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Videos of the Gulf oil spill

Joel's editor here. Joel is in WiFi-deficient Venice, La. but wanted to post these just-released videos of the Gulf oil spill.

The "Crater Plume," the larger of the two active leaks, on May 8.

The Crater Plume on May 10.

May 15.

This shows the Crater Plume with the Riser Insertion Tube Tool, a small tube that diverts the oil and gas to a new riser linked to a ship on the surface, inserted.

By Stephen Stromberg  |  May 18, 2010; 5:23 PM ET
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Next: Down on the bayou (and the Mississippi River)


I feel sick now.

Posted by: dmd3 | May 18, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Stephen! These are engrossing. And disturbing.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 18, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

New Achenbach story, too.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 18, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

And the Riser Insertion Tube Tool is helping how exactly? Thank you to Stephen.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 18, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

That tube looks considerably smaller than what is shown in the graphic:

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 18, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Courtesy of Achenbach and Fahrenthold:

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 18, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Many thanks.

A question: is the May 15th video (#3) of the riser (Crater Dome) leak or the leak at the well site? The piping and hardware look different, so I was wondering.

I read somewhere that the riser tube is 21 inches in diameter vs. 4 inches for the inserted tube. If that is so, a two-dimensional slice of each yields comparative areas of 346.36 and 12.57 sq. in., respectively.

I'm not feeling pumped up about this.

Posted by: MsJS | May 18, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Just intuitively, and I'm willing to be corrected, it seems to me that the siphon being smaller in diameter than the riser might be so that the upward pressure rises. 5000 feet is a long way up if there aren't any pumps.

Posted by: Yoki | May 18, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Echoing Yoki's willingness to be corrected, I'm intuiting that if 1,000 bpd was being pumped up through the tube at the time of the video, it seems as though the total leak rate is a mite more than 5,000 bpd.

Posted by: MsJS | May 18, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

A little song
A little dance
A little seltzer
Down your pants

Sorry, it's the only siphon humour I know.

Posted by: Boomslang | May 18, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm just confused because this tube certainly doesn't look to have a diameter a fifth of the riser. Now, the relative diameter really doesn't imply that much about the rate of extraction because the flow rates can be much different. And, as described in that article by Joel and Dave, BP is increasing the flow slowly. (BTW - the pedantic part of my brain must point out that this is *not* a siphon.) It's just that this looks so different that what was described.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 18, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Disheartened and depressed. Not usually feelings I get from dropping in on the Achenblog-but thankful to see the videos and the boss on the story.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 18, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Yoki, MsJS and RD, you're all articulating what I'm seeing and tried to say in my sarcastic 'question' above. Knowing that BP hopes to increase extraction rates doesn't make me feel any better. My eyes can see the outward flow around that insertion tube and it gives me no solace.

I haven't said this outright before but I really feel (and will stand corrected if I'm wrong) that BP has stalled all along in efforts to plug that well, using mud or junk, with the full intention of future use/profit. I try to always refrain from seeing ulterior motives in people, but no longer in corporations. *double sigh*

Posted by: talitha1 | May 18, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

You're right, RD.
Give the boys I grew up with a siphon and you'd never know there'd been a leak in the first place.

Posted by: Boomslang | May 18, 2010 7:22 PM | Report abuse

O' man, I meant a pressurized tank.
I'm home w/ a twisted back, and painkillers, and beer, and whatnot. Go Leafs!

Posted by: Boomslang | May 18, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

I just love RD; he corrects me so kindly.

Posted by: Yoki | May 18, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Are the painkillers and beer for the back or for the pain and suffering of a Leaf fan?

Posted by: dmd3 | May 18, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

The back.
The existential stuff just confuses me.

Posted by: Boomslang | May 18, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Hope the back feels better soon.

Posted by: dmd3 | May 18, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

@Boomslang: the suffering of a Leafs fan knows no bounds nor depths. No stimulant nor suppressant can change that.

Posted by: Yoki | May 18, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

I'm not gonna say it, really...

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 18, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Oh, go on Scotty. Why not?

Posted by: Yoki | May 18, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Off to a women's get-together and then to watch hockey on the telly.

