The Watering Hole, Monday, October 14th, 2013: More KXL BS

Going through my emails, one from moneynews.com (the $$ division of Newsmax.com) caught my eye: “Pickens: Keystone Pipeline Would Make OPEC Obsolete” Huh?

But first, in an earlier, related article by John Morgan, titled “Steve Forbes: Build the Keystone Pipeline and Frack, Baby, Frack”, failed Presidential hopeful Steve Forbes lies about the proposed pipeline’s safety:

Forbes magazine editor Steve Forbes, a stalwart defender of the Keystone XL pipeline, says approving the pipeline would actually help prevent oil spills, not cause more environmental damage, and that fracking is a key element of America’s energy future.

“If you don’t approve pipelines, we’re going to be moving more and more oil on trains, which is just begging for accidents,” he told Yahoo.

Forbes maintained the Keystone pipeline would create 20,000 jobs, more than some other estimates. The fate of the proposed pipeline, which would push an estimated 830,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Canada to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast, may be decided in a final ruling from the White House by year-end.

Forbes noted that fracking is boosting local economies in some areas. “Because of fracking, Pennsylvania is prospering, towns are moving up — areas that had been depressed before.” By contrast, upstate New York, where fracking is not permitted, “looks more and more like East Germany before the Wall fell,” Forbes said.

Forbes, CEO of Forbes Media and a staunch Republican, said a big problem with U.S. energy policy is that President Barack Obama “does not like oil, gas or coal.” “He seems to like windmills, a nice medieval technology,” Forbes said.

“The inconvenient truth is that we have not had an increase in temperatures in 15 or 16 years even though we are pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.”

Mr. Forbes, you are delusional. An oil corporation with a history of leaks and spills is going to build a pipeline that is so amazingly safe that it will actually “prevent” oil spills? And, while rail transport may not be ideal, one can count on one hand the number of rail accidents involving oil (my apologies to the victims of the accident in Quebec.) How many spills have Keystone and other oil corporations already caused, and are still trying to clean up? And for the record, upstate NY looks pretty much the same as it always has, thankyouverymuch. Nice Gore-bashing at the end, Mr. Forbes, stay classy.

Okay, now fast-forward back to “Pickens: Keystone Pipeline Would Make OPEC Obsolete” ~

From Friday, October 11th, an excerpt from an article by Dan Weil:

The Keystone XL oil pipeline would eliminate the United States’ dependence on OPEC, says energy entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens.

“Canadians say they have 250 billion barrels [of oil]. That’s exactly what the Saudis claim they have,” he tells CNBC. “You’re sitting there with the same amount of oil available to the United States from Canada . . . as [from] Saudi Arabia.”

“You could make them [OPEC] obsolete two or three different ways, and that [Keystone] is one of them.”

The Keystone pipeline would run from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. President Obama must decide whether the pipeline can be built.

Pickens would like to see an oil transportation system combining the United States, Canada and Mexico.

As United States energy output, we are on pace to overtake Russia as the world’s biggest producer of oil and natural gas and may already have done so, according to The Wall Street Journal.”

Okay, so (maybe) Canada has the same amount of oil as Saudi Arabia. But both are sold on the world market, so it’s not like the U.S. is getting a discount from Canada (at least not that I’ve heard or read.) But let’s consider the real concrete difference: Saudi oil is NOT being transported straight through the “heartland” of the U.S. The inevitable spill(s) along an almost 1200-mile pipeline would cause an environmental disaster for the local wildlife, ecosystem, and humans. If the Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies the drinking water for millions of American citizens, became contaminated, those millions of people would be at risk. In the article, Mr. Pickens “explains” (maybe ‘complains’ would have been a better word?) that the ‘U.S. Navy protects the Strait of Hormuz so that 17 million barrels of oil travels through it a day.’ Since I’m sure that the U.S. Navy presence in the Strait of Hormuz is for more than just keeping the oil flowing, if his point is that we’re wasting taxpayer money by being there, that dog won’t hunt. The U.S. will always have its fingers in the Middle East pie. What price tag would you put on the lives of millions of citizens? Oh, BTW, Mr. Pickens, what are those other “different ways to make OPEC obsolete”?

Note that neither Mr. Pickens nor Mr. Forbes mentioned renewable energy sources.

Now…for some of the riper turds from the shitstorm of comments after the article:

“The MESSIAH is far too concerned with MAKING ALL OF US HURT, to be bothered with being a LEADER. Like MICHELLE, he wants all of us to suffer and become third-world surfs like she sees us and he wants us to be. Neither will be happy until they see the muslim emblem replace our stars and stripes. Keystone is very possible, but we need to get congress to grow up and start doing what they were elected to do…. the OATH they all took..!!!!!!”

“I know former president Jiminy Carter is in the pocket an Arab emirate, and Slick Willie Clinton is in everyone’s pockets, but how or why does Obama not want to get ahead. The only explanation is that he wants the American middle class to fail first. We are being betrayed by a failing presidency.”

“If the Fed Govt. would open Keystone which is by far safer than Obama’s/Warrens Oil Train that hauls hundreds of thousands of gal. of oil through all the cities and town to the refineries and makes an extra $10.00 a barrel more than the pipeline transportation.Sure you could have a pipeline spill but the technology is much better now and they can turn the valve of.”

