BP Well Bore And Casing Integrity May Be Blown, Says Florida’s Sen. Nelson

Oil and gas may be leaking from the seabed surrounding the BP Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida told Andrea Mitchell today on MSNBC. Nelson, one of the most informed and diligent Congressmen on the BP gulf oil spill issue, has received reports of leaks in the well, located in the Mississippi Canyon sector. This is potentially huge and devastating news.

If Nelson is correct in that assertion, and he is smart enough to not make such assertions lightly, so I think they must be taken at face value, it means the well casing and well bore are compromised and the gig is up on containment pending a completely effective attempt to seal the well from the bottom via successful “relief wells”. In fact, I have confirmed with Senator Nelson’s office that they are fully aware of the breaking news and significance of what the Senator said to Andrea Mitchell.

Furthermore, contrary to the happy talk propounded by BP, the Obama Administration and the press, the likely success of the “relief well” effort on the first try in August is nowhere near a certainty; and certainly nowhere near the certainty it is being painted as.

About five days ago, I responded to someone in comments with the following:

Yeah, but I am absolutely convinced there is such a lack of integrity, from pretty much top to bottom, of the well that totally plugging it at the top just creates the blowout of whatever remaining seal they have with the cement at the wellhead. I believe they have a total clusterfuck in about every regard and are just not admitting it:

1) BP used, if not substandard, then very close to it, casing that under the circumstances was inappropriate. It is fragile.

2) They did not install somehow or another at least one major casing segment seal, and the remaining seals are now either completely blown out or on their way to it and as a result oil and gas flow is not only coming up the inside of the casing, but the outside of the casing between the casing and well bore walls in the rock.

3) BP specified a light and fluffy cement and, additionally, there may be significant breaches and voids making the cement job weak and disintegrating.

4) Even at best, the cement is in the upper depths of the well bore where the natural geologic rock structure is the loosest, weakest, most porous and fragile (hell some of it may effectively be silt). The oil and gas, which has a natural well pressure of 12,000 or so psi is going to erode and corrode through and around the cement and the porous well bore rock.

5) Being attached to the Deepwater Horizon rig by the riser, and perhaps drill string too, when all hell broke loose and it exploded, shifted and sank, it put various pressures and forces through attachment to the BOP in turn attached on the well casing head. This action may have kind of reamed out and loosened that whole situation making it even looser and more susceptible to 2 and 4 above.

6) The BOP, to the extent it had restrictions present initially, has now been eroded and reamed out by the long term flow of gas and oil upwards and then the caustic flow of drilling mud the other direction from the attempted Top Kill. It is totally fucked way worse than it even was initially.

7) The reservoir of oil in Macondo is way larger than most anybody realizes and certainly bigger than BP will admit. It is a huge mother lode. Could flow forever.

8) Did I mention that the natural well pressure may be as high as 12,000 psi??

The Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf States and all of us are totally fucked.

As Sir Richard Mottram famously said:

We’re all fucked. I’m fucked. You’re fucked. The whole [thing] is fucked. It’s the biggest cock-up ever. We’re all completely fucked.

I may have been uncomfortably close to the mark. And the quote from Sir Richard Mottram was dead on the money; if Senator Nelson is correct about the breach of fundamental well integrity, the game is close to over for the Gulf of Mexico. We shall see where this goes from Nelson’s initial comment. But make no mistake, Nelson is a careful guy not prone to overt hyperbole, and he clearly understood the ramifications of what he was saying.

It also means, of course, that BP and the Obama Administrations continue to give the American public short shrift in the truth and honesty departments. How surprising.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

308 replies
  1. tjbs says:

    From day one I felt it was worse than stated.

    World wide shuddering when the impact becomes felt years from now, if any make it through.

  2. JTMinIA says:

    I could have sworn that I saw bubbles and such *below* the bottom of the BOP a few days ago when watching all 12 streams at once. I didn’t say anything, since it would have been radical. Now that someone else said it first, I’ll mention it.

    With that said, this isn’t *that* much a big deal, now that capping is out and a hat is all they have. They were never going to get it all, anyway. So, unless the problems with the casing are all that way at the very bottom, a bottom kill via relief well will still stop it all.

    • bmaz says:

      If they get it truly at the bottom, it ought to work. Problem is, the deeper you go, the harder the drilling and the smaller the target. There have been BIG problems hitting the target when only drilling in 500 ft of water and lesser depths of rock below that. So……

      • JTMinIA says:

        Yeppers. And I’ve seen two different diagrams of the relief wells. One showed them coming in at the bottom and the other showed them coming in about half-way down. If they really mean them to be relief wells, they can come in anywhere, since – by definition – relief well just offer another way for the pressure to be relieved, usually so a top kill of the original well becomes easier. If they actually intend these to be ways to perform a bottom kill, then they need to be as low as possible.

        Note: a bottom kill seals the well and usually makes it unusable in the future. What are the odds that BP plans to seal this off and walk away, forcing them to start over to get to the oil? About zero, especially with Adm Thud continuing to say “recover product” when talking about the hat. So I’d guess that they plan to have the relief wells be relief wells and, therefore, they could easily end up coming in only half-way down.

        • PJEvans says:

          Actually, this well was going to be sealed. At least for a while. They drilled to make sure there was oil, and where it was, geologically speaking (they couldn’t know in advance exactly what was there).
          Now they know what they’re getting into, and can plan the production wells, if they get permission (which may be in question), more intelligently.

          • JTMinIA says:

            There are many ways to seal a well. Top and bottom plugs are easily removed to make the well productive. A huge pile of almost-randomly injected concrete (bottom-kill) is no where near as easy to open up again. I knew they planned to close it off and come back later. Coming back later to a well that was bottom-killed is a heck of lot harder than what they had planned.

        • qweryous says:

          Different diagrams, different analysis, different ideas,differing degrees of misunderstanding and credibility gaps are present everywhere.

          Given circumstances involving the possibly deficient design of this well, the possibly deficient execution of whatever design was actually used, and the guaranteed damage done to the well as built by this blowout; and the difficulty in assessing the damages to the well and repairing this well to a usable state: this well is done for as far as BP and all are concerned.

          Permanently sealed, abandoned and hopefully forgotten soon by the public and regulators, not to mention investors and oil consumers.

          If the deposit is worthwhile it will be tapped by a new well drilled nearby.

      • PJEvans says:

        They’re aiming for below the place where they think the casing failed, and above the bottom of the well. It may take a couple of tries to hit the exact spot (about an extra week for each try), but they’re pretty sure they can do it. They do know where it is to within a few feet, and it isn’t a moving target.

        I was reading a thesis last night on the development of offshore drilling up to about 1962, when they were getting into water more than 200 feet deep. It was interesting; they started with drilling from piers, then from barges that sat on the bottom. The rigs that we see are more recent designs, after WW2. And blowouts every so often. (Lots of bitching an moaning about standards being imposed from above, also.)

        • bmaz says:

          Yes, but I think the casing is probably shot all the way down by now and that seepage is coming up outside the casing from the start of the well. If they really want to put a seal on this thing, they need to get pretty damn close to the bottom – at least that is what I gather.

    • bobschacht says:

      What I’ve seen is some inadvertent shots of the ocean floor near the well head, and seeing small plumes of gas or something emerging right from the floor itself.

      Would that one of the news outfits have found someone who could have provided a play-by-play of what we were seeing, as we were seeing it.

      Bob in AZ

  3. Jim White says:

    I just took a quick look at the 12 camera feed from the subs. If the integrity has blown, BP appears to be keeping the sub cameras away from any evidence of it. But it did look like they were playing around with a second cap. Has anyone heard they intend to replace the cap? Unfortunately, I have to head out for a while, so I can’t monitor the cameras…

    • PJEvans says:

      THey have at least two more caps down there. Easier to replace them, should it be necessary, if they’re already on-site.

      Also the mroe informed speculation is that there’s a small hill of methane clathrate that’s built up, and where it’s close to the drillpipe and the warmer oil/gas mixture it’s melted, leaving a crater of sorts.

        • PJEvans says:

          Oh yeah. That’s why it’s still flowing from around the cap.
          Also probably why they’ve got other caps, with different designs. The suggestion is that they’re set up for control from one of the ships, so they won’t need so many ROVs down there.

          It sure does show how little planning was done for blowouts, though. Nto so much for the exact conditions (which they can’t tell in advance) but in general: they ought to have general-use stuff ready to go when it’s needed, so they don’t need to spend a month building it after the well blows out.

          • bmaz says:

            I just got off the phone with Senator Nelson’s office. I think it safe to say Nelson knew exactly what he was saying, has a factual basis for saying it and that this is a new admission from anybody in government or BP.

        • JTMinIA says:

          The back-pressure (or restriction to flow) offered by the cap is less than that offered previously by the kinked riser. I say this because – by everyone’s estimate – flow is higher now than before. Now, this doesn’t mean that the integrity of the well is no longer deteriorating; just that it’s probably deteriorating less rapidly now than before.

          With that said, the stuff I saw below the BOP was right after they cut the riser with the CRAW. In the few moments when the CRAW had the riser seriously crimped but not yet cut, the restriction to flow was at its highest point ever. That was part of the danger of using the CRAW instead of the diamond saw. That moment of serious restriction to flow almost definitely caused a huge spike in pressure inside the well and could easily have caused a minor blow-out of the casing. (Was there a detailed discussion of the danger of using the CRAW to cut the riser? No idea. Sure as heck wasn’t one in the M$M.)

          • qweryous says:

            Interesting observation.

            I’ll head over to that spill response website where they post all the ‘information’ and see what they have as far as pressure data for this ‘event’…

            It might be a question for an intrepid media participant to ask The C.G. guy in charge..

    • bmaz says:

      I do not think it has totally gone or blown, nor did Nelson say that; but I do think things are degrading, and what Nelson reported is exactly consistent with that.

  4. PJEvans says:

    Personally I’d trust the experienced folks (not the newbies, including myself) at the Oil Drum more than any of the Lords of the Senate as to what’s going on down there.

    BTW, that 12000psi is not considered particularly high for this kind of drilling – it’s not the problem. Looks more like the problems are BP’s careless practices (not excluding their boilerplated plans) and human error.

  5. substanti8 says:

    Along with rewriting history, the Texas Board of Education changed the Pledge of Allegiance:

                “I pledge allegiance to the barrel
                of the capitalist states of America
                and to the destruction for which it stands,
                still oozing, undeniably,
                with flooding and heat waves for all.”

  6. BoxTurtle says:

    Thinking about it, it’s not so much that ObamaLLP is lying to me that bothers me. Hell, the last President that wasn’t caught in a bold faced lie was Carter. And he might have been, I just forgot. It’s the quality of the lies and the quality of the liars that bothers me. It shows a complete lack of respect for my intelligence, they can’t really expect to fool enough people with that bull. Or perhaps they’re the stupid ones.

    Boxturtle (Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity)

    • bmaz says:

      I honestly think they think all bloggers are ignorant Cheeto boys and girls and do not realize the wealth of real talent and absolute top level expertise out there that immediately comes to bear on anything said and done.

      • BoxTurtle says:

        I honestly think they think all bloggers are ignorant Cheeto boys and girls

        Comes from reading RedState, I suppose.

        One would have thought that Obama would have learned the power of the collective during his run against McBush, if not against Clinton.

        Boxturtle (“asslimilate this” – Worf, as he opens fire on the Borg)

        • JTMinIA says:

          I wouldn’t blame it all on RedState. The best-known blog is HuffPo and they say some incredibly stupid things over there.

      • DWBartoo says:

        Watch out fer da bombs away when whatever IS the matter comes to the attention of the brightest and the bestest. It is said that ya don’t hear the ONE that’s gonna get ya.

        I shall nevah, bmaz, accuse you of not considering the worst case scenario and not sharing it with us.

        I feel like one of Dirty Harry’s bullets just before his day has been “made”.

        It’s ALL a blast.

        (Ya mean it’s worse than we were told …?)

        Who could have imagined, fooking lorward, now, I ask ya?


  7. fatster says:

    Gulf oil spill drives up price of crude for 2018

    “The oil market is signaling that prices have nowhere to go but up as the biggest spill in U.S. history curbs drilling and makes it more expensive to develop new fields.

    “Crude’s premium for delivery in eight years compared with today’s price rose 86 percent since the BP Plc-leased Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded April 20.”


  8. fatster says:

    And look who’s put on a happy face.

    Gulf Coast will ‘bounce back’ from oil spill, says Barack Obama


  9. JTMinIA says:

    Here’s another thing to watch for: my guess is that, as soon as a relief well gets close to the original, a super-tanker will magically become available. They will want to pull “product” through the relief wells at the highest rate possible, both because this will be “clean” oil (i.e., no seawater mixed in) and because the more they pull out the relief well, the less will come out the original blown BOP. I have no idea what excuse they will use for why the super-tanker only became available when the relief well is done and wasn’t available right now for gathering more of the spill, but I’m sure that Adm Thud and the moronic lady in the yellow dress will back up BP’s story.

  10. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Frak – I think I’m going to be sick. A couple of folks I know down here thought this would be the likely scenario all along. Since he has a technical background I give a lot of credence to what Nelson says.

    Did anyone see this link over at TOD?


