Mark Anthony's  Instablog

Mark Anthony
Send Message
Mark Anthony, is an IT professional and who had a scientific research background before joining the information revolution. Visit his blog: Stockology (
My blog:
  • Warning to BP: Stop the Relief Wells Or Expect a Much Bigger Catastrophe! 28 comments
    Jul 8, 2010 5:40 PM | about stocks: BP, XOM
    I issue a serious warning to BP: Stop it right now, do NOT drill the last few feet of the relief wells. Do NOT punch that hole through. Think everything through very carefully! If BP proceeds to puncture the hole through to the original blowout well, it opens up a Pandora's Box which may lead to a much bigger catastrophe than any one has ever bargained for!

    BP must halt now and invite all experts for a good debate on exactly what could happen. Build a computer model and test all scenaries. Build a physical model and run tests on it. BP is foolhardy to just proceed and pray/gamble for a success. Because what could happen is not just another failure, but rather a much bigger catastrophe!

    BP explains how a relief well works. You drill another well nearby which intercepts and punches a hole through the casing of the original well, at 18000 feet below sea level, or 135,000 feet below the sea floor. Then heavy mud is injected through the relief well into the original blowout well, filing it up from near the bottom. Since the density of the mud is heavy, the gravity of the mud column generates a pressure enough to counters the pressure of the oil and gas from the reservoir, hence the oil/gas flowis stopped. Once the oil/gas flow is stopped the well can then be sealed off using cement.

    It sounds simple. But due the the extreme depth of the well and the extreme pressure from the reservoir, some technical details make the plan virtually impossible to work. Let me explain.

    For the plan to work. BP needs to ensure several things:

    1. The mud must have a density heavy enough to counter the pressure of the oil from the reservoir and to stop the flow of oil from the reservoir.

    2. The mud must be pumped into the junction point fast enough to prevent it from being diluted by oil and gas coming from the reservoir. See condition 1.

    3. The mud must not be too heavy that it seeps down into the fracture of rocks, damaging the rock formation, fracturing the sea floor which releases oil and gas in an uncontrolable way.

    4. BP must have enough mud at hand. If it ever runs out of mud it's game over for BP. But not so much mud that it all go down into the rock fractures and causes the sea floor to rupture. See condition 3 again.

    I don't see how BP can pull it off.

    For the discussion below, let's keep one thing in mind, when liquid flows thorugh a path, pressure drops the further you go alone the path. Part of the pressure is lost to overcome the resistance to the flow. The higher the viscosity (sticker) is, the narrower the flow path is, the more pressure drops along the path. On the other hand, if the liquid is not flowing, then there is no pressure drop due to liquid flowing.

    In the first phase of operation, mud is injected from the relief well through the junction point into the blowout well, expelling the oil and gas originally in the blowout well out of the exit point, while stopping the flow of oil and gas from the reservoir below.

    When the oil from reservoir is to seep through the rock fractures and then gush out of the blow out well, the pressure at the junction point is way much lower than the reservoir pressure, because it is much harder for the oil to seep through the rock fractures then to flow through the blowout well. Hence more pressure is lost at the rock fractures, than the pressure loss needed to push the oil up through the well. What it means is once the oil below the junction point stops, the pressure at the junction point quickly raises to a much higher level. And BP needs to be able to counter this much higher junction pressure and still be able to push the mud in.

    Now consider the path of the mud. It is pushed down the relief well and then it pushes the oil and gas up the blowout well. Note the exit point is free flowing. The pressure of the mud must be high enough that while the mud is flowing at very high rate, it still generate high enough pressure at the junction point to fight the static pressure from the oil in the reservoir. That goal is extremely hard to achieve, because most of the mud pressure is lost in pushing the mud through the resistance of the relief well.

