Showing posts with label Gulf of Mexico. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gulf of Mexico. Show all posts

Saturday, July 6, 2013


BP officials are objecting to the state’s decision to close waters around Grand Terre to fishing after a 40,000-pound tar mat was unearthed in the surf just off the island.

Grand Terre is an uninhabited barrier island east of Grand Isle. The tar mat, which was 165 feet long by 65 feet wide, was about 85 percent sand, shells and water, and 15 percent oil. It was removed over a period of a few weeks.

The state issued the closure Friday, a few days after reports of the massive tar mat took off in the media. According to state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries officials, all commercial fishing is prohibited in closed waters off Grand Terre. Recreational fishing is limited to rod and reel fishing and charter boat tours.

BP claims the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries issued the fisheries closure without explaining its reasons or offering data to show the closure is needed.

[Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert] Barham said that the state will continue to close fishing grounds when oil is discovered. He added that according to the most recent federal estimates, up to 1 million barrels of BP oil remains unaccounted for in the Gulf.
Hey!  The huge tar mat is only 15% oil.  What's the problem?

BP is impatient and wants to be done with its responsibility for the Maconda oil gusher, but - dammit! - oil keeps turning up in the Gulf.  When will the nightmare will be over for BP?  I expect long before the 1 million barrels are accounted for.  When will the nightmare be over in the Gulf of Mexico?  Who knows?  Maybe never.

Tony Hayward, BP CEO, on May 13, 2010, eight days after the Maconda well explosion.
The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.
The gift that keeps on giving.  Thanks, BP.

Photo from SierraActivist.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


The U.S. Coast Guard was searching Friday for two workers missing after a fire erupted on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, sending an ominous black plume of smoke into the air reminiscent of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion that transformed the oil industry and life along the coast.

The fire, begun while workers were using a torch to cut an oil line, critically injured at least four workers who had burns over much of their bodies.

The images were eerily similar to the massive oil leak that killed 11 workers and took months to bring under control. It came a day after BP agreed to plead guilty to a raft of charges in the 2010 spill and pay a record $4.5 billion in penalties.
Only two workers missing and four badly burned this time, which is a heavy price to pay for our voracious appetites for oil and gas.  During the campaign, Republicans mocked President Obama for investing in clean energy.
Still, the accident was a vivid reminder of the dangerous business of offshore drilling and the risk it poses to the Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystem and shoreline.

A sheen of oil about a half-mile long and 200 yards wide was reported on the Gulf surface, but officials believe it came from residual oil on the platform.

“It’s not going to be an uncontrolled discharge from everything we’re getting right now,” Coast Guard Capt. Ed Cubanski said.
We can only hope the drilling disaster will not worsen and pray the missing will be found safe and the injured will heal.  The platform, which is 25 miles SE of Grand Isle, LA, is owned by Houston-based Black Elk Energy.  We shall see.

The mocking Republicans remain in denial about climate change which will result in further violent weather, extreme weather, and rising ocean levels.  Even now, a bi-partisan group of senators urge Obama to proceed with the Keystone XL pipeline.  When will we ever learn?

UPDATE: The US Coast Guard has called off the search for the missing; one body has been found.

Friday, October 28, 2011


Still Life in Oil
Fort Jackson, Louisiana (USA). June 20, 2010. Volunteers of the Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research and the International Bird Rescue Research Center run the facility in Fort Jackson, Louisiana , where they clean birds covered in oil from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead. The BP leased oil platform that exploded on April 20 and sank after burning. Photo by © Daniel Beltra/Greenpeace.

Click on the pictures for the larger view.

The picture above and the pictures below are from the The Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 exhibit at the Natural History Museum in London.
After months of anticipation, the winners of Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 have been announced and the exhibition is now open at the Natural History Museum.
The photos of all of the winners are outstanding. Browse the gallery at the link above. Any of you who are in or near London while the exhibit is on display through March 11, 2012, would do well to pay a visit. Book your tickets online.
The exhibition will tour nationally and internationally after its launch in London.

Since I live in south Louisiana, about 40 miles away from the Gulf of Mexico as the crow flies, my particular interest was in the photos by Daniel Beltra, who is from Spain, of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20, 2010, and the aftermath. The photos are stunning, some of them quite beautiful, but they tell the story of a tragedy in which 11 men were killed, others injured, and a great deal of death and destruction dealt to the wildlife and plant life that inhabit the Gulf and coastal areas. The picture of the oiled pelicans is heart-breaking.

