Environmental Issues

rynner2

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#62
Rival oil companies get a taste of BP's medicine on Capitol Hill
By David Usborne, US Editor
Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Members of Congress tore into the big energy corporations last night for filing almost identical Gulf of Mexico oil spill response plans – which included contact details for a deceased scientist and steps to protect a marine mammal not found in the region's waters.

It was an astonishing and sustained verbal battering which undermined attempts by Shell, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil to suggest that their working practices differ from those of BP; and that the catastrophe would not have happened if the leaking well had been theirs.

No one at yesterday's House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing suffered more, however, than Lamar McKay, chairman of BP America. He recoiled when he was repeatedly asked to apologise for the failure early on in the spill to accurately report the amount of crude gushing into the ocean.

An early BP document put the spill rate at between 1,000 and 14,000 barrels a day. A panel of US scientists offered grim news last night warning that the "most likely flow rate of oil today" ranges from 35,000 to 60,000 barrels per day – once more far higher than previously suggested. At the upper end of the range that would mean the equivalent of the Exxon Valdez spill is erupting from the well every four days. In another setback, BP said it had to interrupt collection of oil from the leak yesterday after a tanker on the surface was struck by a bolt of lightning, igniting a fire.

etc...

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world ... 01575.html
 

rynner2

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#63
Giant China algae slick getting bigger: report
Friday, 25 June 2010

A floating expanse of green algae floating off China's eastern seaboard is growing and spreading further along the coast, state-run media has reported.

The algae bloom has expanded by about 50 percent since it was first reported by state media earlier in the week to 320 square kilometres (120 square miles), or about four times the size of Hong Kong island, Xinhua news agency said.

The algae island was previously situated several kilometres off the coast of Shandong province but has expanded southwards to waters off neighbouring Jiangsu, it said in a dispatch late Wednesday.

Algae blooms are typically caused by pollution in China and suck up huge amounts of oxygen needed by marine wildlife to survive and leave a foul stench when they wash up on beaches.

The report, which quoted the State Oceanic Administration, gave no indication how close the algae bloom was to the coast or whether it was moving towards the shore.

Earlier in the week Xinhua said it was drifting toward Shandong, spurring the local branch of the State Oceanic Administration, which monitors marine conditions, to dispatch vessels in a bid to clear the algae.

It had warned that the bloom could threaten marine life and the region's tourism industry.

In August 2008, a large offshore algae bloom threatened the sailing competition of the Olympic Games when it engulfed waters surrounding the event's venue in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao, near Jiaonan.

Up to 10,000 soldiers and volunteers were enlisted to clean up more than a million tonnes of the foul-smelling algae as they raced to clear the waters in time for the Olympics.

According to a 2008 State Oceanic Administration report, raw sewage and pollution from agricultural run-off has polluted 83 percent of China's coastal waters, leading to algae and other problems.

http://www.independent.co.uk/environmen ... 10130.html
 

OneWingedBird

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#64
Gasland (2010) Documentaqry about the environmental impact of the growing use of 'hydraulic cracking' as a method of extracting oil from the ground.

Trailer:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZe1AeH0Qz8&

Try and catch the bit with the guy turning on the tap in the kitchen, right near the end. Shocked
That's quite horrifying, but these days i wonder if people knowing about it really makes any diference, or if they just continue regardless.

if you caught Tropic of Capricorn recently, there was an episode where we saw fumes still coming out of the ground at the site of the union carbide disaster, which is alleged to have been completely cleaned up around 20 years ago:(

they lie through their teeth about it, and even when you can see the evidence, nothing seems to happen :evil:
 
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#65
BP accused of burning turtles amid oil clean-up

SUZANNE GOLDENBERG

Sat, Jun 26, 2010

CONSERVATIONISTS AND wildlife experts have accused BP of indiscriminately burning alive endangered sea turtles and other marine creatures in 1,300sq km “burn fields” as it tries to dispose of oil from its leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

The killing of the turtles – which once teetered on the brink of extinction – has outraged environmentalists and could put BP into even deeper legal jeopardy.

Environmental groups are demanding that BP stop blocking rescue of the turtles. They want the Obama administration to halt the burning and to look at prosecuting the oil company and its contractors for killing endangered species during the clean-up operation. Harming or killing a sea turtle carries fines of up to $50,000 (€40,000).

“It is criminal and it is cruel, and they need to be held accountable,” said Carole Allen, Gulf office director of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project.

Government scientists are pressing BP to post wildlife experts as turtle spotters on its clean-up vessels to try to rescue the animals before the oil is lit – or at the very least give them access to the burn fields.

More than 425 turtles are known to have died in the spill zone since April 30th, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration agency said.

Conservationists say the losses could imperil the long-term survival of the creatures. All five species of turtles found in the Gulf are endangered or threatened – the Kemp’s Ridley most of all.

