Oil Spill roundup.
May 27, 2010 9:42 AM   Subscribe

'Top Kill' seems to have worked, Apparently stopping the flow of oil -- now officially estimated by the government to have been about 12,000-19,000 barrels/day, with 75% most of the volume being gas ABC News Dives below the surface to get a look at plumes of 'dispersed' oil: (spoiler alert: not pretty). And a BP exec takes the 5th, refusing to testify before a federal panel.
posted by delmoi (235 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
maybe in celebration of stemming the flow, but birnbaum just 'retired.'
posted by msconduct at 9:43 AM on May 27, 2010


I'm glad it has been stopped. But what the fuck do we do now?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:46 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


A panel of experts assessing the rate of flow of the oil since the disaster began gave a best estimate on Thursday of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day, or 2.4 to 3.8 times the estimate of 5,000 barrels a day offered for weeks by BP.

Why am I not surprised?
posted by insectosaurus at 9:48 AM on May 27, 2010


I'm glad it has been stopped. But what the fuck do we do now?

Start cleaning it up?
posted by electroboy at 9:48 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


From the NYT article:
“I’m hopeful that the reforms that the secretary and the administration are undertaking will resolve the flaws in the current system that I inherited,” Ms. Birnbaum said in a statement.
Yeah! Way to take some responsibility there, Ms. Birnbaum. We can only hope that BP will be so introspective.
posted by dammitjim at 9:49 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, they still have to "cap" it. Let's hope it works.
"Planning has begun for cementing the well, the next step in sealing it after the flow of oil and gas is stopped by the drilling mud, but that stage would not be undertaken for at least several hours."*

"Video of the spill site appeared to show mud, and not oil, flowing from the blown-out well, hours after BP started the operation, but BP urged caution in interpreting it. It wouldn’t be reasonable for anybody to draw a conclusion from that until we’ve killed the well for good,' BP managing director Bob Dudley told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira."*
posted by ericb at 9:50 AM on May 27, 2010


But what the fuck do we do now?

Desperately pretend that we are not a culture that consumes large amounts of oil and through that consumption condones and encourages behavior that can lead to accidents like this?
posted by Artw at 9:51 AM on May 27, 2010 [58 favorites]


I'm glad it has been stopped. But what the fuck do we do now?

Consume less? Drive less?
posted by mhoye at 9:51 AM on May 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


Speaking of the MMS (who brinbaum was the director of), the (regional?) Alaska director just apologized for having a "Drill Baby Drill" cake at a meeting.
posted by delmoi at 9:52 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's still inexcusable that BP alone is being allowed to handle this at this point in time. They're incompetent, as they've shown.
posted by Malice at 9:55 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, memories: Drill, Baby, Drill!
posted by ericb at 9:55 AM on May 27, 2010


Gulf spill is Obama's Katrina, says guy who probably still has no idea why Katrina was a big deal and who has probably called half a dozen other things Obama's Katrina.
posted by Artw at 9:57 AM on May 27, 2010 [10 favorites]


Basic math kinda made the 5,000 barrels/day thing obviously stupid. From the last spill thread: "That 5,000 barrels/ a day thing? That's 210,000 gallons per day, or 145.83 gallons/ minutes. Sounds like a lot, but that's the equivalent 6-9 garden hoses being turned on for the same period (see here)
posted by boo_radley at 9:57 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


So a thought on this process - I know it was untested at this depth but it seems to me that all the other methods BP had tried were done so as to not lose access to the oil being produced by this well. The Top Hat method was supposed to enable them to be able to siphon the oil off in a controlled manner. They've tried inserting siphoning tubes with mixed success. And they've now stemmed the flow with this mud so as to be able to put a new pipe on and siphon the reduced flow. So BP hasn't actually been trying to stop the leak. Rather they've been trying to get it under control so it wasn't a leak but a producing well again. If they were interested in stopping the leak they would have done more drastic things and far earlier on, rather than 5 weeks after the fact.
posted by msbutah at 9:57 AM on May 27, 2010 [42 favorites]


I love how everybody is now an expert on deep sea engineering.
posted by Artw at 9:58 AM on May 27, 2010 [34 favorites]


> 'Top Kill' seems to have worked, Apparently stopping the flow of oil...

According to whom? The primary sources in the NYT article are BP executives, whose record of honesty regarding this episode has been consistent but not positive.
posted by ardgedee at 9:59 AM on May 27, 2010 [10 favorites]


I wonder what next terrible thing will try to destroy New Orleans.
posted by four panels at 9:59 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love how everybody is now an expert on deep sea engineering.
In addition to being constitutional scholars, mobile phone software and hardware designers, and experts at gymnastics landings.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:00 AM on May 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


The people at BP and MMS are criminals who need to go to jail. However, we need to realize that these people are only proxies for our own insatiable lust for oil.
posted by double block and bleed at 10:01 AM on May 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm glad it has been stopped. But what the fuck do we do now?

Go nuclear. Not "drill, baby, drill." More like, "split, baby, split."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:02 AM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


The Drill Baby Drill! chant kills me (maybe literally someday). It is a takeoff on the chant Burn Baby Burn; a paean to nihilistic abandon in the face of destruction. We don't need no water let the mother fucker burn.

Symbolic cheering for self-destructive abandon in a dance club is one thing. Taking it as shorthand for an energy policy is just dumb. I'm sort of stunned at the implicit acceptance of the drill chanters that drilling non-stop everywhere you can find something to drill is on par with letting the club burn down around you while you dance.
posted by Babblesort at 10:03 AM on May 27, 2010 [26 favorites]


I'm glad it has been stopped. But what the fuck do we do now?

Clearly there's a lot of oil down there. No reason we can't try again!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:05 AM on May 27, 2010


BP and local governments seem to be working together to block reporter access to affected beaches and areas.
posted by delmoi at 10:05 AM on May 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's still inexcusable that BP alone is being allowed to handle this at this point in time. They're incompetent, as they've shown.

Just because they failed, doesn't mean they're incompetent.
posted by smackfu at 10:06 AM on May 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


It is a takeoff on the chant Burn Baby Burn

I always thought it was a takeoff of "Go, baby, go," which originated from 1930s horse racing, and "Burn, baby, burn," was a takeoff of that.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:10 AM on May 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


Rather they've been trying to get it under control so it wasn't a leak but a producing well again.

That's been my suspicion, but as a certified non-expert in oil wells, what do I know?
posted by Forktine at 10:10 AM on May 27, 2010


It's still inexcusable that BP alone is being allowed to handle this at this point in time. They're incompetent, as they've shown.

Actually, if accounts like this and this are to be believed, the impression that BP has been handling the spill response alone have been grossly exaggerated in the press coverage.

Or, as the second link puts it:
One thing that might not be clear from watching the news: this isn't a matter of a dozen guys at BP and a PR team from the Obama administration. A "war room" full of industry experts from over 70 oil companies and drilling technology companies has been working on this problem night and day since the week of the explosion. If you count up the people from EPA, Army Corps of Engineers, and Coast Guard assigned to this issue, the federal government has over 20,000 people involved. The response to this issue has been massive.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:11 AM on May 27, 2010 [25 favorites]


It's still inexcusable that BP alone is being allowed to handle this at this point in time. They're incompetent, as they've shown.

But is there anyone else who could have handled it? It seems like a pretty specialized task that only a handful of companies worldwide would have the expertise and equipment for.
posted by octothorpe at 10:12 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Forktine - IANADWWE (I Am Not A Deep Water Well Expert) either but that was just my suspicious nature not to trust a multi-billion dollar corporation to walk away from a multi-million dollar investment.
posted by msbutah at 10:12 AM on May 27, 2010


Great. Now I've got a mental pic of Sam Champion being "buttered" which at least is a marked improvement to the images of those adorable dolphins swimming in doom.

Fuck you BP. Fuck. You.
posted by Dr. Zira at 10:12 AM on May 27, 2010


According to whom? The primary sources in the NYT article are BP executives, whose record of honesty regarding this episode has been consistent but not positive.

The Coast Guard Admiral in charge confirms.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:13 AM on May 27, 2010


According to whom? The primary sources in the NYT article are BP executives, whose record of honesty regarding this episode has been consistent but not positive.

And FWIW, all those 20,000 government officials and industry engineers from 70 oil companies mentioned above have been monitoring the top-kill effort, too--not just a handful of BP executives, if that's still the impression you have of how this has been going down.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:13 AM on May 27, 2010


Why did it take over a month for them to figure out how to stop it?
posted by SatansCabanaboy at 10:13 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because it's a mile under water.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:15 AM on May 27, 2010 [12 favorites]


Has it occurred to anyone else that maybe the reason this was an option of last resort was because it meant there was no chance to recover their investment? There is a reason it's called a "kill" - the plug makes it impossible to ever get oil out of that particular drill hole ever again. The other attempts seemed to me to be trying to manage a way to siphon the gushing oil up to the surface for recovery, not to stop the gushing oil period. Call me cynical but my guess is that my cynicism will be born out and then some.
posted by bluesky43 at 10:16 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


"It is a takeoff on the chant Burn Baby Burn"

"I always thought it was a takeoff of "Go, baby, go," which originated from 1930s horse racing, and "Burn, baby, burn," was a takeoff of that."


'Go, baby, go' might be the true origin of the phrase, but isn't 'burn, baby, burn' the more salient and culturally relevant association in most people's minds?
posted by iamkimiam at 10:18 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just a plug for the previously posted Grassroots Mapping site. The man behind that site is down there gathering aerial imagery using balloons and the imagery is georectified so that it is essentially a map. He is doing this so that there will be data of the spill in the public domain (and looking for help / donations / other ).
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 10:18 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why did it take over a month for them to figure out how to stop it?

The top kill seemed like the most likely to succeed, but the problem was that it was also more risky. It could have caused the bop or the well itself to crack open. On the other hand the dome wouldn't have that problem. So you could try a dome, then a top kill, but not the other way around. Or something like that.
posted by delmoi at 10:20 AM on May 27, 2010


we need to realize that these people are only proxies for our own insatiable lust for oil

Quoted for truth. You said the people at BP are criminals - but has it been established at this point that they've done something that's actually illegal?
posted by insectosaurus at 10:21 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]



Why did it take over a month for them to figure out how to stop it?



Because it was a epically monumental fuck up and no one knew what to do.
posted by Liquidwolf at 10:21 AM on May 27, 2010 [8 favorites]


Why did it take over a month for them to figure out how to stop it?

Well, the leak was over a mile under the ocean. That alone as you can imagine makes the engineering challenges more difficult. And the entire drilling rig exploded and sank. So apparently, a big chunk of time had to be spent using submersible robots to clear away the debris from the sunken rig so that they could even get to the source of the leaks to try to stem the flow. After that, the first couple of attempts just flat out failed.

Apparently, as ProPublica and others have been reporting, there's a picture starting to emerge of BP officials having possibly authorized a short-cut technique that contributed to the accident, in which they replaced drilling mud with seawater--but not being an oil mining engineer, I don't get it exactly, so hopefully one of the better informed MeFites can chime in on this question.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:23 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


'Go, baby, go' might be the true origin of the phrase, but isn't 'burn, baby, burn' the more salient and culturally relevant association in most people's minds?
I seriously doubt Micheal Steele put that much thought into it. It probably just popped into his head without actually thinking about what he was referencing.
posted by delmoi at 10:23 AM on May 27, 2010



Quoted for truth. You said the people at BP are criminals - but has it been established at this point that they've done something that's actually illegal?



Criminal negligence? Disinformation/lying about the severity? Are those things illegal?
posted by Liquidwolf at 10:24 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


How is the act of pleading the fifth not incriminating in itself?
posted by doublehappy at 10:24 AM on May 27, 2010


Has it occurred to anyone else that maybe the reason this was an option of last resort was because it meant there was no chance to recover their investment?

Yes--it's occurred to all sorts of people like me who get ideas about things, and then trust them reflexively (even me, at one point). But I've seen several sources debunk this idea. Apparently, the well has been known to be non-recoverable all along. No method of capping the flow would have allowed this well to be viable in the future. The only long-term fix was permanently cement capping it, which they are supposed to be attempting today.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:26 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Consume less? Drive less?

Or just slower: If we cut the average speed of all vehicles by half, fuel consumption would decrease by a whopping 75 percent.

