Archive for the ‘Plug The Leak’ Category
Changing Course in the Gulf: Bad Lessons in Money and Politics Pt. 3 – The Obama Administration and Business as Usual
Over the past five months, Gulf Coast residents have been treated to a number of decisions with direct impact on their lives. They weren’t asked to give input at the time these decisions were made. They weren’t asked how they thought it might affect their future. The decisions occurred above their heads and most times, without their knowledge, but they are the ones now paying the price. This post is the third of three parts having to do with these decisions. Part one addressed British Petroleum’s use of the dispersant, Corexit while two took issue with Bobby Jindal, the Shaw Group and their sand berms. Part three will be concerned with the federal government’s response to the spill, including the amount of control ceded, and protection given to British Petroleum. All three will address the issue of the courage necessary to change course in the Gulf, the importance of doing so and who will be affected. All three decisions to be looked at had to do with money and politics, and changing course now will affect the back accounts and political standing of the people in charge, but change must happen.
What is going on in the Gulf of Mexico is not working.
On October 1st, Thad Allen, National Incident Commander will step down from his post, thus ending one of the biggest illusions of this whole oil spill, that the Obama administration was in charge of the response. For the past five months, the American public in general and Gulf Coast residents in particular have been held hostage by the dictates of a foreign corporation while the government’s two figureheads, Thad Allen and President Obama talked tough about responses and made threats against British Petroleum. We listened as the EPA gave orders that were either ignored or largely circumvented by the oil company and rubber stamped by Thad Allen. At times, the Coast Guard was even complicit in the unethical behavior of the company. We watched as the FDA declared the seafood to be safe. We watched as the NOAA released numbers indicating the oil was gone.
These actions by our government leads one to question whether they worked in the Gulf to protect the people, or to protect the oil company.
From the beginning, when the Deepwater Horizon exploded, the damage being caused was minimized. We were told that only 5000 barrels per day were leaking into the gulf when it turned out to be between 50 and 60,000. We were told that Corexit was safe as dish soap when it turns out that cleanup workers at the Exxon Valdez suffered health effects stemming from the mix of crude oil and the dispersant. In early August the NOAA released their oil spill numbers that claimed 79% of the oil was gone, trumpeted to early morning television shows when in fact, the oil report said the opposite, wasn’t supposed to be publicly released and had never been reviewed by the scientists they claimed helped to author the report. All over the Gulf Coast, British Petroleum had been denying reporters access to the Gulf, were hiring off duty police officers to keep the press away and in several occasions taking the footage shot by photographers of spilled oil and dying wildlife. Thad Allen initially denied these reports, but then released the much ballyhooed 60 yard boom rule where all reporters had to stay sixty yards from any boom due to fictional reports of the press disrupting cleanup activities. BP started buying up scientists and the government followed suit, for the stated reason of legal defense or prosecution, but with the intended purpose of silencing them and their findings. The EPA ordered BP to stop using Corexit as too toxic and ineffective. BP said no. The EPA backed down while the Coast Guard said BP could only use it when approved, and then they approved it every time they were asked. Most recently, independent scientists who are coming to radically difficult conclusions about the remaining oil, the safety of the water and seafood are being allegedly harassed by the federal oil spill commission.
All of this has led to a tremendous amount of doubt in the public, stuck trying to choose between the words of the oil company that fouled their waters, the government that has been caught repeatedly spinning information and the independent scientists who are questioned in the press by the oil company and the government.
This doubt, this confusion, it all works in favor of the parties who refuse to release their information, their data, their numbers and that would be BP and the Obama Administration, because as the independent scientists give out their facts and figures to prove why their findings are true: oil on the Gulf floor, shifting oil plumes, etc… confusion and spin is all the government has left. They need to keep the waters muddied so they can hold onto their numbers, desperately trying to maintain a claim over any sort of validity.
And all for obvious and not so obvious reasons as it will come as little surprise to anyone that good news in the Gulf of Mexico is good news for the Gulf’s politicians and this is even better news for the federal government as a whole. Like British Petroleum, the government wants to ease the Gulf and its problems from the collective American conscience or at the very least, believe that it is quickly on the mend. This is why despite the tough initial rhetoric from Barack Obama, the actions of the government continue to help the oil company.
The two are linked, financially and politically.
In fiscal year, 2009, British Petroleum was the top supplier of oil to the US military, receiving contracts in excess of $2.2 billion dollars. This year, they have received over $1.1 billion from seventeen different contracts with the DLA, (Defense Logistics Agency) and have even been awarded contracts since the Deepwater Horizon exploded. Mimi Schirmacher, a DLA spokesperson has gone on record saying the DLA has no plans to change these contracts or change the way they are awarded.
