Guest Post: BP Official Admits to Damage BENEATH THE SEA FLOOR

As I noted Tuesday, there is growing evidence that BP’s oil well – technically called the “well casing” or “well bore” – has suffered damage beneath the level of the sea floor.

The evidence is growing stronger and stronger that there is substantial damage beneath the sea floor. Indeed, it appears that BP officials themselves have admitted to such damage. This has enormous impacts on both the amount of oil leaking into the Gulf, and the prospects for quickly stopping the leak this summer.

On May 31st, the Washington Post noted:

Sources at two companies involved with the well said that BP also discovered new damage inside the well below the seafloor and that, as a result, some of the drilling mud that was successfully forced into the well was going off to the side into rock formations.

“We discovered things that were broken in the sub-surface,” said a BP official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He said that mud was making it “out to the side, into the formation.”

On June 2nd, Bloomberg pointed out:

Plugging the well is another challenge even after BP successfully intersects it, Robert Bea, a University of California Berkeley engineering professor, said. BP has said it believes the well bore to be damaged, which could hamper efforts to fill it with mud and set a concrete plug, Bea said.

Bea is an expert in offshore drilling and a high-level governmental adviser concerning disasters.

On the same day, the Wall Street Journal noted that there might be a leak in BP’s well casing 1,000 feet beneath the sea floor:

BP PLC has concluded that its “top-kill” attempt last week to seal its broken well in the Gulf of Mexico may have failed due to a malfunctioning disk inside the well about 1,000 feet below the ocean floor.


The broken disk may have prevented the heavy drilling mud injected into the well last week from getting far enough down the well to overcome the pressure from the escaping oil and gas, people familiar with BP’s findings said. They said much of the drilling mud may also have escaped from the well into the rock formation outside the wellbore.

On June 3rd, The Canadian Press quoted the top government official in charge of the response to the oil spill – Admiral Thad Allen, the commandant of the Coast Guard – as pointing to the same possibility:

The failure of the so-called top kill procedure – which entailed pumping mud into the well at high velocity – suggested “there actually could be something wrong with the well casing, and there could be open communication in the strata or the rock formations below the sea floor,” Allen said.

On June 7th, Senator Bill Nelson told MSNBC that he’s investigating reports of oil seeping up from additional leak points on the seafloor:

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL): Andrea we’re looking into something new right now, that there’s reports of oil that’s seeping up from the seabed… which would indicate, if that’s true, that the well casing itself is actually pierced… underneath the seabed. So, you know, the problems could be just enormous with what we’re facing.

Andrea Mitchell, MSNBC: Now let me understand better what you’re saying. If that is true that it is coming up form that seabed, even the relief well won’t be the final solution to cap this thing. That means that we’ve got oil gushing up at disparate places along the ocean floor.

Sen. Nelson: That is possible, unless you get the plug down low enough, below where the pipe would be breached.

[See original post for videos – I can’t embed here.]

Indeed, loss of integrity in the well itself may explain why BP is drilling its relief wells more than ten thousand feet beneath the leaking pipes on the seafloor (and see this).

Yesterday, recently-retired Shell Oil President John Hofmeister said that the well casing below the sea floor may have been compromised:

[Question] What are the chances that the well casing below the sea floor has been compromised, and that gas and oil are coming up the outside of the well casing, eroding the surrounding soft rock. Could this lead to a catastrophic geological failure, unstoppable even by the relief wells?

John Hofmeister: This is what some people fear has occurred. It is also why the “top kill” process was halted. If the casing is compromised the well is that much more difficult to shut down, including the risk that the relief wells may not be enough. If the relief wells do not result in stopping the flow, the next and drastic step is to implode the well on top of itself, which carries other risks as well.

As noted yesterday in The Engineer magazine , an official from Cameron International – the manufacturer of the blowout preventer for BP’s leaking oil drilling operation – noted that one cause of the failure of the BOP could have been damage to the well bore:

Steel casing or casing hanger could have been ejected from the well and blocked the operation of the rams.

Oil industry expert Rob Cavner believes that the casing might be damaged beneath the sea floor, noting:

The real doomsday scenario here… is if that casing gives up, and it does come through the other strings of pipe. Remember, it is concentric pipe that holds this well together. If it comes into the formation, basically, you‘ve got uncontrolled [oil] flow to the sea floor. And that is the doomsday scenario.

Cavner also said BP must “keep the well flowing to minimize oil and gas going out into the formation on the side”:

And prominent oil industry insider Matt Simmons believes that the well casing may have been destroyed when the oil rig exploded. Simmons was an energy adviser to President George W. Bush, is an adviser to the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre, and is a member of the National Petroleum Council and the Council on Foreign Relations.

