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BP Permanently Seals Gulf Oil Well

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the for-sufficiently-termporary-values-of-permanent dept.

Earth 368

rexjoec writes "BP has finally plugged the Macondo well. This announcement came yesterday after $9.5 billion (through September 17) in expenditures and five months of continuous effort." From the LA Times: "Of the estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil that gushed from the well, 25% was burned, skimmed or piped to tanker ships. A second 25% has evaporated or dissolved, according to government estimates. Another 25%, classified by the government as 'residual oil,' consisted of light sheens on the water, thick goo on the shore and tar balls. The tar balls, though not harmful to humans, are likely to wash up on shore for some time."

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Fast (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33640516)

Well, that didn't take very long now did it?

You know what I find hilarious? (4, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640520)

The "potential" for conflict can raise the cost of oil by 5-10 cents in less than a week. The "potential" for supply problsm can raise the cost of oil by as much as 50 cents over the course of a couple of months.

Millions of gallons leaking into the Gulf, however, seem to have had pretty much zero effect on gas prices. Am I wrong? Please put some numbers up showing that I am...I'd really be pissed off if I'm right about that.

Re:You know what I find hilarious? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640544)

Gah. I meant raising the cost of gas in my first couple of sentences, not the cost of oil itself -_-;;

Re:You know what I find hilarious? (4, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640644)

Assuming that the 4.9 million barrels of oil number can be believed? That's the US consumption in about 6 hours. Pretty much a drop in the bucket when it comes right down to it.

Re:You know what I find hilarious? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640682)

My point is that this is a measurable loss of oil, compared to "potential" loss. Why does "potential" loss impact things more than measurable loss?

Or is this one of those make-no-sense parts of economics I just don't get?

Re:You know what I find hilarious? (1, Insightful)

logjon (1411219) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640746)

A "potential" loss of 4.9 million barrels would have no more effect than this leak did.

Re:You know what I find hilarious? (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640778)

When they talk about potential loss it seems that they are talking about in the current flow of oil. This was a new well that, AFAIK, never produced a single barrel of oil that was refined. So if the world's oil producers are pumping 80 million barrels a day and they lose 10% of that it's a drain on the system, when a new and unproven well doesn't produce it doesn't cause harm to the expected daily supply.

I know where you're coming from and I can understand some of the confusion but I find it reasonable that this well didn't mean much in the grand scheme of things. Not to mention that it's the industries own problem and jacking up prices because of it would likely get them in even bigger problems where things like wars and acts of God are normally winked at as a reason to jack up the price of crude.

Re:You know what I find hilarious? (0, Troll)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640844)

Because the "potential supply problems" are "potential OH MY GOD THE COST OF MINING OIL SUDDENLY TRIPPED FOR SOME UNKNOWN REASON situations". Basically, the "potential" situations are fabricated for the purpose of profit.

Also, everyone was fucking pissed off at BP for the oil spill and they didn't want to antagonize everyone further. They can try any play off the huge environmental damage as "exaggerated" because 90% of the US population is apparently retarded, but everyone is going to notice higher gas prices. If they raised gas prices then everyone would be calling for more regulation to ensure this doesn't happen again simply because they don't want to risk having to pay more money to fill up their gas-guzzling urban assault vehicle.

The reason that these "potential" issues don't antagonize everyone is because they're always caused by "someone in the middle east, not us".

Re:You know what I find hilarious? (2, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640850)

My point is that this is a measurable loss of oil, compared to "potential" loss. Why does "potential" loss impact things more than measurable loss?

Or is this one of those make-no-sense parts of economics I just don't get?

Potential conflict can spiral into large market fluctuations. While a not insignificant portion of it IS speculation, speculation can backfire. But the numbers we see here, while large don't even really get close to the numbers which can be influenced by regional conflict.

Think about it this way, this was one well out of how many along Louisiana's coast? Imagine there was some nut who decided to blow up a rig. Compare that to a conflict which could result in a blockade of the Mississippi river! Or a conflict in which a group seizes control of an area where a major pipeline runs.

While it may be a large amount of oil, in terms of potential for disruption, it's minor.

Re:You know what I find hilarious? (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641022)

Because investors are fearful. Same thing happens in other markets. 1 piece of potentially bad news means people go into a selling frenzy and buy up safer assets. It doesn't have to actually be bad news at all, just has to be "potentially" bad. Its the nature of speculation.

Re:You know what I find hilarious? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33640688)

You know what I find hilarious? People who don't understand large numbers. It all makes sense if you understand that over the *entire period* of the leaking oil, yes millions were spilled. Any potential disruption of supply that would move the oil market would involve a reduction of millions of barrels of oil *per day*.

