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Breaking: Seep Found Near Blownout Well, BP Not Complying With Government Demands for More Monitoring

George Washington's picture




 

Washington’s
Blog

AP notes:

A
federal official says scientists are concerned about a seep and
possible methane near BP's busted oil well in the Gulf of Mexico

 

Both could be signs there are leaks in the well that's been capped off for three days.

The AP article implies that the seeps are new since BP shut off the oil
flow into the Gulf as part of its "well integrity test", but doesn't
directly address that issue.

But as I pointed out on June 24th:

The Washington Post made a very important point yesterday:

Bruce
Bullock, director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist
University, said additional leaks are a possible source of deep-sea
plumes of oil detected by research vessels. But this part of the gulf
is pocked with natural seeps, he noted. Conceivably the drilling of the well, and/or the subsequent blowout, could have affected the seeps, he said.

 

"Once you started disturbing the underground geology, you may have made one of those seeps even worse," he said.

Remember
that geologists have said that if the well casing is substantially
breached, the oil and methane gas will find a way through fractures in
the surrounding geology and make it into the ocean. For example, the
Houston Chronicle notes:

If the well casing burst it could send oil and gas streaming through the strata to appear elsewhere on the sea floor ....

Obviously,
if there are natural oil or gas seeps nearby, there are already
pre-existing channels up to the seafloor ... so that may very well be
the path of least resistance for the subterranean oil to flow up to the
seafloor.

 

Therefore, if there were a substantial breach in the
well bore, nearby natural oil and gas seeps could very well increase in
volume.

 

Because BP would like to minimize leak estimates to minimize the damages it has to pay under the Clean Water Act,
BP would undoubtedly try to pretend that the nearby natural seeps
always had the same volume. In other words, the owner of the oil
drilling prospect where the spill is occuring - BP - may be the only
party to have mapped out the nearby seeps (Anadarko and Mitsui were partners with BP in the oil prospect; but - as passive partners - they probably didn't take a hands-on approach to such details).

 

So don't be surprised if - when formerly tiny seeps become gushers - BP tries to pretend that they were always that large.

Indeed
- given BP's track record of prevarication - don't be shocked if BP
pretends that brand new gushers are ancient, natural seeps.

AP also notes:

The official says BP is not complying with the government's demand for more monitoring.

As I argued
at length on June 16th, we should not trust BP to stop the oil gusher,
and they should be removed from the scene of the crime and replaced
with people who don't have such a poor track record for safety and such
severe conflicts of interest.

The health of the entire Gulf region is at stake.

For background on the release of methane from the oil spill, see this.

Update: The top government official in charge of the response to the oil spill, Thad Allen, sent a letter to BP tonight addressing the seep, additional monitoring, and the need to re-open the containment cap.

 

 

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Mon, 07/19/2010 - 10:46 | 476866 gasmiinder
gasmiinder's picture

One of the ROV feeds is showing oil leaking from the wellhead assembly.  It's not labeled but it looks like the flex joint to me (but that may just because I believe the flex joint is the weak link in the current capping system).

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 11:03 | 476883 CD
CD's picture

Is this the one you mean?  It seems to be the HOS Achiever Maxx ROV1. 

It looks like the flex joint, the Neptune ROV2 was spending a lot of time circling it, recording the bubbles and oil droplets earlier this morning.

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 10:58 | 476845 ATG
ATG's picture

Gotta admire GW's enthusiasm and persistence.

Here's some of the rest of the story:

Global warming methane in the atmosphere tripled in the last 150 years.

Primary sources are landfills, plants, wetlands and ruminants, eg cattle, goats, sheep, giraffes, bison, yaks, water buffalo, deer, camels, alpacas, llamas, wildebeest, antelope, pronghorn, and nilgai.

Methane seeps are increasing offshore in shallower Santa Barbara as well as Siberia.

Worth recalling the methane hydrate at Macondo Canyon freezes in the two degree Celsius water a mile deep.

Locals know there are oil seeps, as in Trinidad and all the oil Saddam Hussein released in the Persian Gulf War.

Not to worry unless the oil is kept dissolved or frozen in deep underwater zombie zones by toxic Apollo BP BRK BX GS XOM Nalco Corexit where microbes are slower to digest it.

