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

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Wed, 06/30/2010 - 01:57 | 443734 williambanzai7
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What does Lyndon Larouches ghost think about this?

Wed, 06/30/2010 - 01:42 | 443718 StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture

scientists believe that woolly mammoth farts gaseous emissions are responsible for warming the Earth 13,000 years ago.


What are you people?  On Dope?

Wed, 06/30/2010 - 00:58 | 443676 Augustus
Augustus's picture

The premise of this post is that there was some conspiracy to cheap the US popultaion whole benefiting the energy companies.  It is nonsense.

There are huge reserves of methane trapped in the methane hydrates on all of the coasts of the US.  No one has figured out how to harvest them.  If you want to use energy, it is a good thing to figure out how to use the energy in those methane hydrates.  It knocks the heck out of the Peak Energy nutters if additional supplies are developed.  It is their worst nightmare as it disproves their desired end of humanity forecasts.

The quantities of methane trapped is absolutely stupendous.


Numerous attempts have been made to estimate the amount of methane hydrate in the world's continental margins. The task is a difficult one, partly due to the relative scarcity of drill cores into and through the hydrates themselves. Consequently, all quantity estimates must be based on limited data, and on factors such as the amount of pore space available for hydrate storage which also must be estimated. Nonetheless, a recent study that meticulously identified these various factors and determined their probable ranges came up with a global estimate of 5,000 to 20,000 gigatons (billions of metric tons, abbreviated as Gt) of carbon in oceanic hydrate methane (Dickens, 2001). This seems like a not unreasonable estimate not merely because of the careful work that went into making it, but also because it is in substantial agreement with other estimates using a variety of methods (as Kvenvolden, 1988a, which estimates 10,000 Gt), as well as the fact that the estimate range is quite generous. A new estimate, based on the amount of carbon reaching the seafloor, places methane hydrate at 3000 Gt (Buffett and Archer, 2004). (Map modified from Kvenvolden, 1988)

My point (and what is NOT acknowledged by Geo Wash) is that these hydrates can become an energy resource if we can figure out how to harvest and produce them.  If a technology can be developed, it will reduce energy costs as it increases supply.  We should expect that there will be some royalty arrangement to send funds to the pols.  Then if there are profitable operations from the production there will be taxes on those profits.  The investments in hydrate productions were not subsidies to the O&G industries.  Those were investments in making our hydrate deposits into useable resources and reducing our energy costs.

Geo Wash has again demonstrated that it is not impossible announce that cows release cow shit.

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 23:49 | 443572 Yeahsure
Yeahsure's picture

George, Huge props for being objective.  You are all over this thing, and here you present info that isn't slanted to a particular point of view.  I mean, I'm all for freakin' out about this shit too.  And I know you are passionate about this from your vigilant coverage of the issue.  But, you are trying to be objective and are presenting evidence that doesn't necessarily support a freak out narrative on this issue.  Just wanted to say "Props".  It enhances your credibility in general.


Tue, 06/29/2010 - 23:29 | 443518 Augustus
Augustus's picture

Assuming 100,000 barrels of oil a day are spewing from the Gulf, that would mean that 290,000, 000 cubic feet of gas is escaping a day, and 105,850,000,000 cubic feet of methane is escaping a year.

That's 105 billion cubic feet a year. That's a very large number.

Why not assume 600,000 barrels of oil a day?  It makes a better headline.  and is based upon as much fact as what you wrote.

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 21:22 | 443247 Lucky Guesst
Lucky Guesst's picture

I don't think I have seen this video posted here yet.

Guy vidoes water "bubbling like acid" and beach covered in oil. "May God help us all"


Tue, 06/29/2010 - 22:10 | 443334 CD
CD's picture

A surprising perspective from an unlikely source:


Watch from 6:35 on forward. "They [GOM residents] get all these dots. But to connect them would mean giving up hope."

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 23:19 | 443491 Augustus
Augustus's picture

No, BP has NOT confirmed a 15 degree tilt of the BOP.  The BOP tilt is about 3 degrees and has not changed.  It is simply bad journo that does not understand what is being said and explained.  The LMRP on the top of the BOP does tilt more.  It is attached with a flex connector and is designed to tilt to allow the drillship to have movement.

Wed, 06/30/2010 - 15:04 | 444681 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

Who are you Augustus? I don't need a name, but who are you? I could take the comfort you try to offer a lot more seriously if I knew who you were. 

