Deepwater Horizon – Top Kill Update

Or to be more accurate – no update.

“Operations continue,” BP spokesman Jon Pack told UpstreamOnline.  “There are no further updates. It is difficult to say when there will be…it could take up to two days.”

It does not appear the drilling mud has eroded the riser or increased the flow rate so far, but in a worst-case scenario flow could increase 15%…

The Transocean semi-submersible rig Development Driller III… was continuing down hole at 11,000 feet below the drilling floor Wednesday on the first of two relief wells.  Suttles said on Friday that the rig was “slightly ahead of schedule.” 

Transocean semi-sub Development Driller II is drilling… at 8650 feet…  Both rigs spud their wells about 3000 feet from the original Macondo bore.  They will drill vertically to about 10,000 feet before directionally drilling to intercept Macondo at roughly 18,000 feet…

Once either well intercepts the Macondo bore, BP can pump cement and plug the producing zone.  Suttles said the company has no plans to ever produce from the Macondo well because it has been damaged beyond repair.

The Oil Drum has details about the Top Kill attempt complete with pictures and animations.  Read it to get a feel for the complexity of the situation and to see the tools and processes used in the procedure.

Our friends at ALFIN also make some good observations:

The range of 12,000 to 19,000 bpd is higher than the earlier USCG / NOAA estimate of 5,000 barrels per day, but is far lower than the fantastical estimates by academics from Purdue, UCB, and other universities who estimated flow rates to 100,000 barrels per day and higher. The higher spill rate would put the Deepwater Horizon spill above the Exxon Valdez in total volume spilled — although that is not taking evaporation into account.

Journalists and Obama — who are looking for “an unprecedented disaster — want to compare the spill to the Exxon Valdez in order to prove that the apocalypse has come. But the Deepwater Horizon spill is not comparable to the Exxon Valdez spill for many reasons: a deep undersea leak far offshore vs. a surface container spill close to shore; a lighter crude with high proportions of gas vs. a heavier crude; the warm fertile waters of the Gulf of Mexico vs. the frigid waters of Prince William Sound; the active Gulf Loop Current into open seas vs. the relatively closed waters of the Sound . . . and so on.


Obama fired (or she resigned)  Minerals and Management Service boss Elizabeth Birnbaum.  Birnbaum was a Congressional lawyer, Clinton functionary, and environmental activist before her appointment to MMS in July 2009.  Praise Obama for firing her, but he just fixed his prior error in her appointment (thank goodness it wasn’t a lifetime appointment – see Sotomayor or soon Kagan).

Our Congressman Parker Griffith (who is originally from Louisiana) sent the following email:

This morning, Elizabeth Birnbaum, the director of the Minerals Management Service agency that oversees drilling operations, was fired. She was supposed to testify as a witness this afternoon in a Energy and Commerce Committee hearing about “Combating the BP Oil Spill”. Parker will be questioning witnesses at this hearing and will propose the question to the witnesses that if the Administration has done everything correctly – as it says it has – then why are heads rolling on their end?

To watch the full committee hearing, please visit this link – (click the box on the right side of the page titled “Live Webcasts”)

Note – I bolded the good part.


BP is investigating the cause of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion:

In a statement, BP said: “The investigation team’s work thus far shows that this accident was brought about by the failure of a number of processes, systems and equipment.

“There were multiple control mechanisms – procedures and equipment – in place that should have prevented this accident or reduced the impact of the spill.”

The company also said there is much the inquiry still needs to do – as well as carrying out further interviews, full forensic examinations of the blowout preventer (BOP), wellhead, and the rig itself – all of which are still currently on the sea bed – need to be done.

BP said: “The investigation is focused on the following seven mechanisms.

1. The cement that seals the reservoir from the well;
2. The casing system, which seals the well bore;
3. The pressure tests to confirm the well is sealed;
4. The execution of procedures to detect and control hydrocarbons in the well, including the use of the BOP;
5. The BOP emergency disconnect system, which can be activated by pushing a button at multiple locations on the rig;
6. The automatic closure of the BOP after its connection is lost with the rig; and
7. Features in the BOP to allow remotely operated vehicles to close the BOP and thereby seal the well at the seabed after a blow out.”

