The Macondo Prospect, where British Petroleum’s ill fated offshore drill rig exploded and sank last year killing eleven men is a reservoir of oil in the Mississippi Canyon area of the northern Gulf of Mexico about 40 miles off the Louisiana coast.
The rig was actually owned by Transocean, built by South Korean giant Hyundai and under lease to BP at the time of its catastrophic demise. In the high stakes world of oil poker, details of ownership and registry are kept deliberately muddied and overly complex, the better to avoid taxes, laws and other liability and responsibilities.
The prospect which BP bid on in 2008 was estimated to contain 50 million barrels of oil which sounds like quite a lot. Sold at current prices that amount of oil would bring bring in gross revenue of 5 billion dollars and that’s just the cost of the crude. Major oil companies also own the pipelines, refineries and the gas pumps where we go to fill our tanks and pick up a six pack so in addition to the profits at the well they make great chunks of money all the way downstream to our front door and beyond.
50 million barrels of oil is about what we use in this country every 60 hours. That’s right, we use about twenty million barrels every day. The eleven dead, the despoliation of 500 miles of the Gulf’s coast, the crippling of the fishing and tourist industries, the physical destruction of people and wildlife, the damage to their lives and their future well being was all about keeping us cruising the roads and cursing at bubble packaging for a long weekend.
A year ago the NOAA, the Coast Guard, the administration and, of course, BP was telling us that the oil was 70% gone and they were working very hard to make things right. I don’t have to crawl very far out on the limb to say that they were lying then and they continue to lie today.
In the world of business, they’ve grown so accustomed to lying that the truth is no longer necessary.
The oil, BP’s crude gate crasher, appears to be back. In addition to the continual beaching of tarballs from the missing oil at the roiled bottom of the Gulf, expected with the onset of another season of warming waters, tropical storms, and hurricane activity it appears that something is leaking large in the vicinity of the Deepwater Horizon well.
According to an article in Al Jazeera “The return of the BP disaster? “on Thursday, reporting on animal rescue organization Wings of Care and in another piece this morning “Oil Still Gushing From BP Well In Gulf,” September, the most active month of hurricane season is likely to begin uncovering the ugly truth.
It is entirely possible that the coalition of irresponsible and incompetent corporations who gave us the tragic deaths of eleven men and the worst oil spill in our history are no more capable of safely capping a well than they are of safely drilling one, transporting its products, or refining them. They are after all, to be found spilling, gushing, leaking, spraying and otherwise carelessly spewing crude oil all over the Earth.
The reports come at us every month, from the Gulf, Alaska, the North Sea, small towns in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania and from the Yellowstone River. There is no place on earth that these greaseheads will not despoil and are not actively and zealously engaged in destroying. Make a note that these are only the events that get reported or otherwise discovered.
Following the reports linked above, BP is already making noises about “natural oil seeps,” the expression being a large part of the literature that comprises their canned media response.
It’s likely that 60-70 percent of the oil from last year’s spill, rather than conveniently disappearing is laying on the bottom of the Northern Gulf mixed with toxic Corexit. Just laying in wait for a direct hit by something on the scale of last month’s Irene, to spread its filthy fingers all over the southern coast.
As for the current leaks being from natural seeps, I don’t know, but I don’t buy it. There are 4000 active oil and gas platforms in the Gulf and 27,000 that have been plugged and abandoned by actors like BP.
In addition to BP’s giant screw up in the Macondo prospect, the Deepwater Horizon disaster, that’s a lot of unnatural holes.
Originally posted at Clean Technica: More Oil From Macondo?
Photo: Courtesy of the MODIS Rapid Response Team[see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons
There are about 4000 active oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, a fact I bumped into while researching an article on BP’s Macondo field Deepwater Horizon disaster last year.
In addition, there are more than 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells that dot the Gulf, actually it’s much more like a blanket.
Watching the brief video is a bit ominous as the rigs spread east and west along the Gulf coast and retreat farther from shore and into ever deeper water over a time span from 1942 through 2005.
