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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 5/2/10

Gulf of Mexico worst Case Scenarios-- Listing the Players and Possible Terrorist or Nuke Tie-in

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Gulf of Mexico worst Case Scenarios-- Coming Fast with Possible Terrorist Tie-in

This is a horror story which will become so much worse, it will become the dominant news story for the forseeable future. It includes Haliburton, the release of unprecedented geologic forces and a potential world wide catastrophe, not only ecologically, but much more, especially if the river of oil spewing from the deepwater, hyperpressurized sea-floor opening reaches the gulf stream, which will quickly spread it all the way up the
east coast and beyond, possibly even to Europe.

NOAA projection of oil spread.

image and caption from wikipedia

The prime players are:
  • BP-- owner of the oil field and the leaking Macondo Prospect well,
  • Transocean corporation, owner of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig-- a rig which, last year drilled the world's deepest deepest oil/gas well in BP's Gulf of Mexico Tiber Oilfield, at a depth of 35,000 feet. The company has merged with and acquired numerous companies over its history and is now registered as a Swiss corporation, with it's principal office in Houston Texas.
  • Haliburton corporation, which was acting as a subcontractor, cementing the well head to the sea-floor.
  • Hyundai Heavy Industries in Ulsan, South Korea. which built the Deepwater Horizon

The well that is now spewing the oil is located atMacondo Prospect.Wikipedia reports that "Macondo Prospectis the name given to an oil and gas prospect located in Block MC (Mississippi Canyon) 194 in the Gulf of Mexico. Ownership is 65% by BP, 25% by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation(owned bySouthern Union Company, which strangely, does not have a listing in wikipedia, It's CEO isGeorge L. Lindemann, ranked by Forbes in 2006 as one of the 400 wealthiest families) and 10% by a unit of Mitsui. Forbes report ed on April 21 that the well was drilling in rock 18,000 feet down when there may have been a blowout.

Underestimation seems to be the pattern here. Reports suggest that if the pipe the oil is gushing from, already believed to be kinked, breaks, and if the wellhead fails, the amount of oil gushing out could rise from the lower current estimates of 200,000 to one million gallons a day to up to six million gallons a day. Exon-Valdez's damage was caused by a total of 11 million gallons released. For all we know, the amount released could already be far more than the 200,000 gallon a day estimate. suggests that rather than considering this a "spill" it be considered a "river of oil."

This is not your ordinary well. The DeepWater Horizon semi submersible drilling rig, operated on behalf of BP by Transocean Corporation (9 of the 11 workers who died were Transocean employees) had the history of having dug the deepest well ever, in a nearby Gulf field also owned by BP. This well breaks ground 5000 feet below the surface and then drills down thousands of feet more, hitting a highly compressed reservoir of oil that is now gushing upwards like water a super-pressurized fire-hose. Replace any visualizations you may have of a trickle of leaking oil with an image of a hyper-pressurized river of oil ballistically billowing, explosively from a hole in the sea-floor Haliburton was commissioned to properly seal.

Without the controls on the release of the oil at the top of the platform, the oil is rushing through faster than it would have, with more sand, more abrasion eroding the pipes. The pipes are more likely to break. The worst case is if the wellhead breaks, unleashing the full flow of this well. Consider that pressures 5000 feet below the surface are enough to pulverize a human. Then consider that the well is tapping a a petroleum field even deeper, below the surface of the earth, with even greater pressures pushing it up, out of the mile-deep sea floor.

The oil that is released is quickly moving further from the source and could and probably will start moving up the east coast. If that happens, it could get into the gulf stream which could make it a far wider reaching disaster that touches all of the eastern US coastal states and Canadian provinces.

Then, there's the question of the cause of the explosion. One source, of questionable reliability, The European Union Times suggests that the platform explosion was caused by a North Korean Mini-sub, launched on April 20th from a ship which departed Cuba on April 18th and then deviated far from it's scheduled course to Venezuela. The article speculates that the Transocean Corporation which owns and operated platform, has ties to South Korea through Hyuundai holdings in the company, so this was an attack by N. Korea on it's enemy, South Korea. The article also speculates that this will force Obama to make a decision to use a nuclear warhead to close the uncontrolled leaking well. Use of a nuclear bomb, for any reason, will hurt Obama's recent efforts to reduce Nuclear weapon ownership worldwide. Note that this article is not corroborated and claims to be privy to Russian and Japanese reports.

Even if the EU Times article is pure conspiracy theory, the fact is, the world faces a catastrophic situation that cannot be waited out. It is already at a regional catastrophic level. It could, within days or weeks become a hemispheric catastrophic event. Just this fact forces us to take a closer look at all the parties involved, not just BP, which leased the platform.

There is a site that was created in response to the disaster,, set up by a company that does emergency media responses, It displays, at the header of the site, logos from several US agencies, BP and Transocean corporation.

The EPA has also created a site to cover news and developments relating to the gulf disaster.

Randall Amster, writing in the Huiffingtonpost, discusses a Haliburton connection, in an article titled,Was the Gulf Oil Spill an Act of War? You Betcha:

As a recent article in the Huffington Post notes:
"Giant oil-services provider Halliburton may be a primary suspect in the investigation into the oil rig explosion that has devastated the Gulf Coast,the Wall Street Journal reports. Though the investigation into the explosion that sank the Deepwater Horizon site is still in its early stages, drilling experts agree that blame probably lies with flaws in the 'cementing' process -- that is, plugging holes in the pipeline seal by pumping cement into it from the rig. Halliburton was in charge of cementing for Deepwater Horizon."

