Friday, May 14, 2010

An Exxon Valdez Every Four Days?

That's the high end of the range of assessments of oil pouring out of BP's ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico - 70,000 barrels a day. The low end remains the initial 5,000 barrel a day guess of the US Coast Guard and British Petroleum.

The estimates were increased by some observers based on recent sea bed video showing raw oil belching into the sea. From The Guardian:

"National Public Radio in the United States last night reported that the well is spewing up to 70,000 barrels of oil a day – the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez disaster every four days. Nearly 11 million [gallons] of oil were spilled in Alaska's Prince William Sound in 1989 when the Exxon Valdez tanker ran aground, oiling beaches and poisoning marine life for generations. NPR said scientific analysis of newly released video footage from the ocean floor suggested the gusher was 12 times more powerful than estimates offered so far by the Coast Guard or BP.

"Its analysis was conducted by Steve Werely, an associate professor at Purdue University, using a technique called particle image velocimetry, a method was accurate to 20%. That puts the range of the oil spill from 56,000 to 84,000 barrels a day."

If Werely's forecast is even remotely accurate, the Deepwater Horizon disaster will stand as a compelling indictment of seabed oil drilling. Here in British Columbia it has grabbed the attention of a lot of people no longer willing to accept Premier Campbell's blithe assurances that it can be done safely.

By the way, while the North American media has come to use the Exxon Valdez disaster as a benchmark, in terms of global oil spills in ranks a paltry 52nd.


LMA said...

When I saw the video of the gushing oil I just couldn't believe it. As I understand it, the dispersants being used not only are toxic, but will make the oil collect at the bottom of the Gulf. So the beaches may seem clean (for now) but the water is being poisoned for decades and the Gulf of Mexico is turning into a vast dead zone.

Everybody is horrified that BP was self regulating and cut corners for profits, but my God there are no guarantees that any deep drilling is safe no matter how well regulated. If we continue deep oil drilling, we are just like kids playing with a box of matches, totally unable to deal with the consequences.

The Mound of Sound said...

I don't wish the Gulf states anything but good luck with this but the American south does seem particularly receptive to the anti-environmental/free enterprise/anything goes group. Maybe, just maybe, this (and the fact that they're so quickly running out of fresh water) may be their wake up call.

I have often wondered what will happen in America when that sizeable segment of the population that has been duped comes to its senses and realizes it has been a gullible pawn of corporatism and industrial excess.

LeDaro said...

This is worth the read:
"Tony Hayward, BP CEO: Gulf Oil Spill 'Relatively Tiny'"

Tony Hayward gone Haywired.

Anyong said...

These people have no other alturnative than to lie to the general public. If they told the truth about what is going on with oil production, they would have to deal with the rath of the masses. As you say MOS, the general public will wake up when it is too late...sad really.