Guest Post: Oil Spill Much Worse Than We’ve Been Told: “Official Estimates for the Flow of Oil … May be Just a Drop in the Bucket”

Washington’s Blog

As a story in the Christian Science Monitor shows, the Gulf oil spill is much worse than we’ve been told:

It’s now likely that the actual amount of the oil spill dwarfs the Coast Guard’s figure of 5,000 barrels, or 210,000 gallons, a day.

Independent scientists estimate that the renegade wellhead at the bottom of the Gulf could be spewing up to 25,000 barrels a day. If chokeholds on the riser pipe break down further, up to 50,000 barrels a day could be released, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration memo obtained by the Mobile, Ala., Press-Register.

As estimates of the spill increase, questions about the government’s honesty in assessing the spill are emerging.


“The following is not public,” reads National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Emergency Response document dated April 28, according to the Press-Register [see this]. “Two additional release points were found today. If the riser pipe deteriorates further, the flow could become unchecked resulting in a release volume an order of magnitude higher than previously thought.”
An order of magnitude is a factor of 10.

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that John Amos, an oil industry consultant, said that NOAA revised its original estimate of 1,000 barrels after he published calculations based on satellite data that showed a larger flow.

The 5,000 barrels a day is the “extremely low end” of estimates, Mr. Amos told the Journal.

Indeed, CNN quotes the lead government official responding to the spill – the commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Thad Allen – as stating:

If we lost a total well head, it could be 100,000 barrels or more a day.

As the Associated Press notes, “experts warned that an uncontrolled gusher could create a nightmare scenario if the Gulf Stream carries it toward the Atlantic”.  This would, in fact, be bad, as it would carry oil far up the Eastern seaboard:

[Click here for full image.]

The ultimate worst-case scenario is that the oil could be carried from the gulfstream into world-wide ocean currents (see drawing above).   I do not believe this will happen.  Even with the staggering quantity of oil being released, I don’t think it’s enough to make its way into other ocean currents, and I don’t think any doomsday scenario will play out.

But it is still very bad, indeed …

For an even more complete and bigger-picture update, see this.

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About George Washington

George Washington is the head writer at Washington’s Blog. A busy professional and former adjunct professor, George’s insatiable curiousity causes him to write on a wide variety of topics, including economics, finance, the environment and politics. For further details, ask Keith Alexander…


  1. Dennis

    Given this administration’s penchant for exploiting “crises” and the fact that they are in the process of pushing a number of environmental policies that, once again, no one will have a say in and will cost us each substantial cost-of-living hits, I would take anything they say with a grain of salt.

    It’s far too early to say what the extent of the problem is, what the net result of those problems may be, and how to best solve them.

    I am confident that a large number of very knowledgable people are working on it and that all will turn out o.k.

    1. Glen

      Here’s my deal:

      I didn’t make this mess, I don’t want to pay for it, and that includes my tax dollars. BP gets to pay for it, all of it. And if it drives them out of business, so be it, they took the risk, they reap the rewards or pay the price. No more bailouts on my bucks.

      And if it turns out they were short cutting they own engineering standards (as some reports indicate) for how this rig was supposed to be run, then maybe we need to treat the corporation like a person and throw the corporate officers in jail. You can darn well bet, if you or I made this big of a mess, our butts would be in the slammer by now.

      1. fight_the_rich

        “I didn’t make this mess, I don’t want to pay for it,”

        Its nice to see someone else who does not drive a motor vehicle and has succeeded in eliminating nearly all consumption of petro-chemical derived products.

        1. pat b

          lets see oil prices have tripled over the last 7 years but the oil companies don’t want to spend on safety measures?

    2. Tao Jonesing

      The people saying that the spill is much larger than previously thought include BP and an independent scientist out of FSU. Since “they” aren’t the Obama administration, what makes you doubt what they have to say?

    3. K Ackermann

      Very knowledgable people on on it?

      Very knowledgable people are probably saying that acoustic shutoff device they lobbied so hard against is looking quite cheap right now.

      Only very stupid people would drill at depths without even so much as a clue as how to stop a blowout. What if these clowns were running a nuclear reactor?

      What good are smarts without basic common sense? They should be forced to stay in business and turn over all their profits in perpetuity. These people should be made available for scrubbing our toilets and licking out boots until they take that long Freedom Nap.

      This spill could have been prevented for $510,000 – the cost of an acoustic shut-off.

      1. fjf

        I’m surprised that the US does not require an acoustic shut-off; they are required in every other offshore jurisdiction I know.
        But we do not yet have enough public information to determine what went wrong. According to a radio interview with a man who evacuated the rig, they had finished cementing the last casing string and had displaced the mud with seawater preparatory to pulling the riser (the connector between the rig and the blow out preventor (BOP) on the sea floor). A second rig would then arrive to perform the completion work.

