Sunday Roast: April 14th, 2013 – Four Cups of Coffee

Good Morning Zoosters. Tired? I am. So this is what I found for your Sunday Morning reading over my morning coffee:

Having my first cup of coffee, I discovered that being all powerful and so full of yourself doesn’t mean people love you. Au contraire in some notorious cases, including this:

Protesters could be arrested for “alarming or distressing” mourners at the funeral of Baroness Thatcher, a police chief in charge of security at the event has warned. (full story)

In the UK this song is No 1 in ITunes Store downloads. Ah well.

Having my second cup of coffee was my “banging head on desk” moment. I have discussed some Right Wing terrorism in Germany here and it beats me, how the court could have excluded foreign newspapers, especially Turkish ones from this trial. The Verfassungsgericht ( our version of Supreme Court) set things right.

Germany’s top court has ruled that foreign media must get access to the trial of a suspected neo-Nazi charged in connection with the murders of 10 people, including eight of Turkish descent. A Turkish newspaper had filed a complaint. The row had threatened to harm Germany’s image and was overshadowing the trial starting April 17. (full story)

Cup Number Three: It won’t go away, not in our lifetimes. The Deepwater Horizon Spill has caused more damage than BP could ever pay for in damages. Can’t we, please, start taking care of our planet? It’s our home. The only one we’ve got.

Hundreds of beached dolphin carcasses, shrimp with no eyes, contaminated fish, ancient corals caked in oil and some seriously unwell people are among the legacies that scientists are still uncovering in the wake of BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill. (full story)

That required some lighter reading for cup four. Lest I ruin my day. Are women unrealistic when it comes to  the male of the species? I am, totally, that’s for sure, but here’s some evidence, or not.

Men have long wondered what exactly it is that women want. Some pore over men’s magazines, with their promises of “washboard abs”, for guidance. The more scientifically minded look for experimental data. (full story)

So, now I have my fifth cup, have a peek into the Formula 1 Race, then I am off to Brunch with a friend, we will then discuss what I’ve read over my fourth cup of coffee.

You all have a very pleasant Sunday, sunny happy and warm. See you all later!

This is our Open Thread. Let’s go.

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: July 16 – Has the oil spill been stopped?

Picture source:Yahoo

BP has announced yesterday that the oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon well has been stopped for the first time since the accident.

Video feeds from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico continue to show no leaking oil

Oil firm BP is awaiting test results from the blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico, a day after staunching the flow of oil for the first time since April.

The firm is checking how much pressure the well can withstand while the valves on its new capping device are closed. (read more)

This is, of course, good news. But there is scepticism, too:

We will need to wait another 24 hours or so – and engineers will have to continue monitoring sonar and visual images (both help determine if any oil is leaking from the seafloor), and seismic data (to determine if there are any new leaks below the seafloor) – before engineers can determine how stable the well is. (read full story)

Admiral Allan says (via The Oildrum):

“We’re encouraged by this development, but this isn’t over. Over the next several hours we will continue to collect data and work with the federal science team to analyze this information and perform additional seismic mapping runs in the hopes of gaining a better understanding on the condition of the well bore and options for temporary shut in of the well during a hurricane. It remains likely that we will return to the containment process using this new stacking cap connected to the risers to attempt to collect up to 80,000 barrels of oil per day until the relief well is completed.” (read post)

The video from the oil well shows no obvious spill right now. Yesterday, however, I thought I saw something spilling in the background. My eyesight sucks so don’t take my word for it. If, God forbid, I really saw it, it would mean the entire well is compromised and this would be disastrous.

The relief wells  are generally seen as the sure-fire solution to the oil spill. If, that is, those wells are up to standard.

HOUSTON, July 13 (Reuters) – U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a memorandum that problems were identified “in recent weeks” with blowout preventers on BP Plc’s (BP.L: Quote) (BP.N: Quote) relief wells, which are seen as the only proven way to kill the Gulf of Mexico oil leak.

In a 29-page memo to Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) dated Monday, Salazar said “performance problems” with the blowout preventers were found when new testing requirements were imposed after the April 20 blowout that preceded the gushing leak. (read full story)

I am not surprised at all. Not at BP’s producing yet another blunder, neither, I must say, at the watchfulness of your government, who found out before yet another blowout preventer failed. There are many voices out there, who claim the government’s response was inadequate. I beg to differ. The Obama administration made sure there were live cams down there, so the claims “only” 1’000 barrels/day flowed from the well were quickly and obviously debunked. The Obama administration insisted on two relief wells being drilled, so there was a second shot, if the first failed to hit target. The Obama administration has delayed the testing of the new cap, because increasing the pressure was a dangerous proposition and needed to be done in the best possible way, not hurriedly. I still believe this is not over yet and I still believe this catastrophe is mostly unmanageable by us humans who caused it. But everybody who thinks the government should do more ought to sit back, think and go back in time only three years. And then honestly assess, what the Bush administration would have done.

