Sunday, May 16, 2010

Giant oil plumes found under Gulf

Giant oil plumes found under Gulf

The Associated Press
In this image made from video taken by BP PLC on Tuesday, oil spews from a pipe into the Gulf of Mexico.
By Justin Gillis N.Y. Times News Service
Published: Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 11:32 p.m.
Scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick. The discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP have given.

“There’s a shocking amount of oil in the deep water, relative to what you see in the surface water,” said Samantha Joye, a researcher at the University of Georgia who is involved in one of the first scientific missions to gather details about what is happening in the gulf. “There’s a tremendous amount of oil in multiple layers, three or four or five layers deep in the water column.”
The plumes are depleting the oxygen dissolved in the Gulf, worrying scientists who fear that the oxygen level could eventually fall so low as to kill off much of the sea life near the plumes.
Joye said the oxygen had already dropped 30 percent near some of the plumes in the month that the broken oil well had been flowing.
“If you keep those kinds of rates up, you could draw the oxygen down to very low levels that are dangerous to animals in a couple of months,” she said on Saturday. “That is alarming.”
The plumes were discovered by scientists from several universities working aboard the research vessel Pelican, which sailed from Cocodrie, La., on May 3 and appears to be the first scientific expedition to gather extensive samples and information about the disaster in the gulf.
Scientists studying video of the gushing oil well have tentatively calculated that it could be flowing at a rate of 25,000 to 80,000 barrels of oil a day. But the government, working from satellite images of the ocean surface, has calculated a flow rate of only 5,000 barrels a day.

The undersea plumes may go a long way toward explaining the discrepancy, suggesting that much of the oil emerging from the well could be lingering far below the sea surface.
The scientists involved in the Pelican mission, which is backed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the federal agency that monitors the health of the oceans, are not certain why that would be. They say they suspect the heavy use of chemical dispersants, which BP has injected directly into the stream of oil emerging from the well, may have broken the oil up into droplets too small to rise rapidly.
BP said on Saturday at a briefing in Robert, La., that it had resumed undersea application of dispersants, after winning approval to do so the day before from the Environmental Protection Agency.
“It appears that the application of the subsea dispersant is actually working,” Doug Suttles, BP’s chief operating officer for exploration and production, said Saturday after flying over the area above the oil well. “The oil in the immediate vicinity of the well and the ships and rigs working in the area is diminished from previous observations.”
Many scientists had hoped the dispersants would cause oil droplets to spread so widely that they would be less of a problem in any one place. If it turns out that is not happening, the strategy of using the chemicals could come under greater scrutiny. Dispersants have never been used in an oil leak of this magnitude a mile under the ocean, and their effects at such depth are largely unknown.

Much about the situation below the water remains unclear, and the scientists stressed that their results were preliminary. After the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, they altered a previously scheduled research mission to focus on the effects of the leak.
Interviewed on Saturday by satellite phone, one researcher aboard the Pelican, Vernon Asper of the University of Southern Mississippi, said the shallowest oil plume the group had detected was at about 2,300 feet, while the deepest was near the sea floor at about 4,200 feet.
“We’re trying to map them, but it’s a tedious process,” Asper said.
“Right now it looks like the oil is moving southwest, not all that rapidly.”
He said the group had managed to take water samples from areas that had not yet been reached by oil, and would be able to compare those to later samples to judge the impact on the chemistry and biology of the ocean.
While they have detected the plumes and their effects with several types of instruments, the researchers are still not sure about the exact consistency of the plumes. They are almost certainly not solid bubbles of oil, Joye said, but are likely to be a mix of oil and water that could resemble salad dressing.
Joye is serving as a coordinator of the mission from her laboratory in Athens, Ga. Researchers from the University of Mississippi and the University of Southern Mississippi are aboard the boat taking samples and running instruments.
Joye said the findings about declining oxygen levels were especially worrisome, since oxygen is so slow to move from the surface of the ocean to the bottom. She suspects that oil-eating bacteria are consuming the oxygen at a feverish clip as they work to break down the undersea plumes.