And my personal favorite:
“This muslim Islamic puke doesn’t want the pipeline because right now we are supporting the Arabs with our money to buy oil at a premium price, and then we go to the gas station and buy the gas from them again and they make more money off of us. This Hitler pig just wants us to support them and the hell with us here. We need millions of good jobs here and this pig gives everything back to them and our country goes down in flames just like the demoncrap pigs have done with Detroit, they will do with our entire country and then the Islamic murdering pigs come in and take us over and anyone that does not fall to islam, well they will be beheaded, that’s how that cult of pigs deal with what they call infedels. Well, I say….screw them, I am a Christian and been that way all my life and I’ll stay that way.
so go screw you Hitler moron!!!!!!!!!!!”

I’d put a pretty picture up to cleanse your visual palate, but this is already too long. Sorry!

Open Thread – so, what else is new?

The Watering Hole, Thursday, September 13th, 2012: From Pipeline News to Politics in the Pews

Back in August of 2011, I wrote a piece here about the controversial proposed Keystone XL pipeline, and its possible deleterious effect on various ecosystems and landowners in its path.

Yesterday’s Washington Post contains several updates and stories of what has been going on more recently regarding the pipeline, both good and bad, under the overall title “Keystone: Down The Line.” The WaPo article includes several separate pieces (all of the individual stories can be accessed from the main WaPo link), including: the most recent re-routing of the Nebraska section of the pipeline–which will STILL cross the Ogallala aquifer; an ‘eminent domain’ ruling in Texas; protesters in Livingston, Texas; various stories about local residents who would be affected by the Pipeline; and Mitt Romney’s support of the Pipeline. The Romney article clearly demonstrates Mitt’s ignorance about how the oil market works, and the blatant misinformation with which he would try to ‘sell’ it to American voters.

In other news, Catholics United (a ‘liberal’ group of Catholics who seem to be much closer to ‘true Christians’ than the Teavangelists and other faux-Christians), in conjunction with another group called “Faithful Americans”, is circulating a petition which you may be interested in signing. Apparently, “A parish priest in the Archdiocese of New York publicly endorsed Mitt Romney for President by including pro-Romney partisan literature in his Sunday bulletin.” Part of this literature included the line, “”We urge our fellow Catholics, and indeed all people of good will, to join with us in this full-hearted effort to elect Governor Mitt Romney as the next President of the United States.” The petition is to be delivered to New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. While Cardinal Dolan “delivered the benediction at the Democratic and Republican conventions, he told reporters that he was there only to pray, not to endorse a candidate.” Cardinal Dolan needs to remind his parish priests that they are not allowed to endorse a candidate, and they are certainly not allowed to coerce their parishioners into voting for a particular candidate. The Separation of Church and State goes both ways: keep politics out of religion, and keep religion out of politics.

This is our open thread — what do you have to say for yourselves?

The Watering Hole: Wednesday, June 20, 2012: Does it really Matter?

Ok, so for the next few months, if you’re in a “swing” State, you’ll be inundated with SuperPAC commercials designed to get you to vote against your own best interests. We will also be systematically bombarded with messages from the Mainstream Media designed to influence our thinking.

IT’S ALL A SHOW. IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER.

If the Powers That Be really want Obama out, all they have to do is raise gas prices to about $5.00/gallon. Instead, gas prices are going down, heading into the summer vacation season. That’s not to say they won’t go up between now and the election – but they are an accurate predictor of where our economy will head. So, pay attention to the pump, not the talking heads.

Ok, that’s my $0.0199 cents. And you?

OPEN THREAD
JUST REMEMBER
EVERYTHING I SAID
DOESN’T REALLY MATTER

 

Sunday Roast, August 21st, 2011: Just Say “NO” to Oil

Amidst all of the beer, car, cell phone, erectile dysfunction and other pharmaceutical commercials, lately I’ve been seeing a lot more commercials for various oil and natural gas companies, touting all of the research they do or how ‘clean’ their product is. The latest push from Exxon/Mobil is for “oil sands” technology.

“Oil sands” or “tar sands” according to Wikipedia, are defined as “a type of unconventional petroleum deposit. The sands contain naturally occurring mixtures of sand, clay, water, and a dense and extremely viscous form of petroleum technically referred to as bitumen (or colloquially “tar” due to its similar appearance, odour, and colour).” One of the largest deposits is located in Alberta, Canada, and a proposed pipeline, the Keystone XL, to run from Alberta to Texas, is currently the center of a whirlwind of controversy, involving the State Department, Congress, the EPA, ranchers and landowners, environmental activists, protests and arrests, and opposing labor unions.

Whooping Cranes

The Keystone XL, owned by the TransCanada company, starts in Alberta, Canada, home of the magnificently beautiful but endangered Whooping Crane, of which there are only about 400 left. The process by which the oil sands are accessed starts with bulldozing forests, then stripmining, then steam-heating the bitumen product. The proposed 36″ diameter pipeline would run through several states, and more importantly, would run through the Ogalalla Aquifer, the “largest underground reservoir on the planet”, part of which is located under the Sandhills of Nebraska. Existing pipelines from the Alberta oil sands facility to parts of the U.S. have already had a history of leaks, including last year’s spill into the Kalamazoo River. Why would anyone even entertain the notion that the 2000-mile-long proposed pipeline would be less likely to be plagued by the same problems? I seriously urge everyone to read the entire Incite article (also linked to above), as well as related articles in this month’s edition of the Audubon magazine, as this post cannot encompass all of the pertinent information, including the sleazy and despicable actions of TransCanada in their efforts to force affected landowners off their lands.