In the US, the retirement account pensions for 42 separate states hold shares in British Petroleum Stock and since the oil spill, they have been losing money, a lot of money. In June, well before BP’s stock had hit its lowest stock price mid-July, these pensions had already lost $1.4 billion dollars. This loss is in addition to the previous year’s loss which occurred due to the recession. British Petroleum’s recovery will get this money back so the federal government has a vested interest in ensuring that British Petroleum does not fail. This is why assets aren’t seized. This is why Obama’s tough rhetoric is empty. This is the oil company version of the bank’s “too big to fail.”
Blackrock corporation is the largest shareholder of British Petroleum stock and they have many links to the US government as well. During the banking crisis, they took over $130 billion dollars in toxic assets that the US government had assumed during the too big to fail banking crisis. Blackrock CEO, Larry Fink is oft considered the go-to guy for financial answers by the feds, consulted frequently and his company holds as money management clients the New York Fed, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. When British Petroleum loses money, Blackrock loses money and this cannot be considered good for the federal government.
Politically, the pressure is also on. Gulf Coast politicians like Bobby Jindal have been blasting away in the press at the Obama administration’s competency during the cleanup and his voice is only one of many across the Gulf Coast, from Texas to Florida…and just in case any of us forgot, elections are coming. Barack Obama needs good news. Good news means votes. Lack of progress means much criticism in states like Louisiana and Florida, states where the Democrats sometimes win elections. Open fisheries mean votes for congressional elections. FDA approval of seafood? Votes. EPA reports the air is safe, the water is safe and the people are safe? Votes. The NOAA says that 79% of the oil is gone? This progress is huge, this progress is a campaign advertisement.
Money and politics, politics and money…same – same.
And now we are finding out it isn’t just the residents in the Gulf who are paying attention to the Fed’s tricky balance.
So is British Petroleum.
If the government was as hard-lined as they want people to believe, British Petroleum would have been far less likely to demand more oil leases in the Gulf and then suggest the $20 billion escrow account for reparation would be in jeopardy without them. British Petroleum has done pretty much as it wished in the Gulf of Mexico from the beginning. They used prison labor to clean up beaches. There are many allegations cleanup workers didn’t have respirators. They used a more toxic and dangerous dispersant that helped submerge the oil, rather than remove it. They controlled the press. They controlled the story and the Obama administration let them do it all and in many occasions, assisted, thus leading to confusion, bad information and a loss of credibility.
This credibility is only one of the things that must change in the Gulf of Mexico.
As things stand now, the government’s numbers and estimates and projections have frequently been so far off base that it is difficult to readily accept much of what they say. For example, right now the US government is in possession of the damaged blow-out preventer from the Macondo Well. I find it difficult to believe that I am the only one who would question the results of their tests on the preventer, especially if it points the blame away from BP. The government has sewn this doubt over the past five months, and it is time for them to start on a new path, one that may be more painful, but at least it will be honest.
To restore this credibility, the government must release their science and explain their numbers. If they know that their number do not add up, then they need to admit that now; they need to admit their mistakes, in detail and maybe even apologize so this can all move forward. They must release the scientists to research what they wish, and have the funding of British Petroleum and the federal government to do it. Information and data right now are not the enemy; the enemies of justice and ethics in the Gulf of Mexico are those who withhold information to suit their own agendas.
The federal government must assume control of the cleanup.
British Petroleum has stated on several occasions that their company wouldn’t be using dispersants anymore, but their contractors, if they are, should stop. This is a typical loophole of the practices in the Gulf. If BP won’t guarantee their contractors have stopped, then it is time for BP to be stopped. Kick them to the sidelines and bill them for everything. The Obama administration needs to marry itself to this cleanup. No wiggle room, no fall guy, no we didn’t know’s. Own it, and then do it right.
Charge British Petroleum in criminal court.
Want to help ensure that nobody unleashes another catastraphuk like this again? Put those responsible in prison. Eleven men died out there, and many more indirectly by way of suicide, accident or what have you, put BP in prison. If all the investigations and court hearings result only in fines these companies can absorb or just pass onto the public in increased prices, no message has been learned. None. I believe that future CEO’s would be much more careful about the practices of their companies if in response to the greatest environmental disaster ever, the CEO and those responsible of said company didn’t just get transitioned to a new job in Russia that allows him to lose, nothing.