In a video posted on YouTube, Mike Ellis, a skipper from Venice, Louisiana, accuses BP of chasing away a boat of conservationists trying to rescue turtles caught in the oil and weed a few miles away from the leak. “They ran us out of there and then they shut us down,” Mr Ellis said.

On days when the weather is fine and there is relatively little wind, BP conducts up to a dozen “controlled burns”, setting alight vast expanses of the ocean surface within a corral of fireproof booms.

Biologists say such burns are deadly for young turtles because oil and sargassum – the seaweed mats that provide nutrients to jellyfish and a range of other creatures – congregate in the same locations.

The sargassum is a perfect hunting ground for young sea turtles, who are not developed enough to dive to the ocean floor to forage for food.

Once BP moves in, the turtles are doomed. “They drag a boom between two shrimp boats and whatever gets caught between the two boats, they circle it up and catch it on fire,” Mr Ellis said. “Once the turtles are in there, they can’t get out.”

The heartbreak for conservationists is that the floating islands created by the convergence of sargassum and oil offer the best chance of finding and saving young turtles before they suffocate in the crude, but it can be deadly.

“When they breathe and come to the surface, they get a mouthful and a bellyful of toxic substance that is very much like wallpaper paste,” said John Hewitt, the director of husbandry at the New Orleans aquarium. “If we don’t remove them and clean them up in three or four days that probably spells the end of the turtle.” Since the spill, the aquarium has taken in 90 sea turtles, scrubbing the oil off their shells with toothbrushes and washing-up liquid.

“This is the worst calamity that I have ever seen for sea turtles,” said David Godfrey, executive director of the Sea Turtle Conservancy. “This is really the cradle of sea turtle reproduction for the western hemisphere.” – (Guardian service)


http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/wor ... 62972.html
 

rynner2

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#66
Biologists find 'dead zones' around BP oil spill in Gulf
Methane at 100,000 times normal levels have been creating oxygen-depleted areas devoid of life near BP's Deepwater Horizon spill, according to two independent scientists
Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 30 June 2010 19.49 BST

Scientists are confronting growing evidence that BP's ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico is creating oxygen-depleted "dead zones" where fish and other marine life cannot survive.

In two separate research voyages, independent scientists have detected what were described as "astonishingly high" levels of methane, or natural gas, bubbling from the well site, setting off a chain of reactions that suck the oxygen out of the water. In some cases, methane concentrations are 100,000 times normal levels.

Other scientists as well as sport fishermen are reporting unusual movements of fish, shrimp, crab and other marine life, including increased shark sightings closer to the Alabama coast.

Larry Crowder, a marine biologist at Duke University, said there were already signs that fish were being driven from their habitat.

"The animals are already voting with their fins to get away from where the oil spill is and where potentially there is oxygen depletion," he said. "When you begin to see animals changing their distribution that is telling you about the quality of water further offshore. Basically, the fish are moving closer to shore to try to get to better water."

Such sightings – and an accumulation of data from the site of the ruptured well and from the ocean depths miles away – have deepened concerns that the enormity of the environmental disaster in the Gulf has yet to be fully understood. It could also jeopardise the Gulf's billion-dollar fishing and shrimping industry.

In a conference call with reporters, Samantha Joye, a scientist at the University of Georgia who has been studying the effects of the spill at depth, said the ruptured well was producing up to 50% as much methane and other gases as oil.

The finding presents a new challenge to scientists who so far have been focused on studying the effects on the Gulf of crude oil, and the 5.7m litres of chemical dispersants used to break up the slick.

Joye said her preliminary findings suggested the high volume of methane coming out of the well could upset the ocean food chain. Such high concentrations, it is feared, would trigger the growth of microbes, which break up the methane, but also gobble up oxygen needed by marine life to survive, driving out other living things.

Joye said the methane was settling in a 200-metre layer of the water column, between depths of 1,000 to 1,300 metres in concentrations that were already threatening oxygen levels.

"That water can go completely anoxic [extremely low oxygen] and that is a pretty serious situation for any oxygen-requiring organism. We haven't seen zero-oxygen water but there is certainly enough gas in the water to draw oxygen down to zero," she said.

"It could wreak havoc with those communities that require oxygen," Joye said, wiping out plankton and other organisms at the bottom of the food chain.


A Texas A&M University oceanographer issued a similar warning last week on his return from a 10-day research voyage in the Gulf. John Kessler recorded "astonishingly high" methane levels in surface and deep water within a five-mile radius of the ruptured well. His team also recorded 30% depletion of oxygen in some locations.

Even without the gusher, the Gulf was afflicted by 6,000 to 7,000 square miles of dead zone at the mouth of the Mississippi river, caused by run-off from animal waste and farm fertiliser.

The run-off sets off a chain reaction. Algae bloom and quickly die, and are eaten up by microbes that also consume oxygen needed by marine life.

But the huge quantities of methane, or natural gas, being released from the well in addition to crude presents an entirely new danger to marine life and to the Gulf's lucrative fishing and shrimping industry.