Chief executive Tony Hayward said: “I understand people want a simple answer about why this happened and who is to blame.

“The honest truth is that this is a complex accident, caused by an unprecedented combination of failures.

So much in life is “unprecented” nowadays…  Or could it be that the term is overused?


Here’s a good editorial from Upstream Online Editor Erik Means:

Could there be any worse remedy to the precarious situation at Macondo than having it taken over by government?

Truth be told, Salazar and his boss President Barack Obama are under no illusion that their administration holds expansive knowledge of oilfield operations and reservoir management. But they are struggling to appear in public to be doing something assertive about a horrible spill that in reality is entirely out of their control.

On a scale of one to 10, the Macondo debacle is a 12 for BP. The stained shoreline in Gulf states is an equally huge stain on the reputation of the UK supermajor. The 11 lost lives will haunt the company for years to come.

If anyone seriously thinks that BP is not doing everything in its power to cap that rogue well and clean up the spill, then their vision has been clouded by tears of rage.

This is not to say that BP did not mess up badly in the events that led to the blow-out and blast that triggered the catastrophe. Evidence suggests increasingly that it did.

But in the given circumstances, I would have a hard time pointing to a company other than BP that I would rather have in charge of regaining control of the well. ExxonMobil, perhaps, but one would hope that those two supermajors – now respectively responsible for the two worst spills in US history – have had an open line of communication on how to deal with the out-of-control well.


Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) is out in front on the oil spill (in what is an unfortunate but instructive test of his leadership).  From the DHIJIC:

The National Incident Commander for the BP oil spill, Admiral Thad Allen, today approved the implementation of a section of Louisiana’s barrier island project proposal that could help stop oil from coming ashore and where work could be completed the fastest—as an integrated part of the federal response to the BP oil spill.

This step will save Louisiana the cost of construction for this section by integrating it with the federal government’s ongoing oil spill response—thus paving the road for payment by BP, as a responsible party, or the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

There’s an old adage that it’s easier to get forgiveness than approval.  Governor Jindal was moving ahead with the constructi0n of ‘barrier islands’ without Army Corps of Engineers approval, so they went ahead and gave their ‘approval’:

The Army Corps of Engineers has granted partial approval for Louisiana’s barrier island project proposal, covering approximately half of the state’s original request and including six sections.

Under this permit, but without coordination with Admiral Allen and the Unified Command, Louisiana is authorized to construct the barrier islands at its own expense, so long as construction meets the terms and conditions established by the Army Corps of Engineers and any other required permits are obtained. If Louisiana moves forward, they will need to address all potential costs and environmental impacts.

Barrier islands get moved around alot and wash away (look at Dauphin Island – did you know that it used to be the biggest French colonial port in the US until a hurricane filled in the harbor).   This action is a risk for Jindal but he is well on the way to proving himself capable of handling a crisis (just in time for the 2012 Presidential election).  Compare that to Obama who uses a crisis to advance his political agenda.

Deepwater Horizon – Riser Insertion Tube

Good news from the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center:

Overnight the Riser Insertion Tube Tool was successfully tested and inserted into the leaking riser, capturing some amounts of oil and gas. The oil was stored on board the Discoverer Enterprise drill ship 5,000 feet above on the water’s surface, and natural gas was burned through a flare system on board the ship. 

The test was halted temporarily when the tube was dislodged.  While this is disappointing, it is not unexpected given the challenging operating environment.

Technicians have fully inspected the system and have re-inserted the tool.

The tool is fashioned from a 4-inch pipe and is inserted into the leaking riser, from which the majority of the flow is coming. While not collecting all of the leaking oil, this tool is an important step in reducing the amount of oil being released into Gulf waters.

The procedure – never attempted before at such depths – involves inserting a 5-foot length of the specifically-designed tool into the end of the existing, damaged riser from where the oil and gas is leaking. In a procedure approved by federal agencies and the Federal On Scene Coordinator, methanol will also be flowed into the riser to help prevent the formation of gas crystals, known as hydrates.  Gas and oil will then flow to the surface to the Discoverer Enterprise drillship.

The Enterprise has the capability to separate the oil, gas and water mixture safely and eventually store or offload the recovered oil onto another vessel.

