Deepwater Horizon: A Firsthand Account

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


Mark: Dallas Texas WBAP. Go right ahead, sir.

James: Just want to clear up a few things with the Petroleum Engineer, everything he said was correct. I was actually on the rig when it exploded and was at work.

Mark: Alright, let's slow down. Wait, hold on, slow down, so you were working on this rig when it exploded?

James: Yes sir.

Mark: OK, go ahead.

James: We had set the bottom cement plug for the inner casing string, which was the production liner for the well, and had set what's called a seal assembly on the top of the well. At that point, the BOP stack that he was talking about, the blow out preventer was tested. I don't know the results of that test; however, it must have passed because at that point they elected to displace the risers -- the marine riser from the vessel to the sea floor. They displaced the mud out of the riser preparing to unlatch from the well two days later and they displaced it with sea water. When they concluded the BOP stack test and the inner liner, they concluded everything was good.

Mark: Let me slow you down, let me slow you down. So they do all these tests to make sure the infrastructure can handle what's about to happen, right?

James: Correct, we're testing the negative pressure and positive pressure of the well, the casing and the actual marine riser.

Mark: OK, I'm with you. Go ahead.

James: Alright, after the conclusion of the test, they simply opened the BOP stack back up.

Mark: And the test, as best as you know, was sufficient?

James: It should have been, yes sir. They would have never opened it back up.

Mark: OK next step, go ahead.

James: Next step, they opened the annular, the upper part of the BOP stack

Mark: Which has what purpose? Why do you do that?

James: So that you can gain access back to the wellbore.

Mark: OK

James: When you close the stack, it's basically a humongous hydraulic valve that closes off everything from below and above. It's like a gate valve on the sea floor.

Mark: OK

James: That's a very simplistic way of explaining a BOP. It's a very complicated piece of equipment.

Mark: Basically, it's like a plug. But go ahead.

James: Correct. Once they open that plug to go ahead and start cementing the top of the well (the well bore), we cement the top, and then basically we would pull off. Another rig would slide over and do the rest of the completions work. When they opened the well is when the gas well kicked, and we took a humongous gas bubble kick up through the well bore. It literally pushed the sea water all the way to the crown of the rig, which is about 240 feet in the air.

Mark: OK, so gas got into it and blew the top off of it.

James: Right.

Mark: Now don't hang up. I want to continue with you because I want to ask you some questions related to this, OK? Including, has this sort of thing ever happened before, and why you think it may have happened, OK?

Mark: Alright, back to James, that's not his real name, Dallas WBAP. I'm not going to give the working title of what you did there either, James, but I wanted to finish. So, the gentleman was right about the point that obviously some gas got into the, I'll call it the funnel, OK?

James: Correct, and that's not uncommon, Mark. 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: Not to offend you, but we just verified that you are who you are, which I'm sure you already knew that. I would like to hold you over to the next hour because I would like to ask a few more questions about this, as well as what happened exactly after the explosion, during the explosion and after. Can you wait with us?

James: Sure, I don't know how much of that I can share, but I'll do my best.

Mark: Alright, well I don't want to get you in trouble. So if you can stay, fine, but if you can't, we understand.

Part 2 of Mark's Interview:

Mark: We are talking to a caller under an assumed name who was on the rig when it blew up, and we've been talking about how it happened. And now James, I want to take you to the point of when it happened. What exactly happened? Where were you standing?

James: Well obviously, the gas blew the sea water out of the riser, once it displaced all of the sea water, the gas began to spill out on the deck and up through the center of the rig floor. The rig, you have to imagine a rectangle, about 400 feet by 300 feet, with the derrick and the rig floor sitting directly in the center. As this gas is now heavier than air, it starts to settle in different places. From that point, something ignited the gas, which would have caused the first major explosion.

Mark: Now, what might ignite the gas, do you know?

James: Any number of things, Mark. All rig floor equipment is what they consider intrinsically safe, meaning it cannot generate a spark, so that these types of accidents cannot occur. However, as much gas that came out as fast as it did, it would have spilled over the entire rig fairly rapidly, you know, within a minute. I would think that the entire rig would be enveloped in gas. Now a lot of this stuff, you can't smell, you can't taste it, it's just there, and it's heavier than oxygen. As it settled in, it could have made it to a space that wasn't intrinsically safe. Something as simple as static electricity could have ignited the first explosion, which set off a series of explosions.

Mark: Alright, so what happened? You're standing where? You're sitting somewhere? What happened?

James: Well, I was in a location that was a pretty good ways from the initial blast. I wasn't affected by the blast. I was able to make it out and get up forward where the life boats were. The PA system was still working. There was an announcement overhead that this was NOT a drill. Obviously, we have fire drills every single week to prepare for emergencies like this (fire and abandonment drills). Over the intercom came the order to report to life boats one and two, that this was not a drill, that there is a fire, and we proceeded that way.

Mark: So, the eleven men who died, were they friends of yours?

James: Yes sir, they were.

Mark: Did they die instantly?

James: I would have to assume so. Yes, sir. I would think that they were directly inside the bomb when it went off, the gas being the bomb.

Mark: So, the bomb being the gas explosion?

James: Correct. They would have been in the belly of the beast.

Mark: Now, let me ask you, and we have to be careful what we say because there are people that will run wild with ideas, so I just want to make sure

James: Sure.

Mark: So, let me ask you this, why would the government send in a SWAT team to a rig? What’s that all about?

James: Well, believe it or not, its funny you would mention that. Transocean, the drilling company, maintains a SWAT team and that's their sole purpose. They're experts in their field. The BOP, the blowout preventer, they call that subsea equipment. They have their own SWAT teams that they send out to the rigs to service and maintain that equipment.

Mark: Yeah but I'm talking about what are interior SWAT teams? What is that?

James: The interior, from the government now, I don't have an idea about that, that's beyond me. The other gentleman also mentioned the USGS that comes out and does the surveys. I've been on that particular rig for three years, offshore for five years, and I've seen a USGS one time. What we do have on a very regular basis is the MMS, which is the Minerals Management Service.

Mark: They're all under the interior department.

James: OK. Yes. As a matter of fact, we were commended for our inspection record from the MMS. We are actually receiving an award from them for the highest level of safety and environmental awareness.

Mark: Well, I thought you were going to receive that award. Didn't they put it on hold?

James: No, we have actually received that award. We received it last year. We may have been ready to receive it again this year.

Mark: Let me ask you this, so the life boats, how did you get into these life boats? Where are these life boats?

James: There are actually four life boats - two forward and two on the left, depending on where the emergency or the tragedy has taken place.

Mark: Did you wind up jumping in the water to get in to the life boat? Sometimes you have to do that.

James: I'll just say that there were five to seven individuals that jumped and the rest went down in the life boats.

Mark: Alright, I won't ask because you don't want to identify yourself that clearly. Good point. How fast were the rescue efforts? How fast did they reach you?

James: It is common to have a very large work boat standing by, to bring tools out, groceries, and supplies; it's a constant turn around. So we actually have a very large vessel real close by. It was actually along the side with the hose attached, taking mud off of our vessel on its own. It had to emergency disconnect and then pull out about a mile to stand by for rescue efforts. So, it was fairly quick.

Mark: How quick till the Coast Guard got there?

James: Mark, it's hard to say, between 45 minutes to an hour is when I recall seeing the first helicopter.

