Facebook’s “Offshore Drilling” Mishap

Guest “irony can be so… ironic” by David Middleton

Facebook abandons broken drilling equipment under Oregon coast seafloor
Updated Aug 13, 2020

By Kale Williams | The Oregonian/OregonLive


Despite their concerns, and a vocal campaign to stop the project, construction began earlier this year.

Then, on April 28, the drilling crew hit an unexpected area of hard rock. The drill bit became lodged and the drill pipe snapped 50 feet below the seafloor. The crew was able to recover some of the equipment, but they left the rest where it lay.

Today, about 1,100 feet of pipe, a drill tip, various other tools and 6,500 gallons of drilling fluid sit under the seafloor just off the central Oregon coast. Facebook has no plans to retrieve the equipment.

Edge Cable Holdings, a Facebook subsidiary responsible for the project, notified the county of the accident on May 5, but it did not explicitly mention the abandoned equipment. That information didn’t emerge until a meeting with state officials June 17, nearly two months after the malfunction, said Ali Hansen, a Department of State Lands spokeswoman.

“The delay in notification eliminated any potential options for recovery of the equipment,” Hansen said in an email. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the company’s new plan is to return in early 2021 to drill a new hole, leaving the lost equipment under the seafloor indefinitely.


The Oregonian

The drilling incident occurred on April 28, 2020. They didn’t notify the Oregon Department of State Lands about the incident until June 19, thus eliminating “any potential options for recovery of the equipment,”

This is literally hilarious:

Some of the equipment was retrieved, but 6,500 gallons of drilling fluid inside containers, a drill tip and at least 1,100 feet of pipe were left behind, with Facebook telling Oregon Live that efforts to retrieve the equipment could be more environmentally harmful than leaving it there.


It would even be more hilarious if the government bankrupted Facebook forcing them to keep trying to retrieve the “equipment” despite the fact that “efforts to retrieve the equipment could be more environmentally harmful than leaving it there”… just like they did to Taylor Energy.

When you twist off the drill pipe like that, leaving it there and cementing it in is almost always to safest thing to do.

The way this story played out was priceless:

Facebook riles tiny Oregon coast town with plan for undersea cable
Updated Jan 09, 2020

By The Associated Press
TIERRA DEL MAR — A battle playing out in a tiny Oregon town with no stoplights or cellphone service is pitting residents against one of the world’s biggest tech companies.

Locals in coastal Tierra del Mar are trying to stop Facebook from using property in their quiet community to build a landing spot for an ultra high-speed, undersea cable connecting America with Asia.

Representatives of the social media giant say Tierra del Mar is one of the few places on the U.S. West Coast suitable for the cable, which will feature the latest fiber optic technologies. It will link multiple U.S. locations, including Facebook’s huge data center in the central Oregon town of Prineville, with Japan and the Philippines, and will help meet an increasing demand for internet services worldwide, the company says.

But locals say vibrations from drilling to bring the submarine cable ashore in this village of some 200 houses might damage home foundations and septic systems. They also point out that Tierra del Mar, arrayed along a pristine beach, is zoned residential. If the county and state allow the project, they say, more commercial ventures will come calling.


Residents’ attention turned to Facebook in 2018 when a subsidiary bought the empty lot for the cable landing from former NFL and University of Oregon quarterback Joey Harrington. County records show Edge Cable Holdings, USA, paid him $495,000 for the beachfront property, about the size of 10 tennis courts.

Locals worry the project will pave the way for cell towers, power junctions and additional cable sites.


The Oregonian

Tierra del Mar is so small and rural, that it has “no stoplights or cellphone service.” The town is 100% zoned residential. Yet, somehow Facebook’s subsidiary was able to purchase the lot and secure permit approvals to land the fiber-optic cable there. Even funnier: The subsidiary is the drilling contractor, Edge Cable Holdings… Facebook owns a drilling contractor.

While horizontal drilling is by its very nature, “challenging,” one has to wonder how they ran into an unexpected rock formation 50 feet below the seafloor. They must have run a shallow hazard or some other geotechnical survey.

The more I dig, the funnier this gets…

Facebook development meets opposition in Tierra Del Mar
Cody Mann May 10, 2019 Updated Sep 16, 2019

Coastal residents are reportedly organizing to stop what they say amounts to a fracking project under a pristine beach.

