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.

The Watering Hole. September 6th, Arctic Oil Sandwich

The melting of Polar Ice makes the Arctic much more accessible than it used to be and with accessibility comes the greed for oil. Some 30% of undiscovered gas reserves and 13% of undiscovered oil are thought to be under the arctic ice. Now the race has begun. The risk, however, is huge:

Any serious oil spill in the ice of the Arctic, the “new frontier” for oil exploration, is likely to be an uncontrollable environmental disaster despoiling vast areas of the world’s most untouched ecosystem, one of the world’s leading polar scientists has told The Independent.

Oil from an undersea leak will not only be very hard to deal with in Arctic conditions, it will interact with the surface sea ice and become absorbed in it, and will be transported by it for as much as 1,000 miles across the ocean, according to Peter Wadhams, Professor of ocean physics at the University of Cambridge. (read more)

The exploitation of oil reserves has become more and more frantic. Voices calling for getting renewable energy off the ground were ridiculed when oil was relatively easy to be had, now because those voices went unheard we do not have an alternative at the ready.

This is our Open Thread. Spill! Your thoughts on this and anything else are most welcome.

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!

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.

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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What about BP oil rig ‘Atlantis’?

This video is from a segment on 60 Minutes that was aired Sunday May 16, 2010. The discussion is mostly about what happened with Deep Horizen in the Gulf of Mexico, interviewing one of the survivors, but it also addresses another great concern which is an much larger oil rig owned by BP that is even further out in the Gulf and MUCH deeper (over 7,000 feet).

This video blew me away.

The whistleblower’s name is Kenneth Abbott, a former project control supervisor contracted by BP. He filed suit on May 17th “to force the federal government to halt operations at another massive BP oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, alleging that BP never reviewed critical engineering designs for the operation and is therefore risking another catastrophic accident that could “dwarf” the company’s Deepwater Horizon spill.” More:

Abbott alleged that BP failed to review thousands of final design documents for systems and equipment on the Atlantis platform — meaning BP management never confirmed the systems were built as they were intended – and didn’t properly file the documentation that functions as an instruction manual for rig workers to shut down operations in the case of a blowout or other emergency.

Abbott alleges that when he warned BP about the dangers presented by the missing documentation the company ignored his concerns and instead emphasized saving money.

“There were hundreds, if not thousands, of drawings that hadn’t been approved and to send drawings (to the rig) that hadn’t been approved could result in catastrophic operator errors,” Abbott told ProPublica. “They turned their eye away from their responsibility to make sure the overall design works. Instead they are having bits and pieces fabricated and they are just hoping that these contractors who make all these separate pieces can pull it together and make it safe. The truth is these contractors see a piece of the puzzle; they don’t see the whole thing.”

More from this same article:

Congress and the Minerals and Management Service have been investigating Abbott’s concerns since last year, when he and Food and Water Watch, an environmental organization based in Washington, D.C., first filed the complaints. But according to both Abbott and FWW, little has been done. After the Deepwater Horizon Gulf spill underscored their concerns, they decided to jointly file the lawsuit. Abbott was laid off shortly after he raised the concerns to BP management.

According to the lawsuit, by Nov. 28, 2008, when Abbott last had access to BP’s files, only half of the 7,176 drawings detailing Atlantis’ sub-sea equipment had been approved for design by an engineer and only 274 had been approved “as built,” meaning they were checked and confirmed to meet quality and design standards and the documentation made available to the rig crew. Ninety percent of the design documents, the suit alleges, had never been approved at all.

The Atlantis rig is even larger than the Deepwater Horizon rig that sank in April. It began producing oil in 2007 and can produce 8.4 million gallons a day.

The components include some of the critical infrastructure to protect against a spill. According the suit, none of the sub-sea risers – the pipelines and hoses that serve as a conduit for moving materials from the bottom of the ocean to the facility — had been “issued for design.” The suit also alleges that none of the wellhead documents were approved, and that none of the documents for the manifolds that combine multiple pipeline flows into a single line at the seafloor had been reviewed for final use.

Directions for how to use the piping and instrument systems that help shut down operations in the event of an emergency, as well as the computer software used to enact an emergency shutdown, had also not been approved, the lawsuit says. According to the lawsuit, 14 percent those documents had been approved for construction, and none received final approval to ensure they were built and functioning properly.

“BP’s worst-case scenario indicates that an oil spill from the BP Atlantis Facility could be many times larger than the current oil spill from the BP Deepwater Horizon,” the lawsuit states. “The catastrophic Horizon oil spill would be a mere drop in the bucket when compared to the potential size of a spill from the BP Atlantis facility.”

Can you even imagine…

If they don’t have the technology or safety features nailed down in order to be able to stop this massive leak from the Deep Horizon (which has been amply demonstrated), why would anyone allow drilling to continue with this other, larger rig—owned and run by the same people who are apparently skipping corners there as well—in much deeper water, with a MUCH greater output..

What are they thinking? (I know…, dollars). What are WE thinking by letting them!

As Gorette at The Daily Kos said, “Until regulators can “prove” that Atlantis, the Gulf’s second largest oil rig is safe, it should be shut down. “

Amen to that.

