Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Oily Opening Tuesday: July 20 BP Oil Spill Update

1. Oilcast.

NOAA's 72-hour oilcast map, above, dramatically shows how persistent southeast winds are likely to push BP's oil back where it belongs, off the shores of Bobby Jindal's drill-happy Louisiana. They want it? They can have it.

Probably based on the same data, the Jackson County Floridian reports:
No additional oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill will wash up on the Panhandle and other Florida beaches, because of a combination of westerly [sic] winds and the newly-capped gusher, state officials say.

If the favorable weather holds, no oil sheens are expected to stain Pensacola’s sugar-white beaches for at least a week, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Sole said at a news conference this morning.

“Most of the oil is significantly offshore—about 85 miles,” Sole said. “There are no expected impacts to Florida shorelines this entire week. Still, we’re going to be ready ... until all this oil is gone.”
On the other hand, The Gov Monitor, which also has offices in Florida as well as overseas, reports a darker possibility today:
Isolated impacts of crude oil tar balls and tar patties are expected to continue in Northwest Florida over the next 72 hours. State reconnaissance teams operating by air, land and sea continue to identify potential impacts and are actively coordinating with cleanup teams.
However, the web site's own interactive map indicates no new reports of oil coming ashore have been received as yet.

Probably, the truth is they're all correct. The main oil slicks are going to be nudged west again while some of the oil tarballs already off the Northwest Florida coast could stop circling out at sea and come ashore in the surf. It shouldn't be much, but any amount is too much.

By all means, come to the beach but avoid the odd looking stones and pretty little orange spongy-looking things. They're toxic.

2. Tropical Points of Interest

Jim Williams at Hurricane City is predicting a tropical storm named "Bonnie to form S.E of TX/LA as a minimal tropical storm setting the stage for next week." Right now, the Hurricane Center is watching "Invest 97L," just passing Puerto Rico.

"There is a high chance... 60 percent... of this system becoming a tropical depression or storm during the next 48 hours," the National Hurricane Center says.

3. Well well enough?

New Orleans Times-Picayune reports, "Scientists have discovered four gas "seeps" at or near BP's blown-out Macondo well since Saturday... .
Bubbles have been spotted on the seabed about three kilometers away from the well, a few hundred meters from the well, at the base of the original blowout preventer on the well, and coming out of a gasket in the flange on the capping stack that was installed last week.
In addition, the Washington Post reports:
[V[ideo provided by BP showed drops of oil and gas leaking from a piece of the new containment cap just below three rams designed to cut off the flow from the well. The leak has caused the formation of some hydrates -- slushlike crystals of natural gas and water that torpedoed earlier containment efforts. But, Allen said, "we do not believe this is consequential at this time."
Sounds like success, eh? Not. National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen is still keeping BP's latest fix-it effort on a short leash:
Pressure in the well remains lower than what BP had originally expected to be, but climbing. Pressure currently stands at 6,811 pounds per square inch, and is rising by about one pound per square inch each hour.

Allen said the well will remain shut in for another 24-hour observation period. However, if there is any sign of a significant drop in the well's pressure, officials are prepared to reopen the well immediately.

Moreover, yesterday Allen imposed on BP a new condition to keeping the cap closed. If new anomalies are seen, "BP has to report to us and act on those within four hours."

Scientists are huddling today, according to the Associated Press, "to analyze data from the ocean floor as they weigh whether a leaking well cap is a sign BP's broken oil well is buckling."

If BP's latest attempted fix goes well, it will be the first time anything the corporation has tried actually works well since April 20.

4. The BOP Leak.

What are the odds of BP finally getting something right? Not good, as testimony showed early today at the resumed U. S. Coast Guard-Bureau of Energy Management joint investigative hearing in Louisiana. You can watch the hearing when in session on C-Span here.

Today, BP's well site leader at the Deepwater Horizon platform, Ronald Sepulvado, testified that--
before he wrapped up his stint as BP's top man on the rig four days before the April 20 accident, he reported that one of the control pods on the blowout preventer, or BOP, had a leak.