While the oxygen depletion so far is not enough to kill off sea life, the possibility looms that oxygen levels could fall so low as to create large dead zones, especially at the sea floor. “That’s the big worry,” said Ray Highsmith, head of the Mississippi center that sponsored the mission, known as the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology.
The Pelican mission is due to end today, but the scientists are seeking federal support to resume it soon.
“This is a new type of event, and it’s critically important that we really understand it, because of the incredible number of oil platforms not only in the Gulf of Mexico but all over the world now,” Highsmith said. “We need to know what these events are like, and what their outcomes can be, and what can be done to deal with the next one.”


  1. So let me get this straight. There are research professors and students out there sampling the water column with sensitive depth guages-samplers, GC-Mass spectrometers, and GPS devices all on research boats, yet NOAA and BP say they're findings are "preliminary". I know who I believe; hint, the ones with the mass spectrometers. I won't be surprised if BP tries to prevent academics from collecting data with pressure from the Coast Guard.

  2. This oil spill is going to take a long time to get cleaned up completely. And it woll take many more years to get the Gulf of Mexico back to the way it was before this spill. This spill is huge yes, but it is not impossible to recovery from. It may take many years to recovery from this oil spill, but everyone and everything will recovery from this oil spill.

  3. There are very few human inhabitants of Prince William Sound (unlike the Gulf Coast), and at the macro-organism view, things look "clean", but grab a handful of beach sediment, raise it to your nose, breathe it in, and tell me it is clean. You say years; more like several hundred years.

  4. Live feed of the TOP KILL # 1

    By Dwight Baker
    May 26, 2010

    Rough draft has editing to do along with looking up the resource material NOTED.

    5/26/2010 4:46:39 PM CST side view of BOP view of a side mount monitor valve

    NOTES: It is incumbent now and perfectly clear ‘TO ME’ that sub sea completions are not good. For years they were shunned but then a come back began after I left oil and gas.

    I am reminded of the huge platform the Phillips Petroleum put in the North Sea that is an idea for the Deep Mississippi trench that bears research on how that could be done.
    The Ekofisk Complex

    Ekofisk is an oil field in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea, discovered in 1969. Production started in 1971 after the construction of a series of off-shore platforms by Phillips Petroleum

    The excessive pressures of the compressed oil and gas leaves me believing the billions of barrels of oil in place and the natural gas being the driving force must be re-charged along the way with salt water to keep the productions up for the maximum length of time.

    Sub Sea completions in our Gulf Coast area are not a good idea at all.

    I remembered when in oil and gas the sub sea well heads were just for exploratory wells only or where small amount of crude were expected to cut down the cost of building flotation drilling and completion ships moored to the sea bed.

    The amount of iron used on the BOP as just a back up while drilling is in my books not the way to go at all.

    Cameron Iron works likes to sell iron and the more they sell the more money they make but this proves to me, being out of oil and gas for about 12 years some one just dropped the damn ball.

    5/26/2010 4:59:25 PM rove has not changed positions no indication what is going on

    With Horizontal drilling being perfected in most ways a smaller ship size other than the one used by Phillips in the North Sea could be used to have a battery of surface well heads and control devices so that a 24/7 guardian could be on watch.

    Remembering again Shell had a huge project in the Mississippi trench area where completions were going to be on the surface drill ship. I will try to research and get data to share with others about the right way to go about exploring for oil and gas with safety first being the Golden Quest.

    5/26/2010 5:08:31 PM Pump time has been long enough to do what their game plan called for; I have my doubts that it worked as planned.

    Now maybe they will do as I suggested and use regular Oil and Gas methods to tame nature.

