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  •  Mega thanks to the Daily Kos community (50+ / 0-)

    for your support of the BP Catastrophe liveblog. The Gulf Watchers greatly appreciate your recs for the Mothership and participation in the ROVs.

    The ROV feeds have been spotty over the last twenty four hours but Gulf Watchers have noted some small amounts of oil from the mud line feed and noted some hydrate build up on the wellhead connector. In the wee hours DDII ROV A did some housekeeping resulting in a clean connector.  Olympic Challenger's ROV 2 was over some of the wreck site which is always such a sad reminder of the eleven men who lost their lives so needlessly.

    The Times-Picayune has some labeled photos of the failed BOP being taken to NASA's Michoud facility. The photography is excellent and includes some informative closeup shots.

    Thad Allen is usually all too happy to talk about good news. However, for some reason odd reason only issued a short press release on the success of the installation of the lock-down device. One wonders if there are questions Allen does not wish to answer.

    "After extensive consultation between BP engineers and the federal science team, as well as reviewing data collected from measurements I authorized Friday, the Development Driller III today began the final steps towards the completion of the relief well that will intercept the Macondo 252 well and perform the bottom kill procedure.
    This accelerated progress was possible after several discussions between BP and the federal scientists and engineers, leading to the installation of a lock-down device over the weekend, which resulted in the necessary conditions to commence the finalization of the relief well. I will continue to provide updates on the progress of the relief well, the final step that will ensure the well is fully and finally killed, as necessary."

    BP also issued a press release that drilling on the relief well has resumed.

    Release date: 13 September 2010
    HOUSTON - BP re-started relief well drilling operations from the Development Driller III (DD3) today at 1:40 p.m. CDT following the successful installation of a lock down sleeve, a mechanical device that secures the MC252 well’s casing hangar.

    The DD3 is drilling toward the MC252 well intercept point, currently about 50 feet below. Relief well operations will consist of drilling and ranging runs that will guide the rig’s drill bit to intercept the well’s annulus. Following the intercept, heavy drilling mud and cement will be pumped into the annular space to complete the isolation of the MC252 well.

    The rogue Macondo may be killed as soon as Friday, barring no complications.

    Allen said the entire procedure, starting from the time drilling resumed and concluding when the cement inside the well has dried, will take about 96 hours, barring any complications. That means the well could be sealed by Friday.

    There is a little more information on the thick oil residue on the sea floor. The fact that scientists are disagreeing about the implications only points out the desperate need to get money out for research that is free of BP influence.

    Oil at least two inches thick was found Sunday night and Monday morning about a mile beneath the surface. Under it was a layer of dead shrimp and other small animals, said University of Georgia researcher Samantha Joye, speaking from the helm of a research vessel in the Gulf.

    The latest findings show that while the federal government initially proclaimed much of the spilled oil gone, now it's not so clear.
    "I expected to find oil on the sea floor," Joye said Monday morning in a ship-to-shore telephone interview. "I did not expect to find this much. I didn't expect to find layers two inches thick. It's weird the stuff we found last night. Some of it was really dense and thick."
    Joye said 10 of her 14 samples showed visible oil, including all the ones taken north of the busted well. She found oil on the sea floor as far as 80 miles away from the site of the spill.
    And the look of the oil, its state of degradation, the way it settled on freshly dead animals all made it unlikely that the crude was from the millions of gallons of oil that naturally seep into the Gulf from the sea bottom each year, she said. Later this week, the oil will be tested for the chemical fingerprints that would conclusively link it to the BP spill.

    "It has to be a recent event," Joye said. "There's still pieces of warm bodies there."
    For Ian MacDonald, a Florida State University biological oceanographer who wasn't part of Joye's team, the latest findings confirm that government assessments about how much oil remains - especially a report on the subject by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in August - were too optimistic.

    The oil "did not disappear," he said. "It sank."

    Not all scientists agree with this assessment.

