Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

LQD diary--comment from TOD on the Blowout & yes it is worse . . .

by Gaianne Wed Jun 16th, 2010 at 11:45:20 PM EST

Dougr in a comment on The Oil Drum says:  

OK let's get real about the GOM oil flow. There doesn't really seem to be much info on TOD that furthers more complete understanding of what's really happening in the GOM.
As you have probably seen and maybe feel yourselves, there are several things that do not appear to make sense regarding the actions of attack against the well. Don't feel bad, there is much that doesn't make sense even to professionals unless you take into account some important variables that we are not being told about. There seems to me to be a reluctance to face what cannot be termed anything less than grim circumstances in my opinion. There certainly is a reluctance to inform us regular people and all we have really gotten is a few dots here and there...
That is:
there really can only be one answer and that answer does not bode well for all of us.


dougr continues  

First of all...set aside all your thoughts of plugging the well and stopping it from blowing out oil using any method from the top down. Plugs, big valves to just shut it off, pinching the pipe closed, installing a new bop or lmrp, shooting any epoxy in it, top kills with mud etc etc etc....forget that, it won't be happening..it's done and over. In fact actually opening up the well at the subsea source and allowing it to gush more is not only exactly what has happened, it was probably necessary, or so they think anyway.

So you have to ask WHY? Why make it worse?...there really can only be one answer and that answer does not bode well for all of us. It's really an inescapable conclusion at this point, unless you want to believe that every Oil and Gas professional involved suddenly just forgot everything they know or woke up one morning and drank a few big cups of stupid and got assigned to directing the response to this catastrophe. Nothing makes sense unless you take this into account, but after you do...you will see the "sense" behind what has happened and what is happening. That conclusion is this:

The well bore structure is compromised "Down hole".

That is something which is a "Worst nightmare" conclusion to reach. While many have been saying this for some time as with any complex disaster of this proportion many have "said" a lot of things with no real sound reasons or evidence for jumping to such conclusions, well this time it appears that they may have jumped into the right place...

[Read the rest of dougr's comment at TOD -- edited by DoDo]

The US will be affected by this, obviously.  For example, we can now expect the Gulf of Mexico to become uninhabitable.  Nobody has given any thought to evacuating the tens of millions of people who live along the Gulf Coast, and nobody will.  They will have to get themselves out, or die.  They haven't thought about this yet, but in a few months they will, of necessity.  

The immediate threat will be the volatile portion of the crude oil, which is approximately called gasoline or petrol, and which causes illness followed by death when inhaled for long periods.  The looming threat arises when the Gulf shifts from aerobic life to anaerobic life, and begins producing hydrogen sulfide.  At that point, if we get that far, we will be immitating in the Gulf region the conditions of the Permian extinction.  

But in fact the whole world is going to be affected.  For one thing, the oil is going to contaminate parts of the North Atlantic, and there will be no containment of the disaster:  It will just wander at random.  

Also, the consequences will impinge on both the world economy and world politics.  

--Thanks to James Howard Kundstler, scroll down to "The Daily Grunt"

--Gaianne

Display:
Thanks for stopping by.  

The Fates are kind.
by Gaianne on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 12:17:22 AM EST
This is a real quality article. What if we had journalists who did actual reporting like this...

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 06:02:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
page him.  But there he was buried half-way down a thread of some hundred comments . . .  

Given his analysis, Matt Simmons' "ravings" make a kind of sense.  

But TOD is really down on Simmons right now, though they do not refute him.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 09:29:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But TOD is really down on Simmons right now

They are?

In other news, yesterday Mikael Höök of ASPO Sweden's board (I'm on it as well) was on morning TV commenting the Deepwater Horizon spill, and I must say that he performed excellently. :)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 06:18:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Oil Drum: Australia/New Zealand | Nuking The Oil Slick?

I don't read Simmons much. As far as science is concerned, he is the layman.

Simmons reminds me of the line by Pacino
"I got ears, ya' know. I hear things."

There are plenty of other comments in that thread that either take for granted or dispute Simmons' credibility.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 06:56:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Simmons is an oilman. He has some interesting things to say, but I would never assume one word that comes out of his mouth is not connected to his own financial interests.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 01:07:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and all that, but Matt Simmons is smarter than most.  He pulled together the geological reports that enabled him to accurately predict the peaking of Saudi oil production several years before it happened, at a time when few imagined the Saudis could be close to peaking.  

So if someone wants to gainsay Simmons they really should have some good arguments lined up.  

The out-of-hand dissing smells of incompetence on the part of those dissing.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sat Jun 19th, 2010 at 03:32:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting comment, Saudi peaked back in 1980. Simmons wasn't nothing but an ordinary stock market investor back then - without disregarding the work he has done more recently.

As I wrote before, so far there is no evidence supporting Simmons's claims of a second leak, far from the BOP, flowing at 120 Kb/d. Also, given that no well at the GOM as ever produced more than 50 Kb/d, the changes of this being true are really slim.

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.

by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Sat Jun 19th, 2010 at 03:53:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]


The Fates are kind.
by Gaianne on Sat Jun 19th, 2010 at 05:52:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep, they did. But not because of geological constraints. Central banker of the oil market and all that.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sat Jun 19th, 2010 at 08:47:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What if we had journalists who did actual reporting like this...

Starvid,

What I can tell you is that at the moment this is nothing more than pure conjecture. The folk that know at TheOilDrum have dug out for evidence of these and Simmons's claims and there simply aren't any.

There is no evidence pointing to a casing rupture, neither I believe there is a way to know if that's the case. But even if there is a rupture, and oil is migrating into the rock formation (which btw has to be porous), for it to percolate from there to the ocean floor it would take ages...

Little is known and speculation is rife. For lean and clean information on this subject I suggest Dave Summers's blog, Bit Tooth Energy, though most of is being daily pasted at TheOilDrum.