    Then there was this comment:

    While the rig was connected to the well, OIM was in command of the vessel, BP in charge of well design, drilling, casing and cement. OIM Harrell and Sr Toolpusher Ezell were rolled by visiting BP execs to “get ‘er done” so they could move the rig. Sworn testimony means nothing. Halliburton is going to fry them all with well data and on-the-record warnings before the blowout. Transocean’s defense is contractual indemnity for blowout and BP improvising instead of following the Drilling Plan.

    BP and Transocean will probably lay blame on individuals like Harrell, Ezell, Vidrine, Kaluza, O’Brien, Sims, and Hafle. I don’t think they can pin it on the dead toolpusher or driller who were told what to do by the OIM and company men. The wild card now is immunity granted to Kaluza or Vidrine.

    In any case, it seems likely to me that deepwater GoM exploration in US waters is pretty much kaput, and I doubt Congress will tolerate a Chinese takeover of BP America’s assets. Receivership and piecemeal auction maybe, no supermergers.

    Is this how you legal types think this may play out?

    • bmaz says:

      I think the last paragraph is premature, and I am not sure about that analysis from what I know and have heard. Other than that, about spot on so far.

  11. prostratedragon says:

    In re subject of post: At last. Pretty sure something about like this has been the explanation all along for BP’s reprehensible behavior, and the Obama adminstration’s buckling to it. I suspect it’s actually bad enough that even a non-sociopath might wonder how much money should be spent on utter futility.

    (Even before getting to bmaz’s gloomy recitation of utterly unforgivable, get-your-ass-the-hell-out-of-my sight, deliberate fuckups, is it really possible that a 3 or 4-mile blowout could have occured without compromising the structure at various points between top and bottom?)

    • JTMinIA says:

      Yes, it is possible for a bottom plug to fail and, therefore, a blow-out to occur in a well with no casing issues between the time that the bottom plug is set and the top plug is set.*

      To avoid this, you keep lots of “weight” on the bottom plug with mud in the well and riser. You don’t reduce this weight until you have the top plug in place.

      With that said, do I believe that this is entirely a case of a bottom plug failing in a well that was otherwise in perfect shape? Not by a long shot.

      * edit: that first sentence is a b*tch to parse, no? What I’m trying to say is that, during the window of time when the bottom plug has been set and the top plug has not (yet) been set, a blow out can occur in a well with a perfect casing. It happens when the bottom plug doesn’t hold back the pressure from below.

    • JTMinIA says:

      I’m sorry; I misread your question.

      Yes, it’s vaguely possible for a bottom plug to blow out and not cause serious damage to the well. However, that would be unlikely. In fact, not only would the well probably take some damage if a bottom plug blew out, but the BOP could be damaged, as well. Now, if you had a true dead-man type switch or some other automatic activator of the BOP, the rams might close before the concrete got to the BOP, so you’d be OK, but, from what I understand, those aren’t required and were not in use. Instead, the dead-man aspect of the system wouldn’t be triggered until all h*ll broke out on the rig and, by then, the concrete could have reached the BOP and done the damage. Furthermore, if you BOP has a dead battery and/or no back-up hydraulic pressure, then it wouldn’t close before the chunks of concrete got there in any case.

      Not saying I have any direct evidence of this. Just trying to answer the question (this time). Yes, in a magical world of unicorns that pee gasoline that burns cleanly, you can have a blow out that doesn’t cause damage to the well, casing, or BOP. But in the Gulf of Murphy … er, Mexico … that ain’t gunna happen, sunshine.

      Edit: please note that I do not subscribe to anything close to the theory that this was a bottom-plug blow-out. I think that casing is effed and the pressure that caused the blow-out went around the bottom plug. The bottom plug is probably still sitting where it always was, wondering why everyone is so upset.

  12. WilliamOckham says:

    There’s an even worse case scenario than the entire well being blown. When they pushed the drilling mud down the well they could have “fraq’ed the rock”. That means fracturing the rock that surrounds the oil deposit. When that happens, you can get oil spewing up uncontrollably until (in this case) the pressure inside the oil formation is equalized to the pressure from the sea water. That would mean the spill goes on, even if the relief wells work. That would suck in ways that you can’t even imagine.

    • PJEvans says:

      That probably didn’t happen, because so much of the mud was being pushed out, if you mean when they tried to seal it.
      If you mean when they were drilling, they were probably using a mud carefully calculated to not do that … although I wouldn’t really want to bet, due to the amount of, um, prevarication from various involved parties, not excluding the WH.
      The consensus at TOD seems to be that at least one seal failed in the casing, not that the mud has damaged the formation.

      Also, they’re currently drilling two relief wells (and the consensus at TOD is that three would be better, but two might be enough).

      • WilliamOckham says:

        I was talking about when they were trying the top kill, and I agree that given that so much of the mud flowed right back out of the hole, it is pretty unlikely. I once worked on a project designed to simulate on a computer the forces involved in drilling a well. The physics are really complicated. One of the problems we face now is that we really don’t know much about what’s going on in the hole.

  13. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I guess $17 billion in profits last year alone wasn’t enough to pay for all the toys and goodies the CEO and his staff wanted. So substandard materials and shortcuts were used to make those profits soar like an uncapped geyser; if so, the risk incurred was intentional and the damages should be punitive. No wonder this Brit put a Yank cut-out between him and his US ops.

  14. prostratedragon says:

    And the most immediate insult of all is that we’re supposed to think that what is right now visible on the spillcam represents any kind of improvement.

    • JTMinIA says:

      Actually, one thing about recent events could – thankfully – come back to haunt BP.

      In getting us ready for the fact that cutting off the riser seems – to the Great Unwashed – a bad thing to do, BP assured us that flow would only go up by 10%. When Adm Thud said 20%, instead, BP went along with that. But this low number, given to the M$M to keep us from worrying, could have been a mistake (economically).

      If flow only went up by 20% and they are now capturing 10,000 bbl per day but only getting half or less, then current flow is at least 20,000 bbl/day total. If that’s up by only 20% from before, then, with some rounding, that means the original flow was 18,000 bbl/day. So BP just went on record admitting to 18,000 bbl/day until two days ago and at least 10,000 bbl/day leaking from then onwards.

      The fine for that is a tad higher than the 1,000 or 5,000 bbl/day that BP previously claimed.

    • JTMinIA says:

      I’ll bet he got it soon after the riser was cut. That’s the first time we were ever shown bubbles etc *below* the BOP. And you know they had a ROV watching that area for exactly this reason: a worry that cutting the riser would cause a leak below the BOP, either via increased back-pressure during the cut or excessive torque on the pipe from the CRAW.

      But now I’m just spamming since I don’t know the answer to your question. I’ll shut up now.

      • Gitcheegumee says:

        Thanks for the courtesy of a reply, JT.

        I read the thread a couple of times, but I saw no reference to a time frame of Nelson’s initial awareness …unless I missed it.

    • econobuzz says:

      Anybody know for just how long Senator Nelson has been aware of this info?

      Nelson? Hell, anybody know how long Obama has known? I trust that fucker about as much as I trust BP.

  15. spocko says:

    The good news is that when this stuff hits the shores it
    safe. The head of OSHA said the workers don’t need masks.
    Whew. Of course in 5 years the law suits will prove they needed them, but no one could have anticipated…

  16. Mason says:

    I’ve previously expressed my opinion that the casing failed, the oil/gas/water mixture was eroding away the wall of the well accounting for the sand blasting effect creating and enlarging holes farther up the riser, and the oil/gas/water mixture was finding alternate routes to the seafloor. I got out in front of the story as it turned out, but the story finally caught up, although I wish it were not so.

    The experts at the oildrum believe the relief well will kill the blowout, eventually. August is the earliest that can happen and I think it’s extremely unlikely they will succeed on the first try. Multiple efforts usually are required and that’s when conditions are optimal at the surface. A well this deep is uncharted territory and I am not convinced that the bottom of the well retains sufficient integrity and strength for the relief well to work in any event. I do know they should be drilling more than one or two relief wells and it could be early next year before we know whether they sealed the well. If they don’t, this water driven blowout will continue for many years until the Tiber Field is empty, a prospect with so many interconnected unknowns is too terrifying to contemplate.

    There is something raw and primeval about this well; an apocalyptic darkness pervades it as if Mother Nature were collecting a long overdue account from homo sapiens sapiens. Is it a doomsday warning or a doomsday event?

    Nothing that BP has attempted so far gives me any confidence in the outcome and I fear that BP’s use of Corexit to conceal the rate of the flow at a minimum has assured the death of the Gulf of Mexico.

    In short, I don’t believe it’s possible to overestimate the potential damage to our planet and its life forms.

    • Gitcheegumee says:

      “Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish caught will we realize we cannot eat money.” ~ Cree Indian Proverb …

      • Mason says:

        “Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish caught will we realize we cannot eat money.” ~ Cree Indian Proverb …

        Ain’t it the truth.

        • wavpeac says:

          Wow…yes, earth will take care of herself. Anybody here ever read the book Ishmael by Daniel Quinn?? Perhaps Jelly fish really ARE more intelligent than we are…depending on how intelligence is measured. If intelligence is measured by successful survival…right now we got nothin’ on the indigenous people and jellyfish!

    • DWBartoo says:

      Well, you are never going to be hired to do risk assessments for TPTB, Mason.

      It is definitely impossible to overestimate the threat posed by “man, intelligent, thinking” to himself and all other life forms.

      The Earth will abide.

      It did well without us and will, eventually, have to do without us … permanently.

      We seem hell-bent on leaving, a mess and altogether. Some people work at nothing else.


      • Mason says:

        Well, you are never going to be hired to do risk assessments for TPTB, Mason.

        Damn! You mean I won’t get a job interview?

        I thank the Great Spirit!


    • john in sacramento says:

      There is something raw and primeval about this well; an apocalyptic darkness pervades it as if Mother Nature were collecting a long overdue account from homo sapiens sapiens. Is it a doomsday warning or a doomsday event?


      And also, it seems BP wasn’t tempting fate with this well, but mocking fate

      I’ve been trying to find out more about the geology of the region and it seems that the Mississippi Canyon (where the well is) is very unstable. And the reason it seems to be so unstable, and so deep is because


      … the canyon originated from massive shelf-edge slope failure on an unstable continental margin. A series of successive failures, each one creating an upslope instability that triggered the next failure, caused an elongate trough to form that excavated the canyon to a depth of 1,220 m. below present sea level. Once the canyon has formed, its steep side walls continued to be unstable and sediments slumped into the canyon axis, forming the initial canyon fill.


      And the reason I say they’re mocking fate is because of the name they chose for the area to be drilled, which is the Macondo Prospect. Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote a book called One Hundred Years of Solitude where there is a cursed town called (…. drumroll …) Macondo

      wiki’s plot summary says

      The novel chronicles the seven generations of the Buendía family in the town of Macondo. The family patriarch and founder of Macondo, José Arcadio Buendía, and his wife (and first cousin), Úrsula, leave their home in Riohacha, Colombia in hopes of finding a new home. One night on their journey while camping on the banks of a river, José Arcadio Buendía dreams of a city of mirrors named Macondo. Upon awakening, José Arcadio Buendía decides to found this city on the site of their campground. After wandering aimlessly in the jungle for many days, the founding of Macondo can be seen as the founding of Utopia[6]José Arcadio Buendía believes it to be surrounded by water, and from this ‘island’ he invents the world according to him, naming things at will[7]. After its establishment, Macondo soon becomes a town frequented by unusual and extraordinary events. All the events revolve around the many generations of the Buendía family, who are either unable or unwilling to escape periodic, mostly self-inflicted misfortunes. Ultimately, Macondo is destroyed by a terrible hurricane, which symbolizes the cyclical turmoil inherent in Macondo.

      • bmaz says:

        That is fascinating stuff John.. I would like to hear more about the geology and history. If you are inclined and can find more, do a Seminal and I will link and plug it here.

        • john in sacramento says:

          The hard part is trying to figure out how to put it together. If I can tie up the strings from one link to the next, I will

          .. trying to find a video that can help make it jump off the screen (because I don’t have a flickr, or whatever account it is, to post pics)

          PS the last geology class I took was in High School, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn a couple times (although not Express) ;-)

        • econobuzz says:

          I haven’t seen a post that deals with the fact that we learned over the weekend that Obama knew from the beginning that this spill was catastrophic. That, together with the fact that he now claims to have been in charge from the very beginning, means that he is responsible for the entire response.

          Have I missed this?

      • DWBartoo says:

        That is the geologic information which has been critically lacking, John.

        If you’ve more, then, please do as bmaz suggests.

        Ah, I see your reply to bmaz, @ 82.

        Seriously looking forward.


        • goto100 says:

          Submarine erosion is present on all continental margins/slopes. It is not the cause of this blow out. It could potentially be the cause of a blow out if you located your wells right in the path of a turbidite (submarine density flow of a suspended mixture of sediment particles of different sizes) but that is not what happened in the Gulf. What matters are the nature of all the layers of sediment right down to the reservoir rock. Any time you drill in marine sediments, the layers nearer the surface are going to be progressively more porous, probably wetter less compacted and occasionally may contain exotic things like gas hydrates. But in general, BP’s problems seem to have started due to gas release, possibly triggered by heating around curing cement, and these were then exacerbated by the formation pressure, rate of fluid flow and its later effect on the well bore and casing.

