What exactly is going on in the Gulf of Mexico? When there are reports of media blackouts, then the natural reaction is to start investigating, and in the current environmental catastrophe, the more stones one turns, the more horrific the potential scenario becomes. While scare mongering is as pointless as it is dangerous, the truth remains that the media have the duty to inform.
What exactly is going on in the Gulf of Mexico? US-based geologist Chris Landau and writer Terrence Aym are but two of a growing number of researchers who are trying to find out exactly what is happening, amid reports of a media blackout, amid reports of Federal agents blocking journalists from the centre of operations, amid reports of threats of 40,000-dollar fines and felony arrests. To hide what? Let us see.
Deepwater Horizon was the state-of-the-art oilrig, specialized in deepwater drilling, constructed in the Republic of Korea (South) in 2001, leased to BP Exploration until 2013. In September 2009 it was set up in the Gulf of Mexico and started drilling in waters 1,259 meters deep. The oil and gas well it bored into, in the Tiber reservoir, was 9,426 meters below the seabed. It is the deepest oil and gas well in the history of the planet.
But did they know what they were doing? It appears not. Before the well blew out on April 20, 2010, an email sent from a BP member of staff had called it “a nightmare well” and it appears that a catalogue of mishaps preceded the disaster, occasioning the sinking of Deepwater Horizon two days after the blow-out and the loss of 11 crew members among the 126 on board.
Halliburton Inc., for instance, had warned BP that it should use 21 centralizers, to make sure the attack was made right at the center of the well; BP used just 6. BP also chose the casing option over the liner one, because it cost 7 to 10 million dollars less and was faster.
This was one of a number of debates and arguments leading up to the disastrous explosion on April 20 (see sources below). In this apparently callous and careless approach to the world’s deepest-ever well, this lackadaisical attitude in approaching new frontiers of engineering science, what has been done?
For a start, it appears that the Ocean bed has been ruptured, it appears that dangerous levels of methane gas are being released (methane storms wiped out nearly 100% of life on Earth already twice before, and the source was the same geographical area), it appears that the sea-bed is starting to collapse, it appears that the well is breaking up.
For Chris Landau*, there is the possibility that the oil in this reservoir is new oil, being produced all the time, and this being the case, the high pressure from the leak is never going to drop, meaning that the best BP can do is to continue to allow the oil to flow. This is the good news.
The bad news
The bad news is that the casing has been ruptured well below the seabed. The bad news is that the integrity of the well is compromised (it could collapse), the bad news is that oil and gas are eroding the surrounding rock (soft rock) and the bad news is that no amount of relief wells will solve anything.
The result will be a massive release of oil into the ocean.
The worse news
Even worse is the fact that this is not just an oil well. It is an oil and gas well. In fact at a proportion of 60/40%. What does this mean?
Given that the normal quantity of methane erupting from a well is 5%, it means that this reservoir at best is spewing eight times more methane gas into the Gulf than would be considered normal. Not two times or three… but eight.
Terrence Aym* states that “Methane levels in the water are now calculated as being almost one million times higher than normal”. Why is this frightening?
The worst news
Methane gas bubbles wiped out the planet’s life-support systems twice (the Permian extinction event 251 million years ago and the Late Paleocene Thermal Maximum 196 million years ago). Both came from beneath the Gulf of Mexico, where BP drilled the world’s deepest well.
The same source claims that the three tell-tale signs are present in the Gulf of Mexico, pointing towards an impending catastrophe: “the appearance of large fissures or rifts splitting open the ocean floor, a rise in the elevation of the seabed, and the massive venting of methane and other gases into the surrounding water”.
Methane and other toxic gases are already pouring out from the seabed, so much that the rescue workers are using military-style gas protection gear; pressure is building under the ocean bed, according to some claims, thousands of square kilometres are affected. The ocean bed has reportedly risen 10 meters in the area around the well; fissures between ten and thirty miles from the epicentre have started to appear.
And apart from all this, 5,208,000 gallons of oil per day are pouring into the Gulf. Imagine the impact of that on wildlife. Therefore, given this scenario, do we not have the right to know what is going on? If the US Federal agencies have imposed a blackout on news, let the cybernauts of the world unite and find out what is happening. After all, our lives depend upon it and after all, the independent press is here to inform, not misinform.
*The post is written by – Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey