Sunday, May 16, 2010

Put a Lid on It

George Costanza with the Titleist fix

We are in the same boat, and we're seasick
--G.K. Chesterton

But I dillied and dallied, dallied and I dillied

Lost me way and don't know where to roam

--My Old Man
, Marie Lloyd

Right now, there are 600 Titleists that I got

at the driving range in the trunk of my car.

Why don't we drive out to Rockaway and

hit 'em...
into the ocean?
, Seinfeld (The Marine Biologist)

What do you do when you have a lot of toxic fluid spewing forth from a pipe sticking out of the ocean's floor? Well, BP really hasn't any idea, so it's borrowing from semi-analogous situations in terrestrial life.

First it was the LEGO-like roof or diaphragm non-solution, if you will. No go -- the flow was too incessant. Could be 5,000 barrels a day, other models say up to 80,000 barrels
(Giant Plumes of Oil Forming Under the Gulf.) No way to know because when oceanographers from Wood's Hole offered this week to give a definitive measure, BP turned them back saying it would not affect their efforts anyway.

Yesterday it was
the sippy-cup solution (a tube surrounded by a stopper), which Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said had run into indeterminate problems (Latest Effort to Stop Leak Hits Snag). Clearly, BP is grasping at straws.

Reports today say the pipe part of the sippy cup was successfully inserted into the pipe on the ocean's floor, but BP says there is no way to know how much oil is being sucked up. "At optimum this pipe will suck up 75% from the most significant tube, leaking 85% of the oil." This means if everything is perfect, this "fix" will only suck up ~64% of the oil being released.

Using the 25,000 barrel per day figure as a charitable mid point between what BP says is being released and computer modeling, that means
9,125 barrels per day will continue to flood the Gulf. As the final fix (another well) cannot be completed for at least two months, that means this spill will still exceed that of the Exxon Valdez sometime next month. (Even at BP's lower estimate of 5,000 barrels/day, their fix leaves 1,813 barrels escaping daily, still exceeding their cheery initial estimates of 1,000 barrels per day.)

The spill has also most likely
entered the loop current, the largest in the Gulf, which will take the oil around to the Eastern US coast.

"Junk Shot" is next: "The method involves pumping odds and ends like plastic cubes, knotted rope, even golf balls — Titleists or whatever, BP isn’t saying — into the blowout preventer, the safety device atop the well" (Junk Shot is Next Step). This one is straight out of a Seinfeld episode, when the hapless Kramer lodged a Tilteist in a whale's blow hole providing a glory moment for opportunist George, who feigns being a marine biologist.

It is all a bunch of schmegegge. It is closing the barn door after the horse is out. It's going to couple's counseling after you've been loathing each other for years. It's just not gonna work. And nothing will set the Gulf back to where it was a month ago. This "accident" will foul our ecosystem for decades or more.

The booms or dams which are set up in hopes of holding the oil offshore are notoriously flimsy, and a friend tells me some are already collapsing in the wind. It is like using a condom after an ejaculation
(Officials' forecast grim about massive oil spill), and calling the resultant pregnancy a "miracle baby" after that one unfortuitous shot.

It is just as wrong as Texas Governor Rick Perry's announcement that the spill was an
"act of god" -- it is nothing of the sort. It is humans screwing up as they are wont to do, and looking for a justification. There is none; in both cases the buck stops with Piss Poor Prior Planning.

BP has also been using tons of chemical dispersants both on the ocean floor and on the surface. This deep use has never been done before, and the chemical manufacturers will not release their composition citing proprietary interests
(In Gulf of Mexico, Chemicals Under Scrutiny.)

The main dispersants applied so far, from a product line called Corexit, had their approval rescinded in Britain a decade ago due to limpet die off, and the bacteria that feed off the dispersants (as well as the oil) deplete the oxygen in the Gulf. One report says "a few countries forbid their use because their long-term effects are
somewhat uncertain" (Methane Bubble May Have Triggered Oil Rig Blast), but that is a squidgy statement -- something is either certain, or not.

