20 million people are “to have to evacuate the gulf states” says prominent oil-industry insider

Thursday, June 24, 2010
By Paul Martin

FloridaOilSpillLaw.com
June 24th, 2010

Each day, another way to define worst-case for oil spill, Washington Post, June 23, 2010:

[N]othing about this well seems crazy anymore. Week by week, the truth of this disaster has drifted toward the stamping ground of the alarmists.

The most disturbing of the worst-case scenarios, one that is unsubstantiated but is driving much of the blog discussion, is that the Deepwater Horizon well has been so badly damaged that it has spawned multiple leaks from the seafloor, making containment impossible and a long-term solution much more complicated. …

A tropical wave has formed in the Caribbean and could conceivably blow through the gulf.

“We’re going to have to evacuate the gulf states,” said Matt Simmons, founder of Simmons and Co., an oil investment firm and, since the April 20 blowout, the unflagging source of end-of-the-world predictions. “Can you imagine evacuating 20 million people? . . . This story is 80 times worse than I thought.” …

Coast Guard Adm. Thad… Allen repeatedly has acknowledged that there could be significant damage to the well down below the mud line. That’s why, he said, the top kill effort last month was stopped: Officials feared that if they continued pumping heavy mud into the well, they would damage the casing and open new channels for hydrocarbons to leak into the rock formation.

“I think that one thing that nobody knows is the condition of the well bore from below the blowout preventer down to the actual oil field itself,” Allen said last week. “We don’t know if the well bore has been compromised or not.”

And by the way, the blowout preventer is leaning, Allen said.

“The entire arrangement has kind of listed a little bit,” he said. A government spokesman later said this development wasn’t new.

Even the most sober analysts are quick to say that this is such an unpredictable well that almost anything is possible. Bruce Bullock, director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University, said additional leaks are a possible source of deep-sea plumes of oil detected by research vessels. But this part of the gulf is pocked with natural seeps, he noted. Conceivably the drilling of the well, and/or the subsequent blowout, could have affected the seeps, he said.

“Once you started disturbing the underground geology, you may have made one of those seeps even worse,” he said. …

[A] BP document, released by Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) last week… states that, given the most “optimistic assumptions” about the size of the reservoir and the intensity of the pressure at depth and assuming a total loss of well control and no inhibitions on the flow, “a maximum case discharge of 162,000 barrels per day was estimated.”

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