A letter was recently circulated in the community of Tierra Del Mar, to news organizations, and beyond warning of a proposed industrial drilling project. Opponents say the project risks sand dune contamination, “frack-out” emergencies, damage to foundations and septic systems of homes as well as endangering a threatened species nesting nearby.

The letter refers to Edge Cable Holdings USA, LLC, a Facebook subsidiary seeking permits from Tillamook County to bring ashore a submarine fiber optic cable at an oceanfront residential lot in Tierra Del Mar.


Reed also clarified how horizontal drilling differs from fracking. Horizontal drilling uses a drill head to bore a small path through rock and sand, while hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking and used primarily in oil and gas projects, involves filling a borehole with liquid under high pressure to force open rock fissures. Reed said fracking would not be used for the project.


Responding to concerns about fracking-style drilling, Absher said the scope of the permit review is limited to the two applications previously mentioned. She said the company is required to provide a hydrologic study for development on the property due to potential groundwater resources at the site.

“Any concerns related to drilling of any kind will be addressed through this study,” Absher said.

Reed said Facebook’s contractor, Subcom, has performed geotechnical surveys including soil and water sampling and testing beyond what is typically required by permitting agencies. He said Subcom has also offered in public community meetings to perform property inspections once permits are secured, and again after the work is completed, for any of the adjacent properties to ensure no damage has been done to water, septic or sewer systems, or property.


Tilamook Headlight Herald

Are people really so ignorant that they think frac’ing and drilling are the same thing? Rhetorical question.

The Jupiter cable system is 14,600 km long. The sponsoring consortium consists of Amazon, Facebook, NTT, PCCW Global, PLDT and SoftBank. The main trunk connects Japan with Hermosa Beach, California. The problematic Oregon branch is solely for the use of Facebook.

Submarine Cable Networks

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August 14, 2020 2:22 pm

Isn’t Portland the capital of Oregon?
It is not. But good people of Tierra del Mar probably think so.

mark from the midwest
Reply to  Curious George
August 14, 2020 2:43 pm

Portland is the capital of cement

Reply to  mark from the midwest
August 14, 2020 4:29 pm

…not much else holds that town together!

Reply to  mark from the midwest
August 14, 2020 5:20 pm

AND Portland is a major Antifa city.
PS: Look up Antifa history on wikipedia.

Reply to  mark from the midwest
August 15, 2020 1:15 am

That’s Portland in Dorset UK

Reply to  Hans Erren
August 15, 2020 1:16 am

… the capital of cement

Matthew Sykes
Reply to  Hans Erren
August 15, 2020 2:21 am

And strange inbred locals….

Reply to  mark from the midwest
August 22, 2020 6:08 am

Portland…. in the UK….

Bryan A
Reply to  Curious George
August 14, 2020 5:45 pm

I believe it’s Salem

John in Oz
Reply to  Curious George
August 14, 2020 8:15 pm

The capital of Oregon is ‘O’

I couldn’t help myself as I’m bored, being in isolation for 3 days waiting for a Covid test result.

Reply to  John in Oz
August 15, 2020 4:58 am

You have my sympathies, John in Oz, and I hope the tests come back NEGATIVE for you.

But Fakebook sending a communications cable across the Pacific? One can only hope it gets somehow stuck in the Marianna Trench and whatever Trench dwelling sea creatures are there start a colony of some kind on the cable.

I live in hope, and I DO hope you get good results.

Randle Dewees
Reply to  Sara
August 15, 2020 9:02 am

The Marianna Trench. A defile so deep and of such ill repute Kraken only go there in pairs.

Apology to terry Pratchett

Reply to  Curious George
August 16, 2020 7:58 pm

People of Tierra del Mar do not think Portland is the Capital of Oregon. Non Portlanders despise how Portland controls the state, even those who are politically aligned with Portland dislike Portland. Heck, I think most Portlanders despise Portland…

Facebook has spent a lot of money in Oregon with server farms and as such have a lot of political pull. Tierra del Mar is tiny coastal town with no industry or political pull so easily bullied. It’s not even one of our abundant coastal tourists traps due to it’s location which gives some of coastal towns at least a bit of sway. I’ve driven through it many times but not once have I ever stopped as there was never a reason to, once I rode a horse down the beach but that was just passing through. It’s sandwiched between two popular beach locations but isn’t one itself.

