The pictures BP doesnt want you to see.

Yesterday, AP photographer Charles Riedel filed these disturbing images of the effect the BP oil disaster is having on Gulf Coast birds (via Amanda Terkel at Think Progress):

BP has been working to keep journalists away from the region, but the situation appears to be improving, according to yesterday’s Washington Post.  Ultimately, the press gets the story and efforts to block coverage always backfire.

This was

46 Responses to The pictures BP doesnt want you to see.

  1. Leif says:

    Chris Dudley, I believe it is time to resurrect our “Main Line Kill” solution for controlling this beast first researched a few days ago.

    A couple of thoughts have come to mind since then that work in our favor. When we first did our estimates we were working with a flow rate of 20,000 bpd which was a thousand bpd higher than the highest estimate that I have seen to date. Your calculations appeared to show that even with that high of a flow rate we had a fighting chance. It could be that the 5,000 bpd is a more accurate figure and I saw a report yesterday, in the NY Times, giving lip service to as low as a thousand bpd. Even if the flow rate were 10,000 bpd that would significantly improve the chances of success of the high density BB Shot solution working. When we left off on that thread I suggested that once the top was off and a straight path revealed, a catheter could be inserted beyond the restricted high velocity region thus allowing a main line access for shot to be injected into the “slow flow” of the large casing. With an initial injection of properly sized high density ball bearings, gold, depleted uranium?, that were large enough to reach to the bottom and fetch up on the drill bit head there would be a “Floor” to capture the smaller shot thus increasing the resistance to flow. A couple of miles of stacked lead shot in the pipe will damn sure take some of the fight out of beast. Starting from the bottom up.

  2. As we have seen over the past couple of weeks, the BP gulf oil spill has become perhaps the worst oil spill on record and it has led to many engineering, environmental, and economic challenges. WPSU-TV recently produced a program where a panel of professors from Penn State University discussed these challenges, why BP has failed to stop the spill, and the environmental effects of the oil spill. I think this video may be of interest to you and your readers. It offers a perspective on the oil spill that explains some of the consequences that aren’t currently being considered or discussed in the mainstream media.

    The video can be found at

    Please let me know if you have any questions or if you share/post the video. Thanks!

  3. JUB says:

    I am not an animal softie, but these pictures make me sick. What are we doing to our kids’ future? With all the money these people made, they neglected to spend time covering all the bases. How disgusting.

  4. woooooo says:

    Yeah, we showed those animals who are boss! We need moar oilz!

  5. JUB says:

    let’s hope there’s a lesson learned…

  6. Sean M says:

    Sadly I don’t believe so. People are ,in general, ignorant as well as arrogant. God help us all.

  7. Karen S. says:

    A drop of oil the size of a dime on a bird’s feathers is enough to disrupt its ability to regulate its temperature and, in cold weather, kill it. Oil burns your skin. Birds will groom their feathers to remove the oil, ingesting it, so the oil is eating up their insides too. That these birds were still alive and trying to see through those burning, oil-covered eyes speaks to the pain they must have endured before they died. With photos like this we get a glimpse of the amount of suffering, but what is taking place out of sight is truly a wildlife holocaust. We won’t know the scope of it for years. The Gulf will be a silent ocean for who knows how long, because it’s dying. If BP doesn’t stop the leak soon the health of the North Atlantic will also be at risk.

  8. Russ Keane says:

    I’m embarrassed to be a human at this point….

  9. RedLogix says:

    Sighs…just another normal day in the Niger Delta.

  10. Windsong says:

    It’s the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen in my life! (the live video). Unfortunately, there’s not a darn thing we can do about it and the oil companies know it!

  11. Windsong says:

    They should be hung!

  12. catman306 says:

    I’m not sure it’s a coincidence that on the same day BP completes it last mechanical fix for the leaking gusher we start getting these horrible dying wildlife pictures prolifigating on the web and in the media.

    BP will now say “we’ve done everything we can until the relief well is piped in”.