The bigger danger still remains toxic Co-rexit liberally applied by Hercules C-130 transports and underwater entering the food chain and rain cycle during hurricane season before it biodegrades.

Fact is, the Corexit MSDS states it was not tested, despite copious NLC PR claims it is safe, while cleanup workers in different locations are hospitalized from red blood cell, kidney and liver compromise described by the Green Gene BP CEO as "food poisoning."

So why were contaminated clothes confiscated by BP if Co-rexit is safe by government test as claimed on the Nalco website?

http://www.physorg.com/news9792.html

http://www.nalco.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corexit

PS Talking book, currently short NLC from 29 to 12 after Corexit was announced as a miracle around May Day...

http://stockcharts.com/charts/gallery.html?nlc

 

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 10:23 | 476828 bpj
bpj's picture

t

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 10:22 | 476827 ZackAttack
ZackAttack's picture

Who lives in a Pineapple under the sea? SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS!! Who
died in a oil spill because of BP? SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS!!

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 09:36 | 476773 Rusty Shorts
Mon, 07/19/2010 - 08:26 | 476719 snakehead
snakehead's picture


DATE: July 19, 2010 05:41:20 CST

Statement by National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen:

"Yesterday I sent BP a letter stating that there were a number of unanswered questions about the monitoring systems they committed to as a condition of the US government extending the well integrity test. Last night a conference call between the federal science team and BP representatives was convened to discuss some specific issues, including the detection of a seep near the well and the possible observation of methane over the well. During the conversation, the federal science team got the answers they were seeking and the commitment from BP to meet their monitoring and notification obligations.

Ongoing monitoring and full analysis of both the seepage and methane will continue in coordination with the science team.

I authorized BP to continue the integrity test for another 24 hours and I restated our firm position that this test will only continue if they continue to meet their obligations to rigorously monitor for any signs that this test could worsen the overall situation. At any moment, we have the ability to return to the safe containment of the oil on the surface until the time the relief well is completed and the well is permanently killed."

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 02:41 | 476626 CD
CD's picture

Bubblicious oil droplets now available at  Neptune ROV2 for a limited time only...

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 01:02 | 476569 UnBearorBull
UnBearorBull's picture

This seems to have slipped by under the radar. BP would love this.

Gulf Oil Spill Caused by Firefighters Flooding Deepwater Rig, Suit Says
Mon, 07/19/2010 - 01:20 | 476584 Augustus
Augustus's picture

The rig was on fire because of the blowout.  the fire did not cause it, but it is possible that a lawyer could make a case about whether the boats sinking the DWH made it worse.  they only have to explain how they would have done something different if they were able to don asbestos suits and board the DWH while the whole thing was engulfed in flames and and then perform some operation to shut in or kill the well.  Lot of luck on that. 

However, they maybe could make the case that burning the blowout at the top of the riser (drill floor of DWH) wouold have minimized the pollution while the relief wells were drilled.  Of course they had several days to decide to do that while they were pumping all that water into the drill ship. 

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 01:24 | 476591 CD
Mon, 07/19/2010 - 01:54 | 476607 Augustus
Augustus's picture

Thanks for that.  It is truely extraordinary.  I believe Geo Wash should adopt the title of Researcher.  Somewhat like the touts at Minyanville annoint each other as Professor.

The Web Bot technology is now predicting a 1.289+ billion mega-death resulting from an “ill-wind” and the BP Gulf oil disaster.  Researcher Clif High has published a prediction expecting a ‘tipping point’ around November 8, 2010 into global nuclear war, triggered by a mistaken Israeli-influenced attack on Iran that could come anytime after July 11, 2010.  

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 02:24 | 476619 CD
CD's picture

Come on, Shirley you see a modicum of difference between GW and the true wingnuts? GW has betrayed the true believers, he sometimes pauses to consider reason, logic, and even empirical evidence... HERESY!!! I would be shocked if he were not already excommunicated from the super secret gatherings of the truly righteous... ;-)

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 02:47 | 476628 Augustus
Augustus's picture

Geo Wash has not been an "original source" for the information that he has posted.  He has collected links and quotes from varoius sites that all have painted the picture of an end of the world calamity resulting from this blowout of a well that is uncontrollable.  It has only been a slight shuffle away from the person quoted in your link who claims that the Mayan calendar, 2000 years ago, actually predicted this blowout as the end of the world.