        Normally after you run and cement the last casing string the well is completely isolated from the formation. The completion process involves using explosive charges to perforate the casing to allow access to the desired strata of the reservoir. Before perforating the well bore is completely independent and isolated from formation pressures.

        That they had a blow out suggests in incomplete or failed casing job or bad cementing.

        According to the interview with the employee, the well blew a column of water to the crown of the derrick (approx 300 ft) and this was followed by gas coming to the surface. The driller should have seen the kick coming and been able to shut the BOP from the driller’s shack. Shutting the BOP would have been his first response as that was his only means of survival. Since this is an ingrained reaction (drillers are constantly faced with this situation and are trained to respond to it) I suspect that he did shut the BOP but that the BOP failed in some way. If the BOP failed then having an acoustic unit would not have presented a means to recover from this failure.

        Despite that it is insane to go offshore without such a piece of gear. Only in America would firms argue to avoid spending $500,000 so that they can loose billions. Makes the Chinese look like pikers.

        1. Michael

          “I’m surprised that the US does not require an acoustic shut-off;”

          Probably for the same reason they don’t require banks to be solvent, food to be free of harmful chemicals, and so on.

  2. Abhishek

    President Obama will pay a visit on Sunday to the scene of the one of biggest oil spills to strike US coastal waters. This visit will come more than a week after the BP oil well exploded and is gushing oil in the waters .I can’t think what the President will do after a week since I can’t see his oratory stopping the thousands of barrels of oil from coming out of the well .The only reason I can see for his going is that he trying to damage control after his administration was criticized for doing too little to control damage from this horrific environmental disaster.

    1. Mark

      With a spill of this size there is nothing the government could have done, or can do. It’s just spin to try to shift blame, mostly from partisans that want to turn this into “Obama’s Katrina”.

      1. Glen

        Sure there is, the Coast Guard can deploy it’s crack team to cap a well head miles under water, Oops, they don’t do that,

        National Guard? No.
        Corp of Engineers? No.
        Navy? No.
        Army? No.
        Marines? No.

        Gee, I guess the government screwed up. They haven’t spent billions building a team of people and equipment to fix this problem. And if they had – it would have been a waste of my tax dollars.

        It’s not the governments fault – it’s not the governments problem (until BP pisses and moans, dogs off on the clean up, and screws the American taxpayer.)

        Look, I’m a real believer in capitalism, and as an engineer, I believe in drilling for oil, and we do need the oil.

        But there is not much the government can do to fix this mess, and, I’m sure they are doing everything they can.

        1. aet

          Yes: the Government ought to have not allowed this activity until BP or Exxon or whoever had the tech and personnel already in place for this contingency.

          Seems obvious that the oil cos don’t and didn’t

          1. aet

            And this is a cost of oil exploration and production: it will appear in the price you pay for oil.
            No doubt about that.

  3. rjs

    it already exceed the exxon valdez spill yesterday:

    Dr. Ian MacDonald at FSU just produced a new spill-size estimate based on the US Coast Guard aerial overflight map of the oil slick on April 28, 2010. The bottom line: that map implies that on April 28, 2010, there was a total of 8.9 million gallons floating on the surface of the Gulf.That implies a minimum average flow rate of slightly more than 1 million gallons of oil (26,000 barrels) per day from the leaking well on the seafloor. Since we’re now in Day 11 of the spill, which began with a blowout and explosion on April 20, we estimate that by the end of the today 12.2 million gallons of oil, at a minimum, have been spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. The oft-quoted official estimate for the Exxon Valdez spill is 11 million gallons, although some think that is the lower limit of the likely range. It appears that we’ve just set a very sad new record. Here is Dr. MacDonald’s calculation:

    Joseph Romm: Oilpocalypse Now — WSJ reports BP oil disaster may be leaking at rate of 1 million gallons a day – It will be the biggest energy and environmental news story for the foreseeable future. Eleven people are already dead and if yesterday’s Wall Street Journal story, “Experts: Oil May Be Leaking at Rate of 25,000 Barrels a Day in Gulf” (subs. req’d, excerpted below) is accurate, then the scope of the environmental disaster is far beyond anything we’ve imagined. How the story plays out will probably determine more than anything else whether there is comprehensive energy and climate legislation this year.

  4. dgalbraith

    This is clearly an enormous disaster, oil sits in a thin film and causes ecological carnage.

    But the so called huge numbers being quoted are tiny – the point is that a tiny amount of oil can do a large amount of damage.

    The gulf contains 500 million billion gallons of water, if the estimates are wrong and the leak is 5 times greater (i.e. 1m gallons a day) and couldn’t be plugged for an entire year, then the amount of oil would still be a billionth of the amount of water.

    Both one in a billion parts or one in 5 billion are a problem if the conditions are right.

