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BP: oil spill in Gulf of Mexico « Previous | |Next »
May 28, 2010

BP's busted Deepwater Horizon oil well is spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico four times faster than BP claimed, eclipsing the 1989 Exxon-Valdez spill of 257,000 barrels of oil in Alaska. It is now the worst spill in US history. It's at least 75 million gallons threatening an environmental and economic catastrophe across hundreds of kilometres of the US Gulf Coast.

As the Gulf of Mexico becomes a sludge pit it is becoming a political problem for the Obama administration. And so it should. Obama has ordered a six-month freeze on the opening up of the waters of the Arctic to oil exploration and on the drilling of 33 deepwater wells in the Gulf of Mexico.


BP is pumping heavy mud into the leaking Gulf of Mexico well, hoping that this Top Kill tactic –will result in the mud overpowering the steady stream of oil. The company wants to eventually inject cement into the well to seal it. Before Top Kill” there was the “top hat” which failed, the “junk shot” which failed.

Fishermen, hotel and restaurant owners, politicians and residents along the coast are fed up with BP’s so far ineffective attempts to stop the leak that sprang after an offshore drilling rig exploded on April 20. Eleven workers were killed, and millions of gallons of crude have spilled into the Gulf, fouling Louisiana’s marshes, coating birds and other wildlife and curtailing fishing. It is proving difficult for reporters to visit the affected areas cos its BP oil. Corporate stonewalling.

The regulatory assumption has been that companies would regulate themselves and be competently monitored for the public good in a vigorous free-market economy. This is a long way from the true state of affairs. John Vidal in The real cost of cheap oil says that the Gulf disaster is only unusual for being so near the US. Elsewhere, Big Oil rarely cleans up its mess:

There are more than 2,000 major spillage sites in the Niger delta that have never been cleaned up; there are vast areas of the Colombian, Ecuadorian and Peruvian Amazon that have been devastated by spillages, the dumping of toxic materials and blowouts. Rivers and wells in Venezuela, Angola, Chad, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Uganda and Sudan have been badly polluted. Occidental, BP, Chevron, Shell and most other oil companies together face hundreds of outstanding lawsuits. Ecuador alone is seeking $30bn from Texaco.

The pursuit of maximum profit rules. BP and the rest of them continue to dominate our politics and despoil our planet. They will make billions, leave devastation in their wake, and get away with it cos their power is complete.

The oil giants can say good bye to a world in which self-regulation, green spin, and light public oversight is the order of the day. What comes next?

Top kill has failed to stem the flow of oil. There is a vast expanse of crude oil half an inch thick in the marshes off Louisiana with no visible sign of the BP or government clean-up efforts. BP continues to lowball the flow rate of the oil leak (they say it is 5,000 barrels a day, when it is more like 40,000 to 100,000 barrels a day) in an effort to reduce the amount of money it could be fined by the government.

The hard line small government conservatives, such as Gov. Bobby Jindal of the red state of Louisiana (its dependent on fishing and oil) is calling for help from the Federal government to act big. That cuts the ground under the Republican culture war attempt to defend free enterprise against European style statism.

Jindal stands for American exceptionalism and the virtues of economic laissez-faire. Well, BP stands for free enterprise. Will Jindal break ranks with the Republicans to put forth strong legislation that will make other oil companies be a hell of a lot more cautious about offshore drilling? Will he go against Big Oil and offshore drilling?

The Greenpeace Fickr stream plus their set for the Gulf oil spill --finally some decent photographs from behind the corporate blockade. They have a blog on the issue and they have boat in the area.

BP plans to put in place a second version of a containment dome, a strategy that failed earlier this month. Even if the cap works, it might not fit snugly enough to capture all the leaking oil. They need to drill relief wells. Obama is still relying on BP to do the right thing: clean up its mess, pay whatever it costs, and avoid the same mistakes in the future.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:42 PM | | Comments (19)


What has happened to the Republican campaign's cry of drill baby drill ( and consequences be damned) that was repeated prominently by the Tea Party darling, the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, as she kicked the “tree huggers”.

Have they gone quiet after the Gulf Coast oil spill? Is Palin still a superstar in conservative circles? Does she have the kiss of death?

Its still drill baby drill but not in my backyard cos its now "Spill, baby, spill"

BP has every financial incentive to downplay the scale of the spill and the damages.