"Things are changing, and what impacts there are on the food web are not going to be clear until we go out and measure that," said Joye.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2 ... -deadzones
 

rynner2

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#67
Nuke the BP oil leak! Undersea blast could plug it, say physicists
By Rob Davies
Last updated at 12:21 AM on 3rd July 2010

BP should consider detonating an atomic bomb to plug its oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, nuclear experts have suggested.

The plan would offer an instant solution to the spill, which has wreaked havoc off the U.S. coast for almost three months, two physicists claim.

'I don't know what BP is waiting for; they are wasting their time,' said one, the former Soviet minister of nuclear energy Viktor Mikhailov.

'Only about ten kilotons of nuclear explosion capacity and the problem is solved. I see no other solution for sealing leaks like the one in the Gulf of Mexico. Otherwise BP are just torturing the people and themselves.'

He said the atomic solution would cost BP some £6.6million, paltry compared with the £1.7billion that the oil giant has already spent on damage limitation.

The second physicist, Milo Nordyke, one of the scientists behind America's
nuclear energy programme in the 1960s and 70s, independently proposed a bigger device.

He suggested a 30-kiloton explosion - roughly twice the size of the one that levelled Hiroshima in 1945. He insisted it had to be a 'last resort' but added: 'They ought to be thinking about it.'

His suggested plan involves exploding a device in a neighbouring oil well on the seabed, melting the surrounding rock and plugging the leak, which is gushing 60,000 barrels of oil a day.

This would not cause a tsunami or any nuclear fallout at surface level, the experts claim, as long as a fission device was used, instead of the thermo-nuclear alternative which has a larger blast radius.

But there is potential for devastation of local ocean life. U.S. nuclear weapons expert Charles Blair, of the Federation of American Scientists, said any likely device would have to be submerged in a pressure-resistant container but warned that the U.S. may not have a suitable device in its nuclear arsenal.

In the 1960s, Russia used nuclear explosions to staunch leaking gas wells, with varied results, as Mr Mikhailov admitted.

'Radioactive material was still seeping through cracks in the ground and spreading into the air,' he said. 'It wasn't worth it.
'

But he still firmly believes that the nuclear option is BP's best bet.

A spokesman in environmental lobby group Greenpeace's Moscow office called the plan 'insane'.

And a spokesman for BP gave the idea short shrift, saying: 'We have had many suggestions from many people. Some of them we thought good enough to take seriously, but this is not one of them.'

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z0sc1eMtYD

There probably wouldn't be too many bad environmental effects from a small nuclear explosion at that depth, compared to the damage already being done by the leak. But it's untried - and what if it also cracked the impermeable rocks that cap the oil-field, thereby increasing the leak rate!
 

Kondoru

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#68
Its not practical

I dount BP owns nuclear weapons...

...And think of the paperwork.
 

Anome

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#69
There's a lot of evidence that the nuclear option would be worse than the oil pill as it currently is.

The Soviets detonated 5 nukes to seal gas leaks, and 4 of them were deemed successful. 80% isn't a great record.

All of the Soviet detonations were on land, I believe. None of them underwater, let alone at the depth of the current leak. According to one source (Michio Kaku on Countdown with Keith Olbermann a few weeks ago when this was first being touted as the solution), the idea with the nuke is to create a glass shell that seals the leak. Works perfectly well on land (well, 80% of the time), but at the depth of the current spill, the pressure would crush the glass shell, rendering it useless. So instead of oil spilling into the ocean from one hole, you have radioactive oil leaking from several holes.

In short, the nuke would be an act of desperation, not a guaranteed solution, and has a substantial chance of making things worse.
 
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#71
Mythopoeika said:
The latest on the oil leak is that the pool of oil is gradually moving towards the Atlantic Ocean.
It's bad, really bad.
I'm curious to see what happens when the oil-based pollutants gets into the Gulf Stream and makes their way up in the North Atlantic Drift currents. This stuff could be causing damage for years.

How soon before the tarballs and rainbow coloured slicks are visiting a coastline near us?
 

rynner2

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#72
Pietro_Mercurios said:
How soon before the tarballs and rainbow coloured slicks are visiting a coastline near us?
We have to hope that a leisurely 3,000 mile cruise across the ocean will allow the natural processes of oil degradation to take effect. Luckily for us, there's an awful lot of water (and wild weather) in the Atlantic.

And even if some pollution does make the crossing, a lot of that will head back out to sea again as the North Atlantic Gyre continues its slow rotation. Any tar balls that survive the double crossing might well end up in the Sargasso Sea.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Atlantic_Gyre
 

Anome

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#74
Not such a good prospect for the eels, though.

It doesn't really matter where it winds up, it's going to be causing trouble for ages yet.
 

Cultjunky

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#75
I read somewhere recently (can't remember, oldtimers disease must be kicking in, can't possibly be the drugs!) that there are still clean up operations going on in Alaska following the Exxon Valdez spill of '89. To be fair, the Sound of Alexandria is rather inaccessable, but it does suggest that this BP spill will have consequences for many many years.

