Blog post

welcome to pensacolaReports from the Gulf of Mexico just keep getting worse. Estimates of the rate of oil spillage from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead just keep gushing (the latest official number: up to 60,000 barrels per day). Forecasts for how long it will take before the leak is finally plugged continue pluming toward August—maybe even December. In addition to the oil itself, BP has (in this case deliberately) spilled a million gallons of toxic Corexit dispersant. Biologists’ accounts of the devastation being wreaked on fish, birds, amphibians, turtles, coral reefs, and marshes grow more apocalyptic by the day—especially in view of the fact that the vast majority of animal victims die alone and uncounted. Warnings are now being raised that the natural gas being vented along with the oil will significantly extend the giant dead zones in the Gulf. And guesses as to the ultimate economic toll of this still-unfolding tragedy—on everything from the tourism and fishing industries of at least five coastal states to the pensioners in Britain whose futures are at risk if BP files for bankruptcy or is taken over by a Chinese oil company—surge every time an analyst steps back to consider the situation from another angle.

We all want the least-bad outcome here. But what if events continue on the current trajectory—that is, what if the situation keeps deteriorating? Just how awful could this get?

For weeks various petroleum engineers and geologists working on the sidelines have speculated that the problems with the Deepwater Horizon may go deep—that the steel well casing, and the cement that seals and supports that casing against the surrounding rock, may have been seriously breached far beneath the seabed. If that is true, then escaping oil mixed with sand could be eroding what’s left of the well casing and cement, pushing out through the cracks and destabilizing the ground around the casing. According to Lisa Margonelli in The Atlantic:

There is the possibility that as the ground and the casing shift, the whole thing collapses inward, the giant Blow Out Preventer falls over, the drill pipe shoots out of the remains of the well, or any number of other scenarios,” that could making it virtually impossible ever to cap the well or even to plug it at depth via relief wells.

Read, for example, this comment at, a site frequented by oil industry technical insiders who often post anonymously. The author of the comment, “dougr,” argues fairly persuasively that disintegration of the sub-surface casing and cement is the best explanation for the recent failure of “top kill” efforts to stop the oil flow by forcibly injecting mud into the wellhead.

Concerns about the integrity of the sub-seabed well casing appear also to be motivating some seriously doomerish recent public statements from Matt Simmons, the energy investment banker who decided to go rogue a couple of years ago following the publication of his controversial Peak Oil book Twilight in the Desert. Simmons says, for example, that “it could be 24 years before the deepwater gusher ends,” a forecast that makes little sense if one accepts the conventional view of what’s wrong with the Deepwater Horizon well and how long it will take to plug it with relief wells.

Are these concerns credible? From a technical standpoint, it is clear that improperly cemented wells can and do rupture and cause blowouts. It’s fairly clear that this is part of what happened with Deepwater Horizon. But is the well casing further disintegrating, and is oil escaping the well bore horizontally as well as vertically? We just don’t know. And that is largely due to the fact that BP is as opaque on this score as it has been with regard to nearly every sensitive technical issue (including the rate of leakage) since its drilling rig exploded two months ago.

So far, up to 3.6 million barrels of oil have spilled into the Gulf. The size of the Macondo oilfield has been estimated as being anywhere from 25 to 100 million barrels. It is unclear how much of that oil-in-place would escape upward into Gulf waters if its flow remained completely unchecked, but it is safe to assume that at least half, and probably a much greater proportion, would eventually drain upward. That means many times as much oil would enter the Gulf waters as has done so until now.

Already Deepwater Horizon is the not only the worst oil spill, but the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. Multiplying the scale of this existing catastrophe multiple times sends us into truly uncharted territory.

Already, coastal ecosystems are being shredded; for a sense of how bad it is for wildlife in the Gulf now, just read “Biologists fear Gulf wildlife will suffer for generations.” In a truly worst case, oil — and perhaps dissolved methane as well — would hitch a ride on ocean currents out to the deep Atlantic, spreading ecological destruction far and wide.

For the economies of coastal states, a worst-case leakage scenario would be utterly devastating. Not only the fishing industry, but the oil industry as well would be fatally crippled, due to the disruption of operations at refineries. Shipping via the Mississippi River, which handles 60 percent of all U.S. grain exports, could be imperiled, since the Port of South Louisiana, the largest bulk cargo port in the world, might have to be closed if ships are unable to operate in oil-drenched waters. Unemployment in the region would soar and economic refugees would scatter in all directions.