Btw, this comment has been spreading like wildfire on the internets and is responsible for a surge in visits to TheOilDrum. It makes one wonder.

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.

by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 05:20:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The folk that know at TheOilDrum have dug out for evidence of these and Simmons's claims and there simply aren't any
 

They have not.  

To deal directly with Simmon's conclusions would require information they have not taken up.  

They have not weighed in on Dougr's post one way or the other.  Dougr's deductions about the state of the liner (aka casing) have been neither supported nor contradicted by the front-page posters.  

Dougr is using the same information they are using.  He is right or he is wrong, but he is working from the same data.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sat Jun 19th, 2010 at 11:49:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Checkmate?

More often than not, death comes as a result of a sequence of bad choices which reinforce each other. These choices may not appear bad at the time—but they certainly do in retrospect! The end result is a situation in which no further steps can be taken that would not be either harmful or futile. This is the essence of checkmate: no moves left. At that point, none of the previous moves can be undone.
[...]
Most people have come to terms with the theory of natural selection, and can understand individual and group failure. But over the last few decades—quite recently, in fact—it has become unacceptable to speak of accepting the failure of very large corporations, societies and countries as a terminal state. They are always considered to be in need of bail-out, reorganization, aid, reform, reconstruction, development and so forth.
[...]
[...]  when serial failures are continually rescued, this allows them to bloat up until they are too large for the rescuers to deal with, at which point they become too big to not fail. When any one of them can no longer be rescued, the result is a cascaded failure that overwhelms the rest, and failure becomes crippling. Past that point, nobody gets to try much of anything ever again: society has checkmated itself.

What happens after that point bears a striking resemblance to what came before. After all, there were many insoluble problems before, and many degenerative cultural trends could be observed. It's just that there are more of them afterward, and they are more severe, but there may not be an obvious qualitative difference. It may not be immediately apparent that checkmate has arrived, and the specific point in time can become visible only in retrospect, if at all. Emergencies come and go, and people get used to the fact that the beaches are black and sometimes catch fire and burn for weeks, or that there is a ravine running through the center of town where the riverfront used to be, or that electricity is only on for a couple of hours a day. Dogs and children turn feral, but nobody remembers when that started happening, so everyone assumes that that's the way it's always been. Nor does anyone remember when it became fashionable to tattoo corporate logos on one's scalp, or to proudly display one's naked buttocks in public. An expatriate who leaves and later comes back might think that this now is a completely different country, but those who stay would be at pains to detect the difference because for them changes were too slow to rise above the threshold of perception.

The population can dwindle quite rapidly, but this too is often imperceptible. Large swaths of the landscape become depopulated, but that is not noticed by anyone because nobody goes there any more. When births exceed deaths, population increases exponentially. When deaths exceed births, population declines exponentially. There are always some maternities, and there are always some funerals; the change in the ratio of the two is not something that can be directly perceived. Societal extinction doesn't make any noise when it finally happens. Survivors simply move on. Non-survivors might as well have not existed, and the more gullible survivors come to believe the extravagant ruins they left behind to have been the work of extraterrestrials.

How does a society go about checkmating itself? There is no shortage of real-world examples, but real life is complicated, so here is a simple allegory. [...]

Dmitry's allegory is a little laboured, but to the point and worth a read.

The Oil Drum article is pretty scary. I dunno about unbreathable air and mass evacuations or a complete collapse of the Gulf sea floor -- it looks ugly enough even without going to the China Syndrome place.  (Though mass evacuations are not entirely to be ruled out -- remember the more bizarre excursions of "high Soviet" bureaucracy?)  A  complete collapse of the ocean food chain in the Gulf and possibly neighbouring waters does sound terrifyingly possible to me.

Oh hell, I really, really wish that I didn't have to know about this and I wish even more that it had not happened.  If I really, really believed that it would teach us a lesson of the "never again" flavour, I might feel a little bit better.  But since we seem to have learned nothing from (a) the historical record of collapsing civilisations or (b) the escalating "cascading disaster" track record of our own... why should this learning disability suddenly cure itself now?

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 01:11:20 AM EST
DeAnander:
More often than not, death comes as a result of a sequence of bad choices which reinforce each other. These choices may not appear bad at the time--but they certainly do in retrospect! The end result is a situation in which no further steps can be taken that would not be either harmful or futile. This is the essence of checkmate: no moves left. At that point, none of the previous moves can be undone.
No, not checkmate. Zugzwang
Zugzwang (German for "compulsion to move", pronounced [ˈtsuːktsvaŋ]) is a term originally used in chess which also applies to various other games. The concept finds its formal definition in combinatorial game theory. It describes a situation where one player is put at a disadvantage because he has to make a move - the player would prefer to pass and make no move. The fact that the player must make a move means that his position will be significantly weaker than the hypothetical one in which it were his opponent's turn to move.


By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 04:05:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
else.  

We have already passed through the gates of hell, and have the choice between bad moves and worse ones.  Doing nothing is bad too.  

So checkmate is about right.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 09:33:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Holy shit.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 01:16:55 AM EST
You took the words right out of my mouth.
by sgr2 on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 07:39:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe Matt Simmons is right and the only way to stop the well is to drill along-side below an impermeable rock layer, if there is one, and detonate a small nuke to turn the rock to glass. Don't know. Doesn't look hopeful. Glad I am several hundred miles from the Gulf.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 02:06:09 AM EST
Well, that sure sounds very radical. But then the Gulf is very big, and the subsea radioactive fallout would be so widely dispersed it would be a threat to no-one.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 06:04:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't there a possibility the explosion would fracture the impermeable layer keeping the oil trapped, so that all the oil leaks out in one go?

I understand the idea is that there would be a second impermeable layer between the oil reservoir and the bottom of the rea floor where the silt deposits begin, and that the nuke would be detonated around that intermediate impermeable layer. However, even if the nuke is small wouldn't there be shock waves propagating in the layers of rock downwards to the reservoir?