And as I type, I remembered :D

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/us_and ... 324021.stm

my fave quote being...

"You have fishing families that were so devastated that they've never recovered. And some of the species that were destroyed back in 1989 just have not come back. "

This is the scary thing about the recent spill, the knock on effect to the food chain.
 

rynner2

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#76
And another thing...

Oil spills boost arsenic levels in ocean: study
AFP
Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Oil spills can boost levels of arsenic in seawater by suppressing a natural filter mechanism on the sea bed, according to a study published on Friday in a specialist journal.

The research was conducted in a laboratory before the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, but its authors say the findings highlight the worrying long-term impact from such disasters.

Scientists at Imperial College London found that sea floor sediment bonds with arsenic. The captured toxic element is then covered by subsequent layers of sediment, which helps explain why concentrations of arsenic in the ocean are low.

But, the researchers found, crude oil acts rather like a sticky blanket, clogging the sediment and preventing it from bonding to arsenic.

As a result, seawater levels of arsenic increase - and because the substance is accumulative, it becomes more concentrated and poisonous the more it moves up the food chain.

"We can't accurately measure how much arsenic is in the Gulf at the moment because the spill is ongoing," Mark Sephton, a professor at the Department of Earth Science and Engineering, was quoted as saying in a press release.

"However, the real danger lies in arsenic's ability to accumulate, which means that each subsequent spill raises the levels of this pollutant in seawater. Our study is a timely reminder that oil spills could create a toxic ticking time bomb, which could threaten the fabric of the marine ecosystem in the future."

Adding to the problem, said Sephton, is arsenic that is flushed into the ocean from oil rigs or from leaks of underground oil reserves. This adds to naturally-occurring arsenic.

Arsenic is found in many minerals and is present in oil. At high levels in seawater, it can disrupt photosynthesis in microcopic marine plans and increase the risk of genetic defects in aquatic life.

The experiments, reported in the European journal Water Research, used a mineral called goethite, an iron-bearing oxide that is abundant on the ocean floor.

However sediments vary from ocean to ocean, and the researchers say the next step to see how oil spills can affect arsenic levels according to the local marine geology.

http://www.independent.co.uk/environmen ... 19367.html
 

rynner2

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#77
BP aims to fix oil spill 'by end of July'
Besieged British energy giant BP aims to fix its leaking Gulf oil well by July 27, ahead of its earlier target of mid-August.
Published: 7:00AM BST 08 Jul 2010

The July 27 target date is the day the company is due to report second-quarter earnings and will speak to investors, the Wall Street Journal said.

"In a perfect world with no interruptions, it is possible to be ready to stop the well between July 20 and July 27," the head of BP's Gulf Coast restoration unit Bob Dudley told the newspaper. :)

However, Mr Dudley said this "perfect case" is threatened by the hurricane season and is "unlikely." :(

BP shares have fallen by half since its well blew out in April, spewing crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico and soiling the shores of every US Gulf Coast state.

The Journal said BP was also preparing a series of backup plans in case its current operations go awry.

Citing company and administration officials, the paper said BP's plan include connecting the rogue well to existing pipelines in two nearby underwater gas and oil fields.

BP Chief Executive Tony Hayward met with an Abu Dhabi state investment fund on Wednesday, part of a quest for cash to ward off takeovers and help pay for the worst oil spill in US history.

BP's shares closed up nearly 4 per cent on the New York Stock Exchange, buoyed by investor relief the company had said it does not plan to issue new equity, and speculation the worst is behind for what they see as an underpriced energy giant.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/news ... -July.html
 

rynner2

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#78
Russian sub 'could stop oil leak'
Page last updated at 00:42 GMT, Friday, 9 July 2010 01:42 UK
By Katia Moskvitch Science reporter, BBC News, Lake Baikal

Russian-built submersibles would be able to cap the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, the captain of one of the vessels has said.

The skipper was speaking as two of the subs - which can dive to 6,000m - started a campaign of exploration at the bottom of Lake Baikal in Siberia.

He added that there was still time for the subs to help BP with the disaster.

The subs are searching for gas hydrates - a potential alternative fuel source - on the bed of Baikal.

Yevgenii Chernyaev told BBC News that the problem had to be addressed at the highest level.

Two oval-shaped submersibles have recently started their third season of exploration in Baikal - the world's deepest lake.

Oil has been leaking from a damaged well in the Gulf of Mexico since a BP-operated drilling platform, Deepwater Horizon, exploded and sank in April.

And though BP says it is now able to gather some 10,000 barrels of oil a day, using a device that siphons oil up to surface ships, thousands of barrels of oil continue to gush daily from the ocean floor.

The US administration has already called the leak the biggest environmental catastrophe in the country's history.

