World Oilfield Forum
Thanks, I will also say hats off to DeeperCheaper for discovery of the correct pathway. My ideas and my theories concerning this blow out was using an assumption. It was the wrong assumption and the reality of that puts the fear of God into me. My basic assumption that I worked off of was that this kick happened so suddenly and with great volume that no one paying attention could have prevented the great quantity of gas from entering the marine riser above the BOP. That simply was the wrong assumption.
This day in time( just as always )it has been and will always be the Driller's responsibility to identify and react to the signs of a kick. You can close in a dead well 1000 times without losing a rig or a life, but you just need to leave a live well open once and you can lose it all.
My assumption was based on protecting the experience and professionalism of a driller and tool-pusher which I had never met or worked with. It is simply an obligation to expect that someone operating a 1/2 billion dollar drilling rig with more then 100 people onboard would have this one basic (Need to Know without exception rule) down pat. To take the kick through the shoe and for it to end up above the BOP it was easy to calculate that someone would have to had totally missed a 1000 bbl kick. In the beginning I was just unwilling to believe that such a mistake could take place. At this point; I know that this is true and it is in fact the event that lead to this disaster. Now we must ask ourselves how could this occur and who really was to blame? Was it a lack of Well Control Training? I have been attending WC schools for decades. Now at this point in time it is a 5 day course ever two years. There are many people which enter into well control courses each year and many pass and very few actually fail. Some make 100s and others make 72. It does not really matter how good you are at killing a well, if the kick is not detected and the well is not shut in. I hear story after story and even have read them on this website where drillers are afraid to close in the well or never noticed it was flowing. Surely if people can obtain and learn only one basic thing in a well control course it MUST BE TO DETECT A PIT OR FLOW GAIN AND CLOSE IN THE WELL. Once that is done the rest can be handled by someone that actually does understand the rest of the procedures. If that person or persons can not be found on the rig then someone can be flown out to the rig that does understand. BUT THE WELL MUST BE CLOSED IN!
It does not matter what position you hold on the rig, cook to company man you are out in the middle of the ocean with no place to run. You must sleep at some point and at that point you have totally placed your life and well-being into the people that are on duty.
I will compare it to flying on an Airplane which I have done extensively in 35 years. You get on the plane and have a perfect nice and smooth take off, you recline and take a nap, later you get to know the stewardess during the flight and have a great conversation, but as you get closer to the destination you notice that she is getting nervous and her forehead starts to sweat. You ask her "what is wrong" and she finally says well we have a new captain. She says rumor has it that he just barely passed his pilots test with a 72. You say well he seemed to do fine on take off, she starts to cry and says "but he failed the landing part all three times". So you also become a little nervous and start to sweat a little. Basically, what else can you do? A driller that knows how to kill a well, but does not know how to detect a kick so he can close in the well is like the Pilot that knows how to take off, but does not have a clue how to land.
This story goes much farther then what I have described so simply. There were others that allowed the pilot to take off and command this plane, and the stewardess was not the only one aware of the pilots inability to land. Airlines also demand their money before you board, not after you disembark.
Many decisions were made above the drillers authority, such as back loading the boat during in the displacement process, which is why it was virtually impossible to monitor bbls out verses bbls pumped. The driller had a false expectation during this time and it seems that others which were directly involved during the displacement process were so confident that no one was even paying the most important thing "Attention" and therefore the ultimate price was paid shortly thereafter. Injuries, the loss of 11 men and the loss of 5th generation semi which until the Horizon explosion people really just never dreamed could actually sink tot he bottom of the sea due to a well control situation. But there again it was not a well control situation, it was a well out of control situation which went on for almost 1 hour non detected by anyone on the rig.