    1. reslez

      Your comparison is completely misleading. The oil is not evenly distributed across the entire gulf. The affected areas will be severely damaged. And as we all know BP will not pay even a fraction of the real costs.

      1. dgalbraith

        That’s exactly my point – whether its a fifth or ten times this amount, what is more important surely is where the oil is, what the currents are etc.? The way things are being reported its as if the entire Gulf of Mexico was as thick as tar.

        The hurricane comparison is surely correct, it’s where this lands which will determine the extent of the disaster, not how how big the spill is relative to the Exxon Valdez.

        1. renting_jah

          ‘it’s where this lands’

          And lands, and lands, and lands – only 6 weeks more would be a near miracle, while 6 months would be anything but unprecedented.

          This is the gift that will keep giving, and landing, and landing, and landing….

  5. R Dykstra

    Hype: drill baby drill.
    Reality: drill til it spills, I’ll take the profits, you pay the bills.

    1. Vinny

      I believe Sarah Palin was referring to something else when she said “drill baby drill”…


  6. dsawy

    And how many of these government scientists have actually worked in an oilfield?

    Yea, that’s what I thought. Probably about… zero.

    As such, I treat their apocalyptic estimates with caution. The problem is bad, to be sure, but these government scientists have discovered that the way to fame and fortune is to keep creating bigger and bigger estimates of impending doom. Look at the predictions of AIDS, or the recent swine flu fizzle.

    The general public is utterly ignorant as to how much oil we’re talking about here, or how to visualize it. So I’ll help:

    Any one of *four* irrigation wells on our irrigated farm used to pump at least 1,000 gallons per minute. When irrigating a 125-acre pivot circle (those green circles you coastal folks see when you fly over the middle of the US), we’d pump 24×7 for about three weeks.

    One day’s water was 1,000 GPM * 60 minutes/hour * 24 hours = 1,440,000 gallons per day. That came out to a little more than about 0.25″ of water applied to the ground per day.

    We had four pivots on a one-section farm, so we were pumping over 4,000 gallons per minute within one square mile – and putting only 0.25″ per acre/day on only 500 acres out of the 640.

    Even with the new numbers of 210,000 gallons per day… it ain’t impressing me much at this point. Is is a problem? Yes. Is it the end of the world? No.

    1. K Ackermann

      Let me ask you something… was your water the evaporating kind?

      Was it the kind of water that plants love to slurp up and grow with?

      If some got on you, did it ruin your clothes?

      If some got inside you, did it make you sick?

      Did your water stick around even after a good rain?

      1. dsawy

        Sigh. It is tedious arguing a point with the innumerate.

        My point is this: All that water amounted to a layer 0.25″ deep on 500 acres.

        Now spread that amount of oil over 100’s of square miles – you’ll have but a film on the surface. And some of it will evaporate, yes – the lighter fractions of the oil evaporate, leaving the less volatile, long-chain hydrocarbons behind (ie, tars and asphalts).

        I see these silly maps showing oceanic currents wrapping around the world and such, and, look at the release rate and see a problem being blown far, far out of proportion. We’ve had oil spills before. We’ll have more of them in the future. The earth will still be here after this spill, and it will be here after the next spill.

        1. Frank Ohsen

          1 quart of oil contaminates 250,000 gallons of water. Contaminate in this context means undrinkable for man, fish, or fowl.

          You do the math, genius.

    2. K Ackermann

      Also, maybe the public is utterly ignorant about water volumes, but someone else might be utterly ignorant about oil volumes.

      If that’s the case, allow me to demonstrate:

      Picture a 55-gallon drum.

      Now stack 25,000 of them in your back yard.

      Open one up, and with a wide paintbrush, begin painting every surface with oil. Don’t forget to paint your dog or cat. It wouldn’t be fair to pick and choose.

      Work fast, because there’s another 25,000 barrels tomorrow.

      1. dsawy

        You might not want to speculate on oil futures until you understand what you’re buying or selling.

        When we talk of a “barrel” of oil, we’re talking of a 42-gallon (US) barrel.

        Crude oil on the ground? Sure, seen it on lots of farms and ranches throughout the midwest where it leaks off a wellhead. Isn’t the end of the world, the microbes break it down, and in a couple of years, it is pretty well broken down and weeds are coming up in the dark patch on the ground. In the middle east, there are universities doing studies on plants, fertilizers and rhizomes to remediate soil with high levels of crude contamination. Using an intensive ag approach (plow/mix the oil and soil together, apply proper levels of NPK, add irrigation water and plant seeds), they find in a couple years, the crude is broken down. Again, from my comment below: crude came out of the earth. It seeps to the surface in spots (or used to, before we pumped it all down), it used to wash up on beaches. Nature knows how to deal with it. Crude being spilled isn’t the end of the world.

        It is messy, to be sure, it is a big expense if we want to accelerate the process, but even if we do nothing, nature has ways to deal with crude. It will be decomposed and just go away.