    Likewise, the original oil and gas must be pushed to gush out of the blowout well even faster than the free flowing rate, to generate enough back pressure to push back the oil coming from the reservoir. Failing that, the oil will continue to flow from below to mix with the mud, hence diluting the mud entering the blowout well. This, again, is virtually impossible for BP to achieve. We are talking about pushing the mud in at more than twice the rate how free flowing oil and gas gushes out of the blowout well.

    To put things into formulas, let's call the pressure at the junction point Pj:

    Formula One, Junction Pressure from the Relief Well:
    (1) Pj = P(Pump) + P(Mud Column) - Q2(Mud Flow) * Rm(Mud Resistance in Relief Well)

    Formula Two, Junction Pressure from the Blowout Well:
    (2) Pj = P(Sea Floor) + P(Oil Column) + Q2(Oil Flow) * Ro(Oil Resistance in Blowout Well)

    Formula Three, Junction Pressure from the oil from the Reservoir:
    (3) Pj = P(Reservoir) - P(Oil Below) - Zero (Oil below not flowing)

    Let's define net pressures, which is the pressures the three source of liquid would generate at the junction point if we put a flow stopper there, as such:

    P(Net Relief Well) = P(Pump) + P(Mud Column)
    P(Net Reservoir) = P(Reservoir) - P(Oil Below)
    P(Net Blowout Well) = P(Sea Floor) + P(Oil Column)

    The relationships can be re-written as such:

    (4) (P(Net Relief) - P(Net Reservoir))/(P(Net Blowout) - P(Net Reservoir))
    = Rm(Mud Resistance in Relief Well)/Ro(Oil Resistance in Blowout Well)

    Let me explain it in layman's English. Let's imagine the reservoir is directly connected to the junction point with no resistance to the flow movement in either direction. The net force that pushes the mud down into the oil reservoir must be pushing the mud down at the same rate that the oil from the reservoir is able to push oil up to gush out of the blowout well, in terms of barrels per day.

    I don't see how BP can have mud heavy enough to achieve this goal. The fact that viscosity of mud is significant higher than the viscosity of oil, hense mud flow experiences much higher resistance than the oil flow, makes it even harder.

    Now that is just one condition, being able to inject mud and completely fill the blowout well with it, without being diluted by the gushing oil. It requires mud heavy enough. This condition directly contradict another condition, which is that the mud must not be so heavy that it is able to seep into the rock fractures, which requires mud that is not so heavy.

    The second condition, preventing mud from seeping into the rock formation, can simply be written as:

    (5) (P(Net Relief) - P(Net Reservoir)) <= 0

    This second conditon, formula (5), can not be achieved at the same time that first condition, formula (4) is achieved.

    I predict that BP's relief wells are not going to be successful.

    A MORE SERIOUS warning to BP: If the relief wells fail as I predicted, do NOT resort to the desperate act of using nuclear options. If you use nuclear option, there is a good possibility it will trigger chain reaction of methane eruption on a global scale, turning the local catastrophe into a global catastrophe!!!


    Disclosure: The author does not currently have any short or long position in BP, but plan to short BP if irrational exuberance pushes BP share price higher leading to the near finish of the relief wells giving people false hope it's going to be successful.
    Stocks: BP, XOM
Back To Mark Anthony's Instablog HomePage »

Instablogs are blogs which are instantly set up and networked within the Seeking Alpha community. Instablog posts are not selected, edited or screened by Seeking Alpha editors, in contrast to contributors' articles.

Comments (28)
Track new comments
  • lee_bro
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
    Suggest you sent your blog to:



    H37 and PE1 seem to know more about real drilling than BP. They surely know enough to go over the head of this ChemE, who only knows the refining side of the oil business.
    8 Jul 2010, 06:00 PM Reply Like
  • Mark Anthony
    , contributor
    Comments (3595) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Let me explain the formulas in easier terms:


    To ensure that the mud can push the oil and gas in the blowout well while preventing the oil and gas from the reservoir to gush out and mix with the mud at the junction point, the static pressure from the mud in the releaf well must EXCEED the static pressure from the reservoir by such a large margin, that the static pressure difference divided by the pressure difference between the reservoir and the opening of the blowout well, equals to the flow resistance of oil in the blowout well divided by the flow resistance of mud in the relief well.


