Monday, July 12, 2010

Gulf Oil Update: Day 85

Gulf Oil Spill - Gutsy Solution Restores Environment in Just Six Weeks!!!

The Texas Land Office and Texas Water Commission successfully used 'oil eating' microbes to clean up large oil spills in just weeks. Microbes hunt down and eat the toxic oil and leave only a biodegradable waste that is non-toxic to humans and marine life. Marshland and beaches were pristine again in just weeks---not years like the Exxon Valdez spill. This is the answer to save the seafood industry and all the precious creatures we are about to kill. Watch this YouTube Video and see how effective Microbes work!

Editor's NOTE:

The "oil-eating" microbe idea would seem to provide great promise if the results reported in the above video are true and can be repeated by scientists. The Obama administration should immediately conduct appropriate scientific tests and begin employing microbes ASAP if the tests are successful--whether BP is in agreement or not.

If the latest reports are true that BP has managed to place a new cap on the riser pipe which can all but completely stop the flow of oil until the relief wells are finished, the microbe technology would seem to offer the quickest and most efficient way of clearing the millions of barrels of oil which have already spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. The government should order BP to cease using toxic disbursants (prarticularly Corexit) the use of which make it more difficult for microbes to clear oil throughout the entire water column.

All readers are encouraged to spread the word far and wide to media, Congress, the Obama administration and any other interested parties.

--Dr. J. P. Hubert


BP prepares to test new cap installed on oil leak

AP – In this image taken from video provided by BP PLC at 18:23 CDT, a new containment cap, top, is lowered …

By COLLEEN LONG and HARRY R. WEBER, Associated Press Writers Colleen Long And Harry R. Weber, Associated Press Writers

NEW ORLEANS – After securing a new, tight-fitting cap on top of the leaking well in the Gulf of Mexico, BP prepared Tuesday to begin tests to see if it will hold and stop fresh oil from polluting the waters for the first time in nearly three months.

The oil giant expects to know within 48 hours if the new cap, which landed Monday after almost three days of painstaking, around-the-clock work a mile below the Gulf's surface, can stanch the flow. The solution is only temporary, but it offers the best hope yet for cutting off the gush of billowing brown oil.

The cap's installation was good news to weary Gulf Coast residents who have warily waited for BP to make good on its promise to clean up the mess. Still, they warned that even if the oil is stopped, the consequences are far from over.

"I think we're going to see oil out in the Gulf of Mexico, roaming around, taking shots at us, for the next year, maybe two," Billy Nungesser, president of Louisiana's oil-stained Plaquemines Parish, said Monday. "If you told me today no more oil was coming ashore, we've still got a massive cleanup ahead."

Starting Tuesday, the cap will be tested and monitored to see if it can withstand pressure from the gushing oil and gas. The tests could last anywhere between six to 48 hours, according to National Incident Commander Thad Allen.

The cap will be tested by closing off three separate valves that fit together snugly, choking off the oil from entering the Gulf. BP expects no oil will be released into the ocean during the tests, but remained cautious about the success of the system.

"This will not however be an indication that flow from the wellbore has been permanently stopped," the company said in a statement. "The sealing cap system never before has been deployed at these depths or under these conditions, and its efficiency and ability to contain the oil and gas cannot be assured."

BP will be watching pressure readings. High pressure is good, because it would mean the leak has been contained inside the wellhead machinery. But if readings are lower than expected, that could mean there is another leak elsewhere in the well.

Even if the cap works, the blown-out well must still be plugged. A permanent fix will have to wait until one of two relief wells being drilled reaches the broken well, which will then be plugged up with drilling mud and cement. That may not happen until mid-August.

Even if the flow of oil is choked off while BP works on a permanent fix, the spill has already damaged everything from beach tourism to the fishing industry.

Tony Wood, director of the National Spill Control School at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi said the sloppiest of the oil — mousse-like brown stuff that has not yet broken down — will keep washing ashore for several months, with the volume slowly decreasing over time.

He added that hardened tar balls could keep hitting beaches and marshes each time a major storm rolls through for a year or more. Those tar balls are likely trapped for now in the surf zone, gathering behind sand bars just like sea shells.

"It will still be getting on people's feet on the beaches probably a year or two from now," Wood said.

