oil spill

Suffering Ado About Oil

Earlier today the containment cap was off the riser. Oil and gas was spewing into the gulf for a good 8 hours. One of the vents was damaged and the cap had to be removed. There were also two deaths in the oil spill recovery team. It is now back on and they are collecting and burning about 27,000 barrels of oil per day. Spill estimates currently range between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels per day.

Gas entered one of the lines which actually cools the containment cap. A robot arm from one of the ROVs accidentally bumped a vent, at which point gas went up the line. That line is used to heat the containment gap so the gas doesn't form hydrates (freeze).

Even more despairing, a boat captain working on the clean up, shot himself. From MSNBC:

The deaths reported Wednesday were not tied to the containment operation. The Coast Guard said the workers had been involved in cleanup operations did that their deaths did not appear to be work related.

One death was a boat captain who died of a gunshot wound, a Coast Guard spokesman said. Further details were not immediately available.

To watch all of the spillcams at once, click here or click here and finally here.

Here is the official coast guard website on the spill.

Big Oil - First Nigeria then the World

Big oil in Nigeria - executions, pollution and suffering (Image)

Michael Collins

The big oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico is not the first to threaten a people's way of life.

Just ask the Ogoni people from Nigeria's oil rich central Niger Delta. Their experience over decades offers a model of things to come without serious changes in consumption and regulation.

The Sovereign State of BP - Down for the Count?

Michael Collins

British Petroleum has operated as though it were a sovereign state since its inception. When they blew the well at their Macondo Prospect in the Gulf of Mexico, it never occurred to them that they would have to take orders from anybody. But that may change largely due to their inability to stop the flow of oil after nearly sixty days of gushing.

President Obama was clear in his speech last night. If any entity is going down as a result of the catastrophe, it will be BP. Today, Obama meets with BP's Chairman of the Board, Carl-Henric Svanberg, and the man he told the chairman to fire, Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward.

Two sovereign states will collide. The outcome is a foregone conclusion.

Enduring Ado About Oil

With the new estimates on oil gushing into the gulf, currently at 4300 to 24,300 barrels a day, more economic impact studies are being released on the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. Spillonomics estimates currently range from $29 billion to over $70 billion in direct costs for the spill and clean up. A study on the spill's economic impact on Florida estimates losses at $11 billion and 195,000 lost jobs. There are 2.8 million jobs associated with tourism alone in the gulf region. The fishing industry in Louisiana is estimated at $2.4 billion.

Earth Economics estimates the Mississippi Delta to be worth $330 billion and $1.3 trillion and provides an economic annual benefit of $12-$47 billion per year.

There is now a residential real estate estimate of a 10% decrease in gulf coast property values as a result of the spill. These losses alone are estimated at $4.3 billion dollars.

More Ado About Oil

This is a graphic of the near shore oil spread, just for today. Most people are aware there is now a second plume of oil. A plume is not a leak, although it could imply one, more a plume describes the shape and character of spilled oil.

This newly discovered oil plume is 22 miles long, 6 miles wide and 3300 feet deep. In other words, the oil on the surface, goes all the way down to over half a mile. The thickest area of the goo is at 1300 feet. It is drifting towards Mobile Alabama like the 1950's horror film, The Blob, but this horror show is real.

Much Ado About Oil


EP is deviating just a tad from economics and delving into the wild world of underwater engineering and environment disaster. This is what people want to talk about, this is what is on their minds.

We're in horror. We're helpless, dependent upon continual press releases and attempts while real solutions to stop the leak are dismissed.

The next attempt is a top kill, which is to push drilling mud and cement into the leak hole. This latest attempt is high risk and could make the leaks worse. Realize this is 5,000 feet deep in the water, with corresponding water pressure in addition to a massive gushing oil plume. The damaged blowout preventer is 5 stories high. Blasting fluids with high pressure, twice as dense as the surrounding water, has the potential to create another hole if the blowout preventer has weakness in the metal or other interactions. Ugh, my sympathies to the engineers. This has never been tried in water.

The White House, Big Oil, and the "American Power Act"

Michael Collins

This analysis looks behind the scenes at how the ban on offshore drilling was lifted and what that had to do with the ultimate prize for big oil, the American Power Act.  It focuses on the current administration.  That in no way implies that the problem originated in January 2009.  The out sized and destructive influence of the oil monopoly has been with us for since the 1870's.

Banning Offshore Drilling

In 1969 a Unocal oil rig off the coast of Santa Barbara, California began leaking oil.  The extent of the leak, damage to wildlife, and the shoreline caused considerable outrage.  The state of California banned offshore drilling shortly after the leak.  In 1980, Congress banned offshore drilling in most federally controlled waters.  President George H.W. Bush reluctantly banned off shore drilling in 1990 for California, Florida, Oregon and Washington and in the North Atlantic.