    Static pressure is defined as pressure generated by gravity, and the pushing of the pump, but subtracting any pressure difference due to dragging due to the flow of the liquid.


    Assuming the density of oil is 0.9, the rock layer has a density of 5.0, the reservoir is 1500 meter below the sea level and then another 9000 metets below sea floor. The junction point is 4000 meter below sea floor. Let's assume the md has a density of 9.0, which is an extreme exageration as no mud is any where nearly as densy as 8.0, most mud only has a density of something like 1.20. Let's further assume that the mud is as sticky as oil, so pushing the mud is as hard as pushing the oil.


    Let's do some calculation.


    The static pressure from mud:
    P(Net, Mud) = (1500+4000)*9.0 + 666 = 50,166
    The 1500+4000 is the depth of the mud column. The pumping machine adds an extra 1000 PSI, or 666 meter water worth of pressure.


    The static pressure from reservoir:
    P(Net,Reservoir) = P(Reservoir) - (9000-4000)*0.90
    = (1500*1.0 + 9000*5.0) - (9000-4000)*0.90
    = 42,000


    The static pressure from oil in the blowout well:
    P(Net,Blowout) = Water (1500*1.0) + Oil (4000*0.9) = 5100


    So the static pressure difference pushing the mud down is 50,166 - 42,000 = 8,166


    While the static pressure difference that pushes oil up is 42,000 - 5,100 = 36,900


    In such a case, part of the oil will mix in with the mud:
    8,166 part of mud + (36,900-8,166) part of oil
    Mud : Oil = 8,166 : 28,734


    Or the mixture coming out of the blowout well will be 22% mud and 78% of oil. That mud will be too diluted to be working for BP.


    That is assuming the mud has a viscosity same as oil. Let's pushing an extremely case that the viscosity of mud is way way much higher than oil, in such case no mud will work. Because the mud is just TOO sticky to be pushed in at all.


    Let's push another extreme case, let's say the mud viscosity is ZERO, no resistance whatsoever, in such case, merely for the static pressure from the mud exceed the static pressure from the reservoir, is good enough, the oil will be so sticky and the mud moves way much faster, for the mixture to be mostly mud as it pushes out of the blowout well.


    In the neutral case of equal viscosity, I expect the mud generate TWICE the static reservoir pressure, to be able to be pushed into the blowout well with no oil mixed in.


    That is a goal impossible for BP to achieve.


    The best bet BP has is to use as heavy a mud as possible, heavier than the rocks at least. And the viscosity needs to be as low as possible, maybe as low as gasoline, but definitely needs to be much more lubricated than the oil gushing out.


    I don't see how BP can do it.
    8 Jul 2010, 10:36 PM Reply Like
  • alphaseeker2012
    , contributor
    Comments (60) | Send Message
    For added fun, it's hurricane season so the timing has to be right in order to fully complete the operation once it has started.
    9 Jul 2010, 07:39 AM Reply Like
  • Bing Dicklepuss
    , contributor
    Comments (10) | Send Message
    This is absurd. I thought Seeking Alpha was trying to be a credible financial information source. Now they are letting PhD dropouts who can't spell "through" (thorugh?) or "scenarios" (scenaries?) post warnings against buying stock based on cockamamie pseudoscience.


    This cowboy doesn't have a PhD in physics, and even if he did, that counts for nothing when we're talking about oil drilling engineering.


