Oil Rig Explosion

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Minuteman, Apr 21, 2010.


  1. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    Those of us in the business have been following this all day. We are praying for those missing but know that it would be very unlikely to find them alive. This may turn out to be the deadliest oil rig disaster in the Gulf.

    R.I.P. brothers.


    Oil rig explodes off Louisiana coast; 11 missing - Yahoo! News



    Since 2001, there have been 69 offshore deaths, 1,349 injuries and 858 fires and explosions in the Gulf, according to the federal Minerals Management Service.

    There are 42 rigs either drilling or doing upgrades and maintenance in depths of 1,000 feet or greater in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the agency. They employ an estimated 35,000 people.

    In 1964, a catamaran-type drilling barge operated by Pan American Petroleum Corp. near Eugene Island, about 80 miles off Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico, suffered a blowout and explosion while drilling a well. Twenty-one crew members died.

    The deadliest offshore drilling accident took place in 1988, when an Occidental Petroleum platform, the Piper Alpha, about 120 miles off Aberdeen, Scotland, was rocked by explosions and fire. A total of 167 men were killed.
     
  2. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    some shots
    pic02995. pic04827. pic05436. pic11942. IMG_1114. IMG_1129.
     
  3. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Any scuttlebutt on the cause yet?

    May the injured recover, and the lost be remembered.
     
  4. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    It's still speculation at this point. This is from an oilfield message board. Sounds likely.

    How did it happen? We do not know for certain, but according to our sources, the rig had recently set and cemented a tapered 7"x 9 5/8" tapered casing and were somewhere in the process of displacing the riser with seawater and subsequently setting a surface plug when the well blew out. According to one anecdote, the rig was probably less than 24 hours from leaving location when the blowout occurred.

    • What caused it? From this analyst's experience in the cementing industry, the incident appears as if it was either the product of annular gas migration through the cement sheath as it was setting or that the act of displacing the riser to seawater reduced the hydrostatic head enough that it caused the well to start flowing though cement that was not yet hard. With casing in the ground, these two possible explanations seem by far the most likely, although its impossible at this point not to rule out some other cause or contributing factor such as a blow out preventer or a casing integrity issue.
    It unloaded, just like the 6000 pound overpressure at haley quinn allison back in 1981. Nothing could stop it.
    I think they encountered pressures that even BOP could not handle. Rated 15,000 PSI. Unusual to get near a pound a foot, but not impossible. Saw those type pressures in Loving County back in 1981.


    http://drillingclub.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=wellcontrol&action=display&thread=4837
     
  5. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    We are hearing stories up here of some 5000 psi at the surface on local gas wells after fracking. Sounds high to me, but this area is still way early in the play and facts are hard to come by.

    By the looks of those fire pix, that is oil burning, not nat gas. Is it common for both in the same strata?

    Full marks to those crew boat guys manning the fire nozzles. About all they can do is try to keep as much of the platform cool as they can, no way to snuff that one.
     
  6. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    It is the gas that pushes the oil to the surface. Oil and gas in varying degrees are usaually found together. When you have oil with no gas to push it to the surface it has to be pumped out of the ground. Those are the wells you see with a "Pump Jack" on them. The equipment that rocks up and down. That's one reason Saudi oil is so inexpensive, it is free flowing with the natural gas pushing it out of the ground.

    The predictions of a major ecological disaster were hyped. It was an uncontrolled blowout for awhile but there are safe guards in place to contain an all out free flow of oil. There are safety valves on the sea floor to shut off flow in that event. It may be that they could not get to the valve for a time but eventually got it shut or, it is very common for a well blowing out uncontrolled like that to suck formation into the well bore enough to "pack-off" and seal the well bore preventing any further flow.

    It seems to be under control now with some spillage. Clean up methods have come a long way in the last several years. It is a mess for a while but not the major ecological impact that people expect.

    We in the business knew that there was little hope for the 11 missing. One of them was from Kilgore,Texas. He was a schoolmate of a good friend of mine.
     
  7. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    I have been watching the news coverage today. And I have been following the discussions on oilfield boards. Obviously something out of the ordinary has happened with this. The safeguards built into the systems and the training of personell and the testing of equipment are so stringent that an uncontrolled spill like this one is so rare as to be a once in a lifetime event.

    Something has gone very, very wrong. When the rig sank it piled up debris around the wellhead and has somehow prevented the closing off of the safety valves or blowout preventers, that are there to stop an uncontrolled flow.

    The BOP (blow out preventer) is tested every time prior to drilling out into pressurized formations. And every 21 days during drilling. And must be certified by the state. I am working in Louisiana and their regulatory rules are much more stringent than in Texas.

    I am afraid that the media is going to sensationalise this to the enth degree. I take all the predictions by the so called experts with a grain of salt. Yes it is going to be a problem, and it will have some impact on the local economies. But how much is very speculative.
    I can almost guarantee that it will be far less than all the pundits are speculating.

