Paint it Black

“When the hurricanes arrive, a hurricane actually blows this oil onshore, it will basically paint the gulf coast black. It will shut down the refineries and power plants and it will be America’s worst catastrophe nightmare.”

Matthew Simmons on Dylan Ratigan

I look inside myself and see my heart is black

I see my red door and it has been painted black

Maybe then I’ll fade away and not have to face the facts

It’s not easy facing up when your whole world is black

I wanna see it painted, painted black

Black as night, black as coal

I wanna see the sun blotted out from the sky

I wanna see it painted, painted, painted, painted black

Rolling Stones

The machinations continue from our government, from our leaders, from our fellow countrymen. They continue to believe we are living in a sustainable world filled with resources that we can just drill and mine and burn. When huge swaths of our country are painted black this summer, when the entire Gulf of Mexico and everything that is in it is dead…what will they be saying then? How grotesque does it have to get?

Now they say they are going to burn it. Turn the air black. Turn the water black. Turn the beaches black. Turn it all black. It’s not easy facing up when your whole world is black.


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  1. and I still have not heard or seen a change of position from the leadership of our country. We still don’t believe we have a crisis of unfathomable proportions on our hands. We still are trying to mitigate the damage to reputations and political careers. No leadership. None.

    We have a problem. We have an addiction. We are running out of time.  

  2. “Thank you BP, you finally made beach front property affordable!”

  3. focus on this calamity, this culture of ours remains distracted and fundamentally disinterested. Just more posturing for the politicos and entertainment for the media. F**k it!!!!

  4. My fellow traveler, a hurricane is okay, compared to the the worst case scenario.

    Oil sits in a level under the sea.

    Madness of man draws the oil to the surface and out among the water.

    This leaves a cavern under 5000 feet of water.

    It collapses. Sink hole under the gulf.

    A tidal wave emerges in a perfect 360.

    Delivers doom across the region in a 30 foot wave of oil hubris to mankind who brought it.

    Pray for your hurricane, for this sink hole is a 12% possibility.

  5. at the Oil drum June 7th.

    they put a disclaimer on it

    We would like to hear what you think–please avoid the conspiracy theory talk and assess the veracity of the claims that Simmons is making from a scientific point of view. We can find no other industry professional making the claims made in this interview, but we wanted to throw it open to the experts that lurk here to hear what the best and brightest thought about this instead of dancing around it–I’d rather have a thread, tear it apart, and put it to bed. So, if these claims need to be debunked, then let’s tear them apart on the scientific merits for the record so that folks can be disabused of these ideas. So, is the situation MS describes possible/plausible? If so, how? If not, why not?

    Remember the Oil Drum likes the Peak Oil theory of the world’s easy to reach reserves are declining, and that Simmons is an expert on that.  But they see something amiss with many of his newest claims.   So they are not automatically presuming he’s bogus but they are not believing the rest of it, either.

    there are many comments on many different parts and analysis of Simmon’s claims.  One poster makes the point that the reason Simmons’ claims are getting so much attention right now (especially from the right wing) is that the govt has been lowballing or obfuscating all the other tech information, so an exagerated or confused version (and God, Simmons is half a bubble off of plumb with some of this,  re let’s nuke the thing, or the oil is traveling 6 miles away and gushing out at millions of barrels a day there)  would seem to fill the vacuum – nature, or the general public, hates a vacuum after all.

    from a comment on June 8 at 1:29am

    The well was not at final depth in March. The loss of drilling fluids to the formation was to a different formation than the bottom hole. They ran the lost circulation materials and/or casing to stop that fluid loss. It is not unusual and that is how it is regularly dealt with.

    Dylan Ratigan has simply gone to the lowest form of journalism by airing another dose of Simmons. Consider that the crew on the DWH drilled into the pay and the well was under control. Trip out of hole and run the casing. Well under control. Pump cement jog. Well under control. The time frame is days. There was no 50,000# formation pressure that Simmons claims and could not be. When he makes the claim again after a couple of weeks to think about what he stated the first time, it simply demonstrates that he does not understand drilling. But since Ratigan sets it up that he one of the world’s leading experts on oil drilling and production, who could challenge that claim? The Gorbot is a Nobel Prize winning expert on earth science and he knows that the core temperature of the earth is “millions of degrees”? The more they are interviewed the more they are revealed.

    His further claim that the real leak is at the top of the riser attached to the DWH rig lying on the bottom is also nonsense. It cannot be. Both ends of the riser are now simply exposed and open to seawater. The riser is not attached or connected in any way to the well. The wellhead is sitting on the top of the pipe with a BOP connected to it and has not gone anywhere.