The photos are copyrighted by the photographer and are used here with permission. The pictures and captions, which are arranged by date starting with the earliest, with the exception of the photo at the head of the post, speak for themselves.

Louisiana (USA). May 6th, 2010. Aerial view of the oil leaked from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead, the BP leased oil platform exploded April 20 and sank after burning. Leaking an estimate of more than 200,000 gallons of crude oil per day from the broken pipeline to the sea. Eleven workers are missing, presumed dead. Photo by Daniel Beltra/Greenpeace

On April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon exploded, killing 11 crewmen and injuring 17. The platform sank 50 miles off shore, 1 mile deep, and weighed 58,000 tons. Oil from the wellhead rises up to the surface of the Gulf of Mexico near a different offshore platform, May 18, 2010. Photo © Daniel Beltra for Greenpeace

June 17, 2010. Louisiana (USA)Boats burning oil on the surface near BP's Deepwater Horizon spill source. ©Daniel Beltra/Greenpeace

June 17, 2010. Louisiana (USA)Oil covers the surface of the Gulf of Mexico on the vicinity of BP's Deepwater Horizon spill source. ©Daniel Beltra/Greenpeace

Louisiana (USA). June 24, 2010. Flight to the Deepwater Horizon site, the BP leased oil platform exploded on April 20 and sank after burning. In the picture, the wake of a vessel leaves a trail through the surface oil.Photo by © Daniel Beltra/Greenpeace.

Thanks to my friend Cathy for calling the photos of the winners to my attention.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


The New Orleans Times-Picayune posted pictures of the 11 men who died in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon well in their print edition, but I can't find the pictures online. However, the men have names:
James Anderson - 35 - Drill supervisor - Married, father of two - Bay City, Texas

Aaron Dale Burkeen - 37 Crane operator - Married, father of two - Philadelphia, Mississippi

Donald Clark - 49 - Assistant driller - Married - Newelton, Louisiana

Stephen Ray Curtis - 39 - Married, father of two - Georgetown, Louisiana

Gordon Jones - 28 - Mud engineer - Married, father of two - Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Roy Wyatt Kemp - 27 - Roughneck - Married, father of two - Jonesville, Louisiana

Karl Kepplinger, Jr - 38 - Mud pit worker - Married, father of one - Natchez, Mississippi

Blair Manuel - 56 - Chemical engineer - Engaged, father of three, Gonzales, Louisiana

Dewey Revette - 48 - Oil driller - Married, father of two - State Line, Mississippi

Shane Rosto - 22 - Floor hand - Married, father of one - Liberty, Mississippi

Adam Weise - 24 - Floor hand - Single - Yorktown, Texas

Father of all, we pray to you for those we love, but see no longer: Grant them your peace; let light perpetual shine upon them; and, in your loving wisdom and almighty power, work in them the good purpose of your perfect will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty God, Father of mercies and giver of comfort: Deal graciously, we pray, with all who mourn; that, casting all their care on you, they may know the consolation of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

And the oil? It's still there.

Photo from

Picture at the head of the post from Wikipedia.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


A large sheen of oil that has confounded the Coast Guard and state officials for days has been traced to a well-capping accident about 20 miles southwest of Southwest Pass, a state official said.

A state official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of a continuing Coast Guard investigation, said the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries traced the emulsified oil to West Delta Block 117. He said tests by a state-contracted lab confirmed that was the source of the oil.

Wildlife and Fisheries officials found the source of the oil Monday evening and encountered workers in a boat trying to restore a cap on the well using a remotely operated submarine.

"Well-capping went out of control," the state official said.

At a news conference earlier Tuesday, Coast Guard officials said only between ¼- and ½-mile of beach was directly affected by oily material within the 30-mile stretch between Grand Isle and West Timbalier Island where the sheen and emulsified oil has been seen.

Why didn't the company that owned the well report the the accident? Why must the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries people and the Coast Guard play detective to find out where the oil is coming from?

Although, "only between ¼- and ½-mile of beach was directly affected by oily material", we may not yet know the end of the story.

Responding to reports of a 10-mile-long slick from a second Gulf of Mexico oil spill, federal officials said "small amounts of oil" have been leaking from wells that were connected to a production platform destroyed during Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

An average of less than 14 gallons per day have been leaking from the wells about 10 miles off the southeastern Louisiana coast, said Kendra Barkoff, a federal Interior Department spokeswoman.