More good news – the second relief well is set to spud today:

Transocean’s semi-submersible rig Development Driller II is on location and has been inspected by Coast Guard officials.

The US Minerals Management Service is reviewing the drilling permit for the second well and expects to approve the request by Saturday, MMS Gulf of Mexico boss Lars Herbst said at a press conference Friday.

The Development Driller II is expected to “race” the Transocean semi-submersible rig Development Driller III, which already spud the first relief probe, to reach the Macondo well bore on Mississippi Canyon Block 252 in the US Gulf of Mexico.

Bad news – first relief well stalled for BOP testing:

Development Driller III has been stalled briefly while crews perform a battery of tests on the rig’s blowout preventer (BOP).

The tests follow new protocols developed by the Minerals Management Service (MMS) in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and apparent failure of the BOP on that rig, Suttles said.

He said the relief well drilling stalled just above 9000 feet, as measured from the surface of the water, which means the well has drilled about 4000 feet into the ground.

Look like the hysteria about flow rates is misguided:

Macondo is dumping an estimated 5000 barrels of oil per day into the Gulf after a blow-out on 20 April.

But that flow estimate has come under increasing scrutiny from academics, some of whom have estimated the flow to be as high as 100,000 barrels per day.

Analysts at Tudor, Pickering & Holt, however, said the new estimates, are highly improbable given the realites of deep-water wells in the Gulf.

In a report, the Houston investment bank pointed out that the best wells in the Gulf, including the BP-operated Thunder Horse development, only produce about 25,000 barrels per day.


Here’s a great write up from our new friends at AL FIN:

The siphon tube was initially filled with pressurised nitrogen gas, which was slowly released from the upper end of the tube — allowing the oil to be pulled to the surface for storage in a tanker, and storage barges. This was necessary to keep cold seawater from entering th pipe and creating methane hydrate ice crystals — which would clog the pipe if allowed to enter.

As long as the recovery effort can continue removing most of the oil spill directly to the surface storage vessels, surface remediation should be somewhat easier in the long run. Even so, the next logical step might seem to be the double assault on the blowout preventer (BOP) — the (1) “junk shot” of rubber junk and matting into the pipe below the BOP, followed by a (2) “top kill” rapid injection of concrete into the top of the pipe above the BOP.

The problem with that approach is that if it goes wrong, it could create an even worse leak than BP and the Coast Guard were dealing with at the beginning.

So, there will be an extended observation period of about 2 weeks, perhaps, while officials at the scene determine whether the siphon tube is successful enough to forgo any other assaults on the leak until the relief wells come in — between 6 and 10 weeks from now.

Meyer Real Estate in Gulf Shores changed their cancellation policy again (the previous change was probably too generous):

No Coastal Impact Now and None Expected
You will be happy to know that the beautiful beaches of our Alabama and Florida Gulf Coast remain untouched by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. In the beginning of the oil spill situation there was a brief time of uncertainty when, based on official predictions, landfall on our coast seemed imminent. However, neither that landfall nor any impact near our coast ever materialized.

During this uncertain time we temporarily relaxed our cancellation policy until further notice when coastal impact would be evident. This change was in response to the initial oil spill reports to allow time to assess any impact on our coastline. Thankfully that impact never came and with new official projections continuing to show a pattern of a westward movement of the oil sheen, the oil spill should not impact our shores.

“Peace of Mind Promise” for Your Vacation
Although we are confident your vacation to our coast will be a wonderfully memorable experience, we realize you may still have some concerns. We are providing our Peace of Mind Promise, which means you can plan your vacation with confidence. In the unlikely event your vacation experience is impacted by a government agency closing the beach or issuing a swimming advisory related to the oil spill, and you choose to leave, we will refund the remaining portion of your unused rent.

Cancellation Policy Changes Due to No Coastal Impact
What happens now? The original cancellation policy of a 30-day minimum notice for condos and a 60-day minimum notice for houses will once again apply to existing and new reservations. We will, however, honor the temporary relaxed policy, which allowed a cancellation with a full refund of rent, until Friday, May 14, 2010 at 5 p.m. (CST).

We urge you to keep your reservation in place, since our coast is not affected by the oil spill and we have instituted the Peace of Mind Promise stated above.


