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New Oil Slick In Gulf Waters Linked To BP Well

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the gift-that-keeps-on-giving dept.

Earth 98

An anonymous reader writes "A new oil sheen appeared in the Gulf of Mexico last week, and now scientists have confirmed that the oil bubbling up to the surface matches the type released by BP's Deepwater Horizon oil well last summer. Ed Overton, a chemist at Louisiana State University, examined samples of the oil and said, 'After examining the data, I think it's a dead ringer for the MC252 oil, as good a match as I've seen. My guess is that it is probably coming from the broken riser pipe or sunken platform.'"

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98 comments

In the words of Scooby Doo: (-1, Redundant)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223690)

Ruh Roh!

Re:In the words of Scooby Doo: (-1, Offtopic)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223714)

HAH! Drinking Bawls Exxtra DOES get you frosty pissy firsty posty goodness reflexes.

There's a product endorsement in there somewhere but I'll be damned if I pull it out and put it together.... Oooh! build finished, time to work some more...

Junk Shot! (0)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37224022)

Our grandchildren will still be be dealing with their sadly deformed children, long after the BP Deepwater Horizon and TEPCO Fukushima disasters get "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" stamped on them in the corporate-pwn3d, crony-stooge media.

Of course, if this is pointed out? The messenger will be compared to those who insist the world is flat, and that Apollo never landed on the moon.

Re:Junk Shot! (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#37224118)

Nah. The messenger will be used as an example of the issue that modern society has frozen evolution in time so that the species has stopped advancing.

Re:Junk Shot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37224416)

This is the government's fault though, right?

Re:Junk Shot! (1)

jthill (303417) | more than 2 years ago | (#37230852)

Absolutely. Think how much cleaner and safer the world would be without excessive regulation!

How bad is it? (1)

ksd1337 (1029386) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223694)

If it's not too bad, then the microbiology will take care of it.

Re:How bad is it? (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223742)

Cleanup is a farce anyway. The only thing you can do is stop or prevent leaks.

The rest is up to the microbiology.

Cleanup is mostly a farce, but bacteria can be fed (1)

nido (102070) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223820)

Last summer I thought the Navy should get some giant air pumps and oxygenate the water, to help the bacteria with their cleanup operation. The Navy has "portable" nuclear power plants [sendtheenterprise.org], which is why I thought they'd be good for the task.

But I'm not a celebrity with a skimmer to sell, so they didn't ask me. Oh well.

Re:Cleanup is mostly a farce, but bacteria can be (2)

Hartree (191324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37224280)

"oxygenate the water"

What you need to add depends heavily on which bacteria are the main ones acting on it, and what the limiting nutrient is.

Terry Hazen has a good overview here. [youtube.com]

Kinda long though. Nearly an hour.

bubblers help 'churn' the water too (1)

nido (102070) | more than 2 years ago | (#37230142)

There's are a lot of nutrients in the gulf, especially from the farm runoff (would be interesting to experiment with "bubblers" in the dead zone, but that's another topic). I've loaded your video (thanks!), but haven't watched it all yet.

Several of the pages I read last summer said the oxygen deprivation was serious... From my original piece, To Save the Gulf, Send the Enterprise [teslabox.com]:

Oil doesn’t consume oxygen especially quickly, but natural gas does. BP’s gusher is much more than crude oil – millions of cubic feet of gasses are also being released. These gasses rapidly consume all available oxygen.

“how serious is the oxygen depletion problem?” “Very Serious” “How much biodegredation appears to being observed for the oil plumes?” “There is a tremendous amount of oxygen consumption in the plumes. We have measured respiration rates in the plumes, above and below the plumes, and at control sites where plumes are not present. The respiration rates in the plume are at least 5-10 times higher than we see anywhere else.”

        -Hide and Seek [uga.edu]

Re:bubblers help 'churn' the water too (1)

Hartree (191324) | more than 2 years ago | (#37231986)

Could well be that oxygen is the limiting factor. It may be that stormy weather that leads to more churning of the surface would help a good bit with surface oil slicks or oil near the surface, too.

