Archive for March, 2011

Cheryl Anderson submitted a report on a synthetic mud spill from the Henry Goodrich which is operating offshore Newfoundland.

An estimated 26,400 litres (approximately 166 bbl) synthetic based mud spill occurred Monday east of St. John’s from Suncor Energy Henry Goodrich rig while drilling an exploration well on Monday but not reported until today – a three day delay.  Preliminary reports indicate the cause may have been a valve left open on the mud pit. vocm.com


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John Milne Book Launch

John C Milne

“Dubs” is a term used in Aberdeen and northeast Scotland to describe all varieties of mud. That is the first thing I learned in reading John Milne’s excellent book “DUBS, How the Oil Came North.”  John’s first job in the offshore industry was with a drilling mud supplier back in 1969 when he was still a college student.  John presents a series of amusing and informative anecdotes about hie work experiences between 1969 and 1973 during the early years of North Sea offshore exploration. The book is available through the publisher, PlashMill Press. Good read!

I also recommend Bjørn Vidar Lerøen’s excellent book “Drops of Black Gold,” which

Drops of Black Gold - Statoil

chronicles the history of Statoil and Norwegian offshore oil and gas development. The book includes a now famous 1962 letter from Phillips Petroleum to the Norwegian government. In the letter, Phillips seeks exclusive rights to the entire Norwegian continental shelf in return for conducting a seismic survey program. Hey, nothing wrong with asking! 🙂

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In a previous post, we discussed JL Daeschler’s comments suggesting that the emergency disconnect sequence (EDS) may have actuated the shear ram, but that the sequence aborted when the ram did not close fully. Another knowledgeable commenter, while requesting not to be named, noted that:

Whether the EDS-functions terminated before the sequence was completed is clearly a relevant question.

I agree and believe this possibility may have been dismissed without being fully considered. The DNV report claims that the EDS sequence never actually initiated, probably because of a loss of communication with the stack after the initial explosion.  As evidence, the report offers the following:

There is an account of lights flashing, indicating that the EDS function had initiated. There are no accounts of any specific lights going steady, which would have indicated a function had been completed and confirmed by the subsea control pods.

Comment: Perhaps no light stopped flashing because the first step in the sequence, BSR actuation, was not concluded (i.e. the BSR never fully closed).

Reviewed ROV video indicated no evidence that the sequence had initiated; the LMRP remained latched to the BOP, the Blue and Yellow Control Pod stingers were not retracted.

Comment: This only tells us that the sequence terminated prior to unlatching he LMRP and retracting the pod stingers.  It says nothing about the timing of the BSR closure.

Note that pages 166-167 of the DNV report indicate that the EDS was manually functioned (at the test facility) via surface control and that it functioned as intended.

The report also confirms that the accumulators were functional:

HP Shear Close, EDS, AMF/Deadman and Autoshear have a common reliance on the accumulator bottles (8 x 80 gallon) located on the BOP. Testing of these accumulators determined that they functioned as intended in the as-received condition.

The report goes on to say:

This is further indication the BSR’s were activated either by the Authoshear or possibly the AMF/Deadman functions. No further failure cause analysis was performed.

Comment: So why was the EDS ruled out as the trigger for the BSR activation? Also, if the shear ram was activated by the AMF, why did that sequence terminate after the ram closed (partly)?

Comment on the riser disconnect: While closure of the BSR is a critical first step in the EDS or AMF sequence, riser disconnect, which has received very little attention, is equally important. To prevent flow, you want the well sealed before you disconnect the riser and the column of drilling fluid contained within. However when an EDS is activated, there is a good chance that the well may already have started to flow. Under those circumstances, you need to quickly disconnect the riser so the workers can be removed from the threat. In the case of the Deepwater Horizon, the failure of the riser to disconnect is as significant as the  failure of the BSR to seal the well. Although the EDS may have been activated too late to save the workers who lost their lives, they would likely have been safe if the rig had been disconnected from the well prior to the initial surge.

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Previewing his speech at a New York City fundraiser last night, Obama said he wants to break “the pattern of being shocked at high prices and then, as prices go down, being lulled into a trance.”

“Let’s actually have a plan,” he said. “Let’s, yes, increase domestic oil production, but let’s also invest in solar and wind and geothermal and bio-fuels and let’s make our buildings more efficient and our cars more efficient.” USA Today


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This is a very nice human interest story, but is a message in a bottle a violation of the London Convention?

Nearly a quarter-century after a German boy tossed a message in a bottle off a ship in the Baltic Sea, he’s received an answer.

A 13-year-old Russian, Daniil Korotkikh, was walking with his parents on a beach when he saw something glittering lying in the sand.

“I saw that bottle and it looked interesting,” Korotkikh told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “It looked like a German beer bottle with a ceramic plug, and there was a message inside.” NPR


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Secretary of the Interior Salazar will be hosting the “Ministerial Forum on Offshore Drilling Containment” on April 14, 2011, in Washington DC. Click for the draft agenda and additional information.

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Fair or harsh? You be the judge.

Federal prosecutors are considering whether to pursue manslaughter charges against BP Plc (BP/) managers for decisions made before the Gulf of Mexico oil well explosion last year that killed 11 workers and caused the biggest offshore spill in U.S. history, according to three people familiar with the matter. Bloomberg

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The following question is based on an interesting email message that I received from JL Daeschler, a pioneering subsea engineer:

One of the final acts on the Deepwater Horizon crew appears to have been the activation of the emergency disconnect sequence (EDS). The DNV report concludes that this emergency sequence was triggered, but never actually initiated, probably because of a loss of communication to the BOP stack after the initial explosion. Is it possible that the EDS sequence actually was initiated, but that the incomplete closure of the shear ram terminated that sequence?

Looking forward to next week’s hearings. Hopefully C-SPAN will televise the proceedings, because there is not indication that the Joint Investigation has arranged for live streaming.

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Check this out, just for kicks. She plans to play college soccer for UNC.

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Odd Finnestad has provided some good background information on the Old Harry prospect.

“Old Harry is described as “the largest known undrilled marine structure in Canada”, with twice the potential of the Hibernia field off Newfoundland (up to 2-billion barrels of recoverable oil), or and three times the potential of the Sable Island gas field off the coast of Nova Scotia.” polemincandparadise.com

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