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Where Did the Oil Disappear ?

August 7, 2010 in Environment

Deep Water Horizon Oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico spewed oil in to water around for 86 days, after many different trials and errors BP managed to cap the well and a few days later there was hardly any oil to be seen on the surface. As per estimates around 200 million barrels of oil leaked into the waters of the Gulf Of Mexico. The NOAA says almost 3/4th of the oil was either skimmed, burned, dispersed or consumed by the microbes in the water. There by leaving around 54 millions gallons of oil in the gulf which is still nearly five times the size of the 11 million-gallon Exxon Valdez spill, which wreaked environmental havoc in Alaska in 1989.

I found it interesting that 200 million barrels of oil could be taken off from the waters in the gulf. The skimmers were getting around 20+million barrels of oil a day. The government says about a 1/4 of the oil evaporated or dissolved in the warm Gulf waters, the same way sugar dissolves in water, federal officials said. Another 1/6 th naturally dispersed because of the way it leaked from the well. Another 1/6 th was burned, skimmed or dispersed using controversial chemical dispersants. Easily explained away with the percentages and combination’s et al, but in reality it just sounds too good to be true.

I have seen and heard news reports where local boat captains and others who have been involved in the cleaning and skimming operations say they were finding it difficult to accept the claims that only 1/4th of the oil remained in the gulf of Mexico. BP is now conducting a static kill on the well in place of the 75ton cap.

During the static kill BP pumped 2,000 barrels (84,000 gallons) of synthetic drilling mud into the well, beginning 3rd August 2010. The way the system works is in a static state, meaning that the downward weight of the mud is counterbalancing the pressure of the oil pushing upward from the reservoir.

The locals along the Gulf coast are outraged by the clean claims of BP and the slowing down of the cleaning activities in the gulf.

” According to WVUE correspondent John Snell, local officials dispatched a dive team to a barrier island off of southeastern Louisiana’s Plaquemines Parish to scan the sea floor for oil. The team, however, could barely see the sea floor, due to the current murky state of the area waters. But when the divers returned to shore, they made a rather remarkable discovery: Tiny holes that burrowing Hermit crabs had dug into the ground effectively became oil-drilling holes. When the divers placed pressure on the ground near the holes, oil came oozing up.”

It is shameful that the largest oil spill in the nations history is being covered up without much thought, it will be decades really before we know the real extent of Deep Water Horizon Oil Spills lasting impact.

A Video from FOX  WVUE on BP’s Oil on the Louisiana Barrier Islands:

A video About how Oil Dispersants Work?

A CNN Video interview with Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungusser,Dated June 16, 2010

The Latest on BP in the Gulf of Mexico – as they are working on the static kill and the relief wells to confirm it worked, BP announced it’s plans to drill another well somewhere nearby!  BP’s  COO Doug Suttle “Clearly there’s lots of oil and gas there and we’ll have to think about what to do with that at some point,” Read the entire article HERE

This Video is about Corexit the Dispersant extensively used by BP in the Gulf

Will update as I learn more, it seems like yesterday when Deep Horizon was front page news…


Deepwater Horizon Oil well is Capped; What Now?

July 20, 2010 in Environmental News

For the last almost 3 months the public has been interested in the oil spill and what it was doing to the environment and the people who depend on the gulf of Mexico. BP managed to close the leak on the well after months of trying various options on the 15th of July 2010. The interest probably waned by the end of last month when the oil spill left the front pages of news papers.

When Exxon-Valdez happened in 1989 most people who felt the Oceans needed to be spared from the aftermath of another oil spill vowed that we would all fight off-shore drilling, as soon as Exxon became relegated to the back pages, it drifted away from memory too and we continued our consumption of oil with a gung ho attitude…The NYtimes reports that “on the rocky beaches of Alaska, scientists plunged shovels and picks into the ground and dug 6,775 holes, repeatedly striking oil — still pungent and dangerous a dozen years after the Exxon Valdez infamously spilled its cargo”.

Now we have approximately 1600 off-shore oil rigs in the US waters. Deep-water Horizon was the deepest off shore oil well – standing in 5000feet of water in the middle of the Gulf Of Mexico the well had another 35,000 feet drilled into the rock beneath to reach the oil.

You can read the BP press release here

So what is the verdict at the end of the Oil spill? Have we reached a unanimous decision as a country to reduce our dependence on Oil? Sadly the answer is NO, a good chunk of us treat the oil spill as something that is happening away from them, a necessity due to the “Need for Oil”. There are still quarters where “drill here and drill now” reverberate, and drilling is seen as the solution for all our Oil issues.