    I was in Saudi after the Gulf war when the Iraqi's blew the control valves off all the supply lines to the tanker filling ports in Kuwait. There was millions of gallons of raw crude spilt into the Arabian Gulf. The experts were predicting it would be the worst enviromental disaster in history and would take decades to clean up. It was nasty at first. Black beaches and an oily sheen on the water. I was at the same area less than two years later and you couldn't tell that anything had happened. The enviromental impact was not nearly the disaster that the pundits made out. The local fishing industry was back up to par in less than two years.

    I am not saying that it is no big deal, it is. But it is not nearly the sensational, mega disaster that you would think by watching the media coverage.

    I just hope that this isn't used to stop offshore drilling. I have already seen reports that BP had stated in their safety evaluation that an uncontrolled spill was "So unlikely as to be virtually impossible.". They are using that to suggest that they were somehow negligent. But that is a very true statement. This type of uncontrolled flow is so rare as to be, as I stated before, a once in a lifetime occurence. This had to be a convergence of many different factors. A perfect storm of events that led to this. We will eventually learn exactly what happened and learn some lessons from it that will help to prevent a similar occurence in the future.

    Unfortunately that will not bring back the fathers, husbands, and sons that lost their lives in this disaster. That is the real tradgedy and the highest cost of this.

    I found the following summary of the event on an oilfield discussion board. It puts it into a more human perspective.
     
  8. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    April 26, 2010 Transocean
    Rig Disaster: The Well From Hell
    Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. Here's another update on the disaster that befell Transocean Ltd. and BP last week in the Gulf of Mexico.
    (Thanks to OI reader Steve, in Texas, for sending some of the photos in today’s alert.)

    As you know by now, the drilling vessel Deepwater Horizon exploded, burned and sank last week, with the loss of 11 workers and injuries to many more. What happened? What's happening now? What's going to happen? I've spent the weekend working to piece things together.

    An Ill-fated Discovery
    According to news accounts, at about 10 p.m. CDT last Tuesday, Deepwater Horizon was stable, holding an exact position in calm, dark seas about 45 miles south of the Louisiana coastline. Water depth in the area is 5,000 feet. The vessel manifest listed 126 souls on board.

    Deepwater Horizon was finishing work on an exploration well named Macondo, in an area called Mississippi Canyon Block 252. After weeks of drilling, the rig had pushed a bit down over 18,000 feet, into an oil-bearing zone. The Transocean and BP personnel were installing casing in the well. BP was going to seal things up, and then go off and figure out how to produce the oil -- another step entirely in the oil biz.

    The Macondo Block 252 reservoir may hold as much as 100 million barrels. That's not as large as other recent oil strikes in the Gulf, but BP management was still pleased. Success is success --
    certainly in the risky, deep-water oil environment. The front office of BP Exploration was preparing a press release to announce a "commercial" oil discovery.

    This kind of exploration success was par for the course for Deepwater Horizon. A year ago, the vessel set a record at another site in the Gulf, drilling a well just over 35,000 feet and discovering the 3 billion barrel Tiber deposit for BP. SoDeepwater Horizon was a great rig, with a great crew and a superb record. You might even say that is was lucky.

    But perhaps some things tempt the Gods. Some actions may invite ill fate. Because suddenly, the wild and wasteful ocean struck with a bolt from the deep.

    The Lights Went out;
    and Then...

    Witnesses state that the lights flickered on the Deepwater Horizon. Then a massive thud shook the vessel, followed by another strong vibration. Transocean employee Jim Ingram, a seasoned
    offshore worker, told the U.K. Times that he was preparing for bed after working a 12-hour shift. "On the second [thud]," said Mr. Ingram, "we knew something was wrong." Indeed, something was very wrong.

    Within a moment, a gigantic blast of gas, oil and drilling mud roared up through three miles of down-hole pipe and subsea risers. The fluids burst through the rig floor and ripped up into the gigantic draw-works. Something sparked. The hydrocarbons ignited. In a fraction of a second, the drilling deck of the Deepwater Horizon exploded into a fireball. The scene was an utter conflagration.

    Evacuate and Abandon
    Ship

    There was almost no time to react. Emergency beacons blared. Battery-powered lighting switched on throughout the vessel. Crew members ran to evacuation stations. The order came to abandon ship.
    Then from the worst of circumstances came the finest, noblest elements of human behavior. Everyone on the vessel has been through extensive safety training. They knew what to do. Most crew members climbed into covered lifeboats. Other crew members quickly winched the boats, with their shipmates, down to the water. Then those who stayed behind rapidly evacuated in other designated emergency craft.

    Some of the crew, however, were trapped in odd parts of the massive vessel, which measures 396 feet by 256 feet -- a bit less than the size of two football fields laid side by side.( This is one big
    Drill Ship) They couldn't get to the boats. So they did what they had to do, which for some meant jumping -- and those jumpers did not fare so well. Several men broke bones due to the impact of their 80-foot drop to the sea. Still, it beat burning.

    With searchlights providing illumination, as well as the eerie light from the flames of the raging fire, boat handlers pulled colleagues out of the water beneath the burning rig. In some instances, the plastic fittings on the lifeboats melted from the heat.

