Relief well is last best hope to contain gusher

As engineers bore deeper into the seafloor toward the source of the oil still spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, BP PLC is growing more confident that the relief well it expects to complete in August will succeed where all previous efforts to contain or kill the gusher have failed.

But what if it doesn’t work?

At the very least, oil would continue to spill while workers try something else.

That proposition would surely bring more misery for the people who live, work and play along the shores from Louisiana to Florida.

And consider this: Chief Executive Tony Hayward said in June that the reservoir of oil is believed to hold about 2.1 billion gallons of oil. If the problem was never fixed, it could mean another two years of oil spilling based on the current flow rate until the reservoir is drained.

BP says the first relief well is on target to be completed by early August. A second relief well, which could be completed a few weeks later, is viewed as a backup if the first one doesn’t work.

But efforts to contain other major oil spills haven’t always gone according to plan.

The 1979 Ixtoc oil spill, the Gulf’s worst oil spill before it was eclipsed by BP’s disaster, wasn’t contained until three months after the first of two relief wells was completed. By then, 140 million gallons of oil had spilled in the 10 months it took Pemex, Mexico’s state-owned oil company, to stop the leak.

That’s why BP is developing “backups for the backups.” But the British company is sparse on details, and even the ideas it is floating can’t guarantee the blown-out well that has already pumped up to 160 million gallons of oil into the sea over 2 1/2 months won’t keep flowing into the fall — or perhaps even beyond.

So, the Gulf region is left to hold its collective breath as BP puts much of its effort into the relief well just as Mother Nature could unleash a blistering hurricane at any moment.

“The relief well itself is not a slam dunk,” said Gene Beck, a petroleum engineering professor at Texas A&M University.

Kent Wells, a BP senior vice president, said other options include trying to reconfigure the existing containment cap to collect more of the spewing oil or tying it into another production platform on the surface. However, Wells has been mum on a game plan and he said no decisions have been made on the alternate platform idea.

BP declined repeated requests from The Associated Press over several days to make Wells available to elaborate or for a spokesman to comment further.

As to the hurricane concern, Wells said only that the rigs drilling the first relief well and the backup relief well are designed to operate in everything except a tropical storm or hurricane. If engineers had to disconnect and evacuate the area, drilling could be offline for 14 days, during which time an estimated 2.5 million gallons of oil would flow into the Gulf unabated each day.

History is on BP’s side, but the depth of the seafloor isn’t.

Engineers and oil industry experts familiar with or involved in previous relief well missions at sea say that if the heavy mud BP plans to pump into the existing well from underneath at its source doesn’t stop the flow altogether, it should at least reduce the pressure that is forcing oil so fast into the sea.

Carlos Osornio, a Mexican engineer in charge of Pemex’s deepwater drilling operations during the Ixtoc crisis, said BP may ultimately find that both relief wells are needed to contain the gusher.

“One relief well may not be enough to contain the high volume (of oil flow), but two will work for sure,” he said.

A reduction in pressure could give BP the option of putting a new blowout preventer on top of the one that was damaged in the April 20 explosion. That was a containment option BP considered early on, but hasn’t tried because of the risk posed by the amount of pressure from the seafloor.

A new blowout preventer isn’t foolproof either.

“It’s very unpredictable because the current condition of the well down there is unknown,” said Satish Nagarajaiah, a Rice University engineering professor who focuses on offshore structures.

BP engineers are using tools and running tests that tell them where they need to go. Drilling down parallel to the gushing well before cutting in sideways makes that data more accurate than it would have been if they were approaching the well horizontally, said Donald Van Nieuwenhuise, a University of Houston geology professor who has been a lead geologist on several offshore drilling projects.

“They’re not looking for a needle in the haystack anymore,” he said. “Now they’re just trying to figure out where they want to pick that needle up.”

Bruce Bullock, director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University, said he is “somewhat suspect” that the relief well will hit its target on the first try.

“You’re going 18,000 feet to hit a dinner plate. My guess is two or three times is more of a likelihood,” he said.

Osornio, the former Pemex engineer who is now a deep drilling consultant, said there is no reason BP wouldn’t be successful the first try.

“Today’s tools provide specific locations in real time as they drill, something we didn’t have during Ixtoc,” he said.