On May 26th, Simmons referred to this issue on MSNBC:

On May 27th, Simmons again addressed this issue on MSNBC:

And he referred to it again on Bloomberg on May 28th:

And again on MSNBC on June 7th :

We have a right to know what’s really going on.

Given the impact on America’s people, natural resources and economy, BP and the government must fully disclose the amount of damage underneath the sea floor, and what that means for the efforts to cap the well.

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About George Washington

George Washington is the head writer at Washington’s Blog. A busy professional and former adjunct professor, George’s insatiable curiousity causes him to write on a wide variety of topics, including economics, finance, the environment and politics. For further details, ask Keith Alexander…


  1. ReaderOfTeaLeaves

    Having followed Simmons’ comments for weeks at MSNBC, it seems his assessments have been the most astute.

    And he’s no lefty. Ominous.

  2. Roger Bigod

    The general proposition is probably correct; there’s subsurface damage, probably to a casing.

    But relief wells have to go deep, close to where the first well enters the reservoir, in order to get a heavy enough column of drilling mud above the entry. It has nothing to do with damage to the well.

    And Simmons’ theory is probably unsound, although he has been impressive in the past. It requires that the BOP be blown several miles from the original well, but the GPS coordinates suggest that it hasn’t moved.

  3. Francois T

    If there is extensive subsurface damage and the relief wells do not work as intended, what’s left?

    A small nuke, right?

    Someone with the expertise will need to explain why a small nuclear device detonated at, let’s say 5,000 feet below the seabed and close enough to the original well couldn’t work.

    1. John L

      A nuclear explosion near this blowout runs the risk of fracturing the layers of earth and rock separating the oil reservoir from the seabed. If that happened, the entire oil reservoir (estimated by BP as being over 1.5 billion gallons) would vomit upward into the mud of the seabed, and then migrate (under pressure) to the Gulf itself.

      If the relief wells don’t work, I suspect they would drill more relief wells and try again. Or perhaps try to drill more production wells into the reservoir and drain off some of the pressure in a controlled manner.

    2. Ina Deaver

      It could release the whole formation. If they don’t know how fractured the rock is over the well, they couldn’t risk exploding the well. You really could create a doomsday scenario.

  4. Marsha Keeffer

    I doubt they even really know how severe the damage is. But all underwater wells off the U.S. coast should be checked. I’m all for the end of this type of drilling.

    1. Timmy

      You can’t. You will kill the economy. 20-30% of US oil supply is from the gulf of mexico. We are talking about $5-6/gallon and deep depression the supply is pulled overnight.

      (I am just saying, and I agree with you that ultimately everybody has to move away from oil. but this can’t happen overnight.)

      USA Gulf of Mexico (GoM) oil production using the most recent EIA data. GoM production peaked in June 2002 at 1.73 mbd

  5. mespilus

    What do people here think that the entire Gulf coast is worth, from Cedar Key to the Texas border? Pensacola, Mobile, New Orleans are not London or New York. Maybe from a money point of view the lives which are being ruined are considered inconsequential to a huge entity such as BP.

    For that matter, need we be surprised that a BP, or a Bank of America for that matter, withholds information, hides the truth, and lies? This reminds me of communist China during the “great leap forward”. Lower level cadres , seeking to please upper echelons, where incentivized to please Mao by hiding truths, by lying about food production, and other economic output, eventually causing famines. Have we centralized control and collectivized to the point that we have now come full circle, duplicating the earlier Chinese experience. If so, is our system capitalism, or really something else?

    1. Vinny

      “What do people here think that the entire Gulf coast is worth, from Cedar Key to the Texas border? Pensacola, Mobile,”

      At least 100 times more than that decrepit nation of alcoholics, called Grest Britain.


    2. Timmy

      With or without the oil? har har…

      On serious note, hard to tell in this economy. Even simply calculating the land value of the coastal area without considering clean up cost, moving around people, etc. Plus, how do you calculate seasonal products like farming and tourism?

  6. Doc Holiday

    I imagine that Admiral Thad will be in denial and go with the other-flip-side-of-the- BP PR coin, and suggest that NASA, NOAA and the Coast Guard agree with BP that this is contained.

    1. ndk

      BP will be just fine. President Obama came out and explicitly said there’s “no intent to devalue BP“. Why the corporation’s valuation is even being discussed at this point in the process is beyond me.

      1. Timmy

        They better start building those pump ships, processing facilities, big skimmer and churning out boomers, or this damage will be much bigger than anybody can pay.

    2. h---l

      “State Treasurer John Kennedy has cautioned Gov. Bobby Jindal that British Petroleum doesn’t appear to have enough assets to cover its liabilities, so declaring bankruptcy is a possibility.”