Some Facts –

  • Cleaning up the aftermath of the Oil spill still continues and we don’t really know how long it will be before we can say for sure it is done. (for e g: The 1989 Exxon-Valdez oil spill aftermath is still felt along the shores of Alaska after 20 years, biologists think it will take another 10 years for the shores and marine life to return to normal).
  • Every oil spill is different, but the thread that unites these disparate scenes is a growing scientific awareness of the persistent damage that spills can do — and of just how long oil can linger in the environment, hidden in out-of-the-way spots.
  • The ecology of the Gulf of Mexico is specially adapted to break down oil, more so than any other body of water in the world — though how rapidly and completely it can break down an amount this size is essentially unknown.
  • In 1969, a barge hit the rocks off the coast of West Falmouth, Mass., spilling 189,000 gallons of fuel oil into Buzzards Bay. Today, the fiddler crabs at nearby Wild Harbor still act drunk, moving erratically and reacting slowly to predators.
  • In 1969, a barge hit the rocks off the coast of West Falmouth, Mass., spilling 189,000 gallons of fuel oil into Buzzards Bay. Today, the fiddler crabs at nearby Wild Harbor still act drunk, moving erratically and reacting slowly to predators.
  • US and the World still consumes more oil than can be sustained and it is only a matter of time before we do run out of oil.

The sinking of the Titanic, the meltdown of the Chernobyl reactor in 1986, the collapse of the World Trade Center — all forced engineers to address what came to be seen as deadly flaws. So the chances of a world wide ban on off shore drilling looks very very unattainable in our lifetime.

At the time of this post the Deep water horizon is quiet and capped while BP decides whether to shut it up for good.

Some links to read more about –

NYtimes on lessons from Oil spills

Hidden Damage of Oilspills

BP keeps Oil well closed


DeepWater Horizon Oil Spill Where is BP Headed?

June 1, 2010 in Environmental News

DeepWater Horizon as it stood on and before 20th April 2010-Pic from Transocean

This Was Deepwater Horizon before it went up in flames and hit the ocean floor. Pic Courtesy Transocean /AP.

Pic Courtesy Deepwater Horizon Response 

It is the end of May, 42nd day of Deep Horizon Oil Spill, the Oil is still leaking and tomorrow 1st of June officially the Hurricane season starts. WSI (Weather Services International of Andover, Massachusetts) predicts 2010 hurricane season could be stronger than the 2005 season (the strongest in recorded history, remember Katrina?). The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  NOAA released its 2010 hurricane season forecast on 27th May Thursday which also reiterated the prediction made by WSI – This is going to be an “Active to Extremely Active Hurricane Season”.

If the outlook holds they predict:

  • 14 to 23 Named Storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including
  • 8 to 14 Hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which
  • 3 to 7 could be Major Hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of at least 111 mph)

A profile of the rig which caused the single largest Environmental disaster in US History –

 Manufactured by the Hyundai Heavy Industries in 2001, Deepwater Horizon a submersible oil rig under contract to BP exploration has been used in multiple drillings before including Atlantis, The Thunder Horse field and the Tiber before drilling in the current spot Mississippi Canyon which is known as the Macondo Prospect. It was close to completion when the explosion and the sinking happened. The Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig in September of 2009 drilled the deepest oil well in history at a vertical depth of 35,050 feet (10,683 m) and measured depth of 35,055 feet (10,685 m). Water depth is 5000 feet as we have been hearing so it is not the deepest oil well per se. Check out the list of deeper oil wells in the ocean (List Courtesy FT.com)

A look at the Other Major Oil Spills and How they compare (courtesy FT.com)

Comparing The Oil Spills world over by spillage.

After the explosion the rig sank to bottom of the sea and rests about 400 meters away from the pipe which keeps spewing oil. Right now after the failures of Top hat – the one ton metallic box now lying side by side with the sunken rig, Tubing – the tube attached to the riser which was siphoning oil managed 900,000 barrels, Top Kill  and other methods BP plans to put a lid on the pipe after cutting it right above the leak with a robotic arm. Look at the picture to see the details of the LMRP (Low Marine Riser Package) and how it is supposed to function. The drilling ship on top is supposed to siphon out the oil once the contraption is in place. Hopefully it helps to hold the oil until the 2 relief wells being drilled are a reality in about 3 months (one of which is right now on hold as they work on the LMRP)

BP's latest attempt May 31st 2010, LMRP

The issues with installing the LMRP are how much oil will spill when the pipe is cut? Right now it is a leak that has spewed out all this oil into the gulf.  Let’s hope for everyone’s sake it works, like all the other things BP tried this too is a trial for the first time at this depth. If this does not work there are some estimates that the leak could go on until August of 2010! Scary scenario having all that oil mixed with the storms which are expected…

There is also the issue that if a hurricane hits after the LMRP is in place, the tube siphoning oil will have to be removed as the ship retreats to the shore to sit out the storm, where-by the oil again will be flowing out… who knows what kind of an environmental effect it will have by then.