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 20:51 | 443193 Jim_Rockford
Jim_Rockford's picture

The relief well is perhaps closer than you think:  http://bp.concerts.com/gom/kwellsreliefwells062710.htm

Good thread at OilDrum.com: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6672

Comments by Rockman (not I) are a must read.

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 20:32 | 443167 tempo
tempo's picture

Why did the UK and many other countries ban corexit from being used in any oil spills?  Its toxic as hell.   1.5 as much corexit is being used as oil is spilled (hundreds of millions of gallons).  What is is resulting chemical reaction and risk?.   What happens when the toxic mix/fumes spread inland over 60 miles (due to a storm) and kills most of the trees, grass, and marshes?   More CO2 and methane.   There could be a firestorm in one or more population GoM population centers   Its not a joke.   Do you want to move there and take the risk of being poisoned?

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 23:20 | 443496 Augustus
Augustus's picture

The statement that 1.5X as much corexit is being used as the oil leaked is simply nonsense.  You post and claims are the joke.

Wed, 06/30/2010 - 00:26 | 443632 CD
CD's picture

See, Augustus sometimes makes sense. I don't have the time right now to find the primary source (not that BP or CG would necessarily be more credible) but: 

About 1.47 million gallons of dispersant have been applied to the gushing oil so far

(as of 6/27) - that would be 35K Barrels total. More than that escapes the LMRP and is spilled into the Gulf EACH DAY for the last ~70 days.http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/06/27/1704063/bp-still-using-high-levels-of.html#ixzz0sJ60DjKG

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 20:31 | 443166 tempo
tempo's picture

Why did the UK and many other countries ban corexit from being used in any oil spills?  Its toxic as hell.   1.5 as much corexit is being used as oil is spilled (hundreds of millions of gallons).  What is is resulting chemical reaction and risk?.   What happens when the toxic mix/fumes spread inland over 60 miles (due to a storm) and kills most of the trees, grass, and marshes?   More CO2 and methane.   There could be a firestorm in one or more population GoM population centers   Its not a joke.   Do you want to move there and take the risk of being poisoned?

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 20:27 | 443163 HFT1
HFT1's picture

Horizon wants to know if anyone has a light?

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 20:24 | 443159 CD
CD's picture

Does anyone here remember Matt Simmons' "crazed ranting" about the force of the well blowout sending pieces of the casing pipe up the well? And this being a possible reason for the catastrophe? It seems like Energy Secretary Chu just joined his side of the debate:


Tue, 06/29/2010 - 23:25 | 443510 Augustus
Augustus's picture

Matt Simmons was characterized as crazed because he stated that the wellhead had been moved seven miles from the drilling location.  He also stated that the miles of pipe attached to it was out of the bore and had flown across the gulf without anyone seeing it.

The wellhead and BOP are still exactly where the well was drilled.  It is possible that some of the last casing string was moved up the hole and could have been in the riser, making the BOP rams inoperable.

Wed, 06/30/2010 - 00:19 | 443620 CD
CD's picture

[Sigh.] I knew I could count on you. Welcome back. So the whole deal about having attempted drilling previously in unsuccessful attempts which then had to be filled in with cement were a) unsubstantiated, and b) could not be what Matt was talking about?

Also, if you have the link to where Matt states these things, I solemnly promise I will watch/read it RIGHT NOW, as my recollection of his statements is fundamentally different from your portrayal.

Wed, 06/30/2010 - 09:27 | 444000 Augustus
Augustus's picture

Here is the link of Simmons making the claims of the BOP being miles away.



This is the first and only well drilled on the lease block.  At least before the relief wells were started.  There was no previous well drilled to 35,000 ft in secret as part of a plan to attack Iran.

People get confused when trying to understand how the wells are drilled.  They drill to a depth, run casing and cement it in the hole.  They drill out of the bottom of that until they hit another casing point (lost circulation zone that creates a drilling problem) they run more casing and cement.  The same thing happens all the way down the hole.  Look at the casing diagrams that BP presented as to what is in the hole and how many different sets of casing they ran.   Encountering the lost circulation zones is perfectly normal, some formations are just not as strong or a competent as the ones above them so they will break down or might possibly be very porus so that they will take drilling mud.  There are materials that are blended with the mud to plug off the thief zones so that they can get through it while drilling to get the casing past it.  It is not permanent in that it is not certain to stay plugged off while they drill several thousand more feet.  Casing and cement are the permanent solution.

