BP's Deepwater Oil Spill - July 5 - and Open Thread

This thread is being closed. Please comment on http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6696.

Yesterday, I enjoyed the hospitality of the University of New Hampshire, and their local Rotary Club at a July Fourth Celebration, after a family get-together earlier. I hope you all had as Happy a Fourth as we did, and that you equally well enjoy the coming week.

I will, however, add the latest picture from the Gulf of the weather situation (courtesy of the National Hurricane Center):

The potential of sequential storms raising the wave levels around the oil spill site, and thereby delaying the connections of the new riser systems has to be worrying, so I hope that they will be able to replace the cap and get the system into production this week. Based on Chuck Watson's comment of yesterday afternoon, making that much progress this week may not be possible, however.

The low pressure system that has been moving over the Gulf and oil spill response area should be making landfall over Louisiana late Monday. Some skimming is restarting, but seas are still choppy and operations limited. The connection from the Helix Producer I platform to the well is still being delayed, as waves must be 3ft or less. There is another system off the coast of Belize that is becoming better organized. Models are showing it developing into a tropical storm and following a track similar to Alex. Not good news - this promises another week of unsettled weather, and the potential for a tropical storm (perhaps 35%) or even a hurricane (10% chance) transiting the Gulf in 4 to 5 days, sending another rash of waves over the response area. - Chuck Watson - 5:40 pm July 4

News from the site includes the information that the "A Whale" tanker that sucks in oily water, separates it and stores the oil, while discharging the water, is now under test, and has been all weekend, to see if it can collect the 500,000 bd of oil (perhaps they mean oily water) that has been reported.

The "A Whale."

The water is drawn in through vents into the ballast area of the tanker, and is then fed further into the vessel.

"The oil water will be coming through those jaws, going through those gates," said Chief Officer Moham Bhist, as he gestured toward the grilled openings cut into in the bow, about a foot tall.

The oil-water mix will be pumped through those openings into holding tanks, where simple science takes over. Like a giant decanter, the oil will float to the surface, where it will be skimmed off. The remaining water then will be pumped back into the Gulf.

The initial relief well is now at 17,400 ft, though if one goes back to the briefing that Kent Wells gave and I reported earlier the last casing run was supposed to be made at around 17,100 ft. And I gather that this hasn't happened yet, since, once it was done, then the last couple of hundred feet would be a straight run over with the mud motor and PDC bit to penetrate the wild well (WW).

Rather, if you go back to that post and the numbers on the wall in the command center illustration (rather than the graphic), those noted that the casing would be run at 17,758 ft TVD (true vertical depth). At the time I suggested that the correction should be to the 17,100 ft figure, but obviously I picked the wrong alternative of the two choices. However if the well depth achieved is as the Unified Command Center report, then the well has another 300 ft to drill before they ream the bottom of the well and run that final casing, and then complete the connection to the original well. (If the weather holds up, and if they can get the cap and connections done this week, then perhaps we are closer than is being admitted). However if one takes this number and compares it to the story two days ago where

The first relief well for the Macondo blowout is drilling at about 16,817 feet measured depth and is as much as a week ahead of schedule, the head of the US response said Friday. . . . . . .Thad Allen said at a press briefing that Transocean semi-submersible rig Development Driller 3 had to drill about 600 vertical feet before hitting the target zone for the intercept.

(16,847 + 600 = 17,447 ft . . . hmmm! Maybe they will be running that casing on Monday or Tuesday???)

As for the oil collected:

For the first 12 hours on July 4 (midnight to noon), approximately 8,500 barrels of oil were collected and approximately 3,965 barrels of oil and 28.2 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

On July 3, total oil recovered was approx. 25,195 barrels:
• approx. 17,020 barrels of oil were collected,
• approx. 8,175 barrels of oil were flared,
• and approx. 57 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

New stuff in this introductory comment, 1 JUL 10.

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8. Yes, HO and others have put up many counterarguments to the "DougR" comment. There are many many links, but the first one was here: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6609. If you ask in the thread nicely, they will also point you to others.

It seems the little towns around here are hiring their own 'experts'. I hope they vet these guys out. Anybody heard of this guy or his company? Mark White of Cameron Consulting out of Greenville, S.C.

All the information below is from a google search of Mark White of Cameron Consulting out of Greenville, S.C -
If posting this information is against this forums rules of privacy, please delete. Thank you.
Mark C. White, P.G.

Principle Geologist at Cameron Consulting, LLC.
Greenville, South Carolina Area


* Professional Geologist at Cameron Consulting, LLC


* Environmental Claims Supervisor at Canal Insurance Company, Inc.
* Staff Geologist II at Mactec Engineering & Environmental Services, Inc.
* Contractor Sales at Guardian Building Products, Inc.

* Sales Coordinator at Neff Rental
* Staff Geologist I at Law/Gibb Group, Inc.
* Staff Geologist/ Emergency Response Manager at Shield Environmental Associates, Inc./ Action

* Sewanee-The University of the South
* Albion College
* Montana State University-Bozeman


* My Company - http://www.cameronconllc.com/

Mark C. White, P.G.’s Summary

South Carolina Licensed Professional Geologist #2506 (PG)
SC UST Site Rehabilitation Contractor #380
Kentucky Registered Professional Geologist #2490 (PG)
OSHA 40-hour Hazardous Waste Site Worker Training & 8-hour Refreshers
Mark C. White, P.G.’s Specialties:

Environmental Due Diligence, groundwater/soil Site Assessments and Remediation, Property Condition Assessments, Construction Progress Monitoring, Environmental Insurance Claim Project Management and Oversight, and Geotechnical Investigations.
Mark C. White, P.G.’s Experience

Professional Geologist
Cameron Consulting, LLC

(Environmental Services industry)

May 2005 — Present (5 years 3 months)

Mr. White has over eight years of professional experience in environmental compliance, assessment, and site management. Mr. White started Cameron Consulting, L.L.C. (Camcon) in 2005 and is based out of Greenville, South Carolina. Mr. White’s primary responsibilities at Camcon are performing environmental due diligence reporting for commercial and industrial property transfers, assessment and remediation of contaminated sites as well as periodic Construction Progress Monitoring for residential and commercial construction loans. Mr. White also has extensive experience performing project management and oversight of nationwide first-response activities for emergency petroleum and chemical spills. His main duties include project/ budget management, negotiation with regulatory agencies and contractors, development and implementation of field drilling investigations, soil and ground-water sampling/ monitoring/ assessment, chemical oxidation treatment and reporting. Mr. White has managed projects for various clients in the states of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington State, and Wyoming.

Above information plus more, from

Too long--edited by Gail

This guy has limited experience and only a BS. Give me a local guy.

What you will not read about first on theoildrum.com:


Submerged oil off Alabama coast poses dangers without immediate solutions
Published: Monday, July 05, 2010, 5:00 AM Updated: Monday, July 05, 2010, 6:41 AM
Ben Raines, Press-Register Ben Raines, Press-Register
oil leak June 20 2010.jpgView full size(AP Photo/BP PLC)This image from video provided by BP PLC early Sunday morning, June 20, 2010 shows oil continuing to gush millions of gallons a day, from the broken wellhead, at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. Despite the commonly held belief that oil always floats, both the Press-Register and Alabama officials have documented oil on the seafloor of state waters in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill.
Despite the commonly held belief that oil always floats, both the Press-Register and Alabama officials have documented oil on the seafloor of state waters in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill.

The U.S. Coast Guard and scientists have also documented that oil sometimes sinks after major spills.

Alabama officials are in the process of anchoring chains with oil-catching pompoms attached, trying to detect oil's movement underwater. The decision followed discovery of oil in shrimp trawls as the state sampled the size of shrimp in the Mississippi Sound.

"If we can't see it, we can't assess the risks it poses. We're trying to monitor for it," said Vernon Minton, head of the Alabama Marine Resources Division.

In the weeks since the spill began, scientists have reported several offshore oil plumes, said to be composed of tiny droplets of oil too small to be seen by the human eye. Scientists said the risks associated with the deepwater plumes center in two areas: plankton blooms that can lead to low oxygen levels in the water and problems associated with higher levels of contaminants in the water.

Edited by Gail (after HO's comment)

It really isn't necessary to quote full articles. Just a short abstract and the URL is enough to send curious readers over to get the information they might be looking for, without filling up too much space over here.

That is not the full article, but a portion.

Right on top of this post is someone posting the complete resume of a "Mark White".

However, "Heading out" seem to have no complaints about that post taking up the valuable comment thread space on TOD.

This kind of a complaint is also a great way to ensure that the post that contract theoildrum.com bloggers and commenters who do not want this news given prominence to do a bit of extra work to find it.

It is censorship, isn't it?

It is rapidly getting to the point where theoildrum.com's sources of funds and conflicts of interest is an issue.

DR -- Might want to spend a little time going thru the TOD archives. These subjects have been covered in detail already.

As far as censorship I haven't noticed you being censored at all. Or did I miss something? In any case I'm glad you've hung around. I truly look forward to your future postings. I hope the editors don't limit your access. The comedic value is priceless IMHO.

Help me out here Rock, what is comedic about a report that Alabama officials and scientists have found submerged oil in Alabama coastal waters? What is comedic about learning that other oil spills have resulted in submerged oil? This article by Ben Raines is IMO well written, without sensational claims. I appreciate Doug posting it.

oxi - It's comical because he's offering it as something we all don't know about and haven't discussed in detail.Hhey...wait...have you heard...a well blew out in the GOM and it's spewing oil everwhere!!! The submerged oil story is about two months old. There's nothing wrong with showing up to the party late. Just shouldn't expect folks to hang on to every word of the old news. IMHO it's nothing more than a sad effort to garner attention. That's why I have no doubt my responses are appreciated: any attention is better than being ignored. Just like your effort to redefine what I actually commented on. Strawman arguments are easily recognized on TOD. You're gonna have to do better.

I realize that you said that had all been covered in previous posts, but since bringing up new stories about old information occurs regularly on TOD without being called comedic I assumed that you were calling the content of the information he posted comedic. No strawman was intended.

... and, his post history is indicative of a fear monger spreading half-truths, mis-truths, and outright lies.

I think it's just an expected result based on the point of release being so deep and dispersant applied directly at the source. Adding in layers of water at different temperatures in the water column and subsurface currents makes it more likely the oil will spread out over much larger areas than a 'conventional' surface spill. IOW, it's a feature, not a bug.

Now that's not to say the decision to use dispersant at depth was the right one. Personally (noting it's outside my field of knowledge) I think it's just making a horrible disaster even worse. If we weren't such incompetent jackasses we would know better, and would get as much oil, as concentrated as possible, to the surface in the shortest possible time. Then skim or burn everything we can, and then use dispersant at the surface on whatever is left over.

If we weren't such incompetent jackasses we would know better, and would get as much oil, as concentrated as possible, to the surface in the shortest possible time. Then skim or burn everything we can, and then use dispersant at the surface on whatever is left over.

I guess it depends on what you want the dispersant to do. In my mind, I would want as much of the benzene as possible removed from the oil before the oil reached a populated area. If putting dispersant in the oil does that better/more completely than the natural processes, I'm all for putting dispersant as close to the source as possible.

The Gulf is a populated area. Anthropocentrism is dangerously shortsighted.

K, I just wanted to say thanks for your encouragement.

Beachmommy, you've got a lot of faith that the ocean is going to remain healthy for you. I hope that works out for you.


You're in our house, rookie. If you don't like the policies, leave. Pay no attention to Rock.

Get over it. Posting whole articles can get you into copyright do-do. For example check out AP's policy. I am not going to research a link for you as you claim to be so good at research yourself. Please respect other peoples' intellectual property.


The issue of submerged oil plumes has indeed been well discussed already here on TOD (where debate is mostly civil, reasoned and sans censorship).

That AOL news report posted by DougReader is echoed by a local news video report on WWLTV about submerged black oil in Barataria Basin, Louisiana:


In the video, you get to see what seems un-weathered black sludge akin to used engine oil. This is a photo still from the video:


Of concern is that if a hurricane passes over relatively shallow water with this submerged oil beneath it, it may draw the oil to the surface and spread it inland mixed with sea water spray and rain. That's a matter of conjecture unless readers can advise on the likelihood.

UK-based weather forecaster Piers Corbyn ( http://www.weatheraction.com ) has just alerted subscribers to the formation of a weather pattern with hurricane potential on 9-11th July in the Gulf, with a Gulf shores landfall (85% confidence).

He forecasts another pattern with hurricane potential and Gulf shores landfall on 18-20th July (70% confidence).

See video, which also discusses the outcome of his June forecast for Gulf weather patterns:


wrong again on the gravity thingy. ;) it's nice light crude....specific gravity lighter than water therefore it floats.

Evidence of the oil under the surface of the water are widely acknowledged as fact.

".... the submerged oil seen in Alabama has been thick and easy to spot, whether while snorkeling or diving, or in checking trawls pulled from the sea floor."

Explain this away... go ahead... when sea floor trawls off beaches are coming back thick with oil.


Why are you trying to defraud the public?

BP has an agenda to conceal this issue to limit their liabilities.

What is your agenda?

What do you tell the people on Alabama shores finding this oil underwater?

Is it just their imagination?

Thought control on theoildrum.com is alive and well.

There is oil below the surface - this is exactly what one expects. The oil amounts have been blown out of proportion by the media, which has hyped this topic as they usually do. This has been quite a learning experience for me, watching how CNN has taken on an editorial line that distorts facts in their effort to capture audiences. The "giant plumes of oil" they have reported turn out to have oil at an oil concentration of about 0.5 parts per million. The layers were reportedly about 100 meters thick (one would expect it to be layered because the oil will seek a position in the water column where its density matches that of the surrounding water, and evidently there's a lot of biodegradation going on). If we take a 10,000 square KM area, 0.1 km thick, that's 100 km3 of water contaminated to 0.5 parts per million. 100 km3 is 100 million cubic meters. So that's about 50 cubic meters of oil in these "giant oil plumes". This is such a small amount, I consider the "giant oil plumes" to be much ado about nothing. And another example of news media blowing things out of proportion. No wonder they also lied to us about the Iraq WMDs.

What do you make of Samantha Joye's comments on the Plumes and her research trip early in June:

Short interview with Joye

and in this UGA documentary of that trip in early June

Black and Blue - Beneath the Gulf Oil Spill

PT 1

PT 2

PT 3

PT 4

also this article from the NYT

Scientist Awed by Size, Density of Undersea Oil Plume in Gulf


100km3= 100km*km*km*1000m/km*1000m/km*1000m/km = 100,000,000,000 cubic meters. At 0.5ppm that is 50,000 cubic meters or 314,490 bbl. Actually quite a lot of oil

Thanks for the calculation, but wasn't the maximum concentration in early reports <0.5 ppm, and that was an upper outlier? So what is the average concentration? It seems as a rough guess the amount of oil might be an order of magnitude less than your calculation. Still a lot of oil.

Looking at all the published data to date one could get less than 50k Barrels underwater(Very big area too). But that is of course a moving target as small droplets rise, new oil is added, a lot is degraded and currents move the "plumes". Many of the areas of plume are in PPB or below detection limits. Once the well is contained and /or plugged it will be interesting to see what the monitoring shows after 6 more weeks.

That's right, it is. Seems I blew a set of zeroes. However, it's still only 0.5 ppm. I'd refer you to this webpage, where a manufacturer discusses the efficiency of his water cleaning equipment, meant to take oil out of water BEFORE THE WATER IS DISCHARGED INTO THE OCEAN.


If you refer to the paragraph with the header Secondary Treatment, you'll see their claim that it's possible to take the oil in water concentration to less than 20 ppm. The following paragraph states this limit (20 ppm) is enough to satisfy most regulatory agencies. I have directed people installing these systems, and we target 5 to 10 ppm because this is so far below the regulatory requirements, we can operate below the limit with a lot of safety margin. When the water contains so little oil, it's crystal clear, and we install special light sensors to give us a continuous readout on water quality.

So, even if my hypothetical example leads to over 300,000 barrels being dissolved in the Gulf of Mexico in these "giant oil plumes" (which are really giant contaminated water plumes), these plumes have yet to be shown to be harmful. The proper procedure is to take the water sample, and dip shrimp and fish in it, and see what happens to them. And thus far I haven't seen any test results. I understand from reading the correspondence that survery ships aren't able to identify the contaminated water so easily (after all it's 0.5 ppm). I spent a summer aboard a NOAA research vessel when I was doing an internship, and I can assure you, it's a lot easier to find a school of dolphin out there than to locate a particular body of water at 1000 feet below the surface. That takes a lot of sampling which happens to be fairly slow. My guess is they'll have to start using a wire-transmission drop tool which can measure oil content as it drops through the water column. But I'm not sure if they have those available, although if I get a grant I can probably develop one in 3 months.

A 10,000 square km area 0.1 km thick represents a volume of 1,000 cubic km.

You're right geo_man, the volume would be 1,000 cubic kilometers. Although I'm not sure where the original 10,000 square km X 0.1 km thick figures that fdoleza provided came from, the total volume using these dimensions would be 1 trillion cubic meters. There would be 500,000 cubic meters of oil if it constituted only 0.5 millionths of the volume.

1,000,000,000,000 X 0.0000005 (one half of a millionth)= 500,000

fdoleza: "This has been quite a learning experience for me, watching how CNN has taken on an editorial line that distorts facts in their effort to capture audiences." Yes indeed. CNN's coverage of the BP Blowout has convinced me to stop watching the network altogether. Seeing what they have done with this incident has destroyed any credibility they had in my mind. If I watch at all, it's with the sound off and the crawl covered, to minimize the risk of distorting my thought process with their false hysteria. It seems that their approach is to take pieces of actual news and use them to manufacture unnecessary fear, hoping that the anxiety will keep people glued to the channel. This is dishonest, reckless and vile. The facts are sufficient to create an excess of anxiety and confusion; the process of getting information from news media should reduce these quantities, not increase them. When the public needs information, we should have a better choice than "move-along-folks-there's-nothing-to-see-here" and "OMG THE SKY IS FALLING RUN RUN RUN!!!!!"

TOD serves that function well, but it's a lot more work than just watching the TeeVee.

The TV news coverage has been awful and Anderson Cooper has been as bad as any. TJ Holmes at CNN has done some decent segments, and CNN.com has been relatively decent, if you ignore the video clips with Cooper. Olberman on MSNBC promoted the dougr apocalyptic scenario. Fox and ABC's David Muir have been busy trying to blame the federal government for everything. Print news hasn't been much better.

When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better. But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite you each of you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there for a day without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.

Next May it'll be 50 years since Newton Minow said that. Blimey, had he known then what he knows now . . .

He didn't say no alcohol, drugs or Blue Bell, did he?

Has everyone seen this You Tube of the water along the shoreline in the Gulf bubbling?

This certainly isn't normal.



Oh pls, don't make me go there......Cheryl a chemist has aleeady stated that acid doen't boil except in B Horror Movies, and Gregg here in P-Cola is scaring everyone to death. Like I said, I've not seen it boil, now I have seen rough surf bubble when it hits the shoreline etc., and trust me I've looked. Anyone can refer to my photos and see no boiling, I know what Gregg is alluding to and no one can come up with any reason that oil or oil/dipsersant would "boil" the surf. I was out in the water yesterday and nothing even remotely close to what he's showing. He and his "followers" also think he's going to be bumped off for speading the "truth". I am at my wits end with him scaring everyone on the Island and others far and wide while he is receiving dontations.

I think his goal is more concerned with YouTube hits than science.

Here are some tips on his YouTube home page:

Being a Google Adsense Partner on Youtube Allows you to run Ads on your videos, I believe it's 5-10 cents a click, very low when compared to other advertising deals on the web. Google adsense revenue is about 20%-30% of my revenue. If you develop an audience, you can have affiliate sponsors, sell ebooks, cds, tshirts or anything else you can think of...


Most of My Income is not from Google Adsense and being a Youtube Partner. It's now from promoting websites and working on media projects with other companies.

WOW~Thanks es3, I hadn't seen that but have heard about tons of donations going that way so add that to this info and I would have to agree. I need to see where he works (cause on this tiny Island NOTHING is a secret), that might give me a better grasp on his need for donations and income from Google/youTube. It's just wrong to be such an alarmist when everyone is already screaming the sky is falling.

He has also teamed up with some kids calling themselves projectgulfimpact.

They did a video of Kindra Arenesen from LA who gained a big following after appearing on TV speaking out against BP. The video is heavily edited, but has her talking about the well can't be stopped and giant tsunami.


Her FaceBook page & his are growing rapidly and attract posters putting up all of the most far-out doomsday crap imaginable. It is just crazy.

