Oil Surging From Sea Floor Near BP Well

by Fintan Dunne, 11 August 2010 11amEST

Bad news. An undersea robot video capture by website FloridaOilSpillLaw is showing clouds of raw black crude oil surging out of the sea floor near BP's Gulf well --where only light seeps of gases were seen before:


from live feed from Ocean Intervention ROV 1, Aug 11, 2010 03:00 EDT - Source
Watch Live Feeds Now Leak monitoring: Rov1 and Rov2

BP has deliberately blurred the video to hamper clear sight of what is going on. That's not a new development. In the last week BP have put software filters on the undersea ROV feeds to change the contrast and blur the picture. Those filters were aimed at hiding modest seeps of methane hydrate or methane. Now with something much bigger to hide, we can expect BP to do what they have done before: shut off the feeds or re-run old video from before this latest leak.

What we are witnessing (with difficulty) is the percolation of oil up through the strata in the sea floor. As the oil rises it is fractionated so that lighter hydrocarbons are first to come out of the sea floor. This seepage has been ongoing since BP cemented in the well at the top. They sealed the pipe, but there is oil coming up the outside of the pipe and spreading via small fractures around the bore. The first seepage was light hydrocarbons. Now raw crude oil is pumping out.

Officials managing the spill are likely well aware of the problem. In response to a question from the Washington Post, at a press briefing on 9th August 2010, Thad Allen admitted that there may be oil outside the pipe:
Press Briefing, August 9, 2010 - Joel Achenbach (Washington Post):

...is there some concern that there are hydrocarbons in the annulus..?

Admiral Allen: … We do not know the status of the annulus, OK?

It, there could be nothing in it or it could be full of hydrocarbons. It could be full of hydrocarbons that are being pressured up from the reservoir....

...there could be a way that because of the seals at the top of the annulus between that and the well head there could be a path for hydrocarbons to go forward. We’ve never known that from the, from the beginning…Source

The next stage in the deterioration of the BP well will see a steady increase in the volume of crude emerging from the sea floor. If BP allows us to see. We cannot rely on the veracity of the BP's live ROV feeds.

In a comprehensive article on the causes and solutions of the well blowout, BK Lim a geo-hazard consultant to oil companies, has argued that shutting in the well at the top (as BP has done), poses significant risk of an uncontrollable oil eruption outside the well bore:
"As only the light hydrocarbons (methane) filter or seep through the Quaternary Sediment layers, no oil seeps would be evident at the sea floor yet. The oil would remain buried beneath the sea floor until weaknesses in the sediment developed into cracks big enough to result in active oil seeps (which would also mean a near calamity). By then the hot oil and gases from the reservoir may have tilted the world into an irreversible ecological disaster, by warming up and vaporising strata of methane hydrates into gas. The result would be an exponential increase in dissolved methane in the deep waters of the Gulf and eventually into our atmosphere. No one knows how much methane hydrates lay beneath the Gulf sea floor.

But one thing is for sure. The longer the gushing well stays “top capped”, the more severe is the environmental damage. There is no logical reason why the gushing oil could not be tapped through the LMRP TOP CAP with a floating platform or subsea facilities; rather shutting it off completely to cause further damage to the fragile sub-seabed structure and sediment." Source

Sealing the top of the well had PR advantages for BP. But the decision to follow this path a couple of weeks ago was at the time the subject of considerable "debate" (read: heated argument) between BP and the Obama scientific team.

Eventually BP reassured it's critics by admitting the dangers but arguing that through careful monitoring of temperature, acoustic and pressure data they could reopen the well before any sea floor leakage became a serious issue.

Looks like it's a serious issue now.

So what next? Will authorities admit the emergence of crude at the sea floor? Likely no. Will they re-open the well? Dumb question. We await Thad Allen's briefing this afternoon at 3pm CDT on 11th August, 2010.

Addendum 1:
In case you are inclined to dismiss the ROV video above from early on August 11, 2010 you might like to view this ROV video by FloridaOilSpillLaw from two days before on the 9th August. In this ten times speed-up video, you can see clouds of hydrocarbons. The situation has worsened in the last two days. Notice you don't see the heavy blurring which is evident in our headline video.


Live feed Ocean Intervention III ROV 1, Aug 9, 2010 at 6:17 p.m. EDT - Source


Addendum 2:
In case you are inclined to dismiss claims that BP is filtering undersea ROV feeds, you might like to view this video from an article by Alexander Higgins on 10th August. The video unquestionably shows three different instances of BP applying live filters to the ROV feeds.



Addendum 3:
The following graphic is from a series of illustrations by BK Lim to accompany an article on the BP blowout: Why is BP's Macondo blowout so disastrous & Beyond Patch-up. Notice that in addition to seepage around the well, some oil may be following a fault line to emerging from the sea floor miles away.


Source

Comments

  1. Fintane,

    I agree with this entirely. I have spent many hours watching the ROV's late at night and have witnessed (my jaw dropped) Boa Deep C 2 scanning the sea floor within 3 hours after the well was capped. What I saw was cracks, gysers of oil and methane gas coming up from the sea floor. BP can try and hide it, but when this thing blows, the truth will be known. Then panic.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am stunned. This is the first time I read about this, and I can't believe the created issues are just covered up. In the end this will come out.
    But not before the whole thing has created issues with 'Biblical' proportions.....
    Here in Europe there is not particularly much awareness of this (of course the BP issue is known), but eventually this will hit the whole planet.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Poorly written, researched and thought out article, that barely merits and F for FAIL! Your entire hypothesis for clouds of methane and oil rising from the sea floor has no merit what so ever and you link to a BK Lin article that has been widely discredited by oil industry experts, even the basic premis that the Macondo well was drilled on the edge of a salt dome is factually incorrect, a simple review of the MMS documents and coordinates for the well show this is not the case.

    Most of your video's you link too show sediment disturbance by ROV thruster activity. I will not deny there is some seepage from the sea floor, but this is not a clear indication of casing failure or annulus flow. seepage from the GOM sea floor is a natural occurrence, as has been documented way before the macondo well was drilled.

    If there was geysers of oil as you have suggested elsewhere, this would show on the surface, yet currently no oil is showing on the surface of the ocean anywhere near the site.

    This is just another poorly written and researched article, designed to put fear into the local population and raise your own profile at the expense of other peoples fears. If you really want to blog about this disaster then please research it properly and when your "research" is dismissed by oil industry people with real world experience do not continue to post it to raise baseless worries and fears in people that do not know better.

    ReplyDelete

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