It was reported today that giants plumes of oil lie throughout the Gulf -- too numerous to count. Some are up to 10 miles long and three miles wide. The oxygen content around the plumes is reduced by 30%.

Recent hearings in Washington and
Louisiana "uncovered a checklist of unseen breakdowns on largely unregulated aspects of well safety that apparently contributed to the April 20 blowout aboard the Deepwater Horizon: a leaky cement job, a loose hydraulic fitting, a dead battery. Company officials insist what caused the accident is not yet clear" (BP's Next Try to Stem Oil Gusher: Smaller Tube.)

Unseen, but not UNFORESEEN. I understand the need to offset journalistic liability, but it seems we would be on safe footing to declare that these failures DID contribute, though the degree of culpability assigned to each failure is a guessing game.

A tragedy has occurred due to greed and lax oversight. Where have we heard that before? An accident at the deepest oils well yet drilled should have been an anticipated eventuality, and every protection should have been in place.

Instead, we are fed the lie that this was
"inconceivable". Just as with the Miracle Baby, it is all quite conceivable, and preventable. Humans are so good at self-deception.

UPDATE (5.17.10):

AP reports:

"BP PLC chief operating officer Doug Suttles said Monday on NBC's "Today" that a mile-long tube was funneling a little more than 42,000 gallons of crude a day from a blown-out well into a tanker ship.

"That would be about a fifth of the 210,000 gallons the company and the U.S. Coast Guard have estimated are gushing out each day, though scientists who have studied video of the leak say it could be much bigger and even BP acknowledges there's no way to know for sure how much oil there is.

Speaking of the uncounted oil plumes discovered this weekend, Samantha Joye, a professor of marine sciences at the University of Georgia says:

"The discovery of these plumes argues that a lot more oil and gas is coming out of that well every day, and I think everybody has gotten that fact except BP," she said (Worry that Gulf Oil Spreading Into Major Current.)

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Anonymous Choloazul said...

Why does Royal Tenebaum come to mind?

Monday, May 17, 2010 at 2:15:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Depressing! When considering my country, I often come close to the primary sin of despair.

Jay in N.C.

Monday, May 17, 2010 at 7:42:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

What happens IF the new well that is dug to alleviate this spill also crashes?
The new well is not a remedy until it's operating and then it too is a potential problem.
You are right- nobody has a clue as to a solution.

Monday, May 17, 2010 at 7:50:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You just can't make this stuff up.

Monday, May 17, 2010 at 10:42:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Methinks I'll drive me Hummer over to McD's..
I could use some fries with that.
Starbucks anyone?

the little thingie i had to type to enter this comment said "hurtso"

All this would be funny if'n it didn't hurtso.
But it ain't.

Zimmy said "When you gonna wake up,
And strengthen the things that remain?"

David Vest said : "Not this fool."

Who said; "It sure was good, while it lasted?"

Oh boy.


Monday, May 17, 2010 at 11:50:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


You've nailed the dysfunctional and tendentious nature of the family (gov't/oil/Halliburton).

They were like undeveloped adults at the hearings, weren't they?

Monday, May 17, 2010 at 11:55:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thank you, jo.

My connex with the Anne Coulter world was delighted yesterday at some news of a chemical which, when combined with oil, "folds up like neat mats!" I asked him if he knew of the toxicity of this chemical, and if it could ring the entire Gulf, surface to benthic zones.

I s'pose we should all pop open a cold one over the Good News.

Monday, May 17, 2010 at 11:59:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


It seems like we wake up when it's too late, once the show's over.

That's what intermissions are for (or the well-placed pause): A time to decide to whether to stay, leave, or whether to be a second-acter. Most people just statically slog out it out through the whole miserable mess and say, "That was awful".

Then we let our eyelids droop again, squinting through life.

Monday, May 17, 2010 at 7:13:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous tw said...

And last week Chevron started drilling a well 2.5 km deep off the east coast of Canada. And the gov't of British Columbia is still trying to develope an offshore oil industry on the west coast where we regularly have 30' waves and 100+ MPH winds. As usual, money is the only voice that's heard.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 at 1:00:00 AM GMT-5  

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