[News] Hold on to Your Hats: This Thing's Gonna Blow!

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jul 15 19:40:38 EDT 2010

Published on This Can't Be Happening 

Hold on to Your Hats: This Thing's Gonna Blow!

By Anonymous
Created 07/15/2010 - 15:34
Dave LIndorff

What the hell are they thinking in Washington, and down at the 
"Unified Command" in New Orleans, letting BP try to close off the oil 
volcano spewing out the top of the damaged Blowout Preventer (BOP) stack?

And what the hell is the mainstream press doing not asking about the 
clear evidence of oil or gas spewing out under pressure from cracks 
in the seafloor around the base of the BOP? (See the image of oil 
spewing from the sea floor 

Sure the initial partial closing of the valves is working, but they 
haven't built up much pressure yet, and a lot could go wrong. 
seriously wrong, and there's good reason to think it will.

I made a call to the media office of the Unified Command, the office 
set up to respond to public and media inquiries about the disaster, 
which is supposedly composed of people from the US Coast Guard, other 
federal agencies, and BP. When I mentioned the videos taken by BP's 
own remote operating vehicles (ROVs) of the oil and/or gas spewing 
from cracks in the sea floor, I was told I had to call the press 
office in Houston, "because you're asking us a question about the 
sub-surface well."

But here's the thing. The press office in Houston is not run by the 
Unified Command. The people at the office there answer the phone with 
the phrase: "BP Press." They do this because they are BP employees, 
and the office is in BP headquarters.

This means if you want to know anything about the structural 
integrity of the well below the BOP, you have to get that information 
from BP, not from the government. That's the same BP that told 
government regulators that they could handle any emergency. The same 
BP that assured us when the well blew that the spill was just leaking 
1000 barrels of oil a day--a figure that appears to have been 
knowingly understated by a factor of 50 to 100.

Now, when I called BP I got a PR guy with a Brit accent named Toby 
Odone, who claimed he was "not aware of any oil leaking around the 
well itself."

He also said, "We're pretty certain that there is no oil leaking 
around the well that shouldn't be there."

How then to explain their own ROV videos, showing exactly that? Odone 
assured me he'd "get back" with an answer. So far, no answer.

Odone also said something else that was disturbing in its facileness. 
He said that the relief wells were within feet of the original bore, 
and that they had "not detected any hydrocarbons." This, he assured 
me, meant that there was no leak from the casing. But I pointed out 
that those side wells had been drilled from a mile away, on a slant, 
so that they only approached the original well during the last 
quarter mile or so from the bottom of the 18000-foot bore. They were 
nowhere near the bore during the first several miles of casing, so 
they can offer no clue as to the integrity of the bore above the 
first quarter mile or so above the oil reservoir. Odone agreed that 
this was true.

I also put a call in to the US Energy Department, which is supposedly 
monitoring the science of this disaster and which put the attempted 
shut-down of the well on hold for 48 hours earlier this week while 
seismic tests were conducted to try and determine the integrity of 
the casing that goes from the BOP down to the oil reservoir. A press 
officer at the DOE asked me to provide a link to the ROV video of the 
oil leaking from the sea bed, and promised to get back to me with an 
explanation of the department's thinking about that. So far, no 
response or explanation. Clearly, though, the Energy Department is 
worried that shutting down the flow entirely at the top of the stack 
could cause such high pressures inside the casing that it will blow a 
crack in the pipe and allow the oil and gas to push upward outside of 
the control of the pipe.

That's why they are closing the top of the pipe slowly, monitoring 
the pressure all the time. If they can shut it down and the pressure 
rises to 9000 lbs/square inch or more, which is roughly the pressure 
at which the oil is coming up from below ground, then they will know 
that the integrity of the pipe has been preserved, but if they cannot 
get the pressure to build beyond 6000 or so lbs/square inch, it would 
mean that the casing has been compromised, and they would not be able 
to shut the flow down from the top. leaving successful completion of 
a relief well as the only possible shut-down option.

But here's the question: If we can already see oil, or perhaps gas, 
blowing out of cracks around the BOP, doesn't this mean that 
somewhere below ground, the casing has already breached? And if it 
has already blown open, isn't any attempt to shut down the flow and 
build up the pressure in the well just threatening to worsen whatever 
break already exists? Especially since BP and the government say that 
this "fix," even if it works and doesn't blow the tube or burst the 
damaged BOP, is only a temporary fix, until the relief well is 
drilled and the well is plugged at the bottom. Meanwhile, instead of 
this risky attempt to shut the well at the top, they could be just 
attaching pipes to collect all the oil in tankers on the surface, at 
minimal risk to the wellhead and the casing.

Why isn't the Energy Department or the Coast Guard addressing this 
question of the threat to the well? Why has no reporter at the 
regular daily briefings hosted by retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen 
asked this question?

It seems to me a fairly safe prediction that as they crank shut the 
opening at the top of the well, the oil pushing up from below at 9000 
lbs/square inch of pressure, or even 6000 lbs/square inch of 
pressure, is going to push through whatever leaks already exist in or 
around the well casing, and will be blowing up through the ground 
around the BOP. If it's bursting out through those cracks already, 
while the pipe is wide open, there should be little doubt that it 
will burst out even more powerfully when the top of the pipe is 
capped. That's grade-school physics.

And if things do go badly, as the oil and gas blow out of the casing 
and push their way up through the fractured well hole and the poorly 
set concrete that was put down there by Halliburton to fill the well 
bore, it will widen the pathways to the surface, probably following 
new fracture lines that will have it coming out even further from the 
well hole. In no time, we will have oil spewing from a wide are of 
sea floor which will make it impossible to collect.

I don't claim to be a geologist, engineer or oil well expert, and I 
don't want to be an alarmist, but having seen the images of oil 
spewing up from the sea floor, I have enough basic scientific 
understanding to know that the casing has to have been already 
breached, and that anything that increases the pressure on that 
damaged casing is only going to make things worse.

So why are they trying to close down the well from the top?

I'm just asking, because nobody else seems to be.

Source URL: 

[1] http://www.thiscantbehappening.net/www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2RxIQP0IBU"

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