I know it has been claimed the Soviets did something like this at least once in the past, but still...

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 06:21:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't there a possibility the explosion would fracture the impermeable layer keeping the oil trapped, so that all the oil leaks out in one go?

Who knows? I don't pretend to be a geologist. But I do know that there is a good reason not to detonate nuclear warheads just for shits and giggles. If all this oil leaks out in one go, 2 billion barrels or whatever, I'll join everyone else and hit the panic-button. 2 billion barrels is A LOT of oil.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 06:27:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
if the entire pool gave way I'd laugh my ass off.  So shoot me!

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 06:30:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've always found that black humour is a good way to deal with disasters, so I'll save my ammo for the local wildlife. ;)

Still. 2 billion barrels. That's 2000 million barrels, or almost 200 times as big an oil spill as the Gulf war spill in 1990.

Yeah, if that happens it's panic-button time.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 06:35:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, black humor ... nonsense.  Go ahead.  I'm in northern CA.  All the oil gives way.  Tell me why I should give a shit.  All this ... "The poor Gulf Coast people ..." crap.  Fuck em if they can't take a joke.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 06:46:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
if that happens it's panic-button time.

What are the consequences?

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 01:20:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well for one, some of those lovely vacation dollars which would normally flow to the gulf will find their way to CA. over the next decade.  Wonderful!!

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 05:59:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What? Who wouldn't want to surf a chocolate wave? They have nothing to worry about.



you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 06:48:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A small nuclear explosion thousands of feet below the floor of the Gulf should not leak much radiation, IF it works as intended. But there have been suggestions that the floor of the Gulf might undergo a massive downward collapse due to the loss of oil in the reservoir. Such a collapse might stop the flow, or it might create a path for the entire reservoir to escape. I have no idea.

Qualified people carefully examining the available data, including the drill core of Deepwater Horizon itself, and collecting additional data as indicated, should be able to better assess the situation, but I would not rule out Simmons's suggestion. I would ask the Russians for consultation and for access to data on their experience.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 01:28:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Explosives is not a rare way to cap crazy wells (google Red Adair). But nuclear explosives? Is that really necessary? It would be a huge PR blow to the oil industry, and especially to the offshore deep drill sector. A sector we will need to cope with peak oil.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 04:07:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What the Russians used was a sub-kiloton fission device, AFAICT, one or two hundred tons. The advantage of the nuke is that it WILL melt the rock and, if properly positioned for a suitable type of rock, could seal the shaft. If oil, gas and sand are currently in the casing, especially if there is a leak from the drill pipe, the force of the leak can cut through anything, as the article showed. It would be nice to know where the materials are coming from and going to.

If the drill pipe is ejected we will have a path at least the size of the casing. I don't know what size casing is used in these wells, and we know that it will not withstand pressures as high as drill pipe. To make casing that would, given its diameter, would be prohibitively expensive. That is another reason why BP's "reckless disregrad" for normal, safe practices was so stunningly stupid. At 250,000 bl/day and with a fine of $4,300/bl BP would face ongoing fines of $1 billion/day. That would surely drive their stock to zero, especially with no end in sight.

The US Government seriously needs to position itself as the first and possibly only creditor of BP in case of such a development. If ever the doctrine of eminent domain were to apply, I would think this would be it. All revenue that the BP organization may generate over the remainder of its existence or the existence of its former revinue producing assets would likely be woefully insufficient to pay for the damages incurred.

The situation could be just that stark.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 04:40:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Technical point:  Well casing--actually a well-liner--was 21 inches at the top (about 53 cm.)  Slightly less deeper down.  The rock hole is larger than this of course, and if it starts to erode, as it seems to be doing, it will get wider.  

Bottom-kill--the relief wells--is certainly the thing to do, if the liner is still in the well, and if damage to the liner is not too big too allow the kill-mud to be contained and fill the well bore.  These are two big ifs.  If the liner is gone, they will not be able to find the well from the relief wells--as they depend on magnetic homing to do this, and it is game-over before you start.  If the liner is still there but the damage to the liner is too great, the kill-mud will flow away without filling the well bore and nothing is accomplished--the gusher will still gush.  

Then what?  Suppose you could crush the well bore closed.  This would take a very powerful overpressure, which is why they are talking of nuclear explosives.  Now I would prefer filling the bores of the relief wells with conventional explosives, but I have not done the arithmetic, and the issue is straight math.  But there are other reasons they want to use nuclear weapons--there is a hidden agenda here.  But never mind that.  

The problem is that the geology is nothing like that that the Soviets dealt with.  They had a thick clay layer that was essentially self-sealing, once the well was crushed in.  The Gulf is crumbly rock.  At best we can expect the crushed rock that would plug the well after an explosion to ooze.  

Oozing is better than gushing, so no one will waste time worrying over the fact that the leak will not actually be stopped.  

(Have I said it yet?  If the relief wells don't work the leak will never actually be stopped.)

The worse chance is that the broken rock essentially quits being impermeable and containing the oil--as it is and does now--and allows the whole of the reservoir to rapidly bleed out into the Gulf water, and thence into the world's oceans.  

Now melting the rock--as is specifically described--is not actually so good, because once the rock is a hot fluid, the oil will explode right through it as a bubble-column of vapor.  The gusher would continue to gush while the rock is trying to cool to a solid, and the likelihood of sealing the hole seems small.  

The Soviets did not claim that when they did it they melted and vitrified the rock at the well bore.  

So what are the chances?  Nobody knows.  I do not believe anyone can even make a reasonable guess.  

Nonetheless, there is the stark possibility that right now the relief wells are not actually relief wells, but bomb tubes.  The media has been softening up the public to the idea of nukes, as though the decision to use them has already been made.  As the damage from the gushing oil spreads and panic begins to ensue, the public will buy it.  They will be ready to buy anything.  

That is the possibility to watch.  