The consequences for BP would almost certainly be fatal: it is questionable whether the corporation can survive even in the best case (that is, if “bottom kill” efforts succeed in August); if the spill goes on past the end of the year, then claims against the company and investor flight will probably push it into bankruptcy. Americans may shed few tears over this prospect, but BP happens to be Great Britain’s largest corporation, so the impact to the British economy could be substantial.

The consequences for the oil industry as a whole would also be dire. More regulations, soaring insurance rates, and drilling moratoria would lead to oil price spikes and shortages. Foreign national oil companies could of course continue to operate much as before, but the big independent companies, even if they shifted operations elsewhere, would be hit hard.

For President Obama, an environmental disaster of the scale we are discussing could have political consequences at least equivalent to those of the Iranian hostage crisis during the Carter presidency. Obama’s only chance at survival would be an FDR-like show of leadership backed by bold energy and economic plans and ruthless disregard for partisan bickering and monied interests.

For the U.S. economy, already weakened by a still-unfolding financial crisis, a worst-case scenario in the Gulf could be the last straw. The cumulative impacts—falling grain exports, soaring unemployment in southeastern coastal states, higher oil prices—would almost certainly spell the end to any hope of recovery and might push the nation into the worst Depression in its history.

We would all prefer not even to contemplate such a scenario, much less live with it. It is irresponsible to inflict needless worry on readers on the basis of entirely speculative and extremely unlikely events. But the more I learn about the technical issues, and the worse news gets, the more likely this scenario seems. We all hope that a relief well will succeed in stopping the oil flow sometime around August, and that until then BP will be able to siphon off most of the oil escaping through the riser and damaged blowout preventer. But one has to wonder: is anyone at the White House seriously considering the worst-case scenario? And what should citizens be doing to prepare, just in case?

image credit: Colin Hackley/Reuters

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Reader Comments


"The Worse Case Scenario" June 20 news article by Richard Heinberg

From: carol k garey, Jul 5, 2010 10:05 AM

This scenario is almost unspeakable. Due to the greed of BP andn it follows that to the extent others like them have disregarded our environmental impact laws and, have been allowed by our Department of Interior to disregard them, we are in for serious and continued ecological disaster.

Whether this crisis ends in August or not, the drums should continue for green energy and conversion of all US energy corridors to green energy infrastructure, in lieu of fossil fuel infrastructure. Time is running out for profitable fossil fuel energy supplies and, technically, it will become more difficult and less profitable to extract for oil and gas. Use of these traditional energy fuels, cannot be continued, the supplies themselves are becomming more scare and more costly to extract and, are detrimental to the world's climate and to all life. Therefore, Obama needs to ignore conventional wisdom and lead us straight into a new and renewable energy producing future. More and more the public needs to know that fossil fuels are not the answer and clean forms of energy should be the response. Thanks for letting us know about the long-term possibilities if this leak cannot be contained. God help us!

From: Chris, Jul 1, 2010 08:13 AM

"an FDR-like show of leadership backed by bold energy and economic plans and ruthless disregard for partisan bickering and monied interests."

Sounds like a good idea to me. Nothing slows up a good decisive plan like kowtowing to political bipartisanship.

Lisa - You Sound like a Sorcha Faal Crazy

From: Stephen M, Jun 25, 2010 08:24 PM

Lisa, sounds like you've been listening to the conspiracy nutjobs over at To date, the luny Russian woman and the computer nerd Sorcha Faal have been wrong on all predictions...yet people still take their rantings as the words of prophecy. Good luck with that.

crazy stuff

From: Lisa g, Jun 25, 2010 07:52 PM

I think the dispersants/ neurotoxins coming onto land via a hurricane will be the false flag/ chemical attack on the american people. When people start dying they will say that it was from the accident and that is why martial law is needed. People will not fight back, being put to sleep with more lies. It is no accident they selected the south east as that area would house the most probable resistance to the globalist. Go to for answers.

From: Obama = Hope or Hopi?, Jun 25, 2010 12:32 PM

Hopi Prophecy Sign #7: You will hear of the sea turning black, and many living things dying because of it.