Free the information, now.
It’s okay Barack, we’re adults. We can take it. Tell us just how fucked up all this is now. Don’t spin, don’t distort, release the information and be honest, despite the political cost. It’s okay.
It’s not only the emperor who would appreciate being told about the new clothes.
So would your constituents.
Votes, or not.
Justice and dignity demand at least this much.
For five months we have watched all the events in the Gulf of Mexico: the dodges of responsibility, the fish kills, the oil, the false Feinbergian promises. We have watched the poisoning of an ecosystem and people in authority making decisions far over the heads of those affected directly by these decisions. In question is who rules the water, British Petroleum or the United States Government? The company our government does so much business with, or the officials we elect? We have watched the bullshit, we have experienced the doubt.
Obama, you ran on a campaign of hope.
So how about bringing some if it to the Gulf of Mexico, a place where it indeed is, time for change.
Have a nice day.
I remember one night many years ago, walking down Decatur Street in the Quarter as the darkness was coming on, challenging the streetlamps to do their best. It was a beautiful February evening, colder but not freezing and as I glanced in the river’s direction I smiled at the sight of a rolling fog bank, moving slow, silent and concealing. Stopping at the corner of the square, I watched it drift across Decatur, enveloping me, the statue of Andrew Jackson and I kept watching until it swallowed St. Louis Cathedral.
It was a kind of spooky, but in a pleasant way.
The fog in the Gulf of Mexico is less so.
During the hearings yesterday in Houston, set up to investigate the cause of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, it was more of the same. British Petroleum pointed the blame at Transocean. Transocean pointed the blame at British Petroleum, and nobody learned nothing, nobody knew nothing, never.
The investigator, US Coast Guard Captain Hung Nguyen expressed his frustration with all involved, “I just don’t see how everything gets coordinated,” Nguyen said. “International regulations identify one person in charge that is accountable for and responsible for the safe operation of the vessel…especially when we go into an emergency phase, it might be difficult to have an effective response.”
Harry Thierens, a London-based BP Vice President for drilling operations was on the stand and Nguyen asked him a series of questions: Is he aware that a lot of questions are being asked about who was in charge? Can you articulate any lessons learned from previous deadly oil refining and drilling disasters? Has BP done any exercises since April 20th to see how it would respond to a future blowout?
Thierens responded, “No,” “No,” and “I don’t know.” He did recall more fluidly that it is Transocean who was in charge of maintaining and configuring the equipment on the blowout preventer which would imply the blowout preventer’s failure to clamp down and seal the well was not the fault of British Petroleum.
Meanwhile, a Halliburton technical adviser Jesse Gagliano was blaming British Petroleum, testifying he told BP officials that their well design would raise the risk for gas to reach the surface, which is ultimately what happened and lead to the explosion. BP’s lawyer challenged Gagliano, questioning why he would sign off on a plan he was so concerned about to which Gagliano responded that his signing off on the plan wasn’t meant as an endorsement.
After more exchanges of this sort with several others associated with the doomed rig, Nguyen finally said, “Somebody’s got to be in charge here, I just don’t have a clear picture in my mind of who it is here.”
Me neither, then, or now…and here we are in the Gulf Coast:
The Gulf’s waters are forever fucked. No they’re not. The seafood is unsafe except it isn’t. The oil plumes are there and they are huge except that a brand new microbe is eating them, unless the science is faulty and the plumes moved with the current. Corexit is a poison they have stopped using except it’s no more harmful than dish soap and at night, mercenaries are pouring it over the oil that isn’t there, except that the oil is. The top kill worked except it didn’t. The static kill worked, kind of. The relief wells may not be necessary except they are. The marshes are being destroyed except for where they are recovering and the government says the Gulf of Mexico is recovering well, but there is still much more to do while BP pulls back on the cleanup because the oil slicks have all but disappeared from the water’s surface; it’s now under the sand of the beaches and breaker islands, except its not there either. Bobby Jindal builds sand berms to hold back oil that isn’t contaminating seafood that isn’t dying off in mass fish kills that may or may not be caused by the spill’s effect on oxygen levels in the water, oxygen levels that might be depleted, or not. British Petroleum denies the leaks in the sea floor, calling it natural seepage from leaks they say aren’t there or if they are, certainly were not caused by anything they might or might not have done and didn’t you know, a giant methane bubble is preparing to erupt from below the sea floor that will kill us all? A study says dispersants are speeding up the bio-accumulation of oil in wildlife that according to the NOAA isn’t happening and the government oil spill numbers that have been approved by independent scientists were never actually approved by independent scientists. The EPA says the water and atmosphere are safe except for the whistleblower from the EPA who says the water and air aren’t safe, but everything is okay now because Tony Hayward is no longer CEO of British Petroleum. Transocean says they can’t complete their own internal investigations because BP won’t turn over evidence they need and British Petroleum denies this, saying they have been in in full compliance with the government’s investigations where some of their employees take the fifth amendment and in the middle of the night, whales are being secreted to Mexico so nobody can watch them die. The EPA tells BP to stop using Corexist and find alternatives while the Coast Guard say they approved it. Cleanup workers are getting sick from exposure to the oil because British Petroleum didn’t give them the respirators that British Petroleum gave them to wear so they wouldn’t get sick from the oil. The government has a methodology to explain their oil spill numbers that you can’t see: the methodology or the oil that is still washing up on the beaches. British Petroleum’s cost cutting might have caused the Deepwater Horizon to explode, if it weren’t for Transocean rigging the blowout preventer wrong and Halliburton incorrectly pouring the cement and apparently somebody was in charge of the rig but since this could get expensive, nobody is sure who is in charge and nobody knows anything about nothing, never.