May you be elsewhere as this disaster unfolds.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 10:28:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But there are other reasons they want to use nuclear weapons--there is a hidden agenda here.  But never mind that.

What do you mean 'never mind the hidden agenda'? I want to hear it.

there is the stark possibility that right now the relief wells are not actually relief wells, but bomb tubes.  The media has been softening up the public to the idea of nukes, as though the decision to use them has already been made

Ah, okay. Makes sense.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 12:51:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Soviets did not claim that when they did it they melted and vitrified the rock at the well bore.

Right. The video simulation I watched showed the shaft for the nuke as distant from the well bore so that the area of rock through which the bore passed was part of the rock that was compressed. I don't know if it would be advisable to attempt to vitrify the area of the well bore or not. Would depend on the degree  of control possible.

A possible problem with "bottom kill" is that the cement would be propelled up the shaft, both inside and outside the casing. If the path outside the casing were to properly set, that might make a kill possible, but in order for that to happen, pressure greater than that from the reservoir would have to be applied to the drill pipe and casing from above, unless the combined weight of the injected material, say a barium compound, and the existing mass of existing material in the casing and pipe plus injected material exceeds the reservoir pressure.

Likewise, unless appropriate countervailing pressures are maintained in the relief well bore as it approaches the casing that approach could trigger (an additional?) failure of the casing. I have no idea how "appropriate countervailing pressures" could be determined at this point. Other posts on TOD have indicated that the casing is probably still intact for at least a considerable distance down, else the BOP would not be the major source of discharge.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 03:49:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
unless appropriate countervailing pressures are maintained in the relief well bore
 

The drilling mud is designed to do that.  If reasonable care is taken with the relief wells (good procedures followed, as was not done with the original well) they most likely will not blow out.  

But yes, as with any well, the chance is always there.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sat Jun 19th, 2010 at 03:42:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Enough lollygagging: Nuke the Gulf oil spill!

The Soviet Union employed the nuclear option to stop runaway gas wells. So what could possibly go wrong?

By Andrew Leonard, How the World Works @ salon.com


... This is just speculation, but I'm also guessing that we don't have a whole lot of data about what happens to the geology of a deepwater oil reservoir when a nuclear bomb is detonated in the general vicinity. I'd hate to be the president who authorized a nuclear strike against an oil well and discover that the blast created numerous fractures in the seafloor that allowed even more oil and gas to escape. It seems to me that one might want to hold such a tactic in reserve as a last resort.

And then there are the worst-case scenarios -- such as the possibility that a nuclear explosion might ignite a chain reaction of methane hydrate eruptions that could result in the most horrific global catastrophe since the Permian extinction...

Wheeeeeee!

by Magnifico on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 03:18:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the worst-case scenarios -- such as the possibility that a nuclear explosion might ignite a chain reaction of methane hydrate eruptions that could result in the most horrific global catastrophe since the Permian extinction...

Call it the BP Extinction Event. The quantity and proximity of methane hydrate deposits would surely be a consideration. Does anyone know of the relative ages of the oil deposits and the Chicxulub crater? The formation of that crater was surely vastly more catastrophic than any sub-kiloton nuke thousands of feet below the sea floor could be.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 04:48:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
_ The quantity and proximity of methane hydrate deposits would surely be a consideration._

Watch this video: there's no way to know with sufficient confidence.



By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 05:54:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The whole "covering the globe in a 50 m thick layer" bit is cute and all, but if it's sufficiently volatile to go boom at the slightest provocation, it's unlikely to survive long enough to be spread that far. It takes about a year for gas to from the Northern Pacific to Greenland, and another year to go to Antarctica (vice versa for an eruption on the Southern Hemisphere).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 02:51:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This thing came to my mind, and I am going post it on The Oil Drum :-)

A simple question is: If we would plug a sieve deep down in the well, would the upward pressure above the sieve be lessened? Newton's third law suggests that the lifting force (of the oil on the sieve) would be equalized with sieve's pressure downwards, and presumably that would be the pressure difference below and above the sieve.

A "half-hollow" massive cylindrical sieve (with obstructions across horizontal sections) could be propelled very deep down the well, perhaps deeper than the presumed cracks. On the way down it would have a low-resistance "aerodynamic" configuration. When it would reach the well diameter just about its own, it would plug itself with rubber brakes all over its surface, and then would spring into a highly obstructive inner configuration. If that would give a pressure effect at least for some time, the well could be top-killed against the lower pressure. Two or more such sieves could be serially plugged (perhaps with complementary sieve grids), giving a cascade of lower pressures.

Would that work?

by das monde on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 02:21:49 AM EST
According to evidence accumulated by the US House Committee investigating this disaster, BP kept overrulling the recommendations of contractor's engineers regarding the installation of "centering discs" to keep the pipe centered in the casing, so there are very few of them. I am not sure if you are discussing putting a sieve down the pipe or the casing. But the reason they abandoned "top kill" seems likely to be that they became concerned that the pipe would or has failed and that the casing could go next, releasing oil and gas into higher surrounding formations and, eventually, the water above. To mitigate that danger they increased the flow from the BOP stack by cutting off the pipe, which had fallen and was crimped in several places. But it seems possible no one is eager to discuss what is actually happening. Reasons could range from liability for BP and other industry partners to not wanting to appear "anti-oil company" to not wanting to stoke public anger or panic.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 01:37:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BP kept overrulling the recommendations of contractor's engineers regarding the installation of "centering discs" to keep the pipe centered in the casing, so there are very few of them

And now at least one of the rings is likely ruptured and leaking?

BP is toast.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 04:02:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why is BP toast? They followed the regulations--or so they will argue in the next decade's worth of lawsuits--and suffered an unfortunate accident. If the U.S. goes after BP, all it will do is raise the cost of self-insurance, driving some of the smaller players out.

It looks to me like BP is playing it cool, certainly with an excellent understanding at corporate headquarters of the possible scope of the disaster. If they're pressed too hard, they'll tell the hypocritical Senators and Representatives to flake off...

by asdf on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 12:51:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because BP kept overrulling the recommendations of contractor's engineers is prima-facie reckless negligence?

