Bottom of the barrel: devastating assessment of administration competence and honesty

The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling has issued several drafts of Staff Working papers.  Inside the text is a devastating assessment of the federal government’s (in this case, the Obama administration) handling of the oil spill and a time line (with considerable footnotes) concerning the government’s “struggle to accurately estimate the rate of oil flow from the Macondo well.”  From the large sample of mainstream media news stories, there is no way to spin this positively (though some will try).

From the Wall Street Journal:  (emphasis added in bold — hold onto your seats as it’s going to get pretty bumpy)

WASHINGTON—The Obama administration’s response to the BP PLC oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was affected by “a sense of over optimism” about the disaster that “may have affected the scale and speed with which national resources were brought to bear,” the staff of a special commission investigating the disaster found.

In four papers issued Wednesday by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, commission investigators fault the administration for making inaccurate public statements about a report on the fate of oil spilled by a BP well in the Gulf of Mexico.

The commission papers also are critical of the administration for initially underestimating how much petroleum was flowing into the Gulf. Together, the inaccurate statements created the impression the government “was either not fully competent to handle the spill or not fully candid” about the accident.

The Associated Press and accompanying headline on Yahoo News are equally stunning:

Panel: Gov’t thwarted worst-case scenario on spill

By DINA CAPPIELLO, Associated Press Writer Dina Cappiello, Associated Press Writer Wed Oct 6, 11:48 am ET

WASHINGTON – The White House blocked efforts by federal scientists to tell the public just how bad the Gulf oil spill could have been.

In documents released Wednesday, the national oil spill commission reveals that in late April or early May the White House budget office denied a request from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to make public the worst-case discharge from the blown-out well.

BP estimated the worse scenario to be a leak of 2.5 million gallons per day. The government, meanwhile, was telling the public the well was releasing 210,000 gallons per day – a figure that later grew closer to BP’s figure.

The bar graph at the top of this post comes from the Appendix of Staff Working Paper No. 3 titled THE AMOUNT AND FATE OF THE OIL.  Link to the Oil Spill Library PDFs

The government’s estimates were clearly low-balled during the first several weeks after the rig explosion with estimates of 1,000 barrels per day (bbls/day) to 5,000 bbls/day.  Indeed, 5,000 bbls/day “was to remain the government’s official flow-rate estimate for a full-month, until May 27, 2010.”

Non-governmental estimates were significantly higher than the official government estimates.  These were based upon satellite imagery and, then after the release of the 30-second video by BP on May 12, 2010, flow-based estimates.  “Within 24 hours, at least three scientists had used various methodologies to derive estimate of the flow rate substantially greater than the government’s then-current estimate.”

Conclusion from the Panel: (page 7)

It is possible that the early official flow estimates would have been more accurate if the government had either enlisted greater in-house scientific expertise, or enlisted outside scientific expertise by making available the data on which government estimates were based.

And finally, the Panel believes that this decision was made “above the operational level.” (page 10)

It is the understanding of the Commission staff that the  possibility of releasing the worst-case discharge figures was at least discussed at the Unified Command level.  The Commission staff has also been advised that, in late April or early May 2010, NOAA wanted to make public some of its long-term, worst-case discharge models for the Deepwater Horizon spill, and requested approval to do so from the White House‟s Office of Management and Budget. Staff was told that the Office of Management and Budget denied NOAA‟s request.

It wasn’t until mid-June when Secretary Chu (Nobel Prize winner, remember) provided the Flow-Rate Group data necessary to make an arguably accurate flow-rate estimate!

Then, again, what’s 50,000 barrels among friends?  Initial government estimates suggested 1-5k bbs/day.  Current estimates suggest 52.7-62.2k bbs/day.  Only off by 98%.  This is only one-half of the Staff’s Report on the Fate of the Oil.  The second half of the report describes the FATE OF THE OIL RELEASED:  how much went where …

Sidebar:  While the administration and NOAA were not particularly forthcoming with doom-and-gloom “worst-case scenarios”, NCAR scientists picked up the slack with the following report issued (and screamed worldwide with a press release) on June 3, 2010.