And nobody will give their complete information to anybody else.
This is somewhat of a farce, and seems to work in the favor of those who have the money and are trying their best to keep it, for as long as possible, except they’re not trying to keep their money, instead being responsible for what they might or might not have done…just maybe, at some time.
Oh for fuck’s sakes.
Perhaps, a return to basics.
When it comes to the Deepwater Horizon and the aftermath across the Gulf of Mexico…
1. 11 men died in the explosion.
2. Someone at BP, Halliburton or Transocean is lying and maybe all three.
3. The water in the Gulf of Mexico ain’t as clean as it used to be.
4. People are suffering.
And back in New Orleans, that night in the fog after watching it swallow the old church, I got moving again, heading to the Hideout, a now defunct bar enjoyed for cheap drinks, dark lighting and the inevitable fight to watch. That night, I had the good fortune to know I would be meeting friends, I would be coming out of the Mississippi’s blanket to relax, talking and laughing with a few trusted people.
In the Gulf’s fog, however…there are few friends amongst both those responsible and the government entities trying to reassure that eventually, everyone will be okay.
Instead, it would seem they are the guys in the shadows up closer to Esplanade, waiting for you to get a little too drunk and a little too unaware, waiting for the NOPD to be nowhere in sight.
Read the articles,
Have a nice day.
BP clears itself over oil spill disaster – Daily Mail Yes, a British Paper
From the Times-Picayune:
BP’s blown-out oil well in the Gulf of Mexico is not yet plugged for good, and work on what’s been touted as the permanent solution will need to continue, the federal government said Friday.
Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government’s point man for the spill response, said during a news conference Friday that crews must move forward drilling the relief well even though officials were still working out the best way to finish it. “The relief well will be finished,” he said. “We will kill the well.” BP had thought the mud and cement pumped in from above the leak may have essentially killed the well. But the relief well will allow engineers to pump in mud and cement from below, which is intended to permanently seal the well.
Work on the well and a second backup well was stopped this week because of bad weather.
The decision to proceed with the so-called “bottom kill” operation means a key milestone in the crisis that wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast’s economy and ecosystem remains days off. However, Allen has repeatedly insisted on an “overabundance of caution” when it comes to permanently plugging the well.
“If it’s a nearly redundant safety measure, that makes sense to us,” said Gov. Bobby Jindal, who attended a closed-door meeting Friday with Allen, local leaders and other federal officials. Jindal said he was glad the work would proceed so long as there is no risk of damaging the temporary plug that’s so far choked off the flow of crude. Officials had been testing the pressure beneath the cement seal currently in place. Steady pressure would indicate the presence of cement in the space between the inner piping and the outer casing, likely indicating a permanent seal.
But because pressure rose during the testing, the scientists concluded that space still needs to be plugged in.
Have a nice day
Well, well, well…it appears all is not well in Macondo-ville after all…
According to most mainstream media outlets the Static Kill worked out just fine, in fact, they are now even debating the actual need for completing the relief wells.
Cue Thad Allen, circa August 3rd when talking about any possibility of not completing the relief wells to finally seal the Macondo:
“There should be no ambiguity about that,” Allen said. “I’m the national incident commander and this is how this will be handled.”