Of course, all this needs to be proved in court, as you say...

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 01:19:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The flow out the top relieves the pressure inside the well. If you restrict the flow, there's more chance of (additional) structural failures below the restriction...
by asdf on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 12:47:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How exactly a restriction redistributes the pressure? By how much?

And what do we know about the location of the present cracks?

by das monde on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 12:58:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know, but the story seems to be that the top kill approach was terminated because of concern about the internal integrity of the well...
by asdf on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 01:02:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We know very little and, while we may be able to see where hydrocarbons seep (or gush, as the case may be) out of the sea floor, the structure of the layers of rock and sediment between the sea floor and the oil reservoir is likely only known through seismic data which is very coarse.

Data on drilling pressure and hopefully rock composition would have been collected as the well was being drilled, and that's also important.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 01:23:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On page 8 of this file, a suspected "major loss event" is marked at the 18200 feet level, while the well bottom is at the 18360 feet (about 50 meters below). If we can get that far, a good try wood be to reach the bottom and spread a sieve (or plug) under there.

My thread at The Oil Drum is here.

by das monde on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 04:47:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The BOP, when open, has the same internal diameter as the largest casing. Normally, everything passes through the BOP. It's pretty big, I would guess, repeat, guess, that it's on the order of about 75 cm in diameter.

Right now, though, since they already have activated (or tried to activate, or partially activated) the various annular and shear rams, it's tough to say what is going on inside. Probably there are several very irregularly shaped restrictions through which the oil is flowing. They could take off the BOP, at which point the drill string would probably blow out (several km of steel rod flying through the air), and the flow would increase because of the reduced restriction...

by asdf on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 09:59:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by asdf on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 10:02:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On page 8 of this file,...

"This file" is for Macondo, which they abandoned, I believe. That event should have been a wake-up call. I do not know if the two wells are in the same formation.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 04:04:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I do not know if the two wells are in the same formation.
 

Yes, they are.  

And, yes, it should have been (a wake-up call, that is).  

But the failure of the first well put them behind schedule, which is why they rushed the second well and cut so many corners drilling it.  MBA management is idiot management.  They are like our incompetent winter drivers who drive faster on snow and ice--and leave less margin for errors--because, !of course! the bad weather has made them late.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sat Jun 19th, 2010 at 03:52:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the structure of the layers of rock and sediment between the sea floor and the oil reservoir is likely only known through seismic data which is very coarse.

I saw a report on NBC Nightly News that the first relief well was within 2,000 feet of the bottom of the original well bore. If the illustration was to scale it would appear that it is much closer to the well bore horizontally. They noted that progress had to slow because of the dangers of the proximity to the original bore. The relief bore appeared to be approaching tangential to the well bore, perhaps less than 200 meters from the original bore. At a very minimum they should have the well cores from the relief wells as additional data points on the characteristics of the rock from the floor of the Gulf down to the oil reservoir.

The density of TNT is given as 1.55g/cm3. The well bore is about 0.5 meters. Let us assume that it would be possible to place an explosive charge of 0.25m dia. at the bottom of that bore and that the charge is 10 meters long. The cross-section of the explosive would be 0.049 sq. meters. At 10 meters length  the volume would be 0.0.49m3 or 4.9x108 cubic centimeters. 1.55g/cm3x4.9x105 cubic centimeters = 4.9x105 grams or 4.9x10<SUP2</SUP> kilograms, or about 50kg of TNT. Even if it is possible to place an explosive charge of .4m diameter and 10 meters length that would only be 1.256 x 105 ccs and 1.256x1.55 x 10 grams or 1.95 x 102 kg, or about 200kg of TNT. (Assuming no math errors!)

Having little knowledge of explosives I still have my doubts that this is sufficient to compress >100 meters of rock sufficiently to crush the well casing and the drill pipe, whereas a fractional kiloton nuke likely would. But, perhaps they are drilling two wells so as to be able to attempt a "bottom kill" of the well with cement or some higher density special cement while having the first relief well available to perform explosive compression if needed.

At the current depth of the first relief well there is over 10,000 feet of some kind of rock above it and it is only another 2000 feet to the reservoir. It is certainly not inconceivable that the well could be collapsed sideways without producing a collapse to the surface.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jun 19th, 2010 at 07:03:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your math's a bit off.

Your cross section area is correct, at 0.049 m2. Call it 1/20th of a square meter. A ten meter charge makes it half a cubic meter. At 1.55 T/m3, that gives you three quarters of a ton of TNT, or 750 kg, to play with.

With a .4 m diameter, you get the next best thing to two tons of TNT. That's still a couple of orders of magnitude from a kT, of course...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Jun 19th, 2010 at 07:18:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
(nearly) of the relief well with chemical explosives.  So I would be creating a line source for the explosion rather than  a point source.  I would be seeking to crush the gusher along most of its length, rather than just at one point.  The impact from the explosion would fall off with distance, rather than distance squared, which should enhance its effect.  

Alternatively, by choosing a sequence of detonation times, the explosion could be focused to highten the effect at one point in the gusher column.  

And following your calculation, the energy would then approach the kiloton range.  

That doesn't mean it would work, though.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sat Jun 19th, 2010 at 07:57:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know what the temperatures are at those depths and pressures. The Russians had to cool the bore before they inserted the nuke. Above a certain temperature TNT becomes unstable, I believe. Cooling and then inserting a large quantity of TNT might be problematical. I should stick to qualitative analysis. :-)

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Jun 19th, 2010 at 09:50:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I dropped a decimal place at the same place I screwed up the script for my exponent. The exponent was a 2 and I only moved the decimal point one space. That was after finding a three order of magnitude error that gave a totally unbelievable result! I'm terrible.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Jun 20th, 2010 at 12:49:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What's really scary...

