BP Exec on Containment Dome: “It Has Failed”

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So far, just a headline at the Wall Street Journal: “BP Suffers Setback in Installing Containment Dome” and merely a “Breaking News” listing. From its e-mail alert:

Hydrate build-up stalled placement of the containment dome over gushing oil. The BP executive of the dome said, “I would say it has failed.”

Scanning other news services; will update post haste.

Update 4:10 PM: Reuters has more senior execs denying the dire reports. Since initial reports said there was no oil leak, I’m not sure how much cred to give optimistic accounts:

BP Plc hit a snag in its efforts to lower a giant containment dome to trap oil from a blown-out Gulf of Mexico oil well on the sea floor that could take two days to troubleshoot, a BP executive said on Saturday.

BP engineers encountered flammable hydrate formations while lowering the four-story structure onto the leak, said Doug Suttles, the company’s chief operating officer.

“I wouldn’t say it’s failed yet,” Suttles said.

CNN has more detail:

The effort to place a containment dome over a gushing wellhead was dealt a setback when a large volume of hydrates — crystals formed when gas combines with water — accumulated inside of the vessel, BP’s chief operating officer said Saturday.

Gas hydrates are lighter than water, and as a result, made the dome buoyant, Doug Suttles said. The crystals also blocked the top of the dome, which would prevent oil from being funneled to a drill ship.
The dome was moved off to the side of the wellhead and is resting on the seabed while crews work to overcome the challenge, Suttles said.

“What we had to do was pick the dome back up, set it over to the side while we evaluate what options we have to actually try to prevent the hydrate formation or find some other method to try to capture the flow,” he said…

The technique has never been tried at such a depth and there are no guarantees it will work, said BP, which holds the license for the well.

“It’s a technology first,” BP CEO Tony Hayward told CNN’s David Mattingly Friday. “It works in 3 [hundred] to 400 feet of water. But the pressures and temperatures are very different here. So we cannot be confident that it will work.”…

Casi Calloway, CEO of the environmental group Mobile Baykeeper, said Saturday she hopes the dome operation is successful, but she’s not counting on it…

BP hopes to connect the dome to a drill ship over the weekend and to begin sucking oil from the containment dome up to the ship by the beginning of next week, the company’s chief operating officer, Suttles said at a news conference Friday afternoon.

“This has not been done before and it will undoubtedly have some complications,” he added.

Like BP, the U.S. Coast Guard worked Friday to manage expectations about the success of the operation.
“This is going to take a few days and this is not going to be something instantaneous,” Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry said. “It may or may not work.”

On the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, the Coast Guard will continue its efforts to disperse and contain the massive oil slick, which has started to reach Louisiana’s outer islands. The Coast Guard performed four controlled burns, dropped 28,000 gallons of dispersant chemical and skimmed 8,000 barrels of an oil-water mix on Thursday, said Petty Officer Brandon Blackwell.

Calloway said the use of dispersants is also cause for concern.

“We don’t know what’s in it, we don’t know much about it,” she said.

“All it really does is sink the oil to the bottom and kind of get it out of sight. So the public doesn’t worry about it as much but the dispersant in itself is toxic,” Calloway said. “We don’t know what the half-life of it is, or how it changes the composition of oil. … We don’t know how long it stays in the water.”

Yves here. The cynic in me notes:

1. Higher level execs effectively denying a report by a lower level exec with operational responsibility (the quote from the executive cited in the WSJ e-mail alert is notably absent from its story now up, a rather impressive act of damage control. This story, like the CNN and Reuters account, now has the only BP quotes coming from the COO Shuttles). This may well be an effort to buy time by faffing around (as the Brits would put it) with a pretty unlikely to succeed Plan A while they move towards implementing Plan B or C. But let’s face it, BP would presumably have tried the approach most likely to work first.

2. The fact that the Coast Guard is handling surface containment, when BP had said it would take those measures in case of a leak.

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  1. Boabdil

    Over the last 24 hours, I have been thinking that the situation with the BP rig and the stock market downturn last Thursday are related.

    Do you think that we are developing products and processes that we may not be able to comprehend and manage?