Ocean currents likely to carry oil along Atlantic coast

BOULDER—A detailed computer modeling study released today indicates that oil from the massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico might soon extend along thousands of miles of the Atlantic coast and open ocean as early as this summer. The modeling results are captured in a series of dramatic animations produced by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and collaborators.

This animation shows one scenario of how oil released at the location of the Deepwater Horizon disaster on April 20 in the Gulf of Mexico may move in the upper 65 feet of the ocean. This is not a forecast, but rather, it illustrates a likely dispersal pathway of the oil for roughly four months following the spill. It assumes oil spilling continuously from April 20 to June 20. The colors represent a dilution factor ranging from red (most concentrated) to beige (most diluted).

The research was supported in part by the National Science Foundation, NCAR’s sponsor. The results were reviewed by scientists at NCAR and elsewhere, although not yet submitted for peer-review publication.

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62 thoughts on “Bottom of the barrel: devastating assessment of administration competence and honesty

  1. At least Bush and Cheney would have known where to go to find drilling engineers who could actually supervise the effort to plug the thing. “O” and his merry band of organizers, lawyers, professors, and other wordsmiths didn’t even know who to ask for guidance to find a list of people who might know someone who knows something about oil.

  2. Thank you, Ryan,
    I wondered when the truth would come out.
    The standards of the Nobel Peace Prize show their true qualities, again.

  3. This is a non event imo. The Obama administration did the right thing in banning the MSM as much as possible. More economic damage was done by media hysteronics than as a result of the oil itself. What, a few beaches closed? Maybe 2000 birds died? A couple of square kilometers of wetlands fouled? Small potatoes indeed.
    The media needs to pay 10 billion at least for creating a climate of fear and shutting down tourism to the Gulf.

  4. “When Dr. James Hansen released his model estimates of oil released at 1-5k bbl/day, and was later confronted with the 50k bbl/day correction, he simply said, ‘You don’t understand my models. They’re all correct. That’s the end of the debate.” Then he turned and walked away.

  5. seems like the initial estimates from the “outside” scientists was also off by a huge factor … looks like around 80% off …
    Does anyone think Obama would have responded differently if the flow had been estimated at 50K/day from day 1 ?

  6. And speaking of superlatives, wasn’t the PEMEX spill much, much larger? Didn’t the bugs eat that too?
    Is Trenberth looking for the missing oil?

  7. Ten times the oil the administration claimed, but one one-hundredth the long-term ecological damage.
    Fascinating.

  8. “A detailed computer modeling study released today indicates that oil from the massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico might soon extend along thousands of miles of the Atlantic coast and open ocean as early as this summer.”
    Pesky ocean currents and wind shouldn’t be allowed to create havoc with models.
    Now if you replace “oil from the massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico might soon extend along thousands of miles of the Atlantic coast and open ocean as early as this summer” with “CO2 increases might cause catastrophic global warming” ………

  9. The estimates of the leak rate might have been below reality, but the damage done was way less than all the rumors flying around the MSM.

  10. Sorry, I meant to add this to the quote, but hit the ‘post’ button:
    “Professor Lockwood was not involved in the Nature paper; but his research has shown that even though short-term changes in solar output may not affect the global big picture, they can have a powerful impact on local weather patterns, particularly over Europe and Eurasia.”
    I don’t get it, how does solar output affect Europe and Eurasia, but not Greenland?

  11. The lackadaisical attitude to the crisis was inexcusable. The top priority for President Obama was squeezing $20 billion out of BP. Then he went on a golfing vacation.

  12. We’re taking them to task for not being alarmist enough? Yes, they should have acted much quicker. The delay was inexcusable. They should have sought experts with knowledge, not some underwater movie maker. But giving out low-ball estimates vs. high-ball? So what? Would anything have changed if they parroted what others were stating?

