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Daily Kos is a wonderful place....a collection of lots of different people who know lots of different stuff.  So I need a Kos expert with some engineering math expertise....fluid dynamics to be particular and oil to be specific:

So I saw this story today in the NY Times about a North Dakota farmer who smelled oil on his property and discovered that a Tesoro Logistics pipeline, running across his property, was leaking oil.

For several days last month, Steven Jensen smelled the oil, wafting up over his rolling wheat farm near Tioga.


But in that part of northwestern North Dakota, where the rush to tap the Bakken shale field is roaring, the scent of crude is hardly uncommon. It was not until Sept. 29 that Mr. Jensen came across a six-inch spurt of oil gurgling up from his land and reported a spill.

As it turned out, a Tesoro Logistics pipeline had ruptured, spreading more than 865,000 gallons of oil across seven acres of Mr. Jensen’s farm. The spill is one of the largest inland oil pipeline accidents in the United States.


A Tesoro spokeswoman, Tina Barbee, said in an e-mail that an internal inspection last month detected “anomalies” with the pipeline. But Tesoro was still waiting for details when Mr. Jensen discovered the spill.

The company estimated that the hole from which the oil leaked was about a quarter-inch in diameter.

The question I need below the orange bubble of leaking crude:

How long would it take 865,000 gallons of oil to leak from a quarter-inch diameter hole if the exit jet of oil was six inches high?

I am terrible at math....I started taking calculus in college and soon thereafter changed my major to English.....

Hopefully this is a pretty simple calculation for someone with basic math and engineering skills.

The obvious reason for this question is, how long was it before Jensen or anyone discovered the leak.

Tesoro officials said the company had monitored the pipeline’s pressure remotely but acknowledged that was not enough. The company would not speculate on the length or cause of the spill, which the pipeline agency is investigating. It first learned of the accident the day Mr. Jensen discovered it, after he called another oil company with a pipeline in the area.

State officials did not alert the public of the accident until more than a week later, which Mr. Roberts said was because the spill posed no danger and was swiftly contained.

I don't know about you, but my sense is that 865,000 gallons of oil covering seven acres of land is a big deal.

This story obviously is not something the oil or pipeline industries want to publicize, especially given the interest in the proposal to construct the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the US Gulf to feed US refineries with Alberta Tar Sands Oil.

That would, it seems, be really important to the Koch Brothers....something like $100 billion important.

Through their investments and various subsidiaries, Charles and David Koch could make a fortune from the transcontinental oil pipeline, contrary to previous Koch claims.

The Koch brothers have become well known (and despised by many progressives) for their right-wing political activism. The Huffington Post reports that a progressive think tank, the International Forum on Globalization, has been studying Koch investments and properties, including 2 million acres of land in Alberta, Canada. The IFG also estimates that the Kochs have spent about $50 million lobbying pro-Keystone think tanks and members of Congress.

Opponents of Keystone have cited a raft of reasons for opposition including the impact of tar sands mining on global warming, dubious claims about job creation, the fact that the oil produced in the Gulf will largely be shipped overseas and (harking back to the subject of this diary) the risk to waterways and aquifers of a major pipeline break and spill.

Of special interest is the fact that the proposed route for the pipeline takes it through the Sand Hills of Nebraska and over the vital Ogallala Aquifer, a massive source of water for crop irrigation in the Great Plains.

So again the long was that pipe leaking before it was discovered.  The NY Times article notes:

“This section of the pipeline was not required to have leak monitoring or pressure sensors,” said Kris Roberts, an environmental geologist with the North Dakota Department of Health, who is leading the state’s response to the spill. “And it didn’t.”


Carl Weimer, executive director of the Pipeline Safety Trust, which advocates tougher pipeline regulations, said the federal government had moved too slowly to bolster leak detection standards.

“Even though people have been calling for better leak detection, it is usually a landowner who finds the spills,” Mr. Weimer said. “It runs counter to what the industry tells us, that they can detect and shut off these spills in a minutes, when they actually go on for days.”

