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.

A team of scientists, including Purdue Prof Steve Wereley, are estimating 4 million gallons of oil per day are gushing into the gulf. This means 120 million gallons of oil are already spilled. There are other estimates as well, now proving this is already the 2nd worst oil disaster in history. Only Kuwait, in 1991, where 520 million gallons of oil where spilled (on purpose), is larger. The Valdaz oil disaster was 10 million gallons.

NOAA has more oil spill trajectory maps on their website, using current models and real time data (see here).

Below is a short video clip in a controlled environment to show how oil plumes form. As you can see while they often are visible at the surface, they can actually go quite deep into the water.



NASA has been using satellites to track the spread of the oil. The below video clip is the latest satellite images in a composite video clip, complete with music so contradictory you'll feel like you're being feed Soylent green.



BP currently states that the top kill will take an estimated 48 more hours.

Below is a May 1st video explaining what happened originally.



Which leads to answering this question on whether there is a hidden, second leak. Oil expert Matt Simmons theorizes there is a second leak 5 or 6 miles away from the ones being worked on.



Now from the new spill rate estimates, it appears scientists are taking into account the real leaks, for that is massive and can account for these plumes. Hence, we're seeing much contradictory information. That said, it's pretty clear experts are operating on incomplete data and yes BP is still running this show. In the video clip it is suggested to use super tankers to suck up the oil There is a problem with supertankers being so outrageously huge, but note they talk about tankers, which are of a much smaller size and could be maneuvered.

Estimates for the relief wells are ranging to be completed sometime in August. By that time the plume trajectories go all out to the Atlantic. Taking the Purdue University Professor's spill rate estimates, that would be 60 days at minimum times 4 million gallons, which is 240 million additional gallons of oil. A whopping total of 360 million gallons. Take the amount already spilled, double it and add it to the size of the above plume maps. Doomsday scenario.

A Scientist, out in the gulf, is writing a blog with some updates.

We now have widgets and servers to monitor the oil leaks live. Folks are pouring over these videos, looking for any sign something is working. Don't stare too long, you'll start to see the devil.



Consider this post another oil open thread.



Philippe Cousteau's dive and those BP guys at the DOE

This is a great clip from the site of Philippe Cousteau, Jr., the legendary Jacques Cousteau's grandson, making a dive to check out the horrendous damage underwater in the Gulf of Mexico a short while ago.

Nothing to worry about folks, with BP guys like the undersecretary at the Department of Energy to solve the problem, we are saved......

3300 feet down

While they went 25 feet down, that's nothing to a 3300 feet down. A mile is 5280 feet. So that's 3300 feet of what they are looking at in this video.

The video though begs the question on whatever this "disbursements" are. If that is causing the oil to break up into large molecules and clumps, that cannot be a good thing, and why they are not applying the same techniques that cleaned up the the Gulf war oil spill> The gulf slick was reported only 5 inches thick. Why they are not out there with rigged up tankers, super tankers, "artificial" ponds and massive pumping gear with centrifuges to separate it all out is beyond me at this point.

3300 feet down, the only thing I can see to get to that is a super tanker with a very large pumping capability. of even a floating rig. Then, why are they not using whatever it is that takes the oil from the rigs to market as clean up equipment?

Yes, oil will skyrocket, yes this is major supply disruption, but that said, what are you going to do?

I feel we're not getting real info, esp. when one goes and reads up on various other techniques used to clean and the Gulf was in the middle of a war. If they can clean in the middle of a war, I don't see why they have not deployed this level of concentrated clean up effort that was used. What am I missing here?

Finally, some real news

And now for the real news story....


saved for SMC. You get the "theme" of this weeks SMC, so if you find more of these, esp. youtubes which finding those gems is a tough hunt, you can email me too and help me cast the net wider to capture the great ones.

Junk Shots Falied

BP reported that less than 10% of the fluids being pumped in is staying in and they suspended the effort for the third time.

This isn't a supply disruption though because this was not even an active well.

The supply disruption is shutting down all the wells in the Gulf through a moratorium but thats necessary.

is this accurate?

and isn't shutting down the wells of the field increase the overall pressure?

Also, how updated is this? I'm watching the news and the misinformation is beyond belief. If BP was smart they would put an actual engineer from the team on the air so people would realize it's real information.

I do know that such a maneuver is so nasty, 5500 feet down, I don't know what the PSI is on that gusher but the oil volume tells me it's beyond a fire hose!

So, is it suspended or is it a recalibration of pressure? If they just force this without adapting for various pressures I imagine they would blow up the BOP easily.

Ya know honestly, I don't know how well this will work, I"m not hopeful and think they should be deploying a secondary technology to just try to "vacuum" from the source as much as they can in the nearby water.

When I wrote up this post, I had to swim through so much misinformation or skewed, inaccurate, it's tough to find out what's truly going on, esp. in real time.

Obama is Shutting the Wells Down

I read that on the Oil Drum. Everything offshore under US control.

anybody explaining field pressure to him?