    I guess we'll see if BP is at zero in a year, like you predict, or at $40-50, like I predict. Worst case scenario, the stock is trading right here at $33 in one year. Fears are way over blown on this one. But I appreciate the opportunity to buy shares so cheap.
    9 Jul 2010, 07:56 AM Reply Like
  • Mark Anthony
    , contributor
    Comments (3595) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » User 204405:


    BP has a small city's worth of Ph.D.s and yet none of them were smart enough to know how dangerous it was to drill in that part of the Mexican Gulf. This is basic physics. The physics doesn't work out for BP. We will see in a month or so.


    I do not even have any position in BP. I am not short in BP. I have dedicated a great deal of my investment resource in long SWC, a world unique palladium mining company, and some other precious metal players. At appropriare time I may decide to short BP. But at this writting I have no vest interest in BP. I wish BP good luck. They will need it.


    In layman's term, I do not see how BP can manage to squeeze the mud through a 3.5 mile long narrow pipe and inject into the blowout well near the bottom, against pressure exists there, and do it fast enough to prevent the mud from being diluted. Does BP even know what kind of extreme pressure they open up to, when they punch the hole through?
    9 Jul 2010, 09:53 AM Reply Like
  • Ryan
    , contributor
    Comments (69) | Send Message
    Kid, you're retarded. You know nothing about drilling.
    9 Jul 2010, 12:17 PM Reply Like
  • Mark Anthony
    , contributor
    Comments (3595) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Some basic information regarding the Macondo well if any one wants to do some calculation:



    Quote some numbers:


    Sea floor depth: 1522 meter/ 4992 feet deep
    Oil Field depth: 6,279 m / 20,595 ft


    Average oceanic crust density is 3 grams per cubic centimeter.


    Based on these number I calculate the reservoir pressure to be 22442 PSI (pound per square inch). The number could be off based on actual rock type and density.


    This article says the reservoir is 30000 feet further down from the sea floor:
    9 Jul 2010, 05:22 PM Reply Like
  • Gigem77
    , contributor
    Comments (2616) | Send Message
    The Macondo well is at a depth of 18,000 ft , not 30,000. This has been stated clearly in the BP updates and the Coast Guard updates. Your pressure calculations are wrong. The reservoir pressure is roughly 13,000 psi. Find a good petroleum engineer ( I did) and ask some questions.


    The pressure of the flowing well is lower than the relief well which is balanced with drilling mud. When this lower pressure is encountered the mud will flow to the Macondo Well.


    BP has posted an excellent video on what the relief well will do.
    10 Jul 2010, 10:21 AM Reply Like
  • Mark Anthony
    , contributor
    Comments (3595) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Where do you get the 13000 PSI number? You cite no source. The reservoir pressure is certainly much higher than that. Otherwise what supports all the weight of rocks and water above the reservoir? Whoever calculated that 13,000 PSI pressure, did the calculation wrong. Matthew Simmons claims the reservoir pressure is as high as 100,000 PSI, which is way too high. But 13,000 PSI is way to low. What is the true pressure? BP never told us. Every one simply guestimate it by calculations.
    10 Jul 2010, 04:36 PM Reply Like
  • bitter-bob
    , contributor
    Comments (261) | Send Message
    TD of the well was 18,360 ft.


    Density of the mud used to drill the final section was 14.2 ppg.


    Well did not flow until mud was displaced with lighter seawater, thus max reservoir pressure would equal the hydrostatic pressure exerted by the mud column.


    Governing equation:
    P(psi) = Mud Weight (ppg) * True Vertical Depth (ft) * 0.052
    P = 14.2 * 18,360 * 0.052
    P = 13,366 psi


    22 Oct 2012, 01:23 AM Reply Like
  • Mark Anthony
    , contributor
    Comments (3595) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » This discussion thread at TheOilDrum gives some technical details that are interesting:



    The 30,000 to 40,000 PSI pressure was mentioned, it was also mentioned on the Mark Levin show. Some one worked on the Deep Water Horizon rig called in to give that pressure range.
    9 Jul 2010, 06:44 PM Reply Like
  • Advill
    , contributor
    Comments (2332) | Send Message
    From what I know, you do not inject "mud" alone, it always goes with "junk", usually solid balls of steel and rubber which creates a "mesh" providing a few important minutes to create a mud tower over them, still I don´t have the technical knowledge to support or not your position.