Was it only the drillers fault, no it was not. The driller basically was put into a risky (deadly) situation as soon as the decision was made to displace and back-load to the boat at the same time. This decision was made and agreed upon by many people. People involved would have been BP rep on the rig site and approval from BP in town, OIM Transocean and approval by the Rig Manager. Once this decision was made it was basically like putting blindfolds on the driller. Therefore you might as well require your drillers to take their WC courses while wearing blindfolds. I will also say this to conclude, there has never been a guarantee concerning cement jobs to say they are without the possibility of failure, contamination, losses etc. You can pretty well know bbl for bbls what goes down hole, but to know exactly where it goes and how well it bonds is nothing more then faith and great hopes. You can calculate all you want to as to where the TOC will be and try to determine excess for wash out and the removal of wall cake etc, but to guarantee success is really just impossible. Yes it appears that Halliburton did skip some pre-job test which on paper showed that it was more likely to fail, but if the test would have showed a 95% chance of success it would have still had a 5% chance of failure and to me the odds of missing a 1000 bbls influx without detection which actually had been occurring for almost 1 hour only falls in the .01% range, but yet it did in fact take place. The true set up for failure the way I have seen it since the influx has been proved to enter through the shoe track is this. It was a shoe with out a shoe. Basically it was a double float collar built into the same float and the shoe was open. Therefore they did not really design an enclosed shoe track. Now you are going to ask yourself "what does this have to do with anything?" It has everything to do with why the shoe track failed. If you run a float shoe and a float with a 40 or 80 foot shoe track in-between then you have an encapsulated shoe track. When the tail cement fills the shoe track and the top plug bumps the cement is basically trapped inside the shoe track between the closed valve on the float shoe and the closed valves on the float collar. The plug will not allow the hydrostatic pressure from the fluid column inside the casing to react downwards and the closed float shoe will not allow the well bore pressure to be felt upwards. The cement can not fall out of the shoe because the only force acting downward is the weight of the cement inside the shoe track itself below the bumped plug. Therefore the cement will not fall or be pushed out of the shoe. This cement is under pressure equal to BHP. But no fluid swap can take place between oil base muds, well fluids etc. Now if you look at the design used on the Macondo well you will see where this is not the case. The shoe had no type of valves or floats although there were two incorporated in the convertible float. ( Which is believed that it did not convert correctly). Regardless as to the conversion of the float the shoe was actually open, 16 ppg cement +- was pumped into the shoe track, there was 14.3 PPG oil base mud in the rat hole below the casing shoe. Even if the convertible float did hold you have 16 ppg cement inside of the shoe track, 14.3 SBM below the shoe in a vertical hole with no spacers separating the two. A natural swap will occur between different fluid densities and it can actually occur quite rapidly just as you see occur in an oil lamp. The cement simply drifts downwards (due to density) and the SBM channels upwards eventually causing a complete fluid swap. The shoe track would then be full of SBM and the cement would have been totally contaminated at some depth below the actual shoe. Now the only thing preventing flow up the casing at this point is hydrostatic from the mud column. (Assuming the float did not convert) If you go back to the ill-fated negative test and the pressures observed and fluid gained I think it pretty well tells the story. They did actually see pressure during the negative test and ignored it and wrote it off to some phenomenon. They did also have an annular which allowed mud above the annular to enter the negative test area and went up the choke//kill lines to some height which even caused more confusion. The fact is they never performed a negative test with (Zero) pressures and no flow, therefore they never achieved a negative test that proved anything except that the well was live. Then they proceeded in displacing the only barrier that was preventing the disaster. Who is to blame? A multitude of people on and off the rig which includes more then one company. Who paid the ultimate price, the men that can not tell their story. Who has to live with it, the people that know they could have prevented it? Someday there will be deathbed confessions of those who know they should have been on the rig floor instead of attending a party. Who will pay for it in Money? BP and probably some others. When will things like this stop occurring, when drilling companies pay more attention to the proper ways of doing things instead of going with the flow and decisions made by the Oil Companies alone. When Drilling companies pay more attention to what is actually taking place and the dangers involved instead of how many stop cards and start cards they can produce. When OIMs and Rig Managers learn to say "NO" and are backed by area and regional managers, instead of saying this is their Well and after all they are Paying the bills. Now those answers may suffice for the living, but it is not a good argument for the dead. When drilling companies really say "Stop" we must pull the BOP and make repairs and when they realize that a BOP is not functional when it's redundancy is lost. It might still operate, but without redundancy it should be classified as "Non operational" and immediate plans to pull and perform repair should be of the greatest importance.