For small areas with lots of contamination, the bubblers would work, but the Gulf's a pretty big place. ;)

The thing that's really struck me about Hazen's video (and similar comments from Ron Atlas and others on This Week in Microbiology) is how rarely you have to engineer in a new capability in the organisms. Almost always, something in the environment has an existing metabolic pathway to break down the contaminant you're worried about. You just have to alter the nutrient mix to favor that microbe.

Another nice thing about that, is that the bug is probably very good at competing in that environment (better than an engineered one). And, when you're done, and the contaminant is reduced to a low enough level, you stop adding the nutrients and the normal balance of microbe species reappears. (That fight has been waged over a long evolutionary time scale. So, there's no problem with putting in an invasive species.)

Re:How bad is it? (0)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223770)

If it's not too bad, then the microbiology will take care of it.

That's right. Humans abdicate responsibility and leave it to some of the most primitive organisms on the planet. I think we should scoop the stuff up and put it in every swimming pool in the Hamptons.

Back to reality. Something expected. Remember, the remains of the rig are still down there and it's entirely possible that something broke.

Or, drifting off again, it might mean that the entire subfloor of the Gulf of Mexico is about to explode due to the oil eating bacteria secreting methane [wordpress.com] in secret chambers under the mud. Chambers full of explosive power enough to wreck the entire planet that are just waiting for a seismic disturbance triggered by a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean to release the gas and destroy all life on the planet.

I kinda like the second explanation myself.

Re:How bad is it? (4, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223872)

That's right. Humans abdicate responsibility and leave it to some of the most primitive organisms on the planet.

Primitive? I guess that depends on your point of view. You see, a human generation is about every 20 years or so. A dog, every 6 months or so. Bacteria reproduce anywhere between every 20 minutes and every 2 hours. So how many generations of bacteria have there been since 2001? Well it's still the same human generation, but it's been close to 260,000 generations of bacteria. Evolution isn't all about growing a third arm or changing the color of your fur. Just looking at the biochemistry that a simple bacterium is capable of will show you that they are far, far more "advanced" than we are, even if they don't vote or sit around watching sit coms.

Re:How bad is it? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#37224394)

You know, you just might be correct. After all, bacteria have started to colonize the solar system [slashdot.org], something humans have yet to do.

I, for one, welcome our colonic overlords....

Re:How bad is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37225702)

That is high colonic overlord to you puny hew-man!

Re:How bad is it? (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 2 years ago | (#37224930)

Evolution isn't all about growing a third arm or changing the color of your fur.

Sure, but that's the fun part.

Re:How bad is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37223876)

Wow, you're borderline retarded.

But keep on pluggin' with the class warfare bullshit, that part is funny.

Re:How bad is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37224066)

Wow, you're borderline retarded.

Borderline?

Re:How bad is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37224270)

Hello there, Big Red.

Re:How bad is it? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#37224812)

That's right. Humans abdicate responsibility and leave it to some of the most primitive organisms on the planet. I think we should scoop the stuff up and put it in every swimming pool in the Hamptons.

You know what else? Its high time we stopped relying on plants to recycle CO2 back into O2. We need to get some kind of catalytic converters in place, large scale, everywhere, to handle this vital task.

Sometimes the simplest solution really, actually, is the best solution.

Re:How bad is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37225824)

Sometimes the simplest solution really, actually, is the best solution.

Simple is a relative term...

Is there any tech that we have that can convert CO2 into C and 02 without causing massive side-effect like creating more CO2 then what it converts? If so, why the hell is it not in use in space? As far as I know, they are still using CO2 scrubbers rather then converting it back to the extremely useful O2...

Re:How bad is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37227112)

You sir, are a moron who has bought into the top money tiers marketing.
That CO2 is the only thing that's going to protect us from the coming Ice Age.
Global man made warming is a maybe. The ice age is definitely going to happen, and we are past the average return date.
Read about Intra-Glacial periods.