National Incident Commander Thad Allen said the final “kill” of the well should be done early next week, if it’s done at all. The federal government and BP have recently raised the possibility that they won’t need to perform the operation at all, since the well was plugged last month with mud and cement pumped in through the top.
Except, according to several sources…the static kill didn’t work, this well has not been plugged:
From Washington’s Blog:
The bottom kill – the procedure which all oil industry experts agree has the best chance of killing the leak – hasn’t yet been performed. The underwater cameras still show methane and oil leaking into the Gulf…relief wells are the best hope for permanently capping the well. But it is possible that BP has messed up the well so badly that the relief wells will fail.
From Robert Cavner, oil industry expert:
In actuality, this “static kill” did nothing that BP and Allen said it would do. Certainly the well is not dead or “static”. It hasn’t accelerated the relief well, but it has obscured the well’s pressures, making it more difficult to kill. Hence, these new tests to figure out what’s going on. BP and the government don’t really have a clue where the 2,300 barrels of mud and 500 barrels of cement went. They originally claimed it all went down the casing and out to the reservoir. I would set the probability of that actually having happened at zero.
From Fishgrease, another oil industry expert:
So now they got themselves a good old problem. We can’t see it, of course, and we’ll never get any pressure readings that will tell us exactly what sort of pressure drop caused those chokes to freeze. But let me tell you something that is true as death… it’s a LOT more hydrocarbon pressure then can be explained by anything residual in the BOP. The annulus is open to the reservoir and always has been.
So, some simple questions about this whole mess, also from Robert Cavner:
Since announcing success (sort of) of the static kill, mainstream media attention has dropped to virtually zero, though the well is obviously far from static, judging from the huge clouds in the water around the wellhead and manifold, as well as numerous ROVs surrounding the wellhead, providing no feeds to the public. The media has payed virtually no attention to these feeds and has asked no questions of Adm Allen or BP. BP has stopped briefing the public daily.
The problem is that there are lots of questions that remain unanswered. Here’s what I want to know:
Is the well dead?
What is the pressure on the well? Now?
If the well is open to the surface, what is the pressure?
How do you know all the cement went down the casing?
Why is the flex joint flange leaking?
Why are the ROV feeds no longer provided in a decipherable resolution?
Why are some ROV feeds not being provided?
Why are clouds of debris continuing to obscure the view several days after the well was supposedly static?
Until these questions are answered by BP, we have no real information to tell us that the well is dead, or even safe. As long as they continue to stonewall critical data, I’ll only continue to believe that the well is not “static” or safe.
To be fair to the other side, however, perhaps we can let Thad Allen, Mr. National Incident Commander explain:
“Sure, there’s a very low probability that we might have actually sealed the annulus with the cement that came down the pipe casing and came back up around it. What we want to do is understand whether or not there’s what we call free communication. In other words whether there, the hydrocarbons in the reservoir can actually come up through the annulus outside the casing, if that’s the case when we go in and we drill in we put the mud and cement we’re just going to drive that down and seal the well. OK? If there’s cement there and there’s no communication that means we have what we call stagnate oil trapped around that casing up to the well head. If you go in and you start pumping mud and cement in there the chances are you could raise the pressure and push that up into the blow out preventer. And that’s a very low possibility, low probability event but we want to, we want to test the pressure in the blow out preventer and see if we actually have pressure coming up that would indicate that we have free communication with the reservoir. If not that would change our tactics and how we do the final kill.”
What the hell does that even mean? I don’t know about anyone else reading this, but I’ve had the misfortune of trying to BS my way through a presentation when I really didn’t understand the subject matter and yeah, it sounded something like that quote above; its good to know he’s “in charge.” So, the Macondo well, I won’t claim to have a complete understanding of what is happening inside; I’m a social worker for christ sakes, not an engineer, but I am also a person that can follow a line of logic, and I don’t just blindly accept hand-fed information from mainstream media outlets.
That being said…
Something appears wrong here.
Things don’t seem to be what we’re being told.
People following this story have seen obfuscation tactics before from the Coast Guard and British Petroleum. People also are not strangers to complicity from the mainstream press and like Robert Cavner, unfortunately I am left with no choice but to be suspicious of what’s really happening with the “status kill.” I say unfortunately, because I too am no stranger to blissful ignorance and I had hoped that in regards to the well being sealed, this would be a state I could finally enter into, but alas, no such luck…for the following reasons:
1. If there is no open channel between the reservoir and the blowout preventer, why are oil and gas still leaking? If I fill a bottle with thick crude, then pour in a layer of mud and finally fill it with cement to the surface, even if I turn that bottle upside down, no oil will leak out of the top of my bottle. Even if there is some residual oil remaining on top of the cement, how much are we supposed to believe is there? And why does it have so much pressure behind it it is being forced out the top of the blow-out preventer? The seafloor should have a pressure reading of 2200 psi, but the pressure reading they did release, confirmed by BP Vice-President Kent Wells, is 4200 psi. This shouldn’t be possible unless pressure continues from the reservoir and pressure from the reservoir shouldn’t continue unless the well has not been adequately sealed by the “static kill.”
