Tag Archives: Gulf Of Mexico

Where Did the Oil Disappear ?

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…

After Gulf Of Mexico It is Dalian Now

Even a fortnight after a fire at an oil depot in Dalian, China is struggling to clean up the crude oil leaked into the sea.

Two weeks ago an explosions at an oil terminal near the northeastern city of Dalian set off a fire that raged for 15 hours and took 2,000 firefighters to extinguish.

BBC reports that , “an army of volunteers and fishermen has been mobilised to help clean up the pollution from the area around the port of Dalian, one of China’s most important strategic oil reserves.

But conditions are grim for those involved.

Photo: AP

The scene at a small harbour where they are collecting the oil is like something out of the 19th Century.”

According to Chinese officials, the oil slick is under control and has not reached international waters.

Dai Yulin, the deputy mayor of Dalian port in northeast China, said Monday that more than 8,000 fishing boats helped to keep the 435-square-kilometer slick from reaching the open sea.

Environmental Impact of DeepWater Horizon Oil Spill

It has been reported by news media that the oil slick spreading from the Deepwater Horizon disaster threatens fisheries, tourism and the habitat of hundreds of bird species who come ashore every year to breed. We thought it would be interesting to see what kind of impact species other than humans are having due to the oil spill.

CHECK OUT THIS LINK FOR PICTURES OF BIRDS AFFECTED BY THE OIL SPILL

  1. Coral Reefs – Coral reefs are home to 25% of all marine species, they are called the tropical rain forests of the sea. However, the tiny colonial animals that build these intricate limestone masses are dying at alarming rates. Scientists in the early 2000 declared that if this trend continued, in 20 years the living corals on many of the world’s reefs will be dead and the ecosystems that depend on them severely damaged. I was wondering whether we had coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico and as per the US Geological survey there are at least 2 substantial reefs in the gulf Flower garden banks and the Florida reef tract (check the image below).

    Studies have shown that the dispersants and dispersed oil droplets are significantly more toxic to the coral than the crude oil itself, the scientists report. The dispersants caused “significant harm,” including rapid, widespread death and delay in growth rates, to the coral colonies. Read more about it in detail here

  2. Microbes in the water can break down oil. The number of microbes that grow in response to the more concentrated BP spill could tip that system out of balance, says LSU oceanographer Mark Benfield. Too many microbes in the sea could suck oxygen from the water, creating an uninhabitable hypoxic area, or “dead zone.”
  3. Birds and animals that live on the shore. Check out the link for the list of endangered species which calls the Gulf of Mexico and its shores their home. The plants on the shores will all be dead if oil reaches the shore and seeps into the soil. The nesting grounds of thousands of birds and amphibians. Louisiana’s state bird the Brown Pelican is threatened too as it’s nesting areas and food has been contaminated after having made a comeback in the last couple of years after the hurricanes Katrina and Rita wreaked havoc on their environment. Brown Pelican
  4. Ocean dwellers – The birds and the turtles we see, we also see the shores and the plants being affected, but 5000 feet deep under the ocean lies a world away from our eyes inhabited by sperm whales and planktons. From the planktons to fishes and mammals the variety of life in the ocean is very diverse. If one of them is affected by the oil it can affect the whole food chain. Schools of Minnows are already seen swimming just below the oil in many places, scientists are pretty sure they are doomed. Birds which prey on those fish too are susceptible to the toxins from the fishes. An e.g.: for a fish would be the Small-tooth saw fish used to have a wide habitat but are now concentrated off Florida’s southwest coast.  “Every fish and invertebrate contacting the oil is probably dying. I have no doubt about that,” said Prosanta Chakrabarty, a Louisiana State University fish biologist.

    Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

    One main story which could become the poster boy sort of for The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Environmental impact is the Giant Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna which has been over-fished for years and the spill added to its woes. The Gulf of Mexico is where the Blue Fin comes to spawn; nurseries of the beautiful fish call the gulf its home. It is in dire need of help, Imagine a fish with a reproductive strategy where it has to grow from a tiny egg to a 225 lb fish, and than once mature, it goes to spawn in the Gulf of Mexico for 4-6 weeks. If that’s your evolutionary strategy for reproduction, you’d better hope that your spawning ground is just like you left it the year before- warm and clean. The rest of the year the giant Blue fin swims the entire North Atlantic ranging from frigid seas off the Maritimes of Canada to Iceland, from the Azores to the shores of North Carolina. Read more here .The spawning grounds of many of these marine organisms are now being drenched in oil, the effects of which won’t be known for some time.

