Spill hearings: 8 months later, the data’s still inconclusive

Sperry Sun supervisor John Gisclair is testifying about the difficulty of drawing conclusions from the real-time data that was coming from BP’s Macondo well.

There’s a great deal of data that was collected right up until the blast (which can be seen here). In hindsight it seems to show a number of indications that hydrocarbons were in the well. This includes jumps in pressure and more mud coming out of the well than was going in.

But with the various mud pits that were collecting the well flow being shifted around and loaded onto a ship sitting nearby, getting  an accurate picture of the well was difficult.

“It sounds like the mud logger, the assistant driller and the driller weren’t aware of what was going on down hole,” said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Robert Butts, one of the panel members. “If we can’t tell now, months after the incident, how could the guys have been able to know?”

Gisclair agreed it would be difficult.

“I see nothing on the charts that tells us without a doubt there was going to be a blow out,” Gisclair said.

Documents provided by Halliburton chronicling who logged into the real-time flow of data seems to indicate no one from Transocean logged onto that system the day of the accident.

But an attorney for Halliburton said it appears the company provided the panel with an incomplete set of data and that information from later in the day, including the time immediately before the blowout, was being tracked down by the company.

Photo: John Gisclair answers questions during a joint investigation oil spill hearing Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010, in  Houston (Nick de la Torre/Houston Chronicle )