Great evening, y'all.

Posted by: MsJS | May 18, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Please do. I didn't think anyone's cornflakes got THAT wet.

Posted by: Boomslang | May 18, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Are they STILL playing hockey? It's Glee night with an episode guest starring Neil Patrick Harris directed by Josh Whedon. They sure have my number, musical number that is.

I sat out DC rush hour today by catching a matinee of 'Kick @ss.' A much better way to spend 4:30 to 6:30 than sitting on the beltway. And an interesting contrast to Iron Man 2.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 18, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Much better use of soundtrack in "Kick-@$$" too, wouldn't you say, yello?

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 18, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Well, I'll just misquote Jagger & Richards:

Sometimes you get what you want, but it's not always what you need.

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 18, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

"Bad Reputation" gave a jarring "Freaks and Geeks" flashback, but that was just me. KA did not seem to go on quite as long as IM2 which needed to be about 20 minutes shorter. Or have more Black Widow.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 18, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Weird.

Posted by: Yoki | May 18, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

There are normally strict rules about releasing drilling mud, a complex and foreign stuff, into the sea environment. I can't figure out what they are actually proposing. Lost circulation material is often used in the hole. It is simply the addition of cotton seed hulls.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 18, 2010 9:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure having just read The Big Short is affecting my perceptions but part of me is thoroughly convinced BP is more worried about maximizing the oil it can save than stopping the leak.

NPH on Glee is so perfect.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 18, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

How was The Big Short, frostbitten? I have read 3 of his other things. Dunno about BP, but I bet they have a lot of bean counters doing math as we speak about lots of things.

In honor of the tone of the blog today, and the musical theme, I humbly offer this.

Posted by: steveboyington | May 18, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Blackmore's Night is the greatest Renn Faire act ever. Ritchie is one lucky guy.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 18, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

steveboyington-thoroughly enjoyed The Big Short. Can see it being a movie with Clooney, Damon, and Pitt- maybe Stanley Tucci as the one-eyed guy with Asperger's. I have always enjoyed his writing but I certainly didn't expect Lewis to make me laugh out loud over CDOs and CDSs.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 18, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Blue, indeed.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 18, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

So I have a date at 10:00 with TCM to watch "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". Thought that might be an effective antidote to the day or at least an interesting diversion.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 18, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Band of Gypsies.
And then the Winter.

Posted by: Boomslang | May 18, 2010 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Just encountered a bold coyote in the cul-de-sac. I took my million-candle-power spotlight out and this normally sure method for intimidating stray dogs had no effect on his brazenness. I had to take out after him before he disappeared into the gloom.
I live in the biggest city between Atlanta and D.C., where Bank of America is headquartered.

Seeing the shameless predator openly trolling for victims struck me as an ill omen or perhaps a dark sign of the times.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 18, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Howdy. Thanks for the video. I hope all those folks demanding it are happy. Feh. Seeing it with my own eyes does not materially increase my understanding of it.

I highly recommend The Big Short. It is a fun read, somewhat twisted but well written and clearly explained.

Ivansdad conducted a fine snake rescue this evening. A big snake - probably a king snake, between five and six feet - had apparently settled underneath the dog house, and come out for a jaunt. It was curled up just outside the house, hissing frantically, as the dogs even more frantically barked. They've been barking on and off for days. We thought it was just at one another. Good thing the Boy looked outside when he did.

I lured the dogs into the dog room with their supper, then went outside to confirm to Ivansdad that the serpent was not poisonous. He took the big push broom and pushed it a couple of times. It wrapped around the broom, waving slightly. At arms' length he carried the broom out of the dog yard, across the driveway, through the side yard and over to the fence, then let the snake off. With any luck it will not join the dogs again.

This looks like the same snake, or from the same snake family, that used to live in the attic. I just hope the snake hadn't started raising a family down there. That will draw it back.

Of course, if the dogs hadn't been so determined to undermine the sidewalk in front of the house, the snake would not have had a hole in which to live.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 18, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Tomorrow we will find bears in the kitchen and alligators in the bathtub.