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 20:16 | 443142 Jim_Rockford
Tue, 06/29/2010 - 22:31 | 443387 Clycntct
Clycntct's picture

Funny stuff.

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 18:36 | 443008 Diamond Jim
Diamond Jim's picture

Looks like there have been some pretty good sized EQs in the Gulf...a couple in the 5.8 to 6.0 richter scale events in 2006. At the moment locating the exact number in the area of the blowout is difficult to find.  But most quakes in the GoM are small less than 2 R. Mind you these do not appear to be the result of tectonic movements but  from the sinking of the area due to the amount of sediments built up over years, ie. from the Miss. River delta etc.  So these quakes are more due to compression of overlying sediments and the release of the crust and older sediments in the pile.

I still believe a very small nuke device is all that might be needed to close off the hole. I am not a nuke engineer or weapons expert, but there must be an amount small enough where we can go critical, and not affect a wide area....only need to seal off 50(???) or so feet, maybe less. The idea is to convert porous sediments to impermeable.

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 18:34 | 443004 AssFire
AssFire's picture

It will be plugged near the end of August. Sorry I couldn't be gloomier.

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 23:43 | 443561 Augustus
Augustus's picture

It could be quite a bit sooner.  It all depends . . . .

An August kill is what BP predicted on day three or four.  Of course they have been lying all the time if you believe Geo Wash.

So far we have not read any reports of drilling problems with the RW.  No wells in the GOM are drilled without ever having some problems.  A problem amounts to a week of rig time.  Trip out of 16,000 ft hole to change bit or the MWD tool is maybe one tower.  Circulate and condition with new mud is maybe six hours.  Net footage rate slows down at depth. 

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 18:08 | 442925 Diamond Jim
Diamond Jim's picture

sure have, they run along and parallel to tectonic boundaries. From what I understand the GoM is a subsiding basin, I am sure there is sloughing and movement of sediments off the delta and as a result there may be minor earthquaking. To tell you the truth I do not know that the area is earthquake prone, but will do some investigation into this. If it is true, then I would withdraw my suggestion.

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 17:32 | 442817 Diamond Jim
Diamond Jim's picture

Sounds whacked out...last ditch  effort....but let's put a small nuke device about 18,000 feet under the GoM seafloor and seal the damn thing up. Make it all glass.

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 18:15 | 442959 RichardP
RichardP's picture

What is the pressure at 23,000 feet below sea level?  A small nuke device would be crushed by the pressure well before it reached that level.  Reality intrudes.

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 17:35 | 442826 moneymutt
moneymutt's picture

ever hear of the these things called earthquake faults..

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 23:46 | 443566 Augustus
Augustus's picture

I've heard of earth quakes and of faults.  I'm not sure what an "earthquake fault" may be.

There are parts of the earth that are intersections of plate tectonics.  Those tectonic boundaries do not cross the GOM.

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 17:24 | 442794 CEOoftheSOFA
CEOoftheSOFA's picture

Good article.  The natural gas production rate actually may be on the low side, though I have no way of estimating it.  This well is producing about 60,000 BOPD which is about triple the MER (Most Efficient Rate), which is the rate the well would be produced into the pipeline.  The goal is to have the gas expand slowly in the reservoir to push the oil toward the wellbore.  When a well is produced this fast, the gas in the reservoir bypasses a lot of oil and takes a short cut to the wellbore.  This increases the gas / oil ratio and reduces the ultimate recoverable oil from the reservoir.  If the natural gas wasn't being disolved into the sea water, the ships drilling the relief wells would lose buoancy.   

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 23:50 | 443578 Augustus
Augustus's picture

Good article.  The natural gas production rate actually may be on the low side, though I have no way of estimating it.  This well is producing about 60,000 BOPD which is about triple the MER (Most Efficient Rate), which is the rate the well would be produced into the pipeline. 


I cannot estimate so I know it is on the low side?

I cannot estimate so I know the MER?

Do lyou write for Before the News or is it the WMR?  Possibly HuffPoo?

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 20:13 | 443148 Jim_Rockford
Jim_Rockford's picture

Not to mention the 50+ million cubic feet of gas that is being flared each day ...