2. BP and the Coast Guard won’t release any new pressure readings or other data. They don’t release much information at all. By keeping people in the dark, especially engineers in the dark about data, images, nobody outside their locus of informational control can get a complete grip on the problem, nor say for sure a problem exists. In that regard, most of the public will dismiss outside speculations when people who are not BP and the Coast Guard say all is well. BP has the facts and can dictate the reality. Whether that reality is true or not is a whole different problem. Also, by maintaining control over data, if there is a problem BP and the Coast Guard chooses when anyone else knows. This buys them time to fix the problem if they can, or cover it up if they can’t.
Editor’s note: Cavner writes Adm. Allen pledged to get BP to release the current pressure data 3 days ago. The next day, when asked about it, he said it was released, but “nobody can find it.”
3. Mainstream press hesitancy to report opposing viewpoints: the mainstream press get their stories from access. If they don’t have access, they can’t get stories. If they can’t get stories they don’t have a job. So if the implication is that mainstream press will get cut off unless they maintain the company line, they will be skeptical of outside information, and much less likely to report it. An example would be the case of the Rolling Stone reporter who wrote about General McChrystal, resulting in the General being relived of duty. When that same reporter tried to cover Afghanistan, the Pentagon refused permission for him to embed with their troops, thus, cutting him off. So to not believe opposing viewpoints, just because they are not in the mainstream press is often not the best way to be informed.
4. British Petroleum and the Coast Guard benefit from a confused public. When they constantly change their story things get confusing. This renewed debate over the relief wells runs at direct odds with what they’ve maintained for months is the final solution to sealing this well for good. Also, when their statements are so nonsensical/muddled even engineers can’t grasp them in their entirety, this in turn confuses the public and a confused public quickly becomes a frustrated and/or bored public which causes them to stop paying attention. This definitely serves the interests of BP.
5. It seems they continue to find reason to stop drilling the relief wells. It almost appears they’re stalling and I’d like to know why. If this is being done in the hopes that BP can use them to extract the oil at some later date instead of sealing off the well for good, just freaking admit it already. Really, your hubris won’t surprise anyone anymore and it’s hard to believe that public impressions of your company can sink any lower, but then again…(I’m waiting for this argument: we have to get that oil, it’s the only way to pay for reparations and fixing the Gulf).
6. And finally, because the entire BP oil spill story has been one clusterfuck of denials, half-truths and misinformation for three months, why the hell should I be giving Thad Allen and BP the benefit of the doubt now?
Read the articles:
Have a nice day.
Thad Allen “granted” permission Wednesday evening for BP to begin cementing the Macondo well now that the static kill is complete. According to BP, the oil has been suppressed and the pressure inside the well is in a “static” condition. Several valves that were in use to regulate the pressure inside the blow out preventer have now been turned off, no longer necessary.
Allen stated there is “high confidence that there will be no oil leaking into the environment.”
Sounds pretty good, great in fact, but just as I was about to go out and celebrate with pizza and beer, I made one click too many and discovered a post on Raw Story where oil industry expert, Bob Cavner stated, “You don’t know if that well’s actually killed down below, because of all the damage down below, it could be flowing into another zone, it could be flowing some place else into the substrata. The only way you kill this well is with the relief well from down below.”
Cavner went on to dispute the veracity of the “live” feeds coming from BP’s underwater cameras… “It’s very interesting. I got up early this morning . … I was very concerned about this connector I’ve been talking about for the last couple of weeks. They had a good shot of that so I watched that for a while … came back about 30 minutes later, and it replayed. And I noticed that the time was an hour and a half behind the current time. So they were re-looping some of the video feed, and it was not live.”
“I always wondered if they want you to see what they want you to see,” Cavnar suggested, “and sometimes if they have something else going on they just loop the tape for a while before they go back to live.”