  13. What is generally overlooked in all the stories of the Gulf spill is that the government made it worse at almost every step, most importantly in the initial reaction to put out the fire. Because they didn’t have the proper equipment available, they just poured a continuous flow of water on the platform until its buoyancy system failed and it sank taking the riser pipe with it. Creating a tangled mess on the sea floor that hampering containment efforts for the duration. If they had fought the fire with foam instead of water the platform might have remained afloat and the riser erect, which would have made the subsequent process of sealing the wellhead much less problematic.

  14. Barrel of oil = 42 US gallons and ± 35 UK gallons.
    I read somewhere that a Russian geologist suggested that this was a deep ‘abiotic’ oil well and if not successfully capped it would continue for a very long time.
    A post on abiotic oil please.

  15. Relying on modeling reminds me of a comment years ago from a professor that if the map and the terrain disagree, believe the terrain.
    It looks like they want to shut down the American oil industry under the guise of safety and errors. The fact is nothing is without risk and there is no such thing as zero defects. Competent people can deal with risks and defects where the paranoid or devious cannot. And when the first effort is to go for the money then there is doubt of any resolve to solve the problem. But then people do what they know.

  16. I really don’t care. This seems like stretching to make something political that really has nothing to do with politics. I wouldn’t expect either Obama or his fellow white house dwellers to be experts on estimating the flow of oil from a well breach of this nature.
    So what is the job of the White House in this kind of situation. In terms of the powers that the White House actually has (the president is just a guy in a suit – he isn’t superman), the ideal response is probably to ensure as much as possible that the engineers are not obstructed in their efforts to fix the problem and have all the resources they need. So as I see it the most helpful thing the president can do in such situations is probably to keep the Washington three ring circus of media, politicians, and lawyers from interfering.
    Nothing blocks progress on an engineering project quite as effectively as a bunch of lawyers, politicians and reporters running around. Indeed perhaps next time they should try mulching a mixture of lawyers, politicians and reporters and injecting it into the well head. It probably would block the flow of oil quite effectively.
    [ryanm: you are missing the entire point of every article — and this entire posting. But thanks for trying to spin and deflect…]

  17. Behold our Nobel Prize winning Energy Secretary in action.
    Remember in November….. Let’s take the Senate, which would make Senator Inhofe Chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public works. Just imagine the hearings his committe would then hold on the specious science surrounding cAGW.

  18. @ Olen says:
    October 6, 2010 at 2:28 pm
    Relying on modeling reminds me of a comment years ago from a professor that if the map and the terrain disagree, believe the terrain.
    It looks like they want to shut down the American oil industry under the guise of safety and errors.

    Don’t mean to belabor the point, but it’s not just the oil industry. It’s every industry. Remember that comment about “Never letting a good crisis go to waste”? To understand what that really means, one must understand the agenda from which it springs, and who stands to benefit.

  19. Let’s also not forget the the White House held off accepting international aid for 6-7 weeks until public pressure made the accept it.
    Dutch oil spill response team on standby for US oil disaster
    Published on : 4 May 2010
    Two Dutch companies are on stand-by to help the Americans tackle an oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico. The two companies use huge booms to sweep and suck the oil from the surface of the sea. The US authorities, however, have difficulties with the method they use.
    What do the Dutch have that the Americans don’t when it comes to tackling oil spills at sea? “Skimmers,” answers Wierd Koops, chairman of the Dutch organisation for combating oil spills, Spill Response Group Holland.
    The Americans don’t have spill response vessels with skimmers because their environment regulations do not allow it. With the Dutch method seawater is sucked up with the oil by the skimmer. The oil is stored in the tanker and the superfluous water is pumped overboard. But the water does contain some oil residue, and that is too much according to US environment regulations.[media:factfile1]
    US regulations contradictory
    Wierd Koops thinks the US approach is nonsense, because otherwise you would have to store the surplus seawater in the tanks as well.
    “We say no, you have to get as much oil as possible into the storage tanks and as little water as possible. So we pump the water, which contains drops of oil, back overboard.”
    US regulations are contradictory, Mr Knoops stresses. Pumping water back into the sea with oil residue is not allowed. But you are allowed to combat the spill with chemicals so that the oil dissolves in the seawater. In both …
    http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/dutch-oil-spill-response-team-standby-us-oil-disaster

