BP’s renewed denials of our allegation that oil is rising from its Macondo Well are withering under damning new evidence. With all eyes once again on the site that launched the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, experts from LSU to UC Berkeley are weighing in on what is quickly becoming a brutal reality for BP, our federal government and, tragically, the beleaguered people of the Gulf Coast.
Prompted by our Aug. 17 breaking report (see link below) that oil is still leaking from the Macondo Well, a team of reporters from the Mobile Press-Register took a boat out to the Deepwater Horizon site to investigate our allegation. What the team observed is devastating – seen in the shattered lives of tens of thousands of Gulf residents and irreparable damage to the Gulf ecosystem. From reporter Ben Raines:
Floating in a boat near the well site, Press-Register reporters watched blobs of oil rise to the surface and bloom into iridescent yellow patches. Those patches quickly expanded into rainbow sheens 4 to 5 feet across.
Each expanding bloom released a pronounced and pungent petroleum smell. Most of the oil was located in a patch about 50 yards wide and a quarter of a mile long.
The source of the oil was unclear, but a chemical analysis by Louisiana State University scientists confirmed that it was a sweet Louisiana crude, and could possibly be from BP PLC’s well.
More from Mr. Raines:
The Press-Register reporters located the area where the oil was rising to the surface by going to a point directly over the Macondo well and then moving in the direction of the prevailing surface current. The first blobs of oil seen on the surface were detected about a half-mile from the well. The frequency of the sightings increased gradually over the next half-mile.
In the Olympic swimming pool-sized area where the oil was rising most frequently, new sheens were erupting every few seconds on all sides of the 36-foot boat.
Marcus Kennedy, who piloted his fishing boat, the Kwazar, 115 miles from Dauphin Island to the well site, said he was stunned by the heavy petroleum scent in the air.
So where does this leave us? Clearly there’s a significant amount of fresh oil in the water at the Deepwater Horizon site. LSU scientists have confirmed that it’s “sweet Louisiana crude” – the same type of oil that lies beneath the “sealed” Macondo Well. Although we don’t yet have a lab-certified fingerprint tying the oil to the Macondo Well (MC252), we do have a growing number of experts pointing to that inevitability. From the Press-Register report:
“I think the primary source with high probability is associated with the Macondo well,” said Robert Bea, an internationally prominent petroleum engineer and professor emeritus at the Berkeley campus of the University of California.
According to Professor Bea, the exact location of the surface oil in relation to the Macondo wellhead supports our allegation:
“Looks suspicious. The point of surfacing about 1 mile from the well is about the point that the oil should show up, given the seafloor at 5,000 feet … natural circulation currents would cause the drift,” Bea said. “A Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) could be used to ‘back track’ the oil that is rising to the surface to determine the source. This should be a first order of business to confirm the source.”
Robert Bea is a highly regarded, internationally recognized petroleum engineer. You can bet he’s not going to risk his impeccable reputation on an uncertainty. From his bio:
Professor Bea has 55 years of experience in engineering and management of design, construction, maintenance, operation, and decommissioning engineered systems including offshore platforms, pipelines, and floating facilities. He has been teaching at the University of California at Berkeley since 1989.
Although BP has renewed its denial that the Macondo is leaking – and called me a liar in the process – the oil giant is hedging its bet in light of the damning new evidence that’s now surfacing. In the wake of our Aug. 17 report that broke the story, BP issued a blanket denial, saying: “None of this is true.” We see backpedaling in the latest denial:
“We stand by what we said last week, neither BP nor the Coast Guard has seen any scientific evidence that oil is leaking from the Macondo well, which was permanently sealed almost a year ago,” BP spokesman Justin Saia wrote in an emailed statement Wednesday.
Notice the use of the words “scientific evidence.” Clearly, the walls are closing in – and BP knows it. The final piece of the puzzle will be independent analysis of the oil sampled at the site, which will be available in the coming weeks. In the meantime, Gulf Coast residents and the American people at large have the right to know what’s going on 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. We deserve that much after all we’ve been through.
It’s time for the White House to weigh in. And it’s time for the Coast Guard to start protecting the American people rather than British Petroleum.
Read my story-breaking post from Aug. 17: http://www.stuarthsmith.com/oil-rising-again-from-macondo-well-bp-hires-fleet-of-40-shrimp-boats-to-lay-boom-around-old-deepwater-horizon-site
Read pilot Bonny Schumaker’s Aug. 19 flyover report at the On Wings of Care website – and please contribute to her organization to allow her flights to continue: http://www.onwingsofcare.org/protection-a-preservation/gulf-of-mexico-oil-spill-2010/gulf-of-mexico-oil-spill-2011-spring.html
Read the Press-Register report here: http://blog.al.com/live/2011/08/deepwater_trouble_on_the_horiz.html
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