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 18, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse

How about an otter in the yard? Heard some rustling in the woods behind the garage this afternoon and assumed it was Simon N. Schuster (neighbor cat) coming over for a midday snack. No, it was an otter who ducked around the far side of the garage before bounding across the lawn and down to the river. Have never seen one that far out of the water here, and certainly not in the forest.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 18, 2010 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Sestak beat Specter in the PA primary. Whoa.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | May 18, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

teddymzuri likes Dear God, if you give us Tupac back, we will give you Justin Bieber.

Let's Go Hawks!!!

Posted by: teddymzuri | May 18, 2010 11:07 PM | Report abuse

Talitha, probably right. They probably figure they'll be sued about the same no matter how big the spill winds up, and they want profit to cover whatever the costs will be.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | May 18, 2010 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Jumper, our inner-ring suburb of St. Louis has had coyotes for years. It's not the end times, it's lack of predators for bunnies and squirrels, since everyone has to keep their dogs and cats in or on leashes. I have encountered the critter only once - very bold and staring. It *knows* my dogs can't get out to hurt it, and it flaunts that knowledge. It's painfully thin - or they are, everyone just refers to "the coyote" though there must be several. They have killed and/or injured several small dogs. I've also noticed a lot of hawks circling overhead - when I was growing up they were far out in the boonies, but now they live here, in suburbia.

Mourning a cat euthanized yesterday. Which sucks.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | May 18, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Wheezy, my condolences on your cat. Very sad to lose a well loved pet.

I'm sure ftb is sleeping but wanted to let her know we saw The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo tonight. It was great, even "S" loved it and he hasn't read the book. I liked that it stayed as close to the book as possible and that all the characters looked pretty much as I imagined them. The girl who played Lisbeth was superb. I didn't even mind the subtitles, which usually drive me nuts. A long movie that went by very quickly!

Posted by: badsneakers | May 18, 2010 11:41 PM | Report abuse

I'll offer another recommendation for "The Big Short". At a few points it dives a little deeper into the technical aspects of the trades than some readers will enjoy, but those parts can be skimmed through with no great loss of the narrative. Several arresting character portraits, and a great overall view of how this cluster-fudge was built carefully over time mostly by willfully ignorant co-conspirators.

Good stuff, but a tad disheartening because you realize there's absolutely no reason to think that it won't happen over and over and...

Posted by: Bob-S | May 18, 2010 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, badsneakers. It was the right decision, just hurts.

Posted by: Wheezy11 | May 18, 2010 11:50 PM | Report abuse

I want an otter, too, Frosti!

Posted by: Wheezy11 | May 18, 2010 11:58 PM | Report abuse

As others have mentioned, I'm wondering if they're really only siphoning, then can they really be doing much good? Since siphon action is powered by atmospheric pressure (a mighty 15 P.S.I., right?) I'm not foreseeing a huge amount of material being moved by this method at any reasonable conduit diameters.

But, heck, every little bit helps.

Posted by: Bob-S | May 19, 2010 12:02 AM | Report abuse

I have mentioned the time I called the Office of Sea Otter Coordination in Sacramento and told them that a buddy of mine wanted to know what permits he'd need to take his adopted pet otters back home to Georgia, right? It was hilarious, although they were not especially amused.

(Turns out, while they had lots of questions, they only had one answer. And it was, NO!")

Posted by: Bob-S | May 19, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

This last line of the Achenbach / Fahrenthold piece qualifies as very fine dry humor:

"Exxon Mobil, meanwhile, said it had delayed plans to start drilling an exploration well this week in the Gulf of Mexico."

Posted by: Bob-S | May 19, 2010 12:19 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod, thanks for the support. Now we'll probably have to wait forever to see if we're probably right, probably. ;]

The cuckoo having flown and all verboten critters shooed away, I'll say good night.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 19, 2010 12:56 AM | Report abuse

Are the Flyers sure that this is how they want to work it? Getting ahead of Montreal in a playoff series hasn't worked out well for their opponents thus far.

