Gulf of Mexico Oil Slick

Because this is going to be a large issue, and for reasons of thread cohesion, I am opening this thread here. I will copy some of Trogdor's posts from the Random thread to give some background and a couple of links for those that haven't read about it yet.

Blast on Gulf of Mexico oil rig may have killed 11

Gulf Coast oil spill could eclipse Exxon Valdez

In Florida we had been considering opening up local waters to offshore drilling to alleviate some of our budget problems yet this almost immediately killed the idea for the foreseeable future. Additionally, the beaches of the Panhandle of Florida that might be affected are among the best in the world and a disaster there will put the state in even worse financial shape.
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I've been posting on the oil spill over at DKos for days now. Bottom line: It's much worse than they say, has been for days, nothing will work stopping it for (my estimate) 7 months to a year.

One poster asked (he or she thought naively) why the seafloor equipment couldn't be fail-safe. Here's my answer:

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If it's naive, then it's the same naive question the top top tippity top experts are asking right now!

The BOP in place is supposed to be 100% fail-safe! I mean, NO FUCKING WAY it can fail! I'm serious about that -- or I was. That deep-subsea BOP itself cost more than most entire land-based drilling rigs.

And when I say fail-safe, what I mean is, well, how often do you hear about an elevator in a tall building plummeting all the way to the bottom? I suppose it happens, but because it's just about the scariest fucking thing anybody can think of, they have many levels of safeguards (mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, magic) to make sure it doesn't happen. When an elevator gets stuck, it's usually one of these safeguards engaging when it's not supposed to. They do that and that's fine. But they never don't engage when they're supposed to!

Same thing with a blowout a mile deep in the ocean. Scariest fucking thing, drilling-wise, we can think of. The first step listed in "What To Do If You Have An Uncontrolled Deep-Subsea Blowout" is:

1. Don't have a motherfucking uncontrolled deep-subsea blowout.

The second step is:

2. Really! Don't!

In order to seriously answer your question, I have to guess. My guess is that everything was somehow "pinned open". Sometimes, the manufacturers of BOPs and other equipment have ways you can defeat the automatic fail-safe portions of the contraption, for testing and repair and stuff. NONE of this should be available to the operator and NONE of it should be available once the unit is installed in the afformentioned mile-deep of goddam ocean.

None of that matters. What matters is that this deep-subsea BOP has failed. To me, and a lot of other knowledgable people who up until now were in favor of deep-sea exploration, this is a finality. This is THE game changer. No further advances in sub-dea technology will change my mind. Deep sub-sea is done. Over. No more! Fucking forget about it!

Not only do we not allow U.S. companies to do it, if Cuba or any other country tries to do it in waters that could potentially pollute our shorelines and wetlands, it's an act of war. We send a cruise missle and blow their rig out of the water before they can spud. So much for the argument that if we don't do it, somebody else will. Nobody does it. Ever.

I'm still in favor of shallower stuff. Say, less than 1000 ft. Certainly less than 500 ft.
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I also predicted the spill would get much worse and probably was already.

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Interestingly... and frighteningly, I just got an email from a buddy who's an actual expert with sub-sea stuff. My guess was that the blind rams had actuated, smashing the pipe, just not enough to form a perfect seal. I guessed this because the amount leaking is nowhere near what we saw when the rig was burning. He says he doesn't think so. He thinks all the rams and shears are WFO. He thinks the kinks in the pipe are the only thing choking the flow. If he's right about that (I now believe he is) then the flow will wash out those kinks and the flow will increase... by a lot. The metal the pipe is made of is soft and is not meant to be a control surface... not meant to be a washable area.

I think that 1000 BOPD leakage could easily become 3000 BOPD, fairly quickly. Maybe more. If those kinks in that soft pipe are the only thing holding it back, then not only will that happen, it must happen.
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And now... today... they're estimating 5000 BOPD!

Hate it when I'm right.

More of my Oil Leak/Spill posts:

One person was asking if there's a chance the underwater dome idea would work.

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I've taken a pencil to the hydraulics involved, and depending upon the weight of the oil and the gaseous content of the product, they're going to have to have bigger and/or a lot more hoses to the surface, or it's not going to work very well at all. They'll get some product, but I think that system is going to be overwhelmed quickly.

Here's a point that's been made before: why are they just now building these big domes? They're cheap. All the physics involved are simple on-a-napkin stuff.

My guess is that they know goddam well it's not going to work for shit. That, and they've got three points of leakage that they know about. A dome large enough to cover all three is fully unthinkable. So you've got three of these huge, heavy domes, with miles of associated denisty-neutral hoses, anchors, cables... fuck! Lot of gear to have sloshing about while you're trying to drill an intercept in the same sector.