August 14, 2020 2:40 pm

…all they have to do is tell BLM and Antifa it’s racist

Bryan A
Reply to  Latitude
August 14, 2020 5:46 pm

Beige Lives Matter

August 14, 2020 2:50 pm

They’ve been Josh Foxxed with disinformation. Methane will be spewing from their faucets any day now.

Knowledge that is wrong is worse than no knowledge. But mankind’s history is replete with skilled charlatans running disinformation campaigns into knowledge vacuums. The climate scam being a notable example of a propo campaign by running false or misleading information effort by mixing it with facts and other beliefs.

Mike McMillan
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
August 15, 2020 4:42 pm

Worse than methane from the faucets, what if they drill through one of those pristine septic tanks?

August 14, 2020 3:42 pm

A permit was granted for an industrial project in a 100% residential area?

Sounds like copious amounts of green palm grease were liberally applied.

“Then, on April 28, the drilling crew hit an unexpected area of hard rock. The drill bit became lodged and the drill pipe snapped 50 feet below the seafloor.”

Unexpected “hard rock“?
drill bit became lodged and the drill pipe snapped“?

Sounds to me that someone was rushing their drill job. Instead of lessening drill bit pressure when it encountered resistance, they pushed it harder. When the drill bit stuck it snapped and also broke the drill pipe casing.

Don’t they have a record of drill bit pressure?

Facebook’s dubious project where they selfishly plan to run their cable across major subsea fault systems.

Yes, the company should be forced to cap the drill pipe and reclaim the site.

Reply to  ATheoK
August 14, 2020 4:13 pm

Meh. I imagine the end product will be a brick sided building with no windows and a small parking lot.

> Facebook’s dubious project where they selfishly plan to run their cable across major subsea fault systems.

What route would you recommend?

Reply to  Ric Werme
August 16, 2020 5:02 pm

My personal opinion?
I doubt the long term efficacy of crossing the North America’s Northwest faults.
That “long term” could be a very short period of time.

Could it be effective for decades? Perhaps.

bruce ryan
Reply to  ATheoK
August 14, 2020 4:54 pm

I see little reason to cap a shallow hole in a rock.

Bryan A
Reply to  bruce ryan
August 14, 2020 5:51 pm

If Oregon doesn’t sue Farcebook for the retrieval/removal of their debris, then Taylor should sue Oregon State for Selective Prosecution

Reply to  bruce ryan
August 14, 2020 10:06 pm

Eco freaks might think it will start a volcanic eruption! Flat-earthers will claim the oceans will drain away!

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  bruce ryan
August 15, 2020 7:23 am

6,500 gallons of uncapped drilling fluid in the seabed “just off the central Oregon coast” is nothing for you to be concerned about?

I see.

Robert W. Turner
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
August 15, 2020 8:20 am

6,500 gallons of mud in the ocean? No, no it’s not a reason to be concerned.

Dennis G Sandberg
Reply to  Robert W. Turner
August 15, 2020 8:57 am

Drop in the bucket Drilling fluid isn’t toxic. If you want to worry about something what about all those whales going poop in the ocean? Move on.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Robert W. Turner
August 15, 2020 2:06 pm

“Drilling fluid isn’t toxic”

