The Gulf of Mexico Oil spill news spells disaster!
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico's Environment Department says a spill of 1500 barrels of oil from a pipeline near the Gulf coast has been brought under control, and about 40 percent of the oil has been recovered.
The Deepwater Horizon explosion reopened debate on the role of synoptic weather features versus ocean currents in transporting the oil spill,” says Pat Fitzpatrick of Mississippi State Univ. in his abstract for a presentation in …
The oil is not leaking from a tanker but from a huge oil field
5000 feet below the surface!
What’s happening is that a hot column of oil and gas is spurting into freezing, black waters nearly a mile down, where the pressure is nearly a ton per inch, and this means that divers can’t be used and nobody seems to know how to stop the flow.
Geochemist Christopher Reddy, who is an oil-spill expert and head of the Coastal Ocean Institute at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts says;
“Everything about it is unprecedented. All our knowledge is based on a one-shot event. With this, we don’t know when it’s going to stop”.
And Andy Bowen, who is a research specialist that works with undersea robotics at the Woods Hole center says;
“Everything is bigger and more difficult the deeper you go. Fighting gravity is tough. It increases loads. You need bigger winches, bigger cables, bigger ships”.
There are seemingly three different options available, two of which rely on conventional technology and a third option which would involve corralling the plume of oil and diverting it into a processing ship’s hold which has never been done at that depth and would according to BP spokesman Daren Beaudo be “stretching the boundaries”.
Although I personally try to recycle paper and plastic etc when I’m able and I take a cloth bag to the supermarket I’d never claim to be overly green. I am however horrified by what’s happening as I type, because regardless of all the efforts at containment that are being made they will be worthless if the flow of oil isn’t halted soon, and according to everything I read, “soon” might be three to four months from now and even then it’s not clear if the flow will be stopped.
What Caused The Explosion And The Ensuing Technical Failures?
It’s still not clear what caused the explosion or the ensuing technical failures that were considered “fail safe”, but industry experts suggest that natural gas mixed with oil may have leaked up the long “riser,” or pipe, which is used to encase the drill and extract mud from the well.
* Natural gas expands as it is released from the sea floor and flows up, and it can easily spark and explode.
Following the explosion, the rig sank and the riser bent and broke in at least two places, but the nightmare that then occurred was the failure of the “blowout preventer” which is still sitting on the sea floor on top of the well.
The result of this technical failure means that we now have an upside-down faucet, with oil just pouring out.
BP is still trying to use robotic submarines to shut the valve but as of now they’ve failed because of swirling oil and broken wreckage.and as days pass there is less and less hope that they’ll succeed.
The next plan would be to drill another hole into the sea floor near the accident site after which heavy material and cement would be squirted into the new hole in an attempt to plug up the reservoir but to do this would take at least ninety days.
Workers in Port Fourchon, La., are constructing three large “sub-sea oil collection” systems which are essentially 40-foot-tall steel boxes that BP plans to lower over the gushing sources in order to contain the oil and channel it up through pipes to a waiting processing ship, but this technique has never been used in deep water before. It will apparently be possible to attempt Plan C more quickly than Plan B but it might still take a month, during which time around 200,000 gallons of oil will gush into the sea every day, and the environmental mess will easily eclipse the Exxon Valdez disaster, when an oil tanker spilled 11 million gallons off Alaska’s shores in 1989.
How Big Is The Present Slick
I can’t tell you exactly because it’s growing all the time but the slick has nearly tripled in just a day or so, and has grown from a spill the size of Rhode Island to something closer to the size of Puerto Rico.
On Thursday, the size of the slick was about 1,150 square miles, but by Friday night it was in the range of 3,850 square miles, which terrifyingly suggests that the oil has started gushing from the well more quickly.
What Might Happen Next?
Experts are cautioning that if the spill continues growing unchecked, that sea currents could suck the sheen down past the Florida Keys and then up the Eastern Seaboard and the Florida Keys are home to the only living coral barrier reef in North America, and the third largest coral barrier reef in the world.
About 84% of America’s coral reefs are located in Florida, where hundreds of marine species live, breed and spawn and if the oil gets into the Keys it will be devastating.
Updates Monday May 3, 2010
VENICE, Louisiana — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is closing commercial and recreational fishing from Louisiana to parts of the Florida Panhandle because of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
In a news release sent Sunday afternoon, NOAA said the closure begins immediately and will last for at least 10 days.
And Obama says the situation is a, “‘Potentially Unprecedented Disaster”, and for once I’m in agreement with him.
Forty two miles from land and deep beneath the waves. Six robotic submarines, operated by engineers and technicians on ships at the surface, are circling and manipulating a balky 450-ton, four-story-tall structure called a “blowout preventer” that covers the wellhead and has devices designed to clamp the flow of oil in this kind of calamity.
Tuesday May 4, 2010
Experts are saying that the ruptured well, currently pouring an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil a day into the gulf, could flow for years and still not begin to approach the 36 billion gallons of oil spilled by retreating Iraqi forces when they left Kuwait in 1991 and that it is not yet close to the magnitude of the Ixtoc I blowout in the Bay of Campeche in Mexico in 1979, which spilled an estimated 140 million gallons of crude before the gusher could be stopped.
And it will have to get much worse before it approaches the impact of the Exxon Valdez accident of 1989, which contaminated 1,300 miles of largely untouched shoreline and killed tens of thousands of seabirds, otters and seals along with 250 eagles and 22 killer whales.
The gulf they say, is not a pristine environment and has survived both chronic and acute pollution problems before. Thousands of gallons of oil flow into the gulf from natural undersea well seeps every day, engineers say, and the scores of refineries and chemical plants that line the shore from Mexico to Mississippi pour untold volumes of pollutants into the water.
After the Ixtoc spill 31 years ago, the second-largest oil release in history, the gulf rebounded. Within three years, there was little visible trace of the spill off the Mexican coast, which was compounded by a tanker accident in the gulf a few months later that released 2.6 million additional gallons, experts said.
Marine biologist Dr. Dokken said,“The gulf is tremendously resilient, but we’ve always got to ask ourselves how long can we keep heaping these insults on the gulf and having it bounce back. As a scientist, I have to say I just don’t know”.