up. Assuming you can thread a needle blindfolded from a mile away while facing the equal of ten Colorado Rivers going through the end of the needle.
    Then you must be able to hold your solution in place (against that flow) while you try to grip the pipe (or the muddy bottom) to keep your plug from spewing back into your face.
    A mile below the sea. In the dark.

  27. At last someone puts the Deepwater Horizon spill into a sensible context. Unlike the shrill, anti-oil propaganda spouted by the BBC.

  28. Actually a good strategy would be the following:
    1. Some kind of cap to nearly stop the flow while we wait for the relief wells
    2. Relief wells miss the intended target every time. Darn it, but we just can’t seem to hit the target.
    3. Tell the bozos in the administration, “the only solution is to place the relief wells into production as soon as possible to remove the source of the oil.” They are complete idiots, so they might buy it. On the other hand, they are complete ideologues, so they might say no even it it were truly the only solution.
    4. A few hundred million or more barrels flow into gulf coast refineries that don’t have to be imported from the sworn enemies of democracy and freedom.

  29. Considering the tragic loss of life involved, the public relations disaster, and the impact on future operations, I think the Challenger Explosion, unfortunately, provides a better parallel to the Deep Horizon event, except in this case the problem was not unsafe cold o-rings but inadequate blow-out prevention devices and the lack of any established, quick-response blow-out suppression technique.

  30. I am delighted to see BP absolved of any blame in this disaster. Does this mean my pension fund investment should be safe? BP shares are definitely a “buy”.
    Clearly, government regulation and too much taxation was the root cause. The solution is to dissolve the EPA and let the competent-professionals of Big Oil take over. Geroge Bush showed the way.
    This is the first explicit parallel between Apollo 13 and the oil spill I have read. I see no resemblance whatsover, and the response to any drawing a parallel should be a one-liner, not a windy disquisition like this one.
    As someone who once considers Harrison Schmitt a hero, I am disappointed to find he is an heroic idiot, or an idiotic hero, whichever you prefer.

  31. “Indeed, from “day one,” the expertise of the entire U.S. and British drilling and production industry should have been mobilized to combat this spill, with a single experienced engineering manager in charge. It still is not too late to start doing it right.”
    Here’s a bit of sense. I repeat as I have before that I am amazed at some of the stuff BP has been doing to try and stop the spill such as throwing rocks and MUD at it. They dont seem to have a clue! I am also amazed that America has been unable to come up with the engineeering competence to stop it.
    If they put me in charge I would do it. This requires a bit of management and engineering skill. Fancy words wont do it. Obama, I’m afraid you cant!

  32. As a sometime peripheral offshore oil worker, I say that this post hits the nail right on the head.

  33. All adverse consequences aside, I cannot but be impressed by the sheer volume of oil that this damaged well is putting out. Estimates as high as 25,000bopd have been published: that’s over 9 million barrels a year. Under any other circumstances this well would have been a very good producer, a fact that must be particularly galling for the unfortunate engineers at BP. Oh for a 25,000bopd discovery in my protfolio!
    And yes, of course put the government back in its box and leave the technical stuff to the experts! I don’t mind Barack Obama myself, but I would no more want him seizing the controls of my 747 just because the pilot had had a heart attack, or grabbing the scalpel just because the surgeon had inadvertantly cut an artery.

  34. Spot on!
    We have a Federal Government with no competence in the field claiming to be in charge, and mostly just preventing those with competence from taking needed actions quickly. Just nuts.
    BTW, from what I’ve seen of the details, BP has been less than stellar in their trade off of risk vs ‘cheapness’… So now the Feds have put a 6 month (or so was proposed) moratorium on offshore drilling. That breaks all the contracts, not just BP.
    So, if I’ve got a rig under lease and expect to get $1/4 Million a DAY for it, and the contract is broken… how long do you think it will take me to start shopping it around to Brazil or Saudi? And once that rig is under a new contract in another country, it will be there for a few years.
    That “6 month pause” is guaranteeing a much higher dependency on OPEC oil for about 1/2 decade. (The lost capacity is about 1/2 of the growth of all non-OPEC capacity. Yeah, it’s big…)
    They ought to have left the guys who’ve been doing things right in peace, and told BP to clean up then get out, and come back after they did a thorough post mortem and lessons learned.
    IMHO, you want this thing fixed? Hand it over to Exxon, Standard Oil, Petrobras, Transocean, maybe even Diamond Offshore and tell them they have a free hand.

  35. The world needs oil, has done ever since the discovery was made that by burning it, you could power things. And there’s still plenty to be had. That being the case, you would think that should any mishap occur in it’s recovery, every assistance would be offered by the state to those involved to recover the situation. Why is Obama hell bent on apportioning blame, and destroying a company which is only trying to do its job?
    Accidents happen, they always have, they always will, particularly where human beings are involved. Sympathy and unfettered assistance should be the order of the day, not punishment and prosecution. Foolish, foolish people. Obama is like a fish out of water, I hope for all our sakes that the US are rid of him at the earliest possible opportunity. Maybe the next president will be a REAL American…

  36. RACookPE1978 says: “Posted also at http://www.freerepublic.com
    Um, which story did you want to share with us? Or do you recommend all of them? 🙂
    @RACookPE1978: June 1, 2010 at 10:50 pm
    i.e. You don’t think they stand a chance either. I have to admit, when I first heard this story about a month ago, I didn’t know they were that deep. I thought it was 500, not 5,000 feet! As the weeks passed, though, and the story continued I figured something had to be up. Or down, I suppose…

  37. Deepwater oil is a significant source of domestic petroleum…I don’t see any ban lasting very long http://www.eia.doe.gov/oog/info/twip/twiparch/100526/twipprint.html
    That said, this tragic accident was caused by compounding human error allowed by complacency. Hopefully the lessons learned here will prevent future possibly larger accidents and those 11 will not have died in vain.
    The dweebs in DC had no idea the seriousness of this event and didn’t care until the political fallout appeared. Their actions so far show that they are more concerned about fixing the blame elsewhere than coming up with solutions.

  38. Well, what can one possibly say after that piece of sane, calm, considered, thoughful & thought-proviking prose! Harrison Schmidt for President of the United States of America I say, but if he doesn’t want the job, get someone like him to do it!
    As to a country being run by a government who have never run anything up to & including a school tuck shop, get used to it, we’ve had 13 years of it & we’re getting another 5 years of being run by inherited millionaires/ex-bankers/blood-sucking lawyers, all about to make themselves even wealthier at the taxpayers’ expense! Offence intended! They’ll certainly put the “Grate” back into Britain (& no that wasn’t a typo).

  39. Interesting how the cries from the US Government for BP to pay for all & compensation too, compared to its response following Union Carbide’s Bhopal disaster.
    It’s unfortunate how politicians use incidents such as these to grandstand and promote themselves, rather than devoting as much energy to trying to solve the problems.

  40. What surprises me is that, with the seemingly valid credentials as the top oil experts in the world, no-one has come up with a better plan than those involved in this terrible problem. I suspect there may be a “there but for the grace of God go I” involved & I suspect that when the truth comes out and all the jingoism of keeping “foreign” companies” out has been conveniently forgotten the industry will be even safer and more secure. America’s thirst for oil drives companies ever more close the extremes and journalistic thirst for news – preferably with death, destruction & someone else’s mayhem – enflames those who sit and watch the news from the comfort of their couch in Maida Vale or Bloomsburg.
    From the sidelines, and a Brit whose Dad lived and worked for Shell Oil in Wyoming in the ’50s I remember him telling me that accidents happen – even in the most ordered of industries. The slick will dissipate and things will return to normal. The fishermaen will fish again and the “swallows will return to Capistrano.”
    Unfortunatly and as usual snake lawyers will be feeding off the flesh of other’s misfortunes and grabbing a quick buck from big oil.

  41. Thanks to Dr Schmitt for an incisive and balanced analysis of the Gulf oil spill. The rigorous decision-making technique NASA used at the time of Apollo 13, and still uses today is the Kepner-Tregoe decision-making method framework.
    http://www.decision-making-confidence.com/kepner-tregoe-decision-making.html
    Its rigorous application produced a plan for getting the astronauts back safely, and also for fixing the problems that led to the Apollo capsule fire.
    Kepner-Tregoe analyses and evaluates all factors involved in a decision-making process, “gut-reacti0n” and emotion are eliminated. I’ve used it as part of a team (that’s essential) making unbiased decisions about expenditure on expensive equipment, viability of projects, and problem-solving. Put simply, it works.
    In effect, the method introduces an in-built “Team B” approach, where no statement, attitude or statistic is allowed unchallenged. It can produce surprising results, for example that a “do nothing” decision is the cheapest and least damaging outcome. On occasion, because of its impartiality, it’ll produce a result that no-one wants or is willing to support, but that’s rare, and a review often reveals an early mistake.
    IMHO it would be a valuable tool to apply to the Gulf spill, for scientists, and also for policy-makers in evaluating responses to current or pending disasters (perceived or otherwise).

  42. Benjamin says:
    June 2, 2010 at 12:42 am
    RACookPE1978 says: “Posted also at http://www.freerepublic.com
    Um, which story did you want to share with us? Or do you recommend all of them? 🙂
    —…—…
    Lettuce hope there is no confusion. 8<) This story was posted at http://www.FreeRepublic.com for those 125,000 odd daily readers over there to read it.
    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2525803/posts
    Now, if anyone over here wants to read the hundreds of threads and analysis columns going on over there, please feel free.

  43. “previously established sea surface burn-off …procedures”: yes, I had wondered why they hadn’t tried “Greek Fire”: maybe it’s because BP is so anti-CO2?
    Otherwise, what is there to say? Obama makes it three-duds-in-a-row as President.

  44. It’s disgusting that the media give Obama a “pass” on this issue, like they have on every issue. They demonized Bush for Katrina, yet Obama is rarely mentioned. The only
    time I see him on the news connected to this catastrophe they have him behind a podium
    pointing his finger and claiming he’s very upset. Stop with the drama and do something effective. He’s an inexperienced joke of a president. It’s sad the main stream media are too afraid to expose this fraud.

  45. Why do the Greens bewail the oil leak? Are not all life forms equally valuable? Can they not see that something organic and unprocessed has been released from the breast of Gaia to feed her oldest and greatest child, by mass, Bacteria?

  46. What we are witnessing is the result of years of astonishing complacency from successive governments around the world that transport or drill for oil in the oceans. Every few years we have a major oil spill of some kind and yet we still have no proper response to such spills. Why? Would it not be possible to force the various oil companies and oil shipping companies to pay into an international fund to ensure that we have an ample supply of dispersants, booms and other equipment at the ready to ensure that any oil spill can at least be contained and dispersed quickly, rather than pointing the finger of blame for such incidents at the particular culprit at the time when the reality is that ALL oil companies are simply on borrowed time before they are responsible for the next accident.
    The Deepwater Horizon disaster not only exposes the dangers of years of complacency in the face of multiple previous oil spills, but exposes the danger of drilling in deep water. This was an accident just waiting to happen. Hurricanes or ground subsidence could equally have caused the pipeline to rupture – it happens that so far the blame has been put on a faulty blow-out device on the rig operated by Transocean, although the latest information suggests that the cementing of the well-head by Halliburton may be the cause of failure. The fact is there is no “Plan B” for any of these deepwater pipeline failures.
    Blaming BP at this moment in time is not helpful. It seems that BP is doing everything it can to try and resolve this problem. But it may need more than BP can provide. It is not even clear just how much BP is to blame on a rig operated by Transocean and with a well-head constructed by Halliburton, at least in terms of the mechanics. BP is simply the “least American” part of the whole process, and therefore the least connected to American politicians and consequently the easiest to blame, particularly when it comes to the law as leaseholder. From what I have been reading nobody was really to blame as such for the disaster – Mother Nature just pulled a stunt to show how powerful she is and blew so much gas back up the well-head with such force that no existing safety mechanisms could cope. A huge bubble of gas and water engulfed the entire rig and exploded. Now we have the problem that the oil is being forced out of the well at such pressure that only a properly constructed method to cap the well can prevent the oil reaching the surface. And since that “Plan B” had never been thought-out before, the solution could take months, even years to stop the oil from flowing – especially if it is left to BP alone to resolve the problem.
    What the US needs right now is a proper president that can take control of the situation, get a method of capping the well designed and get it built in double-quick time. It doesn’t need to be engineered – it needs to be over-engineered. This should be run like a military operation, with every resource that the US can apply utilised. It doesn’t need Obama to be competent in well capping, it just needs him to be focussed on the right things to manage this situation. But it seems to me the only focus that Obama has ever worried about is the focus of the camera that’s pointing at his pretty face.

  47. Well Said Mr Schmitt!
    I’m appalled the US government dosn’t seem to be doing its job which should be gathering resources to mitigate the damage and enabling the engineers to work the problem. I think leaning on BP is a mistake becasue its forcing BP to use its own internal resources which are basically experts in oil wells but not experts in that environment. The Government could have flown in or organised a few marine engineers to look at the problem from a different direction and consult.
    I recall from John Cravens memoirs he wrote of a similar experience in the 70’s (much shallower water) where the oil engineers saw a well and oilfield that had to be capped and he and other marine engineers saw it as a liquid segregation issue (they wound up just staking out several hundred square yards of seabed with non-permeable fabric with a tap in the middle and just captured the leaking il and pumped it into a tanker)

  48. May the green-red alliance die off once and for all so we can get back to a world of progress, liberty and scientific endeavor.

  49. I wasn’t aware our government has had any response, nor anything constructive to offer. It is insulting for this administration to compare this spill to Apollo 13. It is too late to save the crew of the rig.

  50. I’d say this administration in particular and our government in general is the problem with this Gulf Oil Gusher (it isn’t a “spill” and it certainly is bigger than a “leak”). Perhaps the reason they’re stirring up the jurisprudence pot is to divert attention from themselves; a good offense is the best defense. As far as leadership ability, I’m seriously skeptical the top people in the administration have any inkling of what to do about this whole mess. They’re Chicago Pols, for crying out loud! Note how they’re willing to take credit when it appears a solution is at hand, but distance themselves from the whole mess when one isn’t.

  51. Wow, good post and comments.
    If BP is being sued now, instead of letting the company continue with never before tried plans to stop the leak, why should they?
    They know a lawsuit is inevitable for their unsupervised decisions to save money by rushing and changing to cheaper products for drilling.
    From day one, an area containment plan should be in place that would contain the area and concentrate the oil by lowering area containment pipes that stack(8′,10′). And drive guide wires into the rock for stablization for the long stack it would become. That amount of psi at that depth is unfeasible to expect a quick fix.

  52. That is a mighty fine article… It is correct and pretty much covers everything I think on the subject….. Especially the part where he says Oil companies are being forced to drill in the most technological and difficult areas where the Eco fascists have driven them to…. and hope they fail….
    Well I hope this failure illustrates just how idiotic and dangerous is the repressive regulation derived from the mindset of what are essentially ecological Luddites.

  53. I had the good fortune some years ago to meet and listen to Harrison Schmitt talk at a Mars Society meeting at Sydney University. While at the time I was most interested in his input on joint design of gas pressurized space suits, I do recall his comments regarding returning to the Moon. Sen. Schmitt expressed the view that mining the lunar regolith for Helium 3 was ample reason for continuing exploration of the Moon. Harrison Schmitt believes H3 offers the promise of clean and affordable fusion power. President Obama on the other hand feels that gutting the US space program and leaving the Moon to India and China is a fabulous idea. I would trust Harrison Schmitt over the teleprompter reader in chief any day.

