The Tonka Report

Real News In A Changing World

Government Scientists Fear Gulf Of Mexico Seabed Could Collapse

with 5 comments

July 20, 2010: Ed Pilkington in New York / The Guardian – July 20, 2010

A standoff between BP and the US government over the handling of the stricken Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico continued with a sharp exchange of words over the best way to keep the oil contained before the well is permanently plugged next month.

Thad Allen, the official appointed by Barack Obama to lead the federal response to the disaster, gave BP another 24 hours in which to keep the new containment cap on the broken well closed.

But he warned that the US government would reserve the right to reopen the well if worries about seepage intensify. Allen sent a stiff letter to BP on Sunday night, ordering the oil giant to continue seismic and sonar monitoring around the well to try to get a better picture of what was happening now that the flow of oil had ostensibly stopped.

He said the company had an obligation to inform him of any problems within four hours of any seepage being detected. “I remain concerned that all potential options to eliminate the discharge of oil be pursued with utmost speed until I can be assured that no additional oil will spill from the Macondo well,” he wrote.

At the heart of the dispute is anxiety about what is happening under the seabed. The government fears oil may be leaking below the surface, and that if left unchecked this process could cause graver problems, including the collapse of the well. In a statement on Monday, Allen said he would ensure BP continues to assess whether keeping the cap closed could “worsen the overall situation”.

BP, on the other hand, has pointed out forcefully that the antidote to seepage – reopening the cap and allowing the oil to flow again up to specially designed oil-capture vessels – would involve allowing oil to spew once more into the waters of the Gulf for at least another three days. That would undo the sense of progress achieved since last Thursday, when the cap was fully locked down and the oil flow ceased.

Allen last night gave further details about the administration’s worries. A seepage had been found three miles from the well, he said, but the indications were that this had nothing to do with Macondo. Bubbles had also been seen around the new cap, though he said that these did not seem to be in serious quantities.

The main way of tracking what is happening to the well – its “integrity”, as it is known in the business – is to gauge the pressure of the oil that is flowing up the pipe. BP said on Monday that the level was about 6,800lbs per square inch (psi) and increasing at around 2 psi per hour.

The oil firm sees that as a positive figure, given that the quantity of oil in the reserve beneath the sea floor has already been depleted substantially, more than 4m barrels having spewed into the Gulf. But the Obama administration thinks this is lower than it should be and would like to see the pressure rise to around 8,000 psi, which would show conclusively that no leaks were taking place. Until that figure is reached, it will remain cautious, mindful of the political damage that has been caused to Obama’s presidency as a result of his early handling of the crisis, which was criticised for being soft on BP.

Both sides are agreed that the disaster will not be fully over until permanent capping of the well is achieved through the drilling of relief wells. BP said the first relief well has reached 5,450 metres, and the second 4,840 metres. The relief wells could join up with the Macondo as early as next week, at which point heavy mud and then concrete will be pumped down the original well to block it forever.

The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: If the seabed collapses, the entire Gulf of Mexico region will become a killing field– SJH

Link to original article below…

5 Responses

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  1. Are you out of your mind? Where does this lunacy come from? From the collapse of the State of Texas under the Gulf because of the billions of barrels of oil that have been withdrawn? From the collapse of the Arabian Sea where billions of barrels of oil have been withdrawn? I can’t wait to post links to this idiocy all over the internet. You won’t have any credibility at all.


    July 21, 2010 at 10:04 pm

  2. Fritz,

    First of all, I didn’t write the article or make the statement. Ed Pilkington of the London Guardian was paraphrasing US government officials and retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen’s concerns that the well, thus the seabed could conceivably collapse.

    Secondly, it has been widely reported for months now that oil, natural gas, and massive amounts of methane are leaking from cracks in the seabed up to 20 miles away from the Macondo reserve.

    Is the State of Texas leaking methane through fissures in the ground? Is the Arabian Sea floor cracked and leaking, creating massive plumes of oil and methane pockets?

    So have at it, brother! Post it to the four winds!

    But just so you don’t look like a complete idiot, you may want to peruse the dozens of other articles covering this subject…

    – SJH

    Steven John Hibbs

    July 21, 2010 at 11:23 pm

  3. Not the well thus the seabed! You plagiarized a story and changed the headline. The only mention of the seabed collapsing was your comment. Are you a government scientist?


    July 22, 2010 at 12:15 am

    Oil and gas seeping into the oceans is a natural occurrence. Do your own homework.


    July 22, 2010 at 12:18 am

  5. Fritz,

    To accuse me of plagiarism is absurd. All credits to the article were duly provided. Yes, seepage is a “natural occurance” in the oceans. However, this was not a “natural occurance”, nor are the consequent reactions now occurring as a result of the unnatural action (puncturing the reservoir) a “natural occurance”.

    The well, as is the seabed, are both breached as a result of 70,000-100,000 psi forcing the contents of the reservoir to the surface when the BOP blew, allowing the oil, natural gas, and methane to flow upwards as if you opened a blown-up balloon following the path of least resistance. If you close the balloon (cap the wellhead – which is also leaking) and there are leaks (punctures) in the balloon, the air in the balloon, in this case the contents of the reservoir, will find the alternative ways to escape due to gravity and the equalization of pressure – thus collapsing the balloon. This is where the cracked seabed comes into play…

    If the Macondo well reservoir, estimated to be the size of Mt. Everest, indeed ‘collapses’ underneath the seabed with trillions of gallons of water pressing down on it, where does the mass get displaced to? Thus, the seabed collapses to fill the void due to gravity! Is that a simple enough metaphor, Fritz?

    Am I saying this will happen? No. Did I say it would happen? No. Could it happen? Yes. Simple physics dictates that if the well collapses in on itself, the seabed goes down with it… So, I’ve not only done mine, but I’ve done your homework as well!

    Again, feel free to post this “all over the internet” as you so threatened in order to attempt to “discredit” me. Because not only can I still think critically, I can read between the lines and recognize the truth hidden amongst the propaganda and actually prove it! Can you? Come on, Fritz… Think!

    – SJH

    Steven John Hibbs

    July 22, 2010 at 1:31 am

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