Models Show Gulf Oil May Reach US East Coast This Summer

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This cheery news from the SunHerald (hat tip reader Dwight Baker):

The National Center for Atmospheric Research models showed Thursday that oil could enter the Gulf’s loop current, go around the tip of Florida and as far north as Cape Hatteras, N.C. According to researchers, oil could threaten East Coast beaches by early July, but they cautioned the models were not a forecast.
The oil could then head by Bermuda on its way to Europe.

Martin Visbeck, a research team member with the University of Kiel in Germany, says it is unlikely any oil reaching Europe would be thick enough to be harmful.

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  1. mespilus

    It is a good thing they got us all arguing whether the earth is flat, or we Americans would be really mad.

        1. alex black

          Dammit, Skippy! You just ruined a fun debate with Knowledge. Oh, well….

          So with that out of the way, I guess we actually CAN get pissed off and start debating the proper punishment for anyone who is found to be negligent in this spill – from the BP guy on the rig who overruled the objections of rig workers who first saw something going wrong, to anyone up his chain of command who may have told him to do this, to anyone involved in the regulatory agencies of the last 3 or 4 administrations who had a hand under-regulating such a potentially catastrophic event.

          So far, the best idea I can come up with is to take any of the above people, give them an innertube, and lower them into the middle of the Gulf spill – with an ROV running live stream video of their struggle to survive.

          1. Skippy

            As we are waxing metaphorically as to punishments for the guilty, might I offer this little gem that has aways worked in my observations.

            Take a few from all levels of responsibility or if feeling magnanimous just the CEO and douse with their own product…set alight and allowed to run free….for all to see.

  2. anonymous

    Thanks Yves, for keeping the focus on this disaster. A couple of quick questions:

    1/ Given this administration’s entirely predictable track record of underestimating costs and overestimating their management skills, why isn’t Congress ripping the administration a new one for failing to provide a workable solution to prevent the oil from washing up on the beaches. My guess is that if the oil was spewing onto the beaches outside Al Gore’s Malibu property we’d see some prompt makeshift action. The berm idea is a guaranteed winner. Not. There’s a poverty of imagination on display that is truly staggering. We’re doing all we can is precisely right. We are seeing this administration’s best effort at work up on that great graphic and if I can read the bold face type correctly, the administration’s best efforts aren’t getting the job done. Isn’t Congress supposed to step-up to fill the gap when the executive branch breaks down?

    2/ What else isn’t working? We have seen clearly that this administration has made no effort to eradicate the shoddy practices that became the norm during the last administration? How many of these jobs are union jobs? What role did/do the public service unions play in assisting Congressional or Federal inquiries into enforcement practices and permits? Why was BP allowed to drill, and keep drilling when the company clearly had no workable plan to control a spill?

    Yves is doing half the job and the wrong half, frankly. We’ve seen the breakdown of airport security with the Christmas day bomber. We’ve seen the failure to provide safe working conditions for workers in mines. Unemployment numbers at ten percent and higher are becoming a permanent feature of the ‘no new jobs’ recovery. When is the federal government going to get serious about protecting the public and the taxpayers, not the rich?

    1. Rex

      Anon, says, “Yves is doing half the job and the wrong half, frankly.”

      Huh? What are you getting at? I get the impression you are upset about the world being broken in many ways. Join the club. I come here for a somewhat rational perspective about what is broken and how it got this way. I think this blog does a half-way decent job of that. I don’t have any idea what “the wrong half” might mean.

      You say, “My guess is that if the oil was spewing onto the beaches outside Al Gore’s Malibu property we’d see some prompt makeshift action.” My guess is that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t put the oil back in the ground again. Once our checks and balances allowed short sight and short cuts to blow up the well, it became too late for deus ex machina to make it all better again.

      We just went through a similar financial spill for similar reasons. It looks very much like nothing significant will be done to prevent that from happening again, even though we all got very mad and stomped our feet harshly. Why should anyone expect this new disaster to motivate fixing anything that could prevent that again?

      We are raping our world in many ways. Mostly we just deny the problems as long as possible. When we finally decide to do something it results in a big theatrical production and the resulting fix is negligible or make things worse.

      I’ve already lived through several end-of-the-world predictions, but this 2012 date is looking more and more possible.

      1. anonymous

        I find your hyperbole extremely offensive. Nobody I know is raping anything or anyone, so you can take your ‘most of us’ smear and cram it in your cake hole.

        I’m sorry you found my post so confusing, so I’ll explain precisely what I’m ‘getting at’. Al Gore enjoys iconic status within a powerful community of the liberal rich. Ted Kennedy managed to alternative energy development near his pristine country palace. Gore has the same clout. Were the oil lapping up on his beach, the feds would have responded faster.

        Rich Dems take care of Rich Dems. Republicans do the same and in states where Republicans rule Republican corruption and laziness is the issue. Dems happen to be charged with protecting the public from companies like BP and AIG, not colluding with them.

        The world is not ending, although people like have been declaring it will since the dawn of time. You need to get out more. Really.

        1. Rex

          Thanks. Although I didn’t intend it that way, I’m honored that you found my “hyperbole” offensive.