Here's the truth: they don't like the idea any more than I do. They don't like the burning idea, spreading chemicals, miles of isolation boom... it's all crap and THEY KNOW IT! This oil is coming ashore! All this stuff is maybe a 10% solution. It's for show, as much as any other real purpose. They need to seem busy with stuff that can be shown on the news while they attempt the near-impossible task of intersecting a wellbore thousands of feet below the ocean floor, which by-the-way is already 5000ft. down there with 2224 psig of external pressure ABOVE the 5000 psig or more that's in the pipe you're trying to intersect!

Here's the real showstopper: THEY'RE NOT CERTAIN THEY CAN STOP THIS WELL! EVER! AT ALL!

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So then I looked at the numbers a little closer

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I was in error.

My initial pencil calcs didn't take into account that this is light crude, and that there's 2224 psig of hydrostatic at the dome.

As the product approaches the surface through the hoses, pipe, whatever, 2 things will happen:

1. Really small gas bubbles will become really big gas bubbles.

2. Light hydrocarbon components that are liquid at the dome on the sea-floor, will become gaseous as they rise and experience the drop in pressure.

Within 500 ft. of the ocean surface, the velocities will become unmanageable -- damned violent! There's no hose or pipe outside of a permanent installation that could handle the forces involved.

So, prediction: The Underwater Dome Idea won't be implemented. They'll announce that within a week.
 
Also frankly I think that though BP is putting up a good face I'll bet they have a lot of lawyers looking for ways to limit the liability that they face financially in this. WHen the DoD starting sending them invoices they aren't going to be too keen on paying the 7th fleet's operating costs.

I have also noticed that although BP's share price has dropped it has not plummeted. To me this says that either shareholders do not fully grasp the scale of the liability, they believe that BP will not have to shoulder the full cost, or they are confident in the long term profitability of BP.
 
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Good idea. The thread, I mean.
 
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quote:
I have also noticed that although BP's share price has dropped it has not plummeted. To me this says that either shareholders do not fully grasp the scale of the liability, they believe that BP will not have to shoulder the full cost, or they are confident in the long term profitability of BP.


It'll drop more, if and when BP gives up on repairing the BOP. Cameron, the company that built that BOP is crashing hard and will not survive this.
 
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so how did this happen?

were they sabotaged by exxon?


Months and months of hell.

Make a floating breakwater so its calm where it bubbles up and start an oilslick fire. Long burning.
 
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FAIL> an ocean full of it.

quote:
"It is of grave concern," David Kennedy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told The Associated Press about the spill. "I am frightened. This is a very, very big thing. And the efforts that are going to be required to do anything about it, especially if it continues on, are just mind-boggling."

 
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quote:
"They lied to us. They came out and said it was leaking 1,000 barrels when I think they knew it was more. And they weren't proactive," he said. "As soon as it blew up, they should have started wrapping it with booms."


Sheesh.... Frown

 
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quote:
Originally posted by greendreams:
so how did this happen? were they sabotaged by exxon?


If you listened to Rush you would know that this is yet another case of sabotage by environmentalists.
 
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Being in The Media, there's not many things they should be able to sue a guy like Limbaugh for. But they should be able to sue him for that.
 
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(re-posting this here -- actually sent it to The President -- of course, doubt if anyone there actually reads it)

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Let me tell you what is coming, Mr. President.

First off, a fact: Marine Oil Spill Cleanup is a myth. Containment booms don't work. Burning doesn't work. Skimmer boats work, but only in calm water and there aren't enough of them to even touch this spill. The vast majority of the oil from this leak, what doesn't evaporate before hitting shore, WILL hit shore. And I mean no matter what anyone does to prevent it.

Second, BP will not be able to repair the BOP. Of my points, I hope I'm wrong on this one. I'm NOT wrong on the others.

Third, the well is leaking more than 5000 BOPD, has been for some time, and may increase to as much as 20,000 BOPD if there is further material failure.

Fourth, the "Seafloor Dome" idea won't work and won't even be tried, once all its requirements are considered, as well as the danger of lofting heavy metal objects in the vicinity of an already compromised BOP.

Fifth, the relief bore, or intersect, will take at least 6 months, could take as much as a year, and might never be accomplished. That's right. They may never get control of this well. The reservoir itself, depleting to where it can no longer buck the hydrostatic ocean-floor pressure, might be the only thing that stops this disaster.