Convince the EPA of that. From “Toxic Components in Drilling Fluids”,
last updated on 30 Jul 2020 (see: https://www.netwasgroup.us/fluids-2/toxic-components-in-drilling-fluids.html ):
“Because formulations for mud additives are continually undergoing change, the Drilling Representative should be aware of certain additives that are considered toxic. EPA priority pollutants include various trade metals; zinc, chromium, lead, mercury, cadmium, nickel, asbestos, and various phenol compounds. Chromium is a highly controversial issue; the EPA defines toxic chrome as Cr+6(or in a hexavalent state). In drilling fluids, the chrome exists in a trivalent state (Cr+3) and the process to oxidize the absorbed chrome back to a Cr+6 state is virtually impossible. Additives that contain chrome in the Cr+3 state are: chrome lignite and chrome lignosulfonate. . . . Aromatic hydrocarbons are among the most toxic to marine organisms and destructive to soils and groundwater. Other hydrocarbon products include: asphalt derivatives, foamers/defoamers, surfactants, emulsifiers and corrosion inhibitors. These can be added in small percentages without significantly reducing LC50 values, but the impact of each should be considered prior to treatment of the entire mud system. Bactericides and biocides are highly toxic; however, newer formulations have shown improved LC50 responses and therefore, greater acceptance in the industry. Completion fluids contain inorganic materials such as: zinc, bromine, chlorine, potassium, etc. and are regulated by most Federal and State Agencies. Completion fluid filtration control additives may contain chrome salts of up to 8.0% by weight. . . . Because of the information available on drilling fluid toxicity in the marine environment, one can infer that disposal of drilling fluids and solids offshore is environmentally safe if approved by the EPA. Some EPA regions do not allow any discharges overboard, others require bioassay information for the drilling fluid prior to discharge, and some allow almost any discharge into state or federal waters. Many industry experts expect that sooner or later, the Federal EPA and related agencies will require all discharges to be “non-toxic” or hauled to shore for disposal. Moreover, it appears that state waters will follow suit. Thus, the ultimate fate of waste material generated in offshore drilling operations will need to be handled according to onshore disposal regulations.”

“The only way the drilling fluid could leak into the ocean would be if the government forced them to try to recover the drill string.”

Really? Some not-too-hard-to-imagine possibilities, considering that the total borehole length is not lined with pipe and the mostly-horizontal drilling was at a depth of only about 50 feet below the seafloor:
1) leakage into the ocean via one or more fault interfaces intersected by the drill bore . . . I do believe California and its coast are somewhat renowned for having numerous ground/seafloor faults,
2) since the article refers to “hitting a hard rock”, one can infer that most of the unlined borehole was through rock that may have been relatively soft and semipermeable (e.g., sandstone, limestone, conglomerate). While drilling mud can be formulated to seal against high permeability rack strata, the article does not mention if this particular drilling fluid was formulated for this purpose, as opposed to more specifically for just lubricating and cooling the drill bit and carrying away drilling debris. Even so, drilling mud is not designed to achieve a perfect seal against porous rock over long time periods.
3) are there lifeforms that are living in the area of the borehole segment containing the drilling fluid, albeit 50 feet below seafloor? We can surmise from (2) above that the borehole is not impermeable. Should we care if such life forms are poisoned by the drilling fluid left in place, and possibly transporting such poison the seafloor/ocean as part of their life cycles (e.g., marine worms)?

Reply to  Robert W. Turner
August 16, 2020 5:06 pm

“David Middleton August 15, 2020 at 9:39 am
Particularly since it’s probably a water-based mud and the wellhead is onshore. The only way the drilling fluid could leak into the ocean would be if the government forced them to try to recover the drill string.”

Is that certain?

Then the company should have to reclaim the site according to what they agreed to and case closed.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
August 15, 2020 12:30 pm

That’s such an infinitesimally small amount.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
August 15, 2020 2:15 pm

AHA . . . the old adage: “The solution to pollution is dilution”

I’m very surprised to see that is still alive and kicking. No longer any need to worry about WIDESPREAD pollution from the Fukashima nuclear reactor explosions/meltdowns, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor meltdown, and the 1,300-plus Superfund (toxic chemical) sites in the United States.

Got it.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
August 16, 2020 3:08 pm

What pollution from “Chernobyl” (Lenin plant?) meltdown?

Kenneth Hunter
Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
August 15, 2020 5:21 pm

There are literally billions of gallons of caustic, corrosive salt water in the surrounding ocean. I doubt that drilling fluid, mainly water, even so much of it, will significantly affect that ocean.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Kenneth Hunter
August 15, 2020 7:25 pm

. . . meaning, by that reasoning, that I’m OK to go drop a couple of hundred pounds or so of accumulated liquid mercury into the ocean a mile or so from the coast? After all, the ocean is SO BIG and with all those “billions of gallons of caustic, corrosive salt water”.

It boggles the mind.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Kenneth Hunter
August 16, 2020 11:12 am

Ad hominem attacks are so appreciated . . . especially when the issuer of the attack has failed to grasp the overall point that is being made.