Mark: Which is actually pretty fast because you are 130 miles offshore right?

James: Correct. If you look at the nearest spill of land which would be Grand Isle, Louisiana, somewhere in that area, we were only about maybe 50 miles where the crew flies up. From civilization, such as New Orleans, it would be 200 miles. The helicopter was more than likely 80 to 100 miles away.

Mark: You are going to be beset by lawyers, with the government, and others looking for an opportunity to make money. It's going to get very, very ugly and the officials going there have really no backgrounds or experience... I mean, to what extent is that going to help anything? It's silly.

James: To me it seems knee jerk. The number one focus right now is containment. I like the idea about the boom. They are going to try to lower it down into the water to capture the leak.

Mark: How long might that take? I've been reading about this boom and it says that it could take 30 days to do that.

James: It very well could. You have to remember that this is a challenging environment. You know its 5,000 feet deep, there's a tangled wreck of a rig with the marine riser still connected and twisted into a big wad down there. So it's going to take some time to get all that stuff in place. The engineering has to be there; obviously they don't want to rush into it. You want to move it expediently but you are risking the lives of those men that are going to go out there and try to attempt it - that’s just not right.

Mark: I was just going say that. That's very dangerous, I mean extremely dangerous.

James: Absolutely, absolutely. There will be oil. There will be natural gases. All the same things that caused us to explode are still present, and they're there. The pressure had been cut off dramatically, from the simple fact of the folding of the riser. Basically take this big garden hose and kink it several times.

Mark: How old is this rig? How long has it been there?

James: It was put in service in 2001. It's a fairly new rig.

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.

Mark: But to shut down every rig in response to this? I mean... I'm not sure why.

James: The BOP tests are literally mandated from the Mineral Management Service and they are conducted like clockwork. I mean, if any of those tests ever failed, they would have immediately stopped operations, sealed the well up, pulled the BOP stack back up on the deck, which is 48 hours minimum, and made the necessary repairs or replacement parts, and then would get it back down, re-connect, re-test, and keep testing it, until it passed or kept on repairing it until it passed.

Mark: So this was a… I mean this must have been harrowing to you. I mean to experience something like this.

James: That’s putting it mildly.

Mark: Anything else you want to tell me?

James: No, I just got into the truck to make a short trip and I heard a gentleman say something about possible terrorism and I want to put that to bed now. I understand you have a large audience. I appreciate your point of view. I try to listen to you as much as I can, the terrorism call just needs to leave everyone's minds and let's focus on the 11 men that are dead and the survivors. That's where the focus of this country needs to be right now.

Mark: Alright my friend, we wish you all the best and I tell you that it's really God's blessing that you survived, it really is.

James: Yes sir, I completely agree.

Mark: Alright James, thank you very much for calling and we appreciate it.

James: Thank you, Mark.

Mark: Alright, God bless.



Generated by readers, the comments included herein do not reflect the views and opinions of Rigzone. All comments are subject to editorial review. Off-topic, inappropriate or insulting comments will be removed.

Bill  |  May 16, 2010
The 60 Minutes show on CBS of Sunday May 16, 2010 devoted two segments to an interview with Mike Williams, one of the last survivors to escape the Deepwater Horizon and was the chief electronics technician on board. His chronology of the events during the two weeks or so leading up to the disaster shows that the project manager for BP (unnamed in the story) was intent on forcing the project ahead faster, despite possible safety or efficiency issues. At the first well they drilled, to save $1 million from being behind schedule the BP manager pushed the vertical speed of the drill bit to the point that the bit actually got locked up in the earth and the well had to be abandoned. That mishap, according to Williams, cost BP $25 million and at least several weeks to drill another well into the oil field. It would be interesting to see if BP replaced that manager, or if it was the same manager that overruled the Transocean project managers plan to cap the well for production by keeping mud in the well until Halliburton could put the third concrete plug in place. BPs manager directed a shortcut that withdrew the mud that balances well pressure after the second concrete plug was placed, and the two plugs werent sufficient to cap the well. There also was a failure of the rubber seal called the annular in the BlowOut Preventer (BOP) due to someone forcing pipe through it while it was under a load test. Subsequent tests showed that well pressure was lower than it actually was, because of pressure leaking around the annular, which could have contributed to the belief that the shortcut ordered by the BP manager would be sufficient to cap the well. If the manager that cost BP $25 million at the first well was the same one that ordered the shortcut capping method, the cause of this disaster may be no more than a bean-counters inability to understand drilling technology. However, if there was a second BP manager in place that ordered the shortcut capping, it may indicate a systemic failure at the corporate level, and heads may well roll at high levels before this event is over. A worse disaster may be in the making at the BP/BHP-Billeton joint venture 190 miles south of New Orleans called the Atlantis platform. Former BP engineers have independently verified that up to 95% of the engineering plans for the rig - in production since 2007 and now producing as much as 200,000 bpd - were never finalized and approved by the company. BP placed another platform 150 miles south of New Orleans in 2009, the Thunder Horse rig, and someone should look into the building of that platform to make sure safety and design protocols were followed.
DRD  |  May 13, 2010
Very good account by a man who just lost friends and was in great danger himself.

He referred to nature throwing a curve ball and he is right. This rig was in abandonment stage and there should not have been any gas period. Between the reservoir and sea floor there should have been cement, a liner top packer and casing. There must have been a catastrophic failure of at least two of these elements for such a tragedy to occur. If this was just a case of too much pressure in the reservoir we need to use this tragedy as an example so this never happens again.

The part I find most disturbing is that the BOP did not contain this disaster. This is what its there for - the only reason, and the one time they needed it? Once they saw the water headed to the crown they would have closed the BOP right back, thats what theyre trained to do. If Im not mistaken even if there is no one left alive to throw the "close" lever there are safe guards in place to contend with this.

So the real question is what happend to the BOP and why did it fail to contain this?