Still, there’s potential peril if BP misses its target and decides to drill deeper directly into the oil producing formation.

Engineers tried that approach and were successful in killing several out of control wells in 1970 during the Bay Marchand fire off Louisiana.

But George Hirasaki, a Rice University professor in chemical and biomolecular engineering who was involved in the Bay Marchand oil containment effort for Shell, said engineers have to be very careful when drilling into any formation that has hydrocarbons, which poses the risk of the same type of explosion that destroyed the rig.

Bullock said there have been past successes with relief wells on land and in shallower waters, but no relief well is risk-free.

Beck said he expects the drillers to hit their mark on the first try but wouldn’t be surprised if it took two or three attempts. Beck puts the odds at 80 percent that the relief well will in short order kill the gushing well.

“There haven’t been a significant number of deepwater blowouts before,” he said. “To a certain extent, we’re in an unproven area here, as well.”

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100705/ap_on_bi_ge/us_gulf_oil_spill_relief_well

Eeek…

Gosh, it is so hot today I can’t think of a damn thing to say. I am upset, angry and frustrated…but I don’t know what to say!

Day 76 of the Gulf disaster. I am still beyond frustrated, still hurting, the whole nine yards. Most of all, I am very angry. I am angry because it is more than evident the government is hiding something…and it is driving me totally crazy that I cannot figure out WHAT they are hiding. Journalists being driven out, weird buses that people are seeing…what is going on? Conspiracies run rampant, because THEY ARE HIDING THINGS! BP does not inform us when they do something, no transparency…hiding wildlife. Feds and locals fighting. The whole thing is beyond depressing.

It is hitting me very hard, and I wish I could be like others and block it out of my mind :(

Anyhow, it is far too warm here right now. 91 degrees actual temp, heat index at 109.

Stay cool, East coast!

I Am That Dolphin Dying In The Gulf Of Mexico

INTRODUCTION: I am that dolphin dying in the Gulf of Mexico — Due to the man-made environmental disaster caused by an Oil spill & toxic dispersants.

MY DOLPHIN POD & OUR PAIN & SUFFERING due to the OIL & DISPERSANTS: The Gulf of Mexico oil spill & the toxic dispersants are giving my dolphin pod, my family & me headaches. Now when we breathe air into our blow holes in the top of our heads we often breathe in oil (1) – which causes our lungs to burn & we cough. (2) & The dispersants make our eyes & our skin burn & blister. Our baby dolphins are all dying now & we cry. I used to jump through the air with joy when I saw the sun rise. Now I am too tired. These waters are oxygen depleted. (3) We are also hungry as we search for food in large dead zones in the Gulf. Many of the fish are gone now & those that are left taste like petroleum & dispersant soaps. We are in great pain. We are suffering.

OTHER SUFFERING CREATURES IN THE GULF:

As a wildlife specialist said: “You see this bird totally covered in oil & all you can see are those (sad) eyes looking at you blinking”. (4)

PRE-OIL SPILL DAYS: Before the oil spill & dispersants, life was good here in the Gulf of Mexico. I would jump thru the air with the wind & then fall back into the clear blue & clean water. I used to play with the other dolphins. & The fish were delicious. Every now & then a pelican would compete with us for the fish, but the fish were plentiful. My dolphin pod, my family & I were in heaven here in these beautiful waters in the pre-oil spill days. It was a good life.

POTENTIAL VOLCANIC ERUPTION & TSUMANI in the GULF:

Although things are bad here in the Gulf of Mexico now – Things may even get worse. I fear for all life here in these waters. An author states: “A gas bubble approx. 15-20 miles across 10+ feet high near (BP’s) well head … ha(s) formed (&) it may cause a massive explosion (in the Gulf of Mexico) within weeks or months.” … Causing a possible “Volcanic eruption & a huge tsunami”. (5), (6) Oil wells are also known to increase the risk for earthquake activity. (7) So this tragic event in the Gulf may get much worse for me & the other dolphins & wildlife here in these waters.

