Time to check in with the Apocalypse Meter, aka the ongoing gallons-of-oil count via this handy ticker from PBS.
Worth noting that when I posted this on June 2nd, the low end was set to about 500,000 gallons leaked each day, and that estimated amount (the low end) has now tripled. And in the last few days, pretty much all the information I have been able to gather and discover tends to indicate that the good ol' US of A is poised most precariously over an abyss and the ultimate damage is going to be far beyond catastrophic and we may soon call the Gulf of Mexico the Gulf of Doom. (For more on the photo shown above, see Southern Beale.)
Sadly, only recently have news and other agencies begun to report what was being reported on your Cup of Joe back in May -- BP knew how unstable the geologic structure of the seabed they were drilling was, that leaks were prominent before the explosion, that officials with BP and Transocean and Halliburton all knew the interior well casings located thousands of feet below the seabed itself were improperly made and not working ... and really, all that info came from the interview on "60 Minutes" which aired May 16th:
"The tension in every drilling operation is between doing things safely and doing them fast; time is money and this job was costing BP a million dollars a day. But Williams says there was trouble from the start - getting to the oil was taking too long.
Williams said they were told it would take 21 days; according to him, it actually took six weeks. With the schedule slipping, Williams says a BP manager ordered a faster pace. "And he requested to the driller, 'Hey, let's bump it up. Let's bump it up.' And what he was talking about there is he's bumping up the rate of penetration. How fast the drill bit is going down," Williams said.
Williams says going faster caused the bottom of the well to split open, swallowing tools and that drilling fluid called "mud."
"We actually got stuck. And we got stuck so bad we had to send tools down into the drill pipe and sever the pipe," Williams explained. That well was abandoned and Deepwater Horizon had to drill a new route to the oil. It cost BP more than two weeks and millions of dollars. "We were informed of this during one of the safety meetings, that somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 million was lost in bottom hole assembly and 'mud.' And you always kind of knew that in the back of your mind when they start throwing these big numbers around that there was gonna be a push coming, you know? A push to pick up production and pick up the pace," Williams said.
Asked if there was pressure on the crew after this happened, Williams told Pelley, "There's always pressure, but yes, the pressure was increased." But the trouble was just beginning: when drilling resumed, Williams says there was an accident on the rig that has not been reported before. He says, four weeks before the explosion, the rig's most vital piece of safety equipment was damaged."
The only hopeful note I can detect in this mad symphony is that perhaps one or both of the two relief wells being made which seek to connect with the escaping oil -- perhaps by the end of August, perhaps much later. And no guarantees. The Worst Case Scenarios that are now playing in the Gulf are too terrible to even consider ... and truth is, I sense no one involved really can say just how badly BP screwed up here - if the seabed above the current well collapses ...
Worth noting too is just how much methane gas is pouring into the ocean as well, up to 40% of the spill is made of methane, compared to a 5% level normally found in oil deposits.
"The question is what's going on in the deeper, colder parts of the ocean," he said. "Are the (methane) concentrations going to overcome the amount of available oxygen? We want to make sure we're not overloading the system."
BP spokesman Mark Proegler disputed Joye's suggestion that the Gulf's deep waters contain large amounts of methane, noting that water samples taken by BP and federal agencies have shown minimal underwater oil outside the spill's vicinity.
"The gas that escapes, what we don't flare, goes up to the surface and is gone," he said.
It appears that comment means an unknown quantity of methane gas is (daily) venting out over the surface of the Gulf. And people have become suddenly ill working in the region ....
I continue to wonder what horrifying tipping point is needed to push this nation into a total retreat from Fossil Oil Addiction - elected officials have trotted out enough empty words about "Energy Independence" for decades and still our science and our politics clings to the technologies of the 19th century.
TVA abandons Green Power programs
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), says industry-wide goal of installing 10 gigawatts of solar capacity annually by 2015 expected. " The leaders of the solar industry have set this target to show Americans that solar can and will become the nation’s largest source of new electricity generation by 2013. We are already cost competitive with fossil fuels, and by 2015 we expect solar energy to be the lowest cost source of retail electricity in all fifty states. But to reach our goal, we need to ensure that effective policy mechanisms are in place to give consumers the choice to go solar – a choice more than 90 percent of Americans support.