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The Secret, 700-Million-Gallon Oil Fix That Worked — and Might Save the Gulf

05/30/2010 1:31 PM

I'm really sick of the whole BP disaster, but it continues. Does this idea have any validity?

There's a potential solution to the Gulf oil spill that neither BP, nor the federal government, nor anyone — save a couple intuitive engineers — seems willing to try.


Read more: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/gulf-oil-spill-supertankers-051310#ixzz0pR1qcSht

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#1

Re: The Secret, 700-Million-Gallon Oil Fix That Worked — and Might Save the Gulf

05/30/2010 2:52 PM

Interesting approach. I would be curious to know the cross-sectional area of the oil plume just before it breaks the water surface. I would guess that it would be comparatively small, with the vast bulk of spreading occurring only at the surface.

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#2

Re: The Secret, 700-Million-Gallon Oil Fix That Worked — and Might Save the Gulf

05/30/2010 3:56 PM

Did I read this correctly? The oil is migrating along the ocean floor as well?

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#3

Re: The Secret, 700-Million-Gallon Oil Fix That Worked — and Might Save the Gulf

05/30/2010 7:23 PM

The difference, as I understand, is the huge use of dispersants (that's polite talk for detergent) in the Gulf. You'd have to quit most of that to do the skimming plan. And, then, well everybody would see all the oil. And so it goes.

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#4

Re: The Secret, 700-Million-Gallon Oil Fix That Worked — and Might Save the Gulf

05/30/2010 9:42 PM

This whole shabam might tarnish Obama's career (pun intended) !

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#9
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Re: The Secret, 700-Million-Gallon Oil Fix That Worked — and Might Save the Gulf

05/31/2010 7:59 PM

But he convinced this old ex gopublican.

I think we need to keep politics out of this forum.

I will leave it there, as I am Anti Zion, but Pro Jewish.

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#10
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Re: The Secret, 700-Million-Gallon Oil Fix That Worked — and Might Save the Gulf

06/01/2010 2:07 PM

I appreciate your desire to 'keep politics out of this', but it does seem that there is a significant political dimension to this problem. If the MMS had been doing its job, BP's permit application would have been denied until they could demonstrate their ability to deal with such problems. They would also have had their permit yanked when they damaged the seals on the BOP (oops - sorry: the oil industry had their friends in MMS kill the requirements for BOP's on undersea wells making them 'optional'). We the people twice elected Bush and Cheney, on the belief that they would as promised get rid of 'silly' environmental regulations, and set our industries free from an oppressive government. We got what we voted for. Now Bush and Cheney are gone, Obama is the guy holding the bag, and given the public's infinite wisdom he will most likely be severely punished. The conservative philosophies and the politicians that espouse those views (small government - less regulation) that seem to have led to this disaster will be rewarded.

I saw John Hofmeister float the tanker idea early last week and thought it was an excellent idea. Of course the fact that much of the oil is mixed with dispersants and doesn't reach the surface will complicate things. Here we are a whole week later, and it still hasn't been tried. What's taking so long (Daddy, are we there YET)? Government works slowly, and the ability of the government to get competent and and honest advise on these technical issues is very limited. I am grateful that at last two oilmen are willing to speak publicly on this subject, in spite of the risk that they may be violating confidential NDA's with their former employers. Again we have politics intruding: why with all the 'experts' trotted out by the news media to pontificate on the subject, is there such a shortage of oilmen willing to talk publicly? Because the oil industry is a hermetically sealed subculture, and their information is proprietary.

There are a lot of voices being raised calling for the Feds to push BP out of the way. I can't think of anything that BP would like more. They would just wipe their hands and walk away, leaving the burden of solving the problem and paying for the cleanup with the government and the taxpayers. I can just imagine their lawyers arguing before the Supreme Court in twenty years or so that they were just minutes away from solving the problem when the damn jack booted thugs from the government stepped in and really messed the whole thing up. Of course BP would most likely be suing us for monetary loss, and considering the makeup of the court they would probably win.

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#11
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Re: The Secret, 700-Million-Gallon Oil Fix That Worked — and Might Save the Gulf

06/01/2010 3:09 PM

Working in the industry, understanding the office politics that I left behind for the comfort of the field, I started seeing the politics early on and figured that the best available technology was not going to be used. And it still has not been put into play. Banking, foreign interests, US government, big business, and Wall Street all are in the mix know. BP might just be yearning for the days when they were totally owned by the British Government, didn't have to show a profit, were complacent, and strongly regulated.

I made a prediction 5 years ago that by 2020 refining capacity in the US would be reduced by more than half. No new refineries, band-aid repairs, and more drilling to ship oil over seas.

So, we bailed out the banks, the auto industry, and now oil is in line. I know that the technology and desire to kill this monster quickly was available, but as human nature runs it's course, front line crews and lower management are just going through the motions right now.

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#12
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Re: The Secret, 700-Million-Gallon Oil Fix That Worked — and Might Save the Gulf

06/01/2010 11:17 PM

I still don't get it. Who made the call to use dispersant's and why wouldn't BP want to recover as much oil as they can? Both for PR and money. Is the government hamstringing BP or is there another agenda?

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#13
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Re: The Secret, 700-Million-Gallon Oil Fix That Worked — and Might Save the Gulf

06/02/2010 10:02 AM

As a car carrying member of the Conspiracy Believer Clubs of the World, I now see it as the Business of Big Oil, the US Military, and Government walking in hand as usual.

Been going on since John D's day.

"I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents."

Has anyone seen these links?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Is_a_Racket#Book

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smedley_Butler

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2010/0601/BP-oil-spill-Will-the-sweeping-arm-system-from-the-Dutch-help

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#14
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Re: The Secret, 700-Million-Gallon Oil Fix That Worked — and Might Save the Gulf

06/02/2010 12:14 PM

I have no idea who made the call to use dispersants. According to administration spokesmen BP asked to use them, and the administration approved. But here's what I think I know:

  • The way we have written our laws, the size of the penalty BP will pay for the leak is proportional to the volume leaked. The base level for the fine is ~$1100 per barrel for an accidental spill and up to $4300 for a criminally negligent spill (1972 Clean Water Act).
  • The most they can make on a barrel of recovered oil would be the current market price, ~ $77 per barrel.

At best that $77 might cover the cost of skimming the oil and pumping into a tanker, and they would still have to pay the fine, so they would still be out over $1000 per barrel. If however they can use a dispersant (and low ball the flow rate at the rupture) to hide the total volume of oil, their lawyers will be able to argue later that the media, academics, and government had wildly exaggerated the size of the spill. If the numerous reports of large underwater plumes of oil mixed with dispersant are true (which BP denies), then their attempts to hide the oil haven't been totally successful. But it does make the job of their lawyers easier since it is out of sight.

This is going to court and both sides know it, so the administration and BP are all lawyered up. Anything either side says at this point should be treated with a healthy dose of dispersant. So all we can do is speculate about their motives. As I see it BP has three goals: to stop the oil, to avoid bankruptcy, and to shift responsibility. The administration's goals are to stop the oil and to avoid being left holding the bag.

Last night I googled the ownership of BP. It's not the Brits, it's not Americans. The majority of stock is owned by a small group of Russian tycoons. What motives they may have besides making piles of money is hard to fathom.

If people who prefer conspiracy theories want to argue that Obama is in cahoots with wealthy Russians to destroy the economy of the gulf then they are free to do so, but I don't see any upside to this. This disaster will almost certainly ruin BP and it's stockholders, but it is also likely to ruin Obama if it goes on much longer. To me the more likely 'conspiracy' is pretty easy to understand: BP screwed up big time and wants to avoid bankruptcy.

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#15
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Re: The Secret, 700-Million-Gallon Oil Fix That Worked — and Might Save the Gulf

06/02/2010 12:18 PM

Are the dispersants actually surfactants?

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#16
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Re: The Secret, 700-Million-Gallon Oil Fix That Worked — and Might Save the Gulf

06/02/2010 9:08 PM

I thought BP's liability was capped at $75 million?

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/36933743/ns/us_news-environment/

I know there's a push to raise it, but I'm guessing it won't fly retroactively. I didn't know there was a per barrel fine on oil spills. And this applies even if the oil is removed? Seems like a disincentive. So actions where based on the decisions of lawyers... great.

Please cite the "small group of Russian tycoons". A quick search showed me that the majority shareholders are British (44%) http://www.bp.com/extendedsectiongenericarticle.do?categoryId=9010453&contentId=7019612

And the chairman is a Swede. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl-Henric_Svanberg

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#5

Re: The Secret, 700-Million-Gallon Oil Fix That Worked — and Might Save the Gulf

05/30/2010 9:58 PM

I think today is day 41.

Top kill failed.

Has anyone given this any thought?

Pressure volume weight viscosity,all pushed against this ,out gushing.

Doesn't anyone realize that with this failure to kill,volume and out put from fracture, HAS TO HAVE INCREASED.??

Sorry for capital letters.It's basic physics.

You might as well get started getting ready to be a whole lot sicker.

I really don't think the riser should be cut.I feel we may be getting into an even bigger mess.

I hope I am wrong.

Peace

Joe in Texas

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#6

Re: The Secret, 700-Million-Gallon Oil Fix That Worked — and Might Save the Gulf

05/31/2010 12:40 AM

Are they "dispersing" the oil for political reasons? If there is method to recover "85%" of the oil why would the not do it? Other than to hide the slick on the ocean floor?

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#7

Re: The Secret, 700-Million-Gallon Oil Fix That Worked — and Might Save the Gulf

05/31/2010 6:21 AM

Yep. The CEO of BP rejected use of two super tankers to suck up and separate the oil and water, saying that the oil is to sparse for that to be effective. Seems to me that they're so far in the hole financially that more expense to recover some of the oil is better than not recovering any at all. Environment would benefit some, instead of none, also.

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#8
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Re: The Secret, 700-Million-Gallon Oil Fix That Worked — and Might Save the Gulf

05/31/2010 3:42 PM

Yeah, why don't they wait till a hurricane hits the region, then they'll find out what sparse means.

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