(That article doesn't seem to mention it, but presumably a functioning public transportation infrastructure would do the same or better even at the same speed. Drag is the biggest consumer, not load.)
posted by DU at 10:26 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nobody knows whether or not Top Kill has worked in any meaningful sense of the word. I encourage you all to read booming expert fishgrease's blog on Kos:
While Top Kill is proceeding, dear DKos Boomer, over the next few days or even weeks, I want to caution you regarding a few things.
  • Seeing an increase in the leak doesn't mean Top Kill has failed.
  • Seeing the leak get smaller or even stop doesn't mean Top Kill has succeeded.
  • Both could easily mean the opposite.
  • Because this well is FUCT-O-DAC [Fucked up as a Christmas Turkey on the Day After Christmas].

posted by The White Hat at 10:26 AM on May 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


How is the act of pleading the fifth not incriminating in itself?

Over 200 years of American jurisprudence?
posted by mr_roboto at 10:29 AM on May 27, 2010 [23 favorites]


How is the act of pleading the fifth not incriminating in itself?
posted by doublehappy


Please don't take this approach. It falls in line with if you aren't doing anything wrong you wouldn't be worried about privacy. Tossing out judicial protections when you don't like the defendant is not a healthy path for a society.
posted by Babblesort at 10:30 AM on May 27, 2010 [28 favorites]


"I seriously doubt Micheal Steele put that much thought into it. It probably just popped into his head without actually thinking about what he was referencing."

This. Exactly. Just like how people aren't putting much thought into the phrase's origin when they hear it used. But if they had to think about the origin, or even the associations the phrase evokes, they might err more towards a 'burn, baby, burn' semantic field than a 'go, baby, go' one, because the former is very likely more culturally relevant than the latter. Or at least higher ranked in terms of salience in the mind.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:32 AM on May 27, 2010


>Because it's a mile under water.

Yep, a few million miles in space is far easier to accomplish than a couple of miles under water.
Still, it demonstrates how unprepared they were for the existing tech to fail. repeatedly.
posted by twidget at 10:32 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


doublehappy: "How is the act of pleading the fifth not incriminating in itself?"

What? Don't be intellectually lazy.
posted by boo_radley at 10:33 AM on May 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


So, any reports about the success/failure about Kevin Costner's Captain Planet boats?
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:35 AM on May 27, 2010


Hey, that's what I get for sitting on a comment for a few minutes.
posted by boo_radley at 10:37 AM on May 27, 2010


I love how everybody is now an expert on deep sea engineering.

It's not that we're all experts, but we clearly all know enough to choose between experts.

Hamburger is delicious.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:41 AM on May 27, 2010


Last month, the conservatives were all "the government should stay out of the business of doing business" and "the bail outs were a waste of taxpayer money." This week, they're all "the government isn't doing enough to stop the flow of oil" and "the government should shove BP aside and take over the operation."

Have it both ways, much?
posted by crunchland at 10:44 AM on May 27, 2010 [9 favorites]


Criminal negligence? Disinformation/lying about the severity? Are those things illegal?

Well, criminal negligence is definitely illegal, but that's pretty circular. Do we know how negligent they've been? I know there was something going on with the safeties that were supposed to keep this kind of thing from happening, but I lost track of what the current news is on that, does anyone know?
posted by insectosaurus at 10:46 AM on May 27, 2010


in defense of MMS director Birnbaum, it would appear she left Mineral Management in 2001 during the Bush administration.

according to NYT
Agency scientists and other employees complained that since taking the post in July, Ms. Birnbaum has done almost nothing to fix problems that have plagued the minerals agency for over a decade. She rarely visited the agency’s far-flung offices, so few staff members have ever seen her. The same agency managers who during the Bush administration ignored or suppressed scientists’ concerns about the safety and environmental risks of some off-shore drilling plans are still there doing the same things, they said.
which is too bad, because the operations of the agency were fucking inconceivably out of control. if you don't remember the findings of the MMS corruption investigation that concluded in 2008 here's an article that pulls some salacious details from that report

the aftermath of the years of the sex drugs gifts graft billion dollar giveaway would have been a handful for any manager.

back to the NYT:
Before she took the job at the minerals agency , Ms. Birnbaum, 52, had virtually no experience with the oil and gas industry, but that was seen as a plus, according to a top Interior Department official. She worked at the Interior Department in the last year two years of the Clinton administration on natural resource issues, leaving as an associate solicitor in 2001 to become a top lawyer and advocate for American Rivers, a conservation organization.

Ms. Birnbaum had never supervised more than a few dozen people, and the problems at the agency were daunting. A legal mistake that occurred during the Clinton administration and was ignored through much of the Bush administration may end up costing the federal government $10 billion in lost royalties owed by oil and gas companies from leases in the Gulf of Mexico. Investigations found that some employees at the minerals service literally got into bed with oil industry representatives, accepted lavish gifts from them and allowed companies to fill out their own inspection reports.
posted by Hammond Rye at 10:46 AM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I seriously doubt Micheal Steele put that much thought into it. It probably just popped into his head without actually thinking about what he was referencing.

I thought Sarah Palin popularized "Drill, baby, drill!" After all, she "knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America."

Symbolic cheering for self-destructive abandon in a dance club is one thing.

Roof On Fire Claims Lives Of 43 Party People
posted by kirkaracha at 10:48 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


not much of a defense but when Birnbaum describes "the flaws in the current system that I inherited,” she means she's been in charge for less than a year and the atmosphere that prevailed for the last decade was POISONOUSLY corrupt.
posted by Hammond Rye at 10:51 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


posted by doublehappy How is the act of pleading the fifth not incriminating in itself?

Read the amendment and you'll answer your own question.
posted by mattdidthat at 10:52 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do we know how negligent they've been? I know there was something going on with the safeties that were supposed to keep this kind of thing from happening, but I lost track of what the current news is on that, does anyone know?

The latest word I've seen is summed up nicely in this McClatchy piece on the possible role of negligence in the blowout:
"It appears that BP and Transocean had multiple warnings before the rig exploded," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "We need to know why they didn't shut down the well while there was still time."

Even though pressure readings indicated "a very large abnormality," BP continued to replace drilling mud with seawater. That move, BP's team told the subcommittee's investigators, may have been a "fundamental mistake."

The memo also suggests that some cement work failed, including crucial components designed to hold back oil and gas and prevent an explosion.
Apparently, the use of seawater in place of drilling mud was a time-saving measure. But it may have played a key role in the spill. Interestingly, the cementing work done by Halliburton is still implicated, too.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:55 AM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


in which they replaced drilling mud with seawater-

Wiki has some background on drilling fluids, which can vary widely. I've worked on some small diameter tunneling jobs and we mostly used a bentonite slurry mix (essentially the clay they make kitty litter out of, mixed with water and other admixtures) , which is pretty common in the oil industry as well.

But fluid design is highly specialized and almost infinitely variable depending on the conditions you're working in and what you want to accomplish. You certainly can use water as a drilling fluid in a lot of instances, like if you're tunneling through dense clays, but without knowing the exact geological conditions it's almost impossible to say whether it's appropriate.
posted by electroboy at 10:56 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've been reading the Project On Government Oversight blog -- it seems to be doing a pretty good job of aggregating breaking news
posted by Hammond Rye at 10:59 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I believe this disaster is one of many that we will see over the next couple of decades as chickens come home to roost. For decades we've coupled evil, short-sighted corporations with a broken and corrupt governments at the local, state, and federal level. We poison ourselves with pesticides, destroy the air and water with pollution, and are unable to marshall the collective will through our government to control these excesses.
posted by cell divide at 11:03 AM on May 27, 2010


How is the act of pleading the fifth not incriminating in itself?

Because believe it or not, there are unscrupulous (or, probably more often the case, just outright doofuses) in law enforcement who can and will bend the most truthful and non-incriminating language that comes out of your mouth into a statement that is incriminating. Unfortunately, this tends to affect many good-hearted, well-meaning individuals who think they are clearing their names by providing testimony. This cannot be stressed enough. And as vile as these BP execs may be, we should be wary of sacrificing our foundational constitutional protections to bring these jackasses to justice.

Previously: Don't Talk to the Police.
posted by Dr. Zira at 11:05 AM on May 27, 2010 [7 favorites]


It's good if the fountain has been turned off, even if it took over a month. This previous Gulf drill-rig blowout took nine months to kill.
The well was initially flowing at a rate of 30,000 barrels per day (1 barrel = 42 US gallons = 159 litres), which was reduced to around 10,000 bpd by attempts to plug the well. Two relief wells were drilled to relieve pressure and the well was eventually killed nine months later on 23 March 1980. Due to the massive contamination caused by the spill from the blowout (by 12 June, the oil slick measured 180km by 80km), nearly 500 aerial missions were flown, spraying dispersants over the water. Prevailing winds caused extensive damage along the US coast with the Texas coast suffering the greatest. The IXTOC I accident was the biggest single spill ever, with an estimated 3.5 million barrels of oil released.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:07 AM on May 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


"It is a takeoff on the chant Burn Baby Burn"

"I always thought it was a takeoff of "Go, baby, go," which originated from 1930s horse racing, and "Burn, baby, burn," was a takeoff of that."

"'Go, baby, go' might be the true origin of the phrase, but isn't 'burn, baby, burn' the more salient and culturally relevant association in most people's minds?"


Overthinking a plate of babies.
posted by Anything at 11:17 AM on May 27, 2010


Was it really stopped? Because I'm looking at the spillcam now and I see a large mechanical device, which looks like the top of the well I saw earlier, only the metal is bulging and there are several cracks from which what looks like the brownish red oil/gas mixture I saw in previous cam checks is jetting from the cracks.

And just now, I shit you not, I saw a robotic arm holding onto a huge wrench and banging the side of the device. Perhaps the mud slurry got clogged and they were using high tech methods to unclog it. I wish I knew how to save this stream. I am sure someone else did, though.

Of course I have no idea of knowing if this is live or a loop. But whatever feed I am seeing does not look like a contained vessel.
posted by chemoboy at 11:17 AM on May 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


chemoboy: see this excellent comment regarding what you're seeing and what's really happening. i.e., no one knows, but eyeballing isn't necessarily an indication.
posted by msconduct at 11:22 AM on May 27, 2010


Thanks, I was just about to post that while what I see looks bad, I really have no way of knowing if it was.

And I figured out how to record, too late for that wonderful wrench banging. Ah well.
posted by chemoboy at 11:25 AM on May 27, 2010


How is the act of pleading the fifth not incriminating in itself?

Because we used to just beat the shit out of you until you either confessed or said something stupid. And we realized that was a Bad Thing.

The ability to take the Fifth is akin to saying, "I may say something stupid that incriminates me here, or incriminates me for something not relevant to the current proceeding. Neither of which is fair to me, so I'm using this here escape hatch."

Of course, the judge / jury can take that into consideration, but know (or are instructed) that taking the Fifth is not supposed to be an admission of anything.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:28 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Obama defends federal response to oil spill.
posted by ericb at 11:31 AM on May 27, 2010


Worker: Transocean, BP argued before blast -- "Rig's top mechanic corroborates other statement of BP 'taking shortcuts.'"
posted by ericb at 11:33 AM on May 27, 2010


A panel of experts assessing the rate of flow of the oil since the disaster began gave a best estimate on Thursday of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day, or 2.4 to 3.8 times the estimate of 5,000 barrels a day offered for weeks by BP.

Seems to me that BP has freely given the people of the United States thousands of barrels of oil. Even more than they originally estimated!

Surely the recipients should show some sort of appreciation?
posted by blue_beetle at 11:33 AM on May 27, 2010


BP wants Houston judge with oil ties to hear spill cases
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 11:41 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


IASODDE (I Am Somewhat Of a Deepwater Drilling Expert) and the current consensus is that BP missed several warning signs and opportunities in the hours before the kick to stop it in it's tracks. BP failed to follow accepted industry practice and 11 people and the Gulf environment paid the price.

The reason that the government is letting the industry run the operation is that they are the experts on the technology involved (see my comments in previous threads).

Today's news about putting a 6 month moratorium on deepwater drilling is shocking and I feel is an overreaction. This is punishing the responsible operators as well as BP. Good, responsible people who had nothing to do with this accident will lose their jobs. Already, rigs are looking at moving out of the Gulf to other locations to get work. This will have a knock-on effect of a brain drain as personnel follow the rigs, revenue loss as the money follows the rigs and deepening the recession in the Gulf Coast States. The problem with a knee jerk cessation of drilling is that the recovery is much slower as you can't just magically return rigs, equipment and personnel once you decide to recommence drilling as they'll be committed to oversea projects.
posted by arcticseal at 11:49 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Forgot to mention, it's also premature to say the kill drill has worked yet. It's promising, but not certain yet that it's worked.
posted by arcticseal at 11:51 AM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's not a moratorium on drilling, it's a moratorium on new permits.
posted by electroboy at 11:53 AM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Because it's a mile under water.

