Friday, June 28, 2013

Actually they kind of did have a meter

This passage from Joel Achenbach's A Hole at the Bottom of the Sea: The Race to Kill the BP Oil Gusher was pointed out to me this morning. The relevant paragraph is at the top of this page which I will try to embed below.

In other words, there was at this moment an opportunity to draw a pretty decent bead on the rate of flow from the well. (The accuracy of such a calculation should be within plus or minus 10%.. or so I'm told.) BP is disputing the numbers using a flow rate formula based on an estimate of the amount of oil that was in place in the formation to begin with. Which, if I understand this correctly, is far more open to interpretation. In any case, Achenbach is suggesting that the calculations made after the Q4000 was shut down are not too different from actually having a "meter" on the well at that point despite Judge Barbier's statement to the contrary.

1 comment:

Clay said...

Here's the even more amazing thing- Tom Hunter did the calc while the well was still gushing. He did it pretty much on the fly and only minor improvements have been made since.

The dude has some mad engineering skills. He got his PhD from the University of Wisconsin and he ran the US nuclear weapons program (roughly the same position as Dr. Oppenheimer). Yeah, he just did the whole Macondo thing on the side for fun!

I find it interesting they couldn't find anyone in the country to second guess Dr. Hunter's simple and ingenious calculation. Note that BP's pet expert spends a lot of his report tip toeing around the Q4000 calc. The only main difference is the Feds assumed a constant or decreasing flowrate. BP's report argues that the flow rate kept increasing over timer due to erosion.

In the end, the Feds say an average of 53,000 B/D for 87 days. BP's expert says 37,000 B/D. Both are still staggering and put them up shit creek if gross negligence is called.