Ya know who I think could fix US energy policy?  Sarah Palin.  If she doesn’t run for President next time I hope that someone asks her to serve as Interior Secretary.  I think she could negotiate a better deal for oil and gas royalties, make effective and responsible changes to regulations, all while supporting the need to explore and exploit our natural resources. You betcha…

Deepwater Horizon Update – 5/14/2010

This week was full of news about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill:  the Macondome didn’t work, the media says that the leak may be much worse than thought, oil company execs blamed each other, and Obama blamed capitalism (but got it right when noting that the Minerals Management Service had been too cozy with the industry – but cronyism is not capitalism).

I’ve been getting about 30 emails per day from the “Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center”, most of them garbage about Federal officials holding press conferences or briefings about the “Administration-wide” response.  Some of the emails contain great photos with captions that contain snippets of information.  Then there are some that make me wonder about how bad the effects of the spill may be – they sent an email announcing  ”Rehabilitated bird to be released”.  Either it’s really bad and there’s only one bird still alive, or it may not be as bad as the media says – regardless I find it interesting that the U.S. Government deems it necessary to issue a press release about _a_ bird.

We get linked from other blogs , and sometimes they’re pretty good – here’s AL FIN.  They’ve posted some insightful thoughts about the spill, including “New Estimates of Oil Leak Rate Stoke Widespread Hysteria”:

New media estimates of leakage rates from the Deepwater Horizon seafloor gusher range from 20,000 barrels per day up to 100,000 barrels per day. These estimates were hastily arrived at by various remote methods by a number of academics: a mechanical engineer at Purdue, an astrophysicist at Berkeley, an oceanographer at Florida State University, and others who are willing to go on record with a public estimate. The official NOAA estimate of the leak rate remains constant at 5,000 barrels per day…

If the Deepwater Horizon gusher has been spewing 100,000 barrels a day for the past 24 days, it would have released 2.4 million barrels of hydrocarbon, or about 100 million gallons (roughly 300,000 tons)…

So if one ton of oil spreads to cover an area of 12 km2, 300,000 tons of oil would cover an area of 1.6 million km2 (or about 600,000 sq. miles). The entire surface area of the Gulf of Mexico is 1.5 million km2.

Of course much of the short chain hydrocarbons will have evaporated, and some of the oil has sunk beneath the surface. But dispersants tend to spread the remaining oil across a larger area, somewhat magnifying the apparent area of the slick. In other words, had as much oil been released as is claimed by the mechanical engineer, the astrophysicist, and the oceanographer, would it not be reasonable to assume that virtually the entire Gulf would be covered by now?

Here is the rub: a very large part of the hydrocarbon release is in the form of natural gas, which evaporates into the air straightaway. Without knowing the proportion of gas to oil fairly reliably, one cannot truly predict how much oil is being released by watching (or taking rough measurements of) the seafloor gusher. And the lighter the crude oil, the more quickly the short chain hydrocarbons will evaporate in the warm Gulf waters. So one must also have a good idea of the type of crude that is leaking…

Information about the causes of the disaster are slowly coming to light, and there will be plenty of time for judging the actions of those involved. But for now, whatever the rate and composition of oil leak — it needs to be stopped.

Good stuff.  I encourage you to read the whole thing, and while you’re there check out the other posts.


The U.S. Government cannot just blame BP et al and leave the clean up to them – it’s OUR oil and OUR beaches and OUR seafood and OUR environment.  The MMS leased the drilling rights to BP – but the ultimate responsibility for the stewardship of the oil is the Government.  The (probably) corrupt bureaucrats at MMS who approved drilling WITHOUT an environmental impact statement or WITHOUT adequate risk planning need to go to jail.

Obama plans to split the MMS  “into two parts: one charged with issuing permits and collecting royalties from drilling operation; the other responsible for safety and environmental enforcement”.  We’ll see if that solution is effective, but I’ll bet it won’t be as effective as prosecuting a few bureaucrats.


In other news, Swiss-based Transocean hired a lobbyist,  former Representative Bill Brewster (D – OK).

The company has not been a prominent political spender up to now. Since 2008, the company has spent less than $100,000 lobbying Congress on tax issues, documents filed with the Senate Office of Public Records show.

