Oil forms ring on Seafloor

WASHINGTON (AP) — The BP oil spill left an oily “bathub ring” on the sea floor that’s about the size of Rhode Island, new research shows.

The study by David Valentine, the chief scientist on the federal damage assessment research ships, estimates that about 10 million gallons of oil coagulated on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico around the damaged Deepwater Horizons oil rig.

Valentine, a geochemistry professor at the University of California Santa Barbara, said the spill from the Macondo well left other splotches containing even more oil. He said it is obvious where the oil is from, even though there were no chemical signature tests because over time the oil has degraded.

“There’s this sort of ring where you see around the Macondo well where the concentrations are elevated,” Valentine said. The study, published in Monday’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, calls it a “bathtub ring.”

Oil levels inside the ring were as much as 10,000 times higher than outside the 1,200-square-mile ring, Valentine said. A chemical component of the oil was found on the sea floor, anywhere from two-thirds of a mile to a mile below the surface.

The rig blew on April 20, 2010, and spewed 172 million gallons of oil into the Gulf through the summer. Scientists are still trying to figure where all the oil went and what effects it had.

BP questions the conclusions of the study. In an email, spokesman Jason Ryan said, “the authors failed to identify the source of the oil, leading them to grossly overstate the amount of residual Macondo oil on the sea floor and the geographic area in which it is found.”

It’s impossible at this point to do such chemical analysis, said Valentine and study co-author Christopher Reddy, a marine chemist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, but all other evidence, including the depth of the oil, the way it laid out, the distance from the well, directly point to the BP rig.

Outside marine scientists, Ed Overton at Louisiana State University and Ian MacDonald at Florida State University, both praised the study and its conclusions.

The study does validate earlier research that long-lived deep water coral was coated and likely damaged by the spill, Reddy said. But Reddy and Valentine said there are still questions about other ecological issues that deep.

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Online:

Journal: http://www.pnas.org

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Seth Borenstein can be followed at http://twitter.com/borenbears

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Tepco Building Ice Walls to Prevent Groundwater Contamination

Tepco is considering “liquid glass” barriers of sodium silicate in the ground to stop the spread of contaminated water. This “subterranean bypass” created by the world’s longest underground “ice wall” should stop groundwater from reaching the reactors and block irradiated water from entering the ocean.

The solution is comprised of coolant pipes suck as deep as 40 meters (131 feet) underground. It’s intended to turn soil into a square shaped barrier of permafrost.

Let’s see if Freeze Oil can help Tepco and the people of Japan out!

Full article from Bloomberg here.

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Gas Hydrate Desalination

Interesting way to desalinate salty water.

Gas hydrate consists of only water and a gas, such as methane, the stuff of natural gas. When hydrates form, salts and other impurities are left behind.

Hydrates were formed from water and carbon dioxide mixed with the gases cyclopentane and cyclohexane, which made the method work more efficiently. It removed more than 90 percent of the salt.

Oil and gas production, particularly fracking, use extreme amounts of water and produce as a byproduct almost 10 barrels of salty water for every barrel of oil.

Posted in Oil, Physics, Seawater / Saltwater | Leave a comment

Health Defects Found in Fish Exposed to Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Three years later (had to remember where this site is hosted), crude oil toxicity continued to sicken the Gulf killfish embryos, the “canary” of the sea.

Full article from the Science Daily here.

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This fire initially was the biggest fire ever in the world. But every day we exceeded those numbers…

Al Jazeera reports on US witness claims BP gas explosion cover-up.

Full article with video here.

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BP Claims Fund Pays out $5 Billion to Spill Victims

Bloomberg reported today that BP Plc paid more than $5 billion to 204,434 claimants in the past year from the fund created to compensate victims from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.  The claims facility draws on more than $20 billion set aside by BP after the oil spill.  In total BP has received more than 947,000 claims of which nearly 97% have been reviewed.

Victims have until August 2013 to apply to the claims facility.

Read the full article here.

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The Rig on Fire

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Blowout preventer was flawed

A Norwegian firm reports the blowout preventer failed because of faulty design and a bent piece of pipe, shifting some blame away from the oil giant.

The 551 page repot cast blame on the blowout preventer’s blind shear rams, which are supposed to pinch a well shut in an emergency by shearing through the well’s drill pipe. Above the Macondo well, the BOP shear rams couldn’t do their job because the drill pipe had buckled, bowed and become stuck, according to the report. The report suggests that BOPs be redesigned or modified in such a way that shear rams will completely cut through drill pipe regardless of the pipe’s position. The blowout preventer was made by Cameron International and maintained by Transocean Ltd.