He said he told his supervisor in Houston, BP team leader John Guide, and assumed that Guide would notify federal regulators at the Minerals Management Service. According to investigators, that never happened.

Federal Regulation 250.451(d) states that if someone drilling in federal waters encounters "a BOP control station or pod that does not function properly" the rig must "suspend further drilling operations until that station or pod is operable."

Asked if that was done, Sepulvado said it wasn't.

"I assumed everything was OK because I reported it to the team leader and he should have reported it to MMS," Sepulvado said.

5. Bullheading by Boys.

The dirty secret about oil engineers is that they're really little boys at heart. They like making lots of new toys, but in their enthusiasm they also break a lot of them.

Today, the New New York Times reports:

Kent Wells, a senior vice president for BP, said the company was studying the possibility of a “static kill,” in which heavy mud would be pumped into the recently capped well. Also known as bullheading, the procedure would force the oil and gas back down into the reservoir.

“The static kill does give us a new option,” he said at a briefing in Houston. A decision to proceed could be made in several days, Mr. Wells said.

Either these guys enjoy the challenge of beating the monstrous oil leak and they want to keep going with the game; or, one could take this as an early sign that BP engineers have their own doubts about how long the 3-cap stack can hold back fresh oil without busting the seafloor wide open. It looks to us like Admiral Allen is afraid the latter is the case.

6. Florida's Oily Legislature.

Today, the Florida legislature convenes in the special session called by Governor Charlies Crist in early July to consider a proposed constitutional ballot measure to ban drilling off the Florida coast. It could turn out for many of the lawmakers to be their own political death.

If so, the funeral with last rites will be held November 2 at a polling place near you. Suggested entries for the gravestone are welcome. Here's the first we received from a poetic reader:
Here lies the Republican party.
No longer hale and hearty.
They wanted to drill
But BP did spill
So the voters have had their fill.
On the other hand, pro-drilling legislators may be looking forward to new riches if they beat back the governor's proposal. Did you ever wonder how it is politicians get rich on their paltry public salaries? The St. Petersburg Times hints at a possible answer:
A Times/Herald review of campaign contributions to legislators and their political committees shows that between Jan. 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010, lawmakers received $278,452 from the oil and gas industry and their affiliated companies, including nearly $185,800 to the Republican Party of Florida and $77,000 to the Florida Democratic Party.

During that time, next year's House speaker, Rep. Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, pushed a bill to lift the Florida drilling ban. He has since backed off on that plan.
Today's PNJ editorial issues a Quixotic call on the lawmakers to "Just Say It." Be honest. Go ahead, shout 'Drill, baby, drill' again:
[D]rilling advocates offer increasingly specious arguments against letting voters decide the matter.

They tell us we shouldn't put such a big decision on the shoulders of voters at a time when they might make an "emotional" decision. But if it wasn't emotion driving repeal of the drilling ban this spring, could it have been heavy spending by pro-drilling lobbyists?

And drilling supporters tell us that a ban wouldn't have protected us from the current disaster... because this spill occurred off Louisiana! OK — and if it happened 10 miles off Florida's beaches?

Why won't drilling advocates be honest and admit they don't want to risk letting Florida voters ban the drilling legislators were about to approve?
Rather a silly question, don't you think? The answer, of course, is that if Florida Republicans were honest with the voters they wouldn't be raking in the big bucks from the oil industry.

7. New Voices.

The thing is, new voices and new politicians always arise in times of crisis. This time, they're coming from all the opponents to offshore drilling. One of them is "Hands Across the Sand," headed by Dave Rauschkolb of Seaside, Florida.
He owns three Panhandle restaurants along the beach, is a lifelong surfer and an avid fisherman. The decisions of other Gulf states, he says, are motivated by money, but have a far wider effect.

"There are some things that we need to see not only in economic terms. The soul of America is being lost because of things being seen only in economic terms," he said. "They'd have to be blind and deaf to not see how their actions affect the other Gulf states."
Quite possibly, Mr. Rauschkolb is just one of those "new" voices or people who'd like to take a crack at running for state office.