The earliest posts announced that this well would split the GoM.  How many times do we have to be pointed to Matt Simmons and the two wells or the H2S or the 100,000 psi, or the massive leak somewhere that no one has identified?  Did he point you to the nonexistant danger of a methane tsunami?  It just goes on and on, time after time after time after time.

This well is a blowout because of an engineering screwup.  It is not an extreme well or something unusual from any geologic measure.  It will certainly be an environmental problem with the extent remaining to be measured.  It will not kill the wheat crop in Kansas, cause the skin to fall off of someone who swims in the Gulf, or swallow Cincinnati.

 

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 02:58 | 476632 CD
CD's picture

I think that his viewpoint has matured quite a bit since the beginning, in part thanks to your and other readers efforts. Yes, questioning the officially disseminated viewpoints does lead to questionable sources (and in some cases to lunatics/snakeoil salesmen). But if the truth falls in between the extremes of "this is so safe we can do it all without so much as losing a gum wrapper over the side of the platform" and the aforementioned 'the end is nigh' worshippers, it is difficult to triangulate without finding some outliers (that must be discarded). PS: It depends where in the Gulf, and for how long...

 

 

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 07:53 | 476686 gasmiinder
gasmiinder's picture

I agree - while I doubt very seriously that GW & I would have many viewpoints in common (I could be wrong though given how much I despise BOTH political parties) and while his posts still look to aggregate mostly from what I would consider leftish & "worst-case" sources - I would say he has moved significantly toward an attempt to present data/scenarios that are at least rooted in physical reality.  I suspect he'd argue that his earlier posts were sometimes misunderstood (upon being redirected I could see where they were more "on the fence" than my first read indicated).  I'd also applaud his willingness to both ask for expert 'vetting' as it were and 'face the music' if he's wrong (although that may have taken some effort).  

Bravo on trying to grow & improve.

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 09:47 | 476780 wang
wang's picture

gasm, While I am confident this was not your intent I think if you read your post you may agree that some might find it to have a  partonizing and even condescending tone. I am also looking forward to your comments on my repsonse to you above.

 

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 10:17 | 476811 gasmiinder
gasmiinder's picture

That was not my intent - my intent was to be complimentary while not sounding as though I was supporting all his positions.  I was in a hurry so that's my excuse.

Mea culpa to GW if it came across that way.

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 01:17 | 476582 CD
CD's picture

"The fireboats should have used their “dynamic positioning systems” to hold the Deepwater Horizon in place while fighting the fire with industry-approved methods, the complaint alleged. That would have kept the rig connected to the well with an intact riser, “greatly enhancing the ability to manage and control the discharge of oil,” the complaint said."

Gee, I'm sure industry-approved methods would have snuffed the yield of the well spraying forth as liquid fire in no time. Why on earth didn't they think of that?

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 01:26 | 476592 Jim_Rockford
Jim_Rockford's picture

The fireboats should have used their “dynamic positioning systems”

As Rusty Shorts has pointed out on another thread, the well casing was moving south at a rate of several centimeters per year.  No doubt the firefighter's attorneys will make hay out of that.

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 02:28 | 476623 Augustus
Augustus's picture

Along the same line, one of the nutter web sites wrote a very long and scarey essay about the possibility of earthquakes in the GoM.  Since it is so geologically unstable it should be a no drill zone, that was the conclusion.

First, it is pretty easy to identify the "earthquake zones" caused by plate tectonics.  Those are easily identified by the ring of fire lines of the volcanoes.  However, any cross section showing the GoM geology also shows a complex fault system, primarily associated with salt migration upward.  These faults are active on a geologic time scale, very different from a 15 year productive life of a well.  If drilling is declared to be unsafe in any area with some previous fault movement history there will not be drilling anywhere in the US.  Just look at the rock formations as you drive through the highway cuts.  It is pretty easy to identify formation breaks and these would have caused some form of local earthquake.

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 01:33 | 476597 CD
CD's picture

It was the well that moved, not the rig... Very clever...

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 00:18 | 476537 tahoebumsmith
tahoebumsmith's picture

So what are they so scared of? Hear, let me give you a hint! It's not the enviornment or the people it has affected ...My guess is this could be the first domino to fall in the 1.2 Quadrillion dollar derivitive scam. I have always said it will be this market that will finish the shell game, however I never imagined it would be kicked off by an oil spill. This article sums it up pretty good...

http://econotwist.wordpress.com/2010/07/03/response-to-the-bp-derivatives-story/

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 02:21 | 476617 M4570D0N
M4570D0N's picture

Ok, I've read two posts from you, and it's more than enough to conclude that you are in fact a mounth breathing troglodyte. Seriously, you people* crack me up.

