Tony Hayward issues Executive Order: Plumes do not Exist.

(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Since everything they try, to clean up the mess in the Gulf fails, BP CEO Tony Hayward has decided to take a different tact.

CEO Hayward has decided to “will away” the Oil by some sort of Divine Executive Fiat!

(Managing Billions of Dollars can inflate a person’s Ego sometimes, it seems.)

BP CEO disputes claims of underwater oil plumes

Associated Press — 05/30/2010

VENICE, La. – Disputing scientists’ claims of large oil plumes suspended underwater in the Gulf of Mexico, BP PLC’s chief executive on Sunday said the company has largely narrowed the focus of its cleanup to surface slicks rolling into Louisiana’s coastal marshes.

During a tour of a BP PLC staging area for cleanup workers, CEO Tony Hayward said the company’s sampling showed “no evidence” that oil was suspended in large masses beneath the surface. He didn’t elaborate on how the testing was done.

Hayward said that oil’s natural tendency is to rise to the surface, and any oil found underwater was in the process of working its way up.

“The oil is on the surface,” Hayward said. “There aren’t any plumes.”

So that’s, THAT, then.

Well, not so fast there, Tony …

There are some other sciencey-type folks, who would take issue, with your “conclusions”.

[see that AP story for what several University Scientists say, about the underwater plumes, they think, DO exist …]

Or check out my recent review of the Topic, summarizing the work several Scientists are NOW doing, to detect BP’s hidden, sub-surface fallout:

Scientists on the trail of some New Plumes of Unknown Origin

by jamess — Fri May 28, 2010

[that intro AP story continues, with a basic Physics principle, that most learned way back in grade school … how nice.]

A third scientist, LSU chemist Ed Overton, said simple physics sides with BP’s Hayward. Since oil is lighter than water, Overton said it is unlikely to stay below the surface for long.

But Hogarth and Cowan said BP’s use of chemical dispersants to break up the oil before it reaches the surface could reduce its buoyancy, keeping it in deeper water.


The embattled CEO spent only a few minutes on the subject of plumes on Sunday, concentrating instead on outlining his company’s cleanup efforts.

“The fight on this battlefield today is in Louisiana,” he said.

Calls to BP seeking more information on HOW they tested for the underwater plumes weren’t immediately returned.

Sounds good in a ‘sound bite’ maybe —

“Since oil is lighter than water”, expert sez “it is unlikely to stay below the surface for long.”

Whew! … nothing to see here people … move along.

Don’t strain your eyes, peering too long, into the Deep …

Well, That’s is just Wrong — on SO many levels.

Where do I begin.

Besides providing NO Evidence of his own,

Besides pronouncing judgment on current, ongoing Scientific Studies,

CEO Hayward is IGNORING the Established Scientific Studies, regarding the Physics, the Dynamics, and the Behavior of the likely lateral spreading Underwater Oil Plumes, that can, and DO OCCUR, as the result of DEEP Water Oil Spills (and Gushers) !!!

Here is the ‘cut to chase’ version, of how wrong Hayward’s ‘wishful thinking’ is:

But BP wasn’t really involved in — What? … wait! … nevermind …

BP WAS involved in those studies … Hmmm those lawyers must be “coaching” Tony, on his Talking Points, lately, eh?

Photos clipped from the Presentation:

MMS Presentation on Deep Water Oil Spill Risks

hat/tip to firedoglake, for putting me on the trail …

Just maybe BP DOES know all about the potential for Underwater Plume creation, afterall?  [in spite of the “above water physics” that occurs in a Salad Dressing bottle …]

Maybe they want to “get out in front of this story”, before that dreaded “American Public” catches on, again.

It seems some Scientists are figuring it out already, Tony … Sorry about that. Just because you have fleets of boats, injecting of tons of Deep Water Disperants, that can Turn those Underwater Plumes CLEAR — doesn’t mean, that those dogged Scientists, can’t detect them. Yes you’re making their job that much MORE difficult, but Hey, it’s Science — it’s supposed to be challenging!

Whenever I’m researching something like this, I usually prefer to “Go to the Source” — if I can find it, that is. (Luckily in this case, I did.)

There’s nothing like the evidence and conclusions of Serious Science, to get those neurons sparking, when your trying to get ‘Beyond that Filter of the Main Stream Media’ … as many are fond of saying.

