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BP Hard Cap Installation&Relief Wells Wellbore Problems:hard cap being built to withstand 125K psi

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posted on Jul, 7 2010 @ 12:16 PM

Background - In December 2005 (, scientists aboard IODP (Integrated Ocean Drilling Program) Expedition 312 approached mantle depths while drilling to investigate superfast seafloor spreading rates. The research expedition penetrated volcanic rock (gabbros) and reached a fossil magma chamber lying 1.4 kilometers beneath the seafloor.

mantle by 18,000 ft+ (BP’s Macondo could have been drilled much deeper than 18,000 feet). The deeper you drill the higher the temperatures and pressures which will be encountered. There are other wells within a 50-mile radius of Macondo may have had reservoir pressures of 14474 psi at temp of 212 F at a depth of 15,000 ft (Ref: JPT (Journal of Petroleum Technology, June 2009,

Several weeks ago, a BP VP (Mr. Kent Wells) presented a video description of a large heavy-wall cylindrical pressure vessel which he called an “overshot” device. I think this is what Admiral Thad Allen is calling a “Hard Cap” IN which BP is planning to replace the current “containment dome” with a huge (75 ton) cylindrical pressure vessel. What caught my immediate attention in the BP video was the wall thickness of this pressure vessel was ten-inch thickness steel (steel not specified). The dimensions stated by Mr. Wells for the BP “Overshot” device are:

Diameter: 58 inches

Wall Thickness: 10.0 inches

Length: 408 inches

Weight: 75 tons

There is an 18.75 in diameter flange welded to bottom of the pressure vessel to match the API flange on the current BOP top flange.

Pressure Vessel (BP Hard Cap) Design Calculations

To look at an estimate of the possible maximum design pressures which could be accommodated by this particular BP pressure vessel, go to the website: and scroll down close to the bottom of the webpage and click on “Design Tools” and “Pipe and Shell Design Tool” which should open an Excel Spreadsheet:

in which you can read in the following data (ver E4.02):

58.0 inches - outside diameter
10.000 inches – nominal wall thickness
408 inches – length
0.125 inches – corrosion allowance

Material and Conditions:
HY125 KSI – this is a special high strength steel (requires Gov approval)
125,000 – allowable stress (attempt at max plastic limit design no safety factor)
0.85 – long seam weld efficiency (default value)
0.85 – circular seam weld efficiency (default value)
0.0% - undertolerance allowance
41,975 psi – interior pressure (max well bore pressure before blowout)

Calculated Properties:
Volume (cuft) – 267.78
Weight (lb) – 174491.6 (87.2 tons)

Required Thickness:

Required Minimum Thickness 9.997 inches (10.0 inches!)

Check: Acceptable thickness

Remarks: Since the type of steel was not specifically stated, an assumption was made to see what was the maximum design pressure we could achieve if we used a super high strength steel. The bottom line is that with a 125,000 psi super steel with an internal pressure of 41,975 psi (well bore blow-out pressure) the required thickness is indeed ten inches. No information was given as to the dimensions of the elliptical (or hemi-head) design and I assume relief values (no video shown of the other end of this pressure vessel). Mr. Kent Wells also mentioned there were two other designs also being fabricated (nothing else stated).

I did not post this article to the Internet several weeks ago as I was waiting to see who would state the actual well head blowout pressure was 40,000 psi (not just some wild range of 20,000 psi to 100,000 psi). For several weeks this specific number was not mentioned on oil spill websites until I heard a video on the website on July 01 (Thursday) by a Mr. Lindsay Williams (appears to have been pulled or unavailable “Guests 6-28-10 thru 7-4-10) who stated that his “oil source” said the wellhead pressure has now been measured at 40,000 psi (use your own discernment on this one). Mr. Williams also stated there were fissures/cracks and that if not stopped the well could flow for another 30 years (implying some 675 billion barrels of oil in a super reservoir or it is being produced within earth’s mantle and flowing into reservoir from underneath as abiotic oil). A reservoir of this size would be several orders above any public disclosures by BP or the US Government.