From: stacy, Jun 25, 2010 06:45 AM

this is a comment in response to debra's comment. you really don't have a grasp of the type of people that live on the gulf coast. we are not undesirable/welfare types. within 30 miles of my house we have a huge navy base (pensacola nas) and two airforce bases (eglin - the largest base in the world and hurlburt field - the hq for special operations command). if the government really was going to target undesirables, wouldn't they start with a place like los angeles? i'm not sure they would start with their own military.

British Company

From: Arnie, Jun 25, 2010 03:03 AM

Britain's largest company? I read that it has 40% US ownership, so BP has many US investors as well.

Empires fall.

From: Doooooogglaz, Jun 25, 2010 02:38 AM

When empires fail it's always been quite dramatic.
Greed and control historically end with death and destruction.
It's almost over.
I watch from afar.

Closer than you think

From: Darren, Jun 24, 2010 04:05 PM

Any other Robert Jordan fans find it ironic that the main challenge of our time is to "seal the Bore"? Does this make BHO the Lews Therin Telamon of this particular story? :)

Relief well #1 is within 2000' of the bore, they are ranging (sensors to find the bore) over the next 3-5 days and then back to advancing the relief well. They will drill some more and then range at least once more before going after the main bore.

Relief Well #2 is several thousand feet behind #1. If the real problem is subsurface casing rupture then a second (and then third) well should lower the pressure substantially and keep the LMRP from completely failing, along with the seafloor around it. I would imagine that one reason the relief wells are going so much faster than the first well is that the geology is known not only by imaging but by the results of the first well before they hit the deposit.

Assuming that the care taken in cementing, etc. that should have accompanied the initial well is taken with the relief well, the leaking well should be substantially slowed if not stopped with the first relief well. If the second well proves necessary, it's only a couple of weeks behind the first.

Worse-case scenario, pack a nuke down relief well #2, fill the relief wells with a few more thousand cubic feet of cememt, and detonate the nuke. 4kg of post-fission plutonium 10,000 feet below the sea bed is a minimal environmental risk compared to billions of gallons of oil escaping over a period of years.

Ixtoc I released an estimated 3 million barrels in its short but unpleasant career. The Gulf recovered. It tends to do that. Obviously, the leaks are different in terms of depth and a 1:1 comparison is not precise, but neither is the GOM the Prince William Sound. We do not know what the long-term impacts will be, but they're usually less than the Worst Case Scenario.

Future with oil

From: John, Jun 24, 2010 01:40 PM

This is the best thing that could happen. I wopping great oil disaster affecting lots of oil guzzling US Americans. Our collective greed caused this, not BP.

same o sameo

From: MM, Jun 24, 2010 12:02 PM


RE Soros Comments

From: Tod Brilliant, Jun 23, 2010 08:53 PM

Toray 99 -

Interesting points. While on one hand you criticize Soros' investment in Big Oil--and this is a fair criticism if your statements are accurate--on the other hand you seem to imply that the Center for American Progress' belief in "government that champions the common good over narrow self-interest" is a bad thing somehow. While I'm certainly no Christian, this is one Christian ethic that I tend to believe has great merit, one that is rooted in a global history of common good over individual profit. The fact that Mr. Soros invests in this notion is bad?

As for your implications that Obama-Clinton politics are intertwined, what of it? Bush-Clinton admins had huge overlap as well. This is the nature of D.C. politics...the players remain largely the's only the shrill banshees like Beck (and his left counterparts) who try to drive wedges between citizens by using crude overviews and generalizations. The point is that Big Oil has had its shriveled thumbs pressed square against the rectums of our elected officials on both sides of the aisle for decades. Trying to single out Obama as somehow more or less culpable is laughable.

As for your on-topic question of why do we not drill offshore? Isn't it farking obvious? Let's pretend the failure rate of offshore drilling was as low as 1 in 1000. What if 1 in every 1000 cars on U.S. roads spontaneously exploded, killing not only every passenger, but incinerating everything within a 50 yard radius. Would that be acceptable? Would we allow such vehicles? How about 1 in 1 MILLION? Would we? Would ANY BUSINESS with a 1 in 1000 product failure rate survive? The answer is very clearly, undeniably, N to the O.

From: toray99, Jun 23, 2010 08:01 PM

Soros started the Open Society Institute (which seeks "fairness" and "justice") and the Tides Foundation, which among its many classics created the anti-capitalist "Story of Stuff" indoctrination video that was shown in schools across America.