Never mind my lengthy post, this is still our open thread so feel free to comment on this or on anything else  on your mind.

CH4 + 2 O2 = CO2 + 2 H2O and more dead zones result from it

The balanced formula above shows what happens if methane encounters oxygen. It is not a spontaneous reaction, boys wouldn’t need to light farts if it was, but is helped along either by fire, catalysts or by methanotrophic microorganisms which metabolize methane into CO2 and water.  Methane is found in the permafrost environment e.g. in Siberia and, as global climate change warms up those areas, poses a great risk, because it’s 25-30 times more effective a greenhouse gas as CO2. Here those microorganisms live on top of the permafrost ice and are really beneficial.

The permafrost in the Lena Delta begins only a few centimetres below the surface and extends down to a depth of 600 metres. The ice in the polygon pools starts 50 centimetres below the water surface. Methanogenic micro-organisms live directly on top of the ice and convert organic carbon into methane – almost one third of the organic carbon stored throughout the world is locked up in Arctic permafrost soils. However, methane gas has an extremely large influence on the climate: the greenhouse effect of one molecule of methane is 25 to 30 times greater than that of one molecule of carbon dioxide. (read article)

Methane can be found in arctic mud volcanoes like the Haakon Mosby mud volcano, too. And here, as well, the said methanotrophs exist. At the rim of the volcano.

In the central region, scientists discovered a new bacterium species that use oxygen to feed on methane. In sediments of the sulphur bacteria region, the team found a new group of methanotrophic Archaea (archaic bacteria) that form a symbiosis with bacteria and use sulphate to oxidize methane, a process called the anaerobic oxidation of methane (AOM). (read article)

Unfortunately Methane is one of the major components of the BP oil spill, too. A methane explosion is said to be the cause for it.

The deadly blast on board the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was triggered by a bubble of methane gas, an investigation by BP has revealed.

A report into last month’s blast said the gas escaped from the oil well and shot up the drill column, expanding quickly as it burst through several seals and barriers before exploding. (read article)

Biologists now found new dead zones in the Gulf (additionally to the existing ones) caused by the above mentioned effect. This discovery offers a good explanation why unusually many fish and sharks are being seen in the shallow waters off the Gulf of Mexico’s coast. The migration of the fish is obviously only the part that we can really see, what we won’t see ist the extinction of all living things in those oxygen depleted zones that are not able to just swim away. Add the methanotrophs to the oil eating bacteria, that will eventually clean up the (then probably dead) Gulf who also need oxygen for their metabolism and we are looking at another facet of the destruction, which may yet reach extinction level after all.

Stupid in Short Supply

Wholesalers across the nation are reporting shortages in Stupid. With the demand for Stupid running at an all-time high, retailers can’t keep enough Stupid on hand.

“It’s flying off the shelves” said a spokesperson for retailing giant WalMart. “Especially in rural areas. People  just can’t seem to get enough Stupid.”

Rumor has it that media mogul Rupert Murdoch invested heavily in Stupid through the entire Bush Administration, severely draining the nation’s stockpiles. Then, just as supplies of Stupid were nearing historic lows McCain nominated Sarah Palin.

“That nearly did us in.” commented the spokesperson. “Our suppliers couldn’t keep up with demand. We were shipping in Stupid from Alaska faster than it could be produced.”

Fortunately, Arizona has come to the plate and increased its manufacuring of Stupid. But the price of Stupid remains high.

“So high” said the WalMart press contact, “that we’re seeing an increasing demand for Ignorance. It used to be Ignorance was priced out of the market for most families on a budget, but with the price of Stupid going through the roof, stocking up on Ignorance is a no-brainer.”

Market analysts are pinning the cause on Fox News, which goes through an incredible amount of Stupid each 24-hour news cycle. But other mainstream media outlets are reportedly using more than their share of Stupid as well.

With the Gulf Oil Crisis beginning its third month, retailers in the deep south are reporting they have totally run out of Stupid.

“We’re down to just plain Dumb, now.” said one unnamed merchant who’s store overlooks a tar-stained beach on the Gulf Coast.