The Los Angeles Timessubsequently reported that members of Congress have called on Halliburton "to provide all documents relating to 'the possibility or risk of an explosion or blowout at the Deepwater Horizon rig and the status, adequacy, quality, monitoring, and inspection of the cementing work' by May 7." A YouTube video(which is actually mostly audio) more bluntly asserts that "Halliburton Caused Oil Spill," and notes the fact -- confirmed by Halliburton's own press release-- that its employees had worked on the final cementing "approximately 20 hours prior to the incident." Interestingly, one commenter on the YouTube video notes how "that would conveniently explain the North Korean story; [Halliburton] may have leaked this story to the press to divert attention away from alleged negligence." Wouldn't that just be the ultimate? Halliburton spawns the calamity but pins it on North Korea, and then the nation goes to war whereby Halliburton "cleans up" through billions in war-servicing contracts.

The LA Times reports that Halliburton's connection to the Deepwater Horizon disaster was it's role in cementing the connection of the well's casings to the sea-floor-- an essential step in securing a well. It is also a step that is fraught with danger and the LA times article reports,
"Cementing a deep-water drilling operation is a process fraught with danger. A 2007 study by the U.S. Minerals Management Service found that cementing was the single most important factor in 18 of 39 well blowouts in the Gulf of Mexico over a 14-year period -- more than equipment malfunction.
The Transocean Corporation website lists 139 drilling units it owns. The one DeepWater Horizon drill rig has been reported to cost over $600 million. Any extrapolation of the numbers for a fleet of such rigs makes it clear that Transocean corporation is a very big company. But you might consider transocean to be the like a rental car company. BP owns the well and the oil field and it was using the Transocean drilling rig. Haliburton was doing a sub-contractor job, cementing the casings of the well. Now, the BP's well is leaking, or worse, the hole it opened up is gushing oil at super-high pressure, from an uncontrolled rent in the seafloor.

A bit of Oil Spill disaster history.
The second worst Oil well spill took place in the gulf of Mexico in 1980. The Ixtoc 1, in Mexican waters, owned by Petroleos Mexicanos well leaked three million barrells of oil and took nine months to cap. It took two months for oil to wash onto Texas shores.

The worst spill was intentional, done by Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait, where over 10 million barrels were released into the Persian gulf.

The Report cited above suggests that the leak from the BP Macondo Prospect well could hit 150,000 barrels per day. If it takes nine months to cap the BP Macondo Prospect well, then the "spill" could exceed 40 million barrels. Estimates of the oil fields suggest 10-15 BILLION barrels of oil in these deposits.

Considering Terrorism, Accidents and Catastrophic Consequences
Let's talk about that report of a N. Korean connection. It's from an obscure site using more obscure un-linked sources. The conspiracy-theory prone will love it. But let's not totally rule out it, or some other potential nefarious intentioned actions. When we start looking into what a leak of a major well can do to damage the US, then questions about targeting of a gulf well, and defense and security for any gulf well become reasonable. What security was in place for that well and all the other wells in the Gulf? What analysis and plans did Homeland Security have for either accidents or intentional attacks on wells that, if damaged, could wreak such devastating consequences.

What kinds of resources would be required to break through whatever security defenses were in place? Who might have those resources?

Now we face an unprecedented catastrophe with world wide consequences and effects. How much preparation and planning has gone into anticipating it, dealing with it?

If this river of oil gets worse, who knows the permanent or long term damage on vast swathes of ocean will be? Who knows how much damage will be done to breeding grounds and hatcheries of sea life and the birds that live off that sea life before they play a role in pollination and seed distribution. From the bottom up, the affects of this one "spill" upon the people and environment and life in the US, this catastrophy is huge and the effects will be enormous. Already delays and underestimation of the problem have allowed delays that are bad news.

We're not hearing much about BP's efforts to close the leaks or cap the well. At a potential 10-15 billion barrels, we're talking about a field that could ultimately yield over a trillion dollars worth of oil. That means BP and it's two partners will look at salvaging the field and perhaps weigh that consideration over the risks to the environment and all the jobs the oil damage will cause.

It's essential that Barack Obama take over operations immediately, directing BP on what to do. There's a possibility that an alternate well can be drilled that would shunt the flow of the oil and control the flow. If that's even possible, who knows how long that will take?

There's another consideration. It's part of that N. Korean conspiracy theory narrative-- the use of a nuclear warhead to close the leak. It's an extreme reaction. We know so little about what effect that will have-- a tsunami or tidal wave? Massive destruction of sea life? Radioactive seawater producing radioactive shrimp and oysters and all the fish that commercial fisherman out of Louisiana catch? Use a nuke or allow the river of oil to flow into and up the Gulf until it is moved all the way to Europe. This is a no-win situation. What if a nuclear explosion sets off other geological activity or worsens the oil release? What if Obama looks at the nuclear option and decides it's a good idea because there are a lot of red-mean Americans who like fireworks who would love to have the US explode a nuclear weapon in their lifetime?

We live in an ever shrinking world where decisions in one place affect more and more of us. This catastrophy shows us just how risky our dependence on oil has become. While we struggle with and face this major test, we should remember that the need for oil is becoming a more and more danger producing factor on this planet and we should do all we can to end our dependence upon it as soon as possible.
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Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media. 

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Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet (more...)

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