Re:How bad is it? (0)

archen (447353) | more than 2 years ago | (#37227230)

Not just CO2 or oil leaks... the Earth is reaching a point where things can't be sustained by humans expecting nature to take care of it in nearly all areas. The way we leave garbage everywhere, over fish the oceans, dump pollutants into the air, etc etc. Fifty years ago people could still get away with that, but there are just too many humans on this planet now.

I just wonder how bad it's going to get before humans decide that they will have to actively clean up after themselves.

Re:How bad is it? (2)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#37225028)

That's right. Humans abdicate responsibility and leave it to some of the most primitive organisms on the planet. I think we should scoop the stuff up and put it in every swimming pool in the Hamptons.

Perhaps you would be interested in meeting an acquaintance of mine who is prepared to do just that. Her name's Irene.

Re:How bad is it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37230330)

Dude (or dudette): how the heck do you fuck with a Hurricane? Or are you celibate?

Re:How bad is it? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37223964)

If it's not too bad, then the microbiology will take care of it.

You've got to stop listening to the oil companies. They claimed the same BS about the Valdez accident and here it is 20 years later and all you have to do to find oil is dig down a foot. Bacterial action is very slow when it comes to large quantities of oil. They were claiming days after they sealed the well that virtually all the oil was gone. It would have taken a mass of bacteria the size or Rhode Island to eat that much oil that fast. They also need other nutrients which is one of the factors that slows the process. The point is most of the oil will be ingested by fish and other marine life long before bacteria get most of it.

They obviously did a patch job on it and called the emergency over but a year later there's still leakage. Odds are it'll be leaking for the next 100+ years. They'll just claim the remaining seepage isn't hazardous. The real justice would be forcing the oil company executives and their families to eat sea food from the area until it's cleaned up like they expect everyone else to do. Kind of adds a new spin on "blackened fish". I'm sure the problem would be fixed in record time.

Re:How bad is it? (1)

ksd1337 (1029386) | more than 2 years ago | (#37224060)

No no, I do understand this. I really do mean a very small amount of oil when I say "not too bad". Perhaps a surface sheen, or maybe 1-2 millimeters thick.

Re:How bad is it? (2)

bgat (123664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37227570)

Actually, if the oil was 1-2mm thick then it wouldn't be a sheen--- it would be opaque, or at best translucent.

A "sheen" occurs when the thickness approximates the wavelengths of visible light. The sheen effect, with all its multiple colors, is the diffraction of light into its component wavelengths as the light passes through.

So a sheen is ridiculously thin---which means it takes almost no oil to create a large sheen. A single drop, for example, could probably produce a square meter of sheen (guessing, based on what I have seen happen with gasoline).

Re:How bad is it? (1)

Ironchew (1069966) | more than 2 years ago | (#37225806)

That depends on your definition of "not too bad". The blowout has likely already killed more organisms than all nuclear power accidents combined, and I bet the press will still give it lukewarm coverage, if any at all.

Re:How bad is it? (1)

bgat (123664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37227582)

Actually, the blowout probably didn't kill nearly as many organisms as all the chemicals we poured into the water to try to mitigate the presence of the oil.

Oil and nature can coexist at the microorganism level, within some limits, but the detergents used to break up that oil are highly, highly toxic to microorganisms. That's why, for example, you use soaps and detergents to keep your hands clean.

I "guess" it's "probably" it (-1, Flamebait)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223722)

That doesn't sound too convincing to me.

Re:I "guess" it's "probably" it (2, Insightful)

c_jonescc (528041) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223746)

He says it's a dead ringer. Then goes on to GUESS a PROBABLE source. The alternative to his guess is that there's a leak from the plugged well.

You a BP apologist, or did you just skim TFS in hopes of FP?