Thank you for the enlightment.
paul onome owivri-idisi  |  May 12, 2010
the hazards of our occupation. i bless GOD for HIS marvellous grace and miracles...goodnight to those who passed and thank GOD for those who survived...
george  |  May 12, 2010
Regardless of the size of the gas bubble (blowout), or the cmt. plug holding. when the BOP Stack was opened either there was pressure on the gauges or there wasn"t. if the blowout happened after the stack was opened and displacing the flud colume to the Rig crown, the first instinct would be to run. closing in the the BOP should be the first instinct. this is a drill that should be done performed over and over until it becomes second nature to the drill crew. Many times upper management puts restrictions on the crew in order to stay within operating budget or they are just become complacent, irrisponsible, or impatient. possibly there was a lack of communication. when third partys are involved there is potential for catastrophy since routine is being changed from the norm. Blowout Preventers are designed for the purpose of preventive blowouts. someone did not close in the well at the first indication of the blowout. I believe this could have being prevented, this happened to me in the Santa Barbara Channel and the first reaction was to close the well in, unfortunately because of lack of communication with third party, we lost control through the well head. NO ONE was hurt and we regained control 6 hours later. all the rigs in the world are not worth the lives of the 11 people lost.
John  |  May 12, 2010
The 100 ton white box was really a long shot but the cap they are now trying makes sense, since the top of the riser was clear, I sent in a suggestion to try an overshot attached to the bottom of the riser and not be concerned with making a high pressure seal, but just good enough to keep seawater out while the oil flowed to the surface and off loaded. As for the cause, high density gas, compressed below 5000 of very heavy mud in a large riser, will rise slowly enough to channel through but not fast enough to raise the mud above it and will not change surface pressures in the riser UNTIL the bubble reaches a shallow enough depth that the bubble pressure exceeds the hydrostatic head above it. Then, the bubble will rise faster and faster and when mud friction force on the pipe wall becomes less than the hydrostatic head, all blows up and out. Perhaps a longer wait time after cementing should be required, depending on the well depth, mud weight, mud viscosity and geology, before BOPs are opened. The bubble most likely entered by external pressure leaking past casing threads, not past the cement.
ed gongre  |  May 11, 2010
this man James should have the PR spot for the industry and if nothing else some recognitionas putting the facts out and gracefully setting those with conspirecy ideas straight.While Im nowhere in James league in regards to the working knowledge ,Ive spent time in his line of work in that very field in the 70s when things were not nearly as safety and environmentaly conscience as they are today .And whether it be an Air disaster or industrial accident such as this.Mother Nature can and will show her ugly side and these things are not always something manmade or terrorist born. Its those that point these types of accusations, that have brought more fear and ignoranance and over played rules and loss of civil liberties we deal with today . We must apply and learn from these and all tradgedies to avoid another but there will always be the unavoidable .My condolences to all those lost and their , to the survivors strength,to the the conspiracy bunch, PLEASE open your minds,study the facts, at least investigate the potentials if it is above your little minds to understand then find some one you trust to explain it to you .THANK YOU JAMES I Believe you hit the nail on the head .And you said nothing i feel you should be worried about.
Ed  |  May 11, 2010
Gratifying to learn that testing of the BOP was continual during the drilling operation. But I understand that placement a second cement block was not done - presumably for economic or scheduling reasons - even though it is mandated (?) before closing off a well.

Some accidents are preventable. Remember the decision to launch Challenger over the objections of the engineers who designed it?
perry sorrells  |  May 11, 2010
Its always sad when something like this happens.Ive worked offshore for 30 years and have to go back tomorrow.They have helicoptors crash and people dont make it, they have people die in car crashes every day. they have people drown every day. When something happens its always sad. But it will happen, this is not the first and it will not be the last. We have to have to oil and gas to survive. Wetill need to drill of of the east and west coas because we need the reserves. The 200 lawyers in New Orlines that are there to get money are the ones that hurt every thing.
Ed  |  May 11, 2010
This article explains a lot. My questions:

How is the BOP tested onsite with the pipe inside of it?

Can anybody estimate how long it took for the gas bubble to move from the well-head to the rig floor? And didnt an alarm go off when pressure at the BOP suddenly increased?

Apparently the BOP with all its redundant systems failed to close off the flow and the water column and gas bubble moved so quickly the men had no chance to move out of its way.

I always thought engineers designed for the "worst case" not only for the "highly improbable" ones.
Bill Shook  |  May 10, 2010
The white box may work if they will weld baffles inside to change the straight flow of the fluid that is causing it to freeze. I have been in the oilfield and construction for 35 years. Hell it is worth a try. They are not having much luck out there at this time. I wish these guys the best of luck.
Glen  |  May 10, 2010
Can someone tell me why we cannot drill some holes a few hundred, or a thousand feet deep around the well, fill them with explosives and cap the well with bedrock? Is there no bedrock?
Richard Catto  |  May 10, 2010
Early in my career, I worked on a Semi and experienced a blowout similar to the one on this rig. Fortunately, it didnt catch fire. We were able to evacuate in a very effecient manner and we didnt experience any injuries. Everything he says makes perfect sense and the fact that they are now drilling in 5000 feet of water, makes it all the more complicated. The engineering aspect of this is absolutely incredible and Im very surprised that this type of event has not happen sooner.
Jay  |  May 10, 2010
Great account of the incident; thanks for sharing. My heart goes out to those 11 as well as those who were injured.

Its a shame the media doesnt want to report facts and instead wants to bash the Oil Industry, BP and Transocean.
V K Singh  |  May 10, 2010
After opening the well through BOP stack, the gas bubble must take some time to surface. was not that sufficient to close the riser? Possibly the mechanism to close the riser failed. Before opening the BOP they should know how much pressure is there. 30-40 thousand psi pressure in a oil/gas well is beyond my understanding. So too many loop holes in the story
Petro Lucre  |  May 10, 2010
I tell you what this is a sad, sad thing when people get hurt and the environment gets hurt. I personally am not a big offshore fan, I follow mostly domestic oil production and oil sands. Both safer options in my opinion. Follow me on where I will discuss this further.
Paul G Schumann  |  May 10, 2010
I think that the honesty of this man has excelled all my expectations. Well done. Yes, quite correct as "James" said, "Mother Nature does throw you a curved ball" We should however concentrate more on how to cap this well rather than the cause at this stage. The environmental catastrophe is of prime concern right now. I have been working on a theory that could possibly seal this well, quickly and effiently. Any one intersted could contact me in Cape Town South Africa Mobile +27735336155. The method involves a geological approach to capping the well.
Bob Keith  |  May 09, 2010

I was shocked, confused, bewildered
As I entered Heavens door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor.
But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp –
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics and the trash.
There stood the kid from seventh grade
Who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor
Who never said anything nice.
Herb, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.
I nudged Jesus, Whats the deal?
I would love to hear Your take.
Howd all these sinners get up here?
God mustve made a mistake.
And why is everyone so quiet,
So somber – give me a clue.
Hush, child, He said, theyre all in shock.
No one thought theyd be seeing you.

Remember...Just going to church doesnt make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car.

Every saint has a PAST...
Every sinner has a FUTURE!
northland99  |  May 09, 2010
i think the lawyers that arrived in gas powered vehicles to file lawsuits in record time should the first ones to help clean up the mess. id love to see them wearing ties with their slacks rolled up on the sea shore mopping up.
Bernard  |  May 09, 2010
My guess as to what caused the fire would be that the engines ran away when the gas entered the intakes and probably exploded. I think it is amazing that with an accident of this magnitude that more souls were not lost. I have been in the industry (land rigs) for 33 years, and yes sometimes mother nature wins.
Robert  |  May 09, 2010
Ive worked on offshore rigs. Dangerous business!!!!!!!!!!! 5000 ft deep is very hard to contain and these things take time and lots of money. Everyone is working overtime to get this job done, but I have not heard one news show or pundit go into the yards where these people are busting their tails to get it done to show how hard it really is. Just sob story after sob story about how it affects all the people on shore meanwhile everyone is still driving all over town using gas and oil more that ever!!!!!!!!!!!!
Dave Kelly  |  May 09, 2010
As a mate/Master aboard one of the workboats out there, actually working the sister rig to this one, I can tell you this industry strives for safety and is constantly drilling their men to take on emergencies. We do it on the boats also. As James said, this had to be so large a gas bubble to cause this kjnd of explosion, as such it is more mother natures fault than human error. It is a horrible tragedy to both personnel and the environment, and hopefully there will be more insight into preventing this from happening again.
John  |  May 09, 2010
I agree with Wendall, regular drilling procedures prior to opening a BOP preventer would be to check the choke and kill line valve pressure gauges to ensure they read zero (indicating no trapped below the Annular or Ram). It is also a good operating practice to open the choke/kill line valves to vent to atmosphere as a back up in case gauges are faulty. To open BOPs without following standard drilling procedure like this can be devastating.
Larry Clark  |  May 09, 2010
BP knew the containment dome might be needed in this kind of emergency, so why was it not 100% ready for use. Why did it need additional welding & getting it ready for use? I worked in the oilfields offshore. Any special piece of equipment is supposed to be ready, instantly, not days later. If it needed some changes made to it for the particular application, there should be several domes ready to go with varying designs.
Brian  |  May 08, 2010
My condolences to the millions of aquatic wildlife that will be killed, the thousands of workers around the gulf coast that will lose their jobs due to lack of sufficient fishing grounds, and the 11 men who lost their lives in this enormous tragedy.
Jeffrey  |  May 08, 2010
Speaking to the cementing slurries that are calculated, the influx appears to have come in from the back side, and would allow some pockets of gas or oil to be trapped, which is normal and can be handled with out having an incident like this one. But when the rig blows out and continues to leak is a sign that the cement job did not take hold, cause it was not correctly carried out. Usually in a well that is high pressure there is a cementing procedure program in place that would include taking precautions to ensure that the cement job does hold!!