Posted by: Bob-S | May 19, 2010 1:06 AM | Report abuse

The behavior of water can be subtle. The British media today had a flurry of stories on "the wrong kind of waves", a reference to an infamous situation where train stoppages were blamed on "the wrong kind of leaves" on the tracks. A beach near Bournemouth had a contractor from New Zealand install a fancy artificial reef guaranteed to create nice surfing waves. The reef does make for somewhat larger waves, but they are what surfers call "thick", nasty things that squash the unwary. So designing a bottom contour at the correct depth in the correct location may be more difficult than the contractor had expected. Back to the drawing board, or maybe the wave tank.

If designing a surfing wave is so tricky, I won't expect modeling of ocean currents to be any easier, especially something as apparently complex as the Loop Current.

Maybe the Gulf disaster will interest a few kids in the physics of moving water. A gentle non-techie intro is "Flotsametrics and the floating world: how one man's obsession with runaway sneakers and rubber ducks revolutionized science". Before getting to duckies, the book discusses drilling rigs and sewage, among other things.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 19, 2010 2:41 AM | Report abuse

New Scientist report on the behavior of oil released far beneath the surface.

NOAA's statement about the Pelican voyage seems diplomatically worded, as in "we appreciate the fine work you did, but you might have been more careful about talking to the media/blogging at Nature's website":

The local birds had Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. Love bugs everywhere. Think of them as little flying pellets of turkey and butter.

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | May 19, 2010 4:26 AM | Report abuse

Here is the latest 'official' video which shows the captured natural gas being flared off. It also has some expansive shots of oil covered regions.

And stills of the flaring:

And I agree with talitha that somewhere in the back of their mind BP still wants to make lemonade of this mess.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 19, 2010 5:49 AM | Report abuse

And a 90 minute teleconference about the oil in the loop current. I don't have time to listen to it all.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 19, 2010 5:51 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, DofC,
That article quotes UMCP prof/researcher Carys Mitchemore who works on oil dispersant effects, recently focusing on coral responses to the toxicity of suspended hydrocarbons.

Love bugs, Plecia nearctica, pictured in double-doodlebuggery here:

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | May 19, 2010 6:48 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, all, hi Cassandra!

Interesting photo of the bugs, CqP.

Busy day, so it's time to get started.

I'll put out the ham biscuits and mixed fruit bowl to tide us over till MsJs arrives with muffins.

Have a good day, everybody!

Posted by: slyness | May 19, 2010 7:02 AM | Report abuse

Slyness, credit goes to DoC, our sciencey buddy in the land of gators and flamingoes.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | May 19, 2010 7:10 AM | Report abuse

Oil in water = lost revenue, higher cleanup costs

Oil in properly controlled well = future revenue, no additional cleanup costs(hopefully)

Yes of course, BP's more interested in trying to recover something from the broken riser instead of stopping the spill completely. Sheesh.

*off-to-the-usual-routine-plus-several-meetings Grover waves*

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 19, 2010 7:17 AM | Report abuse

Lovebugs are a critter so weird nobody would believe you if you made them up. The love to reproduce in the marshy ground in highway medians, they fly really slow because of their push-me pull-you mating habit and their innerds are very caustic to car paint finishes.

Yet another albeit minor reason I don't regret moving out of Florida.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 19, 2010 7:41 AM | Report abuse

More Times-Picayune coverage,

Posted by: -CB- | May 19, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

In re: our earlier discussion of the "cell phone/cancer" study --

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 19, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

But Scotty, are they discarding options that would permanently cap the well in favor of concepts that would keep the well productive but take longer to implement? What is the calculus on that? How much additional cleanup would justify the revenue from the operating well. I gotta think the sunk cost (so to speak) here is pretty enormous and the ROI on marginal delays that could keep the well in service may be pretty attractive. Just thinking like an engineer that had one semester of finance.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 19, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Did someone mention bears? Yikes, this is not far from where some friends live.

bob-S for your optismism re the Habs, I love you!

Posted by: dmd3 | May 19, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

I've seen one theme in all the coverage of the spill -- BP is trying to stop the well, period. In the meantime, they're trying to collect as much of the spill as possible at the source. Nothing I have seen suggests they prefer collecting some fraction of the spill instead of shutting it off. Methods for some day utilizing the drilling already done are all post-spill-shutoff.