    Ed Overton, a Louisiana State University chemist who has analyzed the spill for NOAA, doubted much oil was resting on the bottom. He said the heavier components in oil - the asphalts - make up only about 1 percent of the oil that was spilled.

    ProPublica has done some digging into BP's self-serving investigation and found an interesting nugget buried in an appendix.

    It's a little-noticed part of BP's internal investigation of the Deepwater Horizon blowout, but it could have larger implications: Buried in an appendix to BP's Bly report, the company concluded that the properties of an unusual fluid mixture that it chose to pump into the Macondo well may have skewed its reading of a crucial pressure test, as The Washington Post reported.

    (As we've noted, the decision to proceed with finishing the well despite "a very large abnormality" in the pressure test was one of the few issues for which BP took some blame in the report.)
    BP's report doesn't go into detail about the composition of the fluid that was used, nor does it mention that the properties of the unusual mixture may have had an effect on the pressure test. But in an appendix to the report, BP concluded that either "solids from the spacer" or "the viscosity or gel strength of the spacer" could have skewed the negative pressure test.

    WaPo has more on the untested drilling fluid that skewed the pressure test results.

    But the more than 400 barrels used were roughly double the usual quantity, said Leo Lindner, a drilling fluid specialist for contractor MI-Swaco.

    BP had hundreds of barrels of the two chemicals on hand and needed to dispose of the material, Lindner testified. By first flushing it into the well, the company could take advantage of an exemption in an environmental law that otherwise would have prohibited it from discharging the hazardous waste into the Gulf of Mexico, Lindner said.

    The procedure mixed two substances. "It's not something we've ever done before," Lindner said.
    When the well became a gusher on April 20, a fluid that fit the general description of the mixture rained down on the rig.

    The Times-Picayune has a disheartening story that oil is still being sighted and reported.

    BP is a deadbeat. They haven't paid  Orange Beach, Alabama more than $400,000 for emergency services requested by BP.

    "We’re going to pull out all of our firemen and paramedics because BP won’t pay their bills," Kennon said. "We have a multibillion-dollar, multinational corporation having a town of 5,000 people in Alabama front the money for their emergency medical response, and I’m tired of it. We’re not going to do it anymore."

    BP asks judge to deny claimants access to the courts before they have presented claims to Feinberg.

    "These plaintiffs are not even entitled to be in court until at least 90 days after presentment and (if applicable) denial of their claims" by the Feinberg-administered fund, said Don Haycraft, a lawyer for BP, in papers filed today in federal court in New Orleans.

    The New York Times is bubbling with optimism about the environmental impact of BP's assault on the Gulf. Hardly surprising, since BP had a significant say in who had access to oil fouled areas and which scientists ended up with money for research. The Grey Lady needs to hire some environmental bloggers who are willing to get their boots oily rather than regurgitating phone calls.

    NEW ORLEANS — Marsh grasses matted by oil are still a common sight on the gulf coast here, but so are green shoots springing up beneath them.
    In nearby bird colonies, carcasses are still being discovered, but they number in the thousands, not the tens of thousands that have died in other oil spills.

    And at the mouth of the Mississippi River, the zone of severely oxygen-depleted water that forms every summer has reappeared, but its size does not seem to have been affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill.

    Beauty Laced with Despair: Edward Burtynsky's Photographs of the BP Oil Spill aptly describes the work Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky has done documenting BP's black monster. The haunting beauty of Burtynsky's photos focuses the mind on the hideousness of what is being photographed. There are no photos in Burtynsky's Photo Gallery on the Art Info site of dead or oiled animals.

    Check out the latest news in the most recent ROV diary and join us for comments and questions.

    In consideration of those with slow internet connections please refrain from posting embedded graphics, photos or videos. Please post links instead.

    We watch, so all will know.

    by Gulf Watchers on Tue Sep 14, 2010 at 02:16:16 AM PDT

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