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P. 1
Comments from BP to Oil Spill Commission on Draft Staff Working Paper No. 3

Comments from BP to Oil Spill Commission on Draft Staff Working Paper No. 3

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05/12/2014

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BP'SPRELIMINARYRESPONSETOTHEFLOWRATEANDVOLUMEESTIMATESCONTAINEDINSTAFFWORKINGPAPERNO.3
ThispaperprovidesBP'sinitialcommentsontheportionoftheOctober6,2010staffdraftworkingpaperentitled"TheAmountandFateoftheOil"(the"October6StaffDraft"),thatdiscussestheestimatedflowrateandtotalvolumeofoilreleasedfromtheMacondowell.
In
thewakeoftheDeepwaterHorizonaccidentandoilspill,BPhaslaunchedthelargestoilspillresponseinhistory.BPalsosetasidea$20billionclaimsfundwhilewaivingthe$75millioncapundertheOilPollutionActof1990.BPissteadfastlycommittedtobeingagoodmemberoftheGulfCoastcommunity,anditsactionsreflectthatfact.Nowthatthewellhasbeencapped,oneoftheissuestodetermineistheamountofoilthatflowedfromtheMacondowell.Aswelooktothefuture,itisimportanttohaveasaccurateaspossibleanestimateofthetotalvolumethatflowedfromthewell.Thisinformationiscrucialtounderstandingtheenvironmentalimpact,shapingappropriateremediationplans,andassessingthelegalconsequencesoftheevent.Avarietyofimportantfactorsaffectedtheoilflowincomplicatedways,andmanyofthesefactors-andthustheflowrate--changedsignificantlyovertime.Achievingareliableestimateisthusanenormouslyimportantandcomplextechnicalchallenge.BPhasreviewedthevariousdischargeestimatesandanalysesdiscussedintheOctober6StaffDraft,includingtheestimatereleasedpubliclybytheDepartmentofEnergy("DOE")andtheFlowRateTechnicalGroup("FRTG")onAugust2(the"August2
DOE/FRTG
Estimate")thatapproximately4.9millionbarrelsofoilflowedfromtheMacondowell,andapproximately4.1millionbarrelsweredischargedintotheGulf.l!Asdiscussedbelow,theAugust2DOEIFRTGEstimateandothersimilarestimatesareflawed.Theyrelyonincompleteorinaccurateinformation,restinlargepartonassumptionsthathavenotbeenvalidated,andaresubjecttofargreateruncertaintiesthanhavebeenacknowledged.Asaconsequence,itishighlylikelythattheAugust2DOEIFRTGdischargeestimateandsimilarestimatesareoverstatedbyasignificantamount.Forthesamereasons,thestatementintheOctober6StaffDraftthataconsensusisemergingthatroughlyfivemillionbarrelsofoilwerereleasedbytheMacondowellisbothprematureandinaccurate.fAlthough,assetforthbelow,thedeficienciesofpreviousflowrateestimatesandanalysesareevident,areliableestimatecannotyetbedevelopedbecauseseveralkeypiecesofinformationhavebeenandremainunavailable,includinginformationconcerningtheBlowOut
l!
Thekeyenvironmentalmetric,ofcourse,isnottheamountofoilthatflowedoutofthewell,buttheamountofoildischargedintotheGulf.Althoughthetotalquantityofoilreleasedfromthewellisuncertain,itisknownthatapproximately850,000barrelswerepipedtoandcontainedbyBPinvesselsonthesurface.NationalComm.ontheBPDeepwaterHorizonOilSpillandOffshoreDrilling,THEAMOUNT
AND
FATEOFTHEOIL,StaffWorkingPaperNo.3(Draft)(Oct.6,2010)at16.
1
 
