Monday, June 21, 2010

The good news is: Maybe they can nuke the Gulf oil spill. The bad news? They probably won't.

Forwarded to me by a good friend who first told me last week about the ungodly pressures this well was exhibiting even before it blew.

Here's What Oil Industry Insiders Are Gossiping About The Oil Spill

The Mad Hedge Fund Trader

Jun. 21, 2010, 4:13 PM

Over the years, I have invested so much time wildcatting in the oil patch that I will never be wanting for great steaks at Nick & Sam's in Dallas, skyboxes at Cowboys games, and personally signed 8 X 10 glossy photographs of George W. Bush. So to get the skinny on the BP mess, I spent the weekend catching up with old friends who live with a permanent oil stain under their fingernails.

Some of the chatter that came back was amazing. BP has discovered the largest and most powerful well in history, and control of it may be outside existing technology. The previous record gusher was Union Oil Co.'s Lakeview well in Maricopa, California, which spewed out a staggering 100,000 barrels a day at its peak in 1910, and created an enormous oil lake in the central part of the state. Estimates for the BP well now range up to 50% more than that. The pressures at 18,000 feet are so enormous, that drilling two more relief wells might only result in creating two more oil spills.

If Obama doesn't want to take the nuclear option, (click here for my piece), then there will be no other alternative but for the spill to continue until the field exhausts itself or becomes capable, possibly some time next year. This is not the end of the world. Less than 1% of the spilled oil is ending up on the beaches. Watch TV, and that is not 150,000 barrels on the beach in Pensacola, Florida. Most of the crude is being moved parallel to the coast by the current and will eventually end up in the mid-Atlantic, where it will break down or dissipate. Using the high end estimates, and assuming that it takes a year to run out, possibly 36 million barrels will end up in the sea (pressure is declining).

This is the same amount of oil that was dumped into the Atlantic during WWII, when 452 tankers were sunk by German U-boats, mostly along the US east coast, and when tar on the beach was a daily occurrence. This is on top of the 1.5 million barrels a year that leak into the Gulf through natural seepage, which no one ever notices. One way or the other, this will end, and Western civilization will survive. And by the way, the crude price rise brought by the spill also marked up the value of BP's reserves, easily allowing it to cover the cost of the clean up, no matter how big it is.

This is how profitable this company is, and why they were so generous with a $20 billion contingency fund. For a fascinating peak on how BP's management initially responded to the Gulf oil spill, watch this video taken by a secret camera inside their board room, which I obtained from a confidential source on pain of death. Brace yourself. And you wonder how it got so bad. Here's how,


Taylor H said...

Kudos to whoever leaked that

Anonymous said...

So what is our experience with nuking wells to stop leaks??? I'm guessing zippo! How unwise do you suppose it is to set off a nuclear bomb one mile underwater near a long occupied coastline that is barely above sea level over a well pouring out 100,000 barrels of highly flammable oil and gas? What are the odds we could turn a really bad disaster into something biblical???

Scott J said...

Denninger has some interesting info about the spill.

Anonymous said...

God is trying to show us that there is NO oil shortage and that we should be exploiting our own resourcezs. It spews up out of the ground!

Uncle Lar said...

Nearest I can tell the Obama folks are milking this for all it's worth. Ol BHO gets to appear presidential and street at the same time, and BP is a bad guy everyone can hate. And if BHO and BP are enemies, at least in public, we have to support the enemy of our enemy, don't we.
One item of note that gets lost in all this is that they started drilling sometime in February and by mid May the well was producing upwards of 60,000 barrels a day, just not where we wanted it. So all those claims of years between drilling and production back during the gas price hike were just so much smoke and BS from the greenies.

Anonymous said...

Nuke it??? WHY????
Why would any sane human being even consider setting off a nuke to "possibly" seal a high volume producing oil well?

The idea is ridiculous at best!!!!

Capture the oil and use it, its worth roughly 77 dollars a barrel.

Declare the stuff free for the picking up and allow anyone with the capabilities to suck it up, separate the water and bring the oil to a land based refinery for use as fuel. Ships need it, power plants can burn it, it can be refined for motor fuel.

If they start building a few more storage facilities and refineries, it would provide thousands of jobs for people who are desparately seeking gainful employment and
provide a source of fuel and heating oil for the next few, maybe several years.
They need to drop a barge sized container over the hole(not some fucking phone booth sized bell) with a manifold of valved pipes on top to bring the oil to the surface into tanker ships where it can be decanted and most of the sea water separated.

This "foregin flagged vessel law" is just another bullshit excuse that these stupid bastards are using to worsen the situation by the minute and is nothing but a power trip.
Issue the "special permits and let every possible vessel that can skim and contain the oil go after it.

What happens if their "nuke idea" blows a quarter mile sized hole in the ocean floor or produces ten or twenty other leaks?

Deal with the one 23 inch pipe and capture it as best we can, don't think about making the problem worse with these fantasy type solutions. Its going to take simple engineering practices to contain this well....not someones vision of a "StarWars" movie ending.

What happens if a nuke produces a crack in the sea bed and the entire contents of the oil field is released all at once?

Any moron who even mentions the word "nuke" as a viable answer should be thrown overboard into the middle of the biggest slick that can be found.

Dr. Richard said...

Our (limited) experience in using nukes for oil and gas was in using nuclear explosions to fracture formations, not seal them. One was done for El Paso Natural Gas in the late 1960s. I belive that there were two or three other tests completed under this program. The explosions did fracture the formations but made the gas too radioactive to use (40 years later it is just now starting to be safe to use). This program ended in the early 1970s (1972 at latest) so the odds are that most of the individuals with operating experience from this program are retired or dead now.

Rhodes said...

No one has any experience with using nukes to stop this leek so don't be silly.

We have a lot of experience with what happen in underground detonations and the integrity of that hole would not survive, if that were possible the A-Bomb would have been considered a complete failure back in 1945.

Alvie D. Zane said...

I had some thoughts on this subject over at The Cliffs recently as well.

Jimmy the Saint said...

@Anonymous: The Russians used nukes on several occasions to stop oil leaks. It is a proven means of doing it, people just get skittish because of the words "nuclear explosive".

Ahab said...

I think Anonymous 7:59pm has made an apocryphal prediction. From what I've read from people who know, the amount of methane/natural gas being spewed from the busted wellhead is enormous, the likelihood that it could catch fire and explode is nearing 75%.

In addition, the heat contained at the depth of the well could turn any water seeping into it as the pressure lessens from the spewing could be instantly turned to steam within the cavern that is the underseabed oil patch, and cause a giant blowout. The seabed may bulge upward, sending a tsunami of seawater in all directions, the course of which toward land could wash over the coast as far as 50 miles. After which, the hole would be plugged, the seabed contour changed, fallen into a deep, wide valley.

Lovely, isn't it?