Fools’ Errand: Effort to Shut Down Gulf Well is Failing


The Coast Guard conceded Friday that the pressure has not built up as hoped in the blown-out BP Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico, raising concerns that the pipe that runs from the surface down through the bore to the oil reservoir 13,000 feet below the sea bottom has lost its integrity, and is allowing oil under high pressure to leak out into the surrounding concrete and rock outside the pipe, where it can and likely will make its way to the waters above.

There is visual evidence that this is happening. While it has not been mentioned in news reports, one view taken of the sea floor taken by a videocam on the Hos ROV 1, one of the remote robot submersibles monitoring the wellhead, and on display on the BP website, beginning at about 2:48:40 Central Time showed clouds of muddy looking water suddenly spring up and begin obscuring the view of the sea floor. Some of the billowing material was light colored, and could be mud pushed up by leaking methane gas. Some looked decidedly dark brown, like the oil that has been seen coming from the top of the blowout preventer (BOP).

A second rover, the Viking Poseidon ROV 1, which was not included in the live cams displayed from BP’s public access site, but which can be seen live here, also showed a large cloud of churning brown material billowing up from the sea floor beginning at 3:06:00 Central Time. (A number of other camera views show a lot of bubbles rising through the water, which officials claim is “normal” in ocean, though it wasn’t happening earlier in the company’s undersea videos, suggesting these bubbles may be leaking methane gas.)

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