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Part 3: We all know the Gulf blow out is a disaster….

This is a continuation of the first InstaBlog on the same subject.


Scroll down for charts and pictures.

I hate being the bearer of bad news… but…..

Key Facts:
+ One barrel of oil = 42 US gallons. 
+ One metric Ton of oil = 7.3 barrels = 306.6 US gallons
+ 5,000 barrels of oil = 210K gallons
+ 5,000 barrels of oil = 684.9 metric tons
+ The Exxon Valdez leaked 12M gallons of oil.
+ The Santa Barbara blowout released 4.2M gallons of oil.
+ The Gulf rig sank on April 22.  That's 10 days as of today, May 1st.

Assuming 5,000 Barrels per day flow rate:
5,000 barrels per day is 210k gallons per day. So as of today (May 1st), the Gulf blowout has released 2.1M gallons.  The Gulf blowout will be equal to the size of the Santa Barbara blowout on May 11. The Gulf blowout will be equal to the size of the Exxon Valdez spill on June 17th.

As if that is not bad enough, check this out:
Unfortunately, we are now hearing from experts that the amount of oil being released is not 5,000 barrels per day, its 25,000 barrels per day.

If that is true, than we have a mega disaster here far in excess of the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina (81.2B).

Is there a historical precedent for this flow rate in a blowout?
In 1979 a Pemex well (Ixtoc) in the Gulf of Mexico suffered a blowout. It was also a deep water well, and its blowout preventor also failed. It released between ten to thirty thousand barrels of oil per day into the Gulf. It took them between 8 to 9 months cap it.

I would think they were using standard drilling pipe, so it appears the maximum out flow rate would be between 10K to 30K barrels of oil per day. The lower bound is twice as large as the current BP estimate, and the upper bound is twenty percent higher than the 25K barrels of oil estimate made by the scientist using satellite data to estimate spill amounts.

Assuming 25,000 Barrels per day:
25,000 barrels per day is 1.05M gallons per day. So as of today, the Gulf blowout has released 10.5M gallons.  Based on this flow rate, we have already exceeded the size of the Santa Barbara blowout .  The Gulf blowout will be equal to the size of the Exxon Valdez spill in 11.4 days after the rig sank. That should occur early in the morning of May 3rd (this coming Monday).

If it takes them another 90 days to stop the flow, we are talking about the release of an additional 94.5M gallons of oil.  Adding the first ten day amount and we have a spill of 105M gallons of oil.  That's 8.75 times the size of the Exxon Valdez disaster.

Ramifications of 25,000 barrels per day flow rate:
Your not going to stop a river of oil like that with booms.  We need to start burning it now. We need a massive deployment of chemical dispersants. That is going to require the mobilization of the Navy, the Cost Guard, the Army, and every oil service company that can get men and equipment into the Gulf.

If we don't get an immediate massive response, the Gulf of Mexico is likely going to become a dead sea for quite some time.  That means no sea birds, no fish, no shrimp, no anything that depends on clean sea water. Tourism is going to die.

Right now, I don't see any way the local fisheries are going to survive this. Costs for products that are dependent on those fisheries are going to increase extensively.

I would think this would act as an incentive to pass the natural gas legislation currently in Congress.  This should act as a stimulus to switch more of our energy utilization from oil to natural gas.

Oil spreads in water - Take a look at a map of the Gulf of Mexico. If this gets picked up by the Gulf Stream, it could take the oil into Cuba and around the tip of Florida all the way down the Eastern US coast.  Can it be wind driven into Mexico?

There are going to be large political ramifications here concerning the response time line. Large amounts of aid are going to be needed to handle the massive unemployment and shocks to state economies that this is gong to cost. Who is going to pay the bill?  How long will it take for the Gulf ecosystem to recover?

I have to say after working out the numbers and the ramifications that I am shocked, angry, dismayed, and sad, all at the same time.

What about Hurricanes:
Hurricanes could rupture underwater oil and natural gas pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico, which is already struggling with the worst oil spill in U.S. history, according to a new study by researchers at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Mississippi.

Disruption of the seafloor can reach depths of 300 feet from destructive currents, which can continue for up to a week after the hurricane passes, the researchers found.

"It doesn't go away, even after the hurricane passes," said Hemantha Wijesekara, lead author of the study, according to a statement issued by American Geophysical Union, which will publish the study's results on June 10.

Hurricane Ivan damaged or destroyed 22 platforms, some of which had been set adrift by the September 2004 storm.

The storm also damaged and disrupted 13 undersea oil and natural gas pipelines triggering an oil spill on the Louisiana coast an cutting Gulf's production of gas for weeks.

Projected Oil Flow Trajectories:

Those red areas are where oil has been reported on land.

In this next chart I superimposed the two images to more clearly show the flow direction from May 10 to May 13:

I added the three dotted red arrows... those indicate the projected movement of the spill from May 10 to May 13th.  These charts are from NOAA.

We don't have to be dependent on Government projections anymore.  We can all see the oil from daily satellite imagery by going to Weather Underground.

Use the scroll controls to scroll left, and than zoom in... Here are some images I captured today, May 23.