    1. ron

      On the level that we will experience greater risk now and in the future both to secure necessary oil production and resolve the issue of debt service by nations,states,counties, cities and individual’s. Greater risk less reward seems to be the trend.

      1. doggyDish Party

        nations,states,counties, cities and individual’s. Greater risk less reward

        During the 1820’s did The Monroe Doctrine agree in principle with Pax Britannica that USA should not interfere with existing Western hemisphere colonies controlled by British Forces sed quid pro quo Great Britain should dare not to start new colonies within Western Hemisphere? The Monroe Doctrine followed closely on the heels of Napoleonic Defeat at Waterloo and on the heels of 1812 burning of the White House. Britain was then engaged less in military expansion and colonization but more in industrialization of the homeland which was then developing a voracious appetite for both raw materials and markets for her finished products.

        After two centuries has the sudden reappearance of British Petroleum just offshore gone unnoticed? Has the Monroe Doctrine been as much violated by this recent sudden, unpleasant, and fiery reappearance as by an equally sudden fiery appearance of British in 1812 at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

        But when we are now importing 2/3 of the oil we currently burn why foreigners are drilling on our turf? Why they are drilling then capping the well. Now let me get this straight. Crude oil market prices are much higher now than in 1998. But not high enough to produce and market the crude? You can’t sell; you got to cap the well and sail? Tell me something. Would you go into the Mojave Desert, dig for gold, after finding a large vein of gold board up the mine-shaft, then walk away? Would you cruise off-shore from Louisiana, drill for oil, plug up the gusher of liquid gold with cement, disappear, leave buried treasure for long-john-silver to find? BP is working for their share-holders? Working for their executives? Executives working for share-holders? Working for the mob? Did mob sell drilling rights to BP? Will mob muffle Monroe, siphon off the oil after BP disappears? Are British embarrassed by all of this? Was Nixon embarrassed by Watergate Break In? Does a burning oil soaked seagull brighten up the night.

        U B Judge

        U B Thurgood

  2. BC

    This is worrisome. We’re running out of time. Keep an eye on the barataria bay. Oil reaching their is very bad for Louisiana. No good options for where it goes, though. The Brown Pelican could easily wind up back on the endangered species list at this point.

  3. edwardo

    When the news of this catastrophe first broke I learned secondhand from “an insider” that this “event” was of such magnitude that it would probably spell the end of BP. That’s the good news. The bad news from the source was that there was a better than decent chance that the entire Gulf of Mexico could become a dead zone.

    1. bob

      Not so fast. Palin and her teabagging buddies are already saying that it is the fault of a “non-American” company doing the drilling.

  4. Gary Anderson

    Larry Kudlow has cooled the drill drill drill, hoping this will pass over and he can resume the mantra. Obama was sucked in and he listens way too much to the wealthy and not near enough to the people who voted for him, and may not show up next time.

  5. sam hamster

    Since my pessimistic post yesterday on this dome-thingy, it is quickly becoming clear that this dome is just a back-of-the-napkin attempt to cap this undersea geyser of oil.

    The dome is failing in its primary objective: to inject doubt into the public’s mind that this oil will not be spilling for weeks and months to come.

    Now, might be a good time to pull up your nut sack and kiss your ass goodbye.

  6. Dingojoe

    I kind of view this as a deep sea version of Apollo 13. The engineers are working with the unknown and it’s going to take trail and error for some type of solution. BP is on the hook for plenty of negligence, but they and the entire industry are working the problem at this point.

    On a different front, all of the spillways are being opened on the Mississippi to provide as much flow out of all the delta (as opposing to merely the channels) and provide the best natural defense.

    1. Ghost of Joe

      Yes, that’s exactly what it is. It’s a Ron Howard movie with Tom Hanks. And here I was thinking it was “reality.”

      What’s with the handle? Did a dingo eat your baby?

  7. Hedgehog2006

    Boabdil, you’re perfectly right it is connected. By absent regulation, absent checks and balances. The corporations and financial industries are totally beyond and out of control. What is called the primacy of the political process does not count anymore, we (the peoples) desperately need to win that back. It is the same in the US as over here in Europe.