I had previously read a link that Haliburton had ran a bad job! However its the company mans boss and their team to make out those cementing procedures and the rig company man to make sure the rig crews follow them and discuss them in the pre-tour meeting prior to running the cementing job. Like after cementing and hanging the liner. Pulling up hole to compensate for the cement overlap and then shut in the well and hold certain pressures to ensure that the cement job is "CEMENTING" off the backside zones while W.O.C.?? perhaps
Average American  |  May 08, 2010
100 people or more evacuated SAFELY even with the huge explosion. Even though it was a tragic loss, if the oil companies werent already as prepared as they could be, none would have survived.

And one accident out of thousands of successful safe operations, and jobs and billions of man hours does not mean the industry isnt safe and needs to be transformed.

The industry is already regulated by the MMS directly for safety and EPA for environment and all companies operate as safely as possible and as required. Many years ago, maybe not so much, but now, they are in compliance at all time, or are shut in.

Not sure if International Companies are required to follow the EPA and MMS mandates in their and other countries. Or do they all have their own regulator office??
Chiidi-Abundance (From Nigeria)  |  May 08, 2010
Having read the account of James (Assumed Name); It is obvious that he is an Engineer of sort. Could you also get to one of the MWD/LWD Engineers and/ or Requisite Geoscientist (Ops Geologist preferably) on board. Post-Incident Investigators may want to save us all some time/ money by zeroing in on the Predicted Pore-Pressures before the drilling commenced, same while the well was on and predicted (It can be predicted upfront(10s of feet ahead) in most cases)) by the Geoscientist on board the rig. Someone surely did not take the Geoscientists advice before opening the well ahead after the last operations. Experience have shown that despite emperical results from engineering tools on board a rig, it is not unusual to encounter surprise down-hole formation gases like we did here. Very good geological knowledge of the environment could have put the crew on a better alert state (As a preventive measure).
Pamela  |  May 08, 2010
Yep, sometimes you cant win against Mother Nature. The rest remains to be seen.
Grizzly  |  May 08, 2010
I worked for Transocean for 16 years and I know from experience that they conduct their business in a professional manner at all times. The Media have and are making too much of this incident, so both BP and Transocean should be left to clear this mess in their own time which I can assure you will be sooner rather than later. HAND
Peter Pomeroy  |  May 07, 2010
I dont know if Jim is correct in his assertation that there were sports fishermen "catching Tuna under the rig" or not. If he is correct, this is a shocking state of affairs. Working rigs are supposed to have a 500 metre exclusion zone around them, and only authorized vessels are allowed to enter it. What the hell were fishermen doing there?
R.O. Davis  |  May 07, 2010
This is a pretty impressive discussion in its authentic expression of grief and issue analysis by experienced, conscientious, hard working Americans. The sense of loss and indignation at the underemphasised human toll in the media is understandable. My sincere condolences to the families, friends and co-workers suffering in the wake of this tragedy.

It may be that unless one has experience in an industry that poses the sudden risk of catastrophic failure, the impact in its realisation cant be entirely felt or understood. Too many of us take for granted the daily efforts and risk experienced by those contributing to production of essential commodities. Something has been lost in our national consciousness in respect for workers and their families. I personally think that it reflects the result of undue control that corporate PR interests exert in their pursuit of liability exemption.

The insensitivity evidenced in the aftermath of this tragedy through tactics of herding workers into coerced compliance within a corporate agenda of liability containment is particularly disturbing. It suggests a management mindset devoid of fundamental decency and preoccupied with classic responsibility avoidance.

There is no denying that the oil industry and BP specifically have applied enormous resources to lobbying against costly requirements that enhance the controls over possible runaway environmental calamities, such as required relief wells. And since wells at these extreme depths and pressures pose a high risk of catastrophic failure as is evidenced with Deepwater Horizon, failure preventive technology cannot be considered optional to the process.

The price paid in human lives alone more than indicts criminal negligence to corporate entities and governmental regulators willing to sacrifice safety and the environment for profit. Its the most cynical abuse of human and natural resources, and it must end.
Ralph A. LaPaugh  |  May 07, 2010
I worked oil exploration boats, and also cooked on a rig. From the informaton released so far, it strikes me that this was a freak accedent, NOT caused by neglagence or faulty equipment. All the people I have met in the oil business have safety as their top priority. I knew when this happened that the enviromental extremists would use it to further their twisted agenda. I really hope the country does not follow their path of a total stop of drilling because windmills and solar panels DO NOT power airplanes, tanks, all miltary vehicles, trains, trucks that deliver ALL our consumer goods, not to mention cars that millions of people depend on to get to work and just function in daily lives. If California and the East coast liberals want to go back to the stone age, fine, dont expect the rest of the country to commit suicide with you!!
wendell chayer  |  May 07, 2010
Why open the annular when there would have been pressure below it if this story is true.
Daniel  |  May 07, 2010
thanks for not posting my previous comments. They are based on experience and engineering factors.
Khun Ron  |  May 07, 2010
Enlightened all of us well folks on "what the heck caused this?". Good ole Texas boy, a rig hand, standing up for honesty, he is reality and heart for john q. public. However us well folks are saying......
Bob Ruckman  |  May 07, 2010
My father is 84 years old. He worked for Standard Oil (AMOCO-BP) for over 30 years, retiring in 1985. He worked offshore as a Superintendent in drilling, production and in automation (computer technology). Dad built the first computer ever used in a major oil field in the US (completely from scratch). He also worked in the Overthrust in Wyoming where head pressures exceed 5,000 PSI regularly with H2S gas in the 30% range or 300,000 parts per million as well as the North Sea and Libya and Eygypt (offshore Suez). Verify it yourselves but 1000 parts per million of H2S will kill a human being with one breath. My father worked in this type environment for years and the safety protocols and procedures are strict and strictly trained and adhered to by the employees. NOT because the government mandates it but because Standard Oil mandated and required it. With all this safety and security there were still some accidents. I had a friend of mine cut in half on a rig, and honestly he did something he should not have done! My dad personally lost three employees in North Dakota in an above ground accident; due to an explosion. An extensive investigation was done and no direct cause could be determined. This accident bothered my father for decades but at the end of the day it was an event no one could control. Consider that he saw a lot of fatalities because he and his brothers served and some were killed in WWII. The accident bothered him even for all his working life, though nothing could have prevented it. Would acrimony and political posturing have stopped it from happening. Absolutely not. I pray for those who were lost and for their families. I also pray that an accident wont be used as just another excuse to blame and sue for the gain of some damn legal firm. ACCIDENTS and death do happen and lets take a minute to grieve and thank those who gave their lives in their work.