Re:I "guess" it's "probably" it (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 2 years ago | (#37224254)

He says it's a dead ringer. Then goes on to GUESS a PROBABLE source. The alternative to his guess is that there's a leak from the plugged well. You a BP apologist, or did you just skim TFS in hopes of FP?

Perhaps he didn't want to discredit himself by stating something as fact that he wasn't certain about?

Re:I "guess" it's "probably" it (0)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223762)

it's a dead ringer for the MC252 oil, as good a match as I've seen

No but that's slightly more assured then the two words you picked out of context.

Re:I "guess" it's "probably" it (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223812)

The definition of a "dead ringer" is something that looks a lot like something else, but isn't.

Re:I "guess" it's "probably" it (0)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 2 years ago | (#37224012)

Fucking apologist. You can sit there and do your best to make it sound like its a fucking wild guess, when the scientist sounds like hes pretty damn sure.

This doesnt sound at all like a wild guess if you read the article.

The guys who did the testing this time, wetre the ones who fingerprinted the oil the first time.

The pair did much of the chemical work used by federal officials to fingerprint the BP oil, known as MC252.

Or that the coast guard said this:

He said knowing that the oil matches with the BP well was useful, as it ruled out the possibility of other sources, such as the pipelines that crisscross the Gulf floor.

Oh wait yet another scientist wades in with his opinion:

Robert Bea, a prominent University of California petroleum engineer studying the BP spill, was not surprised that oil was seen away from the well head. Bea said he believed there was a high probability that the oil originated from the BP well.

High Probability huh? Doesnt sound like a wild guess to me.

So you paint the entire thing as something overblown, implying the scientist are only guessing.. but yet they seem a hell of a lot more certain then that. Then of course they are all fucking petroleum scientist. You know just the fucking guys who have studied this shit for years. Where did you get your petroleum engineer diploma from?

Re:I "guess" it's "probably" it (0, Troll)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#37224210)

First, the scientist himself said it looked like, but was not oil from the BP well. That's what "dead ringer" means. Then, he said he wasn't sure it was it, but that he "guessed" it was "probably" it. That is not a definitive statement. Neither is. If he was sure, he would state that "This is oil from the BP well." But, he did not say that. He used speculative language because he has no proof.

He said it was the "best match he'd seen," but that says nothing about how much of a match it was. If every other sample was a 0.1% match and this was a 0.2% match, then it's the "best match seen," but still not much of a match.

The "dead ringer" description does imply that the absolute match could be quite good, but then "dead ringer" is also a subjective description rather than an objective one.

The bottom line is that they still need to prove that this is oil from the same hole that was plugged. That has not been proven yet.

Re:I "guess" it's "probably" it (0)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 2 years ago | (#37224288)

Fucking apologist. There is nothing else to say.

You forgot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37224614)

to light the incense. The altar smells so much better with it burning.

Fucking Believer. Nothing else to say.

--

Re:I "guess" it's "probably" it (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#37232706)

They can't prove it came from anywhere. They have just proved it came from no other known sources, and the chance of there being a new and unrelated source that matches the BP spill is essentially zero. At this point all the evidence points to it being from the BP well, and none pointing to an alternate source. So I'm curious why you are asserting the opposite of what all the evidence points to? Is there some conclusion you don't like if it were from BP's incident?

Re:I "guess" it's "probably" it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37235024)

There are several wells drilled into that field, and not all of them are BPs. "The BP well" is but one hole that was drilled into that deposit, but there might be hundreds of holes drilled into a given deposit over time, and not all by the same drilling company, and not all commissioned by the same oil company. (Fields can change hands several times from the time they are discovered to the time they are depleted)

While this oil bears a similar chemical signature to the "BP oil," it could have easily come from a well drilled 1000 yards away by another drilling company at the behest of another oil company at some other time in history.

Bottom line is there needs to be further investigation to determine whether this is BP's oil or some other company's oil.