  8. propertius

    Even if the dome is put in place, I’m worried about methane hydrate crystals being carried upward with the funneled oil. Most of the literature I’ve been able to find online says that methane hydrate crystals are unstable at depths of less than ~300 meters and will decompose into (potentially explosive) methane gas and water. It’s a very ugly situation.

    1. earnyermoney

      Local news last night commented that one of the surviving workers on the platform said a giant methane gas bubble was the cause of the explosion on the rig. Could the methane bubble have formed from one of these hydrates as it rose from colder water to the warmer surface waters?

    2. yuccatree3

      The dome is just a PR sideshow to satisfy the public that BP is trying to do something fast. It’s obvious the main show is the drilling of the relief well which is already 4,000 feet below the ocean floor. It will take a few more weeks to reach 18,000 feet.

  9. Reverse Engineer

    Now that the OJ Box designed to snuff the GUSHER is floating around in a buoyant sea of methane crystals, we are back to Plan C, which is the 3 month Plan to drill horizontally into the current gusher and cap it from below. Maybe it works, maybe not, but we have at least 3 months of PUKE spilling out from below the seabed into the GOM to deal with while they spend themselves on what could be just ANOTHER Epic Failure.

    In order to keep this Gusher from becoming an Eyesore on the beaches, BP is spilling some kind of detergent into the sea to keep it all from making surface level. So instead of the spill going lateral across the surface, instead now its layering itself up through the column, with some of it clumping and hitting the sea bed where THANK GOD te Tourists will never see it! Sadly for the Fishies though, they will have to swim through it at virtually any depth at all, and filter all that Oil through their gills. Imagine yourself a Smoker who has to do ALL is breathing through a Marlboro. Even Chain Smokers get to take a few fresh air breaths between their puffs. NOT so for the Fishies. EVERY breath they take through their gills is loaded up with Carcinogens.

    The GOM is going to be a complete DEAD ZONE for fishing here, and it is of course only a matter of time before the PUKE starts washing up on the Florida Beaches, and then saturates the Evergaldes. Because you know, there is only a limited amount of the “dispersant” chemicals (themselves derived from Oil) which BP can pump down toward the GUSHER. How much Tide do you think they have in storage? A Few 100s thousand Gallons maybe? Meanwhile the GUSHER produces probably 60,000 BARRELS a day here. They cannot pour detergent faster than this Oil Volcano can spit out the PUKE. They are gonna run out of detergent in a week or a month, and they STILL will not have capped this thing.

    Then of course comes the WEATHER. Fairly calm seas and beneficent tides have kept most of the PUKE offshore so far. However, HURRICANE season is coming upon us, and its about statistically IMPOSSIBLE we won’t get at least one MAJOR Hurricane hitting the GOM this season. What is going to happen once this Detergent Emulsified SOUP of Oil and Sea Water gets stirred up by a decent size Hurricane?

    Well, heavy Oil Polymers will not be evaporated at those temperatures, but the lighter ones will be. The rainwater will contain a percentage of hydrocarbons far greater than it normally does, which will rain down everywhere. Wave action will push large quantities of emulsified Oil-Water mixture onto beaches, the water will wash back out to sea, the clumps of Oil will STICK to the rocks and the sand. Coral and Oyster beds will be fouled for generations, there will be no shellfish that survive this in the GOM. They are filtering organisms and they are not designed to filter THAT much PUKE and still survive.

    The SMELL in every community along the Gulf Coast will be like living inside a Refinery Tank. Mass migration away from shoreline communities from Mobile to Houston as people choke and vomit from the fumes.

    Is this a worst case scenario? No it is not. Its just the most likely case based on what has gone down so far. The WORST CASE? This reservoir of Oil is SOOO vast it keeps spewing up the PUKE for 20 or 30 years, and takes out ALL the Oceans of the world in the same way. No indication yet of this slowing down, only increasing. No indication yet that the Bozo Engineers can design anything but Epic Fail solutions to the problem. Each day that goes by with no solution, we are one day closer to DEATH as a species. Its looking pretty ugly at the moment for the future of Life on Earth above the level of the Tardigrades.