        As for spreading on land: I’d prefer crude oil to many of the refined products that come off the fuel racks today. I’d much rather have crude oil than gasoline with MTBE in it, a tidy little environmental screw-up if ever there were one. Crude just sits there in the topsoil, bound up and going nowhere. MTBE drags the gasoline down into the water table. And the EPA (in concert with the environmentalists and oil companies) put MTBE into gasoline, which then contaminated ground water sources from leaking gasoline storage tanks all over the US. To me, that’s a far bigger, longer-lasting and more pervasive problem than a crude oil spill.

        It has taken a decade (or more) for communities and water well owners to get any settlements or judgments against oil companies on the MTBE issue. Those wells are very likely contaminated for 100+ years to come. Crude, on land or on shorelines, will be gone much faster than that.

      1. dsawy

        You leftists always resort to threats of violence. Your tiny little innumerate mentalities don’t like to debate the point. You just want everyone to bow down to your Malthusian panics, and if they don’t, you’ll threaten violence.

        Nice to see you follow a long-term, well established pattern. I expect no less out of you.

    3. pat b

      1:4 americans were exposed to swine flu.
      about 3000 died of it.

      Had the virus been more morbid, the death rate would have been frightening.

      and, if you think this isn’t such a big deal, can we spray
      210,000 gallons of crude oil on your farm?

      1. dsawy

        “Had the virus been more morbid…”

        Yes, well, wasn’t that the point? We were promised just how deadly the virus was. There were apocalyptic and dire warnings about how devastating the swine flu would be, there was vaccine rushes, etc.

        And nothing came of it. The morbidity turned out to be not substantially worse than the regular flu.

        This is rather similar to the volcanic ash cloud that kept Yves in the UK rather longer than she just intended to be – it turned out that the air traffic shutdown was based on computer modeling, not actual data. When actual data was gathered, the air traffic resumed.

        People tend to forget that in the 1950’s, there was crude washing up on the coast of SoCal – from natural seeps. Everyone wants to point a quavering finger at man-made oil spills, but oil escapes from undersea sources every day, all over the world. The oil quit naturally washing up on the SoCal coastline when we started extracting oil off Santa Barbara.

    4. Captain Teeb

      “government scientists have discovered that the way to fame and fortune is to keep creating bigger and bigger estimates of impending doom. Look at the predictions of AIDS, or the recent swine flu fizzle”

      You are certainly right about those, but is this the same? In those cases, inflating the problem advanced the agenda of the TPTB (e.g., sell drugs, extend control mechanisms), but I’m not sure whether those in charge want this thing to be over-played or under-played.

      There must be hundreds of offshore wells around the world, with few spills to date (though I do remember globs of tar on the beach in California in the 1970s). It seems obvious, however, that as drilling moves into deeper water, deeper holes in the earth’s crust, dozens or hundreds of technologies are strained to the limit. Once something gives, it is easy to second-guess decisions (aka hindsight bias). It seems that, at some point, we’re into diminishing returns. It then becomes more logical to reduce consumption. The ability of a society to talk frankly about such issues is a good proxy for its social and political health. The greater the number of Americans affected, the more likely that it will be talked about, but the odds are still low.

      Yes, we need oil, but at what risk level? How do you price this type of low-probability/high-impact event into the price of oil? My guess is that you don’t, that the world as a whole subsidizes it, just as we accept the wars, pollution, and other side effects of the oil society as a price worth paying as long as we ourselves are untouched. This event may touch more Americans with the downside of oil culture more than any has to date.

      1. aet

        There are about four thousand wells off the Coast of Louisiana, yes?
        So the oil co really did screw

        Too bad that it is not only “their own problem”, eh?

        1. Captain Teeb

          No, and that raises the obvious difference between land- and sea-based drilling, that any problem for the latter is everyone’s problem.

          Maybe BP did screw up and maybe (as many suggest here) they should be driven out of business. It’s not so much BP, as what a BP bankruptcy would do to oil drilling generally. How do you assemble the immense capital necessary for offshore deep-water drilling if it could all turn on a single event like this? Even if the risk is 1 in X-number of rigs, you can never reduce that risk to zero, and the impact of event, once it occurs, is unknowable and un-priceable.

          I once read that, before the atomic-bomb scientists detonated the first open-air nuclear explosion in New Mexico, they estimated a 1% chance that the nuclear reaction would spread to the atmosphere (turning the earth into a fireball). Fortunately, they were wrong, but if a cataclysm is to come it will likely come (Nassim-Taleb style) from a low-probability event.

          The more we push the limits, the more times we roll the dice. Nothing wrong with taking chances, but we should have a game plan beyond sustaining the unsustainable for a few more years.