  54. Dena says: June 1, 2010 at 9:20 pm
    The concept is that our leaders can go to school and learn how to lead. The problem with that idea is to be able to lead you must be able to deal with the unexpected and the unknown. This is not learned in school but is instead learned by dealing with it every day.
    When we stop looking for leaders with advanced degrees and start looking for people who who work with their hands and heads we will regain our former glory

    And they say “there in lies the rub”.
    A former very large offshore incident was investigated and found the that the main cause was this very ideologue

  55. Why were they drilling for oil in such adverse circumstances to begin with, when there are lots of known reserves and sources in less unforgiving environments? Oh, I forgot. The Democrats have put those sources off limits. ANWR, oil shale, off-shore. No, these are taken out of play, to satisfy the environmental movement. So that pushes development into harsher environments, where the risk of catastrophic failure rises catastrophically. Then, when the risk plays out, even that gets taken out of play. The environmental movement will not be satisfied until all oil exploration and development is taken out of play.
    Ron Cram says:
    June 1, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    The current administration does not get cut any slack on this, because it stands squarely for the proposition that the government is capable of solving all problems, whereas free enterprise is simply the source of numerous public and social ills. Moreover, it is fair turnabout and karma for all the flack Bush got over Katrina. I agree there may not be much that the .gov can do here, but they still own this disaster because of their arrogance and hubris.
    E.M.Smith says:
    June 2, 2010 at 12:35 am

    IMHO, you want this thing fixed? Hand it over to Exxon, Standard Oil, Petrobras, Transocean, maybe even Diamond Offshore and tell them they have a free hand.

    Best idea yet. Plus drilling to suck the reservoir dry to relieve the pressure. To make this more politically acceptable, dedicate the $$$ from all the oil that will be produced draining the sucker dry to state coffers for cleanup. Keep the money out of the fed.gov’s hands, as they will just use it for something unworthy.

  56. My crazy solution is to lower a pipe of sufficient diameter to reduce the pressure to a manageable pressure at the surface, with an inverted “U” end that spills directly into a tanker (think aerator pipe in a fish tank). Stock overland oil pipe could probably be used if the diameter was large enough.
    A drill rig platform could assemble it length by length as it lowered it . If the weight is too great, buoyancy tanks can be attached and lowered with it. There is no need for a tight joint where it goes over the casing spewing oil, pressure is equalized to seabed pressure of 2500psi by the size of the pipe.
    I still pump water from a 180 foot “dry” well that the experts said was impossible 30 years ago, with just two unequal pipes in the bore.

  57. I suppose the real tradgedy is that an excellent and objective scientific forum such as this is being transformed into a political campaigning site with all the political biase and baggage such a change includes.

  58. The administration’s threats of criminal prosecution cannot possibly help the situation. Place yourself in the position of a senior engineer trying to stop an ongoing disaster while a lawyer is going through your personal documents and e-mails trying to find something to screw you with. Not exactly conducive to clear and rational thought.

  59. Anthony, I think this is a wonderful site, and I read it daily. I have learned huge amounts about climate science, physics and more from the site, and I thank you for that.
    Something I appreciate about this site is that you stay away from politics – until recently. Harrison Schmitt is clearly a great man, and much of what he says in this article is right on the money. But when he launches into a clearly partisan attack on Obama such as “President Obama has shown repeatedly that the best interests of the American people are a lower priority than his ideological goal of changing America from what it has been, to some mystical, socialist utopia with a renewable-energy-based standard of living equivalent to that of the late 1800s”, then to my mind he loses credibility, and your site suffers as a result.
    This essay encompasses a very important topic, and covers it mostly very well, but when you allow politics into it, you open yourself to much criticism and consequent undermining of your otherwise excellent science. The best arguments against CAGW come from science, not politics.
    MalcolmR

  60. Anyone know where to get info on the proposed sand barriers? The creation of “hard barriers” can do more harm than good. Wave energy “reflects” off of barriers – maintaining significant power to create enhanced erosion- (as can the modification of natural currents.)
    My concern has been the political need to be seen as doing something- anything. Burning, skimming, booms and dispersants all have important roles. However more aggressive techniques that include invasive wetland cleanup techniques and possibly barriers can do more harm than the oil- we need to remember that.

  61. I think in both arenas, private and public, there are incentives, or maybe blinders, about your job that can hit you in the butt when things go wrong. Both kinds of industries are not prepared to handle things when things go wrong (who is?) and so a certain amount of shell shock sets in before things can get fixed. Maybe it is because of the overt effort to build a “can do” attitude, and especially so when risks are high, as is the case for both NASA and off-shore deep water drilling. Then when accidents do happen, regardless of the cause, a scramble of starts and stops commences. If the thing gets fixed, those involved tend to look back on it as a successful end to a tragic accident and backfill their memories with all kinds of positive feelings. It is human nature to do so.
    I think that the main difference between the two response events is that the early try and try again response to A13 was not trotted out on prime time. We were not privy to any of the false starts, wrangling and shouting that went on, and I am sure it did. To paint NASA’s response to its tragedy as a smooth running string of responses may be wishful thinking.
    Might this editorial have been made because it brings up a difficult time that someone tried to connect to the present? People don’t like their memories connected up like that. It is as if someone is trying to steal something from them.

  62. If they have now cut off the bent pipe could a smaller pipe be slid some way down inside the main and used to pump mud?
    Rather than trying to fight the entire force of the leak you would just need to overcome the pressure in the smaller pipe initially.

  63. Thank you, Dr. Schmitt, for your thoughts, and you are correct; there is a fundamental difference between Apollo 13 and the current oil spill. The difference is that between engineers and politicians. Engineers are solution oriented. Politicians are power oriented. We are all so programed by school, media and popular culture that it is difficult to understand that high level politicians do not make decisions based on a desire to resolve a problem or to even to do good for their fellow citizens. National politicians — and in a similar way, corporate CEOs — are motivated to gain power. Period. They do this by punishing those who deny them power and by rewarding those who facilitate their power. (“You’re doing a heck of a job, Brownie!”)
    No one is surprised when they see a report of an Olympic contender who gets up at 4:00am and practices for three hours before sunrise, who only eats foods that will help him create muscle, who spends every available moment working to win in his sport. We expect that from Olymic sportsmen, and that is what it takes to compete at that level. Why on earth should we be surprised to find that politicians and CEOs who have risen to the political equivalent of the Olympics, see the world in any other way than as part of their rise to power? They are extraordinarily good at appearing to care, at saying that they can make things better, at convincing you that they will be good for you — but winning approval is the actual sport that they are competing at!
    The current oil spill recovery attempts are being managed by people whose primary skill is in gaining your trust. That is the only real requirement for being hired in their job. Don’t expect solutions to real world problems from them. Solutions are not part of their skill set. Expect to see awards and commendations for those who help consolidate power, punishment for those who do not. Stopping the oil spill and cleaning up will have no effect on who gets raises and promotions.
    On a related note, see this video on using bacteria for bioremediation.

  64. Well let’s face it; Harrison Schmitt, Gene Kranz, Jim Lovell etc etc, all of those leaders in the Apollo era; getting men to the Moon and back with on board computers with the power of a Blackberry–maybe, were men of character and valor. The Barry O. crew are incompetent muppets — or worse. God help us.

  65. RACookPE1978
    Great post on the forces involved. Had the blow-out preventer not partially worked, the flow would have most likely been on the order of 50-70,000 bpd.
    As has been pointed out, 10% of the drill string consists of thick-walled joints, joints that have to support about 1-6,000 tons (the weight of the drill string + drilling mud). This is the probable cause of the failure of the BOP. The shears couldn’t force shut through the joint and the pressure within the joint.
    Clearly there needs to be a testing environment for such conditions. I’m not even sure the US Navy or it’s contractors has a means to test equipment to these pressures. I’m willing to bet that the Oil Industry will fund development of a testing facility now. I’m equally sure that no such proposal will come from the mouths of any of the politicians, unless they think they can make some points.
    It’s not an accident that for 20 years the industry has worked deeper into the Gulf with a great safety record, even during massive hurricanes. I’ll refrain from commenting on BP, as it’s an amalgam of multiple companies, and it would be unfair to tar all employees of BP with the same brush. They are definitely not all culpable in this disaster. One can’t say that about the management.
    Just my contribution FWIW.

  66. An interesting insight and a thorough analysis of technical and political issues. Thanks to Dr. Schmitt for this interesting article.

  67. Yes, it is a good article. And it is right that responsibility “ultimately lies with the chaotic regulatory environment for petroleum exploration.” And, government will always screw things up. This is not different than the financial crisis – responsibility ultimately lies with government there too.
    As far as Obama doing something, Steve Sailer said it best, IMHO. In answer to what Obama should do about the oil spill, he said in his blog “Personally, I think he should put on fins, a diving mask, and a snorkel and swim out and see if he can fix it.” Come on, people, is there anyone who has more knowledge about how to go about “fixing it” than BP? Think about it – isn’t it obvious that BP wants it “fixed”?
    Comments here run all the way from idiotic to thoughtful. From “dropping boulders on it” to the description of the problem by RACookPE1978 who gave us a good idea about the difficulty of the problem.
    There are questions that need to be asked. Should we be drilling in 5000 feet of water? (That seems to be the obvious one, at least.) This has the possibility of being a real game-changer, doesn’t it? We can be mad as hell and demand that our politicians play the blame game – they are, at least, really good at that – but are we really going back to business as usual after this?

  68. Thanks, Anthony.
    Dr. Schmitt’s analogy to Apollo 204 is right on the money. He nails the science, engineering and politics of the Macondo blowout & spill better than any one else has so far.

  69. I predict our delay in space will be temporary.
    I worked on Apollo, specifically the ALSEP program and specifically the CPLEE experiment package. Met several astronauts and did some testing at the Houston Crystal Lake facility. It was the experience of a lifetime. There is nothing that compares.
    Space will be back in America’s history, before you know it.

  70. THE SOLUTION BY THE “ABSURD”:
    When we do not find any possible solution to solve a particular problem, it comes in our help the “solution by the absurd”.
    Let´s see it:
    Problem: BP tried to put a box on the oil spill, in order to pump the oil up but it got filled with ice.
    Solution: Fill it on purpose, with something pumpable, like rubber balls for example.

  71. ******
    President Obama has shown repeatedly that the best interests of the American people are a lower priority than his ideological goal of changing America from what it has been, to some mystical, socialist utopia with a renewable-energy-based standard of living equivalent to that of the late 1800s.
    ******
    Exactly. And one could presume that actually solving the problem isn’t the real goal — exploiting it and using it as a political club is the real game. Can’t let these incidences go to waste, as one of the Obamanator’s closest advisers said.

  72. What kind of force is required to crimp the main pipe leak which is only 20″ in diameter? And why is it not being done?
    This reflects badly on Omana more than BP, as has been pointed out the engineering might of the US should be able to overcome this scenario quickly even thought the pipe is one mile below sea level. The world we know today would be still be living in caves today if it were not for the discovery of oil and other massive engineering developments. Now more than ever we need leaders who will buckle down and take serious steps to fix the immediate problem and insist that the show must go on, even better and safer than before. This is not a time for back tracking and cowardice. Obama has shown he has no steel.

  73. My understanding is that underwater welding is a mature technology but I am a civil engineer and concrete and soil are my medium so . .
    Put a tube with an open valve at the top snugly onto the BOP. By that I mean a tube that has an ID such that it can be pushed down onto the BOP neck with the valve open but with a gap that can be closed by welding.
    Weld the tube onto the BOP.
    Close the valve.
    There must be some big problems with doing this or it would have been done and those Petrochemical boys are knowledgeable and clear thinking. But what are those problems?

  74. I beg to differ
    *****
    1. Ron Cram says:
    June 1, 2010 at 10:36 pm
    …………. I would rather see people criticize Obama for his failures rather than for things which are not really his fault.
    *****
    A good leader or even an adequate leader understands the limits of his or her abilities and GETS OUT OF THE WAY when others can do better.
    “He Whose Middle Name Cannot be Spoken” has done nothing but be an impediment. His regeime, i.e. the people appointed by Him and answerable to Him and Him alone, have refused to make decisions that might ameliorate the spill. They have done nothing but pontificate, threaten and stand in the way of people who do know what they are doing.
    It is neither wise nor inspirational to threaten the people you are depending on to solve a crisis. Yet the current regime is bringing both criminal and civil actions against those very people needed to stop the leak.
    “…not really his fault…” I agree that nobody expects the President to know how to fix the leak. But they have every right to expect and it indeed is a requirement of his job that he be a leader. At that he has been a pathetic failure.
    This regime really is a ship of fools!
    By the way, this has been compared to Katrina and President Bush. There is a fundamental difference. This happened in federally controlled waters and all of the regulations put the Federal Government in control, even to the point of making yes/no decisions on building berms offshore of the beaches. On the other hand, Katrina happened in areas controlled by state authorities. By law, the STATE GOVERNORS AND MAYORS ARE IN CHARGE for hurricane post-disaster management. It was required by federal regulations that President Bush was limited to supporting the state and local officials. President Bush’s failure was a failure to recognize that Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco were grossly, tragically incompetent.
    Regards,
    Steamboat Jack (Jon Jewett’s evil twin)

  75. Very well done ,very well said
    I raise cattle and get to visit with ranchers who suffered from the Al Gore mentality of how to manage the western grazing lands from the day Bill Clinton took offiice as President. Competent people were fired or retired and replaced by people with a wildlife agenda. You can agrue that this is goverments choice but these people have proved they have neither the training or skills to improve lands for wildlife. It has been another agenda driven goverment program that has failed and put hard working people out of work for litttle benefit.
    Al Gore who wants to save the world from global warming showed how incopentent he is by the way he changed the management of the resources in the goverment owned land in the western United States.

  76. Dr Schmitt nailed it, decades of bad government promoting bad science, has resulted in regulation and legislation that harm rather than favor the US. Some people blame environmentalists but they have no power without willing legislators and judges.

  77. Very good article-Pass it on to your congresscritters, as they need to read this.
    (Mine will anyway.)

  78. Outstanding article by Dr. Schmitt; in all respects.
    In some ways this excerpt sums it up best:
    ”The President, without any experience in real-world management of anything, much less a crisis, has no idea how to deal with a situation as technically complex as the Gulf oil spill.”
    The current President and his team are out of their depth, out of the league, and (finally, perhaps) the ”teflon” is wearing a little thin.
    And I’m with Jim in prior comment, where he said this piece should be in the WSJ. And prominent in other MSM outlets. FRONT PAGE.

  79. Dr. Schmitt makes some very valid points, although I think he also strays without foundation in trying to tie any failure to contain the leak to any supposed extremist Obama socialist agenda.
    In fact, the logical conclusion to Dr. Schmitt’s post is in direct contradiction to where he winds up. He initially argues that there is “no single, competent, courageous and knowledgeable leader in charge of a comparably competent, courageous and knowledgeable team as we had with Apollo 13.”
    The obvious conclusion to this statement is that we need a technology leader and team in connection with oil drilling and disaster response, particularly with deep water drilling. This implies more government regulation, and a huge new government agency. BP was left with the responsibility for cleaning up their own mess, and at least initially Dr. Schmitt implies that the failure was in allowing a private enterprise to do so without leadership.
    Imagine if the solution to Apollo 13’s crisis was to go back to the air filter manufacturer and just leave it to them to solve the problem. Or imagine the chaos if the solution was to ask all original bidders on the air filter system to get together to form a “team” to solve the problem in the private sector.
    Dr. Schmitt then goes on to say:

    Responsibility for the Deepwater Horizon accident ultimately lies with the chaotic regulatory environment for petroleum exploration created over recent decades by the Congress, courts, Department of the Interior and environmental pressure groups. Will we learn anything about regulatory overkill from this tragic loss of eleven lives, extensive environmental damage, and disruption of business and employment in the Gulf?

