Okay, so I think I understand this. May not need help from the experts.
One possibility is the well may have deflated over time and isn’t as powerful as it once was. Like when you have to pee real bad and at first it all comes out fast and then slows down to drip.
The other is that the well is damaged below the surface and pressure is dropping because the oil is leaking from another point under the seafloor and “into the rock formation surrounding it” which sounds a little awful and hard to cap. Perhaps the relief well would stop that if it is at a lower point on the first well than the hypothetical breech. Not sure if that’s correct. I’m not an expert.
In reference to the depleted well, a man by the name of Don Van Nieuwenhuise and the title of Director of the Professional Geoscience Programs at the University of Houston said…
I don’t think it’s a cause for immediate concern, because it could reflect a natural loss of oil in the resevoir. It’s amazing that it has held its strength for as long as it has.
Or in other words, “That thing sure spit out a lot erl didn’t it? Didn’t expect it would go THAT long.”
Maitri or Clay or anyone else, I’m reading this article and, really, I am skimming the whole thing trying to get to the part about the relief wells, which I have been told over and over again is the “real solution.” So I find them at the bottom of the article and there is a paragraph that confounds me and I need some help with it.
Wells said work on the first relief well, expected to be completed in August, was delayed while officials prepare for the integrity test out of an abundance of caution. It is possible, though unlikely, that shutting in the well as part of the integrity test could cause the back side of the relief well to be blown out, Wells said.
I am supposing correctly that the relief well must be close enough to the first well (feet? inches?) so that the pressure applied by capping the wellhead would be enough to blow out the side of the well into the first relief well? And if so, then what happens?
The author does use many citations throughout the story but most of them are based on findings that don’t have anything to do with the current crisis and are about extinction events that occurred millions of years ago. Yes, I am sure these events could have happened. But they happened without us. I understand he is trying to equate the two scenarios but he only cites two current reports regarding the Gulf oil leak.
He also uses the following phrases in the story…
“may be happening”
“may have triggered”
“Reports, filtering through”
“A report from one observer”
“Most experts in the know”
Those are the extent of attributions for the bulk of what he is basing his story on. Pretty ballsy considering he is writing about the end of humankind. And not in some abstract manner either.
For the real Doomsday stuff, the author just writes hypothetically like he is scripting a Michael Bay movie. Going into detail describing the death clouds and tsunamis.
But hey, it’s just the end of civilization. Frankly, if I gots to go, I would rather it be with the rest of you. Because I don’t want to miss a thing.
It’s 26 years later and it is still being hashed out in court.
The human toll of the Union-Carbide disaster was far greater than the Gulf Oil leak but the principles are similar. A foreign-run company perpetrated an industrial disaster on a citizen-represented country. The horrific thing is, considering the amount of suffering they caused, UCC and its executives fought it out in court and pretty much got away with it. They built a hospital, they paid out a few thousand to each family and about a billion to the Indian government. I say “got away with it” because pay-outs aren’t enough. Union Carbide Executives should go to jail in India. I also say they got away with it because Union Carbide was in such decent shape business-wise that they were bought by Dow in 2001 even though the fallout from the Bhopal disaster was still in court. Who would buy a corporation that had industrial disaster cases still in court? Who would buy a company with the reputation of Union Carbide? A company who knew the fight was fixed is who.
Just last month, a few Indian executives were convicted and sentenced to two years but freed on bail shortly after. They are in their 70s now. They are appealing.
Also, when I was hunting links, I found this story which also compares the two disasters…
The article inexplicably states that Barack Obama has been tough on BP. Perhaps it seems that way in India but from down here in Louisiana I can assure my fellow citizens of the World, the US Government will treat us the same way it treated you. That stance is just for show. No one will suffer but us just as no one suffered but you.
I have sort of made it my life’s goal not to know too much about anything. I have always found it best to know a little about a lot rather than a lot about a little. Then I can strike up a conversation with someone, find out what they know a lot about, throw out what little I know about it and they begin speaking at length about it. So long as the subject is interesting, the expert and I can talk all night. I leave educated and he or she leaves feeling smart. It’s perfect for both of us. Everyone likes to talk about their field.
That said, what I and everyone else have been talking about recently is oil drilling. Even in my most novice opinion, the more I learn about oil drilling and the massive geological, economic, political and environmental scope of it all, I become more and more terrified. Even with a keen awareness of the hyperbolic, I am convinced it will eventually lead to disaster after disaster of every sort. Not groundbreaking thought I know.