Mr Chernyaev said that his team had held numerous discussions about the oil spill in the Gulf and the Russians would be ready to come to the rescue - but only if everything was done properly.

Standing on a barge that transports the two subs after their submersion, the Mir-2 captain underlined that the subs were probably the only deep-sea vessels in the world capable of stopping the leak.

"Our subs are unique. There are two of them and they can submerge and work simultaneously. Also, they are powerful enough to work with any other additional equipment.

"There are only four vessels in the world that can go down to 6,000m - the Mirs, French Nautile and Japanese Shinkai. The Mirs are known to be the best, and we have a very experienced team of specialists," he said.

But Mr Chernyaev added that such an operation would have a chance of succeeding only if BP or the US government asked the Russian government to join efforts to stop the leak.

"It should all be decided on the government level. Asking [Anatoly] Sagalevich [of Russia's Shirshov Institute of Oceanology, which owns the subs] to simply bring the Mirs over is nonsense. Even though we're able to go to much greater depths than where the damaged well is located, we wouldn't be able to do much on our own.

"We need a team of international specialists and we have to know all the details and probably even build a special device to attach to the subs, and all this needs time," said Mr Chernyaev.

He explained that the subs had already worked in much harsher conditions, such as the Arctic.

The submersible's pilot also said that the Russians were very surprised that BP and the US government had not asked them for help from the beginning.

"And we would not refuse to help, even though for us it would be very complicated, especially right now, when we're already working on Baikal. But it doesn't look like anyone seriously wants our help," he added.

etc...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/science_and_ ... 564798.stm
 

Kondoru

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#79
Methane Hydrate?

Holy Cow!

But these guys seem a good bet....Why havent they been called upon yet??
 

amester

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#80
How did they get the sub to landlocked Lake Baikal? On a flatbed truck? :lol:
 

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#81
BP oil spill: the Red Adair of relief well drilling says 'no doubt about successful outcome'
From a platform in the Gulf of Mexico, John Wright, the Red Adair of relief well drilling, says in an exclusive interview that he is confident he will soon control the BP oil spill.
By Jacqui Goddard
Published: 7:30AM BST 11 Jul 2010

He is the man in whose hands many fortunes rest. From global stock markets to crippled coastal communities, from the White House to BP's boardrooms, his every move is awaited anxiously as he executes the hoped-for end game for the world's worst accidental oil spill.

With the future of Gulf of Mexico in the balance after a disaster that has emptied up to five million barrels of oil into the sea, there is a burden of expectation on John Wright's shoulders as he toils aboard the Development Driller III.

Deep below this drilling rig, two and a half miles into the Earth's crust, the engineering expert is waging a titanic struggle to complete the drilling of a relief well which, within days, will intersect with the BP well that blew out on April 20, to begin permanently plugging the leak.

For Mr Wright, failure is not an option. "I have no doubts about the successful outcome," he told The Sunday Telegraph exclusively from aboard the ultra-deepwater rig, 50 miles off Louisiana, as he and his team prepared to hit a target the width of a football buried the equivalent of 17 Eiffel Towers below the sea floor. :shock:

"If there is anxiety, it is created by the expectation you have to do it on the first try and the whole world knowing about it. If you make it, you're a hero. If you miss, I would expect it to be like missing the winning goal in the World Cup. Either way, it will be something you will play over and over the rest of your life."

In a separate operation, BP yesterday began installing a more tightly fitting cap over the blown-out well's broken riser pipe on the sea bed, in the hope of "shutting in" all the currently gushing oil until Mr Wright's relief well - the only long-term way to seal the oil beneath the sea floor - proceeds.

The new cap will also enable new data to be collected that will assist with the relief well process. The transition to the new infrastructure will take seven to 10 days to complete and will be closely watched across the United States - not least by the White House.

Mr Wright is to relief well drilling what the late Red Adair was to well firefighting; a master of his trade who has helped conquer some of the world's most complex and challenging blowouts. His reputation in the oil industry, where he started his career 31 years ago, is that of a dragon-slayer, and his résumé reads like an A to Z of historical oil dramas.

But he has known tragedy as well as triumph. By the time his telephone rang in July 1988 appealing for his help to shut down the well beneath the blazing Piper Alpha platform in the North Sea, 120 miles off the coast of Scotland, 167 workers were dead. The relief well he drilled was almost complete when Red Adair finally won control from the surface.

...

Mr Wright has been involved in 83 such projects, designing and managing 40 of them, over the past 25 years, and not one has failed.

"Most of these jobs have been in jungles, deserts and oceans in remote parts of the world and usually few people outside the operator knew they were even happening," he said. "I never imagined a relief well would be the focus of so much attention as this one."