Re:You know what I find hilarious? (5, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640714)

Millions of gallons leaking into the Gulf, however, seem to have had pretty much zero effect on gas prices. Am I wrong?

The Maconodo well was in the process of being converted from exploration to production. A non-producing well didn't come into production, not 'a producing well went out of production'. So, the supply wasn't impacted. If demand was level then the price should have stayed mostly level.

Only if oil futures had figured in the Macondo production already, or speculators thought that BP's costs would somehow drive up the world market costs (why would Exxon increase its prices?, e.g. - they wouldn't) would this have affected oil prices. The biggest supply risk right now is from the US Government, but it seem unlikely they're going to undertake the draconian options at this point.

Re:You know what I find hilarious? (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640922)

The biggest supply risk right now is from the US Government, but it seem unlikely they're going to undertake the draconian options at this point.

If we wanted to see real market panic, an over-response from the US government could have easily sparked it. I'm rather glad that the response was a careful "We are stopping it temporarily for obvious reasons, but once we can establish that this isn't a systematic problem we are going to open it up again." Basically a lot of reassuring of investors to prevent speculation.

Stability and predictability are major factors in keeping speculation down.

Re:You know what I find hilarious? (0, Offtopic)

Late Adopter (1492849) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641082)

Stability and predictability are major factors in keeping speculation down.

A lesson lost on the administration when it comes to taxes and employment...

Re:You know what I find hilarious? (4, Interesting)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640986)

And the price of oil seems to have very little to do with the price of gasoline anyhow (In Canada at least). I have oil investments and I see them go up and down and nothing much happens to the price of gas. I've watched the price of a barrel of oil drop almost 20% with *zero* change in the price of gas. Years ago it used to be that when the price of oil went up the price of gas went up pretty much in lockstep and *instantly*. Then when the price of oil dropped the price of gas stayed the same for weeks - the gas companies claimed that they still had to use up all the oil in storage that had been bought at the old price. Curiously that logic never held when the price of oil went up.

Re:You know what I find hilarious? (1)

danbert8 (1024253) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640766)

This was never a producing well. Thus it was never available as supply and the supply didn't diminish. It probably affected the price of crude futures a bit, but the lack of availability of the rest of the oil in the field is a much bigger loss than the actual oil that came out. "Millions of gallons" isn't a whole lot in the oil business. Also, that's millions of barrels (5 million barrels is 210 million gallons), which is significant, but not nearly as much as the billions of barrels in the oil field.

Re:You know what I find hilarious? (2, Insightful)

Zeek40 (1017978) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640848)

It's not a 'supply problem' because the oil well was never supplying any oil. The rig was destroyed before the well became operational.

Re:You know what I find hilarious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33641062)

I'd really be pissed off if I'm right about that.

Really? You would be angry if the oil industry doesn't leverage the disaster into greater revenue? BP can't jack up prices at will; oil is a commodity and BP must compete with other producers who have NOT incurred billions in costs to handle spills. So BP must write off the loses.

You would have the industry pass on the costs of BP's failures, instead of absorbing well deserved loses, because... why exactly? Some notion of culpability on the part of the consumer? Well, stick around a few weeks and watch the US vote that particular brand of brain damage, among others, right the hell out.

The last 25% (5, Informative)

BostonRob (779771) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640528)

The last 25%, left out of the summary, is the most concerning. From the article: The final 25% of the oil — the equivalent of four Exxon Valdez spills —- is of greatest concern to scientists. It is drifting 3,000 to 4,300 feet below the gulf's surface, in vast clouds of atomized droplets that could alter links in the chain of life.

Re:The last 25% (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640558)

Is BP paying those fishermen for the next 40 years of lost work?

Is it paying the hotels for the next 20 years of lost business?

It sure seems like dumping a few gallons of oil can get you arrested, dumping millions though is ok so long as you pretend to do something about it.

Re:The last 25% (-1, Flamebait)

Mike Kristopeit (1900306) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640632)

are you going to provide oil to run the fishermen's boats for the next 40 years?

are you going to provide oil to run the hotels for the next 20 years?

does the free market guarantee continued employment, or is the very basis of capitalism the inherent necessity of the value of ADAPTING.

Re:The last 25% (5, Insightful)

caturday (1197847) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640718)

If my company has a tanker full of gas, and that tanker explodes outside your store due to my company's negligence, cratering the street and making your store unreachable for months. By your logic, my company shouldn't be liable for monetary damage to your store. How would you feel about this? You can say "adapt! change!" all you want, but the bottom line is, there should be no legal justification for this kind of negligence.