*The term "you people" referring to the bat shit crazies with your delusional tin foil hat theories.

Sun, 07/18/2010 - 23:59 | 476526 tahoebumsmith
tahoebumsmith's picture

Tick,tock,tick,tock,tick tock......Better open that bitch up soon before the so called "seep" turns into a gaping hole and cuts the President's vacation short. When will people realize that this has been an 88 day cover-up to try and minimize the extent of the disaster and protect the corporate interests. All you needed to do was follow the trail from day one and it was very clear that the Government was in kahoots with BP. Daddy did you plug the whole yet? I'm gonna kick some ass! Give me a flippin break, you people who chart and graph and follow oil logs are all being HOODWINKED. Just read between the lines and the answers are always there. My fear is they will now say the so called seeps were always there to limit BP'S liability. This whole 5 billion dollar fund was another pawn set up to deflect people's attention and pretend they are going to make things right. People are not getting paid, or should I say their not getting paid what they deserve. The 420 million Ken Salazar has paid out is a joke! They don't have a fund, their just paying as they go. Soon we will all have to face the truth and when the extent of the problem is revealed you will see that the most harshest critics sniffed out this rat from the beginning. Excellent Job GEORGE WASHINGTON, you have stuck to your story and soon you will be proven correct!

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 00:17 | 476535 arnoldsimage
arnoldsimage's picture

no worries... he's only going to shoot 9 in the morning.

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 00:11 | 476531 Jim_Rockford
Jim_Rockford's picture

Does this mean Matt Simmons will get his old job back too?

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 00:20 | 476538 CD
CD's picture

That last segment on King World News sounded even more loopy than usual. Alternately mentioning methane & methanol, raving about the toxicity of methane itself (then citing the requirement to carry gas masks in the presence of H2S[?]), etc. The question is, is he simply manipulating, is he truly that far gone, or is he crazy like a fox? The fundamental issue of WHY it would be advantageous for him to appear like a lunatic continues to trouble me. Unless of course he expects retail investors to line up in droves to buy shares in his new venture... 

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 01:48 | 476602 Augustus
Augustus's picture

I don't have a link with the composition of the Macondo chemical breakdown.  However, there are lots of stories describing how they are comparing tar balls from many different places to the Macondo oil signature.  So the stuttering nutters claiming that there were no oil samples must have been full of BS.  And if it was high in H2S it would have been reported.  They are collecting this stuff topside and high H2S would be a noted problem for that.

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 00:40 | 476551 Broken_Trades
Broken_Trades's picture

H2S kills people every year.  It's a highly toxic gas.

 

The real question is:  Is this a sour well?

 

I don;t think it is - Maybe someone can find some facts.

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 01:00 | 476567 CD
CD's picture

I know h. sulfide is poisonous, but the conversation in which Mr. Simmons brings it up is disjointed. CH4 is not H2S, nor is it CH3OH - he uses these interchangeably. He is either so troubled by his belief that H2S is building/spreading in the Gulf that he neglects to clarify or misspeaks repeatedly - or he does not know the difference. That's why it does not make sense - even a WS trader can look up such basic chemistry, let alone a financier who spent a career around oil.

Sun, 07/18/2010 - 23:45 | 476518 buzlightening
buzlightening's picture

I'm sensing a disaster!!  Here let me switch on my most trusted fane stream media network and get the facts!  Do not PANIC!  Former fractured sea floors from past drilling fiasco's have only exterminated thousands instantly with death clouds and millions in long term exposure; obviously covered up as ordered by national security gag!  If you must leave the gulf, remember to boycott brit pee and exit with a clear conscience as a true AmeriCON'd citizen of bazarrow land!!  Stampede this way please in an orderly fashoin!!

Sun, 07/18/2010 - 23:23 | 476509 1fortheroad
1fortheroad's picture

gimli, thats some scary stuff, maybe Jesus is coming sooner than we thought

IMO we hairless monkeys maybe are not deserving to live on this world, myself included.