          The physics of the problem are indeed complicated. Erosion will only take place when laminar flow breaks down, sending one into the realms of Navier Stokes equations, rather than their simplified form known as ‘Poiseuille flow’. On top of that, you must understand the entrainment of sand particles from the reservoir in the flow, and how these interact with the casing to get a feel for its rate of erosion. Added to that are all the problems of the explosion, loading of the drilling string/well casing by the collapsing rig, and the various casing joins which will themselves concentrate stresses and weaken critically.

          If the flow has already divided and is heading up the outside of the casing, any geological layer will react specific to its own nature. This will include how well lithified, cemented, porous and permeable it is. The topmost canyon fill may then play a role if it is young, unconsolidated and weak, since it could potentially liquefy and fail in a classic ‘conical’ blow out. I don’t think we’ve seen that yet. You should notice it if it happens. I don’t know if such failure ever happened sub-sea before? They do happen on land occasionally. I’ve seen photos. It’s scary. Especially when a drilling rig completely disappears into liquefied sand below it.

          • DWBartoo says:

            Thank you, goto100.

            It is precisely the effect on the marine sediments that concerns me.

            I agree regarding the cement, and with Bea’s assessment that the attempt to chemically hasten the cure, which raised the temperature likely is central to what started the sequence of failing “events” (including feasance and malfeasance, both before and after the so-called “blowout”).

            The abrasive effects you mention, with which my speculation concurs, has been lacking in all but the most serious discussions, to be found here, at FDL and at a few other sites.

            Please continue to participate here, as there are those far more knowledgeable than I who would be able to engage you in conversation which would benefit us all.

            Again, my sincere appreciation.


      • Gitcheegumee says:

        And,in addition from that same Wiki entry “Macondo Prospect”:

        The prospect is located in Mississippi Canyon Block 252 of the Gulf of Mexico. BP is the operator and principal developer of the oil field with 65% of interest, while 25% is owned by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, and 10% by MOEX Offshore 2007, a unit of Mitsui.[2] The prospect may have held 50 million barrels (7.9×10^6 m3) producible reserves of oil.[3]

        [edit] History
        A regional shallow hazards survey and study was carried out at the project area by KC Offshore in 1998. High resolution, 2D seismic data along with 3D exploration seismic data of the MC 252 was collected by Fugro Geoservices in 2003. The prospect was initially acquired by BP at MMS Lease Sale #206 in March 2008[4].

        Mapping of the block was carried out by BP America in 2008 and 2009.[5] BP secured approval to drill the Prospect from MMS in March 2009 without MMS requiring use of an acoustic blowout preventer actuation alternative. An exploration well was scheduled to be drilled in 2009.[2]

        On 7 October 2009 the Transocean Marianas semi-submersible rig commenced drilling, but operations were halted at 4,023 feet (1,226 m) below the sea floor on 29 November 2009, when the rig was damaged by Hurricane Ida.[6] The Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon rig resumed drilling operations in February 2010.[2]

        BP=Buendia Prospect?

        Thanks mucho,John!

      • Maddy says:

        From observation of erosion while running heavy equipment in California. The Abrasion of the pipe would seem inevitable, after that..hold on. Rocket scientist I am not, but I have seen how water breaks through a barrier and eventually totally consumes it, I cannot imagine what it must be like under the pressure that this well is exhibiting,

        SeaWater Pressure

        Underwater Pressure data at seabed near MC252 Well Head (4,993 feet from the surface).

        Atmospheric Pressure 14.7 psi
        Saline Water Pressure 0.465 psi/foot
        Fresh Water Pressure 0.433 psi/foot

        Example: Pressure at 4993 feet under ocean surface will be 14.7 + 4993*0.465 = 2336 psi
        Oil Pressure

        Oil pressure in reservoir is approximately 9,000psi; the oil pressure at BOP is 3,500psi.

  17. posaune says:

    And the US was the country who engineered moon landings (and televised it, too). And now we can’t even f–ing saw a pipe off. And it all happened when we shifted from a competent-based meritocracy to a yes-man oligarchy.

    • seaglass says:

      So true. I couldn’t friggin believe that things are so bad now that sawing off a pipe is beyond us. Were fucked.

  18. Gitcheegumee says:

    Somewhat O/T:

    Justice delayed but not denied for another leak,over 25 years ago:

    Published 25 mins ago by PBS

    Seven Convicted in Deadly 1984 Bhopal Gas Leak in India

    A court in India has convicted seven former executives of a Union Carbide subsidiary of “causing death by negligence” for a gas leak at a company plant that killed an estimated 15,000 people in the 1980s.

    The seven men, some of whom are now in their 70s, were sentenced…


    Globe and Mail Seven Convicted in Deadly 1984 Bhopal Gas Leak in India‎ – 41 minutes ago

    A court in India has convicted seven former executives of a Union Carbide subsidiary of “causing death by negligence” for a gas leak at a company plant that …
    NewsHour (blog) – 1425 related articles »

    India This Evening: Bhopal Gas Tragedy: Bail Granted To Mahindra …‎ – Wall Street Journal (blog)

  19. eblair says:

    So what is the latest on a small nuke way down to seal the thing? Is that not possible? Have the Russians said anything lately?

      • eblair says:

        I’m not an expert despite a very strong science background. I know that it has worked four times before. My understanding is that it would be a couple of miles beneath the sea bed. These are small nukes. The main reason that nukes are needed rather than conventional explosives is size I assume. Anyway, the cons of using a nuke are distinct from the pros of using a nuke and my question was about the pros. Would it work? That is what I am asking. It was a question not a statement.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      Determined to be a very bad idea, for a number of reasons. A nuke would be WAY overkill, but even if you replace it with more rational explosives you can’t fully predict what would happen. The possibility that we would actually make the leak worse was simply too high to ignore.

      There was a great post over at the seminal with a lot more detail, but I can’t seem to find it. But the above is the gist of it.

      Boxturtle (Too bad. I like explosions. Less than a month till the 4th!)

      • eblair says:

        Thanks. So geologists have weighed in and the consensus is that the conditions are sufficiently different from those present for the Russians?

        • BoxTurtle says:

          Yeah. 5000ft of water makes a real difference. Also, this deposit is covered by a salt dome not bedrock and there was a very real risk of cracking the dome.

          The relief wells have always been the only rational shot.

          Boxturtle (ObamaLLP’s approch of LA (La?) LA LA WE CAN’T HEAR YOU isn’t working, either)

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah, I think that is so. Fact is it could never have been a nuke for political reasons in the first place. The better question is, and always has been, is there a conventional bomb/explosive solution? I don’t think so, and I think the potential downsides likely outweigh any chance of success; but I do not think that has been established definitively and would like to see a bit more discussion on it.

          • DWBartoo says:

            A truly intelligent discussion would require the participation of a significant number of people who know at least enough to ask the right questions.

            My genuine concern is that, given the totality of what we are dealing with … no such people exist.

            The next-best option is people as knowledgeable as possible, regarding reasonable SPECULATION, considering that our ignorance outweighs our certain knowledge … possibly such people exist (I would venture to suggest that some are here, already …).

            At the very least, such discussion would raise the general level of understanding and awareness about a region about which even the best-informed know precious little.


          • AlchemyToday says:

            I agree that a nuke was impossible politically. I thought the day after ROVs failed to close the BOP that it was the best solution. I’ve only heard two compelling reasons not to do it:
            1. Failure guarantees a much worse leak
            2. The well is positioned on a hill; a large explosion would cause a landslide and thus a tsunami

            I don’t know anything about the well topography to verify point 2, but it’s compelling. The sorts of concerns that make the idea intuitively crazy (radioactivity, mainly) are irrational in light of our limited experience in deep sea nuclear explosions. Go read up on the Wig-Wam test; 2000 feet, next to no surface radiation, zero dead fish. The direction of shock waves propagated through water would be very difficult to predict, though. This could effect nearby wells/rigs if there are any.

            I’m sure there’s some technical reason why a nuke’s an obvious no-go, but I haven’t heard it and it’s too bad that it sounds so crazy that no one in Energy/DoD/Coast Guard/etc is willing to even go on the record discussing it.

    • Mason says:

      Have you ever eaten a Rice Krispie Treat?

      That’s pretty much describes the geology that contains the oil/gas/water mixture in the Tiber Field and separates the Tiber Field from the bottom of the ocean, except for the 1,000 foot layer of seafloor mud that the geologists call pudding.

      Even crazy people recognize how reckless and dangerous it would be to use a nuke or any other kind of explosive device in such a place. Don’t forget that 40% of the oil/gas/water mixture is methane gas. Nobody wants to mess with that.

      • eblair says:

        Wow. So the rock has a very low density? Is that what you are saying with the rice crispy analogy? Wow.

        • Mason says:

          the problem I have there is I’m not sure about on demand writing as most of mine is pretty much as the spirit moves me

          30% porosity. 1,000 feet of Mississippi River mud deposited on top of an 800 meter thick salt dome, all deposited over a short period of time, geologically speaking, that’s insufficient to allow for standard sedimentary compaction. It’s criss-crossed with fractures and faults such that it’s equivalent to the most active plate tectonic zones.

          • DWBartoo says:

            Your breadth of knowledge and understanding is amazing, Mason.

            I’m still appreciating, “When you know who you are, then you will know what to do.”


          • posaune says:

            How fast would the rice crispie collapse, based on current conditions, and what is the potential for a sequential oscillation causing a submarine Mississippi mud avalanche? What would that do the ground levels in NOLA and the marshlands (which are ruined anyway)?

  20. eblair says:

    OK, last question: Why aren’t they working day and night to get relief wells plural up??? I never understood this August thing. After all, this doesn’t seem like the kind of project where too many cooks spoil the broth, (like say putting up Hubble). I’m sure it ain’t easy, but you would think that they could say ok, in one week, we need designs, in one week we need steel, etc.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      They are. The first well is down more than 12,000ft. But the deep it gets the slower it goes. They actually started the relief wells very early on in the process, as soon as they realized the magnitude of the mess.

      Boxturtle (And for every time they miss, add about a week)

  21. sagesse says:

    Ever since the video with the fish swimming through and then darting into the gusher – there seems no way all that oil could come from that source.

    The shifting videos, scurrying blurry robots, etc. – pacifiers for the public.

  22. eblair says:

    “I may leave aside altogether the naive optimism in which science–that is, the technique of mastering life which rests upon science, has been celebrated as the way to happiness. Who believes in this?–aside from a few big children in university chairs or editorial offices.” Max Weber 1918

    • DWBartoo says:

      Excellent, eblair.

      Although in 1918, “belief” was not the largest “issue”. Were Max Weber to visit America, today, I suspect he might be astounded at the role a number of “beliefs” play in our “collection” of catastrophes, including the one he so properly debunks.


      • eblair says:

        Point well taken, but I as for Weber, I doubt much would astound him. He was one of the five or so smartest people who ever lived right up there with Thucydides, Tocqueville, Gibbon. He understood modernity better than anybody, better even than Nietzsche as he absorbed all of Nietzsche’s insights yet knew more history than him.

        • DWBartoo says:

          Agreed, Weber was a remarkably astute observer.

          Yet I cannot but imagine that he would have felt as much dismay as you and I regarding the capacity of humankind to understand.

          Remember, when Weber wrote this, nuclear weaponry was not even dreamed of, and, while I am certain that Weber well-perceived humankind’s capacity for savagery, the sheer extent of it, coupled to the hubris of today’s elites as well as the environmental depredations of the last ninety-odd years, I suspect that even Weber would be, at least, amazed.


          • eblair says:

            Mankind had been qualitatively increasing the power of its weapons for a long time. He might have been amazed as a scientist. But my take on him is that he would have see our world as a confirmation of all his predictions about modernity, predictions that were no doubt related to his deep bouts of depression. And this was 1918, when they were coming out of a war that killed 15 million. Nukes haven’t killed a million yet.

            • Gitcheegumee says:

              “The modern Conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophies; which is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness” …JK Galbraith

            • DWBartoo says:

              Philosophically Weber would, indeed, properly see our present as confirmation, but the sheer perverse arrogance of continued environmental destruction, and the social destructiveness of the elites, would still, I imagine, have some affect on his essential humanity. Either that it is so complete or has happened so, relatively, quickly, even for someone who experienced the rapid and amazing, and world-affecting shift from horses to aeroplanes.

              Prolly just my own “take” on how I would imagine I would feel, were I taken “forward” ninety-two years, and I’m a long-time skeptic regarding genuine human progress as opposed to common human perversity.


  23. Maddy says:

    This is upsetting me so much I wake up knowing that this awful thing will be the cause of great and horrific circumstance to the point of bringing this country down. I don’t say this lightly, I have read enough to know and understand what I see.

    Don’t know if you can answer this bmaz, rumors are suspect, but someone told me or I read it and forgot where that there was another leak five or so miles away from the well head. Should I put on the tin hat? or is there some basis in reality to this.

    • eblair says:

      Really, if our elites had any shame at all, they would offer their heads for so failing the people. I can’t remember the last time I cried, but this is an abomination, a horrific crime.