Other articles concerning Atlantis:

U.S. Should Shut BP Atlantis Platform, Lawmaker Says – Bloomberg

Why Obama Must Shut Down BP Atlantis – Huffington Post

BP’s Own Probe Finds Safety Issues on Atlantis Rig – ABC News

Lawmakers Call on Gov’t to Shut Down BP Atlantis – MotherJones

Breaking News: BP Purchases Gulf of Mexico

Roiters International: Florida

Invoking the widely used rule of Commerce “You broke it, you bought it” British Petroleum announced earlier today it has purchased the Gulf of Mexico. Although the rule is most frequently enforced in fine china and crystal shops, lawyers for BP said it does have application elsewhere and could find nothing to prohibit its application here.

The deal for an undisclosed amount was closed with one Felipe Aguadel DeLeon, the last known surviving heir of the renowned explorer Ponce DeLeon who dedicated his life searching for a Fountain of Youth reported to be somewhere in Florida.

According to centuries old documents, DeLeon was convinced that the Fountain’s waters flowed into the Gulf. While land grants from the Spanish Crown were common at that time, DeLeon asked for, and received, a grant for the entire Gulf of Mexico. Later, when Spain ceded Florida to the United States, nothing in the transaction included the Gulf, which remained in the sole possession of the DeLeon estate.

Constitutional Law professor Joe Furley explained, “This is totally out of the realm of anything the Constitution was designed to deal with. It was always presumed that the waters of the sea, beyond the range of a fortress’ guns, belonged to no one. ”  The Grant appears to be authentic, he added, which means the transaction will stand up in U.S. Courts.

UPDATE: A convoy of trucks loaded with No Trespassing, No Fishing, No Swimming signs has been spotted heading towards the Gulf Coast.

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News you can believe in, or can’t

source: flickr

BBC:

Suspected robbers in Germany appear to have miscalculated the quantity of explosives needed to blow their way into a rural bank. (read more)

Reuters

The world’s largest chocolate maker says it may have come up with a chocolate bar that could fight wrinkles and slow the aging process, making it the latest food group to tap the appetite for healthier living. (read more)

Daily Mail

Caitlin is now three years old, and to this day Amanda, who was already a mother to two sons, is adamant that she had absolutely no idea she was pregnant. (read more if you must)

Jesse James just delivered his mea culpa during an interview on “Nightline” — and though he concedes divorce from Sandra Bullock is inevitable … he still doesn’t want it to happen. (read more)
All of the above is more or less ridiculous or irrelevant, but I just refuse to believe this:
As early as Wednesday morning, BP could try to stop the gushing oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico with a maneuver called “top kill.” (read more)

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 21 – Again. The oil spill.

The oil has reached the Louisiana marshes.

With thick patches of oil now flooding over coastal Louisiana marshes, a haven for migratory birds and rare wildlife that will be nigh-on impossible to clear up, local leaders were starting to despair.

“Twenty-four miles of Plaquemines Parish is destroyed. Everything in it is dead,” Billy Nungesser, head of the parish in southern Louisiana, told US cable news station MSNBC. “There is no life in that marsh. You won’t clean it up.”

“We’ve been begging BP to step up to the plate,” said Nungesser. The slick is “destroying our marsh, inch by inch,” and will keep on coming ashore for weeks and months, he said.

An increasingly desperate BP says a “top kill” operation to try to cap the leak for good by filling the well with heavy drilling fluids and then seal it with cement could begin as early as Sunday.

But for Louisiana’s fragile wetlands the measure may come too late. (read story)

May come too late? Replace that with will come too late.

Meanwhile dead fish are found as far north in the Atlantic as Palm beach FL, It can or cannot be a related incident. I tend to can. The Loop Current passes into the gulf stream and that passes there. And there’s more than oil now in that spill.

Still more disturbing news. Crooks&Liars had this story yesterday:

EPA Orders BP To Come Up With A Less Toxic Dispersal Agent in 24 Hours. Meanwhile, Fishermen Reporting Illness.

We will hear from this for a very long time to come.

This is our open thread. Feel free to comment on other topics as well.

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.

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 U.S. addiction to denial of our oil addiction

Rachel Maddow ties together our leaders’ penchant for talking a good game about valuing and protecting the environment, and doing ‘something’ about our increasing dependence on oil, but never actually following through with any action.

Will President Obama be any different?

I really hope so…

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.

Stick Your Damn Hand In It: 20th Birthday of the Exxon Valdez Lie

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

by Greg Palast

“Gail, Please! Stick your hand in it!”

The petite Eskimo-Chugach woman gave me that you-dumb-ass-white-boy look.

“Gail, Gail. STICK YOUR GOODDAMN HAND IN IT!”

She stuck it in, under the gravel of the beach at Sleepy Bay, her village’s fishing ground. Gail’s hand came up dripping with black, sickening goo. It could make you vomit. Oil from the Exxon Valdez.

It was already two years after the spill and Exxon had crowed that Mother Nature had happily cleaned up their stinking oil mess for them. It was a lie. But the media wouldn’t question the bald-faced bullshit. And who the hell was going to investigate Exxon’s claim way out in some godforsaken Native village in the Prince William Sound?

So I convinced the Natives to fly the lazy-ass reporters out to Sleepy Bay on rented float planes to see the oil that Exxon said wasn’t there.

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