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View Diary: BP's Disaster - Mississippi Gulf Coast Edition - 1 June (Tuesday) Diary #29 (329 comments)

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  •  Drilling the Undrillable (7+ / 0-)

    Offshore Technology, the magazine for the undersea oil and natgas industry writes

    Mature fields can pose problems due to pressures from depleted formations, which necessitate a better understanding of subsurface structures, and in some cases the need for extra casing strings to improve well stability.

    In older well fields, horizontal drilling is necessary to obtain the far reaches of depleted reservoirs.  Think of your spray bottle.  When the liquid gets low, the sprayer starts sucking more air than fluid.  You can't tilt and slosh the Earth to introduce the remaining oil it into the vertical well, so you have to go horizontal.

    A new technology's being developed to make this process easier and faster.  The article discusses it.

    But it throws away the most frightening line:
    "In mature fields where we see a weakening of the subsurface due to lower reservoir pressure. . ."

    What does this mean?  Subterranean sink holes as overhang collapses into the empty pockets that were once oil reservoirs.

    Following the unthinkable that is now reality with BP Deepwater Horizon, extrapolate and let your imagination draw up scenarios of vast terrestrial collapses above old oil fields.  Yes, it's all rather doomsday and admittedly over the top, but collapse of reservoir domes is a probability, not a mere possibility.

    In fact, I feel sure that subterranean collapses have probably occurred.  Not cataclysmic in nature, otherwise we'd have heard about it.  The ones that have occurred may either be unknown to the oil companies or the news of those collapses has been suppressed by those oil companies.

    I invite Kossack geologists to please comment and share their informed assessment that can enlighten us on the idea of "dry hole" collapse in mature/depleted oil fields.  

    "ingratiation and access . . . are not corruption." -- Justice Kennedy (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 2010)

    by Limelite on Tue Jun 01, 2010 at 07:49:35 AM PDT

    •  Would like more info on this as well Limelite. (7+ / 0-)

      Thanks.

      Poor Mother Earth. Honest to gods and goddesses, whatever happened to "Do No Harm"?

      Or in the Judeo/Christian framework, being good stewards of the earth?

      I know, I know.

      Once upon a time in a past life I was a philosophy major.

      It just still shocks the heart sometimes how much we've divorced ourselves from what has given birth to us.

      Stepping up to life eliminates the capacity for bullshit. - Robinswing

      by Onomastic on Tue Jun 01, 2010 at 07:54:58 AM PDT

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    •  My education is geology... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greengrrl, gulfgal98, Yasuragi, Onomastic

      along with other stuff (too much education...) but my interests tended to paleobotany and periglacial geomorphology.  I tried to stay away from needing to go to the dark side of petroleum geology and stuck to research-oriented areas.

      (-7.62/-7.90) ...it was their destruction: they delved too greedily and too deep. -- JRR Tolkien

      by Lorinda Pike on Tue Jun 01, 2010 at 08:15:18 AM PDT

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      •  Do You Have Colleagues Who Might Be Willing (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe, Lorinda Pike

        to give you their assessment on this?  Maybe you could post their opinions (with permission)?

        "ingratiation and access . . . are not corruption." -- Justice Kennedy (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 2010)

        by Limelite on Tue Jun 01, 2010 at 08:38:06 AM PDT

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        •  Haven't kept up with many. (0+ / 0-)

          The only one I communicate with (and only about twice a year) is a vulcanologist.  And it was  thirty years age that I was doing geology.

          Sorry.

          (-7.62/-7.90) ...it was their destruction: they delved too greedily and too deep. -- JRR Tolkien

          by Lorinda Pike on Tue Jun 01, 2010 at 08:44:25 AM PDT

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        •  am geologist (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Limelite

          (ex) and happy to give you my assessment that this is no big deal. The reservoirs are not big caverns full of oil or gas that comes out. Oil and gas (and water and all other fluids) rather take up a very small fraction of the formation volume, sitting on all the pore space between the grains of whatever that formation is made of. So when you take it away, it´s possible that compaction occurs, but that has to occur spread out over large areas homogeneously and will not even have to lead to fracturing. In fact, this effect is well known: spread out land subsidence above extracted large fields is a longstanding established damage type, and the industry pays for it in some areas.

          no big deal, unless your land is at sealevel, and you´re sinking under it (that happens in the Netherlands).

          Ici s´arrète la loi.

          by marsanges on Tue Jun 01, 2010 at 11:28:02 AM PDT

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    •  No geologist and am not sure (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Limelite, Lorinda Pike

      if this is the right analogy.  Much of central Florida is prone to the formation of sink holes where the ground suddenly gives way often leaving a deep hole.  Sink holes have swallowed up houses and parts of highways on a regular basis.  They are often the result of when the water table gets too low and there is no support left for the earth above.

      In deep mourning for the beautiful and bountiful Gulf Of Mexico. She deserved better, much better that this. -8.00 -5.74

      by gulfgal98 on Tue Jun 01, 2010 at 08:41:07 AM PDT

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      •  You have that right, gulfgal. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Limelite, gulfgal98

        It is karst topography -- Cracks in the limestone formations allow rainwater (acidic) to leak through, leaching the calcium carbonate.  Eventually makes little holes, which become bigger holes. Too big, even if filled with water -- flump. Sinkhole.

        This would hold true for most subsurface voids in general.  The earth is not a static environment, obviously.

        (-7.62/-7.90) ...it was their destruction: they delved too greedily and too deep. -- JRR Tolkien

        by Lorinda Pike on Tue Jun 01, 2010 at 08:50:37 AM PDT

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