So instead of pizza or beer, I sit back down while doubt crept in again…
Reading the quotes from Cavner, I will admit an uncomfortable skepticism for such a charge; it seems to be heading into the realm of conspiracy theory but at the same time, how can I discount it? This oil spill and everything about it from the air quality to water safety, from the health of the wildlife to the health of Gulf Coast residents have been tainted by controlled information and agendas, so many agendas…too many to take anyone’s word for it anymore, not completely, and especially not BP’s or the governments. Every single one of their rosy scenarios seem to wilt under the facts of yet another outside observer.
Could this really be any different?
BP and the Feds want us to take it on faith that the well has been sealed, yet so much contrary evidence comes from so many angles, oftentimes from BP’s own cameras – showing seeps of oil and escaping methane and what almost appear to be burps from the sea floor. We are given no data, nothing to analyze. Not about this, not about anything, Carol Browner goes on television yesterday and says 75% of the oil is gone and what proof is offered? A pie chart, just a pie chart, yet they won’t explain how they came to their conclusions in any scientifically plausible way beyond saying their measuring instruments have become more advanced since April 20th.
What the hell does that mean?
Yes, here’s the government’s evidence:
What the hell does that prove?
Perhaps the static kill did work, perhaps 75 % of the oil is gone, perhaps BP is being honest…hard to say for sure, especially when we’ve been misled time and time again, by people who have a lot to gain from the public believing this oil spill has been solved… So go ahead and pump your cement, Thad, but much as I hate to admit it, my skepticism remains…and will until you get some independent scientists to confirm you’re not just spilling more oil out your mouth.
Read the articles:
Have a nice day.
From the Times-Picayune:
BP embarked Tuesday on an operation that could seal the biggest offshore oil leak in U.S. history once and for all, forcing mud down the throat of its blown-out well in a tactic known variously as “bullheading” or a “static kill.” The pressure in the well dropped quickly in the first 90 minutes of the procedure, a sign that everything was going as planned, wellsite leader Bobby Bolton told The Associated Press aboard the Q4000, the vessel being used to pump in the mud. Hours later, Bolton told the AP that the procedure was still going well. “Pressure is down and appears to be stabilizing,” he said. He said earlier that the work could be complete by Tuesday night or Wednesday, though BP said the effort could continue through Thursday, and engineers won’t know for more than a week whether it choked the well for good.
Course, nothing in the Gulf can be done it seems without the Coast Guard and British Petroleum being at odds over something; remember the relief wells?
British Petroleum does:
BP PLC Senior Vice President Kent Wells said Monday that engineers may pump cement directly into the busted well through the failed blowout preventer via a surface ship, rather than wait for the relief well’s planned completion later this month.
That idea isn’t new — but BP has never before indicated it might forgo use of the relief well altogether in direct attempts to plug the leak.
“Precisely what the relief wells will do remains to be seen given what we learn from the static kill,” BP spokesman Daren Beaudo said. “Can’t predict it for certain.”
Thad Allen does:
But retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government’s point man for the spill, made it clear that to be safe, the gusher will have to be plugged up from two directions. He said the 18,000-foot relief well that BP has been drilling over the past three months will be used later this month to execute a “bottom kill,” in which mud and cement will be injected into the bedrock 2½ miles below the sea floor.
“There should be no ambiguity about that,” Allen said. “I’m the national incident commander and this is how this will be handled.”
Oh Thad…you’re so cute when you think you’re in charge down there…but it’s okay, we know the drill, we’ve all watched this episode before: the integrity of the well disagreements, the flow rate estimates, the stability of the well cap, the approved use of dispersants…
Here’s how it goes: 1. Thad makes a statement. 2. British Petroleum disagrees with that statement. 3. Time passes, typically a day or two. 4. Thad changes his statement. 5. British Petroleum pats Thad on the head and everyone lives happily ever after.
Read the article,
Have a nice day.
According to the Washington Post, the static kill could begin as early as Monday night, part of a two pronged plan to seal the Macondo well for good. The idea is to pump mud into the capped well, very slowly and push the oil all the way back down to its source rock, 2.5 miles below the seafloor. However, “the static kill is not the be-all end-all,” Thad Allen said on Sunday so if it is successful, BP will then begin pumping in cement to seal the well, both from the top and from the relief well which will be intercepting the main column in a matter of days. The static kill is expected to take one to two days while the bottom kill from the relief well would begin in 5-7 days and take up to a few weeks to complete. Thad Allen will be in Houston to observe the process and expects to give the go-ahead on Sunday night for BP to begin late Monday.