  20. So much is made about early leakage estimates vs later estimates. It needs to be understood that there was no one true value over time. The BOP was literally sandbasting itself apart over time. I have no particular reason to doubt the general idea that the flowrate began as a mere trickle and gradually became greater and greater, as the size of the “oriface”widened over time.
    Remember, there was no production screen at the time of the blowout. Even a trace of sand in the entrained flow was able to blast an ever widening escape route thru the BOP. it’s amazing that the entire thing didn’t completely disintegrate.

  21. The previous record for a GoM well was 40,000 barrels per day. Thus, if the flow rate for the Macondo blow reached 60 kbpd, then it exceeded the previous record by 50%. This is possible, but not entirely likely.
    It is fair to say that is was a particularly nasty well and a bad accident. However, it is also fair to say that the ecological damage was limited, and that much of the economic damage resulted from perceptions. If the Obama administration was slow to escalate to histrionics, perhaps that was a good thing.

  22. Remember that the Obama administration refused to allow foreign flagged vessels such as the Dutch skimmers to participate in the oil clean up. They took weeks to temporarily suspend the Jones Act, and required these ships to be manned with U.S. crews.
    Bush didnt waste any time suspending the Jones Act with Katrina, but Obama kept his special interest friends happy. What a joke.

  23. Ian H says:
    October 6, 2010 at 2:35 pm
    “I really don’t care. This seems like stretching to make something political that really has nothing to do with politics. I wouldn’t expect either Obama or his fellow white house dwellers to be experts on estimating the flow of oil from a well breach of this nature. ”
    No, but they could have done much more to deter the oil from reaching shore, captured much more of it and reduced the negative impact, but they did not.

  24. Extract from that WSJ article
    “The commission papers also are critical of the administration for initially underestimating how much petroleum was flowing into the Gulf. ”
    Petroleum? Is that how crude is referred to by you guys in the USA? Over here on the other side of the water, we use that term for the refined product.

  25. I am dying to know whether any political pressure was exerted immediately following the successful topkill. Recall that after the well was killed with mud, it was chased (followed) with cement. Why? The relief well was only days away from intersecting the borehole at some 18,000 feet. By placing cement at the top of the wellbore there was no way (no where) to displace the mud remaining between the bottom of the cement plug at the top and the intersection of the relief well at 18,000 feet. Was placing the cement at the top of the well after the well was already under control a political decision? If they had just waited they could have had an excellent continous cement seal from 18,000 feet up to the seabed. I wonder what kind of seal they have now? Is there any way to know if reservoir pressures still remain anywhere close to the sea floor?

  26. The BP oil spill is directly related to government policy,
    Bashing BP — When We Should Be Bashing the Corporatist State
    “In other words, the government specifically passed laws that gave the oil companies incentives to drill far offshore.
    Additionally, a liability cap of $75 million for the oil companies was put in place by law. This is an incredible use of the control of the political means to make favorable dealings for oneself in the economy. In fact, it is the very definition of corporatism: First, individuals within a company work to get laws passed to reward companies for taking risks previously deemed unworthy of the time, energy, and capital expenditures. Then, those same individuals within the company work to get other laws passed to limit liability when things go wrong. ”
    Some interesting notes about the spill,
    No Dead Zones Observed or Expected as Part of BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill (NOAA)
    Oil dispersants used in Gulf of Mexico unlikely to be endocrine disrupters and have relatively low toxicity to cells (American Chemical Society)
    Study shows deepwater oil plume in Gulf degraded by microbes (Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory)

  27. There really is no “expert” that comes out of this looking good, with the possible exception of the profs (Purdue?) early on that were saying something like 70,000 barrels per day. But along with the NCAR “round and round she goes” ocean current models, we have the publicity hound at U. Georgia.
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100913/ap_on_sc/us_sci_gulf_oil_spill_sea_floor
    I’ve been anxiously awaiting the results of this:

    Sediment brought up still needs to undergo laboratory testing to verify that the oil found on the bottom comes from the BP oil spill.

