Archive for July, 2010



07.30.2010

After Tropical Storm Bonnie passed, operations to place a plug at the bottom of the relief well to maintain integrity resumed only to find that at the last 40-65 feet, a wall of sediment collapsed into the well.

Ret. Admiral Thaad Allen stated that, “this is not a huge problem”.  Yet, the lack of reassuring talk after this statement on whether or not this collapse had weakened the well’s integrity, left me feeling otherwise.

The next step for the relief well is to lay the final casing line which was to take place this Saturday and Sunday; however, this operation cannot commence until all of the debris is removed. This removal process is expected to take 24-36 hours.

Several weeks before, question after question were dismissed by BP and the federal government about the relief well failing saying that it was highly “unlikely” so the focus was not on a “back up plan for the back up plan”.

“Drilling back-to-back relief wells is a “belt and braces” approach, and “will assure ultimate success,” Former CEO Tony Hayward told reporters back in May.

If this is the forerunner of what we can expect as we near the drilling intersect, we need to start discussing the details of Plan K.

For if the relief well fails, we run the risk of introducing an additional 240,000 barrels per day into the Gulf of Mexico.

Failing to acknowledge the risk will not make it go away.

Hasn’t BP learned that by now?

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.

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07.20.2010

In a dire attempt for BP to seem as they are exhausting all possibilities, a “new” option to seal the well was announced. Let’s be real though, not only is it not a new concept~ it’s a dangerous one.

The “static kill”, while still in it’s infancy design and implementation stage, is the latest attempt to keep the well closed in until the relief wells are fully operational later this month.

However, if one takes a closer look at this option- they will see that the static kill is really the top kill option with a new name.

Similar to the top kill option that failed a while ago, the aim would be to send down heavy drilling mud through the blowout preventer valve system that sits on top of the well and then inject cement into the wellhead to seal it.

The only difference that has been noted thus far is the rate of pressure.  Since the well is now capped, the pressure can be considerably lower and more controlled.

The past few weeks, there has been numerous talks about the integrity of the wellboard.

The current psi is reading at 6811 psi with a rate of 1 lb/hr and is much lower than what officials anticipated.

Additionally, there was a leak found 2 miles away from the well and methane bubbles and small amounts of oil coming from the top of  the blow out preventer.

All of these signs are pointing to the well being compromised but BP continues to minimalize the severity of the situation.  Just as they have done since the rig’s explosion on April 20th.

When will we learn that we cant take BP at their word and that it is imperative that we draw our own conclusions of the severity of  “minor anomalies”?

If the capping stack is holding the oil in place as we wait for the relief wells intersect, which should be operational by the end of this month, why are we forcing this godsend?

Additionally, there is a tropical wave north of Puerto Rico with a 40% probability that it will develop into at least a tropical storm and a track forecast of this storm turning into the Gulf which would complicate matters.

Until we are certain that there are no additional leaks and that we will not be affected by a slew of crippling weather, implementing this “new” concept would be irresponsible, reckless and dangerous.

The only thing that is certain is that BP is not taking the environment into consideration as they are only looking for the quickest way, not necessarily the best way, to put an end to the constant string of bad publicity.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.


07.19.2010

Overnight, there was a teleconference call between the Coast Guard & BP and a heated discussion on whether or not to reopen the choke lines was placed on the table.

A possibility of methane gas residing over the well and a seepage leak found 2 miles away from the wellboard may be the culprit for the low pressure reading of 6792 psi for the Maconda Well.

With these new findings, Ret. Admiral Coast Guard Thaad Allen sent a letter demanding BP to step up their monitoring progress and threatened with reopening the well and redirecting the oil to 4 production platforms on the surface to relieve the pressure that is compounding under the sea floor.

However, in order to reopen the well- it would allow 3 days worth of oil to be released into the Gulf of Mexico. A side factor that has many of the Gulf residents on edge.

Allen is concerned that with the continued boxed pressure, other uncontrollable leaks could spring up on the ocean floor such as the small one found late last night and I get the impression that he will be pushing for the 4 production platform if the testing results do not get significantly better.

BP is pushing to keep the well capped, and I cant say I blame them considering their stock dipped yet another 5% yesterday, and despite the Coast Guard’s concerns, another 24 hour test will be conducted as long as BP vigorously monitors and analyzes the sea floor.

At one point, I was thrilled that the oil was capped. Now with new seepage lake found, I am hesitant to keep the oil well closed in. One big leak; in theory, should be easier to troubleshoot and cap then a bunch of random leaks on the seafloor.

It will be interesting to watch this delicate tight rope that the Coast Guard will be walking. Waiting too long could cause irreversible damage. Taking preemptive measure could release more toxic oil (which will be fought with toxic Corexit dispersant) into the atmosphere.

At this point, all that the Gulf residents can do, is fall down on our knees and ask for forgiveness and pray for mercy.

If you need me, I’ll be at the altar.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.


07.16.10~

Top Hat #8

After 7 attempts at an oil cap to contain the crippling gush of oil;  the 8th containment cap may be the prodigal son. Watch a visual confirmation here:     http://www.ustream.tv/pbsnewshour

Currently, the pressure reads at 6745 psi  and has been climbing approx 2 psi/hour.  A disheartening number for the residents of the Gulf Coast who were hoping that the psi’s were in the 9000 range.