The phrase “by that reasoning” has specific meaning . . . but one has to understand logic to appreciate that.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Kenneth Hunter
August 17, 2020 9:33 am

David Middleton, this is the last you will hear from me regarding your above article and followup comments, as your replies have degraded to repeated ad hominem attacks, as all readers can easily see.

You most recently posted: “Setting aside the fact that it is impossible for a mixture of water and bentonite to leach out of a wellbore . . .” and “Water-based drilling muds require very little dilution and/or treatment prior to discharge into the ocean.” Where is the evidence that the Facebook drilling project described in your article used water-based drilling mud? You didn’t mention such in your article.

A) My excerpts from The Oregonian article (https://www.oregonlive.com/environment/2020/08/facebook-abandons-broken-drilling-equipment-under-oregon-coast-seafloor.html ) that was linked in your first boxed excerpt of quotes, with my associated comments/questions for each (identified by “—” lead in):
“On Thursday, the Department of State Lands notified the company that it was in default of its permits . . . The default also gave Facebook 180 days to ‘remove the abandoned pipe, equipment, tools and drilling mud in consultation with the (state) and without causing damage to the environment’ ”
—So, if the drilling mud is really environmentally benign and cannot possibly leach out of the borehole, as you claim, why would the State of Oregon be so concerned as to specifically require that it be removed?
“ ‘These folks now have to be worried about what washes up on their beach for generations.’” (embedded quote attributed to State Rep. David Gomberg).
—It’s not logical to assume Gomberg is referring to drill pipe washing up on the beaches when it is trapped 50 feet below the seafloor, so what does he know about the drilling mud that we don’t? Or is he just totally unaware that the drilling mud used is really environmentally benign and cannot possibly leach out of the borehole, as you claim?
“While the permit does include mitigation plans for an ‘inadvertent release’ of drilling fluid, none has yet spilled.”
—Hmmm, again, if the drilling mud/fluid is environmentally benign and cannot possibly leach out of the borehole, as you assert, then why did the permit require the submission of mitigation plans for “release” of drilling fluid?
“The components ‘are biodegradable and environmentally neutral,’ Hansen said, adding that ‘(the state) is requiring Edge Cable to provide an analysis of potential health, safety, and environmental impacts due to the presence of the equipment.’ ” (imbedded quotes attributed to Ali Hansen, a Department of State Lands spokeswoman)
— by referring to the environmental impacts due to the presence of “the components” and “the equipment”, it is logical that Hansen means the potential corrosion of the drill pipe and drill bit, which likely a high strength carbon steel (excluding possible industrial diamonds bound on the drilling surfaces), and the eventual total corrosion of which most assuredly would not have environment consequences. It is not logical to say that Hansen’s above statement refers to the drilling mud.

NB: This The Oregonian article also states that (a) “The company planned to bore a hole 3,000 feet out to sea, where it would connect with the cable from Asia”, and (b) “Then, on April 28, just days from completion, the drill pipe snapped about 500 feet from its endpoint.” This means that the twist-off point is some (2500-1100) = 1400 feet (MD) down the borehole.

Nowhere in this The Oregonian article is there mention of the drilling mud/fluid being water-based as opposed to being oil-based.

Similarly, for the Forbes, The Oregonian, and Tilamook Headlight Herald articles that you linked for the second, third and fourth boxed quote excerpts in your article respectively, nowhere is there mention of the drilling mud/fluid being water-based as opposed to being oil-based.

Bottom line: unless you have other information, not presented, there is no OBJECTIVE basis for asserting the drilling mud/fluid related to the Facebook project, as summarized in your above article, is water-based.

And its not like I expect any reply from you regarding these points, since they originate from a person you characterize, in your specific words and repeatedly, as being “retarded”.

I now wear that characterization begrudgingly, since it comes from someone that not too long ago I held in high regard for authoring great posting on WUWT. But then again, what did I know, being retarded. 😉

Reply to  Gordon A. Dressler
August 16, 2020 5:59 am

In a shallow well they will almost certainly be using a water based drilling fluid – WBM. It is sat in a hole and will have literally no environmental impact at all. Chances are they had returns to the seafloor anyway rather than having a riser at this depth so the fluid they were circulating would have been going to the sea as they were drilling.