    When I began watching about one hour ago there was about 7500 viewers now the number has jumped up to 32,000 5/26/2010 5:14:21 PM

    Brazil is drilling in deep water and has enormous drill ships that appear to be set up errantly over the productive zones. Will check that out later on and report

    Obviously the controller of the ROVE has been instructed to stay away from the flow of fluids for a reason.

    5/26/2010 5:18:34 PM

    5/26/2010 5:56:09 PM a neighbor come by had to be away looks like the rove changed positions. 9,346 viewers different color of the flumes

  5. Live feed of the TOP KILL #2
    By Dwight Baker

    5/26/2010 5:59:50 PM appears the flow has begun to slow down

    5/26/2010 6:01:55 PM it appears success is in the making

    5/26/2010 6:02:58 PM NO the flumes are back in the same place and the color is that of oil
    5/26/2010 6:04:53 PM the flumes just change colors now they are denser and the color is darker

    NOTE: the likelihood of this working as planned is not good. BP must tame the nature that got let loose. I thought some time ago that the only way to do it was with huge volumes being shot down from the top where the 20 riser is--- using 7” heavy wall casing to hold the over shot in place while using regular oil field was of cementing.

    The over all problems with this idea are that calculations of what went where why and how cannot be done.

    Using my idea the fluids and solids would have been deployed and the only place they could have gone is down hole. Thus ending the need to drill more relief wells, which is a great cost.

    My fear using this current technique is that a leak could come back in time even if stopped for a time.
    5/26/2010 6:10:58 PM all looks to be the same as 10 minutes ago----

    NOTE: channeling of the cement could be going on and if so then I have doubts that this works.

    5/26/2010 6:15:16 PM will check out know got to take a much needed break

    5/26/2010 6:18:24 PM back again the left plume seems to be getting larger in size at the base could be eroding the iron away. 6863 viewers seems many go cold feet

    5/26/2010 6:23:01 PM it appears that pumping media and cementing has been change a bit I have high hopes that they can find the right mixture to get this wrong job done right

    5/26/2010 6:24:30 PM looks like the plumes are as they were an hour or so ago, they may call a halt to this ill-conceived plan. 6930 viewers

    NOTE; the bottom hole sea floor pressure is about 21,600 PSI the flowing well pressure is more than that but the differential is what we are dealing with, the Thunderhose a well of BP in the Deep Mississippi trench has a flowing pressure about 20,000 PSI from the best sources I can find. Thus the differential pressure BP is dealing with might only be 1 to 2,000 PSI , but pressure and volume has little to do with one another, as note the Thunderhorse is reported to be flowing 1 million Barrels of oil per day.

    5/26/2010 6:33:45 PM my heart goes out for the men doing the work that had high hopes of bringing about success, but many men that have been in Oil and Gas for years have more common sense and reason about things like this than all the PhD’s one could ever find.

    5/26/2010 6:37:24 PM I believe I am seeing large chunks of media being pumped along with the cement that works but for a bit of time then comes out

    5/26/2010 6:39:02 PM still pumping lost circulation media material of some kind looks like very large chunks.

    NOTE: on this procedure that BP got sold some how, the reason it was failed was that the height of the turn around of cement going in the bottom of the BOP’s was not enough to ever have time to begin to set up with the well flowing about 70,000 barrels of oil a day and unmeasured amount of natural gas with only a small column height of heavy drilling mud designed to hold all that back.

    5/26/2010 6:46:53 PM that procedure of cement and media mixture only worked for a brief time just enough to give a little hope but the flumes are back as they were. 6720 viewers.

    NOTE: BP as a company has many good employees but I doubt how many good executives they have on staff, the few I have seen on TV do not impress me as being an Oil and Gas man driven by purpose.

  6. Live feed of the TOP KILL # 3
    By Dwight Baker

    5/26/2010 6:54:24 PM appears they have pumped more of the lost material media I think I am seeing chunks coming out of the flumes.