    A different approach would have been to totally prohibit the use of dispersants and allow freelance skimmers to reclaim ALL the oil that comes to the surface. Finder’s keepers. And money to be made by independents reclaiming it. That would be the free market at work. Bottom up organization.

    Leif, your ideas of dropping heavy steel, lead and ball bearings would probably work. But it may be that the well concrete is damaged far down into the seafloor and that plugging the well pipe would cause the oil to blow out the concrete liner and then the well would be unstoppable. BP probably won’t tell us what they think about the condition of the concrete.

  13. dhogaza says:

    BP probably won’t tell us what they think about the condition of the concrete.

    Well, they’re saying that they think the reason why the top kill didn’t work is that they were losing mud 5,000 feet down, either through a relief disk (thinner bit of metal that can be blown out, though the idea is it blows out when they want it to, not when the well decides to) or from the casing being gone letting the mud flow into the surrounding material. 5,000 feet wasn’t enough for the weight to cancel out the pressure going up the well.

    So I imagine that damage further down is a real possibility.

  14. Leif says:

    If what you are saying is true, #14, & 15, then stopping it from the bottom up is the only solution, If the lower well is compromised a deep layer of shot might be used to slow the flow enough to get instruments down for investigation at which point continued filling could happen to the fault and halted but still with much decreased flow rates. I would think that as little as 500 feet of BB shot size lead balls would all but halt the flow. Recall that the deeper the blockage the less pressure difference to control and the more head pressure work for you.

  15. The real cost of a gallon of gas.

  16. Jake says:

    The birds should have been smarter and evaded the oil.

  17. Leif says:

    Is that a question, or an explanation Dan, #17?
    Leads to wildly different answers.

  18. Leif says:

    Man should of been smarter and not needed the oil! Jake, #18

  19. Steffanie says:

    Really, Jake?
    Is that comment supposed to be witty or funny or something?
    This is nothing to joke about…

  20. Leif says:

    catman306 & dhogaza: One other very good thing about this approach is that it can be done without raising the well pressure. In fact it is all down hill in a very controllable fashion. Assuming this thing has a bottom of some sort. I would think that the “floor” could be quite fragile as much of the weight might be redistributed to the walls. Or not as they are slippery with oil? The problems of working without facts. Plague us still…

  21. Karen S. says:

    Dan makes a good point-I took it as a question. What’s the real cost of a gallon of gas?

    Back in the 50s, 60s and 70s, it was what’s the real cost of a pack of cigarettes. In the days when a whole pack cost less than 50 cents did anyone know the hidden medical costs would be ten dollars a pack? Same analogy can be used now. This BP leak gives us a glimpse of the real cost of a gallon of gas, and it’s not cheap. We’ve seen a tiny fraction of the impacts so far, and they’re horrifying. And Jake’s comment is useful as an indicator of the depth of ignorance in some people on the behavior of wildlife and ecosystems–and of humans. One need look no further for true ignorance than MS Gov. Haley Barbour’s ludicrous comparison of oiled wildlife to merely wrapping oneself in toothpaste.

  22. jyyh says:

    Did a bit of (wiki-)research:

    Some earlier tropical storms/hurricanes that crossed the affected area/loop current and continued to east: (november) (late august) (early june) (mid june) (early july)
    this one had a path that I really don’t want to see this year: (early august) (late june) (september)

    So it appears early storms in any season are more likely to capture any surfaced oil in the distaster area/loop current and bring it to the manatees (well, floridans/alabamans as well). On the other hand almost every year has a storm that has the potential to bring surges of oiled water anywhere in the Gulf of Mexico. The fact that early storms tend to be weaker than late ones may be the saving throw for the as of yet spared coastlines.

  23. jyyh says:

    should be ‘eastern gulf’

  24. BP says:

    There are other pictures of oil affected pelicans on the web.

    Guess where.

    BP’s website.

  25. RedLogix says:

    This entire episode is turning into a risible joke:

    1. As I said before oil companies have been spilling oil for decades. Usually just not where white people get too inconvenienced, so it hasn’t gotten so much media time.