    But while waiting for those results, I noticed this.
    http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2010/0930/Gulf-oil-spill-research-voyage-to-search-for-oil-can-t-find-any
    An interesting comment can be found by a commenter to the first link above.

    Bob Fri Sep 17, 2010 08:57 am PDT Report Abuse
    Most of the oil found on the 80 miles from the site HAS to be from other sources. Do the math folks. If ALL the 200 million gallons sank to the bottom and made a layer 2″ thick, it would cover 5+ square miles. That’s not an opinion, that’s a calculation So how is this genius contending that the oil found HAS to be from the site? because they WANT it to be, facts be damned.
    If you don’t beleive me, do your own calculation. Convert gallons to cubic feet to cubic inches, divide by 2 to get the area it would cover in square inches. Convert that area to square feet, then square miles.
    it’s time we started to deal in reality instead of “disasters”

    I actually checked “Bob’s” calculations, and he’s quite right. Even if all of the oil ended up on the gulf floor, it would be hard to kill life on all 625,000 square miles.
    The media seem to be struggling with the concept that most of the oil could indeed be gone, and yet some researchers can still find some on the ocean floor.

  28. Varco says:
    October 6, 2010 at 2:07 pm
    OT
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/8046586/A-stronger-Sun-actually-cools-the-Earth.html
    “An increase in solar activity from the Sun actually cools the Earth, suggests new research that will renew the debate over the science behind climate change.”
    and
    The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley says:
    October 6, 2010 at 2:09 pm
    Sorry, OT, has anyone read this http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11480916
    “So we might have the ultimate paradox that in a globally warming world we’d have cold winters in Europe. But it would be an awful lot warmer in Greenland,”
    Anthony, could we have a new thread on this please ?
    On the face of it the new findings appear to fit my New Climate Model perfectly.
    When the sun is more active energy escapes to space faster and the stratosphere cools naturally.
    The late 20th century warming was actually caused by all those strong El Ninos and the phasing of the solar and oceanic effects was such that the oceanic surface warming effect on the troposphere was less than it otherwise would have been because the extra energy was released to space faster during the period of active sun.
    During the current interglacial (possibly during all interglacials) the sun and ocean cycles are phased so as to minimise each other’s effects thus the relative stability of interglacial climates as compared to the huge climate swings of glacial epochs.
    However I don’t think they’ve worked all that out yet 🙂

  29. Ian H says:
    October 6, 2010 at 2:35 pm
    I really don’t care. This seems like stretching to make something political that really has nothing to do with politics. I wouldn’t expect either Obama or his fellow white house dwellers to be experts on estimating the flow of oil from a well breach of this nature.
    Ian
    From our side of the world, the image I got was of a dithering administration that effectively prevented decisive action to erapidly bring into operation established emergency planning. Then once the spin doctors realised that it was a “Foreign” company involved, then best to get the President to act tough and extort by political drum thumping in the media a rescue and restoration fund from BP. “Hey look at me” I’m looking after American Interests and the environment, but behind the scenes helping to shut down US deep water oil drilling exploration and give non US interests and their financial backers, a free hit to exploit that market.
    Something of an own goal in soccer parlance!

  30. Steve R has it about right. There was streaming video of the leakage at the sea floor from the early days of the disaster. The size of the oil plume could be estimated in comparison with the diameter of the riser pipe or flange at the place where the oil began to rise buoyantly at rates that appeared to be a few feet per second. At the sea floor a barrel of oil recovered as liquid at the surface would occupy about 4 barrels due to the expansion of gas not yet separated completely from the hydrocarbon liquids. From the estimated volumes of flow out the cap plus the amounts of liquids captured at the surface ships, one can estimate flow rates near 15,000 barrels per day in the early days and rising to about 50,000 barrels per day by the time the flow was stopped. I can’t imagine that Stephen Chu wasn’t well aware of these numbers.