Re:I "guess" it's "probably" it (2)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#37225022)

The definition of a "dead ringer" is something that looks a lot like something else, but isn't.

A deceased Avon lady.

At least so far everyone is getting the name right (1)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223758)

Cue a thousand American "news" outlets incorrectly referring to BP as "British Petroleum" and implying that it is somehow linked to the unAmerican-ness of the company that allowed such a terrible thing to happen.

Re:At least so far everyone is getting the name ri (2)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223808)

I'm curious, what does 'BP' stand for?

Re:At least so far everyone is getting the name ri (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37223834)

Big Polluter

Re:At least so far everyone is getting the name ri (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223844)

I'm curious, what does 'BP' stand for?

Beyond Petroleum [bp.com], what else could it mean?

Re:At least so far everyone is getting the name ri (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223856)

If they are so beyond it, why are they leaking it into the ocean? Or was that their plan for disposal?

It stands for "Something with the initials BP that the marketing assholes came up with", and nothing else.

Re:At least so far everyone is getting the name ri (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37224024)

Actually it's name is now just "BP" it doesn't stand for anything, except what the current marketing people think will sell well to the public.

It's current name was chosen primarily because they were the initials of it's former legal name, British Petroleum. So it is forgiveable to refer to the company as "British Petroleum" when it's current name is "BP", seeing how they current name was based on the previous one.

An astute reader will note that the "Beyond Petroleum" moniker is not claimed to be the company's name, but it's mission statement.

Re:At least so far everyone is getting the name ri (1)

BlackTriangle (581416) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223854)

It stands for 'BP'. Just like TD Bank stands for 'TD Bank', not "Toronto Dominion Bank"

Re:At least so far everyone is getting the name ri (4, Funny)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223968)

BP = Broken Pipe

Re:At least so far everyone is getting the name ri (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 2 years ago | (#37224116)

Nice! Others heard ...

British Pollution
Big Problem
Bogus Petroleum
Bad Politics

Re:At least so far everyone is getting the name ri (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37224322)

Bloody Pisser?

Re:At least so far everyone is getting the name ri (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37224442)

Cue a thousand American "news" outlets incorrectly referring to BP as "British Petroleum" and implying that it is somehow linked to the unAmerican-ness of the company that allowed such a terrible thing to happen.

I'm curious, what does 'BP' stand for?

It stands for British Petroleum.

Re:At least so far everyone is getting the name ri (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 2 years ago | (#37227190)

It stands for British Petroleum.

It used to (and is obviously where the initials came from in the first place), but it officially doesn't any more. There was some marketing drivel about "Beyond Petroleum", but basically it's meaningless.

However, if one wants to use the former name to note its origins, then it should be pointed out that the current "BP" was actually formed from the merger between BP and Amoco in the late 1990s and was originally known as "BP Amoco" before the name was shortened. So perhaps those insisting on the "British Petroleum" name should refer to it as "British Petroleum / American Oil Company". Though I doubt they will.

Re:At least so far everyone is getting the name ri (2)

cloudmaster (10662) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223862)

You're right, it was originally the Anglo-Persian Oil Company

"[T]he British Petroleum brand was originally created by a German firm as a way of marketing its products in Britain. During the war, the British government seized the company’s assets, and the Public Trustee sold them to Anglo-Persian in 1917."
    -- http://www.bp.com/sectiongenericarticle.do?categoryId=9014441&contentId=7027521 [bp.com]

Foolish news outlets, mislabling Anglo-Persian Oil as the obviously German "British Petroleum"

Re:At least so far everyone is getting the name ri (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223980)

The name "BP" derives from the initials of one of the company's former legal names, British Petroleum.[12][13] [wikipedia.org]

and implying that it is somehow linked to the unAmerican-ness of the company that allowed such a terrible thing to happen.

I've never seen anyone imply that. Ever. Ya paranoid limey bugger...