    So which is it… too much regulation, or not enough? When was the well first drilled, when “BP installed a defective blowout preventer and did not have a deep-water, robotically emplaced crimping technique as a backup to the blowout preventer” as Dr. Schmitt says? During this administration, under a regulatory environment only recently instituted by President Obama?
    Is lack of competent regulation of the oil industry traced to the beginning of the Obama administration, or instead to some previous administration with ties to and a love for the oil industry that are without precedent? Is it really a question of party or administration, or more a question of overall government approach and regulation spanning many decades (i.e. back into the nineties)?
    I find it humorous that while the problem is caused by a huge oil corporation which flouted existing regulations, the blame is put onto “regulatory overkill” by a single administration with an exaggerated ideology, and with an implied end-result argument for more of a free hand for oil companies.
    So is the problem that Obama is incompetent, or is this just a convenient forum to spout one’s political beliefs, and twist things to make “the other side” look wrong, and then to argue for more freedom and profits for oil companies? The myopic-to-the-point-of-absurdity points of view expressed on this site never cease to amaze me.

  80. Is anyone getting the message?
    ““Indeed, from “day one,” the expertise of the entire U.S. and British drilling and production industry should have been mobilized to combat this spill, with a single experienced ENGINEERING MANAGER in charge. It still is not too late to start doing it right.”
    In fact the ENGINEERING SKILLS from other industries, such as space, construction and manufacturing should also have been mobilised.
    And what does Obama do? Give a speech comparing it to the Apollo 13 disaster and start a criminal complaint. As though the law courts and the judges will solve the spill. He has failed your country in its hours of crisis.
    Obama – I’m afraid – NO YOU CAN’T

  81. peterdek says:
    Of course centrifuges exists, to separate oil from water, but Post Normal Scientists, not having ever seen real life, real applied science, gotto build a virtual model instead, where oil spill is caused by GLOBAL WARMING!

  82. Corky Boyd said:
    “I can’t believe President Obama has his administration working on criminal charges”
    Clearly this is “pour encourager les autres”.

  83. To blame the President for the oil spill is a nonsense to blame him and the politicians for a lack of political will in dealing expeditiously with the disaster is fair enough.
    It seems absurd to me that there was nothing in place to deal with this eventuality no equpiment on station or method for instantly shutting off the drill hole no containment vessel dumbell or other.
    It would be good if some light could be thrown on this by specialists in the field who read this blog?
    Finally I have the pleasure of living in rip off Britain where one of the main culprits is BP, as an example I litre of petrol on the street £1.19 p a litre at a BP service station £1.28 p a litre? What do they do with all the money obviously not enough is spent on R and D.

  84. From what I have read, this is another example of the detrimental effects of centralizing command and control. When it comes to safety and preventing tragic accidents, instant decisions must be made at the operator level and should not require the approval of higher command. Our biggest mistake is centralizing safety decisions in political organizations.

  85. AGWrs. must be praying to their Goddess Gaia, through the intercession of Saint Al Baby, the supreme and holy bedwetter, that the spill does not stop so they could blame fossil fuels and condemn them FOR EVER.

  86. Jim says:
    June 1, 2010 at 9:49 pm
    Yow. That’s a barnburner. That needs to be in the WSJ.

    Well put!
    President Obama’s biggest error here, IMHO, has been to “take responsibility” for the spill. His job is to make sure that those who are responsible (BP and hence its suppliers) do their job, and to prepare a contingency plan for what happens after BP uses up all its net worth in costs and potential damages.
    As Sen. Schmidt points out, only the oil industry has the knowhow and equipment to fix this leak. Obama should be conferring with the other big companies to line up a followup strategy after BP goes broke.

  87. ” ….. I agree with Dr. Schmitt: Everything done since day 1 seems to have the effect of prolonging the disaster.
    The Daily Dilly-Dally in the Gulf.”
    x2 on the slow motion train wreck.

  88. Once again the Conservatives can’t make up their mind whether they want a take-charge government or a get-out-of the-way government. It must be funny not knowing what your ideology actually is. It seems to consist of nothing more than hating Obama apparently just for not being Bush. It’s certainly not for anything Obama has done because he’s so far only carried on exactly on the same debt-based, war-mongering, Wall-street-owned path started by his predecessor. His so-called “socialist” health plan consists only of a cash grab by big pharma which real socialists hate more than anyone else.
    As for this reds-under-the bed delusion that you seem to suffer from. Get real!, the only socialist in American politics is Ralph Nader and you’ll find he talks more sense than all the Republicrat crony-capitalists put together. Socialism, as bad as it can be, would actually even be an improvement over the reverse-socialism that exists now – where all taxes get sucked up the hill to pay for Wall Streets gambing addiction.
    Only 2 comments on here are of any use: Cook and Briggs, because they left politics alone. As for Harrison Schmidt – anyone who thinks too much regulation or environmentalists or Obama can be blamed here, is seriously deluded. If the Heartland conference was full of BS artists like this then no wonder it makes no impact.
    I dearly try to believe that you guys are interested in actual truths but mostly you let me down. Truth isn’t the guiding notion here – tax-avoidance is! I’m gone and any other non-wingnuts should follow.

  89. gcb,
    Good grief, nobody ever looks at historical information and thus they continually repeat the prior mistakes.

  90. Sphaerica says:
    “So is the problem that Obama is incompetent…”
    Stop right there, we have a winner!!
    Obama couldn’t be bothered to cut short his 11 day golfing vacation to show some leadership in this environmental calamity. Even James Carville was exasperated at Obama’s lackadaisical lack of concern. But now that the heat is on, Obama is playing the blame game full tilt. So yes, Obama is incompetent.
    Eighteen months ago Obama had no governing experience, no military experience, no foreign policy experience, no economic experience, no business experience, no medical experience, no foreign trade experience, and no energy experience. He does, however, have access to the best minds on the planet.
    But rather than learn, or seek out expert help, he continues to surround himself with corrupt politicians, and takes their advice to blame the evil oil companies while ignoring the fact that his Administration hand-waved safety concerns aside and allowed BP to drill this well. Now, rather than insist on safety being the primary concern, Obama has arbitrarily shut down all drilling in his usual effort to hobble the U.S. economy at every possible opportunity.
    So yes, to answer your question, Obama is incompetent; an inexperienced young buffoon who failed upwards every step of the way. He is the problem, not the solution.

  91. First off its hands up time…I am from the UK but I would ask which U.S. President from the past would have had any expertise of oilfield work? PLEASE do not say Bush!
    Jackie says:
    June 2, 2010 at 6:17 am
    “What kind of force is required to crimp the main pipe leak which is only 20″ in diameter? And why is it not being done? ”
    Jackie, usually pipeline in shallow waters is “schedule 40” though the depth they are working at may require a larger wall thickness but crimping the usual pipe is hampered by, to what I have read, the drill pipe inside it. Now that pipe is “Heavy Weight Drill Pipe (HWDP)
    You can find the specs on HWDP here
    http://www.drillpipe.us/drill_pipe_data.htm
    By the way, BP did not install the blowout preventer, Horizon did and Halliburton did the cement work. What I am reading now is there were complaints about the blowout protector before it was installed (BP’s responsibility for not ensuring it met specs) and that there was a “discussion” between the rig engineers (the real down hole people) and a B.P. Engineer not long before the blowout. The B.P. guy was insisting the drilling mud (Mud controls the well pressures) be removed and that seawater flushing should take place. After objections from Horizon the B.P. guy is alleged to have said “That’s how it’s gonna be”!!
    That is an arrogant attitude I have come across many time in the oilfieds, mainly from people I would not trust to lock a car door!
    Hours later the gas bubble erupted!
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article7140776.ece

  92. A well-written slap in the face. Hopefully a country wakes up before the disaster spreads too far. Why was the EPA so concerned with labelling CO2 a pollutant when there was no mandate to ensure safe off-shore drilling? The oil companies are responsible for developing technology, the Government is responsible for setting policy. No policy, no technology. Disaster.

  93. BTW, returning to Apollo 13 oxygen tank explosion. Which was the cause of it?.
    What was the cause of the more recent Air France Airbus accident? , a plane built like a flying capacitor: aluminum inside and outside and a dielectric composite in the middle.?
    An electric discharge in both cases?

  94. Dr. Schmidt has written an authoritative and precise commentary on the situation in which we find ourselves. The lawyers will never hold the responsible parties liable; these include all of the environmental organizations and all of the feckless members of Congress. We have no energy policy. We have no persons in positions of authority able to do simple mathematics. Add up the number of persons in the United States. Compute an average energy use per person. That budget cannot be met by wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, or any other “ecologically friendly” method.
    Ask the following about any energy source: how many acres are required per million BTU per year? How much water is required per million BTU per year? What chemicals are released into the atmosphere per million BTU per year (think construction of solar panels)? What ecological destruction (think birds for wind power, sea life for sea power) will ensue?
    We have a safe nuclear reactor, patiently performing hydrogen fusion, about 150,000,000 Km away. Use it. Orbit giant solar reflectors, generate microwaves, and beam them to microwave farms. Do not bother with orbiting rockets; get busy on extruding bucky tube cables and build a skyhook. Arthur Clarke told us about this three generations ago! Or more than one. Or build an accelerator belt (Lofstrom Loop).
    Forget about ethanol from corn. Use invasive plants like kudzu, Virginia Creeper, and others, which grow even where they are not wanted. One hydrocarbon chain is as good as another when it comes to storing solar energy. This can hurt only one party, ADM.
    Forget about this nuclear waste nonsense. Pursue with haste the development of optical computing devices, which will be far more resistant to radioactivity than silicon chip based computers. We need robots to do the separation work; nuclear radio isotopes are only waste when we have not found a use for them yet. And they cannot be put to use until they are separated out. And they are HOT.
    Build new fluidized bed reactors. Upgrade the current power grid. Press forward with all of the superconductor work, being carried out around the world. Invent layered cable which can decrease the energy loss incurred in transmission (it cannot be eliminated, but we can probably cut it down a lot).
    Use all that superconductor technology to build more efficient turbines, which can change coal heat into electricity. Again, entropy will keep us from using all of the energy, but I am certain that many improvements remain to be made. Waste heat is like nuclear waste: it is only waste heat when it is not put to use.
    Community Organizers organize communities. Leaders lead. There is an unsubtle distinction between the two. The Organizer can always walk away. The Leader cannot.

  95. Smokey says:
    June 2, 2010 at 7:28 am

    …he [Obama] continues to surround himself with corrupt politicians, and takes their advice to blame the evil oil companies while ignoring the fact that his Administration hand-waved safety concerns aside and allowed BP to drill this well.

    Typical right-wing myopia, seeing what you want to see, and making up the facts to suit your preset view of the world. The platform commenced drilling in February of 2010, within weeks of Obama taking office. Or was he expected to instantly review and reverse every bad Bush administration decision within hours of taking office?
    To be taken seriously, Smokey, you need something beyond a demonstrably ignorant, knee jerk “Obama is the devil” reaction to every problem.
    Deepwater Horizon

  96. Smokey… Apologies, I realize now that it was Feb, 2010, not 2009, so it did fall under Obama’s administration, although I doubt a project as complex as this did not have years of momentum (prior to 2009) behind it.
    Still… this idea that the President of the United States is supposed to quickly, single-handedly undo every appointment, position and direction of the previous administration is ludicrous. Can you imagine the backlash in the current economic climate and the 2009 fuel situation if the U.S. government had refused BP’s request? Don’t you think a lot of this goes back to a political climate where one political party loves shouting “drill, baby, drill” at their rallies?
    I stand by my reaction to your own position… knee jerk “Obama is the devil” positions are not credible.

  97. JamesG says:
    June 2, 2010 at 7:25 am
    Once again the Conservatives can’t make up their mind whether they want a take-charge government or a get-out-of the-way government. It must be funny not knowing what your ideology actually is. . .

    Actually we want both: a government made up of people who know when to take charge, and when to get out of the way, and who are smart enough to know the difference.
    If there are such people in the grossly bloated federal government that has emerged in the decades since World War II, their light is too often hidden under the barrel of obfusticating bureaucracy and political agendas that work only to reward time-servers, rent-seekers, and ambitious statists.
    NASA in the Apollo years was an exception, because it had a mission and was staffed by people who knew how to accomplish it. By the time of the horrific Challenger explosion, the agency had apparently succumbed to the disease of oppressive bureaucracy and misdirection. Today without a JFK to lay out a clear mission, it is floundering, and has to turn to the Russians for rides to the ISS—a perfect metaphor for the confused response to the Gulf gusher.
    /Mr Lynn

  98. gcb says:
    June 2, 2010 at 7:05 am
    How come nobody has been talking about the fact that this has all happened before? A 30,000 barrel per day flow in the Gulf of Mexico was not fully capped for about ten months, and yet the planet recovered…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ixtoc_1

    Bill Mahr recently did raise this question in an interview with a Cousteau scion. Unfortunately, rather than just saying it was a very good question and admitting that he had no information on it, the interviewee ducked the question and talked about the Florida environment instead. And Mahr let him get away with it.
    NBC News did revisit the Exxon Valdez spill last (?) night, but Ixtoc is more on point because of the nature and location of the problem.
    The Wiki site gcb links says that one thing that finally worked in the Ixtoc spill was stuffing iron and steel down the hole. At least these are heavier than rock, and so will counter the extreme pressure caused by the overburden of rock, unlike the ditzy shredded tire and golf ball proposal that has been in the news a lot.
    Schmidt —

    Nothing in the government’s response to the blowout and explosion on the Deepwater Horizon and its aftermath bears any resemblance to the response to the Apollo 13 situation by the National Aeronautic and Space Administration and its Mission Control team at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston.

    And in particular, President Nixon, for all his faults, did not pretend to “take charge” of the situation.

  99. Dr. Schmitt said:
    “If America and freedom are to survive indefinitely, the next Congress must begin to restore sanity and intelligence to national energy policy. Until economically competitive alternatives become fully feasible, fossil fuels will remain the mainstay of our economy. Our dependence on unstable foreign sources of oil has become one of our greatest national security vulnerabilities, and only domestic production can solve it in the next 50 years.”
    ————
    Domestic production isn’t going to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil. Currently, Americans consume about 25% of the total oil produced in the world, but U.S. wells produce only 7% of the total, and our offshore wells alone produce less than 2% of the total. Increasing our reliance on domestic reserves could reduce our dependence on imported oil, but we don’t have sufficient reserves to sustain the reduction.
    U.S. offshore reserves are estimated at 86 billion barrels, which is the equivalent to about 11 years of our consumption. In other words, if we stopped importing foreign oil, and depended entirely on those offshore reserves, the oil would be gone in 11 years and we would be more dependent on foreign oil than ever before.
    Of course we aren’t going to find and consume all the offshore oil that quickly, and we will continue to depend on foreign sources as well as our dwindling land reserves. It would be foolish to not buy foreign oil, since deleting theirs is a better long-term national security strategy than depleting ours.
    Would having the wells in place and capped, but not producing, be a way of assuring the oil would be available in a national emergency? Yes, but oil companies like a return on exploration investment, and there isn’t much return on finding oil if it’s left in the ground. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for the government to buy and store the produced oil, adding to the current amount being held for emergencies, but that would not reduce the American consumer’s dependence on foreign oil.