(from an op/ed by J Marcel:

Today is Day 59 of the well explosion that killed 11 people and is sending an estimated 2.5 million gallons of crude oil each day gushing into the Gulf of Mexico.        

In terms of the U.S. addiction to oil, it's a miniscule amount. According to ABC News, U.S. motorists burn roughly 400 million gallons of gasoline every day, and "the BP leak (if estimates of its size are right) would need to bleed on, unfettered, for three more years to equal America's daily consumption."

Daily.

What if the locusts can't move on?

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 03:05:33 AM EST
What’s with the president’s war analogy on the oil spill? It’s as if some alien force, “The Invasion of the Slippery Sludge,” suddenly attacked us. “Abroad, our brave men and women in uniform are taking the fight to al-Qaida,” President Barack Obama said Tuesday in his White House speech, “and tonight, I’ve returned from a trip to the Gulf Coast to speak with you about the battle we’re waging against an oil spill that is assaulting our shores and our citizens.”

What nonsense. The oil was minding its own business until some multinational corporations, enabled by a dysfunctional government regulatory regime, decided to wage war on the ecological balance of the oceans by employing technology that they were not prepared to control. Cleaning up the oil spill mess we made by raping the environment to satiate our consumer gluttony is not a glorious battle against evil but rather obligatory penance for the profound error of our ways.

You wound Mother Nature by punching a hole deep in her pristine ocean where you have no business going and when she bleeds uncontrollably you dare blame her for the assault? This from a president who shortly before this disaster had given the oil companies permission to pillage in the deep seas at will. At least now he admits to having been extremely naive in his belief that they knew what they were doing [...]

Robert Scheer, Truthdig

Well called Mr Scheer...

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 03:21:02 AM EST
Much as a I loathe BP, and the oiks who run BP and other comparable companies, the 'teh rape of our mother!' meme is only nominally saner than the psycho-culture that drives these people.

What's wrong with the simpler but equally accurate point that if you're living in a house, it's not a good idea to set fire to the living room?

Exaggerated sexualised rhetoric has made the job of the serious oil people much easier than it would have been if more straightforward and inclusive language had been used.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 05:10:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
hmm yes well, I agree and disagree...  gendering "the earth" as female and "humankind" as a male assailant of course erases women as (more than) half of humankind.  and it's glib and cartoony.  and it often comes from the mouths of those who haven't much to say about actual, non-metaphorical rape of non-metaphorical women and girls.

that said...

OTOH there is a long-standing connection between misogyny and technocracy, and between warrior masculinity -- aka probative masculinity -- and hubristic risk-taking.  disregard for consequences interpreted as "courage", etc.  Veblen described it as accurately as any contemporary social critic:  the valorising of "force and fraud" in the hunter/warrior mythos.  I suspect that the highly gendered language derives in part from some subconscious recognition of this (and of the nearly exclusive maleness of the industrial establishment).

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 11:48:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[ET Moderation Technology™]

Now with slight diary reformatting...

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 03:40:48 AM EST
OK, I'm heading for bed.  But first one more bit of BP gossip.  They have a rep in the trade.  It's not a good one.

In the last three years, the center says, an astonishing "97 percent of all flagrant violations found in the refining industry by government safety inspectors" came at BP facilities. These included 760 violations rated as "egregious" and "willful." In contrast, the oil company with the second-worst record had only eight such citations.

footnote

So, ummm.  Would we hire a guy with a string of child molestation convictions for a kindergarten teaching position?  No?  Wouldn't take that risk?  So why are corporate pseudo-persons with established records of sociopathy, dishonesty, etc. allowed to continue with highly hazardous operations involving hubristic WMD-scale technology?  Oh yeah, right, I know, they can buy their very own politicians.  But still.  "Zero tolerance,"  "three strikes,"  "lock 'em up and throw away the key," blah blah blah, when it comes to hardened criminals like shoplifters and dope smokers -- meanwhile the execs of BP are still walking free.

Why don't we just admit it...  we are sliding rapidly back into monarchy.  Tyrants walk among us who are above and beyond the laws that bind lesser mortals;  but our new kings and despots are not even human beings.  They are aggregate legal personas made up of interchangeable human "roles" -- a kind of hive organism, immortal, sociopathic, impervious to poisoned dinners, daggers in the Forum, or the guillotine.

Sorry, I am raving.  Brain (and heart) hurting.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 03:45:08 AM EST
Yeah, well, the admittedly drunk captain of the Exxon Valdez got off with community service, so don't get your hopes up that anybody is going to jail over this. Maybe some low-level operator who didn't tighten a hydraulic hose properly, but nobody important...
by asdf on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 12:53:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - LQD diary--comment from TOD on the Blowout & yes it is worse . . .
We are seeing the puny forces of man vs the awesome forces of nature.
We are going to need some luck and a lot of effort to win...
and if nature decides we ought to lose, we will....
Richard Feynman on the Challenger space shuttle disaster
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.


By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 03:52:37 AM EST
Richard Feynman was an extraordinary human being who left us way too soon.
by sgr2 on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 07:49:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
amen to that.  we need more of him.  and they are few.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 11:50:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See also: The Indonesian Mud Flood by dvx on October 6th, 2006.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 04:24:56 AM EST
A few of weeks ago this TOD comment was linked to at least three times on ET. Here's asdf:
What's really going on out there:

Probably the scariest well I've been on in the GOM DW was about 6 years ago. They had set csg and were drilling ahead at 22,000'. And then they started to loss circ. They weren't sure where but it might have been at the previous csg shoe. They lost 60,000 bbls of OBM while drilling. No mud ever returned to the surface. So no mud log telling them if they had drilled oil/NG, no LWD to estimate pore pressure, no mud parameters to tell if the MW was being cut by oil, NG or water. And most importantly, no way to tell if the well was kicking. They put very heavy drill mud on the outside of the drill pipe but that would have not stopped a blow out coming up the inside of the DP. Took me 6 days to log that 2,500' of open hole. I ran pressure logs in the wet reservoir they cut: 19,000 psi bottom hole pressure. They were probably very lucky they didn't find oil/NG in that sand: a blow out could have easily happened. How scary was it? Some of the hands were sleeping in the escape capsules when they were off tower. And this insane risk was taken by a well known and very experience operator. Needless to say someone very high up in the company was willing to risk the 130 souls onboard that drillship to get this well down. Equally needless to point out: that person never set foot on that rig. We just finished the job, went home, cashed our pay checks and then tried to forget about it.

http://europe.theoildrum.com/node/6526#more

In that thread, TOD commenter Rockman /the same as quoted by asdf) also writes
Prior to drilling a DW well there's needs to be an estimate of the pressure gradients Euan has described.