      BP doesn’t have to pay anything. It just owns the company that is drilling oil in the US.

  7. Bob Morris

    I thought Simmons was saying the amount of oil in the Gulf is far more than what could have come out of that pipe so therefore there must be other ruptures in the ocean floor.

    If so, then Sen. Nelson now agrees with this assessment.

    It’s not often the founder of a Houston investment bank for the energy industry is an early and vocal proponent of Peak Oil. Interesting guy. In a few weeks we’ll know if his prediction that BP will file bankruptcy by the end of the month also comes true.

    My guess is, yes.

  8. Doc Holiday

    The attorney general in Florida and the state treasurer in Louisiana want BP to put a total of $7.5 billion in escrow accounts to compensate the states and their residents for damages now and in the future. Alabama doesn’t plan to take such action, while Mississippi and Texas haven’t said what they will do.

    1. aet

      I’m sure that the politicians of Lousisiana would gladl=y have 7.5 billion $ of someone else’s money under their control.

  9. Doc Holiday

    The new estimates put the spill total between 840,000 and 1.6 million barrels. But the leak didn’t stop on June 3. In fact, the flow accelerated after robotic devices cut the well’s leaking pipe and before the containment dome was installed.

  10. Doc Holiday

    Oil spill effect: Public feels there’s no one left to trust

    Just two months ago, a Pew Research Center poll showed that only 22 percent of the public say they can trust the government in Washington always or most of the time, among the lowest measures in a half a century.

    “This spill has just got to make matters worse,” said Pew pollster Andy Kohut. “People are asking, Who’s in charge? Why can’t they plug it? What’s going on here?”

    Just 25 percent of the public has a favorable opinion of Congress. Favorability ratings also have fallen significantly for seven of 13 federal agencies included in the Pew survey, including the Environmental Protection Agency.

    1. Skippy

      There is your problem Doc, they need more protection…wink…wink…nudge…nudge.

      Skippy…is she a goer…does she???

  11. Vinny

    To repeat Fracois T’s question above, why isn’t a small nuclear bomb being used to collapse the well? Is it just because the Russians suggested it?

    I think we’ve listened long enough to incompetent, drunken British engineers.


    1. Debra

      Your rants on the British irritate me, Vinny.
      Some of my best friends are British.
      You may be letting off steam, but it irritates me nonetheless.
      And do you really think that the American engineers are MORE COMPETENT than the British to be taking care of this mess ?
      YOU express your agressivity this way, and now.. I’M expressing MINE…
      I guess that basically I hate nationalism in all its forms. Even… reverse nationalism.

      1. Bill

        Vinny is a fairly nasty and vitriolic xenophobic troll whose comments almost never add any substance to the discussion.

        When I wrote on this blog recently re: austerity and personal savings rates in the Eurozone, that I had lived in Germany 12 years and made the rather benign observation (I thought) that in general, Germans are more frugal than Americans, he practically called me an anti-American bigot……I’m descended from Native Americans, am a Vietnam Vet and was working in Germany for our Government.

        Best to ignore him most of the time.

        1. Vinny

          You got it wrong, my friend. I didn’t call you that. And, if you’d read my older comments, you’ll see I am disagreeing with most American policies. Those of Obama as well as W. I am opposed to much America’s foreign policies and the abuse of the American people that the US government allows to take place. To call me pro-American would be comical, at best.

          As far as the Germans go, they are hard working folks, but like I said, I’m not into idealizing anybody. Germany is a nice country that really cleaned up its act after WW2, something that other European nations need to do.

          But now that you mentioned that you are Native American, I see your point. I would be angry at the US government too if I were you. And, it may be of interest to you to know that I worked on Indian reservations, I worked for the VA, and so I know first hand the suffering Native Americans have to put up with on a daily basis.

          Finally, one observation. While the US is, fortunately becoming a Latino nation, and slowly losing its Anglo-Saxon roots, I would like to point out that those who are mostly responsible for the genocide against the Native Americans in the early days of the US were also closely tied to Great Britain. And the nation of Great Britain is responsible for other genocides, far more than the US. Just an observation.

          Have a nice day!


          1. charcad

            While the US is, fortunately becoming a Latino nation

            Absolutely. We have the political economy of Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina to anticipate. I’m just trembling with excitement waiting for this area to have a scoreboard for the daily narco-wars body count. We even have lots of sinkholes in Florida to use to dispose of the bodies.

            We only need to look at these countries inbred nepotistic elites to see our own future. For instance, the Bush Family is ready, willing and able to provide Jorge Bushes III, IV, V, & VI throughout the 21st Century and into the 22d.

