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Archive for July, 2010

Upper Crust

Posted by wastedenergy on July 21, 2010

Forgot to add Hydrate Zone #5 snapped earlier today.  This gem came in at 3:35 PM on Tuesday.  Wonder what other new leaks have sprung since we last checked in with the spillcam?

Looks like poor Tony might have to sell his boat after all.

5:06 AM EDT:

Oh lordy, what is this?  Discoloration around the rim and edges of the apparatus?  That doesn’t look like it’s anywhere near any of the supposed leak zones…do these mean the entire structure is springing leaks left and right now?  Do they mean so much oil is escaping from seeps in the surrounding seabed and from the leaks and hydrate deposits that the buildup is accumulating from ambient seawater?  Or is this just another odd shadow or lighting effect?

What do you think?

5:30 AM:

Another view of Zone 5, and you can see what Zone 2 looks like now down below that, covering up almost the entire side panel where it sits.  Over to the right of Zone 2 is another area that looks like it could be either a shadow or a new area of hydrate buildup…

5:45 AM

From every angle now, it looks like more and more gunk is just building up on more and more parts of this thing every minute now.  I don’t know how much longer it can last, but it will be interesting to see how long this goes on before someone calls off the “test” and decides to lift this thing off, come hell or deep water.  What they could possibly be testing at this point is beyond me.  It’s obvious the structure is no longer doing what it is supposed to be doing.  I wonder how fast these other leaky areas are coming out?  Would be nice to get some ROV closeups on some of these other areas so we can see if there are visible drips there too, not to mention whether or not these brown discolored areas are in fact the deposits (indicating leaks) that they appear to be.

6:10 AM:

This is what happens when you leave the original leak zone alone for fifteen minutes now (and caught an awesome DC sunrise in the meantime); note the 2nd image is a bit squeezed, my fault trying to make both images fit at this hour, but you can see the new growth as the buildup approaches the bottom in the second image.  And from all appearances, there are now dozens, maybe hundreds of zones like this all around the structure.

6:30 AM:

A new view from Skandi 1 showing brown discoloration accumulating along a horizontal plane of the capping stack.  Compare it to the image below it showing the cap’s original coloration.

6:40 AM:

Zone 1 blows away – yet again!  You can see the last of the trail of dust where the arrow is pointing – wasn’t quite fast enough to catch the bulk of it.  You can see down below it now how the globules of oil are traveling up in series; my entirely unscientific estimate is that they are now coming up about ten times faster than when the cameras first started following the leak area on Sunday.

7:00 AM

The latest I can find from the Coast Guard or anyone in charge is this AP bit from a few hours ago. 

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen is dismissing at least five leaks discovered around cap in the blown out Gulf oil well as “very small drips,” like an oil leak in a car. The government’s point man on the oil spill is downplaying worries that the cap might be buckling under the pressure. Allen also says seepage detected along the sea floor is from another well.

Hopefully Thad will have something to say about the leaks again soon, in addition to any other seeps that might have been found around the well.  The man seems prone to sudden reversals; after all, he is now dismissing risks from the same seep of which he warned earlier.  Whose science has determined that the well is coming from a separate, “natural” seep and not from this well?  The same ones BP has been buying off for its legal team from maritime universities across the Gulf Coast? 

The other major wrinkle in the story over the past day has been a statement from BP exec Kent Wells that the chance of attempting another, “static” top kill with the cap kill on is “100%” if the U.S. government approves.  In other words, BP is setting the government up to take the fall for yet another reckless maneuver instead of the company: if Obama and Thad Allen refuse to allow the attempt, BP can claim they are halting progress on the spill and that they were just making their best efforts.  If the government allows it, then it assumes responsibility – and potentially liability – for BP’s risky well handling tactics.

Quite a pickle, isn’t it?  And again, it seems to beg the question of why BP is still in charge of anything here, considering how badly they have time and again flunked every test this well has put before them.


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