I leave with this message.

Having fallen from the eternal, the Evil One's desires are endless,

insatiable. Having fallen from pure Being, he is driven by the desire

to possess, to fill his emptiness. But the problem is insoluble,

always. He is compelled to have and to hold, to possess and consume,

and nothing else. All he takes, he destroys. Certainly he rules the

material, as he is called the Prince of this World in the gospels -

but only of the things of this world." And since material things will

have an end, he is condemned to a gnawing hunger, and the wages of his

pride, oblivion. The is no greater punishment for pure ego. And the

knowledge of this is his torment.

 

Im just saying, thats all. I have known since I was a little boy.

 

Sun, 07/18/2010 - 23:36 | 476516 Jim_Rockford
Jim_Rockford's picture

Well said.  Do you have any insight on how to get rid of chiggers?

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 00:42 | 476553 1fortheroad
1fortheroad's picture

Chiggers bite, get their nutrients and leave. Similar to a politician. Politicans just do it in

slow motion. Other than than bath in Epson salts. The salts will draw out the poison left behind. If you have them in your area

Guineafowl  love to eat them along with ticks spiders and other insects. 

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 01:10 | 476573 Jim_Rockford
Jim_Rockford's picture

Thank you.  I will try to pass that along to Augustus's meat lady.

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 01:43 | 476600 Augustus
Augustus's picture

Foxes and Coyotes eat guinea.  And they make too much noise.  I sprayed a Bayer product.  The Meat Woman demonstrated her appreciation.  It was worth the $7.99 cost of the chemicals.

Sun, 07/18/2010 - 23:17 | 476501 Augustus
Augustus's picture

Same and continuing line of nonsense specualtion. 

BP cannot both run continuous seismic over the well. continuous accoustic monitoring of the seabed and well casing,  and move the collection operation and those ships back over the well.  I believe it was the govt. which ordered the continuous monitoring and mre seis.

Karl Denninger has a nice write up on the Macondo Truthers today on Seeking Alpha.

http://seekingalpha.com/article/214978-realities-of-the-post-spill-gulf-of-mexico

I would suspect that several of the Truthers posting on ZH are among those getting selected for the Baker Act Reporting.  You should maybe look at this list so that you can choose where you will be studied and evaluated.

http://www.webenet.com/receivingfacilities.htm

Sun, 07/18/2010 - 23:40 | 476517 Jim_Rockford
Jim_Rockford's picture

@ The August One

Denninger had that up on market-ticker.org several days ago.  Gasmiinder pointed it out.  I could not agree more with his sentiments, particularly his last few paragraphs about the nutters and how they will be inadequately equiped to deal with reality when the S really does HTF.

Did you catch my followup to your question about the magic juice and where to buy it etc?

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 01:08 | 476571 Augustus
Augustus's picture

The last I read on the magic juice was something like you were traveling and would get back later on the brand that you thought was worthwhile.  I read the post in which you described the application to the mulch pile.  that was pretty interesting really, as it a sort of practical farmer experiment that offers some evidence of inhanced microbrial effect without having to have a PhD to actually identify exactly what the process is.  Martin would love that, I suspect.

In the same line of discussion, I was at a little party with a few of my college roommates on Friday night.  One of them has worked his full career and retired from an ag coop.  He had a job somewhat comparble to an extension agent.  So, one of my farmer friends had asked him about a type of magic juice product, not a Martin type.  The expert told my farmer friend that it was snake oil, don't waste your money.  OK, now the expert is retired and fairly young and got a new job.  He is selling the magic juice and cannot say enough good about it.  I will also say that he is about as honest a felow as you could ever deal with and a straight shooter.  I believe he just got a little more education.  the whole ag field has not looked very much at soil microbes and the effects on fertility and crop yields.  It has been focused on improving genetics, how much nitrogen to add, and how to kill weeds, all worthwhile BTW.  The whole microbe field is pretty wide open and under studied.  Somewhat at the same stage as medicine was in the 1950's when ulcers were caused by stomach acid from stress instead of a stomach bacteria.