Re:At least so far everyone is getting the name ri (1)

rve (4436) | more than 2 years ago | (#37224742)

and implying that it is somehow linked to the unAmerican-ness of the company that allowed such a terrible thing to happen.

I've never seen anyone imply that. Ever. Ya paranoid limey bugger...

Actually, the president did some of that last year.

It was quite clear (between the lines) that if BP intended to continue to exists, it would be wise to replace the CEO with an American, which they did.

Re:At least so far everyone is getting the name ri (1)

ATMAvatar (648864) | more than 2 years ago | (#37225120)

C'mon now. You can even go with the reverse tea party angle using "British Petroleum" if you refer to the oil as its old-time nickname "Texas tea".

Re:At least so far everyone is getting the name ri (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 2 years ago | (#37226930)

Cue a thousand American "news" outlets incorrectly referring to BP as "British Petroleum" and implying that it is somehow linked to the unAmerican-ness of the company that allowed such a terrible thing to happen.

Don't forget that they'll also forget about the other partner companies in the well, who are jointly and severally liable along with BP. But since that's likely to result in bankruptcies and lost jobs in the US South as the companies fold, it'll probably not be noticed.

Niggers? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37223780)

This would never have happened if we elected Ron Paul.

Re:Niggers? (0)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223858)

This would never have happened if we elected Ron Paul.

That's correct. Because time would have frozen solid in surprise if that did mange to occur.

Last sentence of TFA (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223878)

Oil sheens are not uncommon in the Gulf, and are not necessarily the result of an oil well leak.

When we get some information more solid than "we saw an oil sheen last week", we can start worrying.

Re:Last sentence of TFA (0)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223900)

What about Charlie Sheens?

Re:Last sentence of TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37223944)

Have you seen him lately, he IS an oily sheen

Re:Last sentence of TFA (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223990)

Hide your cocaine and tigers.

Re:Last sentence of TFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37224148)

Hide your cocaine and tigers.

And (OMG) ponies [youtube.com], making even Charlie Sheen seem 20% cooler.

Re:Last sentence of TFA (-1, Troll)

fat_mike (71855) | more than 2 years ago | (#37224960)

I think Slashdot should change its name to "We have no real knowledge of anything but Linux and patent wrongness and Microsoft is evil and maybe/maybe not Google is and and Apple was evil but we buy their stuff anyhow and our butts don't stink because we're better than everyone else and OMG some website said there's oil in the gulf and its BP's fault and we haveto believe everything we read because it causes scare tactics that allow our Liberal Overlords to stay in power and pay us for living in our parents basement...and the tinfoil we wear on our heads and pay for our ridiculous tenures where we stare down our noses at anyone who suggests that maybe just maybe there is something better than what our 60 year old Comp Sci teacher who hasn't left the campus grounds in 30 years thinks!" No wonder Hemos and CmdrTaco left. Slashdot....another great idea taken over by the liberal types...and they destroyed it.

...and it could be from a natural seep (1)

munitor (1632747) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223970)

The floor of the Gulf of Mexico has numerous chemosynthetic communities that live off methate hydrates, oil seeps, and even pockets of salt saturated water where salt domes are exposed. Oil seeps are prevalent throughout the region. Likely the only reason people noticed this one is they were out there doing research.

All Natural (5, Funny)

Intropy (2009018) | more than 2 years ago | (#37223978)

I don't see why we're concerned at all. Petroleum is an all natural product containing no artificial chemicals, and it's 100% organic, too!

Re:All Natural (4, Funny)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37224924)

We're concerned because this, as you rightly note, first-grade organic product is being heavily contaminated by dihydrogen monoxide in the process. Such a waste, and think of the environment!

Re:All Natural (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37226864)

Okay, you're being sarcastic, but it's all true. Also true is the fact that natural [wikipedia.org] petroleum [sciencedaily.com] seeps [wikipedia.org] have occurred in the Gulf of Mexico for almost as long as there has been a Gulf of Mexico, and bacteria specialized for metabolizing petroleum are ubiquitous there, and sometimes flourish at the sites where the petroleum is released, making a kind of underwater oasis [wikipedia.org] in the deep sea.