I noticed that too, and did a bit of research-he's in used car intenet sales and hold on........specilaizes (his words) in building websites and flipping them for profit.
This is his other FB page:
This is Gregg Hall, founder of True Reporting On Gulf Oil Spill -

Please pass this page on to everyone you know who wants the most real and true information as it happens.Information
"Only after the last tree has been cut down...
Only after the last river has been poisoned…
Only after the last fish has been caught, only then will you find that money cannot be eaten." -

Then this:


Also he said he was on of the top blog authors on the net, so I can see where this is going. His last post on hie FB page was about the rain in Gulf Shores last night being sticky and thick in consistency ......too bad people don't vet this info better before sending $$ to him.

Crikey, here come this year's Joe/Jo the Plumber. These deals tend not to end well for their protagonists. I don't know a thing about Gregg H, but I'm sorry to see KA swept up in this side of it -- she might have become a real force for better treatment of her community. But "regular folks" suddenly turned into political symbols hardly ever know what the hell to do with it.

I'm pretty sad about KA too. The area badly needs an activist like her and I would think there are some legit concerns in places like Venice.

If you can't co-op and shut someone up, like I think BP tried to do with her, you can sure as hell shut them down by having them jump on the bandwagon of nonsense.

I joined her FB page just to comment on the stoopid; looking for the other idiot, now.

I am new to the FB thing. Can one leave a comment on that site without adding/joining that particular group?

EDIT: for clarity

The TV news coverage has been awful and Anderson Cooper has been as bad as any

I stopped watching CNN also but for a different reason. It become boring as hell.. In cable TV, it is o.k. to take a POV and just exploit it and get to the core audience that response to the message. Fox is the master of filtering news and events for a specific conservative type of view point. But rigt now CNN (and especially Cooper coverage) is very predictable (like everyday, they ramp BP for not coming to their show and "defend" all their wrongdoing.. Fun for the first 5 times, boring the next 40 days they put it on air again and again). They are getting very boring asking the same parish president coming on air almost every day (and 2 to 3 show in a roll) and going over the news the same way every day.. You don't expect cable TV news magazine show to be fair (heck, I don't want it to be fair at all), but I want it to be exciting and creative... And CNN coverage is not exciting.. Not much new stuff is covered.. I want to see how the clean up operation go? What is life like in the discovery III or discovery II? Why is so many red tape in coast guard approval process? In one Adm Allen briefing, CNN is the only gal that were there asking questions (may be 8 or 9 questions). So they know how to ask question but they are too lazy to put together a good show..


Is this the kind of CNN reporting you are so angry about?
Honestly, I am no fan of MSM or the truthfulness of Anderson, for that matter...
especially when you factor in his former CIA service.
But before you start believing that he is whipping up hysteria you might ask yourself "Qui Bono?"
Who would benefit from such hysteria..why would it be in the mainstream interest to whip up hysteria?
I honestly think he is starting to be affected in a very human way by what he is witnessingand being denied
permission to report on and it would not surprise me if he is given a new assignment in the very near future..someplace far away from the GOM

Furthermore, after all the hype about oil catching booms and skimmers and dispersants..after all the pooh-poohing here
that went on and is still going on TOD about how all of this OMG commentary is nonsense...even after oil from this spill has washed up on shores and in estuaries from Galveston Texas to Pelican Bay Florida...the Gov't passes a [unConstitutional!]law prohibiting factual reporting from the ground/sea about what is really going on. The whole Deepwater spill, recapping and clean-up operation is a "National Security" issue.

I worked for two governments back in the Cold War and Post Cold War days..my job was dealing with "National Security" issues and I have to say..the minute this spill was classified in that category I knew how bad, how really really bad this situation must be..you only have to see how desperate our gov't is in trying to restrict the flow of info-intel getting out into the public domain to know what I am saying is true..and that a lot of what is being said on TOD attempting to play down the seriousness of this man-made catastrophe isn't.

In the end it comes down to who you gonna believe..BP and Thad Allen..or your neighbours and your own eyes?
Before you make your mind up..try these links

[The location of the video is Grand Isle Louisiana.]

And this is Pensacola, Fla.

All those stories are from al.com. It is my produced by my LOCAL paper. I am one of their top posters and I can state that others have covered al.com stories here regularly and as well as myself. TOD is very open and has not deleted me many times when I thought I really deserved it. If you want to use something in the Mobile Press/ Times Picyaune/al.com/nola.com and their associated blogs, this is the story you should be concentrating on. This is the newest lie. Help instead of being a chicken little please.

Thought control on theoildrum.com is alive and well.

Thanks so much for coming on over to TOD to fight the influence of the BP zombies. However your claims about psi, H2S, etc. are baseless at best and purposefully deceptive at worst. And your inept McCarthyesque rhetorical attempts aren't helpful.

Why are you trying to defraud the public?

What is your agenda?

Bitumen in Canada is denser than cold water. Heating water/bitumen to about 35C (95F) is used to float the bitumen and drop the sand. With the distribution of properties in crude oil, a small portion of oil in the Gulf of Mexico may be denser than water like bitumen.

NASA notes:

Twice an Exxon Valdez spill worth of oil seeps into the Gulf of Mexico every year, according to a new study that will be presented January 27 at the Ocean Sciences Meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

Some small portion of that may sink rather than float. Happy hunting to find out the portions. Encourage you to "control your thoughts" and provide evidence in context.

To add to the context that's about 20 days worth of the BP spill concentrated into a one tiny area of the Gulf compared to what the seeps release across the entire Gulf.

Also a good paper on the Plumes found here:

Out of Sight – Out of Mind: The Unseen Disaster of the BP Blowout.


Paul Montagna
Larry McKinney
Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies
Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi

"While much attention has focused on the pictures of oiled birds, marshes and beaches, the media is showing only the “tip of the iceberg” of the ecological disaster unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico."

Yes, but.. the natural seeps are a continuous phenomena spanning many millennia. The BP spill may be a high rate point source (which does get spread out fairly rapidly) but over decades it is pretty much lost as background noise.

Here is some visual evidence - http://blog.al.com/live/2010/06/lots_of_sharks_and_lots_of_oil.html

Better look at these visuals now because with the Coast Guard's new ruling no more pics of oil and its damage are likely to make it out of the gulf.

Yeah yeah yeah, twice an Exxon Valdez seeps out over the whole Gulf and the Gulf creatures that feed on that oil are in a balance with all the other creatures in the Gulf. Increase it and you upset the balance. Since the Valdez was about 250,000 barrels http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exxon_Valdez_oil_spill lets lo ball the spill to 20,000 a day. So that would be an Exxon Valedez every 12 days. So we have had 6 Exxon Valdez in 76 days which is overwhelming parts of the Gulf, especially the marshes. Try think of it this way. In a year you normally drink 2920 glasses of water (if you do the recommended 8 glasses a day). So lets triple that and consume it in 76 days - 115 glasses a day - sorry you are dead with that consumption as it would leach all the electrolytes out of your body (a woman actually died from excess water consumption) http://www.drbenkim.com/drink-too-much-water-dangerous.html

Please educate yourself about flow rates and nature's balance before you try to prove something by posting information that proves nothing in the stand alone form that you provided.

Sub-surface plumes is an interesting topic and there was a great post some time ago on TOD that covered a theory about fractionation of the ascending oil due to pressure changes. However, the Ben Raines material linked to in this thread includes his report of oil covering the seafloor in more shallow water. I haven't seen serious discussion on TOD of the oil covering the seafloor as depicted in video posted at the linked posted by oxidatedgem. Did I miss this serious discussion? What explains light crude with a lower specific gravity than water roiling around on the floor of gulf just offshore?

mms studies - might find the TOD post looking for it (I gotta go soon).
Fate & Behavior of Deepwater Subsea Oil Well Blowouts

Physical Behavior of Oil in the Ocean

weathered oil can be more dense than water, and oil/water emulsions of lighter oil can be hear neutral bouyancy.

Some of this oil is now 10 weeks out of the ground. The lighter fractions are volatile and evaporate at the surface. Bacteria and sunlight decompose other fractions. The tarry residue is heavier.

Yessir, millions of barrels of crude, (light crude so it's not that bad) spilled into the Gulf, and continue to spew in daily wreaking havoc on the ecosysytem but no need for alarm folks it's 'weathered'. I wonder where the evaporated stuff goes? oh wait, it vanishes into thin air, silly Me.

The 'tip of the iceburg' analogy sums the situation up nicely IMO.

As far as editing is concerned I had a post in reply to an individual making a mockery of the WTC incident 'edited' just the other day. His posts remained, I'm wondering what the censor was thinking?

I don't have an oil analysis, but let me guess about 10 % of the oil is inedible by bacteria. If the well spills 4 million barrels total, then 400,000 barrels of inedible oil is going to be left. This is the first population, and it's what we call tar balls. And these usually sink to the bottom.

A second population will be emulsified partially biodegraded oil. Some of it barely floats, some of it reaches water density (as the bacteria eat the lighter components), and begin to sink slowly, until it reaches a water layer dense enough to keep it from sinking further.

Since tar balls and emulsified oil on the beach are a reality, then cleaning the beaches isn't "done for show", it's done to make sure the tourism industry doesn't get 100 % smeared. This also happens to keep animals from getting smeared with oil.

I am guessing now, but I suspect most of the biodegraded dense oil will sink, and will end up mixing with sea floor sediments. The temperature in deeper waters is about 36-40 degrees F, this will turn the tar into a solid mass, and it will eventually be covered up with sand and other sediments. So it won't be much of a problem.

The Ixtoc blow out experience and other large spills show biodegraded oils, which sink to the bottom, are fairly harmless. Until I see actual data in the future, I'll continue to believe the oil at the surface is indeed the bigger problem - because it contains more volatile compoounds.

By the way, I haven't seen any references to H2S being produced by this well. I don't know why the H2S issue was brought up.

Let's assume that it is "harmless" in terms of health of humans that come into contact with the submerged oil.

What do you tell your 6 year old kid that stepped on a blob underwater while enjoying the beach?

DR -- I would tell him: "Look what that damn incompetent oil company did to our nice beach. The gov't ought to sue the pants off of them."

Not my area but I would consider any such hydrocarbon contact with skin to be a bad thing.

I was raised in Florida, and tar balls were found quite often (came from tankers). The best way to clean the tar is to use baby oil and a paper towel. And no it won't kill you. Evidently it's not a good idea to cover your foot with tar all the time, I suppose it may make your foot fall off eventually. I saw the MSNBC show and it's another example of poor reporting. My guess is tourists who complained were intentionally seeking to get on a list of claimants. Given the number of ambulance chasers running around Florida beaches today, I bet somee of them were paid and sent there by lawyers who want to make a quick kill.

does this Dr. Riki Ott have any credibility?


As a marine biologist, yes.

So do her comments in the interview have merit or is she being alarmist? Commenter fdoleza seems to think exposure is harmless yet I don't see any backup just anecdotes.

I don't have expertise in that area. One of the problems here is that the effects of exposure by Exxon Valdez cleanup crews was never studied. Short term, exposure on the Gulf coast is clearly producing headaches and other temporary symptoms. Some chemicals associated with the "spill" (benzene, at least) can cause cancer, but another problem is that there haven't been detailed air quality stats published (as far as I know).

Relevant to the health aspect, there is some interesting information here: http://actsofcreativity.com/?p=369

It is certainly a fact that anyone who has spent a lot of time on Gulf beaches has stepped on a lot of tarballs without being harmed, and this goes back many decades--I can personally vouch for the 1950s. Tar is relatively inert compared to other forms/products of spilled crude. In Mexico, tar mats dating from the Ixtoc spill have been overgrown with coral.

Extra tar in the Gulf is of course a bad thing, but it's not a catastrophe. Of course, not all the sunken oil has been reduced to tar yet.

Thanks to fdoleza for an informative post. The reporting by Ben Raines is good too, pointing out an issue without being unduly alarmist.

I agree about the tar balls that have made it to the shoreline for yrs either from tankers of natural seepage, my question is how long once the tar ball is highly weathered are HC's present? I have only had one instance this entire time when I did get a bit of oil on me, I just walked out to the shoreline, picked up some wet sand and scrubbed my heel and it came righ off, but I'd still love to hear from Cheryl R since she's a chemist if the HC's are still present weeks later in the weathered tar balls.

A tar ball is made up of hydrocarbons, so of course there will be hydrocarbons in tar balls. Just to make sure this is made clear, crude oil is made up of a range of hydrocarbons with variable molecular weights. The very light hydrocarbons evaporate readily, the medium weight are usually biodegraded (bacteria love to eat them), and the very high molecular weight ones are what stays as tar balls and asphalt.

So, asphalt is also hydrocarbons, they happen to have a very high molecular weight. Our cities and roofs are literally covered with it. The question is whether the tar/balls or oil hold volatile compounds one can breathe. I haven't been to the beach this lady refers to, but it seems to me a lot of this is misinformation, and there must be a lot of people seeking exposure, probably trying to eventually land jobs as "expert witness" in trials the ambulance chasers will start. I do notice none of them can show a single solid item "look at the picture of an oiled bird on a rake in my website" doesn't convince me. Of course there are oiled birds. There must be hundreds of them, and many of them are dead. There are dead turtles, turtles burned alive, dead dolphins, you name it. This doesn't mean the stuff on the beach is killing people or making them sick.

Now, if want to make an experiment, take a gallon of diesel, pour it in a pail. Then stick your hand in it. Diesel is a lot lighter and more active than the biodegraded goo one sees on the beach. If you keep your hand in the diesel for say 10 minutes, then pull it out, and wash it off with detergent, and see a lot of blisters, let us know. Because I've seen plenty of people covered with grease in mechanics' shops over the years, and none of them ever complained about blisters.

Hell, most of this is baloney. Evidently there's going to be oil in the water for a few years, in small concentrations. But the oil in the water isn't going to be worse than it was 30 years ago, when were dumping oil all over the place, most of it from crankcase oil we dumped down the drain, which ended going down the Mississsippi and the other rivers to the Gulf anyway.

Thanks for the reply, I knew crude has HC's but I didn't feel I was in danger by stepping on one and scrubbing it off ASAP. I think some of the people claiming to have gotten sick last weekend here are either experiencing psychosomatic issues and maybe looking to sue (sorry, but with all the ambulance chasers around here that is hughly plausible). Also, I will say I got a bit dizzy myself but then realized the public beach had literally close to 30 pieces of heavy machinery and I think the fumes from that are what made me dizzy because when I went to my part of the beach where there were none present the dizziness subsided.

Regarding the components in the tar balls I'm talking about, well they have been here mixed in the sand for weeks and are about the size of a quarter so I wonder who much of the HC's have been biodegraded but if you are saying the very high molecular weights stay in these then I guess you answered my question. Sorry I am so clueless about this, it's just not my area of expertise by a long shot but I am trying to learn as much as possible from TOD as this site seems to be the only one with true experts on the issues that arise from oil spills and drilling.

Try that experiment with kerosene or with Stoddard solvent and you'll feel a tingling sensation in your hand fairly soon. The sensation will stay for a while after you've washed your hand. There's no need to wonder whether volatile hydrocarbons can penetrate your skin; it's easy enough to feel it.

Ok, well I haven't felt anything yet so ......I guess the water "might" be ok on the days I'm swimming etc.

Do this experiment, take some oil, mix in a little Corexit, shake it up and drink it.....

Thanks, but no thanks! I didn't do any experiment I simply stated I felt nothing on my skin when I am in the water......but if you feel so inclined pls let me know the outcome.

Do this experiment, take some oil, mix in a little Corexit, shake it up and drink it.....

Hi beachmommy -

I've been thinking of responding to the "toxicity" stuff, but I don't have specifics.

I picked up some Ixtoc tar on my feet when I visited Padre Island during that blowout. Sand or baby oil are good ways of getting it off. Some years earlier, in my organic chemistry class, we learned about fractional distillation by using a mixture of ethanol and benzene. I'd love to know what the concentrations were of benzene vapor in the air. But I'm still alive and healthy.

Chemists (at least of my vintage) tend to take some of these warnings with a grain of salt, NaCl that is. When I picked up a jar of KCl at the stockroom back in the 1970s and the warning on it was hair-raising, I decided that we had come to a point where overreaction was the rule. At that time, KCl was available in a food product called "light salt." Probably the bottles of reagent-grade NaCl had similar warnings on them. If you eat a couple of tablespoons of either, you can make yourself pretty sick. Rule of thumb: don't eat anything in the chemistry lab. That goes for Gulf of Mexico tarballs too.

So I'm probably more casual about this than others might be. I'd love to swim in that beautiful water you posted the other day. A shower afterwards should take care of it. You can damage your health by constant worry too.

OTOH, when I was supervising people working in the field around potentially hazardous stuff, I made sure that they were following the safety regs. They were good folks, and I didn't want them hurt.

Rule of thumb: don't eat anything in the chemistry lab. That goes for Gulf of Mexico tarballs too.

See, it's these sensible-but-droll types I come here for.

Thanks again for your input, and I have been swimmin all but maybe 5-6 days since the "spill". I found the wet sand very effective in getting the one tar ball off my foot and maybe I'll keep some baby oil in my bag. I try to think logically (granted I am no scientist or chemist) but IMO the oil/dispersant would have been diluted by the billions of gallons of water in the GOM, and I don't swim when I see tar in the surf. I just refuse to let this take over my life and also my form of stress relief which is swimming, snorkeling and walking the beach because stress can kill you faster than many things. That being said, I still like to learn from those here on TOD and ask their input. Your approach seems to be very similar to mine as far as being casual about it.

If you ever get over this way, I'd love to take you snorkeling and swimming (course I'd aslo ask a million questions as thta's just my nature to learn as much as possible), and I'd love to take someone out and show them the dead crabs that have no oil on them, of course this could be normal - I just don't know at this point.

This is the type water I will swim in and some of these were taken a week after the first tar balls came ashore



Oh mommy, your first shot here just pinged a memory that took me back to early childhood.

My granddaddy had a country story in north Mississippi, and covering the upper wall of the front-door end was a big, old Co'Cola poster with this exact scene and quality of light (just add a bathing-beauty in a red swimsuit enjoying a 1940s-vintage Coke in the foreground, and you'll have it).

I loved that poster because (a) it looked like Destin, and (b) the colors were so wonderful. I'd give anything to have it now, but after my granddaddy died, the drivein-movie fellow from across the road rented the store to warehouse his old films. One hot summer day, apparently, spontaneous combustion got started, and the whole place burned down. So many things in there I mourned, but none more than the Co'Cola poster. Thanks for taking me back for a minute.

YW ~ I have literally thousand of pic's and some I have as postcards and posters that I sell to raise monet for Texas Eqqusearch. They are mainly sunset photos with colors I never imagined existed. I'm happy the pic's took you back and pray we will continue to have this pristine enviroment for a long time. I won't post the sunset one's here because I don't want to be too O/T, but you can email me and I'll shoot them over to you if you would like some. I just email them to a local print shop and they make posters and postcards for me super cheap.

That is a beautiful beach and very inviting. If you are in an area that is at risk, you are fortunate your beach hasn't been impacted like Pensacola Beach where oil has been buried by the tide. When I once frequented the beach, I used babyoil to remove tar from my feet that I picked up from occassional tarballs. Photos of think goopy oil on Pensacola Beach depict a situation of a completely different scale than an occassional tarball.

Gulf oil disaster: Pensacola Beach

It is beautiful isn't it, hard to believe that this IS Pensacola Beach.....I live about 100 ft from the gulf. P-Cola beach has been hit twice, once IIRC June 5-6th and that was the tiny tarballs and then again on the 23rd and the majority was cleaned up by the 25th, all except the western end of the Island near the mouth of Pensacola Pass on Ft. Pickens Rd., and those photos are from after the tar hit. I posted pic's from yesterday in another thread and while the surf was rough, the water was clear and 90% of the Island was clear of tar except the Ft. Pickens end and what's been buried under the sand due to tidal/current action. I think the media is partially to blame for the mass distortion of what the Island looke like as it feeds the frenzy IYKWIM.

your pictures have done a great deal to ease my mind. Nobody has the full picture, but it sure is nice to get a little balance. Also, you're asking (and getting responses to) the right questions, so thanks for that, too.

Thank you, I wish the media would stop all the hpye but I assume it gets better ratings so they don't bother to show the clean beach and water. Ah~make me blush, I have no clue what questions to ask and really appreciate everyone's input while I'm trying to learn more.

Thanks for the invitation, beachmommy. I haven't been to Florida in ages, very tempting...