I think this bears repeating. A mile under water is one of the worst places on earth to try to get anything done. This is not my way of trying to excuse BP and its actions—rather, it is my way of impugning the very idea of offshore drilling. This sort of calamity was inevitable. Now that it's happened, let's all remember that, inevitably, it will happen again. The one good thing to come of this is that I now feel confident that NIMBY sentiment will trump (and rightfully so) Drill Baby Drill sentiment in the US. We have received a graphic demonstration of just how big our backyard is, and just how fucked up it can get.
posted by Mister_A at 11:53 AM on May 27, 2010 [10 favorites]


I love how everybody is now an expert on deep sea engineering.

In addition to being constitutional scholars, mobile phone software and hardware designers, and experts at gymnastics landings.


You forgot piloting a damaged airliner.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:54 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


You forgot piloting a damaged airliner.

Steer with the engines!
posted by Mister_A at 11:55 AM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I work in "the bidness", and one thing I've found interesting and perhaps illuminating is how in the past my co-workers have eaten up everything they see on TV which confirmed their biases, so to speak, but now that it is a subject they're familiar with it's all "damn reporters don't know what they're talking about".
posted by Nabubrush at 11:56 AM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


four panels: "I wonder what next terrible thing will try to destroy New Orleans."

One day, I was walking to work in Berkeley and saw this headline in a newspaper vending machine. Never having heard of Crescent City, CA, I had about 10 seconds of pure panic. "For fuck's sake, WHAT NOW?!"
posted by brundlefly at 11:57 AM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


taking the Fifth is not supposed to be an admission of anything

Unless I disagree with the person's politics. That will never bite me in the ass, right?

Yep, a few million miles in space is far easier to accomplish than a couple of miles under water.
Still, it demonstrates how unprepared they were for the existing tech to fail. repeatedly


I've no love for any oil company, but this seems tenuous at best: why are the two direct comparisons? Also, I'd guess (as a total non-expert) the engineering to go a 10 million miles in space isn't 10x harder than going million miles in space. A mile deep in the ocean is not an easy place to work and the drilling techniques they used to create this well are only a couple of years old, so how could they have been prepared? Sure you could invent a technique, not use it, figure out possible flaws, build safeguards and then use it, but you would have gone out of business somewhere around step 2. Welcome to capitalism, for better or worse.
posted by yerfatma at 11:58 AM on May 27, 2010


"I may say something stupid that incriminates me here, or incriminates me for something not relevant to the current proceeding. Neither of which is fair to me..."

I'm not sure how this is unfair. Unconstitutional, yes, but not everything in the Constitution is necessarily wonderful.
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:59 AM on May 27, 2010


Why didn't Obama just weld it shut with his laser-beam eyes?

We can just blame it all on him now, right?

/fairbalanced
posted by Theta States at 12:00 PM on May 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Just wait till BP starts He3 mining on the moon.
posted by Artw at 12:01 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


*readies his pitchfork*
posted by elder18 at 12:06 PM on May 27, 2010


The ability to take the Fifth is akin to saying, "I may say something stupid that incriminates me here, or incriminates me for something not relevant to the current proceeding. Neither of which is fair to me, so I'm using this here escape hatch."

The other thing is that we tend to forget that people often take the advice of their lawyers.

I can imagine myself naively saying, "I am just going to march into that courtroom and tell them what really happened," and my lawyer saying, "I STRONGLY advise you to take the Fifth," and me doing it, not totally getting why I can't just be honest, but trusting that my lawyer understands the legals system better than I do.

So it's not like these people just decided to take the Fifth. Their lawyers told them to do it.
posted by grumblebee at 12:08 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Or just slower: If we cut the average speed of all vehicles by half, fuel consumption would decrease by a whopping 75 percent.

How much would the reduction be if we removed stop signs? We could just coat and weave...
posted by Theta States at 12:10 PM on May 27, 2010


OR we could redesign the STOP sign.
posted by Mister_A at 12:12 PM on May 27, 2010


Artw: "Just wait till BP starts He3 mining on the moon."

BP Spokesman Malcolm Betruger had this to say: "I've heard rumors that our He3 mining operations discovery of an impossibly old monolith that whispers baleful and blasphemous promises into the dreams of man may have , and I repeat, may have opened what physically tortured survivors have called `a yawning portal into a screaming hellscape`, but I remind you that these are merely rumors at this point. I urge all of you to careful consideration of any reports coming from the mine."
posted by boo_radley at 12:13 PM on May 27, 2010 [11 favorites]


there's some kind of hose inspection going on on the spillcam right now.
posted by desjardins at 12:19 PM on May 27, 2010


well, it just stopped moving, but it was flying around before.
posted by desjardins at 12:20 PM on May 27, 2010


It seems if we talk criminality, what went on just prior to the disaster may or may not fall into that category. There certainly are enough shady stories of neglect and suchlike... During the phase of trying to stop the leak I don't see how there is any additional crimes. It is such a colossal undertaking, it is significantly deeper than any manned submarine can go, the PSI is in the range of 2360, about 160 X what we feel on the surface.

Much as the president said today during his news conference, I certainly understand people's frustration and anger as the perceived slowness to get this fixed but it honestly does seem like there are a lot of people trying to do all they can to get it stopped. It is in no ones best interest to have it continue to spill.

This is not apologist-istic to BP, frankly I hope they go out of business over all of this (though I know they won't) as a safety wake-up to the industry as a whole. Because just because it was BP doesn't mean it couldn't have been Exxon, Shell, Texaco.. or any other such operation.
posted by edgeways at 12:21 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Today's news about putting a 6 month moratorium on deepwater drilling is shocking and I feel is an overreaction. This is punishing the responsible operators as well as BP. Good, responsible people who had nothing to do with this accident will lose their jobs. Already, rigs are looking at moving out of the Gulf to other locations to get work. This will have a knock-on effect of a brain drain as personnel follow the rigs, revenue loss as the money follows the rigs and deepening the recession in the Gulf Coast States.

Stopping oil dependence is going to be painful. I'm not callous to the suffering of those who might lose their jobs, but it seems that the best path forward would be to retrain these workers to do sustainable energy jobs.

We're going to have to stop using oil someday, and it will hurt, when that day comes. Maybe we should get it over with as soon as possible?
posted by angrycat at 12:23 PM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure how this is unfair. Unconstitutional, yes, but not everything in the Constitution is necessarily wonderful.

Scenario 1: "Yes, your honor, I murdered him. Oh wait, it was self-defense. A killing in self-defense isn't murder. Wait, did I just say I murdered someone? Shit. Are there take-backs?"

Scenario 2: "I killed that man in self-defense. After I sold him all that heroin, he came after me with a knife, so I shot him. Wait -- just because I sold him heroin doesn't make me a murderer. He really did have a knife. Can we leave the heroin part out of this?"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:25 PM on May 27, 2010


Cool Papa Bell: How are the scenarios you're describing unfair?
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:27 PM on May 27, 2010


To be clear, I don't necessarily think this has anything to do with BP. Grumblebee is right.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:28 PM on May 27, 2010


It's not a moratorium on drilling, it's a moratorium on new permits.

electroboy, it's the same thing. I have projects that were half way through drilling that are now on hold because we got a phone call from the MMS. Other operations that had permits approved prior to the April cut-off have had them rescinded. There is not a big stockpile of permits that can be drilled off in the next 6 months so the moratorium takes effect TODAY, not in 3 months time. In terms of people's lives being affected, that's significantly more than are employed in the fishing industry.
posted by arcticseal at 12:29 PM on May 27, 2010


arcticseal, while I empathize, I think the moratorium decision is at least consistent with where the general public sentiment is on further deep sea drilling right now--in fact, in a lot of quarters, it's being seen as not going far enough and there's a lot of agitating for even more drastic steps. So agree with it or not, there's a new political reality post-spill, and that's just where things stand right now.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:37 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


personally, i'm more worried about what the impending hurricane season will bring, and the clean-up efforts and continuing after-effects of the spill.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:39 PM on May 27, 2010


Today's news about putting a 6 month moratorium on deepwater drilling is shocking and I feel is an overreaction. This is punishing the responsible operators as well as BP

I understand this sentiment, the problem is up until now we've pretty much had to rely almost exclusively on (essentially) self reporting. Prior to this I'm sure BP would have called itself responsible.

Fundamentally, how do we separate out the responsible operators from the not responsible?

I've no doubt that in 6 months time, or whenever, there will be more off-shore drilling. Hopefully during this moratorium there is an independent framework in place to really identify those responsible operators and which has the teeth to shut down the irresponsible ones.

The party to be upset at is BP. Full-stop. THEY are the ones that pissed in every other oil producer's bottom line, necessitating an industry wide evaluation.
posted by edgeways at 12:43 PM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I love how everybody is now an expert on deep sea engineering.

...In addition to being constitutional scholars, mobile phone software and hardware designers, and experts at gymnastics landings.


Well, to be fair, at least one Male Answer Syndrome patient here did know something about mobile phone programs.
posted by y2karl at 12:44 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


arcticseal: well fwiw from where I sit it's difficult to determine the exact nature of the "moratorium on new permits." For instance, here are some views that seem to diverge from your own views on the moratorium's immediate impact.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 12:44 PM on May 27, 2010


The scariest thing is, believe it was on an ABC interview from LA last night, guy standing there in the marshes of Grand Island, and said yeah this is totally gone, and there is still a month's worth of oil out there coming. I'll never stop at a BP shop again.
posted by timsteil at 12:47 PM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


In terms of the economic hardships of putting offshore drilling on hold, it's something that'll need to be done anyway, and something like this is the only way it's ever going to get done. Americans largely didn't give a crap about switching to more efficient cars until gas prices got high. So, while I feel bad for people whose specialty is drilling for oil, the reality is there's going to be, and should be, a time where their specialty isn't needed so much anymore. If this causes there to be increased urgency regarding innovation and implementation in renewable energy sources, at least some benefit would come out of this situation.

I expect my job will become obsolete one day too, but I don't expect people to stop innovating just because my coworkers I don't want to have to find a new line of work. And my job doesn't even carry the risk of killing people and destroying entire ecosystems if something goes wrong.
posted by wondermouse at 12:54 PM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


BP missed several warning signs and opportunities in the hours before the kick to stop it in it's tracks.

When it comes to significant engineering disasters, this isn't atypical. There are many good books on the subject, with use cases showing that even the best-trained people with good processes can fail to do the right things when the opportunities present themselves.

A big part of that is deference to authority; when people in an organization don't feel they can "stop the line", as it were, to have a problem addressed, then these disasters are more likely to happen. Also contributing is the memo approach, where someone writes a memo saying there's a problem and thinks that will be enough to get the problem solved.

The only way to avoid most (you can't avoid all) of these disasters seems to be cultivating an organization that gives serious weight and attention to whistleblowers from down below, and rewards proactive risk-taking (in the sense of risking your job to make sure something unsafe is taken care of) rather than punishing it.

As I recall, one of the early mentions of the "cause" of all this included a comment about an inappropriate deference to authority...
posted by davejay at 1:04 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Er, use cases case studies. Never type while listening to a conference call at the same time.
posted by davejay at 1:06 PM on May 27, 2010


HP LaserJet P10006 - My project is one of those on that list and I can confirm it's permit was
pulled last weekend. I won't go into details, but I'm based in the operators office and it's taking effect now.
posted by arcticseal at 1:12 PM on May 27, 2010


Today's news about putting a 6 month moratorium on deepwater drilling is shocking and I feel is an overreaction.

OIL DRILLER SAYS MORATORIUM ON OIL DRILLING 'SHOCKING'. FILM AT ELEVEN.
posted by Justinian at 1:18 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


"there's some kind of hose inspection going on on the spillcam right now."