      1. Reverse Engineer

        What do you have to lose? Might as well bet against it, since if it actually came true, whatever you collect from the bet wouldn’t be worth diddly squat anyhow.

        This isn’t a betting scenario. Its a No Win scenario. If it doesn’t happen, GREAT, BAU for another day. If it does…have all your Ducks in a Row and be prepared to Meet Your Maker.


    1. CrazyCooter

      A side well only works if there isn’t massive upward flow from the original well. I am not a petro engy, so if you are, correct me.

      The physics is sort of simple. You got this stuff called “drilling mud” that is heavy but can be circulated like a fluid. When they drilled this well, the drilling mud they used was reportedly about 16 pounds PER gallon plus.

      Conventionally, you would tap into the side of the well, say 2k feet down from the 18k depth well in the earths crust, and start shoving in this really heavy mud. It fills up the well and provides a downward pressure. Enough to override the upward pressure from the deposit, however it takes time to get the mud in place over the original well, say from the starting point of 2k to a lower level of 4k or 2k feet of drilling mud.

      This works as long as the original well isnt flushing in a very short period of time (e.g. a restricted flow). If the original well is balls out no restrictions, this is biblical and there is no solution that has been put on the table yet.

      When I heard Pelosi say they wanted to raise the cap from X million (15? 75?) to 10 billion I gulped. That tells me how bad this is.

      I hope its not.

      Please provide technical corrections if I am wrong (and cater to the lay folks).



  10. HtG

    Here is an excerpt from The Houston Chronicle today. Houston is the home of the industry and this paper has been a good source…

    Company and Coast Guard officials had cautioned that icelike hydrates, a slushy mixture of gas and water, would be one of the biggest challenges to the containment box plan, and their warnings proved accurate. The crystals clogged the opening in the top of the peaked box like sand in a funnel, only upside-down.
    Options under consideration included raising the box high enough that warmer water would prevent the slush from forming, or using heated water or methanol to prevent the crystals from forming.


  11. Charles Atkinson

    Dear President Obama and BP Executives

    Think of a gigantic upside down old-fashioned shower curtain, about the size of a football field, circled around three shower heads at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

    The shower curtains are anchored to the ocean floor and these shower heads are spewing out black turbidity from antiquity that rises to the surface. The black stuff is contained all the way up by these curtains made of TARPs — the kind that colleges use to cover their football fields.

    Up top, the curtain narrows into a funnel and barges simply slurp up the black stuff and take it off to the Refinery so that it does not wreak catastrophic havoc into our infinite future.

    Maybe the plumbers called for this undersea Watergate will succeed in capping this upwardly mobile toxic asset or even contain it with a dome as relief program.

    It now looks as though the Containment Dome is going to fail. Will anyone consider this Plan C for Curtain?

    But why not spell Curtains for the BP oil spill with TARPs to bail out the Banks of the Gulf of Mexico.

    Does this stimulate your thinking or is this just a pipe dream?

    Charlie Atkinson,
    Cambridge, Massachusetts

    1. bob

      My understanding of the problem is that there is too much oil/gas coming out at a rate that cannot be controlled or even measured. If the rate of escape cannot be controlled, the rate of capture by either the dome on the bottom or the ship on top, is not knowable.

      There are too many unknowable variables on a well that has already proven that it may be out of “normal operating ranges and pressures”.

      My honest feeling is that there is no one who is going to put a multimillion dollar tanker, and it crew, in harms way.

      There is also the question of what they would be capturing. A gas/oil/seawater mix is not very marketable. The load of the ship would then be a huge liability, and possibly very volatile.