          You talk in circles. You never really did explain what you meant by, “Yves is doing half the job and the wrong half, frankly.”

          You seem to say that both the political parties have problems (I agree), but you appear mainly upset that the current administration hasn’t fixed everything you perceive as wrong. I still contend, regardless of who is living on the beach, we humans have no way to stop this much oil from doing major damage anywhere it flows.

          We have many BIG problems right now: peak oil, global warming, huge and growing population, and now world-wide financial upheaval. Oh, and this oil spill. Got any solutions other than talking smack at all the bad people?

          I hope I was being hyperbolic with my 2012 comment, but I would suggest that you are the one who needs to come out of your shell.

  3. alex black

    Why does BP have a market capitalization that exceeds $0 at this point? The damage from their negligence is obviously greater than their market cap. Seems like any value the market gives BP over and above $0 is a measure of how confident people are collectively that a company can evade liability for its negligence.

    Maybe we can use BP’s market cap as a proxy for a new measure – The Cynicism Measure, or The Helplessness Measure.

    Whatever it’s called, it only fell 17% when the junk shot failed. The world seems to be 83% long on cynicism and/or helplessness.

    Whichever direction that measure ends up taking, I have no doubt that Goldman Sachs will be front-running the trade.

    1. anonymous

      My guess, and that’s all it is, is that BP and other lawyers have taken a really, hard look at the existing laws limiting BPs liability and determined that BP assets, access to oil deposits, make BP an excellent longterm investment.

      TARP I and II honored AIG payouts at rates that horrified taxpayers once the public discovered how much taxpayer cash AIG and other senior managers were going to take home as a reward for sending the world economy into a tail spin.

      The take-away lesson after 8 years of Bush incompetence was, believe or not, ‘experience doesn’t matter’. That’s right, the adults in the room allowed themselves to be swept-up in promises of a ‘new kind of politics’ whatever that might mean.

      The particular individual charged with stepping-up to solve this crisis has had a lifetime of free passes. Snort coke through school? Pass. Less than stellar effort at Occidental? Go to Columbia. Fail to win honors at Columbia? Go straight to Harvard Law. Fail to write any memorable legal opinions? Edit Harard Law Review and graduate summa cum laude.

      All he knows how to do is make excuses and get people to give him a free pass on his failures. We’re watching the consequences of this sort of accountability wash up on Florida beaches. The question is whether voters who put this inept individual in a position of authority will step up and make the changes this November that might, might, act as check on this exercise in making a nothing look like a somebody.

      He’s a proven failure. That’s the fact.

      1. alex black

        I can’t disagree, except to say that I place the burden of failure on the voters, and I don’t expect them to change much. They might swing like a pendulum between Dem and Repub over and over again, but they’ll always vote for the people “we’d most like to have a beer with” regardless of their qualifications.

        Adult life is not really much different than life in High School.

    2. Don in GA

      I suspect BP having a stock price that’s greater than 0 is largely based on the fact that it is a U.K. based company that pays 17% of the total dividends of the FTSE index, i.e. to a lot of pension funds, retirees, etc. Should the U.S. government think about sticking BP with enough cleanup costs to wipe out BP stockholders, I could see the U.K. and the EEC suggesting that they might be forced to look a lot more closely at the business practices of Goldman Sachs and other U.S. corporations operating in the UK and the EEC, up to and including criminal charges that could threaten the viability of those companies and deal a severe blow to the US economy.

  4. Jardinero1

    This isn’t a catastrophe except to the innumerate and those with an ax to grind. Globally, the size of this spill ranks only in the top twenty. There have been much bigger spills in the last thirty years.

    The Gulf of Mexico is quite big and the spill is relatively quite small. The gulf of Mexico has 6.43 x 10^17 gallons of water and a total of 2.565 x 10^6 gallons of oil has leaked into it. The ratio of oil to water has increased by 2.5 parts per 10^11. That’s a one followed by eleven zeros. Puny.

    The US Gulf shoreline is 1650 miles long, not counting bays and inlets, 16,000 miles counting them in. the actual amount of damaged shoreline is a tiny fraction of one percent. What is not reported in the media is the natural seepage of 20 to 30 million gallons of oil and tar per year, all of which is readily absorbed by the ecosystem in the gulf.

    What would we do with the leaking oil if it weren’t leaking? We would turn it into fuel and burn it in the atmosphere or turn it into fertilizer and put it in the soil or turn it into plastic and polymers which would eventually find their way into a land fill.

    I live a mile from Galveston Bay and I am concerned about the Gulf. But I don’t believe that deep water drilling or leaks are a problem. Most of the damage to the Gulf shoreline comes from the channelization of rivers and bayous, the creation of jetties and bulkheads, sport fisherman and hunters in the estuaries, the Old River Control Structure, the Army Corp of Engineers, the federal flood insurance program and the various state wind insurance programs in each of the Gulf coastal states.

    The state funded insurance programs are the worst offenders since they enable all other development. Elimination of federal flood and state funded wind insurance would do more to restore the Gulf Coast than any other single measure.

    1. alex black

      Interesting contrarian view….

