For weeks I’ve been reading stories of the methane gas bubble, or the methane gas bubbles under the waters near, or under the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. I, of course, have no idea of the truth of any danger warnings for the area…but they ARE scary. See a video below. See updates below.
There seem to be two schools of thought. The most prevalent is that high methane gas levels can deplete the oxygen and kill all the sea life – that’s all of the sea life. ATexas AandM University oceanography professor, John Kessler, has measured the methane levels in the spill area, and he says they are very high but have not yet reached a critical level. Two months from now might be a different story, he says:
Methane occurs naturally in sea water, but high concentrations can encourage the growth of microbes that gobble up oxygen needed by marine life.
At least 4.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas — and possibly almost twice that amount — have leaked since April 20. That’s based on estimates from the U.S. Geological Survey’s “flow team” that 2,900 cubic feet of&
“This is the most vigorous methane eruption in modern human history,” said John Kessler, a Texas AandM University oceanographer.
Small microbes that live in the sea have been feeding on the oil and natural gas in the water and are consuming larger quantities of oxygen, which they need to digest food. As they draw more oxygen from the water, it creates two problems. When oxygen levels drop low enough, the breakdown of oil grinds to a halt; and as it is depleted in the water, most life can’t be sustained.
The second ‘event’ being talked about is an explosion of a methane gas bubble near the spill site so large that it ruptures the ocean floor, explodes far above the water surface, causes wide death and destruction, with tsunamis following – not to mention that the existing well-head will be obliterated:
The stretching and compression of the earth’s crust causes minor cracking, called faults, and the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico has many such fault areas. Fault areas run along the Gulf of Mexico and well inland in Mexico, South and East Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the extreme western Florida Panhandle. The close coupling of new fissures and cracks with natural fault areas could prove to be lethal.
A methane bubble this large — if able to escape from under the ocean floor through fissures, cracks and fault areas — is likely to cause a gas explosion. With the emerging evidence of fissures, the tacit fear now is this: the methane bubble may rupture the seabed and may then erupt with an explosion within the Gulf of Mexico waters. The bubble is likely to explode upwards propelled by more than 50,000 psi of pressure, bursting through the cracks and fissures of the sea floor, fracturing and rupturing miles of ocean bottom with a single extreme explosion.
Numerous documents on this subject say there is some belief that methane bubbles have been the cause of disappearing ships and airplanes in the Bermuda Triangle. Who knew?
The Daily Mail says a methane gas bubble actually triggered the explosion on the rig:
The Gulf of Mexico oil rig disaster was caused by a bubble of methane gas that shot oil 240ft into the air while BP executives were on board celebrating the platform’s safety record.
The highly combustible gas burst through several seals and barriers before exploding, according to interviews with rig workers conducted during BP’s internal investigation.
Workers on the Deepwater Horizon exploration rig, 50 miles off the Louisiana coast, told investigators that they set a cement seal at the bottom of the well, then attempted to put a second seal below the sea floor.
A chemical reaction caused by the setting cement created heat and a gas bubble which destroyed the seal.
Safety adviser Professor Robert Bea, of the University of California, said: ‘A small bubble becomes a really big bubble, so the expanding bubble becomes like a cannon shooting the gas into your face.’
Up on the rig, the first thing workers noticed was the sea water in the drill column suddenly shooting back at them, rocketing 240ft in the air, he said. Then gas surfaced and flooded into an adjoining room with exposed ignition sources.
‘That’s where the first explosion happened,’ said Professor Bea. ‘Then there was a series of explosions that subsequently ignited the oil that was coming from below.’
The BP executives at the party were injured but survived, according to one account.
A question: If the Gulf Coast area is found to be in danger of an enormous explosion that could kill or maim the people and demolish property in the affected areas of Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida, would our Government believe it and evacuate the area? Just asking…
The Oil Drum is a web forum for industry workers. This entry [a small snippet] is making it’s way around the Internet:
There are no “Disks” or “Subsea safety structure” 1,000 feet below the sea floor, all that is there is well bore. There is nothing that can allow the mud or oil to “escape” into the rock formation outside the well bore except the well, because it is the only thing there.
All the actions and few tid bits of information all lead to one inescapable conclusion. The well pipes below the sea floor are broken and leaking.
What does this mean?
It means they will never cap the gusher after the wellhead. They cannot…the more they try and restrict the oil gushing out the bop?…the more it will transfer to the leaks below. Just like a leaky garden hose with a nozzle on it. When you open up the nozzle?…it doesn’t leak so bad, you close the nozzle?…it leaks real bad, same dynamics. It is why they sawed the riser off…or tried to anyway…but they clipped it off, to relieve pressure on the leaks “down hole”. I’m sure there was a bit of panic time after they crimp/pinched off the large riser pipe and the Diamond wire saw got stuck and failed…because that crimp diverted pressure and flow to the rupture down below.
Contrary to what most of us would think as logical to stop the oil mess, actually opening up the gushing well and making it gush more became direction BP took after confirming that there was a leak. In fact if you note their actions, that should become clear. They have shifted from stopping or restricting the gusher to opening it up and catching it. This only makes sense if they want to relieve pressure at the leak hidden down below the seabed…..and that sort of leak is one of the most dangerous and potentially damaging kind of leak there could be. It is also inaccessible which compounds our problems. There is no way to stop that leak from above, all they can do is relieve the pressure on it and the only way to do that right now is to open up the nozzle above and gush more oil into the gulf and hopefully catch it, which they have done, they just neglected to tell us why, gee thanks.
A down hole leak is dangerous and damaging for several reasons.
There will be erosion throughout the entire beat up, beat on and beat down remainder of the “system” including that inaccessible leak. The same erosion I spoke about in the first post is still present and has never stopped, cannot be stopped, is impossible to stop and will always be present in and acting on anything that is left which has crude oil “Product” rushing through it. There are abrasives still present, swirling flow will create hot spots of wear and this erosion is relentless and will always be present until eventually it wears away enough material to break it’s way out. It will slowly eat the bop away especially at the now pinched off riser head and it will flow more and more. Perhaps BP can outrun or keep up with that out flow with various suckage methods for a period of time, but eventually the well will win that race, just how long that race will be?…no one really knows….However now?…there are other problems that a down hole leak will and must produce that will compound this already bad situation….
What is likely to happen now?
Well…none of what is likely to happen is good, in fact…it’s about as bad as it gets. …
What eventually will happen is that the blow out preventer will literally tip over if they do not run supports to it as the currents push on it. I suspect they will run those supports as cables tied to anchors very soon, if they don’t, they are inviting disaster that much sooner.
Eventually even that will be futile as the well casings cannot support the weight of the massive system above with out the cement bond to the earth and that bond is being eroded away. When enough is eroded away the casings will buckle and the BOP 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. BP must be aware of this, they are mapping the sea floor sonically and that is not a mere exercise. Our Gov’t must be well aware too, they just are not telling us.
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”
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.
Read more at The Oil Drum.
The video below describing the dangers of methane gas bubbles cannot be verified – at least by this blog. I don’t know who is doing the talking – it sounds like a radio interview. It may be the biggest hoax in modern history, but it offers food for thought. If you have a comment about the veracity of the information, please share it with me in comments.