...

Even when there isn't a dramatic change in rock pressure there are limits to the range of mud weights used to drill a hole. That's why we see so many csg sets in the RW's. Too light a MW and the well flows. Too high a MW and you fracture the rocks and can easily lose the hole.

...

Consider drilling the same rocks at this location but assume the is no oil/NG in the reservoir. The MW needed to stop the flow of water out of the reservoir might be 14.0 ppg. The rock might be fracture at a MW of 15.0 ppg. That's a fairly wide margin and should not be a problem. But now put a 400' tall column of oil/NG in the reservoir. One big reason the DW plays have attracted so much attention is the very tall hydrocarbon columns encountered out there. This tall hydr. column will raise the pressure in the reservoir to the point that a 14.7 ppg MW is needed to contain it. Now you have only a 0.3 ppg margin before rock failure. And this is where DW drilling offers a challenge seldom seen elsewhere: the ECD factor. ECD is the effective circulating density. The mud might weigh 14.7 ppg but when the mud pumps are running the effective mud weight (ECD) at the bottom of the hole maybe several tenths of a ppg higher. So in order to not fracture the rocks you might pump a 14.5 ppg (with an ECD of 14.9 ppg...less than the 15.0 ppg that would fracture the rocks). But when you turn the pumps off to add drill pipe or pull out of the hole the ECD drops to 14.5 ppg....less than the 14.7 ppg needed to keep the reservoir from flowing oil/NG to the surface. I've seen operators drill into such a situation: you can't raise the MW to stop the well from kicking, less you fracture the rocks, and you can't turn the pumps off to pull out of the hole because the well will kick. I've seen operators pump cement down such a well to kill it and then plug and abandon the well.

This is probably what happened at the Macondo well that Deepwater Horizon was drilling. The structural integrity of the rock has been compromised.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 04:32:37 AM EST
The US Government needs to demand access to ALL records of deep water drilling so as to start to assemble a baseline of understanding as to what we are dealing with. Tell them else they will never get to restart drilling again.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 01:46:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Imagine using your hand drill to make a hole in the side of an acetylene tank. That's all you have to know.
by asdf on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 12:55:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BP Plc was struggling to seal cracks in its Macondo well as far back as February. The company attempted a "cement squeeze," which involves pumping cement to seal the fissures, according to a well activity report. Over the following week the company made repeated attempts to plug cracks that were draining expensive drilling fluid, known as "mud," into the surrounding rocks.Bloomberg

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 06:46:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Oil Drum adds the following disclaimer at the top of the quoted comment:

The Oil Drum | Deepwater Oil Spill - A Longer Term Problem, Personnel - and Open Thread 2

Editors' note for first-time visitors: What follows is a comment from a The Oil Drum reader. To read what The Oil Drum staff members are saying about the Deepwater Horizon Spill, please visit the front page. (Were the US government and BP more forthcoming with information and details, the situation would not be giving rise to so much speculation about what is actually going on in the Gulf. This should be run more like Mission Control at NASA than an exclusive country club function--it is a public matter--transparency, now!)


By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 05:24:59 AM EST
Migeru:
This should be run more like Mission Control at NASA than an exclusive country club function
Engineers have a cute worldview...

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 05:45:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe the should add a Cynisicm 101 course to engineering degrees?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 06:01:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
disappointing.  

This was in the TOD Comments, after all, and a lot of complete nonsense gets posted by a lot of people and does not earn a disclaimer.  

Of course, some of the comments are very, very good, which is why I read them.  

But if dougr's analysis has defects, I would like to see them examined and spelled out, since the knowledge he assumes in developing his position seems to be the same information that the front-pagers are drawing on.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 11:39:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It does appear that TOD FPers and some regulars are beginning to get tired of people coming in with Gulf discussions. This might end up leading to a DKos-like "no conspiracy theories" ban - in this case "no Gulf of Mexico technobabble".

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 12:53:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The disclaimer was posted because that comment was widely linked to from many places (reddit or something like it and then by many others) and at one point half of the traffic to TOD was pointing at this comment.

The TOD crew is rather skeptical of the comment (I have no way to say either way, I haven't even read it in full)

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 05:24:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For example, we can now expect the Gulf of Mexico to become uninhabitable.
Now, now, lets be sensible. Even if we look at the absolute nightmare scenario, people are not going to fall down and die because of noxious gasoline fumes rising from the Gulf.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 06:18:45 AM EST
What if the entire reservoir leaks out? What is the total amount of oil that would be spilled?

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 06:23:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Then we have a very different situation, at least if it all leaks out during a short period of time.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 06:29:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So, turning a huge problem into a different huge problem is an improvement?

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 06:56:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 07:04:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, I thought your previous comment was a justification for the nuke solution...

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 07:07:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The shrimp industry has just collapsed, and it is not coming back.  The same is true of other seafood.  So a whole lot of folk are now out of a job, forever.  Okay, they can retrain--for a job where?  Not in the Gulf of Mexico I think.  

But it is worse than that.  

A friend of a friend lives on a beautiful barrier island, Dauphin Island, off the coast of Alabama.  When the wind is from the wrong direction now, the air reeks, and if it persists you get headaches.  