I just want to say the spill cam is freaking awesome and gives me the same warm fuzzies ftping a file from Australia in the '80s gave me. Live colour video from a camera perched a continent away and a mile beneath an ocean. Think of how mind blowing that would have been a 100 years ago. Technology is amazing.
posted by Mitheral at 1:19 PM on May 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


yes, once again a little pipe is poking around in the big pipe on spillcam. This is almost as good as pandacam except, you know, with less cuteness and more environmental catastropheness.
posted by Justinian at 1:23 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


OH NOES THE OWLS ARE DESTROYING OUR LUMBER INDUSTRY!
posted by symbioid at 1:24 PM on May 27, 2010


I just want to say the spill cam is freaking awesome

I agree, and I was wondering, is there a deep-ocean cam around when there isn't a disaster? Because I wouldn't mind being able to look at a live view of The Deep.
posted by grumblebee at 1:24 PM on May 27, 2010


1910: "So, let me get this straight. We can actually watch you, destroying the planet, in real time?"
posted by crunchland at 1:24 PM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


huh. don't know how i missed the fact that there's been an official government response website covering the response efforts and related breaking news right here all this time.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:36 PM on May 27, 2010


It seems like the "Top kill seems to have worked" line was PR from BP.


Setback Delays ‘Top Kill’ Effort to Seal Leaking Oil Well in Gulf (NYT)
posted by yertledaturtle at 2:00 PM on May 27, 2010


new undersea oil cloud is headed miles inland into shallower waters where many fish and other species reproduce.
posted by angrycat at 2:05 PM on May 27, 2010


No it wasn't yertledaturtle. I don't know why the headline at NY times changed (it's the same article as posted in the original fpp, btw), but LA Times and many others have since reported that the flow of oil has been halted by the operation.

There's been no change in the news since then. Read the text of the article you linked (which, again, is the same as the first article linked in the original fpp).
posted by saulgoodman at 2:06 PM on May 27, 2010


Oh crap--never mind. Apparently the rest of the text of the article has been updated now, too.

Still--it doesn't say the flow has resumed. Just that they've stopped pumping in the drilling mud.

But yeah. On second thought, this might mean it's not going to work after all. It's not clear yet.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:08 PM on May 27, 2010


The ability to take the Fifth is akin to saying, "I may say something stupid that incriminates me here, or incriminates me for something not relevant to the current proceeding. Neither of which is fair to me, so I'm using this here escape hatch."

Also, if it were possible to compel someone to testify against themself, in the same way that it's possible to compel a witness to answer a question on pain of perjury or contempt, it would be much, much easier for unscrupulous officials to abuse their positions and get legally sound but otherwise questionable convictions. So it's not just to cover the asses of people who might say something dumb. Taking the Fifth can just as easily mean, "I'm not going to make your case against me for you, that's your job. Prove your case."
posted by clockzero at 2:08 PM on May 27, 2010


electroboy wrote: "StartContinue cleaning it up?"

Let's be accurate, please.

SatansCabanaboy wrote: "Why did it take over a month for them to figure out how to stop it?"

It's not so much that it took a month to figure it out, it's that it takes time to get the resources in place. The original plan, the top hat, was considered the best solution because it could be done in a couple of weeks and buy time for the relief well to be drilled, which will stop the flow of oil for good. Once that didn't work, they had to start investigating more risky maneuvers, like the top kill, which still isn't permanent without cementing. (and I think they still have to drill the relief well)


saulgoodman wrote: "Even though pressure readings indicated "a very large abnormality," BP continued to replace drilling mud with seawater. That move, BP's team told the subcommittee's investigators, may have been a "fundamental mistake.""

So basically we have a similar chain of events that led to Chernobyl (and nearly every other major industrial accident), only this time with an oil well. What morons.
posted by wierdo at 2:11 PM on May 27, 2010


BP may be trying to plug the wrong leak
posted by angrycat at 2:16 PM on May 27, 2010


Saul,
No worries. BP's PR machine are experts at sowing confusion.

You are right it is very unclear whether this will work or not. The news headlines this morning were put out to pacify people who would like to wishfully think that the problem is solved.

The well is not plugged, therefore the problem is NOT SOLVED and the GUSHER HAS NOT BEEN CAPPED.

Back to square one.
posted by yertledaturtle at 2:20 PM on May 27, 2010


I just want to say the spill cam is freaking awesome and gives me the same warm fuzzies ftping a file from Australia in the '80s gave me.

It is awesome. And I couldn't quite place that geeky feeling I had deep in my cockles until now. I'm going to spill some 10W-40 outside for those at the crossroads.

an official government response website

Interesting. That looks like a corporate website to me. In fact, it looks like a bunch of canned responses to FAQs that those concerned about the spill might have. So these are all answers to a question I may have, but I cannot find anything that tells me that the US Government is answering these questions. I wonder at what point in the process they signed off on this.
posted by chemoboy at 2:23 PM on May 27, 2010


The well is not plugged, therefore the problem is NOT SOLVED and the GUSHER HAS NOT BEEN CAPPED.

Well, that's true--but nobody said it had been plugged yet anyway, just that pumping in the drilling mud seemed to be bringing down the pressure the way it was intended to.

Damn. I'd been waiting all day for news of when they were going to actually attempt to cement cap the well. Now it looks like they're having to push the attempt to cap the well off until late tonight. God I hope this doesn't fall through, though. This gusher's driving me crazy. It's just so fucking nerve-racking, knowing that thing's out there in the gulf spewing this shit.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:26 PM on May 27, 2010


angrycat wrote: "BP may be trying to plug the wrong leak"

That article makes no sense at all. Oil doesn't magically appear in the sunken rig, it comes out of the hole they drilled in the ground. Unless they're trying to the riser isn't broken after all and most of the oil is not in fact escaping near the wellhead, but is really escaping farther down the pipe.

In any event, a successful top kill would, by dint of plugging the borehole, stop any further leakage.
posted by wierdo at 2:28 PM on May 27, 2010


Back to square one.

It's not square one, dammit! Don't say that! For fuck's sake man! Some of us actually live here. As far as I can tell from the sources, that's not an accurate or helpful claim at this point, just crazy-making!
posted by saulgoodman at 2:29 PM on May 27, 2010


Ya' gotta watch this!

It's incredible how things really haven't changed in 31 years.
Rachel Maddow on the 1979 Gulf Oil Spill.
Incredible. Same techniques. Same players.

Déjà vu. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
posted by ericb at 2:36 PM on May 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


That article makes no sense at all. Oil doesn't magically appear in the sunken rig, it comes out of the hole they drilled in the ground. Unless they're trying to the riser isn't broken after all and most of the oil is not in fact escaping near the wellhead, but is really escaping farther down the pipe.

wierdo, I don't know. Below is the explanation. I don't know what a "riser" is.

From what little I can understand, it seems like the article is basing its theory in significant part on the second gigantic oil plume that has unknown origins.

I know fuck-all about this stuff; the article could be panic-mongering, or not, but here's what they say.


Simmons believes that when the Deepwater Horizon exploded, "the riser blew off the wellhead and it’s still hooked to the rig,” about 7 miles away.

Therefore, even if BP claims that the “top kill” is successful, it still may not stop the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Chairman of Wow Energy Solutions, Nicholas Possi agrees with Simmons - BP has not only missed the main target, they may have actually “made it worse.”

posted by angrycat at 2:38 PM on May 27, 2010


So my dad, who worked for Mobil and then ExxonMobil (so you know he's totally got cred!), says the mistake was trying to put out the fire. Theory being the fire fighting caused the Deepwater Horizon to sink, pretzeling the pipe, and making it subsequently much more difficult to stop the flow, or even access the well.

That may be over-simplifying things. I'm not sure DH could have burned indefinitely without sinking, but perhaps there would have been time and access enough to get the BOP working. I do know that our first instinct to attempt to put out seemingly out of control fires at all costs isn't always the best choice. Decades of that kind of management of forest fires has created tinderboxes that are increasingly dangerous and harder and harder to put out, vs what letting smaller scale fires simply burn would have done.
posted by 6550 at 2:38 PM on May 27, 2010


Well, that's true--but nobody said it had been plugged yet anyway, just that pumping in the drilling mud seemed to be bringing down the pressure the way it was intended to.

Yes. You are right no one is saying that. But the BP PR machine is running information interference, so to speak, by saying the top kill seems to be "bringing the pressure down" etc.. and disseminating to the press to get the hopes of the public up which "brings down down the pressure" on BP.

I know this is cynical on my part but BP has not had a good track record so far in releasing accurate information about what is going on in the GOM so far.
posted by yertledaturtle at 2:39 PM on May 27, 2010


Bill Nye the Science Guy explains Top Kill.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:42 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's not square one, dammit! Don't say that! For fuck's sake man! Some of us actually live here. As far as I can tell from the sources, that's not an accurate or helpful claim at this point, just crazy-making!

Sorry Saul!! really, really.. I know....I am so sad for you, the people and the ecosystem of the GOM.
I am really hoping for the best as well. I have been through natural disasters before so I know how difficult it is. My heart goes out to you and every one in the GOM.

That being said - BP should not be let off the hook at all for this. That means not giving them the benefit of the doubt in the court of public opinion.
posted by yertledaturtle at 2:44 PM on May 27, 2010


angrycat wrote: "wierdo, I don't know. Below is the explanation. I don't know what a "riser" is."

The riser is the pipe that runs from the wellhead at the ocean floor up to the drilling rig. The wellhead sits on top of the hole they drilled (the borehole) to control the pressure.

What I've seen indicates that the riser is still connected to the wellhead, but is broken, allowing the oil to gush forth into the Gulf of Mexico. The top kill is essentially doing what one normally does when drilling wells (but is more difficult because the oil is already flowing at pressure), forcing a bunch of heavy mud down the hole to contain the pressure in the well. Once you have a plug in the borehole, nothing can come out.

The article could be accurate to the extent that it's possible that only part of the oil is escaping from what is currently considered the main break while a bunch more continues "up" the riser pipe towards the wreckage of the drilling platform and leaks out either at the rig or somewhere along the way. That's completely irrelevant to the efficacy of a successful top kill, as all the oil initially comes from the borehole.
posted by wierdo at 2:47 PM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


wierdo, thanks.

if the folks quoted in the article are just talking out of their asses, they should be given a good hearty dope-slap, at a minimum.
posted by angrycat at 3:07 PM on May 27, 2010


Rachel Maddow on the 1979 Gulf Oil Spill.

The 1979 Ixtoc I Oil Leak also occurred in the Gulf of Mexico. Back then they tried The exact sametechniques were tried then that have been employed today: (1) "Top Hat," (2) "Junk Shot," and (3) "Top Kill." All failed. The solution? Two relief wells to relieve pressure so that the leak could be plugged. After 9 months they were able to then plug the leak. Same techniques. Same approach. Nothing has changed in 31 years.*

*-- As mentioned by President Obama today, the government instructed BP to start building two relief wells immediately, and not just one which the company was proposing.
"I've designated Admiral Thad Allen -– who has nearly four decades of experience responding to such disasters -– as the National Incident Commander, and if he orders BP to do something to respond to this disaster, they are legally bound to do it. So, for example, when they said they would drill one relief well to stem this leak we demanded a backup and ordered them to drill two. And they are in the process of drilling two....I already mentioned a second example, which is they wanted to drill one relief well. The experience has been that when you drill one relief well, potentially you keep on missing the mark. And so it's important to have two to maximize the speed and effectiveness of a relief well....I already mentioned a second example, which is they wanted to drill one relief well. The experience has been that when you drill one relief well, potentially you keep on missing the mark. And so it's important to have two to maximize the speed and effectiveness of a relief well.
posted by ericb at 3:08 PM on May 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


*Back then the exact same techniques were tried...*
posted by ericb at 3:09 PM on May 27, 2010


ericb: Rachel Maddow on the 1979 Gulf Oil Spill

For a second there I was all what? she was 6 years old!
posted by desjardins at 3:10 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Rachel was wrong about one thing. The Ixtoc well was not "in 200 feet of water." The well was at 3657m, more than 2-1/4 miles deep.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:25 PM on May 27, 2010


For a second there I was all what? she was 6 years old!

Which she mentions in her segment!
posted by ericb at 3:26 PM on May 27, 2010


So a thought on this process - I know it was untested at this depth but it seems to me that all the other methods BP had tried were done so as to not lose access to the oil being produced by this well. The Top Hat method was supposed to enable them to be able to siphon the oil off in a controlled manner. They've tried inserting siphoning tubes with mixed success. And they've now stemmed the flow with this mud so as to be able to put a new pipe on and siphon the reduced flow. So BP hasn't actually been trying to stop the leak. Rather they've been trying to get it under control so it wasn't a leak but a producing well again. If they were interested in stopping the leak they would have done more drastic things and far earlier on, rather than 5 weeks after the fact.

