Well I have spent the last few days or weeks watching the “oil cam” feeds and reading as much as I can to find out the truth of what is going on and not just listening to the PR spin by BP.
Things are not always as they seem is how the saying goes and by god it sure is an accurate saying for this case.
Let’s see where we stand at this point, 40 days after the initial explosion which brought down the Deepwater Horizon Drilling Rig and ended up with oil spewing uncontrollably into the Gulf of Mexico, while we all sit helplessly from the sidelines and watch as a way of life and a significant ecosystem is utterly destroyed.
First they told us it was 1,000 barrels a day “leaking out”, next they upped that amount to 5,000 barrels daily. That number has stayed in circulation through both the media and the BP/Coast Guard reports, even after hearings held by Congress with independent scientists reporting their own estimates ranging from 70,000 barrels daily up to as much as 114,000 barrels daily.
How much oil is leaking? Official estimates have grown steadily - first the word was none, then it was 42,000 gallons, then 210,000 gallons. And now a team of scientists say the leak may well be five times that, making the spill worse than the Exxon Valdez.
All the while, BP has been slow to acknowledge the leak was likely much worse than the public had been told.
The oil giant's behavior has led to accusations that it has been motivated to keep the leak estimate low because under federal law the size of eventual fines is tied to the size of the leak.U.S. Gulf Oil Spill Leak Estimates Low
During the Congressional hearings that took place on May 19th, 4 independent scientists were called in to testify. One of them was Steve Wereley who claimed it wasn’t as hard as BP and the Coast Guard were suggesting to figure out a good estimate on how much oil was gushing into the Gulf every day. In fact he showed quite easily how he was able to take the small clip that BP at the time was allowing to be seen and did a basic estimate of how much was coming out of the broken riser pipe.
How Much Oil's Spilling? It's Not Rocket Science
Oil Spill Size Can Be Gauged With Elementary Geometry
As Steve Wereley, an engineering professor at Purdue University, has shown, however, and as many others would have shown had pictures of the leak been released earlier, an approximate estimate is quite easy to come by and indicates a vastly greater oil spill than BP has admitted.
Wereley and a few other scientists, who have come to the same general conclusions, have performed a public service.
Basically, the method for determining oil spillage boils down to common sense and high school (or even middle school) geometry, specifically the formula for the volume of a cylinder.
Once one converts all the units and multiplies these numbers, the calculations show that a bit more than 70,000 barrels of oil have been leaking out of the pipe daily. He's since upped his estimate by another 20,000 barrels a day because of other smaller leaks.
He admitted his is a rough estimate for three reasons. One, as he wrote me, is that the flow along the visible edge of the flow might differ a bit from the flow in the middle of the pipe. Another is the uncertain amount of (very compressed) natural gas mixed in with the oil, and the third is the poor quality of the video that was only recently and reluctantly released on May 12.How Much Oil Is Spilling? It is Not Rocket Science
Wereley also made sure to point out that his estimate could be off by 20% more or less, but this does show that the number even if 20% less than his lowest estimate that the number is well above what the numbers are from BP and the Coast Guard.
That surely must be a mistake I thought at first but then I discovered that no, others were saying the same things. The estimate that Wereley gave was much, much closer to the truth than anything that BP was claiming.
Dumbstruck at the idea of that much oil gushing into the Gulf, I started to worry more about the consequences of this since that made me realize just how much of an ecological disaster this was turning out to be. I had been concerned at first but not outraged.
So there I sat wondering what the hell was going on. Why hadn’t we gotten a more accurate reading of just how much was gushing into the Gulf of Mexico right from the start. I was not the only one looking for answers, and it seemed that none were to be found. At least not right away, and in the meantime the oil continued to flow freely into the water.
So now that we have some kind of idea on the magnitude of what this disaster entails, where do we go from here? We find out what BP has been doing to remove the oil and stop the flow.
We’ll start with stopping the flow.
We are over a month now since the Rig went down and the oil started spurting into the gulf and we are no closer to stopping it than we were at Day 1. Every “fix” that BP has come up with has failed miserably.
So far, all efforts to stop the oil gushing have failed.
Yes, the Top Hat failed, the Top Kill failed and the Junk shot has failed. You didn't see this reported, but in reading the information provided at various sites by engineers in the same field who have studied the actions and have been watching the pictures they state that while BP is not publicly admitting it yet, the efforts to stop the flow of oil have failed.
There is a site that has been discussing this right from the start and they are better at keeping people informed of what is going on, what each BP plan entails and whether or not they think it will work, and so far they have been pretty accurate. I’m posting the link to allow you to check it out if you want.