While billions upon billions of dollars are being poured into this proposed pipeline, estimates of U.S. jobs the project could purportedly create are only around 20,000 – a mere drop in the bucket considering the millions of unemployed right now. Are 20,000 jobs really worth the possibility of a slow leak or spill in such a varied and important range of ecosystems through which the pipeline would pass, and especially the possibility of a catastrophic leak into an underground reservoir which serves as a water supply to eight states? The Final Environmental Impact Statement is due out around now, and, once it is published, the Obama Administration has 90 days to review it and make a decision. I sincerely hope that they come to the conclusion that a mere 20,000 jobs is not worth the potentially disastrous risks, and give this proposed pipeline the thumbs down that it deserves.

This is our Sunday open thread — What do you think?

Across the Pond – What we are up to over here.

This post is far too late for morning coffee, but a nice afternoon tea maybe?

What is going on over here in Europe? Not really much, politically, most parliaments are in recess and backbenchers crowd to the microphones to get their 15 minutes until business as usual in politics resumes again. So both major news are not from politics, but from the Love Parade in Germany and, what else, BP.

Germans are looking in horror at reports of the stampede that happened during yesterday’s Love Parade in Essen.

Der Spiegel: (for those who rather not torment themselves with details, I copied only the mere facts below, so please read on at your own discretion)

By early afternoon, the techno party was already “desperately overcrowded,” Tim says. “The only entrance was through the tunnel, there was no other way to get to the site.” At the beginning, he said, the shoving “was almost fun.” Everyone was singing and chanting together, it was a friendly and relaxed atmosphere,” he reports. “That’s the point of the Love Parade, isn’t it?”

But then, things began to get more aggressive. “It was tight, hot, unbearable. Everyone wanted to get to the party, or just out of the crowd.” Some tried to find their own way out, slithering up poles or climbing a narrow staircase out of the crowd. Dehydrated, exhausted partiers where handed out over the heads of the masses. Some of those trying to climb out fell back into the crowd. When that happened, say police, mass panic broke out. (read more)

The Love Parade is the biggest techno party worldwide, the Zurich Street Parade, scheduled for August 14th, is competing for the title of the biggest techno event. There are concerns about the safety of the partygoers here, too. Increased of course by yesterday’s events. The Love Parade has been cancelled for good after the tragedy. It makes me unspeakably sad to think about all those young people who were setting out for a night of fun and had to witness or even get hurt or died in that horror.

Other headlines include the F1 Grand Prix in Hockenheim and Ferrari (spoiler alert), Franck Ribéry’s return to Munich after the dismal French World Cup adventure and the hooker scandal and Bayreuth greets the Rich, the Powerful and the Ugly for their annual Wagner opera festival. I would love to have tickets for Jonas Kaufmann‘s debut in Bayreuth, but the great unwashed must stand in line, or better not show their faces in any case.

The BBC has today’s story for the UK:

BP’s chief executive Tony Hayward has been negotiating the terms of his exit, with a formal announcement likely within 24 hours, the BBC has learned.

Mr Hayward has been widely criticised over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

BBC business editor Robert Peston said it was likely he would be replaced by his US colleague Bob Dudley, now in charge of the clean-up operation. (read more)

Now, what does “negotiate” mean? Huh? We’re not talking golden parachutes, are we? What? A measly £ 10 millions ($ 15 million) package? Poor sod.

Hayward, 52, is today locked in meetings with the rest of the BP board about the final details of his financial leaving package, but he is expected to go under basic contractual terms. That means a one year’s £1m pay package but a giant pension pot of over £10m, capable of paying out more than half a million pounds a year from the formal retirement age of 60. (read more)

And, while we are talking about BP, the environment comes to mind. The Independent reports on the British water industry and what privatization means really:

Ofwat, the water industry watchdog, faces calls for it to be overhauled amid accusations that it is not doing enough to remedy leaking drinking water while privatised water companies enjoy soaring profits and consumers face high bills (read more)

So, enjoy your reading and have a nice Sunday all of you!

Why is it the skeptics always have to be right?

source: NASA

I so wished this was over. The containment cap on the Deepwater Horizon well had stopped the leak finally and I was thinking about researching on what could be done to speed along the clean up process and help nature come into some kind of balance again. “Not so quick”, said some, they only say they plugged it. “Wait and see”. And now, instead of posting about the clean up efforts necessary, I am posting about the oil spill and yet another failure.

The Oildrum (who else?) were the first to report it.

Admiral Allen’s letter via The Oildrum:

Dear Mr. Dudley,

My letter to you on July 16, 2010 extended the Well Integrity Test period contingent upon the completion of seismic surveys, robust monitoring for indications of leakage, and acoustic testing by the NOAA vessel PISCES in the immediate vicinity of the well head. Given the current observations from the test, including the detected seep a distance from the well and undetermined anomalies at the well head, monitoring of the seabed is of paramount importance during the test period. As a continued condition of the test, you are required to provide as a top priority access and coordination for the monitoring systems, which include seismic and sonar surface ships and subsea ROV and acoustic systems. When seeps are detected, you are directed to marshal resources, quickly investigate, and report findings to the government in no more than four hours. I direct you to provide me a written procedure for opening the choke valve as quickly as possible without damaging the well should hydrocarbon seepage near the well head be confirmed. (read more)

AP reports:

NEW ORLEANS — A federal official says scientists are concerned about a seep and possible methane near BP’s busted oil well in the Gulf of Mexico

Both could be signs there are leaks in the well that’s been capped off for three days.

The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Sunday because an announcement about the next steps had not been made yet.

The official is familiar with the spill oversight but would not clarify what is seeping near the well. The official says BP is not complying with the government’s demand for more monitoring.