If left alone the Macondo well will take 7 years to empty itself out!!

Till date the spillage if filled in gallon milk jugs lined up side by side, there would be enough to reach from Chicago to New York – and back!

Latest update from

Reuters: Embattled BP readies to Plug Gushing Gulf Well

Some Useful urls/ telephone numbers for those impacted by the spill

Property damage claims: BP Claims  Claims Hot line – 1-800-440-0858

Volunteers – (If you are from out of state please do contact the organizations listed below before heading out for clear instructions and to be able to help.)

The rig on fire on 20th April 2010

Picture Courtesy the US Coastguard


Deep Horizon Oil Spill Getting Messier By The Day

May 26, 2010 in Environmental News

 Picture source BP/AP/Columbus Dispatch

I was listening to Billy Joel singing Down Easter Alexa and it hit me the fishermen who live by the Ocean in the Gulf states pretty much have the lines written for them “Can’t make a living as a bayman anymore… There ain’t much future for a man who works the sea…” this is effecting a whole spectru… from environment to wildlife to people… there seems to be hardly anyone untouched by the oil spill in the gulf.

 It has been 5 weeks since the Rig submerged spewing out oil onto the Ocean floor and into the currents headed for the shore. BP is still to this minute trying to plug the leak! The tube which was “supposedly attached” did not work. Now they are trying to cover it off with Concrete and mud slush Top Kill (which has a 60% chance of succeeding!) On 26th May that is today Morning they did just that, they pumped the tube full of mud and concrete.  After a month of trying to cover it up by saying it was “just” 5000 barrels of oil being pumped into the Ocean (when conservative estimates suggests it is between 20,000 to 80,000 barrels a day!) and they would be able to control it and seemingly being inept to manage a catastrophe of this magnitude BP is still not sure when they can have it under control  and when.

The video on their website shows a plume of dark murky substance gushing into the Ocean, Bp officials say it will take 24 hours to know whether the cement, mud et al filling worked in plugging the flow (mainly because this is the first time it is being tried at a depth above 5000feet! Keep in mind in the midst of this Shell is planning to head out this summer to the Arctic Ocean to scout for oil with its 514 foot drilling ship Frontier Discoverer! Could one even imagine how bad a situation like this can be in the Arctic where the temperature and water is much more hostile and the environment equally fragile…

Under water Camera of Oil spill in The gulf

While all this is going on being far away from the Ocean front states, I wondered what was happening on the shore. Today mornings News Paper had a small 1″x1″ pic of Elmer’s Island beach with a “Beach Closed” sign. I wondered how the cleaning was going and searched for articles about the cleaning effort. I landed on MoJo (motherjones.com the site for fearless un-biased journalism). One of their Mac McClelland took a trip down to Louisiana to see for herself what was happening on the shores. She writes  :

Mon May. 24, 2010 12:14 AM PDT

Elmer’s Island Wildlife Refuge, even after all the warnings, looks worse than I imagined. Pools of oil black and deep stretch down the beach; when cleanup workers drag their rakes along an already-cleaned patch of sand, more auburn crude oozes up. Beneath the surface lie slimy washed-up globules that, one worker says, are “so big you could park a car on them.”

It sends a chill up ones spine, the thought of having oil permeate sand and water… how long will it really take? what will be the after effects? She also writes about the hoops BP made her jump through to get into the reserve. Everything  around there is closely monitored by BP and controlled by them supposedly “for safety precaution”. You can read her interesting report here

It was also today that a Government report came out which said MMS -Minerals Management Service – supposed to enforce safety and environmental rules on offshore rigs are winding and dining with the Oil Executives!

Wonder what tomorrow holds in store… This is a debacle which has its tentacles spread far and wide… June 1st is the official start of the Hurricane season in the Gulf too… May be Nature will be kind to us and our misdeeds and delay it a bit to help in cleaning up the mess we created. If not I shudder at the thought of heavy winds, water and oil… who knows how far and how wide it will spread…

Hurricane Season and the Oil Spill Video

For now lets all hope that the drilling mix being pumped into the tube holds and stops the oil flow… Keeping fingers crossed (toes too!)

By the Way if interested you can follow the rise and fall of “the plume” (see what is happening to the leak basically!)live here

Source :The Columbus Dispatch

Why BP/ Shell should be stopped form drilling in the Arctic Ocean