  31. It was depressing to see how fast the National Academies Study Fate of the the Oil III was dispensed with by both the government and the press. If we have no intention of using tax supported research– stop forcing us to pay for it.
    The rent seeking by any number of academics was shameful.
    With respect to how much oil settled to the bottom– perhaps someone can tell me how a light crude with about fifty percent of its volume being highly volatile compounds that in every other ocean in the world is lost to the atmosphere in a time line measured in hours to a couple of days (depending on T and depth) somehow settled to the bottom in the Gulf.

  32. “!!!THE WORST ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER EVER!!!”
    I am no fan of the “O”. That being said considering the disaster horror stories coming out, it is impossible to say Obama underestimate the BP oil disaster when everyone on the planet overestimated it by a light year.

  33. Ed_B says:
    October 6, 2010 at 1:51 pm
    This is a non event imo. The Obama administration did the right thing in banning the MSM as much as possible. More economic damage was done by media hysteronics than as a result of the oil itself. What, a few beaches closed? Maybe 2000 birds died? A couple of square kilometers of wetlands fouled? Small potatoes indeed.
    The media needs to pay 10 billion at least for creating a climate of fear and shutting down tourism to the Gulf.

    And presumably you shut the Internet down as well, in order to conceal the truth of matters, right?
    I mean, after all, if inconvenience is your forté …

  34. I don’t get it. I think the Obama administration did the right thing by underestimating the results. It was hardly the ecological disaster hoped for by many eco-groups. The Sierra Club was airing anti-Republican commercials in my state connecting Republicans to the oil spill crisis. (At the same time, I received 2 donation requests from the Sierra Club. Why should I support an environmental group who spends millions in politics instead of helping the earth?) The commercials stopped when people realized it wasn’t that bad. So I say deliberating underestimating the oil spill was the right thing to do.
    You can fault the Obama administration for several things regarding the spill. The biggest is focus on lawsuits instead of fixing the problem. This is a non-event as far as I’m concerned. But I’m not really surprised. I had no doubt that any report about the Obama administration would dodge the real issue and focus on a fake issue. This is a red herring meant to distract you from what the Obama administration really did do wrong.

  35. Since all flow rate estimates were just that, estimates, who’s to say who was right?
    And who cares? There was a leak. It was stopped as promptly as possible. The size of the leak is significant only insofar as it affects the penalty BP will have to pay. Some people evidently think a total cost of $32 billion or thereabouts is not enough and if possible BP should be reduced to banruptcy — quite why, I’m not sure, but these must be people who use no oil.
    But in any case, the applicable penalty is a political or ethical issue not a technical one. If the flow rate is disputed in court we may find out whose estimate is most plausible, but we still won’t know for sure what the rate was at any particular time after the blowout (remember it was gas, not oil, that destroyed the rig, at which time the flow of oil was zero). What’s more, still no one will really care.

  36. Remember, too, that Obama & Co. blocked the creation of sand berms along the coastline that would have minimized oil and tar contamination of the beaches.

  37. This almost sounds like people are beginning to assume a new commandment: “Thou shalt not contaminate air that My creations breathe, the waters in which they swim or the ground upon which they walk.”
    I recall hearing one environmentalist say that he developed a concern about human activity altering the environment when he read that the minimal human use of Freon in spray-cans had caused a huge hole in the ozone layer over the Antarctic. If man could cause such a large change with a little Freon, he reasoned, the ‘huge’ amount of carbon dioxide being released by man must be far more dangerous. As far as I know, Freon has been banned for some time but and yet I understand that ozone hole is still there.

