Deep Horizon Flow Rates Higher Possibly than Admitted

Posted: May 13th, 2010 by: h2

No real confirmations yet, but judging from the recently released video, one set of researchers puts the Deep Horizon blowout rate at between 60k and 100k barrels per day.

Steven Wereley, an associate professor at Purdue University, analyzed videotape of the sea-floor gusher using a technique called particle image velocimetry.

A computer program simply tracks particles, and calculates how fast they are moving. Wereley put the BP video of the gusher into his computer. He made a few simple calculations and came up with an astonishing value for the rate of the oil spill: 70,000 barrels a day — much higher than the official estimate of 5,000 barrels a day.

The method is accurate to a degree of plus or minus 20 percent.

Given that uncertainty, the amount of material spewing from the pipe could range from 56,000 barrels to 84,000 barrels a day. It is important to note that it’s not all oil. The short video BP released starts out with a shot of methane, but at the end it seems to be mostly oil.

Another earlier estimate, based on an analysis of the slick size, puts it at about 25k barrels per day.

But the media continues to report that oil is leaking into the Gulf at 5,000 barrels per day. At SkyTruth we estimate the spill rate is closer to 1.1 million gallons (26,500 barrels) per day, based on the size of the slick on satellite images and Coast Guard maps, and thickness estimates derived from visual descriptions of the slick. That puts us at a total spill of 21 million gallons so far.

To be fair, BP says we really can’t know, but there is something to the higher estimates when you watch the recently released videos of the oil/gas blowout. And in terms of public relations spin and damage control, stating it’s a smaller number sounds better on TV.

Update: theoildrum discussion thread on flow rates.

Drilling industry insiders are appearing left and right, here’s another guy’s view, and for some reason, what he says here sounds like the voice of actual experience:

Superpiper on May 14, 2010 – 4:08am Permalink | Subthread | Comments top

As an engineer, who has experience of pipe related accidents and analysis, i am extremely concerned about the condition of the BOP, the Riser and the whole “Drill string?” in general. From the video’s i’ve seen BP are tip-toeing around the riser, and i’d be as nervous as well. The damage to the pipewall at the BOP looks serious, and with the 2-phase flow, erosion and damaged (Yielded) pipe at the BOP, I think BP believe the drill string is hanging on by a thread. A dynamic event such as a gas kick going back up the pipe would have placed tremendous stress and strain on the pipewall as well. I think BP want to leave the well alone, and just cap it off subsea. I think all the domes etc are are sideshow, else BP could have mechanically crimped the pipe by now, however, restricting the flow, is again, going to place stress back in to the pipe wall.

Looking at the video of the pipe leak, one can easily visualise it filling a barrel every second or so. allowing for 50% gas, its still in the region of 25-30000 barrels p/d.

In all of this though, the reaction of the US public is amazing to me. I guess the colour of Britney spears knickers is more important……..
Best of luck all those involved.

[Late News: ROCKMAN hints at deeper BP (or yet unnamed 3rd party) culpability]

ROCKMAN on May 14, 2010 – 10:43am Permalink | Subthread | Parent | [Parent subthread ] Comments top

Greg — I agree about reserving judgment until we hear documented facts. But from what I’ve seen as well as some bits I’ve gotten from private sources BP made what would be considered (by everyone in the oil patch IMHO) a very poor and dangerous operational decision. I’ve seen company men fired and careers destroyed for less serious bad decisions. But we do need to wait for the final investigation before we toss that rope over the tree limb. But it doesn’t hurt to wax that rope up while we wait.
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[-] GregT on May 14, 2010 – 10:49am Permalink | Subthread | Parent | [Parent subthread ] Comments top

I assume we’re talking about the failed negative pressure tests followed by the decision to displace the mud with seawater. I am very concerned about why that decision was made, but there’s so much confusion and several different accounts that. I’m not a downhole guy by any means, but I’ve heard alot of arguments between downhole guys on what is “usually done” given these circumstances, so until some concensus is given, I’m going to hold off judgement.
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[-] ROCKMAN on May 14, 2010 – 11:35am Permalink | Subthread | Parent | [Parent subthread ] Comments top

Greg — way beyond that. I apologize because I’m about to give you the Mother of all teases but I promised the source not to repeat it until there’s very sure confirmation. Even had I not promised to not repeat the story I don’t think I would until I saw official confirmation. It’s that condemning and inflamatory. This new story is either one of the biggest intentional lies or the truth. Nothing vague about the implications. Not a story that grew and altered as it got repeated multiple times. And the ultimate confirmation will come from an independent third party that hasn’t even been mentioned in the event. Like I said: a very bad tease that would certainly beg for details but I won’t expand. Sorry.

And I fully agree about withholding judgment. Fair speculation is another matter IMHO.

ROCKMAN on May 14, 2010 – 1:08pm Permalink | Subthread | Parent | [Parent subthread ] Comments top


As usual I start with the big IF. IF the story is true I can promise you the lawyers of the company these potential witnesses work for already have their sworn statements in the can. And, IF those statements exist they will become a part of the official public record. Absolutely no chance of suppression. These potential witnesses, IF they really exist, don’t have a dog in the fight. Credibility will be very high.

My definition of a secret: something only one person knows. Anymore than it’s only limited knowledge. IF the story is true it will start leaking from the sources soon IMHO. If we don’t see that happening in the next week or so I’ll become more suspicious of its validity.

Criminal vs. negligent: all in the eye of the beholder IMHO.

And on and on it goes, where it stops, nobody know….

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