8. Lockerbie Labyrinth.

David Cameron, prime minister of Great Britain, is visiting the White House today. Two items sure to be on the agenda are the BP oil catastrophe and the release of convicted Libyan terrorist Abelbaset Ali al-Megrahi. Cameron also will meet with four U.S. senators who have particularly pointed questions about the al-Megrahi scandal.

You know about the unbridled defense of BP Corp. mounted by British politicians and the British press in the wake of the Gulf drilling catastrophe. They're not concerned about their own precipitously declining investments in British Petroleum -- excuse us, BP Corp. stock. Of course not. You think politicians or newspaper publishers could be so selfish?

No, what they're worried about are all the poor little old lady pensioners in Great Britain who are depending on BP stock to put bread on the table instead of cat food. Even though, as the UK's Daily Finance reports, "many people" in Great Britain "will not be affected."

Late last week before leaving for Washington Cameron signaled that he intends to use his face-time with Obama to "discuss oil giant BP... with U.S. President Barack Obama... and stress how important a 'strong and stable' company is to both nations." Yes, indeed. Where would the Gulf coast be today if BP Corp. hadn't existed?

It has been absolutely cringe-inducing to watch all these government and corporate officials lie so openly and obviously about the BP-engineered release of the convicted Lockerbie bomber. Both BP and the Labor Party ministers who played key roles in al-Megrahi's release are terrible, terrible liars. Yet, they do it with such a straight face that it makes the bottoms of our feet tickle as we watch them tiptoeing along the edge of a steep, unstable precipice of transparent prevarications.

We've already summarized the oily details about how al-Megrahi won his freedom after being convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the murder-by-bombing of two hundred and seventy PanAm passengers over Lockerbie, Scotland. It's even more difficult for government officials to lie when Libyan officials themselves, as the New York Times reports, "have said Libya made clear to Britain that if Mr. Megrahi were not included in the transfer agreement, lucrative oil deals for British companies would not be approve."

How many Libyans in British prisons were there, anyway, and of those how many had been convicted of terrorism offences? Long-time British cabinet minister Jack Straw provided the answer when called to account:
As at 31/12/08 there were 26 Libyans in UK prisons, of whom 25 were in England and Wales and one in Scotland. * * * One prisoner only has been convicted of a terrorism-related offence.
Guess who that one prisoner was.

Subsequently released government documents show that Libya had warned Britain if al Megrahi were to die in a Scottish prison, "it would have 'catastrophic effects for the relationship between Libya and the U.K.'" Even the son of Muommar Gaddafi admits the obvious:
According to a transcript of comments made by Saif Gaddafi, the son of the Libyan leader, Megrahi's release was "on the table in all commercial, oil and gas agreements" and other dealings with Britain.
In response to the overwhelming evidence that the British government was induced to release al-Megrahi by the promise of new drilling rights for BP Corp. in Libya, the British, Scottish, and U.S. governments are playing a painfully transparent game of pointing fingers at one another in hopes of confusing everybody.


Anonymous said...

BP certainly has a busy "creative" department.

A blogger has noticed that the oil giant altered a photograph of its Houston crisis room, cutting and pasting three underwater images into a wall of video feeds from remotely operated undersea vehicles. The altered photo is displayed prominently on the company's Web site.

An enlarged version of the photograph reveals flaws in the editing job. One of the 10 images sticks down into the head of one of the people sitting in front of the wall, while another piece of the image is separated from the other side of the head by jagged white space. The right side of the same image also hangs down below the area on which the video feeds were projected.

BP Attorney: Rig Had 390 Overdue Maintenance Items

The destruction that big oil has hoisted upon the Earth has, in large part, been held from public scrutiny. Those who aid in that egregious deed should be haunted and stalked by paparazzi as though they are maladjusted pop stars.


If you live on the Gulf Coast, welcome to the real world of oil -- and just know that you're not alone. In the Niger Delta and the Ecuadorian Amazon, among other places, your emerging hell has been the living hell of local populations for decades....more

Lisa said...

I just read an article stating that "If you want to stop all the oil from leaking to the surface, the only solution is to pump it out until it stops leaking (as they did in Pennsylvania 100 years ago)." what do you think about this? does it make any sense?

xl pharmacy said...

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