So it is not over yet and BP is obstructing again on the issue. Washington’s Blog has a post up on this. And read this discussion about the obstruction by BP , too:

There are 4 alternative explanations for the unexpectedly low oil pressure in the BP well: (1) A leak in the pipe in the well bore; (2) flow under the well between sand layers; (3) a blockage in the well; or (4) depletion of the oil reservoir.

This essay focuses on the fourth possibility: depletion of the oil reservoir. Specifically, BP claims that the oil well pressure is perhaps 1,200 pounds per square inch less than expected because the oil reservoir has been depleted.

The size of the reservoir is crucial in testing BP’s theory. While there are other factors which determine oil pressure, the size of the reservoir is probably the most important. (read more)

What makes me really nervous is the obvious unwillingness of BP to answer Congress’ questions about the geology at the drilling site. As one of our Zoosters (please forgive me, I can’t quite remember who it was) has pointed out a while ago, no drilling will even be considered without a doing geological survey first. So why is BP keeping mum about the findings of this survey? The geology is key to any efforts to shut down the well permanently and compromising the geological structures at the well site would finally make the spill permanent, if it isn’t permanent already.

For those of you, who don’t have the time to read all of the above, I’m reposting the video of Anderson Cooper’s interview with Ed Markey found at Washington’s blog:

Bring out the handcuffs for the BP management and jail them until they comply and then some!

The Watering Hole: June 23 – Pants on Fire!

picture source: The Guardian

For BP “worst case scenario” translates as “if we’re lucky”.

As we all know Ed Markey has released an internal BP  memo (flowrateBP), which warns that up to 100’000 barrels of crude oil could spill into the Gulf of Mexico per day. BP stresses, that this was just a “worst case scenario”. Why then has BP boss Hayward mentioned this new oil spill plan in the Congressional Hearing?

BP plans to send more vessels to the spill site to increase its capacity to capture oil from the well from around 15 000 barrels a day now to 40 000-53 000 barrels by the end of this month and 60 000-80 000 by mid-July.

All agreed they won’t catch all the flow until the well is effectively closed. So there is more than 80’000 barrels flowing into the Gulf.

99’999 bd?

Not quite the worst case then.

This is our open thread. 100% Troll Free and we are keeping it that way!

UPDATE!!! Worst case scenario increased to 164’000 barrels/day.

The Oil Spill: Nature’s Little Helpers

Pseudomonas

We have discussed the use of a nuclear device to kill the oil spill and I for my part have decided that’s too crazy to be considered. The cap is said to work, but I seriously doubt it. Remember when they cut the riser to put on the cap, the oil spill actually increased by some 20%. Some say the increase could be even 80%. As always, I can’t tell and I fear nobody really can and if they can, they won’t tell us. When they now claim they are funneling oil from the spill into a ship, is it really more than what the cutting of the riser caused in the first place? Are we really better off or only marginally so or even worse off now? This question remains unanswered.

I think what is obvious is: Oil continues to spill into the Gulf of Mexico which is already reeling from what has been already issued into the ecosystem since the Deepwater Horizon exploded. We need to consider what is going to happen to the crude oil once it’s out of it’s lair.

Nature will take care of it. That’s actually true. There are microorganisms out there which live off crude oil:

some individual species (Pseudomonas) can use up to 1000 different carbon compounds. What do they do with the oil ? Well basically they eat it just like you eat cereal. They use enzymes to break it up (metabolize it) using O2 turning it into CO2 and more microorganisms.

The word here is O2. There’s huge amounts of C(arbon) in the oil but not so much O(xygen). Where are the little buggers getting it from? Likely from the surrounding waters and the solute oxygen. What with the dead zones that are already there and getting worse in warmer temperatures, incidentally the temperatures where Pseudomonas gets really hungry, this is not really encouraging. Some kinds are even causing severe skin infections. Nevertheless it’s worth to take a closer look. Because these microbes exist and they seem to even develop where there is an oil spill:

A recently published article in Environmental Microbiology reveals that indigenous microbiota of the Galician shore is readily able to degrade crude oil. Scientists from the Estación Experimental del Zaidín (Spanish Council for Research, CSIC) in Granada investigated in situ crude oil degradation after the Prestige oil spill in November 2002.(read more)

How about introducing oil eating microbes into the Gulf, the environment is favourable, the Gulf waters are warm enough for them to thrive.

HAVANA, Aug. 31, 2005 (IPS/GIN) — Scientists think a product used in Cuba since 1992 to clean up oil spills with marine bacteria could prove useful for other warm-weather countries.

Bioil-FC has proven effective in changing the toxic compounds in hydrocarbons into biodegradable substances, turning them back into carbon dioxide and water. This inexpensive “bioproduct” also compares favorably against other products used to clean up hydrocarbon spills, Cuban scientists say.

“We have achieved more than 90 percent remediation (clean up) in a maximum of 30 days of application,” chemical engineer Roberto Nunez, director of CEBIMAR, a marine biological research center, told Tierramerica.

Expert sources from various countries consider a satisfactory biological clean-up for spills of petroleum and its derivatives to be 55 percent in three to four months.

“Bioremediation” is a technique for environmental detoxification through microorganisms that break down dangerous organic waste and turn it into less harmful compounds.