    The flames intensified.
    Soon it was impossible for the lifeboats to function near the massive vessel. The small boats moved away from the raging fountain of fire fed by ancient oil and gas from far below.


    The lifeboat skippers saved as many as they could find -- 115 -- but couldn't account for 11 workers who were, apparently, on or around the drill deck at the time of the first explosion. Nine of the missing are Transocean employees. Two others work for subcontractors.

    Damon
    Bankston to the Rescue

    Fate was not entirely cruel that night. Indeed, a supply boat was already en route to the Deepwater
    Horizon. It was the Tidewater Damon Bankston, a 260-foot long flat-deck supply vessel.

    Damon Bankston heard the distress signal. Her captain did what great captains do. He aimed the bow toward the position of Deepwater Horizon. Then he tore through the water, moved along by four mighty Caterpillar engines rated at 10,200 horsepower. Soon, the Damon Bankston arrived on scene,
    sailed straight into the flames and joined the rescue.

    Meanwhile, Coast Guard helicopters lifted off from pads in southern Louisiana, and Coast Guard
    rescue vessels left their moorings. "You have to go out," is the old Coast Guard saying. "You don't have to come back."

    The helicopters flew in the black of night toward a vista of utter disaster. Arriving on scene, the pilots watched in awe as columns of flame shot as high as a 50-story building. The helicopters were buffeted by blasts of super-heated wind coming from the flames, while chunks of soot the size of your hand blew by.

    The pilots hovered in the glow of the blazing rig, while Coast Guard medics fast-roped down to the deck of Damon Bankston . The medics quickly assessed the casualties, strapped critically injured crewmen to backboards and hoisted them up to the helicopters. Then the pilots turned north and sped ashore to hospitals.

    Uninjured survivors returned to land on the Damon Bankston. And others came out to fight
    the blistering flames.

    But the Deepwater Horizon wasn't going to make it. The situation deteriorated, to the point of complete catastrophe. The ship was lost.


    At about 10 a.m. CDT on Thursday morning, 36 hours after the first explosion, the Deepwater Horizon capsized and sank in 5,000 feet of water. According to BP, the hulk is located on the
    seafloor, upside-down, about 1,500 feet away from the Macondo well it drilled.

    Still Spilling Oil

    On Friday, I told you that the oil well drilled by the Deepwater Horizon was sealed in. The "official" word was that the well wasn't gushing oil into the sea. My sources were no less than U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry, of the New Orleans district, as quoted in The New York Times.

    But over the weekend, Rear Adm. Landry and The New York Times reported that the well IS leaking oil, at a rate of about 1,000 barrels per day.

    The on-scene information comes from remotely operated underwater robots that BP and Transocean are using to monitor the well and survey all the other wreckage of the Deepwater Horizon. There's now a large amount of equipment and pipe and a myriad of marine debris on the seafloor near the well. It's a mess.

    Apparently, the blowout preventer is not controlling the flow of oil. According to Transocean, the blowout preventer on Deepwater Horizon was manufactured by Cameron Intl. (CAM: NYSE).

    What happened? We don't know that just yet. Earlier reports that underwater robots sealed the blowout preventer were wrong. It's possible that the blowout preventer is only partially closed. We'll find out, eventually. Meanwhile, BP and Transocean have announced that they will make another effort to activate the blowout preventer. They need to stop that oil.

    BP is also preparing to drill one or more relief wells to secure the site permanently. BP has mobilized the drilling rig Development Driller III, which is moving into position to drill a second well to intercept the leaking well. With the new well, the drillers will inject a specialized heavy fluid into the original well. This fluid will secure and block the flow of oil or gas and allow BP to permanently seal the first well.
    Copy of transocean1.JPG transocean_3.JPG
     
  9. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    wow, make's the 40 gallons of gear we lost out of a Wind turbine last month seem tiny in comparison.
    I feel for the families who lost loved ones during this disaster.
    And the Nat gas plant that blew on the east coast a month or so ago, makes a guy wonder if we done have domestic terrorist at work on our national resources.[dunno]
     
  10. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Thanks for the info MM, sounds like a lot of good people rose the occasion.
     
  11. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Yep, they did, but not all those stepping up were particularly useful.

    Yesterday, Gibbs said that the White House was on top of the problem from immediately after the explosion. He also said that dot gov was overseeing the whole thing, and that Napolitano was in charge of all the alphabet agencies that are involved. And, BP was going to pay the bills, regardless.

    So, this uninvolved observer says that BP, with minor assistance from the Coast Guard (and major help from the shrimpers and fishermen) is going to do it all while the rest of the world (meaning dot gov and obbies) wring their hands and call for investigations and new regulations. (And, of course prosecutions.)

    And zero will dance on the edge of the knife, drill in the Gulf, not drill in the Gulf? This UI then inquires, "What's a president to do?" Well, he hasn't a clue; he gets his information fourth hand, and it's probably wrong. I mean, dot gov hasn't got the resources to get first hand info. Only the O&G companies have it, which of course, results in public doubt and congressional fever.