Here’s one Underwater Plume Study that would seem to cast “some measure of doubt” on Tony Hayward’s recent MSM pronouncements:

[Yes. I know its from the Minerals Management Service (MMS) — but the initial work was conducted almost a decade ago — before the “Reign of Cheney”, SO it just may still have a bit of valid science left in it … ? ]

Project “Deep Spill”

Project Number:   377

Date of Summary:   March 24, 2005

Subject:   Project “Deep Spill”

Performing Activity:  SINTEF Applied Chemistry

Principal Investigator:  Dr. Oistein Johansen, SINTEF & Dr. Cortis Cooper, ChevronTexaco

Contracting Agency:  Minerals Management Service

Completion:  September 2001

Last Updated:  05/21/2010, 08:08 AM  [dotting those i’s no doubt]


A joint industry project (JIP) was formed between the MMS and 23 different oil companies to conduct this research. The project consisted of an experimental release of oil and gas conducted in June 2000 off the coast of Norway. Mixtures of crude oil and natural gas, diesel oil and natural gas, as well as only natural gas were released at approximately 800 meters water depth.

The goal was to simulate a blowout or pipeline rupture in deep water and obtain data to verify the predictions of a deep water blowout model being developed under a separate contract. In another, related, research project, experiments were conducted in a simulated deep ocean environment created in a high pressure chamber located at the University of Hawaii.


The final report for this project was submitted in June 2001. Initially, the report and other research results were considered proprietary among the JIP members. Subsequently, it was agreed that the results should be released and the reports made publicly available. A video clip is available upon request from 703-787-1559.

Here’s is one of the Executive Summaries from that MMS “Field Test” that gives the “findings” of the Plume Study, from University of Hawaii “high pressure chamber labs”:

Study of Multi-Phase Plumes with Application to Deep Ocean Oil Spills,

Masutani, S.M., Adams, E., Hawaii Natural Energy Institute,

University of Hawaii, 2001.

that “Multi-Phase Plumes” Report  (pdf 12.8 MB)

Let’s me spot light, some of its more salient points (at least those I found, after my quick review of the findings, at 1 am last nite.)

pg ix


This Final Report summarizes technical activities conducted at the University of Hawaii (UH) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as part of the investigation entitled “Experimental Study of Multi-Phase Plumes with Application to Deep Ocean Oil Spills.”

Experiments were conducted at the UH and MIT to investigate the behavior of oil and gas released into the deep ocean during underwater oil well blowout and spill events.

The principal results and primary conclusions of this study are:

1 ) Approximate boundaries of the instability regimes of crude oil discharging into water were identified. […]


5 ) Plume type depends on UN such that Type 1* plumes occur for UN less than about 1.4, Type 2 plumes occur for UN between about 1.4 and 2.4, and Type 3 plumes occur for UN greater than about 2.4


7 ) The trap height, hT, and the intrusion layer flux for the first intrusion, Qi, both decrease with increasing UN. This is due to the loss of buoyancy from the bubbles/droplets when the bubbles/droplets separate from the fluid. […]

8 ) Separation occurs in multi-phase plumes in a crossflow at the critical height, hcr  […]


10 ) Multi-phase plumes in a stratified crossflow have varied behavior, depending on the relative strength of the stratification to the crossflow. […]

The main Take Away Point for me there was the Fluid Physics Principle of:

the loss of buoyancy

Buoyancy —  Isn’t that what “Makes Oil Lighter than Water” ??? … Well NOT Always.

That “UN stuff”, and “stratified crossflow effects”, sound interesting too, but I’ve not tried to, ‘translate that into Plain Talk’ yet, it is a holiday after all.  

I wonder if those Plume Types have any pictures? … Score! … keep reading (or scrolling).

First a little more on the Physics of Deepwater Buoyancy, (This kind of reminds me of the “adiabatic lapse rates” of Thundercloud formation, I learned about back in my Meteorology course, at the University … )

pg 23

Large quantities of natural gas may escape into the water column with the oil during undersea well blow-out or leakage events (Rygg & Emilsen, 1998). The dynamics of the contaminant plume — and, hence, the ultimate dispersion of the contaminants in space — may be profoundly influenced by the buoyancy of this gas phase.

In the deep ocean environment, ambient pressures and temperatures fall within a range where many hydrocarbon components of natural gas can exist as solid hydrates (Sloan, 1989). In situ observations (Brewer et al., 1997) and laboratory experiments (Maini & Bishnoi, 1981) suggest that natural gas bubbles may transform into solid hydrates as they rise through the water. This transformation produces an increase in density that results in a loss of global plume buoyancy.

Uh Oh!  Maybe ALL the Oil does NOT RISE to the Surface — like it would in a simple Kitchen Experiment, mixing Oil and Water, in a jar?