This method, available for the past 25 years, exploits the ability of some bacteria, yeast or molds to incorporate part of the dangerous compounds into their metabolism, for growth or for energy of the organism itself. (read more)

I have already voiced my concerns about the dead zones and the effect more oxygen depletion could have, but this is a natural process and if the oxygen depletes too much, the microbae would die and stop using more oxygen. I don’t advocate miracle cures, there are too many out there who do so. I don’t believe in miracles anyway. But I believe in the strength of nature and I think it can be put to good use. It’s cheap, it certainly less toxic than Dispersit or Corexit and the microbes, like any population will die off and reduce in numbers when they’re running out of food. These microbes already exist and are not genetically engineered for the purpose. So why don’t we hear much more of this?

Not manufactured? Not engineered? No money to be made!

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Top Kill failed – BP is running out of options

UPDATE: IT’S OFFICIAL, TOP KILL FAILED

The top kill effort to plug the well at the Deepwater Horizon disaster site has failed. Never mind what BP says or the question mark on the following story. Fact is:

Hope is dimming for the attempt by BP (NYSE:BP) to quickly plug the oil leak at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico through Top Kill, as BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles confirms they haven’t been able to stop the oil spill yet. (read more)

Robert L. Cavnar says:

I’m now hearing that BP determined the top kill failure sometime in the last 24 hours, but rather than announce it, have decided to just keep pumping until the next alternative is decided, either the LMRP (lower marine riser cap) cap to bring flow to the surface, or removing the LMRP and landing a new BOP on top of the failed one. (read more)

There is something more he says:

As a side note, I do find it interesting that the BP feed no longer includes the bent riser view of the last couple of days,and now looks like the end of the riser where the riser insertion tool had been used previously.

Interesting indeed. What’s more, to me it looks as if the leak they are showing now is in a cavity that keeps getting deeper. I fear there are significant geological shifts going on, too. It can be the angle of the camera, but those pictures scare me silly. If the ground ruptures some more there, Heaven help us.

So after the top kill the top hat is back in the equation. That has failed already. The only sure fire way, according to BP, is the relief drill, but that can take until August and happens to be the one solution that would keep the well available for exploitation. I was very reluctant to believe that buying time was the real driving force behind all the “failures”. I thought that was too cynical. Not anymore.

Oil Spill Bad News Alert!

This needs to be spread around. I’m so sick and tired of all the lies and “we can fix this” lines we are fed from BP. There seem to be eruptions at the site of the leaking oil well, that are covered by the live cam.

Monkeyfister is live-blogging it and what I see there is bad news, very bad news.

HT: nakedcapitalism

Here’s the live feed from the spill (If  you can actually see something, the live feed is very often down or unavailable. They need to give it more bandwidth, so the server is not down all the time)

UPDATE: The Washington Post highlights the role of the MMS and their utter failure as an oversight agency.

Minerals Management Service officials, who receive cash bonuses for meeting federal deadlines on leasing offshore oil and gas exploration, frequently altered their own documents and bypassed legal requirements aimed at ensuring drilling does not imperil the marine environment, the documents show.

This is definitely criminal.

The Watering Hole: May 18, Red Adair

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Am I the only one who keeps thinking Red Adair would know how to help? I don’t know if he would, but the gulf oil spill is huge enough and menacing enough to wish for a hero who just takes over and gets the situation under control like in the movies. Red Adair was one of the American Heroes we over here in Europe admired so much when I was a teenager. Quite a while ago.

The situation is indeed desperate. BP is celebrating the fact that they now syphon off 1’000 barrels a day from the leak, which spills at least 5’000 if not 26’000 per day. If that doesn’t make you wish for a hero, knight in shining armour, what would?

So what are the options?

For some days there is chatter out there, that BP is not considering the option of closing the leak by a controlled explosion, because it would finally seal the oilfield and thus their profits.This makes for good copy, bad corporations and all that, but I am more inclined to think all involved are at a complete loss for what to do.

I doubt there is someone out there who knows how to controlledly blow up an oil well in a deep sea level environment. Suggestions run from nuking the well, to a controlled explosion using plastic explosives. President Obama has involved the Pentagon right at the beginning of the catastrophy in April, and while this was initially to enlist the navy for oil spill containment, it would be naive to think, in a situation as desperate as this, they are not considering their options to stop the spill either. They have a huge arsenal of explosives from conventional to nuclear. I seriously doubt BP would get a say in whether the well was sealed by any explosion if this was really considered a viable way to do it.

The sad truth is: Nobody knows what to do really. Offshore drilling in such depths is a risk mankind took but has never assessed properly before the drilling started. (Like so many things we do.) Now we are out of our depth to find a solution to a self made problem.

So. Where’s Red? Red’s dead and heroes like the one we’d need now, really only exist in movies and books.

While I was writing this another 850 barrels (medium estimate)  of oil have spilled from the leak.

This is an open thread. Feel free to somment on this or anything else that’s on your mind.

Bobby Jindal discovers he’s really green.

That’s what he said in 2008:

Now he sings to a different tune:

“We’re concerned about the subsea application of dispersent. He asked that the entire column be tested. Asked BP to make a long-term commitment to monitoring the water. “You’re talking about an impact that could hurt multiple generations of wildlife. These are the ocean’s nurseries.”

I couldn’t agree more with Mr Jindal, but off shore drilling came first, then the spill and now his eco consciousness kicks in?

How about: “We made a huge mistake, by pushing offshore drilling to it’s limits. We will have to rethink our priorities.”?

He’s pro nuclear energy and coal, too. Can’t he remember Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and West Virginia?

Oil Spill Update – What I don’t know..

It is worse, much worse than I had imagined and there is no end in sight.