  100. I fear that the only people who will pay attention are those who are already aware of how incompetent this administration is.
    Even the most incompetent PREVIOUS president knew enough to leave disaster recovery and mitigation to the experts, all he did was put on the yellow boots and wander through Three Mile Island… and he WAS experienced in reactor operations! This current dolt has probably never even pumped his own gas.
    It is beyond ignorant to point fingers at this point. Any fingers. This is when you deal with the problem… leave blame for the future.
    I miss Red Adair. And it’s a sad fact that even in his current state, Red is more competent than The Big Zero.

  101. I take this as a hint we’re supposed to vote for republicans now…
    Like BUSH and the lazy a$$ republicans would have done a better job… Ha Ha Ha
    B rought
    U s
    S evere
    H ardships
    Then we get handed…
    O ne
    B ig
    A $$
    M istake
    A merica
    Thanks, but I’ll think for myself and encourage everyone else to do the same as I travel this big country and observe the weather. You have to get out and see this world, investigate, or your a frog in a well and anybody will tell ya any stupid thing.

  102. I disagree with Mr. Schmitt that failure to stop the well leak is due to incompetence. The US government and BP executives are well aware of the situation so all they can really do is posture for public opinion at this point. The reality is it will be a few months before a permanent fix is in place.
    America, you need the Canadians! We have plenty of oil to sell you. We also have the most experienced, renowned team of oil well emergency experts in the world. One of these professionals, Mike Miller, CEO of Calgary-based Safety Boss, recently spoke with the Canadian press:
    “Mike Miller, CEO of Safety Boss, a company that helps prevent and contain oil well blowouts, called a top kill a “complicated operation” that could build-up pressure at the bottom of the well and split one or more of the other pipes.
    According to Miller, officials will know the measure is working if the mud goes straight into the hole. However, if the mud flows out at the source of the leak, crews will be forced to move to another plan, such as a junk shot, which involves shooting debris into the well to plug the leak. They may also try to place another blowout preventer on top of the one that failed.
    “Nothing that they’re doing has worked before in these kinds of water depths, which is the complicating issue,” Miller told CTV News Channel. “If this well was on land, this would be a two-week issue. But 5,000 feet below the surface is just like working in outer space.”
    As the operation carries on, Louisiana officials and residents are growing impatient with the response to the spill.
    While many hold out hope the method could stop the growing environmental disaster, Miller said the only “sure shot” BP has are the relief wells, which won’t be finished for another two months.”

  103. I humbly suggest applying liquid nitrogen to the pipe upstream of the leak. Its boiling point of 77.36 kelvins is significantly lower than even the melting point of methane (91 K), the most volatile constituent of the spillage. This means that steady application of liquid nitrogen would inexorably chill the pipe to below the freezing point of the petroleum, forming a layer of frozen material on the inner surface of the pipe. This layer, growing, would shrink the available channel area of the flow, thus reducing the flow, until ultimately freezing solid across the pipe. At that point, it would depend on whether the flow pressure would be sufficient to dislodge the frozen plug and eject it.
    I will admit that this process may entail complications (such as the formation of a minor iceberg around the pipe being cooled), but it uses basic physics in as simple a manner as possible.

  104. How many greenpeace ships slurping up spilt oil are there in the Gulf at this moment?

  105. “With no single, competent, courageous and knowledgeable leader in charge of a comparably competent, courageous and knowledgeable team as we had with Apollo 13,…”
    I don’t know what Dr. H. Harrison Schmitt is on about.
    We have our secret weapon……Carol Browner!
    I’m sure she has read “vast portions” of the “contingency
    plan.”

  106. So Paul (June 1, 2010 at 9:35 pm) posed the question:
    <cite="So someone tell me why we can’t just drop large boulders on the site, followed by ever smaller aggregate to fill in the holes? Seems easy to me – boulders sink even to 5000 ft and would diffuse the flow which could then be plugged by the smaller rocks and so on."
    Essentially that was what the Top Kill was all about – pumping mud into the hole to see if they could control pressure via weight, then adding 'Lost Circulation Material' (ground up inert stuff of different buoyancy – like ground up golf balls) to plug the holes in the confined space of the wellbore. Apparently either the flow was too great or the holes too large. Same problem would exist on the subsea surface – only without the confining space. Would only retard the flow because of the pressure differential from the subsurface.

  107. Wow what a load of C%#@P !
    I am 70 years old and started in the oil patch in 1960, what BP is doing is right, if there was some easy fix don’t you think that as they are spending millions of dollars a day the easy fix would have got prime time ? Nothing in this world is duplicated, every micron is different, this blow out is unique, it has never happened before, so methods that have been applied to similar situations must, because of there success be tried first, rocket ship science is for rockets, of all the thousands and yes I repeat thousands of offshore wells drilled in the oceans of the world this is one that has gone wrong, and it is not the fault of BP !!
    BP is the operator, the equipment does not belong to BP, BP relies on its contractors to do the work, supply and see that the equipment is operating properly, when this is all over Obama and Co, will run and hide, BP did not mix or supply the cement, that was done by a contractor and surely they are now wetting there pants, the BOP (blow out preventer ) was not installed by BP nor is it owned by BP BP pays the bills, the contractors do the work, and supply the BOP, and in this case when the smoke settles there is going to be some awful big lawsuits instigated by BP !!!!!
    Lets hope that the tobacco industry puts Obama in Hospital before he does more damage. ( why are all democratic Presidents smokers ? )

  108. Benjamin says:
    June 1, 2010 at 10:38 pm
    “…Obama a green? Ha! There are no greens in government. To be a hippie tree-hugger is to be one of millions (billions, even) of used-up suckers, never mind our philosophical differences. A sucker is a sucker. Central bank-funded governments have always been red, and there isn’t a difference between “conservative” and “liberal”, “democrat” or “republican”. Neither side has a reputation for seeking the end of central banking, and that is how and why things are playing out the way they are today…. “
    _________________________________________________________________________
    AHHhhh someone else who has looked behind the curtain, although your take is different than mine.
    One thing you missed though is the Big Oil/Central Bank/Environmental connection via Maurice Strong, father of the environmental movement – 1972 first UN earth Summit – Senior Advisor to the World Bank, Rockefeller Foundation Trustee and Canadian oil big wig. Strong originally worked for the Rockefellers in 1953 in Saudia Arabia before his rapid rise. He paid the way to the First Earth Summit for Greenpeace who receives funding through the various Rockefeller foundations.
    David Rockefeller and family have connections to the Federal Reserve, World Bank and various oil companies.

  109. Perhaps the US adminidstration doesn’t want a rapid and successful solution; perhaps they want the pollution to get worse and give them an excuse to “nationalize” the US oil industry – do a Chavez.

  110. The Deepwater Horizon explosion took place in the equally apparent crisis of America’s dependence on sources of oil from foreign nations governed or intimidated by our enemies or economic competitors.

    I’m not sure I see how international trade in oil is a crisis.
    Is international trade in computers a crisis as well? After all, a lot of computers come from countries that are “economic competitors” of the US. Cars too. And sunglasses. And about everything else you can imagine. Do all of these need to be manufactured in the US in the name of national security?

  111. Exactly – nobody is more competent than US government scientists and engineers, like Gene Kranz and his Apollo 13 flight controllers and engineers. Why do we have incompetent foreign corporations developing US domestic energy resources ?

    Current information indicates that BP installed a defective blowout preventer and did not have a deep-water, robotically emplaced crimping technique as a backup to the blowout preventer.

    A penny-pinching corporation with known safety issues should not have been allowed to endanger an entire US regions economic viability. What’s next, a Qatar corporation operating a 2 GW nuclear power plant near NYC ? Fishing and tourism on the Gulf are damaged for years, now. A US agency like NASA can tackle difficult technical challenges because they spend the money to do it right and don’t have to show maximum profit every quarter – a corporation like BP will spend as little as possible and hope for the best. Good thing a European corporation was not in charge of the Apollo missions.
    Drill, baby, drill.
    “As for offshore drilling, it’s safe enough these days” – Senator McCain, campaign 2008
    I wonder when Pemex (Mexico), Petrobras (Brazil) and Cupet (Cuba) are going to have their big deepwater drilling accidents ? American fishermen are already mad at their livelihoods being ruined by the British – imagine if it was ruined by the Cubans ? What if the Cubans bring in a Chinese company to do deepwater drilling near Florida and they have an accident like this ? Or the Mexicans ?
    These accidents are going to get a lot more diplomatically difficult.

  112. Puppets and puppeteers: In the old good days the puppeteers were in control everywhere in the world, as time passed, and the sun cycles changed, the puppets became virtual puppeteers. So, in the good all days, science was developed by scientists, now models have created virtual scientists.

  113. A neat little chart.
    Hmm, seems like a lot of folk here don’t have a high opinion of Barry Dunham. I personally think they are laying it on a bit thick, after all, it’s not like any POTUS really has any influence on the real world.
    I continue to be impressed by the world’s ability to find men who are willing and able to undertake the kind of work required to “just plug the damn hole”.
    The relief wells will eventually be drilled, the spilled oil cleaned up and eaten up, and the polimediaclasses can whine about something else. Which is the great thing about a carbon based energy system, as opposed to the heavy metal radiation based energy system. There is absolutely nothing great about the rotating propeller based energy system.

  114. never let a crisis go to waste. why build sand dykes when you can show the world the evils of oil. nature will clean itself in 20yrs., and by then carbon markets will be 10trillion.

  115. The incompetence of the Obama administration is stupefying. But, have no fear.
    Obama’s next move is that AG Holder will apply for an emergency restraining order and preliminary injunction directing the blowout to stop flowing pending adjudication of rights and liabilities of all concerned. Obama will then walk on water out to the site of the blowout and serve the restraining order upon BP.
    Great theater, eh?

  116. Ron Cram said:
    June 1, 2010 at 10:36 pm
    And please, I’m not saying Obama is not inexperienced or incompetent. I am only saying that even an experienced and competent president would not do any better with this current problem in the Gulf.
    I believe your post was mostly mostly right. I have my problems with Obama’s political beliefs and the direction our country is headed, but he is not to blame any more than Bush, Clinton, Bush etc etc etc. The federal govt. has for decades been nothing more than a wealth and power grabbing entity that is bent on limiting our freedoms and destroying the Constitution. Both sides of the aisle are guilty. Everyone who has voted for more regulations instead of actually enforcing the laws that are already on the books is to blame.
    All that being said, though, Mr. Obama and his cronies have done next to nothing to help in any way. There are many things that could have and should have been done to help reduce the impact of the oil gusher that for some reason are still not being done. Is that all Obama’s fault? No. That’s why I included his cronies. My personal belief is that they are using this (like every other situation they encounter) for political gain. The longer they let it go on while the sympathetic media turns a blind eye to their non-involvement, the more they can scream baout the dangers of oil and fossil fuels in general. This then leads to tighter control of all energy and therefore wealth. Control the energy and the money and pretty soon all liberty and justice is gone.
    Some have complained that this site has now become nothing more than a conservative think tank and a liberal bashing, politically motivated sounding board. So, I will oblige with my rant.
    As a true Libertarian who is ultra conservative on some issues and ultra liberal on others, I can say that I see plenty from both sides on this blog, but no where near the levels at many other sites. The only reason this issue has become so politically charged is that the Republicans and Democrats are both playing politics with it instead of working together for solutions. As I said earlier, both sides of the aisle are to blame and have been for a very long time now.
    Wake up, people, and use your right to vote for competent people who can do the job, not the most popular or the most eloquent speaker. Yes it involves actually paying attention and learning about candidates BEFORE you vote. Anyone who votes without knowing what someone stands for is as much to blame for this as Bush and/or Obama or any of their cronies and business allies.

  117. The risky effort to contain the nation’s worst oil spill hit a snag Wednesday when a diamond-edged saw became stuck in a thick pipe on a blown-out well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

    The Deepwater Horizon fiasco is a foretelling of relying on a non-manned spaceflight too.

  118. Michael Dunn:
    So, anyone, why won’t Michael Dunn’s liquid N work? The problems I can see are keeping the Liquid N liquid while being pushed through 5000 ft of whatever temperature water around the pipe to get down to the problem and the pressure required to push it down there while it is still liquid?

  119. When I was flying and fighting fire, as an Airtanker crewman, there were a couple of times where the Aircraft was in serious trouble. One, due to an apparent downburst,
    as we were about to drop on a fire. Here, both training and instinct took over and it was the crew that got the aircraft back safely. The other was when something important (The Rudder) became unusable due to a hit by a flying limb off a fire. There was no control if we had lost an engine (one of four) or flying on two on opposite sides was iffy at best. Now comes the decision. We had USFS Dispatch call the main office, the USFS lead plane gave us a thorough going over,and it was determined that the Rudder was now devoid of fabric cover and damaged. We elected to fly back 200 mi to home base. We did. But it was through the co-operative effort of the Company
    Forest service personnel that made our decision the right one. While hardly Apollo 13, it dos illustrate co-operation and independent thinking can lead to desirable outcomes.-As in not crashing.- What this situation calls for is independent thinking
    and co-operation not the bony finger of accusation and name calling….

  120. [snip]
    We have a National Incident Management System and a very practical and effective Incident Command System set of procedures. Those procedures have are in daily use throughout the USA and are familiar to essentially every emergency response person down to and including rural volunteer fire crews. Where is the gulf spill Incident Command Center and who is the Incident Scene Commander? If there are no answers to those questions, you can bet nobody is really running that incident. It is just a bunch of uncoordinated groups doing the best they can with what resources they can muster on their own.
    The Incident Command System is designed and has been proven to scale from a lowly dumpster fire to a statewide forest fire to even a multi-state hurricane disaster. The gulf oil blowout is precisely the kind of disaster the ICS was intended to handle.
    REPLY: and how well is it handling it? Louisiana can’t even get permission to build protective sandbars ?? -A

  121. “President Obama on the other hand feels that gutting the US space program and leaving the Moon to India and China is a fabulous idea. I would trust Harrison Schmitt over the teleprompter reader in chief any day.”
    We should, at the very least, be staking our claim at one of the poles, where H2O likely exists. Perhaps a permanently manned station.
    A lightweight, peizoelectricly optomized reflector telescope would have a constant view of earth and the observable universe. Not to mention the mining opportunities mentioned by Dr. Schmitt.
    It might be hard, but there was a time, not so long ago, when America chose “to do the hard things.”
    The current administration appears satisfied to merely flutter in the winds of the day.

  122. Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit has something relevant to this today. Seems like the EPA may not be meeting it’s obligations under the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan Regualtions

  123. Attaching a cutoff valve would require either welding to the existing pipe or threading the outside of the pipe, which would probably require constructing and testing specialized deep water pipe threader. Given the problems they’re having with a simple saw, this seems dicey.
    The liquid nitrogen idea probably wouldn’t work because the nitrogen would immediately boil in contact with water, causing a massive gas pressure bubble which would blow the delivery hose out of the pipe, like a liquid air cannon.
    If the flow was too great for top-kill to work with golf balls then perhaps tungsten balls would work. The army has a large supply of 3/8″ inch tungsten balls for the M1A1 Abrams’ anti-personnel canister cartridge, each of which contains about 1100 balls. Of course they might just sink to the bottom of the well pipe, but it should still provide some extra resistance to the flow.
    Another crazy method might be to pump “enteric coated” cesium or rubidium balls down the pipe and hope they sink deep before violently exploding in reaction with water.