Soros is globalist and is one of those power players trying to establish a new world financial order:
But perhaps his most effective creation is the Center for American Progress. When the group formed in 2003, he promised $3 million, but that number could be higher as Soros admits to spending $500 million a year on his various foundations.

Back in 2003, Democrats were floundering and on the verge of irrelevance. They needed an "intellectual coup"Center for American Progress provided just that; it's a progressive policy think tank that believes in "government that champions the common good over narrow self-interest" and they have heavy influence on this administration.Bloomberg reported that the Center for American Progress "helped build the platform that triumphed in the 2008 campaign"
At the head of Obama's transition team was John Podesta. He's also the founder of Center for American Progress, a former Clinton administration official and the guy who not only laid out the plan for how the Obama team would be put together, he staffed the senior levels of the White House, Cabinet members and the top layer at government agencies.With that kind of influence it's important to look at what Soros is investing in. Could there possibly be any, what do they call them, conflicts of interest?
Through his Soros Fund Management hedge fund, Soros is heavily invested in many different things. recently is Petrobras. What is that? It's Brazil's state-controlled oil behemoth. It's Brazil's version of Big Oil. They've netted $15 billion in profits during the last year. As of March 31 this year, SEC filings show Soros Fund has $637 million vested in Petrobras. Last December, the fund had $900 million invested in the company, making Petrobras one of its two largest stakes.
What did Soros see in these guys that the rest of the world didn't? Is he just that much smarter than everyone else? Or is it possible because of Center for American Progress and all the other connections Soros has at the White House, he knew that the administration would be making a $2 billion "preliminary commitment" to Petrobras for "exploration," just days after he strengthened his investment? Or was that just another one of those bad luck situations for Obama? Because it certainly doesn't seem to pass the smell test: A billionaire investor dumps money into state-controlled Brazilian oil company and days later administration dumps $2 billion dollars into the same exact company? Now the administration is crippling the American competitors and the biggest winner in this is Petrobras.

Mind you, this is a multi-billion dollar company that rakes in tens of billions in profits each year. Why in the world would these guys need a loan? And why are we investing in another country's offshore drilling while banning ours?

Gulf Oil Leak

From: Rusty, Jun 23, 2010 06:44 PM

From the perspective of my own lifetime in the production dept. of Texas oilfields, you've accurately hit this nail on the head. It's a sad thing, a terrible thing and I don't expect to live near long enough to see the end of the consequences of this.
May the Most High God help us in this, as we cannot help ourselves.


Gulf oil spill

From: Anthony, Jun 23, 2010 05:04 PM

If the federal Goverment and BP was really interested in capping the well ( Capturing 100% of the oil.) This could be done within 5 to 7 days with the design I have come up with, also there are many designs on the NET as good or beeter than mine. And in my opinion any one of the ideas could be done within the 5 to 7 days that I stated. This would buy the drillers of the relief wells to complete their work and then the BOTTOM Kill, can be started. So who's kidding who. BP screwed thing up, and the federal has just continues to screw it up more. I hope that the people at BP and the federal government sees the overall mess that they are creating........

From: s, Jun 23, 2010 01:04 PM

"Americans may shed few tears over this prospect, but BP happens to be Great Britain’s largest corporation, so the impact to the British economy could be substantial."

IceSave implies OilSave.

Just as the British are attempting to hold the Icelandic people hostage over the failure of one of their countries (private) banks, the Americans do the same in recouping losses from the British.