National Public Radio in the United States last night reported that the well is spewing up to 70,000 barrels of oil a day – the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez disaster every four days. Nearly 11 million barrels gallons of oil were spilled in Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989 when the Exxon Valdez tanker ran aground, oiling beaches and poisoning marine life for generations. NPR said scientific analysis of newly released video footage from the ocean floor suggested the gusher was 12 times more powerful than estimates offered so far by the Coast Guard or BP. (read more)

The environmental impact of any oil spill is much more complicated than it appears on the surface, but the fact that this is a deep sea leak seem to make it even more complex. I definitely do not know what will come from it, I just expect the worst. But when I try to find information that sheds some light on the real environmental impact, I find: Next to nothing. The only answer I get is: Noone else knows much either.

I tried to find out what would happen with the oil at deep sea level. Reports are saying plumes of the oil were hovering at deeper sea levels. And noone seems to know what it means.

“It doesn’t float right up on top as you would think,” Raymond Highsmith of the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology tells AOL News. “Some of it floats right under the surface, and some of it now looks like it’s quite a ways down.”(read more)

So I tried looking for vertical exchange of deep sea water with surface waters and how long it takes until the oil still caught below will show up at the surface. And what would happen with all the particles made out of crude oil and that poisonous stuff they are spreading to dissolve the slick? I found this, but it definitely needs some serious dumbing down for me. What it seems to say is, particles from deep sea waters need ages to make it into the surface waters, nothing much happens in the deep sea environment:

The model was seeded below 2000 m with 19,105 inert particles that drift freely within the model domain in response to the velocity field. By tracking individual particles, it can be seen that the upward motion of particles from below 2000 m to above 1000 m occurs almost exclusively in the ring separation region in the eastern GOM. Individual particles are observed
to spiral upward with each separation of a new ring from the LC. An anticyclone-cyclone eddy pair develops in the deep eastern basin each time the LC reaches its northernmost extent and sheds a ring. The tracer particles are advected away from the Campeche Bank into the deep water of the eastern basin by the northward currents on the western side of the leading
anticyclone. A southward current associated with the western side of the trailing cyclonic eddy moves the particles back toward the Campeche Bank. The particles remain at nearly the same depth as they are advected away from the slope, but they move slightly upward in the water column as they are pushed back toward the slope. With each separation of a LC ring, the
particles experience a net upward motion.

What is does not say is, that particles never make it to the surface. Meaning, generations to come will have to do with what is currently issued into the gulf from this spill.

What I could not find either is: How will the ever present hurricanes (hurricane season starts in two weeks) in the gulf add to spreading the oil and the chemicals that are used to dissolve the spill. And mostly how deep, vertically, is the water affected by a major hurricane? Will the next big storm release another huge oil spill from the hovering plumes of oil?

What I don’t know is: How are temperatures and pressure affecting the chemical interaction between the oil and the chemicals that are used at deep sea levels to dissolve the spill. From my school years I remember that low temperatures are counteracting most chemical reactions like the ones desired here. High pressure may have a contrary effect.

There are microorganisms which are digesting naturally occuring oil seeps at deep sea level. They take how long? 50’000 years? I don’t know. Nature takes all the time she needs.

And, of course, I do not know: How long will it take for the oilfield to shed it’s entire lode into the gulf ? Because I don’t see any other end to it than that.

So, if I don’t know all this, this is hardly surprising. That BP didn’t know more is at least not surprising to me, they knew better than to ask. That drilling for oil in this environment is even allowed, judge for yourselves.

We don’t know a tiny fraction of what’s in store for the gulf and us from this but I do not expect anything less than the biggest man made environmental desaster next to Chernobyl.

You can find a series of heartbreaking and fascinating pictures of the oil spill here at the Boston Globe. And The Oildrum will be keeping you up to speed on all related developments. Yet more can be found at The NYT, The Examiner, Der Spiegel and if you can stomach it BP

The Watering Hole: May 7 – And now the chemical spill

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They must be kidding. To break up the Deepwater Horizon oil spill the dispersants Corexit 9500 and Corexit 9527 are used by the hundreds of thousands of gallons. Right into the ecosystem of the Gulf. But what is it they use?

As ProPublica reported Monday, information about dispersants is “kept secret under competitive trade laws.” I’ve spent the last several days trying to confirm what many in the ocean-ecology and public health worlds seemed to know, but no one would say officially: that two different dispersants sold under the banner of Corexit were being used in vast quantities. The Corexit brand is owned by an Illinois-based company called Nalco, which entered the dispersant business back in 1994, when it merged with Exxon’s chemical unit. (By 2004, Exxon had divested and Nalco was a standalone company, according to Nalco’s company history.)

[...]

So, what’s in the stuff? According to their data sheets, both 9500 and 9527 are composed of three potentially hazardous substances. They share two in common, organic sulfonic acid salt and propylene glycol. In addition to those two, Corexit 9500 contains something called “Distillates, petroleum, hydrotreated light,” while Corexit 9527 contains 2-Butoxyethanol. Frustratingly, the sheets don’t give exact information about how much of the substances are in the dispersants; instead they give ranges as a percentage of weight. For example, Corexit 9500 can be composed of anywhere from 10 to 30 percent petroleum distillates, while 2-Butoxyethanol makes up anywhere from 30 to 60 percent of 9527.

(read more)

Protected under competitive trade laws? My foot, they are dumping it in our ecosystem the more the better and don’t even have to let us know what’s in it? I know, you can already hear me shout: “Regulation!”