You are very welcome and it's an honest invite - you would be an invaluable asset here as you have been to me on TOD being so patient answering my questions, and to enjoy a few days when it has been clean and pretty (which was all but 5 -6 days) might be fun. I don't know about you, but to me I find the water and beach to be a great stress reliever, and to have the access I have to the Gulf has been a blessing for me. I'd even splurge for bushwhackers!

Baby oil? BABY OIL?? Oh, sure, we gotta 'save the whales', but BABY OIL is OK?? You MONSTER!

Oh yes, I am PURE EVIL.....sorry but I have it in the house already, just never took it to the beach as I have only got tar on me one time and the sand easily scrubbed it off.

You just don't get it. Everybody screams and tears their hair out over embryonic stem cell research, but making oil out of babies is OK? MONSTERS, all of you.

Hesh up, comfy. Mommy's gotta to clean up in Aisle 3:26 pm.

Just attempted the clean up, no clue if it will re-surface but if I were a betting woman (and I am), I'd say yes!

Right likely. Thanks, though.

YW~Now I'm beggining to think I shouldn't try and quell these rumors but capitalize on them by selling respirators at twice the cost etc., Just kidding but youo have to admit it's a novel idea.

Chill, man.

Modern non-destructive extraction actually has a good record.

Of course nothing is risk free, but we need baby oil. Would you be willing to give it up? Have your skin go crusty?

Since most in the industry standardized on on the modern slow, low-pressure baby presses popped babies have become quite rare.

Should we outlaw driving?

Without the baby oil industry, where would we get feedstock for the baby powder industry?

Besides, it's nobody we know.

as noted by others, tarballs are hydrocarbons (molecules made from carbon and hydrogen atoms), so as long as the tarball is present, hydrocarbons are present.

Tarballs are made of large molecules - heavy and non-volatile.

The crude oil contains many shorter, smaller molecules, including what are called "aromatics" - which are ring compounds, like benzene.
Most small (and many larger) aromatics are toxic/nasty, benzene is a carcinogen, toluene is a common solvent that glue sniffers like, etc.

Other molecules (most of them) in the crude oil are linear chains, some with side branches, these are called alkanes if they are "saturated" (all the carbon-carbon bonds are single bonds), or alkenes/alkynes if there are some double/triple carbon-carbon bonds. These double/triple bonds are more reactive and tend to break down in the presence of oxygen/sunlight/water.

As the oil weathers:
* volatiles evaporate
* smaller compounds get eaten by bacteria
* smaller compounds dissolve in the water
* compounds photolyse and then evaporate
* unsaturated compounds tend to partly oxidize and/or break up.

what is left are the some of the long chained (more than 20 carbon atoms or so) paraffins, and asphaltenes.

Cleaned of the asphaltenes, dirt and other hydrocarbons, the paraffins are candle wax if long chains (about 20-40 carbon atoms) and "baby oil" aka "mineral oil" if 15-20 or so carbon atoms.

The asphaltenes are goopy stuff, made up of derivatives of the more complex multiple ring molecules of living cells, additionally containing nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur and metals. They are large molecules, have dozens to a hundred rings, with many side chains.
some nice drawings at:
These are not wonderful, but typically not so immediately/powerfully (if at all) toxic, as they are very insoluble in water (i.e. why they're used in road paving)

By the time oil is tarballs, the nasty effects of crude oil (toxic vapors, physical entrapment/suffocation, oxygen depletion in the water) are largely dissipated.

Crude oil is derived from microscopic plants and animals - their biomolecules like fats, phospholipids, enzymes, pigments, carbohydrates (sugars) they made to live/grow - many of the exact same molecules you and I have in our bodies. The nastiness comes during the "cooking" of deeply buried biomass into petroleum, where molecules get broken up/rearranged to form the (toxic) components of crude oil.

Like randombiologistbotanist's earlier, this is a very helpful explanation for us rubes, sunnnv. Thanks to both of you.

Nicely done, thanks.

Thanks for you reply, so if I read this properly the tarballs which are here no longer have as much of the nasty effects of crude as you posted, and like I said I have only stepped on one and was able to get it off my skin very easily. I do to some degree worry about the HC's but also think if I get it off as soon as I come into contact with one buried in the sand it has long been exposed to oxygen, sunlight and water. I do wonder just out of curiosity what components they break down to into later.

If I misunderstood (which would be easy for me) please feel free to correct my interpretation and explain it to my live a 3yr old!

I do wonder just out of curiosity what components they break down to into later.

over a time of years/decades for thin layers in warm climates:

The carbon and hydrogen will oxidize into CO2 and water, either directly on the surface, or a fragments that volatilized into the air.

The traces of sulfur, nitrogen will make make traces of volatile oxides and inconsequential traces of acid rain.

The heavy metals will float around, some will eventually oxidize chemically or biochemically.

You could snarf a tar ball next time, and take it home, set it someplace out of reach of kids/pets, cover with a mesh to keep birds out, keep a few drops of (sea) water in with it, and see how it changes with time - pet tar ball.

Thanks again sunnv~I was really wondering about a much shorter time frame like weeks and months, but that data might not be published/available etc. LOL about the pet tar ball.

weeks and months for which: tarballs or spilled crude?

tarballs are already "weathered" - meaning the lighter substances within them (diesel/jet fuel sized hydrocarbons <-> gasolines/naptha <-> light solvents <-> butane/propane/ethane/methane) have either evaporated or been eaten by some bacteria. So they're fairly stable, since they consist of asphaltenes and other large/heavy molecules, very similar if not identical to the asphalt pavement on the street. A piece of asphalt will last for years or decades, even in the hot sun, longer if not driven over.

spilled crude changes a lot in a few days. From
Study of the Effects of Weathering on the Chemical Composition of a Light Crude Oil Using GC/MS GC/FID, one of the papers (number "BU") in
the collection Physical Behavior of Oil in the Ocean

In the first few days following a spill, the loss caused by evaporation can be up to 75 and 40% of the volume of light and medium crudes, respectively.

BP's spill is a light crude, 35 degrees API gravity. (> 31 degrees is "light").

So starting immediately, the oil in the water will get heavier and more viscous.
Heavy enough to sink in some cases, particularly if it emulsifies with the water due to wave action.
In certain wave conditions, globs will agglomerate.
Emulsions and non-emulsified crude will start forming tarballs as they continue to loose lighter components, forming soft tarballs first.
As evaporation and other surface weathering (sunlight, dissolution, bacterial action) continues, the tarballs develop a crust.

Seems hard to find a lot more definite info about tar balls and their formation,
one document (a .doc file):
describes experiments with Prudhoe Bay crude in tanks with agitation.
Seems the oil emulsifies a lot of water in it, so even after one day, the density goes to almost as dense as water.
In about a week, the viscosity is about as thick as pancake syrup. 2500 - 3000 cP.
As the oil ages, over a couple of weeks, this viscosity increase makes the emulsion more stable.

Also, the asphaltenes are natural emulsifiers, so as they get more concentrated, the emulsions get more stable.

The photolysis of spilled crude tends to create polar (having different charged regions on the molecule) resins, which further assist formation/stabilization of emulsions.

If the oil/water emulsion is still floating free for long enough to weather from a "light" mousse into heavier stuff (a few weeks to months), the waves will tend to make it into tar balls, which are fairly stable and semi-innocuous.

pics of mousse on page 2 of:

The marshes that got coated with the (fresh) reddish-brown mousse are screwed, because of the lack of wave action to keep the emulsion going long enough to form tarballs. In the heat and still conditions, the oil emulsion slowly turns back into oil (minus whatever lighter components have already evaporated).

If the oil is heavy enough and/or the water content in the emulsion is high enough, it slowly sinks (as the pictures from al.com, et. al. have shown) and coats whatever is down there.
Kinda like the "top coat" or "slurry seals" one sees being applied to roads - those are also oil/water emulsions.

My condolences on the unplanned paving of your paradise, particularly the subsea portion. The lack of UV light underwater makes the decomposition much slower.

The nastiest tarballs I've come across (years ago on the Texas Gulf coast) have a hard crust with sand all around, but a soft sticky center still, so when stepped on, they spew sticky stuff all over.

Thanks... this post plus an earlier one by randombotanist on LA wetlands and a jam-packed discussion on Gulf geology yesterday by pdv and others at http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6690#comment-667929 are a large part of what makes this site so valuable.

This is a very useful primer, thanks, sunn.

They are hell on carpet too. I have been on my hands and knees cleaning this stuff out for a month. Best thing I have found to use it Dawn, water, tub, and a cloth. I heat it all in the microwave before I use and then wear thick gloves. Melts the tar right off. Best non-solvent technique I have found. Tarballs are about as toxic as shoe polish IMHO.

Used to be as kids an early summer goal was to toughen bare feet enough to cross hot asphalt country roads. I recall having tar on my feet much of July and August. Didn't take much to peel off, though I can't say we worried about it much unless we were going near Mom's carpet.

By the time tarballs form, all the light organics would likely be gone. Might not be terribly pleasant, but I doubt occasional superficial contact is going to be hazardous. Let's keep things in perspective -- there are plenty of hazards in our modern world, and this is just one more minor threat.

I can send you hours of footage of babies getting tarballs washed off of them if you wish. I am sure they are all still alive and apparently unharmed or I would have heard about it.

fd -- IMHO the H2S issue was invented to draw publicity. At this point someone jumping up and saying: “Hey look...there's a bunch of oil in the water!" isn't going to get much attention from the MSM. But jumping up and yelling "POISEN GAS!!!" might given the incompetence of the MSM.

Back when folks started slamming dougr's post I pointed out that I didn't have any problem with his statements as long as they were offered as possible and not as actual events for which we have proof. I also pointed out that his "possible" nightmare scenarios were actually rather mild compared to what I could offer. I've worked in the oil patch 35 years and know a good deal more about how things can go really wrong. I've seen the dead bodies and blood on the drill floor first hand. I could have painted pictures far worse than anything dougr offered. But I didn't see any point in offering "possibilities". There's enough known horrors going on right now to focus on IMHO.

And then there was the Aggie who thought Asphalt was some sort of rectal disease.




I would like to add to your comment by referring readers to these links which are making the rounds on the internet and on Facebook/YouTube pages detailing just how bad the surface oil is, who it affecting health-wise and how far it has spread.
Given that the storms are coming in quick succession, affecting collection and clean-up we can expect almost unrestricted/uncaptured flow from the Deepwater spill through a large part of this month.
This while the AWhale is docked for " tests"


The A Whale, billed as the world's largest oil skimming vessel, is seen anchored on the Mississippi River in Boothville, La., Wednesday, June 30. The ship is the length of 3 1/2 football fields and 10 stories high. (Patrick Semansky / AP)

So I would consider it prudent to start thinking about the immediate future of all residents along the Gulf, and how to get them out of harm's way until either the well is capped or DougR's scenario plays out.

Actually, A-Whale is not docked for testing...

See the track of the A-Whale as it trundled around the well site over the weekend during a voyage to assess its capabilities.
It moved to the well site on Friday 7/2, where, if it works, it would be most effective.

Results of its 48 hr test run may be known today, although from looking at photos of it, I'm dubious it will be all that useful. Regardless of the outcome, it will be difficult politically for BP/USCG to say that they aren't going to deploy it.

Note that the Loch Rannoch, the shuttle tanker designated to support the FPSO Helix Producer has now also arrived in the area. Fingers crossed they get HP hooked up in the next couple of days.

Tests on "superskimmer" inconclusive - reuters. This is the retrofitted super-tanker A-Whale.

Tests on the so-called "super skimmer" conducted just north of the blown out BP Plc well were supposed to be completed on Monday but have been extended because of the weather, said spokesman Bob Grantham.

"After an initial 48-hour testing period results remain inconclusive in light of the rough sea state we are encountering," Grantham said.

"Therefore, working in close coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard, we will be undertaking an additional testing period to make operational and technological adjustments aimed at improving skimming effectiveness given the actual conditions we are encountering in the Gulf," he said.

If it collects over 500 bbl/day of net oil, I'll be surprised.

How can the journos be so dim as to promote that figure of 500,000 bbl/day? It would clean up the whole Gulf in two or three days at that rate.

Obama is not responsible for the delay in getting the skimmer to get to work.

You need a contract, someone to pay you, for the work that is done. TMT Shipping, SS A-WHALE, Taiwanese company needs a contract from BP.

See into video.


Latest news


BP needs to make a deal with EPA for a reduced fee for all oil recovered. Then offer $1000/bbl recovered. BP would have to spot check recoveries or monitor activities to ensure they are not cheating. Then turn the Whale and others loose to collect what they can with BP coordinating areas to prevent interference.

A Costner skimmer siting was reported off coast of Alabama by Sstashmoo.

I'd like to see some photos but I couldn't find any. Perhaps I should drive to Alabama and bring my Canon 400mm telephoto lens.

Have not seen it through my 10X42 Bushnell Auto-focus binoculars, but I only cover the Eastern Alabama Coast. The ferry is open, but it is $15 one way. Might as well burn the gas and drive around. If I see it I will holler, but what would I be looking for? Even with a 400mm you have to be able to spot it first.

Thanks, I was hoping someone from area would chime in.
I would be looking for white centrifuges elevated on a barge. The ship with the Costner centrifuge doesn't actually skim. Other ships skim oil to barge and it vacuums the oily water. I haven't found any news photos of centrifuge in action and Energy 8001 barge that is supposed to hold centrifuge isn't listed in marine traffic. Here's BP's video about the centrifuge:

I'm amazed what I can see with my lens. I have a photo where I can see the baseball going over the left field fence from stands behind 1st base.

My bigger concern would be security folks. Since 9/11, they get very nervous when seeing a long lens. One time I was just walking down the street from a Burger King to my beach blanket and I was alongside barriers to a beach festival. A security guy started yelling at me and telling me I couldn't enter the festival with the long lens.

That guy reporting "Costner skimmers" all over the place in Alabama is full of it. The three in service are not being used as skimmers. They are all mounted on a tank barge that milks the skimmers and returns the seawater fraction to the Gulf.

Several weeks ago there was a report that had a complete analysis of the crude in question, and I didn't save it because I thought I could easily find it again. Well, I can't. Does anyone else have it or the original post to the report -- a group of experts met quietly and put it together.

BP recently decided of its own free will (of course) to allow samples to be taken. There should be some interesting data forthcoming unless it's deemed that it'd be in the public's interest to not be told the findings, or that it would cause undue chance of BP's failure (that's the little cynical voice in my head talking, though).


American Geologist Sentenced to 8 Years in China

In the previous thread lotus pointed out some of the dangers with being a geologist. The Chinese situation is as perhaps much about copy write violation as state secrets. I'll take advantage of this story to refer back to earlier questions regarding BP's reluctance to make certain data available to the public. Especially seismic data. It's very common for a company to not actually own the seismic it uses to map a prospect. Such data is often shot by a third party that then sells a license to use the data to whoever can write the check. License violations are very big no-no with severe penalties. Even showing another company your interpretation of the seismic you've licensed is highly controlled.

OTOH if it were of some legitimate value for the public to see this seismic data the gov't could always ask for an exemption to the license agreement. I've never seen that done but I don't any seismic owner would refuse such a request under these circumstances.

lotus -- BTW the only geologist I've known personally that's been shot was a fellow who was doing field work in Pennsylvania. He was dating a local gal when her biker boyfriend got paroled sooner than expected. Fortunately the bullet went thru his car door first so his leg injury wasn’t too bad. Yep…pretty exciting sometimes especially when you let the wrong head do the thinking.

Rockman, I doubt BP is using non-proprietary seismic to drill a deep water prospect in 5000 feet of water. There's no reason to make a seismic cube over a deep water basin available to the public. What would they do with it? I am sure an researchers who want access to the data, can show a viable research project, and sign a confidentiality agreement not to share the data, can see it - because this is a public relations nightmare for BP and they'll stretch the normal rules.

fd -- Maybe. Though I haven't seen a great deal of the seis grid in DW GOM but every well I've dealt with was drilled on non-propietary spec data. But I suspect most have done their own reprocessing. But as you imply, the whole seis access issue is something of a red herring. Isn't going to add anything of value to discussing the real problems IMHO.

It's very likely that it's a spec cube and bet that a very large proportion of subsalt discoveries of the last 20 years were on spec data. Only reason it might be proprietary would be that it's a wide azimuth data set, which is possible. I think they should make the data public - it might help damp out some of the crazy (eg granite) speculations flying around. But then, maybe not.
It'd be interesting to see a time lapse survey. Maybe not possible with all them ships out there though.

Yeah you right. Multi-client "spec" acquisition with proprietary processing is the typical situation these days for drilling a deep-water sub-salt wildcat (note: Macondo is not subsalt). MMS gets all the data, but you can't expect it to be made public when the vendor is trying to sell it to as many clients as possible. In any case, this area has been shot and re-shot since the late 1970's, there's no reason to make the the seismic public that I can think of - MMS and ~20 companies have seismic here. There is a single profile on the house investigation website, and there's nothing surprising about it.


You have a link to that profile? I have looked at the investigation website but couldn't find it.

fdoleza, I have a questions about the data. If the MMS permit was issued for 11320', and the permit for drilling at the deeper levels was not properly submitted, amended, approved and published by MMS , and the proprietary data was acquired as a result of exceeding the parameters established by the permit, would that data not be considered as evidence and thus made part of the criminal investigation? Or if not made part of the investigation, a duces tecum regarding these data will most certainly be issued during the conduct of the civil suits since the risks surrounding the geological formations is inherent in deepwater drilling-no good attorney will leave this particular card unplayed, especially if reckless disregard can be inferred. If this is the case, then the data will be made public anyway.

I would venture to guess that in a very short period of time there will be a number of persons who may now be considered "public" coming forth as "interested parties." The more attempts are made to dissemble regarding the circumstances surrounding Macondo, the more interest is being generated forcing disclosure. IF that permit was not amended and published properly, there are additional issues that will require examination and disposition to the satisfaction of the "public". It would seem politic simply to release all the data surrounding MC252 to that self same public in a timely and "transparent" manner to avoid the appearance of collusion or wrongdoing.

To ROVMAN from closed thread. You mentioned that the Schilling Robotics Titan 4 manipulator could be controlled with a "master arm". Is this like a exoskeleton that is worn on the arm/wrist of the pilot? Do you have any photos of this? Do you think this was used for the riser bolt removal task, or were just joysticks used?

Hi BigMoose,

The Master arm is not an exoskeleton, though it works in the same way. It is a small version of the arm mounted on a control box. When you move the small 'model' arm, the large arm on the vehicle copies its movements. There is a picture of the control box (called a Master Controller) with the master arm at the bottom left of page two of the PDF datasheet.


It performs just like an 'exoskeleton' but takes up a whole lot less room!

You can see it in action in the following clip. The master arm is shown in the second half of the clip.


I didn't see the riser bolt removal task, but I suspect they will have used the SC arm, unless they were needing to apply a lot of force, in which case they would have used the heavy duty 'rate' arm. This would be a bit like trying to tie your shoelaces whilst wearing boxing gloves though...

Note the wrist camera at the bottom of pg. 3. This was used for the PIP image on one of the ROV videos a few days ago.

I think they have installed high torque bolt removers on the flex-joint flange bolts so the ROV only has to supply hydraulic power.

Thanks for that clipm and the links you gave me in the last thread. Helped to get the scale of the things. Never mind the Marlin, quite capable of picking me up and tossing me over the side for getting in the way.


Thank you Rovman! I would never have found the youtube video. That put everything in perspective for me. To see the master arm in the lower screen, and the slave above. Now the arm operation is crystal clear. Very impressive! Thanks again for your time and insight, it was appreciated.

very cool! Thanks, ROV. Would not have guessed what the control "manipulator" looked like.

NBC Nightly News report on ROV operations. Aired July 2nd.


Another follow-up from that subthread...

About the scale of the things they're working with down there, have a look at this.

They say the relief well is at 17,725, I think that's "measured depth" as opposed to true vertical depth.

Anyway, last week it was at 16,900 or so and they said 900 more feet and 8-12 more ranging runs. They've had 3 more ranging runs since then and have gone almost 900 feet.

Not sure what to make of that. A ranging run takes 1/2 a day or something when they measure while drilling.

Also I think the gas cut has slowly increased per barrel captured or flared...not sure what to make of that either.

also sea levels have been 3' or less for 12 hours or so. For the life of me I can't figure out how it take so long to join a pipe with another pipe, aren't there male female connections they put on those things?


Yep, measured depth. They should be close to where they want to set liner. They had stated 50' above bottom of 9 7/8" in original well seems like they should be close using trig from BP and DOE info.

Seas have been down and looks like they have been working in Helix connector.

Up through July 1 the detailed flow data on DOE site seems to show GOR fluctuating up and down but does not seem to show a trend that I can pick out.