BP: Illusion of a False Spill

From: debra, Jun 23, 2010 10:37 AM

The 'disaster' in the Gulf of Mexico is beyond a false flag; it's an illusion. What I'm about to reveal will more than likely go by the wayside, and the charade will continue. The reason for writing this is not for attention, games, or folly, but to expose the biggest scam in the 21st century, and to relieve some aching hearts. There is no need for fear as this is a staged event. I cannot reveal my sources, they do go straight to the top, but hopefully what I write will echo inside of each person reading this as the truth.
> Much of the information I present here cannot be easily verified, fast checked, or ever presented as anything, but hearsay, as they are just words of an anonymous online entity. The Government, corporations, and the people behind them have pulled out all the stops to insure the truth doesn't come out. They are the reason why the beaches have private security contractors, insuring no one is able to gain access to the oil on shore. They are the reason the Gulf of Mexico is a no fly zone. They are the reason why the gulf states are being locked down by military. They are the reason why the well head you see is different in many videos that BP releases. Without this measure of control the illusion would fail. In this post, what I can do is provide leading evidence, or give clues to the truth; from there you can use something that has gone by the way side, common sense.
> The large oil spills washing up on the shores are not from BP Deep Horizon. They are indeed from surrounding wells, that were already leaking by design. These wells can be verified through a simple online search. You'll notice that much of the oil is actually in the form of tar. Usually tar balls; sizes of these have reached 2000+ pounds.
> From the start, BP, Haliburton, and co-conspirators knew where they were drilling. Using specific equipment, such as the German ship RV Sonne, they had detailed maps of the ocean bottom. The ship, and a specific college study from 2005, in the Gulf of Mexico, are your starting points to what's really happening in the gulf. Here's a link to what the study synopses
> What BP, Haliburton, and other co-conspirators intentionally drilled into was an Asphalt Volcano. Sounds scary doesn't it? It really is not. In fact, after you read the above link you'll know that the Gulf of Mexico is literally coated in oil, tar, and methane hydrate at the bottom. The study went on to find that massive aquatic life has specifically adapted to living off of the hydrocarbons. That in fact these asphalt volcanoes are a natural part of the ocean ecology, and their eruptions actually benefit the sea life over the long duration of time.
> Another aspect to what I was directly told is that BP, Haliburton, and other co-conspirators drilled intentionally into the 'mid side' of this particular asphalt volcano. Basically from what I understand, it is a soda bottle effect. If they had drilled into the top of the volcano, then all the gas would rise out, and explode as would bottled carbonated liquid. The effect of drilling into the side permits a safely controlled release of gas, tar, liquified asphalt, and other related gases. What was done is a more or less controlled release; almost natural in fact!
> The Asphalt volcano was a win win situation for this false flag: as it presented the best illusion to all outside parties. Not only do the conspirators need to fool the general public, but also the oil industry, and scientific community. The public is easy to fool, but the latter two groups take a little more effort; this is the main reason why the Gulf is being isolated by security contractors, and military. Anyone well versed on this giant debacle in the Gulf knows that it is surrounded with stories, and claims of negligence. This was the first purposeful aspect to make the story seem credible to all outside parties; as the story is more easily believed, when it is chalked up to human error, or incompetence.
> Besides using inferior, shotty, or flat out negligent craftsmanship, as the well was intended to fail from the onset, the conspirators knew that the pressure produced from the volcano would blow out even better equipment. This was the second mechanism to fool other industry experts. All experts, and scientific communities only know what they are told, and that is the well tapped into a large high pressure hydrocarbon pocket. To even a trained eye, what they are being told appears to be a massive oil gusher, when in fact it's a controlled event.
> In watching the videos, or live feeds looks horrible, and very ominous, but upon closer examination the tell tale signs of what it really is shows through, what you are actually viewing is a man made(well bore) large "Black Smoker". You should take note, as the evidence has built, the live feed appears to have been tampered with. I suspect it is because of the video below. The man narrating the video has it correct, it is a volcano! But those aren't flames. From the link provided above, they are a combination of gases; specifically Sulfur, and Iron are what create the flame effect. Since the airing of that video, several of the live feeds have been proven to be tampered footage, or faked.