I had oil on my mind over coffee this morning because the first item in my Email was a NYT article “U.S. to Offer Oil Leases in the Gulf.” Times writer John M. Broder reveals the administration’s new lease plans and he stopped me cold with this statement:
The lease offering includes parcels from nine to 250 miles offshore and in water depths from 16 to nearly 11,000 feet. The Interior Department estimates that the tract could produce 222 million to 423 million barrels of oil and 1.49 trillion to 2.65 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. “ U.S. to Offer Oil Leases in the Gulf.” John M. Broder NYT
Please note that many of these wells will be more than five times as far from the coast and in more than twice the water depth as BPs colossal failure of last year, greatly increasing the technological problems and challenges while making recovery and mitigation of a spill vastly more problematic.
Originally posted at Clean Technica: More Drilling In The Gulf, The Death Of A Thousand Cuts
Please vote for the environment and urge your friends to do the same.
Next Tuesday a schoolteacher from Connecticut, an organic farmer from California, and a biologist from Colorado will cast their ballots with at least one thing in common – they will have read this and they will be even more determined to vote to protect our planet.
At my polling station in Dayton, Ohio I will add my voice to theirs and cast my ballot for the environment.
And I will forward this to my friends and family to urge them to vote at least in part on how our candidates will treat our natural world.
Will you join us?
[Pro Publica’s Marian Wang reports on the spin being provided to middle school students by BP and the NOAA regarding the safety of Gulf Seafood and the contamination of the Guf with 206 million gallons of crude oil and a million gallons of dispersants. Truthout gives a slightly different picture in Evidence Refutes BP’s and Fed’s Deceptions Bob Higgins]
By Marian Wang, ProPublica
Even as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls for more research into the long-term effects of the chemical dispersants BP used in the Gulf, representatives of BP and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have reached out to local schools to “dispel myths” about dispersants and subsurface oil, according to recent reports in the Houma Courier and the Tri-Parish Times. (We first noticed the Tri-Parish Times piece via TreeHugger.) (more…)
The current hoo-hah over President Obama’s public statement of the obvious, that Muslims have the same rights as everyone else, to worship, to speak, to petition the government for redress, to get jiggy, and just about whatever, Dude, has had the media, the Republicans and a few chicken shit Democrats obsessing through the weekend and deep into today, with no end in sight.
This is, as usual, being driven by the same gang of Republicans who really don’t give a damn about the siting of this Islamic cultural center but do care deeply about sticking a knife in every vulnerable patch of flesh that the President and his party expose to their efforts.
They hope only to drive a wedge between the electorate, at least the fraction of it that cares about this sort of nonsense and the Prez and Democrats in general.
It is also, of course, being fanned by the completely irresponsible news media whose only concerns are notoriety, ratings, advertising dollars and maintaining a shallow pretext of objectivity.
This sort of behavior is a constant with Republicans, creating a large issue out of nothing, finding a mountain where all that exists is a molehill and wasting the public’s time picking fly shit out of pepper. (more…)
For the last several days I’ve watched and read a steady stream of media coverage on the miraculous disappearance of more than a hundred million gallons of oil from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Since the Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank on April 20 killing 11 workers the NOAA estimates that 206 million gallons of “light sweet crude” spewed from BP’s Macondo well field, fouling the waters of the Gulf, shutting down much of the commerce of the surrounding region and creating a giant toxic bouillabaisse in which now swim whatever critters managed to survive poisoning, suffocation, or being roasted alive.
The Feds now say, as reported by the NYT, that 76% of the mess has either been picked up on the beaches, skimmed from the surface, captured by the containment process or burned off. (I suppose breathing this stuff in the air as particulates is “perfectly safe.”)
At the risk of seeming a “Chicken Little” I’d like to point out that even if the reports of this “great disappearing” are true what is left is something on the order of 50 million gallons of crud in the Gulf or about the same as 5 Exxon Valdez spills.
So, while BP, the Government and our happy-go-lucky news media are fighting for places on the “where did all the oil go” bandwagon I see no cause for celebration.
I completely understand that everyone in the area wants to look out their windows and see people thronging to the beaches and fighting for restaurant reservations. They naturally “want their lives back, ” and deservedly so, but because I have long experience (due to my status as a “geezer”) listening to lies from government, lies from business and lies from the media, I’m not buying it just yet. (more…)
[Editor’s note: This began as a comment this morning to “Oil spill: The nightmare becomes reality” a Carl Hiaasen piece on the arrival of BP’s poisonous gusher of crud on the shores of Pensacola.]
You’re right; it is difficult for people living far from our coasts to feel the horrible weight of this disaster.