    Wells killings is a common technique being used for decades it was useful in Ixtoc spill (10 months later) and depth was low and oil was quite near the surface with a problem of "adherence " because of the short distance of the mud to "weight", it was done injecting huge amounts of golf size steel balls.


    Still your points deserve an answer of BP technicians in their terms.
    10 Jul 2010, 12:51 AM Reply Like
  • Gigem77
    , contributor
    Comments (2616) | Send Message
    This is not a top-kill effort. The relief well will likely pump sea water first at very high rates, 50-60 bpm. A drilling engineer posted this: "This should be a greater volume than the well is now flowing. If the pressure sink is great enough, the sea water will not only be going up the annulus, it will "flood" the near well bore area and only the sea water will be going up the annulus. Frictional forces are going to be very high and the ECD (equivalent circulating density) of the sea water and the higher density of the sea water will slowly reduce the surface pressure at the wellhead. If the flooding is great enough to suppress the gas from entering the flow, then at some stage the returns at the well head will be all sea water. Then is the time to start pumping heavier mud to effectively kill the well. After this annulus is filled with heavy mud, then, providing circulation is steady, it is time to cement the annulus."
    10 Jul 2010, 11:48 AM Reply Like
  • Mark Anthony
    , contributor
    Comments (3595) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Advill:


    You made good point. But keep in mind this relief well is way deeper than any previous ones, putting junks in with the mud have the risk of getting the stuff stucked at the bottom and unable to push the stuff over to the blowout well. You want the thing to be able to be pushed through, and yet once the stuff reaches the blowout well you don't want them to move and you want them to be stucked, e.g., plug the well. That's the whole point. It's a contradicting goal.


    In view how fast the oil is gushing out of the blowout well, you want to be able to push the mud in as fast as possible, otherwise the mud gets diluted by the gushing oil and simply gets washed out. Putting junk into the mud definitely work against the goal of pushing mud through fast. It will slow the mud down.


    This Macondo well is very different from the Ixtoc well. It's much deeper and the oil is gusing out much faster.


    BP needs to halt the operation and their engineers need to present to the public a convincing case why they can get it work, before proceeding to punch the hole through.
    10 Jul 2010, 10:11 AM Reply Like
  • Mark Anthony
    , contributor
    Comments (3595) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Dr. Dr. Stephen Rinehart, a physicist, chips in with his opinion regarding how the blowout happened. He believes that suddenly replacing the hot drilling mud with cold sea water caused the stell pipe of well casing to contract by as much as 13 feet, destroying the cement plug. Very interesting reading:


    Potential Show Stopper
    Regarding the Use of Cement in Deepwater Drilling in Gulf of Mexico
    by Dr. Stephen Rinehart | June 27, 2010
    10 Jul 2010, 04:54 PM Reply Like
  • Mark Anthony
    , contributor
    Comments (3595) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » Another article:


    Oil Volcano Pressure Too Strong For Containment
    Dr. James P. Wickstrom 6-9-10



    Dr. Wickstrom claims the reservoir pressure is between 20,000 PSI to 100,000 PSI. I do not think BP even have an accurate figure what the actual reservoir pressure is. The 13,000 PSI number cited by GIgem77 above was calculated based on mud used. That certainly is NOT the actual reservoir pressure, but merely mud pressure.
    10 Jul 2010, 05:02 PM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6282) | Send Message
    Dr. James P Wickstrom? Did you look this guy up? He is a known Aryan Bible thumping white supremacist Neo Nazi. Doctor of Letters… issued by who?
    10 Jul 2010, 08:39 PM Reply Like
  • Advill
    , contributor
    Comments (2332) | Send Message
    As far as I know there is no well in service with 100,000psi.....can a oil technician as Alan clear this question?.