            Here for instance is George P. Bush, son of Jeb.


            George P. is a Spanish as a first language speaker, courtesy of mother Columba. And like mom he’s a Roman Catholic (nasty WASPs! Swat! Swat! Get off that Court, WASPs! Swat! Swat!)

            British? They’re precisely what Charles Lindbergh labeled them; an extremely mediocre people ruled by a tiny number of geniuses. These trends grow stronger with every succeeding generation. Only a nation of drunken downbred soccer hooligans would cover their island with statues to a drunken deadbeat failure like Churchill.

      2. Vinny

        Well, I am sorry if I irritate you. I really could not care less about Brits or Britain, but am angry seeing what THEY are doing to the Gulf of Mexico, and then lying about it.

        But, as a disclaimer, like I said, I’m sure your friends are different. Otherwise they would not be your friends. I am mainly speaking of the British who live in the UK, most work in academia, politics, or business. Those are the types I interacted with in that country, and they are the ones that matter most, since they control and set the tone for that nation. Although, the attitude I speak of is quite widespread.

        But anyway, speaking of engineering, American scientists and engineers landed a man on the Moon, invented the transistor, the microchip, created the first computer, and the list goes on and on. And, by the way, when I write “American” I don’t mean only those born in the US, rather anybody who works and lives in the US.

        A foreign engineer/professional working in the UK will constantly be reminded about his “foreign” accent, about how inferior are his traditions to those of Britain, he will always be marginalized. To me that is quite amazing, considering how well educated the British are (at least those over 30), and so they should know better that nations such as India, China, continental Europe, and many in the Middle East have far, far richer cultures and traditions. Yet, if it’s not British, it must be crap.

        In the US, most immigrants feel right at home after a few months or a year. I worked with immigrants in Chicago, so I observed how quickly most newcomers felt at home in the US. In the UK one will always be reminded he or she is a foreigner (have you noticed how Brits’ facial expression twists into that long Monty Pythonish expression of disgust when pronouncing that word, “foreigner”?). From this point of view, Britain is similar to Japan.

        Again, comparing the US and the UK, an interesting phenomenon occurs in the US, namely, educated people with a foreign accent are thought of as highly intelligent and highly skilled at what they do, often perceived as more intelligent than their American-born counterpart. That may or may not be the case, but the perception is common. I call this the “Einstein Effect”. In Britain, somebody speaking with a foreign accent or of a different race is automatically assumed to be inferior by most.

        Have you wondered why so many Muslims are so unhappy in the UK, and why so many of them gravitate toward extremism? And, most of them came from families that lived in the UK for generations. They were born, raised and educated in the UK. Yet, after 50 or 100 years of being there, they still felt like outsiders. That’s because of that nasty covert, conniving, and cowardly British way of discriminating and marginalizing people I write here about.

        France and Germany have more Muslims, yet they don’t have the problems of the UK. Sure, in France some may set cars on fire once in a while, but non-Muslim French do that at soccer games too, so it’s more of a tradition there. And, unlike the UK, French Muslims rarely gravitate toward true extremism. They may set a few Peugeots on fire on a boring weekend, but then quickly return to that wonderful French lifestyle, to those pastries, and to that properly-made latte served at their favorite wonderful brasserie. In the UK the options are fish and chips and whiskey… and that’s a real problem…LOL

        And, by the way, it is not just Muslims or non-whites that feel marginalized in the UK. It is even Irish people who have lived in the UK for hundreds and hundreds of years. They are white, they speak English. Yet, they will always be “foreigners” (I just tried to twist my face into the “foreigner” expression I described above, and now I got a damn twitch I can’t get rid of…LOL)

        Anyway, I can point you to a few web pages of UK’s Border Agency and you will be shocked to read the derogatory terms used by that UK governmental agency when referring to foreigners. Two years ago I pointed that out to the head of the agency in a letter, yet nothing has been done. Had that happened in the US, it would be front page news.

        Again, I am sorry if you are being irritated by my comments, but I am simply keeping in with the wisdom of that great recent quote: “do not let a good crisis go to waste”. I too do not wish to let this British Petroleum crisis go to waste… and so I sprinkle a little truth-based vitriol on the flames… :)

        And, by the way, I’m really having fun writing all this. It’s more self-amusement than anything else. After all, what’s one to do on a hot afternoon here, in this newest member of the Third World, called Greece? I already had my frappe, my fruit salad (organic fruits from this island, mind you), did my little swim in the Mediterranean (which, by the way, is far inferior to the Gulf of Mexico), and now am getting ready to head for a little year-end celebration at my daughter’s kindergarten, after which we’ll head to our favorite monastery in the mountains, to be followed by a get together with friends at our taverna by the beach, where we plan to drink even more frappes through the night (yes, drinking coffee at midnight has a lot to do with that low Greek productivity). Yet, a little British Petroleum vitriol felt like a good idea for today :) When I return to the US, later this summer, I will likely continue much of this lifestyle in Tarpon Springs, that wonderful Greek community by the Gulf of Mexico which British Petroleum is likely to ruin before I get there. And, by the way, I’m not Greek. My wife is. But I never felt like a “foreigner” in Greece.