As an afterthought, I just question why everyone in this country always wants to blame someone. For once in our generation keep the politics out of what is an accident and a problem to solve.
C.Lacy  |  May 07, 2010
I have over 40 yrs. experience with many years offshore. James did a great job with a summery of what happen - He did fail to mention that the rig crew was preparing to move off the hole and go to another location. So I can only say that they were not concerned with this hole as they had alread set the balanced cement plugs - At least 2 workers should have been monitoring the flowback pressures which I suspect were not at the controls as required - so human error was the main cause - you do not have to depend on any one set of BOPs to control the well - and when you do get a big kick you are trained to not make a hard shut in. They should have been able to devert the gas to the proper deverters. As James said, the BOPs are tested reguarlly and the odds of failure are very slim. Very sad accident and should have been avoided. Hopefully this accident will be discussed in many safety meetings to come and save lives.
pnracing  |  May 07, 2010
I would first reiterate that the biggest trajedy of this, is the loss of life. I want to send out my prayers to the families.

Second there are several things we are discussing that we cant resolve. We cant say for sure, if that the gas was lighter or heavier than the air. Depending on the gas, it could have been either. Normally, when dealing with gas, straight from the well, it will not be one specific gas. Thus the need for gas plants to seperate the gases. These are seperated by being pressurized, and cooled. They sperate at different temperatures, and pressures.

Second, about the boat offloading mud, at the same time as displacing. I was not there, so cant say from that point of view. But working offshore in South America, I know that it is common practice to take mud on, and download mud, while drilling and every other aspect, at the same time. They have numerous pits, that they use, to mix, and transfer mud. Which have no effect on the pressures of the wellbore.

The BOPs are tested regularly. And to say, right away, that someone should have seen the pressures, is also a bit pre-mature. What if, maybe it didnt register on the gauges, because maybe it bypassed the shoe.? If the packer were in place, and the rig ready to move. I would have to agree, that they did not see any pressure. And, Im sure that if this is the case, this will be pointed out. There are too many recordings of pressure for this to be bypassed. No one, and I mean no one, would let this go unnoticed. But, if the pressure were to go around these guages, around the shoe, then we have no means of recording the pressure.

Lets not jump to conclusions. That is all Im saying. I have several years working in this industry. And what I dont want is for the people who understand what is going on, to lose jobs, and or there lives, because we jump to conclusions.

We do everything we can to control the situation, in a very harsh environment. No one wants what has happened. Especially the people directly involved. Lets try to determine what actually happened, and try to solve this problem.

But, as one person already stated, sometimes mother nature throws more at us than we can control. We will never control everything, and we need to quit thinking we can.
Mike  |  May 07, 2010
In response to Dorothys comment on the 5th: Shifting away from oil as a source of energy is not going to reduce our dependence on oil. Oil is processed by refineries into many "layers" or seperate levels of consistency or chemical makeup. Only a portion of those layers go into making fuels. Other layers make up other products. The most widely used commodity on the face of the planet, plastic, cannot be viably manufactured without oil, most of the mass produced products we use in every aspect of our daily lives, including many medicines are not possible to produce without hydrocarbons.

I completely agree with and support the development of other energy sources. However, unless we stop living with the plastic, medicines, clothes, etc. that come from oil, moving completely away from oil as an energy source will turn that portion of the hydrocarbon spectrum used to produce fuels into an unused, toxic byproduct. There will be vast amounts of it.

The politicians, including the man running our country, who tell you that developing other sources of energy will allow us to be self sufficient are, as usual, only telling you what they want you to hear. Our dependence on oil goes a lot deeper than just how we get from place to place or how we heat our homes.

My heartfelt condolences go out to the families of those lost in this and previous trajedies. When I was working on the rigs, I lost a good freind to a helicopter crash. But I ask myself the question, will we stop building buildings because, in spie of our best efforts, people sometimes die building them? Do we stop flying aircraft or building bridges? People get killed crossing the street. Do we stop doing that too? (It is the same)

One final thought; we are not the only nation now removing the oil from American coastal waters. The Chinese, British, Russians and several other nations are drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Dont be foolish enough to think that they will stop when we do. How much oil will be left when we come to our senses and decide to drill again.
Fernando Solanet  |  May 07, 2010
It does not make sense. Why would you test BOPs after a cement job if you are not going to drill ahead and the only step to do is to disconnect the BOP? Nobody would displace the riser to sea water before pumping that cement plug and then testing it.

I think this "James" was actually there, but not involved with well engineering.

I read they had tested the seal assembly (not the BOP) and they had set a bridge plug, before they displaced to sea water the riser. This makes sense.

My theory is that the cement behind the casing was not set up or was short to cover the productive zone, and the seal assembly failed. The test on seal assemblies is always on the positive direction, not on the negative one (inflow test).