What's involved in setting a "liner" and is that different than a "casing"?

I'm hoping they can get teh helix up and running to show the true flow is closer to 35k at most.

How long does it take to set a "liner"?

Brianb: It is not being run back to the surface. If you have not done so go to BP site and watch the video(in on of Ken wells presentations) they use for the drill crew and also look at the diagrams. One of the engineers can tell you (I am more explorer) actualy time to run this as a liner.Sounds like it can stil be quite slow for the whole kill op from here. Would be nice to be wrong and have this done before more storms come along.

Like you I am anxious to find out actul flow. I have taken a look at all the published data to date, read Shelburn's thoughts, looked at all the satellite composites and NOAA info including the model report they just released, along with everything I can find on subsurfece oil amounts. I have made my own guestimates of oil leaked from day 1 and a current rate. Of course, my estimate is going to be wrong but it will be fun to see how this plays out.

Kind of interesting to go to the geoplatfrom (connect though NOAA). Take a look at footprint composites(under satellite imagery) from satellite and airborne photos and see how it changes from June 15th onward and especially the changes from the last few days after the storm came though. Pretty dramatic.

Dan, Could you please post a link to the NOAA modeling report? I can't seem to find it anywhere on NOAA's site.

Thanks to everyone posting here, I find these discussions fascinating on many levels!!!


Thanks Rainyday! I went outside to set up the kids slip and slid and should have checked for responses before I replied. I'll try to be less lazy from now on.

Nevermind, I found it. I was hoping that they were actually modeling subsea "plumes". Some one from one of the NOAA ships told me that it seemed to him to be trending SW until finally going to ND levels.


Well we had 20 hours of 3 foot seas before they spiked up to 4 feet or so.

Somehow i think nothing got done. They may never get 3 days of 3 foot seas or less for the rest of the summer. Very frustrating.

This article in the Uk Guardian seems to imply that BP is using a slower targeting system in the relief because of the expense of the alternative. That would seem reckless, considering the possiblilty of weather interrupting the drilling.

there's been good discussion of the techniques here. Any truth in their veiled inference?

"The search for the Macondo would go faster if BP were using measurement while drilling tools, whereby sensors installed in the drill string send the appropriate readings back to the surface, said Langlinais. However, that equipment is hugely expensive. Instead, BP is relying on a process that involves swapping the drill bit for the line carrying the sensor.

"They have to pull the drill string out of the well and lower down this sensitive device that looks for magnetic field variations and from that they can tell where the casing of the well is," Pennington said. Then engineers remove the device, replace the drill string and begin all over again. Each shift can take up to two days."


Fin -- To be blunt their point is utterly ridiculous and without any merit. The LWD tools gather an entirely different data set then the magnetic sounding tools. It was never a choice of one or the other. Had they run a full LWD string it would not have taken less time. In fact, such LWD components can actually slow down penetration. But again, this an absolute apple vs. oranges comparison.

There are so many different matters to criticize BP over it boggles my mind folks would make stuff up.

BP is currently using sensors installed in the drill string.

From Kent Wells' 6/28 technical briefing - http://www.bp.com/genericarticle.do?categoryId=9033572&contentId=7063039

So then in terms of this ranging we've done two what we called open hole ranging runs. And this is where we actually pulled the drill pipe out of the hole, ran in on wire lines, with the open hole ranging out.

The reason we did that is it has I call it, more power. It had the ability to see further. So when we were further away from the well we needed to use the open hole range. We successfully found the well, confirmed where it was.

And now that we've gotten closer we can actually do our ranging from inside the drill pipe. And what this is does is this saves us time. So as opposing to have to pull the bottom hole assembly and drill pipe completely out of the hole, run it on wire line and then run it back in the hole which takes a couple days, we can do this within a half day or less.

And so it allows us to take more frequent ranging runs and it's also a little more precise in that we actually get two points of measurement each time we do it. So as we parallel path down this well we will be taking multiple ranging runs to ensure exactly where we are.

my comments from yesterday about the Guardian article and its several mistakes.


When the riser was sheared off, there appeared to be two separate selections of pipe inside of it.
At first I just assumed that an extra section of drill pipe broke off and dropped down into the BOP as the riser fell over. But, now I am thinking that is pretty unlikely.
Does anyone know if that cut-off section of riser was brought up and examined? What was that a second section of drill pipe in there?
Subsequently, on the live video, there also appeared to be two separate and distinct flow streams shooting out of the the top of the cut-off riser. One steam looked like darker oil, and the other, medium brown, almost like the color of drill mud. I assumed what we were seeing was one flow steam up the drill pipe, and the other from the casing, at different depths.
I am now thinking that it is possibly that the lower section of casing was shot up from the bottom of the well, with the cement plugs and all, into the BOPs?
If so, then there would be no final casing string at the bottom of the well where they are expecting to be? Is this is a possible scenario, or just nuts?

Does anyone know if that cut-off section of riser was brought up and examined? What was that a second section of drill pipe in there?


The government has that pipe for study and have not released any info on it.

Makes me think it is something scary. They would know within minutes what it was and there would be no reason not to release the info.

I would think that they would go ahead and bring all the riser that is laying on the seafloor so they can tell not only what kind of pipe, but how much is in the riser. That info could be useful although probably not entirely necessary for John Wright to work his magic.

I know there was earlier discussion about 2 pipes in the riser and initially people seemed to conclude that it was one pipe that was broken & pinched.

The LA Times piece indicated that there was evidence of 2 pipes and the photo above from BP's web site shows the 'practice' set-up with 2 pipes also.

So if there is indeed 2 pipes, how could this effect killing the well?

I think there is a possibility that there was a shear of drill pipe that was released which allowed one pipe to move along the other, then when shear was activated the 2nd time, it could not close.

It would be interesting to see the pipe in the cut off section, so as to determine where the couplings are in the drill pipe still in the BOP.

Huge Methane Gas Bubble Under Gulf Could Explode and Kill Millions (Hoax)
Could someone please address and debunk this HOAX that is appearing on the internet??

I've seen some comments about enormous amounts of downhole pressure, something like 70,000, or 100,000 psi. These are just simply impossible at that depth, and furthermore, BP could have never successfully drilled into that pressure in the first place. If you consider the mud weight while drilling, it gives you a max down hole pressure of ~ 15,000 psi. Still an enormous pressure; but nowhere near these other numbers.

I'm not sure it can be 15,000 psi. I understand the well is in 5000 feet of water. The reservoir is 13,000 feet below the mudline. There is no way a reservoir seal can take more than say 0.8 psi per foot (and this is a really high value). So if we multiply 0.8*13,000 ft = 10,400 psi. Add the column of water, 5000 ft * 0.433*1.035 = 2240 psi. Total is 12640 psi. And I bet this is high. But I already blew a rough number earlier this am, so maybe somebody wants to check me.

Yes, that sounds about right. I have no idea as to what their drilling mud weight was.
I agree, it is a long shot at to be at 15,000. So, giving the obvious non-sense about 100,000 psi downhole pressure , the whole giant gas bubble, the end-of-the-world-is-coming thing, is total garbage.

crusty -- BP actually ran a wireline pressure gauge (an MDT) before they ran csg. It measured about 11.900 psi in the reservoir. This is equivalent to a 12.6 ppg mud weight. They drilled it with around 14 ppg mud. And if you didn't catch it earlier there's an easy way to covert pressure to MW: pressure (psi) = MW (ppg) * 0.052 * mud column height (feet).

So they drilled it way over balanced, then they circulated the mud out before they had a cement bond log and knew they had a good set of plugs? What was the guy on? LSD?

fd -- At this point that's what it looks like. Maybe when the official facts come out we may draw a different conclusion. Even more difficult to understand is that the real time data monitoring system appears to document there were clear signs of the well kicking almost an hour before the explosion. They either didn't notice or didn't believe what they were seeing. Everyone in the oil patch I've discussed it with all find it equally unbelievable. Maybe we've got it wrong but that's exactly what it looks like right now.

Well, 100,000 psi sure sounds sexy. I guess it's a pressure we can find at say 160,000 feet. Temperature would be about 2300 degrees F. If we could drill that deep, we would get us a nice volcano, I guess.

You know, I'm more worried about the well being in such poor condition there may be an underground blow out taking place - although I assume they would have seen it with the relief wells? If there's an underground blow out going on, then the oil can break through somewhere else. And if it takes too long to plug it, then the reservoir could subside, reactivate faults, and these could start leaking. And if they do, then there's no solution, other than to try to drill into the reservoir and produce it as fast as possible in a controlled fashion. Which means the ground may subside and the whole thing will become a broken up crater. This in turn could make aliens land on earth and wipe us out. We already destroyed the north american mega fauna, they may have us on probation.

fd -- I'm with you. The underground blow out possibility keeps nagging at me too. Maybe they took some pressure on the way down in the RW. But I suspect they wouldn't tell us if they found something charged. Just set csg and drill ahead. At least they would have a better idea as to how difficult the kill will be.

I don't think you were here when I told the story about a new well blowing out and burning in the middle of an old field (Point au Fer Fld, S La.). There were no shallow sands charged with NG when they drilled the field up. But over the decades bad cmt jobs allowed NG to charge a shallow sand. Blew thru real fast since they knew there wasn't anything to worry about. I think 7 hands were killed in the explosion.

I wish, but these wild theories are popping up so fast they are hard to keep track of, I just read a FB entry on Gregg Hall's site (the one who is adamant the water is boiling) and they are even questioning why the thunder from the storm today is muffled.......seriously, WTF it's just normal thunder but they've been listening to all the theorist out there saying we are all going to die in a Tsunami from the eruption of the oil volcano etc. Frankly it does have a comedic value, but the people here are already scared chitless and sure don't need to freaked out by these wild theories.

"It's the lightning, not the thunder, you never know where it's going to strike." Greg Kihn- Jeopardy. Muffled thunder. Tell him to start fighting this stuff going into the landfill if he wants to help out.

Here is the direct "quote" :Everyone, Please listen to the thunder next time you hear it, Sounds muffled...is anyone else hearing this change in the Thunder in our area.

I had to laugh as it sounded like normal thunder to me. By the way was the wind as strong in GS as it was here last night, it was blowing from the east at least 20-25 mph, and all the locals shooting FW's were actually dangerous because they never went out towards the gulf but east towards where everyone was sitting. I will pass on the land fill info thru a friend who is on his site, but don't know if it will help.

This reminds me of the Rainbow Sprinkler Lady (google the youtube) who thinks that a secret government science project has caused rainbows to be visible in the spray from her sprinkler. Americans are getting dumber and crazier by the minute.

ROFLMAO....Seriously I have never seen that one, but on the FB page of GH I have seen just as many ludicrous stmts, again they do provide a bit of levity.

Here you go ... enjoy.

sprinkler rainbow conspiracy.

OMG, I laughed so hard (trust me I needed that), reminds me of the youtube of a woman calling in to a radio show and saying that Obama himself is paying her unemplyment...that one was a classic and watching these makes me feel like a member of MENSA compared to them.

When I see someone being smeared like Pensacola Greg is being smeared in this thread, it makes me curious. I've watched one of Greg's videos. Clearly, Greg is not the same class as the rainbow sprinkler conspiracy. I'll need to watch more of his videos before I draw my own conclusion.

True Reporting Gulf Oil Spill
pcolagregg's Channel

BTW, the sprinkler lady has already been covered by TOD.

I agree he's not like the sprinkler lady, but since I live on the same Island and have read many of his post ex: the oil underneath the sand is a conspiracy etc., he should know better since he's a local, everything get's buried when the surf goes in and out, especially when we have had a good 10 days of extremely rough surf, heck my sunglasses are buried from my swim last weekend when it was extremely rough, but that does not mean it's a conspiracy. Also, like I stated earlier the bubbling action does happen at high tide with rough surf and IMO it's quite alarming to spread the "truth as he sees it" that the Gulf is boiling. Then you have his followers warning him that he might get bumped off and they take it so seriously they want him surrounded by others so he doesn't get killed, also accepting donations and getting hits on youtube means $$, so personally since I have not seen the boiling and again I have looked it's hard to swallow and I take it with a grain of salt, but everyone should be allowed to make their own conclusion.

O/T ~is your nick short for Pcikwick by chance?

On The Economist’s Cover, Only a Part of the Picture

'Tain't enough we got dougr, P'cola Greg, and the RSL all over the Intertooobz with their dreck, now The Economist joins the shyster-game! (Uh, guys, wouldn't a lesser-known photo have served your bamboozling purposes better?)

Oh yeah, Gobbet, the dumb gets deeper by the day -- springing up where you wouldn't expect it, too.

P-Cola Gregg is the one I'm talking about, like I stated earlier the despair along the GC is bad enough without adding extreme fear to everyone listening to him, but since people are willingly sending in donations to "their hero", he's actually profiting from spreading the propaganda of fear IMO.

Bless their hearts, mommy, they're the same people that keep the teevy preachers and Glenn Beck in tall cotton. Hey, their choices to make.

This is news?? The Economist's front cover is very frequently an altered photograph. Maybe the New York Times thinks these recent covers are genuine scoops.

Undertow, I especially like the Merkel cover. In return, here's something of interest to folks into photo-manipulation: Kevin Drum reproduces The Economist's process (which, in this case, he doesn't approve of either).


I see that a few hours after I posted them up the story was updated with this response from The Economist: "We often edit the photos we use on our covers, for one of two reasons. Sometimes — as with a cover we ran on March 27 on U.S. health care, with Mr. Obama with a bandage round his head — it’s an obvious joke."

Copycats as well as photoshoppers :-)

Might not like mine, but i tried to make it positive.
Politic and not for commercial use. All rights reserved.

Honestly, the thunder in Florida, Tampa, is sounding different as well. My mother and I have been noticing it. I hadn't heard anyone else mention it until now. It is muffled and of a different tone.

I've been following MDEQ's problems with the disposal and downloaded the waste-date update on Saturday on their oil-I'll be darned if I can find a link for you though. Properties says it's 72.0 kb etc etc.

I suppose AL would show the same results.

Texas tarballs confirmed.

Eh! Got your link! All 4 pages.

mummsie -- To be honest I've toyed with generating my own end of the world stories. Given my knowledge of the oil patch you can imagine how semi-credible these tales might sound to some. But I figure I've been lucky the editors have tolerated by Blue Bell ice cream diversions so I decided not to push my luck. But it really is tempting. Telling tall tales is an acknowledged art form in Texas, ya know.

Fankly RM, since you actually know what you are talking about, I'd listen to your stories anyday......wow, I sure miss my Blue Bell Ice cream, it took me yrs to find it locally and when I did I was eating a pint or two a day on vacation in Destin since I knew in TN I couldn't find any, here in Florida it's hit or miss and I sure know about Texas tall tales, but none of those have even come close to the wild theories I'm hearing now, like evactuating to the coast before the methane gas erupts and causes a Tsunami that will wipe us all out one day.

Truth -- Not sure if these will satisfy you but a few points. First, a minor/silly point: there are no “huge methane bubbles" in the GOM. The methane exists in the pores of rocks buried thousands of feet. OTOH methane is an extremely powerful explosive. The most powerful non-nuke weapon we have is such a fuel-air bomb. But the NG has to be of a sufficient concentration to explode. NG could leak to the ocean’s surface and cause a massive explosion. Exactly what happened to the BP rig. But none of those millions on the bank were injured. Could a large NG release reach the surface of the GOM and explode? Sure. Might ruin the day for some fisherman or rig hand. But no one in new Orleans would even hear it let alone be injured. Could a giant NG bubble reach the land and explode? Nope….NG is heavier than air and would spread across the water to the point where the concentration would be insufficient to explode. The folks onshore are at much greater risk of a NG line in there home blowing up IMHO.

Thanks, I'll use that info to try to inform anyone spreading this ~doubtful they'll listen becuase they seem bound and determined to spread outrageous info as it draws alot of attn and donations, instead I wish they would "do their homework" or find a reputable source to ask questions and learn the truth.

"Underwater clouds of oil and methane gas have now been confirmed as originating from the BP blowout after weeks of denial. One of these clouds encompassed an area the size of San Francisco and 600 feet thick was found at 3,000 feet or more beneath the surface.."

edit (sorry I forgot the link)

it's a press release from the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (Texas A&M) co-authored by its Executive Director and one of it's Research Chairs.

link to Press Release (PDF)

There were no "weeks of denial." There was one wrong and foolish comment by Tony Hayward. The underwater clouds are very diffuse and not particularly scary. They are being studied by several research vessels of the government and various universities. This is a good source, written by a leading researcher:


you may want to review the documentary that I posted above, which was produced by UGA on Dr. Joye's research voyage.

(also note that her blog does not appear to have been updated for a couple of weeks)

I was also providing some additional data/opinion from the Harte Institute that seems to refute ROCKMAN's comment that "there are no “huge methane bubbles" in the GOM."

As for your comment about the plumes there were some interesting comments from a variety of sources

here is an example http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews/20100609/bs_ynews/ynews_bs2485

and here

Transcript - National Incident Commander and White House Press Secretary - Press Briefing

Q So do you know if there are big, large oil plumes underwater yet? Or that has not been --

ADMIRAL ALLEN: It hasn’t been established by testing. We understand there are densities down there, but as she would say, they haven’t been characterized yet. And that's the reason they're doing the sampling right now and testing it.


and here

"Media reports related to the research work conducted aboard the R/V Pelican included information that was misleading, premature and, in some cases, inaccurate. Yesterday the independent scientists clarified three important points:

1. No definitive conclusions have been reached by this research team about the composition of the undersea layers they discovered. Characterization of these layers will require analysis of samples and calibration of key instruments. The hypothesis that the layers consist of oil remains to be verified.

2. While oxygen levels detected in the layers were somewhat below normal, they are not low enough to be a source of concern at this time.


and many many more examples

Thanks Guest_. Sorry I missed your earlier reference to Dr. Joye. I thought you were just getting on this story--didn't mean to condescend.

Regarding "huge methane bubbles"--the plumes/clouds contain dissolved natural gas. This is not a "bubble" as suggested in the doomsday scenarios. The concentration is much higher than normal, but it is still very diffuse.

Regarding "weeks of denial." In the Yahoo link, Doug Suttles says, "We haven't found any large concentrations of oil under the sea, and to my knowledge no one has," Suttles said. "It may be down to how you define what a plume is here." Does this statement deny that there are large diffuse clouds of oil droplets? Doesn't seem so to me. The writer is pushing a very tendentious story line, "BP is still lying." Suttles is trying to avoid saying, "My CEO stuck his foot in his mouth again," but Suttles isn't lying or denying.

Likewise, this quote more fairly represents what Allen said on June 7:

ADMIRAL ALLEN:  What we know is they found densities below the surface, and the question is, of those dense masses they found, how much hydrocarbons or oil is there? . . . I was out there last week, and there was a NOAA vessel taking water samples.  And what they're doing is they're taking water samples at different depths to try and establish the amount of hydrocarbons that are in at a particular depth.

Are you characterizing that as a denial that the clouds exist? And as for his claiming the media have misrepresented the findings, that's completely true. "Scientists have discovered vast plumes of oil under the surface of the Gulf," and the visual shows the ugliest part of the surface slick, so viewers think the undersea "plumes" are solid oil. 

"Regarding "huge methane bubbles"--the plumes/clouds contain dissolved natural gas. This is not a "bubble" as suggested in the doomsday scenarios. The concentration is much higher than normal, but it is still very diffuse."

At 20 Celcius the concentration of methane in water at saturation is 6 grams per cubic meter, or about one third of a cubic foot of gas at atmospheric pressure per ton of water. The actual concentration of methane in waters surrounding the DWH well may be much less.

Back to my post - Rockman says "a minor/silly point: there are no “huge methane bubbles" in the GOM. The methane exists in the pores of rocks buried thousands of feet"

meanwhile the exec director of the Harte Research Institute says

"Underwater clouds of oil and methane gas have now been confirmed as originating from the BP blowout after weeks of denial. One of these clouds encompassed an area the size of San Francisco and 600 feet thick was found at 3,000 feet or more beneath the surface. Low levels of oil concentration (0.5 parts per million) have been found in this cloud and other samples are being evaluated. High quantities of methane and very low oxygen levels were also reported in the cloud."

Perhaps semantics but bubbles/clouds/plumes involving high concentrations of Methane seem to directly contradict what Rockman referred to as a "silly point". I agree that some have gone overboard with talk of massive explosions of these bubbles but the original post asked for facts to refute such ideas and I believe it is important to respond with facts as opposed to opinion and anecdotal evidence.

The brief article from the HRI is worth reading, here again is the link.