    [booze]

    [freedom]
     
  12. UGRev

    UGRev Get on with it!

    Not too long ago, President Toonces said he'd lift the ban on drilling..and oh golly geee.. a rig goes up in flames, guess we can't drill anymore. Create a problem, offer a solution.
     
  13. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    Some first hand accounts are starting to come to light. I thought Ghrit might like to read the engineering aspects of what happened. I think the guy on the radio show sums it up pretty well. We are in a constant battle with Mother Nature, sometimes she wins.

    On Friday, April 30th 2010, an anonymous caller contacted the Mark Levin Show to clarify the events that preceded the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. Rigzone has transcribed this broadcast for your convenience.

    To hear the actual radio broadcast please visit www.MarkLevinShow.com

    A transcript can be read here
    RIGZONE - Deepwater Horizon: A Firsthand Account

    Here is an excert
     
    James: Anytime you're drilling an oil well, there is a constant battle between the mud weight, the drilling fluid that we use to maintain pressure, and the wellbore itself. There's a balance. The well is pushing gas one way and you are pushing mud the other way. So there is a delicate balance that has to be maintained at all times to keep the gas from coming back in, what we call the kicks. You know, we always get gas back in the mud, but the goal of the whole situation is to try to control the kick. Not allow the pressure to differentiate between the vessel and the wellbore.

    Mark: Well, in this case, obviously, too much gas got in.

    James: Correct, and this well had a bad history of producing lots of gas. It was touch and go a few times and was not terribly uncommon. You’re almost always going to get gas back from a well. We have systems to deal with the gas, however.

    Mark: So, what may have happened here?

    James: Well, the sheer volume and pressure of gas that hit all at once which was more than the safeties and controls we had in place could handle.

    Mark: And that’s like a mistake on somebody's part or maybe its just Mother Nature every now and then kicks up, or what?

    James: Mother Nature every now and then kicks up. The pressures that we're dealing with out there, drilling deeper, deeper water, deeper overall volume of the whole vessel itself, you’re dealing with 30 to 40 thousand pounds per square inch range -- serious pressures

    ....................

    Mark: And, what is the sense in shutting down every rig in the Gulf of Mexico in response to this?

    James: Absolutely senseless, whatsoever. This literally could very well be a once in a lifetime freak accident, or it could be negligence. That's for other people to figure out. From my position, it just seems like every now and then, you can't win against Mother Nature. She throws a curve ball that you are not prepared for.


    I got this in an email

    "I continue getting calls asking what happened on this problem so here’s a response from a friend in the oil business with possible inside info on the blowout. Please keep in mind this is an "UNOFFICIAL" report so this may or may not be factual. However, the scenario as written makes reasonable sense as far as I am concerned. The focus needs to be on well control now and not speculation as to what may or may not have happened. BP, the MMS and most likely a third party will certainly provide a very in-depth investigation which will be the official report. Having said that I would certainly not look forward to a copy of that report as it will be furnished only to those in need due to the possible liabilities of the findings."



    Details as conveyed to me:

    This well had been giving some problems all the way down and was a big discovery. Big pressure, 16ppg(Pounds Per Gallon) (16ppg MW at 5000' would exert 4,160 psi hydrostatic pressure on the well) mud weight. They ran a long string of 7" production casing - not a liner, the confusion arising from the fact that all casing strings on a floating rig are run on drill pipe and hung off on the wellhead on the sea floor, like a "liner". They cemented this casing with lightweight cement containing nitrogen because they were having lost circulation in between the well kicking all the way down.



    The calculations and the execution of this kind of a cement job are complex, in order that you neither let the well flow from too little hydrostatic pressure nor break it down and lose the fluid and cement from too much hydrostatic. But you gotta believe BP had 8 or 10 of their best double and triple checking everything.



    On the outside of the top joint of casing is a seal assembly - "packoff" - that sets inside the subsea wellhead and seals. This was set and tested to 10,000 psi, OK. Remember they are doing all this from the surface 5,000 feet away. The technology is fascinating, like going to the moon or fishing out the Russian sub, or killing all the fires in Kuwait in 14 months instead of 5 years. We never have had an accident like this before so hubris, the folie d'grandeur, sort of takes over. BP were the leaders in all this stretching the envelope all over the world in deep water.



    This was the end of the well until testing was to begin at a later time, so a temporary "bridge plug" was run in on drill pipe to set somewhere near the top of the well below 5,000 ft. This is the second barrier, you always have to have 2, and the casing was the first one. It is not know if this was actually set or not. At the same time they took the 16+ ppg mud out of the riser and replaced it with sea water so that they could pull the riser, lay it down, and move off.(water wieghs app 8.2 ppg. 8.2X.052X5000= 2,132 psi hydrostatic "head") (they lessened the force being applied to the bottom of the riser by half)



    When they did this, they of course took away all the hydrostatic on the well. But this was OK, normal, since the well was plugged both on the inside with the casing and on the outside with the tested packoff. But something turned loose all of a sudden, and the conventional wisdom would be the packoff on the outside of the casing.