Reply to  bruce ryan
August 16, 2020 4:55 pm

Who has proven there is a small drill hole?

For all we know the drill bit snapped and left that several thousand feet of bit and pipe above the hole level.

Reply to  ATheoK
August 15, 2020 1:48 am

Sounds like a boulder in soft sediment, so they must have been economic on a shallow seismic survey.

Robert of Texas
August 14, 2020 3:46 pm

Start a rumor that its somehow radioactive…it’ll get cleaned up then! They tear up the place to lower the radiation level down to less than the background radiation.

So I guess I am wondering about the fluid they left behind. Is it water based or oil based? And why is it under the water in the first place – shouldn’t it have been on the drill platform? Or is it the fluid that is trapped inside the drill hole? (so actually underground rather than underwater).

The “hard rock” is interesting. I wonder if it’s the boundary of a previously unrecognized fault line?

Gunga Din
August 14, 2020 3:49 pm

Obviously Bruce Willis was not in charge of the drilling.

Reply to  Gunga Din
August 14, 2020 4:15 pm

In real life there was Red Adair. When I was growing up, he was famous for putting out oil well fires. His feats were sufficiently noteworthy that he had a movie made about him.

Somehow they don’t seem to make them like that any more.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  commieBob
August 15, 2020 1:15 am

Red Adair and to a lesser extent Boots Hansen both became household names in the UK when fighting the oil rig fire on Piper Alpha in the North Sea

Ron Long
Reply to  David Middleton
August 14, 2020 6:12 pm

I have been the supervising geologist on around 500 drill holes, and everything you can imagine has happened (and some things I hope you can’t imagine also happened). There’s missing parts to the Oregon/Facebook story, although they probably don’t make it any less nonsensical.

Reply to  David Middleton
August 14, 2020 10:03 pm

Stamper must have been drilling water wells his whole life–800 feet is a pretty shallow hole!

Reply to  RockyRoad
August 15, 2020 1:46 pm

The hole in question was on an asteroid. There is no mention of how deep the other holes he drilled was.

Gunga Din
Reply to  MarkW
August 15, 2020 6:09 pm

I was about to say something about Hollywood and drilling an asteroid, but, I better quit while I’m behind.
(That didn’t come out quit right.)

August 14, 2020 3:49 pm

I was drilling a hole for an anchor and the drill bit got stuck. The drill bit then became the anchor. When life hands you a lemon …

colin p smith
Reply to  commieBob
August 15, 2020 9:21 am

Your drink becomes gin & tonic?

August 14, 2020 4:09 pm

Oregon Coast? I’ve heard of it.

Lessee, nope, never made it to Tierra del Mar, but I spent a night in Neskowin on a longish bicycle tour, about five miles south. Nice area.

We went through Prineville later. Not as nice and a lot hotter in July.

Reply to  Ric Werme
August 14, 2020 5:39 pm

Close to Bend. There is also a large Apple Data Center there in Prineville. The tech Libs like those mid-size well-run conservative farming communities. Out of California being a priority. No homeless sleeping on sidewalks when you’re out walking with the family in the evening heading for ice cream after dinner. Good access to nearby mountains and outdoor recreation. Good place to raise kids. Good public school system and decent taxes.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 14, 2020 5:42 pm

(continued) (I’m trying to figure out why this part (below) of my comment to Ric Werme is being shadow banned/filtered out.)

They come to those places because of low crime, good governance, affordable living. No one in these towns are running around screaming about BLM and other Lib stupidity.
But then, Libs being Libs, they then slowly subvert the local politics to Libs likings. Social services for everything, the homeless start hanging around. The orad to Hell thing… They can’t help themselves.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 14, 2020 5:54 pm

(I can’t seem to get the word for element #14 and the word for a large steep v-shaped terrain between two mountain ridges, put together to id the high tech place in Cal to post in a comment.)

Harry Davidson
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 15, 2020 4:11 am

Silicon Ravine? You’ve lost me.