When displacing the riser to sea water, they created the conditions for this inflow test and should have been treated as that. I mean, close monitoring of returns while circulating twice the riser volume and flow check right after.
Robert  |  May 07, 2010
I didnt see one thing about DWHs 7 year no lost time accident record
Daniel  |  May 07, 2010
The 100 TON FUNNEL BOX..???. First of all what is the SHUT IN PRESSURE of that well? Someone mentioned 30,000psi?? I dont think it is that high but lets assume it is 20,000psi. The weight of the dome that is to cover this well must be heavy enough to counter the psi of the well and with at least another 33% over and this includes the weight of seawater at 5,000 feet. Mass weight to base psi..the amount of weight being applied to the base of a structure in pounds per sq inch. example - the well is estimated at 20,000psi add 25% for now 25,000psi The weight of seawater at approximately 5,000 feet is around 2700psi make it 3000psi, (you want always err on the positive side) We want a structure that will apply 33% more base pressure at the seafloor than the maximum shut in pressure of the well. so we need a minimum of 33,250psi at the base of the dome. Lets round that off to 35,000 psi to be safe. Considering that mass weight is in proportion to psi at the base.By doing the appropriate math, ( I dont have my equation formulas handy but Ill wing it just to give an example) In order to have a positive seal on the well weight wise (+) 33 %. The dome would have to weigh in at a minimum of approximately 175 dead weight tons. This Funnel box weighs in at 100 tons. Now assuming that it is positioned over the BOPs correctly and over the collapsed section of the riser laying near the BOP Stack, and assuming that a pipe is connected to the top of the funnel to channel the oil up to a tanker waiting to accept it. What in the hell are they going to do with all of that pressure that they couldnt control when the rig was attached, I tell you one thing I for one would not want to be on that tanker..these people are playing again with another catastrophe in the making. The emphasis should be to seal off this well. They should have blown the riser off of the top of the tree with cutter shaped charges attache by the ROVs pull the debris away from BOP and lower a 250 ton Reinforced concrete with a 20 foot deep 1&1/2" steel skirt that is beveled on the edge so it will sink into the seabed. The dome should have a set of High pressure valves to allow a connection to attach high pressure pipe to pump down cement and seal the whole thing off in a sarcophagus like tomb. Then the relief well can proceed to plug the original bore. What they are trying to do, and I may be wrong, will not work and may be a shot in the dark with dire consequences. My evaluation and opinion only.
Daniel  |  May 07, 2010
I know that hindsight is 20/20 but being proactive is monumental in this case rather than being reactive. With that being said ...There are a number of measures that should have been explored prior to this deep water drilling activity. As a former high pressure gas production consultant, I was responsible for the testing and graduated choke sizing after a new well was unloaded & the production tree was attached. Of course that was on platform rigs years ago with a max of 10,000psi shut in. However, the safety systems have to have back-ups. I am assuming that the hydraulic pressure that operates the BOP rams are pre loaded pending a pneumatic type relay attached to an emergency shut in switch/switches,(shuttle valve). This relay releases the high pressure preloaded hydraulic pressure that shuts the BOP. This rig in my opinion should have had remote ESDs locate well away from the drill floor. The drill floor should have had a fusible plug loop surrounding the area that is tied into the ESD pneumatic line. Fusible plugs are low temperature lead plugged tees that melt right away in case of a fire and release the ESD pressure loop thus activating the pneumatic relay to activate the hydraulic system to close the BOPs. No one has to pull a lever. If the fusible plug line is blown away in an explosion then the relay activates immediately. I would like to add that old fashion storm choke like devices anchored into modified sections of the riser, ( attached into pre modified sections of the riser that are designed to lock in these differential pressure chokes after the mud is displaced but prior to opening the BOPs)..perhaps 3 would auto activate on differential pressure. Why 3? with that much pressure the lowest one would activate and partially close like a choke firing the second one to close a little more and the finally closing the top one all the way. This would stage the pressure shut off. They should be located in close proximity to the bottom of the riser. This is all besides the mysterious acoustic switch that may or may not work. I would like to comment next on the 40 foot funneling structure that is currently being attempted. I wish I knew what the SHUT IN PRESSURE of that well is..very important to be accurate on that part of the equation. I will explain in the next comment.
J D NATH  |  May 07, 2010
The accident in the Deepwater Horizon is quite painful. I express my condolences for the 11 personnels who sacrificed their lives in search of energy. While reading the above interview, it occured to my mind that team of the rig was drilling in near balance condition (?) which is quite unsafe for a gas well in deep water. Secondly was there any compensation in hydrostatic head made for the bottom plug? There might be gas channeling also, it being of very high pressure in the range of 30to4o thousand psi. A bad history of gas cuts indicate this. Also whenever there is gas influx, was there not pressure shoot up in the shut in condition? Neverthe less the interview between Mark and James was quite a learning experience. Thanks to RIGZONE
wayne berthier  |  May 07, 2010
The average person does not realize how inherently dangerous it is to work offshore. Men and women put their lives on the line every day to insure that the needs of people who drive cars and other motorized equipment and the wheels of industry turning. They are the unsung heroes who are never appreciated and face dangers on a daily basis. I know. I,ve been their. The Ocean Ranger off the east coast of Canada is a constant reminder of the dangers workers face every day. I personally ended my career in the offshore because of an accident of the coast of Africa. To all those who choose to work in the industry good luck and God speed.And to the families who lost love ones my sincerest condolences. You will be in my prayers. Wayne Berthier Halifax,N.S. Canada
Pritish Mukherjee  |  May 07, 2010
The conversation cleared many doubts particularly about what stage of operation the well was going through. I have spent quite a few years in deep and ultradeep water operations as a geoscientist. One point that bugs me is about the gas getting in and that to in such large amount. Once the production liner is cemented properly and tested it rules out any gas from annulus to come into the well bore. The same wellbore, inspite of having narrow margin between the formation pressure and fracture gradient, was drilled to the required depth an possibly well logs have been run as well. On top of these activities the wellbore was cased and cemented. Subsequent to this comes a point when the abandonment plugs were placed inside the casing- the number and thickness of plugs and testing of those are guided by international regulations (e.g. MMS). If the operator has ensured that these have been adhered to means there should be no communication between inside and outside the casing. The system is absolutely secured. Then the question remains How did we get so much gas inside?. What James possibly is failing to address is this question. There could be a number of possibilities but the primary driver in this case is that the Rig crew and supervisors failed to ensure the vital isolation of well pressure (losses during cementation/ plugs not being tested or insufficient/ liner hanger top not sealed or not optimally isolated). To me it looks to be case of huge negligence which might have been triggered because of management pressure on operation timeline and the fact that immediately another cheaper day rate rig was planned to do the completion. Because of the prohibitively expensive daily spread cost in deepwater operations, most companies try to force the operation supervisors to hurry and save time. I wish they followed and adhered to all safety steps and had the guts to tell the management that we cant optimise time for the sake of putting everybodys life at risk. The first thing I was told 25 years back is to respect well behaviour and follow SOP. Even today I keep telling this to my juniors and my drilling friends (no offences pl.).
William Orr (CEP Alert Systems)  |  May 07, 2010
As it has been pointed out, this is one of the most regulated industries in the world, but the environment in which it exists is a crucial factor of such a disaster and it will be very easy at this point in time to theorize on the ins and outs of it .As with Piper Alpha many things will be looked at, re-assessed, new measures will be brought to the floor , strengthening the industry.and although this is clearly a tragic disaster the offshore industry is still one of the safest in the world. Hopefully all concerned when giving their account of the event will understand the gravity of even the smallest utterance that they make make, as in any off the cuff remarks, will by the time it reaches the public be tenfold in its weight.So we must wait until all of the accounts are in for the final verdict which sadly may not be enough for some.
Venugopal  |  May 07, 2010
The major catastrophy is really unfortunate. The temedous pressure in the bore pushed up and was uncontrolled. In the above conversaiont the following point is really touching "When they opened the well is when the gas well kicked, and we took a humongous gas bubble kick up through the well bore. It literally pushed the sea water all the way to the crown of the rig, which is about 240 feet in the air."