As far as I know this is simply not the case. The cement failure is just too severe. Also the Top Hat would not have made the well a production well. In fact if they wanted to make it a production well the top kill would be the first option. It's basically the same kind of cement plug that failed and caused the blowout.

In my understanding the reasons the riskier top kill was not used before were that the BOP was blocking the flow of the oil at least to a some degree and the top kill could remove that obstruction. Furthermore the actual condition of the BOP was not known and apparently the fancy gamma ray machine that they used to see what happened to BOP was what gave them the confidence to try the top kill.

Oh and yeah there is only one hole in the ground and that is what BP is trying to plug.
posted by Authorized User at 3:31 PM on May 27, 2010


Rachel was wrong about one thing. The Ixtoc well was not "in 200 feet of water." The well was at 3657m, more than 2-1/4 miles deep.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:25 PM on May 27 [+] [!]


You are mistaken. The well was 3657 meters meters deep, but only 50 meters or so of that was water.
posted by Authorized User at 3:34 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Before I post, there is crazy robotic space stuff going on in the spillcam right now.
posted by chemoboy at 3:35 PM on May 27, 2010


A tweet from Lisa Desjardins of CNN

Unclear: Why did BP/response team wait 16 hrs to reveal it suspended Top Kill to reassess? Did Coast Guard commandant know? #oilspill

It seems like there's a bunch of issues here:

1) Is BP doing what it needs to do to kill the well
2) Is BP doing what it needs to do to protect the coast
3) Is BP acting transparently with regards to one and two

It seems like the answers are: Maybe probably yes, no, and no.

So when I say I would like to punch the BP CEO in the penis, I say that with regards to issues 2 and 3
posted by angrycat at 3:42 PM on May 27, 2010


It's worth noting that the Ixtoc 1 also was much bigger (10 times? Estimates of Ixtoc aren't great) than the DWH spill. Applied dispersant rates were also much higher (2.25 MGal, vs ~650,000gal on DWH).

Those pictures in the ABC news video were fabulous, in a spill science geek sort of way. Very exciting to see---those are some great images of the dispersant plume.

Some random thoughs: dispersant is supposed to break the oil down into tiny droplets, <60 um VMD is the goal. The droplets in the plume they saw actually look kind of big to me, some as big as 1 mm. This makes it easier, the theory goes, for bacteria to attach and start breaking down the oil. In the surface layer, oil droplets have a half-life of 8-12 days, depending on which researchers you believe.

The divers seeing oil down to 25 feet is exactly in line with theory. That's what dispersant is supposed to do, mix the oil down to the seasonal thermocline, usually called the mixing layer, about 25-30 ft down. This is actually good confirmation that the response technique is working as incident command thinks it should.

With a lot of luck in the next few days, this may not be neccesary for too much longer. We're all hoping for that.
posted by Anonymous 5$ Sockpuppet at 3:48 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


angrycat.

I believe it is in BP's interest to sow confusion. The whole " it seems to be working" line was a part of that. This is really a lot like the fog of war. BP is doing all it can to maintain it's survival and is using information in it's battle to try and bolster our view of it as a viable entity. BP knows that they are on the losing end of the stick, so confusion and obfuscation furthers their interests in the war.

The boycott of BP is picking up speed and this disaster threatens their bottom line far into the future. They will do whatever it takes to make sure that this does not happen. One of the things that they will do is to speak with a forked tongue and put out misleading info to the press.

I would like to punch the CEO of BP in the penis of regardless of whether or not they are doing 1, 2 and 3.
posted by yertledaturtle at 3:56 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


So where are the best updates for explaining what's actually going on at spillcam?
posted by Wuggie Norple at 3:56 PM on May 27, 2010


Nice transparency, BP. They haven't been doing anything since midnight, but didn't really bothernto tell anyone. Meanwhile, Barry is holding a presser where he goes on at great length about the progress we are making.
posted by fixedgear at 3:58 PM on May 27, 2010


Wuggie
I have been using these sites:
The Oil Drum
The Drilling Club Not really commenting directly on what is on the camera itself but more on the technical issues involved.
LACTOC
posted by yertledaturtle at 4:03 PM on May 27, 2010


Gulf Oil Spill: Scientists Discover Massive New Sea Oil Plume
posted by homunculus at 4:18 PM on May 27, 2010


From Homunculus' link:

The researchers say they are worried these undersea plumes may be the result of the unprecedented use of chemical dispersants to break up the oil a mile undersea at the site of the leak.

Hollander said the oil they detected has dissolved into the water, and is no longer visible, leading to fears from researchers that the toxicity from the oil and dispersants could pose a big danger to fish larvae and creatures that filter the waters for food.


Anon. 5$ sockpuppet, can you comment on this, as I think you sort of spoke to this concern in an earlier thread; also, how does it square with your comment in this thread? Is it that the dispers. are both working the way they should in some quarters and not in others?
posted by angrycat at 4:23 PM on May 27, 2010


I dunno. We're all BP now. With our collective insatiable demand for oil, this clusterfuck was an inevitability, and in some small way we all share the blame for this.

Just wait until we're completely tooled up for "clean" nuclear power, and there's the inevitable failure in the chain somewhere. This mess may be largely cleaned up in a decade or so, but swathes of land will be off limits for aeons after there's a runaway reaction in the bowels of a reactor somewhere.
posted by marvin at 4:31 PM on May 27, 2010


i have no issue with calling this obama's katrina. it's the 2nd worse thing to happen to new orleans in the last 5 years & the first worst thing to happen drilling wise to the u.s. ever. it's a disaster, natural or otherwise. what he does or doesn't do will affect YOU. for years to come. niggling over what to call this is the least of anyone's problems.

It's not a moratorium on drilling, it's a moratorium on new permits.
higher taxes, anyone? because the u.s. stands to lose about $1b/year lease sales only, not revenues, which are another story when they stop handing out new leases with that moratorium. and that doesn't begin to touch the cost of restructuring mms. i believe it's actually being split into 3 agencies, not 2 as stated in the article, but it's being restructured nonetheless.

she's [birnbaum's] been in charge for less than a year and the atmosphere that prevailed for the last decade was POISONOUSLY corrupt.

although the wiki article would have you believe mms was created out of thin air in 1982, there's actually a backstory about a pissing contest with blm & political favors that goes along with the inception of that agency, but i'd be willing to bet it ain't outlined on the intertubes & i'm too fuzzy on the details to try to recreate it with any certainty. i actually feel sorry for birmbaum, even though she must have been a lunatic to accept the job in the first place. surprisingly, chris oynes the guy running the gulf of mexico show for the last umpteen years, handed in his resignation 2 weeks ago & he's about to sneak out of there with nary a television microphone shoved in his face.

*readies his pitchfork*
pitchforks welcome. because you KNOW this is new orleans & you just KNOW we gonna dress up for our protests & we'll be sure to bring along accouterments.

where the hell is anonymous $5 sockpuppet?
posted by msconduct at 4:37 PM on May 27, 2010


oh. and i'm no petroleum engineer or deepwater drilling expert, but if that well has a significant amount of oil left in it, they'll find some way to get it out. they might not try to go back through that same hole, but they'll find a way to suck it out of there sooner or later.
posted by msconduct at 4:39 PM on May 27, 2010


May 2010 vs. June 1979.
posted by mattdidthat at 4:41 PM on May 27, 2010


Rig worker: BP official rejected safety concerns

Robert Kaluza, a top BP worker who was aboard the Deepwater Horizon in the hours leading up to the explosion, declined to testify in front of the Coast Guard panel, invoking his constitutional right to avoid self-incrimination.

The move raises the possibility of criminal liability in the explosion.

Wednesday's hearing in Louisiana, however, failed to determine why — despite unusual pressure and fluid readings on the rig — a BP official decided on the day of the explosion to proceed with removing drilling mud from the well and replacing it with seawater that was unable to prevent gas from surging to the surface and exploding...

Carl Smith, an expert witness from Diamond Offshore Drilling, later testified that there was sometimes tension between "company men" and the rig crew. Diamond Offshore was not involved in the operation.

Smith also raised questions about BP's apparent rush to finish the job. He and other experts interviewed have emphasized that the crew's priority should have been to monitor the well. Monitoring wells involves watching fluid spew from outtake systems; if more comes out than expected, it could mean there is leak in the hole.

Smith, however, said he believed the heart of the accident was an "engineering problem" that allowed the initial failure deep in the well. "This is a below-the-mud-line, down-the-well engineering problem," he said.

posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:47 PM on May 27, 2010


So where are the best updates for explaining what's actually going on at spillcam?

At 4:10 PDT all I've seen are what look like cases of pumps. Earlier I was seeing two different colored jets of something being ejected from the well device. Talking heads assured me that because the jets appear more reddish they include "mud." But they also admitted that jets of mud also included oil and gas. Perhaps those jets that have not changed color still contain the previous level of gas and oil but I'm no expert.

It is ridiculous but I've not found a better explanation for what I am seeing than what I said myself. So I hope someone else has a better explanation.

Nice transparency, BP. They haven't been doing anything since midnight, but didn't really bothernto tell anyone. Meanwhile, Barry is holding a presser where he goes on at great length about the progress we are making.

First of all I am interested and very glad how many contributors have relevant knowledge in the field of offshore drilling. This is not meant as a snarky comment. And it really is appreciated (by me, anyway) that posters identify their association in this industry at the beginning of their post. Personally I find it adds a lot of credibility to all comments, regardless of the position.

It is also a little more refreshing to have a small panel of experts and near-experts talking about an Apollo-13 like endeavor than it is to have a bunch of experts and near-experts in law talking about ... anything.

Sorry, law experts and near-experts. And lawyers, to you I am sorry the most. Sorry everyone. Sorry!

But in the last few weeks the words of someone I don't remember have been haunting me. This whole oil spill is more like an Apollo 13 disaster than anything else. No, there aren't iconic Astronauts lives at stake, but there are a lot more. Yes, BP may state that they will go beyond the 75 million dollar limit on damages. An admirable claim, I will give them that, and one that was a little surprising. But what happens to someone who lives paycheck to paycheck? What happens to them when they don't know when their next paycheck will be?

The astronauts are those along the gulf in the fishing, tourism, and yes, even oil industry employees who were struggling in a rough economy and were suddenly dealt a choking blow. And the only way to solve this might be to use golf balls and used tires to circumvent cutting edge technology with insufficient fail-safes. We really don't know what is going on that far down in the water.

Anon. 5$ sockpuppet, can you comment on this

I too would like to hear more about this because dispersant has been all but dismissed as a good thing. The only environmental impact studies I've seen have been for surface animals. I am not being accusatory, but I have not seen any studies about the environmental impact of dispersant that falls to the sea floor.

Are there even studies that oil dropped to the sea floor at these depths is better for the environment than oil that remains on the surface before being washed ashore?
posted by chemoboy at 4:48 PM on May 27, 2010


Probably even more distressing are the news articles about Sen. David Vitter's proposed legislation that are vanishing from KPLC TV and other news sources (in latter, comments mention Vitter, but article has been modified).
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:34 PM on May 27, 2010


What is "mud?" This industry likes to use lots of nicknames for something, so something tells me this stuff is not just water and dirt.
posted by chemoboy at 6:05 PM on May 27, 2010


according to vitter's site, there's already a $75m cap on bp's liability. of course it also says, '“We need to deal with the current spill first before we begin the debate on how to address future oil spills.' [emphasis mine] so maybe he's chosen to withdraw his bill until there's some resolution of this mess, lest his constituents lynch him.
posted by msconduct at 6:08 PM on May 27, 2010


chemoboy wrote: "What is "mud?" This industry likes to use lots of nicknames for something, so something tells me this stuff is not just water and dirt."

It depends on the well, but it's usually mainly a mix of water and clay. Note that I don't work in the oil patch, but my daddy drilled gas wells for a living.
posted by wierdo at 6:18 PM on May 27, 2010


this will break your heart: Gulf Coast Photographer Captures Oil Spill's Effect on Wildlife, via pbs.
posted by msconduct at 6:44 PM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


I can't really comment on the deep plumes at this point. I will say this: this situation is significantly more complex than it's being made out to be and much less certain. Anyone who says something is definitely happening at this point is almost certainly wrong.

Most of what's been reported to date is being done with simple field kits which have very low reliabilities or with low sensitivity intruments. What the plumes are, sediment, oil or something else, at this point isn't certain. Much better sampling needs to be done with much better intrumentation than what's been reported so far.

These reports are troubling, but really, really, need verification.
posted by Anonymous 5$ Sockpuppet at 7:06 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


It is a takeoff on the chant Burn Baby Burn; a paean to nihilistic abandon in the face of destruction.