    Now, after recognizing that his first several claims are impossible, how much credence or certainty would you place on the claim that there has been underground migration of well fluids on a tremendous scale? The underground migration theory is possible and we know it can happen. However, unless someone can spot the leak it has about as much standing as ghost sightings. This leak is very much different from other blowouts as the oil and gas behave differently a 5,000 ft depth. The escaping oil is alive with gas that causes it to explode when released, and the gas immediately will form into hydrates. The oil will be fractionalized as it somewhat explodes and has a rapid temperature change. No doubt that a bbl is still a bbl, but the capablility of those exploded bbls to mix into the water is entirely different from spilling a quart of Mobile 1 on the surface. The “plume” size will be many times larger but will have a very small % of oil in the water. And it does not take very much of it to create a problem.

    another poster on June 8, 2010 10:56pm


    Assume unconsolidated silt (i.e. muck) for almost 1,000′ down. And a casing rupture 1,000′ down (say 9,000 psi). Both reasonable assumptions ATM.

    The eruption path up would NOT be 6 miles away. That implies a much greater than 45 degree “path of least resistance”.

    Going through 1,000′ of muck, I would be surprised if the eruption was more than 150′ away and the most likely path would be right along the well bore (in easy camera range, camera range about 35′).

    A deeper casing rupture (or other pathway out) could travel in a selected geological strata. If the produced fluid had lots of water (NOT too likely) around 180F, a salt strata could erode over time. But 6 miles ?? in 49 days ?

    A strata/pocket of methane hydrate (would have to be shallow) might erode quickly enough to go some distance, but again 6 miles seems way too far.

    An unconsolidated sand strata would seem to be the only viable candidate. One of the areas where they lost circulation.

    It would take weeks/months for the oil/gas to migrate 6 miles even if the strata did not spread out in two dimensions (E-W & N-S). Full of water (or water/methane hydrate ?) would allow communication to seabed. 9,000 psi can push quickly through unconsolidated sand.

    Maybe ? Let me think more.


    A close eruption from casing failure seems likely. See 1,000′ case above. Beyond that seems improbable at best.


    Overnight on SPECULATION –

    Assume worst/best imaginable case that has any chance of really happening. What would the flow rate be?

    Unconsolidated sand (old sand bar, now a fault, or path of very old undersea avalanche and this is the “rubble”), a few hundred feet wide and 6 miles long, 20′ thick. At well bore it is 3,000′ below seabed, 6 miles away it exits (without a cap rock) under 500′ of muck, then seafloor. Full of water.

    Casing failure at 3,000′, oil has two paths. Up bore (BOP restriction) and through sand fault.

    Oil & gas at junction: Supercritical fluid, 180 F, oil API 35, high gas fraction, 9,000 psi.

    The first effect would be oil and gas separating, say 10′ into sand. Gas travels faster than oil through sand but pressure moves both. Gas goes until it cools enough to form hydrates, this increase restrictions but pressure behind pushes cool gas forward (no more water to form hydrates locally, but leading edge of gas front continually forms hydrates as it encounters more water. End result is 6 mile tunnel full of sand and hydrates with much higher restriction than water and sand. NG finally exits unconsolidated sand fault and enters 500′ of muck. “Unlimited” supply of water in muck to form hydrates. Escape over thousands of years, quite possible, 50 days, no.

    Back at the 3,000′ casing failure, the API 35 oil has lots of pressure behind it, “loose” sand and methane hydrates in front and it has cooled to 46 F (SWAG). Progress forward likely measured in inches/hour now (perhaps ft/hour at first)

    In the time frame under consideration, even casing failure will result in what appears to be a self healing leak. NG will form hydrates if local formation water is available and oil will cool to a moderately high viscosity liquid. (I would like a table for API 35 at 46 to 34 F)

    The layer of muck above everything has lots of water entrained with it and it will cool down the natural gas and oil.

    Best Hopes that I did not miss something,


    In other words, they don’t believe this Deepwater Horizon rig’s “oil cano” is spewing its “oil lava” along an underseabed tube 6 miles away from the wellhead and then erupting upwards thru the cold mud into a 100,000 barrel per day deluge somewhere else, and neither do I.    Geez.  

    At least he (Simmons) has gotten the point right that a hurricane tidal surge is going to bring some of this oil onshore.   But high winds traverse the Gulf in many different directions, and the strong Gulf currents are more likely to carry the oil out of the Gulf into the Atlantic, up the eastern US seaboard and across, this has been written about and illustrated here by several people.

    People are confusing PLUMES of oil that are already in the Gulf, which is the oil that has already been leaked and which has spread out tremendously in the water, (which is what oil and its assorted components do, it spreads out and it moves around)  with LEAKS which is where the oil/gas mixture is coming out of the well assembly and was coming out of the bent over riser and drill pipe inside the riser.

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