If you have an interest in neat soil and farming ideas, you might have an interest in looking at something called Terra Preta, a type of soil with very high charcoal carbon content.  It appears that the charcoal (a particular class of charcoal, BTW) is very stable and becomes somewhat a catalyst for housing the microbes that provide the soil fertility.  A couple of the best introductory articles I read were by Charles Mann who is a very thorough journalist, somewhat in the same line as you Mr. Curits.  Take a look at these:

Mann Article:   http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/issues/2002/03/mann.htm

Mann Interview:   http://www.truehealth.org/terrapretainterview.html

Pay dirt:   http://www.uvm.edu/~uvmpr/vq/vqspring05/amazon.html

Amazon Highly Urbanized:   http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=lost-amazon-cities

 

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 01:21 | 476585 Jim_Rockford
Jim_Rockford's picture

I think this #474890 was the last I wrote about it.

Interesting stuff you wrote above.  I will read those articles.

Tonight I had a cool conversation with a guy who just got back from Iraq.  He was a reservist that was called up and his real job is with the Corp of Engineers on the Mississippi River.  He had a lot of good stories and info.  Among them were his comments about soil salinity being a problem in Iraq as well as low water levels/flow of the Euphrates which has caused seawater inflow into the river system at the southern end ... and again, salinity issues.  Also, he was telling me that their groundwater over there is real salty also.

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 01:37 | 476588 Augustus
Augustus's picture

IIRC, one of the benefits of the magic juice was curing salinity problems in soils.  It would be pretty neat if it worked for that.

Along the same line, I remember that one of the long term effects from the big Mississippi floods of about ten years ago was supposed to be that the long term effects of the standing water for such a lengthy period was that it "killed" the soil microbes and they did not know how long it would take for them to come back.

If someone can actually figure out the Terra Preta phenomena they will be in line for a Nobel Prize, IMHO.  It would fall somewhat in the in same class of advancement as Norman Borlaug and his Genetic Revolution that has fed several billion people.

Sun, 07/18/2010 - 23:57 | 476514 CD
CD's picture

Finally, the authoritative sound of reason and guiding light for all poor lost souls stumbling around in the red methane cloud has arrived. Thank you for deigning to consider us worthy of experiencing your presence once more, Exalted One.

Sun, 07/18/2010 - 23:05 | 476492 b_thunder
b_thunder's picture

One might expect such cover up, helping and abetting from Dick Cheney and Co.

From "anti-business" Obama I expected a Swat team storming BPs headquarters, FBI carrying out tons of evidence, and National Guard removing every single BP exec/manager from anywhere near the Gulf.  But I was wrong... again...  the Democratic wing of The Party is just as corrupt as the GOP wing, except GOP makes no secret about that.  Both are bought and paid for by wall street, big oil, and unions.

 

 

Sun, 07/18/2010 - 23:27 | 476510 Augustus
Augustus's picture

Ryskin has written that the leak in the GoM and the methane associated with it have nothing to do with his theories of methane explosions millions of years ago.  His theory is dealing with a much different source and cause for the any methane bubble.

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 01:13 | 476576 George Washington
George Washington's picture

I agree with Augustus on this one.

As I pointed out in

Methane Release From the Gulf Oil Spill: What Does It Mean? How Bad Could It Get?

It is true that one scientist speculates that methane bubbles released from the seafloor have caused extinction-level events in the past. However, the scientist is not talking about the type of methane - methane hydrates - which are being released by the oil spill.

***

I also pointed out:

David Valentine of the University of California, Santa Barbara, [notes]:

"Although methane from surface-vessel spills or shallow-water blowouts escapes into the air, I expect that the vast majority of methane making the long trip to the sea surface from a deep water spill would dissolve," Valentine wrote. "Unlike oil, methane dissolves uniformly in seawater. And the tools are available to measure it accurately and sensitively."

As Alexander Higgins points out:

[A] study called Project “Deep Spill” ... debunks the lie that the methane gas being released from the well is floating to the surface and not being absorbed into the sea.

 

The study analyzed a wide range of controlled releases at different depths below the sea surface of different types of oil found all over world to help better understand the flow of hydrocarbons released from a deepwater blowout.

 

One of the studies, called DeepBlow, released 10,000 barrels of oil per day at a depth of 800 meters which is less than half of the depth of the Deepwater Horizon blowout.

 

The basic findings of that study has been recreated by scientists from the University of North Carolina.

 

In their research the scientists simulated of the formation of the underwater oil plumes that are created during deepwater blowouts.