  7. Bernard

    one thing is for sure, the taxpayers will foot the bill and BP will pay little if next to nothing other than bad PR.

    i like that quote about, I’ll take the profits and you’ll pay the bill.
    capitalism for the poor, socialism for the rich. Works every time.

    amazing to see Obama is just another Bush, but with darker skin.

    1. Doug

      What makes you think that BP *is not* going to be held accountable for the costs of the cleanup? In addition, any damages to the fishing industry (or any other real business) will result in civil suits. BP has a market cap of 160 billion as of close Friday. The stock has pulled back, but remains in an uptrend.

    2. dsawy

      The outfit that might bear more liability is Transocean (ticker “RIG”), who was the owner of the platform and the equipment. If BP can show equipment failure or mis-design, it would appear that RIG would bear the brunt of the liability.

      1. aet

        They are not rich enough to pay the bill.
        BP may be.

        In any event, the consumer price for oil will reflect the costs of production + a profit.
        This accident is a cost of production..
        Oil consumers ( and others down the chains) shall eventually pay for it- which is as it ought to be, IMO.

  8. rich_lather

    The Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on March 20, killing 11 and injuring 17 of a 126-member crew. It exploded again and sank 36 hours later. The resulting leak has created a Jamaica-sized oil slick that is now whirling in a hurricane shape into sensitive marshes of the Louisiana coastline, endangering birds, fish, oysters, and many peoples’ livelihoods.

    If they get the date wrong, does the rest of the story have any credibility?

  9. nmtdoc

    There is the very real possibility that this gushing faucet will collapse the gulf ecosystem. That’s right, collapse. And if it gets into the gulf stream and makes it’s way around the tip of Florida into the Atlantic then that is likely the end of the coral reefs. Hubris has no political affiliation.

    1. mikeVA

      Exactly. The incident is the equivalent of dumping a torrent of raw pesticide into the ecosystem.

  10. Doc Holiday

    Drill baby, drill!

    On October 2, 2008, at the Vice Presidential debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden, “drill, baby, drill” reached a new prominence. Joe Biden, referring to the energy crisis and McCain’s 20 votes against funding solar and wind energy, stated that McCain thinks “the only answer is drill, drill, drill. Drill we must, but it will take 10 years for one drop of oil to come out of any of the wells that are going to be drilled.” Palin responded by saying, “The chant is ‘drill, baby, drill.’ And that’s what we hear all across this country in our rallies because people are so hungry for those domestic sources of energy to be tapped into.”

  11. GregG

    It’s really hard to understand how a company like BP should not be paying every single cent involved in this disaster. They should be handing over money in real-time to cover all the costs that are being incurred.

    This one is so clear, tax payers are not to blame; first in line: BP, then let BP sue its subcontractor Haliburton, then the Shareholders. Only then, when there’s no one left in that chain with a penny do you seek a bailout.


    1. John


      I get the feeling that anyone with any expertise in anything was run out during the Bush administration. All the experts retired and the ‘Christians’ took over. Who needs expensive science when believing in God is a helluva lot cheaper and immediately adds to the bottom line (until it doesn’t)?

  12. Ina Deaver

    I want someone purporting to be a journalist to have some serious questions for these people, including the Energy Secretary or whoever the hell is supposed to be dealing with this from the government side. A few of the things I’d like to hear are:

    (1) Where is a cap? Have you checked with the SSCVs that would be needed to place the cap? If not, why not?

    (2) Where does this 90 day estimate come from? What are the current scenarios under discussion to cap/close the well?

    (3) I hear talk of a relief well: I know how long that takes at 5,000 feet. Is it feasible to pull in a drill ship to do it? Transocean owns one, but it is on contract in the Indian Ocean. Paribas (Brazil) owns one – where is it? Where are the handful of others?

    If a drill ship can do it, why haven’t they brought one in? Drill ships are essentially a moving platform that can sit over a decoupled rise pipe and act as a drill rig. Tankers can pull up along side the ship and offload oil. It can stabilize without anchoring, even in rough seas. If there is any risepipe left, why can’t they bring in a drill ship? If there isn’t, can one be brought in to operate the relief well?

    These deepsea platforms are kind of miracles of modern engineering, but I find it incredibly difficult to believe that they haven’t run scenarios for capping a runaway. If not, that strikes me as the most incredible negligence I’ve ever heard of: numerous storms — Ike comes to mind — don’t reach land as a category five hurricane, but they do approach land about where this rig was as a category five. Nothing withstands a category five. Nothing. In fact, that is one of the reasons that drill ships were developed: so that you can drop the pipeline coupling and sail OUT of the path of a typhoon.

    I’m feeling really queasy about the whole thing. I wish someone with SOME background in oil and gas would raid a press conference, or provide some media moron with a set of questions to read.

    1. Tim

      I find it incredibly difficult to believe that they haven’t run scenarios for capping a runaway.

      read the pdf i posted above. it’s the official doc.
      there is no plan.

