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The world's thirst for crude is leading oil exploration companies into ever deeper waters and ventures fraught with environmental and political peril.

The days when the industry could merely drill on land and wait for the oil — and the profits — to flow are coming to an end. Because of that, companies feel compelled to sink wells at the bottom of deep oceans, inject chemicals into the ground to force oil to the surface, deal with unsavory regimes, or operate in some of the world's most environmentally sensitive and inaccessible spots, far from ports and decent roads. All those factors could make it difficult to move in equipment and clean up a spill.

Increasingly less hospitable locations and geological conditions - like drilling through three miles of salt a mile under the ocean - make the inevitable accidents more likely to occur.

"It's just getting harder to find this stuff. You're having to go to the end of the Earth or the bottoms of very deep oceans now," said Randy Udall, director of the nonprofit Community Office for Resource Efficiency in Aspen, Colo.

BP CEO Bob Dudley argues that the risks are necessary due to the increasing demand for petroleum,estimated to increase 40% by 2030. Recently discovered oil fields in the Southern Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Brazil are thought to contain more than eight billion barrels of oil. But the formation exists under two miles of seawater - the Macondo field was at a mere one mile depth. Several countries, including the US, are stepping up plans to drill in sensitive Arctic areas, where 90 billion barrels of offshore crude anre thought to lie.

Environmental groups have sued to prevent it. Cold and ice would hamper cleanup of a spill, they say, by making it hard to get people and equipment to the scene. And the region lacks the sunlight and abundance of microbes that are helping break down the oil in the Gulf. A major spill could injure or kill whales, polar bears, seals, walruses and many types of fish.

On land, especially in the western US and in Canada, oil shale and tar sands production increases as demand for crude rises.

In the western U.S., companies are targeting what the Energy Department says are billions of barrels of recoverable oil trapped within deposits of shale rock, which is composed of layers of claylike, fine-grain sediments. Mining and processing shale oil are a big source of greenhouse gas emissions. Environmentalists also worry about the huge volumes of water and chemicals pumped deep underground at high pressures to break loose the shale.

Similar issues have arisen in the Canadian province of Alberta, where companies are extracting sticky black bitumen oil from mixtures of sand and clay known as tar sands — a process that consumes vast quantities of water in an arid climate.

In addition to environmental impacts in producing petroleum onshore, major oil entities still lack the technologies to quickly deal with emergencies in deepwater situations.

As the Gulf oil spill illustrated, even multinational oil companies with solid experience have their own shortcomings. In the U.S., it could be another year before a better cap-and-siphon containment system is developed to choke off underwater leaks. Experts have said the industry needs better technology and more thorough testing to prevent blowouts from happening in the first place.

Exxon Mobil's Lloyd Guillory, the senior project manager for the U.S. industry containment system initiative, said he is confident that enough attention is being paid to safety. "The starting point one has to understand is that prevention is the predominant focus — safe drilling operations and prevention," he said.  

GOP gains in the midterm elections appear set to clean up Canada's oil sands image as a producer of dirty oil.

The biggest winners in Canada after Tuesday night’s U.S. midterms are Alberta’s oil producers — branded by many Democrats as purveyors of "dirty oil."

Canada watchers on both sides of the U.S. political divide agreed Wednesday that the Tea Party-driven protest vote across the United States would reap political dividends for the oilsands.

"I think the playing field for Canadian energy will be a little more level now. There will always be the environmental attacks," said Republican David Wilkins, the Bush administration’s last ambassador to Ottawa.  

"But I think whether you are talking about oilsands, whether you are talking about pipelines, I think the rhetoric will be a little bit less."

The Dutch government said Thursday it will not allow oil giant Shell to store millions of tons of carbon dioxide in a depleted gas reservoir  under a small town.

Under the scheme, set to have started in 2012, the CO2 was to be carried by a pipeline, compressed, and injected into a depleted gas reservoir 1,800 metres (5,900 feet) under ground.

Shell, which planned to store more than 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year for 30 years at Barendrecht, has said the CO2 will dissolve or form minerals over time.

Residents and local officials of the 50,000-strong town, however, vehemently opposed the project and threatened legal action.

The ministry statement said CO2 storage was key to reducing the Netherlands' greenhouse gas emissions, and insisted it was "safe".

After Hurricane Katrina nearly wiped out Horn Island, the effects of the oil spill still makes the future of the tiny strip of sand's flora and fauna uncertain.

Five years after the deadliest of storms nearly wiped this narrow strip of island from the map, life is returning. Yet in this hopeful process a new devastation arrived this spring on the warming waters of the Gulf. Some 70 miles from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, Horn Island and the waters surrounding it were full of oil. Six months after the beginning of the spill, contract crews are still out there every day sifting sand, filling buckets, bags and boxes with oily sand, but still a layer of tarballs litters the surface like gravel. Below the surface there are oil layers in the sand that look like layers of chocolate on a vanilla cake. There's still a lot of oil. Oil that will still be there decades and perhaps generations from now.

==== ROV Feeds =====
20876/21507  - Development Driller II's ROV 1
32900/49178  - Development Driller II's ROV 2

39168/39169 - Chouest Holiday's ROV 1

40492/40493 - Chouest Holiday's ROV 2

58406/21750 - Iron Horse ROV 1 (Original feed which is still active)

If Iron Horse won't load in VLC or Quicktime with the above link try this one.