There would be an alternative chemical, I seriously doubt that it is really environmentally friendly, but obviously it’s use wasn’t even considered properly.

Called Dispersit, it’s manufactured by the U.S. Polychemical Corporation and has been approved for use by the Environmental Protection Agency. Both Corexit and Dispersit were tested by the EPA, and according to those results, Corexit was 54.7 percent effective at breaking down crude oil from the Gulf, and Dispersit was 100 percent effective.

Not only did Corexit do a worse job of dispersing oil, but it was three times as lethal to silverfish – used as a benchmark organism in toxicity testing — and more than twice as lethal to shrimp, another benchmark organism and an important part of Gulf fisheries.

[...]

Relief agencies were not immediately available for comment about Dispersit. In a Tuesday press conference, Charlie Henry, the scientific support coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the potential effects of Corexit’s use in the Gulf are unknown. “Those analyses are going on, but right now there’s no consensus,” he said. “And we’re just really getting started. You can imagine it’s something we’ve never thought about.” (read more)

Never thought about it? Figures.

You can find more information on the toxicity of Corexit here, here and here.

It is all just a matter of “Now you see me, now you don’t.”

This is our Open Thread. Spill your thoughts!

The Blow-Out Preventer

A relatively simple device: The Blowout Preventer

It’s mandatory in Norwegian offshore oil drills. It’s mandatory in Brazilian offshore oil drills. It is not mandatory in oil drills off the US coast.

It could have prevented the latest spill.

But. You had the oil industry effectively on the helm of your country for too long. And, without effective regulation, they won’t even begin to consider using these – costs you know.

UPDATE:  See more information regarding the oil spill by commenters TerrytheTurtle, houseofroberts, 2ebbandflow, and Hoodathunk here, here, and here.

UPDATE II: TerryTheTurtle has made us aware of a valuable source, for those who are following the research of the oil spill’s cause. You will have regular updates here and another article based on a European source can be found here.

Gas to hit new highs – affect global economy

No, that’s not today’s headlines. But look back:

Gasoline prices going up, up, up
Experts predict $3 per gallon soon — grim outlook through 2006

David R. Baker, Chronicle Staff Writer
Friday, April 8, 2005

“This run-up, however, hasn’t produced a recession, at least not yet.

SOARING OIL PRICES COULD TRIGGER WORLD RECESSION, WARNS JAPAN ENERGY CHIEF – STRONG MESSAGE FROM GROUP OF EIGHT NEEDED IN JULY
8 June 2008

Japan’s energy chief launched a meeting of ministers from the world’s top industrialized nations Sunday by warning that soaring oil prices could trigger a global recession if they’re not checked. …
“If left unaddressed, it may well cause a recession in the global economy.”

Surging oil prices could trigger a global recession
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Broadcast: 09/06/2008
Reporter: Phillip Lasker

There are now growing concerns that rising oil prices will drive the global economy into recession.

IEA warns high oil prices could trigger global recession
22 Sep 2008

The world economy faces a recession if the price of oil stays above $90 a barrel, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned. The price of oil crept up again today, reaching $95, following two days of declines caused by the collapse of investment bank Lehman Brothers and slumping stock markets. Fears of a deep recession had pushed the price below $100 a barrel for the first time in six months.

Finally, an incredibly prescient report from 3 years ago:
Continue reading

Palin’s Pipeline to Nowhere

New details came out today regarding Palin’s Pipeline. It turns out to be worse than the fact that a) it won’t be built for years and b) it won’t make the lower 48 energy independent.

No, it’s starting to look like Palin picked the people to build it herself.

Gov. Sarah Palin’s signature accomplishment — a contract to build a 1,715-mile pipeline to bring natural gas from Alaska to the Lower 48 — emerged from a flawed bidding process that narrowed the field to a company with ties to her administration, an Associated Press investigation shows.

No wonder she was hand-picked to succeed Cheney. She’s already got the whole business of handing business to business croneys down cold.

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Cocaine, Sex and Oil, Oh My!

Following up on a story from yesterday, a story which seems to be getting little media attention,* oil companies cozied up to Interior Department officials and plied them with sex, alcohol, cocaine, and gifts to ensure they would get what they want.  What did they want?  Contracts!  More leased land (of which they already have more than 60 million acres and do nothing with),  Offshore leases for drilling.  Your blood.  In short, what they want is every last cent of your hard-earned income at whatever cost it takes to get it.

Lobbyists?  These are lobbyists on steroids! (Yet, another illegal substance.)

Next time you hear Drill Here! Drill Now! Pay Less! remember that this is brought to you by Big Oil and the Republicans, the same companies who have netted tens of BILLIONS of dollars in profits – on your shoulders, and the same Republican government which has given you less, and less.

* Little media attention?  Virtuallly none.  I checked the New York Times, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, and other smaller major city newspapers online – the only “coverage” was a headline link buried deep down a page.

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In Bed (literally) with ‘Big Oil’

“Drill Baby Drill!..” (Chants from the RNC…)

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From McClatchy:
Oil companies gave sex, drinks, gifts to federal overseers

Interior Department officials, while handling billions of dollars in oil and gas royalty payments, engaged in illicit sex with industry employees and accepted meals, drinks, ski junkets and golf outings from major oil companies, internal investigators reported Wednesday.

Interior Department Inspector General Earl Devaney’s release of three reports, which stem from a $5 million investigation dating to 2005, implicated at least 19 current and former employees of the Minerals Management Service in unethical relationships with industry, frolics that included marijuana and cocaine use.