  12. ray l love

    I posted the following back on May 2 on Econbrowser. I don’t know this with any certainty but I drove a pump/tanker-truck for a few months a couple of years ago and I suspect that if money were no object that ships/tankers and barges (many), if outfitted with the equipment explained below, could possibly clean-up the mess at the surface. Think BIG:

    I have a little experience working on drilling rigs but only those that extract nat. gas (Barnett Shale). My experience though is very limited but I do know that the gas comes up out of the ground mixed with saltwater. This saltwater(hot)and the nat. gas and sometimes oil come up through the well-head and then go through a ‘separator’. The nat. gas is then diverted into a pipeline while the saltwater and the oil are each diverted to separate holding tanks to be hauled away by tanker-trucks, and the saltwater is then put back into the ground at depths of many thousands of feet via what are called ‘disposals'(wells in reverse).

    Why then, would ships or barges not be outfitted with separators (many, or bigger versions) so that the oil is simply pumped up along with some ocean-saltwater and then pumped into an oil-tanker?(of course the ocean-saltwater could simply be diverted from the separators right back into the ocean)

    I suppose this all sounds ‘too good to be true’, but… collecting fluids with extremely powerful pumps, and separating them, and transporting those separated fluids is what is done 24/7 in the oilfields.

    When I wrote that on May 2 I did not know that efforts to siphon off some of the spilled oil were already underway on a small scale. So my question now is whether everything that can be done… is being done. If it takes a thousand ships/barges and a thousand tankers to vacuum-up the mess… is the scale of such an operation any different than any of the countless wars that humans have engaged themselves in? Is saving the oceans any less important than what is happening in Iraq or Afghanistan. Economists talk about creating jobs by having holes dug and filled-in, why not a massive clean-up effort orchestrated by the US Government?

    It is foolish to think that BP will do everything ‘possible’. Whatever the long-term costs ‘might’ be, that amount should be the minimum criteria for what is spent NOW. I doubt that BP has that capacity to spend, and if it did… I doubt that BP would even consider such ‘drastic’ spending. Our government is not likely to act either unless the publics’ voice becomes so loud as to put officials in fear of their losing their jobs. If this ‘containment dome’ fails to work, the publics’ voice needs to be heard and in short order. It would be very stupid indeed to spend a trillion dollars or whatever on this over a 25 year period, if a trillion or whatever ‘up-front’ would create the much needed jobs and minimize the damage and the suffering as well… now.

    1. robert

      I thought all those thousands of supertankers were already sitting at anchor, somewhere off some remote Pacific atoll, or outside the port of Rotterdam, or wherever, already chock full of the stuff that nobody wants because of demand destruction.

  13. Just an Idea...

    Hello –
    I know this idea seems simplistic and maybe a little dumb….but why can’t they cut a hole in the bottom of an Oil Supertanker and sink the tanker right over the well?

    Yes…it won’t fix anything, but then they can pump the oil from the top of the tanker..

    Same concept as what they are doing now, but on a a massive scale…It will give them time to sort out other problems as they go and they won’t destroy all else in the meanwhile.

    Crazy….possibly, but we’re not doing anything that is working so far — so crazy may be what we need.


    1. Peripheral Visionary

      That’s an interesting thought. The main problem would be getting it right on top of the leak–any kind of drift (it has to drop a mile down) would leave it in the wrong place. The dome attempt is essentially the same idea, only with a smaller container that can be guided more accurately.

  14. earnyermoney

    “It’s a technology first,” BP CEO Tony Hayward told CNN’s David Mattingly Friday. “It works in 3 [hundred] to 400 feet of water. But the pressures and temperatures are very different here. So we cannot be confident that it will work.”…

    Why the lack of simulation at these depths for this technology? Shows BP is incompetent in responding to a disaster. The quotes from the Coast Guard officer were not comforting when considering the long term effects on the surrounding ecosystem.

    1. wunsacon

      >> Why the lack of simulation at these depths for this technology?

      The computer looks hung. Should I give it some more time or reboot now?

  15. Peripheral Visionary

    I’m sure I’m not the first person who has considered the possibility of using a depth charge, even a small nuclear device, to seal the hole. It would have to be inserted reasonably close, but a correctly shaped charge should be able to blast the leak shut.

  16. bob

    Hydrates- the problems

    They are in a solid or liquid form at those depths(pressures) and temperatures. Somewhere along the line on the way up(if they get into the line) they phase change, meaning that they change both temperature and volume. Being able to control that phase change is critical. So much so that if an oil well that deep has too much gas it can become too expensive/risky to extract the oil.