He is not about to let his 41st get the better of him. But he admits that the Macondo – named, prophetically, after a fictitious town in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel, One Hundred years of Solitude, where extraordinary occurrences and misfortune befall the locals – is among his most challenging.

etc...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/news ... tcome.html
 

rynner2

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#82
BP oil spill: how the new cap works
At 40 tons, the new cap on BP's Deepwater Horizon oil well in the Gulf of Mexico is larger and tighter-fitting than a previous one it removed on Saturday.
By Stephen Adams
Published: 8:36AM BST 13 Jul 2010

Known as Top Hat 10, the 'capping stack' works be sealing the main source of leaking crude oil.

It was installed at 7pm local time on Monday evening (1am on Tuesday in Greenwich Summertime, GST), after being dropped from the ship Transocean Discoverer Inspiration.

BP hopes that the cap will temporarily stop any more oil escaping into the ocean from the well, until relief wells being dug at the moment become operational in August.

The oil company has begun siphoning off some of the leaking oil to ships on the surface but during an initial test period for the new cap, no siphoning will take place.

This will completely shut in the well.

The test starts later on Monday and will last anything between six and 48 hours.

If the new cap is a success, pressure in the well will rise, indicating it is not escaping elsewhere.

In its statement the oil company said: "It is expected, although cannot be assured, that no oil will be released to the ocean for the duration of the test."

However, if pressure does not build as expected that will indicate oil is leaking elsewhere.

It is also possible that the pressure of the well will blow off the cap. :shock:

BP stressed: "The sealing cap system never before has been deployed at these depths or under these conditions, and its efficiency and ability to contain the oil and gas cannot be assured."

After the test, BP will review the information with US government scientists to see how to proceed.

"Options include reinstatement of containment as well as extending the test duration beyond 48 hours," said BP.

A containment ship called Helix Producer began siphoning oil on Monday from a different part of the well, and should be able to take on more than 1 million gallons a day (3.8 million litres) within a couple of days, the company added.

The government estimates 1.5 to 2.5 million gallons of oil a day is spewing from the well. With the new cap and the new containment vessel, the system should be capable of capturing 2.5 million gallons to 3.4 million gallons - essentially all the leaking oil, officials said.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/news ... works.html
 

rynner2

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#83
This was posted elsewhere by Yith, but it really belongs here:

http://www.financialpost.com/Avertible+ ... story.html
Avertible catastrophe

Three days after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico began on April 20, the Netherlands offered the U.S. government ships equipped to handle a major spill, one much larger than the BP spill that then appeared to be underway.

...

"If there's a country that's experienced with building dikes and managing water, it's the Netherlands," says Geert Visser, the Dutch consul general in Houston.
Having worked in the oil industry, and seen Dutch civil engineering for myself, I agree the US should have accepted Dutch help in the Gulf.
 

rynner2

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#84
Some good news at last:

BP says oil has stopped leaking

BP says it has temporarily stopped oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico from its leaking well.

It is the first time the flow has stopped since an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig on 20 April.

The well has been sealed with a cap as part of a test of its integrity that could last up to 48 hours.

BP executive Kent Wells said the oil had been stopped at 1425 local time (1925 GMT) and he was "excited" by the progress.

"It is very good to see no oil go into the Gulf of Mexico," said Mr Wells.

But BP is stressing that even if no oil escapes for 48 hours, that will not mean the flow of oil and gas has been stopped permanently.

The pressure testing is necessary to check the strength of the well. If the pressure within the cap on top is low, that could indicate oil is leaking out further down the well.

The US government's incident commander, Adm Thad Allen, said even if it was successful, the well would be reopened and oil capture by ships on the surface would restart while a seismic test was done.

"We can go back then and put the system under pressure again. Once we are convinced we can certainly consider shutting in the well, that is always possible and we would certainly look to do that."

But he emphasised that the option of shutting in the well - closing all the valves and stopping the flow - was a "side benefit" of the new capping stack.

The priority had always been to increase the amount of oil being captured and piped to the surface, he said.


Whatever happens will be a temporary solution, ahead of a relief well being used to permanently kill the original well with mud and cement.

Work on both of the relief wells is currently suspended because of the integrity test. One of the relief wells is within four or five feet horizontally and 100ft vertically of intersecting.

The pressure test was twice delayed before starting on Thursday, once while additional checks were put in place to allay fears it could make the leak worse, and on Wednesday by a leaking piece of equipment.

...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-10654584
 

rynner2

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#85
Oil and the world...

Oilmen dig deep in iceberg valley
They call it “Iceberg Alley”, which doesn’t take much imagination and Geoffrey Lean sailed down it three years ago.
By Geoffrey Lean
Published: 7:00AM BST 17 Jul 2010

It runs from Baffin Bay – where fractured flotillas are constantly calved from western Greenland’s giant glaciers – down along their route to Newfoundland. I sailed down part of it three years ago and it is a dramatically beautiful, if dangerous, place.

Over the past 200 years, some 560 collisions have been recorded there between ships and bergs (though the Titanic went down further south). In 1982 a storm, raising waves up to 65 feet high , sank a giant drilling ship, the Ocean Ranger, killing 84 people.