Macondome 1 arrives

Milestone – dome at location.  The M/V Joe Griffin delivered the Macondome 1 to the Mississippi Canyon Block 252 earlier today (report from one of my new favorite sources – UpstreamOnline).

He said: “It’s going to take a couple of days now to lower it 5000 feet to the sea floor and to connect the riser.”…

Once the “Macondome” is in place, BP will then bring in Transocean’s drillship Discoverer Enterprise and connect the dome to the ship via a rigid 2″ steel riser with a 6 5/8″ drill string.

Wine said: “The plan is to pump sea water down the annulus to help lift the oil – oil is lighter than sea water – and to keep it fairly warm.

“It’s a fairly gasy oil – it has a gas-to-oil ratio of about 3000 – so a major challenge for at least the first 2000 feet is hydrate management. It’s at those first couple of thousand feet where the risk of gas hydrate formation is the highest.”

When they say the “risk of gas hydrate formation”, they mean that this thing could get clogged up with gas hydrate crystals.  The problem is that gas hydrates like to form in cold temperatures (check) under high pressure (check) – deep water is both.  We all hope that the warmer seawater pumped down the pipe will keep the oil warm enough to inhibit gas hydrate formation.  They may also plan to inject glycol (think antifreeze) into the pipe to inhibit the hydrates.

The next Milestone might be reached Saturday – Macondome secured to seabed.  After that, the Discoverer Enterprise will need a couple of days to connect.

‘Macondome’ loaded

Deepwater Horizon Milestone – cofferdam dome (aka ‘Macondome’) loaded onto ship, scheduled to set sail at 5PM today.  I don’t know if it did, but if so it might be at the Macondo site by 5AM Thursday.  Then another 48 hours to lower the dome and secure it to the seafloor.  Then another couple of days to connect the dome to the Discoverer Enterprise and start pumping.

















PORT FOURCHON, La. – Crewmen aboard the motor vessel Joe Griffin guide a cofferdam onto the deck as the ship prepares to depart Wild Well Control, May 5, 2010. The chamber was designed to contain the oil discharge, that was a result of the Deepwater Horizon incident, before it reaches the surface. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Patrick Kelley.


Mobile Baykeeper volunteer email:

We cannot thank you enough for your outpouring of support and offers of help.  Each call and email with your information has been entered into our volunteer database.  We now ask for your patience as we create activities and assign tasks to our volunteers.  We will contact you via email or phone as we need you.
It is important for you to know, that other than initial cleanups of beach debris, you must undergo the training specific to your volunteer task.  All volunteers working directly in oil clean-up will be required to have hazwoper training first, which we have been told will not be offered until the oil actually reaches the coast. There are health impacts, and we are not encouraging anyone to go out without proper training. Exposure to the toxic chemicals involved can cause respiratory and other health related problems even in people without pre-existing conditions.
If you are interested in being trained to deal with OILED WILDLIFE, visit, scroll down, and clink the link to sign up.
Thanks again to all of you who have called to volunteer and to everyone who is concerned.  While we know it is difficult, what we need from everyone right now is to remain patient and calm.  This is the beginning of a long recovery effort, and we will need you in the coming weeks and months as opportunities to volunteer present themselves.  Please check out our website ( and facebook page frequently for updates. 

Deepwater Horizon valve set

Remember how I said in the first Deepwater post that details are “sketchy and developing”.  Yep.  I still don’t really know if I should refer to the incident by Deepwater Horizon (sunken rig name) or Macondo (site name)…

Turns out that the ‘dome’  (cofferdam) that earlier today was reported to be on the way is still at the yard in Louisiana and is not expected to be loaded onto a workboat until tomorrow:

Suttles said on Monday that he expected to load the first of two massive containment domes onto a work boat Tuesday, but today he said that operation is planned for noon Wednesday.

It is expected to take about 12 hours for the first dome to reach the location of the leak.

Once on location, it should take another 48 hours to lower the 70-ton structure, which measures 14 feet by 24 feet by 40 feet over the largest leak at the end of the riser and secure it to the seafloor, Suttles said.

BP will then bring in Transocean’s drillship Discoverer Enterprise and connect the dome to the ship with a system of pipes.

Suttles hopes to begin pumping oil into the drillship within six days.