If it's flowing out at spectacular rates comparable to the previous blowout, then it's a problem. If it's leaking out at some modest rate, it will be lost in the background of natural seeps and won't be much to worry about. That's assuming that it is from the Macondo well or the collapsed equipment on the bottom and not a natural seep from a similar subsurface source.

Re:All Natural (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#37230604)

If it's visible as a slick on the surface, it's probably flowing out much faster than the natural rate. There's a hell of a big range between "natural seepage" and "as fast as one of the biggest well blowouts in history."

Article already out-of-date (5, Informative)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 2 years ago | (#37224126)

About 15 minutes ago NPR reported that robots were sent down there and they found no leaking. The next best guess is that the oil is coming from the shipwreck of the drilling rig, which is one of the theories mentioned in the article.

Re:Article already out-of-date (1)

SendBot (29932) | more than 2 years ago | (#37224440)

You're saying the article is out of date because NPR reported something contained in that very article a day after it was published? PLEASE MOD INSIGHTFUL

Re:Article already out-of-date (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 2 years ago | (#37225084)

I guess it depends on how you read the article. I read it to imply that the oil came directly from the well itself, as though the well was leaking. The NPR report sounded like it was trying to assure people that there is no need to panic, the well is still closed. Perhaps I saw this article with that same slant.

Re:Article already out-of-date (1)

SendBot (29932) | more than 2 years ago | (#37226254)

From TFA: "Late Thursday night, BP officials sent word that an ROV survey of the well found no leaks." That might have been added in the update that postdates the publish date.

For all they know, there is something faulty that regularly spurts ten barrels every time they're not looking. The article mentions several explanations. The kernel of the story is that it is the same oil from BP's well, and not some other source.

Sorry for being snarky. I admit that was rude.

Re:Article already out-of-date (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#37224850)

You should tell the folks at the top of the comment tree who are super sure that anyone doubting the writer's guesses are shills and apologists.

Slashdot post tech news anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37224266)

Strange trend in recent postings, is this still news for nerds?

Re:Slashdot post tech news anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37225106)

No more oil == no more high tech society with free time to masturbate in front of a keyboard... And I include myself.

Re:Slashdot post tech news anymore? (1)

VanessaE (970834) | more than 2 years ago | (#37225198)

Mostly, but it's also "stuff that matters". I'd have to argue that an oil leak in the Gulf, however thin, falls under that category.

Re:Slashdot post tech news anymore? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37225748)

not really, how much of that shit is on the ocean floor, what if a part of it gets stirred up. no freakin mystery scooby doo.

Re:Slashdot post tech news anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37226576)

They were talking about news that mattered to them or their agenda. Once Slashdot got politicized it really went to shit. You can thank fucks like KDawson for that.

There are just way too many geeks around here that can't separate what interests them from what news for nerds is really all about. These same people normally make shitty nerds anyway since they also don't look at technology with a scientific eye but simply with a "Oh, Cool!" factor.

Am shock totally shock! (2)

madhi19 (1972884) | more than 2 years ago | (#37225548)

You know that big gusher that spewed all that shit for a whole Summer well guess what it was so deep that only about 1% of that crap was surfacing and that the only 1% that BP cleaned. So you can expect big giant bubble of that shit to surface up everywhere the current will take it for the next 20 years!!! And even that is only going to be about 10% the rest will coat the Gulf of Mexico bottom and get into the ecosystem and destroy what life is left in the Gulf of Mexico. I believe by 2020 we rename it the Dead Gulf.

Thousands of oil seeps, millions of barrels/year (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#37226628)

There are literally thousands of oil seeps across the bottom of the Gulf. Those seeps release (as a conservative estimate) "Two Exxon-Valdez of oil every year [nasa.gov]". That would be as much as 1.5 million barrels, then.