    2. Anyone who knows the industry is aware of this. With the intensity of drilling in the GoM is was only a matter of time before this happened. Quit acting surprised.

    3. Under our current capitalist model the directors of any company are legally bound to protect the interests of shareholders first, second, third and last. Any other considerations are merely a matter of PR or avoiding prison.

    4. As genuinely tragic as the deaths of the rig workers was, if it was senior executives of these companies who had their real life actual butts on the line… safety culture would be treated a whole lot differently.

    In this respect BP has been acting in it’s own interests EXACTLY as the system requires it to do. Complaining that matters should be otherwise is delusional and/or hypocritical.

  26. Chris Dudley says:

    Leif (#1),

    The ultimate strength of lead is about 12 MPa and it’s density is about 11,000 kg/m^3 so one meter of lead exerts a pressure of 0.11 MPa. I’d guess that at ten meters you’d already be at the yield strength. Certainly at 100 meters you’d be filling every crevice like water at the base of the column. So, you don’t need much lead above the lowest part of the well that has structural integrity.

  27. Leif says:

    Chris, @28:
    Even though we did our calculations at ~20,000 bpd, (higher than highest released estimate by ~1,000 bpd), I have noticed significantly higher spill estimates. If in fact higher flow rates are reality our solution would need significantly denser material. We are already pushing the end of the periodic table. It may be that the flow deeper does not represent the outpouring however because the gas has been able to expand significantly as the column rises. Oh, for facts!

    One solution to the above problem would be to insert the catheter further down into the big well for injection into slower? flow.

  28. Leif says:

    Chris, there is one line of evidence that we might pursue for facts. What happened to the the drill bit when the top was cut. Has it sunk? How far? See what I am getting at?

  29. Fernweher says:

    Karen S, your words are so poignant that I quoted them in my blog at .

  30. Chris Dudley says:

    Leif (#30),

    Not too worried about the state of the drill. If it weren’t pretty solid down there, you would not need a drill….

    The oil in the Thunder Horse well is about 135 C so lead would be even more malleable down the well (melting point: 327 C).

    I think 20,000 bpd is a typical leak rate estimate. Some estimates are higher.

  31. Leif says:

    Chris, @32: I tend to agree with you but when you see the drawings on the media they show a void filled with oil. Poetic license as so much of the news appears to be. The fact that the drill shaft still appears to be in the riser as no great change in flow rate occurred at the parting of the pipe the other day is indicative that there is a bottom to this puppy. If there were not the tons of drill core would have fallen somewhat. It is only 30 or 40 feet thru the BOP if I recall.

    Using your numbers above it still looks like a very do-able approach.

    I did send a short description in to the Coast Guard web sight that I found. So far no one is throwing money at us on this front. I trust that you are still hawking it as well.

  32. sherlanova says:

    My God!
    What a terrible facts.
    Terrible, terrible, terrible…

  33. Ben says:

    Just copied from

  34. Leif says:

    Chris Dudley, Your attention please.

    Building on your thought: Say we get a 1? inch dia. “catheter” thru the BOP restriction and into by definition “slower flow” and that cut in half-, (there are collecting “most of” 10-kb/d) we will then be at about 3 ft/s flow. Easily overcome with a marble size shot. I like DU as I know it is heavy and it is a good place to put it. It would symbolic. Any way. Then you make the Marbles so that fit easily within the catheter but cannot pass and/or jam with some slipperier, oil?… as the column grows the tip pressure climbs with the column length. We got a long length of infinitely bendy, HEAVY REBAR! A green solution! We would not even have to pump it. At least it looks good at the moment.

  35. Gareth says:

    Thanks for an informative post.

    I have a question: where did you find the first photograph in your selection (white bird flying over the oil)?

    [JR: They are all AP.]

  36. Leif says:

    Chris, Are you there. Follow this thread. Comment #33. To use a metaphor popular on the right even if the stuff were as thick as 130 C “toothpaste” that is 30%- 60 % saturated with gas moving at ~3-ft/s ups. It is going to slow the fall of a piece 3/4 ” Depleted Uranium ball bearing much? 5F/s? We are still making good ~10 f/s putting the bottom an hour or two out.