There's a difference between "High quantities of methane" and "A Huge Methane Gas Bubble"... there has been much discussion earlier on TOD about Joye's and others' reports of clouds/plumes of O&G northeast and southwest of the well site, but I've seen no reports of "A Huge Methane Gas Bubble" except in the OP that started this discussion.

rainyday, what would that difference be?

Pardon me for jumping in. It would be about the same as the difference between high concentrations of dissolved methane in some locations and a methane volcano.

Some scientists have chosen to use the terms clouds and Plumes in the context of high quantities of methane, which some here are suggesting is alarmist. I am not aware that they have used the term volcano are you suggesting that?

They haven't but alarmists have, right along with the "huge bubble of methane" claim. I can't recall anybody here ever going apesh*t over "plumes" and "clouds" however.

You keep referring to a "bubble." A bubble within a body of water would be a bounded area of gas separate from water. There is no bubble of methane in connection with the Macambo blowout. This is what people are arguing with you about. Talk of a "bubble" seems to evoke the threat of a massive explosion or toxic event. The clouds/plumes have no such potential, beyond the possibility of local oxygen depletion as bacteria eat the oil and gas.

A "cloud" within a body of water would refer to an area where some other substance is mixed diffusely with the water. In this case fine oil droplets are mixed with the water, but not enough to make it look cloudy. Natural gas is also dissolved in the water in the area of this oil cloud, but there is no way this would properly be called a "bubble." It is an area where elevated but probably non-toxic levels of methane are dissolved in the water.

So we are agreed there are clouds some very large, that contain high levels of methane, that works for me. Perhaps you could provide a reference that these clouds are non toxic. McKinney and Joye suggest they are very toxic.

Thanks, Guest, for posting the link to the www.harteresearchinstute.org report. It certainly answers some serious questions for me on the toxicity of this event on the GOM. As noted in the report...this event is a whole "new experiment"! Thanks again!

should be:

(was a typo - missing an "it" in instITute.

n.b. besides chemical toxicity, the other big concern is hypoxia due to oxygen consumed by bacteria consuming the oil and methane.

The various scientific reports have described tiny dispersed methane in a cloud/plume of hydrocarbon, measured in ppm and ppb, not a single huge bubble that is supposedly going to erupt in an explosion.

various scientific reports


Produce a single science-based report from a credible source that provides evidence of a huge methane bubble, please. Just one.


but my question was for the reports that Rainy had referred to.

also you might want to snoop around here a bit


Right. But you've ducked my request and gone a bit tangential with that link to try to reframe.

Just one well-grounded report that's specific to a huge bubble of methane in the GOM, that's all I'm asking you for.

The word "bubble" appears nowhere in that article.

"clouds" does ...

During many earlier TOD discussions on the plumes/clouds of dissolved and/or dispersed hydrocarbons, few if any seemed to be disputing the various reports of Joye on the Walton Smith, the researchers on Pelican and Thomas Jefferson - it's the suggestion that there is a single huge bubble of methane that may rise to the surface and explode that has been questioned.

We may just be disagreeing about semantics...

exactly it is semantics - I am fine with the concept of clouds, bottom line is there is a lot of nasty stuff floating about creating havoc with the ecosystem, though it will in time recover. If you have an hour have a look at the links I posted way above on the Walton Smith documentary from early June, interesting stuff.

Speaking of semantics, plume is the more appropriate term for the water columns containing dispersed oil and gas from the blowout. Plume has been in use for decades to describe a column, cloud, or flow of pollutants coming from a point source. Think of an ostrich plume, with the source at the quill and the frilly feather trailing off downwind or downstream.


I completely lost the thread of the dissolve methane controversy began by _Guest.

The PR from Harte had a bunch of overheated speculation with no real data to support it. The second link to Seabird dive results didn't really show anything to support either. The only really useful data was the dissolved oxygen, but it looked consistent through out the graphs I checked. No real evidence of a plume, unless every dive went thru the same part of a plume pushing the dO2 down equally, but not less than 2ppm oxygen which is above the threshold for aquatic life.

I checked a paper with actual hard numbers on the background methane levels in the N GoM (http://www.nrl.navy.mil/research/nrl-review/2002/chem-biochem-research/c...) they had 0.1 umol/l which works out to about 1.6ppb. The Harte PR claims 10,000x methane concentration or about 16ppm or 16 grams per metric ton. Not really all that much to make an explosive cloud even if it could all get to the surface at once.

edit - noticed that at sea level 30C, methane saturation in water is somewhat above 16ppm, so it wouldn't even bubble at the surface.

We had fireworks in Gulf Shores Alabama last night off the pier into the water (GOM). Though the evidence is anecdotal, no explosions of methane or petroleum were observed. Different Class A and Class B explosives likely including black powder, smokeless powder, metal powders, and various other compounds.

Here is the link to the video. You can see sparks in the water.


Guest - there are no "Underwater clouds of oil and methane gas...". There are areas under the surface of the GOM that have very high concentrations of methane. As the researchers reported this methane is dissolved in the sea water. FYI -- water with methane dissolved in it is not explosive. A cloud of methane is explosive, of course. That's my point of reference for "silly". IMHO using the term "clouds" is not just a poor choice of terminology. Actually I felt the term "silly" was being kind. IMHO it's an intentional effort to make the statement more alarming and thus draw more publicity...just as it has. Would we been having this discussion if the situation had been described as water with high levels of methane dissolved in it? I think not.

Of course, that's just my silly opinion.

Thanks for clarifying/correcting your original post, better to acknowledge that there are areas that have very high concentrations of methane under the surface then imply that they don't exist.

Perhaps the authors of the HRI document were trying to convey their findings in a manner that would help people conceptualize what is going on under the surface using a cloud analogy or perhaps as you suggest McKinney and Montagna are just alarmists and publicity hounds along with Joye, Kessler et. al who have talked of the high concentrations of methane, oil etc. using terms like plumes.

Guest -- I probably came off more snippy then I should have. Just loose patience too easy some times. Don't know if you caught my earlier post re: dougr but I didn't find his comments as objectionable as many. But as long as he kept his stories as possibilities and not certain predictions. I pointed out then that I could offer "possible" scenarios far more alarming then his. In 35 years I've seen more than a few world class screw ups. But I saw no real value in doing so. There's enough factual stupidity involved in this event to keep us more than occupied IMHO.

Perhaps my perceptions are not correct but I think I can tell the difference between folks with honest concerns vs. those looking for publicity.

I guess it depends on how one defines a huge cloud of oil and methane. Many of these scientists are losing credibility with me in a hurry, using the terms they use - if they're bona fide scientists at all. When the well pours out oil and gas at 2200 psi, and this mixes turbulently with sea water at 2200 psi, one expects some of the gas to dissolve in sea water. The oil is being dispersed with chemicals, which means very fine oil drops are dispersed in the water, where they begin to be bio degraded by bacteria. The bacteria eat the lighter hydrocarbons, they love the paraffins in particular (mid range molecular weight).

This leads to the conclusion that Gulf of Mexico sea water near the well probably has methane-ethane saturations way above normal, and also suspended oil droplets which gradually become heavier as the bacteria eat the mid range mol weights. These are the "clouds", "plumes", or whatever you want to call it. I would say they are zones or plumes of contaminated water, containing up to 0.5 parts per milllion hydrocarbons. And water in this condition can be dumped in the ocean from an oil facility, under existing regulations, provided that it doesn't hurt the creatures living in it. Which means they'll have to take water samples, and dip shrimp and fish in it, to see what it does.

The statements about giant gas bubbles and oil plumes are pretty funny, remind me of the attack of the killer tomatoes.

Gobbet: So many people do not even know what they don't know. Stories get worse every day.Now that we are in day 70 + whatever were are seeing our third or fourth round of recycled bs.

Just have to point out that San Francisco is one of the smaller "big cities" in the world. It's only 47 square miles, compared to Chicago at 228, New York at 305, and Los Angeles at 496. Miami is smaller at 36 sq miles. I wondered why the authors of this report picked San Francisco of all places, and I suspect the reason was to make the number seem big ("Wow, as big as San Francisco!"). Unfortunate that they couldn't just state the size and not try to inflate it in our minds by comparing it to a major U.S. city.

"...NG is heavier than air..."

I thought NG was methane, CH4, which is lighter than air (molecular weight of 14 versus 28 for Nitrogen). Or does NG include other ethanes such as propane and butane (mol. weights of 44 and 78, respectively)?

Methane is about 60 % of the density of air. Some natural gas has ethane, CO2, propane, etc. Can be denser. But for natural gas to be denser than air we must be on Mars.

L & fd -- You're correct, of course. Sorry to mess with the regulars but I wanted to see if any of the alarmists would bother researching it. Of course the NG, even as rich as that coming from the blow out, would rise in the atmosphere since it is lighter. Before the capture/flaring process began those ships out there were proximal to more than 25 million cubic feet of NG rising from the water. Just a guess but maybe as much as 10 million cubic feet are still rising out of the Gulf. And now there's the Mother of All Bic Lighters out there and still no exploding clouds of methane. Thus no killer methane clouds floating inland and killing millions. But as mac points out onshore methane leaks can be very deadly and are not common. That's why buildings with NG leaks in them blow up and not buildings a few blocks away. The methane has to be concentrated to explode. That's how the fuel-air bomb I mentioned functions. The NG is rapidly atomized and then ignited with in a fraction of a second. Otherwise it would just drift upwards harmlessly. Thus the tool of alamists/exagerators: take a known threat and extrapolate it to a situation which cannot occur. As you two smarties probably already know there are heavy and deadly gases that can float across large distances and kill. Methane, as you've noted, is not one of them.

For mumsie: see what I mean about the ability to tell tall tales. I'm sure many of the regulars wondered what the hell I was saying. But since I do have a little credibility few challenged me. Sorta like the problem many folks on TOD had when Matt Simmons started talking about those absurd high reservoir pressures. Many said it out loud: how could a guy with such a solid reputation be so wrong?

Rockman - your comment had an edge of "methane doesn't mix" about it, so I thought about responding, but I waited to see where you'd go with it.

Wikipedia has a not-bad article on upper and lower flammability and explosive limits. I like graphs better myself, but this will have to do for now. It gives upper and lower explosive limits for methane (about 4.5 - 16% by volume in air) but not upper and lower flammability limits, which are what you're talking about. You need a minimum amount of methane or oxygen to get a fire.

Thanks Cheryl. I tried to find tech data on the explosive/flamable concentrations too with no substantial info.

A darkly humerous side note. Check out Darwin Awards if you're not already familiar. Years ago the posthumous winner was a gas company hand investigating the report of a NG leak in a warehouse. Someone had flip the breakers off so it was dark inside. Witness outside the warehouse reported that he lit his Bic lighter because it was too dark to see. Obvious the NG concemtration was high enough in that case.

I have been a little concerned about the safety of the hands above the blow out. I can only assume they have many NG detectors monitoring the area. That way they can at least warn Nawlins when that giant cloud of NG starts drifting their way.

The link you provided implies that "flammability" and "explosive" are used interchangeably for hydrocarbon fuel:air ratios. The reported limits really only apply to the specific test conditions and provide a guide, and increasing the concentration of oxygen and the flammable range widens.

Sorry - I skimmed, my eyes fastened on the second paragraph and missed the first. I would make the distinctions of the second paragraph, but not everyone does. If you're caught in it, it doesn't make much difference whether it's an explosion or deflagration.

The first paragraph does indeed imply that "flammability" and "explosive" are used interchangeably. If that's the case, that's why they only give two numbers.

Aw, now you are going to have a scare story that methane from the Gulf is going to be comin up da pipes and blowing up peoples homes. Oh, I hear that the flatulence from all that cattle in Texas is going to be ignited by the smokin' cowboy and blow away Houston.


Just caught this, I obviously wouldn't challenge you as this is so far out of my area of knowledge it's almost like Latin, but I am trying to learn and value everyone's input and patience. The Simmons discussion threw me a bit because there are so many alarmist and I just want the facts as plain and simple as possible and I know that's not always easy but y'all have done a great job so far.

Right on about the gas Rockman.I am a compulsive reader of newspapers and I estimate that I read about a gas explosion in a residential building every couple of months within the paper's local circulation area.

...Nope….NG is heavier than air and would spread across the water to...

Ummm, perhaps you're thinking LNG spills, which are dense due to low temperature.

Methane density is .717 kg/cubic meter per the wiki:

Natural gas is .7 - .9 kg/m^3 at 0 deg C, 1 atmosphere per:

Air density is approx 1.2 kg/cubic meter.
1.205 kg/m^3 at 20 deg C, 1 atm
1.293 kg/m^3 at 0 deg C, 1 atm

The natural gas/methane will rise as it diffuses,
with something like half a kg-force per cubic meter.
Wouldn't make the best gas for a balloon, helium is .17 kg/m^3, hydrogen 0.09 kg/m^3.

Anybody got a rubber bible handy to check these numbers?
I've learned to cross check density, mol. wts, etc on the wiki,
been burned before.

That's the right proportion according to their respective effective molecular weights: 16 for methane, 28 for air. 16/28 == .712/1.29 == 55%

There's methane stuck under 17,000 feet of rock and 5,000 feet of water below the Gulf. Some of it is coming to the surface through a pipe but there's no observable bubble.

There's methane in the top hundred meters of the sediments on the floor of the Gulf. It's in solid form, frozen into methane clathrate. It will stay down there until the bottom of the ocean becomes much warmer than it is now. Methane is being released as permafrost thaws in the Arctic, but it's hard to imagine how that could happen on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico.

I have been watching this ROV sitting in abut 1500 ft of water for quite awhile.

There is oil pluming around it and I notice a pipe next to it.

One thing I noticed about the pipe you can see oil clinging to it. I have noticed the same stuff on top of the equipment sitting on the bottom of the ocean. Doesn't this mean there is oil or parts of it settling on the sea floor?


The depth is in meters on that ROV and the "oil" you see on the pipe and being stirred up now and then is just sea floor muck. 1500ish meters is at the bottom.

That is the piping that will hook to Helix Producer, if they ever finish getting everything connected.



What will get sick from the slick?


Mmm, you can't beat friends-in-high-places willing to make your problem theirs.

BP Oil Spill Loan Rises to $9 Billion

Lotus, perhaps your comment about taking on problems makes some sense. However, I submit (for everyone's consideration) that such action might indicate something else. Maybe the problem already IS theirs. Or more to the point, maybe the problem is actually OURS and this is one mechanism by which we will all address it. The pragmatic results of such financial operations are quite obscure to the man on the street. I don't claim to understand them, but I trust them about as far as I can throw a grand piano.

At various times posters have asked for more information from biologists. So here is some information about the marshes. Unfortunately it is mostly bad news. Apologies to those of you who already know all of this.

The coastal marshes (wetlands, in biologists’ jargon) were already highly stressed before the well blow-out, mostly due to human actions. Both salt-water marshes and fresh-water marshes were being lost due to these stresses before the oil spill. The oil is an additional set of stresses. Highly stressed ecosystems are much less able to survive additional stresses like oil.

When marsh plants are killed, their roots stop holding the soil, and a common result is conversion of marsh to open water, a completely different kind of ecosystem. The ‘ecosystem services’ provided by a marsh ecosystem are lost when the marsh is lost. These ecosystem services include absorbing the force of a hurricane and providing habitat for many marine species, including young shrimp.

On the other hand, there are plans on the books for a variety of remedial actions. Funding these would not remove oil or prevent it from killing marsh plants, but it might help compensate for the damage the oil is doing.

There are a number of open access government documents that provide a lot of information on Louisiana coastal wetland loss. One of these is Louisiana Coastal Area (LCA), Louisiana. Ecosystem Restoration Study. November 2004. http://www.lca.gov/Library/FileDownload.aspx?ProdType=0&id=1138

Some amazing numbers from the Executive Summary of this document:
(1) Coastal wetland loss in Louisiana accounts for 90% of US total. (2) Since the 1930s coastal Louisiana has lost over 1.2 million acres of land. (3) The rate of loss from 1990 to 2000 was about 15,300 acres per year. (4) In 2000, coastal Louisiana was predicted to continue to lose land at a rate of approximately 6,600 acres per year over the next 50 years. (5) It is estimated that an additional net loss of 328,000 acres may occur by 2050, about 10% percent of Louisiana’s remaining coastal wetlands

Chapter 2 of the same documents describes and discusses the causes of wetland loss in coastal Louisiana, which I summarize here. I have not found a ranking of these factors according to how much wetland loss each is responsible for.
(1) flood control (for examples, levees that cut off freshwater sediment supply) and navigation channels
(2) oil and gas infrastructure (for example, access canals create piles of dredged material that may block water and sediment movement, and allow saltwater intrusion - the incoming salt water kills freshwater marsh plants);
(3) reduction in sediment in Mississippi River due to upstream dams.
(4) barrier island degradation;
(5) tropical storm events (including hurricanes);
(6) eustatic sea level change (global rise in sea level, predicted to increase in the future due to AGW);
(7) relative sea level change caused by land subsidence. Land subsidence is caused by the compaction and consolidation of sediments, groundwater depletion, and oil and gas withdrawal.
To which I add
(8) nutria (a non-native muskrat-like animal that eats plant roots).
(9) brown marsh dieback

For maps of Louisiana’s past and future wetland loss, see http://lacoast.gov/new/Data/Maps/2003landloss8X11.pdf

A couple of other links on the topic:

http://quintascott.wordpress.com/ has an article "Restoring the Louisiana Coast" that has some good links to the studies done in Louisiana already, however getting the money to do it has always been a problem, and the fact that nav. waterways and levees fall under US Corp of Engineering so they have to buy in.

"(1) flood control (for examples, levees that cut off freshwater sediment supply) and navigation channels"

IMO this is the biggie. The levees that protect large areas of the Mississippi Delta from flooding also prevent the spread of sediments those same floods would have provided. When the land and the marshes subside, there is little in the way of replacement to keep them above sea level.

Also, don't forget the Old River Control Structure that (so far) prevents the Mississippi from changing course to the Atchafalaya. If it did change course, that would almost completely dry up the sediment supply south of New Orleans.

I maintain that the biggest (but not the only, by far) interference with Mother Nature is the USACE and their levees, dams and control structures. There are certainly benefits to these such as providing flood control and livable and farmable land. But like putting out a prairie fire (caused by lightning), they interfere with nature. Most of our activities interfere with nature.

The Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MRGO) is a very good example of USCAE projects with unintended consequences.

Shell Beach, on the western shores of Lake Borgne, no longer bears any resemblance to a 'shell beach'. Locals have been complaining about the changes in sedimentation, loss of habitat as well as the increased salinity of the waters there for many years.
Pre-Katrina fact sheet
USCAE fact sheet

Edit: punctuation, spelling

Some good video of the land loss. The rate of loss seems to accelerate about the time the oilfield boomed in the 50s


@lotus, from last thread:
Used to be a nice neighborhood, but nobody goes there anymore.

You mean like Detroit?

Doesn't Detroit still have a leetle goin'-on going on?

"Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded." Yogi Berra

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Gulf spill a familiar story in oil-soaked Nigeria


Will PetroChina acquire BP?

I was looking for confirmation concerning the "us domestic oil" designation of oil wells tapped by foreign companies. I assume that BP America is a foreign-owned subsidiary of BP UK. If BP America sells its oil to another country, say France, is it a US export or a UK export? And that may be a moot question, if oil is sold to an exchange. I guess my main question is how exactly does this affect account balances of various countries involved?

I could be wrong because I have been out of the stock market as a trader for close to ten yrs in order to do bonds, but I thought BP is just one company BP PLC, trading stock and ADR's. Maybe the could sell a division that falls under the holding company, I've seen on my bloomberg where many other oil companies have been rumoured to be targeting BP for a hostile takeover. Sorry, that's as much of your question I'm even remotely qualified to answer.

BP America is a wholly owned subsidiary of BP PLC. If BP America sells out to France, it's a US export. However, the US doesn't export oil. If the Chinese buy BP, my guess is they'll be prepared to spin off BP Americas to avoid the liability, keep the rest of BP. That's going to be quite controversial.

That's what I thought, it's a subsidiary of BP PLC. Agreed it would be highly controversial but Altria did the same thing yrs ago by spinning of Phillip Morris to avoid liabilty here in the US.

Cigarettes aren't related to national security (except to the grunts who smoke them). I'm pretty sure that China walking away with BP's assets is on the Avoid/BP is TBTF list.

No you are right, I was simply pointing out that Altria did this to avoid regulations and liablity.

I think I caused confusion by mentioning two topics. Oh well, I guess that's one of the traits of an engineer. My question about account balances isn't related to PetroChina news.