One thing that drives me nuts is this is a situation where engineers should be 100% in charge. A President doesn't know physics and oil engineering, either does a BP CEO for that matter. That sounds like great theater but doesn't sound right in terms of fixing the problem if I understand oil field pressures at all (which maybe I do not!)

Hard to Tell

You are correct lots of misinformation much of it coming from BP and possibly from the Government.

They shut off the mud for 16 hours yesterday while they ran a loop of the video from the time before that.

My understanding is that they are removing the riser from the BOP now and they will be trying to cap it with another dome.

I don't know why they don't drill into the BOP and suck the oil out as if its a new well. With the right drill head they could do that I think.

Misinformation or Truth?

why would they try another dome?

or is this a removal of the current BOP and putting on another type of cap over the well.

I'll bet that NY times article is accurate, and "running out of mud" is something I sure did not consider but the pressures down there, none of this surprises me.

I think that Ratigan clip talks about trying to plug up a firehose while it's gushing as an analogy.

Beyond my pay grade but I do think the public is putting way too much hope on this "top kill", they should have never claimed a 70% chance and lowballed it.

Find any legitimate engineering criticism out there on what they should be doing to cap off the well?

Engineering Nightmare/ Passing Time

I believe the idea is to just try anything till the relief wells are in place knowing none of it will work but trying to appease the public.

I've suspected that too

But on the other hand, does that make sense? How do they cap a well in the first place, no accident?

ON CNN some guy is claiming work is suspended on the 2nd relief well.

OMG BP COO claims we're "winning" the oil onshore

Good grief! I'm watching the press conference and he literally said they are "winning" the clean up of the oil near shore. On what kind of fiction is that from the various images/maps and analysis of various plumes and what's washing up?

75,000 Worker Will be Laid Off

Republicans will have a field day with this but none of those states are Blue.

Bottom line here is overall there is going to be a huge loss of income and real estate value and jobs for the south east before this is done.

WashPo Story

Top Killed Failed Again - It's Saturday

New York Times. Nothing is staying in the hole.

Ok, I think most of us on this site at least didn't think this could work worth a damn from the minute we read about it. It's just too damaged and the pressures are too great, evidenced by the volume of oil which has been released.

In a nutshell, it seems regardless of what materials and pressures they try to inject into the damaged BOP, none of it is sticking, or only 10%.

The real question is what's really more feasible as a solution. Letting BP run out the public relations clock all the way just drilling relief wells as the real solution does mean this will be the worst disaster, potentially on record but rivaling the Gulf War I, on purpose oil spill.

I'll also note we see so many different gush or spill rate estimates out there. From the volume and evidence to date, I'm going with the higher numbers.

More ado about oil updated with live plume feed + spill rate

The post has been updated with a live video feed of the BP cameras on the oil leak. Additionally PBS is giving a oil spill calculator, starting with the low ball spill rate estimate. You can adjust the spill rate up to the highest estimate, which is the one I believe is accurate and the one quoted at the top of this post.

How the BOP was Damaged

Deepwater was the deepest well ever drilled over 35,000 feet. The site where the accident happened was the 2nd site attempted because in drilling the first site they damaged the drill and were not able to continue. BP lost $25 million on that one and the estimated 21 day drilling time on Macondo was up to 36 days. At a million dollars a day BP was cutting corners, not reporting incidents and fudging test results to the MMS.

This is a story of greed by one of the worlds largest companies. Its also an insight into how they do business.

60 Minutes Interview with Deepwater Crewman Mike Williams Detailing What Happened and the Unreported Incident and BOP Damage

A $90 Electrical Switch Could Have Avoided This Accident

clean up workers 14.3% chance of cancer

This is just unreal. BP is only giving a 4 hour training session for clean up workers, informing them there is a 14.3% chance of cancer.

People are showing up at hospitals due to dispersants. I hope a scientist grabs hold of this "dispersant" and analyzes what exactly is in it because it seems just a little contact and people are ending up in the hospital. A human is pretty big so assuredly that just kills everything in it's path.

Gov told BP to stop the top kill

Which is good, about time they pulled in a large team of experts on this. BP knew the situation as well, that by forcing drilling mud it was possible to rip bigger holes in the BOP and that's basically why it was stopped. Literally you could see large pieces of this "junk" material flying out in the live feed and obviously the pressure is so great the velocity of that junk has the potential to rip out weakened metal.

Which leads to yet another question, isn't there some sort of chemical foam or something that has a timed reaction to solidify after being sprayed as a liquid? I mean golf balls, pieces of rubber, did that ever make sense to anyone and why not spray in chemicals that turn solid after say 2 seconds when hitting oil? Surely there is something, where are the Chemical engineers and the Materials science people?

Why do all of these solutions BP is throwing out, not make sense to me and why is it I believe there are solutions but the right people are not around to architect and model them out?

new diagram of next BP attempt

BP has put up a website specifically for the oil spill and they have a diagram of the next attempt front paged.

Hmmmm, they are going to saw that off in 5000 feet of water with that level of pressure and velocity from a gushing well....

ya all realize no human being could survive down there, it's too deep, even 2000 feet in diving by a human would be almost impossible, never mind to do physical operations.