    Oil drilling requires different equipment than gas drilling and capture. Oil drilling at that depth isn’t a problem, finding that much gas is.

    The gas was the problem which led to the original catastrophe, and dealing with the gas is what is stopping all of the efforts to stop the leak.

    To illustrate the difference between containing oil at sea level and LNG(purified hydrates) look at the ships necessary to carry them, and the containment structures on the ships.

    Oil tanker-


    LNG tanker-


  17. Birdy

    Can’t we get great minds from around the world to remedy the Gulf oil spill? Can’t we have a major convention of great engineers and inventors and deep sea experts to gather? Many great things can be done when we work together in the spirit of saving so much beauty.

    Can someone with some power suggest this to our President?

  18. JoshK

    Why not just put a 20,000 ton ball bearing on top of the well head. Nothing could get past that sucker.

  19. Al Gore supporter

    I think it is high time all this deep water drilling in the gulf come to an end. Let the price of gas rise to $5.00 per gallon if that is the end result.

    BP needs to be banned from drilling in American waters. Dick Cheney needs to be exposed for his role.
    I shutter to think these oil people may have ruined the Gulf.
    Will all the homes on this shoreline become worthless! OMG.

  20. Doc Holiday

    How does congress have time to meet with all the lobby groups these days? We have subprime banking fraud and multiply hearings (on that Trillion $$ topic), we have healthcare reform (another Trillion $$ topic), we have this environmental issue that goes back to Bush fraud (another Trillion $$ topic), we have the stock market dropping a thousand points (no problem) and another investigation — and meanwhile, the lobby groups keep congress well oiled, like the corrupt machine it is! Thank God the economy has recovered and that there isn’t a Recovery Bubble ……….. LOL!

  21. Doc Holiday

    WTF does this sound like: While oil and gas companies have pushed the frontiers of offshore drilling into deeper, more dangerous waters over the last decade, their government watchdogs stayed behind in the shallows, clinging to long-standing practices and failing to plan for new hazards, according to scores of federal documents and interviews with government officials and outside auditors.

    ==> Ok, … to me, this sounds just a little like the wall street/hedge-fund world of their globalized derivatives market, and we have the same solutions in place for their derivative crashes, as we have for deep sea drilling ….., i.e, not a F—–g thing — because these un-regulated corrupt nazi bastards do not care what they destroy!

    1. MindTheGAAP

      1. There’s a *big* difference between the oil majors and Wall Street–the primary one being that the majors make their money by providing an absolutely vital product to modern society. You can argue about BP’s safety record, but the utility of the product itself is beyond question.

      2. Speaking of BP’s safety record, you should realize that such stories are gong to be pretty common across industries soon, because funding for design and maintenance of critical infrastructure has been cut drastically over the last 20 years. Maintenance is NOT a problem in the Deepwater Horizon , but it is a major problem on roadways and the vast majority of the electric grid. In other words, don’t be surprised when this comes up again and again and again in the immediate future.

      3. You’ve probably heard of the “Halo Effect”; well, consider this the “horns effect”. How about guessing what would happen if regulators tried to do anything that would slow down any drilling at a time when oil was trading over $100/barrel? For a reasonably good prediction, recall that Congress threatened to withhold FASB’s funding if FASB didn’t cave on the mark-to-market issue, and that was AFTER the financial system was imploding.

      1. aet

        Finance = human = political will can change any factor .
        Gas well blow-out = nature = politics alone can avail you nothing.

        The gas well story is a story about the intersection of the natural world and its iron laws and humanity.

        The finance story is all human, by comparison.
        Actually MUCH easier to deal with, as all that needs to change is the way that people think about their contractual rights and obligations.
        Compare and contrast dealing with the physics of the oil well disaster. As a famous Scot once said: “You cannot change the Laws of Nature.”