August 14, 2020 4:41 pm

Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD), though not a technique that is often used to land optical communications cables, it is considered the most ecologically friendly since the cable is secure inside a steel pipe, making it far less vulnerable to damage caused by shipping/trawlers operating near shore and stormy wave action and erosion. Typically, for a landing area installation, cables are armored (rather than in a pipe) and are directly buried in trenches that are dug with excavators and/or plows , then covered. Burial depths vary depending on the shore profile and intensity of storms and wave action, but are in the range of 3-5 meters, deepest where the cable enters the Beach Man Hole, tapering to zero where the cable “punches through” the beach slope onto the sea bottom, typically 500 -1000m from the low tide mark. Beyond the punch-through point, depending on depth of the water, neither armor nor pipe would normally be installed.

So, the article reads a bit like the way the landing was being done was overkill if they were intending to bury the pipe 50 down. It also reads odd that people on shore could feel vibrations from the drilling since the drilling would ordinarily be through sand (which would tend to dampen any vibrations) until they hit rock. So, maybe there are some special circumstances. Regardless, why land there? Secrecy/security?

Reply to  Nik
August 14, 2020 5:14 pm

Furthest point west?

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Nik
August 14, 2020 9:37 pm

“Beach Man Hole”

That just sounds dirty.

Jeff Alberts
August 14, 2020 5:34 pm

“Coastal residents are reportedly organizing to stop what they say amounts to a fracking project under a pristine beach.”

If a human ever stepped on it, it’s no longer pristine. Because humans bad.

David Long
August 14, 2020 5:50 pm

I was trying to figure out what makes Tierra del Mar so ‘suitable.’ I guess its because its a relatively straight shot along a highway through the Coast Range to Prineville. You could get a similar alignment farther south at Lincoln City. But Lincoln City is an incorporated city right on the main tourist drag of Highway 101. Tierra del Mar is an unincorporated little spot off the main drag in one of the spots where 101 is a few miles inland. Facebook probably figured it would be easier to get it done without publicity and opposition in Tierra del Mar. I guess the jokes on them.

August 14, 2020 6:46 pm

There is a largish Colmbia river Basalt formation in that area I will bet they ran headlong into that.
I used to work as a driller’s helper years ago-in NE Oregon. Same Rock and hard real hard…
Having lived on the Oregon coast this FUBAR does not surprise me

David Long
Reply to  4EDouglas
August 14, 2020 10:43 pm

Probably correct. CRBG forms a number of headlands along the Oregon coast and turns up in lots of other nearby places as well. For years many geologists doubted that the coastal basalts were Columbia River basalts, but perfectly matching rare earth element analyses eventually won that argument.

Reply to  4EDouglas
August 15, 2020 1:57 am
John in Oz
August 14, 2020 8:22 pm

Why is it OK to use 000’s of gallons of ‘drilling fluid’ but frac’ing is bad because of the fluid used?

Reply to  John in Oz
August 15, 2020 10:32 am

It all depends on the liquid, water based drilling fluid and fraccing fluids (also water based) are about equally harmless. Oil-based drilling fluid is somewhat more problematic.

August 14, 2020 9:20 pm

If that line breaks anywhere near 101 the hi at will be unrecognizable buried under all those binary digits.

August 14, 2020 9:30 pm
John F. Hultquist
August 14, 2020 9:52 pm

” one has to wonder how they ran into an unexpected rock formation 50 feet below the seafloor. “

As I read it the depth reached was 1,100 feet but the break or twist-off depth was at 50 feet. Thus, there is 1,050 feet of material beginning 50 feet below the entry point.
Not that it makes a hell of a lot of difference.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
August 14, 2020 10:31 pm

They learned that sand is easier to drill than basalt! Geology 101.

Richard (the cynical one)
August 15, 2020 12:43 am

They should stick to what they know best – drilling into our lives for data.

Matthew Sykes
August 15, 2020 2:22 am

Whats the point of putting the cable underground, and not just on the sea bed as normal?

Clay Sanborn
August 15, 2020 2:53 pm

The coming Cascadian Full Margin Rupture will play havoc on the Jupiter cable system.

Ian MacCulloch
August 16, 2020 5:39 am

Fracking & fishing two great occupations only one in play here. Like David M and the Geoscientst cohort, engineering drilling such as this use the most benign drilling muds. For loss of circulation they occasionally resort to exotic items such as peanut shells. Going from soft sediment to basalt flows will undo most drillers. Cap & cement this one.

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