Posted by: Scottynuke | May 19, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

G'morning Boodle! I've back-boodled enough to note that Sneaks and "S" saw TGWTDT movie (hey -- I'm gearing up for SYTYCD, so I'm entitled to abbreviate, K?) and enjoyed it. So glad to hear. I agree that the woman who played Salander was magnificent. I simply cannot imagine anyone else playing that role.

*sigh* to the Habs. At least last night's shutout was halved from the first game, but still ...... Maybe when they're back on their own ice, the dynamics will turn around.

*faxing all the karma I've got to the Habs not to be completely blanked in this series*

Yeah, pretty interesting about Specter's losing. I'm really not surprised, though. But I'm just so tired of all the politics carp, and the posturing and the silliness. I'm done until I feel I have to pay attention again.

Cya later.

Posted by: -ftb- | May 19, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Was that your handiwork I saw yesterday? What's wrong? Trouble finding a new playground? Awww, poor thing....

Posted by: LostInThought | May 19, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

There is a stopped well that can be used later and there is a destroyed well that is unsalvageable. To me there is not a difference, but BP's stockholders might prefer the former. Just saying that the distinction may be clouding their course of action.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 19, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

While common sense alone suggests BP hopes to recover & profit from as much of this oil as possible, I don't think there's any indication that the hope of future profit has deliberately slowed BP's attempts to shut off the runaway leak. Capturing barrels of oil for future sale would be, in BP corporate calculation, good. Leaking barrels of oil into the ocean does BP no good at all. It is in the corporate interest to contain the spill and fix the leak as quickly as possible. This way, efforts to recover oil from the well can begin. Land-based runaway wells are shut off and redirected immediately; the same considerations apply with undersea wells. The techniques just don't work the same way.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 19, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure that the progression of techniques chosen has been driven by concerns over making things worse. You know, like a doctor. First off, do no harm.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 19, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Morning y'all.

Like several other subjects I've raised here recently to my chagrin and regret I will now refrain from further comment or speculation on BP's motives and means.

I will say that, given the results of his "Waterworld" venture, Kevin Costner's expertise in oil wrangling leaves me sceptical but curious.

Lovebugs and bears so early in the morning? I think I'll spend the day safely in the loomtomb.

Posted by: talitha1 | May 19, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

You have to do the math. This thing has been leaking (and 'gushing' would be a far better word than 'leaking') for a month already. Perhaps a quarter million barrels or more have already been discharged. BP already has to pay for clenaing up all that oil.

If you had a choice of a plan that would cap the well immediately but the well could never be used again or a plan that would shut off the well a week later but you could eventually re-open and create a revenue stream based on 5000 barrels a day or more, which would you choose?

As long as marginal cost of the second option is less than the cost of an entirely new well ($500-1,000 million), the prudent financial decision is to do all you can to keep the well operational even if costs more money in clean-up costs.

If you already have a strategy in place to avoid the clean-up costs or if you have mucked up the ecosystem so bad that an extra million gallons or so won't make a difference, the bean counters are going to tell you to take your time and don't do anything irreversible.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 19, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Good for the Ivansclan! I've never even been able to watch Snakes on a Plane. Had this been my yard, Emma would have played with it (everything's a toy) until Cutter took it from her and killed it in under 15 seconds. I don't have your snakequinimity.

Wheezy, my condolences. It's hard even when it's the right thing.

Today is $3 cheesesteaks at Slacks. Put your orders in and I'll fax them out.

The Sustak win doesn't seem to be a big deal around here, most are treating it as a foregone conclusion.

Posted by: -dbG- | May 19, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Oops, heard the plan is to cap the well with no prejudice towards drilling in the same field later.

Posted by: -dbG- | May 19, 2010 10:17 AM | Report abuse

It's all a pretty delicate carrot and stick dance. You have it incentivize BP to stop the well as soon as possible. The MMS should condemn and confiscate the existing well and in no uncertain terms deny BP any future revenue from THAT well while not abrogating any broader leases that still exist for what is clearly a proven reserve. And then, in the words of The Great Communicator, trust but verify the procedures for any future drilling.