        1. debra

          Wow, what a day, Vinny..
          I envy you the Mediterranean… Yeah, I can imagine you. Great place, the Mediterranean.
          The weather further up north is a little wet this year, but at least it’s COOL.
          I don’t think I’ll get to wiggle my toes in the Mediterranean this summer, unless I make a special point of it. BUT ALL THOSE PEOPLE..
          Makes me wish I had my own Greek island.
          You’re still being unfair to the Brits.
          The French are a hell of a lot worse. But I’m used to it.
          Wouldn’t have it any other way now… RIGHT SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE…
          Frappées…. Miam, as we say here…

          1. Vinny

            Yeah, busy day. Hot as hell too :)

            Greece looks a bit odd these days. Not a lot of tourists anymore. And the islands depend on that. Lots of expats, though, quite a few Brits, too. And some Americans. Overall it’s a nice place, even now with this crisis. To the Greeks it’s just another topic of conversation down at the taverna. :)


      3. reskeptikal

        Remind me again why that border patrol officer shot that Mexican kid Vinny? And here am I thinking that he was out of line, but if all Latinos are like you, I’m starting to feel a bit of sympathy for the poor schmuck.

        Sure, I’m not adding to the quality of the comments on this page, but at this stage I’m not detracting from the either.

        1. Vinny

          I’m not Latino, but that incident sounds like a disproportionate use of force to me. Then again, I understand Juarez is an extremely violent city, so I’m thinking the officers may have been thinking they are dealing with a gang. I used to work in law enforcement, so that’s what I might have thought. Just a hunch.

          Personally I’m all for immigration, but against illegal immigration. There’s no excuse for entering a country illegally, when there are legal ways to do it. My family immigrated to the US legally. I am actually for that Arizona law. Sorry. We have to draw the line somewhere.

          But you know, guess who has been opposing putting a stop (or slowdown) to illegal immigration? Yes, the business community. They like that cheap labor. Then we wonder why unemployment is almost 10%, and we spend tens of billions of dollars a year imprisoning people in federal prisons for 5 years for things like illegal reentry. And we’re spending more billions building one new prison a month, while children of US citizens have to go without food or health insurance. I’d say we’ve got our priorities mixed up.



      yes. check this out.
      more compident? no. less Big Prick so as to listen to LITTLE PEOPLE

      back in the early days had they LISTENED it would have been possible to remove the top. LMRP, deploy a REAL system for a REAL top kill, run REAL drill pipe in REAL deep and CLSOE THE WELL IN so it would only be leaking out the NOT ALREADY 2 month old wash out and KILL THE MONSTER…

      ass wipes….now the entire Gulf may die and this, has potential to flow up to 600,000 BBL a day. and or for…a decade. British arrogance…and besides…NASA, MOON
      YES WE ARE! and I have Brit friends as well….and they are Prickesm byt friends/buddies none the less
      this is TRAGIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Debra

    I don’t think anybody knows what to do about this mess at this point.
    I hope we won’t be drilling any more like this.
    But… in this type of situation… ONCE IS ENOUGH.
    We shouldn’t have been doing this in the first place.
    For all the money in the world.
    And all the money in the world is NOT going to compensate the people (and what about the animals ? what good is our money to THEM ???) who are affected by this tragedy.
    Money the measure of all things. What a joke.

  13. justmeint

    There is so much being hidden from us … not only the amount of oil actually spewing…. this article tells more….

    As I understand it, for every barrel of oil spewed out – lost – poured out in a disaster, a fine will be imposed. It would seem that this knowledge has been behind the reason BP initially downplayed the estimate of oil at 5000 barrels per day. Now that a tally can be kept of what is being piped aboard the other rig and boats that will store, for processing, this oil, a better estimate of the fines accruing can be made.

    This will not of course include all the millions of barrels of oil BP has dispersed – via the use of toxic chemicals – into the waters of the gulf, and possibly worldwide!

    I mean if you can’t see it, you can’t count it – so therefore it isn’t there coz YOU can’t prove it! READ MORE:

  14. Kevin Smith

    I trust that the diameter of the relief wells will be sufficient to accommodate a nuke, should that be necessary.

