11 June 2010

at least FIVE leaks [blowouts] now identified in the gulf

[click image]



There are three "leaks" so far publicly associated with Deepwater Horizon / Thunder Horse... plus TWO more... and it's altogether conceivable you missed the full impact of my crazed investigations yesterday, so go back and follow those links too... OR listen to the barnswoggle being put out on yer TVs.

Your call.

BP says approximately 210,000 gallons of oil are spilling into the Gulf per day. But John Amos, a geologist at the West Virginia-based nonprofit SkyTruth, says that at least 1.1 million gallons of oil is leaking out of the well every day. His calculation is based on early NASA images of the slick that showed it covering 2,200 square miles of the Gulf, and on the estimated thickness of oil needed for the slick to be visible from space. "If it really is just 210,000 and they can't handle that—you've got to be kidding me," says Amos, who has tracked the changing estimates of the spill on his blog. "One of the world's biggest oil companies plus the Coast Guard has been beaten by 210,000 gallons a day—do they really want us to think that?"

But even this figure may be on the low end. Under pressure, BP for the first time released video of the sea floor spill site this week. Steven Wereley, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, analyzed the tape and told NPR this week that the oil flow is likely closer to 3 million gallons a day.
If that's the case, the situation in the Gulf would equal more than two Exxon Valdez spills every week. The Exxon Valdez incident was, until now, the worst oil spill disaster in US history.

And the absolute worst-case-scenario? According to government data on daily production at another Gulf well, the BP spill could spew 6 million gallons per day if the wellhead that's currently restricting the flow breaks.

I still want to know WHAT externality would cause the oil to gush SO catastrophically if the companies stopped APPLYING the pressure to keep their reservoirs from being fouled...? I don't GET it. Yes, there would still be considerable problem with oil blurping up from the fistulae, as it were, caused by all the drill holes, but it seems to me this would be a much more relaxed and far slower release of crude into the Gulf. No? And wouldn't it be easier to get at these breaks and plug them with balloons until something more sturdy can be applied?

Did they EVER have a way to soundly plug these puppies once they were done with them?


Have I got the concept wrong?

I do KNOW that means giving up their precious oil there, but, well... uhm...?



I have not wanted to say it because, actually, Cubans are not ultimately worth more or less than anyone else, but it's just so awful that we are almost certainly going to slime them so hard they can't get back up, after all these decades of trying to starve them. They SO do not deserve this. I haven't been able to make myself go over to Granma to see what they're saying yet... and I've been thinking about it for weeks.

Maybe I oughta just take a slug of brandy and do it now....

I'll get back to you on it.


Well, it seems I have girded myself for nothing. Fidel is griping about us being the ones who sunk the South Korean ship and majorly griping about Israel and our treatment of Iran... and the possible health risks of cell phones.

I probably should have married him.



  1. if the companies stopped APPLYING the pressure

    My understanding is that the pressure is naturally occurring...

    Have you found something otherwise?

  2. That is why it blew in the first place - they took out the heavy drill mud which held back the gas and oil.

  3. I think they have to blow pressure into the wells to keep the pressure in the reservoirs they are emptying from taking on water, either seawater or fresh water down in the same strata. The Thunder horse rig was only working at about 2/3 capacity in January forward, because either the reservoir was not producing or they were artificially slowing it from needing to keep the pressure high enough to prevent fouling it with water. That sounded to me like they have to pump air in there to prevent nature from trying to keep an equilibrium inside the reservoir, messing up their haul. So it would be the pressure from other rigs making the oil blast out so hard.

    It might be that stopping the pressure would make the sea floor cave in under the weight of the ocean, or it might be that they are simply keeping it up because they don't want to do anything that would incur more losses... ruin the reservoirs... make them so what they yield is really difficult or impossible to refine.

    OR I've completely misunderstood how they do this.

  4. This is what gave me that idea:

    It is a concern because the facility was designed to produce 390,000 bbl/day of total liquids. They are not bringing that much to the surface. The fact that the total liquids is slowly declining says one of two things: either the pressure decline is not allowing those flow rates, or they are throttling back on the flow to avoid coning the water into the wells and thus further harming the reservoir. But either way, the field is not performing as it was probably expected.