    The organizations which are working to help the Atlantic Blue Fin tuna

    Save the Blue Fin

    Recent discoveries of endangered sea turtles soaked in oil and 22 dolphins found dead in the spill zone only hint at the scope of a potential calamity that could last years and unravel the Gulf’s food web.

    To know the impact and extent of damage we will need to wait for the oil spill to be contained and the maximum amount of oil cleaned… Hoping for some good news soon from Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill…

    Below  is a list of the endangered species which call the Gulf their home.  Courtesy of the NOAA

    US exempted BP’s Gulf of Mexico Drilling from an Environmental study! Read the full article here

    Latest on the Oil Spill from NY Times

    An interesting read from the Financial Times

DeepWater Horizon Oil Spill Where is BP Headed?

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 the Largest to Hit the US

Live Video Link from Deep Horizon Oil Spill courtesy BP

Top Kill has Failed, we are short of boom and the Atlantic Hurricane season is around the corner! Oil is still in the Ocean some hitting the shore the rest waiting its turn… President Obama has promised more people on the ground on the water front to help with the humongous clean-up. BP supposedly trucked in extra hands to show the visiting President and his officials that they were doing everything right!

Deep Horizon Oil Spill is now officially the largest Oil spill in US history. It is much larger than Exxon-Valdez Spill and the real magnitude won’t be known until the leak is plugged. Right now the Geological survey has put the leak somewhere between 12,000 to 20,000 barrels a day! More than 3 times what they thought earlier.

Scientists have discovered a 22mile long plume of oil on the Ocean floor which is nearing an underwater canyon whose currents fuel the food chain in Gulf waters off Florida and could potentially wash the tiny plants and animals that feed larger organisms in a stew of toxic chemicals there by affecting the entire food chain in the gulf. The plume was detected just beneath the surface down to about 3,300 feet and there is a chance it will spread all the way to the Florida Keys if it does not rise up. Some scientists think if it rises up it might get broken down by sunlight.

BP has moved to plan B?? oh no must be plan W or X or something…BP now is planning to put in a lid in place to hope and stop the leak which has not stopped inspite of 3 continuous days of pumping 30,000barrels of heavy mud into it. The idea now is to cut off the pipes at the top of the blow-out prevented and allowing a container to be connected up to it that will catch the oil and allow it to rise up a pipe to the surface. Like all of these efforts, this has not yet been done before in 5,000 feet of water. Don’t know whether cutting the pipe will let more oil pour out…

Well let’s wait as we have for the past 7 weeks and hope may be tomorrow will come bearing better news 5000 feet under the sea from Deep Horizon… meanwhile if you are anywhere near the South east head down and help with what ever you can…

In the midst of all this One thing that struck me is nature is (As always) so amazing! The way it has kept oil is so much away from anything it can destroy and pollute… packaged under such high pressures so deep underneath…

Some interesting headlines I saw today :

From the NYTimes : Despite Moratorium Drilling projects Move ahead!
From the CS Monitor : Why the Gulf Oil Spill Demands New Regulations?

More tomorrow…

Deep Horizon a Quick Update

President Obama came out today and admitted some mistakes where made and the best thing I heard in his press conference was the extension of moratorium on new offshore drilling for another 6 months! Just want it to be made permanent. He also mentioned that there were still issues with the MMS (Minerals Management Service) which needed to be rectified. He also said there probably were not enough booms (wondering what that is? it is something that will help keep oil contained, those orange/yellow colored long connected tubes floating in the water near the beaches of Louisiana in the oil spill pictures are booms. Read more about it here) the President also mentioned (surprise! Surprise! That BP was not forthcoming about the extent of the debacle!)

Well I hope after all this time they will work out a way to stem the flow and clean up the environment before the next talks about Drill Baby Drill ring out…

Found this interesting video on CBS check it out… it is amazing what BP did know and what it did not do (not after the rig sank but before that…)


Courtesy CBS News

On BP’s part they have stated there are no updates positive or negative at this hour. You can still see the plume looking pretty strong (basically no idea whether the top kill is working or not!) Check out the video here 

More updates tomorrow… hopefully they will be positive.

A Positive Update At The Deep Horizon Oil Rig

A temporary yet significant positive development in the Deep Horizon Oil spill. BP has managed to set in a temporary solution to reduce oil gushing out into the Ocean around the sunken rig.

It has been only 24 hours since I was reading and posting about the 1000’s of gallons of crude oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico with no real solution in sight. There are millions of barrels of oil already in the water and scientists think some of it has made it into the currents headed to Florida keys. Marine biologists and others are keeping watch on that development.