    [I doubt that anyone in a position of responsibility will start talking about a nuke until shortly before it is used.]

    Devices on display at the Smithsonian’s delightful and entertaining Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas looked to be as small as about 5″ in diameter when I visited there a while ago.

    I imagine a casing to protect the device against deep sea pressure might add another inch or two to the diameter.

    1. Skippy

      The geological strata is the big decider, not the weapon.

      Skippy…not in the tube but, next to it…PSI.

      1. Mickey Marzick in Akron, Ohio

        Yes… the geology is suspect as there is “speculation” that the sea floor itself has been fractured with oil venting miles from the original well.

        Recall those craters dotting the Nevada testsite. The ground above the explosion collapses after the inital blast. In this situation, such a collapse would likely fracture the sea floor with the result that oil would continue to gush…

        From a Jun 10 article:

        “A dire report circulating in the Kremlin today that was prepared for Prime Minister Putin by Anatoly Sagalevich of Russia’s Shirshov Institute of Oceanology warns that the Gulf of Mexico sea floor has been fractured “beyond all repair” and our World should begin preparing for an ecological disaster “beyond comprehension” unless “extraordinary measures” are undertaken to stop the massive flow of oil into our Planet’s eleventh largest body of water.

        Most important to note about Sagalevich’s warning is that he and his fellow scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences are the only human beings to have actually been to the Gulf of Mexico oil leak site after their being called to the disaster scene by British oil giant BP shortly after the April 22nd sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil platform.”

        “According to Sagalevich’s report, the oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico is not just coming from the 22 inch well bore site being shown on American television, but from at least 18 other sites on the “fractured seafloor” with the largest being nearly 11 kilometers (7 miles) from where the Deepwater Horizon sank and is spewing into these precious waters an estimated 2 million gallons of oil a day.”

        Here’s the website:

        If true, this is much more than an environmental disaster.

        1. Glen

          Interesting read, but has such a fracturing ever been reported in an oilfield on dry land? I cannot recall ever hearing of this exact situation before. I suppose that could be because it’s easier to cap all the leaks on land as opposed to a mile under the sea. I can easily understand that the casing either blew out of the bore (and potentially jammed the BOP, or that the casing seals have failed, and oil/gas is escaping, but one would have to have much more details on the specific geology to understand how leaks can occur seven miles from the well bore.

          BP needs to step up oil recovery efforts whether or not subsea leaks are occurring. First off, quit using dispersants as this would just seem to make recovery more difficult, and start implementing some of the proposed recovery methods used in the Persian Gulf subsea spills. Time is not on BP’s side in this equation.

          1. Mickey Marzick in Akron, Ohio


            Isn’t there a technique already developed to inject liquids into an older well on land so as to fracture the rock surrounding it to facilitate extraction of the remaining oil? Such a practice has come under fire by enviromentalists and other as well.

            From what I gleaned the other day there’s something about this part of the Gulf’s geology that makes the sedimentary layers susceptible to shearing… and fracturing. The explosion itself may have caused the fracturing of the seabed…

            So I am skeptical of the nuclear option. Can we possibly seal every possible leak with a nuclear device? And will their use cause the seabed to fracture elswhere, compounding the problem. The NYT had a piece on this a few days back. The commentary there by more than one geologist/physicist led me to dig more. Michio Kaku, noted pyhsicist, scoffed at the idea when interviewed by Keith Olberman.

            Now is when I would like to have a geologist with knowledge of the GOM to weigh in.

  15. Paxton

    While I typically appreciate the writings of dear old George, this post is another matter. My main issue is that after a breathless string of doomsday quotes he chose to end the 1970’s style disaster post with the man just itching to nuke something… Matt Simmons. Thanks to Max Keiser I now will forever associate this lunatic as the fat cowboy riding the nuclear bomb from Dr. Strangelove. If this nuclear option is seriously afforded credulity and actually occurs, I for one vote that Mr. Simmons be the star of this reality TV enactment. Can his cowboy hat be glued to his diving equipment for the ride?

  16. Dwight Baker

    Suppositions do not fly that goes against the grain of normal in real oil and gas circles
    By Dwight Baker
    June 13, 2010

    Sources at two companies involved with the well said that BP also discovered new damage inside the well below the seafloor and that, as a result, some of the drilling mud that was successfully forced into the well was going off to the side into rock formations.
    MY TAKE not in context with the event trying to be performed.

