What's the Worst Case Scenario for the BP Oil Spill?
This post originally appeared on Hullabaloo. I keep hearing this, and I wish that some real geologists and oil experts would either debunk it or confirm it because it's scaring the hell out of people:
What's the worst case scenario for the BP oil spill? How about the horrifying possibility of leaks in the pipe below the sea floor—leaks that could open up a "gusher... directly into the oil deposit"?A comment from well-regarded energy policy website The Oil Drum has been making the rounds, outlining a scenario as terrifying as it is bleak: That the Deepwater Horizon rig's problems extend below the sea floor, where one or more leaks are currently weakening the seabed foundation in a way that could cause an inextinguishable "wide open gusher blowing out 150,000 barrels a day of raw oil or more." The lengthy, extensively sourced and cited post, by commenter "dougr" (who isn't officially affiliated with The Oil Drum), is located here. It's the scariest thing you'll read today. Presenting himself as a "fairly knowledgeable" person, dougr works from BP's efforts to stem the leak to make a case for, essentially, a coverup of the well's true problems, perpetrated by BP and the government. Collecting quotations from BP officials and descriptions of their actions, which he says "make no sense," he comes to "one inescapabale conclusion... The well pipes below the sea floor are broken and leaking." If that's true, what would it mean? For starters, that a "cap" won't work, as it will transfer pressure to the "down hole" (i.e., below the sea floor) leaks. But even worse, writes dougr,This down hole leak will undermine the foundation of the seabed in and around the well area. It also weakens the only thing holding up the massive Blow Out Preventer's immense bulk of 450 tons.... When enough is eroded away the casings will buckle and the BOP [blowout preventer] will collapse the well. If and when you begin to see oil and gas coming up around the well area from under the BOP? or the area around the well head connection and casing sinking more and more rapidly? ...it won't be too long after that the entire system fails... All of these things lead to only one place, a fully wide open well bore directly to the oil deposit...after that, it goes into the realm of "the worst things you can think of"... [...] the very least damaging outcome as bad as it is, is that we are stuck with a wide open gusher blowing out 150,000 barrels a day of raw oil or more It's a race now...a race to drill the relief wells and take our last chance at killing this monster before the whole weakened, wore out, blown out, leaking and failing system gives up it's last gasp in a horrific crescendo.
I have to assume it's Manhattan Project time with the digging of the relief wells and that every possible thing is being done to get them finished ahead of schedule, right? It's going night and day with no breaks and every single asset brought to bear? I suppose this worst case scenario may be nonsense, but I've been reading this at various places and people have been sending it to me for a while now and it's disturbing. Is it possible? Probable?