Oh well. Just a small leak. The truth is that oil is always leaking into the Gulf, because the well caps tend to erode in the salt water. What? Me worry?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


From Business Insider:
1. BP downplayed operational risks in applications for exemption from federal inspection

2. BP may have cut corners in well design

3. BP used slapdash methods to fix early problems in the well lining

4. BP skipped crucial tests of the well cement lining

5. BP knowingly used a faulty blow-out preventer

6. According to an industry whistle blower, BP falsified blowout preventer tests for years

7. Rig supervisors ignored pressure warnings in hours leading up to the explosion

8. Turns out BP did not have a good rig rescue plan

9. BP did not plan for an oil spill significantly greater than 20,000 bbl

10. BP had not researched Top Hat and Top Kill at drill depth

Read the details of the mistakes at Business Insider.
The mistakes were human errors, errors of judgment by BP, in which decisions were influenced by the culture embedded in the operations of the company to heavily favor production over safety. Our own federal agencies, especially the Minerals Management Service, many of whose employees were cosy with the oil companies, so much so, that they ignored their mission to regulate, failed to make public safety the priority, and instead put the interests of the oil companies first.

The Deepwater Horizon explosion, which killed 11 men and injured 17, and resulted in a catastrophic human and environmental disaster, with no end to the ill effects in sight, was entirely preventable.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Dolphin head at Grand Isle, LA Copyright ©Jerry Moran

My friend Georgianne Nienaber is on the scene on the Gulf Coast in Louisiana. She's posted several reports at The Huffington Post on the conditions there and the progress in containing and cleaning up the oil in the water, in the marshes, and on the beaches.

"We are allowing them (BP) to play with our livelihood here!"

Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish, was almost stuttering to Anderson Cooper an hour after President Obama's address to the nation from the Oval Office. 58 days after the catastrophic explosion aboard the Transocean/Deepwater Horizon, and the subsequent release of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, there is still no coherent plan to shut down the leak, contain the oil, or respond to the damage done to the environment. There is a new estimate of up to 60,000 barrels a day flow rate. No one believes the numbers BP is providing anymore, and it is stunning that the President is willing to do so.

Read Georgianne's post and compare and contrast with President Obama's speech last night.

Links to Georgianne's other recent posts on conditions on the Louisiana coast may be found here.

You may want to have a look at other photos on the coastal areas by Jerry Moran, whose photo above is used with permission.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


A prayer written by the Rev. Albert Kennington as a responsive reading for a congregation. It may be equally useful as a family devotion, a devotion for a Bible study or prayer group, or simply as a personal devotion.

The Officiant and People say responsively
Glorify the Lord, O springs of water, seas, and streams,
O whales and all that move in the waters.
All birds of the air, glorify the Lord,
praise him and highly exalt him forever.
Glorify the Lord, O spirits and souls of the righteous,
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
You that are holy and humble of heart, glorify the Lord,
praise him and highly exalt him forever.
The voice of the LORD is upon the waters;
the God of glory thunders; the LORD is upon the mighty waters.
The voice of the LORD is a powerful voice;
the voice of the LORD is a voice of splendor.
O Lord, how manifold are your works!
in wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
Yonder is the great and wide sea
with its living things too many to number,
creatures both small and great,
There move the ships, and there is that Leviathan,
which you have made for the sport of it.
You give it to them; they gather it;
you open you hand, and they are filled with good things.
You send forth your Spirit, and they are created;
and so you renew the face of the earth.

For the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, that they may be kept pure as you created them.
Lord, have mercy.

For all who work on the waters that they be safe from harm; for all who have been injured, for all who have died, and for all who mourn.
Lord, have mercy.

For all who support their livelihood and the care of their families and communities from the harvest of the waters,
Lord, have mercy.

For all who live along these waters and for their livelihood, provide places of rest and recreation for others,
Lord, have mercy.

For all who explore the depths of the earth, even under the sea, for the resources of your creation for the common good,
Lord, have mercy.

For all creatures of your making and for the wonderful mysteries of natural habitats you have willed for them, that they be protected from all dangers,
Lord, have mercy.

For all in authority over us, in the government of our nation, our states, and communities, that they may serve your will for the common good, and no other,
Lord, have mercy.

For all who work to preserve us from the dangers of this present calamity, that they may be blessed with success and kept safe from all harm,
Lord, have mercy.

For our deliverance from fear, anxiety, and anger,
Lord, have mercy.

For your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven,
Lord, hear our prayer.

Mercifully hear us, O Lord our God.
Let our cry come to you.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen

Written by the Rev. Albert Kennington, Priest Associate, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Daphne, Alabama.

Thanks to Ann.

