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!

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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.

The Watering Hole: June 16 – Calculations

Oil Spill Diver

picture source: http://www.recursosmarinos.net/?p=81

The damaged well of the Deepwater Horizon site issues up to 60’000 barrels of oil into the Gulf per day. This is ongoing for 57 days now, that makes a total of 3.4 million barrels. The worst oil spill ever caused by Iraqi forces during Gulf War I added up to 8 million barrels leaked into the environment. If the relief well is in place and stops the spill, say mid August, there will be 7 million barrels in the Gulf of Mexico. There is no reason to be that optimistic, however. The Ixtoc oil spill, which occurred 160 ft below surface and not 5000 ft, took nine months to plug. If we take this as a model, there will be 16 million barrels of oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico by January.

There is nothing BP, or all of the oil industry or your President can do about it now.

This time mankind has overreached itself and lost.

This is our open thread.

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