The shall be the major lesson which would help to protech the operators before hand.
Mike Schoenberg  |  May 07, 2010
Curious that there was no mention of the shut-off valve that other oil companies use but BP thought it didnt need.
Ben  |  May 06, 2010
I offer my condolences to the families that lost there loved ones on the Horizon. There is a derrick in heaven for the lost. Apparently "watch your eyes" doesnt apply to deepwater rigs.
JOHN  |  May 06, 2010
How very sad, gentlemen and ladies, that our blood-in-the-water media has now run numerous stories on the single oiled seabird, the dead washed-up sea turtles, whom autopsies confirm were not killed by the slick, and the dead or struggling jellyfish (same result), yet almost nothing on the terrible human tragedy of 11 good men with families. Where are the human interest stories on the lives of those men and how their families must now cope with the loss of a breadwinner? Did not we get such reporting on the family of Major Hassan who murdered so many servicemen a few short months ago? Where is the balance in shutting down offshore drilling in an environment where more than 30,000 successful (often not commercially so) major oil leak free wells have been punched into the earth, many even deeper than this one? Show me one industry on earth with a perfect accident-free safety record to its credit? Let us grieve our brave drillers who risk life and limb daily to grease the voracious appetite of the American consumers conveniences. May God bless all those who survive this tragedy and the dependants who are yet to suffer from the backsplash of ignorant rumor and assumption.
Barry Childs  |  May 06, 2010
I worked in a lot of Ca. refineries and its really dangerous, but working on oil rigs in such a close area surrounded by water which is another unfriendly place, safety has to be priority one, not only with the crew but with the equipment and all the people that run this whole rig. That includes the company men, from the bottom man to the top. Its called a team and no one can drop the ball. Thank You B. C.
Philippe Landras  |  May 06, 2010
First of all, as an old driller of SEDO now Transocean, I knew that all the BOP procedures would be applied and conformed to the MMA and/or USCG. One of the challenges of drilling in very deep water is the geology. It is not uncommon that a gas pocket is in shallow depth. Geologist would say that these gas pocket are in there place, it is just that the sea floor is deep. I was thinking that the blow out was between the casing and the hole bore. The cement did not seal the space between the casing and the formation. So much for my analysis, The bottom plug was set and the BOP tested. With the cement plug in place the well should not have blown. One has to assume that the gas pocket pressure was higher than the the cement plug could take and the BOP as well. This only means that zero risk NEVER EXIST.
Bill  |  May 06, 2010
Lee, The redundant system that has been talked about, as far as I have heard, is an acoustic controls system. Deepwater rigs will have a MUX, short for multiplex, controls system as their primary BOP controls. This system will send electrical signals from surface controls to solenoid operated hydraulic valves on the BOP through mux cables that run down the riser. If an explosion takes out the mux cables, you cannot control the BOP from the surface through the primary control system. That is why some rigs have an acoustic control system as a backup. This system has at least a pair of surface remote controls, one is stored in one lifeboat fore and one lifeboat aft, and an acoustic pod on the BOP to receive and carry out the signals sent from the surface acoustic controls. Standard procedure for using the acoustic pod is to evacuate the rig, drop the acoustic dongle into the water once you are in the lifeboat, and fire your EDS (emergency disconnect sequence) from the lifeboat via the acoustic remote control. According to some very experienced deepwater engineers, acoustic pods do not always work in deep water. That is probably why not all deepwater rigs have them. But all deepwater rigs that I have ever been on have a deadman circuit, which would fire a blind shear EDS to cut everything and seal the well, and does not need any input from the surface to do so. The deadman circuit provides your true EDS redundancy.
Carlos Cain  |  May 05, 2010
Dorothy; I think you missed something, read my statement again. Im not advocating drilling MORE in deepwater. I said drill in Alaska, California, Florida and all over the Midwest where the Gas reserves are massive and save the deepwater for future generations (hoping they never need it). Sorry, I didnt explain myself thoroughly. I spent a week on the Deepwater Horizon in 2002 during a hurricane. It was the most impressive rig I have ever been on. I am very sorry for the loss of Eleven Souls in this tragedy and we will be praying for their families during this difficult time. Chip I believe they had stated the well bore was at 18,000 ft below sea floor.
Thomas S. Stein  |  May 05, 2010
This is an unfortunate but accurate scenario. I have been dealing with natural gas and high pressure gases for years. This is what happened and no amount of political bliss fulfillment is going to make it otherwise.
Darren Fairburn  |  May 05, 2010
I would like to send best wishes to the families of the people who died and to the crew that were on the rig .Its out there that this can happen to a rig that is getting all these safety awards .All the best also to the rescue teams that helped .
george wood  |  May 05, 2010
A balanced and relatively informed view. A lucky guy dont know about "god whoever he is" involvement.
Dale Harrold  |  May 05, 2010
How fast the media reports on sea turtles and shrimp as well as the ExxonValdez from 21 years ago. We lost 11 hard working, family supporting fathers, sons and brothers. Rest in Peace. BP will have this blowout controlled as soon has humanly possible as the oilfield has some of the best minds and problem solvers in the world and they all work together with resources and ideas to get the job done.
Chip  |  May 05, 2010
How deep is the well from surface? I know 5000 to ocean floor, but what is the actual depth of the well. Assuming 20,000 feet, with a reservoir pressure of 40,000psi and a full column of sea water, you are still talking 31,000PSI at surface. Not likely. Natural gas is lighter than air, its biggest component is methane. Ive been in the business 15 years.
Dorothy  |  May 05, 2010
Wow. Thanks to James for being resolute in attempting to straighten the record and provide some insight. Carlos is correct in 2 out of 3 points (Drill Baby Drill is not a safer or more viable solution). There is no reason to risk lives drilling deepwater (or mining coal for that matter) when we could build much safer and more efficient nuclear power plants; nuclear has come a long long way. The only viable alternative energy source is natural gas; the infrastructure is already there. Why is natural gas not an immediate initiative? A knee jerk reaction shutting down all GOM rigs is ridiculous but a systematic approach to reducing deepwater exploration efforts is not. How many more people have to die before this country wakes up and gets to the polls? Further, Randy is correct in emphasizing the importance of managing the fear-mongering media. An ongoing public education campaign is a must and should definitely include ways individuals can help.
Jim  |  May 05, 2010
"James" may have forgotten a couple of details. There was a group of sport-fisherman catching tuna under the rig when the accident occurred. They witnessed the blow-out up close and personal, with the sea water raining down from above etc. They got about 100 yds. away when the explosions began. They stated that all the lights went out on the rig (power was cut to prevent gas ignition). Then, they heard the emergency generators start up and that is when the explosions started. A second boater confirmed the sequence of events.
frank cuffe  |  May 05, 2010
Firstly l would like to send my respectful condolenceses to the familes and loved ones of the missing persons My other comment is after reading the statements is why was the riser displaced to sea water ! we allways test BOPE equipment and the BOP from below this is where the pressure will be coming from we use the drilling fluid at the time, Now l can understand plug and abandon and plug back of wells for re entry into proven wells are normaly plugged with down hole safety packers then balanced cmt plug on top the well circulated so no cmt in the cmt stinger or running string so what or where did that gas come from, A bad seal assy from when the last csg string was run, Some where a long the the line some short cuts may have been taken but at the end of the day YOU NEVER OPEN THE WELL BEFORE YOU HAVE ZERO PRESSURE ON BOTH SIDES OF THE WELLBORE . I have 38 years offshore on shore experience and I personely pledge that I will be even more dillegent in my supervision of my drill crews than ever it was human error that caused this catastrophey and perhaps lack of knowledge in certain areas. Billy Jack Same as me we dont Know the full story gas is not just one gas light heavy medium some one over the tannoy system could have set the ball a rolling no disrespect to anyone lets learn from this.
Michael Deville  |  May 05, 2010
I was just wondering, if mud is being offloaded on a boat at the same time that seawater is being diplaced into the pipe, would there be a reading that something wasnt right, or could this possibly give a false reading as far as being able to tell that the well is about to kick. I am hearing that this was indeed what was happening and if so wouldnt the person who made this decision to do these two jobs both at the same time be responsible. Just asking a question!
Matt Hutson  |  May 05, 2010