We will be finished with the well in only one more week should not be a reason to delay repairs. After all the Macondo disaster actually occurred after most people seemed to think the Well was actually Finished.
I can only say this, no matter what position someone holds on a drilling rig OIM, Toolpusher, Driller etc. (especially offshore) you need to always pay attention. If you are getting set up for disaster by someone Else's decisions you should always know and realize your on limitations. You need to know when to say "NO" and no I will not be a part of that and "NO" that is not the correct way and "NO" if we do it that way I will not be able to monitor the well and that falls under my responsibility. "NO" is a word that can in fact cost you your job, but "NO" can also save your life or someone Else's. Jobs come and go, life only comes once and some mistakes are eternal.
I have read a little on the new website http://theghostlygalleon.com. I appreciate what is being done there' It needs to be done and people need to get involved. If you want this industry to change from Stop cards to Stop Killing then you people are going to have to draw your own limits and learn to say "NO". If enough people in the "KNOW" learn to say "NO", then the BIG people will have to start listening to the small people, because basically BIG People Do Not Exist without small people and small people have always existed.
Not to be rude or disrespectful Tex...but damn were they so blind as to not watch the Flow Show? And not even set the alarms...I have caught MANY kicks with just the flow show...there's nothing magic about it...no one was paying attention to what was going on and wasn't reading the "signs" that were clearly looking them in the face...RED Flags everwhere...if the truth was known, really known, most of these men had only seen or controlled a well once maybe twice in their oilfield career...when you grab that Brake Handle you take on a lot of responsibility and there are too many that are on the Brake handle right now as I write this that are absolutely clueless about Well Control...sorry if that sounds abrasive, but it's a fact...
I voted against the Unions..you know why?, cause I want to work with a crew of guys that came to work, not to draw a paycheck...thats what most people do once they are in a Union is to hide behind a union...Unions are for lazy people that don't want to work...sorry I feel that way, but thats the way I truly feel...take responsibility by the horns and pay the hell attention to what we are doing on an oil rig...everytime you get on a Helicopter it could go down...everytime you get in a car/truck you could get killed...everytime you get in an airplane it could fall out of the sky...there's many ways to die offshore...what about the Helicopter that went down with 12 people on board and all died...no big write up or mention of Unions to get the Helicopter's safer?...What about all the guy's that have died while driving to/from offshore jobs? in car wrecks...
We have a choice when going to an oil rig...I can get in that airplane, car, helicopter and take off for offshore or stay home and play it safe...it's our choice...I choose to take the risk...so if I die please don't start pointing fingers at other folks...I MADE THE CHOICE...but I'll be damned if I am going to let a well come in on me when it's MY watch and not shut it in, I do not sleep anytime there is a possibility of a Well Control issue...I have shut in several wells from the Company Office and also on the Rig Floor while working as a Company Rep...why would a Company Rep have to shut a flowing well in?...any idea's? I think you know the answer...people have questioned me over killing wells why I don't allow the Drilling Contractor to operate the Choke Panel...because thats MY job I am the Company Rep...there is two things I can legally touch on any rig I work on or I don't work for the Company...the Choke Panel and the BOP Panel....if they don't approve that then I walk...
The floats were washed out, they circulated how many hours before they cemented? Then when the floats wouldn't hold they estimated what they bled back trying to get them to hold and then pumped again to rebump the plug finally over displacing the shoe...it never had cement in it after all the see-sawing of the fluids to get the floats to hold...they had contaminated most of the cement in doing this...the rest is history...
My deepest respect to the families...I can only state what I see from the outside looking in and it is not always 100% correct...