  124. Read Pierre Boulle’s “Planet of the Apes.” The progressives have forgotten the origin of the technology they use. In the novel the Apes imitated their predecessors, resulting in a gradual decline due to imperfect imitation, and lack of understanding of underlying principles. What is truly frightening is the contempt progressives show for the very technology that they need to survive. At least the apes understood they needed it, even if they did not understand it.

  125. To Paul: “Why we can’t drop large boulders…”
    At least 1200 Atmospheres of outward pressure from the well is why! This blows aside boulders like they were exp. polystyrene.

  126. This was a very well-written essay. It was a bit easy on BP, I think, but then plenty of others have already pilloried the company.
    Last night I tuned in on some of Obama’s posturing, and was once again reminded why I can’t stand to watch the man in action.
    Stop Global Dumbing Now says (June 1, 2010 at 10:28 pm): “Just as I finished reading this wonderful essay, I looked up at the news. There was a story that a group of scientists asked James Cameron to add his expertise during a brainstorming session on how to stop the spill! WOW!!”
    Heh. I still remember a couple of decades ago, during a “farm crisis”, when Congress invited testimony from actresses Sally Field, Jessica Lange, and Sissy Spacek, because they had played farmers in the movies. We may not have the government we deserve, but we definitely have the government we’ve earned.

  127. “Senator Schmitt gets at what is wrong with the entire system on a deeper level.
    If only there were more politicians like him…”
    … and yet…
    His speech is analogous to a cheering the The Androgynous Docking Mechanism.
    That’s what politics brought to the space science table for discussion.
    Senator Schmitt isn’t going to do diddly about any oil except exploit a crisis for his benefit like every politician in history nobody sees fit to learn anything from.
    The real problem is people like Senator Schmitt who offer hope and change which is institutionally impossible to deliver. There’s your mother of all frauds, of which the climate franchise is but a small part. Deeper than one can find the true believers who pay to externalize all personal responsibility so they can righteously blame some stranger for their daily personal abdication from a basic task of human existence: judgement. The buck stopped with you. You gave it up. You lose.
    Senators weep crocodile tears and cash their paychecks. Even the credibility of science itself can be in doubt but never them.
    If Senator Schmitt were looking at a deeper level, he’d never have become part of the problem too taboo to name. To look deeply, one can not praise a stock eulogy to common sense as profound thinking.

  128. @RACookPE1978 June 2, 2010 at 1:35 am:
    Thanks. It was THIS story! I did have a look around your site, though. Consider it bookmarked.
    @Gail Combs Gail Combs June 2, 2010 at 9:19 am:
    You mean you actually read and understood what I wrote? I’m relieved! I was in rant-mode and after I hit send (happens to us all, I’m sure) and re-read it, I was in regret mode.
    Anyway, ah… the usual suspects, the giant vampire squids! Yeah, I’ve tried to understand the story from that angle, but frankly I’m so terrible with names, dates, places, etc, that I’m forced to stick with my area of focus, which is markets and investment , hence the seemingly different “flavor”.
    And just wondering. By any chance, do you read ‘The Daily Bell’? For some reason, I think so, but just want to quell my curiosity 🙂
    Note to Anthony: Sorry to use your forum to rant and banter like that. I feel that I have disrepected Dr. Schmitt in my somewhat O/T “sound off” post. I should have said up front that I agree with the overall outlook and sentiment, though (obviously) disagree with some of the facts and focus. My apologies to Dr Schmitt, Anthony, and forum readers for not first saying so.

  129. John in L du B says:
    June 2, 2010 at 10:41 am
    “Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit has something relevant to this today. Seems like the EPA may not be meeting it’s obligations under the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan Regualtions”
    I thought it rather apparent the Environmental Protection Agency was absolutely failing in its mandate in regards to the oil blowout.

  130. About the Incident Command System and the gulf. My point is that the ICS is NOT in use. The underlying principle of ICS is local control, government assistance. Local scene commanders tell the Incident Commander what they need and when. The Incident Commander’s job is to collect and disseminate information about the incident (the technical term is ‘intelegence’ but somehow that seems inappropriate in this context :-), coordinate response activities, and obtain and dispatch resources, including personnel and supplies.
    California does not need an Environmental Impact Report to fight a wildfire. The folks in the recent Texas hurricane incident knew how to use the system. They got what they needed for preparation and later to start recovery. Local ordinances were about trespass and property destruction were abandoned as needed to protect life and the health of the community. Of course, what happens with the overall recovery after the emergency response incident is done becomes a political issue. (By the way, the Katrina hurricane incident dramatically showed what happens if states don’t make use of the National Incident Management System. Bush had to have ham radio operators locate the governor of Louisiana after the hurricane hit New Orleans to get her permission to send in federal assistance. – remember, there is that state sovereignty thing that keeps feds from just running amuck in a state without their permission – She should have made that call on her own before the hurricane struck.)
    With a real Incident Command structure in place, if dikes were needed, the right folks would have been made available to design them and appropriate resources would have been employed. The decisions would have been made based upon protecting the coasts, not on how to wiggle around regulations not intended to cover disaster situations like the Core of Engineers was forced to do. The Core of Engineers would have become a resource, not a hindrance.
    Anyway, that is how I see it.

  131. I used to work in Santa Barbara for Morton Associates publishing oil spill response manuals, which included the research of the facilities. These 5000 page books were very detailed, and I cannot imagine that nowadays in a drilling operation, such pre-planning and foreknowledge of “what can go wrong” has been put aside in favor of ad-hoc ineptness.
    In this case, apparently some pencilneck (as Dena says “with many diplomas”) manager decided to cut 2 corners due to the fact that he wanted the well pumping oil ASAP.
    Utter negligence!
    So, here we have it, once again, the dollar signs flashed in this guy’s head, and the gulf gets axed.
    Profit vs. Nature.
    It’s time we learn a bit from star trek. They don’t use cash there, they have evolved.
    Money and profit is no longer their driving force. They have converted from an economy of “scarcity” to an era of abundance. How ? simple, machines produce all food and energy, and people contribute to progress by gaining “levels” (like ranks in the military).
    Images like a criminal pimp driving the latest 2 million dollar car (schlong), while for that money you could save 2000 sudanese lives, will be no more.
    And the gulf will shine again.

  132. From CA :

    Arthur Dent
    Posted Jun 2, 2010 at 10:48 AM
    I suspect that the EPA is far too busy dealing with real emergencies like carbon dioxide emissions to worry itself about a minor oil spill.

  133. Thanks for taking the time to express your views. I hope your missive grows legs. A realistic view of the spill and its results is nice to have out there.
    I actually think that the commercialization of space will be the best thing that ever happened to space usage. Plus we will have a new group of Haliburtons to be dismissive of. Getting the government out of deciding what is what is nothing but good news.

  134. Re: Jim G (10:07 AM)
    The LN2 would have to be brought down in (large) tanks via remote submersible or steered hydrostat.
    But, my apologies: I just now have recollected that the critical pressure for LN2 is about 34 atmospheres, equivalent to about 1100 feet of depth. Below that depth, there would be no more LN2; it becomes a high-density compressible fluid. It could well be that there is no available heat of evaporation under those conditions.
    The alternative concept would be to use a refrigeration cycle with helium gas as the working fluid. In other words, use a heat pump to chill down the pipe.
    For problems in extreme conditions, it is probably true that there are no “simple” solutions.

  135. Crimping sounds like such an obvious solution. If they can cut off that pipe as they apparently have done in the last day or so, why could they not have crimped it? I would think the technical demands of crimping are about half that of cutting under those conditions. Surely a small press capable of this trick could have been rigged up in a few days, if it is not already available.
    They have tried lowering passive collection devices to try to redirect much of the leak to waiting tankers. But have they tried vacuuming? There’s the old wisdom that, if you can’t stop a man from advancing, get behind and push him so that he falls down. This is something along that line: It’s hard to stop this leak because of the pressure behind it, so why not make use of that pressure, or work with it? Fit a pipe loosely over the outlet and pump it so that a light vacuum is created. The oil will flow in the path of least resistance, namely into the collector. The pump, of course, must be extremely high-powered as it has to exceed the rate of flow from the well. To improve efficiency, the connection should be sealed, or one will also be pumping up a lot of seawater. But the negative pressure from the pump should ensure collection of the vast majority of the oil. At the surface it should be collected in a massive sealed chamber (which is what the pump evacuates, rather than trying to pump oil/water directly through the pump itself. If there are two such chambers, one can be filled while the other is drained into a tanker — or perhaps a tanker storage tank can be sealed to the point that it could be used this way, saving a step.
    As for the sand barriers, its a good idea because oil sticks to sand, which has a high surface-area-to-volume ratio. But here’s another idea that may or may not have unforeseen ecological consequences, but I think it’s worth considering:
    Blow sand dust over the oil sheets in the open ocean. The finer the dust the better. There’s probably some level that’s ideal. The dust will collect on the oil and the oil will form globules around them, and “clump”. Once there is sufficient sand on the oil it will be dense enough to drop to the bottom, where over months bacteria action will take care of it.
    This method could be used to keep oil from entering extremely sensitive ecological shore areas. The downside might come in the effects of submerged oil — some damage to bottom ecology is sure to happen but I imagine that it would not be permanent. Similarly, marine life in the pathway would be likely to ingest some of the globules, and there may be a massive die-off. But there are always trade-offs in averting such disasters, and one has to select the lesser of evils.

  136. All I’ve read and seen from MOST SOURCES have only managed to punctuate just how clueless the media outlets, the general public and that paradigm of knee jerk ignorance the politico truly are. Anyone else working the resource sector EVER seen an inspection by OHS or the equivalent where there wasn’t months to put a band-aid on things? The very idea that its “safety first” is all PR and head office noise. Just wait! As always the dead will be blamed for everything. Buy yourselves a vowel folks.

  137. There is also no reason to call it an ‘Oil Spill’ as it is nothing like a spill at all.

  138. Whatever happened to the Russian suggestion, back on about day 2, of using a low-yield nuke to plug the top of the hole with….glass I guess? And no, I’m not kidding.

  139. @JamesG
    “Once again the Conservatives can’t make up their mind whether they want a take-charge government or a get-out-of the-way government. It must be funny not knowing what your ideology actually is. ” [snip the rest as it is uninteresting in rational discussion]
    I don’t claim to be all knowing about all things conservative, but this is a point I think should be addressed and thought out.
    We need both less and more regulation. We need less complexity, and more fairness. We need regulation that isn’t written or heavily influenced by the regulatee as occurs in some cases. Housing crisis is an example of a regulatory failure. Regulations, already in place, were not enforced! We expect to solve this with new financial powers? You already had the power to stop it and you didn’t… Just blindly throwing more regulation at stuff, IE “red tape”, or providing more power to government/bureaucracies is a poor solution. You could make a strong case that some regulations are ignored intentionally (this goes for both R and D) to provides excuses to grab more power.
    We do need new regulation, but it needs to be simplified, streamlined, fair, and then ENFORCED. Remove the cruft, and implement it.

  140. Well said, Dr. Schmitt.
    I remember that Friday night when 204 had the fire on Launch Complex 34. I was working next door on Launch Complex 37 for the next Lunar Module launch. The next 18 months was a depressing time for all of us working on LM Apollo. But it was an inspiration to see NASA, the astronauts, and all the subcontractors pull together and slowly but surely overcome the 204 disaster. We all strongly believed that nothing – NOTHING – would stand in the way of the ultimate goal of putting a man on the moon and bringing him safely back to Earth as President Kennedy had foretold.
    Now, if we could only get Obama and his Z-Team out of the way, maybe BP can get down to business and fix the Deepwater Horizon mess.

  141. Dave McK says:
    His speech is analogous to a cheering the The Androgynous Docking Mechanism.
    That’s what politics brought to the space science table for discussion.
    Senator Schmitt isn’t going to do diddly about any oil except exploit a crisis for his benefit like every politician in history nobody sees fit to learn anything from.
    The real problem is people like Senator Schmitt who offer hope and change which is institutionally impossible to deliver. There’s your mother of all frauds, of which the climate franchise is but a small part. Deeper than one can find the true believers who pay to externalize all personal responsibility so they can righteously blame some stranger for their daily personal abdication from a basic task of human existence: judgement. The buck stopped with you. You gave it up. You lose.
    Senators weep crocodile tears and cash their paychecks. Even the credibility of science itself can be in doubt but never them.

    Have you read his bio? Dr. Schmitt is no longer a Senator in New Mexico.

  142. A little bit OT, but regarding stopping the flow.
    After the first Gulf war when Saddam had torched all the wells in his retreat there were obviously a bunch of free flowing well heads that were also on fire. If I remember correctly they used shaped charges to assist with putting out the well head fires. Does anybody remember if the charge was used to close off the well, or was it simply to snuff out the fire by removing all the oxygen feeding the fire?
    Thanks, Charlie K

  143. For a discussion with contributions by people who work in that sort of area – take a look at http://www.theoildrum.com/
    The freezing idea won’t work, as the pressure would erode the ice as it was being formed. The pressure is already eroding the steel…
    Clamping off the pipe beyond the BOP won’t work as it is not designed to take that sort of pressure drop. It works well enough as a conduit, but as a “dead end”, it would just split. That’s why BP wanted to block up the flow within the BOP which *can* take the pressure.
    As for the “crisis management” beyond the well – it may well be that Obama wanted to “take control” because he thought it was just about over, and all he had to do was waltz in, take the credit, then waltz out.
    Having a hard problem that is actually a real hard problem and not just being made hard by other people is rare, but always catches politicians out.

  144. Charlie K says:
    June 2, 2010 at 2:12 pm
    A little bit OT, but regarding stopping the flow.
    After the first Gulf war when Saddam had torched all the wells in his retreat there were obviously a bunch of free flowing well heads that were also on fire. If I remember correctly they used shaped charges to assist with putting out the well head fires. Does anybody remember if the charge was used to close off the well, or was it simply to snuff out the fire by removing all the oxygen feeding the fire?
    Thanks, Charlie K

    The shaped charges were used to cut off the damaged well heads. It was to improve the chances of the “non-shaped” charges working in knocking the flame away from the fuel.
    If the damaged well heads were left, they could have sheltered a “pocket” of fire which would have re-ignited the gusher.

  145. Government will never really solve any problems be they healthcare, financial or environmental because the one and only goal of politicians is to be re-elected. Re-election takes money. Money is obtained by doing favors for constituents. Laws are therefore passed to benefit financial supporters and create methods of extorting more money from various industries or groups. Politicians can keep the money left over when they “retire” or are thrown out. Supporters get many times thier money back in favors. Follow the money. Those that created the financial debacle are in DC and in charge of fixing the “problem”. No one other than Bernie Madoff has gone to jail and he should get a medal for stealing money from many of the most destructive “progressives” in the country, using a simple ponzi sheme at that! LBJ’s buddy, Billy Saul Estes, did it back in the 50’s with tanks of water and soy been oil floating on top, a little more creative than the simple ponzi trick. Today the thieves get Whitehouse staff jobs. We need to change the rules of how Washington operates or we will continue in a downward spiral.

  146. Benjamin June 1, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    But with oil prices falling in this inevitable (asset) deflationary environment, it’s not looking good for BP. Their stock has already shaved off around 40% in the last five to six weeks. They’re going broke, fast.

    Perhaps an easy-to-cast expression, but, do you understand how stock prices work/why an equity market exists? I could see a problem IF they had a stock offering before the market being offered to pay these expenses, but, I don’t think we are at that point yet.
    Please, correct me if I am wrong.
    .
    .