Consider these points carefully, Mr. President. I supported your lifting of the offshore drilling restrictions a few short weeks ago. I was wrong. So were you, Mr. President. Say so. Now! Say it immediately. Rescind that order. Be prepared for a continuing, perhaps worsening disaster that will be the worst, ever, anywhere. Because that's what's coming.

And there's not a god damned thing anybody can do about it.
 
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I supported your lifting of the offshore drilling restrictions a few short weeks ago. I was wrong. So were you, Mr. President. Say so. Now! Say it immediately. Rescind that order. Be prepared for a continuing, perhaps worsening disaster that will be the worst, ever, anywhere. Because that's what's coming.




good words.
 
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Thank you. I especially liked "Rescind".
 
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Where are the fucking Thunderbirds when you need them?
 
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HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!
 
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I hypothesized late on day three of this mess, as soon as they indicated trouble with the BOP, that the BOP was WFO (wide fucking open). At the time, BP itself was saying that the rams were at least partially closed, otherwise the well would be leaking much more.

I maintained that the kinks in the riser pipe were holding the well back, and if that were the case, the leak would increase as it proceeded. The pipe is relatively soft metal. It is not meant to be a control surface, that is, exposed to fast moving product. It erodes badly with high velocity product.

What this all means is that if I'm right, if the BOP is WFO and they can't un-WFO it (doesn't look like they can), the well could end up flowing without restriction. A BIG leak! Unimaginable! Exxon Valdez every three or four days! Cowboy time!

What would that mean? Oil on coasts from Mexico all the way up the U.S. Eastern Seaboard!

The Everglades? G'bye!

Those lovely islands off the Carolinas? Fuck off!

Looks like the brain trust is finally worried about the same thing.

2010 -- Worst Case
 
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so the valdez was 11 million gallons and this could go to 6 miolion a day. For months..Man that'll do some damage.
 
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Yup. That'll leave a mark.
 
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Food isn't just food; it's culture. Part of what makes New Orleans New Orleans is the cuisine, and the cuisine is largely based on fresh local seafood -- shrimp, oysters, blue crab and red snapper. Without fresh local seafood, New Orleans would be another step along the way to becoming a middle-American city with a French Quarter theme park.

I spent several years of my childhood in New Orleans. I don't claim to be a native, but I have a special fondness for the place.
 
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Is there *anything* that can be done to protect the coast? Is there any hope?
 
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quote:
Originally posted by MrsK:
Is there *anything* that can be done to protect the coast? Is there any hope?


Volunteers are being solicited. Dunno anything about the group.
 
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Can't they implode it in some manner akin to Upton Sinclair's "Oil", planting some sort of explosive large enough to plug the well with debris?
 
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Explosions put out the fire. They don't seal the well. In this case, an explosion at the wellbore would make things worse. Just a little worse, mind you, because this thing is near pegged-out on worse already. When you're on the ocean, there's more convenient ways to put out the fire.

Like sinking.
 
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And in Upton Sinclair's day, those 600 ft. wells had about 350 psig of shut-in pressure. This well has 5400 psig shut-in pressure, if they ever get the goddam thing shut-in.
 
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sinking a huge plug isnt a bad idea. Dont know about dome shaped...maybe a cork shape.
 
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If it gets to the point where the riser is washed out and they're flowing WFO, they're thinking of replacing the blowout preventer.

What we in the biddness call NDNU.

Nipple Down Nipple Up.

Other than that, you gotta drill the intersect. I heard it called a relief well on NPR. It's not. It's a kill line. You drill it and as soon as it intersects, you pump heavy mud, then cement.
 
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Here, it's Nipple Down Nipple Up Hot.

Plenty Hard, too.
 
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I don't see how they can do it in this situation, because there's heavy pipe running down through the BOP. You would have to unflange the top one or two ram sections on the stack, then cut the pipe flush if it didn't fall. Then bolt on a couple of valves. Then close those valves. All with bots.

All with this thing blowing wide open. Probably close to zero visibility.
 
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Hurricane season starts June 1.
 
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quote:
Mr. Fryar said that for a second day, crews were injecting chemical dispersant into the oil as it flowed from the main leak. Dispersant, which is more conventionally used on the water surface, breaks the oil into small droplets and reduces its buoyancy, so it will sink to the bottom.

Mr. Fryar said technicians were trying to determine whether it would be possible to inject the dispersant directly into the riser deep under the water so that it would mix better with the flowing oil. “We think this dispersant is highly effective,” he said. “We’re hoping the oil won’t make it to the surface.”