  37. Chris Dudley says:

    Leif (#38),

    As I understand it, this is light crude so motor oil may be an OK model for viscosity. fast moving toothpaste could probably suspend or lift most material at the size we are considering.

  38. Leif says:

    I just wanted to get “toothpaste” into the picture. Got to play to Google. Besides it is ~130C and lots of gas and not that fast. So what if it took a day or two to get to the bottom.

    Insight? Gravity works every day, all day. Imagine what is happening at the interface of ball bearings and upward moving fluid in a confined tube? A few reach equilibrium at some interface. More land on top and more and down it goes or some pile up in a column form and fall, Either way we get to the bottom. It can be infinitely chaotic. Gravity works every day, all day.

  39. Leif says:

    Chris, It looks like in reality, a bunch of ball bearings in a rising column of fluid will behave like a fuzzy piston. Enough bearings and it will go down. It will behave just like the single column in the pipe only different.

  40. prokaryote says:

    New oil plume evidence uncovered

    USF has concluded microscopic oil droplets are forming deep water oil plumes. After a weeklong analysis of water samples, USF scientists found more oil in deeper water.

    “These hydrocarbons are from depth and not associated with sinking degraded oil but associated with the source of the Deep Horizon well head,” said USF Chemical Oceanographer David Hollander.

    Through isotopic or microscopic fingerprinting, Hollander and his USF crew were able to show the oil in the plume came from BP’s blown out oil well. The surface oil’s so-called fingerprint matched the tiny underwater droplet’s fingerprint.

  41. Chris Dudley says:

    Leif (#46),

    A needle and thread geometry might be interesting. Start with some rebar and attach some gillnet leadline to it. The rebar enters the well and pulls the rope on in behind it. Before long the combined weight of the rebar and leadline is pulling more line in as fast as you please. At the bottom the rope compacts into a very good plug maybe….

  42. Leif says:

    Chris @43: It would sure be nice to hear why some variation of the theme would not work. I sent another synopsis into some other CG address, yesterday. They said that do to the “large number of suggestions it could be some time before we heard from them”. I even used “Captain” in my name to hopefully speed up the attention.

    Other than the fact that BP does not want a dead well. The beauty of our suggestion is that by adjusting the amount of stuff piled in the bottom you are “controlling” the well from the bottom up.

    Prokaryote @42, reports again of evidence of compromise in the integrity of the casing or deep well. I see no option other than bottom up plug.

    One other point. If we can thread a catheter past the BOP presumably we can get it to the bottom of the well at which point we would have a column of 3/4″ DU marbles ~three miles long shoving the bottom one out the end. ( Serious numbers here.) Even if the the flow rate was high enough to lift the first few thousand their weight would be removing energy from the system which would eventually poop out to the shear weight of the supported mass. All without raising the well pressure anywhere but the bottom of the well.

  43. Leif says:

    Chris. We agree that a long piece of metal shaft will make it to the bottom. The drill stack is there. We do not know the access size of the restriction in the BOP but one edge is compromised rubber and the other edge is the drill stack. So. We take a length of 1?” heavy wall tubing and start welding it long. We plug the end with a pointy friction cap so we ease passage thru the BOP and ultimately to the bottom of the well. We do not even have to worry about flow rate as the weight of the catheter will work like our re-bar, or the drill stack. We could even push a little. The catheter could be empty or ballast on the tip. When we finally reach the bottom we start adding our heavy marbles. Eventually the internal weight overcomes external pressure and cap friction and then it is just a question of adding marbles to the top fast enough to keep the catheter full. By keeping a tight lid on the feed box we would have zero flow rate within our catheter to contend with.

  44. CHawkbrown says:

    A good hurricane will disperse the oil.
    Two No. 4’s or No. 5’s would do a really
    good job. Otherwise, it will be an
    unconformity in the geologic record.

    C. Hawk