OTHER CAUSES OF DOLPHIN DEATHS: MILITARY SONAR BLASTS:

Thank you Pierce Brosnan, the National Resources Defense Council & the International Fund for Animal Welfare for speaking out on behalf of marine animals & against other environmentally dangerous technology such as Military sonar – which causes brain hemorrhages & deaths in whales & dolphins. (8)

CRIMES AGAINST THE EARTH & ECOCIDE: You humans with your big Egos say that you are the Superior species & that God have given you the right to dominate & conquer the Earth. & Yet you have caused this tragic man-made environmental disaster here in the Gulf of Mexico. You destroy animals, plants & ecosystems. Homo Sapiens, You are an imperfect species: You fail to be proactive & to prevent catastrophes such as this oil spill. (9) You humans walked by the pond & you saw your Homo Sapien reflection in it & you fell in love with yourself. (10) You think only of your own selfish needs & you deny & ignore the importance of the Earth & it’s animals & other life forms. You humans leave a path of misery behind you. You willfully commit Crimes against the Earth. You willfully commit Ecocide against the Earth. Humans lack respect for the Earth. Homo Sapiens are disconnected with Nature. You humans live in your sterile heated & cooled homes while you drink your filtered water & you eat your clean foods – While you pollute the air, land & the waters of the Earth for the wildlife. You dominate & multiply, you consume, you conquer; You deplete, you lessen, you diminish, you weaken & you destroy the Earth.

REQUIEM FOR THE GULF OF MEXICO: Clint Mansell has written a powerful Requiem for the Gulf of Mexico, including images of the oil spill. (11) This requiem speaks for those of us with No voice – for those of us who are victims of human aggression — for those of us who are dying due to human recklessness, human greed for profits & human lust for oil.

GOOD-BYE to the EARTH: I am that dolphin dying in the Gulf of Mexico. I say good-bye now to the Earth. I am dizzy, I am nauseous, I have chest pains & I am weak. (12) My liver & kidneys are failing. (13), (14), (15) My red blood cells are exploding. (16), (17) I am almost blind from the toxic chemicals. I am gasping for air. Yes, I am dying. Then I breathe my last breath here at sunset. Good-bye sweet Earth & to my family & my dolphin pod. Then I am silent as I float here in the oil stained waves & dispersant fumes of the Gulf of Mexico. The tide slowly washes me onto the shore. On this sandy shore of Louisiana, I lie here all alone, belly up with my mouth open as flies buzz around my body — Here on the beach as the yellow sun slowly sets. In the early morning hours a corporate oil rep. sees me, looks both ways & he throws my body into a black garbage bag; Then he throws the bag into a hot, dirty, smelly dumpster — to hide evidence. (18) & I am gone forever.

*Yes, I am that dolphin dying in the Gulf of Mexico.

Thank you. Respectfully, Mary Hamer, M.D.

http://www.countercurrents.org/hamer230610.htm

Enough of This Crap

By William Rivers Pitt

Reports have been coming out of the Gulf for days about British Petroleum blocking access to beaches and animal-cleaning stations, in some instances using private Blackwater-style mercenaries to do so. Journalists as well as citizens have been thwarted in their attempts to see for themselves the extent of the damage being done by the runaway Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Know what I’d like to see happen? I would like to see a thousand people, ten thousand, a hundred thousand, just show the hell up down there and demand access. Citizens and reporters alike, just get down there, link arms, and walk to the beaches and the marshlands with digital cameras and cell phones for instantaneous blogging of what they see, hear and smell. Pile into as many rented, borrowed and begged boats as can be mustered and plow out there to the scene of the crime. Dare the gendarmes to stop us.

One of two things would happen: either the people would break through those unconscionable corporate barriers and show the world what is really going on in the Gulf, or the forces BP has arrayed against the truth would react with violence, which would tell us everything we need to know about what is happening, and would be enough to break that God damned criminal corporation finally and forever. Either way, there would be thousands of people down there to chronicle what is happening, a ready-made army of volunteers who can also pitch in as best they can and begin the epic process of trying to undo what has been done.

Sounds crazy? Maybe, but it is the kind of direct action that has been missing from our national narrative, not just in the Gulf but all over. What would happen if a million people marched on Wall Street, parked themselves in the road, and demanded that every “too big to fail” institution be torn down a brick at a time? What would happen if a million people parked themselves on Pennsylvania Avenue and refused to leave until American military forces are removed from Iraq, as promised?