  38. The failures were on so many levels, it may take a decade to sort it out.
    I keep hearing most of the oil is still suspended, and moving with the currents????
    I’ll stay tuned, and most certainly stay out of the politics.
    Mistakes were made, the question is, were lessons learned?
    Ask any accident investigator, it is not any one thing that causes the catastrophy, there is a cascade of contributing factors.

  39. Wasn’t it outgoing chief of staff Rahm Emmanual who said -‘never waste A good crisis’? The administration stalled for 10 days or more – so the spill could get big enough to justify halting all drilling in the Gulf. Even though the well has been killed and the spill stopped – they are still forbidding drilling. Meanwhile, the price of oil and gasoline goes up and up and up………
    I think they knew exactly what they were doing. And we will continue to pay for their environmental policies.
    Heaven save us from Cap and Tax – renamed the Renewable Electricity Standard – to try and get it through the Senate in the coming Lame Duck session.

  40. In this grand new era of transparancy, things look a little murky. The EPA and the administration obstructed assets (such as skimmers) and personnel, notably due to the Jones Act, in what I thought was their hope oil would come ashore, befouling beaches and leading to (their) expected public outrage, just in time to segway into Marxist heaven with Crap N Tax, and the industry killing Moratorium. That, I expected. But perhaps when public opinion instead turned on the White House for its disinterested response rather than against “Big Oil” for this one-off catastrophe, the focus switched to downplaying the damage.
    Friends in southern FL tell me there is no sign of oil on their beaches. I’m sure there is oil somewhere. But I suspect this spill, as large as it was, was just much smaller than the Carribean. Tropical warmth has done its thing. Hopefully the gulf will recover fully in just a few years.
    Now if we could just find out if that 20B really came from BP…. 🙂

  41. I now believe most of the oil from the BP blowout has been broken up by natural processes, including the activities of the sun and the bacteria present in the Gulf.
    However, I don’t have the facts to back this up.
    For that reason, I am paying a lot of attention to the work found at http://gulfblog.uga.edu/.
    The more I read of Dr. Joye, the more I like her. She is very careful to state what the DATA is telling us, not what she believes or thinks.
    From what I have read, the underwater plumes of oil are not to be found, providing evidence for my point of view.
    However, it would be nice to get as much information as we can on the ultimate destination of the petroleum from this blowout to really get to the bottom of the mystery.
    Dr. Joye is doing science the old fashion way: getting the facts together. If it turns out the petroleum, or a major portion of it anyway, is deposited on the bottom, I will have to adjust my views.
    My next question would be: what are the long term effects either way?
    There are a lot of ‘scientists’ who could take a valuable lesson from Dr. Joye. Get away from the computer models and start gathering some real data.

  42. Now if we could just find out if that 20B really came from BP…. 🙂
    BP suspended dividend distributions to widows and orphans (and other share holders).

  43. Thank you for this report.
    Noting the Obama Administration’s dismal performance in this disaster [including him repeatedly turning down generous offers from other sovereignties to provide state of the art oil extraction equipment and help]…you can’t help but think…
    The Obama Administration purposely let the disaster play out [probably advised by Holdren and Hansen and others]…
    …to give a bigger black eye on hydrocarbons, which this administration seems to loathe.
    How convenient.
    To quote his now former Chief of Staff: “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. ”
    Now it all adds up.
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  44. Private contractors and the military blocking access –
    Republicans blocked investigation in the senate –
    Administration blocked government scientists from releasing info –
    What’s up with that…Hmmm?

  45. IanH writes
    perhaps next time they should try mulching a mixture of lawyers, politicians and reporters and injecting it into the well head. It probably would block the flow of oil quite effectively.
    Which sounds like a good idea at first hearing. But wouldn’t such a vile mixture be so inherently toxic as to poison the entire Gulf of Mexico for a very long time? Thereby missing the point of blocking the oil 🙂 ?