    Gas and oil rushed up the riser; there was little wind, and a gas cloud got all over the rig. When the main inductions of the engines got a whiff, they ran away and exploded. Blew them right off the rig. This set everything on fire. A similar explosion in the mud pit / mud pump room blew the mud pumps overboard. Another in the mud sack storage room, sited most unfortunately right next to the living quarters, took out all the interior walls where everyone was hanging out having - I am not making this up - a party to celebrate 7 years of accident free work on this rig. 7 BP bigwigs were there visiting from town.



    In this sense they were lucky that the only ones lost were the 9 rig crew on the rig floor and 2 mud engineers down on the pits. The furniture and walls trapped some and broke some bones but they all managed to get in the lifeboats with assistance from the others.



    The safety shut ins on the BOP were tripped but it is not clear why they did not work. This system has 4 way redundancy; 2 separate hydraulic systems and 2 separate electric systems should be able to operate any of the functions on the stack. They are tested every 14 days, all of them. (there is also a stab on the stack so that an ROV can plug in and operate it, but now it is too late because things are damaged).



    The well is flowing through the BOP stack, probably around the outside of the 7" casing. As reported elsewhere, none of the "rams", those being the valves that are suppose to close around the drill pipe and / or shear it right in two and seal on the open hole, are sealing. Up the riser and out some holes in it where it is kinked. A little is coming out of the drill pipe too which is sticking out of the top of the riser and laid out on the ocean floor. The volumes as reported by the media are not correct but who knows exactly how much is coming?



    2 relief wells will be drilled but it will take at least 60 days to kill it that way. There is a "deep sea intervention vessel" on the way, I don't know if that means a submarine or not, one would think this is too deep for subs, and it will have special cutting tools to try to cut off the very bottom of the riser on top of the BOP. The area is remarkably free from debris. The rig "Enterprise" is standing by with another BOP stack and a special connector to set down on top of the original one and then close. You saw this sort of thing in Red Adair movies and in Kuwait, a new stack dangling from a crane is just dropped down on the well after all the junk is removed. But that is not 5,000 ft underwater.



    One unknown is if they get a new stack on it and close it, will the bitch broach around the outside of all the casing??



    In order for a disaster of this magnitude to happen, more than one thing has to go wrong, or fail. First, a ****ty cement job. The wellhead packoff / seal assembly, while designed to hold the pressure, is just a backup. And finally, the ability to close the well in with the BOP somehow went away.



    A bad deal for the industry, for sure. Forget about California and Florida. Normal operations in the Gulf will be overregulated like the N. Sea. And so on.
     

     
     
     
     
     
     
  14. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Excellent, thank you.

    Two plus two, then: I get the 16 or so ppg, and I get that it has to be removed (displaced by sea water) and recovered after cement is pumped down for plugging. I also get that it was low density (relative to building concrete) by a LOT and easy to drill thru when the time came) but I don't understand why it blew out. Was there not a plug/dam under the cement to keep it in the (more or less) top of the bore? Or did they start displacing the 16 or so ppg too soon? I doubt both of those possibilities, they would be indicative of incompetence of the highest order.

    I'm also having a hard time coming to grips with the 30 or 40ksi of pressure in the bore that "James" mentions. Tapping an oil (or gas) deposit naturally will relieve the geologic overpressure as well as the hydrostatic pressure due to depth which must be countered by the drill mud. The 16 ppg mud is good for at least 5000 feet so that isn't the problem. If there is a surge for some reason (kick) then I can see a ram effect when the surge (similar to water hammer in your plumbing) hits something. I can imagine that a slug of oil was in the bore and the gas boosted it to high speed and it hit the plug rather like a freight train on a Chevette. For you guys that have seen vids of drill strings ejected thru the top of the derrick that's the reason, something gave way and allowed a gusher.

    Then there is the followon question in my mind. The fabrication they are setting on the top of the well looked like it was intended to set on the pad where the christmas tree is installed. Yet, on the news tonight, the fins I thought might be working platforms are said to rest on the sea floor and keep it from sinking. Is the pad even still there, or is it smaller than I thought?

    Again, for you guys that are completely unfamiliar, the outhouse looking thing, the fabrication mentioned, is lined with concrete to add enough weight to help it stay down if the entire volume is filled with gas. (They left the interior timber forms in place to shorten the time of fab and deliver. Wood floats, but the amount of wood is trivial next to the concrete and steel.) You can also see cutouts in the sides, which until I'm told otherwise are there to bridge any pipe that may still be attached and to allow access for robo things to operate, or try to operate, the BOP.

    Momma Nature continuously tells us that she is in command, and her leading minion is named Murphy.
     
  15. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

     
  16. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    This is a very good report that came out today. I couldn't find any copyright notice so I am posting all of it. The comments after really shows the level of ignorance of the general poulation where this industry is concerned. BP is one of the safest companies in the world. They are fanatical about safety practices, training, reporting etc. This was a tragic accident. There was no evil or criminal intent. Equipment failure and maybe some human error, but mainly Mother Nature threw a roundhouse and there was nothing anybody could do to stop it.