I live in Ohio but have lived on the coasts of California and North Carolina. I have also lived through and helped clean up an oil spill near San Francisco in 1970 or thereabouts. I have friends and family though who have never seen or at least never lived near the sea and had it become, as seems inevitable to me, a part of them.
If you sit on a hill overlooking your local harbor or coastal area (a fat dune will do) and watch the ebb and flow of the ocean, its cycle of life, through days and nights, its tides, the winds shifting from onshore to offshore, the ceaseless march of crabs and gulls of all the limitless life of the sea you will soon notice another ebb and flow.
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.
[Editor’s note: Dan Casey a writer at the Roanoke Times linked to this piece yesterday and said some nice things while offering a bit of criticism. I updated this post by responding to him at the bottom of this page. Bob Higgins]
“We need to be realistic about operating in a mile of water”
Tony Hayward, the cherubic little weasel who serves as the front man for British Petroleum, BP, Beyond Pathetic or whatever they are calling their ‘brand’ this week, made the statement above, on camera to reporters while standing on an oil fouled Louisiana beach a couple of weeks ago.
Earlier that day I had a fairly heated argument with an elderly acquaintance who recently became enraptured by the ‘Teabaggers.’ This giddy political infatuation has had the gruesome effect of making him more of a pain in the ass than he was previously. At one point in the ‘discussion’ he asked me why BP was drilling at 5000 feet below the surface and I told him that most of the ‘easy oil’ has been used up and drilling is increasingly taking place in ever riskier and more technologically challenging sites.
The oil spill that began when one of oil giant “BP’s” offshore oil rigs exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico last week was initially reported as leaking at the rate of 1000 barrels per day. Last night the Coast Guard upped the estimated leak rate to 5000 barrels per day.
I assume that they are talking about the typical 42 gallon “barrel” the standard measurement for the toxic fluid now gushing from a pipe drilled in a hole in the sea floor. If so, that’s 210,000 gallons of toxic, flammable, carcinogenic, fish, fowl and coral killing sludge every day.
When asked how long it might take to drill a relief well to cut the flow and shut this monster down a BP “spokesperson” responded, “It’ll take a while,” a unit of measurement which is difficult to use as a multiplier. If a “barrel” of oil is in fact 42 gallons and “awhile” is what BP “estimates ” as 90 days then we will have an environmental disaster nearly three times the scale of the Exxon Valdez nightmare around the time we start grilling steaks for “Independence Day.”
Those who have taken more than a cursory look at government, big business and the media in the last decade will recognize that these “estimates” are probably on the low side and the problem is likely being understated. After all, just a day or so after the rig exploded, killing 11 workers, the company said that it was “unlikely” that the behemoth would sink; I have long been “unlikely” to place much trust in corporate estimation.
Along with many thousands of others I cringed last month when Obama caved in to oil interests and politicians corrupted by oil revenue and moved to expand offshore drilling along the Eastern seaboard. This would be, I was certain, an invitation to environmental disaster and a step in precisely the wrong direction for a sane energy policy.
Everyone knows the reasons for Obama’s capitulation, government and business don’t necessarily have to be transparent to be … “transparent.” The reasons all involve a commodity that has become as toxic to our civil affairs as oil is to our environment. Money, great gobs of it, flows to an industry often shown to have little regard for the planet, or for the people who must live on it.
This contaminated cash flows in lesser, but significant wads to the campaign chests of every more or less significant elected and appointed whore from the top, all the way down to our familiarly venal local officials. You’ve seen them, smiling, back slapping, cheese in their teeth and larceny in their hearts; they’re found everywhere campaign funds are traded for favor.
Who will pay for the cleanup? Exxon has been appealing and fighting against the damage awards in the “Valdez” case for over twenty years so I expect that the cost to the taxpayer of this recent debacle will be substantial.
Meanwhile, as hundreds of thousand of gallons of poisonous goop or “light sweet crude” issue from a pipe a mile beneath the surface of a body of water which provides much of the living space, the food, recreation and livelihood for millions, BP and the Coast Guard announced this morning that they are considering burning off large patches of the mess before it reaches … the beaches.
I know that must sound like an impressively high tech solution dreamed up by the wizards, technocrats and geniuses of Big Oil well in advance while planning for “any and all contingencies.” How far downwind should one be to avoid breathing this death fog?