From Atmore News.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


From the The Guardian:

"The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume," he said.

Yeah, yeah, Tony. Most consoling. By the way, the Gulf of Mexico is not an ocean. It is a gulf. Its name gives it away.

Hayward promised that BP would "fix" the disaster, which is on course to eclipse the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill as the worst US oil spill in history. "We will fix it. I guarantee it. The only question is we do not know when."

Hayward stressed that BP's efforts to contain the spill had succeeded in dispersing the oil and preventing large amounts reaching the shoreline around the Gulf. But environmentalists are concerned about the unseen damage being done to marine life by the oil which is sinking to the seabed.

Those of us in the vicinity of the leak are pretty anxious to know when the "fix" will be in.

So your job may be on the line. That's tough, especially in these tough economic times. But I have a sneaking suspicion that you won't be reduced to life on the dole.

Thanks to Cathy for the link.


Oil spill underwater video - 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill

The failed blowout preventer on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig had a hydraulic leak and a dead battery in one of its control pods, and testing in the hours before an April 20 explosion revealed that pressure in the well was dangerously out of whack, a House committee investigating the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico said Wednesday.

"The more I learn about this accident, the more concerned I become," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, who has cast the explosion and the ongoing oil spill that followed as a cautionary tale of America's dependence on oil and what he characterized as "dangerous" deepwater drilling in particular.

In recent days, the Energy Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations has been combing through documents provided by BP, the oil giant that had been on the verge of announcing a huge find in the deep waters 50 miles off the Louisiana coast, and Transocean Limited, the contractor whose offshore rig blew up three weeks ago, killing 11 workers and opening an undersea gusher that is releasing about 5,000 barrels of crude a day into the Gulf.
The investigation by the subcommittee, of which Rep. Henry Waxman is chairman, obtained more information than the two Senate committees which grilled the CEO's yeaterday. Waxman is one of my heroes in Congress. He's a bulldog. He won't let go.

The finger-pointing blame game amongst the corporations involved continues unabated, but the consequences of the disaster will affect all the companies involved, no matter their efforts to throw the blame off themselves.
According to Waxman, just after midnight the morning of April 20, Halliburton finished cementing the well. Waxman said that James Dupree, the BP senior vice president for the Gulf of Mexico, told the committee staff that a 5 p.m. pressure test, to determine whether any gas was leaking into the well through the cement or casing, had an unsatisfactory result, and a second test also discovered a disturbing imbalance between pressure in the drill pipe and in the kill and choke lines.

Waxman said that while Dupree indicated that the well blew right after the second test, BP lawyers told the committee that additional tests were done and well operations resumed. Two hours later the well blew.

"The investigation will have to tear that apart piece by piece," said Lamar McKay, the president and president of BP America, of the discrepancy in the pressure tests.
Why, why, why wasn't the well shut down when the tests showed unsatisfactory results? Why?

Rep. Charlie Melancon (D), my rep in Congress, is running against Sen. David Vitter for his Senate seat, but he's far behind Vitter in the polls. He needs to wake up to the reality of conditions in the US today. Melancon says:
"We're the United States, and I would have thought if this was going to happen, it would have been in maybe a South African continent or some Third World country that just looked the other way or said, you know, if there's still such a thing -- and I'm sure there is -- kickbacks, that that would have happened there and not here in the United States," Melancon said. "And, of course, having come through Katrina, Rita, Gustav, Ike and now Horizon, it's just, I guess, the anxiety is building on South Louisiana as though there's a bull's eye on us."
Where ya been, Charlie? Asleep? Are you just now noting all is not hunky-dory in our country? Although our decline started before the Cheney/Bush regime, didn't you see the trashing of our institutions and agencies during the 8 years those guys were in charge? You voted their way a good many times, loyal Blue Dog Democrat that you are.

My hero.

Friday, May 7, 2010


A dead bird floats in oily water in Breton Sound about 10 miles southeast of Breton Island on Thursday.
The investigation into what went wrong when the Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20 and started spilling millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico is sure to find several engineering failures, from cement seals that didn't hold back a powerful gas bubble to a 450-ton, 40-foot-tall blowout preventer, a stack of metal valves and pistons that each failed to close off the well.

There was, however, a simpler protection against the disaster: mud. An attorney representing a witness says oil giant BP and the owner of the drilling platform, Switzerland-based Transocean Ltd., started to remove a mud barrier before a final cement plug was installed, a move industry experts say weakens control of the well in an emergency.

