Probable Cause and Scenario that led to the oil disaster in The Gulf of Mexico, when Offshore Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig, owned by Trans Ocean Ltd., and contracted to BP, exploded burnt and sank. Do not let this happen in Santa Barbara. One oil disaster there was big enough. Stop the drilling for oil into the 3000 mile Santa Barbara Fault Zone. By geologist Chris Landau.
Sad Day for Earth Day, today April 22, 2010 on The Gulf Coast.
People die. The environment suffers and everybody loses. When will it end?
Well completed to 18000 feet. Crew stopped drilling to put in steel casing and run e-logs. The well sides are kept from caving in, during this operation by the weight of the drilling mud sitting in the well. The gigantic mud pumps are usually shut down during this period while casing is being inserted or e-logs are being run.
Maybe there would have been time to run e-logs by either Halliburton or Schlumberger or another company. This involves running a sophisticated sensing instrument down the hole to confirm the geology, the geologists have logged over the last month or so and to confirm the oil and gas horizons. There could be as many as 30 different layers of oil or gas for a well of this depth. Some would have salt water with the oil and gas and some would be free of salt water or be called "dry." They are the most profitable.
Anyway, during this stage, no fresh mud is being circulated to check the mud weight to see if it was sufficient to keep the pressurized oil and gas down below in the formation. Inserting the steel casing could also have caused mixing and lowered the density or specific gravity of the drilling mud. They might have been using 18 pound mud or higher to keep the oil and gas from blowing out. The longer the time delay from completion of the well to completion of the casing, the more the mud turns into froth, that is, it becomes aerated with gas and oil that is bubbling up from below. It becomes like a smoothie and no longer like honey. The viscosity drops and the gas and oil in the drilling mud lower the density of the mud. The drilling mud then becomes too light to hold the highly pressurized gas down. A blow out occurs. There were probably no bellows or non functional bellows inserted to shut the well down in a blowout or the crew would have not had the chance to do so.
The drilling geological logs will tell the story. They are e-mailed continually to an on shore office every few hours while drilling takes place. As the well was completed, the full geology logs would already be onshore.
BP geologists and engineers would have those logs. They will tell how often the geologists and mud men called to weight up the mud. They will also tell by the units of gas released at each producing horizon, how much gas there was. And when drilling finally stopped, did they circulate the mud with their pumps long enough to remove the air, before they pulled the drill pipes out to begin e-logs and final casing.
Alternative theories would be that somebody was welding near the open hole or somebody was smoking near the open hole once drilling was complete or that the fire started elsewhere first but from the survivor's comments, it sounded like it was a blowout.
What Needs To Be Done.
Oil and gas is still being blown out of the broken casing from the oil well. This needs to be stopped. It is a dangerous job and will require men and woman of steel and plenty of courage. It must be done soon as the oil slick will get larger each day and weather conditions might change to prevent a rapid cleanup. The oil will then reach the beaches and create a larger environmental disaster.
Legislate for the oil companies to put 25% of their profits into solar, wind, wave and hydroelectricity so they can also be part of the solution and morph their companies into green companies. I am sure that they would be happy to make a decent profit while diversifying their business model. That they might begin to be liked may or may not interest them. But it would be good for PR. Once they get into the green business, they might even like it. The world will also give them more leeway. Legislate for the oil companies to go green for their benefit and ours. The sooner, the better. Change is hard but necessary.
Chris Landau (geologist)