Unlike the top kill that was attempted a while back, the chance for success of the static kill is much greater due to the well-cap. They will not be trying to overcome flowing oil as in the top-kill, but oil that has been stilled, pressured against the new blowout preventer installed on July 15th. If all goes according to plan, that’ll be all she wrote for Macondo well, sealed permanently and BP has pledged never to reopen it.
Sounds pretty good…
But before we all get too excited, there are a number of considerations to be examined, some BP and the Coast Guard are willing to admit, but most of them…no, not so much.
According to the same article…
“Still unknown after all these months is which avenue from the reservoir the hydrocarbons have exploited. No one is sure if the oil and gas are flowing inside the pipe or outside the casing in what is called the annulus — the space between the pipe and the rock wall of the hole. Or the flow could be through both…which is why the relief well is so important.” Also, the static kill would result in increasing the pressure inside an already fragile well: there’s always the risk that the pressure exerted by the mud will rupture the casing holding in the oil and potentially cause an even greater mess (read: uncontrolled blow-out), but experts say it’s very unlikely.
The above risks British Petroleum and the Coast Guard will admit to, though they will disagree on their seriousness – but when a story and the data is as tightly controlled as that of the well cap, there are bound to be other potential problems, many of which boil down to the integrity of the well.
Originally, the goals for pressure inside the wellcap was 8000-9000 pounds per square inch and according to BP’s own estimates, this should have occurred within 24 hours of the well being sealed. Anything less than that could indicate the integrity of the well had been compromised and oil, methane and other fun stuff had already started leaching into the surrounding walls. This would potentially create pockets of gas and crude that might rupture. So when the pressure only reached 6700 psi, the excuses started coming: the lowered PSI readings were a result of the volume of oil already released, or hey, the pressure’s still rising, slowly, but it’s rising…but it never did rise to 9000 psi, not even 8000 psi. Today, the pressure still stands at around 7000, well short of original estimates. This is what led to the twenty-four windows the Coast Guard ran for a while, monitoring the pressure and evaluating the safety of keeping the well sealed, all the way up until Tropical Storm Bonnie…where apparently the concerns about pressure faded as quickly as that storm.
Also, bursts of methane and leakage of oil from the sea floor have been captured by underwater cameras, several examples of which exist for anyone to see, and this also is indicative of a compromised well. Though the leaks were first reported in June, it turns out that British Petroleum had been monitoring them since February. These leaks still continue today. Just over the past weekend a new gas leak was discovered inches from the cap. Throughout, BP has claimed this isn’t a problem, that the seepage is unrelated to the Macondo Well, but many scientists would disagree: Robert Bea, an industrial engineer at the University of California, Berkley and a member of the Deepwater Horizon Study Group said in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “He has little confidence in what’s been said publicly about the seeps. He’s troubled that we’re…hearing about seeps three kilometers away, because a survey of the seabed conducted before BP drilled its well didn’t indicate anything like that…there was nothing that indicated the presence of such a seep.” If British Petroleum and the Coast Guard are wrong and the seeps are related, the increase in pressure from the static kill could make this leaking even worse and could even compromise the ability of the relief well to permanently seal the Macondo.
Think putting the cork back in a bottle of wine versus using the same cork to stop the flow from a sieve.
If the integrity of the well has been maintained, good, but as stated above, indications are otherwise and the evidence of such has been downplayed to the public by BP and Thad Allen, and as indicated by their own infighting, to each other. If the integrity of the well is compromised, the static kill could go very wrong. And that’s only the evidence we do know, what else exists to indicate risk? What other concerning data is out there? It’s difficult to know for sure. This is the problem when the Coast Guard permits British Petroleum to control their data, their information, or sits idly by while BP purchases university scientists they then smother with contractual gag rules – the public’s confidence gets lost. And when the Coast Guard, rather than urging the release of all information instead abets the problem by withholding data of their own, this further complicates matters for an in-tune public. We are left with nothing but trust: we are urged to trust their numbers, trust that well integrity has been maintained and can withstand the pressure, trust the PSI never really needed to reach 8000 to show integrity, trust them when they say the leaks and seepage from the sea floor isn’t a result of the Macondo well…
Trust is a lot to ask for at this late stage.
Over the past three months the public has learned – trust is a four letter word Thad and BP spits out every time their predictions turn out wrong or their denials prove to be false…so yes, some of us are skeptical. The officials’ continued contradictions have created too much doubt.
So how about hope?
This is doable…hope and well wishes…because who really wants to think about what the results could be if they’re wrong, again.
Good luck all,
Have a nice day.