toxic watersI keep asking myself, can the Deepwater Horizon disaster get any worse? Well, yes, it can. Today is an example of how much worse. The cap apparently had to be removed for repair work.

The Deepwater Horizon well became an uncapped geyser once again Wednesday, the hydrocarbons surging freely into the deep sea after engineers were forced to remove the dome that had been capturing significant quantities of oil.

The struggle with the cap provided another reminder, if any was needed, that engineers are trying to control the blown-out well with novel tactics and jury-rigged hardware. Nothing has come easily, and the incremental progress has been vulnerable to swift reversal.

Just when you think, just maybe, just maybe, this crisis could move towards some resolution, WHAM, mother nature tells us “its not nice to fool with mother nature” !

The base-line measures of the crisis have steadily worsened. The estimated flow rate keeps rising. The well is like something deranged, stronger than anyone anticipated. BP executives last month said they had a 60 to 70 percent chance of killing it with mud, but the well spit the mud out and kept blowing.

The net effect is that nothing about this well seems crazy anymore. Week by week, the truth of this disaster has drifted toward the stamping ground of the alarmists.

After the Deepwater Horizon rig sank, BP recalculated that estimate based on what was known about the well. BP executives in early May briefed members of Congress on their conclusion: that the absolute worst-case flow rate was 60,000 barrels, with a “more reasonable worst-case scenario” of 40,000 barrels a day, the document states.

Today the official government estimate of the flow, based on multiple techniques that include subsea video and satellite surveys of the oil sick on the surface, is 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day.

In effect, what BP considered the worst-case scenario in early May is in late June the bitter reality — call it the new normal — of the gulf blowout.

My sense is that this disaster is so overwheming, we simply cannot comprehend its long term consequences, to the gulf states, to this country, to the world.

26 Thoughts to “BP’s “Worst Case Scenario” The New Norm?”

  1. Bear

    M.H. There is nothing I could say that won’t depress you so here goes….The relief wells may not work, depending on the integrity of the salt dome covering the oil , the cement they pump into the well to close the pipe may not hold or if it does hold it may leak through cracks in the sea floor. For all of you which have a good relationship with God , now might be a good time for a little prayer.

  2. Bear

    Sorry Elena I thought it was M.H. that posted this (I have to learn to read more closely)

  3. Starryflights

    It will run dry eventually.

  4. Bear

    It’s the largest deep deposit they have found so far…eventually may be a long time off.

  5. Second-Alamo

    Time for genetic engineers to create some oil breathing fish I fear. Has anyone determined the world wide effect if the only solution is to let it run dry? Do they have any idea how much is still down there? Will the sea floor collapse if it is allowed to run dry? If the sea floor collapses will it cause a tidal wave? Other than that, Have a Nice Day!

  6. Elena

    No problem Bear!

    Second Alamo,
    GREAT questions! Do you have the sense that this crisis is being taken seriously enough? I don’t!

  7. Elena

    Do you know the answers to Second Alamo’s questions?

  8. Here is the real “worst case scenario.” Nightmarish.

    Total collapse of sea floor, uncontrolled emptying of the 2.5 billion BARRELS, … wonder BP settled for a $20 billion shakedown.

    I wonder if a nuclear device could seal it? Couldn’t be worse. Well, except if it doesn’t work, we could have RADIOACTIVE oil gushing to the surface……

  9. Elena

    Are the best and the brightest in this country working on this problem?

  10. marinm

    I think the number crunchers at BP figured the chance of worse case is very high and almost thanked the President for limiting liability with the $20B. BP will get off fairly easily because of that ‘bold’ move.

  11. Poor Richard

    – “The Greatest Generation” overcame a Depression and a terrible World War
    to leave us a dynamic country with more freedom and wealth for more
    people than any other nation in history.
    – And our generation? Doubt if ruining the Gulf of Mexico for the next
    100 years will garner any accolades.