Unfortunately, this may not be the end of the BOP issue as its design flaw may have gone unnoticed by the entire industry.

Full story from AP

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Deep Drilling Permit Issued for Gulf

The federal government on Monday told Noble Energy it can resume a deep-water drilling project. This is the first work of its kind approved since the Obama administration lifted a moratorium prompted by last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Full story from Chron Energy here.

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Scientist finds Gulf bottom still oily, dead

Oil from the BP spill remains stuck on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, according to a top scientist’s video and slides that she says demonstrate the oil isn’t degrading as hoped and has decimated life on parts of the sea floor. At a science conference in Washington Saturday, marine scientist Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia aired early results of her December submarine dives around the BP spill site. She went to places she had visited in the summer and expected the oil and residue from oil-munching microbes would be gone by then. It wasn’t.

Full story from the AP here.

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Dispersants Presenting a Problem

Dispersants injected deep in the Gulf of Mexico to counter an oil gusher last spring seemed to keep some oil from fouling the water’s surface, but the chemicals lingered underwater, raising concerns about long-term problems, a new study found.

Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts found circumstantial evidence that the chemicals guided some oil into underwater currents, stopping it from bubbling up to the surface, where it would do more damage to marshes and beach.

(Huffington Post)

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U.S. Justice Department the Latest Party to Suits in Gulf Spill

The U.S. Justice Department is expected to join civil lawsuits stemming from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. By joining the private litigation, Justice Department officials will play a major role in the coming trial. Attorneys for private party plaintiffs are expected to consolidate their cases by filing a combined civil suit in federal court in New Orleans. Attorney generals from many of the states whose coastlines were affected by the spill already agreed to pool their resources and share documents.

Full story from the WSJ

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Testing to Begin on Blow Out Preventer

Testing began today on the failed BOP in a NASA facility in New Orleans.

The BOP can snuff a blowout by squeezing rubber seals tightly around the pipes with up to 1 million pounds of force. If the seals fail, the blowout preventer deploys a last line of defense: a set of rams that can slice right through the pipes and cap the blowout.

Investigators will test the device that was used with BP’s Macondo well will try to determine why it faileddidn’t stop the flow of oil to the sea.

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Relief Well Intercepts Deepwater Horizon Well

BP said in a statement that the relief well intercepted the stricken well’s annulus — the space between the well’s metal casing and the surrounding rock — nearly 13,000 feet below the seabed at 4:30 p.m. Central time on Thursday.

BP said that tests showed there was no cement or oil and gas in the annulus at the interception point, so there was no need to pump heavy drilling mud into the annulus through the relief well, a procedure known as a bottom kill. Instead, crews will pump only cement into the annulus, forming a final seal.

“It is expected that the MC252 well will be completely sealed on Saturday,” the statement said, referring to the damaged oil well. Once it is sealed, the statement said, crews would begin standard procedures to abandon the well.

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Deepwater Horizon Well Sealed By Sunday!

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government official overseeing the crisis in the Gulf, said the relief well BP has been drilling all summer long should intersect the ruptured well within 24 hours. He said mud and cement will then be pumped in, sealing the hole once and for all by Sunday.

“We are within a 96-hour window of killing the well,” Allen said nearly five months after the disaster unfolded with an explosion aboard an offshore drilling rig April 20 that killed 11 workers.

UPDATE: On Thursday Allen added, “Sometime in the next 24-hour period, we should do the well intercept. Once the well is intercepted, we’ll have to understand from the pressure differentials and the drilling fluids the nature of the annulus. Once that’s been determined decision, will be made on cement and then once it’s cemented the cement will have to adhere and be pressure tested.”

No oil has spewed into the Gulf since a temporary cap was put on the busted BP well in mid-July. Mud and cement were later pushed down through the top of the well, allowing the cap to be removed. The relief well is being drilled 2 1/2 miles through dirt and rock beneath the sea floor so that the ruptured well can also be sealed from the bottom, ensuring it never causes a problem again.

As of Wednesday morning, crews had only 20 feet left to drill.

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Obama Administration Orders Plugging or Dismantling of Wells and Platforms No Longer In Use.

The Obama administration moved to head off another catastrophic leak like the BP disaster Wednesday, ordering oil and gas companies in the Gulf of Mexico to plug or dismantle thousands of wells and platforms no longer in use.