  147. Elizabeth says:
    June 2, 2010 at 8:46 am

    According to Miller, officials will know the measure is working if the mud goes straight into the hole. However, if the mud flows out at the source of the leak, crews will be forced to move to another plan, such as a junk shot, which involves shooting debris into the well to plug the leak. They may also try to place another blowout preventer on top of the one that failed.

    Whilst I don’t know if this is actually practical, it seems one of the more sensible suggestions. One problem I can see with this option is that in the short term, it may lead to an increase in the per day emissions. This would be a hard pill for many to swallow.
    DaveE.

  148. George Turner June 2, 2010 at 11:15 am
    Attaching a cutoff valve would require either welding to the existing pipe or threading the outside of the pipe, which would probably require constructing and testing specialized deep water pipe threader. Given the problems they’re having with a simple saw, this seems dicey.

    Been to the BP.com website recently? No?
    Are you aware of the LMRP? No?
    Lower Marine Riser Package (LMRP) Cap:
    http://www.bp.com/genericarticle.do?categoryId=9033657&contentId=7062491
    Having actually _watched_ some of their activities the last few days, they are on the road to implementation of this plan, albeit with a few glitches here and there (I think there were other issues with the diamond wire saw, but don’t expect to hear that in media).
    Suffice it also so say, do not believe all you hear from the mediots on this issue. Nine times out of ten they are talking through their hats, and generally several ‘acts’ back in the play after having watched in real time the deap-sea ROV work the issue at depth …
    .

  149. @ Jim who said: “Schmidt doesn’t know what he is talking about. The government is still issuing drilling permits.”
    Schmidt did not mention permits. The article you referenced says the government stopped all drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet, permits not withstanding. It only affects wells not yet in the completion stage, about 33 rigs in total. http://tinyurl.com/2g7nfxp

  150. Gail Combs June 2, 2010 at 9:19 am
    David Rockefeller and …

    Lemme guess: Another conspiracy?
    Any evidence – any transcribed phone calls, photocopies of memorandum, Xeroxes of interoffice directives, MOU (memorandums of understanding) between these organizations or members in these organizations, any meeting notes, minutes?
    None?
    None whatsoever?
    Hmmm … what are we to conclude to such a dearth of hard, factual evidence of this world-wide collusion to ‘take over the world’?
    .

  151. R. Craigen says:
    June 2, 2010 at 12:38 pm
    Crimping sounds like such an obvious solution. If they can cut off that pipe as they apparently have done in the last day or so, why could they not have crimped it?

    Where?
    Just above the point where the diamond rope saw is attempting a cut (in preparation for the LMRP – see post above for details)?
    They only have about two feet of undamaged ‘pipe’ above the BOP to work with judging from what I have seen …
    (Has no one else watched the underwater activities bp has streaming from their website?)
    .

  152. I liked the idea of sprinkling the floating oil with sand, and had the thought “kitty-litter”. Many use it in their own garages, why not! It’s mostly clay anyway.

  153. I’m only an outsider, but it seems there was an emergency contingency plan to collect and burn off, but while watching a TV commentary when it was asked why the plan wasn’t put into action, the person being interviewed stated that the Obama administration was hung up on authorising this “it was considered but not used because and environmental study had not been completed – i.e. the club of Rome didn’t burn because someone didn’t think to string the fiddle.!!
    I think I agree with GaryW, environmental study in the face of an emergency!! That’s what happens to governments so full of departmental spin artists, that real honest decision making based upon realities, is lost in the we can’ts, how can we justify, but we already said, rather than, what have we got, get it moving and we will worry about that later!! (Hell he could always have blamed a previous administration,) after the event spinmeisters are a dime a dozen to explain those sorts of things.
    No, they were well and truly hoist on their own petard of environmental lily whites, so while saving the planet, they cause misery and environmental damage that could have been prevented had the emergency plan been put into action. I wonder if BP will cite this in mitigation of extended damages for a clean up that could have been avoided IF the emergency plan had urgently deployed!
    Hmmnn bringing in an Attorney General to jump into the fray with criminal prosecutions, looks more and more like a government protecting its frozen incompetence, with a legal blitzkrieg – but it also might “backfire” on them in these days of open debate!!
    Your government, you deal with it.

  154. How long before Obama uses this as another excuse to raise taxes?
    Oops – he’s faster that I am. He wants to raise taxes on all oil companies to “fund research in clean energy.” Right, make those evil oil companies charge more for their evil product. Wait a minute, I’m paying for that evil product. Isn’t this a tax on me?

  155. One problem I can see with crimping is the malleability of the pipe. I may just as likely crack as seal the leak.
    Anyone thinking that the stock market has anything to do with the value of a company is mistaken. A companys value is dictated solely by its assets, the stock market price indicates the price the company could be sold on for, nothing more.
    DaveE.

  156. He wouldn’t let them put the burn off plan into action. Maybe He won’t let them do the obvious things to cap the leak. Maybe He is not through using this crisis to His benefit?

  157. Jim,
    I could’ve sworn the Lower Marine Riser Package was the technical military term for, um, …
    This blog is rated PG, isn’t it.

  158. I’d love to know just how involved the administration was with the BP efforts during this time. This is the first I’ve heard about them putting the kibosh on the burn off. That’s not a holdover from the Bush years — that is directly in Obama’s lap.

  159. I don’t think the root problem is with the Obama administration of which I am no fan. I think the problem is deeper. We have become a nation of no accountability and zero risk tolerance, yet we expect all of the benefits of a modern, energy-intensive society all while we scream and rant about the eco-consequences, i.e. schizophrenic California. The fact is there is no such thing as zero risk and there is no short term viable replacement for oil, coal, and natural gas. We need to actually learn from this accident, have better contingencies in place, have a more streamlined crisis management group, perhaps actually *gasp* practice responses to various catastrophes, apply the lessons to new and better hardware and move on.

  160. Thank you for posting this, Anthony and truer, TRUER words were, well…never posted. WHY the might of the drilling industry didn’t descend upon weren’t summoned to that hole in the water to pull off another miracle like, oh, Hellfighters of Kuwait after the first Gulf War…and I have complete faith they could!! I’m sitting here in Pensacola, sick at heart at the (yet aGAIN) feeble response of our vaunted and much re-tuned behemoth Homeland Security Dept coupled with officials who haven’t the first clue what it is to earn a living without asking someone for the proper permits first, all the while knowing the first of the sludge should be here by week’s end.
    I was an active duty Marine for 12 1/2 years and am married to a retired Marines of 30+ years service. We’ve loaded squadrons down to the tiniest screws and toilet paper onto planes to be self sufficient for a month and a half running full operations in theater, but could ANY of us get a FEMA job? Someone who might actually KNOW what that “EMBARK” box they talk about in the manual IS, less mind the fact that you have to BUILD them, that they can’t be bought?
    No. Because you need a degree. Like you were a cabinet secretary.
    Or something.
    Manual trackback. Thanks.

  161. The entire Obama administration reminds me of the Martin Short character in “Mars Attacks”……

  162. Jason Calley says:
    June 2, 2010 at 5:32 am
    . . . On a related note, see this video on using bacteria for bioremediation.

    Can anyone tell me why this proven technique (in neighboring Texas), using harmless microbes to eat up the oil, is not being applied right now?
    If there are no logistical problems with this technique (e.g. the time it takes to breed the little critters—which can’t be long, can it?), is there anyone reading this thread who can get the idea to the people making the decisions in the Gulf?
    /Mr Lynn

  163. I do see a lot of negativity towards the Obama administration in many of the comments above. The situation may look different from the administration’s perspective. They are working very hard not to let a good crisis go to waste, but they are up against difficult odds. Easy public access to the history of the Ixtoc I accident is undermining claims of “the worst ever”. The oil is breaking up as it rises so the slick will not have the environmental impact of a tanker spill and to top it off the troublesome engineers are working tirelessly to plug the leak! The administration is doing all it can including preventing the early use of flame booms, delaying the use of Dutch skimmer ships, restricting the use of dispersant chemicals, starting bureaucratic inquires before solutions and threatening legal action to distract those working to solve the problem. All these efforts may be in vain if this spill can’t be made to exceed the daily wildlife kill ratio of wind turbines. A good crisis could easily go to waste.
    /sarc off/

  164. Dr. Schmitt makes me proud to call myself a geologist in more than one way. Geologists are often a strange bunch. Part scientist, part driller, part miner, and part engineer. Well said, Dr. Schmitt.
    One of the major problems with the Obama group is that they are all “City Folks.” Most of them have never had the advantages of country living. And have never actually had to rely on the work of their hands for a living. I know the folks in NY and Chicago are so much more sophisticated, but they would starve if they ever had to actually catch a chicken for dinner without having it delivered to their plate by the waiter. No one in the current administration has a clue about what to do, let alone coordinate a response.

  165. I agree with most of what he says and I only disagree with one point he makes. Stopping all offshore drilling is the ONLY sane thing to come out of this. We just don’t need the energy. We have centuries of natural gas in the shale deposits that we can now get. We just don’t need to take the risk at these extreme locations. Even in the absolute worst case scenario we have 5 to 6 decades of natural gas. We just don’t need the oil and gas from the ocean floor. Problem is we don’t have an energy policy we have an oil policy.

  166. This was no accident. A BP high level manager demanded that the high density drilling fluid be pumped out before the drill steel was removed (to save some money by using it for another drilling operation). This was after the crew and captain of the drilling rig had argued vehemently against doing so. Had the drilling fluid no been removed way too soon, the methane could not have made its way up the shaft.
    A monumentally stupid decision regarding a drilling operation by someone with high authority and no knowledge about drilling technology, and some unwilling to listen to the people under his authority who did have the knowledge.
    The pipe is 20 inches inside diameter. The oil is coming out, but at a velocity of no more than 1 foot per second (from BP estimate of the flow rate, and my calculations.
    I noticed in a clear picture of the then stuck diamond saw that just below the pipe being cut that there is a bolted flange joint. I guess that with present deep water technology there is no device which could simply unbolt that flange joint and bolt another section with valve onto the same flange.
    Time, methinks, to quickly get innovative mechanical engineers and innovative deep water robotic device designers together. If they can get a diamond saw to work down there, surely an unbolting and bolting device could be quickly devised.
    We need a “skunkworks” sort of team to solve this one, not petroleum engineers.

  167. I tried to read all the comments, but am pretty weary after starting my day at 5:30 a.m., and being 67, heavy labour does wear one down a bit.
    I appreciate the good Dr’s credentials and savvy, but a few items need to be pointed out, none of which I believe was addressed by any of the commentators either, though I can be corrected on this by a sharper-eyed, less weary reader.
    Firstly, for him to state that “Long-term, history reminds us that naturally and accidentally released oil in the oceans disappears due to bacterial action. Remember that the fuel oil which blackened the world’s beaches as a result of World War II ship destruction disappeared after only a few years, and ocean life survived. The Gulf oil spill will not be this Nation’s most serious environmental crisis: World War II tops it by orders of magnitude in more than just this respect” is simply wrong. Period.
    He left out the fact that sixty-five years elapsed: the human population has escaped its sustainable bounds, the oceans have been immensely insulted and polluted, there has been a collapse of so many species populations that many are as good as extinct, and a lot of human food species are unable to carry the demands made on them.
    Secondly, we are too many consuming too much, and we deny these realities no matter what evidence is brought to light. As I pointed out in my Internet article “Who Will Feed China?” the day is not far off when the cereal- and meat-exporting nations must decide who will be served: their native population or “sold to the highest bidder”?
    Finally, China will likely have the funds to outbid all others for food, so ‘democratic’ regimes will no doubt stand back and let “Mr Market” make the best decisions. Please note how you feel about that, then write me: jefasciani@shaw.ca.
    This is NOT an oil spill: it is an oil volcano which cannot cease until it reaches equilibrium with its environment. That will be some time off, and until then the world’s oceans will be increasingly contaminated. Just wait until it enters the Atlantic Loop and hits the UK, then Spain and Portugal. It could mean that paired with the financial crisis, the European Economic Union is doomed. Which may not be such a bad thing, IMO. But I stray with my political opinions….
    The current NWO puppet is so weak that I refer to him as the Obamamama, as he will usher in the first fascist nanny-state, but that alone shouldn’t stop him from dealing with this as it deserves. Oops! I forgot: BP was his single largest corporate campaign contributor/bribe.
    All best, Joseph, 67
    an ex-pat surviving in Victoria, BC

  168. re.Fredrick Lightfoot June 2 2009 9.07 am\
    as a oilfield geologist I could not agree more,
    for those posters above with the conspiracy theories, would Obama’s middle name have anything to do with his oil policies?
    Where do the Muslim oil producers get there dollars from anyway?

  169. Thank you Dr. H. Harrison Schmitt for this succint summary of much that is wrong with the situation today. Sadly, both in the US and elsewhere in the western world, the application of high levels of skill and management to the difficulties of modern technologies has been relegated behind opportunistic shouting by politically motivated groups and individuals seeking either manipulative power or exploitive personal gain. Nowhere is this dismal trend more evident than in vindictive assertions by the Obama administration towards BP. What good do they think that will that do exactly?
    Alas I cannot see the situation changing because the population at large no longer realises how difficult life can be without all the cosseting produced by modern industry. We can be sure however that should we continue along this road we might all become more acquainted with more difficult times.

  170. Here is the link to Steve McIntyre’s discovery about the National Contingency Plan the EPA was supposed to mastermind in the event of a spill like this:
    http://climateaudit.org/2010/06/02/epa-and-the-national-contingency-plan/#comments
    Certainly, I don’t think the government is in any better shape to quell the gushing than BP or a skunkworks team of clever folk, but I resent – like the recently exposed over-paying of Census workers by James O’Keefe – the waste of government preparing the plan they were in no position to even attempt to implement. In effect, pay me to write the damn thing and then let me go back to sleep at my desk.
    I also resent the fact that the existence of the plan has not been revealed by MSM so that, at least, the EPA can be called to task for the wasteful, stupid exercise. The EPA has been totally absent, AWOL, during this mess!
    Doesn’t anybody here know Andy Revkin? ……..Lady in Red

  171. _Jim says: June 2, 2010 at 4:35 pm :
    “Perhaps an easy-to-cast expression, but, do you understand how stock prices work/why an equity market exists? ”
    No, sir, I do not. As a matter of fact, I was hoping someone would come along and explain all these confusing things to me.
    I should leave it at, for all that I care for your tone and mannerisms, but, once more…
    Valuation falls during a time when a company isn’t having much success in dealing with a problem, a problem which isn’t a spill but rather a hole in the earth. I deal in mining stocks. In my experience, when a mine floods, explodes, collapses… people run. They do so because they don’t figure the company is going to be as worth as much. Sometimes they’re right, sometimes not, but BP has already had nearly two months to make some kind of progress. They haven’t affected this one iota. Investors also see where all this oil is going, what it means, and have something of how long this can continue for.
    Despite all of that, however, I wouldn’t normally see a problem with this. But with oil prices dropping (with more in the pipe, imv) in a time of credit contraction, I see a fire-sale/take-over on the horizon.
    “I could see a problem IF they had a stock offering before the market being offered to pay these expenses, but, I don’t think we are at that point yet. Please, correct me if I am wrong.”
    What’s there for me to correct about coulds, ifs, and thinks? I’m of the mind that time and event correct speculations, so in that regard you SOL. What I can do, however, and for it’s worth, is argue why I think you’re wrong, which I just did.