23211/23803 - Iron Horse ROV 1 (New feed designations)

22070/22936 - Iron Horse ROV 2 (New feed designations)

24301/24309 - West Sirius' ROV 1 (New feed)

The Development Driller 3 moved off from Relief Well #1's wellhead area at about 1:00 AM a week couple of weeks ago Saturday.  She joined the Discoverer Enterprise, who's been stationary for the past month or so, approximately six miles northwest of the Development Driller 2.  The Discoverer Enterprise is a dredger, and has been accompanied for some time by anti-pollution vessels, generally the Virginia Responder and the Mississippi Responder.  The move by DD3 has not been reported in any news we've seen, but it's the first she's moved off the Macondo site since arriving to drill the relief wells with her sister ship, DD2.

In the meantime, the West Sirius (photos and descriptions and here and here), a semi-submersible driller, has replaced the DD3 beside DD2.  Cargo ships, skimmers, and various other ships have been seen coming and going from the area of both Development Drillers on a regular basis.

The West Sirius left the well site yesterday, Nov. 2, and the DD2 is on the well site.

That's a lot of action for the waters around a well that was supposed to be plugged and abandoned a long time ago.

==Multiple stream feeds (hard on browser/bandwidth)==

German multiple feed site that updates once a minute—Does not crash browsers and loads really fast.

Belgian multi-feed site, Mozaiek Webcam – BP Olielek Olieramp Deepwater Horizon

BP videos All the available directly feeds from BP.

Bobo's lightweight ROV Multi-feed: is the only additional up to date multiple feed site.

See this thread for more info on using video feeds and on linking to video feeds.

Previous Gulf Watcher diaries:
Gulf Watchers Wednesday - BP & MMS deception about toxic plumes - BP Catastrophe AUV #419 - peraspera
Gulf Watchers Monday - More on Dispersants - BP Catastrophe AUV #418 - shanesnana
Gulf Watchers Sunday - NOAA, FDA Lower Standards So Gulf Seafood Will Pass - BP Catastrophe AUV #417 - Yasuragi
Gulf Watchers Friday: GOTV-All Politics is Local: Kamala Harris/CA-AG: BP Catastrophe AUV#416 - ArthurPoet
Gulf Watchers Wednesday - EPA Whistleblower Crucifies BP on Safety - BP Catastrophe AUV #415 - peraspera
Gulf Watchers Monday Edition - Reparations, Repair, Responsibility - BP Catastrophe AUV #414 - shanesnana
Gulf Watchers Sunday Edition - Will New Lawsuit Revive the Moratorium? - BP Catastrophe AUV #413 - Yasuragi
Gulf Watchers Morning Edition - BP Catastrophe AUV #412 - gchaucer2
Gulf Watchers Wednesday Edition - 6 Months of Gulf Sorrow - BP Catastrophe AUV #411 - peraspera
Gulf Watchers Monday Edition - BP Catastrophe AUV #410 - shanesnana
Gulf Watchers Morning Edition - BP Catastrophe AUV #409 - Lorinda Pike
Gulf Watchers Monday Edition - BP Catastrophe AUV #408 - peraspera
Gulf Watchers Morning Edition - BP Catastrophe AUV #407 - shanesnana
Gulf Watchers Morning Edition - BP Catastrophe AUV #406 - Sunday Wrap - Lorinda Pike
Gulf Watchers Morning Edition - BP Catastrophe AUV #405 - bleeding heart
Gulf Watchers Morning Edition - BP Catastrophe AUV #404 - peraspera
Gulf Watchers Morning Edition - BP Catastrophe AUV #403 - Darryl House
Gulf Watchers Morning Edition - BP Catastrophe AUV #402 - Yasuragi
Gulf Watchers Morning Edition - BP Catastrophe AUV #401 - Lorinda Pike
Gulf Watchers Morning Edition - BP Catastrophe AUV #400 - Yasuragi
Gulf Watchers Morning Edition - BP Catastrophe AUV #399 - Gulf Watchers/peraspera/story/
Gulf Watchers Morning Edition - BP Catastrophe AUV #398 - Gulf Watchers/peraspera/story/
Gulf Watchers Morning Edition - BP Catastrophe AUV #397 - Gulf Watchers/peraspera
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers Morning Edition - BP Catastrophe AUV #396 - Gulf Watchers/peraspera
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #395 - Condition: transition - BP's Gulf Castastrophe - David PA
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #394 - Transitions - BP's Gulf Castastrophe - Lorinda Pike
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #393 - BP's Gulf Catastrophe - Lorinda Pike
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #392 - BP's Gulf Catastrophe - When Can we Share a Soda? - khowell
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #391 - BP's Gulf Catastrophe - Talking about Change - khowell
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #390 - Drips Redux - Lorinda Pike
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #389 - Night of the Living Drips - Lorinda Pike
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #388 - Sittin' Up With the Dead - khowell
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #387 - Time for a Wake? - khowell
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #386 - The Coroner Won't Pronounce - BP's Gulf Catastrophe - Yasuragi
Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #385 - Is it Dead? - BP's Gulf Catastrophe - Lorinda Pike
The last Mothership has links to reference material.
Previous motherships and ROV's from this extensive live blog effort may be found here.

Again, to keep bandwidth down, please do not post images or videos.

Originally posted to Lorinda Pike on Fri Nov 05, 2010 at 03:16 AM PDT.

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