March 28th News: Natural Gas Cloud Continues Leaking From North Sea Rig, Forcing Evacuation

Other stories below: GOP running out of gas on Solyndra; What if July beats heat records the way March just did?

North Sea gas cloud forces evacuations

A cloud of explosive natural gas boiling out of the North Sea off the coast of Scotland has forced the evacuation of a second rig and forced coastguards to set up an exclusion zone to ward off ships and aircraft.

French oil firm Total said the leak was the most serious problem it had faced in the North Sea in a decade of drilling, adding that it was taking “all possible measures” to try to identify the source and cause of the leak and to bring it under control.

“It’s not going to be solved straightforwardly – it will take at least a few days,” a Total spokesman said, adding that experts were being flown in from around the world to help stop the leak.

What if July Beats Heat Records the Way March Just Did?

Last month I wrote about how global warming might not be so bad after all. Not for me, anyway. Sure, sea level is rising, threatening millions of Americans and many more millions of people around the world. Sure, glaciers are melting and winter snowpack is disappearing in the West (and again, in other parts of the world), putting summer water supplies at risk. Sure, extreme weather is on the rise, almost certainly as a result of human-triggered climate change.

But February, which normally alternates between cold and bitterly cold in Princeton, N.J., where Climate Central is headquartered, was unusually mild. Call me selfish, but I kind of liked it. I didn’t realize at the time that March would be even warmer, and I really liked that. The average high here in central New Jersey is 50°F in March, but this month we went over 60° no fewer than 15 times (the forecast says we might do it once more before April begins). We topped 70° eight times. We hit 78° twice, and once we got all the way up to 79° — fully 29° above normal.

GOP running out of gas on Solyndra

House Republicans look like they’re running out of ammunition on Solyndra.

Gone are their threats of hauling Rahm Emanuel and Carol Browner up to the Capitol to testify about how they helped the now bankrupt California solar company.

The White House hopes to soon remove the GOP’s threat of a contempt of Congress vote by turning over the final scraps from thousands of pages of internal documents.

And one of the main GOP investigators, Rep. Cliff Stearns, is mired in his own political mess after questioning the legitimacy of President Barack Obama’s birth certificate and over allegations he tried to bribe another Florida Republican to get out of their August primary race.

More than a year into a probe that’s extended to the Energy Department loan guarantee portfolio, Republican investigators even acknowledge they’ve fallen short of substantiating their allegations that the administration helped political allies like Tulsa oilman George Kaiser secure hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies through a loan guarantee to Solyndra.

Solyndra Kept Government Informed, Report Says

Solyndra LLC, whose abrupt bankruptcy filing last summer put the Obama administration’s solar-power efforts in the spotlight, kept the government well informed of its finances and business prospects, according to a report by the company’s chief restructuring officer.

The report—whose author was hired by Solyndra’s board—is based on a four-month investigation and was filed in bankruptcy court on Tuesday. It concludes that the Department of Energy, which had guaranteed a $535 million loan to Solyndra, was fully aware of the risks and kept up to date on the solar-power company’s deteriorating finances.

Study: Birds adjusting slowly to climate change

A new study based on the National Audubon Society’s North American Christmas Bird Count finds birds have taken decades to adjust their ranges northward in response to warming winters.

Frank La Sorte, a post-doctoral researcher at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, was lead author of the study published online this month by the Journal of Animal Ecology. He said animals adjust to rising minimum winter temperatures by shifting their ranges northward. Since birds are highly mobile and migrate north and south with the changing seasons, they’re better able to shift their ranges than less-mobile, non-migrating species, like amphibians.

But the study of 59 bird species found it’s not all that easy or quick. And some birds are better equipped to follow the changing climate than others.

Link Builds Between Weather Extremes and Warming

Extreme weather events over the past decade have increased and were “very likely” caused by manmade global warming, a study in the journal Nature Climate Change said on Sunday.

Scientists at Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Research used physics, statistical analysis and computer simulations to link extreme rainfall and heat waves to global warming. The link between warming and storms was less clear.

“It is very likely that several of the unprecedented extremes of the past decade would not have occurred without anthropogenic global warming,” said the study.

EU Tidal Energy Initiatives Fall Short of Expectations

Europe’s wave and tidal power technology is likely to disappoint EU expectations for 2020 and take over a decade to contribute to energy supply in a significant way, even though it is chalking up rapid growth and drawing in big industrial investors.

The nascent industry has attracted a flurry of investor activity over the past year, securing an estimated few hundred million euros from companies such as Siemens and Vattenfall.