Like mentioned in yesterday’s post BP had been working to try and control the spillage. Today they succeeded in reducing the amount of oil being dumped into the Ocean by successfully attaching a pipe to the burst pipeline and pumping some of the oil into a tanker. Let us hope it works well and the amount of oil flowing out into the water reduces considerably. It won’t be known until some days as to how much oil the contraption is able to suck. Keeping fingers crossed…

The picture below demonstrates how the oil is being sucked out.

Source for Picture and news bit www.dispatch.com

Yesterday’s post is here

Deep Horizon Oil Spill Where How and When Will It End?

Image Courtesy nytimes.com

It has been 24 days since the fateful day when the rig exploded and 12 men lost their lives. The Oil has been spewing out into the ocean and spreading along with the waves to the shores and beyond…

Each day there are seemingly new revelations as to how much oil is being spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. The scientists from different universities working aboard the research vessel Pelican, which sailed from Cocodrie, La., on May 3 and have been gathering extensive samples and information about the disaster in the gulf.

The scientists have discovered humongous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. One of them as large as 10miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick! It means what we see above water in pictures is just literally like the tip of the iceberg! There is much more oil in the deep water in the Gulf of Mexico. The fallout environmentally would be devastating as the plumes could deplete Oxygen in the water there by destroying sea life in the water.

They calculate that the oil gushing out from the well is much more than the earlier reported 5000barrels a day from the satellite imagery. They put it approximately between 25,000 to 80,000 barrels of oil a day! more than 5 times the previous estimates, and BP has said “no” to the scientists request to access to the rig to make accurate measurements using more advanced devices.

On its part BP has been trying without much positive outcome to intercept and control the spillage. Right now they are continuing their efforts to insert a tube, meant to intercept the flow of oil, into the broken drill pipe using robotic submarines. It did not work today and they had to bring it back above water. The problem arose before any attempt was made to insert the tube, which is fitted with rubber diaphragms to block water from entering the drill pipe.

BP has some more short term options at hand which all will take time and the permanent solution is either to block it with a cap, or pump and seal the pipe with mud and cement – “Junk Shot”. The permanent solution is to drill 2 relief wells which is already underway but would take until August to complete, that’s another 60-90 days more.

Vulnerable animals and birds are at risk from the oil spill and they all need help. If you are interested in heading down there to help do link up with some of the organizations already working there. Sometimes not knowing what to do and trying to help might be more harmful.

Links of helpful organizations :

You can search here to find how you can help.

Follow this link to check on the Oil spill spreading. It is a cool interactive map! Here

Environment Back On The Front Page

Picture courtesy US Coast Guard

The Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon Rig sinking and the resulting spill has put oil on the fore front again for the umpteenth time in the last decade. One thing everyone seems to accept (some knowingly and some grudgingly) is that there will be a severe shortage of oil sometime in the future. There was the war cry from the right “Drill baby Drill! And of course “Drill here, Drill now” everything seems to have gone quiet in the last couple of weeks. The environmental fallout of the spill is still happening as we read this.

I was reading this interesting op-ed piece by one of my favorite journalists Paul Krugman on Nytimes, he talks about how the oil spill in a weird way puts environment back on the front page of our conscience. He was talking how earth day came into being when an oil spill covered Santa Barbara beaches with oil. Environmentalism came to life as a response to visible pollution. These days our neighborhoods are cleaner, there is not much visible except for climate change and similar issues. It has been found that public concern about pollution is going down, and how regulations are being pushed back.

To read the entire article here

Latest NASA Satellite Image of Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill (appearing as a dull gray color) image from NASA's MODIS instrument. Credit: NASA/Goddard/MODIS Rapid Response Team

NASA’s Terra satellite flew over the Deepwater Horizon rig’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday, May 1 and captured a natural-color image of the slick from space. The oil slick resulted from an accident at the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

On April 29, the MODIS image on the Terra satellite captured a wide-view natural-color image of the oil slick (outlined in white) just off the Louisiana coast. The oil slick appears as dull gray interlocking comma shapes, one opaque and the other nearly transparent. Sunglint — the mirror-like reflection of the sun off the water — enhances the oil slick’s visibility. The northwestern tip of the oil slick almost touches the Mississippi Delta.

Credit: NASA/Earth Observatory/Jesse Allen, using data provided courtesy of the University of Wisconsin’s Space Science and Engineering Center MODIS Direct Broadcast system.

For more information and images visit here