Disco inferno?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:24 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank you for the explanation, wierdo. Not at all trying to call you out, so I appreciate any information you have and the honesty on your position.

I have also heard the term "mud" used to describe a substance pumped into a well while drilling to counteract the pressure. This substance, as I understand, consists of "clay and chemicals." It also seemed to me, from the descriptions I saw, like recovering this mud was important. The impression I got was that the chemicals in the mud (or the chemical and mud combination) was expensive to produce but could be easily recycled.

I just wanted to make sure that when I hear a media outlets say that they are pumping "mud" into the earth's crust I know exactly what "mud" they are talking about.

These reports are troubling, but really, really, need verification.

All reports do. Especially the ones that are troubling.
posted by chemoboy at 8:09 PM on May 27, 2010


Not sure about deepwater, but more often than not, drilling mud contains mostly bentonite. A type of clay, when bentonite is in colloidal suspension, it's the consistency of the mud found along a river bank and about as toxic.
posted by SeeAych4 at 8:25 PM on May 27, 2010


The anecdotal, but still widely-reported according to Newsweek, evidence that local governments are working with BP to suppress photographic evidence of the damage caused by the spill are the most recent thing to make me GRAR, especially with how it reminds of the prior report of the Coast Guard being used to similar end.

When politicians talk with contrived passion about giving government back to the people, they almost never have in mind fixing instances like this.
posted by JHarris at 8:41 PM on May 27, 2010


Ok, so is there any good source of information regarding clean up efforts and where or what might be needed? I'm two hours from the Gulf and unemployed, but haven't really heard much about clean-up.
posted by threeturtles at 8:48 PM on May 27, 2010


More about mud:

I haven't really worked with the stuff, but based on what I know it is generally a mixture of clay (of various types) and water, with chemical additives (like Baroid) added to mess with the physical characteristics (viscosity etc). The basic concept is a fluid that will flow under pressure and "gel" once it gets to the place where you need it. It doesn't solidify like cement, so it's not the "cement cap" that you see mentioned. From what I recall some of the additives are definitely NOT non-toxic. It is used to lubricate the drilling string and seal off areas of borehole that you want to seal from what's moving around in the annulus.

It is important when drilling with fluids, especially mud, to know what's going in and what's coming out so that you can know what's occuring down below. No recovery means it's going into the formation. Excess recovery means you have fluids coming from somewhere below. At least this is how it works in near surface drilling.
posted by Big_B at 9:00 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


It is important when drilling with fluids, especially mud, to know what's going in and what's coming out so that you can know what's occuring down below.

I hope we're still talking about oil wells.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:52 PM on May 27, 2010


As Big_B mentioned, its main purpose is generally to lubricate the drill and move the cuttings up and out of the well. That's why it has to be circulated. Its other main purpose is to counteract the pressure of the oil, gas, or whatever else being forced out of the rock into the hole. The higher the pressure down hole, the heavier and more viscous the mud needs to be to prevent a blowout. The lower the pressure, the lighter and less viscous. The weight of the mud is generally kept as low as possible so as to avoid damaging the formation and impeding the flow once the well is put into production.
posted by wierdo at 9:53 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Criminal negligence? Disinformation/lying about the severity? Are those things illegal?

Well, for one thing on their application they said they had a plan for what to do if there was a blowout. Obviously that wasn't quite the case. Keep in mind BP has previously been convicted of environmental crimes a total of four times. It's possible they could lose the right to drill in U.S. waters, supply the U.S. military.

here's an in depth article
Rachel was wrong about one thing. The Ixtoc well was not "in 200 feet of water." The well was at 3657m, more than 2-1/4 miles deep.
Wikipedia says 160 feet. You're thinking of the depth of the well itself, underground, once you get past the water. That's kind of irrelevant, since the leak is at the sea floor. Deepwater Horizon had drilled down 5,500 m below the sea floor, so the total depth was 7km or 23 thousand feet below the surface of the sea. But the leak itself is just at the sea floor, 5,000 feet below the surface
Just wait until we're completely tooled up for "clean" nuclear power, and there's the inevitable failure in the chain somewhere. This mess may be largely cleaned up in a decade or so, but swathes of land will be off limits for aeons after there's a runaway reaction in the bowels of a reactor somewhere.
Frankly, the fear of nuclear compared to other energy sources is just ridiculous. Yeah, no one can go near Chernobyl, but the area isn't that large, compared to hundreds of miles of coastline either covered or going to be covered in TOXIC sludge. Sludge that can be just as damaging to health as low levels of radiation. I think you could make the case that this is a greater environmental catastrophe then Chernobyl, but radiation just scares people -- you can't see it or smell it like Oil. But in terms of ecological damage, I think this trumps it. Chernobyl didn't even hurt the environment that much, just made an area inhospitable to humans who are worried about their long term health.

Aaand anyway, it's obviously possible to build nukes that can't melt down under any circumstances. There are technologies that can't melt down any more then your microwave oven or a windmill can. But, there's clearly no way to build an offshore oil rig that doesn't involve high pressure oil flowing through massive plumbing on the bottom of the sea. You can make it safer, but you can't make it perfect.
posted by delmoi at 10:12 PM on May 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


You were doing so well, until "There are technologies that can't melt down any more then your microwave oven or a windmill can."
posted by a non e mouse at 10:20 PM on May 27, 2010


It's sad that this erroneous headline ("top kill working") still exists in some places, and that news outlets reported on the BP stoppage before US Coast Guard Commander Thad Allen had heard word of it.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:55 PM on May 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


threeturtles, the Barataria Terrebonne Estuary Program is a knowledgeable and experienced outfit. They are collecting volunteer info while building up the effort at the moment.

I was down on Grand Isle helping them with a project to plant grasses (hopefully not oiled) in March, and they are a good organization that has been doing work to restore the wetlands. I am sure that their cleanup projects will be informed and effective.

I hope that people recognize that the greatest risk from this disaster is the accelerated destruction of the Louisiana wetlands. Beaches can be cleaned, species can (hopefully) recover with natural resilience and protection. The wetlands are not being regenerated, and whole communities, spawning environments, hurricane barriers, are slipping away. So there was an existing slow-motion disaster which is now getting speeded up tremendously because the oil will kill the grasses that hold the marsh together. We needed a major wetlands project, and we do now more than ever.
posted by mblandi at 11:28 PM on May 27, 2010


From what I can tell, not only has the top kill failed to work, but the fact that they have suspended pumping mud into the damaged BOP and riser suggests that it probably won't work when they begin their second attempt probably tomorrow. The problem is that as they pump mud into the stream, it is being pushed out by the outward flowing oil and gas through the existing leaks and not enough of it is going down the well bore. Their second attempt may involve adding "bridging agents" that will staunch some of this outward flow, enough to hopefully get mud down the hole. The bridging agents can be the random flotsam that gives the "junk shot" its name, but any number of things can be used. A common choice is actually walnut shells. Why? Because they're cheap and work as well as anything else.

The game is this: you have whats essentially a gushing fire hydrant. You are trying to stop the flow out of the hydrant by pumping a heavy liquid into the hydrant. Much of it will also gush out, but you are hoping that enough goes into the pipe feeding the hydrant so that the weight of the pumped heavy fluid will stop the flow. The heaviness of the mud is what's key: mud is much denser than water or oil and gas. When the pressure due to the weight of a tall column of mud occupying a borehole exceeds the pressure of the formation from which your oil, gas or other formation fluids are flowing, then there will be no flow. This is, in fact, the main reason that drilling mud is used: to keep the well under control, and to prevent the ingress of formation fluids (water, brines, oil or gas) into the borehole. Mud, as others have pointed out, consists of clays and other heavies (barite, for instance) in a colloidal solution with either water or hydrocarbon. Water based muds are generally not toxic.

My take is this: this mornings headlines were premature and wrong, because the well is still gushing. Worse, the suspension of mud pumping suggests that the chances of success are smaller than anticipated. When they resume pumping, this won't represent a continuation of an on-going effort so much as a second try.

Top kill will be a success if and only if the well stops flowing mud, gas, oil or any combination of these after pumping has ceased. At that point, they will be able to attempt placing a concrete plug down hole. If this succeeds, they will have hopefully bought enough time for the relief wells to be completed. The relief wells represent the only real and final fix for this spill. Everything else is attempting to temporarily stop or slow the flow of oil until this happens. Problem: the wells take weeks, even months to drill.

Other random comments.

- I have a huge respect for Simmons, and have found him to be one of the most credible commentators on peak oil and related issues. His commentary on the current crisis is frankly bizarre and quite embarrasing.

- Many things went wrong, but this wasn't a random and freak event: BP has huge responsibility (still too soon to tell exactly what went wrong and how, but among the screw ups: not running a cement log to check the integrity of the cement job, pressuring contractors, not paying sufficient attention to big warning signs from the mud tank logs before displacing the mud with seawatre). Nevertheless, the notion that BP could have acted to prevent or fix the spill but didn't because they didn't want to lose their newly found pool really makes no sense at all.

- The six month moratorium will have an enormous impact on the industry, and it is true that there is a sense in which it will unfairly penalizes both companies and operators who haven't spilled many millions of gallons of oil into the gulf as well as the livelihoods of those who work in the secort. Nevertheless, six months will hopefully be enough time to 1) stop the well; 2) have a comprehensive audit and analysis of precisely what happened, what went wrong and why it did; and 3) begin the long process of improving the regulation of the industry, beginning with reform and restructuring of the MMS. All of these things are absolutely necessary, and take time (indeed, number 3 will take years at the very least). The upshot is that this disaster is likely to have a profound and salutatory effect on the practices of oil and gas explorers and producers in the offshore.
posted by bumpkin at 12:38 AM on May 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


Is it possible that the increased pressure within the riser due to the top kill attempt (combined pressure of the mud + pressure of the oil) could force the holes in the riser wider (or that the sediment in the mud, under this high pressure, could erode away the edges of these openings), and wind up increasing the oil flow should the top kill fail?
posted by Auden at 1:50 AM on May 28, 2010


Is it possible that the increased pressure within the riser due to the top kill attempt (combined pressure of the mud + pressure of the oil) could force the holes in the riser wider (or that the sediment in the mud, under this high pressure, could erode away the edges of these openings), and wind up increasing the oil flow should the top kill fail?

Very possible. That's one reason why it took a while before they started the kill, they wanted more information on the state of the BOP first.

If this doesn't work, they'll use a diamond wire saw to cut the top part of the BOP off and connect a new pipe so that they can pump the spill to the surface. Obviously once you do that, there's no going back.
posted by atrazine at 3:55 AM on May 28, 2010


Well, fuck.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:45 AM on May 28, 2010


lots of ROV action going on right now. the operator dropped a tool on the shelf but it almost fell to the seafloor. he nudged it back. now the ROV is fucking wit ha pulley.
posted by Mach5 at 7:32 AM on May 28, 2010


Frankly, the fear of nuclear compared to other energy sources is just ridiculous.

It's non-renewable fuel dug out of the ground same as oil. If we go nuclear, the increased demands means we hit peak uranium in just a few decades, then we'll be using exotic dangerous stupid drilling techniques to reach harder and harder to obtain deposits, just like oil.

Digging free energy out of the ground is a loser's game - short term returns that set you up for a big fall when the low hanging fruit is gone and everyone has become intractably dependant and must fight to the death over whatever is left, in a lose-lose race to the bottom.

The only sensible way forward is to start generating our energy, so we're not dependant on digging up stuff to burn.

(Sidenote, I was at Chernobyl a few days ago. I think that disaster is a much bigger deal than you comprehend. Not your fault though - the official story, bad as it is, is still a whitewashed understatement)
posted by -harlequin- at 8:26 AM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


As of 8 AM today, we've frozen our Gulf Leak Meter, based on reports that the flow of oil is being held back.

"They have been able to push the hydrocarbons, or the oil, down with the mud," Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Friday on ABC's "Good Morning America." The challenge ahead, Allen said, will be "to put enough into the well to keep the pressure where they can put a cement plug over the top."

Allen and BP CEO Tony Hayward cautioned that the next 48 hours will be critical while BP tries to put the final plug in place.

PBS Newshour Fingers crossed!
posted by vectr at 8:42 AM on May 28, 2010


The upshot is that this disaster is likely to have a profound and salutatory effect on the practices of oil and gas explorers and producers in the offshore.