But on Monday, the region absorbed a rare piece of good news in the placement of the 150,000-pound cap on top of the gushing leak responsible for so much misery.

Around 6:30 p.m. CDT, live video streams trained on the wellhead showed the cap being slowly lowered into place. BP officials said the device was attached around 7 p.m.

"I'm very hopeful that this cap works and we wake up in the morning and they're catching all the oil. I would be the happiest person around here," said Mitch Jurisich, a third generation oysterman from Empire, La., who has been out of work for weeks.

Residents skeptical BP can deliver on its promise to control the spill greeted the news cautiously.

"There's no telling what those crazy suckers are going to do now," Ronnie Kenniar said when he heard the cap was placed on the well. The 49-year-old fishermen is now working for BP in the Vessel of Opportunity program, a BP-run operation employing boat owners for odd jobs.

James Pelas, 41, a shrimper who took a break from working on his boat at a marina in Venice, La., said he didn't think the crisis would be over for a long time.

"I ain't excited about it until it's closed off completely," he said. "Oil's scattered all over the place."

Meanwhile, the Obama administration issued a revised moratorium on deep-water offshore drilling Monday to replace the one that was struck down by the courts as heavy-handed. The new ban, in effect until Nov. 30, does not appear to deviate much from the original moratorium, as it still targets deep-water drilling operators while defining them in a different way.

As of Monday, the 83rd day of the disaster, between 89 million and 176 million gallons of oil had poured into the Gulf, according to government estimates. The spill started April 20 when the Deepwater Horizon rig, leased by BP from Transocean Ltd, exploded and burned, killing 11 workers. It sank two days later.


NYT: Yes, BP Could Go Into Bankruptcy

By: David Dayen
Sunday July 11, 2010 6:30 am

At almost every step of the way, BP’s efforts to cap the well spewing oil into the Gulf have wound up making things worse. Let’s hope this doesn’t continue, but for now, we have an uncapped well putting at least 35,000 barrels and maybe as much as 100,000 into the water today (I don’t know why WaPo is foregrounding the 15,000 barrels the last containment dome was catching, implying that no more oil would flow). You can read BP’s entire plan for the next several weeks, both the new cap and the timeline for the relief wells, in this letter to Thad Allen.

While BP claims that the project is moving on schedule, they’ve said that before, and yet previous top hats, top kills and junk shots wound up failing or capturing an inadequate amount of oil to stop the leak. And if the well cannot be fully capped, the risk of an increased flow into the Gulf exists. Remember that every barrel of oil carries with it not only a human cost in pollution, but a hard financial cost in per-barrel fines and penalties. I’ve been saying for a month that BP stands at risk of bankruptcy, and the New York Times picks it up today:

With pockets as deep as BP’s — its assets are worth more than $260 billion — the possibility that it might be forced to seek bankruptcy protection because of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is considered remote by many industry experts.

But what if the company’s plan to contain the spill in the next several days does not work, and other efforts to stop the gushing oil also fail? If that were to occur, the worst-case projections of some experts, if they came to pass, would strain the ability of any company to pay, said Robin K. Craig, associate dean for environmental programs at the Florida State University College of Law.

Professor Craig said that if the oil hit the Gulf Stream and was carried by currents to East Coast states, Cuba and other Caribbean nations, and possibly even Britain, lawsuits could quickly mount to levels even BP could not handle.

“My bet is that BP will finally go bankrupt from the tort liability and the environmental liability,” she said. “Hypothetically, a bluefin tuna farmer in the Mediterranean could end up with a claim against BP.”

This becomes particularly true if Eric Holder does pursue legitimate criminal charges. Holder has said that his wide-ranging investigation would cover more companies than BP, but obviously they would be at the center of any investigation. And those other companies have already begun to stiff BP, which will result in additional legal proceedings (Anadarko may even have a case that BP holds all the negligence in this case).

I know that BP has $260 billion in assets, and makes enough in a day to cover the entire $75 million liability cap (which doesn’t include criminal penalties). But this possibility is real. A lot of things would have to go wrong, but a lot have already. And while the executives at BP would probably emerge from bankruptcy without much trouble, you cannot say the same for the federal government, which would then be on the hook for much of the cleanup and damage awards.

Still, you’d have to sell off a LOT of assets before we get to that point.