Bob Higgins

Get Used to Blackened Seafood, BP’s Spew May Continue For Years

Posted in Environment by Bob Higgins on June 19, 2010

AP/Dave Martin A wave polluted with crude from the Gulf oil spill washes ashore in Orange Beach, Ala., Saturday.

The Guardian reports that according to figures provided by BP ‘Weasel in Chief’ Tony Hayward, the Macondo field reservoir now emptying into the Gulf of Mexico contains enough oil to continue spewing at the current rate for more than two years.

Hayward told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that the reservoir contains 50 million barrels of crud and is gushing at the rate of 60,000 barrels a day which would give it the capacity to continue for 833 days.

Using the government’s present flow estimates of up to 60,000 barrels a day, BP’s well could go on gushing for two to four years, unless it is stopped.

BP and the administration say they are containing a rising share of the oil from the well, and hope to plug the gusher completely by August, when two relief wells will be complete. BP said today that the relief wells were within 60 metres of the ruptured well.

The consequences of failure are enormous. The Guardian

Joe “I’m Sorry” Barton quoted a figure for the capacity of the reservoir of ten times the 50M figure during his questioning. The capacity figure was also questioned by an oil academic:

“I would assume that 500m barrels would be a more likely estimate,” said Tadeusz Patzek, the chairman of the department of petroleum and geosystems engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. “I don’t think you would be going after a 50mbarrel reservoir so quickly. This is just simply not enough oil to go after.”

The consensus seems to be that once the natural gas has dissipated or more correctly blown out of the well, the flow rate will be significantly reduced but no one offers a figure for the low end.  Simple math would tell us that if not contained the oil could continue to flow, spill, spew, and gush for years to come, clogging the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf Stream with a terrible toxic stew for a decade or more.

Meanwhile, Anadarko Oil, BPs Texas partner which has a 25% share in the Macondo field says that BP:

should pay the costs from the spill because it acted recklessly and unsafely at the drilling site.

Already 60 days old it seems that the spill has no chance of containment for perhaps another 60 days according to the “relief well” drilling schedule and if that process fails I guess it’s good night for the Gulf.

It should be noted that in civilized countries (those that have not been bought by mammoth oil companies) relief wells are often required to be drilled concurrently with the main bore and redundant blow out protection is required. Costly measures perhaps, but it seems to me that a 200 million dollar hit to BP’s bottom line would have been a wise investment.

So we watch the news, watch the brown waves bathe the shore of the Gulf, watch the smoke and smell the wretched poison of the product of human greed as it pollutes our air, watch the wildlife die and the people of the Gulf suffer the loss of their livelihood and their way of life.

We are watching a terrible reality show in which a culture dies and the series is being continued.

Bob Higgins

Related post:
Juan Cole at Informed Comment compares the BP disaster to the Iraq war. Twin Oil Disasters: BP and Iraq

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