Horizon Rig Down

“You may have heard the news in the last two days about the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig which caught fire, burned for two days, then sank in 5,000 ft of water in the Gulf of Mexico. There are still 11 men missing, and they are not expected to be found.

The rig belongs to Transocean, the world’s biggest offshore drilling contractor. The rig was originally contracted through the year 2013 to BP and was working on BP’s Macondo exploration well when the fire broke out. The rig costs about $500,000 per day to contract. The full drilling spread, with helicopters and support vessels and other services, will cost closer to $1,000,000 per day to operate in the course of
drilling for oil and gas. The rig cost about $350,000,000 to build in 2001 and would cost at least double that to replace today.

The rig represents the cutting edge of drilling technology. It is a floating rig, capable of working in up to 10,000 ft water depth. The rig is not moored; It does not use anchors because it would be too costly and too heavy to suspend this mooring load from the floating structure. Rather, a triply-redundant computer system uses satellite positioning to control powerful thrusters that keep the rig on station within a few feet of its intended location, at all times. This is called Dynamic Positioning.

The rig had apparently just finished cementing steel casing in place at depths exceeding 18,000 ft. The next operation was to suspend the well so that the rig could move to its next drilling location, the idea being that a rig would return to this well later in order to complete the work necessary to bring the well into production.
It is thought that somehow formation fluids – oil /gas – got into the wellbore and were undetected until it was too late to take action. With a floating drilling rig setup, because it moves with the waves, currents, and winds, all of the main pressure control equipment sits on the seabed – the uppermost unmoving point in the well. This pressure control equipment – the Blowout Preventers, or ‘BOP’s” as they’re called, are controlled with redundant systems from the rig. In the event of a serious emergency, there are multiple Panic Buttons to hit, and even fail-safe Deadman systems that should be automatically engaged when something of this proportion breaks out. None of them were apparently activated, suggesting that the blowout was especially swift to escalate at the surface. The flames were visible up to about 35 miles away. Not the glow – the flames. They were 200 – 300 ft high.

All of this will be investigated and it will be some months before all of the particulars are known. For now, it is enough to say that this marvel of modern technology, which had been operating with an excellent safety record, has burned up and sunk taking souls with it.

The well still is apparently flowing oil, which is appearing at the surface as a slick. They have been working with remotely operated vehicles, or ROV’s which are essentially tethered miniature submarines with manipulator arms and other equipment that can perform work underwater while the operator sits on a vessel. These are what were used to explore the Titanic, among other things. Every floating rig has one on board and they are in constant use. In this case, they are deploying ROV’s from dedicated service vessels. They have been trying to close the well in using a specialized port on the BOP’s and a pumping arrangement on their ROV’s. They have been unsuccessful so far. Specialized pollution control vessels have been scrambled to start working the spill, skimming the oil up.

In the coming weeks they will move in at least one other rig to drill a fresh well that will intersect the blowing one at its pay zone. They will use technology that is capable of drilling from a floating rig, over 3 miles deep to an exact specific point in the earth – with a target radius of just a few feet plus or minus. Once they intersect their target, a heavy fluid will be pumped that exceeds the formation’s pressure, thus causing the flow to cease and rendering the well safe at last. It will take at least a couple of months to get this done, bringing all available technology to bear. It will be an ecological disaster if the well flows all of the while; Optimistically, it could bridge off downhole.

It’s a sad day when something like this happens to any rig, but even more so when it happens to something on the cutting edge of our capabilities. The photos that follow show the progression of events over the 36 hours from catching fire to sinking. ”

Here are the photos. Horizon Rig Down (pdf is a little slow to load)

Hat tip to Todd and Marcia (the birthday girl), and thanks to Susie for forwarding the narrative and photos.

Yazoo City Tornado

Here is an aerial view of the damage from yesterday’s F-3 tornado that created a near 200 mile long path of damage across central Mississippi yesterday.

The destruction was especially bad in Yazoo City.

h/t Brian

Waiting on FL-19

Wexler’s old seat is up for grabs tonight.

A win here would be the 800 lb canary in the coalmine.

Results should be coming in shortly.  I’ll be monitoring the FL Dept of State website, updates to follow.

French Quarter Beatdown

Allee Bautsch, a Bobby Jindal fundraiser, and her boyfriend Joe Brown were assaulted in the French Quarter Friday night for “wearing a Palin button,” according to a story pieced together by the Louisiana news blog The Hayride.

The Hayride confirmed from a visitor with Allee Bautsch … “in the hospital Saturday morning that she and Brown were followed and attacked expressly because they had Palin pins on (she heard one of the attackers say “Let’s get them, they have Palin pins on”) – so the attack WAS politically motivated as its victims understood it. It was not a mugging, it was not an argument gone wrong and it was not a bar fight.”

A few days ago, following the MSM narrative, Cokie Roberts compared the rhetoric of Tea Partiers to the first shots in the War Between the States at Ft. Sumter. I’ll be interested in reading her response to this politically motivated assault which occurred in her home state. Hope we won’t have to wait too long.

h/t Kristinn (FR)

Rainy Day Ramblings

It’s raining here in my neck of the woods, so no work today. Lets see what’s going on around the rest of the blogosphere.

Of course the Precedent is bowing to foreign leaders AGAIN! BHO Bows To Communist Chinese President.

Robert Gibbs being groomed for Axelrod’s, job? Failing Upward. He stutters like his boss without a teleprompter, can you imagine them trying to get something done in an emergency?

SEIU’s Andy Stern Moving up too? Purple People upheaval: What’s behind SEIU thug-in-chief Andy Stern’s resignation? He’s been to the White House more times than most of the cabinet.

Don’t need no Teleprompter Jesus Go watch the video, it speaks volumes.

What union leaders think of you. If you’re white, you’re “f**king rabidly racist.”

FBI to release the Kennedy (Ted) files. Maybe we will finally find out the real story about Mary Jo Kopechne’s murder.

The REAL party of no. With the Democrats on the defensive and getting beaten up in the polls by their constituents, they are doing what any vicious scared animal does when cornered: lash out

Political Correctness Takes a Life.

Annoying Orange

So Long, Texas Stadium

Sad to see it go.

(skip to 6:30)

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