      • Maddy says:

        I am speechless any words I use will not help, but I thank people like you for recognizing what this is. I have a small circle of friends and we are trying to hang together, for strength, and practicality, there is no solution to this and I feel as you.

    • Mason says:

      The person who made that statement is named Simmons. Some people posting at the oildrum, including his ex-partners in the oil biz, have disassociated themselves from his remarks, but their livelihood depends on “Drill, baby drill.”

      One must exercise some discretion . . .

        • Mason says:

          To be fair, I should add that his opinion is based on comparing the oil he saw on the surface to the oil spewing out of the riser on the seafloor. He didn’t actually go down and look at the seafloor. Nobody else did either, except possibly BP because, with few exceptions, no one has access to a submersible that will go that deep.

          I’m troubled that no one with a deep submersible, such as Alvin at MIT’s Woodshole, has been invited to take a look.

          Call me paranoid, but Obama and BP have made it very clear that they are cooperating to hide something that frightened them.

          You do the math.

          • econobuzz says:

            Call me paranoid, but Obama and BP have made it very clear that they are cooperating to hide something that frightened them.

            Strongly agree.

          • DWBartoo says:

            James Cameron has undersea vehicles as well, Mason, that are quite capable of providing “another” look, not under Bee Pee’s control.

            I would like to see him offer them to Obama. He offered them to Bee Pee but says they “graciously” refused his offer.

            I think the offer and the response should be VERY public.

            Obama has admitted that it was unwise of him to “believe” in the good intentions of Bee Pee.

            Perhaps Barack Obama needs to consider that that same is increasingly being thought AND said of him?

            Either he is the President, with all that means, or he is a lackey.

            (I suspect we agree upon what he is, in fact.)


            • econobuzz says:

              Obama has admitted that it was unwise of him to “believe” in the good intentions of Bee Pee.

              Obama has yet to get his story straight on what he knew and when he knew it. He’s playing his old game — taking the middle road — on a national catastrophe. Either he knew the potential early on and, as he now claims, has been “in control” and is responsible for the totally inadequate response, or he has been “misled” by BP.

              He is now pretending to be angry — wants to know whose “ass to kick.” Give me a fucking break. The only asses this coward can kick are those of teachers.

              • DWBartoo says:

                Yes, “story” it is,

                Obama’s “pragmatism” is looking to expediency … and there ain’t none.

                Obama’s ability to kick the can down the road is not what he still imagines it to be.

                Obama imagines that plugging the “damn hole” will be the end of his problems … for someone alleged to be intelligent, he is incredibly inept in the imagination department. A trait shared with his predecessor, one of a number, actually.


                • econobuzz says:

                  Obama’s ability to kick the can down the road is not what he still imagines it to be.

                  Rachel pointed out tonight that the scandal now is the disgracefully feeble response to the spill. She carefully blamed it first on the lack of technological progress on cleaning up a spill, but also mentioned that even the current technology was not being employed. She blamed the latter on BP, but also mentioned that no one was insisting that they do it.

                  A good deal of the damage will result from failure to react appropriately to the disaster. That’s all on Barry. He’s in charge.

                  • AlchemyToday says:

                    “A good deal of the damage will result from failure to react appropriately to the disaster.”

                    Given that equipment required to respond to a spill was en route before the rig even sank and was dispatched during an ongoing rescue operation, what would have been more appropriate? Beyond pushing BP on being more open earlier on, I can’t think of many ways in which the Federal government could’ve been more on top of this after the fact. A billion things could’ve been done to prevent this, obviously.

                    • econobuzz says:

                      With all due respect, you need to take a close look at what is going on NOW in the Gulf.

                    • DWBartoo says:

                      You are on a “roll”, AT.

                      A troll roll, perhaps?

                      It would appear that you are either most-seriously uninformed or intentionally mendacious.

                      In either case, you are no longer worthy of response.

                      You present no evidence to support your claims, and you have not been present during, nor, one suspects, read any of the many posts, with serious discussions of this event, that have occurred at this site.

                    • econobuzz says:

                      Beyond pushing BP on being more open earlier on, I can’t think of many ways in which the Federal government could’ve been more on top of this after the fact.

                      Wait a second. It is now reported — and not denied — that Obama knew from the very beginning that the “leak” could be catastrophic. There are a thousand things that could have been done over the last six weeks that were not done. He should have declared a national emergency from the beginning. The response is a disaster itself.

                    • Maddy says:

                      He should have declared a national emergency from the beginning. The response is a disaster itself.

                      It so disturbed me that this did not happen. Then I had the thought about how we would see what third world countries endure as a matter of ugly course, as we become one. This was not a gotcha moment, it induced no pleasure.

                      Which was mentioned above somewhere by someone else.

                      Are you all dealing with this as badly as I, it hurts mightily.

                    • DWBartoo says:

                      All of us who care, Maddy, are appalled, and mourning for the loss of so much life, of so much possibility.

                      It is remarkable to me that ALL humans do not appear to care or understand the significance of what has happened.

                      Beyond the “spill” itself is the tragedy of complacency, arrogance, denial and the glib assumption that all is well and nothing untoward happened, that, in fact, DEMANDS substantial changes in many cherished “beliefs” and myths.

                      When the spill is coupled to the wars, and it is, when the spill is connected to the “cozy” relationship between government and the oil industry, among others, which even Obama has publicly admitted to, and further coupled to our unwillingness to develop “alternatives” on the scale necessary, we are left with a profound sense of failure, and, very likely, as is all too common, INTENTIONAL failure on the part of those duty-bound to protect this nation and its people from such failure. Such failure as this is, is a direst attack on the viability of our society and its capacity to survive in such fashion that ALL of us, not merely the “top” 1%, may live decent, fulfilling lives in an environment which we cherish and protect.

                      In all the immensity of the universe, THIS is the only place we may call home. This earth, this paradise.


                    • DWBartoo says:

                      It is all any of us have, Maddy.

                      It is also who we are.

                      I would say we are, in the ways that matter, even in the impoverishment of this moment, wealthy beyond measure.

                      If understanding and humanity are not true wealth, then I do not know what may be.

                      What this moment offers us, is the opportunity of real change, and that change is taking place, in the hearts and minds of most people.

                      The oil and the lies cannot be put back into the hole, the “damn” hole as Obama would have it.

                      The opportunity will be lost only if people forget.

                      I do not imagine that you or I or most anyone here, will ever forget, or allow what has happened to slip away to the dementia of satiation or to the complacency of hubris.


                    • sagesse says:

                      Yes. And gotten every possible boat that could function in anything like this, and every person without a job down to the Gulf to clean up the oil … Do they really want the whole area to become a dead zone so the Oil Companies have no reason for restrictions in the future?

                  • bobschacht says:

                    A good deal of the damage will result from failure to react appropriately to the disaster. That’s all on Barry. He’s in charge.

                    This is where Barry has a problem. He has to claim that he’s been, and is, in charge. But the longer that this goes on, the “incompetence” meme starts to get unstuck from BP, and starts to get stuck to Obama.

                    Bob in AZ

            • bobschacht says:

              Cameron was on Larry King tonight, talking first with Larry, and then with other experts that Larry brought in, including a guy from Woods Hole. Cameron fit right in. He’s done work in the ocean at deeper depths than the Deepwater Horizon’s well.

              One of the panelists claimed that all of the cameras down there were BP cameras. Cameron can obviously work cameras at those depth, and he has access to the deep sea vehicles to do it. So does Woods Hole (they have the Alvin, which is a manned deep sea submersible.) We need independent eyes down there.

              There has been no play by play of the live video feeds because of legal liability issues, or so I’ve heard. I think that probably applies only to ROVs controlled by BP. If they allowed Cameron to go down there, he could probably hire a play by play guy, but that guy (or gal) would probably have to have a lawyer at his elbow. Any slip of the lip might result in a lawsuit by BP. Heck, why can’t MSNBC hire Cameron to take their own crew down there?

              Bob in AZ

          • Maddy says:

            I am an expert in nothing like this. You all have seen what happens when a dam is breached. My idea tight or wrong is that abrasion will compromise the casing or go around it, if it finds a weak point like those pipe joints. Maybe I repeat what has already been said, for my own sanity I need to write.

            The full implication of this leak is so huge I shudder. As crazy as I may sound this must be how our ancient ancestors felt during the cataclysmic times they went through. Besides fear, a deep abiding grief as they witnessed destruction on a scale never experienced in their own history.

          • AlchemyToday says:

            “Call me paranoid, but Obama and BP have made it very clear that they are cooperating to hide something that frightened them.”

            What about the hundreds of engineers of rival oil companies working in Houston to fix the leak? Do they have the same incentive to lie to protect BP’s bottom line? What about the thousands of folks at BP who’d profit by telling such an incredible story? What about Steven Chu? Do we doubt his integrity? Seriously, there have been several feeds of the wellhead available at all hours for weeks now. Cameron’s submersibles aren’t there because the space is already filled with ROV’s equipped with, you know, equipment like tools and sonar and other advanced imaging and measurement devices dedicated to things other than taking good pictures.

            • DWBartoo says:

              There is no IMPARTIAL observer, AT, because that is the way Bee Pee (who provides 80% of the US military’s fuel “needs”) AND Barack Obama, President of the US, want it to be. This is a crime scene, AT, and needs to be treated as such. Or, perhaps, you do not think so?

              Your comment is rather glib, from my perspective, as well as intentionally unhelpful, dismissive, and arrogant.

              Rather like Obama’s “performance” since the beginning of this, as yet, unmitigated catastrophe.


              • AlchemyToday says:

                “Or, perhaps, you do not think so?”

                Correct. I think it’s absurd to think that it’s more likely than not that the President and BP are in league with thousands of people, many of whom lack any incentive to hide information or could actually profit from divulging information, to lie to the country about the threats posed by the spill. How is this opinion mendacious?

            • Mason says:

              None of your arguments impress. I’ve been consistently frustrated by what the cameras didn’t show and should have shown. Given BP’s misrepresentations, I’m astonished by your comment.

              Do you work for BP?

              • john in sacramento says:

                And also, how do we know that’s the only leak?

                BP controls the camera (singular). BP controls the angle of the camera. BP controls the feed. BP controls when the camera goes dark (iirc, this has happened during at least one of the repair attempts)

                How do we not know that something in the base of the structure didn’t crack as the mile long pipe came crashing down? The pipe that was attached to the massive aircraft carrier size drilling rig. There had to be tremendous torque forces applied to the structure. The simplest torque formula is

                t = r x f

                t is torque
                r is length
                f is force

                Length is a mile long pipe (at least to begin with, And reinforced). Force is the hundreds of tons of steel rig

                Which isn’t taking into account any of the many other variables – inertia; angular momentum or a million other things that someone much smarter than I can think of

                And there had to be a pipeline leading from the rig to the shore, right? They don’t load up supertankers at the rig; they transport by pipeline to shore. What happened to the pipeline?

                What about the fact of the unstable ocean floor?

                One, and only one leak, is very implausible to me

                • bmaz says:

                  No, there was no production from the well, it was to be capped for future production use. So, there was no need for tankers or pipeline pre-blowout.

      • mattcarmody says:

        Matt Simmons has been very upfront with the futility of dependence on fossil fuels even as he consults for big name companies. He wrote a really good book a few years ago, I think it’s title Twilight of the Age of Oil, something like that, maybe Twilight in the Desert. Very good book. Colin Campbell has also written some very good things.

  24. rosalind says:

    current headlines:

    7 hurt in W.Va. gas well explosion

    Seven people were injured early today in an explosion at a two-day-old gas well that had recently started drilling to the deep Marcellus shale formation in rural West Virginia.

    The West Virginia explosion is the second major accident at a Marcellus shale drilling operation in four days. On Friday, natural gas and drilling fluids escaped from a Marcellus shale well operated by EOG Resources in Lawrence Township, Clearfield County, Pa., for 16 hours, threatening to pollute a nearby stream. (emphasis mine)

    At least 3 dead in Johnson County natural gas explosion

    At least three people were killed Monday afternoon when a natural gas line exploded after it was struck by workers, officials said…Massive flames and a huge plume of smoke could be seen in the area for about two hours after the explosion…”It appears that [the work crew] might have been working on an electrical line,” Ishmael said.

    good diary over a dkos on the first marcellus accident

    re. the second, AP reports there was no blow-out preventer as they had not yet reached the depth one is required.

  25. Gitcheegumee says:

    Investor Notice: Louisiana-based Law Firm, Kahn Swick & Foti LLC …‎ – 6 hours ago

    … to determine whether Anadarko Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:APC) has violated … the New York Times that Anadarko owned 25% of the Deepwater Horizon rig. …
    MarketWatch (press release) – 15 related articles »

    Moody’s Lowers Anadarko Ratings Outlook To Negative On Spill‎ – Wall Street Journal – 233 related articles »

    • DWBartoo says:

      Thanks, fatster.

      One notes that this projection is for the top 65 feet of the ocean.

      The deeper plumes, so religiously denied, will have their own, essentially unpredictable, behavior patterns, one would assume.

      It is sore amazing, at least to me, just how much we are discovering that we don’t know.

      (And I have long believed that our knowledge compared to our ignorance as a mud puddle compares to, well, the ocean.)


    • DWBartoo says:

      Good evening, Bob.