  22. MindTheGAAP

    “I think it is high time all this deep water drilling in the gulf come to an end. Let the price of gas rise to $5.00 per gallon if that is the end result. ”

    I’m clearly in a minority on this site on this issue, but:

    1. Until there’s a replacement for oil (not going to happen anytime soon), offshore drilling is a necessity.
    2. What makes you think that the price of gas will rise to only $5/gallon if deep water drilling came to an end?
    3. I think it’s a little absurd for the US–which consumes more oil than any other country (20-25% of the world’s demand, if I remember correctly, but this figure could be off) and invades other countries for having it–to say that it doesn’t want to risk its own waters, but that other countries should continue to do so and continue to supply America its needs. And don’t tell me that the Gulf is somehow special–a similar problem offshore the coast of Brazil would also be devastating

    Moreover, do you remember all those noises about how unfair China is acting by ruining its environment to steal American jobs? Well, what would prevent the same charges being leveled at foreign countries for oil drilling?

    Sorry, but your position is really unsupportable.

    1. aet

      Why so cheap?

      That’s what I pay now – and I suspect most of the world does too. Mostly taxes.

      Then again, I understand that the US would have no deficit, if there was a proper Fed tax on gasoline.

  23. Paul Repstock

    Sadly I will appear to be one of those “people” :( who have an opinion on everything.

    What I’m hoping and expecting here is that the flow rate for this well will drop dramaticaly. Normally a rapid release of presure in a well will cause the oilbearing structures to collapse when the initial presure is bled off.

    I feel very bad that this has happened. I feel bad that these men lost their lives and that the waters of the gulf will be even more poluted. But, I have doubts about the news and specially the statistics being aired by the media and various experts. I will stand to be corrected if someone can direct me to pictures of the place where the oil and gas is coming to the surface. If there is 5000 barrels per day plus attendant gas flow rising from deep under the ocean, then there should be a massive gyser of oil and a fog spray and foam in the air.

    If this is not present, then perhaps we are just being distracted. I don’t doubt that we will enjoy $5.00 gasoline as a result of this. BP may pay for the clean-up. The consumer will ultimately pay the oil companies back for “protecting our environment”. lol

    1. MindTheGAAP

      Here’s the best explanation I’ve seen so far:


      Two excerpts I found useful (again, I have no background in the oil industry–maybe everybody already knows all this):

      “It was sometime during the night after the sinking that oil leaks started appearing from buckles and holes in the riser. This was stated to be about 1,000 barrels per day. I would read that to mean the leak was between 250 and 3,000 barrels per day (bpd). And a 5,000 bpd leak is probably between 2,000 and 10,000 bpd. Until there is some way to measure the flow–like running it through a pipeline or into a tank–it is impossible to have any accurate measurement of the leakage.

      Factoid: If you assume that there is over 5,000 psi of downhole pressure at the BOP–and everything I have heard indicates it is probably substantially higher than that–then a 1/4 inch diameter hole is large enough to “leak” 5,000 barrels a day. That “leak” would probably cut off your arm if you passed it in front of it.

      There is almost certainly sand in the oil. As that sand passes the leaking portion of the BOP, it acts as an extremely high pressure sand blaster, eroding the area around the leak and enlarging the hole. So there is a perfectly rational explanation why the leak would escalate from 1,000 bpd to 5,000 bpd to whatever it is now.

      Nobody was lying about the volume or covering up. The leak was, and is, getting worse.”


      “BP has stated they will pay for the cleanup and environmental damage (as required by law), and will pay any legitimate claims for economic damage. This is a reasonable requirement. During the Exxon Valdez disaster, we saw numerous outlandish claims from “fishermen” who couldn’t tell you the difference between the bow and the stern and “landowners” and “tourist industry people” who had never been to Alaska until after the spill.

      There is a lot of press about a $75 million cap on BP’s liability. This has been taken out of context, as it does not apply to the cleanup or environmental damage–there BP’s liability is unlimited. The $75 million is in reference to economic damage, and BP has stated they will not hide behind that limit. Time will tell, but for now I am taking them at their word.”