The summary coldy and factually lays out the chain of logic that flows from known facts and it isn't a pretty read, for example:

7. The Macondo Well has all the earmarks (based on current response, length of time to drill the relief wells, high pressure hard cap designs/fabrication) of being a super high pressure blow-out that is into the earth’s mantle. The “red oil” that is being seen floating on the GOM surface could be from the earth’s mantle (Where is the chemical signature for this oil after 70 days?). If this well had only been in the range of 14,500 psi well bore pressures, we would have already drilled the relief well and sealed it off (by day 40 at the latest with 7000 barrels of mud). However, since this has not happened, one can assume the situation is in a transition of going from very bad to worse with maybe three options left. Try and seal it with massive amount of super heavy mud (try and seal cracks/fissures) while attempting to adjust the well bore pressures with a massive cylindrical pressure vessel(s) on both relief wells and Macondo, attempt to seal it (way down-hole) with a small nuke if the granite cap is not fractured (maybe start with one-kiloton weapon), or let it flow for thirty+ years and contaminate the world’s oceans/environment (unacceptable or not?!). If the granite cap is badly fractured this could preclude using a 10-kiloton nuke (or any weapon to try and seal well bore) near the bottom of the well bore. If bottom kill does not work, this mega-disaster has implications of biblical proportions because there may not be an option other than trying to capture as much oil as possible with fleet of specifically-designed super tankers (both clean-up and separation/storage) for decades to come.


10. Air quality issues are and will continue to be a major issue despite no real information forthcoming from USGS. There is currently a hot pipe (i.e., BP well blow-out) running through a massive methane hydrate formation (1200m thick?) that is possibly heating the formation and venting large amounts of methane gas underwater in addition to the one-half ton of methane being produced by the well for each ton of oil (ref; Dr Samantha Joye – Univ. of Ga. Researcher aboard RV Walton). This could be the real origin of the massive underwater methane/oil plumes and it there maybe more than one major source. NOAA/EPA has two codes for running Air Quality predictions (in fact there are several options/predictions being run). The output of a code from OILSPILL (surface oil) is input to AIRMAP to prediction onshore concentrations of benzene, hydrogen sulphide and methylene chloride depending on actual wind son data. Where are the predictions and IVV/validations by independent Universities of air quality on Gulf of Mexico (numerous websites have commented on total lack of data other than TV station in New Orleans)? Benzene is a known carcinogen (unsafe at 10 ppb or less) and hydrogen sulphide can cause deaths at 3000+ ppb. It is a major irritant and dangerous at levels of 50 ppm.

Please visit the source and read the whole thing, then make up your own mind about how valid the reasoning is, If in fact the "hard cap" is being built to withstand such enormous pressures, we are all in very deep crap.

This would help explain why they are so anxious to not have accurate press coverage and are actively trying to limit the number of independent observers on the scene, another reason why international help has been so slow to be accepted. Anyone care to bet that nondisclosure has been a sticking point for some international help?

[edit on 7-7-2010 by apacheman]

[edit on 7-7-2010 by apacheman]

posted on Jul, 7 2010 @ 12:20 PM
That will do fine and all, until the pressure just tears the current well bore apart as it already has been doing. There probably isn't much of that pipe left anyway.... I assure you, this sideshow will be going on for a long time and the "drilling relief well" "top caps" etc etc.... You don't understand that "They" want this to continue so they can continue to put their chems / poisons in the water..... Call me wrong if they can seal it within the next 100 days...

posted on Jul, 7 2010 @ 12:25 PM
reply to post by apacheman

And yet, even these facts likely only scratch the surface.