      What is the source of the natural seepage of 20-30 million gallons of oil and tar per year?

      As far as the leak, yes, so far it’s not the largest leak in the Gulf, but it still has a long time to go….

    2. sam hamster

      There are 6.5 billion people on earth. The babies being born each day number in the tens of millions. Your life has no value, except for a small fraction per billion. If a drunk driver were to run you over tonight, they should let the driver go free. No on would object, except the innumerate and those with an axe to grind.

      1. alex black

        Sam, that’s a pretty funny retort. 8-)

        Although it sobers me a bit to realize that the attitude that you’re retorting is kinda the attitude that the Universe, and Life Itself, actually has:

        “In the end, Evolution seems to care little for the Individual….” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

      2. NOTaREALmerican

        This is somewhat true.

        The solution to ALL problems is simple. The short term solution is the kill yourself. The long term version – which yields the exact same result – is not to have kids.

        Either way, you are absolved of all guilt about the past and the future (and, as a side benefit, the future value of your carbon footprint falls to zero).

        Perhaps we could let people sell their future carbon footprint by getting sterilized.

    3. Timmy

      you are assuming perfect mixing. even if all that leaked oil, but one barrel disappear, you would still curse and declare it the worst oil accident in the world if that barrel of gunk fall on you.

      The oil spill will nicely covered the delta plus some, including expensive beach front property. (remember the oil hasn’t reached the beach yet.) A few week from now, the nasty pictures will start showing.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Instead drilling, how about some technology to capture that natural seepage of millions of gallons of oil in the Gulf along?

      Are humans ‘sapiens’ enough for that challenge?

    5. Don in GA

      If you were able to keep a straight face while you posted that nonsense you should be working in BP’s PR department.

      The so-called rocket scientists that work for Goldman Sachs, hedge funds, etc. aren’t innumerate, but that doesn’t mean they have a lick of common sense. The same goes for you.

      1. John L

        The original comment about how this is just a “little spill” and the Gulf seeps this much every year without any trouble seems to ignore the concept of concentration. Perhaps he should experience it himself, first hand, by drinking all the water he needs in a week in the next hour, and see what happens.

        As for the “we’re ultimately responsible since we use so much oil” comment, that is just trying to shift blame off of BP. BP and lax regulatory rules are at fault here, and no amount of deflection is going to change that.

  5. city on a hill

    Some of America’s sovereign victims have already raised this issue at the International Seabed Authority in Jamaica, which ought to boost its influence nicely. Since America blew off the Law of the Sea Convention like North Korea blew off the NPT, having accepted its core principles, we are just another bumbling rogue state to be brought under control.

  6. Doc Holiday

    Fear not, lobsters are not as important as tourism and BP will help our government, rating agencies (Buffett hearts rating agencies!! ==> insert blinking subliminal embedding here) and justice system. I love shrimp and will fill my tank up @ BP in the morning (again).

  7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    We will soon find out what happens when you mix oil with volanic ash, with the global temperature rising of course.

    Maybe this is how life was created in the primodial soup.

  8. Vinny

    I think we need to get the military involved in this operation asap. A necessary phase one should be nuking Great Britain. It’s high time we clean up this planet of that parasitical, decrepit British empire and that sleazy nation of alcoholic lying sexual perverts.

    How’s that for a quick solution to stopping oil spills everywhere, as well as teaching sound moral values to our children for generations to come?…LOL

    Vinny – yes, I’m still angry. I’ll be shortly returning to Florida, and I don’t like seeing what that FOREIGN British corporation is doing to that beautiful state, and I am bothered by that FOREIGN-sounding lying CEO. How’s that for xenophobia?…LOL

  9. Bob S

    “The oil could then head by Bermuda on its way to Europe”
    Wouldn’t it be ironic if this oil ended up fouling the shores of Jolly Old UK.

    1. Vinny

      The beaches around the south of England are so filthy (and the residents so drunken and low class), they likely won’t notice a few trillion gallons of oil on their shores…LOL


    2. NOTaREALmerican

      Well, based on the BP CEO’s comment about the Gulf being a big place and the spill not being that big of a deal, when you include the entire Atlantic Ocean he’s probably right.

      After all, there’s 5+ billion people in China, India, and Africa living in toxic waste for a few generations now. A little oil shouldn’t hurt the Americans.

      I’d would guess the Democrats should be able to increase the size of government from this disaster. Perhaps a new regulatory agency could be create for the industry to capture?

  10. felix

    Is all the people working in this mess really, really, stupid, a gang to put to shame even Curly, Larry and Moe in one of their worst collective days, or it is just me living in a fantasy, world? I have ONLY a simple degree in civil engineering, two years of professional work in the field and, nevertheless, the first thing that came to my mind when I read about it was (fanfarre) CEMENT, HYDRAULIC CEMENT! The one that settles as soon as you put in contact with water. Just drop a whole bunches of hundreds, even thousands bags of cement on this blasted hole, enough to overpower the pressure, and then make holes all over the whole thing. Or something like that. I cannot believe the biggest MN in the world, with thousands of specialized engineers, consultants, couldn’t have come up with such an obvious solution in more than a month. Incredible.

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