    2. aet

      The costs of this disaster are simply costs of using oil.
      People who use oil ought to pay all of its costs.
      To the extent that we all use oil, we all pay for it.
      So I hope it gets done cheaply:and that they gain valuable knowledge as to how to act the next time this happens- and there WILL be a next time, no doubt of that.

  24. No Shrimp today, thanks

    I am not worried about paying $5.00 for gas. This deep water drilling is far too dangerous to continue.

    1. Vinny

      No Shrimp today, thanks:

      If you grind that shrimp really finely, you can pour it into your gasoline tank.


  25. Paul Repstock

    Thanks GAAP. That was a very informative link. The guy was obviously well informed though he wasn’t a production person.

    Whatever the outcome, I’m certain that we will pay for it. Offshore drilling will not end as long as there is such a demand for oil. As long as we wish to ride jets at a whim, drive 60 MPH, and leave our computers turned on 24/7 (like I do), there will be a push to drill anywhere that oil is available.

    To bad the containment did not work. I hope they can find a solution soon.

  26. Vinny

    Another example of a greedy and criminal mega-corporation cutting corners, lying, cheating, and destroying the environment for the sake of its profits. Had this happened in China, death penalty proceedings would be already in progress.

    Just like I did when Exxon Valdeez ruined Prince William Sound in Alaska, I now plan to forever stop buying another drop of gasoline or any other products from BP. Take that to your shareholders, Carl-Henric Svanberg.

    Anybody else here willing to jump on the boycott bandwagon of this criminal organization?


    1. Skippy

      Cutting BP card into fine pieces right now.

      Skippy…hay its like the ring of Mordor, what fing pit of hell do I have to chuck this in, to destroy it…eh.

      1. Vinny


        Wait, wait! Don’t cut that BP card yet… not before you max it out first. LOL


  27. justaslakker

    Toxic oil, toxic assets. Does anyone else think maybe we need to look at the way we do business, I mean, the entire business model. What would Adam Smith say about this oil spill? The profit motive is supposed to be a good thing. It gives people the incentive to work hard hoping to strike it rich in the business world.

    Face it, Capitalism can only survive by continuous consumption. Should we drastically reduce our consumption of oil (a truly good thing), and everything else, then capitalism as we experience it would fail. Lower consumption would mean lower production leads to even higher unemployment. Were we to switch overnight to a conservation mode, i.e. everyone tries to consume as little as possible of everything, the economy would collapse.

    It is bad enough to see the human collateral damage of the financial industries toxic derivatives spill, which is not contained. But this tragedy is so much more devastating. How do you write of a dead Gulf of Mexico?

    The only good that could come out of this oil spill is a restructuring of our consumption driven economy and needless to say our corrupt political system. Were not there yet.

  28. choderlosdelaclos

    Why not using an atomic weapon (50 kilotons…) to vitrify the seabed and probably close the leak at the exact location of the well. A 20 kilometers radius contaminated for 10 to 20 years is may be better than a complete destruction of the Gulf of Mexico, Texas, Louisana, Florida coasts for 40 years..and will give a chance to the motto “money taxpayers…at work”

    And for fun the sheer stupidity of Steales at the RNC convention in 2009…Drill baby, drill….


  29. Lucy Honeychurch

    I really love how they keep explaining to us how BP and the oil industry are deploying world-class technology solutions to solve this problem.

    … and what do we get?

    1) Denial
    2) Floaties around the coastline
    3) Diluting the pollution with poison spray
    3) Put a dome over it, and now … wait for it …

    4) Throw garbage (literally!) down the hole.

    Finally a solution for all that waste petro-plastic.


    Anyone else think they’re just stalling until they can get that new drill hole dug right next to it and ‘recover’ the oil that (much more profitable) way, to great applause?

  30. Abdulah

    Here is a Design that our engineers came up with two weeks ago. It handles Methane Gas, Hydrates, freezing, pressure, velocity, currents, and surface conditions. The key is to redirect the flow, not stop it. We have a mix of petroleum, civil, mechanical, hydraulic, and chemical engineers that worked a few hours doing the calcs. It does not have to be 100% enclosing to be 99.99% effective. The uprisers are cycled to resist freezing and will allow gas to escape.

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