    Inferno on the Gulf: Witnesses recount rig blast - Yahoo! News

     
    By ALLEN G. BREED and KEVIN MCGILL, Associated Press Writers Allen G. Breed And Kevin Mcgill, Associated Press Writers – Sun May 9, 3:59 pm ET


    VENICE, La. – Oleander Benton was chatting with a friend in the laundry when the lights went out. The other woman had just gotten up to find a maintenance person when the deep-sea oil rig shook with an ear-shattering "BANG," followed by a long, loud "hisssss."
    Benton's safety training kicked in. The cook hit the floor as ceiling tiles and light fixtures came crashing down on her head and back. The concussion had blown a door off its hinges and pinned her friend to the floor.
    "My leg! My leg!" the woman screamed.
    Benton rose to her feet, and stepped over the debris, but she couldn't move the door. She told her friend to lie flat and slide herself out, and the two made their way into the darkened hallway, where a man in a white T-shirt appeared out of the swirling dust and beckoned.
    "Come on, Miss O!" he shouted. "Go this way. This is the real deal! This is the REAL DEAL!"
     
    After a carnival funhouse journey through halls illuminated only by "EXIT" signs, and clogged with dazed and injured people, Benton emerged onto the deck of the Deepwater Horizon.
    Fire and mud were spewing from the rig's shattered 242-foot derrick. People with ghastly head wounds were scrambling about.
    Many had been asleep when the blast occurred, and wandered the slick, debris-strewn deck shoeless, clad in little more than their orange lifejackets, their bare skin speckled with bits of white insulation from blown-out walls.
    Benton slipped and stumbled as she headed for her assigned lifeboat.
    As a worker checked off names, Benton was transported back five years to Hurricane Katrina.
    She had spent five hellish days in the swelter of the Louisiana Superdome. That was the last time she had felt this kind of heat, this kind of terror.
    It was April 20 — Benton's 52nd birthday.
     
    ___
    With its complement of 126 riggers, contractors and support personnel, the Deepwater Horizon — floating 48 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico — had a population larger than that of at least a half-dozen Louisiana towns. This "floatel" had a gymnasium, movie theater, lounge, helicopter pad — just about everything a small city would need.
    April 20 was a big day for BP PLC and the rig's inhabitants.
    The day before, contractors from Halliburton Energy Services Inc. had finished cementing the well's pipes nearly 5,000 feet below the water's surface. Workers were busy setting a second seal at the well head, one of the last steps before the rig could move off, and the exploration well — in an area of the Gulf known as Mississippi Canyon Block 252 — could make the transition to a production well.
    BP executives were on board to celebrate that milestone and another achievement — Deepwater Horizon was the first rig to go seven years without a lost-time accident. They were gathered in the living quarters just below the working deck when an enormous bubble of explosive methane gas erupted from the sea floor and rocketed up the drill pipe's 21-inch metal sheath toward the surface.
    It was around 10 p.m.
    Crane operator Micah Sandell, 40, of Leesville, La., was in the cab 30 feet off the deck when he saw the water and mud shoot up and out of the derrick. He knew immediately it was a blowout, and he got on the radio to tell the crew to move to the front of the rig.
    When the gushing stopped after a few minutes, Sandell took a deep breath.
    "Oh, good," he said to himself. "They got it under control."
    Suddenly, vapor and spray began shooting out of a goosenecked pipe on the starboard side of the deck, followed by thick, black smoke. Sandell quickly shut off his air conditioner to avoid sucking any noxious fumes into the cab.
    Then something exploded.
    Sandell was knocked to the floor, and fire engulfed the cabin. Certain he was about to die, the devout Baptist clapped his hands over his head and cried, "Oh, God. No."
    But after a few seconds, he stood up and realized the fireball had passed him over. He made it halfway down the stairs before another blast occurred, throwing him 15 feet to the steel deck.
    He got up again and ran, feeling his way along the deck rail around the port side toward the lifeboats.
     
