# BP Oil Spill: Effects on us, and perhaps the future?

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by Curiosity Never Hurt, Sep 25, 2010.

1. ### Curiosity Never HurtRegistered Member

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I came across an article of a doomsday theory regarding the BP oil spill titled
"How BP Gulf disaster may have triggered a 'world-killing' event"

Of course, this article may not be entirely true as it is very far fetched in nature, but it made me wonder how the BP's operations have affected the general population around the world.

For instance, what did the event cost us financially and environmentally?
How do these events relate to the everyday person?
How did this affect our future?

3. ### adoucetteCaca OccursValued Senior Member

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The National Research Council estimates that 41 million gallons a year of oil naturally seep into the Gulf each year and so the Gulf is one body of water that naturally contains a large natural quantity of oil eating microbes.

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE67N5CC20100824
and
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100907/ap_on_sc/us_sci_gulf_spill_where_s_the_oil

It's also the 9th largest body of water covering over 600,000 sq miles, with over 3,500 miles of shore line and it has 20 major rivers draining into it (it's the drainage basin for ~60% of the US). To put this in perspective, the total fresh water inflow is ~300 million gallons of water per minute (the Mississippi accounts for about 64% of that quantity).

To put that in perspective, even if you ignore the 2.4 million cubic kilometers of water that is in the gulf and just diluted that oil with the freshwater inflow, by the end of the summer the ppm of oil would be less than 2.

Of course the oil is not equally dispersed in the GofM, but still, consider that if what they computed was left after they stopped the leak was mixed into just 1% of the Gulf waters, the ratio of 50 million gallons of oil is ~0.8 parts of oil to a Billion parts of water. To put that in perspective, the EPA considers seafood safe at up to 15 ppb of PAHs (the more toxic components of oil). Those levels are set to insure that people who eat a lot of seafood are still safe. In contrast, tests of Gulf seafood from waters they have reopened are showing less than 1 ppb PAHs.

If you wood grill or smoke your fish you will consume FAR higher amounts of PAHs that come from the smoke.

I continue to be hopeful that this spill, as big as it was, occurred in a location (far from shore) and at a time of the year (hot sun and water but still prior to the peak tropical storm season, and prior to the arrival of northern birds migrating south) that has allowed most of the Gulf to avoid serious environmental damage.

http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse...3851/1/Consolidated wildlife Table 092310.pdf

In contrast, it was at the worst time for the humans who derive their living from the waters of the Gulf, but hopefully the Gov will see to it that most of those people are reasonably compensated by the fund that BP has set up.

Arthur

5. ### Giambattistasssssssssssssssssssssssss sssssValued Senior Member

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There's a thread. Much worse thread. Things are so wrong. People like me say things that don't make sense, because I and my kin are clinically institutionable. We can be put into a place where no one would here/hear us again.

I'm so desperate.

7. ### Giambattistasssssssssssssssssssssssss sssssValued Senior Member

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Hopefully the Gov will stop posting people like you onto this forum who are extremely recognizable.

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9. ### Curiosity Never HurtRegistered Member

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I don't understand how that thread addresses any financial, environmental, or future issues.

I am not looking for conspiracy theorists, I am simply looking for how this catastrophe affects the average person.

10. ### adoucetteCaca OccursValued Senior Member

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Well it probably doesn't have much impact on the Average person, but that's because there are over 6 billion of us and only about half of us use oil.

But

Finding who was affected might be an easier task.

First if you lived on the Gulf Coast, from Texas to Key West, you were probably affected.

Why? well most people living on the coast directly or indirectly make their living off the waters of the Gulf, and people stayed away from the Gulf in droves because of the constant beat in the Media about the spill.

So it really didn't matter that your rental house was in Fr Myers Florida and that Oil never got within 400 miles of your beaches, it was STILL hard to find renters and to do so you had to cut prices and even then there were plenty of units not rented. Which means that all the other tourist income expected by shops and restauraunts in the area also suffered.

Of course if you were closer to the spill, mainly from Louisiana to the Panhandle of Florida, than the effects were potentially much worse since oil did hit your beaches. Here a lot of luck factored in as the oiling was not the same everywhere and some places were much worse off than others.

Of course if you made your living directly from the water, as a fisherman for instance, than you probably worked for BP, but you probably didn't make as much, and what ever you did make will be subtracted from any claim you do make.

If you made your living indirectly from the Gulf, you probably made less income than normal this last year, but you will probably also have a tough time proving your loss enough to get reimbursed. The more indirect the loss, the tougher it will be to prove. For instance, a waitress at a restauraunt frequented by fisherman might make half as much in tips but won't be able to claim that because the restauraunt didn't close, so she never lost her job.

If you were a stockholder in BP you took it in the shorts, as the company lost about half it's value and you also got no dividend (which a lot of pensioners count on for income)

If you were in the business to provide to BP tools, machinery, or expertise to help clean up the oil you probably made good money. Even Kevin Costner's company finally found a buyer for his oil separators.