> You need to realize that an illusion is only as good as it's weakest link. All scientific evidence on paper coming from the government, and corporations is being fudged. In the case of this staged, and controlled event that weak link is the oil, or more specifically the tangible tar that can be collected. As I mentioned much of the oil that has been seen, or noticed is tar rather than heavy crude oil. Out at sea closest to the Deep Horizon site, "shrimpers" have been hired to boom the oil/tar together, and set it ablaze. There are several huge fires right now out in the Gulf. The reason is for this is to hide the evidence. The distinct asphalt volcano tar, is actually coated with naturally produced oil eating microbes, and other natural safe guards produced by Mother Earth; these types of organisms are not present in a regular oil well, but commonly in the Asphalt Volcanoes, and large tar flows at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.
> To continue with why the asphalt volcano was a win win to drill into, is the heaviness of the tar. Read the linked article provided above, the tar will cling to lighter oil, and fall to the bottom of the Gulf at some point, near in the future. Also, the microbes, and other organisms that naturally occur from this will multiply. They will not only eat the tar, but the other control released oil that they are pumping into the Gulf.
> We've all seen the videos of beaches not lined so much with oil, but with tar balls of varying sizes. Also, we've all noticed BP's overall lack of concern for cleanup. We've seen booms which aren't tied together. We've heard first hand account of staged clean ups on the beaches. As soon as a press conference, or media event is done BP stops work. The reason is simple, it's not that they don't care, but that they already know what's gonna happen. The oil will start naturally being cleaned up via decomposition, oil eating organisms, and falling to the already naturally tar covered bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.
> What's the benefit of this scam? MONEY, and population control. Read this article [link to] ... ized-plan/ If you're still reading this article, and even beginning to grasp the sinister nature of the fraud being perpetrated, then you'll realize that the corexit9500, and other dispersant's are not needed. They are purposely being sprayed by Evergreen Air/CIA to cull the population along the Gulf Coast.
> Also, explained to me, is the large amount of useless eaters, pond scum, or undesirables living along the gulf coast. These would be the Americans living off of the government. I will not beat around the bush with pleasantries, or politically correct statements here. This coastal area from Texas to Florida has the highest, or most dense population of targets of illimination by the US Govt., and corporations. These are the populations living on welfare(in this area dominated by African Americans), and the older population living on Social Security(mainly Florida). These people are going to start dropping like flies over the next few years, and greatly reduce the burden to government coffers.
> In this respect this is a doomsday event, but it's not the end of the food chain, death of the oceans, or as some have warned an extinction level event. It's only bad for the targeted populations.
> To cover the money aspects of this fraudulent event, are somewhat self evident. Primarily, as President Obama (note he's not very worried, think about it) has just pointed out, they are using this false flag to move forward with the Carbon Tax, followed by Cap, and Trade. Another aspect of profit is the clean up of this disaster; those boats aren't running around for free in the Gulf. From there, is the very real aspect of banks calling their notes on the remaining mortgaged properties along the Gulf, and peninsula of Florida. Remember Katrina? They never gave the land back, but sold it to casinos, and other businesses. Almost all beach front property will end up in the hands of the banks, and government. They'll play this disaster off for a few years, and explain the mysterious disappearance of oil on kindness from mother nature.
> The side effects of this scam are negligible; in the eyes of the perpetrators, they've done nature a favor. They've opened up an asphalt volcano from the side, and will shut it down in the next few months by equalizing the pressure. The equalization of pressure will come by way of the two relief wells; which are not wells, but vents. when they do this, I have no clue what excuse they'll use, but the current gusher will stop. I said stop, it will not slow down, but literally stop. Remember, all they have done is aided nature in something that is a very common, and naturally occurring event at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.
> That's about all I have to say. I will pop in to answer any if at all questions. The reason I came forward with this information is that I myself was worried about the level of this event. Honestly, knowing the reasoning of what, why, and how has given me peace. Anyone who has family anywhere near where they are spraying these chemicals need to alert their family to leave; they are the target of this false flag. To anyone who finds credence, or a shred of truth in what I've written, please pass this on; as we all are the target on the grand scale. The target by way of the coming carbon tax, cap, and trade.