    “We discovered things that were broken in the sub-surface,” said a BP official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He said that mud was making it “out to the side, into the formation.” The official said he could not describe what was damaged in the well.
    MY TAKE gibberish the oil and gas term used Loss of Circulation break down or fracturing the rock formation being drilled through

    Folks BP has been trying desperately to affix the blame of the blow out on some others. In that attempt the free press in the USA has not a clue what terms mean in oil and gas jargon. Thus, miss-information has made it way up and down the streets and on the pages of print all around. A feeding frenzy of media folks hungry for a new slant on the story has consumed many old and new to the game of wordsmith alike.

    Therefore MY TAKE on Mr. George Washington printed article is this. His writing skills are very good, the resource information I checked out and that is ok — the synergy of the message lacks the burden of proof in engineering oil and gas technology being met for the conclusion thus far drawn in the article are all wrong.

    The blown out well can be plugged and cemented all is OK down hole. That can be done with no more repercussion from the blown out well as soon as Chairman Svanberg gives the OK. Hopefully week of June 20—26.

  17. Vinny

    How about we seize all British Petroleum assets in the US, auction them off on ebay and craigslist, and use the proceeds to clean up the Gulf and compensate the people affected.

    If that won’t be enough, I propose we blockade the island of Great Britain until they come up with the difference. Kind of like it was done with Cuba… not that that worked very well…LOL

    Also, while blockading the UK, I propose a few “accidental” diesel fuel spills off of the largest aircraft carriers… Say, 10 trillion gallons, give or take a few…LOL


  18. Neil D

    Facinating discussion – thanks!

    I don’t really understand the “we have a right to know” argument. The people quoted are openly speculating on what’s happened. What, exactly, will we do (other than panic) with the knowledge there might be no way to stop the flow of oil? I think anyone paying attention realizes that already.

    They are drilling relief wells and seem to be considering the possibility of damage below the surface. If none of that works, we’ll know soon enough and the extent of damage will become apparent with time. Patience.

    1. Vinny

      My friend, it’s always fascinating in this blog. Never boring, that’s for sure. A good place to kill time, too. And, since this is the most influential financial blog in the world, I’m sure policymakers are getting at least some of their cues from here.

      What else is there to do? Watch the World Cup?…LOL


    2. Glen

      The lack of transparency has been the common thread associated with our rush to war with Iraq, the Fed bubbles, the interconnectedness (actually more like gambling) of the derivatives market, regulatory capture, and the subsequent Wall St implosion, the back room deals in healthcare reform, and our current “will we get actual financial reform”.

      Democracies, and free markets, WORK when everybody knows what’s going on.

  19. Doc Holiday

    Although Obama may have undecendent testicles, he should step up to the reality plate and seize or freeze BP assets ASAP. What BP has done, is the equivalent of a Pearl Harbor attack, an attack that will impact millions of people for perhaps decades. To allow BP to go about its global oil drilling business as usual is not good enough for America! Would Obama have ignored the attack on Pearl Harbor and used our government to work with Japan on PR to suggest that the destruction by Japan was something to mitigate with PR and bullshit (apparently that’s the way things get done these days)?

    I know I want a President of The United States Of America to recognize the responsibility he (or she) has to American citizens — versus the shareholders of a British corporation. BP is essentially a terrorist in this case and if this leak does result in our shores being covered by 2.5 Billions barrels of sludge, that is environmental terrorism — what else can we call this negligence. To allow BP to continue profiting from their other oil wells and allowing them the chance to not totally focus on this problem will be a crime against humanity! It is not acceptable for Obama to kiss the Queen of England’s ass or to bow before the CEO of BP — Obama needs to freeze every asset and demand that every BP employee work on solving this critical, generational problem!

    > See:

    ” … told me early on that it is likely the entire reserve will bleed out. Unfortunately none of them could say with any certainty just how much oil is in the reserve in question because, for one thing, the oil industry and secrecy have always been synonymous. According to BP data from about five years ago, there are four separate reservoirs containing a total of 2.5 billion barrels (barrels not gallons). One of the reservoirs has 1.5 billion barrels. I saw an earlier post here quoting an Anadarko Petroleum report which set the total amount at 2.3 billion barrels. One New York Times article put it at 2 billion barrels.

    If the BP data correctly or honestly identified four separate reservoirs then a bleed-out might gush less than 2 to 2.5 billion barrels unless the walls — as it were — fracture or partially collapse. I am hearing the same dark rumors which suggest fracturing and a complete bleed-out are already underway. Rumors also suggest a massive collapse of the Gulf floor itself is in the making. “

  20. John L

    The experts at The Oil Drum believe that Simmons’ claim of the drill pipe, BOP and riser being forcibly blown out of the well hole a mile or more is beyond credibility. The robots all have coordinates displayed on their video, and those coordinates match the drill hole location for this well. They’re not sure as to what “second plume” of oil Simmons is talking about, but they certainly do not believe his claim about what happened to this well.