  172. Ref – Gail Combs says:
    June 1, 2010 at 9:02 pm
    “It is a sad sad day that a once mighty nation is now run by incompetents only interested in bring her to her knees. I hope the next election see this turned around but I am fearful the “brainwashing” of the last fifty years runs too deep.”
    _________________________
    The fatter we got, the worse we became. I fear the “incompetents” among US is us and the effects of being No.1 for so long will prove fatal. Adversity and hard work bring out the best in all of us but we’ve become a nation of idiots and easy riders. If it weren’t for the nasty ol’USSR we never would have gone to the moon. Say “la’Vie”!

  173. the only solution is the ironic one … thermite (“911”) the BP well casing
    The problem is the steel well casing. It organizes the upward flow, thereby preserving upward energy and momentum. Upward momentum is the real reason NO “shut off” valve solution will ever work — try to imagine a water hammer problem like you’ve never dreamt of before. And the steel well casing protects the sidewalls of the bored hole from erosion, and eventual collapse by gravity.
    The failure to implement this utterly simple solution amounts to an intentional act of war. In asymmetric warfare, failure to defend against corporate-sponsored terrorism amounts to a positive act of war against our own “We the People” populations. (This goes well beyond retailiation by BP against a handful of Pentagon brass who are balking at opening up a third front in our apparently perpetual plans for war against the worlds, to the sole benefit of … China and BP! The problem of Who China? is not an immaterial one, since the modern post-Kissinger central banking system of China was financed with debt frauds of the Federal Reserve, although admittedly it is run by local agentura who are appointed by the Federal Reserve.)
    When you drill a well, you “augur out” an outer hole in bare earth. Until you encounter bedrock, the sidewalls of the hole are soft sandy soil and small rocks. They will eventually collapse inward, unless a protective continuously welded steel casing is inserted between the flowing oils and the soft sandy soils of the bore. The bored hole is probably 48″ or so (bit diameter when expanded), and the continuously welded ductile steel casing is probably 36″ in diameter with 1″ sidewalls. (Actual numbers are irrelevant). Casing pipes might be 50 ft long and they would be circular welded underwater easily by a standard pipe welding machine.
    The well tip, or point, has reportedly been drilled to 30,000 ft beneath the sea floor, which is another 5,000 ft. below sea level. According to a recent recent press conference by Admiral Thad Allen, on answering a question regarding construction of two pressure relief wells, he suggested that the casing is at least 20,000 feet deep. It might be that the last 10,000 feet was drilled through solid bedrock, in which case it may not need a steel casing for sidewall protection. (Typically, one encounters “lenses” of bedrock-like soils all the way down … soil is formed in layers … layers of soft soil, or oil, in bedrock are called lenses, just as are layers of bedrock-like material are, when they occur within a larger layer of soft soils.)
    Based on observed videos of outflow at the orifice, there is not that much pressure differential between the pickup point (deepest point) and the well head, which is under atmospheric pressure plus an additional 5,000 ft of water pressure.
    The solution is to simply remove 20,000+ feet of welded steel casing.
    Without the casing to protect the sidewalls of the bored hole from sidewall erosion and collapse, the upward flow of oil directly against soft sidewalls in the bored well will first cause the oil to lose its upward organization and its velocity, and then, eventually the sidewalls will collapse. As the sidewalls erode, the bore hole widens, which slows down (and disorganizes and wastes) the upward momentum. Absent a protective casing, eventually the eroded sidewalls of the well will collapse back into the hole, and gravity will close off the well.
    Breaking up momentum of the confined column of oil (slowing down its velocity) is the key factor! Divide and conquer.
    The problem is not the “huge” (lol) pressure at the well point, 35,000 ft below sea level. Soils, including potentially 10,000 of bedrock, are self-supporting structures. They don’t “weigh” like a column of fluid does. Nor is the problem the apparently deminimus pressure differential between the well point and the well head, based on the observed low velocity of discharge (on an order of magnitude of one to tens of meters per second). The condition looks to be more steady flowing (called subcritical flow), than it does shooting (called supercritical).
    The problem is the directionally organized velocity. We are dealing with a 30,000 foot long column of incompressible fluid that is flowing inside of a geometrically confined space. At 1 to 10 meters per second, a column of incompressible fluid 30,000 feet long, it has the same momentum (orders of magnitude here) as a freight train, of the equivalent “length,” moving at roughly the same speed (1 to 10 miles per hour).
    30,000 feet of organized momentum presents a problem of water hammer, on a scale heretofore unimagined. You are not going to stop that 30,000 feet of organized momentum by flipping a switch on a shut off valve, or by throwing a few concrete bricks in its path.
    So, how do we slow down flow that confined column of oil … how do we disorganize its upward momentum?
    The answer is the 9-11 solution … use Thermate to remove the geometry that confines the fluid and preserves the velocities.
    Amongst its other uses, Thermite was invented for underwater demolition of bridges. It was also used to melt the 16 core structural columns in each of the towers of the World Trade Center on 9-11-01, each of core columns which had 5-inch thick sidewalls, and each of which were totally melted down to flowing blobs of molten steel. Thermite turned 16 structural steel columns, each 54” x 27” with 5” sidewalls, and each with an interior crosspiece 6” thick, that were each 66 and 2/3 stories tall, into blobs of flowing molten steel, like columns of butter in a microwave oven.
    (BTW, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Thermite was also used to bring down the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig itself. What a prophetic name. The fires on the deck on the drilling rig did not cause the underwater legs of the rig to suddenly soften and give way. When the rig collapsed, it first gave way underwater. Someone pulled one of its underwater legs out from underneath it. Are we to believe a deck fire melted the underwater steel? This has 911 written all over it.)
    9-11 the well casing! Be it 20,000 feet long, per Adm. Thad Allen, or 30,000 feet long (determined by the depth of the last sand lens encountered during drilling) … dump Thermite on it. The underwater use of Termite will have no effect whatsoever on the reaction. If it starts a perpetual underwater fire with methane at the well head, burning perpetually at 5000 ft below the sea … great! The reaction (highly exothermic ) between the weaponized aluminum and the elemental iron in the steel casing will melt (smelt?) the casign down to an uncontained blob of molten steel that will eventually cool and lodge somewhere in the boring. Or, it can keep right on going straight down, all the way to China, for all I care. (Without addressing the question of “Who China?” I believe “China” is a partner with BP in this act of war against the people of North America … China’s role as industrial hegemon of the new century was assigned long ago by “the International” or Comintern. And China’s banking system and industrial powers are “owned” by Federal Reserve bankers, who used US Treasury debt fraud as collateral to setup the modern, post-Kissinger, banking system of so-called “China.” Again, the Who-China question looms ominously over this BP blowout.)
    I would ordinarily hope that the Pentagon, and its media subsidiary, the White House, might give BP and its pro-China wellheads the 9-11 solution that they so richly deserve — Thermite (or Thermate) them.
    Unfortunately, the Pentagon has been since its inception, the military headquarters for a supranational communist bureaucracy (loosely Eisenhower’s Pentagon-Wall St complex), which reorganized itself into its “Fourth” incarnation after a revolutionary paper which Trotsky (nee Bronstein) submitted in 1921 to the prior incarnation, called the “Third.” Trotsky’s paper justifies use of state-sponsored terrorism (that is to say, really corporate sponsored terrorism) to achive the world-wide communist objective, calling for dissolution of the nation state idea. His paper caused dissolution of the Third International –which was set up on principles of Lenin, with help from a young Herbert Hoover, then in London operating a Belgian humanitarian relief operation as cover for financing Lenin, Trotsky, the Bolshevik-Zionist-globalist autrocities in Russia. At Yalta, FDR, with Truman in the wings, agreed with Stalin that Third had outgrown its 1911 office buildings in Moscow, and it needed to be totally renovated and reorganized. It was agreed that the Fourth incarnation of the permanent bureaucracy (even a shadow government needs a permanent bureaucracy) should organized in the US, to be housed in the newly built CIA and Pentagon complexes. Since their inceptions, the CIA and Pentagon (and Israel, with official recognition by Truman) have been worldwide headquarters for the Zionist (=commmunist =corporatist) agenda. During the Cold War, the modus operandi was driven by Trotsky’s arguments on the practical utility of worldwide (700+) US military bases, fomenting endless 911-style state-sponsored terrorism. With this BP incident, it is apparent that the Fourth is now being dissolved. It is not by accident that the Wall St.-Pentagon complex is losing its creditibility. We are being steered into the Fifth re-incarnation of the International, a mind-control phase based on asymmetric warfare through control of media and medicine. Soon enough, we shall learn that Hollywood has moved to Peiking.
    As Zionist partner of Israel, the Pentagon’s primary role, ab initio, as military arm of the Comintern, then functioning as the Fourth International, has been to protect, and the rise of Chinese hegemony. Secondary to that, the Pentagon brass know that they must eventually to destroy all memory of the United States and its Constitution and Bill of Rights. The militia mindset of our Constitution and Bill of Rights (based on individual hue and cry, citizenship and personal responsibility) is incompatible with the Pentagon’s special-forces mindset (which is based on terrorism, anonymity and darkness, and absolute top-down obedience). What the demented mimickers of our enemy forget, is that citizenship in the republic is not an option for a human being.

  174. _Jim says:
    June 2, 2010 at 4:47 pm
    George Turner June 2, 2010 at 11:15 am
    Attaching a cutoff valve would require either welding to the existing pipe or threading the outside of the pipe, which would probably require constructing and testing specialized deep water pipe threader. Given the problems they’re having with a simple saw, this seems dicey.
    Been to the BP.com website recently? No?
    Are you aware of the LMRP? No?
    Lower Marine Riser Package (LMRP) Cap:
    http://www.bp.com/genericarticle.do?categoryId=9033657&contentId=7062491

    One thing to say for all the delays – it’s given BP time to refine their p.r. releases. Each week those digital images get a little more detailed. I sometimes wonder if their timetables aren’t being set back just a little by the time it takes their Adobe Illustrator artists to add those nifty color gradients to the increasingly high-quality images. “Hang on! Just a few more touches. Don’t start cutting yet!”
    I wonder if the slow-paced, ongoing nature of this isn’t resulting in a “see change” in the way BP and other drillers are forced to do business. Namely, they are being forced to acknowledge that the general public has both an interest in – and a right to see – what’s going on down there.
    While they’re at it, how about showing the scale at the well head? At first I thought the BOP was a few feet in height. Then somewhere it was represented as being a four-story structure. I take it there are various diameters of casing and pipe which telescope downward from the sea floor. It would certainly help if those using these terms knew their definitions, and explained them properly.

  175. Excellent article! However, there is something about the BP well most “armchair drilling consultants” seem to have missed. The fundamental failure of the well stems from a loss of casing integrity far down below the failed Blowout Preventer. The use of a single casing using threaded joints, combined with a poor cement job, enabled over-pressured natural gas to enter the well bore deep beneath the sea bed. That expanding gas then “lightened” the oil and mud column and resulted in the “kick” or overpressure that now causes the well to produce uncontrollably.
    Any successful operation to pinch off the flow at the sea bed surface, even by getting the failed B.O.P. to function, would result in high pressure developing inside the rotten well bore. That would likely cause the oil to find its way through the defective casing/cement job and travel to the seabed surface OUTSIDE the well casing. Such an underground blowout would be far worse than the current situation and is ONLY controllable by a “bottom kill”. That requires a relief well that intersects the well bore far below the blowout. There, heavy mud and eventually cement can be injected so gravity can do the work of killing off the pressure as the heavy column then rises up through the blown out well bore.
    I think the best that can be done at this stage is the relatively loose fitting “bonnet” now being installed that would direct the oil for surface collection, but would not pinch off flow and overpressure the defective well bore. In the meantime, the intersecting relief well drilling is underway. I think a “bottom kill” has always been the only way to put this sorry well out of its misery.
    Claude Harvey

  176. Quick followup on the WWII issue.
    There is a first-person account of the post-attack diving in Pearl Harbor.
    I have the book (bought it at the Arizona Memorial gift shop) but cannot
    spot it right now in my library. The author describes the oil covering
    Pearl as “feet thick”.
    If Pearl can recover from such a massive, overwhelming oil cover, so can
    anyplace else.

  177. molecule says:
    June 3, 2010 at 9:05 am
    the only solution is the ironic one … thermite (“911”) the BP well casing. . .

    The thermite idea is interesting, but the rest of this long comment consists of tortured conspiracy mongering on a scale that one would not expect to see on a site frequented (mostly) by rational human beings. Starting with the insane suggestion that the World Trade Center was brought down by intentionally-placed thermite bombs, ‘Molecule’ proceeds to indict most of the world, including the Pentagon and the CIA, in a some vast conspiracy to destroy the Republic.
    I hope the occasional visitor does not get the impression that such rampant kookery is typical of this excellent site.
    /Mr Lynn

  178. George Turner says:
    June 2, 2010 at 6:13 pm
    Jim,
    I could’ve sworn the Lower Marine Riser Package was the technical military term for, um, …
    This blog is rated PG, isn’t it.
    Good thing I didn’t have a mouthful of coffee, I’d have ruined the laptop. Learned more about the Marines than I ever wanted to know.

  179. The gulf is between the
    great knowledge and skill of
    the engineers and technicians
    of the oil industry as opposed by
    and the incompetent greedy morons
    (generally selected for their family
    connections not ability)who rule the
    oil industry and who prevent the appropriate
    and timely application of
    that knowledge and technology —
    as these BP anecdotes illustrate–
    http://adropofrain.net/2010/05/rumor-schlumberger-exits-deep-horizon-hours-before-blowout/
    http://abcnews.go.com/WN/bps-dismal-safety-record/story?id=10763042
    http://blogs.alternet.org/patthomas/2010/06/03/why-bp-just-dont-care/
    http://uruknet.de/?p=m66494
    http://www.uruknet.de/?p=m66564
    a formula 1 race car driven by an
    oil industry imbecile
    is just as deadly as an old clunker driven
    by an industry imbecile.
    It is not about great technology–
    it is about what is done with the technology–
    The germans converted coal to oil at 10 cents a barrel.
    That technology and much more has been buried to
    help line the pockets of the oil company stockholders.

  180. Joseph E Fasciani says:
    June 2, 2010 at 9:57 pm
    “….“Who Will Feed China?” the day is not far off when the cereal- and meat-exporting nations must decide who will be served: their native population or “sold to the highest bidder”?
    Finally, China will likely have the funds to outbid all others for food, so ‘democratic’ regimes will no doubt stand back and let “Mr Market” make the best decisions. Please note how you feel about that, then write me: jefasciani@shaw.ca.”

    _______________________________________________________________________
    Food has already been monopolized: http://www.pewtrusts.org/uploadedFiles/wwwpewtrustsorg/Reports/Industrial_Agriculture/PCIFAP_FINAL.pdf
    You might want to take a look at my rambling on this subject at: http://www.opednews.com/author/author18743.html
    The ten large international corporations are trying to oust the last of the independent farmers and completely “corporatize” farming. This is a first hand look at the political “dance” behind the EU war against independent farmers. http://www.i-sis.org.uk/savePolishCountryside.php
    This is a history of how it happened: farmwars.info/?p=1565
    And a comment on that history from the HACCP food training program: haccptraining.educationprograms.com/HACCP-and-Food-Safety-Con-Job.html

  181. LarryOldtimer says:
    June 2, 2010 at 9:09 pm
    This was no accident. A BP high level manager demanded that the high density drilling fluid be pumped out before the drill steel was removed….
    __________________________________________________________________________
    What is the source of this information? (It does sound like the typical snafu from idiotic upper management)

  182. Louisiana officials have begged the federal government not to ban drilling in the Gulf of Mexico in waters deeper than 500′. There have been enough job losses already.
    Responding, the Obama administration has now banned all offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, including in shallow waters, “until oil and gas producers resubmit plans to meet revised safety and environmental rules.” http://tinyurl.com/2edupme
    Standby Louisiana, while we take away 10,000+ jobs and ask you to twiddle your thumbs while the bureaucrats try to figure out what they did wrong the first time.