Big stuff would happen, friends. The kind of stuff we’d be proud to tell our grandchildren about. Yes, Virginia, there is a We The People, and in the second decade on the 21st century, we rose up righteous and turned the tide away from this corporate war-machine oligarchy whose seemingly overwhelming power and masterful media manipulation put us all to sleep…but only for a while. Yes, Virginia, there was a way, and we found it, and we did it.

A very old friend of mine recently described President Obama as a “narcotic,” and it was as spot-on an analysis as I have ever heard. Millions upon millions of people were mobilized during the psychotic tenure of George W. Bush; we knew what was wrong, we knew why it was wrong, and we summoned the care and courage to throw ourselves into a determined effort to bugger his deranged intentions. We failed far more often than we succeeded, but at a minimum, we were on the move.

Now, a year and a half later, We The People have become stuck in the mud as matters continue to go badly and dangerously wrong. Too many of the Bush-era policies we railed against are still in effect, with a few extra twists of the knife (escalation in Afghanistan, pre-Deepwater approval of more offshore oil drilling, etc.) that are putting us even deeper into a hole. Where is the action? Where are the voices raised in a roaring chorus of “No”?

Obama is a narcotic, my friend said, and that has a lot to do with it. Too many people think things are better now, despite all evidence to the contrary, because Bush is gone and this wildly intelligent, grand-speaking new president is in office. We are not necessarily asleep, but we are on the nod, watching the world burn around us without lifting a finger because, well, things are better now. Right?

Hm.

Perhaps having thousands of people descent upon the Gulf is a dumb idea, not feasible, even crazy. But imagine what would happen if we did just that. Imagine Wall Street thronged with citizens whose futures have been looted, refusing to leave until real change is finally effected. Imagine what would happen if this slumbering, pissed off nation rose up and got moving again.

A large enough lever can move the world. It is long past time for We The People to remember that, shake off the narcotic comfort of delusional hope, and start working the shoe leather again.

Enough of this crap.

http://www.truth-out.org/enough-crap60452?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+TRUTHOUT+(t+r+u+t+h+o+u+t+|+News+Politics)&utm_content=Google+Reader

Mysterious illness plagues Gulf oil disaster workers

SAN ANTONIO — For weeks now, local hospitals have tracked patients with suspicious symptoms coming in from the gulf coast. Doctors are having trouble distinguishing it from the flu.

“What makes it challenging is that patients show up with non-specific symptoms. Headaches, fatigue, problems with memory and concentration, upset stomach,” lists Dr. Claudia Miller at UT Health Science Center.

The illness is called “TILT,” or Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance. Patients lose tolerance to household products, medication, or even food after being exposed to chemicals, like burning oil, toxic fumes, or dispersants from the spill.

“Things like diesel fuel, exposure to fragrances, cleaning agents that never bothered them before suddenly bother them,” adds Dr. Miller.

TILT has been difficult to track because symptoms are similar to the flu. Currently, Dr. Miller is educating primary care doctors on how to spot and treat the illness before it gets worse. Though it’s not contagious, the best cure right now is staying away from affected areas.

“Be sure to wear protective equipment and stay out of areas with smell, if [you] feel sick,” Dr. Miller says. “The smells are usually chemicals that can make them ill.”

http://www.woai.com/content/health/story/Mysterious-illness-plagues-Gulf-oil-disaster/PNcpQeot20qXs_L5nfSR4w.cspx

Clean-up workers unpaid, laid off

PENSACOLA – A group of about 200 local workers say they’ve been fired.

The clean-up crews were working for Pital Staffing. Some of the employees gathered on the corner of Myrick and Garden Streets in Pensacola to express their frustration.

The workers claim they have not been getting paid for weeks of service. One of the laid-off employees who wants to remain anonymous says they were promised jobs only to find out today that their contacts have been terminated.

“After you’d worked them all week in the hot sun for 13-14 hour days and then you spring this on them? You know thats not good. You know i feel like if you keep your word…You keep your word.”

A witness says the workers were escorted off the property by police Friday.

http://www.weartv.com/newsroom/top_stories/videos/wear_vid_8920.shtml