In Washington, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued an order requiring oil and gas companies to plug nearly 3,500 nonproducing wells and dismantle about 650 production platforms that are longer being used.

The threat posed by the wells was detailed earlier this summer in an Associated Press investigation. The Gulf has more than 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells and more than 1,200 idle rigs and platforms, and AP found that many of the wells have been ignored for decades, with no one checking for leaks.

“As infrastructure continues to age, the risk of damage increases. That risk increases substantially during storm season,” said Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.

Under the order, operators must plug wells that been inactive for the past five years. Platforms and pipelines that are not being used for production or exploration must be decommissioned, even if the leases are still active.

Full article from the Huffington Post

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Levelized Cost of Electricity By Source

Here is a great chart published in the Wall Street Journal’s Power Investing: Investing in Energy special report published on September 13, 2010.

This chart shows the “levelized” cost of electricity–reflecting all costs (capital, fuel, operating costs, etc.) without subsidies–in dollars per megawatt-hour. While I think this chart is great, in my opinion it needs to also include the environmental costs–made palpably apparent by the Gulf Oil Spill–which would make the renewable sources even that much more efficient. We need to be focusing on and supporting geothermal, wind, solar, and nuclear energy.

Full article can be found here.

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BP Report: Blames Transocean And Halliburton

While BP claims their internal investigation was free from any senior management input, it was subject to many reviews from BP internal legal team. Hopefully the incident will provide the necessary wake-up call to the true cost of oil and its increasingly risky techniques to capture oil.

BP’s internal report on the Deepwater Horizon incident made certain that there was plenty of blame to go around.

It is evident that a series of complex events, rather than a single mistake or failure, led to the tragedy. Multiple parties, including BP, Halliburton and Transocean, were involved.

Out-going CEO Tony Hayward did not put any of the burden of the accident’s causes on himself or his senior management:

“To put it simply, there was a bad cement job and a failure of the shoe track barrier at the bottom of the well, which let hydrocarbons from the reservoir into the production casing. The negative pressure test was accepted when it should not have been, there were failures in well control procedures and in the blow-out preventer; and the rig’s fire and gas system did not prevent ignition.”

The longer litany of causes:

  • The cement and shoe track barriers – and in particular the cement slurry that was used – at the bottom of the Macondo well failed to contain hydrocarbons within the reservoir, as they were designed to do, and allowed gas and liquids to flow up the production casing;
  • The results of the negative pressure test were incorrectly accepted by BP and Transocean, although well integrity had not been established;
  • Over a 40-minute period, the Transocean rig crew failed to recognise and act on the influx of hydrocarbons into the well until the hydrocarbons were in the riser and rapidly flowing to the surface;
  • After the well-flow reached the rig it was routed to a mud-gas separator, causing gas to be vented directly on to the rig rather than being diverted overboard;
  • The flow of gas into the engine rooms through the ventilation system created a potential for ignition which the rig’s fire and gas system did not prevent;
  • Even after explosion and fire had disabled its crew-operated controls, the rig’s blow-out preventer on the sea-bed should have activated automatically to seal the well. But it failed to operate, probably because critical components were not working.

Report from: Douglas A. McIntyre. Full report here.
Read more: BP Report: Blame Transocean And Halliburton – 24/7 Wall St. http://247wallst.com/2010/09/08/bp-report-blame-transocean-and-halliburton/#ixzz0ziGyCXbn

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BOP Recovered from the Ocean Floor

Last night, the failed BOP that had allowed BP’s Macondo well to flow uncontrolled into the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days earlier this year was recovered after a risky US government-ordered replacement procedure was completed.

The massive structure was slowly recovered throughout the day and into the night, stopping about 500 feet below the surface to flush it with methanol to melt methane hydrates on the inside. About 9 pm central time, it was lifted to the deck, where agents from the Department of Justice took control. It will be moved to a NASA facility to detailed analysis.

Here’s a video of the site sped up 8x so it is a little jerky. Appreciate how big the equipment and rigs are that drill oil and gas wells, especially in the offshore. The BOP is basically the size of a 5 story building and weighs almost half a million pounds.:

Original Article by Bob Cavnar. This article originally appeared on The Daily Hurricane.

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What Happened on the Deepwater Horizon

Here’s a great diagram of what went wrong with the Deepwater Horizon drilling.

Click on the image for a larger version

Graphic provided by Emmett Mayer III and Dan Shea / The Times-Picayune
Source: Staff Research

Posted in BP, Cause, Pre Explosion | Leave a comment