What you don't want is for BP to throw up their hands and walk away. Once the potential damages exceed the market value of the company, there is no reason not to.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 19, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

True, they might be thinking that way, yello. But it seems to me that this doesn't make economic sense. I would assume that a smart executive would realize that the increasingly foul mood this prolonged spill is generating in the public's mind would be a far greater threat to future profits than the need to re-drill this particular oil reserve at a different spot.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 19, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

...*using my best William Conrad voice*...meanwhile, in Alberta, plans are afoot to build a pipeline to carry the products from refining tar sand to the U.S. from Canada. ummm...lemme guess. this one won't leak.

Posted by: -jack- | May 19, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

There is a scene from a flashback episode of The West Wing where Rob Lowe's character is very proud of his private practice legal document that leases a bunch of oil tankers in such a way that nobody has any liability ever if one were to be wrecked.

I wouldn't be surprised to find this particular oil exploration endeavor to be equally lawyer-proof. BP is only the lead partner and other firms have 25% of the project, profitability and liability, as well.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 19, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

meant to include this link. duh.

Posted by: -jack- | May 19, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I was referring to your 10:12, yello. My point is that the overarching economic concern for BP shouldn't be this well, or even this oil reserve, but should be, instead, possible restrictions or prohibitions regarding new deepwater drilling.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 19, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

There are still muffins, coffee and RRGJ on the table. My late mornings will run a few more days, followed by two days incommunicado (house guest bunking in my office), then back to a more routine schedule.

I gotta admit I'm enjoying the political upsets. Every 12-16 years or so, the incumbents have to look over their shoulders at a new crop of politicians. Not everyone in the new crop is going to embrace my political values, but this is a democracy and that's how it works.

Yippee for the Blackhawks. As for the Habs, they have the Flyers right where they want 'em, right?

Off to enjoy this bee-you-tee-full day.

Posted by: MsJS | May 19, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Good Morning everyone!!!
I am down in rainy Frisco NC,you know even on a rainy day,the outer banks is a pretty nice place to be.In talking to some of the captains down here.They can't imagine not being able to take people out deep sea fishing.I was reading a local paper the other day,that said"just in the spring and summer months,the fishing industry brings in 57 million" .And that wasn't counting the rest of the year.The captains seem to fear that if the oil gets into the Gulf Stream,(the gulf stream is just 18 miles offshore here in Hatterass),it would have a huge weight on there means for making money .They also to the man,have a great sympathy for their fellow captains in LA,MS,AL and FL.

Well the showers have passed and it is almost Bloody Mary time.I hope everyone has a great Day.

You know,being on vacation and away from work is a pretty nice thing,no matter what you are doing!!!!

Posted by: greenwithenvy | May 19, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Oil sands, please. Tar sands is a term that hasn't been used by the cognoscenti in decades.

Posted by: Yoki | May 19, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

That is the exact 'baby and bathwater' concern I was raising in my 10:27. The only thing keeping BP a good citizen is the risk of losing rights they have a lot of money already invested in. I wouldn't hang a lot of value on them trying to preserve their good name. Oil companies are not exactly beloved institutions anyways. Exxon has done just fine over the years.

The situation is muddied by the complex technical issues that could be used to argue that any given course of action is prudent rather than merely profitable.

Am I alone here in suggesting that BP's motives and actions over the clean-up would be any less calculating and mercenary than the ones that caused the disaster in the first place? Just because they are working hard to mitigate the damage that is their own fault doesn't make them Mother Theresa all of a sudden.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 19, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I see that laboratory tests indicate that the Florida Keys tar balls are not linked to the Deepwater Horizon oil leak. I guess this is good news in that it implies the loop current has yet to grab the gulf oil. On the other hand, just were did these tar balls come from?

And does anyone else find the term "Florida Keys Tar Balls" oddly evocative in a sinister way? Sort of like an exotic rum-based drink sure to induce a wicked hangover.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 19, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I don't know why a new pipeline would be any more concerning that the existing ones, which behave pretty well most of the time.

Posted by: Yoki | May 19, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Decades? That can't be right. The Secret Defenders didn't make an appearance until the mid-90s.