Re:The last 25% (1)

PeterKraus (1244558) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641036)

Well, the thing is, the regulator should've picked up on this long long time ago. 2 rigs sinking in the Gulf in one year. That's not good.

Yeah, BP is the most responsible for this messup (to call it mildly), but the government regulations, which okayed this kind of behaviour, are not clean either. You can't expect corporations to care. If they can save the buck, they are going to do it - the regulator is there to make sure there are proper technical authorities, checks, HSE procedures, risk assesments and redundancy in the safety network, and should simply not allow operation in case those things are not in place.

I work on an ex-BP plant in the UK.

Re:The last 25% (4, Insightful)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641194)

There's fundamentally two ways to make a business responsible for its unsafe actions.

One is to impose government regulations. These are generally flawed, often tuned to avoid expense to the corporation, often require unnecessary things at extra expense, may not be enforced, and are typically something of a pain.

The other is to make corporations civilly liable for what they do. This has its own set of problems, including shell corporations that loot and discard operating corporations, and the ability of large enterprises to wage delaying actions through the legal system.

The worst of both worlds is when bad government regs are used to shield a corporation from well-deserved liability.

Re:The last 25% (4, Interesting)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641056)

If my company has a tanker full of gas, and that tanker explodes outside your store due to my company's negligence, cratering the street and making your store unreachable for months. By your logic, my company shouldn't be liable for monetary damage to your store. How would you feel about this? You can say "adapt! change!" all you want, but the bottom line is, there should be no legal justification for this kind of negligence.

They can reimburse you for your losses, but people shouldn't be on the hook for hypothetical future losses 40 years into the future unless actual deaths were involved (You can estimate earnings, and nothing can reverse death, so the losses are tangible)

For example, let's say a massive Cat 4 hurricane came in 2 weeks later and literally washed your store away. Would the company that cratered the street and made your store unreachable be liable for your now non-existant store? Is that hypothetical? It sure is, but so are your 'lost' future profits. There was no guarantee of them.

Remimburse the damage, pay compensation for the inconvenience to establish a new store, and then any associated fines for failing to follow regulations.

Re:The last 25% (2, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641152)

So how much do you think creating a new fishing ground is going to cost? That would be like building a new store.

Re:The last 25% (1)

Lifyre (960576) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641118)

Not quite. His point is the length of time. BP needs to cover the damages, at least in the short term, but can only pay for so long. A few months is certainly not enough but 20 years is very much on the long side of reasonable.

We don't know how this is going to play out, there is very little in common with the Exxon spill other than there was oil involved. The environment, bacteria, location of spill, and effected species are all very different. We've discovered new bacteria that operate at those colder depths that seem to be metaolizing the oil at the rapid rate, and being atomized likely makes it easier for them.

We won't know the full scope of the disaster for 5 or 10 years, it could realistically be a non-issue from a ecological point of view by the end of next summer.

Re:The last 25% (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640796)

Way to miss the point. I sure would be willing to sell those people oil though, if they want to commit to such long terms.

The reality is BP ruined the shared resource these businesses rely on. This is a simple issue of property rights, BP is depriving these folks of the right to use this common property. BP should pay for the loss of access to this property just as these businesses pay for the oil they use.

Re:The last 25% (1)

Mike Kristopeit (1900306) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641074)

way to miss the point. consumers of oil completely destroy the shared resource they rely on. no one else can ever use that oil again. it's GONE.

property rights are only as simple as someone else who claim's those same property rights allows them to be. if you think this is a simple issue, you're an idiot.

Re:The last 25% (1, Interesting)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640810)

Until every man's exhaled breath and excrement is completely contained in a bag that he carries with him for life, there is no such thing as a free market.

Re:The last 25% (1)

Michael D Kristopeit (1887500) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641116)

what about man's requirement to remove himself from the market for time to sleep? THE MARKET CAN NOT WAIT FOR ONE MAN.

Re:The last 25% (1)

boombaard (1001577) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640864)

are you going to provide oil to run the fishermen's boats for the next 40 years?

are you going to provide oil to run the hotels for the next 20 years?

does the free market guarantee continued employment, or is the very basis of capitalism the inherent necessity of the value of ADAPTING.

Tell me where you live, and I will shoot your family. You must adapt to any change I think is right for you (read: me).
But wait, you might ask, where is my right to freedom from interference?
You, however, have less money, and therefore your suffering is irrelevant. Congratulations, you live in the State of Nature, also called the USA.

I know you won't admit to it, but I, at least, find this line of reasoning troubling, and just a little bit undemocratic. Why do you pride yourself on living under a rule of law, when you have The Market?