      That is what America is all about, it is about choices.

      The freedom to choose.

      The preceding snark is for entertainment porpoises only.

      (Given the “situation” none of the porpoises are laughing, as they usually do when I present them with evidence of the “human predicament”. I wonder why?)


  26. oldgold says:

    Post said:
    Oil and gas are leaking from the seabed surrounding the BP Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, Senator Bill Nelson of Florida told Andrea Mitchell today on MSNBC.

    Nelson actually said:

    Nelson: “Andrea, we’re looking into something new right now, that there’s reports of oil that’s seeping up from the seabed which would indicate, if that’s true, that the well casing itself is actually pierced, underneath the seabed. So, you know, the problems could be just enormous with what we’re facing.”

    • bobschacht says:

      Nelson actually said:

      … “Andrea, we’re looking into something new right now, that there’s reports of oil that’s seeping up from the seabed which would indicate, if that’s true, that the well casing itself is actually pierced, underneath the seabed. So, you know, the problems could be just enormous with what we’re facing.”

      There are two alternatives here. The well bore actually consists of a set of pipes within pipes. The oil and gas are supposed to be confined to one of the inner set of pipes.

      Possibility #1 is that the oil and gas have breached its intended conduit into the outer casing, and has been taking an unorthodox route up through the BOP.

      Possiblity #2 is that the oil and gas have not only breached the inner casing, but the outer casing as well, at least to some extent, so that the oil and gas are leaking out into the ocean floor itself. I think this is happening to some extent, but unless BP is hiding major eruptions on the floor, the major leakage is probably Possibility #1.

      That’s why we need an independent down there, such as Cameron or WHOI, doing its own snooping around.

      Of course, there are already a dozen ROVs down there, each run from a ship up top, so there is a traffic control issue.

      Bob in AZ

    • bmaz says:

      Yeah, thanks for that. I checked a little deeper than just watching the video; of course you did not cite the part of the post that discussed that did you? Why, no, no you didn’t. Thanks for playing.

  27. Leen says:

    After reading all of your comments sounds like we should go back to
    Sir Mottram’s statement “We’re all fucked. I’m fucked. You’re fucked. The whole [thing] is fucked. It’s the biggest cock-up ever. We’re all completely fucked.”

    So amazing they have robots and cameras 5000 feet down and can calculate how much oil is coming out of that weill and they can’t count how many Iraqi people have died since our invasion of that country.

  28. Leen says:

    Anyone hear NPR’s Science Friday?

    They had Sylvia Earle (Author, “The World is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean’s Are One” (National Geographic, 2009)
    Explorer-in-Residence, National Geographic Society
    Washington, DC) on and she said she wants to get down there in one of the submarines that can make it to check out what is happening to sea life, etc?


    • DWBartoo says:

      Gee whiz, Leen, it is really nice that the police are protecting Tony Hayward and his family.

      One wonders who is protecting Helen Thomas?


      • Leen says:

        Ari Fleisher (part of the Plame outing thugs) probably bought Helen Thomas a one way ticket to Iran.

        That was a out of line comment by Helen BUT who in the White House Press Corp is going to ask the hard driving questions now? I sad way for Helen to retire. Sad. How come Spitzer can have his prostitutes, be forgiven and end up on MSNBC/ O.K. it was a very thoughtless comment. She apologized all ready

        It is way way overdue that Marcy, Jane, Katrina, Glenn Greenwald someone from the progressive blog world be invited into that WH Press Corp. So many of the questions they ask put a person to sleep. Not Helen’s questions.

  29. john in sacramento says:

    While digging through stuff I found this

    Methane hydrates only exist in cold water — just above or below freezing — and at the undersea pressures found in deep water off the continental shelf. “It’s a lot like ice,” said William Dillon, a retired marine geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Woods Hole, Mass. “The conditions that form them exist at the seafloor and in the sediments below.”

    This slushy mixture of sea water and methane gas makes drilling more complicated. For one, the presence of methane hydrates in sediment makes the seafloor unstable. That’s why BP was using a high-tech drilling rig that was positioned like a helicopter on the surface.

    And if hydrates are warmed by oil moving through pipes, they can turn into methane gas (known as “kicks” to drillers) that can shoot back up the drilling pipe and ignite the rig. Investigators are already focused on that scenario as a possible cause of the blast aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20.


    • Gitcheegumee says:

      Re: “kicks”

      press release
      June 7, 2010, 12:39 p.m. EDT

      Investor Notice: Louisiana-based Law Firm, Kahn Swick & Foti LLC, Announces Investigation on Behalf of Investors Into Anadarko Petroleum Corporation’s Role in Oil Spill Disaster

      NEW ORLEANS, Jun 07, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Former Louisiana Attorney General, Charles C. Foti, Jr. and his firm Kahn Swick & Foti, LLC (“KSF”) formally announce that they have opened an investigation to determine whether Anadarko Petroleum Corporation has violated federal securities laws by issuing false and misleading statements to its shareholders related to its role and/or liability with regard to the unprecedented oil spill in the deepwater of the Gulf of Mexico just off the shores of the United States.
      On or about June 5, 2010, it was reported by the New York Times that Anadarko owned 25% of the Deepwater Horizon rig. Further, according to the New York Times article, BP admitted that as far back as March 2009, documents showed that in March, after problems on the rig that included drilling mud falling into the formation, sudden gas releases known as “kicks” and a pipe falling into the well, BP officials informed federal regulators that they were struggling with a loss of “well control.” Additionally, it was reported that on at least three occasions, BP records indicate that the blowout preventer was leaking fluid, which the manufacturer of the device has allegedly said limits its ability to operate properly.
      While this information and substantially more information was known to BP by at least March 2009 (according to the Times article), certain officers and directors at Anadarko were selling off their shares at very high stock prices. On April 24, 2010, stock in APC traded at over $74 per share. As of last week, the stock in APC was trading as low as under $42 per share–a loss of over 40 percent in shareholder value. On June 6, 2010, APC shares fell $10.23 per share or 19.55%. On Friday, Moody’s downgraded APC.

      Investor Notice: Louisiana-based Law Firm, Kahn Swick & Foti LLC …‎ – 6 hours ago

      … to determine whether Anadarko Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:APC) has violated … the New York Times that Anadarko owned 25% of the Deepwater Horizon rig. …
      MarketWatch (press release) – 15 related articles »

  30. Gitcheegumee says:

    Four Reasons Why Measuring Flow in BP’s Spill Matters
    by Marian Wang, ProPublica – June 7, 2010 12:55 pm EDT

    There’s some REALLY interesting figures and info at the ProPublica blog thread listed :

    Four Reasons Why Measuring Flow in BP’s Spill Matters – ProPublicaJun 7, 2010 … Lower estimates of oil flow in the Deepwater Horizon disaster could benefit BP in many ways, including financial.
    http://www.propublica.org/…/Four-reasons-why-measuring-oil-flow-BP-spill-matters – 9 hours ago

    ProPublica – Journalism in the Public InterestJun 6, 2010 … Four Reasons Why Measuring Flow in BP’s Spill Matters. by Marian Wang, ProPublica – June 7, 2010 12:55 pm EDT. Getty Images …
    http://www.propublica.org/ – Cached – Similar
    Show more results from http://www.propublica.org

  31. AlchemyToday says:

    Wait a second. It is now reported — and not denied — that Obama knew from the very beginning that the “leak” could be catastrophic.

    The very first reports from NOAA et al stated the possible magnitude of the leak/spill/whatever we want to call it and also described the massive initial response to the explosion. What would be the practical effect of declaring a national emergency?

    Here’s someone from NOAA discussing the state of the response on April 21st; before the rig even sank:


    Feel free to write it off as an obvious fraud because it’s on national review. There are similar examples elsewhere of the scale of the response and the perception of possible/likely damage in the immediate aftermath of the explosion.

    Again, what exactly are the thousands of things that could have been done? I’m sure that mistakes have been made, but what would you have done differently?

  32. Maddy says:

    In response to DWBartoo
    Like you said, I am also rich beyond measure with empty pockets
    “buddy can you spare a C note,” inflation ya know
    laughing in the jaws of death is requisite to sanity.

  33. bmaz says:

    Release of the full Pro Publica report on the horrendous safety record and regulatory compliance corner cutting at BP. There is also a summary article from the report up now at Washington Post.

    “A series of internal investigations over the past decade warned senior BP managers that the company repeatedly disregarded safety and environmental rules and risked a serious accident if it did not change its ways,” write Abrahm Lustgarten and Ryan Knutson. The documents obtained by ProPublica reveal, “instances in which management flouted safety by neglecting aging equipment, pressured or harassed employees not to report problems, and cut short or delayed inspections in order to reduce production costs. Executives were not held accountable for the failures, and some were promoted despite them.”

    An edited version of the investigation was co-published with the Washington Post, while the full report can be found here at ProPublica. The reporters explain who provided the documents and they offer a history of BP’s internal warnings and the resulting incident and/or punishment that followed. Links to the actual documents are included in the ProPublica report.

    The pair note, “Taken together, these documents portray a company that systemically ignored its own safety policies across its North American operations – from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico to California and Texas.”

    • DWBartoo says:

      Thank you, bmaz.

      The ProPublica account is a chilling indictment of Bee Pee.

      And it reflects some other “things”, as well, in far less than flattering lighting.

      One wonders when the media might decide to interview Anne Pascal?

      One wonders whether Obama, who claims to be talking with experts, that he may, “…know whose ass to kick”, has bothered to speak with Pascal?


  34. scathew says:

    Gets worse, to quote from Robert Reich’s blog, who in turn quotes an oil engineer:

    3. Restart work on the second pressure relief well. BP did start work on two relief wells as the government requested, but the second has been shut down to cannabalize parts from it for the primary well kill effort. The President must order BP to spend whatever money it takes to get another blow out preventer on site, to re-start work on the second pressure relief well. A recent blow-out off the coast of Australia required five pressure relief wells to successfully shut it down.

    That’s five – they have two at most. If two don’t kill it in August, how many months is it going to take to add two or three more???

    Long enough for the Gulf Stream to take it to New England?



    • AlchemyToday says:

      “That’s five – they have two at most. If two don’t kill it in August, how many months is it going to take to add two or three more???”

      Two is one more than they had in Australia. It took five attempts to intercept the well, not five attempts to start from scratch; you can back out and try again if/when you fail. Check out this NYT story comparing the Australian and Deepwater events: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/03/us/03montara.html – it takes a week or so between attempts, not months. I believe that the rate limiting step in drilling a relief well is getting in the vicinity of the well you’re trying to kill. No expert, though.

      If there are rigs, ROVs, etc available at any cost that couldn’t be better used mitigating the flow now, BP should definitely be forced to drill more relief wells. I don’t know that this is the case, though. Having to divert resources away from one of the relief wells (presumably the one that’s going slower) to work on the top kill seems to suggest otherwise. The spill’s going to cost BP about a billion dollars a day; however they might be obfuscating information about its severity, cost doesn’t factor into attempts to stop it.

      • drhu22 says:

        From what we hear the worlds oceans are already at or near tipping point of collapse for a significant number of fish and wildlife populations, and ecosystems.

        When does the whole system just get overwhelmed and shut down?

        Waiting for the big correction…

  35. fatster says:

    There is a bit more to the article than the headline leads you to believe.

    The ties that bind. Remember Rahm Emanuel’s rent-free D.C. apartment? The owner: A BP adviser


    Just imagine: they all sit around and yuck it up together.

  36. alank says:

    They’re just trying shit to see what happens. It’s an opportunity in brainstorming and experimentation. Something might work, but it’s mainly experimentation. And it’s for show, as well. The only known successful way to stop a leak is by relief wells. The Montara attempt last November at a much shallower depth took 5 tries in 3 months. That’s the benchmark.

  37. bobschacht says:

    Larry King’s show tonight on CNN had James Cameron on, talking about the relevance of his experience, and in another segment had Dave Gallo of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, which I was glad to see. I think Larry described Woods Hole as the NASA of underwater exploration, or some such. They also discussed the “plumes” in a more sophisticated way than I have usually heard.

    Bob in AZ

    • fatster says:

      Thanks, Bob. I went to theoildrum and they aren’t discussing what was said on LK (unless I just didn’t find the discussion–and please tell me if I didn’t).

    • DWBartoo says:

      Just saw the editorial, Jeff, and it, at least, should serve to open the broader discussion.

      One doubts that either the White Hose or Congress will rise to the challenge the Grey Lady offered them.

      Thank you, Jeff, for pushing this story when no one was interested except those of us who were appalled. I have no doubt that your work greatly helped the NY Times to find its tongue and make some commendable use of it.


      • Jeff Kaye says:

        Please remember, in a story like this, the recent revelations are not the end, in fact, they are the tip of an iceberg. I don’t expect Obama or Congress to jump because the NYT says so. But I promise you (and I’m in a position to know), there’s more to come.

        • DWBartoo says:

          Thank you, Jeff.

          One does not expect Obama or Congress to “jump” because the NY Times says something.

          However, if Obama and Congress do not APPEAR to BEGIN to become interested NOW, then at what point may they do so? One imagines that such “interest” is really part of their job description.

          That more is coming, I do not doubt, Jeff, as you confirm my every appreciation of the nature, extent, and effect of your work.