Posted by: LostInThought | May 19, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

RD, I think yello is suggesting that if BP America is no longer financially viable due to their liabilites from this situation, they'll fold up shop on this side of the pond and fall back to Merry Olde, with cleanup costs, liabilities and assets left in the hands of the US Govt, those assets to be picked up by Exxon/Mobil or whoever from a Govt-managed sale at pennies on the dollar (which wouldn't cover the costs, otherwise BP would have stayed) and any policy or legislation regarding restictions of deepwater drilling or oil production (and perhaps even refining and sale of petro products) in the US being a completely moot point to them.

"$crew you guys, we're going home."

Extreme, yes, but there is some precedent.
I would point to Brothers, Lehman, and Lynch, Merrill, for some extreme examples.


Posted by: -bc- | May 19, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

"Florida Keys Tar Balls" sounds like a rather risque novelty you can buy on Duval Street.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 19, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Yello, I'm not presuming to see into their souls. I'm just pointing out that in this case the most economically viable approach and the most ecologically correct approach are one in the same - stopping the leak in a way that doesn't make things worse.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 19, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Well, sure, BP could just abandon deepsea drilling in American controlled waters. That's a whole lot of potential oil to cede to other. I can't help but think that this isn't a very prudent long term economic strategy. Although, of course, I could be wrong.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 19, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I understand you, yello, and alas believe there is a lot in what you say. I agree with RD that BP's calculations should involve the possibility of future opportunities and profits being affected by their response to this disaster. I do see the potential for the corporation abandoning the whole thing, to be fought in the courts, if the money scale tips overwhelmingly against them.

dbG, our dogs did not have a chance to play with this snake. It was a very unhappy and very large snake, coiled and striking. The more aggressive dog tried to approach it several times and narrowly escaped getting bitten for her pains. That's why we hustled the dogs out of the yard. Even a nonpoisonous snake bite isn't a good thing.

Posted by: Ivansmom | May 19, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I've been led to believe that the ecological concerns with oil sands have more to do with extracting the stuff to begin with than transporting the oil.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 19, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I whole-heartedly agree with your 11:08. I would just suggest that the word 'worse' has different meanings to different people.

Posted by: yellojkt | May 19, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Also, regarding BP up and moving. In addition to abandoning future oil reserves, I assume that BP has a pretty extensive investment in infrastructure here in America. Things that, unlike the assets of an investment and banking firm, are hard to pack up and take with you. If, as Ivansmom points out, litigation were to proceed over clean-up costs, these assets, I assume, would be on the table.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 19, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

As usual, more explanation changes my outlook. I'd been imagining a more placid snake. Glad to hear there were no bites and hope the "snake, snake, go away" song works.

Posted by: -dbG- | May 19, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I agree with all that this we need to make sure the cleanup and resolution stays on track, with the right entities taking and discharging responsibilities and bearing the costs.

Before we have to bring in Sandman or some other monsters...


Posted by: -bc- | May 19, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

If monsters are to be involved, I vote for Gamera. For he is the friend to children.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 19, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

New kit!

Posted by: yellojkt | May 19, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

With pichers!

Posted by: RD_Padouk | May 19, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I am not certain about the organization chart of BP America. I'd suspect it looks like a mutant octopus or, more likely, similar to that infamous military Powerpoint that was going around a few weeks ago.

That said, BPs investment in American infrastructure is enormous. For all intents and purposes, they are, along with Exxon, the modern-day heirs to Rockefeller's Standard Oil. BP actually owns the original Rockefeller entity, Standard Oil of Ohio. Over time they have also purchased other major pieces including Amoco and Arco.

Now, the exploration company is almost certainly legally separate from the refining, distribution and retail operations, but there is likely enough common ownership to keep BP on the hook for damages.

I'd suggest that the likelihood of BP trying to abandon American operations to escape liability is nil.

Posted by: Awal | May 19, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

If Cerberus Capital Management can buy Chrysler and then say it (Chrysler) is bankrupt, hold on to the rest of their money, get a bailout, and go on to buy DynCorp, can't BP transfer its risk to some lower division and claim that "corporate entity" is broke, deny the rest of the entities are responsible, and walk away?

Posted by: Jumper1 | May 19, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

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