One Leak Stopped, Well Still Leaking 5,000 BPD, Could Hit 60,000 BPD

BP Stopped One Leak From Gulf of Mexico Oil Well

BP Plc has stopped one of three oil leaks from its well in the Gulf of Mexico, advancing efforts to end a spill after a drilling rig sank last month, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

Crews successfully closed a valve installed yesterday, stopping leakage from a section of drill pipe severed from the well when the rig sank, John Curry, spokesman for London-based BP, said today. There is no change in the official estimate that the well is leaking 5,000 barrels of oil a day, he said.

The leak that’s been stopped was much smaller than the primary source of the spill which is coming from severed drill pipe still attached to the well, Curry said. Brandon Blackwell, a Coast Guard spokesman, said earlier today the valve had stopped a leak near the well head.

BP and the Coast Guard have said there’s potential for greater leakage from the well because something has kept it from flowing at a full rate. Cause of the constriction may be a partially closed valve or a kink in the pipe, Suttles has said.

The leak could surge to 60,000 barrels a day if plans to cap it with a containment dome fail, Representative Edward Markey said yesterday after meeting with industry executives.

Using Detergent-Like Chemicals to Breakup Spill

British Petroleum is using detergents to breakup oil into microbe digestible snacks. The only problem is it will take a thousand years to work.

Please consider Detergent-Like Chemicals Turn Oil Into Microbe Snacks

BP Plc is fighting the oil slick menacing the Gulf Coast with more than 160,000 gallons of a detergent-like chemical intended to break the oil down into tiny digestible particles.

The chemicals use the Gulf waves as a giant washtub to scrub the oil from the water, eventually dropping it to the seafloor where deep-sea microbes will feast on it for centuries, said James N. Butler, a professor emeritus of applied chemistry at Harvard University who has studied dispersants.

While dispersants can help reduce the thick oil slick, the oil will still be out there, said Carl Hacker, resident ecologist at the University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston. The oil molecules could linger for a “geologic” period of time, perhaps thousands of years, said Terry Wade, deputy director at the Geochemical and Environmental Research Group at Texas A&M; University in College Station, Texas.

BP is mounting a multipronged defense against the oil slick, using skimmer boats to scoop oil from the water’s surface, placing booms to repel it from shorelines, and burning the oil at sea. None of those methods, including dispersants, will be able to eliminate the oil threat, according to researchers who have studied cleanups.

“Once the oil reaches the shore, there are very few options,” said Pedro Alvarez, chairman of civil and environmental engineering at Rice University in Houston.

It takes five to 10 years for a shore to recover when oil reaches it, said Alvarez at Rice University. Using dispersants and other biotechnology can cut that time to two to four years, he said.

The chemicals are low in toxicity, but spread the oil further, potentially exposing more sea life, Henry said. The agencies decided that using chemicals at sea was preferable to allowing the oil to come ashore, where it would have a more deadly effect on wildlife and fisheries, he said.

BP Cited For 13 Safety Violations

Bloomberg reports BP Cited for 13 Safety Violations at Washington Plant

BP Plc’s Cherry Point refinery in Washington state has been cited for 13 “serious safety violations” by state regulators.

The inspection focused on the hydrocracker, the refinery’s largest process unit, according to a statement from Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries, the state agency responsible for occupational safety and health.

The agency found 12 process safety management problems, including failure to routinely inspect or maintain safety control devices. The citations carry a total fine of $69,200.

One violation noted that there were 38 safety recommendations for which there was no record of implementation. BP’s process safety at Cherry Point and the company’s four other U.S. plants was reviewed by an independent panel led by former Secretary of State James Baker III in 2006. That review followed an explosion that killed 15 people and injured more than 180 at BP’s refinery in Texas City, Texas, in March 2005.

BP said it needs more time to review the alleged violations.

BP Needs More Time?

A $69,200 fine is all they got. With that fine, BP might take 20 years to investigate.

Schwarzenegger No Longer Supports Oil Drilling

A 600 mile circumference oil slick was enough to change the California Governor’s mind. Please consider Schwarzenegger No Longer Supports Oil Drilling

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday withdrew his support of a plan to expand oil drilling off the California coast, citing the massive oil spill that resulted from a drilling rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

The announcement assures that no new drilling will take place off the state’s coastline in the foreseeable future because Schwarzenegger would have to include the drilling proposal in his May revision of the state budget.

Speaking at a news conference near Sacramento, the governor said television images of the oil spill in the Gulf have changed his mind about the safety of ocean-based oil platforms.

“You turn on the television and see this enormous disaster, you say to yourself, ‘Why would we want to take on that kind of risk?”‘ Schwarzenegger said.

This is a repeat play of a “1969 blowout on a Union Oil Co. platform off the Santa Barbara coast fouled miles (kilometers) of ocean and beaches that led to a moratorium on offshore drilling.”

Temporary Dome Solution

CBN News says Dome to be Temporary Solution for Oil Spill

A short-term solution for bottling up the Gulf Coast oil spill is on the way.

On Wednesday afternoon, a barge will haul a 100-ton containment dome to the spill site 50 miles off shore. It is designed to siphon gushing oil into waiting barges on the surface. But such domes have never been tried at such depth — about 5,000 feet down — so it is unclear how well or if it will work.

Experts believe the well is spewing at least 200,000 gallons of oil a day in what could become the country’s worst environmental crisis.

The spill has forced President Barack Obama to freeze his plan to expand offshore drilling.

http://downloads.cbn.com/cbnnewsplayer/cbnplayer.swf?aid=15510

Tighter Regulations Coming

The Wall Street Journal reports US Oil Spill To Have Impact On All Companies

The oil spill from a BP PLC (BP) well in the Gulf of Mexico will have an impact on all companies operating in the region, including the likelihood of tighter regulations and slower opening of new exploration areas, Statoil ASA’s (STO) Chief Financial Officer, Eldar Saetre, said Wednesday.

In response to the accident, President Barack Obama’s administration has suspended plans to open up new areas of U.S. water to oil drilling. Florida governor Charlie Crist and California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger have come out against drilling off their states’ coastlines since the accident.

Gulf Oil Spill Trajectory

Inquiring minds might be interested in the projected trajectory of the spill.

May 5 – May 7 Projected Trajectory

Click on chart to enlarge.

The map shows seabird nesting locations and potential beach impacts. There are more maps in the above link.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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