So it’s not the sort of spot, you would think, to go looking for oil following BP’s disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Think again. This month, a British company started on the first of four planned exploration wells in these wild waters. Both the United States and Canada have temporarily stopped issuing permits for drilling in the Arctic, but Greenland is allowing the Edinburgh-based Cairn Energy to forge ahead.

It is just the latest example of how our apparently unquenchable thirst for fuel is driving us into ever more difficult and dangerous territory, risking even more damaging spills than the one that has been gushing into the Gulf. As hopes rise that, after three months, BP has finally succeeded in sealing its well, a mile beneath the waves, experts say that more blowouts, even harder to control, are bound to follow.

To fix most of the problems with the earliest offshore wells, you would probably have needed nothing more sophisticated than a snorkel – even the first platform to be established out of sight of land, off the coast of Louisiana in 1847, stood in just 16ft of water.

But the easy stuff has now been found, and the industry is being forced to explore ever-further frontiers. In 2002, less than one barrel of oil in 30 came from more than 1,000ft down; by 2012, it will be one in 10. Already, such deep-sea sources account for nearly three quarters of the Gulf of Mexico’s oil.

BP’s ill-fated well was not the deepest in the Gulf: others reach down twice as far, to more than 10,000ft. Giant oil reservoirs have been found off Brazil under two and a half miles of shifting salt and sand and one and a half miles of water; more lie in deep water off west Africa. And a fifth of the remaining oil in British waters is as far down as in the Gulf, but under more treacherous seas.

As Dr Peter Linke, of Germany’s Leibnitz Institute of Marine Sciences, points out, “the risk multiplies exponentially in deep water”. Prof Robert Bea, of the University of California, adds: “We are taking risks we do not understand.”

BP found that techniques for stopping the flow that had worked in shallow waters failed at Deepwater Horizon’s depth, where temperatures are close to freezing and the pressure is 152 times greater than at the surface – enough to crush most machinery. Fixing a leak twice as far down would be harder still, if not impossible.

And yet the Gulf has warm seas, a relatively benign climate, and is an epicentre of the offshore oil industry, with state-of-the-art equipment and experienced contractors on the spot. The Arctic is a very different kettle of oily fish.

etc...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/news ... alley.html
 

Kondoru

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#86
Why are the greenlanders so keen?

They are a country which has always had a good enviromental records (and still control onshore mining very tightly, though I think they allow a little)

An oil spill could wipe out their fish stocks (main export) and sea mammals (main eating)
 

rynner2

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#87
Slipping through our fingers: Tradition to die after 500 years because eel-catching family hasn't produced a male heir
By Andrew Levy
Last updated at 1:46 AM on 17th July 2010

Keeping the family firm alive through the generations can be a tricky business.
But it is proving a particularly slippery challenge for eel catcher Peter Carter.
He fears his trade will disappear for good unless he can persuade his teenage daughter to follow in his footsteps.

For more than 500 years, the ancient art of catching eels using baited willow traps has been passed down through Mr Carter's family.
Twenty generations of his ancestors have learned the technique of crafting the eco-friendly traps and laying them out at night, before returning in the morning to collect the catch.
Mr Carter, 45, is now the only eel catcher in the country still using the method, as others use nets.

But the tradition may be lost for good after his only child, 13-year-old Rhianna, made it clear she has no intention of taking up the trade.
Mr Carter, who works in the Cambridgeshire Fens, said: 'I could be the last one, it could happen, but I hope not because my family have been doing it for so long now. The younger generations don't want to watch and learn how to do this any more. They want to sit indoors playing on computers.
'This job isn't just about putting traps out but conservation and helping eel stocks. It takes a lifetime to learn.
'As a child I watched my family and helped when I could. Back then every village had an eel catcher.
'Now there is only me who does it the traditional way. I make my own willow
traps and refuse to use nets. But there's not a lot of money in it.'

Mr Carter, who is married to Sian, 43, spends the rest of his day at his workshop in Outwell, Cambridgeshire, where he sells barrels of his eels and makes traps and wicker baskets. He also visits schools to teach children about his work.
He hasn't set foot in a city for more than 20 years and never wears a watch, preferring to follow his instincts when it comes to setting and checking his traps.

He was taught the trade by his grandfather, Joe Wells, but the first written record of traditional eel catching in Mr Carter's family was made in 1470 - and other ancestors may have practised the trade even earlier. Mike Heylin, 63, chairman of the Angling Trust, said: 'We are great traditionalists and believe the way country folk like Peter live and work is very important.
'It would be a huge shame if this wonderful heritage was to die out.'

etc...

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... z0tvrR7SZB

Sad if he's the last. Even if he'd had a son, the boy might not have wanted to follow the trade anyway...
 

rynner2

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#88
UK to open Earth observation hub
By Pallab Ghosh Science correspondent, BBC News

Science minister David Willetts is to announce a new UK centre for monitoring the Earth from space.