  12. e

    the best and brightest are never found in government

  13. Need to Know

    I’m sick of hearing about the Nobel Prize winner working for the Obama adminstration on this problem. Nobel Prize winners also concocted the theoretical models that gave us the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management in the late 90s (two of them in that one firm alone) and the financial engineering behind mortgage-backed securities and other elements of the crash of 2008.

    If the best they can come up with is sending out some professors, we’re doomed for sure. Send some people with experience who know what they are doing. Even Kevin Costner has been at sea testing his invention. I have more confidence in him than someone whose career has been behind a desk at a university writing papers.

  14. marinm

    E & NTK,

    You complete me.

  15. Elena


    I agree with your sentiment! When I say greatest thinkers, they are not tied to government. My husband had a great idea to cap the leak, being an engineer, he has been able to predict each failure in advance. He sent his idea in and got a form letter of rejection back from BP. There HAS to be someone out there in the world that has better ideas than what BP has offered!

  16. Captain Idiot-Face

    Wait ’till the hurricanes go roaring through there.

  17. Bear

    I don’t think anyone knows how much oil is down there, estimates say it could take the rest of the year for it to stop by itself and sea floor could collapse.

  18. Bear

    I believe they have got to stop those oil dispersant and get some large oil tankers with vacuums from other oil companies to clean surface.

  19. Elena

    What the hell happens if the sea floor collapses???

  20. Pat.Herve

    it is largely the BP people who are working on the problem – are they the best and brightest? Are they any better than the Gov’t? They also include many non US employees?

    Disaster Management is often a theoretical discussion, with very few scenarios actually played out in real life. We have not advanced the clean up technology very much since the Exxon Valdez, the ‘plug the hole’ technology since Ixtoc, or the Federal response since Katrina. It comes down to money (and wall street, largely). If BP missed earnings by a penny a share, but said, we invested a penny a share in clean up efforts, wall street would pound the stock price. If they said, we missed by a penny a share, because we are following recommended safety protocols, the stock would get pounded. If they beat by a penny a share, and said, because we are following our own new protocols, the stock would go up. I wonder what bonus BP will be paying the C-Suite this year.

    marin – where did you see that BP’s liability was capped at the $20B, I thought the $20B was the start.

    I believe it was the Nobel Prize winning Dr Chu who suggested taking a sonogram of the BOP, which confirmed that it was non operable.

  21. Bear

    If the sea floor collapses it makes the whole oil pool available to escape. As if there wasn’t enough to worry about we can now spend the next 4 or 5 days worrying about a hurricane developing in the gulf and if it does they will have to evacuate the gulf and it would be 10 days before they could begin work again. One bright spot is the first relief well is within 1800 feet of the pipe they want to plug.

  22. Elena

    more oil than we ever dreamed of…..a sick joke by a higher power?

  23. Elena

    thanks Pat, excellent thought provoking points.

  24. Well, maybe it is…I originally heard it wasn’t.

  25. @Bear
    This is why our skimming is not succeeding and in fact, Gateway Pundit reports that there are NO oil skimmers of the Mississippi coast.

    Why does neither the U.S. government nor U.S. energy companies have on hand the cleanup technology available in Europe? Ironically, the superior European technology runs afoul of U.S. environmental rules. The voracious Dutch vessels, for example, continuously suck up vast quantities of oily water, extract most of the oil and then spit overboard vast quantities of nearly oil-free water. Nearly oil-free isn’t good enough for the U.S. regulators, who have a standard of 15 parts per million — if water isn’t at least 99.9985% pure, it may not be returned to the Gulf of Mexico.

    When ships in U.S. waters take in oil-contaminated water, they are forced to store it. As U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the official in charge of the clean-up operation, explained in a press briefing on June 11, “We have skimmed, to date, about 18 million gallons of oily water–the oil has to be decanted from that [and] our yield is usually somewhere around 10% or 15% on that.” In other words, U.S. ships have mostly been removing water from the Gulf, requiring them to make up to 10 times as many trips to storage facilities where they off-load their oil-water mixture, an approach Koops calls “crazy.”

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