Journalism in the Public Interest

Buried in BP’s Report: Decision to Pump Leftover Fluid Into Well May Have Contributed to Disaster



It's a little-noticed part of BP's internal investigation of the Deepwater Horizon blowout, but it could have larger implications: Buried in an appendix to BP's Bly report, the company concluded that the properties of an unusual fluid mixture that it chose to pump into the Macondo well may have skewed its reading of a crucial pressure test, as The Washington Post reported.

(As we've noted, the decision to proceed with finishing the well despite "a very large abnormality" in the pressure test was one of the few issues for which BP took some blame in the report.)

The fluid in question was a gooey mixture of two products that were left over after the well was drilled, according to the Post. If BP found a way to use them in the well, it wouldn’t have to bring the product to shore for disposal as hazardous waste. So according to the Post, BP simply poured the waste back down the well:  

During the April 20 pressure test, BP used it as a "spacer" to separate seawater from dense drilling fluid called "mud" in a column of fluids pumped into the well.

"They didn't want to have to dispose of them," [drilling fluid specialist Leo] Lindner said of the leftover Form-A-Set and Form-A-Squeeze.

The BP report does not discuss the disposal advantage that Lindner described. The report said the decision to use the material as a spacer "was driven by the opportunity for the beneficial re-use of the materials."

[BP’s chief investigator Mark] Bly told reporters that using such a mixture was "not an uncommon thing to do."

Linder, a fluid specialist who worked for M-I SWACO, a contractor on the rig, testified in July before a government panel that the fluid was unusual in both its mixture and its quantity.

As the Post pointed out, a BP manager also testified in August that he’d never before used a similar mixture as a spacer, or a buffer between the lighter seawater and the heavy drilling mud.

BP's report doesn't go into detail about the composition of the fluid that was used, nor does it mention that the properties of the unusual mixture may have had an effect on the pressure test. But in an appendix to the report, BP concluded that either “solids from the spacer” or “the viscosity or gel strength of the spacer” could have skewed the negative pressure test.

The appendix also acknowledged that the two leftover products had “no history or testing for use as a spacer,” and that mixing them together and using them as a spacer “was not standard.” (Read Appendix Q.)

BP’s Bly told the Post that using the leftover products “would have been fine” if the mixture had not penetrated a part of the well where it did not belong.

As we've noted, BP's internal investigation into the Gulf spill took some responsibility, but generally deemphasized the degree to which its well design choices and its decision to use fewer centralizers may have contributed to the disaster.

Yet the gop and some corporatist Democrats don’t care.

What is wrong with Americans that they don’t seem to care?

Lyris: What’s wrong with Americans is that for the last thirty years they’ve been bombarded with bad information. Basically that Government is bad and Corporations are good, or at the least must be left alone or everyone will lose their jobs. This mis-information campaign has only gotten worse, or more accurately its gotten much better at what it does, so now its 24/7 on cable TV and AM Radio. Americans may never recover from the damage that its doing.

The government has a necessary responsibility. The protection of the safety of its citizens. Thus the term Public Servants. Our government now PREYS upon its people to benefit their own lives. The government has become predatory upon the people as evidenced by every single piece of legislation that comes out of Washington. None of it is economically sound, nor solves the issues of the citizens. They are all agenda and politically driven, put in place to garner votes to keep the same people in power.
Obama’s trip to Panama City to ‘swim in the Gulf’ which he didn’t really do, was a favor to BP. In fact one writer speculated that the government might make claims to BP for repayment of the trip. It would only deserve repayment if Obama was there to help BP with damage control
Our government is corrupt to the core.
We need constitutional amendments that dictate what government MUST spend money on, such as public safety, and where they may not tinker with budgetary expenses. Take the power of legislation out of the criminals hands and our government would operate much better.

And what is not said in this article is that each and every one of the wells/platforms (over 4, 000) in the Gulf of Mexico generates over 10,000 tons of heavy metals and other detritus that is simply dumped into the Gulf…no matter the toxicity or environmental damage that they cause…just so the oil companies do not have to spend any money disposing of them properly that includes having to transport them to shore.  Cut corners not matter what the consequences to the Gulf waters and all living creature therein…just as long as their profit margins remain historically HIGH!  They have no shame.

Darrell Walker

Oct. 10, 2010, 4:34 p.m.

Criminal implications should be brought against all the conspirators that are guilty in the oil spill…Transocean, BP, and Halliburton should be brought up on charges…..The truth about how much they owe; The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 states that for every barrel of oil spilled the pricetag is $1,000 a barrel…If 150 million gallons were spilled that would total 3 millionX1,000 which in my math equals 3 billion dollars, plus 25,000 a day for the length that the oil spilled…Have you once heard the American Government state to BP that they owe this much….The government continues to lie to the people that have sacrificed for them the most….Sure there is a 75 million dollar cap on the destruction of the coasts plus removal costs…..And our government is in a bad spot when it comes to the BP, they are setting up what could be a larger natural disaster with their next big well….They built an island 3 miles north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska in the Beaufort Sea….They are using this island to say that the four rigs they can place on it will be drilling an onshore well….8 miles down and then another 6 miles on a slant….Just think if they have a blowout, the GOM spill will be a mild version of the disaster to the nature of our Earth….It’s time that as a corresponding entity in America we need to call a halt to our own government treating us like retards and put a halt to the lies and deceit that is being fed to us through a feeding tube…..I am a proud resident of Texas where oil is king, but enough is enough…..

Commenting is not available in this section entry.

Get Updates

Our Hottest Stories