Saturday, May 29, 2010

Stemming the flow - is it working or not?

BP is still working their top kill procedure. For a while on Wednesday, it looked like it was working and the flow of oil had stopped. Now we're being told the top kill procedure will continue until at least Sunday.

When I went  to the live BP feed this morning, this is what I saw:

Not much at all, really.  A long extended shot of nothing. Just what is going on is completely unclear to me, but what's missing are the oil flows that have been present in previous live feeds. Does this mean the top kill is working or just that the area is so completely flooded with mud and oil that nothing can be seen?

(I did learn something however. If you right click on the live feed and save as source, you'll get a much clearer feed than what appears on the BP site.)

Computer wizardry aside, by the time I got my screen shot converted to a JPG and inserted in this post, (which took me a while since screen shots on a Mac involve a separate piece of software, which I had to Google and then find, and it saves images as TIFF files which Blogger apparently doesn't recognize and which I then had to figure out how to convert) the live feed had changed. More oil. My guess is that the ROV started very close to the source and then pulled away for a better overall view.

So, more oil. Claims that the top kill had worked and stopped the oil flow seem to have been grossly premature.  Cause that sure doesn't look like it's working to me. Black flow is mostly oil. Whitish flow is mostly gas. Beige is evidence of blow back from the top kill. Looks black to me.

What this will mean for the Gulf ecosystem no one really knows for sure. Oil can still be found on the shores of Prince William sound 21 years after the Valdez sank. 31 years ago, an offshore well called IXTOC 1 blew off the shore of Mexico.  It's eerily similar to the  Deepwater Horizon event with the exception that it occurred in much shallower waters. Virtually everything that has been done for the DH blowout was done at IXTOC. What finally sealed that blowout? Drilling a relief well that took nine months to complete.

We're in for a long, messy summer folks.