Good News from the Gulf, and the Next Big Lie (Second Update)

Engineers have stopped the flow of oil and gas into the Gulf of Mexico from a gushing BP well, the federal government’s top oil-spill commander, U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, said Thursday morning.

Live video feed!

That’s the very good news! And now…

The “top kill” effort, launched Wednesday afternoon by industry and government engineers, had pumped enough drilling fluid to block oil and gas spewing from the well, Allen said. The pressure from the well was very low, he said, but persisting.

Allen also said that, later Thursday, an interagency team would release a revised estimate of how much oil had flowed from the well into the gulf before the “top kill” effort began.

Think of yourself as a turtle on the information super-highway. It took a long, long time for you to find out anything about how much oil was flowing into the Gulf of Mexico from Deepwater Horizon.

But now a semi-truck full of bullshit is rolling down that highway at a hundred miles per hour, and it’s aimed at you, little turtle!

The pressure from the well was very low, he said…

And a very low estimate of total damage is on the way!

But what if BP hadn’t blocked access to the well-head for five long weeks, so nobody except BP could measure the “pressure from the well,” way back when the pressure from the well was high enough to blow down Deepwater Horizon?

What kind of estimate of total flow would some pointy-headed independent scientists have produced, when that godawful leak was young and frisky?

We info-turtles will never know.

And why did BP waste so much time with preposterous gew-gaws like the “top hat” instead of applying the “top kill” right away?

We info-turtles will never know.

Update: And now suddenly on the video feed you can see an ugly mess of mud and who knows what boiling out of the pipes!

But I might as well mention (since it wasn’t obvious enough for some people) that the main subject of my diary is what comes next, in the form of low-ball estimates of the damage.

There are plenty of ROVs out there which can operate at 5,000 feet, and if anyone in the chain of command had wanted a better estimate than eye-balling a video feed allows, we would already have some real measurements, instead of a very fuzzy collection of videos.

But now it doesn’t really matter what anybody sends down to the well-head! The flow has been radically diminished, at the very least, and there’s essentially nothing left to measure.

Second Update: And now of course it has all gone backward, and BP has suspended their “top kill.”.

BP had to halt its ambitious effort to plug its stricken oil well in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday afternoon when engineers saw that too much of the drilling fluid they were injecting into the well was escaping along with the leaking crude oil.



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  1. …. please see my current diary for an update.

    The well is not under control.  The process to GET the well under control is going okay. HUGE difference.  

    Some blogger at the LA Times jumped the gun. Govt has issued clarifying statement.  Enough mud has been injected to slow down the rate of flow. Obviously mud is still coming out of the leaks, albeit at a smaller rate. The well must be monitored for some time,  for pressure,  before the cement can be pumped in an effort to cap the thing.  

    The pressure fr the well being LOW means that they’ve got so much mud going in by now that the oil and gas is being pushed back-  that does NOT mean the pressure in the well is low-  THIS IS A VERY HIGH PRESSURE GAS and OIL formation.

    To engineer the current attempt at mud blocking top kill,  took weeks because of the severe engineering challenges of working at that depth and pressure under water.  This is extreme engineering. One fvck up and the entire thing is uncontrollable.

    There have been enough lies and screw ups that it is going to be easy enough to point blame where it needs to go,  without portraying the rest of us as being too dumb and helpless to comprehend and challenge.  

  2. From what I’m reading and seeing, they have currently slowed it, by forcing the oil itself back down but the problem remains the methane gas– which you can see in the live feed as the lighter colored stuff to the left– they have not controlled it, and if they don’t, this is going to fail–perhaps making this much, much worse, and as soon as they run out of ‘mud’ it could get really bad.

    I’m still hopeful, but getting less and less so, as I watch that methane stay the same vs. yesterday, or this morning.  

  3. Today, on the Ed Schultz radio program, two different callers called in, and what they said could not be scarier (I’m trying to find some information on it, but nothing yet).  Each said there is considerable reason to believe that the riser has another leak in it much deeper down.  A plume was found some 6 miles away from the site a very deep level, and there is evidence of oil (or oil plumes on the ocean floor.  I can’t think of anything more frightening if that is the case.  (If there is such a leak, I fear that the effort to “cap” the gush may have been the cause [I thought of that on May 6, as they were contemplating the “cap”], and believe me I have no technological savvy, because of the obvious pressure with which the oil was gushing from the riser.

    One of the callers that pointed out this “new discovery” also made a very good comment about this latest effort of BP.  He said it’s not such a good idea, because the effort could be forgotten about for years on end and then suddenly, because of deterioration of the “fix,” etc., erupt anew.  That makes sense!  His idea was to use these “slinky” like gizmos that are covered with some kind of absorbing material, connect as many as needed together and go down (he was not clear on how you would guide the gizmo down — into the riser?) to the leak area (5,000 feet) and siphon out the rest of the oil until it’s gone and use filtering equipment to separate the water back into the ocean and get the oil onto tankers, or whatever.  Kevin Costner has such machines developed for just that purpose — we’re just hearing much about it or why they’re not yet in use.  I’m not sure what the remedy is.  But I think it is a little unsettling to fill this riser up with mud and have it sit for years.

  4. The New York Times:

    Setback Delays ‘Top Kill’ Effort to Seal Leaking Oil Well in Gulf

    BP had to halt its ambitious effort to plug its stricken oil well in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday afternoon when engineers saw that too much of the drilling fluid they were injecting into the well was escaping along with the leaking crude oil.

    A technician at the BP command center said that pumping of the fluid had to be stopped temporarily while engineers were revising their plans, and that the company hoped to resume pumping by midnight, if federal officials approved.

    The technician, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters, said the problem was not seen as serious. “We’re still quite optimistic,” he said, but cautioned: “It is not assured and its not a done deal yet. All of this will require some time.”

    Earlier in the day, officials had been encouraged that the heavy drilling fluid, known as mud, being pumped into the well appeared to be working. But the fluid had not yet overcome the upward pressure of the escaping oil and gas, according to Coast Guard commandant Adm. Thad W. Allen.

    “They said this could take 24 to 36 hours, and they are in the process of monitoring it,” Admiral Allen said.

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