  13. John

    Hopefully this will be a wake-up call to America that regulation of evil corporations is needed.

    For those that don’t know, here’s what happened:
    (1) Something goes wrong and rig operator hits the Blowout-Preventer (BOP) switch. The BOP sends a message back to the rig that the BOP is closed thus stopping the flow of oil from the well.
    (2) A few days later the rig explodes, sinks, and the oil people discover that the BOP switch in fact never closed and thus oil is gushing from the sea floor. The BOP had sent a false ‘closed’ indication.
    (3) Unfortunately, because of the rig explosion and sinking, the control wires between the rig and BOP were severed and are somewhere 5,000 feet below on the sea floor with the rig.

    Because of this exact scenario (rig explodes and sinks before BOP is triggered), every country in the world that allows off-shore drilling requires that the BOP be operable remotely using acoustics (the so-called acoustic BOP). If a rig sinks before an acoustic BOP is triggered, another ship nearby can still communicate with the acoustic BOP using acoustics in an attempt to get it to close. However, luckily for the U.S., the oil companies were able to successfully lobby against requiring remotely operable BOPs for U.S. offshore oil rigs. Total cost of an acoustic BOP: $500,000

    So for $500,000 (the cost of an acoustic BOP) the flow of oil likely could have been capped off late last week. I think most any member of the public would agree that spending $500,000 to prevent a multi-trillion dollar ecological disaster is wise and should be mandated by the government.

  14. GregG

    There’s a really good technical discussion going on here. (

    Executive summary: unbelievable weights, pressures, distances, material strengths, availability, etc. are involved and it appears that the pipe has pipe-components lodged where the BOP shears operate preventing the shears from functioning. LOTS of ideas and they all seem to end in “… would cause more oil to escape”.

    It’s bad.

    1. John

      The government/BP folks should either be participating in that discussion or they should open up a centralized message board for experts around the world to discuss solutions.

  15. avatar singh

    british companies are all fraud and cheats anywahy-the bp is one of the leading cheats of this world. Bp is a scam which runs spy and terrorism organsisation to undermine thrid world govts. and pay off american and other politicians.
    americans have to stand up to the british (BBC has been playing down the seriousness of spill) and demand that Bp pay for damages just like british demand from others for damages like in panan disaster.

    1. skippy

      An article published in May 2002 by MEED Middle East Economic Digest[11] referred to the Al-Yamamah project as: “The largest contract ever awarded to a British company, the Al-Yamamah project remains at the heart of the UK trade drive in Saudi Arabia, generating a substantial portion of Britain’s export earnings from the largest economy in the Arab world. Although past its peak, Al-Yamamah still generates at least ₤ 100 million of sales a year. Contract payments are made through an oil barter arrangement involving BP and the Royal Dutch/Shell Group.”

      A Daily Telegraph article[12] in August 2006 reported:”The oil-for-arms basis of the first deals only served to add to the mysterious workings of Al-Yamamah. BAE was “paid” in oil produced by Saudi outside its Opec quota and sold in the market by BP and Shell. The switch from oil to cash as the basis for the third deal has been influenced by a Saudi anti-corruption drive and a recognition that the slush funds associated with other Saudi arms contracts have helped finance terrorism.”

      The Times reported in February 2007[13]: “The first two al-Yamamah deals were complicated oil-for-arms arrangements that cost Saudi Arabia a certain number of barrels of oil a day. This oil was transferred to BP and Shell, which in turn paid the value of the oil into an escrow account from which BAE received its money.”

      In June 2007, The Guardian published an article[14] about Al-Yamamah saying: “The agreement – its name means “the dove” in Arabic – has kept BAE afloat for the last 20 years, bringing around £40bn of revenue.” “Al-Yamamah has been controversial for many reasons. Within weeks of the deal being signed in 1985, allegations of corruption surfaced. Those allegations have never gone away; in December 2006 the government terminated the Serious Fraud Office investigation into claims that BAE had paid massive bribes to Saudi royals.”

      On 22 June 2007, Executive Intelligence Review published an article by its Counterintelligence Director Jeffrey Steinberg [15] that said: “BAE Systems, a crown jewel in the City of London financial/industrial structure, secured somewhere in the range of $80 billion in net profit from the arrangement—in league with BP and Royal Dutch Shell!”

      In February and March 2010, the news media reported[16] that following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, BAE Systems admitted criminal charges partly arising from the Al-Yamamah contract. It was ordered to pay a fine of $400 million. According to BBC News, BAE Systems will pay a record £30 million criminal corporate fine in the UK.

      1. skippy

        Gulf Oil Corp. became the biggest gusher of money for the Mellon family empire. By 1956 it was taking $160 million annually in profits out of Kuwait alone.

        Violence was a vital ingredient of this stolen wealth. President Barack Obama admitted in his June 4th Cairo speech that “the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government.”