Delays like this are why BP / Coast Guard won’t want to publish a schedule.  Lets hope that by Monday the Discoverer Enterprise drillship starts pumping.  We’ll probably follow the milestones (dome on workboat, dome at location, dome secure to seafloor, drillship connect and pumping).

Here’s some good news: 1 of the 3 leaks has a valve set on it:

The move is not expected to reduce the estimated 5000 barrels per day of oil gushing from the well but it will close one of three sources, leaving the UK supermajor only two other leaks to address… Crews first cut the jagged end of the drill pipe, which extends beyond the end of the broken riser. Next they fabricated and installed the valve.

Here’s a tough decision – take the risk of capping the well with the chances of stopping the flow or making it worse:

BP continues to look at installing a new blowout preventer (BOP) on top of the existing well, which could then be used to shut the well.

It is understood that the BOP on board the Transocean drillship Discoverer Enterprise will be used. The drillship is on location…

However, if the plan does not work it could cause the flow from the well to increase by eliminating the back pressure created by the crimped riser.

More good news:

There have been no confirmed reports of oil making landfall on the southern Louisiana coast, Coast Guard officials said.

On a related note, Meyer Real Estate in Gulf Shores is temporarily changing their cancellation policy:

During this time of uncertainty about the coastal impact, we have relaxed our cancellation policy which is currently 30 days minimum notice for cancellations in condos and 60 days minimum notice for houses. Until further notice when the coastal impact is evident, you may cancel your reservation at any time without penalty. If you have already made your vacation plans with us we strongly encourage you to not cancel your reservation, which secures your desired property for your desired dates. If you have not yet made your vacation plans with us we encourage you to do so.

Do your part for Alabama’s economy… Go to the beach!

Deepwater Horizon update – 5/4/2010

Dome, cofferdam, box, vacuum cleaner.

I’ve heard these terms describe the cofferdam that will be placed over the largest of the three oil leaks.  The cofferdam was finished yesterday and is on its way to the Discoverer Enterprise, the Transocean drillship on station at the Macondo (Deepwater Horizon) spill.  Two more cofferdams are under construction for the smaller leaks.  Upstreamonline has some great information: 

A similar system worked in the shallow-water US Gulf after hurricanes damaged production installations, but it has never been tested at this water depth…

We should know within a week IF the dome works.  Reports suggest that if the domes do work, about 80% of the leaking oil can be recovered – lessening the environmental impact.

Transocean / BP has one semi-submersible rig (Development Driller III) onsite and spudding a relief well:

…the well will take between two to three months drill to about 18,000 feet and then intercept the blown-out well…

The intercept is like hitting a bullet with a bullet – the well is about 7 inches wide.  Intercepts often take several tries.  In order to mitigate the risk, BP is bringing in another rig:

…the Transocean semi-submersible rig Development Driller II, to spud a second relief well.

The rig will arrive on location in 10 to 12 days and will “race” to spud a second relief bore.

In addition, BP is working on the blown out well (like shearing off jagged pipes).

Sometime in the next three days, BP will try to install a meter to gauge the pressure on the lower marine riser package…

When the meter is installed, we’ll have a better idea of how much oil is actually leaking (the 5,000 barrel a day number has “a wide margin of error”).  BP is testing subsea cleanup methods (well, not really cleanup – remember the old rule – ‘dilution is the solution’):

BP successfully tested a plan to apply dispersant to the oil as it exits the riser three days ago. Over a six-hour test, BP sprayed about 3000 gallons of dispersant using two-inch coil tubing connected to a wand. The dispersants break the oil down, which allows it to degrade more quickly… BP was pleased with the results but that it would take some time before changes in the volume of oil on the surface were noticeable. BP began subsea spraying operations again yesterday. The company now plans to try to drill into the riser and directly inject dispersant into the oil stream before it shoots into the water. The direct injection would ensure that more dispersant comes in contact with the oil and would give the substances a chance to fully mix before being diluted by water. Fryar said BP hopes to try the direct injection sometime “over the next several days”.

