Government scientists definitively linked a new Gulf of Mexico oil slick, that has moved to some 90 miles from the sinkhole, to BP’s 2010 oil catastrophe, saying it is probably from a BP Deepwater Horizon rig pipe, but one expert is not buying it and people are demanding evidence about the source of the crude oil, both in the gulf and the sinkhole.
Catastrophic Gulf Operation continues
“People are demanding evidence of where the fresh crude is coming from, because the storyline that BP is floating out there now — that a small amount of leftover oil is now being released from a bent riser at the rig that exploded in 2010 – simply is not holding water,” environmental attorney Stuart Smith stated Monday in his blog post.
According to a senior government scientist, the most likely source of the new oil in the Gulf is the mile-long length of pipe from the Deepwater Horizon rig, now in a “crumpled loop on the ocean floor” near the Macondo well, the Guardian reported Friday.
“At worst, he said, the pipe was thought to contain some 1,800 barrels of oil – a minuscule amount compared with the 4.9m barrels that gushed into the ocean from BP’s well during the 2010 oil disaster.”
“When you look at all those pieces of information and put them together, there is a high degree of confidence that the oil we are seeing and the sheening on the surface is coming from the riser, and that this is residual oil,” said Frank Csulak, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) scientific co-ordinator for the Deepwater Horizon disaster site.
BP says its tests confirmed the oil was from the riser, and samples contained compounds found in drilling mud.
“The size of the sheen, its persistent point of origin and other factors indicate the most likely source is the bent riser pipe that once connected the rig to the well head, where a mix of oil, drilling mud and sea water were trapped after the top kill operation,” BP spokesman Brett Clanton said.
“It’s very reasonable and logical to conclude that maybe a little crack formed in one of the creases, in one of the bends, and that is where the oil is leaking out of.”
Last week, the sheen, only microns thick, extended three miles, from near the BP-wrecked Macondo well about 50 miles offshore of Louisiana and about 90 miles from the giant sinkhole that emerged in Bayou Corne. New evidence has shown that BP possibly cracked the ocean floor
The United States Coast Guard said in a statement Wednesday night that lab tests, performed at a government facility in Connecticut, matched the slick oil to the Deepwater Horizon.
The size and persistence of the new sheen near BP’s disaster site at Macondo well, first detected by satellite images on 9 September, prompted further investigation.
“The exact source of the oil is unclear at this time but [it] could be residual oil associated with the wreckage or debris left on the seabed from the Deepwater Horizon incident,” the Coast Guard said in a statement.
The Washington Post said other government officials said it is unlikely that oil could be leaking again from the original Macondo well head. Engineers poured thick plugs of cement into both ends of the well to finally cap it last July 2010, and officials said a new breach was very unlikely. “With what we did to it it’s pretty hard to imagine,” Marcia McNutt, who heads the US Geological Survey, told the Post.
A more detailed chemical analysis also ruled out a natural seep from the well reservoir. Csulak said researchers discovered the presence of drilling mud, which had been in the riser.
She appeared to “downplay concerns about more oil entering the Gulf.”
“We don’t feel that is causing an environmental impact. It’s not going to reach the shore-line.” McNutt said
Macondo not dead
Americans along the Gulf Coast still want answers about both the 2010 BP-wrecked Macondo Well and now, its possible relationship to south Louisiana’s monster sinkhole, both seeping crude oil and methane. Predictions had been made in 2010 that methane from the Macondo Well could cause a sinkhole problem.
Today, a citizen reporter reported his dissatisfaction seeing a large order of generators in a Panama City, Florida Home Depot heading to New Orleans, 70 miles from the disastrous crude-inundated sinkhole in Bayou Corne.
While Home Depot in Panama City admitted the generators had been ordered for New Orleans, staff there repeatedly refrained from further comment about the large order.
(Watch “Alert! Imminent Disaster About to Happen in New Orleans” video on this page.)
Also today, environmental attorney Stuart Smith reported his disaatisfaction with answers provided by the government and BP.
Responding to what the Washington Post called “persistent rumors and allegations on blogs that Macondo is not truly dead, and that it is continuing to spew oil into the gulf,” Marcia McNutt, director of the U.S. Geological Survey, spoke to the Post.
