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Monday, May 03, 2010

Oh, just swell.
Posted by Jill | 7:58 PM
Just when you think it can't possibly be any worse:
The problem with the April 20 spill is that it isn't really a spill: It‘s a gush, like an underwater oil volcano. A hot column of oil and gas is spurting into freezing, black waters nearly a mile down, where the pressure nears a ton per inch, impossible for divers to endure. Experts call it a continuous, round-the-clock calamity, unlike a leaking tanker, which might empty in hours or days.


Accidents have occurred before in which oil has gushed from damaged wells, he said. But he knew of none in water so deep.

And "everything is bigger and more difficult the deeper you go," said Andy Bowen, a research specialist who works with undersea robotics at the Woods Hole center. "Fighting gravity is tough. It increases loads. You need bigger winches, bigger cables, bigger ships."

An analogy, he said, is the difference between construction work on the ground versus at the top of a mile-high skyscraper.

To BP falls the daunting task of trying to stop the gush before it becomes the most damaging spill in American history. If the flow is not stopped, it will exhaust the natural reservoir of oil beneath the sea floor, experts say. Many months, at least, could pass.

And if that happens, all the drill baby drill in the world won't save us.

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Anonymous Curmudgeon said...
The LA Times hack seems to be implying that the worst case scenario is the Macondo well releasing all oil currently under the Gulf of Mexico. That's not possible.

The worst case scenario would be 100,000+ barrels a day, for decades, until the reservoir under Macondo is depleted. That's a catastrophe, but it's not the same as the entire Gulf of Mexico running dry.

If none of BP's quick fixes work, the most likely scenario is 5000-25000 barrels a day for a few months until the relief wells hit and Macondo is flooded with cement.