I’ve sent off volunteer inquiries to two groups – one at the official BP website:

I got this response:
Thank you for you inquiry. We appreciate your concern and willingness to help. Your information will be forwarded to the Volunteer Coordinator. We are receiving an overwhelming number of gracious calls offering support. We have had requests from hundreds of people willing to volunteer and are grateful for every offer of support we’ve received. It may take some time before organized opportunities arise where we can utilize your services, so please have patience. Our Volunteer Coordination team will be back in touch with you.

I sent the other volunteer request to:

I also asked the Deepwater Horizon people to publish a schedule of activities and progress toward capping the well.  It’s a complex project with a couple of  different paths, but they could make a top-level schedule with significant milestones available.  We’re looking at about three months and I’d like to know how they’re doing. I know that if I were the Governor or even a candidate I’d like to see a schedule…

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Hat tip to Ace of Spades for the Ixtoc I information.

Let’s start with some history.  The last big Gulf oil spill was from the explosion and sinking of the Mexican Ixtoc I oil platform in June 1979 – the well wasn’t capped until March 1980 – about nine months after the incident.

Here’s the NOAA Incident Report about Ixtoc I:

On June 3, 1979, the 2 mile deep exploratory well, IXTOC I, blew out in the Bahia de Campeche, 600 miles south of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico. The IXTOC I was being drilled by the SEDCO 135, a semi-submersible platform on lease to Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX). A loss of drilling mud circulation caused the blowout to occur. The oil and gas blowing out of the well ignited, causing the platform to catch fire. The burning platform collapsed into the wellhead area hindering any immediate attempts to control the blowout.

Sound familiar?

…experts were contracted to bring in skimming equipment and containment booms, and to begin cleanup of the spilled oil. The IXTOC I well continued to spill oil at a rate of 10,000 – 30,000 barrels per day until it was finally capped on March 23, 1980.

The Deepwater well is leaking at a rate of 5,000 (officially) to 25,000 barrels per day.  It is expected to be capped in 90 days – compare that to the nine months it took to cap Ixtoc.

Here’s an interesting tidbit about Ixtoc I from Wikipedia:

The US government had two months to prepare booms to protect major inlets. Mexico rejected US requests to be compensated for cleanup costs.

Compare that to BP’s response to the Deepwater incident:

BP will compensate all those affected by the oil spill saying that “We are taking full responsibility for the spill and we will clean it up and where people can present legitimate claims for damages we will honour them. We are going to be very, very aggressive in all of that.”

This is what NOAA has to say about the BP / Transocean Deepwater Horizon:

A fire and explosion occurred at approximately 11:00 PM CDT, April 20, 2010 on the DEEPWATER HORIZON, a semisubmersible drilling platform, with more than 120 crew aboard. The DEEPWATER HORIZON is located some 50 miles SE of the Mississippi Delta and contained an estimated 700,000 gallons of #2 Fuel Oil or Marine Diesel Fuel.

Since the Deepwater Horizon incident is so recent, details are still sketchy (and developing).  Keep this information (NOAA update) in mind as you read about the oil spill – people died – the 11 “unaccounted for” are presumed dead:

126 people were on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig when the incident occurred. 11 remain unaccounted for; 17 were injured, 3 of them critically.  1 injured person remains in the hospital.

I realize that this post is kind of choppy, but I wanted to get something out there.  The bad news is pretty bad – the economic impact of this spill is expected to be tough on coastal businesses.  The better news is that this too shall pass - Mother Nature’s winds and tides cleaned up the Mexican spill (with some human help).  We should do better than the 1979 Ixtoc spill, in terms of capping the spill earlier and using improved technologies and mobilizing the clean up efforts.

*** MORE ***

Here’s the BP / Transocean website for the Deepwater Horizon Response:

Here’s a great roundup from Texas A&M:

Here are links to Alabama organizations that plan to help clean up the spill:

Right now they don’t seem to need volunteers (maybe as soon as tomorrow), but they are taking names (and donations) at their websites.  Also from the Baykeepers:

…the best thing we can do right now to prepare for oil making landfall is to clean up the shorelines. The less garbage and debris on shorelines the easier they are to clean up. We know the weather is not going to be friendly, but if you can get to your favorite shoreline today or tomorrow you can help speed up the clean up process.

DO NOT remove any live plants. Simply remove any garbage, large shells, drift wood, etc. Debris should be removed to the extent that wave and tides can reach.

That sounds like good advice no matter where you live…