          You have brought us thoughtful consideration, exemplary research, and to those of us who care deeply about the state of psychology, encouragement and hope of a return to reason and higher purpose.


          • Jeff Kaye says:

            Thanks, DW.

            As I get somewhat looser at the close of day, let me leave you with one of my favorite poetry quotes, somewhat (in a loony way) apt here:

            “Just the place for a Snark!” the Bellman cried,
            As he landed his crew with care;
            Supporting each man on the top of the tide
            By a finger entwined in his hair.

            “Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
            That alone should encourage the crew.
            Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
            What i tell you three times is true.”

            • DWBartoo says:

              “The Hunting of the Snark”, is most apt, Jeff, regarding not only the sordid tale which you are unraveling and delineating with such deftness, but also much of all the patent absurdity of what we face in the nonsense of “looking forward” when all is upside down and backwards.

              The banker, and the officers of the court come quickly to mind.


              • wavpeac says:

                I was just reminded in your comment of the sentiment “We cannot change what we don’t accept.” And to Obama’s “forward looking”…”We cannot accept the future, we can only accept the now.” Right here, right now.

                • DWBartoo says:

                  Here is where we are. Now.

                  (If we refuse to be present to this moment, then we will be stuck here, until we are.)


        • fatster says:

          ” . . . there’s more to come.”

          Delicious news, Jeff! Congratulations and deepest gratitude for all you do.

  38. Larue says:

    Great piece bmaz, once again, and thanks to you and so many insightful and informed comments.

    I’ll just add that almost every issues above was covered somewhere in the first week or two at Oil Drum.

    And it’s absolutely amazing how FDL folks have taken that info, done their OWN research, and shared it all with us readers. Which is called furthering the dialogue.

    Take a bow folks, ya earned it.

    1) The geology of the Mississippi Canyon is fragile, as has been said. Any explosions to try and collapse the well bore would just as easily fracture any of the layers from 30K ft down (which I’ve read is the depth of bore and beyond permit! 20K-30K) and on up. Bust a hole in the salt dome? Laughable, using an explosion.

    2) Macando v. Tiber Oil Field . . . Is Macando a permit area WITHIN the Tiber Oil Field? Is the Macando Chamber a separate chamber IN the Tiber Field? I’ve read the Tiber Field has 3-6 BILLION gallons and half that volume of gas. Could some pup clarify what Macando is, what it holds, and how it is dif or same to Tiber Oil Field? Thanks, that info is not at Oil Drum, but I don’t comment there and have not asked.

    • DWBartoo says:

      My understanding, which is admittedly meager, Larue, is that the Tiber field is to the west of the Macando site. The Tiber field is in what is known as the Keathley Canyon, while Macando is in the Mississippi Canyon.


    • qweryous says:

      Very interesting document.

      Thanks for posting.

      A few things are immediately noticed:

      “Flowout data not available due to fluids being discharged directly overboard (bypasses flowmeter)”

      “Suspect explosion at 21:49.”

      “EDS was activated from bridge after explosion at 21:56 based on witness statements.”

    • DWBartoo says:

      Thank you, alexhiggins732.

      You have provided a most-interesting entree at the “food-for-thought” buffet.

      It will be speedily devoured by a ravenous crew who have both the appetite and the epicurean sensibilities necessary to its complete and thorough digestion.

      A distinct pleasure it is to watch them work their way through the courses.

      One sincerely hopes that you may join in the festivities, as clearly, you also have a most-impeccable sensitivity regarding what constitutes actual substance rather than empty calories.

      Much appreciation.


    • AlchemyToday says:

      That doesn’t confirm Nelson’s statements. It explains how the blowout occurred and what the situation was before everyone who wasn’t killed evacuated — the pipe casing is not the blowout preventer. It also looks like a briefing delivered to the House Energy & Commerce committee or the relevant subcommittee (more likely) and not some leaked internal White House document. The pressure numbers within match what’s been available the whole time; BP’s provided updated numbers since.

      Nelson’s comment that oil is leaking from around the wellhead would presumably be confirmed by direct video observation; or if there were a sudden drop in pressure/flow out of the blowout preventer, you could infer that it went somewhere else.

      • bobschacht says:

        Nelson’s comment that oil is leaking from around the wellhead would presumably be confirmed by direct video observation; or if there were a sudden drop in pressure/flow out of the blowout preventer, you could infer that it went somewhere else.

        This also probably affects BP’s efforts to close off the valves on the current cap. I suspect that each valve closing increases the pressure inside the BOP and down into the well head. If the pressure rises too much, the oil and gas could seek other avenues to escape, including around the wellhead. They’ve probably got a ROV looking at the wellhead to see what happens when they do any change to the cap.

        Bob in AZ

  39. Professor Foland says:

    For those of you harshing on AT, let us remind ourselves of bmaz’s quote:

    We’re all fucked. I’m fucked. You’re fucked. The whole [thing] is fucked. It’s the biggest cock-up ever. We’re all completely fucked.

    This sums up very well the set of options that BP and the federal government have for a good technological solution. Post-blowout, there just is no good solution, technological or otherwise. (Or, in the wise words of one of my personal heros, “Not every problem can be solved.”) The only solution with a good chance of ending the ongoing leakage is still so far out in the future that it can hardly be called good–merely the best of a disastrous set of options.

    Sure, Obama could have been more straightforward. The Coast Guard could have acted less like BP heavies. Sure, the US government could have nationalized everything and declared a disaster zone. Such actions might have created some space for informed discussion about how to regulate such drilling to prevent these events in the future; or for provision of federal economic aid for damage. But even had they done any or all of these things, I don’t see that it would have created a space for good solutions to the leak.

  40. fatster says:

    NOAA: Under water oil plumes confirmed
    NOAA says water tests confirm underwater oil plumes at `very low’ concentrations.

    Lubchenco at the helm


    • qweryous says:

      More “Lubchenco at the helm”.


      Previously posted here at the Seminal In Scarecrow’s “Dr. Joye Finds Those Stinking Plumes as BP Stalls in Funding Research

      I don’t think that this has been discussed here yet.

      From the American Association for the Advancement of Science ScienceInsider website:

      NOAA Asks for Time Out on Oil Plume Research Cruises
      by Erik Stokstad on June 4, 2010 6:30 PM

      Link to the story at ScienceInsider.

      From that story:

      “Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), yesterday repeated her plea for researchers to be cautious in collecting and interpreting evidence of underwater plumes of oil from the Deepwater Horizon well. Citing unusable data from some expeditions, she proposed a workshop to coordinate sampling methods before more cruises depart. But a prominent academic disagreed, saying that studying the plumes is too urgent to be delayed.”

      Go read the entire story at the link.

      The previously mentioned Dr. Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia is also quoted in the linked article.

      Below is a link to the symposium where the events described in the AAAS ScienceInsider story apparently occurred.


      If this is what the “non Federal scientists” are being told…what are the ‘Federal Scientists’ being told?

  41. fatster says:

    Oil spills escalated in this decade

    “The number of spills from offshore oil rigs and pipelines in U.S. waters more than quadrupled this decade . . .. The leaks came as the oil industry repeatedly claimed that offshore drilling was never safer.

    “The company with the most spills from 2000 through 2009 is BP,”


  42. fatster says:

    Cheney’s push of deregulators led to BP disaster
    [Among Others}

    “WILKERSON: It’s an extraordinary dynamic, actually, and I think ultimately it’s going to be more damaging to the American republic, to our country, than perhaps the Iraq War or the interrogation policies and so forth that Dick Cheney’s more famous for. A book by a political scientist at Gettysburg College, Shirley Anne Warshaw, called The Co-Presidency of Bush and Cheney, documents a lot of what Cheney did to destroy about a half-century or more’s regulatory work with regard to oversight of fisheries, forestry, oil, gas, minerals in general. You name it. If it was supervised, if it was overseen, if it was regulated by the federal government, Cheney with his marvellous bureaucratic talent moved in and essentially replaced the people who were in the positions that were central to this regulation, this oversight, with people who were either lobbyists for the industry being regulated or executives from that industry.”


  43. fatster says:

    Coast Guard to probe report of new Gulf spill: official

    “US authorities will investigate reports that another oil spill is sullying Gulf of Mexico waters not far from the site of the BP disaster, the top official overseeing the cleanup and containment effort said Tuesday.”
    This one is operated by Diamond Offshore Drilling Co.


  44. fatster says:

    Plumes or clouds or whatever–it’s there!

    Gulf oil spill: Undersea oil ‘clouds’ confirmed in spill zone

    “Scientists on a federal research vessel said Tuesday morning that they have confirmed a sub-sea concentration of hydrocarbons near the Deepwater Horizon leak site. 

The preliminary findings suggest that the undersea oil appears and disappears in a series of cloud-like concentrations — instead of as a steady stream of oil, or plume, as early reports from university researchers suggested.” [Emph. added]


  45. fatster says:

    Scientists challenge BP containment claims
    Cast doubt on statement that device could capture ‘vast majority’ of oil


  46. fatster says:

    BP CEO Hayward to testify before Congress

    June 17th – Tony to appear before House ENergy and Committee Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.


  47. Hmmm says:

    I don’t know but I imagine that dispersed oil is less buoyant than undispersed oil — because a glom of oil molecules all together will be more buoyant than the same number of separated oil molecules.

    So (in my customary role as asker of the beyond obvious) is anybody else wondering about this idea?:

    – Without corexant inserted at leak site: Oil mainly goes to surface.

    – With corexant inserted at leak site: Lots of oil goes into downwater plumes. Oil on surface is reduced.

    Corexant hides oil.

      • AlchemyToday says:

        The point of dispersants is to render a spill less toxic by lowering the local concentration of oil. Problems with oil making water impassable, covering birds, etc are avoided. It’s not some cosmetic fix. Here’s a good overview of why this is the right choice by Lisa Jackson – http://www.epa.gov/bpspill/dispersants/statement-dispersant-use-may24.pdf

        I’ve seen a lot of chatter about the relative toxicity of dispersant and oil, etc online. This doesn’t take into account that Corexit is much more biodegradable than oil.

        • drhu22 says:

          it also doesnt take into account that there are much safer kinds of dispersants (from what ive gathered)

        • john in sacramento says:

          The Law of Unintended Consequences rears it’s ugly head

          Another way to get oil off the surface is to use a chemical dispersing agent. These detergent-based substances cause oil to bead up into tiny droplets that can mix into the water and disperse into deeper layers. Underwater currents can then theoretically dilute the oil and its risk to the environment.

          Dispersion spares surface-dwelling animals, such as birds and otters. But as oil drifts downward, it falls on fish and on the eggs that are stuck to surfaces or buried in the sediment.

          To find out just how dangerous dispersed oil might be to fish, Hodson and colleagues performed a series of laboratory experiments with beakers that were meant to simulate contaminated lakes. In all of the beakers, the scientists mixed water with diesel oil, then added newly hatched trout embryos. In some beakers, the scientists added a dispersing agent.

          Their analyses, published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, showed that dispersants greatly increased the amount of hydrocarbons that could affect fish. In turn, that extra dose of exposure made the oil 100 times more toxic to the animals. Toxicity was measured as an elevated enzyme response in the livers of the fish.

          Exposure to dispersed oil doesn’t kill a lot of fish, Hodson added. Instead, it either kills eggs before they hatch or leads to damage or deformities in juvenile fish.


        • Hmmm says:

          I don’t have the background to say whether what you say is true, but even if it is, it doesn’t alter the corexant=camo effect that I suggested and that dear fatster’s documented for us.

          • AlchemyToday says:

            Yes, it is camouflage in that it makes oil into small bits contained by dispersant instead of massive slicks of oil on the surface. This is, on the whole, a good thing for the environment. There’s a 1990 article on the use of dispersants, particularly Corexit 9500, throughout the couple decades prior. You need electronic journal access to read it:

            The Significance of Oil Spill Dispersants
            Spill Science & Technology Bulletin
            Volume 6, Issue 1, 1 February 2000, Pages 59-68

            The conclusion is that it’s very preferable to the alternative except for use near coastlines (which is why the UK has banned its use in that instance). So, applying it at the source of the leak 70 miles out from shore is OK (it will degrade before it reaches any shore), but applying it near the coast is more questionable, especially if storms are coming that might was it inland. I don’t believe any of this has anything to do with the chemical toxicity of the oil or dispersant (which is measured by the concentration necessary to kill microorganisms, by the way, and isn’t the best measure of environmental safety).

            Regarding safer/alternative dispersants, money, and bacterial solutions, BP doesn’t make Corexit, NALCO does. NALCO has been donating their equipment to use for pilot tests of alternative dispersants throughout this disaster. Other methods are being tried, but are not proven to be as safe as Corexit through decades of use. For example, other dispersants may be less toxic according to the test I mentioned before, but may degrade more slowly or bioaccumulate. I’ve seen people mention that Corexit is 4 times as toxic as crude, but Corexit degrades in a week or so while oil will last for months if untreated. Corexit 9500 is also a simple (but patented) mixture of commonly available chemicals — no chemical synthesis is necessary to make it; making millions of gallons of it on demand is quite possible if the component chemicals are available, and the chemicals it contains are used in many common consumer products. There are a ton of factors that surface analysis of this sort of thing doesn’t get to, and I think it’s very reasonable to defer to the EPA, an agency that has been firmly independent since its inception.