    This says to me that the pressure is a two-way street, whether it's only the oil trying to reach the surface pressure or they are forcing pressure down the whole time to compensate, to keep the pressure from inside the well steady enough to keep water from coming in while they're pumping oil out.

    Horizon was working wells from the Atlantis Field AND Thunder Horse. We know there is a heavy possibility Thunder Horse was needing to be kept at a certain pressure for months prior to the blowout. These fields are in the same stratum and very close together. Pressure from one would impact the other. Pressure from ALL of the rigs working the Gulf, actually, would impact all the others... just maybe to differing extents.

  5. If there is a breach in the layer of planet that separates oil from ocean, the oil, obviously, will want up through it. I don't think it would be like gushers on land, water pressure being much heavier than air pressure, but the oil would be blurping up from those holes anyway.

    I just don't think as catastrophically as with artificial pressure in the field, whether that pressure is artificial just from the oil extracted already or from us pumping it in, and whether it is the pressure from that field or from adjacent ones.

    So I don't know if it is from drilling at all that is creating this pressure problem OR from continuing to try to keep the rest of Thunder Horse and adjacent wells pumping.

    OR my idea of the physics of this is all wet, so to speak, but if it is, why can't they get a bead on the math to make the right decisions? Why are engineers freaking about Thunder Horse? I think it might be they are freaking because BP is trying to keep Thunder Horse patent at the expense of blowing out vastly more oil into the Gulf than if they'd shut her down.

    It's starting to look obvious to me that this business of drilling relief wells is part of prioritizing the capacity to keep profiting over how much oil fouls the Gulf. BEAN COUNTERS PREFERRING KEEPING THE OIL FIELDS CLEAN OVER KEEPING THE GULF OF MEXICO NONTOXIC.

    THAT is what I think is going on.

  6. It might even be that the business of trying to keep a lid on Thunder Horse, keep it producing, albeit more slowly, is what caused the Horizon blowout to begin with.

  7. My take then would be that they are only able to pump out x barrels a day before they cause a reduction in the pressure sufficient to entrain water.

    The water pressure is around 2,200 psi and I've seen the oil pressure rated at 10-12,000 psi.

    Of course we have no idea what the strata down there is like - is a pool of oil, or does it have to filter through cracks in the rock etc.

    If a pool, I see no reason that it would need to artificially pressurized, but if it has to move through cracks in the rock, high pressure could be needed to force it through.

    I guess we just don't know enough to come to a conclusion.

    But then that is the way they want it - I'm sure!

  8. I think it's pretty plain there are cracks in the rock or the pressure would be totally manageable... but, again, maybe my understanding of the physics is askew.

  9. watching the live feed right now, it appears that there may be a crack in the casing of the BOP below the flange to which the top hat is attached. There is definitely something different about the right side of the assembly and where the oil seems to be coming from.

    Sure looks like it is coming out from below the flange!

  10. This is going to sound stupid, but if oil floats on water and doesn't mix with it, why don't they stop using dispersants and just scoop the stuff up and sell it. There's money to be made and that's all anybody cares about in this stupid country anyway.

  11. Not stupid. Not all crude floats. "Sweet Light" crude like over in Iraq would probably mostly float, but in this hemisphere our crude is heavy, full of crap that has to be refined out of it, so a lot of that sinks or only floats up a little and the water pressure above it stops it, or slows it greatly. I think they are using dispersants to keep us from getting good satellite images of the various slicks. Too late. The underwater plumes are so big they are being picked up on satellite. They're only doing a bunch of busy make-work, LOOK-like-yer-on-it stuff. That means they have their hearts set on the "relief wells" and we can all just suck crude if we don't like it.

  12. Sounds like the usual deal: Grab for the cash and if things go wrong, it's time to call in the damage control team.

    Doesn't sound like much of a plan for the future or very conservative to me.


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