New BP Insertion Tube Isn’t Working

BP’s new insertion tube inside the leaking oil pipe – unfortunately – isn’t doing very much.

Specifically, the Miami Herald points out that – according to the Coast Guard – the spill is getting worse in spite of the insertion tube:

The massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill is growing despite British Petroleum’s effort to siphon some of the spewing crude from its ruptured deepwater well, the U.S. Coast Guard official leading the cleanup warned Tuesday.

BP doubled its estimate of the amount of crude being captured by a mile-long recovery tube to 2,000 barrels per day – but what percentage of the spill that is remains uncertain. BP has said it thinks that 5,000 barrels of crude a day are leaking from the well, but a video made public Tuesday after the tube was placed inside the broken pipe showed clouds of crude oil still billowing into the sea.

Another video provided the first public view of a second leak much nearer the runaway well’s failed blowout preventer spewing oil, too. A BP robot took that video on Saturday and Sunday.

The Coast Guard commandant, Adm. Thad Allen, said that despite the siphoning, the spilled oil is spreading and now stretches from western Louisiana to Florida’s Key West. The extent of the spill was straining even the substantial resources deployed for one of the worst ecological disasters in recent history, he said.

Kevin Grandia explains:

Two new videos have surface showing footage of the BP oil leak at the source 5,000 feet down at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

These new video are important because they show footage (if the time stamp on the video of May 17th is correct) taken after the oil company responsible for stopping the leak – British Petroleum (BP) – had inserted a tube into the leaking pipe in an attempt to siphon off some of the oil and pump it up to an awaiting ship on the surface.

Looking at this video there remains serious question about the exact amount of oil that is actually flowing from the burst pipe as well as how much is being captured by the inserted siphon:

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Another video has also been released showing the leak from the riser that is described on US Senator Bill Nelson’s website as video footage of the plume “after the intervention” – you can clearly see in the video a large kink in the riser that is spewing oil. The first half of this video is marked May 15th – the day before the insertion tube was placed in the leaking pipe.

The video then switches (at about the 2 min. 30 sec. mark) to a close of shot of the leak time stamped the next day, May 16th after the insertion tube was put in place:

Compare this to similar footage posted last week:

Indeed, BP either doesn’t know or won’t tell how much oil is leaking. As the Miami Herald notes:

Under sharp questioning from Nelson and other lawmakers, Lamar McKay, the head of BP America, said the company was focused on sealing off the spill but couldn’t offer estimates of how much oil was flowing into the ocean.

And see this. BP has refused to let independent scientists inspect the site so that they could estimate the rate of the oil leak.

BP’s next plan is to try to seal the leak using heavy drilling fluids and then cement:

BP likely will try to shut down the well completely late this week using a technique called “top kill,” BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said at a news conference Monday.

The process involves pumping heavy drilling fluids through two 3-inch lines into the blowout preventer that sits on top of the Macondo wellhead a mile underwater. This would first restrict the flow of oil from the well, which then could be sealed permanently with cement.

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