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Deepwater Horizon: it’s worse than you thought (again) – part 2

deepwater static kill.jpg

The official estimate of the amount of oil that leaked into the Gulf of Mexico before BP managed to cap its ‘MC252’ well has again been revised upwards. The resulting new figure makes the incident the worst accidental spill in history.

US scientists now think that at the start of the disaster 62,000 barrels of oil a day were escaping the well, which began leaking after the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. Although this fell to 53,000 barrels per day by the time the well was capped on 15 July, a total of 4.9 million barrels probably escaped the well (press release).

Initially it was claimed that a mere 1,000 barrels per day were escaping (the history of the endlessly increasing estimates is contained in the original ‘it’s worse than you thought (again)’ blog post).

Of the 4.9 million barrels that leaked, some 800,000 were captured by BP, meaning ‘only’ 4.1 million barrels actually ended up polluting the Gulf. This is still more than the previous largest ever accidental spill – the Ixtoc 1 disaster, which released around 3.5 million barrels in the 1970s. Deliberate spilling during the first Gulf War is thought to have resulted in about 5 million barrels of spillage.

In other news, BP is still preparing for the ‘static kill’ of the well. This will involve attempting to permanently seal the well by forcing heavy mud downwards to drive back oil into the reservoir and allow the whole thing to be sealed off with cement. This is similar to the ‘top kill’ attempted earlier, except that the well is no longer flowing – hence ‘static’ (BP briefing).

If the static kill is successful a decision will have to be made as to whether to continue with the relief wells, which were previously thought to be the final answer to the leak.

Image: Q4000 vessel (shown centre) undertaking preparations for the ‘static kill’ / US Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Eggers.


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    Uncle Al said:

    The US Clean Water Act provides for an EPA-enforceable fine of $(US)100/gallon of oil discharged into navigable waters. A 4.9 million bbl spill @ 42 gal/bbl is a $20 billion fine. The EPA being self-financing, there is a perceptable enthusiasm for collecting fines. This should be amusing re the War of 1812.

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    James said:

    Right after the gulf oil spill started I read on a website that:

    “the oil spill is a false flag with the purpose of passing Cap and Trade legislation, carbon tax, or some other laws, and to divert attention from some other more important news events. It was an intentional drilling into the side of an asphalt volcano, which are plentiful in the Gulf. It is a Great illusion, and easy to control. They poured some real oil on the water just for the effect. They control who gets to see the oil spill and who reports on it. They have armed guards preventing regular people from going to see it on the beaches, in many places, Why? The key is that when the relief wells are completed and the ‘oil spill’ pipes are plugged, they will suddenly tell us that almost all of the oil has miraculously evaporated, dispersed, or somehow vanished and is no longer a treat to wildlife or anyone else, and all the beaches have been cleaned off and restored to their original state. Once the effect is complete and the needed laws are passed, the oil spill will miraculously vanish.” (this is not an exact quote but close to it.)

    Now isn’t it odd that now that they have plugged the oil pipe, they suddenly tell us that most, if not all, of the spilled oil has vanished and the remaining oil poses no treat to wildlife or anyone else???

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