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 17:04 | 442746 imapopulistnow
imapopulistnow's picture

So where are the pictures of the dead fishies floating in the gulf? 

Perhaps, just perhaps, the oil spill is not as devastating to fishies as the eco-evangelicals wish?

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 17:29 | 442800 ATG
ATG's picture

You've got to be kidding if you expect film at 11.

Do some research and stop being spoon-fed by corporate government media apologists.


Tue, 06/29/2010 - 16:21 | 442598 Salinger
Salinger's picture

link to a documentary of the reseach trip scientists took at the end of May to investigate the Oil Plumes


Tue, 06/29/2010 - 16:14 | 442569 MGA_1
MGA_1's picture

Worst environmental disaster in history and the government is......

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 16:06 | 442523 bonddude
bonddude's picture

certainly worse than a water balloon from a frat house window.

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 17:23 | 442488 ATG
ATG's picture

"There are many real things to worry about - such as the destruction of the Gulf ecosystem, and the threat to human health from toxic chemicals in the oil and dispersants."

Please forget fart jokes for a moment~

Benzene, Hydrogen Sulfide, Methane, Naphthalene, Toluene and toxic volatile smoke compounds could be the subject of another bigger expose on the BP Government Military Media coverup, with 17,500 troops just in case.


The Gulf already has higher cancer rates from toxic oil refinery by-products getting into the air, food and water. Benzene can cause leukemia in 9 months. Corexit disabled and killed Exxon Valdez cleanup workers.

BP initial claims of 5000 barrels a day were so off as to look like deliberate deception.

Then the too-tired BP CEO went sailing around Wight clear waters and paid off his Kent mansion with the proceeds of his stock sale with GS before the spill.

He threw 20 days of peak revenue BP chump change to the President's slush fund, he who played golf with business as usual, Ken Salazar's boot on the throat of BP.

BP spent $200 Million on feel-good PR PsyOp Campaigns like We're Green. We're taking full responsibility for making it right, better than new, gosh darn it, aren't we wonderful?!



Meanwhile, useful academic idiots, perhaps hoping for BP research grants, told gullible mass media like AP and CBS, who could not get through checkpoints to verify BP Government claims, that most dead mammals like burned endangered Ridley sea turtles, dolphins and at least one juvenile sperm whale that died before its allotted 100 years, were natural deaths from viral epidemics or boat collisions.

While the NOAA director claimed dead sea-life minimal, workers said anonymously they pulled tons of dead sea-life out of the water to be bagged and burned at dumps with the stench of death everywhere. Public overflights, wildlife access and satellite photos were banned shortly after the National Geographic photo cover-up of 4 May 2010.

No wonder Baltic Freight Shipping plummeted to avoid cleanup. Here's a youtube just three days later, showing a God-awful amount of foul oil, just a fraction of what is underwater with dispersants, some of it caught by the Gulf Loop and Gulf Stream bound for the Atlantic and BP's doorstep in England.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uG8JHSAVYT0 5:38

The rest of the spill is sitting on the nearly frozen seabed floor poisoning the food chain with the Gulf Biblical blood red from petrochemicals. Half of the oxygen in the world comes from phytoplankton that do not eat oil.

Like Alaska, 2 degree temps a mile underwater mean the oil or frozen methane may not biodegrade like the oil did when Saddam Hussein turned on the spigots to greet HW, Schwarzkopf and Company before they used DU on his country with a million birth defects and hideous deaths.

One day we heard 72 cleanup workers without respirators were hospitalized with two deaths, then nothing. Workers were asked to sign liability waivers or not get paid, their toxic clothes were confiscated and they were told not to talk to the media if they wanted to get paid.

Obama, Barbour, EPA and NOAH blithely told media the air, seafood, tourism and water were fine, while actual figures on the EPA website and people's noses showed otherwise. Somehow Hu and Putin had more credibility in the post-modern world.

OSHA used BP environmental figures apparently generated out of thin air, as at least one station WEAR, allegedly reported there were no EPA Monitors found. Crops were reported dying from toxic fumes from the gas, oil and smoke. That news, indelible in the hearts, minds and bodies of Gulf Residents, was deleted from websites.

EPA told BP to stop using Corexit, banned in UK where BP is domiciled.

BP showed who was boss and kept using Co Wrecks It, even dispersing it by C-130 Hercules Aircraft over land, people and sea.