    13 Jul 2010, 12:35 AM Reply Like
  • Mark Anthony
    , contributor
    Comments (3595) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » OK, I find this comment on, which is probably where the 13,000 PSI pressure estimate came from:



    The scout ticket tells us that the pressure at the top of the reservoir was no greater than ~13,000 psi based on mud weight to control lost circulation:


    LWD (RLL, BATSON, PWD) @17173, M 14.1, NO SWC, 9 7/8 LNR @14759-17168, LOT 15.9, LWD (RLL, BATSON, GEOTAP, PWD) @18260, LOST CIRC W/14.4 MUD, C&C SPTTD LCM


    LWD=Logging While Drilling
    RLL=Recorded Lithology Log with gamma ray and resistivity
    NO SWC=No Side Wall Cores
    PWD=Pressure While Drilling
    LOT=Leak Off Test to measure strength of wellbore wall


    At 18260 ft, Lost Circulation with 14.4 lb/gal mud, then Circulated and Conditioned the mud and Spotted a Lost Circulation Material pill to cure the losses. They had drilled into the top of the reservoir (gas cap) and mud started leaking away into the reservoir, because 14.4 mud weight was greater than the reservoir pressure. Assuming a vertical well, reservoir pressure was less than 14.4 x .052 x 18260 = 13768 psi, or mud would not have been lost.


    The mud could be lost any where between the well head and the BOP. I am still not convinced that the pressure is only 13,000 PSI. That reservoir pressure is NOT enough to support the total weight of all the water and rock layers above the reservoir.
    10 Jul 2010, 05:40 PM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6282) | Send Message
    Oil reservoirs are not pools of liquid/ gas, they consist of porous rock. The oil and gas is trapped inside the pores in the rock. If you were to look at the oil bearing rock, it would look like a… rock.


    A great deal of the overburden weight is carried by the porous rock formation of the oil reservoir. The pressure on the oil and gas contained in the pores would be a function of the amount of deformation the rock allows. This kind of deformation model predicts that past a certain point, the deformation will max out, and the oil and gas will no longer flow. This explains why only about one-quarter of the oil/ gas in a well can be extracted in a free flow.


    Here is an interesting thought experiment. Suppose you have a cave at a depth of 18,000 feet, and you drill a hole down through the ceiling of the cave with a hollow one foot diameter drill pipe, open to the air at the top of the well.


    Is the air pressure inside the cave equal to the total weight of the overburden rock? No matter what the air pressure in the cave was, assuming the cave does not collapse, what is the pressure in the cave after a few seconds?
    10 Jul 2010, 08:57 PM Reply Like
  • MarketVViz
    , contributor
    Comments (22) | Send Message
    Anyone know what pressure the new cap is capable of measuring and/or holding? One burning question I have is related to this article. If there is risk to the bottom kill attempt, AND the new cap is capable of containing 100% of the flow, why not just capture the entire flow even if it takes years, instead of attempting the bottom kill? Assuming they could capture everything, it would be a big win for everyone, BP could use the proceeds of the captured oil to pay for cleanup and claims.
    13 Jul 2010, 12:07 AM Reply Like
  • Gigem77
    , contributor
    Comments (2616) | Send Message
    The new containment cap is in place and will be tested today. It is capable of measuring whatever the pressure is at the top of the well. If the cap holds, the well can be sealed. The testing, per BP, will take 6 to 48 hours. If the cap testing shows pressure drops, then the well will be produced to the surface with 100% containment. There are some good videos on this at the BP website.


    The preferred option is for the relief well to plug the blowout. Remember that even with 100% containment, this "fix" is not hurricane proof. If they have to move the ships on the surface, while the well is producing, then oil will be dumped into the ocean until the storm passes.