Normally, this low pressure would denote that the well board is compromised and oil will need to be released onto the 4 production vessels which was said by Coast Guard Admiral Thaad Allen to “have the capacity to hold 60-80k bpd”.

However, the general consensus seems to be leaning towards the belief the well has low levels of oil because it has been gushing for so long as opposed to stating that there is another, unfounded, leak.

It was felt that the continuation of testing should continue because the majority of the other factors were positive.

During the integrity testing , all the valves are closed which allows the oil to be fully captured.

The Gulf Coast residents can sleep easier tonight knowing that the testing will continue for at least another 24 hours

At this point in the game, any break from the oil is happily received.

Relief Well Progression

After a little over 24 hours of the subsiding of the drilling of the relief wells for the well integrity test, DD3 and DD2 have been put back into production.

As of this morning, the Relief Wells are nearing the end of the precision phase of the relief effort, using magnetic ranging to give direction to assist steering the drill bit towards the blowout well bore and have drilled within 14.8 feet laterally from the well with an angle of 1.9 degrees.

So close, yet so far away for us Gulf Coast residents who are waiting for the intersection with bated breath.

Once the ranging is completed, the next step for the Relief Well will involve the drilling of 24 ft to the casing point which is hoping to be completed, by the middle to end of next week (July 21-July 25, 2010).

The final drilling intercept to kill the well will be the last week of July, a positive jump from the initial completion date of mid-August.

A friendly note to my local friends~ Enjoy your rest tonight. You’ll need your strength for the next coming days.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.


07.06.2010

Today, I attended an oiled bird rehabilitation.  Never in my life, did I think I could experience such polar opposite emotions for what I witnessed.  On one hand, I was heartbroken for the oiled wildlife and the troubles that they have endured because of this man-made spill. On the other hand, I was deeply grateful that these birds made it long enough to be rehabilitated.

The Pensacola Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation (POWH), which opened in May 2010, has currently 52 birds in their captivity that consists primarily of northern gannets, high bill greens, seagulls, ferns and a few herons.  While the POWH can easily accommodate a few hundred birds, dependent on size and severity of oil coverings, the maximum that POWH has contained has been 102 birds,  bringing the total to 949 birds rescued within the four Gulf rehabilitation centers.

When a bird first enters the rehabilitation center-the oil is not cleaned right away. Many birds are in shock or frightened and they need to be stabilized and possibly re-hydrated before any further stress is placed upon the bird. It has been found that by giving the birds a couple days to recuperate has increased the survivability tenfold.

Initially, veterinarians take  blood and feather samples to test for anemia and infection and give the oiled birds a temporary tag. Then the bird is taken to an oiled bird trailer where it can rest, if needed, in a temperature controlled trailer and receive IV fluids, food and Pepto Bismo to protect its stomach lining.

Just before they are washed, the birds are sprayed with a warm canola oil to loosen oil residue on their feathers. Then they are taken to a washing tub which requires normally 3-4 people to wash one oiled bird.

Once the head and pouch is cleaned using clothes, toothbrushes and small sponges are used for delicate areas with water flushed on an almost continuous basis to keep the soap from running into the birds eyes. A bath normally lasts up to 45 minutes, and for a large bird, like a brown pelican, as much as 300 gallons of water is used.

After a scrubbing down of the bird, a thorough rinse is necessary considering that soap can interfere in the same manner as oil via hypothermia.

Newly cleaned, the birds are whisked off to a drying room to rest in a padded pen while floor-mounted pet grooming dryers blew warm air. Smaller birds and wading birds are not blow dried but instead sit in pens under warming lights.

Once their total strength is gained, birds are then permanently tagged for tracking purposes and transported to outside containment facilities to get them re-accustomed to outside surroundings before releasing them into the wild.  The birds are allowed to recover for five to seven days, regaining buoyancy and water resistance by preening, putting on weight, and readjusting to outdoor temperatures.

Once returned to good health, they are ready to be released to the wild.  However, the wild may not be ready for them. In an environmental disaster like the Deepwater Horizon spill, wildlife cannot return to their contaminated homes. Instead birds have to be released into an area where they do not run the chance of being re-oiled. The majority of the birds are released off the east coast of Florida.

I asked Heidi Stout from the Tri-State Bird Rescue  & Research Organization, on ways that everyday citizens can get involved with the clean up of oiled wildlife. At this time, the only people who can physically help the oiled wildlife is trained paraprofessionals (licensed veterinarians, license wildlife handlers etc) since dealing with stressed birds could be harmful.

However, she urged for concerned citizens who are willing to volunteer via answering phones and inputting data information to contact the U.S. Fish & Wildlife to offer assistance. It was also suggested that the donation of goods used to help clean the animals and monetary donations to further recovery efforts would be greatly appreciated.

Additionally, you can visit http://www.volunteerflorida.org/ to sign up for more volunteer training as well as visit a facebook group called, NWFL Panhandle Volunteer Beach Rescue Group at, http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=113452012028768&ref=ts for panhandle county specific volunteer efforts.

Copyright © 2010 ClearWater Perspective.  All rights reserved.