Or weeks?  If you know the math, maybe you can tell fellow Kossacks just how long that pipe was leaking before it got to 800,000 plus gallons.
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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm a musician, not an engineer, but I deal (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kevskos, rebel ga, cotterperson, 6412093

    in mathematical and physical proportions nonetheless as a basis of my craft.

    How long would it take 865,000 gallons of oil to leak from a quarter-inch diameter hole if the exit jet of oil was six inches high?
    I can't tell you except to say that any kind of leak that is unacceptable. Pardon the levity, but it's like having my Tenors on one page and the rest of the chorus twenty pages ahead in the Oratorio.
  •  That is not (5+ / 0-)

    really a straight forward question.  The viscosity of the oil and the temperature would effect the answer.  But it must have been awhile because it takes a week to fill our 40000 gallon pool with a 3/4" hose.

    "In short, I was a racketeer for Capitalism" Marine Corp Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler

    by Kevskos on Thu Oct 24, 2013 at 03:59:34 PM PDT

  •  The Koch Brothers make $100 billion of revenue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    every year.

    I suspect that the possible future profits of $100 billion over many, many years don't really matter to them one way or another.

  •  The fluid maths might be a bit complicated... (5+ / 0-)
    Mr. Jensen came across a six-inch spurt of oil gurgling up from his land and reported a spill.
    It seems to me that the pipeline is buried under the ground. So the spurt of oil is what comes through the 1/4 inch diameter hole in the pipe, goes up though all the other spilled oil that is above it till it reaches the surface, and then spurts 6 inches into the air. So I suspect it would be necessary to know the depth of the pipe under the ground, and the specific gravity of the oil, etc. to be able to estimate the flow rate through the 1/4 inch hole in the pipe.

    While calculating the flow rate might be a bit tricky, we can look at the the maths for the statement...

    a Tesoro Logistics pipeline had ruptured, spreading more than 865,000 gallons of oil across seven acres of Mr. Jensen’s farm.
    1 gallon occupies 231 cubic inches.
    865,000 gallons would occupy 199,815,000 cubic inches

    1 acre is 6,272,640 square inches
    7 acres is 43,908,480 square inches.

    If the spilled oil was spread at an equal depth across the 7 acres of land then...
    199,815,000 cubic inches / 43,908,480 square inches = 4.55 inches deep

    In summary, if only 865,000 gallons (and not more) had spilled onto Mr. Jensen's farm, then the average depth of the oil over the 7 acres is 4 1/2 inches.

    No wonder...

    Steven Jensen smelled the oil, wafting up over his rolling wheat farm
    •  I Think Petroleum Viscosity Might Vary Considerbly (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      swarf, mystique mist, 6412093

      depending on source, and we probably need that fact in conjunction with the hole size and the height of the spurt.

      I'd expect water or acetone to spill out a whole lot faster than crude.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Thu Oct 24, 2013 at 05:04:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Real genius flashback (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mystique mist

    Can you hammer a six inch spike through a board with your penis?

    That would take longer than it takes 800,000 gallons of oil to leak out of a quarter inch hole.

    What is the viscosity of the oil, what it the pressure in the pipe. Did they use any thinners to help get the oil down the pipe. What is the temperature of the oil in the pipe?

    How big is the pipe that leaked?

  •  Well! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    A typical garden hose is about 2-3 times larger than the alleged pipeline hole, or a half to three quarters inch wide, compared to the pipeline's 1/4" hole.  A common garden hose yield would be about 5 gallons per minute, so let's use 10 gal/minute.

    While oil is much thicker than water, a pumped pipeline would put a lot of pressure onto the oil.  On the other hand, the alleged pipeline hole is also smaller than a garden hose.

    At 10 gallon/minute, it would take about 60 days to discharge that much oil.

    Setting aside environmental concerns, I utterly lack respect for a company that would allow almost $3 million worth of product to be wasted in an undetected spill.  What asses. Fine them. Fire them.

    “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

    by 6412093 on Thu Oct 24, 2013 at 08:48:00 PM PDT

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