But I think it’s the geology of the entire thing that is most concerning, because that’s where many extinction-type events begin and end – with the crust of the Earth. Yes, I wrote extinction. This whole thing has got me in a fatalist state of mind. Thinking of this well, in this spot, at this place in time and putting it in the context of all the wells that have ever been drilled across the Earth and all the wells that will be drilled before supply runs out, it’s a testament that Armageddon hasn’t happened yet. We have some amazing scientists and engineers on this planet. But they can’t save us. Because some of the most irresponsible fucks are in charge of the whole thing. It confounds even the most critical thinkers (many of whom are in agreement that we are fucked.)
Back to my ignorance though. I really didn’t have an understanding of just how much pressure fossil fuels put on the Earth. I realize this should have been evident after watching reel after reel of old footage showing oil spewing out of wells and celebrating prospectors but, it really didn’t sink in I guess. Yes, those well fires during the first Gulf War should have made it abundantly clear as well. But I was trying to get LAID around that time. I was not reading the news. But now, finally I understand. So I can’t help but wonder how long it’s going to take before something much worse than this little disaster we have in the Gulf of Mexico results from our poking little straws into a pressure cooker. The thought of toying with pressures so strong just seems goofy. I know, we have no choice. We don’t want to walk to work. I’m not looking to blame anyone here. I’m just trying to look at this whole thing from a forward thinking perspective. Like an alien professor asking his or her students, “So who can tell me what led to the Earthlings demise?”
And this might sound very ignorant but what is happening under the crust of the Earth (particularly in the Gulf and Middle East) when billions of barrels of oil are removed, refined and burned? Am I correct in thinking that there are huge underground caverns under the Earth? Someone help me out here. Can I get an expert?
Every English teacher and editor I had in my short academic life would say it’s probably poor writing to state how unqualified the writer of an article is throughout said article. I’m not trying to fool anyone here. I’m speaking from my gut. It’s just too damn poetic that extinct plants and animals from millions of years ago will render the extinction of life forms millions of years later. Maybe the next generation of intelligent life will continue the cycle.
Not really sure what I’m trying to say and a good writer would probably ditch this whole post. I guess I am terrified. Not so much about the spill in the Gulf. I’m sure it will be plugged. Relief wells are almost there. By the end of this month they say. It’s more terrifying when the scope of energy dependence on fossil fuels is really placed in context, when all the elements are placed together and the variables are all put together…
There is so much that can go wrong. It only takes one thing.
And then they are talking about the possibility of a hurricane hitting this thing. Let me save yall the speculation. A hurricane WILL hit this thing. I guarantee it. “It’s the way God wants it to be.” That’s a Ray Nagin quote to end this thing.
I still don’t understand how a Supertanker skims oil. I hear that it is here. I hear that it is huge. I hear that it’s called A Whale. I understand it can hold a lot of oil. But how does the oil get from the surface to A Whale. Best I can find is this…
If approved, A Whale – which has a main stack decorated with a blue whale – would be used near the wellhead, where the oil is the thickest on the surface but where boat traffic is also the heaviest. It uses 12 large intakes to collect surface oil in its path.
Also from that article…
The A Whale, for its part, could collect more than 125 times the amount of the largest skimmer currently working the Gulf. It’s capable of slurping up 300,000 barrels of oil (21 million gallons) of oil in 10 hours, and offloading it to a companion vessel, A Elephant. Mr. Su is already readying two other retrofitted tankers, the B Whale and C Whale, for service in the Gulf.
I’m beginning to sense that it is the way of government and big business to just let the shit hit the fan and clean up the mess when it flies everywhere than to put a shit cover on the fan … or monitor the room for incoming shit … or keep some shit wipes around … or to train people not to throw shit in the general area of the fan… or to adjust the fan so shit doesn’t fly everywhere … or to even get rid of the shit and/or the fan… all in case shit perhaps hits the fan. It’s too much preparation for something hypothetical.
It’s like the loved one who figures it is better to lie and apologize.
I have been listening to Tom Ashbrook’s “On Point’ show out WBUR in Boston for a while now. It normally features a range of timely and cerebral topics and Ashbrook and the staff at On Point have been kind to New Orleans over the years. Last week they focused on leadership in the aftermath of the oil spill. President Obama’s speech is critiqued and the guests were outstanding:
Douglas Brinkley, professor of history at Rice University. His books include “The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America” and “The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”
Naomi Klein, bestselling author and columnist for the Guardian and The Nation. She’s author of “No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies” (just reissued for its 10th anniversary) and “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.” She has been reporting from the Gulf on how the oil spill is affecting people and the environment.
Julia Reed, author of “The House on First Street: My New Orleans Story” and “Queen of the Turtle Derby and Other Southern Phenomenon.” She was born in Mississippi and lives in New Orleans.
I greatly encourage everyone to download the podcast of this episode and in particular listen to Doug Brinkley at the 21:15 mark until the 25:45. He is worked up and says what almost every New Orleans blogger has been saying for a while, right down to the exasperation. “Be Walt Whitman.”