Tag Archives: Deepwater Horizon

27,000 Potential Oil Leaks

In the proud tradition of BP

More than 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells lurk in the hard rock beneath the Gulf of Mexico, an environmental minefield that has been ignored for decades. No one — not industry, not government — is checking to see if they are leaking, an Associated Press investigation shows.

The oldest of these wells were abandoned in the late 1940s, raising the prospect that many deteriorating sealing jobs are already failing.

The AP investigation uncovered particular concern with 3,500 of the neglected wells — those characterized in federal government records as "temporarily abandoned."

Regulations for temporarily abandoned wells require oil companies to present plans to reuse or permanently plug such wells within a year, but the AP found that the rule is routinely circumvented, and that more than 1,000 wells have lingered in that unfinished condition for more than a decade. About three-quarters of temporarily abandoned wells have been left in that status for more than a year, and many since the 1950s and 1960s — eveb though sealing procedures for temporary abandonment are not as stringent as those for permanent closures.

So what’s the worst thing that could happen?

Deepwater Oil Spill from space

As a forceful reminder of the potential harm, the well beneath BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig was being sealed with cement for temporary abandonment when it blew April 20, leading to one of the worst environmental disasters in the nation’s history. BP alone has abandoned about 600 wells in the Gulf, according to government data.

There’s ample reason for worry about all permanently and temporarily abandoned wells — history shows that at least on land, they often leak. Wells are sealed underwater much as they are on land. And wells on land and in water face similar risk of failure. Plus, records reviewed by the AP show that some offshore wells have failed.

Oh, at least someone is watching the right?

Despite the likelihood of leaks large and small, though, abandoned wells are typically not inspected by industry or government.

Oil company representatives insist that the seal on a correctly plugged offshore well will last virtually forever.

Well that’s reassuring because the last thing big oil would do to us is lie about an environmental issue.  Especially an environmental issue that would cost them money.

Officials at the U.S. Interior Department, which oversees the agency that regulates federal leases in the Gulf and elsewhere, did not answer repeated questions regarding why there are no inspections of abandoned wells. 

Duh, the oil industry has said that everything is okay.  Why would anyone need to check up on big business?

State officials estimate that tens of thousands are badly sealed, either because they predate strict regulation or because the operating companies violated rules. Texas alone has plugged more than 21,000 abandoned wells to control pollution, according to the state comptroller’s office.

Offshore, but in state waters, California has resealed scores of its abandoned wells since the 1980s.

In deeper federal waters, though — despite the similarities in how such wells are constructed and how sealing procedures can fail — the official policy is out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

Like I said before, what’s the worst thing that could happen?  via

BP finds giant new crude oil field in the Gulf of Mexico

Deepwater Horizon

First the good news and that is British Petroleum has found a giant crude oil field in the Gulf of Mexico.

It may be one of the biggest oil finds of the year, if not the decade. In recent weeks, executives at BP’s exploration centers in Houston and London have been closely tracking the progress of a very deep well that BP contractors were drilling into the seabed of the western Gulf of Mexico. In late August the exploratory well, known as Tiber, was completed. On Sept. 2, BP announced that it had made "a giant oil discovery." BP’s chief of exploration, Michael Daly, terms the Tiber find "very significant" and says it is even "better" than the Kaskida field, another huge BP property in the Gulf of Mexico, with an estimated 4 billion to 6 billion barrels of oil in place.

Of course the bad news is that this isn’t exactly a Jed Clampett type discovery which he discovered while shooting some possum in Arkansas.  This is oil that is in the deepwater Gulf.  So you have to go down a couple of miles of water and then a couple of miles of rock to get it.  The Tiber well is the world’s deepest.  It’s the kind of oil you don’t go looking for if you aren’t running out of oil elsewhere in the world and it isn’t the kind of project you undertake unless you expect to have high oil prices for a very long time.

Of course drilling in the Gulf of Mexico isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do.  Check out what happened to BP’s Thunder Horse platform during 2005’s Hurricane Dennis.

Thundre Horse sinking in 2005 Things like this, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ike… tend to take a toll on production.