    Read the bio on John Wright, Boots & Coots leader, over 80 relief wells drilled, 40 of his own design. This is #41.
    13 Jul 2010, 06:18 AM Reply Like
  • Mark Anthony
    , contributor
    Comments (3595) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » The new cap, called 3 ram capping stack, will not be able to hold the oil flow back. The weakest point is where the so called transition spool flange is attached to the flange on the BOP by 6 bolts. It's the same flange and bolts that were used to attach the raiser. But the raiser was never designed to take such huge pressure from the reservoir. The pressure may snap the bolts easily.
    13 Jul 2010, 10:13 AM Reply Like
  • Advill
    , contributor
    Comments (2332) | Send Message
    No MA you are going to far with your speculation, you has been assuming wrong facts as real and concluded erroneously about resistance of the crust, oil flow, PSI , etc, the re is sensible reason to consider you right, sorry but no.
    13 Jul 2010, 04:05 PM Reply Like
  • Gigem77
    , contributor
    Comments (2616) | Send Message
    Dan Pickering has good info. "What happens when the relief well penetrates the Macondo annulus? – The initial intersection will encounter a low pressure situation as Macondo’s flowing well pressure should be significantly below the 13,000psi reservoir pressure. It is this pressure drawdown that allows 50,000bopd of oil and 110mmcf/day of gas to flow out of the reservoir. A good guess for the pressure in the well at the intersection point is in the ballpark of 10,000psi…a full 3,000psi less than the hydrostatic pressure in the relief well. It doesn’t take a drilling engineer to see what happens when 13,000psi pushes against 10,000psi…the higher pressure wins. Thus, at contact, the mud from the relief well will rapidly u-tube into the Macondo well (which is a good thing). The heavy relief well mud will move up the Macondo annulus (and into the Macondo wellbore if there are any holes). BP will then kick in with mud pumps on the relief well to keep the relief well full of mud and to begin filling up the Macondo well. Along the way, BP will use the valves on the producing vessel and the LMRP cap to choke back and/or completely shut-in the Macondo wellbore as they want to prevent the heavy weight mud from being blown out of the well. As more and more kill mud enters the Macondo well, the fluid column will get heavier and heavier. At some point in the process, the Macondo oil/gas production will slow (more backpressure and therefore less pressure drop between the formation and the Macondo annulus/wellbore). Eventually, the weight of the mud and the backpressure from the closed valves at the top of the well will stop the Macondo flow altogether and the well will be “killed”. This process could/will take days."
    13 Jul 2010, 09:41 AM Reply Like
  • Mark Anthony
    , contributor
    Comments (3595) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » UP, an update on the latest of BP's pressure test. It surely disappoints them that the pressure does NOT reach where it should be, which may imply that either the well is depleted (unlikely), or that there is leak. Although they have not spotted any leak, note if oil seeps out of sea bed, it could occur any where within a 3 to 4 miles radius. There is NO WAY they can spot such leak promptly due to limited visibility under the sea.


    What is the expected pressure if there is no leak, and the oil reservoir pressure has not decyaed due to depletion? First look at a previous comment:


    The mud of 14.4 pounds per gallon has a density of (14.4 * 0.454kg)/(3.7855 litre) = 1.727 gram/cm^3. The pressure generated by a column of 18260 feet is then:
    1.727 * 0.4328 * 18260 = 13648 PSI.


    I think my number is more accurate. Now from 18260 feet deep going back up an oil column of 13260 feet to reach the sea floor level, gives you a pressure of
    13648 PSI - (0.85 * 0.4328 * 13260) = 8770 PSI


    I expect that if there is no leak, pressure within the new sealing cap should reach 8770 PSI. This is in line with BP's expectation of 8000-9000 PSI.


    Based on this comment in the news: "Pressure readings after 24 hours were about 6,700 pounds per square inch and rising slowly, Allen said, below the 7,500 psi that would clearly show the well was not leaking. He said pressure continued to rise between 2 and 10 psi per hour."