    The concerns about the ruptured/damaged casings below ground are very, very real, though. BP is basically racing against time now to get those relief wells dug before erosion and stress cause either the BOP and other assemblies to collapse, or the casings to fully rupture below ground.

  21. Doc Holiday


    What about a space on your NC page for oil videos. We can assume the mainstream media, Obama, BP, Homeland Security, NASA, NOAA, etc will paint a pretty clean-up picture for this destruction — so why not post links of real video documentation from people that will be living in this hell? A slice of reality.


  22. Doc Holiday

    This seems fishy!!

    Oil forces partial fishing closure in Escambia Co.

    All harvest and possession (commercial and recreational) of saltwater fish and marine invertebrates other than oysters, clams and mussels from Florida waters is prohibited in the following described area ….

    All state waters seaward of the COLREGS demarcation line, encompassing an area from the Florida-Alabama border eastward to the Pensacola Beach water tower.

    The transport aboard any vessel of any of legally harvested saltwater fish or marine invertebrates through a closed area is prohibited, unless such transport is as direct, continuous, and expeditious as possible from the place where the saltwater or marine invertebrates were legally harvested to where the vessel is regularly docked, moored, or otherwise stored or to the licensed wholesale dealer where the catch is to be sold.

  23. Corey

    Simmons has been the target of a quiet smear campaign and his company has distanced itself from his recent comments even putting a buy rating on BP. Across the blogosphere he has been described as suffering from late state Alzheimers to sudden mental illness. The term Simmons has taken on the same stigma as Truther, which suggests to me an aggressive campaign to marginalize him. From numerous appearances in the MSM e.g. MSBC, Bloomberg etc he is now persona non grata. Even on the “oil” blogs mention of his name invites ridicule. On the Simmons website he has been removed from the partners page however the original version from a week ago still exists in Google’s cache.

  24. Doc Holiday

    Re: “smear campaign”

    Does this mean he doesn’t work for BP PR Dept, and thus this smear campaign is part of the media distortion/blackout — or does this simply imply that the BP oil spill is contained, and the tarballs and sludge are illusions?

    Or, in choice two, is this smear campaign Spitzer-like, where we are inclined to see that people that cause trouble, are discredited, and hence the distraction becomes the story.

    Choice three: We need to be supportive of BP, because they have found production shortcuts which in theory create higher profit margins.

    Choice 4: None of the above, but this looks like more collusion and conspiracy stuff which makes me not want to play.

  25. Doc Holiday

    This is good, but I doubt Obama will want to piss of the Queen, as it’s easier to bow to another master:

    ==> “I’ve got a better idea. Wouldn’t it be far simpler for the White House (stating that the Pollution Control Act of 1990 gives it authority) to put BP’s American operations into temporary receivership? That way, Obama can take over BP’s assets here and use its expertise to stop the leak and clean up the mess as soon as possible — and leave the subsequent years of bickering to the court..

    From: Why the United States Still Can’t Get BP to Do What’s Necessary
    If Obama asserts no legal authority over BP, he can’t cleanup the oil giant’s cleanup

  26. Doc Holiday

    Re: temporary receivership?????


    TITLE 33 > CHAPTER 40 > SUBCHAPTER I > § 2716

    § 2716. Financial responsibility
    (c) Offshore facilities
    (C) Greater amount

    If the President determines that an amount of financial responsibility for a responsible party greater than the amount required by subparagraph (B) is justified based on the relative operational, environmental, human health, and other risks posed by the quantity or quality of oil that is explored for, drilled for, produced, or transported by the responsible party, the evidence of financial responsibility required shall be for an amount determined by the President not exceeding $150,000,000

  27. Doc Holiday

    Obama can request any relief as the public interest and the equities of the BP case may require.

    TITLE 33 > CHAPTER 40 > SUBCHAPTER I > § 2716a

    § 2716a. Financial responsibility civil penalties

    (b) Judicial
    In addition to, or in lieu of, assessing a penalty under subsection (a) of this section, the President may request the Attorney General to secure such relief as necessary to compel compliance with this [1] section 2716 of this title, including a judicial order terminating operations. The district courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction to grant any relief as the public interest and the equities of the case may require.—-000-.html

  28. Dave

    To those who believe that we’ll get more honesty if the feds take this over,get real.
    We will have absolutely no way to verify if what is being said is the truth.
    The same mentality that brings us the post office,the public schools and the DMV would be running this operation.
    Also,I would take “naked capitalism” over naked communism anyday since the latter killed 100 million in the last century trying to make it work.

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