The Earth observation hub will focus on acquiring environmental data, such as information on deforestation and the impact of climate change.

The hub will be based at the International Space Innovation Centre (ISIC) at Harwell in Oxfordshire, which will open in April 2011.

The aim is to bring together UK expertise in Earth observation.

The hub will also be used as a flight operations centre for controlling satellites.

It addition, it will develop the expertise to analyse environmental information coming from space, helping scientists learn more about how the planet is being affected by climate change.

Professor Alan O'Neill, director of the National Centre for Earth Observation, said: "By bringing together the best of our space science base with industrial researchers, we hope to develop a wide range of applications.

"These include global monitoring of deforestation, concentration of greenhouse gasses, and levels of marine pollution."

Up to 40 scientists will be based at the centre. Many of them will be involved in gathering and presenting the vast amounts of information coming from environmental satellites.

The data will be made available to scientists across the world and to the public.

Details of the hub will be announced by the Science Minister David Willetts in a speech on Wednesday morning at the Farnborough Air Show.

He is expected to say that the centre will not become a "centralising force"; rather, it will serve as a hub to link regional space capabilities and promote knowledge-sharing between academia and industry.

A preview of Mr Willetts' speech stated: "ISIC will operate at arm's length from the UK Space Agency so that it becomes a common facility within the Harwell campus.

"And at Harwell, the new European Space Agency facility is already working well, especially in climate change science and related applications.

"Soon it will have an incubator for new space businesses and work on space exploration. This is a fantastic additional catalyst for UK space."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-10705614
 

rynner2

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#89
British seas: More fish, cleaner and greater biodiversity, says Defra
'Significant improvements' in UK's seas, but litter, pollution, climate change and greater acidity are cause for concern
Adam Vaughan The Guardian, Wednesday 21 July 2010

Thousands of holidaymakers heading to British beaches this summer will be cheered by a major government report into the state of the UK's seas. Coastal waters are getting cleaner, fish stocks are improving and species diversity in estuaries is increasing, according to the most authoritative examination ever carried out of UK seas.

But while the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs study boasts of "significant improvements" since the last such report in 2005, it also paints a picture of an environment being rapidly affected by a warming world. Seas around the British Isles are higher, warmer and more acid, it says, and coastal litter levels are at a record high.

The sea surface temperature of UK waters has risen on average by between 0.5 and 1C since the 1870s, which could affect the fish that appear on our plates in future. Of the 330 species found around the UK, cold-water species such as cod are in retreat, while warm-water fish including red-mullet, seabass and John Dory are spreading rapidly.

Fish stocks are improving overall, partly due to fishing reductions brought about by European Union quotas, despite criticism from marine conservation groups that the quotas are set too high to maintain fish stocks. The proportion of fin-fish stocks in UK waters being harvested sustainably has risen from 10% in the early 1990s to 25% in 2007.

However, the report notes that a large majority of stocks are still being fished at unsustainable levels. Fish are simultaneously being hit by warming waters, which are causing the cold and warm water zooplankton that fish feed on to move north. The warm water zooplankton tend to be smaller and less nutritious, affecting fish larvae and stocks.

Climate change is also causing sea levels to rise, with the mean sea level rising by 1.4mm per year in the 20th century. While slower than global growth of 1.7mm per year in the same period, the rise has not always been steady - in the 1990s, it was going up by 3-4mm each year. More coastal erosion and more flooding are likely to occur as a result, says the report, with the Humber estuary and Norfolk coast particularly at risk.

etc...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2 ... oves-defra
 

rynner2

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#90
Ships evacuated from Gulf as tropical storm advances

Dozens of ships in the Gulf of Mexico have been ordered to leave the site of the BP oil spill by the US government as Tropical Storm Bonnie gathers pace.

Incident commander Admiral Thad Allen said the well would remain capped while ships evacuated the Gulf.

Drilling on a relief well has been suspended for up to two weeks.

Bonnie is the second named storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season, with wind speeds of 40mph (65km/h), the US National Hurricane Center says.

Forecasters say the edge of the tropical storm could reach the spill area by early on Saturday.

It has already caused flooding in Haiti, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and is moving north-west over the Bahamas, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Many of the boats and drilling rigs responding to the oil spill were preparing to move to safety from Thursday night, said Adm Allen.

"This includes the rig drilling the relief well that will ultimately kill the well, as well as other vessels needed for containment," he said.

The operation to permanently block the well would be delayed, but "the safety of individuals at the well site is our highest concern," Adm Allen said.

Vessels were being positioned in a way that would allow crews "to promptly re-start oil mitigation efforts as soon as the storm passes," he added.

A "packer" - a plug used during storms - has been placed in the relief well to stabilise it while workers leave the site.

Earlier on Thursday, Adm Allen said increasing confidence in the security of a new cap placed on the leaking well had convinced scientists it would be safe to leave the capped well unmonitored for several days.

etc...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-10729485
 
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