Arthur

11. ### Giambattistasssssssssssssssssssssssss sssssValued Senior Member

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Several of my posts towards the end of the thread touch on such subjects.

12. ### iceauraValued Senior Member

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Given the size and spread of the derivative market in oil company debt, finding out who all would be affected by BP getting in serious trouble here might not be so easy.

These derivatives are sold world wide, and BP was a very large and rich company - I've seen estimates of 15-20% of the world financial market having some direct exposure to the credit default or bankruptcy of BP.

13. ### adoucetteCaca OccursValued Senior Member

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Well it's highly unlikely that BP is going to go bankrupt.
It's got a market cap of $125 billion, it has substantial assests, it's source of revenue has not really been affected. For the Gulf spill, they have spent out 8 Billion so far, might have to spend another 10 or so Billion, maybe a couple billion in fines, but that will be spread out over some time and certainly won't bankrupt the company. The Stock is trading at$40 per share, it traded in the high 60s for most of the recent decade, so even people who sold on the way down didn't lose that much. People who bought it around 70 who didn't sell and continue to hold will likely recover most of their investment in another couple of years.

Arthur

14. ### iceauraValued Senior Member

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Given the political realities we all recognize, that benign outcome is of course possible - even likely.

But it is not inevitable:

BP's exposure in the planetary derivative markets is as of now unknown, but could easily be in the hundreds of billions, much of it sensitive to marginal changes in its income stream or profit margin. Meanwhile, its theoretical liabilities in the Gulf are huge - dwarfing the mere tens of billions already overt and incoming. Suppose, in the near future, the actual effects of the oil it dumped into the Gulf are in fact carefully and legally established, the effects of its detergent dumping (done in defiance of formal scientific advice or bureaucratic review) are both on the high side of possible and traced, its upper management is faced with criminal trial for the deaths of the workers on the blown rig, its installed liabilities in its dozens of somewhat similar situations surface as matters in need of attention, and among the wronged and badly injured parties taking an interest is a newly unfriendly United States government - an entity badly in need of both cheap oil and large amounts of cash.

This company is now completely dependent on political leverage to bury its crimes. Granted it has such leverage (as is apparently recognized by the stock markets etc) - but that is an uncertain situation, not a given.

15. ### adoucetteCaca OccursValued Senior Member

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Nope.
Govt fines are legally capped per barrel of oil spilled. Since the Gulf leaks so much oil naturally (~40,000 barrels of oil per year), any systemic damage from oil would have to be proven to be from BP oil, which would be neigh impossible to do.

Bury WHAT crimes?????

They have been charged with no crimes and it's highly unlikely that they will be.

Their detergent use (both quantity and type) was approved by the EPA.

Arthur

16. ### spidergoatVenued Serial MembershipValued Senior Member

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Meanwhile Republicans in the Senate blocked legislation that would have provided subpoena power to the National Commission on the British Petroleum Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:S.3462:

Republicans don't even want to be able to let the American people find out what happened.

17. ### adoucetteCaca OccursValued Senior Member

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S.3462
Title: A bill to provide subpoena power to the National Commission on the British Petroleum Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and for other purposes.
Latest Major Action: 6/8/2010 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

????

18. ### spidergoatVenued Serial MembershipValued Senior Member

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The result of the objection to "unanimous consent" was that the items under discussion stay in Committee/kept their current place on the Calendar and did not immediately go before Senate for a vote.

In other words, blocked.

19. ### adoucetteCaca OccursValued Senior Member

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You say Blocked, I say it's being reviewed in the Judiciary committee because giving a congressional committee Subpeona power is not something you do lightly.

It certainly isn't the same as your contention that Republicans don't want to let American people know what happened.

20. ### iceauraValued Senior Member

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Not for criminal negligence, or lying to regulators, or obstruction of justice (hiding the amount of oil spilled, say).

And the number of barrels spilled is yet to be determined.

And civil lawsuits from US citizens are not so capped - with a friendly government, citizens have a much easier time suing big foreign corporations.
Not at all. The background level of contamination is available from many sources.

Negligent homicide, some degree of manslaughter, for starters. Defrauding the government. Criminal negligence in the face of known risks to life and property and the public waters. Put 40 million dollars into a special prosecutor with subpoena powers and the full resources of the federal government into the negligent homicide investigation, see where it goes.

Probably so - but not necessarily, is the point. They killed people. They lied on official documents. They concealed financial liability. These are not unusual matters for a criminal investigation.

Nope. Tht would be something BP would have to establish in court, against the weight of evidence: http://www.epa.gov/bpspill/dispersants.html
Blocking the granting of subpoena power to the investigators of such a huge and lethal disaster is not done lightly either. One would assume such subpoena power would be all but automatic, in these dramatic and criminally implicating circumstances.

What were the Republican reasons?