 

Watch The University of North Caroline Simulation Shows How Oil Released Underwater Forms Plumes

While the University of North Carolina simulation gives you a basic understanding of how deepwater blowouts create oil plumes it does not fully account for all the findings of Project “Deep Spill”.

 

In particular the final report of Project “Deep Spill” found: ound:

  1. Only 2% of the oil released in a deepwater blowout may actually make it to the surface. That’s as little as 2% naturally without the use of dispersants. Add dispersants into the equation and it could be less then one percent of oil that makes it to the surface.
  2. None of the methane released from the deepwater blowout made it to the surface. The study found that released natural gas may dissolve completely within the water column if it is released from a deep enough depth relative to the gas flow rate.

    From the study of the 800 meter release:

    Echo sounders provided efficient tracking of oil and gas releases in the field and showed that the gas was completely dissolved before it could surface.

    DeepBlow does not include hydrate kinetics, and hence, under hydrate forming conditions, the model predicts solid hydrate particles. Not only is the mass transfer from such particles slower than from gas bubbles, but also hydrate density is closer to that of water than that of natural gas, substantially reducing plume buoyancy.

  3. The buoyant parts of the oil released in a deepwater blowout split from the main plume within the first 200 meters of release. Those buoyant parts, which represent only a small portion of the total amount of oil, turn into small droplets that float to the surface.

    Here is a graph from the study showing this process.


    Deepwater oil release – Buoyancy particle separation graph

    Here is an image that captures the separation process


    Deepwater oil release – Buoyancy particle separation simulation
  4. Within the first 100 to 200 meters from the source of the release the the majority of the oil loses its buoyancy and stops rising. This majority of the oil remains submerged in an underwater plume that is then carried away by subsurface currents.

The fact that much of the methane released from the Gulf oil spill won't make it to the surface is good for those worried about global warming, but bad for the marine life. Remember as discussed above, methane depletes oxygen, and thus kills everything in the ocean.

In addition, Natalia Shakhova, a biogeochemist at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and one of the leaders of the study showing massive amounts of methane being released from the Siberian Shelf, makes the same point - that the Siberian Shelf is SHALLOW (I can find the link if anyone wants it).

CAVEAT: Someone has to figure out whether the temp/pressure conditions of a possible leaking/seeping Macondo could change methane hydrates (also called clathrates) enough to put 'em into a gaseous form.  If so, someone has to figure out if that could cause more methane to make it to the surface.

I would greatly appreciate any input onto these questions from a geochemist type.


Mon, 07/19/2010 - 03:10 | 476634 defender
defender's picture

The methane hydrates are boyant (a density of about .9g/cc ), so they won't build up on the bottom and then suddenly release.  Think of a coke slushy, the gas bubbles just make the whole thing into crunchy foam.

Looking at the phase diagram, it looks like the water still has to reach 32F to melt (too tired to look up the actual number right now).  This means that the hydrates won't be shock sensitive since it is temperature limited.  The methane in the water, however, would be shock sensitive, if there is enough dissolved.  That would take a large amount of methane in one place to reach that level (remember that there is an ocean current there).

I am a chemist, so if you have any specific questions, I will try to answer them.

Mon, 07/19/2010 - 13:37 | 477182 hbjork1
hbjork1's picture

defender,

I am a fallen away ChE who worked with chlorine hydrate, on and off, for several years. (I say "fallen away" because the AICHE Journal is Greek to me now.)

I am sure you well know it but for others, the old Pauling paper link is posted below (still as lucid as anything available on structure). In the case of chlorine with water with pure chlorine (no air) readily forms a clathrate with 1 chlorine per ~8 waters at temperatures below 9 C.  At elevated pressures or lower temperatures the smaller cavities get filled and CL2:6H20 forms. Chlorine seems to fit into the water ice crystal lattice better than any other gas.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1063513/?page=7

 It amazed me that BP engineering did not anticipate the formation of methane hydrate in their first “Top Hat” containment effort.  That fact tells something about the level of reasoning and professionalism being used in the organization.  Wikipedia has enough data so that access to other references wouldn’t even be required.  Methane hydrates as a possible source for natural gas have even been discussed in the popular media.

http://sepwww.stanford.edu/public/docs/sep92/christin1/Gif/phase.gif  

Got to wonder about BP.  The management is definitely not the “smartest guys in the room”.  Must be run by the sharpest elbows in the room.    

 

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