Condolences and prayers to the families whos sons,fathers, brothers uncles and friends wont be coming home this days off. As others have stated on here it would be nice if the news media would focus more on these men and their families and maybe worry a little less about some sea gulls and the oil spill. That will take some time to fix but in the end the well will get shut in, the oil will get cleaned up and the sea gulls will be back in full force, but these men will be gone forever. Maybe a little less finger pointing and more effort in trying to prevent such a tragedy in the future. Everyone that works in this industry knows the risks and does everthing in there power to make sure they do their job as safely as possible but as James stated sometimes Mother Nature takes over. Im also sure the missing men gave it their all till the end to make sure thier crewmwmbers had a chance. RIP Men
billyjack  |  May 05, 2010
Looks like a geologist comments, who knows enough to be dangerous, if he thinks natural gas is heavier than air and they are dealing with 30,000-40,000 psi reservoir pressures. If they had these kind of pressures it would have blown out while they were drilling.
Don Parker  |  May 05, 2010
This young man is very knowledgable and is very honest. I worked offshore for over ten years and this young man is right on target. It is just a shame that major news networks cannot find and report the truth. The networks in this country are creating an environment of total mistrust.
Carlos  |  May 05, 2010
If US companies were allowed to drill in all the areas of the USA other than extreme water depths this would not have happened. Congress and POTUS has forced exploration in this enviroment. It is the only place left they will let them drill. Yes, drilling for oil and gas is risky. But the number of accidents in the USA is an extremely low percent of wells drilled or man hours worked. If we 1. Continue to seek alternative sources for energy. 2. Build more Nuclear Power plants across the USA and, 3. Drill Baby Drill... in Alaska, California, Florida and all over the Midwest and Continental United States now and save the "Deepwater" reserves for the future generations, perhaps they will never need it. The answer to Why we dont do the above is simple. Our US economy is propped up and supported by the exploration, production and use of hydrocarbons in every aspect of our lives. I would guess the tax dollars brought in by our use of hydrocarbon based products far exceed any other revenue stream the USA has from ALL sources. Why do you think "Going Green" is so expensive? Look at the cost of a a typical "Solar Panel." Most are made in Asia and sell for well over Ten Dollars per watt installed. It has no moving parts and lasts for years. Think of the revenue loss our government would suffer if we all went "Solar?" They talk about going "Green" but the truth is that is the last thing our government wants. I believe its time the citizens of America stand up and speak out. Go to the polls, and fire every one of them. Being politically correct and environmentally friendly is exactly why there is a rig on the bottom of the Gulf with eleven souls lost and a wild well spilling oil.
randy verret  |  May 05, 2010
This is the FIRST insightful article I have read regarding the details of the accident. Why is this not being publicized on a broader basis? Further, why isnt the industry & API pushing the Joint Command briefings so the public (if they choose) can better educate themselves on the facts? Right now, the mainstream media is turning this into the usual "circus." I realize that industry, the USCG & MMS are busy on the spill response. That is the correct priority. However, it is crucial that we get a truthful & balanced message out. We have an energy policy debate looming. It is too vital to our national interests to NOT engage the public and get in this "fight" for hearts & minds. Yes, a lot of the ongoing "knee jerk" is silly. But, if the industry plays this situation like we have most in the past and dont make a well coordinated PR effort to educate the public, then we will get what we deserve in DC in the coming months. The political fallout could cripple our efforts for years to come. God bless everyone out there in the GOM working this disaster and the families of those crewmen lost on the Deepwater Horizon.
Chris  |  May 05, 2010
The purpose of SWAT Team , in this context, is "to provide specialized support and problem-solving firepower in high-impact business situations using specialized tools and tactics necessary to minimize downtime and maximize knowledge and capabilities." NOT the more common and familiar use as a paramilitary organization used in conjunction with law enforecement.
Harold  |  May 05, 2010
I work on a production platform in the GOM. There is a drilling rig on my location. Friends tell me to be carefu and wish me luck and I thank them. But this is a safe industry. We strive for no accidents but sometimes fall short. I feel as safe here as on any job on land. The "knee jerk" reaction to shut down drilling in the gulf is silly.
Guy Reffitt  |  May 05, 2010
From what James has said and with my experience. I would say that some heads will roll. Before the BOPs opened, someone should have checked the gauges that would have told them about the dragon below. The rig comes equipt with a crew of people who are trained to check for possible signs of dangers like this. The client supplies the rig with many other personnel that are also trained for these same detections. I have to say that off the top of my head, I can think of 10 people in the immediate location of the rig that should have noticed something. That doesnt include the realtime data feed from the rig to the clients main office onshore. The pressures that have been obviously very great, would and should have been noticed by someone. There are typically gauges both manual (hydraulic) and electronic gauging equipment that is monitored and recorded to read the pressures below the BOPs. These are graphed, recorded and monitored from several different locations and people on the rig. During training at approved locations for these kind of operations (IWCF) and (WellCap), teach that 99% of all blowouts are due to human error.
Lee Shepherd  |  May 04, 2010
I wish you could get "James" back on the air. I completely understand the dangers of gas kicks and how easily they can go out of control. I worked South American land rigs for some years back in the 80s and lost several friends from blowouts and subsequent fires. What Id like to learn, however, is what happened to the BOP? It exists for just such things--to control the well. Does he think that the kick was so violent that it destroyed the controls to the BOP? Another subject: some in the media have said that other countries have mandated multiple methods of activating sea floor BOPs, but that the oil companies lobbied against such controls in American waters because of the expense. Does anyone know what other types of BOP controls exist and if the rumors are true that the Gulf rigs dont have these redundant systems because of lobby efforts?
Frank W  |  May 04, 2010
Why are we not burning the spilling oil?? I understand tests done earlier off maybe Australia showed burning was effective and least destructive to the enviroment. Are there forces that want the spill to reach shore?
blake manuel  |  May 04, 2010
yea he is right about alot of things that could have and did have happen. my uncle was one of the 11 that didnt make it home so all these BS talks about what happened and might have happened hurts my family. nobody ever talks about the 11 that are not coming home for a proper burial. the oil spill will be taken care of it will just take some time things cant happen over night. the oil and gas industry is always prepared for the worst to happen we just dont every want it to happen. i am sorry for the other 10 s families. we do need to use this as an eye opener that there can always have the worst things happen no matter how safe you are you will never be able to stop mother nature. i love and miss my uncle alot and my family is really suffering from this they all no longer want me to work offshore this is the second family accident that we have had but first death. god speed to all those hard work oilfield trash mud dogs however you want to call them they are going through alot to be out there
Larry Huckleberry  |  May 04, 2010
I work for a different offshore drilling company, based out of Houston Texas. Im an electronics technician on the rig, working off the coast of Angola, Africa. Everybody on the rig is aware of the dangers that we face out here, every minute, of every day. I think the conversation with "James" might be eye-opening to alot of people on shore, that want to point the finger at off shore drilling for this catastrophe. Yes, its a catastrophe and needs to be dealt with, but the knee jerk reaction to halt all drilling in the Gulf of Mexico can only raise the price of gas in the U.S.A. International drilling will continue, and they will be happy to sell the U.S.A. oil at increased prices. Perhaps technology can improve the effectiveness of the present day B.O.P.s, and make it even less likely for a similar accident to occur again. In the mean time, life goes on! Lets deal with the clean up, and containment of the already spilled oil. The families that lost loved ones in this tragic accident, and all of the people along the Gulf coast whose lives will be affected by this catastrophe.
CC Tam  |  May 04, 2010
Great revelation on this disaster. Hope the 11 missing oil rig workers rest in peace. Just dont let the politicians get involved in the oil spill. They only generate lots of heat and no help.
Andrew  |  May 04, 2010
What a tragedy. Is there anything the average person like me and you can do to volunteer to help clean the Gulf this summer?