Last edited: Sep 30, 2010
21. ### spidergoatVenued Serial MembershipValued Senior Member

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Yeah, no hurry, there are midterm elections to work on. This kind of procedural bs is how the Republicans protect their clients.

Last edited: Sep 30, 2010
22. ### adoucetteCaca OccursValued Senior Member

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All the estimates of the amount of oil spilled came from either NOAA or the Govt Technical Flow committee, NONE came from BP. NOAA had no good way to estimate spill rates from these depths based on surface observations. Better estimates were only available from video analysis after BP put the siphon in place and could better estimate the ratio of gas to oil.
Yes it has, the upper limit was determined by the Govt Tech Flow committee.

Yeah, but taking the money gets them off the hook. And people will take the money.

No suggestion of negligent homicide has even come up. There is no reason to believe it will. The people on the drill rig made mistakes. There were at least two mechanical failures in the sealing system in the well. The drilling rig crew (TransOcean & BP) missinterpreted the pressure test results indicating the well had not been sealed with the cement, the Drillers (TransOcean not BP) failed to monitor the well such that hydrocarbons moving up the riser were not detected early enough to take corrective action to prevent their reaching the surface, The rig personnel (TransOcean not BP) failed to properly use the equipment at their disposal to shunt the gas overboard, off the rig, as opposed to the Mud/Gas Separator which wasn't designed to handle a blowout and shunted the overflow onto the rig. The Fire/Suppression system on the Rig (Owned by TransOcean, not BP) failed to prevent the ignition of the gasses.

They didn't KILL PEOPLE. People died in an accident. BIG DIFFERENCE.
What official docs did they lie on and what were these lies?
What financial liability did they conceal?

I followed this every friggin day, the dispersants they used, both type and amount were oked by the EPA.
When EPA asked them to change them they gave them an out, the out was IF they could come up with a less toxic one. BP's tests showed they couldn't and eventually the EPA agreed with them.

Don't know that the Republicans have blocked them, they simply sent it to the Judiciary committee. You need a LOT more than what has been provided to claim that they are doing anything wrong.

Arthur

Last edited: Sep 30, 2010
23. ### adoucetteCaca OccursValued Senior Member

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BP has released their internal investigative report on the events leading up to the spill.

I'm still going over it, but it appears to be quite detailed and as far as I can tell, reasonably impartial as to who did what and when, meaning that the report finds that BP, TransOcean and Halliburton all made mistakes, and in some cases didn't follow established procedures (In some cases they also faulted the procedures that were in place for being too vague).

Of course the other key players, MMS (the Regulators), TransOcean (The Rig Operators) and Halliburton (The Cement engineers) have not released their reports and so there might be some dispute about some conclusions that the BP report came up with.

BP found that "the investigation found that no single factor caused the Macondo well tragedy. Rather, a sequence of failures involving a number of different parties led to the explosion and fire which killed 11 people and caused widespread pollution in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year".

What BP lays out is that for the fire and explosion on the Rig, 3 critical failures had to occur in 7 different systems, and for the oil to spill into the Gulf, then, a 4th critical failure had to occur, the BOP had to also fail.

The three critical failures that allowed oil from the reservoir up to the rig:

A) Well Integrity was not established or failed. For this to happen there had to be both a failure in the cementing job and a mechanical failure in the well itself.

B) Hydrocarbons entered the Well undetected and subsequently Well Control was lost: For this to happen there was a failure to correctly interpret the Well Integrity Test that was performed. Subsequently there was failure to then adequately monitor the well to detect the indications that oil was flowing up the well, and finally once it was realized that oil was flowing, inadequate procedures were used to bring the well back under control which allowed hydrocarbons to reach the rig. (remember, this well and riser are over 3 miles long, so it took almost an hour from the point that Well integrity was lost until the oil reached the surface)

C) Hydrocarbons ignited on the DeepWater Horizon: After Well control was lost, the rig operators could potentially still prevent subsequent fires and explosion by properly dealing with the oil coming up the well. But lack of situational awareness and of the limitations of equipment, the oil was diverted to the Mud and Gas Separator instead of overboard. Finally failure of the Fire and Gas control systems, allowed the gas to ignite and led to the subsequent loss of life and the rig itself. One part of this was failure of the Marine Riser Package, mounted above the BOP, to disconnect and this might be related to the BOP failure itself or an inherent design failure of the Rig's emergency systems.

Which led to the forth and final failure:

D) Failure of the BOP. This is the area that is still unknown as to why it failed to seal the well, but the BP investigation team found indications of potential weaknesses in the testing regime and maintenance management system for the BOP. This is the section I'm still reading, but it does appear to say that the BOP may not have been adequately maintained, which would also appear to be mainly TransOceans responsibility.

The BOP is now on the surface and in govt inspector's hands and eventually we will learn more about the final failure of this last barrier to months of oil flowing into the Gulf.

Arthur