McNutt said rough calculations show the riser, if full of oil, could hold around 1,000 barrels of oil and because it’s open on two ends, it’s unlikely to have that much oil.
“McNutt said it’s unlikely that oil came from the deep reservoir” of Macondo well.
“The well was plugged from both the top and the bottom, and has a mile of cement crammed into it.
“With what we did to it, it’s pretty hard to imagine, ” added McNutt.
Matt Simmons had claimed that what they did do was a sham, that the well-capping shown on TV was a performance, a “dog and pony show.” After the untimely death of Simmons, a surveyor, using government data, proved Simmons correct.
Now, according to Smith on Monday, BP and the government are still trying to hide the real cause of the sheen and people want the truth.
“BP wants us to believe that this new sheen is coming from residual oil from the Deepwater Horizon rig and the equipment that was used to cap it after the April 2010 explosion that killed 11 people and spewed an unbelievable 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico,” Smith states.
“But most experts fear that the more likely source is a more troubling scenario, which is that the efforts to cap the massive leak two years ago led to cracks in the sea floor that are releasing fresh oil that cannot easily be stopped.
Smith points to “a good independent analysis of the situation” as follows:
But there is not that much oil in the riser. As the Washington Post reported Wednesday:
Marcia McNutt, director of the U.S. Geological Survey, said a rough calculation showed that the riser, if full of oil, could hold about 1,000 barrels of oil. Because it’s open on two ends it is unlikely to have that much oil, she said.
Indeed, Dr. Ian MacDonald – an expert in deep-ocean extreme communities including natural hydrocarbon seeps, gas hydrates, and mud volcano systems, a former long-time NOAA scientist, and a professor of Biological Oceanography at Florida State University- told us today:
The key statement in the BP discussion was the fact that oil recovered on the ocean surface was not biodegraded. This is not consistent with a pool of oil supposedly trapped in the wreckage of the riser, which would have been exposed to ambient bacterial activity for over two years.
This piece also responds to the question, “So where is the oil coming from?”
We’re not sure yet. But top oil spill experts – such as UC Berkeley professor and government consultant Robert Bea and LSU professor Ed Overton – have told us that oil blowouts such as the one in the Gulf can create new pathways to the seafloor and enlarge natural oil seeps … so that leaks can continue for years.
“Exactly,” says Smith. “But BP and the feds have plenty of good reason not to let people know if this is what’s indeed happening under the Gulf.
“That’s because that would mean that the Deepwater Horizon spill is still an ongoing event — one with no immediate end in sight — which would thwart the oil giant’s efforts to put the disaster behind them.”
Smith continues, “In particular, it would really mess up BP’s efforts to settle its ongoing legal woes from the 2010 explosion. I’ve told you a lot recently about problems with BP’s proposed $8.7 billion settlement about claims by Gulf residents and small businesses.”
“These things are not happening in a vacuum. They’re all connected,” Smith says, asserting what other independent scientists have said relating to the Louisiana sinkhole that is regurgitating and spreading crude from an unknown source throughout swamplands north of Macondo well.
“BP wants to sweep what’s going on at the Macondo field under the rug because it wants to settle its outstanding claims as quickly and with as little damage as possible. We can’t allow this to happen,” Smith asserts.
“There needs instead to be a thorough — and independent — investigation of where this new oil is really coming from.”
Citizens also want an independent investigation including one that answers how far far inland that crude can travel into south Louisiana, comprised mainly of water, and whether it is linked to or even triggered the giant sinkhole if BP cracked the ocean floor.
Smith explained on Oct. 4 that since BP wrecked the underwater Macondo well with its catastrophic deep sea drilling, blocked crude continues seeking a path to the surface, and that could create fissures or cracks in the sea floor for the hydrocarbons to escape.
According to Gary Hecox, Geologist with Shaw Environmental contracted by the Department of Natural Resources, 54,600 gallons of crude oil has been collected at the Bayou Corne sinkhole site near a collapsed storage cavern.
“Now we’ve got 1,300 barrels in a… tank,” Hecox said at a sinkhole Resident Meeting last Tuesday, after the sinkhole with an insatiable appetite for Cajun swampland grew to 4.2 acres. “If the source is coming in from crude, that resolves that discrepancy, but there is crude oil coming into the cavern.”
Deborah Dupré is author of the book, Vampire of Macondo, out soon.