    NOTE: should this attempt fail then the next plan they have might even be worse the top hat that they reported is setting on the sea floor.
    Now the problem with that device as planned to use will bring up to surface oil gas and seawater. And without BP using an 8 to 10 inch pipe above the top hat to do that, then oil and gas will still remain to escape at the source at the top of the BOPS coming out into the ocean.

    FINAL NOTE; BP had a failed plan to begin with and that is too bad for all the good folks around the Gulf.

    REASON BEING: the piping that was shown in the pictures that was sent out could have never been able to pump 500 barrels of fluid per minute into the BOP and that is what would have been required to resist the flowing oil and not gas coming up.

    Dimensions of a 500 bbl frac tank Overall - 45‘2" long, 8‘ 6" wide, 9‘10" tall to top of roof rafters. Capacity - 500bbl

    NOW what is NEXT? 5/26/2010 7:10:06 PM

    CHECKING BACK IN 5/26/2010 10:17 PM About 3 hours and nothing has changed.

    5/26/2010 10:38 PM

    Saw a report on CNN looks like things are not what that have been reported. Mr. Tony Hayward seems not to keen about getting in front of a Camera NOT STAGED.

    5/26/2010 11:20 PM still no change

    5/26/2010 11:50 PM no signal being received off to bed am tired.

    5/27/2010 10:17 AM they are back on the air—rove showing some part of the BOP a box? Of some kind is held in suspension using a rope? NO it is just suspended some how, the top of the BOP can be seen, appears one of the hands on the rove is trying to affix to some kind of object CAN’T TELL.

    5/27/2010 10:31 AM now the rove is close to one of the lines nippled up to the BOP supplying drilling mud from the surface.

  7. Live feed of the TOP KILL #4
    By Dwight Baker

    5/27/2010 3:48 PM back again---same thing going on --- no change as far as I am concerned. The only way BP can ever tame nature is to tame nature right now BP is trying to tease nature. And nature does like to try to be fooled.

    5/27/2010 6:45 PM back again---Common Dreams has reported that the Top Kill has been declared a success, that no more oil or gas is coming from the well, here again to try and see some pictures of a quite and peaceful sea bed.
    The rove is pointed at the BOP section at this time.
    I can see movement in the water around the BOP but have no idea what is causing it, to early to tell.

    5/27/2010 7:22 PM back again BP shut down the feed from the rove, before that time the arm on the rove was moving around the BOP. 3239 viewers

    5/27/2010 7:27 PM back on the air the flumes have not changed in color and quantity of material and velocity. In fact at this time the quantity of material and velocity looks more intense.

    NOTE: with the flowing fluids of the oil and gas zone below at or about 70,000 bbls per day or 500 bbls per minute and the pump rate at 50 bbls per minute I can see no change at all in quantity of material and velocity of the fluids moving out of the broken BOP or stack height area. The location of the rove is almost the exact same position as when this first aired, thus in my recollection seems matters are worse than before.

    Therefore if subsidence of the oil and gas has been a claim by BP of the matters being improved, I simply suggest they are lying about the real results.

    FOLKS this is so disheartening to watch a lie in progress. WHY is it a lie? ‘Lets keep BP on the hook’ leave on the rove cameras and shut down the pumping from above and lets us see if the material stops coming out. That is the only proof that will be worthy of calling a halt to this effort.

    5/27/2010 7:50 PM the same amount in quantity of material and velocity of the fluids moving is the same as when this live feed began. Too bad for all the workers.

    NOTE; the amount of heavy weight drilling mud that BP has been pumping is a chunk of change. It is very expensive, so much so it is moved from one drilling site to another after being cleaned etc.

    5/27/2010 8:06 PM the rove while I was away seems to have moved a bit and the flumes are looking some different--- will get a read on what they have done moving the rove 3275 viewers

    5/27/2010 8:14 PM time to check out for a bit and check for more news on BP shutting down the leaks or the success of the TOP KILL.


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