Hear, hear. I've worked in Norway where the regulations are the tightest possible and it is a totally different environment. The issue we face regardless of the regulations and standards is complacency, people think they are safe and that's what leads to messes like this.

The costs associated with upgrading everything to this standard will be steep but worth paying. My biggest concern about the moratorium is the knock-on effect to the economies of the Gulf Coast states, some of which are heavily dependent on the industry and the ancillary suppliers.
posted by arcticseal at 9:24 AM on May 28, 2010


The latest word seems to be there's some confusion surrounding certain recent statements from the Coast Guard commander in charge of the response oversight. Unclear at this point, is whether Allen misspoke when he said this morning that the flow of oil either had been or is halted. Jed Lewison at Kos has a pending call in to the response center now to get some clarification on the actual situation down there.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:32 AM on May 28, 2010


http://gulfblog.uga.edu/ Dr. Joye's weblog

This disaster is far from over. this oil will be in our waters and our bodies for years to decades. here's a link to UGA scientists working from a Louisiana research vessel out of LUMCON.

The United States relies on Louisiana as its energy sacrifice zone. The United States can at least Fund Coastal Restoration of Louisiana in return.

as stated above, restoring the ecological function of the river is the long term solution to this destruction. For the Port and for the benefit of the Oil and Gas and Chemical Industries, Louisiana has lost an area the size of the everglades since 1930.

here is a citizen / scientist plan to restore the coast. Since Katrina, coastal restoration has been mandated to involve hurricane protection as well. this increases the cost considerably, but it's within the profit margins of these companies, who are responsible for about a third to half of that everglades that is now open water. $200 billion is a lot, but not to these companies. Not for the benefit of keeping Louisiana here.

Some of the things described in that plan are being implemented as an oil slick response. The River diversions are being opened to push oilwater away from louisiana. Jindal is calling for BP to pay for a Sand Berm between us and the Gulf. While we wish he would listen to his own scientists on the details, this Sand project, and getting BP to pay for it, is in spirit the thing the US and Louisiana need to be doing, long term, to rebuild the ecosystem services that allow for people to live here in Louisiana and work on the oil wells, to ship American products around the world, and feed the junkie United States.

Stay updated on Louisiana Coastal Restoration here, lacoastpost, a blog by Dr. Len Bahr.

It is arguable how effective Coastal Restoration will be in combating sea level rise, in the pipe because of global warming. But we may be in a better position than say, New York. ultimately, Louisiana needs the US to stop consuming so much oil.

Even when the oil industry is not screwing up, burning this stuff is Louisiana's ultimate doom. please support Clean Energy, Organic / Local Agriculture, and Alternative Transportation where you can, for our sake.
posted by eustatic at 9:51 AM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I really don't know what is going on. Reports on NPR this morning were not good.
posted by angrycat at 9:55 AM on May 28, 2010


ProPublica has another comprehensive round up of what we know about the factors that may have contributed to the spill and the role that short-cut measures taken to contain BP's production costs may have played.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:56 AM on May 28, 2010


"as stated above, restoring the ecological function of the river is the long term solution to this destruction. For the Port and for the benefit of the Oil and Gas and Chemical Industries, Louisiana has lost an area the size of the everglades since 1930. "

Isn't restoring the ecological function of the Mississippi essentially letting the southern end silt up in preference for the Atchafalaya River?
posted by Mitheral at 10:07 AM on May 28, 2010


There is literally no way to generate energy that is both able to be widely deployed and not reliant on scarce resources. PV panels, biofuels, LiIon batteries... all rely on mining or agriculture, often in other countries that are not on the best of terms with the US. The only possible exception may be certain types of hydrogen fuel cells.

Don't stall nuclear power deployment because it relies on uranium. Again, I'd rather have my waste stored in a vault underground rather than in the air, water, or floating on top of the Gulf of Mexico. There are even reactor technologies that can regenerate fuel (breeder) and ones that are essentially impossible to melt down (pebble bed, among others).

When you stall the transition from coal to natural gas, or from oil to nuclear in hopes of using "greener" technologies, all you're allowing is more and more oil to be consumed as we wait for a "big enough" green revolution to come around.
posted by speedgraphic at 10:55 AM on May 28, 2010


'Top Kill' Hype Collides With Reality
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 11:27 AM on May 28, 2010


[i]Isn't restoring the ecological function of the Mississippi essentially letting the southern end silt up in preference for the Atchafalaya River?[/i]

not necessarily. you're talking as if all we can do is nothing, and "re-wild" the whole delta.
USCOE dredged the atchafalaya channel for shipping in the first place, accidentally accelerating its promotion as the next delta lobe. Wax lake delta is also building land as a result of a USCOE/man-made channel. Plaquemines doesn't build, because of levees, oil and gas, and ultimately because the deep water begins off the birdfoot.

similarly, more diversions can be made along the river, and the old distributaries (LaFouche, etc) re-connected or re-dredged to put more fresh water and some sediment into the system.

the river doesn't carry as much sediment as it used to, so pipelining of dredge material (the army corps is constantly dredging the river to maintain the channel) is needed to supplement the lack of sediment.

The plan isn't to get louisiana back to 1930, or to "re-wild" then abandon the delta's infrastructure. it's just to restore some of the function to allow a sustainable industrial society.
posted by eustatic at 11:27 AM on May 28, 2010


from HP's link

Well, how does BP explain that time they stopped all the Top Killing for many, many hours on a day when everyone in the country was being told by their president that Top Kill was a go? Basically, this:

"I probably should apologize to folks that we haven't been giving more data on that," Suttles said when asked why it took so long for BP to announce it had suspended the top kill. "It was nothing more than we are so focused on the operation itself."


That last line rings as true as a three dollar bill.

Is it possible they're waiting til the weekend to try to protect their stock?
posted by angrycat at 12:15 PM on May 28, 2010


There is literally no way to generate energy that is both able to be widely deployed and not reliant on scarce resources.

This is false, as the energy infrastructure of several countries today demonstrates. There are many many options, none a silver bullet alone, but taken together, it's doable right now, with today's tech and today's resources, despite the canards commonly spouted otherwise. The main problem is that people just aren't prepared to pay the full cost of the energy they use - it's hard to compete with free, and fossil fuel is free energy.
People prefer to live beyond their means, with energy and lifestyles that future generations will be forced to pay for.

But incredibly, despite this, many renewables are now price-competitive with free fossil energy (And some always were). If the economics continue to shift the way they're going, the cries that it can't be done will fade, as it will be done. Nothing gets in the way of the dollar. (Which is unfortunate for the climate :-/ )
posted by -harlequin- at 1:17 PM on May 28, 2010


-harlequin- wrote: "It's non-renewable fuel dug out of the ground same as oil. If we go nuclear, the increased demands means we hit peak uranium in just a few decades, then we'll be using exotic dangerous stupid drilling techniques to reach harder and harder to obtain deposits, just like oil."

No. More fuel can be bred relatively inexpensively. Additionally, there are fuel cycles other than uranium. While the whole thing does have a vague resemblance to oil, it's not really at all the same.

Also, please enumerate the energy sources that do not require digging anything up from the ground. Hydro? No. Where do you think the material for the dam comes from and the metal to make the turbines? Wind? No. Metal has to be dug up, composites are dependent on oil. Solar? Where do you think we get silicon? I'm really interested to know where these energy sources that don't rely on mineral deposits to be built are?
posted by wierdo at 2:01 PM on May 28, 2010


"I'm really interested to know where these energy sources that don't rely on mineral deposits to be built are?"

Wood burned in an open hearth? If you relied on dead fall you wouldn't even need metal for an axe. Horse power?
posted by Mitheral at 2:06 PM on May 28, 2010


BP bused in 100s of temp workers for Obama visit, state official says
Perhaps you saw news footage of President Obama in Grand Isle, La., on Friday and thought things didn't all that bad. Well, there may have been a reason for that: The town was evidently swarmed by an army of temp workers to spruce it up for the president and the national news crews following him.

Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts, whose district encompasses Grand Isle, told Yahoo! News that BP bused in "hundreds" of temporary workers to clean up local beaches. And as soon as the president was en route back to Washington, the workers were clearing out of Grand Isle too, Roberts said.

"The level of cleanup and cooperation we've gotten from BP in the past is in no way consistent to the effort shown on the island today," Roberts said by telephone. "As soon as the president left, they were immediately put back on the buses and sent home."
posted by homunculus at 3:29 PM on May 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mitheral wrote: "Wood burned in an open hearth?"

I guess that should have been qualified as "reasonable". Obviously we can't support the number of humans we have on this planet with direct wood heat unless we want to go all easter island and strip it bare.
posted by wierdo at 3:29 PM on May 28, 2010


Oil Spill Response: 'Army Of Temp Workers' Bused To Grand Isle For Obama Appearance Leave Soon Afterward
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 4:32 PM on May 28, 2010


can any industry folks explain/theorize about why BP is extending its time for the topkill? (now they're saying won't know anything until perhaps Monday)
posted by angrycat at 5:41 PM on May 28, 2010


I like the third delta plan, which is to create a large channel to the gulf and let a controlled portion of the river flow down it, scrubbing it larger naturally, until it deposits sediment in the Barataria/Terrebonne area. This would be a mess from a political/eminent domain standpoint, I imagine, but I like the scale of it, which is massive, and its elegance in harnessing the river's strength to do some of the work. All that sediment going off the shelf is just wasted now.
posted by mblandi at 6:15 PM on May 28, 2010


Walruses in Louisiana? Eyebrow-raising details of BP’s spill response plan
posted by homunculus at 6:26 PM on May 28, 2010


My guess is that BP is extending the time for the topkill in order to delay releasing the news that it was a colossal failure for as long as possible.
posted by Justinian at 12:18 AM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Top Kill Likely a Failure
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 11:22 AM on May 29, 2010


not sure what's going on in the spillcam right now but it doesn't... look good.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 11:54 AM on May 29, 2010


Day 40: BP 'top kill' still not stopping flow -- "Outside expert: Pressure from well is stronger than heavy mud."
posted by ericb at 12:45 PM on May 29, 2010


When will we all learn that oil wants to be free?
posted by Justinian at 1:49 PM on May 29, 2010


BP 'top kill' effort fails to stop flow.

BP has been good at downplaying crisis -- "At nearly every step since the explosion, rig operator BP PLC has minimized the severity of the catastrophe."
posted by ericb at 3:26 PM on May 29, 2010


Obama needs to demonstrate that he has control of BP. I think that the country will forgive him for not being able to plug the leak himself, but not for allowing BP to repeatedly to lie and mislead.
posted by angrycat at 3:52 PM on May 29, 2010


"the real solution, the end state, is a relief well," she [Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry] said. BP currently is working on two relief wells, but they are not expected to be ready until August, [BP chief operation officer Doug] Suttles said."

i honestly never thought it would go on this long and so far. this just catapulted the whole thing into another dimension for me.

if i had any doubts about attending tomorrow's protest, they're gone now.
posted by msconduct at 5:02 PM on May 29, 2010


As noted above, BP has admitted "top kill" has failed.

And note that it appears they must have, in all likelihood, known this yesterday, but instead of coming clean then (and Obama is complicit in this, frankly), they attempted some PR "damage control" for the past 24+ hours. This whole thing is a sick joke at this point.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 5:41 PM on May 29, 2010


I can't wait for the Obama apologists to tell us how the President was being honest in his press conference the other day about "top kill." The fact is he almost certainly lied about this, as did BP (with their photo-op "cleaners" dispensed for Obama's LA visit), but both chose to spin, spin, spin into Memorial Day weekend rather than admit it was still out of control down there. Fucking unbelievable: it's Bush all over again.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 5:49 PM on May 29, 2010


"the real solution, the end state, is a relief well," she [Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry] said. BP currently is working on two relief wells, but they are not expected to be ready until August...

As mentioned above, the 1979 spill attempted all of the same solutions that are being tried now and the only one that worked was the drilling of two relief wells. Back then it took 9 months to solve the problem in much shallower water. Let's hope that indeed two relief wells will be operational in two-months at a depth of roughly 1 mile deep!
posted by ericb at 6:03 PM on May 29, 2010


If ericb is correct and this thing is still spilling oil in August I think the political repercussions will be, to put it mildly, formidable. And if a hurricane does indeed strike between now and then, well God help us.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 6:08 PM on May 29, 2010


HP LaserJet P10006 wrote: "I can't wait for the Obama apologists to tell us how the President was being honest in his press conference the other day about "top kill." The fact is he almost certainly lied about this"

The procedure often works. They're trying to do hard stuff. Often one has to try a lot of different things to get a hard job done. Everyone has a vested interest in getting the thing under control as soon as possible. Do you really think they're just fucking around not really trying to do anything?