Re:The last 25% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33640906)

Well after they ruining the lives of fisherman, i guess BP can adapt to some desperate fisherman(s) ramming their boats with explosives into their oil rigs, but that's too unrealistic, complex, desperate and useless, its easier to just rob their gas stations to pay for house bills, bank loans etc.

Re:The last 25% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33640910)

"are you going to provide oil to run the fishermen's boats for the next 40 years?"

No, and neither is anyone else. The oil companies are charging the exact same amount as they were previously. By your logic, the fishermen, and the entire US, are all already indebted to the oil companies because they've been "providing oil".

Re:The last 25% (4, Insightful)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641142)

By your logic, I should be allowed to start a "waste disposal service". What I will do is locate myself in your neighborhood and burn tires, paint thinner, waste paint, and miscellaneous plastics in large heaping piles. You should just have to adapt to it and deserve no compensation down the road when you get cancer or poisoned by the toxic fumes in the air. Its not my fault you live there and use the neighborhood for your own personal enjoyment and living space. After all, this society is capitalist so I should be able to start a business like this cut out my niche in the market.

Re:The last 25% (5, Insightful)

danbert8 (1024253) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640978)

Is BP paying those fishermen for the next 40 years of lost work?

No, but BP is paying for those fisherman to go out and clean the oil. Also 40 years=number pulled out of your ass. The effects of the Ixtoc 1 oil spill were not that drastic and shrimp industries returned to normal in 2 years.

Is it paying the hotels for the next 20 years of lost business?

The hotels are already doing quite well this year as they are hosting all the contractors that have been brought into the region, as are all the restaurants and such with the per diem the contractors are getting paid. And again 20 years=number pulled out of your ass.

It sure seems like dumping a few gallons of oil can get you arrested, dumping millions though is ok so long as you pretend to do something about it.

Yes, dumping millions of gallons of oil is ok (if you consider 20 billion dollars to not be a penalty). That works out to about $95 a gallon, not to mention the additional $1.87/gallon in lost oil revenue.

Re:The last 25% (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641086)

Considering no one went to jail I consider it getting off quite lightly.

Re:The last 25% (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641172)

Prove that criminal laws were broken beyond a reasonable doubt and people will go to jail. Otherwise it's just political posturing.

Re:The last 25% (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640990)

So, on one hand, I agree with you. What you imply you want to see seems "fair" in an idealistic way.

On the other hand, this is a lot more confusing. Let's say you own a hotel on a beach, but I own the property between you and the beach. I decide I like trees, so I plant some. They grow. They ruin your hotel's view of the beach.

Can you sue me for the next X years of losses because of people who don't come to your hotel because it now lacks a view?

I assume you'll probably say "no." If you say "yes," I'd have to ask - since when is it illegal for me to plant trees on my own property!

If you say "no," then clearly this is a muddled affair that requires a lot of thought. BP may have been negligent, so there is that to consider - my example was not criminal in any way, that I know of.

Even more muddled: what about street cleaners that are now out of work because the hotels are less busy and thus the tourists have made fewer messes? Just how many paths are we going to go down? I mean, eventually, 50% of the US could claim indirect monetary losses...

note: 50% figure pulled out of hat along with white rabbit.

Re:The last 25% (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641126)

I would say no because growing trees is legal and not generally dangerous. Unlike using the gulf of mexico as your personal oil disposal area.

Personally I think those street cleaners probably have a decent claim. I would like to see BP actually pay for all the damage, it is the only way they would not do it again.

Re:The last 25% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33641186)

Actually you can't even ruin the view from someone's house without risking being brought to civil court, my folks won a case regarding exactly that (tall trees) when a new neighbor moved in and refused to discuss the option of not doing it with anyone. What he did dropped the value of their house, and he was given a choice between paying that value and removing the trees. Needless to say, the trees are gone. All of this happened with very little cost up front for my parents, and all costs were then payed by their neighbor. Oh, and that was before the rest of the neighbors even got involved. Imagine what would've happened had he blocked the view of a hotel with all kinds of money for lawyers. They might've just preferred he pay for the lost value.

Re:The last 25% (2, Insightful)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641096)

It's the old if you owe the bank $10,000, it's your problem. If you owe the bank $10,000,000, it's their problem.

Re:The last 25% (3, Informative)

catmistake (814204) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641132)

Is BP paying those fishermen for the next 40 years of lost work?

Not speaking for BP, but for myself... and not speaking to family owned and operated fishing enterprises, but to the commercial fisheries: FUCK THEM. Their greed pretty much destroyed the Gulf and the Atlantic stocks of the best fish. Man, I am really going to miss tuna. FUCK THEM TWICE, damn greedy savages.

