The Smoking Gun

Jim Brown
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The 60 Minutes interview with Horizon survivor Mike Williams is must see TV. The interview was aired over the weekend and fortunately through the miracle of video on demand you can still see it. What Mike says is sure to be critical to the government's investigation.

The links below to the CBS 60 minutes interview is something everyone should watch. He was one of the last people off the rig and he has critical information about why the accident happened. The interview is in two parts to allow them a commercial break in the middle. Excellent graphics and excellent insight to the accident.

Be sure to use the full screen option!

Mike Williams Interview - Part 1

Mike Williams Interview - Part 2

Gulf Update

BP struck out with the insertion of the riser tube over the weekend. Maybe strike out is too strong a term since they are removing a little oil from the stream but it is very little. They claim the siphon tube is removing 42,000 gallons of oil per day from a spill that is normally quoted as 210,000 gallons per day. The press uses the gallons instead of barrels terminology because 210,000 gallons sounds a lot worse than 5,000 barrels. With 42 gallons per barrel it appears BP is capturing about 1,000 bpd with the siphon tube. Good but not nearly good enough.

Crews are planning on increasing the flow rate a little each day in order to avoid clogging the tube with ice crystals. The oil is hot and the passage of oil through the tube will slowly warm the tube despite the 35-degree seawater. By slowly increasing the flow they can increase the temperature in the tube.

The new plan, you knew there had to be a new plan since none of the old plans have worked, is to drown the well later this week in a mud bath. They have settled on a plan to pump up to 50,000 barrels of kill mud into the well using the choke and kill lines on the blow out preventer.

There is a ship onsite loaded with this especially dense mud made from water, a dense sulfate called barite, selected polymers or salt. The barite is very dense and adds weight to the mixture.

The mixture will be pumped into the BOP using 30,000 horsepower pumps. In theory the kill mud will surge down into the well and will weigh more than the oil and gas currently rising. As the well bore fills up with the thick heavy mud the weight makes it harder and harder for the gas and oil to move towards the surface. Once the flow of gas and oil has stopped the well will be encased in cement to prevent another leak.

This graphic from the Wall Street Journal shows how this will work. The manifold has already been lowered to the well.

In an attempt to never let a crisis go to waste the administration is going to establish a presidential commission to investigate the oil spill. I guess the dozen or so agencies already investigating it along with a Senate committee and a House committee was not getting the jobs done. Either that or the president decided they were getting too much attention and he was not getting any.

The president will establish the committee by executive order. No current government employee or elected official will be eligible to serve on the commission. The president will appoint a new oil spill czar to head up the commission and it will not only investigate the spill but oil safety in general, the regulation of oil drillers and suggest changes to the regulations to prevent this from happening again.

Jim Brown

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