  183. LarryOldtimer said: “This was no accident. A BP high level manager demanded that the high density drilling fluid be pumped out before the drill steel was removed….”
    I believe that story goes back to a “60 Minutes” interview with a mechanic who admitted he didn’t hear the whole conversation and didn’t know the subject of the disagreement. There were separate reports of a decision to replace the mud with water and that decision was agreed to by the MMS, BP, and Transocean. I’ve never seen a report that convincingly linked that bad decision with the reported argument.

  184. DCC says: June 3, 2010 at 5:04 pm:
    “Louisiana officials have begged the federal government not to ban drilling in the Gulf of Mexico in waters deeper than 500′. There have been enough job losses already.”
    Well, this a “recovery” we’re in, where unemployment, as the MSM says, is not really an issue.
    I can speculate a few reasons for this ban. Given it’s total lack of rationality…
    1) Oil is “too cheap”. By halting these operations until “plans are sorted out” (like a car salesman going to “talk to the boss”, eh?), oil might rise? Something like this might actually stand a chance of budging prices higher. No incidents in the oil industry has done so thus far. Call this an OPEC tactic.
    2) Boost the broader stock indexes? It is possible that companies not spending money retain value (hence why falling employment and pay started or sustained the bear market rally). This would be true if oil rose with the “lockdown”. As we know, stock markets world-wide are having some trouble because Europe went ahead and went broke. Call this the “oh shit, we gotta do something to make this last!” tactic.
    3) To break them entirely. Maybe oil prices won’t rise (I suspect they will not no matter what, at least not enough to spare the industry from the relentless deflationary environment), and the shutdowns will force market to revalue oil companies so that the government can take them over, buying them up cheap. Call this the “We’re FED UP with any resemblence to free markets” tactic.
    I remind, this is just me thinking out loud. But these are dangerous times we live in, and thinking the unthinkable is at least an exercise in healthy cynicism and wisdom. Given the broader trend of government power, and in light of the current admin, there is certainly much to worry about.

  185. I should clarify this point, as I left out something important in the O/P…
    “2) Boost the broader stock indexes? … ”
    If oil companies are forced to not spend, that would have a chain-reaction throughout the market, much the same way unemployment dominoed to account for the bear market rallies over the past year and a half or so.
    It’s a stretch to say that this kind of effect would have an impact on European markets, but again, these are dangerous and strange times, and markets have proven themselves thus far to be, well, bizare. Case in point is the supposed recovery we’re supposed to be in. This is not an idle and obscure remark that tries to make sense of things…
    Ben Bernanke has said he will keep interest low to help/speed the recovery. What these interest rates mean is that zeroing-interest bleeds out liquidity. In hitting the economy in a place like energy production, it’s like a paper-jam, with the initial result being a rise in the market. This of course has it’s limits, as one would expect. If overall production is reduced for the want of spending, then depletion of supply would at some point drive prices up.
    Yet, this will not occurr. Instead, nervousness (greed quivers when it sees no more potential for numerical growth) will drive the mini-bubble into Treasuries and other government debt (here and abroad), whereupon it will be trapped by zeroing interest, thus bleeding out what Bernanke sees as excess liquidity from the market (which he sees as hindering the economy).
    The end result will be more depriciation of assets, and more money given over to government through Treasury loans. Again, if now be the time, government could easily buy up assets on the cheap(ening). I’ve no idea at what point they would do so, but I see that as their ultimate goal. One should note that it doesn’t matter who the president is. Under all admins, this has been in the making. At no point in any admin or Congressional majority did the trend of zeroing interest ever halt, let alone reverse. The plan has proceeded regardless of politics. Electing out Obama and the democrats will not be enough to save this country.

  186. WOW!!! I want Dr. Schmitt to run for President. I’m guessing he won’t though since it appears he is too smart for the job. 🙂
    Excellent, but sad, commentary on the state of our Country and the response to this crisis.

  187. Kick ass article, nice to see someone prepared to speak the truth
    No one should be allowed into politics without a proven and real business background.
    At least GW the goon he was, managed to run a sports team and an oil company, and so what if he almost went bankrupt a few times, what good businessman hasn’t.
    Here’s a final thought for all you socialists out there :
    If humanity is so corrupted we need all this over sight and government nanny state, then who will run that state ? won’t it be the very humanity that is so corrupted in the first place ?
    Don’t be scared of everyday people, or even entrepreneurs and speculators, they built everything good about the world. Be scared of those that want power over you, lest they become yur jailor.

  188. “President Obama has shown repeatedly that the best interests of the American people are a lower priority than his ideological goal of changing America from what it has been, to some mystical, socialist utopia with a renewable-energy-based standard of living equivalent to that of the late 1800s”
    Wow. If this guy really believes this statement, then he has lost all credibility with me.
    Also sad to see an otherwise great site being turned in just another place to grind right-wing political axes.

  189. RE: Claude Harvey: (June 3, 2010 at 9:52 am) “The fundamental failure of the well stems from a loss of casing integrity far down below the failed Blowout Preventer.”
    I think that this is one of the most important aspects of this whole problem. If the casing integrity is compromised below the B.O.P, then it is, indeed, going to be very hard to stop the uncontrolled leak because oil can still flow through and erode the ground outside of the casing.
    It would appear that everyone involved must have had a complacent mental blind-spot for this type of problem as there appears to have been no advance preparation for any such contingency. I think that a blowout preventer above a possible well-casing failure must be a B.O.P in name only.
    Perhaps the top-capture and bottom-kill techniques are the only practical solutions for now, but I think we should be looking into the development of a better method for quickly handling such problems in the future.

  190. With the oil spill out of control and no reliable end in sight to control the flow of oil is blowing up the leak a realistic option ? I would think the power and heat of the nuclear blast would fuze the rock thereby closing the leak. Has this option been considered ?

  191. Hello, William
    I don’t know, but I would think that a nuclear detonation would have unpredictable results. But yes, they’ve considered this. At least according to some unreliable sources here and there on the ‘net, though I of course can’t say that BP has put that on the list. I doubt they would ever do that, though.
    What I wonder about is why they haven’t tried something like this…
    Collection
    Tanker
    | | <– expandable tube, perhaps some kind of steel radial rubber
    | |
    *| Leak |*
    I hope this posts right. Anyway, the * on the bottom of the sides are the anchors. Just drop the collapseable, weighted tube from the collection tanker, let it sink/expand itself. Once on the bottom (or just hovering over the area), the anchors will help hold it in place, and serve as a seal of sorts if it touches bottom. Won't be perfect, but since the oil shoots up they should be able to contain it more than not I would think. And they could collect the crude while the relief well is being dug, so it wouldn't be a total loss. Anyway, as the collection tanker filled, just have other tankers come by and transfer the load. They could also burn off the gas (which is basically what they were doing before, right?)
    Of course I'm no engineer to say, but… Well, why not just go back to collecting oil as they were before? Is it really so impossible for them to do that? If so, then… what the hell are they doing out there to begin with?! Sheeze!
    imo, The reason this is an environmental disaster is because BP/government want to treat it like one. But if they were to just treat it like a problem of collection, I think this would be well under control by now. Of course, what is their incentive to do so, when nationalization is the ultimate goal of this self-engineered disaster, which will serve as the background rationalization of the take-over that will occur because of what is really happening (egineered failure of markets)?

  192. Source of the story is the confirmation of
    schlumberger presence day of blow out and they only do
    Cement Bond Log (CBL) test that was the final test on the plug that was skipped –
    just testing–
    http://adropofrain.net/2010/05/rumor-schlumberger-exits-deep-horizon-hours-before-blowout/
    “presence of Schlumberger employees was confirmed, as was their departure the day of the blowout, which in my view lends some credence to the rest of the story, especially given that the rest was basically not commented on by BP in this article. We’d need to hear from Schlumberger itself, in court”
    Just a few disgruntled nobodies–
    http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2010/06/oil-june5.html

  193. WAKE UP ARKANSAS !!! Put your thinking caps on !!!
    Look what pond scum has raised the most money for Arkansas Lt. Governor Bill Halter’s Primary Challenge To Senator Blanche Lincoln…
    Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy for America, MoveOn.org, Daily Kos, AFL-CIO, and the Service Employees International Union, etc.
    Now, I personally invested considerable effort to help make a more moderate democrat out of Blanche Lincoln and she has. Got her to back off several nutty liberal stances, such as gun and ammunition taxes and restrictions as well as to support Murkowski’s bill to overturn the EPA ruling on CO2 as a hazardous substance.
    If you think Ms. Lincoln is too liberal, just you watch Bill Halter go to work trying to force you to ‘do without for the sake of the planet’!
    It will make the republican ‘do without full time jobs with benefits, roads and the like for the sake of billionaires and love of war’ look like childs play.
    There are some estimates that the number of young seafloor volcanoes exceed a million. What do they do but release noxious gasses, carbon & CO2 that eventually make it up to the surface and the atmosphere, not to mention the eruptions above above sea level contributing to asthma, etc. Man’s carbon footprint is like a forth of July celebration in a hurricane.

  194. BP Well Bore And Casing Integrity Are Blown.
    http://iraqwar.mirror-world.ru/article/226659
    http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2010/06/07/senator-nelson-says-bp-well-integrity-may-be-blown/
    wellbore is pierced – now oil is seeping from seabed in multiple places –
    http://www.floridaoilspilllaw.com/senator-confirms-reports-that-wellbore-is-pierced-oil-seeping-from-seabed-in-multiple-places
    “Oil and gas are leaking from the seabed surrounding the BP Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida told Andrea Mitchell today on MSNBC. Nelson, one of the most informed and diligent Congressmen on the BP gulf oil spill issue, has received reports of leaks in the well, located in the Mississippi Canyon sector. This is potentially huge and devastating news.
    If Nelson is correct in that assertion, and he is smart enough to not make such assertions lightly, so I think they must be taken at face value, it means the well casing and well bore are compromised and the gig is up on containment pending a completely effective attempt to seal the well from the bottom via successful “relief wells”. In fact, I have confirmed with Senator Nelson’s office that they are fully aware of the breaking news and significance of what the Senator said to Andrea Mitchell.
    Furthermore, contrary to the happy talk propounded by BP, the Obama Administration and the press, the likely success of the “relief well” effort on the first try in August is nowhere near a certainty; and certainly nowhere near the certainty it is being painted as.
    About five days ago, I responded to someone in comments with the following:
    Yeah, but I am absolutely convinced there is such a lack of integrity, from pretty much top to bottom, of the well that totally plugging it at the top just creates the blowout of whatever remaining seal they have with the cement at the wellhead. I believe they have a total clusterfuck in about every regard and are just not admitting it:
    1) BP used, if not substandard, then very close to it, casing that under the circumstances was inappropriate. It is fragile.
    2) They did not install somehow or another at least one major casing segment seal, and the remaining seals are now either completely blown out or on their way to it and as a result oil and gas flow is not only coming up the inside of the casing, but the outside of the casing between the casing and well bore walls in the rock.
    3) BP specified a light and fluffy cement and, additionally, there may be significant breaches and voids making the cement job weak and disintegrating.
    4) Even at best, the cement is in the upper depths of the well bore where the natural geologic rock structure is the loosest, weakest, most porous and fragile (hell some of it may effectively be silt). The oil and gas, which has a natural well pressure of 12,000 or so psi is going to erode and corrode through and around the cement and the porous well bore rock.
    5) Being attached to the Deepwater Horizon rig by the riser, and perhaps drill string too, when all hell broke loose and it exploded, shifted and sank, it put various pressures and forces through attachment to the BOP in turn attached on the well casing head. This action may have kind of reamed out and loosened that whole situation making it even looser and more susceptible to 2 and 4 above.
    6) The BOP, to the extent it had restrictions present initially, has now been eroded and reamed out by the long term flow of gas and oil upwards and then the caustic flow of drilling mud the other direction from the attempted Top Kill. It is totally fucked way worse than it even was initially.
    7) The reservoir of oil in Macondo is way larger than most anybody realizes and certainly bigger than BP will admit. It is a huge mother lode. Could flow forever.
    8) Did I mention that the natural well pressure may be as high as 12,000 psi??
    The Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf States and all of us are totally f***
    As Sir Richard Mottram famously said:
    We’re all f***
    It’s the biggest cock-up ever. We’re all completely f
    I may have been uncomfortably close to the mark. And the quote from Sir Richard Mottram was dead on the money; if Senator Nelson is correct about the breach of fundamental well integrity, the game is close to over for the Gulf of Mexico. We shall see where this goes from Nelson’s initial comment. But make no mistake, Nelson is a careful guy not prone to overt hyperbole, and he clearly understood the ramifications of what he was saying.
    It also means, of course, that BP and the Obama Administrations continue to give the American public short shrift in the truth and honesty departments. How surprising.”
    End of quote.
    Until imbeciles are no longer permitted to
    operate major industries
    like the energy industry and the financial industry —
    the imbeciles will continue to fix
    elections to anoint imbecile politicians with whom
    they can comfortably associate and manipulate.
    If an imbecile is appointed to run the EPA
    or the IPCC —
    any action by the
    congressional imbeciles will
    only magnify any problem arising —
    reason, skills, technology and science will always be supplanted by
    cupidity and malice —
    any new catastrophe is always
    viewed only as just another
    magnificent opportunity
    to divert the media from the previous
    catastrophes(lost wars in iraq and afghan,
    economic black holes, and imploding infrastructures)
    to the new disaster while another new catastrophe is in the making–
    These imbeciles in the china shop love the sounds
    of smashed porcelain.
    There is no reason NOT to believe
    that BP AND Halliburton
    deliberately conspired to create this
    catastrophe to expunge Obama and
    replace him with
    another bush poodle.
    These imbeciles are like dogs locked in a
    dog food warehouse–
    the will gorge until they
    explode–
    unfortunately the imbeciles
    are rupturing the the planet
    before rupturing their
    own intestines.

  195. Mystery gray whale sighted again off Spain coast.
    IT’S THAT WHALE AGAIN!
    A mysterious gray whale sighted off the coast of Israel in the Mediterranean Sea has been seen again off the north east coast of Spain.
    The second sighting, made 23 days and 3000km after the first, has continued to perplex whale experts.
    Gray whales were thought to be extinct across the Atlantic Ocean, so the appearance of an individual within the Mediterranean Sea was a major surprise.
    Now it is not clear where the whale is heading or why.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8729000/8729064.stm

  196. Rather than believe this has anything to do with BP, I would far sooner believe that Obama and his buddies created this issue for two reasons.
    1. create a smokescreen distraction from cap and trade
    2. create a viable piece of evidence to point -= look here is why we don’t want to drill off Alaska.
    They are wanting to put together charges of criminal activity.. since the Democrats are doing the same thing with this that they did with Hurricane Katrina, aka sit on their hands and wait until the damage was done, perhaps we should file charges against Obama for treason against the nation (plenty of reasons why we should) and file criminal charges against his cabinet.
    How bout we focus on the real criminals Namely, Obama et al.

  197. This article hits the nail on the head. Consider the fact that Apollo 13 was 30+ years ago, and the advances in tech since, and this looks pretty pathetic on our part.

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