Is it paying the hotels for the next 20 years of lost business?

Not speaking for BP, but for myself... and not speaking to family owned and operated hotels, but the large commercial developers and big corporate resorts: FUCK THEM. They somehow skirted federal wetland laws (DO NOT TOUCH) to destroy miles of coastline so rednecks could have a vacation spot closer to home, instead of traveling to already established resort islands along the coast NC, SC, GA, and FL, like civilized people do. FUCK THEM TWICE, greedy fucking savages.

It sure seems like dumping a few gallons of oil can get you arrested, dumping millions though is ok so long as you pretend to do something about it.

Agreed. Trouble is, everyone only cares about their bank accounts, at the expense of the things we need to live, like a habitable environment.

Re:The last 25% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33641182)

It sure seems like dumping a few gallons of oil can get you arrested, dumping millions though is ok so long as you pretend to do something about it.

George Carlin, we miss you.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Carlin

I've seen this movie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33640530)

Somehow, Satan will escape and they'll be forced to fight him, returning him to the well and sealing him in again.

Obviously made up / Wild A*sed Guess (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33640540)

That each of these four options accounts for exactly one quarter of the oil is obviously made up or at best a Wild A*sed Guess. They lied from day one about the amount of oil released, and we're supposed to believe this?

That's only 75 percent (2, Interesting)

H_Fisher (808597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640566)

And the remaining 25% ...

... doesn't matter?

... wasn't accounted for?

... is about to wash up on our shores next week?

Re:That's only 75 percent (1)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640680)

See for yourself here [www.vbs.tv] .

Re:That's only 75 percent (1)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640776)

Sorry, replying to myself with the complete link [www.vbs.tv] . Don't let the scary domain name fool you, pretty cool guerrilla style news site.

Re:That's only 75 percent (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640840)

This. I highly recommend the documentary they did on their secret visit to North Korea.

Re:That's only 75 percent (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33640792)

The final 25% of the oil — the equivalent of four Exxon Valdez spills —- is of greatest concern to scientists. It is drifting 3,000 to 4,300 feet below the gulf's surface, in vast clouds of atomized droplets that could alter links in the chain of life.

This "dispersed" oil was broken into droplets, about the width of a hair, either when it shot at high speeds from the well's broken pipe or when it came into contact with the 1.8 million gallons of the controversial chemical dispersant Corexit.

Re:That's only 75 percent (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640814)

How about you go read the LA Times article linked in the summary, after which you can answer that question for yourself?

Re:That's only 75 percent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33641046)

25% was burned, skimmed or piped to tanker ships.
25% has evaporated or dissolved
25% classified by the government as 'residual oil,' consisted of light sheens on the water, thick goo on the shore and tar balls.
35% has been eaten by bacteria
20% has been mopped up by bird feathers
25% has been eaten by fish
18% has been consumed by other marine life.
The remaining 25% is unaccounted for.

Newsmax (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33640568)

Is Newsmax now going to run ads that say "Thank Obama"?

Nice and sugar coated (2, Insightful)

LBt1st (709520) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640582)

I love how they make it sound like the oil just went away.
Hundreds of workers worked 10+ hour shifts every day on the shores cleaning up oil and dead animals for the past months. I'm not sure if that continues even now but the spill is certainly going to have lasting affects on the sea floor and gulf waters.

The well is empty. (-1, Troll)

Bobakitoo (1814374) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640596)

This is why the sealing procedure finaly worked, no more oil to presure the dirt out. This is also the reason why they accepted to permanently seal the well; they knew there was no more oil get from it anyway. Good job BP!

Re:The well is empty. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33640862)

Are you stupid? There is LOTS of oil still down there.

Lies, dam lies, and statistics. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33640598)

Someone was tired of work and decided to just slap 25% on everything. But article resume only adds up to 75%, where's the other 25%? D'oh, must be the margin of error...

Re:Lies, dam lies, and statistics. (2, Insightful)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641072)

It's not the margin of error. It's the 25% that's still in the deeper water. That's why they mentioned three ways the oil came out of the mass of the water and it didn't add up to 100%.

That other 25% is getting into the plankton, fish, shrimp, and marine mammals. Part of it's undoubtedly in the gulf stream on its way to the coast of the UK and Ireland. Part of it will remain in the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and the western Atlantic. This last 25% will take years or decades more to break down after the press grows tired of covering it.

The reason the numbers sound so fake is that they are approximate best guesses. Nobody has actually been able to reliably measure exactly what the flow was, how much is in tar balls, and the like. The initial flow is an estimate. The tar balls are an estimate. The sheen on top of the water is an estimate. What's left in the water is an estimate. The only thing they could really measure with any precision is what they scooped up or burned off.

Thank goodness... (1)

frozentier (1542099) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640614)

Thank goodness they acted so quickly!

But the lawsuits have on ly begun (2, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640622)

Every fisherman in the Gulf is going to be claiming that BP killed their record season, every cannery is going to complain that the oil spill took a crazy amount of money out of their pockets. etc. I've already heard some fishermen being interviewed saying that BP owed them several YEARS worth of fishing profits (since they were presumptively assuming that they wouldn't be able to fish for years). I'm generally not very sympathetic to big oil companies, but those poor bastards are going to be swamped with lawsuits for the next decade. But, on the upside, I bet they'll damn sure be properly maintaining those blowout preventers from now on.

Re:But the lawsuits have on ly begun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33640758)

Ahhhh, but if BP pay them for 3 years, they won't be fishing for 3 years so the fish population comes back? No? They'll be out fishing and taking BPs money..... isn't that the definition of double dipping?

Re:But the lawsuits have on ly begun (4, Insightful)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640782)

I'm not saying that the specifics of this case are right, but thats what you have to do if you sue for damages with long term repercussions.

Lets say I run into you with my car and break your hand. You would need to sue me to recover the following costs:
  - Immediate medical care (ER, ambulance)
  - Surgery to correct your hand
  - Lost wages from the immediate time away from work
  - Cost of physical therapy
(heres the important part)
  - Cost of long term followup visits
  - Cost of pain meds (even say, Advil) because of long term discomfornt
  - Lost wages from not being able to use your hand 100% ever again
  - Cost of followup visits if your hand flares up again
  - Cost of treating the arthritis that is now likely to develop

You can only sue me once. You may not come back and sue me again in 15 years when it acts up after feeling fine for a decade.

Similar thing is going on here. The fishermen just plain don't know whats going to happen in the long term. The legal term is "make me whole". BP did something to harm them and the fisherman isn't made whole again unless all of his costs , short and long term, are recovered. The fisherman doesn't get to go back in 5 years and sue BP again after he finds out his fishing area is a wasteland because the fish are gone.

Re:But the lawsuits have on ly begun (0)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640892)

The problem is that a) No one can see into the future to see what those ACTUAL damages will be, and b) Many of the people suing will be greatly exaggerating their damages, if not committing outright fraud. Again, I don't envy BP the mess they will be dealing with on this--especially since every ambulance-chasing trial lawyer and his brother are going to be pouncing on this, and I doubt that judges are going to be very sympathetic to the evil oil company.

Re:But the lawsuits have on ly begun (2, Insightful)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641068)

The problem is that a) No one can see into the future to see what those ACTUAL damages will be, and b) Many of the people suing will be greatly exaggerating their damages, if not committing outright fraud. Again, I don't envy BP the mess they will be dealing with on this--especially since every ambulance-chasing trial lawyer and his brother are going to be pouncing on this, and I doubt that judges are going to be very sympathetic to the evil oil company.

Regarding A: NevarMore made the same point, that you can't know what the actual damages will be.
Regarding B: I'm pretty sure you still have to prove your claim is reasonable.

Whether the oil company is evil is irrelevant, the judge's lack of sympathy will probably come from the fact that the company is responsible for an environmental disaster.

Re:But the lawsuits have on ly begun (2, Insightful)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641106)

That's why the court system is an adversarial one. The defendant and the plaintiff both get to make a case, and the judge or jury doesn't have to award the full amount being claimed if they don't think it's a fair amount.

Re:But the lawsuits have on ly begun (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33641188)

Your a motherfucking troll

Re:But the lawsuits have on ly begun (1)

Xelios (822510) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640784)

I wouldn't be surprised if they steer the whole thing to a federal court for a class action lawsuit, then pull a pretty low judgment out of it.

Re:But the lawsuits have on ly begun (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640818)

That would be just fine. This particular situation has more than enough attention on it that this trick will not work for a great many claims. All one has to do in that case is "opt out" of the class action suit. Then the right to sue will remain intact.

Re:But the lawsuits have on ly begun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33640820)

Don't be a yoyo and rush to defend poor little BP against all those evil greedy fisherman.

Nearly every case will settle out of court for pennies on the dollar, or they will drag on endlessly until the litigants die or give up.

Now that the oil isnt flowing out live on CNN anymore, all the tough talkin politicians (whos ass do I kick? super-obama to the rescue!) will hop right back into the monied interests pockets, and any congressional orders to pay X or Y amount will be tossed out.

Just ask the alaskan fishing community about how suing Big Oil is the Road to Riches(tm)!

If one incredibly lucky dude manages to come out *ahead* by even one dime, then good for him.

All those tarballs may be harmess to humans, but nobody wants to bask on a beach thats littered with them, and the reports of a new 2" layer of sludge on the sea floor will affect local fisheries for decades. To think otherwise is to be deliberately obtuse.

Re:But the lawsuits have on ly begun (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640828)

Bullshit. They are going to weasel out of this like all big companies do when something like this occurs. Google "bhopal union carbide", for a great example.

In a just world they will have to pay every inflation adjusted dime since the fishing industry was damaged to when it fully recovers. In our world they won't.

Re:But the lawsuits have on ly begun (1)

amorsen (7485) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640866)

But, on the upside, I bet they'll damn sure be properly maintaining those blowout preventers from now on.

If past accidents are anything to go by, then no, they won't be properly maintaining anything.

The oil industry seems to be somehow insulated from the normal process of learning from failure.

No problem; we know how to handle tar balls! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33640624)

Another 25%, classified by the government as 'residual oil,' consisted of light sheens on the water, thick goo on the shore and tar balls. The tar balls, though not harmful to humans, are likely to wash up on shore for some time.

find /dev/gulf -name '*.tar' |xargs rm -f

(I'm sure the compressed ones aren't as problematic; maybe BP wants to pick them up.)

Did they actually SEAL it? (1, Troll)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640702)

I have to wonder if, after all that time, they actually let the well empty itself and claim to have plugged it.

Re:Did they actually SEAL it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33640942)

Oh good grief, you could have watched for yourself.

Re:Did they actually SEAL it? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33641014)

Maybe when they say they "sealed" it they mean that they threw a seal at it. Also, maybe it was a baby seal. And maybe it had fur. Those evil bastards...

Re:Did they actually SEAL it? (1)

danbert8 (1024253) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641134)

How is this interesting. From the linked article, there were approximately 5 million barrels of oil lost. Albeit that's a horrible estimate, the estimates for the size of the oil field is 4-6 BILLION barrels of oil. So they lost approximately 0.1% of the oil field. Not exactly empty down there...

Re:Did they actually SEAL it? (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641156)

Today's crude oil price is ~$75 - 80 per barrel. 4.9 million barrels * $80 per barrel = ~ $368 million worth of oil spilled, at today's prices. That's a LOT, but it's a drop in the bucket compared to the revenues the oil producers log.

If they were spending all that money exploring & drilling at 5k+ meters of depth for a mere 4.9 million barrels, then we're much closer to peak oil & an economic collapse on account of energy crisis than anybody has suggested.

Re:Did they actually SEAL it? (1)

GreatAntibob (1549139) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641196)

5 million barrels leaked out of an estimated reservoir capacity exceeding 50 million recoverable barrels of oil. Recoverable barrels are less than the actual capacity (it's how much the oil company expects to be able to extract). And the recoverable barrel estimate is notoriously conservative. It's always less than the actual amount of oil eventually pumped out. The leak could have gone on for years without emptying the reservoir. So, yes, the well was plugged and not allowed to simply empty out.

At least they aren't harmful to humans /s (1)

Enderwiggin13 (734997) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640708)

"The tar balls, though not harmful to humans, are likely to wash up on shore for some time"

They're still toxic and can kill an animal that ingests them. Not to mention the tarball can still deposit oil onto sea birds destroying their insulation and preventing them from flying.

Re:At least they aren't harmful to humans /s (0)

Theoboley (1226542) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640884)

in hindsight though, they sure are fun to throw at each other at the beach.

why not untar the gulf... (5, Funny)

pulse2600 (625694) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640762)

tar -xvf gulf.tar

Besides a Bad PR Strategy... (1)

tarsi210 (70325) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640802)

is there any GOOD reason why they simply didn't repair the blowout preventer, hook up a new dipstick, set up a new rig, and keep on a-pumpin'?

I mean, I realize that a half billion people would have descended on it in angry, wet mobs, but...it's an oil well. There's hundreds like it still in operation. If they could safely get it back in operation, rather than forgo all the effort to FIND oil and get it drilled, why not....simply continue pumping?

Maybe it was a lost cause on re-connecting everything, and maybe it was just a PR issue, but it always surprised me that they said they'd just kill it off.

Re:Besides a Bad PR Strategy... (1)

amorsen (7485) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640896)

is there any GOOD reason why they simply didn't repair the blowout preventer, hook up a new dipstick, set up a new rig, and keep on a-pumpin'?

It was way too damaged. They tried to attach pipes several times, with fairly limited success.

Re:Besides a Bad PR Strategy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33640964)

Wow, so you've obviously been really curious and have read up on the subject ...

Let's see:
1. The well was an exploration well, not a production well.
2. If reports are to be believed, the blowout preventer was dangerously malfunctioning before they ever installed it and was flat out busted by the end.
3. The blowout preventer only even enters this conversation because the cementing and drilling jobs were insufficiently robust to create a stable well. The well was compromised down deep, which is why there was a blowout in the first place.
4. The "Deepwater Horizon" was an exploration platform, not a pumping rig.

I'm not going to keep going. The point is, they were NEVER a-pumping. This well was compromised. Rest assured, they will construct a proper well in the Macondo prospect to take advantage of the huge amount of oil in that field.

Re:Besides a Bad PR Strategy... (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640982)

My understanding is that it's the re-connecting difficulty. Mangled pipes, broken in several places and mixed in with the remains of a sunken drilling rig, are not very nice to work with. It's easier just to drill a new well a few miles away.

Re:Besides a Bad PR Strategy... (3, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641146)

is there any GOOD reason why they simply didn't repair the blowout preventer, hook up a new dipstick, set up a new rig, and keep on a-pumpin'?

There's two answers:

1) The legal one is once a well goes out of control, it gets the death penalty. Sounds on the surface as stupid as punishing a gun instead of a shooter... however this "gun" cost BP within an order of magnitude of $100M to drill. Wells are really quite expensive to drill. This lowers the wealth of the world as a whole by $100M but more specifically it lowers the wealth of BP by $100M, thus being very motivating for funding groups like BP to hire drillers (TO) whom don't screw up.

2) The semi-technical answer is rapid, uncontrolled sand flow pretty much destroys the pipes and other down hole stuff. It would be way faster and cheaper to drill a new well than to repair this one. Its sort of the difference between duct taping something together in a movie plot therefore its possible vs actual business operation. What I'm getting at is testing and certifying casings and hangers and parts is really cheap when its on the surface, and really expensive when its buried in the earth.

counting... (1)

eexaa (1252378) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640808)

...am I reading wrong if I don't see destiny of the last 25% of oil?

Re:counting... (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641148)

It was all in the depths of the Gulf. You saw where 75% of it came out of the deeper waters. 100% - 75% equals...

Tell me liees tell me sweet little lieees . (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640836)

tell mee lieeeeees, tell me about the bulk of the oil which you have mixed with sea water by buying 80% of the world's oil dispersant supply and injecting into the gulf ....

Same as controlled burns in grasslands.. (0)

Orga (1720130) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640924)

Residents/Fisherman should be thankful that BP was financially responsible for this disaster. They did cause it this time but oil leaking from the sea floor, and sometimes in large quanities, is a natural phenomenon. Oil seep has happened before and it will happen again. People on the gulf coast should count their blessings another natural disaster didn't strike them instead of this manmade acceleration.

Re:Same as controlled burns in grasslands.. (1)

Patman64 (1622643) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641034)

... how did this get modded up?! O_o

Re:Same as controlled burns in grasslands.. (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641208)

... how did this get modded up?! O_o

It didn't, not as of this posting at least. What you're seeing is the result of a karma bonus modifier. The default setting is that if someone has good karma it will add 1 to the score for your viewing pleasure. You can change this in your settings if you'd rather avoid it.

I make a point not to buy from BP anymore (1, Informative)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640940)

You should too.

Re:I make a point not to buy from BP anymore (2, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641080)

Cutting oil consumption is the solution. By boycotting BP you only hurt the local station owner who has no fault in this. BP will always have a market for what they're pulling from the ground.

Re:I make a point not to buy from BP anymore (1)

PeterKraus (1244558) | more than 3 years ago | (#33641114)

That's kinda hard considering what's made from oil (and gas) these days.

Ok, that's no plastics for you, and no fuel either, and that's just for starters.

Permanently sealed... (1)

e065c8515d206cb0e190 (1785896) | more than 3 years ago | (#33640998)

... until it leaks again, I guess.

LATIMES = BULLSHIT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33641066)

Someone should check the well is actually sealed, maybe when they say seal, it could be a mother fucking plastic sticker

it was capped before, capped with a leaking sprinkler head
the flow was stopped before, stopped in one direction, and headed for another unabated
5000 units a day, is 500000 units
unit isn't clarified, could be gallon, could be barrel
relief well, we were 2 yards away, then 20 feet, then 200 feet more like back-filling than drilling.
it's an oil spill, a leak which looks more like a gusher / oil volcano, as opposed to some oil spilling over the side of the boat

la times corrupts the holy fuck out of language, and outright lies. FUCK the latimes.

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