Good read.

posted on Jul, 7 2010 @ 12:31 PM
reply to post by apacheman

"This would help explain why they are so anxious to not have accurate press coverage and are actively trying to limit the number of independent observers on the scene, another reason why international help has been so slow to be accepted. Anyone care to bet that nondisclosure has been a sticking point for some international help? " (quote from apacheman)

Good find!

edit to clarify in quotes

[edit on 7-7-2010 by amicae]

posted on Jul, 7 2010 @ 12:46 PM
Here is a pic of the new cap that I posted in the up to the minute thread. This thing is absolutely huge.

posted on Jul, 7 2010 @ 12:55 PM
reply to post by Ceriddwen

Are they going to place that huge thing on top of a shakey BOP???

second line is disbelieving

posted on Jul, 7 2010 @ 12:55 PM
Holy crap that is huge.

I don\'t understand how these caps are supposed to work if the casing is severely compromised.


posted on Jul, 7 2010 @ 01:32 PM
Okay, with this monstrosity I have another question.

If the bottom kill and this monstrosity fails to stop this well -

Everything they are doing is rigid. I think rigid is the problem. Deep sea plants and animals are often NOT rigid. They take a completely different tack.

Take a relief well, and add a leg to drill to BELOW the producing zone.

Insert up a rubber / elastic / polymer reinforced hosing from below, and anchored from below.

At the top capture the oil with flexible solutions. Literally flexible. Like reinforced bags that capture the petroleum and then are released to "float" to the surface for retrieval. Bags are replaced one after the other.

Then concentrate on shoring up the surrounding cracking with cement squeeze boreholes. If cementing isn't working due to the environment - why not try squeezing polymer foam?

Where the oak falls, the willow bends.

[edit on 2010/7/7 by Aeons]

posted on Jul, 7 2010 @ 02:10 PM
Maybe they think that new monstrosity cap will put some necessary weight on that BOP to help keep it from blasting off the top of that well. I wonder if that pile of crap is earthquake proof.

posted on Jul, 7 2010 @ 02:31 PM
reply to post by Aeons

That is similar to the idea my brother had:

Drop a huge skirt arounf the BOP, anchored to the seafloor and let it fill up as it will and keep pumping stuff out of it.

Unfortunately, that doesn't address the issue of pressurized oil and gas leaking out sideways downhole. As long as that condition exists it will eat away at the caprock until a much larger hole opens somewhere.

The leak MUST be stopped downhole. If the relief wells aren't deep enough, it will delay the problem but not remove it. Indeed, it may make it potentially worse by making people think the danger's over, not merely delayed.

posted on Jul, 7 2010 @ 04:22 PM
Those sideway fractures coming to the surface is why I wonder why they aren't drilling boreholes for the purpose of cement squeezing outside the original borehole.

If flexible hosing is used to replace the casing and produce up it to a flexible containment structure that would be part of the battle. Instead of cementing the annulus, they could use some sort of closed cellular foam up the exterior.

The squeeze has been used for original boreholes for a long time. Drilling boreholes into formations to use for flooding and injection is well known. Instead of using an injector for pushing petroleum, use and injector into the cracking beds to perform squeeze operations.

It seems absolutely logical to me.

And since I doubt their ability to stop the well, figuring out how to produce it when everything down hole and the producing zone is #ed is imperative. Since they can't get into the hole, thinking outside of it is required.

[edit on 2010/7/7 by Aeons]

posted on Jul, 7 2010 @ 04:30 PM
FYI - SWCCFAN has just mentioned an unconfirmed report from an offshore worker that the first relief well has suffered a blow-out: link to post
"Also a friend that still works offshore reported chatter that BP has a blowout on the first releif well but its not confirmed."

Interesting. [depressing, terrifying, fits with news clamp-down, etc...too?]

[edit on 7-7-2010 by curioustype]

[edit on 7-7-2010 by curioustype]

posted on Jul, 7 2010 @ 05:02 PM
This deserves more attention. Possibly the scariest article I have read to date, it needs to be on the front page.

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