The reports raised new concerns about the management of programs that collect $8 billion in annual revenue from offshore and onshore mineral leases. Democrats seized on the report to bolster their efforts to counter growing pressure to open up more areas to oil drilling.

“The allegations of illicit and unethical behavior detailed in the inspector general’s report are directly related to the energy debate taking place in the Congress this week,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said. “Little did we know how cozy the relationship between Big Oil and the administration’s regulators have been.

“Brandishing a copy of the inspector general’s report, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said Wednesday “It’s bad enough that the government employees who oversee offshore oil drilling are literally and figuratively in bed with Big Oil, the rest of the U.S. government doesn’t need to jump in bed with them.”

Read entire article…

From CBS News:
Sex, Lies And Big Oil?
:

[..] The allegations of bad behavior involve about a dozen government employees in Denver and Washington – workers who sell U.S. mineral rights to oil companies, which is one of the government’s biggest sources of revenue besides taxes.

They’re supposed to be looking out for the taxpayers’ interest.

But according to the inspector general, they rigged contracts, and engaged in illegal moonlighting, drugs, sex and gift-taking from oil company representatives.

Two reports revealed startling allegations including:

  • An employee who attended a so-called “treasure hunt” in the desert with all expenses paid by an oil producer.
  • A former supervisor who bought cocaine from a colleague, then boosted her performance award, had sex with subordinates and steered government contracts to an outside business where he also worked.

No one – from the oil companies to the workers allegedly involved – provided a response today other than to say they cooperated with the investigation, or appropriate action will be taken.[..]

Former Haliburton Exec Pleads Guilty

As a Haliburton executive Albert “Jack” Stanley is well known in the world of Big Oil for his ability to secure billion dollar contracts in third world countries.

In the wake of his admission in a guilty plea last week that he had resorted to bribes, kickbacks and high-level corruption to secure deals in Nigeria, however, Stanley now lies at the center of a widening scandal in the oil industry that has implications for corporations and governments across the globe.

Stanley’s case is the first in what federal officials believe will be a string of indictments in coming months against U.S. corporate executives who have participated in bribing foreign officials in recent years.

Previously Stanley had said that Vice President Dick Cheney, who was CEO of Halliburton at the time, had no knowledge of the bribes. At the time though Stanley was not a cooperating witness. Stanley’s sentence will be determined based on his compliance with the plea agreement. Stanley’s attorney, Larry Veselka, has said that his client will cooperate fully in any investigation. Cheney’s office has refused to comment citing continuing litigation.

And the FBI is actively involved in this case so this case is not likely to disappear into the realm of the Justice Department.

The active involvement of the FBI is particularly worrisome to such people. In contrast to white-collar investigations handled by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, the FBI is believed to be prepared to use techniques more familiar to investigations of organized crime, including wiretapping and undercover agents.

There is much, much more to this story from ProPublica and PBS’ “Frontline”.

HT joe cantwell

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From a distance: The real scandals

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The real news, the headlines, should not rest on Sarah Palin as they still do, but on the economic situation in the US. So I will start with what I consider to be a major scandal and deal with Palin as the ultimate “Manchurian Candidate” below the fold.

The major scandal I am talking about is the bailing out at your expense of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae as reported by the New York Times and the Washington Post. I add here excerpts from major  economic newspapers:

The Financial Times:

The US Treasury has moved closer to a rescue plan for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two struggling government-sponsored mortgage groups whose fate is key to the future of the US housing industry and financial markets.

The exact form of the proposed government rescue remained unclear, but share prices for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac declined 30.3 per cent and 26.6 per cent respectively in after-hours trading, reflecting investor concerns that the rescue plan would wipe out holders of equity in the groups while guaranteeing their debt. (read more)

The Wall Street Journal:

It is also expected to involve the government injecting capital into Fannie and Freddie. That could happen gradually on a quarter-by-quarter basis, rather than in a single move, one person familiar with the matter said. (read more)

Reuters:

Senior Bush administration and Federal Reserve officials called in top executives of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Friday and told them that the government was preparing to place the two companies under federal control, officials and company executives told the New York Times.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson were present at meetings with James Lockhart, the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the regulator of the two companies, and with Fannie Mae CEO Daniel Mudd and Freddie Mac CEO Richard Syron on Friday, Reuters can confirm. There were separate meetings with the two CEOs. (read more)

Bloomberg:

The Washington Post reported that the government would make quarterly injections of funds as the companies’ losses warranted, avoiding a large up-front taxpayer cost, citing sources it didn’t name. Debt and preferred shares would be protected, and common stock would be diluted while not wiped out, the Post said.

The New York Times said most or all of both the common and preferred shares would be worth little or nothing.(read more)

In the case of Fannie Mae the history, as I understand it, goes like this: Founded in 1938 by the government with your money. Then, to cover the Vietnam War costs, what already belonged to you was sold to you for which you spent some more of your money. Then is was provided with some healthy GSE competition,  (Freddie Mac also sponsored with your money) and left out to fare in the shark infested waters of the financial industry, always, as a GSE, fostered with guarantees from your money. Finally saved with your money which nixed your common shares (in short: your money) and now being artificially kept alive to protect the fat cats investments with your money. Impressive indeed. I dare state that, had this happened in France, there’d be Government buildings on fire by now.

Things will get better soon. There’s always this Maverick Ticket running now, which will change all that, standing up against Big Oil, Big Finance, oh yes and Big Business as a whole. Just vote for another Republican ticket and everything will change.

Not so fast! Sarah Palin is a godsend for Big Business! Why? Continue reading