Preventer("BOP"),riserkink,pressuregauges,cappingstack,andreservoircoresamples,allofwhicharecurrentlyintheGovernment'spossession.BPfullyintendstopresentitsownestimateassoonastheinformationisavailabletogetthescienceright.BPandtheUnifiedAreaCommandhavepermanentlycappedthewell,andBP'seffortscontinuetorestoretheGulf.Thereisnoemergencythatrequiresarushedquantificationbasedonincompleteordoubtfulinformation.Withtherestorationworkongoing,itisnowappropriatetofocusonthetaskofassemblingallthenecessaryscientificdatatoestimatethetotalflowasaccuratelyas
possible.Y
AspartofBP'sworktoestimatereliablyhowmuchoilwasdischarged,itwouldbeusefultounderstandthebasesfortheestimatesandanalysesalreadyinthepublicrecord.EventhoughBPandotherpartieshaverequestedthisinformation,manyoftheimportantdetailsunderlyingthoseestimatesandanalyseshavenotbeenmadepublic.Forexample,neithertheDOEnortheFRTGhasreleasedallofthedataandcalculationsnecessarytounderstandandevaluatethebasesfortheAugust2
DOE/FRTG
Estimate.Similarly,theFRTGhasnotreleasedinformationrequiredtounderstandthecalculationsunderlyinganyoftheestimatesitreleasedpriortotheAugust2
DOE/FRTG
Estimate.Nor,tothebestofBP'sknowledge,haveanyoftheDOEorFRTGestimatesandanalysesbeensubjecttopeerreviewandcritiquebythosewithafullunderstandingofthetechnicalaspectsofhydrocarbonflowthroughoilreservoirs,wells,andsurfacepipes.Theseareseriousimpedimentstoareasonedscientificestimatethatwouldbebroadlycredible.TheAugust2DOEIFRTGEstimatehastwoprimarycomponents:(i)itestimatedtheflowrateimmediatelybeforethewellwascappedonJuly14atapproximately53,000barrelsofoilperday("bopd"),andthen(ii)basedonthatnumber,andcertainrudimentaryassumptionsaboutreservoirdepletion,itextrapolatedbacktoaflowrateofapproximately62,000bopdonApril22.
In
otherwords,theEstimateassumesthattheflowrateofoildecreasedovertime.TheavailableevidencestronglysuggeststhattheJuly14estimateistoohigh,andtheflowrateonApril22waslower,likelysubstantiallylower,thantheJuly14flowrate.TheAugust2DOEIFRTGEstimateandothersimilarestimatesignorekeyfactsaboutthereservoir-well-risersystem;donottakeaccountofimportantpiecesofdata;andappearbiasedtowardthemaximumamountofoilthatcouldhavebeendischarged,ratherthantheamountofoilmostlikelytohavebeendischarged.Asaresult,thoseestimatessubstantiallyunderstatetheirownrangeofuncertaintyandalsosubstantiallyoverstatetheamountofflow.
lI
BPrespectfullyurgestheCommissiontoconsiderthefactsandconcernssetforthinthissubmissionbeforeacceptingtheAugust2
DOE/FRTG
Estimateorotherpurportedlysimilarestimates.Allpartiesinvolvedshareacommongoalofarrivingatareliableandaccurateflowestimate.Therefore,BPrequeststhattheinformationprovidedbelowbesharedwiththemany
AsrecognizedintheOctober6StaffDraft,flowestimatesmadebeforethewellwascappedvarywidely.Thatexperiencehighlightstheimportance,nowthatthedischargehasstopped,ofdevelopingaccurateandreliableflowestimatesbaseduponthegreatestpossiblebodyofrelevantevidence.Forexample,therangeofuncertaintyidentifiedintheAugust2DOEIFRTGEstimateisplusorminus10percent.Asdiscussedbelow,BPbelievestherangeofuncertaintyissubstantiallygreater.
2
 
technicalpersonnelinterestedinthistopicandthattherebeopen,constructive,andcollaborativescientificdiscussionabouttheseissues.BPisconfidentthatacomplete,comprehensive,andrigorousanalysisoftheflowissuewillshowthatless,andpossiblyfarless,oilwasdischargedfromtheMacondowellthantheamountsreflectedintheAugust2
DOE/FRTG
Estimate.Whatevertheultimateresult,allinterestedpartiesandthepublicwillhavemuchgreaterconfidenceintheaccuracyandreliabilityofanestimatecalculatedonthebasisofsuchascientificprocess.
A.THEAUGUST
2
DOE/FRTG
ESTIMATEOFJULY
14
FLowBASEDONDATAMEASURED
IN
THECAPPINGSTACK
Is
FLAWEDANDINCOMPLETEANDLIKELYOVERSTATESTHEFLow
ThescienceteamsupportingSecretaryChuapparentlyestimatedaflowrateof52,700bopdonJuly14basedonpressurereadingstakenwithinthecappingstackatatimewhentheflowoffluidwassolelypassingthroughthecappingstack'skillline:~!Asdiscussedbelow,therearenumerousreasonswhythatestimateisflawed.1.FailuretoConsidertheComplexityoftheCappingStackStructureFirst,theestimatefailstoreflectthecomplicatedinternalstructureofthecappingstack.Anyreliableestimateoftheflowrateoffluidthroughasystemofpipesmusttakeintoaccountthepressuredrop(orloss)thatoccurswhenfluidflowsthroughpipefittings,transitions,elbowjoints,andthelike(theidealizedlossassociatedwithaparticularfittingorjointisoftenreferredtoasthe"Kfactor,,).Q/Typically,Kfactors,whicharepubliclydisseminated,accountfortheeffectoftheparticularfittingbasedonthehypotheticalassumptionthatthefittingisprecededandfollowedbyasubstantiallengthofstraightpipe.Thatwasnotthecasewiththecappingstack;theconfigurationofthecomponentsthroughwhichtheoilandgasactuallyflowedwasmuchmorecomplex.Specifically,thepipeelementswereclosetooneanotherandtheflowhadtonavigatetworightangleturnsincloseproximity.Theresultingadditionalturbulencewasnotaccountedforinthescienceteam'sestimateandwouldhaveledtoagreaterthanexpectedpressuredropforagivenflowrate.2.FailuretoConsidertheEffectsofTwo-PhaseFlowThroughmostofthewellsystem,includingtheflowthroughthecappingstack,theflowconsistedofbothoilandgas,oftenreferredtoasa"two-phaseflow."Thepressuredropthatoccurswhentwo-phaseflowtravelsathighvelocitiesthroughcomplexgeometrieslikethecappingstack'sisverydifficulttopredict,essentiallybecauseoftheinteractionoftheheavierandlighterphases.BP'sunderstandingbasedoninformationprovidedbytheGovernmentscienceteamisthattheAugust2
DOE/FRTG
Estimatefailstoaccountadequatelyforthistypeoftwo-phaseflowbehavior,andthattheteamhasacknowledgedthisfailureasasourceoferror.
October6StaffDraftat14.October6StaffDraftatAppendix1.
3

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