Using a technique they developed in the early 1990s to help explore for oil in the deep ocean, Earth Satellite Corporation scientists found that there are over 600 different areas where oil oozes from rocks underlying the Gulf of Mexico. The oil bubbles up from a cracks in ocean bottom sediments and spreads out with the wind to an to an area covering about 4 square miles. "On water, oil has this wonderful property of spreading out really thin," said Mitchell. "A gallon of oil can spread over a square mile very quickly." ...

It's quote possible that there is an oil seep within a small distance of the BP well, that happens to be seeping the same oil. Not saying there is, but it hasn't been ruled out.

Plausible other sources (3, Interesting)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 2 years ago | (#37227206)

Some people are a bit bothered why the chemist in TFA is careful with his words about the origin of the samples.

'After examining the data, I think it's a dead ringer for the MC252 oil, as good a match as I've seen. My guess is that it is probably coming from the broken riser pipe or sunken platform.'

I can think of at least one plausible (and very unwelcome) scenario that could have Macondo reservoir oil coming up to the surface, but not from the original well. Actually, now I can think of three ways.

There could be a leak from one of the two relief wells. Which would be unwelcome in the extreme, but at least they're known quantities, and re-entering a well in good condition for an "intervention" is a pretty routine operation. That's the nice option that has Macondo oil coming to surface but not from the MC252 well.

Alternatively, with all the high-pressure operations happening on the MC252 well and on the relief wells, then it's possible to have fractured the cap rock over the HPHT (high pressure high temperature) reservoir, allowing oil and gas to start to migrate up to the surface, in exactly the same way that natural oil seeps occur all over the Gulf (and other oil provinces). That could be the start of a long-drawn out process of draining the reservoir to surface. Which shouldn't take more than a few centuries.

Actually, there is a third plausible option : searching for naturally occurring oil seeps is a well-established technique for exploration. I've had several satellite imagery companies trying to convince me of the value of their imagery and analysis tools for finding precisely this sort of oil seep, as a guide to where to put your seismic boats, then your seabed samplers, then your drilling rigs, then your production platforms. I don't know if BP/Andarko used seep-tracking in their prospecting in this area, but it's certainly possible. In which case, this may just be a "normal" seep that is being noticed because of the intense scrutiny of the area.

Anyway, with those several possibilities, the chemist is being correctly cautious about attributing the origin of the oil. He can be confident that the oil has the same characteristics as the ones that he's measured from the main flow, and that suggests but does not prove the point of origin, or the reason for the oil coming to the surface.

Oil from the rig?

It's not impossible that there was enough crude in storage on the Deepwater Horizon for it to have started seeping now. But it's fairly unlikely. By the stage they'd got to in the well, they should have finished testing the well, and the testing equipment spread would have been being stripped down for return to shore (and taken OFF RENTAL, as the encouragement to get it done NOW). You don't ship separators, chicksans, production chokes etc full of anything other than thin air, let alone full of flammables. So there is unlikely to have been more than a few gallons of Macondo crude onboard. Plenty of diesel, lube oils, gas bottles for the galley or the welder, certainly helicopter fuel ... but Macondo crude itself is unlikely to have been present in more than sample quantities. And all of those hydrocarbons have very different chemical signatures, so should be easily distinguished.

Cover up again.... (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 2 years ago | (#37241334)

Obama, please read this message, the US economy is in dire need of major money...right?
If BP oil is found at the root of this spill/leak again, hit them harder this time, like say 100 billion dollars....and take it from them, dont tell them they need to pay it off, I know they have it in all the oil stocks and what not...so just take it, as you already took the oil in the middle east(had no problems doing it then).
Do not leave them a choice....so now you have 100 billion more, cool....
Then say they have to find and plug the leak, and this time have to do it in a week...else for each week after they will be charged another 10 billion dollars...

Let's see anyone spring a leak after this one....

The only way is to make an example out of the, especially being a second repeat offence.

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