When the explosion occurred, BP was attempting to seal off an exploratory well. The company had succeeded in tapping into a reservoir of oil, and it was capping the well so it could leave and set up more permanent operations to extract its riches.

In order to properly cap a well, drillers rely on three lines of defense to protect themselves from an explosive blowout: a column of heavy mud in the well itself and in the drilling riser that runs up to the rig; at least two cement plugs that fit in the well with a column of mud between them; and a blowout preventer that is supposed to seal the well if the mud and plugs all fail.

In the case of the Deepwater Horizon, Scott Bickford, a lawyer for a rig worker who survived the explosions, said the mud was being extracted from the riser before the top cement cap was in place, and a statement by cementing contractor Halliburton confirmed the top cap was not installed.

If all of the mud had still been present, it would have helped push back against the gas burping up toward the rig, though it might not have held it back indefinitely.
The article doesn't mention the last-resort acoustic switch that was not installed on the Horizon.
The oil well spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico didn't have a remote-control shut-off switch used in two other major oil-producing nations as last-resort protection against underwater spills.
The switch costs $500,000. The total cost of a rig like the Horizon can run over $100 million.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Orange-colored oil from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has washed up on the western side of North Island, the northenmost sliver of the Chandeleur and Breton Island chain.

"On a small section of the northernmost island, we could see a pretty significant buildup of oil," said Times-Picayune photographer John McCusker, after an aerial tour of the spill this morning. "It's not inundated, but oil has definitely reached the island."

St. Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro confirmed there was oil on Freemason Island, which is about a mile west from the middle of the crescent of the Chandeleur chain. He also said there are reports of birds covered with oil.

"The heaviest oil has not reached the Chandeleurs and Breton Sound, though," he said. "It breaks up from a heavy glob to a sheen."

Earlier Thursday, a BP executive told Louisiana officials some oil had reached coastal islands last night.
The already fragile chain of barrier islands off the coast of Louisiana, the Chandeleur and Breton Islands, battered and broken by hurricanes, get another hit. Pardon me, while I mourn for this and, no doubt, for worse to come.

Counterlight had it first.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


From the Wall Street Journal:

The oil well spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico didn't have a remote-control shut-off switch used in two other major oil-producing nations as last-resort protection against underwater spills.

The lack of the device, called an acoustic switch, could amplify concerns over the environmental impact of offshore drilling after the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig last week.

The accident has led to one of the largest ever oil spills in U.S. water and the loss of 11 lives. On Wednesday federal investigators said the disaster is now releasing 5,000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf, up from original estimates of 1,000 barrels a day.

U.S. regulators don't mandate use of the remote-control device on offshore rigs, and the Deepwater Horizon, hired by oil giant BP PLC, didn't have one. With the remote control, a crew can attempt to trigger an underwater valve that shuts down the well even if the oil rig itself is damaged or evacuated.

The efficacy of the devices is unclear. Major offshore oil-well blowouts are rare, and it remained unclear Wednesday evening whether acoustic switches have ever been put to the test in a real-world accident. When wells do surge out of control, the primary shut-off systems almost always work. Remote control systems such as the acoustic switch, which have been tested in simulations, are intended as a last resort.
Although the efficacy of the devices may or may not be clear, depending upon to whom you're listening, the better part of caution would have been for BP to install the acoustic switches at the cost of $500,000, which is a fraction of the cost of a deep-water rig, which can run over $100 million. The spokesmen for the oil companies are already saying that the acoustic switches don't work.

UPDATE: Paul, the BB, is less restrained in his post at Byzigenous Buddhapalian.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Barring an overnight miracle, the search for 11 workers missing for more than 48 hours after an oil rig explosion was expected to be called off early today as two drilling companies and the federal government marshal resources to contain leaking oil after the burning rig sank Thursday in the Gulf of Mexico, creating what an industry official said "has the potential to be a major spill."

Hope for survivors dimmed Thursday as some of the 115 rescued crew members said the missing workers may have been near the Tuesday night explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig about 45 miles southeast of the Mississippi River's mouth, said Rear Adm. Mary Landry, commander of the Coast Guard's 8th District.

With a water temperature of 67 degrees, the probability of finding survivors had diminished to almost zero by Thursday afternoon, Landry said.
Working on a rig in the Gulf of Mexico or any offshore waters is not for the faint of heart. The potential for a dangerous accident is quite high. The Gulf provides around 25% of the US oil supply.

Please pray for the missing workers and for their families and friends.

Pray also that the leaks in the sunken rig can be contained and not lead to a major oil spill.