It is making fast progress from prototype devices toward full-scale sea trials and promises to be more reliable than many types of renewable power that depend on the weather.

22 Responses to March 28th News: Natural Gas Cloud Continues Leaking From North Sea Rig, Forcing Evacuation

  1. John McCormick says:

    “British energy minister Charles Hendry played down the extent of leaking oil, saying: “Any leak we take very seriously and I think the right measures have been taken. What we’ve identified, procedures appear to have been followed properly.”

    Meanwhile, entire crews have been evacuated because the rig appears to be enveloped in a cloud of gas. Now, experts from around the world are rushing to that possible human tragedy waiting to happen.

  2. prokaryotes says:

    The SPIEGEL is running featured top headlines since yesterday about the dangerous gas leak. Today they headline “Experts fear explosion in the north sea”.

    They have to dig a second hole to close the main gusher, which might take several month.

    Because the gas is mostly made out of methane which is a potent greenhouse gas, we can no longer take such risk and have to stop all deep sea digging immediately!

  3. Mike Roddy says:

    Somebody needs to tell all those birds to talk to Anthony Watts, so they can learn that the temperature stations are wrong, and it’s actually not warming.

  4. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    Common Dreams reports on the Planet Under Pressure conference in London. The headline:

    “On the Brink: Planet Near Irreversible Point of Global Warming
    Scientists issue dire call for action on climate change at conference; we must stop warming or “cross the threshold”

  5. John Tucker says:

    There are two rig areas evacuated. This is one of the highest pressure/temperature wells in existence if not the highest pressure. The water is shallow and hydrogen sulfide is making it to the surface with the hydrocarbons.

    The well casing is thought to be compromised and the relief well is expected to take around 6 months.
    ( )

    There is no real plan.

    Sound familiar?

  6. John Tucker says:

    Also its a partial evacuation at TWO other platforms with one shutting down early to go into a “maintenance cycle.”

    Shutting down North Sea gas leak may take entire summer ( )

  7. Lionel A says:

    Meanwhile the BBC News website main page carries not a mention of the Elgin gas leak, as at 1600 BST. One has to drill down to the UK page before finding a link to this:

    Flare still burning at North Sea gas leak Elgin platform .

    Could this be down to sea-floor methane clathrates destabilising?

  8. John Tucker says:

    From what I read engineers thought there was a problem with the drill casing and gas escaping through that- this is likely one of the highest pressure rigs in existence.

    The pressure of an average North Sea field is around 300 bar equivalent to 300
    times that of atmospheric pressure, while Elgin/Franklin pressures measure
    around 1100 bar, equivalent to 1100 times that of atmospheric pressure.
    ( )

  9. John Tucker says:

    Deepwater Horizon had a 13000 psi oil reservoir pressure. This one is 15955 psi if my calculation is correct.

    This is in 305 feet of water Deepwater Horizon was in 5000ft.

  10. PAUL DONOHUE says:

    I was wondering if the recent heat waves in the Eastern U.S. and Texas last summer could be due to clouds of methane which would linger near the well sites? Methane will eventually disperse, but may be continually escaping and raising the local concentration.

  11. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Our BOM announced yesterday that La Nina is over as most of the indices have dropped below the official levels. So expect some changes from the last couple of years.

    They would not make long term predictions about the length of time we would spend in neutral or the arrival of the next El Nino, ME

  12. M Tucker says:

    Michael Mann live interview on KPCC NOW. Go to and select listen live from menu at top of page. They are also fundraising so it may be interrupted occasionally.

  13. prokaryotes says:

    The rig could explode any moment, becuase there is a fire burning. A torch, which normally flares gas, is still operational.

  14. prokaryotes says:

    The gas deposit is 6000 meters below sea level i think. Water depth 300 meters.

  15. prokaryotes says:

    This is a opportunity to observe potential methane clouds and how it effects the different kinds of environment.

  16. prokaryotes says:

    Michael E. Mann On The Muzzling Of Canadian Scientists

  17. prokaryotes says:

    Exposing oil exploitation in the Russian Arctic

    Moratorium to ban all Oil exploitation in the arctic is a required necessity.

  18. Paul Magnus says:

    Surely it’s time to nationalize coal plants with the aim to shutting them down ASAP.

  19. John McCormick says:

    @ # 11

    Prokaryotes, thank you for that information on Christopher’s being transferred to an isolation cell.

    Please try to get a mailing address so we can write to Chris and give him the encouragement and support to survive this cruel punishment.

    Perhaps his attorney can provide that and you can post it.