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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 Watering Hole: June 17 – Why Obama Prays

(image: Eric Gay/AP via nydailynews.com)

From The Oildrum
(HT: Motherjones)

I usually don’t cut and paste, but there is nothing to add here:

OK let’s get real about the GOM oil flow. There doesn’t really seem to be much info on TOD that furthers more complete understanding of what’s really happening in the GOM.
As you have probably seen and maybe feel yourselves, there are several things that do not appear to make sense regarding the actions of attack against the well. Don’t feel bad, there is much that doesn’t make sense even to professionals unless you take into account some important variables that we are not being told about. There seems to me to be a reluctance to face what cannot be termed anything less than grim circumstances in my opinion. There certainly is a reluctance to inform us regular people and all we have really gotten is a few dots here and there…

First of all…set aside all your thoughts of plugging the well and stopping it from blowing out oil using any method from the top down. Plugs, big valves to just shut it off, pinching the pipe closed, installing a new bop or lmrp, shooting any epoxy in it, top kills with mud etc etc etc….forget that, it won’t be happening..it’s done and over. In fact actually opening up the well at the subsea source and allowing it to gush more is not only exactly what has happened, it was probably necessary, or so they think anyway. (read full comment at The Oildrum)

I wish I’ve never read this.

This is our open thread, feel free to comment on this and maybe lighten my mood with a little optimism, too. I somehow can’t today.

The Watering Hole: June 11 – Response Time

picture: oilguard.org

A Swiss Company, HeiQ, specialises in making textiles antimicrobial. If you’ve ever worn sports socks with silver added to the fiber for odour control, that’s their invention. When Deepwater Horizon sank and the catastrophic extent of the oil spill was evident, they immediately set to work. They already had a water repellent sytem and only needed to add an oil absorbing characteristic, use it on textiles and within a few weeks they had a super oil absorbent and water reppellent textile. HeiQ informed the Swiss embassy in Washington and asked them to present the idea to the Pentagon. What happened then? Continue reading

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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The Watering Hole: June 1 – It’s Hurricane Season

Hurricane Katrina

The National Hurricane Center

Across the entire Atlantic Basin for the six-month season, which begins June 1, NOAA is projecting a 70 percent probability of the following ranges:

  • 14 to 23 Named Storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including:
  • 8 to 14 Hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which:
  • 3 to 7 could be Major Hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of at least 111 mph)

“If this outlook holds true, this season could be one of the more active on record,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “The greater likelihood of storms brings an increased risk of a landfall. In short, we urge everyone to be prepared.” (read more)

Here’s the NHC’s fact sheet on Hurricanes and the Oil Spill. I feel so much better now. /sarc

Nuking the Spill: Pro: You’re doing something about it – Contra: You’re doing the wrong thing

The above video is about to go viral as desperation about the gulf oil spill mounts. Otherwise quite sensible people are all for it, because it seems so easy and the US has lot’s of nukes, don’t they? Russia has reported five incidents where they used a nuclear explosion to shut down oil or gas leaks and there are reportedly hundreds that have been used for non military means:

The Soviet Union, a major oil exporter, used this method five times to deal with petrocalamities. The first happened in Uzbekistan, on September 30, 1966 with a blast 1.5 times the strength of the Hiroshima bomb and at a depth of 1.5 kilometers. KP also notes that subterranean nuclear blasts were used as much as 169 times in the Soviet Union to accomplish fairly mundane tasks like creating underground storage spaces for gas or building canals.

Looks like Obama is just a sissy who doesn’t dare to do the right thing, because of, as the above post says, anti nuclear political correctness. Maybe, however, he’s just a little smarter than the “nuke it” crowd. The procedure has never been tested in deepwater environment. At Crooks & Liars there are two discussions and it was this comment on the earlier thread, that gives us an idea about how bad this would possibly come out: Continue reading

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.

The Oil Spill – What’s New?

source:NASA

So BP has started the “top kill” to stem the flow of oil still spilling from the broken well in the Gulf of Mexico in what is now officially the worst leak in US history. There are conflicting news about the  effectiveness of the measure. The LATimes and CBSNews were the first to claim the “top kill” was working and has effectively stemmed the oil flow, citing Thad Allen. That was yesterday. Today news are a bit less enthusiastic. Washington’s Blog bluntly states the strategy has failed.

Here’s the scoop: BP’s attempt to stop the oil spill using the “Top Kill” method has failed.

How do I know?

Well, as the New York Times notes:

BP officials, who along with government officials created the impression early in the day that the strategy was working, disclosed later that they had stopped pumping the night before when engineers saw that too much of the drilling fluid was escaping along with the oil.Indeed, BP stopped pumping “mud” for more than 16 hours (the material gushing out of the leaking riser didn’t stop during that time).

Basically, BP has failed in trying to drive enough “mud” down the well to provide enough weight to tamp down the oil gushing out. It didn’t work. (read full story) Continue reading