Yikes!   [Wasn’t “Hydrate Formation” THE Problem with one of those Containment Domes, a while back? ]

Now for the Dynamics of how Plumes can spread out SIDEWAYS, once they lose their initial Buoyancy. … Finally some more pictures!

pg 34

Figure II.2.1 illustrates three types of plume behavior, introduced by Asaeda & Imberger (1993), along with a new plume type identified by our experiments.

Type 1 plumes have no subsurface intrusions, and all the entrained water is carried to the reservoir surface (these plumes are generally not applicable to deep ocean scenarios).

Type 2 plumes have one or more subsurface intrusions, each forming a distinct intrusion layer as entrained water periodically leaves the plume (called plume peeling).

Type 3 plumes have a continuous set of intrusions as entrained water continuously peels and gets re-entrained by the rising bubble column.

Our new plume type, Type 1*, has a distinct initial intrusion that significantly alters the inner bubble core, carrying droplets down toward the intrusion layer and forming a diffuse, Type 3-like plume in the subsequent intrusions.

Type 1* plumes represent the case where oil would be trapped in the intrusion layer and not immediately follow the associated gas to the surface. From direct visual observation, the plume type was documented for a wide range of air and oil bubbles/droplets, flow rates, and stratification strengths.

And IF that weren’t enough, to convince you, to question Hayward’s ‘veracity’ and his motives — here’s a collaborating Study by the National Academy of Sciences, that seems to conclude those Deepwater Oil Plumes — DO Exist!

This one has a nice Diagram too — I love those, being the simple soul, that I am. All this sciency stuff, can get tedious sometimes, I know.

National Academy of Sciences: Deep Water Plume Study (pdf)

Oil in the Sea III: Inputs, Fates, and Effects…

The basic physics of a shallow-water release […]

Strong cross-flowing currents can complicate the above picture in several ways. First, the plume will tend to bend over much as a plume of smoke is bent by the wind, resulting in a horizontal offset in the surfaced oil slick.


Another complication is that the oil droplets may entrain water and become emulsified much more quickly than they would in a surface release. Emulsification was observed at the Ixtoc blowout (Boehm and Fiest, 1982) and was due to the intense mixing and turbulence set up by this massive blowout. The presence of emulsified oil significantly impacts the weathering of the oil as discussed earlier. It also greatly lessens the buoyancy of the oil, thus increasing the time it takes for oil to reach the surface.

Deepwater Releases

Substantial efforts to study petroleum releases in deeper water have only recently begun, although there were a few early efforts  

[lists at least 8 studies …]

The present understanding of deepwater releases suggests they are much more complicated than those in shallow water.

Figure 4-6 shows a schematic of the important processes …

Larger image

Plume phase


However, in deep water, the plume eventually entrains so much dense water that the aggregate density of the oil-gas-hydrate-seawater suspension is no longer buoyant. Once the plume sheds some of its heavier components, it may re-form as the plume ceases to rise, and “mushrooms.” This process can occur numerous times (known as Peeling).

Whether or not a given plume reaches a terminal level will depend on the depth of discharge, the plume buoyancy (flow rate and composition of oil, gas, and hydrates), and the strength of the ambient stratification. Most substantial releases will reach a terminal depth within an order of 100 meters of the release orifice although it can be much higher especially if the stratification is weak.

As in the case of the shallow release, a crosscurrent may add the complication of bending and/or sieving (see earlier discussion of shallow releases), although the effect will be even stronger.

SOOO … I wonder how long before Hayward is forced to ‘walk back’ his Executive Order, regarding the Non-existence of Deepwater Plumes?  Maybe he will trot out hire a few ‘out of work’ Scientists, to back up his claims.

OR maybe, it will just simply, turn out, as he must hope —

that his Simple Simon logic, will simply be ‘swallowed’ by our Holiday-idled Reporters, like so many Corexit-favored Oil-droplets, mixed in with their one-too-many, “Long Island Iced Teas”?

Here’s to hoping, he’s wrong. … AND the Media proves it!

Speaking of the beach … it IS the weekend … catch ya on the flip side.

Later People!


Skip to comment form

    • jamess on May 31, 2010 at 20:34

    couldn’t get any deeper!

    Is it safe to go back in the Water, yet?

    According to Tony Hayward, it is.

  1. I give it six weeks tops.

  2. laborious effort.

    Unbelievable that Hayward would have the utter gall to publicly denounce the existence of plumes, when scientists from different areas have already claimed their existence and where they exist. Do you suppose he’ll next say that no dispersants were used?

    I hope BP goes under period!  

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