BP Atoll

From: Michael, Jun 23, 2010 09:45 AM

I don't understand why the whole well head cannot be covered with sand, gravel and concrete refuse freed from road repair and construction sites throughout the region. Surely there are tons, even acres of this refuse that could be trucked and then floated by barge to the site and dumped until a new island is created if necesary. It wouldn't take but a few weeks to bury the site permantly for all time. It could become a new vacation spot and should appropriately be called something like Obamaville or BP Atoll. LOL

Oil spill, foretaste for coal industry

From: Matt Mushalik, Jun 23, 2010 09:27 AM

The statistical background for GOM oil production is here:

GOM oil after the US peak

same problem in Australia

Western Australia's battle for offshore oil
Crude Oil dropped by 27% in 2009


BP Statistical Review June 2010: Oil reserves and production don't match

We get a foretaste of what will happen to the coal industry when the first real big global warming bills roll in .....

Perspective and Scale

From: William Jorgensen, Jun 23, 2010 05:42 AM

Unfortunnately, again, the biggest picture is obscured by a slightly bigger picture. Even those boffins over at theoildrum are looking too close at the problem.

The Caribbean is already doomed but the Atlantic still may have a chance. However, if the Atlantic dies every other ocean will follow in time... This is the real tipping point... Mass-extinction events always include the top predator species, ergo...

A hydrocarbon hurricane Mark II might ignite vast portions of atmosphere as well, which would add a little bang or two to the many whimpers we'd see before the grand finale...

dealings with BP

From: MCV, Jun 22, 2010 07:24 PM

I have been in the oil industry for 29 years. I have personally been working directly with BP for the past 8 years. I as well as others in the industry feel the same about their safety program. BP is the leader in safety for the whole oil industry! I call B---S--- on that. My dealings with this company is just the opposite. BP requires all of the sub contractors to follow a strict guideline. BP field supervisors do not always follow their own guidelines. Such as "WE DO NOT UNLOAD TRUCKS OR MOVE ANYTHING HEAVY IN THE DARK". This is one of the strict rules they have come up with. In the past week we have unloaded trucks twice in the dark of night. Big no-no in their book, but it happens more than you know. What other safety rules do they not adhere to?
It does not surprise me we have a big problem in the gulf. My experience with most of the people in this industry in depressing. I like to think of these people as over educated/over paid idiots. I know why they wear slip on boot. They can't tie their own shoes with out out a manual. You may think I am just venting, but I work with these people ever day. Not one of them can come up with a firm thought on their own.
I am convinced BP will not fix the gulf problem. It is not in the nature.

RE Macondo

From: Richard Heinberg, Jun 22, 2010 04:12 PM

John -

Not being a geologist and not having access to the data compiled by seismic surveys and exploratory drilling, I have no basis on which to dispute this one way or the other. One thing I do know is that oil-in-place numbers are always larger than recoverables. I have seen figures for the field being drilled by Deepwater Horizon ranging from 25 to 100 million barrels recoverable; oil in place would be about three times those figures. But my understanding is that it's way too early in the exploration and production game to come up with solid numbers. If there are indeed estimates out there for a billion barrels or more of oil-in-place, that would make this one of the larger finds in the world in recent years. So we have a very wide range of possibilities. At this point I can only shrug shoulders.


From: john r, Jun 22, 2010 02:03 PM

actual estimates for the size of the macondo field range from one to 4.3 billion barrels
there are a total of four fields in the area....the question is, 'are they in any way connected?'
that could, and i stress could not would, lead to a total over the 10 billion barrel range
i dont think anyone with any measure of pull at all is taking this as seriously as they need to
the entire national guard and navy should be there already

RE Unit of Measure

From: Tod Brilliant, Jun 22, 2010 09:35 AM

Martin -

It is Millions, not Billions. At the top end of the estimate, this means the entire Macondo field has enough oil in it to satisfy global demand for 26 hours.

unit of measure

From: martin gugino, Jun 22, 2010 08:38 AM

you say [The size of the Macondo oilfield has been estimated as being anywhere from 25 to 100 million barrels.]
You must mean billion barrels.

RE Oil Disaster

From: Tod Brilliant, Jun 22, 2010 08:30 AM

AH -

Indeed, Simmons has said the same, and said it before this article was published. But do keep in mind that Simmons' overall audience is relatively small, as is ours. It's important that critical information like this is circulated widely, through many avenues. There is no 'competition' to be the 'first' to address a particular point, nor does information lose any relevance when repeated. In fact, it can be argued that it gains resonance and amplification.

Oil Disaster

From: AH, Jun 22, 2010 03:36 AM

Simmons -- the same expert u quote in the story has already said that the relief well won't work without the casing. The casing is known to be destroyed. Nice story but a litle late on the info. -----------------------

oil gusher

From: klara palotay, Jun 21, 2010 09:16 PM

Why can't the government take over the operation as an environmental disaster and like Chernobyl pour as much concrete on the holes to completely stem the flow. I know BP would lose its drilling rights, but which is more important, an oil company or the welfare of several states with millions of people and the death of all wildlife and migratory birds which will devastate all of North America?

finally, some sense about the Gulf

From: Alex Smith, Jun 21, 2010 08:30 PM

After reading terror mongering over at the Huffington Post ("The Gulf will blow up!" "Millions will die!" - it is so refreshing to read a sober assessment from Richard Heinberg, who cares about facts and rationality.