Corexit is a deadly chemical cocktail that under a different name, took the health and lives of Exxon Valdez workers, while NLC Nalco, a BP XOM spin-off, claimed Federal tests showed it is perfectly safe, with no negative effects on Clean-up workers.



In fact, the Corexit Manufacturing Safety Data Sheets clearly state it is hazardous. Lawyers don't need Sarbannes Oxley to tear Nalco apart, unless government indemnified them like they did BP with a $75 million liability cap.


NLC is 22, with a target of 12.

Meanwhile, some more informative reading from a Norwegian Group used to dealing with North Sea BP cock-ups and cover-ups, documenting the BP takeover of government and the Coast Guard, BP evasion and HAL harrassment:


Wed, 06/30/2010 - 00:25 | 443631 Augustus
Augustus's picture

Your post IS a fart joke.

BP did NOT make a claim of 5,000 bopd.  That was the US coast Guard.  The flow has increased, the initial estimate may have been correct.  Prove otherwise or fart.

$20 Billion is not chump change.  If it is to you, prove it or fart.

The sea turtles found dead were autopsied and seem to have died from being caught in shrimper nets.  Prove otherwise, or fart.

One day we heard 72 cleanup workers without respirators were hospitalized with two deaths, then nothing. Workers were asked to sign liability waivers or not get paid, their toxic clothes were confiscated and they were told not to talk to the media if they wanted to get paid.

One of the two workers who died shot himself.  The other one died at the hotel swimming pool.  Prove otherwise or fart.

EPA told BP to stop using Corexit, banned in UK where BP is domiciled.

Uh, entirely false per this EPA statement:


Step outside when you perform all of the farts.  Then have your oxygen checked.  Your internal bacteria may kill you with their output if you are not careful.

Wed, 06/30/2010 - 09:56 | 444069 MayIMommaDogFac...
MayIMommaDogFace2theBananaPatch's picture

the initial estimate may have been correct

Ya really think so?!?!?!  Gosh, that makes me feel a whole lot better than before.  Thanks for lending so much clarity via thoughtful commentary...


Tue, 06/29/2010 - 22:22 | 443369 Clycntct
Clycntct's picture

Niiiiiice ++++++ I'll spread your information.

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 19:50 | 443119 blindman
Tue, 06/29/2010 - 17:35 | 442821 4shzl
4shzl's picture

Good input.  BP = BK.

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 15:54 | 442462 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

Good reading.  Not being educated in this area well enough, I'll just say that I appreciate being informed of all possibilities, regardless of credibility.  One does not have to accept nor prove every number in order to be edified.

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 15:46 | 442425 Merlin12
Merlin12's picture

Will one of you financial geniuses explain to an old, worn-out engineer how ol' George acquires (I will not say earns) a pile of money from publishing all this chicken-little BS ? 

Wed, 06/30/2010 - 09:34 | 444014 Augustus
Augustus's picture

Crammer is short BP.  The Crammer team uses many methods to make profits appear in their accounts.  Perhaps fiction writers are helpful in the endeavour?

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 15:24 | 442332 hooligan2009
hooligan2009's picture

methane = CH4

sea water = H20 +Na Cl

CH4 + H20 +Na Cl = H Cl +Na OH +3H?

damn I wish I had paid attention in Chemistry 101! I know one is acid and one is caustic soda..wtf is 3H





Tue, 06/29/2010 - 15:35 | 442377 gasmiinder
gasmiinder's picture

CH4 is stable in seawater - it will dissolve at high enough pressures but does not react chemically with H2O.  The "breakdown" is by bacteria which take the reduced carbon (CH4) and combine it with O2 (oxygen dissolved in seawater) to obtain energy(CH4 + 2O2 = CO2 + 2H2O).  That's an oversimplification but it basically captures the idea.......

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 16:29 | 442627 hooligan2009
hooligan2009's picture

so carbon dioxide plus 2 water molecules.. and the salt doesnt matter i guess. i was trying to get to acid rain...but theres only chlorine, no sulphur..thanks for the help

Tue, 06/29/2010 - 18:28 | 442992 Stormdancer
Stormdancer's picture

Even sweet crude entrains plenty of sulphur.  There's no doubt it's present in an oil saturated environment...I just don't know how that impacts the undoubtedly complex chemical/biological interactions going on down there.  The suphur is there though.

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