    Marine biology student Albert Andry III and three high school buddies had come to the Deepwater Horizon for a couple leisurely days of tuna fishing and beer drinking. It turned out to be anything but leisurely. (it is common for private boats to come out to these offshore rigs and platforms to fish. They attract fish and are great fishing spots. There is NO alcohol allowed on board the rig itself.)
    The group had left Venice around 3 p.m. in Andry's 26-foot catamaran, the Endorfin, and had spent the afternoon fishing for blackfin near BP's Amberjack Rig 109 near the South Pass of the Mississippi River. Andry's radar had been stolen recently, so when they'd landed enough fish, the 23-year-old from Mandeville, La., headed for the Deepwater Horizon, where they would idle overnight.
    The men arrived at sunset. The water was smooth as glass and teeming with jellyfish, their translucent blue and white "sails" erect in the light breeze.
    They were fishing for bait under the lip of the platform when water began raining down from the rig's network of pipes — so much that Andry thought the crew was dumping the bilges to keep the Deepwatwer Horizon from sinking. Andry's eyes began to burn, and buddy Wes Bourg — who had worked on offshore rigs — told the skipper they needed to get out of there. Fast.
    "Go, go, go, go, GOOOOO!" Bourg shouted. With no radar and only the light of a crescent moon to see by, Andry pointed the bow north, gunned the twin 140-horsepower Suzuki outboards and hit the deck.
    They were about 100 yards from the Deepwater Horizon when the lights went out, and the first of a series of massive booms shook the rig.
    The lifeboats hanging off the side of the rig were covered and could hold up to 50 people each. Crew members with clipboards called out names as people clambered aboard.
    As Sandell stood in line awaiting his turn, panicked workers were screaming to get the boats in the water, even though they were not yet full.
    "Drop them off!"
    "Get them away!"
    Some couldn't wait any longer, and jumped.
    It was 80 feet to the water. A person falling from that height would take about 2.25 seconds to hit the water and experience about 20 Gs — roughly the same force as a car hitting a brick wall at 55 mph.
    ___
    In Port Fourchon harbor, the service vessel Joe Griffin was tied up at the Halliburton slip. Capt. Nate Foster was standing on the bridge shortly before 11 p.m. when the radio crackled to life.
    "We need you to get out there as fast as you can," the dispatcher barked. "We have people in the water."
    The orange-hulled vessel is primarily a supply ship, and much of its 280-foot length is comprised of open deck space. But the Joe Griffin is also equipped with two water cannons, each capable of shooting 5,000 gallons of water per minute.
    Foster picked up the ship's phone and called the engine room.
    "I want the engines started," the 37-year-old Montanan told the oiler. "We need 'em NOW. Don't let them warm up."
    Then he got on the radio to the crew.
    "Get ready to cast off right now," he said. "We need to leave immediately."
    A process that normally takes 20 minutes was accomplished in fewer than five.
    The Joe Griffin backed out of the slip and steamed out of the harbor at 10 knots — more than double the normal speed. As the vessel entered open water, Foster opened the throttle all the way, to 12 knots.
    At that speed, it would take nine and a half hours to reach the Deepwater Horizon. Foster knew he'd be thinking the whole time of people in the water.
    The 260-foot Damon B. Bankston, a black-hulled cargo vessel, was tethered to the Deepwater Horizon. That day, it had been pumping drilling mud from the rig for use at the next job.
    The first explosion threw Seaman Elton Johnson of Bunkie, La., about seven feet into an engine-room door, temporarily knocking him unconscious. When he came to, he staggered to the deck and looked over the rail to see people floating in the water.
    Like the rest of the crew, Johnson began fishing out survivors.
    By the glow of the inferno, Andry could see people swimming and motoring toward the Bankston. He got on his radio and asked whether he could approach the rig and join in the rescue effort.
    "Negative. Negative," came the reply.
    Bourg said there could be damaged pipes under the water. So the group decided to back off a mile to wait, and watch.
    On the Deepwater Horizon, deck pusher Bill Johnson, supervising operations on the deck, worked his way across the rig, acrid smoke burning his lungs. He ushered two members of his crew into a lifeboat and shoved off, but there was one man missing.
    ___
    Crane operator Aaron Dale Burkeen of Philadelphia, Miss., had relieved Sandell for dinner. The starboard crane had been down. He finished changing out the cable and began making up for the lost time.
    The 37-year-old father of two had just recently received his 10-year certificate from Transocean, the rig's owner (BP was its operator). April 20 was his and wife Rhonda's eighth wedding anniversary; his birthday was four days away.
    When the first concussion hit, he began the process of lowering his crane's 150-foot boom into its cradle and locking it down. He got it to about a 30-degree angle when he decided to make a run for it.
    He was about halfway down the spiral staircase when a massive explosion occurred. Johnson — who was not just Burkeen's direct supervisor, but also one of his best friends — watched helplessly from the rocking boat as the whole starboard side of the rig erupted in a cloud of smoke and flame.
    Burkeen just vanished.
    Andry had lingered at the site, sweeping the water with his flood lights for survivors. After about four hours and running low on fuel, he decided to head back to port.
    The Joe Griffin was still 35 miles out when the crew saw it — a glow on the horizon like a mini-sunrise.
    Twenty minutes out, Capt. Foster ordered the crew to fire up the water cannon pumps. When the vessel arrived at the scene around 8:30 a.m., flames were shooting several hundred feet into the air, and oil was raining down on the two-dozen or so boats trying to fight the fire and ferry survivors.
    The rig was engulfed and listing to one side.
    The Deepwater Horizon was not anchored to the bottom with cables, but was "dynamically positioned" — held in place by eight 7,375-horsepower thrusters that worked in a computer-coordinated water ballet to keep her above the well head nearly a mile below.
    With no power and no people to operate the thrusters, the drill pipe and its casing were the only things holding the rig in place. The Deepwater Horizon was at the mercy of the wind and waves, and Foster and the other rescue boat captains had to perform evasive maneuvers to keep from being rammed by the flaming hulk.
    Even through the glass windows and protective shell of the bridge, First Mate Doug Peake could feel the inferno's heat on his skin. As he trained the cannon on the fire, he thought to himself: "This is a lost cause."
    ___
    A little way off, Sandell stood on the Bankston's plank deck and watched the rig that had been his home for the past eight years pitch and burn. Back in his room on the Deepwater Horizon was the white gold wedding band his wife Angela slipped on his finger 17 years ago.
    He wanted desperately to call home and tell his wife and their three children that he was alive. There were satellite phones on board, but the workers were not allowed to use them.
    Finally, at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, the Bankston headed back to port. Sandell closed his eyes and said a prayer.
    When Sandell arrived at Port Fourchon early the next morning, he still hadn't slept. Eleven rig workers were unaccounted for, including Aaron Dale Burkeen.
    Even as the Deepwater Horizon was in its last throes before sinking beneath the Gulf, speculation was already rampant about what had caused the explosion. Was it negligence? A freak accident? Foul play?
    Sandell and the others just wanted to go ashore and call loved ones. But there was one more thing to do next.
    As he debarked, he noticed some Coast Guard and company officers sitting at a table, a row of portable toilets behind them. Before they left the docks, the workers would have to be drug tested.
    Tired and angry, Sandell stood in line and filled out forms. When his turn came, he took the plastic cup, stepped inside one of the outhouses, and closed the door behind him.
     
