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Videos confirm additional leaks reported in seabed near capped well
User ID: 1040326
07/19/2010 11:26 AM
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[link to www.examiner.com]
When BP announced they had successfully capped the well and stopped the flow of oil that has been gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico since April 20, several scientists and industry experts were skeptical. It appears their skepticism has been confirmed by recent reports and videos that show oil and methane gas leaking from the seabed.
Both MSNBC and the AP reported that a federal official says "scientists are concerned about a seep and possible methane near BP's busted oil well."
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official also said that methane might be escaping through cracks in the seafloor and that could be a sign of leaks in the well that has been capped off for three days as part of a test of its integrity.
Testing had been extended until 4 p.m. ET Sunday, but that came and went without any word on whether it would continue even longer. The official is familiar with the spill oversight, but would not clarify what is seeping near the well. The official says BP is not complying with the government's demand for more monitoring.
A close look at BP's own camera footage of the area near the capped well, however, clearly shows leakage from the seabed (see videos below). That would explain why pressure readings have been less than expected. As reported by the Washington Post, initial pressure readings peaked at around 6700 psi, well below the 8000 to 9000 psi that would be considered assurance that the well bore and surrounding seabed are intact. There is no way of knowing how many other leaks may exist farther from the well site.
As early as late June, the Washington Post reported that Bruce Bullock, director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University, said "additional leaks are a possible source of deep-sea plumes of oil detected by research vessels. But this part of the gulf is pocked with natural seeps," he noted. "Conceivably the drilling of the well, and/or the subsequent blowout, could have affected the seeps. Once you started disturbing the underground geology, you may have made one of those seeps even worse," he said.
Geologists have said that if the well casing is substantially breached, the oil and methane gas will find a way through fractures in the surrounding geology and make it into the ocean. The Houston Chronicle also noted in June that "a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Monday noted research vessels found natural gas seeping from the sea floor several miles away from the well...[and] if the well casing burst it could send oil and gas streaming through the strata to appear elsewhere on the sea floor...."
If there are natural oil or gas seeps nearby, there are already pre-existing channels up to the seafloor, so that may very well be the path of least resistance for the subterranean oil to flow up through the seafloor. In other words, if there is a substantial breach in the well bore and/or fissures in the seabed, nearby natural oil and gas seeps could very well increase in volume, while pressure readings under the cap would remain relatively low.
Michael Rivero, writing on his blog WhatReallyHappened.com, puts it this way:
Common sense (and engineering) will tell you that if you have a pipe with leaks, putting a cap on one leak simply drives the oil out the other leaks. From an environmental perspective this makes no sense, because the oil is still leaking out of the well, just in a different place. Of greater concern is that the oil can flow out into the surrounding rocks the way the mud did during the failed Top Kill procedure, forming what is called a subsurface blowout....Capping a well with known leaks below the surface really serves only one purpose, and that is to present to the media video images showing the well is capped....But the hard reality being withheld from the public is that the problem is not fixed. The leak has not been stopped, it has just been moved out of sight. The camera feed of the capped well head will be shown constantly to assure Americans that all is well and lull us back to a useful torpor. No other views from around the well will be allowed....Except that the cat is already out of the bag!
BP and the current administration have two simple motives in hiding the leaks from public view. The Obama administration would probably like to get this disaster out of sight and out of mind before the mid-term elections that are a little over three months away and BP would like to minimize leak estimates in order to minimize the damages it has to pay under the Clean Water Act. BP likely will try to pretend that the nearby natural seeps always had the same volume.
As the leasee of the site where the spill is occuring, BP may be the only party to have mapped out the nearby seeps, so they can get away with saying whatever they want about the scope of these additional leaks. This document, from BP's own web site, seemingly contradicts everything they have said publicly about being unable to accurately measure the flow of their leak.
So do not be surprised when formerly tiny seeps become gushers and BP tries to pretend that they were always that large. Given BP's record of prevarication, it will not be shocking if BP pretends that brand new gushers are ancient, natural seeps.
Given that same tendency toward prevarication and their hesitancy to disclose information, it is becoming clear that BP cannot be trusted to stop the oil gusher. It may be time to remove the criminals from the scene of the crime and replace them with scientists and engineers that do not have such a poor safety record and such a clear conflict of interest.
Below is a series of videos that show additional leaks from the seabed near the capped well.
Audio report of two breaches in well bore:
ROV video of leaks from fissures in June:
ROV feeds captured after new cap was installed last week:
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User ID: 1040326
07/19/2010 11:27 AM
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