        The CIA’s “Operation Ajax” overthrew Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953. It was masterminded by CIA executive Kermit Roosevelt, a grandson of President Teddy Roosevelt. Mossadegh’s “crime” was nationalizing his country’s oil.

        Iran was plunged into 26 years of dictatorship under the U.S.-imposed Shah. Thousands were tortured to death by the SAVAK secret police, which was modeled on the Nazi Gestapo. SAVAK agents were trained by Herman Norman Schwarzkopf, whose son, Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf Jr., led the 1991 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

        This was wonderful for the Mellons, since Gulf Oil got a slice of Iranian oil. Kermit Roosevelt left the CIA and became a Gulf Oil vice president.

        As in 1953, the U.S. is once again trying to overthrow a “democratically elected Iranian government.” Congress has approved $400 million for a new CIA destabilization campaign.

        U.S. billionaires want to overthrow Iranian President Ahmadinejad, just like they got rid of Prime Minister Mossadegh.

        It started in Texas

        Croatian immigrant Anthony Lucas was convinced there was oil under an East Texas salt dome. Native people had known this for centuries.

        Vindication came on Jan. 10, 1901, when the Spindletop gusher began throwing 100,000 barrels of oil into the sky every day. Nearby Beaumont became a boomtown.

        The prospector—whose original name was Luchich—was forced to sell seven-eighths of his stake to Pittsburgh oilmen J.M. Guffey and John H. Galey. These oilmen needed more financing from the biggest Pittsburgh moneylenders—the Mellons.

        The J.M. Guffey Petroleum Co. was born with a $15 million capitalization. Lucas—who was a classmate of Serbian electrical genius Nikola Tesla—got $400,000. Galey got something. The workers who risked their lives to put out a huge oil fire at Spindletop got nothing.

        Guffey was kicked out by the Mellons in 1907 when Gulf Oil was incorporated. Andrew Mellon’s nephew, William Larimer Mellon, was installed as Gulf’s president.

        He had organized the Crescent pipeline, which stretched across Pennsylvania. The Mellons sold it to the Rockefellers’ National Transit pipeline in 1895 for $4 million.

        W.L. Mellon then organized a Pittsburgh streetcar monopoly in 1901 valued at $110 million. The Mellons were big into trolleys at that time, since it served their real estate interests.

        Big Oil later spent decades destroying trolley systems in the interests of promoting the use of gas-guzzling automobiles. The 700-mile-long Pacific Electric system that once served the Los Angeles area shut down its last line to Long Beach in 1961.

        Killing people around the world

        Gulf Oil’s pipelines extended into Sapulpa, Okla., where oil was stolen from Native people. The prosperous Greenwood neighborhood in nearby Tulsa—called “Black Wall Street”—was destroyed by white racist mobs in 1921, with hundreds of African Americans killed.

        The Gulf Oil refinery at Port Arthur, Texas, became the largest in the world in the 1920s. Black and Mexican workers did the dirtiest work there and got only 25 cents per hour.

        Twenty-five sailors burned to death when the company’s tanker “Gulf of Venezuela” blew up in Port Arthur in 1926.

        By this time Gulf had plenty of oil wells in Venezuela. The Mellons and Rockefellers backed Juan Vicente Gómez, who was the country’s dictator from 1908 until his death in 1935.

        Gómez crushed unions and threw student protesters into chain gangs. Presently, democratically elected Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Frías, with Cuban assistance, has brought health care to millions. Yet the corporate media that today attack President Chávez never even mentioned the dictator Gómez.

        Gulf Oil was exploiting Mexico before it began ripping off Venezuela. But the Mellons didn’t like one important anti-imperialist result of the Mexican Revolution. In 1938 all the U.S. and British oil companies were thrown out of that country.

        Colombia’s congress rejected concessions to Gulf and Standard Oil in 1928. Mellon lawyer Allen Dulles—who later was to be the CIA head during Mossadegh’s overthrow—was outraged. Colombia was forced to back down when its credit was shut off by Wall Street.

        Gen. René Barrientos Ortuño staged a phony 1966 election in Bolivia with $800,000 in Gulf Oil bribes. The next year he and the CIA assassinated the heroic revolutionary, Che Guevara.

        But Big Oil has now been kicked out of Bolivia.

        Next the Mellons went to the Middle East and Africa. U.S. Ambassador to Britain Andrew Mellon demanded and got half of Kuwait’s oil deposits from its colonial overlords in London.

        Gulf Oil was the paymaster for the Portuguese fascist regime’s war against the African people of Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique.

        But African liberation fighters won independence for these countries and their victories also aided the successful struggle against fascism by the Portuguese workers, who overthrew dictator Marcelo Caetano in 1974.

        What did working people in Pittsburgh get out of Gulf Oil’s crimes?