Criticism of BP for causing the thing I totally get. Criticism of them for trying to sugarcoat things I totally get. But claiming the President lied because something that usually works didn't I don't quite understand.
posted by wierdo at 6:12 PM on May 29, 2010


BP has set up a number for any ol' person to call and give suggestions on how to fix the spill. That inspires confidence.
posted by dirigibleman at 6:14 PM on May 29, 2010


Oh, and having finally watched the Maddow clip, you might want to look at the dates involved before getting all foamy mouthed. After all, BP managed to get their "giant cone" built in less than a month, while in 1979 it apparently took three months to get to that point.

It also defies explanation that one would expect fundamentally different ways of controlling the leak. What can one do but try to capture all the leaking oil, plug the hole, or drill relief wells? I think we should be far more outraged about what caused the spill than the response, which has been reasonable, save BP's very slow communications regarding the status of their efforts. I can excuse an hour or two's delay, but when we go on thinking something is being attempted for half a day or more when it is not, that's a different story entirely.

The apparently inadequate or nonexistent inspections of the blowout preventer, MMS' apparently complete lack of oversight (reminds me of the financial crisis), and BP apparently disregarding objections by TransOcean regarding replacement of drilling mud with seawater immediately prior to the explosion, which is what made the broken BOP matter at all.

All in all there seems to be a lack of a safety culture. People apparently didn't mind working with inadequately tested and even known failed systems.
posted by wierdo at 6:30 PM on May 29, 2010


one of the biggest tragedies of all this is that almost no one talks about the 11 people who died in the explosion. they just sort of got lost in the aftermath.
posted by msconduct at 6:38 PM on May 29, 2010


Do you really think they're just fucking around not really trying to do anything?

Where exactly did I say that? I think BP, and very possibly the president, were spinning Thursday and Friday to make it sound like good news going into the holiday weekend, knowing full well that "top kill" was not working--and would work. You may have missed the link I posted upthread that is one of many indications that this is the case. From that link:

All day yesterday [Thursday May 27th], people across America were really, really excited about the latest and greatest method that BP was using to finally stop the gush of undersea oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the so-called Top Kill. "Woo, Top Kill," tweeted America. And across this great land, people planned Top Kill parties and new moms and dads were planning on naming their first born "Top Kill" to remember this heroic time in our lives and the Top Killingest day in the history of the world. Only as it turns out, there wasn't really any Top Kill happening!

This AP article from yesterday sets the scene:

At the White House on Thursday, Obama acknowledged that his administration could have done a better job dealing with the spill and that it misjudged the industry's ability to handle a worst-case scenario.

"I take responsibility. It is my job to make sure that everything is done to shut this down," Obama said at a news conference, where he announced a series of new restrictions on oil drilling projects.

BP PLC insisted the top kill was progressing as planned, though the company acknowledged drilling mud was escaping from the broken pipe along with the leaking crude.

"The fact that we had a bunch of mud going up the riser isn't ideal but it's not necessarily indicative of a problem," spokesman Tom Mueller said.

Early Thursday, officials said the process was going well, but later in the day they announced pumping had been suspended 16 hours earlier. BP did not characterize the suspension as a setback, and Eric Smith, associate director of the Tulane Energy Institute, said the move did not indicate the top kill had failed.

Hold up there, AP article! What is that you are saying there, in the 13th paragraph? Sixteen hours prior to the advent of "later in the day" on Thursday, the Top Kill was suspended? Which basically means that no Top Kill was happening on Thursday? That's awkward, because President Barack Obama started talking at about ten minutes to one yesterday and here's what he said:

Yesterday, the federal government gave BP approval to move forward with a procedure known as a "top kill" to try to stop the leak. This involves plugging the well with densely packed mud to prevent any more oil from escaping. And given the complexity of this procedure and the depth of the leak, this procedure offers no guarantee of success. But we're exploring any reasonable strategies to try and save the Gulf from a spill that may otherwise last until the relief wells are finished -- and that's a process that could take months.


So guess what, it sure looks like the failure of "top kill" was a foregone conclusion, but both BP and the President got people's hopes up (see the wording in this very FPP!).

Criticism of BP for causing the thing I totally get. Criticism of them for trying to sugarcoat things I totally get. But claiming the President lied because something that usually works didn't I don't quite understand.

Let me spillspell it out for you. First, for details of what led to comments by BP hack Doug Suttles regarding the confusion over top kill, see here. In other words, even while Obama was attempting to reassure people during his press conference that the situation was in control, BP knew full well it was not. So either the communication between BP and the WH conveniently broke down at a critical juncture, or the whole thing was simply an attempt to get some good news out before the holiday weekend. Hence another damning bit of information, as : the fact the the "cleanup workers" bused in (presumably by BP) for the President's photo-op on Friday were just for show.

You can call it lying or just call it politics as usual, but either way the failure to be honest with the American people about how little real progress has been made in this situation (even if for no lack of trying) is eerily reminiscent of the Bush administration's "spin mode" on Katrina.

posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 6:52 PM on May 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


One would expect to see drilling mud spewing out of any cracks in the riser, wellhead, or BOP even in the event of a top kill in the process of working. At least to the folks not privy to the actual facts, there is no foundation on which to speculate that failure was at all a foregone conclusion.

Moreover, please provide any evidence whatsoever that the government had anything to do with BP's blatant attempt at whitewashing by cleaning up the area the President and his omnipresent gaggle of press photographers. Like really, anything would be great, because then at least I could understand what on earth you're talking about.

As I mentioned before, they're getting things done a lot more quickly than they did in '79 (so far). So I can only come to the conclusion that you really think they aren't engaging in an honest effort to stop the blowout. Some actual evidence would be really nice.

From one of your links:
But how many of those hours will be taken up by actual pumping and halting pumping for monitoring are unknown.
If I'm inflating a tire, I don't stop being in the process of inflating a tire when I stop to check the pressure to avoid overinflating the tire. I don't know for sure that stopping for monitoring is indeed an integral part of the process, but neither do you.

There are plenty of concrete things to be pissed about right now. I think the outrage on the issues that we don't have even the beginnings of the facts about yet is premature.
posted by wierdo at 7:26 PM on May 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Perhaps I should ask a question. What more do you think Obama could do on this issue at the present time? Like right now. He's already got tens of thousands of federal employees helping with the containment and cleanup efforts, what more do you want?
posted by wierdo at 7:29 PM on May 29, 2010


There are plenty of concrete things to be pissed about right now. I think the outrage on the issues that we don't have even the beginnings of the facts about yet is premature.

You're not really reading what I'm writing, at all. Let's look at the last part of what I quoted above, which is from Obama's speech:

This involves plugging the well with densely packed mud to prevent any more oil from escaping. And given the complexity of this procedure and the depth of the leak, this procedure offers no guarantee of success. But we're exploring any reasonable strategies to try and save the Gulf from a spill that may otherwise last until the relief wells are finished -- and that's a process that could take months.

Here's what it really meant:

We're pretty sure that "top kill" won't kill the leak, and in fact 16 hours ago "top kill" was suspended and in less than 24 hours news will leak out that indeed "top kill" was a failure. So I'm going to admit that the actual process of digging relief wells, which seems to be the only solution at this point, could take months to be finished. In other words, we're looking at a long, difficult summer in which the leak will all likelihood continue.

Of course, he could not say that for obvious political reasons, so instead he and BP made a big to-do about "top kill." And even here on metafilter we got an FPP saying "Top kill appears to have worked." Except it did not work, and there is every indication that the parties in the know knew this at least two full days ago.

please provide any evidence whatsoever that the government had anything to do with BP's blatant attempt at whitewashing by cleaning up the area the President and his omnipresent gaggle of press photographers. Like really, anything would be great, because then at least I could understand what on earth you're talking about.

I'm not sure that the president arguing he is in control of the situation yet not knowing about BP's fake cleanup crew is a much better possibility than the WH knowing about it. Frankly both possibilities remind me of Bush.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 9:50 PM on May 29, 2010


Documents Show Early Worries About Safety of Rig
posted by homunculus at 10:47 PM on May 29, 2010


Remember when "Obama's Katrina" was a stupid, partisan assertion?
posted by dirigibleman at 11:11 PM on May 29, 2010


HP LaserJet, you're just looking for things to be irate about. Do you really think it's reasonable to expect that the government keep tabs on every little detail of the cleanup effort, down to the assignment of work crews to specific areas? I'd rather them be focused on the big picture, myself. I want them managing the situation, not obsessing over minutia.

Your contention is certainly within the realm of possibility, but let's not be Republicans. We deal in fact, not wild speculation.

Regarding the top kill, what you don't seem to get is that it's a process. You can't just give up and say "oh well it didn't work" at the first sign of trouble. If they did, that would be far more irresponsible than doing what they can to make the current idea work until it's clearly fully played out while working on the next possible solution.

Ideally, this sort of shit would have been planned and tested in advance. Hopefully this disaster will force new regulation to require just that.

I hate to use the words of Cheney in defense of my position, but he was right about one thing: "you go to war with the army you've got, not the army you wish you had." His statement was so galling because we weren't forced into the war he was referring to. The current BS was forced upon us by shitty regulation, shitty oversight, a complete lack of planning for a major disaster on BP's part and their incompetence in continuing to remove mud from the well when it was clear that it would lead to a blowout.

Obama isn't blameless, MMS' problems haven't exactly been a secret, but I think the blame lies more with the architects and implementors of the completely hands off approach. That goes all the way back to Reagan.
posted by wierdo at 11:22 PM on May 29, 2010


I hate to use the words of Cheney in defense of my position...

Actually, it was Rumsfeld, not Cheney, who said that.
posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 11:33 PM on May 29, 2010


HP LaserJet P10006 wrote: "Actually, it was Rumsfeld, not Cheney, who said that."

Right you are. Sorry for the Sunday morning brain fart.
posted by wierdo at 12:05 AM on May 30, 2010


"'Top Kill' seems to have worked." Bwahahahaha.
posted by fixedgear at 2:53 AM on May 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's my take on the Obama issue:

The fact that BP has been able to 1) Engage in risky drilling and 2) Manipulate the information related to the spill means that private industry has been able to get around gov't scrutiny. This makes Obama look ineffective in the eyes of many, especially since he was promoting the expansion of off-shore drilling last month. As I was on health care, I am going to support the President on his BP response longer than a lot of leftists, I bet. Nonetheless, he's losing the conversation, as he lost the conversation about health care in August 2009.

The difference between health care and this situation (I mean one significant difference) is that this a man-made natural disaster, whereas health care is a man-made human disaster. There's a lot more out of Obama's control in this situation than when the health care debate blew up. But I'm not sure that will register in many of the minds clouded with panic over this issue.

I wonder how much of this has to do with Obama's coolness. If we had reports of a Clinton style blow-up in the White House, I wonder how that would change feelings.
posted by angrycat at 4:18 AM on May 30, 2010


There's a lot more out of Obama's control in this situation than when the health care debate blew up.

here's the thing from someone who's been lukewarm about obama from the beginning: he's the president of the united states of america. theoretically, there is NOTHING out of his control, because theoretically he is the singlemost influential person on earth. no. i don't think he should strip down to his skivvies, clench a knife in his teeth, and dive down there & plug the damn hole himself. but this is a disaster, not a debate. he's not going to be able to hold a conversation with a spill to stop gushing. if ever there's been a time during his tenure that calls for leadership, this is it.

he didn't score a whole lot of points with me as a debater; he's scoring worse as someone who knows how to handle a crisis.
posted by msconduct at 7:38 AM on May 30, 2010


New oil spill thread.
posted by marxchivist at 8:39 AM on May 30, 2010


he's the president of the united states of america. theoretically, there is NOTHING out of his control

Huh? The US isn't a monarchy.
posted by grumblebee at 10:59 AM on May 30, 2010


msconduct wrote: "he didn't score a whole lot of points with me as a debater; he's scoring worse as someone who knows how to handle a crisis."

OK. What would you like to see him do that he already hasn't done? All the power in the world doesn't do a lot of good if you're trying to catch terrorists in Pakistan or plug a leak 5,000 feet underwater, as far as I can tell.
posted by wierdo at 2:39 PM on May 30, 2010


« Older 30 objects, 40 audio and videocassettes, and 1,425...  |  In the late 1950s, psychologis... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments