Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Somebody needs to answer this, now

As you may recall, fairly early in the Deepwater Horizon disaster, I quoted a petroleum engineer who claimed that sand entrained in the gusher would steadily erode the well casing, leading ultimately to a totally uncontrolled eruption of petroleum from the reservoir. In the weeks since, there has been a steady flicker of claims around the fringes of the blogosphere that the well is structurally damaged and that oil is already emerging directly from the sea floor.

These claims have appeared from commenters at The Oil Drum, where the front pagers generally pooh poohed them, and at various other places, most of them not particularly credible (e.g., World Nut Daily). I haven't mentioned them here because what do I know?

But they keep circulating. Now the assertion is steadily moving onto more solid ground, and an Oil Drum commenter has caught the attention of Casaubon's Book and been treated respectfully by the Drum masters.

Here it is, if you dare. It's a long argument, but he marshals plenty of evidence and sounds might convincing. I'm going to quote the really, really ugly part:

I am convinced the erosion and compromising of the entire system is accelerating and attacking more key structural areas of the well, the blow out preventer and surrounding strata holding it all up and together. This is evidenced by the tilt of the blow out preventer and the erosion which has exposed the well head connection. What eventually will happen is that the blow out preventer will literally tip over if they do not run supports to it as the currents push on it. I suspect they will run those supports as cables tied to anchors very soon, if they don't, they are inviting disaster that much sooner.

Eventually even that will be futile as the well casings cannot support the weight of the massive system above with out the cement bond to the earth and that bond is being eroded away. When enough is eroded away the casings will buckle and the BOP will collapse the well. If and when you begin to see oil and gas coming up around the well area from under the BOP? or the area around the well head connection and casing sinking more and more rapidly? won't be too long after that the entire system fails. BP must be aware of this, they are mapping the sea floor sonically and that is not a mere exercise. Our Gov't must be well aware too, they just are not telling us.

All of these things lead to only one place, a fully wide open well bore directly to the oil deposit...after that, it goes into the realm of "the worst things you can think of" The well may come completely apart as the inner liners fail. There is still a very long drill string in the well, that could literally come flying I said...all the worst things you can think of are a possibility, but the very least damaging outcome as bad as it is, is that we are stuck with a wide open gusher blowing out 150,000 barrels a day of raw oil or more. There isn't any "cap dome" or any other suck fixer device on earth that exists or could be built that will stop it from gushing out and doing more and more damage to the gulf. While at the same time also doing more damage to the well, making the chance of halting it with a kill from the bottom up less and less likely to work, which as it stands now? the only real chance we have left to stop it all.

Maybe that's why Mr. Obama inflicted all that drivel on us about prayer at the end of his speech. Maybe that's really all they've got at this point.

In any case, we need the president or a responsible spokesperson such as Admiral Allen to address this. Is it true or not? Obviously Tony Hayward knows and if he knows Barack Obama better damn well know too. We all need to know. Now.


roger said...

i have been reading this in other places too.

Cervantes said...

What I'm sayin'. Needs to be answered.

Anonymous said...

The situation here is that Hayward and Obama are really both in the same position: the spill has been, will be, horrific for them. They both want to stop it pronto, both want BP to survive (as a key player in the industry, and a most generous donator from Obama’s end.) They both want more rather than less deep drilling - Tony for profit, Barak as a matter of national security.

This explains the relative (I’m not sure about the extent) cover-up of the spill, e.g. no clear answer as to why the estimates of the quantities spilled have gone up, or just vary so much (certainly BP knows pretty exactly, so O does too); the lack of legal procedures on the part of the Gvmt.

Obama has been moving informally only, such as ‘asking for an escrow account’. The investigative committee (or whatever it is called) is just political theater, which lets the elected sound off against BP, Tony of course just plays a dumb ‘extra’ role, there was really nothing he could say. O ‘s weak empty nonsense type speech from the Oval office is more of the same.

However, as the US public is furious a lot of noise must be made, and O and others have to condemn BP. I’m not implying that Obama and others are not genuinely appalled and sincerely want all the affected to be compensated. (I don’t know how much they personally care, of course.) I am saying that the US Gvmt. is an entity that no longer exists independently, it has melded with corporations.

Hayward will certainly be gone. BP may not survive. However, nobody, in Gvmt., in the industry or in parallel industries will let the expertise, which is not only core ppl but organizational and material be affected. That would be madness. Wait and see. My guess is BP will survive, as the disruption of breaking it up would be dire.

Recall that compensation for 9/11 and Katrina were paid by the Gvmt. (Katrina, insurers too a it clearly fell in the ‘act of god’ box.) In the BP case, its clear culprit status - a private co. and responsible for the matter from A to Z in uncharted territory, the seas, forces the Gvmt. to pretend to a sort of ‘separation of powers’, obliges it to lay blame and demand financial sacrifice, payment, expiation, responsibility.

However, you can be sure that a large part of the bill will be paid for by the suffering of ordinary ppl (insufficient compensation) and the tax payer, e.g. beyond direct payments which *will* occur, unemployment payments, emergency room service, local gvmt. pay outs, etc.

Feinberg (who was resp. for 9/11 compensation as well) is a political or Gvmt. appointee, apparently graciously accepted by BP, has stated that no ‘non litigation’ clause will be appended to pay-outs, contrary to what occurred on 9/11 (to obtain comp. the victims had to give up all rights to law suits and practically sign a ‘gag order’.) This is because ppl are aware of what happened with 9/11, don’t want to give up their rights, but also because BP/the Gvmt. apparatus know that future litigation can be dealt with --- in the future! I mention this because it is one of the reasons that might lead to the break up of BP. If on paper BP is insolvent and no longer exists, court cases will die like the pelicans.