Top Expert: There Were No Natural Seeps Within 3 Kilometers of Blown Out Well

University of California Berkeley engineering professor Robert Bea is one of the world’s top experts on oil drilling disasters. Bea is an expert in offshore drilling and a high-level governmental adviser concerning disasters. He is also a member of the Deepwater Horizon Study Group.

As the Times-Picayune reported yesterday:

Scientists have discovered four gas “seeps” at or near BP’s blown-out Macondo well since Saturday …


Berkeley engineering professor Bob Bea has very little confidence in what’s been said publicly about the seeps.

He’s troubled that we’re just now hearing about seeps three kilometers away, because a survey of the seabed conducted before BP drilled its well didn’t indicate anything like that.

“There was nothing that indicated the presence of such a seep,” Bea said. “I wonder why we’re just now finding that out?”

BP has yet to release other ROV video that Bea’s study group requested more than a month ago about what may have been shots.

3 kilometers equals 1.9 miles, less than the 2 mile distance for the furthest seep discussed by the government to date.

I told you that the “natural seep” argument was a red herring.

Update: The government is now claiming that the seep 2 miles from the blowout is from another offshore oil facility. Specifically, Thad Allen made that claim today.

As AP writes:

The federal government’s oil spill chief says seepage detected two miles from BP’s oil cap is coming from another well.

There are two wells within two miles of BP’s blowout, one that has been abandoned and another that is not in production.

I have no idea whether or not this is true. If true, I do not yet know whether the other offshore oil facility is part of the Mississippi Canyon 252 (MC252) prospect or a neighboring prospect.

If part of MC 252, it could well have been a well which BP previously abandoned. Specifically, as I pointed out last month:

The Deepwater Horizon blew up on April 20th, and sank a couple of days later. BP has been criticized for failing to report on the seriousness of the blow out for several weeks.

However, as a whistleblower previously told 60 Minutes, there was an accident at the rig a month or more prior to the April 20th explosion:

[Mike Williams, the chief electronics technician on the Deepwater Horizon, and one of the last workers to leave the doomed rig] said they were told it would take 21 days; according to him, it actually took six weeks.

With the schedule slipping, Williams says a BP manager ordered a faster pace.

“And he requested to the driller, ‘Hey, let’s bump it up. Let’s bump it up.’ And what he was talking about there is he’s bumping up the rate of penetration. How fast the drill bit is going down,” Williams said.

Williams says going faster caused the bottom of the well to split open, swallowing tools and that drilling fluid called “mud.”

“We actually got stuck. And we got stuck so bad we had to send tools down into the drill pipe and sever the pipe,” Williams explained.

That well was abandoned and Deepwater Horizon had to drill a new route to the oil. It cost BP more than two weeks and millions of dollars.

Here is MC252 (where the blown out well is located) shown in comparison with nearby sites:

And this is the definitive high-resolution map showing block 252 in comparison with other prospects in the Mississippi Canyon area and surrounding areas.

BP and the government must immediately specify whether the seep is part of the abandoned BP well or another facility.

Remember that there are numerous other seeps closer to the blown out well.

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