    I expect the final equilibrium pressure will reach 6707 to 6750 PSI. That is far below expectation.


    There has got to be a leak within the well.
    16 Jul 2010, 07:33 PM Reply Like
  • Mark Anthony
    , contributor
    Comments (3595) | Send Message
    Author’s reply » BP scientists are puzzling why the pressure in the sealing cap only reached 6745 PSI so far, below expected value 8770 PSI, calculated from reservir pressure.


    I think they need to worry about another piece of data which is way much more worrysome: Why it takes SO LONG for the pressure to approach its final equilibrium point. It has taken one day to reach 6700, and another day to reach 6745. It slowed down a lot more but the pressure hasn't quite stablized yet.


    If the well is not leaking and the oil is confined within the well. The total volume of the well is roughly 6500 barrels of oil worth of volume, a very small volume. I would expect that the pressure should reach equilibrium within a few minutes. But it is taking way much longer time to reach equilibrium.




    If you fill water into a bath tub, you know it is common sense that the bigger the volume is, the slower the fauset flows, the longer it takes for water to fill up.


    Likewise, the much longer than expected time it takes for pressure to reach equilibrium, suggest that the total volume of confinement of oil in the well is a MUCH BIGGER volume than just the well itself.


    That means the well is pierced some where, and the oil can flow out of the well into a much bigger pocket of storage outside the well, but still under-ground. This increases the effective volume of confinement of the oil many times bigger, because the total volume includes both the well, and the pocket in the rock formation that it connects to.


    If the oil pocket in the rock formation does not enlarge, and does not pierce all the way through sea floor, and does not get damages by penertaing oil, then it is still confined, oil will eventually fill up, and the pressure will ultimately reach equilibrium with the reservoir, i.e., reach 8770 PSI. But it will take a very very long time to get there. Such a case, theoretically is not a leak, because the oil is still confined and can not get out. But in practice it is a leak. It definitely is a pierced well.


    If in another case, the oil pocket is pierced all the way through the sea floor, then the oil is NOT confined. In such case the well pressure will never raise to the level in equilibrium with the reservoir, it will stay below that level. That would be a definite indication that not only oil leaks out of the well, it can leak all the way out into the sea.


    In either case, the data proves positively the well is compromised. That is a very bad news to BP.


    But at least, BP knows any piercing of the well, is NOT due to the pressure test. If new piercing happened during the pressure test, they should notice sudden jittering of the pressure. The fact that the pressure is steadying raising to a seemingly target, without such jittering, means probably no new damage is caused.


    So at least BP can keep the value shut for now, and continue to monitor the pressure. But it really puts a huge questionmark whether they should proceed with teh relief wells or not. I think, if my reasoning stands, there is little point to proceed with the relief wells, as they will cause a much bigger catastrophe, not just another failure.
    17 Jul 2010, 06:19 PM Reply Like
  • bitter-bob
    , contributor
    Comments (261) | Send Message
    Wow, wish I had seen this thread two years ago when it was originally published. The complete lack of fundamental drilling knowledge is staggering. Someone should have taken a crash course in IADC Well Control before spouting this garbage.
    16 Oct 2012, 11:05 PM Reply Like
Full index of posts »
Latest Followers


  • Jim Rogers favors water investment! California is in a water crisis. Cardiz (CDZI) is up almost 50% today on news:
    Jun 5, 2009
  • China is still buying US T-Bonds and Yuan is pegged to dollar. WHY? Read my shocking discovery: Enjoy!
    Jun 4, 2009
  • PEIX, a once hot ethanol play, goes Ch.11 today, as expected. Recent unusual price moves must lured speculators in. Good lesson learned.
    May 18, 2009
More »

Latest Comments

Instablogs are Seeking Alpha's free blogging platform customized for finance, with instant set up and exposure to millions of readers interested in the financial markets. Publish your own instablog in minutes.