Before the oil spill, many politicians said we should drill for more oil in US DW because it would be domestic oil and would reduce the trade deficit. I'm wondering if that is technically true. I understand a foreign oil company can purchase a lease and pay a royalty for each barrel of oil but once the oil is retrieved, I would think it is owned by the foreign company. The only thing I can see changing that is the foreign-owned subsidiary designation.

brit -- Not correct. US law prohibits any oil/NG produced from our OSC to be sold overseas. It did happen years ago when N Slope oil was shipped to Japan. It was done with govt approval. But it was a swap...not a sale. The Japanese replaced that oil with oil imported from another country. It was done to save the transport costs for both our countries.

There's no need to stop our oil from being sold overseas. Foreign companies work in the US and sell their oil here, and it doesn't make much sense to export oil because we are a net oil importer. Why bother to load it and send it elsewhere, when the oil fetches a better price here? The government action to keep our oil here is dumb, doesn't really factor in market dynamics. There's no way in hell a company would export oil from the US, except possibly from Alaska, because it's close to Japan. But that would mean oil goes to the West Coast from elsewhere, probably via the Panama Canal or by pipeline. In the end, the owner doesn't matter, and our laws are non sense.

Thanks, Rockman
Therefore, there are no ports of entry or customs to be concerned with and "domestic oil" as expected. Customs issues are hard to find details for unless one has personal experience with it so I was just checking.

It all depends on how you define oil...No, the US normally doesn't export CRUDE oil, but with a few exceptions. However, we export the heck of a lot of residual fuel oil (and to a lesser degree, other "oils") because its market here has about dried up.

A spreadsheet that might be of interest to you oil people. Lots of well data. www.drillscience.com/bp/macondo-well-layout-neat.xls

Thanks - that's very detailed information.
That site also has some other interesting data and comments.

Anybody want to comment on the " There is only one root cause " document?

Bruce -- Inadequate mud circulation may have been the root cause. But I would put that in the category of speculation. Perhaps valid speculation but an still an hypothesis IMHO. The well appears to have blown out because the cmt failed when they displaced the mud and reduced the bottom hole pressure. Could be any number of reasons the cmt failed. The simplest might be that they didn't give it long enough to set. Had they waited another 10 hours or so before displacing it might not have failed. But we'll never know so that's just another speculation.

Bottom line IMHO: a number of valid speculative causes but I doubt anyone will ever be able to offer definitive proof.

Thanks very much for the perception.
I hope lessons learnt, and applied, will allow the industry to continue, but prevent similar tragic events that might improve the root cause identity. Sometimes the price of certainty can be too high.

I don't have time to properly evaluate the information in the spreadsheet but the burst psi of the various casings, liners, etc looked a bit suspect so I did a quick back into the yield strength required to get the results they show. Max tensile strength is normally higher than maximum yield.

YS = P x ID/2wt

Riser - X-80 = 53.1 ksi
Upper 36" Conductor - X-56 = 43.6 ksi
Lower 36" Conductor - X-56 = 44.9 ksi
28" Conductor - X-52 = 43.1 ksi
Upper 22" Conductor - X-80 = 62.0 ksi
Lower 22" Conductor - X-80 = 63.6 ksi
18” Drill Liner - P-110 = 89.6 ksi
16” Casing - P-110 = 89.3 ksi
13-5/8” Drill Liner - Q-125 = 99.3 ksi
11-7/8”” Drill Liner - HCQ-125 = 98.7 ksi
9-7/8” Drill Liner - HCQ-125 = 95.5 ksi
9-7/8” Casing - Q-125 = 95.5 ksi
7” Casing - HCQ-125 = 95.2 ksi
6-5/8” Drill Pipe HL - Z-140 = 99.4 ksi
6-5/8” Drill Pipe Stnd - S-135 = 102.7 ksi

The results seem to be from 66% to 83% of minimum yields for the various types of steel. I don't know if they are assuming other tensile loadings, if "burst" pressure is mislabeled (could be working pressure), of if they are using some formula other than a standard pipeline calculation.

Could be I've made a mistake - I don't have time to double check this.

Does anyone else see anomalies in the data?

Not anomaly but maybe they take into account stresses from hanging a long tube with more pressure at the bottom end rather than even or at the top. Just a thought.


From the response page:

MOBILE, Ala. -- Just weeks after the first Heavy Oil Recovery Device (HORD) was successfully tested in the Gulf of Mexico off the shores of Alabama, the innovative devices are greatly improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the cleanup operation. The HORD, originally dubbed Tarball Retrieval Device, is being manufactured at the rate of 8-10 units per day in shipyards in Pensacola, Fla., and Bayou La Batre, Ala. Up to 1,000 units are expected to be manufactured and put into service in the coming weeks.

Apparently this refers to the contraption somebody (in the Panhandle?) put together out of PVC and mesh to trawl for tar balls and mousse. You may remember from a couple of weeks ago a picture of what looked like a giant tarburger.

Tarburger? Is that a special at Wendy's or Burger King . I'll take a triple T-burger with cheese.


Above is a CNN video/blog post from a couple of weeks ago--relevant part is the second half. The inventor says they can be strung together to sweep a wide swath. This sounds really promising. Also:


Scroll down to point #3 for more info and a link to the tarburger photo.

Gobbet: I remember that picture when it was first posted. You know BP and I think CG have said all along the one area where public input of suggestions has yielded useful recommendations is in the cleanup effort. A lot of these ideas are interesting. As you have pointed out, scale is the issue.


we are on to your lil' games. the green fairy has spilled your beans. we all know now you have three accounts here. you go by Rockman, Dougr, and DougrReader.

we are all on to your dirty tricks...spinning doomsday tales on your Dougr account and then swooping in with measured technical responses with your ROCKMAN account....we all now understand you are one conniving son-of-a-gun who is sick an tired of his two bit oil company that is giving you bleeding ulcers from the amount of water ya'll gotta truck of from your two bit wells in west texas that produce at a WOR that only a mother could love ...so you thought you'd spread these rumors ...give BP another bleeding ulcer on top of the hemorrhoids they already got and maybe snag a property or two when BP offloads their hardware to raise capital....see we got is all figured out here...

giant methane balls, 1/3 cut H2S, sharks with lasers on their heads....i ask you again RM...is there no end to your evil ...thx god the green fairy was willing to stick her neck this far out of the trench to report on you

ali - wait until I execute my ultimate evil plan: taking over the Blue Bell creamery. Then everyone will fall to their knees and beg for my indulgencies. The hell with PO....fear the coming PBB!

Rockman, I got it!

Forget Cookies and Cream. How about Vanilla Bean Tarball? Just for the Gulf Coast. You could put Licorice balls coated with small sugar bead candies. Look like the sand coated real things. Hey, put it all in a blue colored vanilla base.


on a side note...got some decent wellbore schematics and post cmtig numbers on MC-252.....ran a few numbers to check the likely-hood for csg to have moved ...accounting for all things including fluid in hole at time they started displacing w/ SW ....

total downward force ~ 2,420,000 lbf
total upward lift ~ 1,548,000 lbf

static differential ~ 895,000 lbf

going by these numbers looks a better chance than a coin flip the csg moved a few inches and took a few odds and ends with it

Ali:Perhaps you posted before but can you tell us how long you think it will take to run and set 9 7/8 liner on RW. After that how long to physically get to the point of milling and pumping kill mud. Any thoughts on possible delays to get to that point.Thanks.


running csg string is a few days tops in normal conditions but its very likely the RW heading south will take some pressure where they are at right now....their returns will be monitored very closely right now....they had to have planned on finding charged pockets ....so the whole process right now is dependent on what the well tells them to do.....i can think of scenarios where setting the 9 7/8 csg could take 2 weeks and it would be bad luck but conceivable....ideally they will hope to hit charged pockets....sounds counter-intuitive but the more pressure charged pockets they hit they better idea they will be having on the conditions around the leaking well

other than that ....they are ranging right now....this is iterative ...they crunch a bit of rock....run the magnetic tool ...crunch more rock ....run the mag tool.....this is a slow process even though the particular tool they are running can be dropped inside the DP...this process too hasn't officially started but i know they have made plenty of ranging runs to setup thier final approach....the whole locating process can take can take around 2 weeks....and even this process isn't the tough part here....they can and will locate the leaking well within 2/3 tries ....

then there is the big big question of what the flow path uphole for the fluid in the leaking well is....IMHO the path has to be annular, as well as in the cased hole...this is the big unknown here and i can easily see plenty of scenarios where 1 RW will not be enough to git er' dun....but folks drilling this won't even know till they get to that point...but i can envision plenty of scenarios where both RW's will be needed to kill this gusher because they can only go in with so much mud weight otherwise things can go from bad to worse...so IMHO they have already a plan C or D that uses both RW's ....not to be a party crasher here but i calculated the force upthread to unseat the csg hangers...that kind of force is easily inplay in a blowout of this proportions and flow paths open up ...

so IMHO ....we are not even 25% on the RW job.....sounds mighty good when we hear 17500' MD of rock crunched by the RW....the real job hasn't even started yet and i think they are about 2 weeks from the time when john and his team will even start paying real attention...

IMHO i said very early sept is a more likely time frame and IMHO any DW drill engg will consider it a job very well done if early sept is what it takes

to quote the tornado named Donald Rumsfeld " there are known unknowns and there are unknown unknowns in play here at this moment in time"

Do you think they have the dexterity to tap into the annulus and get a read on the conditions there before tapping the production casing? It wouldn't be much possible to isolate the two "zones", I imagine?

If this wild well is flowing on the annulus then milling into or even perforating into the production casing may not be necessary or even recommended in order to kill the flow.

Heck, they may be drilling ahead and then they notice a litte drilling mud coming out of the wild well shortly after they noticed that they are loosing mud from the relief well or vice versa.

These guys may need to be ready to do the kill job at any moment when they get closer to the wild well.

Thanks, wildman. I hadn't thought about that, but they could kill the whole thing from wherever they first encounter reservoir flow, huh? I was thinking there was a chance they encountered annular flow, killed it, but still had a chance of a blown casing shoe flowing into the production casing.

They basically need to be ready to throw mud like mad at any time they get close. Sounds like it's going to be pretty intense. Sure hope they get plenty of rest, and the Gulf stays calm enough.

Best regards, for sure.

moto -- They actually have no choice. They'll have to penetrate the well bore annulus first. I suspect they'll be watching that event very closely and go very slowly. They may have an idea what they'll find in this annular area but I don't. It could be flowing at reservoir pressure or be completely dead. If dead they could lose their drill mud if the MW is to high and they frac the rocks. And if it's in communication with the reservoir they could take a kick even if their MW is higher than the reservoir. Enough oil/NG could still circ up and cut their MW and induce an even greater flow. There is also a possibility that they'll have to make a bit trip after cutting the annulus to swap from a rock bit to a steel mill bit needed to cut the csg. I wouldn't be surprised if several days pass between cutting the annulus and beginning the csg mill. And if the annulus bites them it could be a couple of weeks. Even with Wright's experience I suspect they're about to sail into relatively uncharted waters.

They actually have no choice. They'll have to penetrate the well bore annulus first.

lol. well, yeah, I guess they will.

I guess I'll have to print out a diagram to tack up on the wall...

Wonder if ranging is affected, or if it matters once they're that close, in the annulus.

You and wildman gave me enough to think about, that I forgot what I was thinking initially.

Out of curiosity, do you all ever do screened intervals with oil wells?

moto -- If you're taking about screens as part of the completion assembly then yes. In fact that's the standard approach to completing horizontal wells in the GOM.


yea this well is a real catch-22 ....runnin the correct MW here is the million dollar question.....i suspect they will go in a little heavy regardless of frac potential cuz having a well control situation that near the WW will be a punch in the nutsack....

they might run heavy going in and hope they punch through quick enough....no real way around this.....tripping in and out of hole to run the milling bit i suspect they will stay heavy-ish and frackin formation will be acceptable to the other option

Dammit. A friend in Mississippi just forwarded this (LM's email address and phone deleted):

From: Louie Miller
To: BP, National Park Service et al.

I am sending this e-mail to voice my outrage and concern regarding an incident that is unfolding as we speak. Ship Island, part of Gulf Island National Seashore now has moderate to heavy oil deposits on north and south beaches. A brown pelican heavily oiled was reported yesterday to the 866-557-1401 number on at least 2 different occasions. The coordinates and information was taken. As of today at 1:30 the pelican still sits, dying, next to the dock. The bird along with 2 other heavily oiled birds and a dead pelican have been reported numerous times today. If my experience with the BP operator in Houston is typical, I understand why this bird has been allowed to remain in 95 degree heat for over 24 hours in full view of NPS personnel and sadly, tourists with small children. Hardly an image that is befitting of our National Parks. I will not go into detail at this time about my call-in experience but suffice it to say the supervisor I spoke with not only refused to give me a case number or her last name but then hung up on me. This has also been the experience of a number of VOO's in reporting wildlife with the operator insisting on a street address! President Obama stated the federal government was in charge not BP, this experience says otherwise. Please take decisive action to address this situation. Sincerely, Louie Miller, State Director, MS Sierra Club

How many of their own feet are these BP eedjits willing to shoot off?

Shame if that wildlife rescue outfit from Texas isn't mobilized by now. Last I heard, they were told to sit this one out.


Louie is an old friend of mine. As you are probably aware he fought very hard to prevent exploratory drilling in the Gulf Island National Seashore- which I agree that should have been excluded. Ship Island is a place of beauty for which he justly fought for.

He would remember me from our younger days, when I was foolish enough to think I could make a go at solar energy in Mississippi. Many lost years since then.

FE, each time I read the name Ship Island here, I've been reminded of the LSU Press book from 1998, Thank God My Regiment an African One. This Civil War diary of a northern officer, Nathan Daniels, records his experiences on Ship Island. He and his command, the 2nd Louisiana Native Guard Volunteers, a black regiment, were "removed from mainland military activity and confined to obscure duty on Ship Island, ten miles off the coast of Mississippi."

This remarkable story, illustrated with photographs of Daniels and his men on the island, is on sale (35% off) at LSU's website:


So the Navy's sending in a blimp.


I wouldn't think they're much good in heavy-duty thunderstorm country. Right? Wrong? Partly-cloudy?

Thought I'd check the latest on GOM before I turned in for the night, so read this thread. Am completely at a loss to make any sense of it. It's like something out of National Lampoon - all whacky and fast and not much said.

Sorry, don't mean to be offensive, but this thread is not up to the usual standard of TOD. Perhaps I'm just over-tired....

11 weeks,a holiday weekend, slow news day. Wait until the BOP falls over. Posting will get exciting.

Agree...some hysteria going on...possible collateral effects of the benzene through the web

Common social phenomenon.

You see the same thing in other places where people are together waiting for the drama they know it coming- lines for concerts, half time at football games.

There hasn't been a lot new to talk about.

Even the fear mongers have become repetitious while remaining sadly uncreative.

So people get aquatinted, play, make jokes, argue politics and philosophy...

And wait.

Good eye, wrb. We're all standing here on one foot then the other . . .

Will there be a Dark Star?

I have a question I have been curious about for a while.

I have no expertise in this matter and my question may be off-base (or covered in another thread). I've been reading TOD for a while (since a few months prior to the WW) but this is my first comment.

Considering the heat variance between the oil on release (I've heard 200 F), the salt water it is mixing with (If I understand correctly it is 35-40 F) and the dispersant being released at the release point of the oil (I assume it is a fair amount warmer than the water on release), and adding in the amount of pressure down there and the velocity the oil is coming out, is there any reasonable possibility that the interaction of all these elements-- the number of different molecules in the crude, the sodium in the water and molecular structure of the dispersant-- could create in any quantity molecules of a different structure of either of the three. And if so, would we have an idea of what such molecules might "act" like, e.g., the weight of them, etc?

Sorry if this is a far-flung posit. I simply don't know.


to the OP

If you were able to "enjoy the fourth" it just goes to show that you still do not grasp the extent of the oil disaster, government (of by and for the people) weakness and sinister BP facism which is occurring 24/7.

I guess it's true. Ignorance is Strength.


Pretty unlikely. 200 F is not a very high temperature for crude oil, and while the gas coming out of solution and the pressures are going to physically disperse the oil into small droplets, aided by the dispersant, there won't be much chemical reaction. Hydrocarbons are fairly unreactive unless they're in the presence of oxygen or another oxidant.


I missed the discussion but wanted to say I very much liked your essay on Rules of Thumb.

And I'm amazed that people still don't realize that just a few magnets will increase your cars fuel efficiency by upwards of 20%

That's right! It's the magnets that make the water work!



The U.S. government is going to take over the official Gulf oil spill website that has been jointly run by various agencies and BP for the past two and a half months.

I assume this is the official site? http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/go/site/2931/

I would vote for TOD as official website!

Puzzling report as the website is run by the US Coast Guard (on behalf of "Unified Command") and has been since the start. Here's the original URL pointing to the Coast Guard Website it runs on http://www.d8externalaffairs.com/go/site/2931/

The specific domain deepwaterhorizonresponse.com was added later but still points to the same Coast Guard Server.

That domain is actually registered to:

PIER Systems, Inc.
204 Railroad Ave.
Suite 200
Bellingham, Washington 98225

PIER Systems was formed in August, 2000 to provide on-demand solutions to meet the ever increasing demand for fast, direct and transparent communications. The PIER System evolved out of a large-scale industrial accident that occurred in the Pacific Northwest in 1999. It was clear that the currently available technologies were not enabling communicators to meet the rapidly rising demand for instant information in the Internet age. PIER was specifically designed to put all vital tools needed by communicators into a single, easy-to-use Web-based platform in order to improve speed, efficiency and information control.

PIER Systems, Inc. is Now an O'Brien's Company

O’Brien’s Response Management Inc. (O'Brien'sRM), a global provider of environmental compliance, emergency preparedness, response management, disaster services and crisis management for numerous industry sectors and government agencies, acquired PIER Systems Inc. on December 1st, 2009. For more information about O'Brien'sRM, visit www.obriensrm.com.

However it is the "US Coast Guard District 8 External Affairs Media Port" and it was there long before the DWH disaster.

Try just visiting http://www.d8externalaffairs.com/

Are you arguing, Undertow?

The site may be operated for the Coast Guard, but it is clearly being operated by the contractor I identified, above.

Not surprising, of course. We live in a time when our military outsources logistics, food service, and security for embassies and army bases. Doing the same with communications and PR probably seems like a no-brainer.

Ike must be spinning like a top.

Very strange bi-polar zeitgeist developing here on TOD.

On the one hand, we have those who over emphasize the (immediate) dangers of the gusher, on the other hand, and in direct opposition to the former, we have those who seem to advocate the opinion that there will be little to no long term environmental or health effects from all of the oil being released.

Only time will prove one, the other, or both conclusively or partially right or wrong.

That said, what has happened is not a normal release of oil into the gulf (or any other body of water, for that matter). In both technical terms and in the volume of oil released, we are dealing with an unprecedented situation.

Personally, I tend to think that the secrecy measures surrounding the environmental impact are telling in their scope and lack of legal precedent. It would seem to me that transparency would win the day if the reality was not particularly grim. It is in such restricted environments that rumors flourish. (Not to be alarmist, but my personal opinion is that they have no idea how to kill this well, but that they will keep trying until they succeed or until the inability to kill it become obvious and undeniable. Same goes for clean-up and environmental effects).

Someone commented the other day that every cleaned pelican that is released into the wild elsewhere leaves a brood of chicks behind to starve. Think about that for a minute. Until they are reintroduced, some areas of the gulf will not see pelicans again for some time. Wild animals have a very hard time surviving as it is (try standing outside in a FL thunderstorm, and staying outside until you’re dry, if you think differently). The impact of this spill on the biology of the gulf, generally, is going to be negative. Exactly how negative remains to be seen, but I think there’s a high probability that the damage will be extensive, pervasive, and chronic.

I'd like to comment that flying saucers could possibly land and use special devices to gather the oil. That's as well supported as the comment about the pelicans. We got a lot of people stating religious beliefs, made up "factoids", and some pretty ridiculous statements. Some of this is being fed by the media, which allows some pretty weird characters air time, to make statements they can't back up. Don't forget the famous show with that turkey from CNN hammering on about use of Sea Brat, which turned out to be nothing - just the guy who makes the stuff trying to sell it. And what about the complaint by the same idiot about the government trying to silence the media because the poor guy wasn't allowed to get closer than 60 feet to an oil boom? I guess he can't afford a camera with a middling telephoto lens?