And I agree, the real Tsunami could be economic. For example, the weak banks of Florida were already tottering (many closed) due to real estate woes. Now the most valuable property may become unwanted. Expect more banks to go under around the Gulf.

And unemployment! The waitress, the delivery person, the last renovations, small business - all those folks who won't qualify for BP aid, will fail, and walk away from the mortgages.

The tourism industry is likely cursed, for a few years, if the well can't be capped by September, or the oil arrives anyway to S. Florida. That State has no income tax, so lost tourist taxes will cause the crash.

Thanks Richard, for sticking with the real problems, and leaving "the aliens did it" and other rumors to the Right Wing nuts...

Alex Smith
Radio Ecoshock

Worst case....

From: Mark Ludwig, Jun 21, 2010 04:01 PM

What has been particularly distressing has been the continued lack of understanding or willful ignorance of our leaders and commentators regarding the causes of this disaster. Any sophisticated viewer of American politics has watched as government regulators have been systematically defunded and defanged while industry has been allowed to self police. The notion of an elite class of super ethical private sector innovators running the world for little folks is promoted yet today with it's mirror twin of the evil bureaucrat holding back progress for venal ends. Once again the facts of the day are being trumped by an fantastical ideology divorced from inconvenient facts by bloviating shitheads unashamed of their ruinous game. I am personally at a loss what it will take to expose this nonsense for the rolling disaster it is to those who have promoted it so vigorously and their sheeple flock. If this and the bank crash are not enough, I fear nothing can stop my great country from self immolation on the alter of hyper free market ideology. As a pragmatist, I just keep buying ammo; sir Paul unfortunately was right; happiness is a warm gun.

BP's not going anywhere

From: Benito, Jun 21, 2010 03:56 PM

They have US under their thumb... at least according to the latest post (Return of the King) on Albert Bates' blog:


From: TaosJohn, Jun 21, 2010 08:35 AM

"Obama’s only chance at survival would be an FDR-like show of leadership backed by bold energy and economic plans and ruthless disregard for partisan bickering and monied interests."

I don't give an oil-covered rat's ass whether Obama survives. He's the anti-christ incarnate for everything Democratic and progressive. As far as I'm concerned, he should be tried for treason. The offense? By not marshalling every resource available, he's guilty of a de facto murderous attack on our own country.

Obama is nothing. Forget Obama.

Commenter Borasky is correct about what could be accomplished if the political will was there. It isn't, however, and my intution tells me that this disaster is only beginning to unfold...

Collatoral evidence

From: Ken Ward, Jun 21, 2010 07:33 AM

Deep in the excellent NYTimes piece today ( on failure of the blind sheer ram, a "last line defense" on the Deepwater, is an interesting description of engineers' concerns on first day after ram failed ...

"The destructive force of oil, drilling mud and well debris blowing through the guts of the blowout preventer was sure to rapidly erode the shear ram’s blades and chew away its seals, leaving it useless.

"Some people thought they had days at most. One study considered it “highly unlikely” the blades and seals could withstand a blowout for even five minutes."

The ram is described in NYT as a 5 story structure with hardened metal blades. If it can be damaged so quickly, why not the well walls?

Spread of the oil to the East Coast

From: Brad Arnold, Jun 20, 2010 10:17 PM

The "Loop current" moves past FL up to NC at a rate of about 1m/sec. When (not if) that oil in the Gulf is sucked by the Loop current up north, you will see many times the environmental damage than you do now that it is affecting only the Gulf states. Do you appreciate the scale of what we are facing? By the way, it took about 2 months for the leaking oil to wash up on LA beaches - it might only take another month for it to start washing up on NC beaches. Can you imagine the civil pressure that will occur as fishing and tourism industries collapse?

What citizens should be doing

From: M. Edward (Ed) Borasky, Jun 20, 2010 10:11 PM

"And what should citizens be doing to prepare, just in case?" What we should be doing is mustering the political will to build alternative industrial capacity rather than wasting another microsecond in witch hunts and disgraceful behavior on the part of our Congress.

The world *will* survive this disaster. The USA *will* survive this disaster. A concentrated, focused effort, like the Manhattan Project or the Apollo Project, can, even if it doesn't make the Gulf whole, provide incomes and relocation assistance for those displaced. Sitting in a Congressional conference room grilling Tony Hayward or trashing him because he participated in a yacht race doesn't move the USA or the world forward.