BP’s Fishing Folly is a Complete Failure

Admiral Allen announced today that BP’s fishing job being undertaken on their Mississippi Canyon Block 252 well has been called off due to total failure.  You’ll recall that I disagreed with the procedure when it was announced on the 21st, believing it was unwise and risky.  After now attempting to fish out the drill pipe (actually 3 pieces) for several days, they have called off the job after completely failing at achieving their goal.  Previously, Adm. Allen had said that they wanted to get all the drill pipe out before pulling the BOP (which I also think is unwise), and replacing it with the BOP from the DDII before completing the relief well.  

Now, after being treated to a remarkable demonstration of the capabilities of downhole cameras the last couple of nights, we at least know what’s inside the BOP, the general condition of the rams, and also that even brand new capping stack rams are subject to getting jammed by hydrates.  Two nights ago, they couldn’t get the rams on the capping stack open and had to de-hydrate them with methanol and glycol before they would work.  Not comforting.  After multiple camera runs, pumping more methanol and glycol, and a few failed fishing tool runs, they’ve thrown in the towel.  However, take heart.  They’re going to pull the damn BOP anyway.  That’s right, they’re going to pull the BOP anyway.  What’s amazing is that they’re pulling it with an estimated 3,000 feet of drill pipe hanging in a set of rams, as well as two other smaller pieces in the stack and God knows what else.  Admiral Allen said they’re setting an overpull limit of 80,000 pounds over stack weight to pull it free, worried that more would dislodge the casing hanger and packoff that are supposedly in the casing hanger.  They couldn’t get the camera in that far down, but they still continue to assume that all that is somehow still in place after the well blowing out and flowing for 87 days, probably right through where they say the packoff is set.  Not likely.  Allen says they’re going to actually try to pull the drill pipe, still hung in the rams and then, while suspending the BOP above the casinghead, cut the drill pipe with ROVs and drop it back in the well.
Probability of success of getting that done?  Almost zero. First, it will be a miracle if they can get the Cameron DWHC hydraulic wellhead connector at the bottom of the BOP unlatched after all it’s been through, even though it is designed to release without over pull.  It’s just been there a long time under severe stress, and don’t forget the torque it suffered as the rig fell, dragging all that riser down with it.  It’s unlikely it will just unlatch and lift off.  Second, if the casing is collapsed at, or just below the casing hanger, then pulling the drill pipe enough to get an ROV under there to cut it will be tricky, if not impossible, and likelihood of it slipping out of the rams while doing that damn likely.  All of this will be done with the well open to the world, and it’s very possible for them to get in a catch 22; can’t pick it up, can’t set it back down, can’t cut the drill pipe.  If the pipe slips out, which is likely, then they could have 20 or 30 feet of damaged drill pipe waving around above the casinghead that will somehow have to be removed.
I know I keep saying it, but what the hell are they doing?  I keep thinking these guys, whether it’s Chu or BP, have some really smart folks advising them, but so far, I’ve witnessed scant evidence of that.  In the presser today Adm Allen said they’re using “an abundance of caution”.   All I can say is that this is an abundance of something, but caution ain’t one of them.  
We’ll be watching.


  1. doug says

    Bob, I’m sure you saw this today.
    I have been reading all of your posts for the last few months, but am still wondering if there is a risk of them not being able to kill the well during the bottom kill? What would you guess the probability of success of that operation is? I guess what I am asking is, is there still a chance the oil is going to flow again and there will be no way to stop it?

  2. Bob Cavnar says

    Probability of success of the relief well? 100%. The problem here is that the government and BP made a HUGE deal of no more oil in the Gulf. The relief well really needs to have a flowing blowout well so they can tell effectiveness. They stupidly blinded themselves by doing the static kill and doing the cement job. Now they’re going through all this nonsense instead of kill this well a month ago. Much higher risk, harder to monitor.

  3. lomamonster says

    I am reminded of Laurel and Hardy trying to move the piano up the stairs. Three times, I think, then total oblivion!

  4. CorralesNM says

    The longer they drag this out, the more they hope the dispersant/oil simply ‘fades away’.
    What other reason?…for dragging it out.
    Thanks Bob.
    As usual, can count on you to make sense.

  5. WindorSolarPlease says

    They must have discussed this with their top Coin Toss Advisor.
    Heads they do it…Tails they don’t…

  6. Dick - not Cheney says

    I am confused… Isn’t the old BOP setting on top of the “well head” or whatever it is called? If they raise it and ONLY drag the riser up will oil flow from the casing pipe?
    If they cut the riser won’t oil flow from it?
    To remove the old BOP don’t they have to disconnect it from the new BOP which is holding back the oil now? Doesn’t that mean we are back to the original flow scenario from the old BOP?
    In other confused words, if you yank the old BOP from the top of the well doesn’t oil flow?
    Very confused now that I typed it out!

  7. KC says

    I am no kind of expert, but the best sense I can make of all their actions is that they know something about the conditions at the bottom that have made them afraid to finish the relief well. Being an accountant not a oil expert I may be off track, but it seems to me that if this would so (that something is seriously wrong at the bottom), all their actions begin to make sense.