        When Gulf Oil was taken over by Chevron in 1984, thousands of jobs were lost at its skyscraper headquarters in Pittsburgh. Mellon foundation grants to Carnegie-Mellon University didn’t stop 500 Gulf Oil scientists from being fired

        1. K Ackermann

          Jesus H… that was an awesome thread of history. Fictional scum can’t hold a candle to real scum.


  16. Jim in MN

    Stop making Exxon Valdez comparisons and start making Dust Bowl ones. We could be looking at a mass migration as the fishing, tourism and real estate industries collapse. Only military bases and related (shipyards, aerospace, NASCAR) will be left.

    It really is that bad. UNLESS our prayers are answered and the BOP or cap work soon.

    Oh, and don’t “nuke it”. It’s already a (really big) dirty bomb equivalent, let’s not add a real one.

  17. jbmoore61

    This post was a bit hyperbolic. See this article:

    The blowout preventers failed and they will be the focus of an investigation as well as the cement job that was in progress. IXTOC I ( was likely worse. Chances are only Louisiana and Mississippi will be affected as well as shrimpers and other fishermen. No one has talked about the Mississippi River flow directing the oil to Florida. I don’t know if ocean currents will direct it east enough to intersect the Mississippi River outflow. BP will take another PR and financial hit on this one due to all of the costs associated with stopping the flow and cleaning up the mess.

    1. Ina Deaver

      Actually, the flow within the Gulf of Mexico is counterclockwise. I can’t understand why they are talking about it just heading East, when my experience with the Gulf is that it will circle to the West before heading East out the mouth of the Gulf.

      People at the UT Marine Science Center have been charting the course of marine debris in the Gulf for 30 or 40 years. You dump it off Louisiana, even all the way down near Yucatan, and it ends up all around the Gulf Coast.

      1. Jim in MN

        Actually, it all depends on whether the slick enters the Loop Current, in which case it will impact all of Florida and the Gulf Stream. The slick and the Loop Current are both moving targets so only a probabilistic estimate would be possible. But the two certainly could be interacting.

        While there is a truly enormous volume of water moving through the Florida Straits and the Gulf Stream (so with luck the oil would be diluted to below 1 PPM where it impacts health and ecosystems), things on the surface often end up on beaches in the British Isles.

        Maybe BP will get a nice sticky glob in its own backyard.

        1. Ina Deaver

          Yes — this is a simplified picture of what I was talking about, and from exactly the debris study that I’ve worked with in the past. At some times of year, the loop is stronger than at other times – something about surface temperatures and the turnover of colder water. I’m out of my depth there – pun intended.

          But I couldn’t figure out why they seemed so sure that MS and FLA were going to get hit rather than Texas.

          I got additional information on this rig. It’s a dynamic positioning floating rig on contract to BP. To answer the questions, it’s going to depend on what the contract says regarding catastrophies. I feel fairly certain that the umbrella coverage’s lawyers are looking over the contracts very closely about now.

  18. Judy

    I have lots of questions, but the main one that I have right now is: if drilling this well resulted in an “unprecedented” event, what is to say that drilling another one right next to it won’t have the exact same result? I guess my question is, is there something about this particular location, depth, oil deposit, etc. that could have been the root cause of the disaster? And, if that is the case, how do they know they won’t make it worse by drilling yet another hole? That might be how they have solved the problem in the past, at other wells, under different circumstances, but since this has never happened before, how can they be sure it will work in this unique circumstance? And, I have read that this desposit is supposed to contain billions, with a b, of barrels of oil. It seems so ridiculous to talk about the economic side of the problem, or to discuss clean up, when we are so far from even staunching the flow of oil.

  19. tommy tetris

    Aside from bits of mixed feelings I have nothing but laughter for all of this.

    Such a looney toon country and such a backwards civilization.

    Yes I drive a car because if I ride the bus a person will either rob,kill, or rape me or all the above. I have flat feet and my back hurts if I run over a mile. I would love to set up a camp near my work but I’d be thrown in jail shortly after and possibly thrown into a mental institution no doubt.

    Look if you really care about the fishies that are being slimmed by this, your too far gone to be considered reachable.. But if you wanna talk human lives that died, that’s about as sad as it gets, and upsetting.

    The comments directed towards people that bash the pro-oil “cult”in general are not only useless and childish but I would either end your miserable exsistance (which I may do too.. Fear not) but better yet why not think about proactive things we can do to help the situation like send a letter to the family of the deceased expressing your compassion, you thumb-sucking pusstewl.

    Personally I like to think of the dead as heros that suffered for me so that I could see more of the spectaculs that life has to offer while life is still being offered.

    So I say thanks to the fallen bp guys, ill think of all the pumpers today that make their living and keep my speedo far past the legal limit while gettin sucked off, blasting trance, and everything lese you can think of and I howl at the moon

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