Friday, July 30, 2010

Twitter Not Working (For Us, Anyway) - Oil Spill Updates

For some reason we've been unable to tweet for more than 24 hours now. We're entering severe withdrawal, but we can still give you this update (in waaay more than 140 characters):
  • Michigan pipeline spill / Kalamazoo River. The EPA estimates this spill exceeded 1 million gallons, and has now traveled more than 35 miles downriver from the point of origin since the leak began on July 26. Michigan governor Granholm is urging more aggressive response to keep this spill from reaching Lake Michigan.
  • Louisiana blowout and spill / Barataria Bay - Bayou St. Denis. The Coast Guard is saying it will take at least 10-12 more days to plug the abandoned well that has been spouting a 100' geyser of oil and gas out of water since it was hit by a barge on July 27.
  • Dalian, China pipeline explosion and spill. Greenpeace claims this spill is much larger than reported by the Chinese government - possibly 60 times bigger, based on revelations that Chinese workers purposefully dumped oil into the ocean so it wouldn't feed the raging inferno and cause more destruction of storage facilities onshore. Greenpeace also claims a full oil storage tank capable of holding about 28 million gallons was destroyed during the fire, possibly releasing its contents into the water as well.
  • BP / Deepwater Horizon spill, Gulf of Mexico. The containment cap is holding, remains shut, and no new oil has leaked into the Gulf from the Macondo well since July 15. Although thick, "skimmable" oil slicks have reportedly become hard to find floating on the Gulf's surface, questions remain about how much oil continues to linger beneath the surface and out of sight. Recent satellite images show what we assume is mostly thin sheen still present across a large area. The much-anticipated "static kill" procedure to pump drilling mud directly into the well through the cap is now planned for Tuesday, with the relief well in position to begin intercepting the Macondo well by August 11 or 12. Successful execution of the "bottom kill" procedure - pumping more mud, then cement, into the well via the relief well - could take an additional three weeks.
Today's MODIS / Aqua satellite image of the Gulf seems to have good illumination conditions for showing oil slicks and sheen east of the Delta. We don't see much indication of the widespread sheen that was present on the July 28 imagery, although a large part of that oily-looking area is south and slightly west of the Delta and obscured by clouds on today's image. Stay tuned, this continues to be a very dynamic event.

4 comments:

  1. Read in the Houma paper that the Barataria Bay well-spout is releasing at an undetermined rate, but the well was reported as producing only about 30 barrels a day, or 1260 gallons - less than a gallon a minute. Clearly more than that is spewing from the well - a conservative kitchen faucet flows at 2 gallons a minute.

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  2. Monte - could be, but it's been reported that there is a lot of natural gas driving that geyser, so it's hard to estimate. Could be mostly gas, with some oil, creating a fine (but very obvious) brown spray.

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  3. http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/subsets/?subset=USA7.2009222.aqua.2km

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  4. Jeff - that's a MODIS image from August 2009 with an interesting (complex) sunglint pattern. Shows some slicks from natural oil seeps along the west side of the sunglint band. What caught your eye about this image?

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