Ensuring The Worst Case Scenario?
Vol: 105 Issue: 24 Thursday, June 24, 2010
One of the most enduring features surrounding the Gulf Oil Spill now entering its third month of belching oil from the seafloor is the fact that no matter how bad the most recent worst-case scenario speculation, the next one will be even more terrifying.
The base-line measures of the crisis have steadily worsened. The estimated flow rate keeps rising. The spill is already worse than anybody could have anticipated and there remains no end in sight.
According to point man Admiral Thad Allen of the US Coast Guard, the reason that BP stopped pumping mud into the well in last month’s “top kill” effort was fear the effort would damage the casing and open new channels for oil to leak into the rock formations.
“I think that one thing that nobody knows is the condition of the well bore from below the blowout preventer down to the actual oil field itself,” Allen said last week. “We don’t know if the well bore has been compromised or not.”
Making things worse, the admiral said, was the fact that the blowout preventer is ‘leaning’.
“The entire arrangement has kind of listed a little bit,” he said.
Bruce Bullock, director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University, says one of the characteristics of the Deepwater Horizon blowout is its unpredictability.
He said the deep-sea ‘plumes’ of oil detected by research vessels are probably not from the blowout but possibly from additional leaks caused by either the drilling or the blowout.
Nobody knows how much oil is actually seeping into the Gulf.
“I actually have a document that shows that BP actually believes it could go upwards of 100,000 barrels per day,” Rep Ed Markey [D-Mass] said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“So, again, right from the beginning, BP was either lying or grossly incompetent. First they said it was only 1,000. Then they said it was 5,000 barrels. Now we’re up to 100,000 barrels.”
Senator Charles Grassley [R-Ia) released a BP document entitled “Maximum Discharge Calculation.” The document was published internally was based on theoretical calculations made before drilling began.
That document says given the most “optimistic assumptions” about the size of the reservoir and the intensity of the pressure at depth and assuming a total loss of well control and no inhibitions on the flow, “a maximum case discharge of 162,000 barrels per day was estimated.”
BP recalculated after the Deepwater Horizon blew up and came up with what it called a “more reasonable” worst-case scenario of between 40,000 and 60,000 barrels per day. A ‘barrel’ of oil is roughly 42 gallons.
About the only thing that we ARE sure of (we being the public) is that everybody is lying about it. BP is looking to mitigate the damage to its corporate image and its bottom line.
Members of the Congress are looking for ways to use the oil spill to mitigate the damage to their own re-election prospects.
Admiral Thad Allen is looking for ways to make it appear that the government’s intervention is helping, rather than hindering efforts at both plugging the hole and cleaning up the damage.
The truth is that every one of them is lying. Nobody knows how bad the spill really is or how many other leaks it may have caused. At the same time, nobody wants to admit that they don’t know.
Except Matt Simmons, founder of Simmons and Co. Simmons and Co. is an oil investment firm. He claims that he does know and that the news is much worse than anybody else believes.
Simmons says the leak that BP is focusing on at the “riser” is not the problem. The real problem is a gaping hole at the “well head,” 8 miles away.
“The riser leak is a deception,” says Simmons. “The hole is in the well head — it’s the well bore.”
“When they [the research vessel Thomas Jefferson] finally got the permission to circle the three-mile radius,” of the well, “once they got up wind [of the blast], within 20 minutes all the crew [of the boat] were nauseous, and several people are still in the hospital. There is benzene coming out of that stuff. If a hurricane finally blows up the Gulf, we could have millions of people die.”
According to Simmons, the ultimate worst-case scenario has not yet even been contemplated.
“We’re going to have to evacuate the Gulf States. Can you imagine evacuating 20 million people? . . . This story is 80 times worse than I thought.”
Only eighty times worse?
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates asking the Defense Department for six thousand active duty military personnel to be dispatched to the Gulf to aid the Louisiana National Guard.
Jindal says that the reason he needs federal troops is because the National Guard is busy preparing for just such a possible evacuation.
“Currently, our Soldiers and Airmen are staging for and are engaged in the planning of the effort to evacuate and provide security and clean up for the coastal communities expected to be impacted by the oil spill.”
If the well isn’t capped soon, the toxic gases from the well, together with the highly toxic Corexit 9500 chemical dispersant being used will eventually force the evacuation of the Gulf States.
It may already be too late.
Those living in Florida are presently at the highest risk, but the danger also appears likely to spread to all Gulf Coast states east of Louisiana — and possibly even to the entire Eastern half of the United States once hurricane season begins.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has already declared the airspace over the oil spill site to be a no-fly zone until further notice. As we’re already seen, various sources have indicated that local police, highway patrol, National Guard, US military and foreign troops may be involved in an operation to evacuate the Gulf Coast.
Since the Deepwater Horizon first exploded, the role of the federal government has largely been confined to blaming BP for the spill, demanding reparations for the spill, but nothing to stop the spill.
Had the White House mobilized every oil skimming rig in the country and accepted foreign assistance offers, much of the oil now threatening the American coastline could have been skimmed off.
Seemingly inexplicably, the White House has largely taken a “hands off” approach — apart from talking about it, that is. In short, it seems as if the White House is simply allowing the spill to proceed.
The federal government shut down the dredging that was being done to create protective sand berms in the Gulf of Mexico.
The berms are meant to protect the Louisiana coastline from oil. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department has concerns about where the dredging is being done.
The department says one area where sand is being dredged is an ecologically sensitive section of the Chandeleur Islands!
So efforts to protect the entire coast from ecological destruction was ordered halted to protect one endangered section of beach. Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, who was one of the most vocal advocates of the dredging plan, sent a letter to President Barack Obama, pleading for the work to continue.
“Once again, our government resource agencies, which are intended to protect us, are now leaving us vulnerable to the destruction of our coastline and marshes by the impending oil,” he wrote. “Furthermore, with the threat of hurricanes or tropical storms, we are being put at an increased risk for devastation to our area from the intrusion of oil.”
Despite his plea, work on the sand berms halted at midnight Wednesday. Why?
Since September 11, 2001 the United States has been in a state of national emergency, which means that martial law can be declared by the President at any time and for any reason.
A declaration of martial law authorizes temporary rule by military authorities. Under martial law, civil rights are suspended and civilian courts are restricted or supplanted by military tribunals.
Although a declaration of martial law is theoretically temporary, there are no time limits. A state of martial law, once declared, can be extended indefinitely.
The forced evacuation of as many as 80 million Americans from the Gulf Coast region would indeed necessitate such a declaration. In an evacuation, the federal government would determine when and where evacuees would be moved to and for how long.
Martial law would not be confined to the Gulf States — since the evacuees would have to be relocated inland across the United States, so too would military rule.
Under the provisions of martial law, the president could also order the suspension of national elections until the national emergency is over.
Her’s the real kicker. The only one that can declare the national emergency “over” and rescind a declaration of martial law is President Barack Hussein Obama.
And suddenly, it all starts to make sense.