            Lastly, the applications of dispersants at the source a mile below the surface is a fairly novel and untested problem, I think. There’s a lot of decisions being made on the fly based on data coming in every day. Jackson talks about this in the statement I posted above.

            • bmaz says:

              Couple of things. While I do not necessarily disagree with your statement here, there are ties between BP and Nalco; they have and or have had significant directors and officers in common and thus at least linked financial interests but, far more importantly, Nalco is considered part of the oil and gas producer community due to its umbilical cord only partially cut from Exxon. So, effectively, BP is insisting on using an insider product when there are others that have been killed off over the years or are not able to have the quantities necessary on demand because they are wrongly shunned by the inside players. Granted, that is more of a long term complaint, the facts may be there was no other immediate dispersant available for this specific nightmare but, if so, that is by craven design. There should have been, and must be as we head to the future, much more effort to honestly study types and uses of dispersants and insure that the safest and most ecologically dispersants that are effective are the ones used, especially when mass quantities are to be applied.

              Secondly, yes there is a trade off as you describe and, for the immediate short term, it would appear the dispersant has helped keep the shorelines cleaner than would have otherwise been the case. However, the long term impact may turn out far more devastating than is currently known. There has never been such a heavy application and saturation of one general area with the extreme volumes of Corexit as is being applied here. If it destroys the reefs and seabed life zone outward from Macondo in to the coast of the Gulf states and mouth of the Mississippi, then that will have been an awful steep price and would militate against the use, and volumes of use, of Corexit. I have no idea if this will occur, I certainly hope not; but we just do not know.

              There is no good answer to this mess, only bad and worse ones.

              • fatster says:

                Hurricanes is definitely in the “bad to worse” category. A big one would bring lots of that oil and Corexit and anything else they may have been using onto land.

              • AlchemyToday says:

                “If it destroys the reefs and seabed life zone outward from Macondo in to the coast of the Gulf states and mouth of the Mississippi, then that will have been an awful steep price and would militate against the use, and volumes of use, of Corexit.”

                That’s a big if. That sort of logic seems to be why collection and burning is preferred to dispersant use anywhere near the coast, though. The product doesn’t bioaccumulate and we can calculate whether it’ll be present at toxic levels at its current volume of application. A column of water one mile deep and ten miles in radius contains about 300 cubic miles of water or about 100 * 10^12 gallons. If there’s been 100 million gallons of dispersant applied, that’s 1 part-per-million assuming it all stayed within this volume… the large, low-concentration plumes are probably mixtures of oil and dispersant… I don’t think there have been any reports of high concentration dispersant being found in any one area for a long period of time. Studies of the toxicity of these dispersants show toxicity for exposures for a few days at levels well above 1 ppm for most organisms (and around 1 ppm for the most vulnerable organisms):


                What’s the distribution of life like between Macondo and the Delta? I have heard that it’s largely a dead zone, but obviously the spill is reaching sensitive/important areas. I don’t know what the non-coastal areas that may see higher oil/dispersant levels are like, though.

                Also, are there any dispersants that can be used at a wide scale from outside of the industry? It seems that anyone who developed a successful dispersant would probably have their technology bought/licensed by someone in the industry. I’ve seen a few aspirational press releases from companies who say they’re being ignored, but I don’t know how realistic these are in terms of the history of the products they’re offering.

                • bmaz says:

                  I am of the inclination to agree with you generally, as I stated above; truth is neither one of us knows though and only time will tell (and lots of time I mean). Not clear that anybody really knows for that matter and that is kind of my point. There should have been ongoing testing, studies and preparation for this eventuality, but there was not. If the experience in the mass application of other toxics in a wide variety of other situations is any indicator, there may be residual effects far worse than imagined today. Or maybe not. We just do not know. As to whether there are other and better compounds that could have been used, I have very little doubt about that. But as stated above, we don’t and won’t know so long as the oil industry controls this area as they currently do. For this application, it may well be Corexit was the best/easiest available.

                  I do wish the “unified command” was allowing for at least some application and testing of alternatives as long as we have this nuclear sized petri dish up and running; but they will not. Funny the US government can sanction with glee grotesque torture experimentation on human subjects, some relatively innocent, but cannot sanction even small testing of better and more ecological dispersants even in small test areas away from the spill itself.

                  • AlchemyToday says:

                    Obviously not an unbiased source, but Nalco says, “In fact, Nalco has facilitated the trials of other products by providing its dispersant delivery equipment to responders.” – http://www.nalco.com/news-and-events/4285.htm

                    I believe other dispersants are being tested… any test draws resources away from mitigation, so it’s a hard balance to draw.

                    And Mason, no, I don’t work for BP. I’m a graduate student who looks up this stuff while I’m waiting for a centrifugation run to finish because I think it’s fascinating. You can look up this alias and find out whatever you want about my real life if you’re so inclined. For the sake of full disclosure, I happen to own an increasingly small amount of BP stock that I ironically bought because I thought they were taking safety seriously and were more ahead of the curve on alternative energy than other companies. I’m not deluded enough to think that anything I say on the Internet could affect the stock price, though, and I’m as disgusted that this happened as anyone (never understood why the MMS scandal disappeared from the headlines so quickly, for instance). My impression of the response is different that most here, though. I agree that BP’s lack of full disclosure was and continues to be a big problem, although I also recognize that that’s a complicated issue as a publicly traded company. Every statement has to be thoroughly vetted or they’ll be facing securities fraud charges on top of a hundred billion or so in cleanup costs and damages. There are a lot of parallels to the Apollo 13 near-disaster; having to come up with improvised engineering solutions on the fly where the consequences of failure are incredible. It’s worth watching a CNN story today on the Houston command center… caught it at the gym and I assume they have a video of it online somewhere.

                    As far as what you’re responding to goes, I tend to hold off on suspecting a conspiracy is more likely than not in the absence of evidence that (1) a conspiracy exists, and (2) a conspiracy would benefit everyone allegedly involved in it. In this case, it would be a conspiracy of hundreds or thousands including many career civil servants working for agencies noted for their independence and a Nobel laureate who dedicated his career to carbon-free energy. So, yeah, I’m skeptical.

                    Regarding endocrine disrupters, I think it’s inevitable that taking oil from the surface into the water column will increase wildlife exposure to hydrocarbons and whatever consequences that entails. That ought to factor into the difficult decision as to what’s the best clean-up/mitigation method for the Gulf economy and environment. Was the same experiment conducted with Brat #4? It seems like there’s a difference between an endocrine disrupter (or a precursor to one) being part of the dispersant solution and a dispersant that solublizes endocrine disrupters already present in crude.

                    • qweryous says:

                      “There are a lot of parallels to the Apollo 13 near-disaster; having to come up with improvised engineering solutions on the fly where the consequences of failure are incredible. It’s worth watching a CNN story today on the Houston command center… caught it at the gym and I assume they have a video of it online somewhere.”

                      I can think of a few reasons that this is no more correct than calling this Spill “An Act Of God”.

                      Link to “Act of God” statement and information concerning Governor Perry TX and his statement.

                      Reason 1. Death toll Apollo 13 =0. Death Toll Deepwater Horizon 11 ( so far).

                      Reason 2. Deepwater Horizon is already a real disaster not a near disaster.

                      Reason 3. Environmental impact statements, drilling plan approvals and so forth claim that this Deepwater Horizon event both won’t occur, and if it should occur, will be properly dealt with. Both obviously not correct.

                      Reason 4. No happy ending for Deep Water Horizon Event.

                      Reason 5. As far as the dismissal of conspiracy theory- a straw man.

                      Covering up regulatory incompetence, improper influence of regulators by the regulated, revolving doors, not to mention snorting meth off toaster ovens and drunken sex with the regulated, no idea why any of this might be covered up. This has NEVER HAPPENED. This has NEVER BEEN HIDDEN from public view.

                      Did I forget Dick Cheney and his energy task force secret meetings?

                      This event is much more like Apollo 1 LINK

                      Or perhaps like the Challenger Space Shuttle. LINK

                      Or perhaps the Columbia Space Shuttle. LINK

                    • AlchemyToday says:

                      I said a lot of parallels; not a perfect analogy. I’m obviously aware of all of the differences that you cite. The primary parallels are:
                      (1) A life-threatening problem that could’ve been prevented by proper engineering and backup systems
                      (2) A boatload of scientists and engineers thrown together to somehow agree on a solution given a limited set of options. For Apollo 13, they were limited by what’s on-board. For Deepwater, they’re limited by what exists, can be transported to the site, and is known to operate at 5000′.

                      As far as a near-disaster goes, it would obviously be a far worse disaster if a proposed solution failed, blew away the blowout preventer, and we had 50-100k barrels per day (obviously I don’t know the actual number) and no way to stop it until August.

                      I don’t see how it’s a strawman. I originally responded to this: “Call me paranoid, but Obama and BP have made it very clear that they are cooperating to hide something that frightened them.” Mason’s acknowledging a seemingly paranoid belief in a conspiracy and I agree that it’s baseless paranoia and seriously doubt that there’s some ongoing conspiracy.

                      I agree that this isn’t an act of God. I also don’t consider the oil spilled during Katrina an act of God. I’m on the fence about whether a tornado-caused a blowout would be an act of God.

                    • john in sacramento says:

                      I don’t see how it’s a strawman. I originally responded to this: “Call me paranoid, but Obama and BP have made it very clear that they are cooperating to hide something that frightened them.” Mason’s acknowledging a seemingly paranoid belief in a conspiracy and I agree that it’s baseless paranoia and seriously doubt that there’s some ongoing conspiracy.

                      BP, Coast Guard and White House All Withheld Damning Early Oil Spill Info

                      BP’s communication with the public over the course of the oil spill disaster hasn’t exactly been the most forthcoming, but newly surfaced documents and video footage from the onset of the crisis indicate it’s not alone in that: The company, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Obama Administration all deliberately obscured the true seriousness of the situation from the country.

                      In damning video footage suppressed for 20 days but obtained this week by ABC News, three separate leaks can be clearly seen pouring oil in the first few days after the explosion of Deepwater Horizon on April 20.


                    • AlchemyToday says:

                      There are two main claims there. First, that the Coast Guard/Obama/etc lied about the presence of a leak. Attempts were still underway to close the BOP ahead of the visible leaks; I think it’s more likely that those comments were referencing leaks that could not be stopped by successfully closing the BOP or were remarks made in ignorance. Second, that the everyone lied about the potential size of the spill in the case of a complete blowout. This was known early to be 50,000+ barrels/day. Reports within NOAA delivered this information before the rig even sank. There’s an obvious distinction between what is actually spilling and what could be spilling. If there were a conspiracy to suppress this number, it would involve hundreds of people.

                      Anyway, Mason’s remark was made in the present tense.

                    • john in sacramento says:

                      What? (as in, what do you mean?)

                      I’m probably slower than molasses in January but I don’t understand you. Let’s start here with something clear

                      There’s an obvious distinction between what is actually spilling and what could be spilling.

                      As in the difference between truth and conjecture, right?

                      You say

                      Attempts were still underway to close the BOP ahead of the visible leaks; I think it’s more likely that those comments were referencing leaks that could not be stopped by successfully closing the BOP or were remarks made in ignorance.

                      Looks like conjecture to me

                      As to your next point in reference a conspiracy of silence

                      … that the everyone lied about the potential size of the spill in the case of a complete blowout.

                      Looks like a distinction without a difference to me. My link again, and see fatsters link


                      This was known early to be 50,000+ barrels/day. Reports within NOAA delivered this information before the rig even sank.

                      Why was the five thousand barrels a day the most mentioned number? Link?

                      About the non-conspiracy being in the past tense (at least on BP’s part)

                      Yet another scientist on the government-assembled group estimating flow rates has spoken up and voiced skepticism about BP’s claims.

                      Steve Wereley, a Purdue University engineering professor and a member of the Flow Rate Technical Group [1], criticized BP for mischaracterizing how much oil it is capturing with its containment cap, according to The Associated Press.

                      PS I’ll take you at your word that you’re not a PR stooge for whomever, but you’re making it awfully hard by being so acquiescent to BP considering their poor safety record; with the few links that you do give being oil industry funded studies, and talking points straight out of some Frank Luntz manual

                    • qweryous says:


                      I edited the phrase “This is Total BULLSHIT” from @276.

                      Too late to fix that mistake with an edit.

                      For the other poster:


                      You could have a secret war.

                      Planes bombing-covert forces and supported troops on the ground.
                      Congress and the public know nothing.

                      Dozens,hundreds,maybe thousands of bombing missions all in secret.

                      The leader of the country being bombed for multiple reasons does not protest this bombing.

                      “SAC flew 3,800 B-52 sorties against these targets, and dropped 108,823 tons of ordnance during the missions”

                      Including US supported and US covert forces on the ground this goes on from 1967 to 1972.

                      Could this be possible?

                      LINK: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Menu

                      From that link:

                      “For four years Menu remained unknown to Congress, the media, and the American public. That situation changed in December 1972, when Major Knight wrote a letter to Senator William Proxmire (D, WI), asking for “clarification” as to U.S. policy on the bombing of Cambodia. Knight, who had become concerned over the legality[28] of his actions, had complained to his superior officer, Colonel David Patterson. He then received several bad efficiency reports, which ruined his career, and he had been discharged from the Air Force.[29]

                      Proxmire’s further questioning led to hearings of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which eventually demanded that the Department of Defense turn over all records of U.S. air operations in Cambodia. When they arrived, the records did not even mention the Menu strikes. The committee was not convinced and the investigation continued. Less than two weeks later, it opened hearings on the nomination of General George S. Brown for the position of chief of staff of the Air Force. As commander of the Seventh Air Force in South Vietnam, Brown had been privy to Menu and disclosed as much to the committee.

                      For the next eight days the committee listened to the testimony of administration officials and the Joint Chiefs, who tried to justify their actions. The committee uncovered excuses and deceptions that were perhaps more alarming than those occurring simultaneously in the Watergate hearings.[30] The Menu revelations raised “fundamental questions as to military discipline and honesty, of civilian control over the military, and of Congressional effectiveness.”[29] It was basically agreed, both by Congress and concerned military officers, that the deception employed during Menu went beyond covertness. According to Air Force historian Captain Earl H. Tilford: “Deception to fool the enemy was one thing, but lying to Congress and key members of the government, including the chief of staff of the Air Force and the secretary of the Air Force, was something else.”[31]”

                    • fatster says:

                      Please don’t forget that Kissinger had a major role in the secret bombing of Cambodia and Laos. And he’s advising Obama.

                    • qweryous says:

                      He does appear several times in the linked wiki article.

                      A blast from the past.

                      What could go wrong?

                    • AlchemyToday says:

                      Why was the five thousand barrels a day the most mentioned number? Link?

                      A complete blowout means there’s nothing at the surface and you have an unobstructed flow. This wasn’t the case. Early reports were on the order of thousands of barrels a day leaking, but agencies involved estimated a worst case scenario of something like 55-100k/day. This mirrors BP’s submissions before the fact (wherein they also stated, incorrectly, that they could deal with a spill of that magnitude), and current thoughts on what the upper rate could be. The 1,000 than 5,000 than 80,000 (Wereley) than 12-25k then 19-25k number (I think that more or less covers it) is for the amount of oil actually spilling in the absence of a complete blowout, with the blowout preventer and riser (and who knows what else inside) providing some obstruction. The fact that it wasn’t already the worst case has factored into decisions like slowly ramping up the production capabilities of the current camp. Go too quickly, and the BOP could blow from overpressure or you could have an explosion on the processing ship.

                      Note that Werley first estimate was 2.9 million gallons/day from one of three leaks and he claimed 20% accuracy. He later upped that to 3.9 million gallons/day when he saw the additional leaks. Here’s Wereley today:
                      “Steve Wereley said it was a “reasonable conclusion” but not the team’s final one to say that the daily flow rate is, in fact, somewhere between 798,000 gallons and 1.8 million gallons.”

                      Someone who was so completely wrong about his confidence intervals shouldn’t be the point man on criticizing oil estimates. At least Thad Allen always provided the caveat that this was strictly based on surface measurements and that he didn’t know how large the leak was.

                      PS I’ll take you at your word that you’re not a PR stooge for whomever, but you’re making it awfully hard by being so acquiescent to BP considering their poor safety record; with the few links that you do give being oil industry funded studies, and talking points straight out of some Frank Luntz manual

                      I think I pointed to one thing that was PR. It was from Nalco, not BP, and it was a statement of fact. Feel free to dismiss oil industry studies in which they perform standard tests of the toxicity of chemicals used within the industry as required by various Federal agencies; that’s why I provided other numbers that mirror Nalco’s results.

                      And yes, it’s conjecture on why the White House wasn’t out with leak estimates within the first few days of the accident. In retrospect, everyone involved should’ve been more transparent. I’m sure BP was holding out hope that the attempts to fix the blowout preventer with ROVs. would have worked. Another issue is that there was still a lifesaving operation going on until several days after the explosion; talking about the leak would lead to criticisms of BP and the White House not being sufficiently sensitive to lives at risk… especially in light of the recent mining deaths.

                    • fatster says:

                      Many thanks, qweryous. You’re becoming our clearinghouse, you know, ‘cuz you’re so good at it.

                    • fatster says:

                      In addition to the estimate reached at that early NOAA meeting (which is in the video you linked to), I was amazed at the sheer number of citations and such that BP had accumulated over the years. Seems to me an outfit with a record like that would be on the very bottom of the list of potential deep-water drillers. But whatta I know?

                      I do hope bmaz, bobschacht, Mason, Hmmm and the others who’ve sat staring at BP’s underwater gusher into the wee hours do read the RS article. I botched linking it on EW’s post about Congress, BP and Subpoena power. My browser was overloaded, I guess, and didn’t deposit the correct link, so I’m concerned no one will see it. It ties everything together very well, I thought.

                    • bmaz says:

                      Within some parameters (i.e. reasonably preparing for such an event), both hurricane and tornado are likely within the common contemplation of force majeure in the law. This is an area I can actually speak to with a little authority.

                    • econobuzz says:

                      In this case, it would be a conspiracy of hundreds or thousands including many career civil servants working for agencies noted for their independence and a Nobel laureate who dedicated his career to carbon-free energy. So, yeah, I’m skeptical.

                      This is PURE bullshit. EVERYONE who knows the facts has an interest to lie or keep quiet about them. In both the administration and at BP. You know nothing about conspiracies or what it takes to sustain them. Anyone who breaks the silence loses their fucking job and career — and is immediately vilified by all those around them. Telling the truth costs you and your family EVERYTHING.

                      Please, I’ve been reading this bullshit for days that there is no conspiracy because so many folks would have to be involved. That’s just nonsense. Also nonsense is your contention that nothing else could have been, or can be done, about protecting the coastline from the “spill” or cleaning it up.

                      The response is a complete fucking joke.

                    • qweryous says:

                      OOps wrong reference to bullshit.

                      Hundred of well paid government bureaucrats, not to mention contract employees and consultants. Hard to believe that they wouldn’t take advantage of the robust whistle blower protections and step right up to the reporter and spill it all.

          • fatster says:

            Aw, thanks, Hmmm. I do hope you’re having great success these days making big splashes that are being noticed and appreciated.

              • fatster says:

                So glad you’re back. Hope the outcome of your “visiting” went well beyond your expectations.

      • Hmmm says:

        Hi fatster! Sorry I’ve been absent, am off being a big shot in the teensy tiny pond in which I swim. Back to normal tomorrow night.

        — Hmmm the “Visting Artist”

  48. drhu22 says:

    Regarding cleaning up, are there any informed opinions out there about the pros and cons of using biological agents, ie: microbes?

    Ive only heard good reports about its ability to clean up oil…why is it not being used?

  49. drhu22 says:

    I thought i saw a news article that said bp was asked or told to use something else and they refused.

  50. drhu22 says:

    re:Exposure to dispersed oil doesn’t kill a lot of fish, Hodson added. Instead, it either kills eggs before they hatch or leads to damage or deformities in juvenile fish.

    That’s what happened/is happening in Prince William Sound

  51. drhu22 says:

    My new theory:

    Maybe BP is trying to fill the gulf so freakin full of oil ie: one big freakin plume that all theyll have to do is just suck it up from shore or surface.

    Think of the savings!

  52. drhu22 says:

    This is just too f*****g depressing to dwell on.
    Lets all get drunk, maybe that’ll help.

    Oh, and everybody stock up on seafood.

  53. fatster says:

    And lo it came to pass.

    “A decade ago, U.S. government regulators warned that a major deepwater oil spill could start with a fire on a drilling rig, prove hard to stop and cause extensive damage to fish eggs and wetlands because there were few good ways to capture oil underwater.”



    • fatster says:

      I’m trying to go to sleep here and you keep trying to get me to go look on those damned ROVs for your corkscrew. You shoulda put it in the drawer, dammit.

  54. fatster says:

    Adm. Thud has a new title!

    Crisis point man tells BP to say more about claims

    Obama’s Gulf oil crisis point man demands BP tell more about how it’s handling damage claims


  55. qweryous says:

    For those interested in the use and safety of dispersants here are a few links.

    First let’s begin with this link provided at 266 above.

    It is an abstract of a paper titled “Acute Toxicity of Three Corexit products: An Overview.”
    Anita George-Ares and James R. Clark
    Exxon Biomedical Sciences Inc.

    The Abstract indicates toxicity testing of the dispersants. When these chemicals are used as intended, they do mix with oil; thus the consideration of what is the toxicity of the dispersant during and after mixing with oil, and whether the use of the dispersant may actually increase the toxicity of the oil, are questions to be answered.

    EDIT: Not addressed by this research if the abstract reflects the paper.

    The employment situation of the authors at the time of the writing may be of interest to the reader, this information was somehow omitted when this link was first posted.

    Some starting points for additional information on the subject of dispersants are:




    Previously on this thread comment 225 by Mason LINK

    “None of your arguments impress. I’ve been consistently frustrated by what the cameras didn’t show and should have shown. Given BP’s misrepresentations, I’m astonished by your comment.

    Do you work for BP?”

    • bmaz says:

      Thanks qweryous. As you have plowed through the paper, were there any additional conclusions you could draw for application to the current situation?

      And for anybody else still coming back to this thread, I continue to press Senator Nelson’s office for the specific details on what reports he indicated he had received in the MSNBC appearance. For the record, they have promised me far more than they have delivered so far.

      • qweryous says:

        All I read was the 1 page abstract at the link the other poster provided.

        Put off looking for the paper itself until now.

    • fatster says:

      Good going, qweryous! You must have quite the collection of articles and other information by now.

      • qweryous says:


        Still no further response from the O.P.

        I expected some thanks from the O.P. for pointing out the paper was authored by employees of Exxon Biomedical Sciences as that should make them even more expert than the goovernmint rigulators- but nothing yet….

        Oh and Mason @225 is still waiting….as am I .

        EDIT: never m

  56. AlchemyToday says:

    Last thing; I think I’ve made my points here and it’s great to have a good discussion of this stuff. I think BP’s safety record is horrendous. The number of citations thing is very interesting. In 2009, they received 439 (I think) citations from one incident in which a refinery blew up and killed several workers. There was a similar incident in the same year; both struck a huge blow against BP’s “We’re all about safety now!” PR. Anyway, it’s interesting to look behind the huge numbers and see what they actually represent. You can find all of that info at OSHA’s website.

    • bmaz says:

      I believe you are referring to the Texas City Refinery explosion and fire, which actually occurred in 2005, they pled guilty to in 2007 and were sentenced on (through a convoluted process I do not have time to go into) in 2009. They have had at least 300 or so violations at that facility since the 2005 fire. The “similar incident” you refer to was in Alaska, although there was not the death factor. You can read about both and see the relevant criminal plea documents at this post I did back on May 3rd.

  57. john in sacramento says:

    Well, I don’t know what the actual flow rate is. And – correct me if I’m wrong on anything – but if you use BP’s numbers of oil and gas captured just from the top hat dealio

    On June 8th, a total of approximately 15,000 barrels of oil were collected and 29.4 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

    Going back to 7th or 8th grade math the area of a circle is pi x r squared

    And if the riser pipe is 21″ which will give you an area of 1385.44″

    And if the siphon is 4″ which will give you an area of 50.27″

    The ratio is = 27.56

    27.56 x 15,000 = 413,400 Barrels, not taking into account the gas which would probably be another more complicated formula that I don’t know off the top of my head

    Am I wrong about the sizes of the riser pipe or the siphon? Am I wrong about the math?

    • Hmmm says:

      Hi john in sacramento. Didn’t we do this once before? I think you’d have to take into account the flow rates of the two pipes, not only the ratio of their cross-sectional areas. For example if the little pipe is sucking twice as hard as the big pipe’s blowing, then it’d be getting not 1/27.56 of the oil but 1/13.78 of the oil. If sucking 4x as hard, it’d be 1/6.89 of the oil, etc.

    • jackmojack says:

      That would be serious indeed, but I read the article too and found several problems with it: 1) I did not get the impression that the NOAA head was trying to prevent research on the plumes, but rather insisting that collection of samples proceed with sufficient care to enable determination of their source. Improperly collected data is just noise that will diminish the ability to determine what is really happening there. 2) We know that someone made some statement of DHS policy restricting elected officials and media on a federal asset. This sounds absurd, but no one involved bothered to verify that the DHS contact actually works for DHS nor bothered to get their name or that was claimed is actually DHS policy. It would seem that Sen Nelson should have enough clout to get that information.

    • jackmojack says:

      Claim of article is serious, but several problems: 1) NOAA not trying to inhibit collection of data on plumes – just insisting that data be collected with sufficient care to be useful. Improperly collected samples are useless or will add noise to the analysis – worse than useless; 2) DHS claim too absurd to be real – who was the DHS contact? Anyone bother to get a name or check that he/she is authorized to represent the agency or that the policy is as claimed. Sen. Nelson should have enough clout to demand clarification if the newspaper does not. That whole thing kinda smells to me — unless it’s the elected official that does not want reporters around.

      • jackmojack says:

        (Sorry for duplicate posts – tried to edit first one and thought I lost it – apparently not – lol)

Comments are closed.