  17. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    Natural gas, Coal mine explosion, oil rig explosion, those Nuke plants better be on the look-out!
     
  18. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Did some reading on methane hydrate today. I didn't understand the "freezing" that was mentioned; it didn't make sense to me. In short, under the conditions on the bottom (pressure and temperature) methane combines with water into a viscous slush that can (and apparently did) clog things up to a fairtheewell. As it carries up the pipe, the water separates (due to the dropping pressure) and the gas is free to do what it does best, get everywhere it can. Anyway, that's the reason the outhouse didn't work, more or less as expected by the experts. It also explains the mention of the tendency of the outhouse to float, the main reason they pulled it off.

    Weird stuff, weird chemistry, weird physics. It is gaseous in the formation and above some depth. Above and below some distance from the sea floor and in the water, it is solid or slushy. Conditions have to be "just right" for this stuff to form and be a problem. I guess they were in the zone.
     
  19. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    This presentation is being circulated around the O&G communities as a training guide. To see the sequence of events that led up to the disaster and to learn from the mistakes.

    Contrary to all the wild speculation in the beginning there is no evidence of any shortcuts being taken, no negligence, no sinister motives. Just as we in the industry suspected all along, it was simply a horrific accident.

    I have read and studied this report many times. I do a very similar operation to this many times a year. I read this with an eye to identifying what went wrong in order to avoid those mistakes myself.

    My conclusion is that there were several warning signs that were misinterpreted. The decision was made to continue the operation. This decision is not made lightly or with monetary concerns foremost in mind. I have made these types of calls myself and I can tell you that when your life and the lives of all the men on your rig are at stake you don't give, in oilfield lingo, a flying **** what management, safely back in the office has to say about it.

    In defense of the rig hands, you have all these things happening 1 to 2 miles underground and the only thing you have to tell you what is going on are charts and gauges on surface. You have to use your experience and your training to decipher the information that you are getting. But in the end it is an educated guess. There is a saying in the patch that "if I could see the bottom of the hole I would be a millionaire".

    These men took the information they had and unfortunately misinterpreted it and decided that it was safe to proceed with the operation. It was their lives at stake and many paid with them for that mistake.

    One more lesson that should be learned from this. If you do not believe that oil is depleting and that we are in a frantic search for what is left, then this should serve to convince you. This entire tragedy is a direct result of peak oil and the depletion of available resources. No company would be drilling in 5,000 feet of water, with a rig that cost a billion dollars to build, and was charging the oil company a million dollars a day to operate, if they could find oil in shallower waters or on land. Unfortunately, as oil depletion becomes an ever increasing burden on the world we will see more and more of these types of unconventional, exploration type wells being drilled in more and more hostile environments.
     

    Attached Files:

  20. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    That whole incident has been off the radar for a couple months now. But today, I saw an article that mentioned contractors messing with the BOP with or without authorization, we don't know. And more, there is some kind of argument going on as to how and what tests are to be conducted on it. I guess the bureaucrats are fighting it out and hoping that corrosion will interfere with the results to the extent that testing will be inconclusive.

    Once in a long while, the "experts" say there is a blanket of oil residue over several areas in the gulf, and no one owns up to knowing what it came from.

    More interesting to me is the wreck on the bottom. That has to have something useful in it for finding out the sequence of events. One theory of the sinking is the flooding with water from the water nozzles, into the ballast tanks. (It isn't clear to me how that might have happened, since those tanks have to be sealed at the top to hold in the air which must be used to control the water level in the tanks.)

    And, with all the ROVs that were deployed, there ought to be one or two that can do some inspections of the rig on the bottom. Can't believe that hasn't been done, but nothing has hit the news. Not even the Oil Drum has mentioned it.
     
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