The impact of chemical dispersants on deepwater ecology is unclear.
Even if chemical dispersants could stop the oil coming to the surface, surely the undersea damage is going to be unimaginably, dystopially bad? Isn't the entire ecosystem for hundreds of miles around now just so much toxic waste?
 
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You're right, Sentinel. Dispersants are a farce. They take oil from the surface and suspend it in a cloud a meter below the surface.

80% of all marine life begins life in the top meter.

Dispersants are far far worse for marine life than surface oil. Dispersants are good for one thing: hiding oil from elected officials and the media. You can't see it from a helicopter.

In the NOAA satellite pic from two days ago, you can see the surface oil, but to the east of that, these huge clouds of suspended oil, so called dispersed oil. The wind was moving the surface oil North, while the currents were moving the suspended stuff East. Toward the Loop Current. Toward the Keys. Toward one of the last big live coral reefs on the planet.

Containment booms don't work either. All those miles of orange boom layed out parallel to the shore might as well be lines of orange spray paint. Again, it's for show.

2ft. waves and oil laughs at those things -- and the surf on those shores is less than 2ft. maybe three days a year.

You want to get the oil with booms, you divert it. You angle your booms in multiple layers toward catch pits on the shore. BP knows this, too. So does the Coast Guard. They both teach booming schools. I went to booming school. That's where I learned how to use boom, and they're using it wrong.

Course, it takes 4 times as much boom to do it right, along with 3 times as many anchors and 6 times as much rope. All of which they don't have. They won't have it next time either.
 
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Here's the NOAA pic from May 1. The stuff labled "POSSIBLE SLICKS/SHEEN"... isn't slicks nor sheen. It's huge clouds of suspended oil going with the current instead of the wind.

But the politicians in the helicopters and boats can't see it, nor can the news photogs. And because they can't see it, it doesn't exist.

 
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If I understand anything you've written, the only way an oil spill is 'neutralised' is by throwing chemicals at it and then waiting for the sea to spread those molecules over a large enough area that they eventually are too diluted to be noticeable. Isn't it going to take years for this spill to be dealt with even if it was capped tomorrow? How is it possible to disperse this much oil into the sea without permanent damage?
 
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quote:
If I understand anything you've written, the only way an oil spill is 'neutralised' is by throwing chemicals at it and then waiting for the sea to spread those molecules over a large enough area that they eventually are too diluted to be noticeable.


No. The only way to neutralize oil in water is to get it off of or out of the water. The story is that the dispersants break the oil up into small drops so microbes can eat it. Bull. Shit. Dispersants are glycol-based soap. Kills microbes as well as coral. The only way to handle a spill is to collect the oil. They never do that.

quote:
Isn't it going to take years for this spill to be dealt with even if it was capped tomorrow? How is it possible to disperse this much oil into the sea without permanent damage?


Yes. Decades. This spill will cause permanent damage. Shellfish will be decimated. Coral will be dead. Coral Reef death is permanent. Lot of critters can't live without a live reef. They're killing the Northern Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast all the way up to Virginia Beach.

And that's if the leak stops today.

It won't.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Trogdor:
The only way to neutralize oil in water is to get it off of or out of the water.
Where would they put it? Could it still be processed and used industrially or domestically if it could be collected?
 
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Yes! That's what they do with it. Every oil processing plant or refinery has a "bad oil" tank. That oil is routed through a washing and filtering. The sediment that's left, you could use as garden soil. The oil is oil.

But they never, ever, neverner catch more than 10% of the oil in a marine spill. They could, but they don't.

And nobody makes them.

When the reefs die, they'll say it weren't them that did it. When the shorebirds go somewhere else, they'll say it weren't them (and that's what happens, not oily birds... no birds). When the numbers of marine mammals fall by 75% because they stop reproducing with falling food supplies, BP will say the spill was three years ago! Not our fault!
 
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And I work in this business. I drive vehicles with internal combustion engines. We need offshore oil!

But if we were to say, no more wells in water deeper than 1000 ft. (1200 ft.... whatever) it would drop our supply by 1%. Requiring oil companies to have adequate (really adequate) spill collection materials and procedures might raise the price of gasoline by 20 cents a gallon.

We need to start making fucking sense.
 
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Could we do that? Could we make sense? Could we quit being so fucking evil all the time?

Can we, BP? Exxon?

Can we, coal companies?

I'm not saying don't exist. Not saying don't make a profit. Just quit being evil like you get a kick out of it.
 
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trog, I can't get my head around the fact they shot water on the platform, instead of some form of foam, to suppress the oxygen. Why do they do it? Is water even viable under these conditions?
 
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