The Oil Drum
It is suggested that they made the spill worse because the “junk” from the “junk shot” actually helped widen the holes in the riser pipe and as the photos show, large pieces of junk are seen shooting out of the riser pipe and falling in front of the camera.
You can see the photos and decide for yourself if there was a problem or not, personally I will take the word of those who watched the work on the BOP and saw what was happening first hand, because I have learned not to trust BP any longer.
Photos (screenshots) of “explosion” while the Top Kill / Junk Shot was happening:
Screenshots of the "Explosion That Occurred During Top Hat/Junk Shot Operation
Now the media is reporting the failure of the Top Kill/Junk Shot even while BP is still claiming that they are not sure it has failed as of yet. This originally was a plan that would have a 60%-70% of success and would take 2 days to run through the entire thing before they could determine if it would work or not. That lasted for days longer than what we were told and even with reports leaking that it had failed, BP continued to tell the public during their briefings that it would take longer and that they would not know for sure until the testing was complete and the data was analyzed.
BP engineers failed again to plug the gushing oil well on Saturday, a technician working on the project said, representing yet another setback in a series of unsuccessful procedures the company has tried a mile under the sea to stem the flow spreading into the Gulf of Mexico.
BP made a third attempt at what is termed the “junk shot” Friday night, a procedure that involves pumping odds and ends like plastic cubes, knotted rope, and golf balls into the blowout preventer, the five-story safety device atop the well. The maneuver is complementary to the heavily scrutinized effort known as a “top kill,”which began four days ago and involves pumping heavy mud into the well to counteract the push of the escaping oil. If the well is sealed, the company plans to then fill it with cement.
The technician working on the project said Saturday pumping has again been halted and a review of the data so far is under way. “Right now, I would not be optimistic,” the technician, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak publicly about the effort. But he added, that if another attempt at the junk shot were to succeed, “that would turn things around.”
BP said Saturday it would not comment on the technician’s assertions BP does not know whether the top kill effort has worked, Doug Suttles the chief operating officer, said at a news conference in Fourchon Beach, La. He would not confirm that they have stopped pumping mud into the stricken well, but acknowledged that engineers had been pumping in intervals and then monitoring it.
“What I don’t know is if it ultimately will or not work,” he said. “We’re going to keep at this is we see it will work or not work.”‘Top Kill’ Fails to Plug Leak; BP Readies Next Approach
So we can see for ourselves that they are not willing to admit that the ‘Top Kill/Junk Shot’ failed, even though this was started on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning and it was coming forward on Saturday, a full 3 days after the start, and telling people that it was not looking good. Instead of just being honest about the way things were going Mr. Suttles was continuing to feed us garbage.
Later on in the day he had to admit that things were not working because it was getting obvious from the live feed cams that people who worked in the field were publicly stating that it wasn’t working. Personally I feel that they admitted it because they had no choice but to do so, and if we did not have those live cam’s we’d still be being played for fools by Mr. Suttles, and the Coast Guard, after all, if we can’t see what is going on who is going to know…right? Much like the lies about how much oil was gushing into the water.
After indicating on Thursday that the top-kill effort was working, then pausing the operation, then resuming it and indicating that it is going as planned on Friday, BP now says that the amount of oil spewing from the well hasn't changed, and there is not guarantee that the procedure is actually working.
"I don't think the amount of oil coming out has changed," BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles said on Saturday. "Just by watching it, we don't believe it's changed."
BP is expected to announce that it will move on to its next option, known as LMRP. The procedure involves cutting off the failed, leaking riser at the top of the Lower Marine Riser Package on the blowout preventer to get a clean-cut surface on the pipe. Then the company will install a cap with a sealing grommet that would be connected to a new riser from the Discoverer Enterprise drillship, with the hopes of capturing most of the oil and gas flowing from the well.BP Admits ‘Top Kill’ Not Working
So now the plan is the “Lower Marine Riser Package” or LMRP. Is anyone else starting to get the idea that this is what this whole situation looks like?
These attempts alone should convince anyone with half a brain that BP should never be given another drilling lease and that every other lease they currently have should be revoked immediately. They are playing games with this situation and have proven they have no idea nor the means to handle a catastrophic disaster and we cannot take a chance that a disaster of this magnitude happens again with no way to stop it or even contain it from being a worst case scenario.
This is not the first time a disastrous oil spill has happened in the Gulf and so perhaps we should look to the past to see what was done in those instances to see if there is something yet we have not thought of to help in this crisis.
Rachel Maddow did just that and here is her report:
So what have we learned so far? That BP has consistently lied to us about the magnitude of the this disaster and that neither the oil industry nor we have learned much.
Lots more to come….stay tuned. Parts III & IV will be up very soon.