Tag Archives: Gulf

BP and Halliburton knew of Gulf oil well cement flaws

29 Oct

article from Guardian.co.uk

Fire burning at  Deepwater Horizon oil rig
Fire burns on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in April. Investigators say cement used on the well did not meet industry standards. Photograph: US coastguard/EPA
BP and Halliburton were aware of flaws in the cement used to seal the doomed well in the Gulf of Mexico, according to the lead investigator for the presidential commission on the oil spill.

In a letter to the commission, the investigator, Fred Bartlit, said the cement mixture used on the well did not meet industry standards, and failed three out of four laboratory tests before the Deepwater Horizon explosion on 20 April.

Halliburton, which was hired by BP to cement the well, learned of those failures in February, and informed BP on 8 March. But both firms chose to go ahead with the nitrogen foam cement mixture, which was supposed to secure the bottom of the well.

“Halliburton (and perhaps BP) should have considered redesigning the foam slurry,” the letter said.

However, Halliburton said it did not believe that the foam cement design used on the well caused the incident. “Halliburton believes that significant differences between its internal cement tests and the commission’s test results may be due to differences in the cement materials tested,” the company said in a statement issued in response to the letter. “The commission tested off-the-shelf cement and additives, whereas Halliburton tested the unique blend of cement and additives that existed on the rig at the time Halliburton’s tests were conducted.”

The company added: “Halliburton believes that had BP conducted a cement bond log test, or had BP and others properly interpreted a negative pressure test, these tests would have revealed any problems with Halliburton’s cement.”

A fourth test, performed in April, did indicate the cement would hold. But Bartlit said BP did not have the results of that test before 19 April, when it ordered work crews to begin pumping cement into the well.

The finding offers some good news for BP, whose own investigative report on the spill last month zeroed in on problems in the cement seal performed by Halliburton.

Like BP’s investigators, the commission conducted its own tests on the cement design used by Halliburton – although they had an exact recipe. The mixture failed all nine stability tests.

The companies involved in the catastrophic spill – BP, Transocean, which owned the rig, Halliburton, and others – are engaged in a high stakes fight to shift blame, and millions of dollars in liability, for the explosion and spill.

Bartlit cautioned that the failure of the cement seal alone was not the sole cause for the oil disaster.

“The story of the blowout does not turn solely on the quality of the Macondo cement job. Cementing wells is a complex endeavour and industry figures inform us that cementing failures are not uncommon in the best of circumstances,” he wrote.

The oil industry had developed other common tests to ensure against cement failures, he said. “BP and/or Transocean personnel misinterpreted or chose not to conduct such tests at the Macondo well.”

Suzanne Goldenberg and Julia Kollewe

Bio-Remediation or Bio-Hazard? Dispersants, Bacteria and Illness in the Gulf

20 Sep

Upsetting News!

Ocean Springs, MS — A grandmother made me rethink all the bio-remediation hype. The “naturally-occurring oil-eating bacteria” have been newsworthy of late as they are supposedly going to come to the rescue of President Obama and BP and make good on their very premature statement that “the oil is gone.”

We were talking about subsurface oil in the Gulf when she said matter-of-factly, “The bacteria are running amok with the dispersants.” What? “Those oil-eating bacteria — I think they’re running amok and causing skin rashes.” My mind reeled. Could we all have missed something so simple?

The idea was crazy but, in the context of the Gulf situation — an outbreak of mysterious persistent rashes from southern Louisiana across to just north of Tampa, Florida, coincident with BP’s oil and chemical release, it seemed suddenly worthy of investigating.

I first heard about the rash from Sheri Allen in Mobile, Alabama. Allen wrote of red welts and blisters on her legs after “splashing and wading on the shoreline” of Mobile Bay with her two dogs on May 8. She reported that “hundreds of dead fish” washed up on the same beach over the following two days. This was much too early for the summer sun to have warmed the water to the point of oxygen depletion, but not too early for dispersants and dispersed oil to be mixed into the Gulf’s water mass. By early July, Allen’s rash had healed, leaving black bruises and scarring.

read whole article on Huffington post

Gulf Oil Spill Hits Workers Hard, Aid Groups Out Of Money

25 Aug

article: Huffingtonpost

NEW ORLEANS — The oil has stopped flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, and that should be a relief. But with fewer cleanup jobs to be had, many of the people hit hardest by the huge spill are struggling as badly as ever.

Boat captains and deckhands who managed to put food on the table over the summer because they got hired by BP to skim the oil are being dropped from the payroll while huge swaths of the Gulf remain off-limits to those who haul in shrimp, oysters and other seafood.

Now, just when with the environmental and engineering crisis is easing, large charities providing food to coastal communities have run out of money, homeless shelters are filling up with men thrown out of work by the spill, and demand for drug and alcohol counseling is up.

read the whole article on Huffingtonpost.com

Deep water dead zone predicted in the Gulf

23 Aug

article Discovery News

The oil gusher on the Gulf seabed may be stopped, but much of the spilled oil still lurks in a plume of oil and dissolved methane gas 3,200-4,300 feet below the surface.

New research predicts that this plume will likely create a low-oxygen “dead zone” inhospitable to life in these deep waters, as microbes consume the oil and gas entrained in the plume.

The cold temperatures in the plume will slow the growth of the microbes compared to microbes acting at the surface. Because of this slower growth, the team predicts that it will be sometime in the fall before the oxygen levels hit their minimum.

read more @ Discovery News