Sidoarjo mudflow, well blowout identification.


by matthyaouw
Tags: blowout, identification, mudflow, sidoarjo
matthyaouw
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Feb24-08, 05:02 PM
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I've been studying the Sidoarjo mudflow / Java mud volcano / Lapindo mudflow / Lusi pretty thoroughly in recent weeks. One of the key issues behind the disaster and relief effort seems to be a question of blame- if the event is natural the money for the relief effort must come from the Indonesian government, and if it is a gas well blowout it needs to come from PT Lapindo-Brantas, the operators of the well near which the eruption is occuring. As you can imagine, the well operators deny all responsibility, but are under a lot of pressure from various groups, possibly just as a scapegoat.

I've read pretty extensively and still can't decide either way exactly what the cause is, but I've had an idea about how it may be possible to find out. Heavy fluids and drilling muds are injected into the well bore to control pressure during drilling. If a well kick were to fracture the surrounding rock and cause a blowout away from the drill rig, some of the injected material would exit at the site of the blowout. Am I right? If so, is there anything contained within the fluid/mud that would not be found naturally and could be used as a tracer to confirm/deny a link between the eruption and the well? If not, could anything be added to it, say a radioactive tracer or a chemical that does not occur naturally?

Does anyone know if this has been attempted or if it would be feasible for drilling in the future?
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Andre
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Feb25-08, 05:05 AM
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Quote Quote by matthyaouw View Post
Am I right? If so, is there anything contained within the fluid/mud that would not be found naturally and could be used as a tracer to confirm/deny a link between the eruption and the well? If not, could anything be added to it, say a radioactive tracer or a chemical that does not occur naturally?

Does anyone know if this has been attempted or if it would be feasible for drilling in the future?
Adding tritium tracers for hydrological investigation has been done. But in this case, causality looks a bit more philosophical.

What is the cause of the mud flow? It's the volcano or the overpressured half graben filled with oceanic sediments. So the mechanism was there, waiting to be triggered. Does it matter what actually triggered it? tectonic changes, earthquakes? Seems like a big post-hoc-ergo-proper-hoc fallacy to me. But even if it could be proven that the drill activities triggered the event, how long would it have been before it would have occured naturally?
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Feb25-08, 09:36 AM
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Quote Quote by Andre View Post
Adding tritium tracers for hydrological investigation has been done. But in this case, causality looks a bit more philosophical.

What is the cause of the mud flow? It's the volcano or the overpressured half graben filled with oceanic sediments. So the mechanism was there, waiting to be triggered. Does it matter what actually triggered it? tectonic changes, earthquakes? Seems like a big post-hoc-ergo-proper-hoc fallacy to me. But even if it could be proven that the drill activities triggered the event, how long would it have been before it would have occured naturally?
Thanks for the link.
I agree that even if the event is man-made, it probably would have occurred at some point in the future anyway, though how far along the line I wouldn't like to say. The fact is though that the trigger does matter to those who may have to pay out billions on the relief and clean-up operation.

Andre
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Feb25-08, 09:43 AM
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Sidoarjo mudflow, well blowout identification.


But is the guy guilty who accidentaly tripped the wire of the natural booby trap?
matthyaouw
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Feb25-08, 11:17 AM
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Yes is most likely the answer to that one. Hitting pressurised fluid is an unavoidable risk when drilling for oil/gas (and indeed the point of drilling in the first place, as oil and gas are both pressurised fluids themselves). You might say there is one of these natural booby traps anywhere you might chose to drill. There are a great number of procedures, rules and techniques for preventing the uncontrolled release of them (termed blowouts). If it wasn't for all of these then there'd be a blowout on a ridiculous number of wells. It is basically very bad well management to allow one to happen and if a company isn't up to the job of preventing them then they shouldn't be allowed to drill in the first place.


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