The oil spill will have an impact, but until I see actual figures, I'll continue to say a lot of this is bs. The giant plumes of oil report was one of the biggest pieces of misinformation I've ever seen. The first report I heard was "giant plumes, oil layers about 300 ft thick found 1000 feet below the surface". I knew that had to be a lie, but I thought maybe they had found an emulsion layer. What they found was a layer of water contaminated to 0.5 ppm (or less), a level we're allowed to discharge overboard anytime. But of course right now they're having a freeding frenzy. Like I said, this reminds me of the period just before the Iraq war, when all of them, from the NY Times to CNN to Fox, ganged up and helped the government lie about the WMDs. This country, my friends, doesn't have a news media anymore. They're less than worthless.

So, I’ll chalk you up to the minimal hazard camp. Nothing to measure yet. So far, they’ve found and cleaned all of the pelicans and rescued their chicks. They haven’t hidden any carcasses, or anything.

So, if I remember the plume story correctly, they were miles long and wide, I got my info here, it seems vetted and substantiated, and i don’t see a refuting result to my Google query: “Are there plumes of oil in the gulf." (if you have a link to something that refutes, it, please post it):


You must really work on a big ass and very leaky ship to discharge that much oil into the gulf all the time.

Petey: With all due respect that is not what he said. He pointed out that we do not know yet. He said there will be damage but we do not know how long and how much. That is why all the dollars for research. Stating that because someone wants to have facts to support what is posted or in the media or the context is not the same as stating there will be no damage. On the other hand speculating that there will be no problems is really no different than speculating there will be ubiquitous irreparable harm.

Petey: Suggest you go to NOAA and EPA sites, read the actual reports, look at all the sub-sea data, put the story in context, and continue monitoring the updates over time to see what actually happens.

I suggest you read the EPA regulations, or the NPD regulations, or Egyptian regulations, or any others you care to check, and you'll see that 0.5 ppm oil in water is way below the threshold for dumping. As long as you can prove this doesn't hurt the critters in the vicinity, it's allowed by almost every nation. Quite a few allow 15 ppm, some have gone as high as 50 ppm. Breathing CO2 is bad for you, but not at the current atmospheric concentrations. The same applies to oil in water, if the concentration is low enough, then it's ok. The question we should ask is, what's low enough when it's sustained and widespread?

I posted the original comment about the starving chicks left behind.

The well explosion occurred during breeding season for birds, mammals and reptiles in the Gulf. Don't have one handy at the moment, but there were photos earlier of the pelican nesting colonies, full of young, while their parents were out fishing.

Many parents have been covered in oil, then captured, cleaned and released weeks later in TX or FL. Pelican chicks are altricial, not precocial. They take around 63 days to fledge and are still fed by their parents for another two weeks after fledging. (Brown Pelicans.)

What do you think has happened to the chicks that were left behind?

And from Nat'l Geographic Gulf spill hits habitats

The elegant yet fragile brown pelican—removed from the U.S. endangered species list just last year—is the animal that conservationists fear may come to symbolize the damage to wildlife as the Gulf of Mexico oil spill advances over its marshy habitat.

In nesting season, the birds lie in the direct path of what officials fear may become one of the biggest oil spills in the nation’s history.

I'd like to see a picture of a few dead pelican chicks. So far I get mostly words, and no facts or data. When I see the data, it turns out the early comments reported in the press or in blogs were way off the mark.

I'd be happy to find you photos of oil-covered chicks, but if you really wanted to see them, you wouldn't have had to look very hard—so I don't believe you do. I suspect the opposite, in fact.

Anyway, as you have been told, already, in this very thread, this catastrophe occurred during nesting season, and pelican parents feed pelican chicks... or they die. How do you suppose the little ones back at these birds' nests are doing?


I don't want to see pictures of oiled pelicans. I want to see the pictures of the dead chicks. See what I mean? You see oiled pelicans, assume they don't get back in time, and the chicks die. I'd like to test the asumption. So does anybody have a picture of a dead pelican chick? Or is this just speculation?

"You see oiled pelicans, assume they don't get back in time, and the chicks die."

I accuse you of being deliberately obtuse and intellectually dishonest. In simpler terms, you're playing games.

Nobody is "assuming" anything. Rather, we are applying simple reasoning and common sense, based upon well-understood facts about the nesting behavior of the species, and reaching the obvious and inescapable conclusions that oiled parents mean (among other deadly possibilities) oiled eggs that don't survive to hatch and that missing parents lead to dying chicks. Oh, yeah. We've also seen the obscene photos.

If I asserted that hauling away or killing human parents would cause the deaths of helpless, starving infants, would you insist that was an unwarranted assumption, unless you were personally presented with pictures of dead babies?

In the unlikely event that you actually want to understand the danger to the pelicans and their chicks, here's one of the hundreds of places to start (complete with slideshow):

But now the population of brown pelicans in the Gulf is being threatened again, by the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Doug Inkley, a wildlife biologist with the National Wildlife Federation, tells Terry Gross that the disaster couldn't have come at a worse time for the species because the brown pelicans are currently in breeding season.

"The adult pelicans can get oil on them if they're still able to fly and get back to the nest and then they incubate their eggs," he explains. "Then they can unintentionally get oil from their feathers onto the eggs and that's toxic to the eggs. It will kill them."

Inkley explains that adult pelicans also can become trapped by the oil while foraging for food for their young.

"It means not being able to fly and get back to the nest — either the bird dies or hopefully is caught and tried to be cleaned up and released again — but by the time it's released and back in the wild, its chicks will be dead."


You want a picture of gravity too, dumbass? Use some common sense.

An exhausted oil-covered brown pelican tries to climb over an oil containment boom along Queen Bess Island Pelican Rookery, 3 miles (5 km) northeast of Grand Isle, Louisiana June 5, 2010.
Photograph by: Sean Gardner, Reuters

Nearly 700 oil-covered birds have come through the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center at Fort Jackson... But they're not all adults. The center has a number of baby pelicans separated from their parents...

You're right. Unless you see data, you can assume the pelican chicks raise themselves just fine. We don't need common sense, just data. I think it is generally a good thing not to rush to conclusions, but I think many conclusions are fairly obvious. It doesn't take much imagination to see how the oil could be hanging out in columns and plumes under the surface. See this video to explain how this could happen. This is why it goes right under the booms and soaks deep into the ground.


this reminds me of the period just before the Iraq war, when all of them, from the NY Times to CNN to Fox, ganged up and helped the government lie about the WMDs

True, except for Knight-Ridder, who called -- and proved -- BS through solid reporting. McClatchy having bought them since, I transferred my loyalty to the new chain and so far haven't been disappointed.

agree 100%, and they won Pulitzers for it too
McClatchy is still showing the way, e.g., on GOM and on Afghanistan quagmire
check it out for yourself:

Yup. K-R, now McClatchy, are the go-to gals & guys for actual journalism these days. Top of my news bookmarks.

Um, by the time any pelican is rescued, cleaned and has recovered sufficiently for release its chicks will be long dead. Relocation is not an issue there. Are you proposing that the pelicans are dropped back into the oil they were taken from?


Of course not...

The point of my original post the other day was that it had been a failed breeding season for many of those released pelicans and that many chicks had likely starved to death as a direct result of the spill. All the happy reports and photo ops neglected to mention that melancholy image.

Who was it - Tony the Twit? - who said that BP was going to put the Gulf back better than it was before?


Not at all. Why would you come to such an asinine conclusion? I’m simply pointing out, regardless of when the chicks die, that there has already, most likely, been significant and not soon or easily remedied damage done to a key and very visible species.

Just to get past the bullshit in here, my point wasn’t about pelicans, per se. They were an example.


Some folks are upset to damage already done to the environment. It's not minor, imo.

From: Louie Miller
To: BP, National Park Service et al.

I am sending this e-mail to voice my outrage and concern regarding an incident that is unfolding as we speak. Ship Island, part of Gulf Island National Seashore now has moderate to heavy oil deposits on north and south beaches. A brown pelican heavily oiled was reported yesterday to the 866-557-1401 number on at least 2 different occasions. The coordinates and information was taken. As of today at 1:30 the pelican still sits, dying, next to the dock. The bird along with 2 other heavily oiled birds and a dead pelican have been reported numerous times today. If my experience with the BP operator in Houston is typical, I understand why this bird has been allowed to remain in 95 degree heat for over 24 hours in full view of NPS personnel and sadly, tourists with small children. Hardly an image that is befitting of our National Parks. I will not go into detail at this time about my call-in experience but suffice it to say the supervisor I spoke with not only refused to give me a case number or her last name but then hung up on me. This has also been the experience of a number of VOO's in reporting wildlife with the operator insisting on a street address! President Obama stated the federal government was in charge not BP, this experience says otherwise. Please take decisive action to address this situation. Sincerely, Louie Miller, State Director, MS Sierra Club

Sorry, i meant this instead. Couldn't edit post for some reason.

Yes, it gets me too. They need to get some of the UK people over to get the rescue organised, they are pretty sharp. I am beginning to think that the damage is way worse than anyone is thinking. I don't think some of the restrictions are to keep things secret though. There is a need to keep the working space clear for those guys to work safely. I saw one comment wondering why people needed to be kept clear as there hadn't been any accidents. Do we really have to wait for an accident to happen before thinking of safety? Also a lot of people seem to forget that we are dealing with wild animals. Perhaps it is the fault of Disneyfication of animals. These things get stressed, bite, carry diseases and can do a lot of damage. Well meaning helpers can cause more problems than they solve. An oiled pelican may have to wait on the pier but it is better than ending up in the water and drowning. There may be 3 pelicans to rescue in one place but there may be a dozen on the list before you get to those. I think people only see their small section of the problem and just cannot grasp the overall size. I think that the authorities have the same issues too but they also have the realisation that whatever they do it will never be enough.


Basically, we're running the risk of losing a generation of brown pelicans, and perhaps other nesting seabirds, or at least a large portion of this generation.

One of the rescue agencies is attempting to relocate every sea turtle egg they can find in the threatened area, over to the Atlantic coast. While they admit there is going to be a high risk of mortality with each egg, they believe any hatching turtles that enter the Gulf right now will have a 100% certainty of dying, what with the booms, the oil, the disturbed beaches and loss of feeding areas.

We could lose a generation of bluefin tuna, also. We don't know how much damage may be done to cetaceans, giant squid, manatees, etc. But it is entirely reasonable to expect it will be significant.

These discussions are dominated by posters who don't show much ecological understanding or, frankly, much interest in environmental issues. As I say repeatedly, anthropocentrism is shortsighted—and dangerous.

These discussions are dominated by posters who don't show much ecological understanding or, frankly, much interest in environmental issues.

I'm not sure that is true.

What is to be stated that hasn't been?

The anguish remains even if one no longer sees the point of further public display.

Well, let's follow the discussion for a bit and see if it seems true. Let's see, for instance, whether environmental issues are generally discussed, here, from an ecosystems perspective or from narrow, reductionist and often dismissive viewpoints.

I'll ask you to think about your own question: Do you believe environmental questions relating to the gusher have been thoroughly considered in these exchanges?

As for "anguish" and "public display," those seem to refer to matters of human emotion, which I'll leave to others. I'm not overly interested in the subject, myself.

Turtles return to where they are born. Is the Atlantic coast used by this species or will they be creating a new population? We have had a turtle program going on here for several years. Nests are moved into cages to protect from predators then the young are released after dark. The turtles take about 10+ years to return. After about 10 years the number of turtles nesting surged and, after a few years, we could barely keep up with the nests. I doubt if 1 years loss will be too bad as many young turtles will be out at sea. Depending on the life cycle of your local species you will see a dip in maybe 10 years but then recovery from those born in 2 or 3 years time. I think it will be important, for long term recovery, to make sure nests are protected over the next few years. Maybe use the same move to cage then release at night techniques. You may well be able to double or triple the number of young getting back into the sea in those years and mend 'the hole'.


"I doubt if 1 years loss will be too bad..."

I think the marine biologists who pay close attention to these species disagree.

Oil spill posing threat to Kemp's Ridley sea turtles
(Houston Chronicle, 6/9/2010)

GALVESTON — Oil from the BP blowout is killing the five endangered and threatened sea turtle species in the Gulf of Mexico and could set back the recovering Kemp's ridley sea turtle by a decade if this year's hatchlings fall victim to toxic oil, according to a report to be released today.

Observers have counted 50 oiled turtles and 322 turtles stranded on Gulf beaches, 272 of them dead, since the April 20 blowout, said Elizabeth Wilson, marine scientist and author of the report from the environmental organization Oceana. The numbers far exceed the 30 to 50 stranded turtles normally found this year on the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, Wilson said.

“A lot of dead sea turtles won't be found,” Wilson said. “So really the ones we see dead or oiled are actually a small percentage of those being found.”


A large proportion of the population, especially the 'too young to breed' will be well out of the area and in deep ocean. The ones we get are Green Ridleys so, given a disaster of this scale, we would have 10 years of turtles out in the ocean. If they have been successfully increasing the number of young returning to the sea then they should see an increase up to about 10 years time then a drop. Turtles born 8 or 9 years ago will be starting to return over the next few years. It is important that that generation, and subsequent ones, gets all the help that is needed.

The main points of my post were that there are still a lot of turtles not in the are. There will be a hole in about 10 years. For recovery after that the next few years are crucial. Also turtle recovery schemes do work.

I am less worried about the turtles than fish life. I am finding that side of things very scary.


"The ones we get are Green Ridleys so, given a disaster of this scale, we would have 10 years of turtles out in the ocean."

I don't know about Green Ridleys. Could you provide a scientific name, please? (I know about Olive Ridleys, Lepidochelys olivacea, which are certainly relatively abundant, but I don't think they nest in the Gulf.)

"The main points of my post were that there are still a lot of turtles not in the are."

I don't quite understand, but I do know this: There are, perhaps, 1000 nesting female Kemp's Ridleys, Lepidochelys kempii, on the whole planet (compared to tens of thousands on a single beach 60 years ago). They were already in very grave danger and the Macondo gusher is very bad news for them.

"I am less worried about the turtles than fish life. I am finding that side of things very scary."

I think there's ample reason to be very concerned about both. And about, cetaceans, birds, and a number of other species—the whole ecosystem, actually.

The butterfly effect is real (see Lorenz, Bradbury and the world we actually live in).


There are many unnecessary comments. It is not good.

My apologies as I'm sure a large portion of those are mine, I'm new to posting here and have alot of questions since I'm at ground zero for the oil washing onshore. I have also been posting pic's of what I see.

I've immensely enjoyed reading all your posts.

TY brit~Although I really have nothing to offer with all the knowledgable posters here, just questions because I admit to buying into so many scare tactics in the beginning and reading here has helped, and to learn one must ask questions and research (which isn't my greatest asset).

I might suggest that you to www.photobucket.com to download your pictures you post. It is free for the first ten gig of access a month (1 go over in 2 weeks and pay. I get 1 million views/month) It creates a permanent archive and allow you share photo's with just one line like this.


Actually is it movie, but you get my point. Fireworks last night in Gulf Shores.
We loved the pics, but now you have another option to share with.

Thanks TFHG~I already have one, I just have it set to private for other reasons, I have enjoyed your pic's too.

You can set a public folder and keep the rest private in photobucket or use flickr for the public stuff. Just a suggestion.

EDIT: But don't think I do not thank you or totally appreciate you. Go beachmomma.

There are many unnecessary comments. It is not good.

and you just added another.

CNN: Tar balls from Gulf disaster reach Lake Pontchartrain, shores of Texas

Part of Pontchartrain has been closed to fishing.


Man, they mess with Middendorf's, there'll be hell to pay -- huh, Rockman?

And how did it say those tarballs likely got to the Texas coast?

It appears they are pulling up the pipe that will attach to the Helix Producer now. Maybe they are ready to hook it up.

You can see one ROV is watching it on the sea floor and one is following it up.


This fish came swimming into view, looked like a stingray of some kind.


Just took these pics of the base of the BOP.

To me it looks fine.



Tinfoil, if you ever want to stick any of my pics in your photobucket feel free, no problem.

This is a strange take on how BP clean up funds are(?) affecting the local economy. http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2010/jul/04/peltier-column-florida-legisl...

My new post is on http://gcn01.com. Include movies and photos from today. I have a nice 30 sec video of the surf wash. It was dead in Gulf Shores but I got some lip service (E-mailed) from a local county commissioner over the landfill issue. I am trying to go more mainstream and less opinion, let me know how I am doing. You also click the commissioner's name in the post and send him an E-mail of what you think about it. The more help I get the better it will be. Picture from today's photobucket.

A few folks were around.

Edit: Check out my video of marshy area that looks oil contaminated, but it is natural and has been like that for at least since my dad was a kid, because we talked about it a few times.

I guess Ixtoc numbers are estimates too. I liked this chart. Do you?

Hey, that video's interesting. I was just up checkin' out flood damage in Georgia not long ago, and told someone of what I thought was a spill in the river, and he said the same thing. I'm not convinced in the case I saw, but your video gives his version a little more weight.

Good work TFHG!

BTW, in looking at the chart above, is that red stuff those oil plumes I keep hearing about?

By the spill estimates on the chart, that's aout 3.5 million barrels of spilled oil out there. 14 Exon Valdezes full. How much of it is still in the area of the red slick?

I do not find the assurances that the oil has just disappeared and dispersed to an acceptable 0.5 ppm, and most of it eaten by bacteria, very reassuring or persuasive.

I find Dr. Joye's explanation more credible and appropriate:

Also still unclear, she said, are the long-term effects of oil and dispersant use on fisheries.

"The primary producers -- the base of the food web in the ocean -- is going to be altered. There's no doubt about that," Joye said. "We have no idea what dispersants are going to do to microorganisms. We know they are toxic to many larvae. It's impossible to know what the impacts are going to be."

A full understanding and the full impact to the Gulf's fishery may be years away, she said.

"It's a very, very complicated problem, and there are a lot of people doing fisheries work to try to get a handle on this, but it's going to be months or years probably before we realize the full consequences of this spill," Joye said.


an interesting link to methane hydrate research and sea floor composition from a bout 10 years ago in the Northern Gulf. there's a map, an interesting one.

Why is the map interesting? Are you saying that's suspicious that we get a blowout in the same protraction area as a proposed hydrate monitoring station?

i think that given the information obviously available at the time of the study, the proximity to the accident site and the known instability of methane hydrates, the probability of a large, and uncontrollable gas release was predictable, or at least deserved more attention.
Further, as the study references the reactive response of methane hydrates to biosurfacants and other activities, we would be seriously remiss in nor anticipating a further, and possibly catastrophic methane release.

Ray -- It’s been well documented that the hydrocarbons flowing into the GOM are coming from over 17,000’ below sea level and at a temp over 260 degrees F. MH don’t exist under these conditions. OTOH there could be some concern should the wild flow escape as an underground blow out near the sea floor bottom. Should there be MH in the proximate area the temp of the wild flow could cause them to become unstable. No one has ever witnessed such an event but there is a theory about the possibility of a cascading event that could cause a massive release of MH.

ROCKMAN - Up in the mountains where i live cascading effects happen every winter, we call them avalanches. they all start with a predictable series of events,(heavy concentration of resources,a lot of stored energy and a release mechanism).. often culminating with a fool on a snowmobile. not to stretch the analogy too far, the observations by the Texas A&M team of methane levels within an 8 mile circumference of the rig site should be seen as the first rumblings of the avalanche.
i'd also be a little concerned about the methane lower and upper explosive limits ,especially on dead flat calm hot days. we're in a situation where experience may have little to show us in terms of predictable event sequences.

Ray, the article you found announced the beginning of a scientific project, timed to take advantage of DOE funding that was then just about to become available. There's no new scientific information in it, just summaries of earlier work given to show why the new project would be interesting. They chose a spot within the Mississippi Canyon region that they thought would be a good place to look at methane hydrates. The obvious inference is that the rest of the region is likely to have fewer methane hydrates than this site has. The most provocative studies that were published at about that time - for example http://bit.ly/duH31d - suggested that big releases of methane from seafloor hydrates were caused thousands of years ago by warming of the water in contact with large areas of the ocean floor. I've never seen a serious suggestion that drilling a well would have such an effect.

Deepwater Cementing Consideration to Prevent Hydrates Destabilization
F. Tahmourpour, Halliburton
On behalf of Dr. Kris Ravi, Halliburton
November 18, 2009, Houston

Excerpt from the presentation:

• Shallow water flow may occur during or after cement job
• Under water blow out has happened
• Gas flow may occur after a cement job in deepwater environments that contain major hydrate zones.
• Destabilization of hydrates after the cement job is confirmed by downhole cameras.
• The gas flow could slow down in hours to days if the destabilization is not severe.
• However, the consequences could be more severe in worse cases.

Alternate links:

There are several interesting illustrations in this report.