Does Obama realise that the whole world is watching this debacle? With America's credibility hanging by a thread, the US govt appearing powerless in the face of Corporate Greed is NOT a good look. Then again, America's true power structure hardly a state secret, is it?

It does look as if BP and the US government have decided to use the Louisiana marshes and wetlands as a natural sink for the oil pollution.

We can no longer trust Big Oil. As pointed out here by Joseph Romm Big Oil has spent years deluding itself and others into thinking that this kind of spill was impossible and that preparing for one wasn't necessary. The new technology meant that a big blowout disaster was impossible.

I find it astounding that in all the years in which this type of oil rig has existed there has been no plan in place to deal with a disaster of this kind.
It isn't only B.P who is to blame it is an indication of the way in which our political powers have seen companies of this nature.
For far to long they have been an unregulated monalith and have in no way been forced to comply with environmental protections and contigencies. To politicians they are a seemingly untouchable force of economic progress and this attitude, this ideology of self importance has to change.
The ruptured pipeline should be covered with a giant slab of curved concrete and then heavy rubble on top of that so that the mud cn be pumped into the well to block it completely.

Karl Rove has his say in The Wall Street Journal --the Gulf Spill Is Obama's Katrina.

Can't they get a Predator drone to pop a precision laser-guided, stealth cork into the broken pipe??? Surely it's a "can-do" for the mighty eeunaated steeiits mulutury! boo-yah!

Drilling a release well may be the only way of stopping the flow of oil. That may take many months.

Even The Australian acknowledges that there are 12,000 to 19,000 barrels of crude oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico each day--not BP's 5000 barrels. What the Australian doesn't say is that there could be oil coming up until August when the relief wells…are finished.

The editorial even calls for tougher regulation:

the nature of the disaster demonstrates that deeper sea drilling requires more stringent safety and disaster recovery standards than those currently in place.

The usual News Ltd rant against nasty, evil environmentalists (eco-pessimists) taking us back to the stone age is missing. They are in a corner: Big Oil caused the spill, stopping the spill is BP’s responsibility, BP has a bad track record for safety and environmental protection, and industry assurances that it could deal with a worst-case scenario are empty.

It's time to shift to clean power.

Researchers say they have found at least two sprawling underwater plumes of what appear to be oil or oil derivatives, each hundreds of metres deep and stretching for miles. A plume reported last week by a team from the University of South Florida was headed toward the continental shelf off the Alabama coastline, waters thick with fish and other marine life.

does oil freeze?. Jack some liquid nitrogen down there take advantage of the cold and pressure. Afew tons of LN SHOULD do it


To touch a chink is no sense. Necessary is to construct around chink a steel pipe that it was possible to supervise oil on a surface and to take it in the tanker.

The fix is simple... LIQUID NITROGEN! Lots of it. :)

Constantine Balakiryan Concept for oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico – Constantine Balakiryan, PhD, Professor says “I have developed a concept to reduce the ecological catastrophe of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.”

In my opinion, the unique solution to reduce scales of ecological accident in Mexican Gulf is to immediately start downloading liquid nitrogen into the oil well’s breakthroughs.

The low temperature will increase the viscosity of oil and may even freeze it. The freezing will slow down the speed of emission of oil and make it easier to facilitate the collection of oil in the off shore sector.
BP has tried cement, mud and a dome to contain the oil spill. The “Top Kill” concept has not worked and will not work, it is dead concept.
So, BP wasted time with “top kill”? And a new plan “B” of the BP only exacerbates the ecological situation.

I contacted BP weeks ago about this type of concept as well as using LHydrogen. I own a mechanical contracting business in S. Louisiana and I've used, many times, LCO2 and LNitrogen injected jackets on piping over 12" to create long ice plugs that will hold up to 20,000 psi of oil or water, and the ice plug will stay iced for as long as you pump in the liquid. It's not new technology. International Flow Technologies is one of the companies that can do this. See their web site. BP could not tell me why they were not able to do this. I've contacted them many times, left phone and email messages + used their submission form. No one responds, except low level personnel.

I hope there is a reason for not attempting this procedure.

There needs to be WAY more information made public about what BP is doing, what they are attempting, and what they are planning.

This cap and cleanup mission needs to be taken over. It should have been taken over weeks ago... it's almost too late.

Hello there is a great company called planetresource to fix the problem there is a frrat animation of correcting this