Half the island is already sealed off by the National Guard.  It is a no-go zone.  Nobody goes in or out.  

At the point you are getting dizziness and headaches from petroleum exposure, you are taking brain damage, and usually respiratory damage as well.  

This friend unfortunately already suffers from a health effect of previous chemical exposure.  By his doctor's orders, he can not even pump his own gas.  (Note Bene:  In the US to day most gas stations are self-service, meaning you pump the fuel into your car yourself.  The attendant just collects the money.)  Just living in his house he is now taking unacceptable exposure.

He is just beginning to understand he will have to leave.  

And others?  Who knows what will happen?  They will find jobs cleaning up the oil perhaps?  That career will never end for lack of work to do!  But they take exposure--more than my friend.  In a few months they will have to quit or they will get sick and then they will die.  

But we are only two months into this catastrophe.  We have at least two more months to go, maybe four, and maybe more than that.  It will get a lot worse than it is now, even if there are no hurricanes to crown this record-breaking high-temperature (for the tropical Atlantic and GoM) season.  

In one sense you are right:  People will hang on long after it is unsafe and unhealthy.  And then what happens happens.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 11:11:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most of the people interviewed on TV are mad because they can't go fishing in their fossil-fueled fishing boats or on holiday cruises in their fossil-fueled cabin cruisers. Just a bit of a disconnect there...
by asdf on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 12:58:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just a bit of a disconnect there...
 

Oh, for sure!  

All you can do is laugh!  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 01:55:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's coming back in a few years, as strong as ever. Just look at all the other spills we've had; Exxon Valdez, Prestige, Ixtoc I, the Persian Gulf spill etc.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 06:59:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To pick one of your examples, Prince William Sound, the site of the Exxon Valdez disaster, has never come back.  

The species that were destroyed or displaced at the time have not returned.

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 12:48:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mussel tissue chemistry is not a particularly satisfying indicator of recovering "recovery."

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Restoraton Project Final Report: Final 2005-2006 LTEMP Oil Monitoring Report Restoration Project

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 03:51:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Survival Acres has posted this video from the Gulf.  If you remember those videos of President Obama on the beaches with the "clean-up" workers, watch and find out how those videos were done.  

Collapse of the region has begun.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sat Jun 19th, 2010 at 04:33:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's worth remembering that the original loss of life occurred because of a gas leak of methane, which then ignited. The list of gases that such a well can produce , as I just learned, is considerable.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sat Jun 19th, 2010 at 07:06:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are different noises going around about how big the ecological disaster is. Some tend to take a doctrinaire view (this is NECESSARILY the biggest disaster etc) which I am wary of.

But it may turn out to be a salutary disaster, in terms of the big picture. Deep-sea drilling and Antarctic drilling are supposed to prolong the Oil Age by a couple of decades. I have always been sceptical of this because of the extreme technical difficulty and high cost of extracting the oil. It now seems that both may disappear from the agenda, not particularly because of public opinion, but because they will turn out to be unprofitable (or of incalculable profitability, given the cost of disasters).

This would seem to lead to several favourable outcomes :

  1. As the wise heads that govern us will no longer be able to pretend that peak oil is decades away, renewable energy will be favoured
  2. The major oil companies are sitting on huge reserves of highly profitable oil. They invest in hugely expensive and hazardous offshore oil prospects to maintain their reserves, i.e. because they don't know what else to do with the money. If they stop these hugely wasteful investments (wasteful because unsustainable) and invest in sustainable energy infrastructure instead.... well, that would be nice.
  3. The deep-sea oil now seems much less likely to be extracted and consumed, which is very good news on the global warming front.


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 10:19:50 AM EST
I still think this is not a deep sea problem, but a Gulf of Mexico problem in general and a BP problem in particular. When you mix the laxest regulation with the least safety-minded big oil company, you get a perfect storm.

With another company in another place, this wouldn't have happened. I think.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Jun 17th, 2010 at 04:13:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Macondo Prospect - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Macondo Prospect (Mississippi Canyon Block 252, abbreviated MC252) is an oil and gas prospect in the Gulf of Mexico which was the site of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion in April 2010 that led to a major, ongoing oil spill in the region.

...

The name Macondo is the same name as the fictitious cursed town in the novel "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Colombian nobel-prize winning writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Oh, the irony...

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 04:20:41 AM EST
Anyway, this is what I was actually looking for:
The prospect may have held 50 million barrels (7.9×10^6 m3) producible reserves of oil.
50 million barrels, at the current (?) 125k barrels per day, will leak out completely in 400 days.

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 04:46:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
as noted, the Ixtoc leak was similarly big and dissipated.
The Erika spill in France (like the Amoco Cadiz a couple decades earlier) also damaged hundreds of kilometers of delicate, touristy coastline with tens of thousands of tons of nasty goo (the Erika stuff was especially nasty).

Like 9/11 (when terrorism was suddenly invented), this looks like the US is suddenly discovering oil pollution and panicking/overreacting.

Wind power

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 05:27:37 AM EST
Ixtoc leaked ten times less on average (10 thousand barrels vs, 100 thousand barrels) as well as being in shallow water. The current spill is already the fourth largest in history and will overtake Ixtoc I pretty soon (given that we're only halfway through the drilling of the relief wells).

By laying out pros and cons we risk inducing people to join the debate, and losing control of a process that only we fully understand. - Alan Greenspan
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 06:57:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But that doesn't mean that we're not getting into doom erotica territory here.

We know that this is a catastrophe, but we don't know whether the long terms consequences will be limited to loss of non-human species, contamination of the Gulf beyond acceptable levels for human consumption of its maritime life, or contamination beyond acceptable levels for human habitation along its coast. The latter seems unlikely, but I wouldn't be willing to lay odds against either of the two former outcomes.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 03:12:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with Jerome.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Fri Jun 18th, 2010 at 07:00:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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