  8. WindorSolarPlease says

    Hi AlienHunter
    Sorry to say that I can’t see any asset to failure randomness, except hopefully they have learned: ” What should be done, Not what to do, and who Not to listen to.”
    Time will tell, if they have learned anything from this disaster and these random failures.
    I do wish they would concentrate on this relief well. Come on relief well.

  9. says

    Obama’s Gulf War –
    “American Revolution Redux”
    (‘Benedict Arnold’ Chu & his mouthpiece vs. the Red Coats)
    Can we still blame the Red Coats for all of this mess
    When our ‘Benedict Arnold’ has been Steven Chu?
    As we’re now learning, Chu’s used Thad as his mouthpiece,
    Look who Chu, through Thad, gets to tell what to do.
    Neither one had a bit of drilling experience.
    Retired as an Admiral, Allen guarded our coasts.
    Chu won the Nobel for his research on atoms
    No wonder some Red Coats have turned white as ghosts
    Upon learning these two would call all the shots
    To get that well plugged before this Fall’s election.
    What a shock and a gift to BP’s frantic attorneys.
    The case against BP? A whole new complexion.
    Will BP or Chu be held responsible
    For incurring so many well integrity threats?
    An ill fated top kill? Misused stack capping?
    All delaying relief wells, the best of all bets.
    Now they’ve failed to extract three worrisome drill pipes
    But will still risk replacing their old BOP.
    When will ‘Benedict Arnold’ be tried for treason?
    If he’d stuck to his knitting, perhaps he’d go free.
    Bob Carlson
    On Twitter @PBoondoggles
    To ‘BP’s Fishing Folly is a Complete Failure’
    To ‘So, All This Was the Government’s Idea?’
    To ‘With BP’s know-how and U.S. authority,
    the Macondo well was plugged’
    To “Thad Allen”
    To “Steven_Chu”
    To ‘Chu: The buck stops here’
    To ‘British Petroleum Incompetence’

  10. jsullivan1950 says

    I am providing here a link to another blog called “Bit Tooth Energy”. The author also posts on “The Oil Drum”. He tends to give explanations that are, shall we say, more charitable to Adm. Allen than Bob’s are. I don’t know whether that is good or bad. It is less exciting and infuriating.
    Anyhow this post has pictures and diagrams, and the upshot is that if the BOP is really stuck, then pulling on it may pull out the Hanger Seal, which is what is sealing in the annulus at the top of the well.
    It seems to me that if there really is some kind of leak through the annulus down to the bottom, the ALL HELL COULD BREAK LOOSE and you might not be able to get the seal back on again because there are 3000 feet of pipe hanging on it!!!!
    I would not try to pull this kind of trick trying to change the water heater in my house, much less dealing with a bazillion gallons of oil under pressure at the bottom of the ocean.
    Here’s the link:

  11. theone says

    so, eljefe, “they’re going to actually try to pull the drill pipe, still hung in the rams and then, while suspending the BOP above the casinghead, cut the drill pipe with ROVs and drop it back in the well.”
    as long as we’re making up lists for Santa, I want a new Ferrari !
    this exercise is bound for disaster, assuming they have told us all the facts. whether these guys have good advisors or not, common sense is lacking – you don’t pick at the scab when the wound has just barely quit bleeding.

  12. WindorSolarPlease says

    Thank you for the link jsullivan.
    I have not heard of any good reasons why they want to pull this trick off.
    It sounds to risky to me.
    There has to be tons of pressure down there.
    I don’t think the leaking of oil, leaking of gasses, or the spray of toxins has ever stopped.
    I am still hoping that someone in charge, will listen to the professionals who know more about this, instead of listening to the corporate people and others who have some sort of an investment in this.
    BP also knows what should be done, but instead the higher ups of BP have been showing they are more concerned over their profits, and people who work for them need their jobs.

  13. says

    Obama’s Gulf War –
    “Bubbles And Burps”
    (Is seeing believing?)
    We’d like to believe Thad, but so many don’t.
    Do you think he believes everything that he’s told?
    Those bubbles keep rising, but he says not to worry,
    That they’re merely hydrates coming in from the cold.
    But why so persistent, and for so long a time?
    And why intermitent, repetitive burps?
    Are they like the oil plumes that some fail to see
    As long as they still are employed by the perps,
    Or Jane Lubchenco or Carol Browner
    Who can’t find the plumes though some Florida beaches,
    Covered with tar as in Mother Jones postcards,
    Have not been erased by BP’s Corexit ‘bleaches’.
    The tar balls and oil sludge keep washing ashore
    From deep in the Gulf, hidden there by BP.
    But are bubbles and burps perhaps the precursors
    Of more surface refreshers that are easy to see?
    Bob Carlson
    On Twitter @PBoondoggles
    To ‘Black blobs seep from capping stack
    as Feds deny any ‘flow of hyrdrocarbons’ ‘
    To ‘Found: BP’s Missing Oil’
    To ‘BP’s Fishing Folly is a Complete Failure’
    To ‘Bubbles coming out of the stack’
    To ‘Czar, Carol Browner’
    To ‘NOAA’s Jane Lubchenco’
    To ‘British Petroleum Incompetence’


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 × nine =

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>