Fig.1 - Illustration of a warm-water eddy shed from the Loop Current in the Gulf of Mexico.
Fig.2 - Correlation between water temperature and gas activity (from Harry Roberts et al., 1998).

The report states that loop current eddies raise the temperature of water at the sea floor by several degrees Celsius. "Observations confirm that gas activity correlates with water temperature; gas flow increasing a few hours after the temperature increase."

Fig.3 - Illustration of the hydrate monitoring station and its component systems.

This is the plan for Gas Hydrates Seafloor Observatory that was yet to be built at the time of this report. It includes a depiction of the sub sea floor underneath the hydrate mound with gas vents. Included in the depiction is Hemipelagic Mud, Base of Hydrate Stability Zone, High Pressure Gas Sand, Hydrates and Fault Zones.

Fig.4 - Bathymetric image of Mississippi Canyon Lease Block 118.

A map of lease block which has been reserved for the Gas Hydrates Seafloor Observatory.

This blog post is on the Mississippi Mineral Resources Institute (MMRI) website which is hosted by the University of Mississippi.

June 2010 Research Cruise to the Gas Hydrates Seafloor Observatory, northern Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi Canyon 118

This is is a Gulf of Mexico Lease Map. Block 118 which is reserved for the Gas Hydrates Seafloof Observatory is NNW of Block 252 where the gusher is located.

Gulf of Mexico Lease Map

A detailed report of the 2010 Research Cruise is here:

More MMRI reports are here:

A proposal funded by the Center for Marine Resources and Environmental Technology (CMRET) presented by MMRI to the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies at their Annual Meeting in San Antonio, October 2004 is here:

Within Five Years, Hydrate Exploitation Can Be a Reality in the Northern Gulf of Mexico

A couple of excerpts:

"Concerns dealing with environmental impacts, principally from gases escaping minutely to massively into the ocean; however, may be eased by careful monitoring of the production itself and of the overburden."

"The proposition here is that existent knowledge and techniques are fully sufficient to proceed with hydrate exploitation. Mapping of suitable areas for exploration and a detailed understanding of geo-hazards that may impact hydrate extraction at any point along the multi-year effort needs to be completed... Hydrate exploitation within five years can be a reality with available abilities."

The proceedings of the of the "Gulf of Mexico Hydrates Research Consortium's Semi-Annual Meeting in 11/2009 are here:

There are several interesting presentations including this one by Ian MacDonald titled "The HYFLUX Project: Overview of Results from MC118 and other Gulf Hydrate Sites". I imagine this is the same Ian MacDonald, oil seep specialist, who challenged BP's claim that the gusher was flowing at 5,000 bbd back in early May. There are some photos of hydrate mounds and oil seeps in the presentation:

This presentation titled "Carbon and Sulfur Cycling at Cold Seeps: Lessons from MC118" covers cold seeps as "geobiological engines" and raises questions about what is unknown regarding implications to the global methane cycle:

A couple more links:

The National Methane Hydrates R&D Program
Participants: Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Halliburton, JOGMEC MH21 (Japanese Cosortium), Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, MMS - Minerals Management Service, Naval Research Laboratory, Reliance Industries Ltd., Rice University, Schlumberger, TOTAL, KNOC (Korean National Oil Company), StatoilHydro, US DOE/NETL, USGS

Did Deepwater Methane Hydrates Cause the BP Gulf Explosion?
Informative article. Doesn't answer the question in the title.

I imagine this is the same Ian MacDonald, oil seep specialist, who challenged BP's claim that the gusher was flowing at 5,000 bbd back in early May

pcwick, I don't have the academic background to absorb Ian MacDonald's publications, but I certainly have enjoyed his give-'em-what-for interviews on the BBC. No mincer of words, our Ian.

I was reading through the items above and took a close look at the photo posted by comfychair at 11:42am. It shows, what appears to be, a actual mock-up of the top riser connection that includes TWO pieces of pipe inside the riser. Two separate pipes that have been crushed as would have been caused by the shear. Comfychair, could you provide a little more info on the photo?

If it is indeed an actual mock-up of the existing riser, then this is verificaton that there are two pipes inside the BOP - not just a single pipe that has been compressed into a figure eight.

Cameron mock-up, you can see all the pictures at http://docs.google.com/present/view?id=dgjvgrpb_146czm7b794&revision=_la...

Thanks for the link.

So it is an actual mock-up. Then there are two separate pipes - not a single pipe compressed into a figure 8.

I thought I had been following what was going on fairly carefully. I guess I blinked and missed any discussion about this "capping stack BOP". Is this really going to be used? Doesn't look anything like what BP has presented in the tech briefings. I must be asleep at the switch or just had one too many rum and cokes.

Doesn't look anything like what BP has presented in the tech briefings.

The photo comes from BP's website (scroll down to next to last pic). The caption reads:

Test pipe was distorted to resemble what is reasonably expected to be at the deepwater site. During the night shift, the flanged "mule shoe" transition spool assembly is prepared for Systems Integration Testing at Oil States Industries' high-bay fabrication unit in Houston, TX. 27 June 2010

Impressive photos.

The unbolt/rebolt is going to be fun to watch.

Do they trial all this in a large test tank somewhere ?

The new top seems to have a 'quick release' flange, and the 4 outer tubes, look to be structural for legs?, as they do not enter the center tube.
Given the BOP tilt issues, and this things weight, then some 'spider legs' could be a good idea.

Others will have to answer on most of this, I only ran across the pictures Sat and probably on this site. As the captions say Cameron's been working on for two months, I had heard from a friend that the facility was working round the clock but I didn't know exactly on what, there a so many parts they could of been involved in and we didn't get into details. May have been they didn't know for sure if it would be ready, I had more than one casting not make it though QC during all the milling processes and affect schedule.

Notice that three captions note that the capping stack has been under construction for the last 2 months - essentially since the blow out. BP may be more on the ball than they are given credit for.

tempers are flaring around here tonight! very interesting, i'm with you petey, the real damage has been done and is continuing to be done every minute and there is no end in sight and transparency - not!

....i'll add some more fuel to the fire, our friend dougr:

from the sounds of this, maybe he is a reporter?

also something from natgeo:


mentions AIR CURRENT BARRIER, anyone familiar with this?

Thanks, that explains a few things. I had been wondering how they planned to separate the flange once the bolts were out. Any of out IAAOM able to comment on what type of pipe those look like in the simulation?


I can't figure out why the government or BP will not tell us what that second pipe is. We shouldn't have to be guessing and you know they know what it is.

This explains why they are spending so much effort to plumb the LMR with the small hydraulic jacks (see the current Ocean Intervention video). You wouldn't want this giant thing hanging out at much of an angle.

It will be interesting to watch it all get installed.

I am interested in how this could affect the kill procedure, but can't seem to get anyone to answer.

What would cause 2 pipes to be there?

Hey all lawyers. If the Feds do not consider this stuff hazardous waste and can throw in the landfill, does that decision apply to the United States Postal Services. I ran in to some rednecks today collecting tarballs to sell on E-bay. They asked me not to take their picture and you do not tell these guys no about something like that. Can I do the same thing legally since this stuff is exempt? Surely our corrupt system has more rules for shipping stuff. I really do not want to do it, it is just a legal exercise. Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and any information exchanged here will not be considered legal advice or actions, but is an educational exercise.

Current oil spill sample for sale on E-bay.


Edit: al.com Ben Raines has a story about State of Alabama collecting UNDERWATER SAMPLES. Go redneck science. Woo hoo.
"Alabama officials are in the process of anchoring chains with oil-catching pompoms attached, trying to detect oil's movement underwater. The decision followed discovery of oil in shrimp trawls as the state sampled the size of shrimp in the Mississippi Sound."


SOBs stole my idea! I discussed it with a researcher (collect oil from Grand Isle back in early May). The CIA is using its mind ray satellite on me again. Got to go back to my copper foil helmet (much more effective than tin or aluminum). Tar balls have just started washing up in the Mississippi Sound at Long Beach.

Copper works better. HMMM.. More to type though. I will just switch to heavy duty tin foil, it is thicker. Join my blog at http://gcn01.com . Bless you.

Please tell me that the cheerleaders being inverted and dunked to hold these pompoms are being provided with respirator-equipped upside-down snorkels

Man with 'Pom-Poms'

Wow, that looks just like one of the contractors here with ERG........you didn't happen to see any logo on his shirt of a badge did you.

That group was City of Gulf Shores employees. Everyone has a badge but me. You know the line,"Badges? I don't need no stinking badges."

I think I have a reasonable, practicle an doable solution to kill the well. I have sent it to the address "theoildrum@gmail.com" . May I request you to kindly see the same and comment on the same?

I only have three comments to make, and I share them reluctantly so...After reading some of the absurd views shared by many on here I have to speak on this.

#1: The injunction ordered invalidating the moratorium on deep-water off shore drilling was disgraceful. As oil professionals, we know the moratorium was very misguided, but the injunction was even more so and threatens the drilling industry in the long term. The United States government, by-and-through the elected representatives of its citizens, are no longer in charge of energy policy. It was an affront to the soverignty of the country, and undermines the government's ability to take charge in areas of responsibility in which it's clearly entitled to be. This is not some eminent domain type of situation, where the government seizes a human being-person's private property/home to build a road or something...BP & the rest of them are not persons in that sense, and they do not own the sea-floor they are drilling under-they're leasing it, it's a privlege- not a right. Elected officials make policy, not appointed judges. Who know's what kind of impact the decision will have on courts in the future in regards to the precedent it set.

#2: BP is calling all the shots on the Gulf Coast right now. I got to spend some R&R time down there with the wife for our 4th of July vacation. There was a group of obnoxious college kids from Auburn University laying out on the beach in front of us. One of the kids yelled at a passing BP clean-up manager "Nick Saban thinks your a f______ p______, and there's nothing you can do about it." Certainly it was inappropriate, I could understand him being arrested for public intoxication or something. But the BP fellow he yelled that to had him summarily arrested in about 5 minutes max, I was about 15 yards away from it all, and he charged him with something like "interfering with a government official", simply because BP was offended.

#3: The Deepwater Horizon leak's spill effects on the beaches is not bad, but the water has clearly been effected very badly... I'm tired of writing more to you guys, I'm not taking the time to post pictures either, but the water looked much worse then I even imagined.

-Everyone of us deserves a raise though, because we will be hearing flak about this for years, despite how unwarranted it is...You all need to get yourselves ready to be grouped together with the used-car salesmen, trial lawyer, soccer player professions.

You don't cuss the Pope in Rome and you don't say crap about Saban around here. They did not arrest him. They placed him into witness protection. If you think I'm nuts, meet my kinfolk.

"...and you don't say crap about Saban around here."

With his record, it would be pretty foolish to say crap about him anywhere.

But, ummm... just where are those BP "protected witnesses" being taken? Probably being loaded as ballast for when they sink the battleship to kill the wild well.

They send our low rate criminals to Louisiana, and Louisiana's here. They pocket the wages from the Feds. Seriously, the only reason the locals do not use prisoners is the Feds will not let locals.

Funny. Here, in California, we have a program that allows carefully selected, low-risk prisoners to work in forest conservation camps and, for the lucky elite, on wild-fire-fighting hand crews.

If you've ever been on a Western fireline, you know how insanely hard and exhausting and very dangerous the work is. They scramble for a chance to do it, and they do a damned good job. More than once, I've seen these crews risk their lives to cut firebreak or handle hot spots under really scary conditions.

They're proud of themselves, and they earn the right to be be treated with respect, and some extra privileges. A creative government oughtta be able to come up with something kinda-sorta similar on the Gulf.

Minimum requirements are valid driver's license, pass a physical with drug screen, background check, and 40 hour class. Then the feds throw the collected pollutants in the trash and do not issue respirators. What a dog and pony show.

Edit: Valid ss card too. No illegals wanted.

Our guys will mostly do fine on the drug screen. They'd much rather bust their butts in the woods than go back to the crappy cells, and that's what happens if they fail the tests.

Keep up the good work, Guy. Helps us all.

Judges are part of the system to ensure that the will of the majority does not crush the rights of the monority. They are a check on arbitrary and unlawful govt. conduct, even if it is supported by a majority.

In this case, the govt. did a piss-poor job of defending the Moratorium. Had they done a better job, the judge would likely have upheld the moratorium.

As it is, his ruling came down to a simple equation: The govt. offered no explanation as to why it was choosing the blanket moratorium over a narrower one when its own experts and the plaintiffs said a narrower moratorium that caused less economic damage would just as effectively reduced the risk. Without that explanation, the govt's choice of the blanket moratorium was deemed arbitrary by the judge.

Had the govt. given a reasonable explanation, the blanket moratorium would have been found to be reasonable, as that term is defined by the law, and the injuntion would not have issued, although the case would have still gone to trial, as it still will for a final ruling.

Good night./..

Excellent summation, Counselor.

Figured out why the crappy lawyering, yet? Are they really that lame, or did they set themselves up?

Thank you, kalliergo.

I think they just #%$@#$ up. They were hoping the pipe would hang straight in the hole under graity.

Don't forget the criteria that were used to hire DOJ attorneys under Ashcroft. Quality took a dive. Think Harriet Meiers as S.Ct. Justice. That's the benchmark of quality at play from those days. And a lot of those attorneys are still there. That's my guess. They push them off to handle interior matters!

Updated with forgotten thank you.

The same judges who took the 5.3 billion dollar judgement against Exxon and made it 500 Million? Those unbiased judges n( every one of them had petro chem portfolios) ? After 25 years of litigation and huge fees going to the lawyers. Yeah who won the Valdez litigation? BP is counting on the same old, same old, and will not see that this spill is so much larger and more in the publics eye. People won't stand for that some old , same old, BS.

Judges appointed by republican presidents since 1980 tend to be conservatives who are hostile toward individual rights vs. corp. rights to an extreme not seen in this country since the 1920s. These judges dominate the federal courts and the supreme court. Expect to see more of the same for a while. Obama will need probably two more appointments to the S.Ct. to turn the tide in any meaningful way.

Corporations have all the rights of people, and none of the personnel responsibilities. Sweet! I love the power of lobbyists. I just wish a few worked for me....

Obama's first appointment to the S.Ct., Justicve Sotomayer, openly questioned the holding that corps. have constitutional rights. That's a great sign because it is a totally bogus ruling and interpretation of the conts. However, the recent ruling by the Roberts court gives corps the right to spend unlimited money on elections, which amounts to a huge expansion of corp. power. The current supreme court is so pro-corporation Obama even brought it up at the State of the Union speech, and many people think he is too corp.-friendly.

I am sure BP is happy about it.


And the most important ruling... that presidents are set only within certain times frames and certain limits. So a 70% to 30% ruling is now in question again because it was not a unanimous ruling! The BS is so deep , I need a shovel to even get to the beginning of it. What I am talking about is that any ruling that is not ruled a 100% decision by the court can now be challenged. So now ALL decisions can be looked at again by the new court. This is huge in the courts powers, now they can do anything at all and never be questioned by what those before them have done.

President is what the court lived on until the question of corporate rights came up. President showed that corporations had no rights under the constitution. Now presidents don't count anymore. Who owns the courts? Who owns our government? Are these decisions made in the interests of the people?

You're right, Sharkman. The current supreme court has shown disrespect for prescedent. They have over-turned long-standing case law without what would traditionally be deemed adequate justification. In other words, these are activist judges legislating from the bench to advance a conservative, pro-corp. agenda. The chariman of the judiciary committee, Patrick Lehay, a respected former prosecutor, has really made a case for that lately. It's not quite as bad as you put it, but it is definitely a problem in the view of some respected legal minds.

I've also seen a different affect regarding these corporation-people court rulings. The ruling concerned a person who had committed insider trading and the corporation was ruled to be equally liable. The ruling affected corporate control of personal stock trading by employees. I am required to open a brokerage account with only approved entities. For example, I can't open an account with ScottTrade. Also, there is a 30 day wait period, so if the stock I buy tanks, I have to wait before selling. There is a no-trade list and if the company I'm interested in is on list, I can neither buy or sell the stock. My manager must approve any stock transaction I want to do. Also, spouses of employees are also required to follow these rules.

And my job doesn't expose me to any insider trading information. Somewhere in the company, there is a M&A department that would be exposed. Because of that department, ALL employees are subject to the stock trading restrictions.

Yeah, those judges. I don't have the cases in front of me, but the one I remember (decided by the Supremes a couple of years ago) started out with a jury award something like $280 million in compensatory damages and $5 billion in punitive.

The 9th Circuit, our most "liberal" Federal appeals court, upheld the verdict and the compensatory damages, but remanded to the District Court to reconsider the punitive damages, because the panel did not believe they were reasonably related to the compensatory award. When the case came back to the 9th, it upheld a $2.5 billion (or something like that) punitive award. Exxon appealed to SCOTUS.

In 2008, the Supremes ruled that the punitive damages should not exceed the compensatory. The opinion was written by David Souter, who had long since upset the "conservatives" by joining in so many decisions with the Court's moderates and "liberals."

I don't think I would have agreed with the Court. But I read much of the case over the years and it was enormously complex and dealt with a range of black-letter law, precedent, and murky confusion. And, of course, as always, the justices brought divergent worldviews and political tendencies to the table.

The ruling in Exxon v. Baker could easily have been way worse. The Court upheld the permissibility of punitive damages, where it might easily have decided that maritime law or the Clean Water Act prohibited them. It was a loss for the "little guys," because it limited the award, but it was a victory, too.

I think the case was long, hard, difficult and exhaustive legal slogging, certainly not an example of judicial bias or corruption.

And I haven't been a fan of our Federal courts since Nixon and Reagan started mucking them up.

Exxon Shipping Co. and Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Baker, 07-219.

Thanks for the great refreasher. I had forgotten the details of those rulings.

Nick Saban is the coach for University of Alabama, not Auburn. Are you sure the kids were from Auburn U and not Alabama U? There is quite a bitter rivalry there. If from Auburn U then perhaps a double insult was intended?

Well I know this is totally unrelated but living close to Auburn I just couldn't resist commenting

sorry to hear about the water, and unruly kids at your visit to the beach. Hope your 4th was otherwise enjoyable.

One small point, in response.


Elected officials make policy, not appointed judges.

but, Salazar is an appointed federal official, as is Feldman.


A lot of activity on the video wall this morning...like a NYC intersection at rush hour!

Can anyone elaborate on what's happening this A.M.?

Last night I saw them putting the last of the blocks and jacks around the LMR. Maybe they are jacking it over now and that green tube is some kind of readout of it?

There's an impressively technical article in NYTimes titled, "Hitting a Tiny Bull's-Eye Under the Gulf" where writer discusses high dogleg severity, compass rose, mud pulse, etc.

My expertise is digital design engineering and I gawked to read mud pulse transmission speed is 10 baud. Years ago, I used bird (satellite) communications to diagnose issues with remote computers. It kinda sucked to hit a key and wait 3 seconds for it to echo back to screen.

There are two other transmission options available:

1. EM (electromagnetic) telemetry which has limited applicability in this situation due to depth and probable inability to get a good ground in the sea floor. This has a much higher transmission rate and can be used in some geographic areas. It is not applicable where salt beds or coal seams will be penetrated.

2. Wired pipe which although is being manufactured and tested, has not had widespread implementation. Broadband speeds is being touted for this type telemetry.

The mud pulse telemetry requires a pressure increase (positive pulse) or decrease (negative pulse) that can be distinctive enough to be indentified and decoded. As you can imagine the "noise" in the mud system is significant. Mud pumps, pressure dampeners, etc can create pressure harmonics that can create problems in decoding the signal.

I can relate to the challenges involved.
I once proved to a co-worker a Hamming Code algorithm we were using to correct flipped bits didn't work. The co-worker was quite distraught at the thought. The controls we designed could burn a building down if they didn't work correctly.

BBC running a story today that says Libya's Sovereign Wealth fund may be about to buy BP shares as they are seen as good value:

A couple of questions. Sorry if they've been asked and answered before--so many previous threads . . . .

1. Once they get the well killed, if I'm understanding things correctly it will be killed deep underground, and so presumably the majority of the well will subsequently be empty. Does this mean they can and/or will snake cameras down the top to get some video evidence of what exactly blew out in the pipe/casing/well? Forensic-wise?

2. If I went swimming in the oil spill, do you think it would help with my psoriasis? Many anti-shampoo/flaking medications are tar-based.

Okay, okay, (1) is serious, (2) is not, although if I were an unscrupulous entrepreneur living near the Gulf, I might consider advertising that people with red, itchy skin "take the waters" in my spa. Bizarre enough to work, perhaps; and 10 years down the road when my clients come down with full-body skin cancer, who they gonna sue? BP!