  46. As always readers, thanks for the witty and insightful comments.
    Just a quick note on my posts (for the readers of WUWT): I tend to post upon political matters, which are associated with climate, weather, and science in general. This is outside the purview of most of Anthony’s posts. Also, the moderation standards preclude the discussion of political stuff usually.
    What interest is there in a complimentary blog to this one that not only discusses the political nature of climate change, but demands it is discussed? Please ryanmaue@gmail.com send me a personal email here if you have any suggestions about format/interest?

  47. Tom in Texas says:
    October 6, 2010 at 7:14 pm
    “BP suspended dividend distributions to widows and orphans (and other share holders).”
    “Last week, Bob Dudley, BP’s new chief executive, hinted that the company’s dividend may be restarted this year.” (Telegraph UK 5th Oct).
    Waiting for the reports to come out? The dividend will be lower than the 2009 one but the company holds back more profit, a sort of win/win situation from a disaster!
    Anyway, A quick glance at the graph at the link below shows that last June was a good time to buy shares in BP!
    http://img.thisismoney.co.uk/i/pix/2010/08/BPshare_468x350.jpg

  48. Ed_B says:
    October 6, 2010 at 1:51 pm
    “This is a non event imo. The Obama administration did the right thing in banning the MSM as much as possible. More economic damage was done by media hysteronics than as a result of the oil itself.”
    IMO the economic damage is still being done by the POTUS and his administration in their ban on all drilling, even shallow water drilling, still ongoing, still effecting tens of thousands of workers and the business they support. The incompotent response by this administration in conjunction with the mindless drilling ban should have been expected from a political figure who promised to “bankrupt the coal industry. Every thing the man does is driven by his idealogy, not the facts on the ground.
    DocattheAutopsy says:
    October 6, 2010 at 1:55 pm
    “When Dr. James Hansen released his model estimates of oil released at 1-5k bbl/day, and was later confronted with the 50k bbl/day correction, he simply said, ‘You don’t understand my models. They’re all correct. That’s the end of the debate.” Then he turned and walked away.”
    Source please?

  49. Can anyone tell me the chemistry by which volatile hydrocarbons precipitate out of the water column. The claim has been made by some academics that more than half of the oil is now on the Gulf’s bottom. The spill was a light crude – 50%- volatile fraction. I will admit that the non-refractory compounds could be consumed by microorganisms which can settle but this can be nowhere near 50% nor are the residues in this time line oil.

  50. Another article on The Spill and the administration’s reaction (or lack thereof)
    http://blog.heritage.org/2010/10/07/morning-bell-was-obamas-oil-spill-response-not-fully-competent-or-not-fully-candid/#more-44454
    which says in part:
    ‘…..Instead of rolling up his sleeves and fighting the disaster head on, President Obama used the disaster for political gain to push his existing environmental agenda. He used the spill to push his stalled energy tax bill in the Senate and then instituted an all out ban on deep water oil development. Then when a federal judge threw out his original ban because it was “arbitrary and capricious,” President Obama doubled-down expanding the ban even wider….’

  51. Stephen Wilde wrote, “During the current interglacial (possibly during all interglacials) the sun and ocean cycles are phased so as to minimise each other’s effects thus the relative stability of interglacial climates as compared to the huge climate swings of glacial epochs.”
    What data or studies support this?

  52. “What data or studies support this?”
    The Data shows very high climate variability in glacial epochs and relative stability during interglacials.
    If one accepts Joanna Haigh’s recent finding that the sign of the solar effect on the atmosphere is opposite to that previously understood then one can immediately see that solar effects are generally offsetting oceanic effects over at least the past 2000 years IF one also proposes that the MWP, LIA and Current Warm Period were primarily ocean induced.
    So if they are generally offsetting one another during the interglacial than logic suggests that that is the reason for the relative climate stability that we observe.
    Logic also suggests that if over time the phasing changes then they will more often compound each other’s effects for greater climate variability.
    There are a couple of judgement calls in there but hey, until Joanna’s findings my proposition about the sign of the solar effect on the atmosphere being wrong was also just a judgement call.

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