So now Rush Limbaugh is intimating that sabotage was the most likely reason the BP drilling rig, in the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana’s coast, blew up and caught fire. In recent transcripts of his radio broadcast I learned that not only SWAT teams were being called out to secure the other rigs but that the oil would do no real damage-since the amount of oil seeping from the well was less than the amount of natural seepage of oil that happens all the time from the ocean floor. “The ocean takes care of itself,” he said.
In addition, the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska resulted in no real damage and the cleanup with Dawn dish soap and paper towels was all it took to restore its pristine coastline. Everything is now hunky dory up there in former Governor Palin’s Alaska.
Without presenting any evidence or alternative explanation for the disaster, Rush finds it more than coincidental that the rig blew up within days of Erf at the same time not defining what Erf stands for ( he made this up as far as I can tell). Homeland security (ha ha) is on the case and therefore crime must have been committed, encouraged and perhaps abetted by Al Gore.
“Nobel Peace Prize winner and environmental crusader Al Gore urged young people on Wednesday to engage in civil disobedience to stop the construction of coal plants without the ability to store carbon,” opines Rush.
It gets better, “The Regime is going to use this for all it’s worth,” Rush goes on to say while laughing. “So obviously Obama thinks the tea partiers are expert scuba divers as well or maybe they have their own fleet of underwater submarines that can go deep enough to go undetected, set explosives, and hightail it back to the protests in Ohio, or wherever they (laughing) happen to be,” Limbaugh goes on to say.
Unlike Mr. Limbaugh, not only did I work for a living in the oil and gas fields in the overthrust belt region of Utah, Wyoming and Colorado for 7 years, but I owned an oilfield service company for 3 years. Operators employed my company, Mountain States Safety, Inc., to protect their employees and other contractors from H2S gas.
Gas wells in the area of Wyoming I worked contained sufficient quantities of this highly poisonous gas to kill the entire state of Utah many times over. One thousand parts per million will kill you and I worked on wells that approached 36% “sour” gas. The gas, besides being highly toxic is also highly corrosive and operators spend an enormous amount of money “sweetening” the gas before it reaches the market.
All the operators that I worked for were required by law to protect their employees from this and other noxious gases. In my experience the operators took this commitment seriously and went overboard to be in compliance with federal and state regulations. Chevron and Amoco had exemplary safety records in this regard. No one died on my watch.
To my mind the most likely explanation for the “blowout,” was that in the process of removing the pipe from the hole, in order to perhaps change the bit, the driller neglected to keep the hole filled. Gas and oil are contained in their underground reservoirs during the drilling process by the hydrostatic pressure a column of fluid exerts on the walls and bottom of the “container”. In this case the container is the well. The pressure exerted is directly related to the height and density of the fluid column. Simple physics.
When removing pipe from the well the height of that column is reduced. Get out of the bath and what happens to the water level? In order to account for this effect drillers must constantly fill the hole with additional drilling fluid.
Alternatively the hole lost pressure when, in the process of drilling, fluid was lost into a formation and the operators couldn’t keep ahead of the loss by pumping more fluid in or by adjusting the density of the drilling fluid.
Fortunately, these blowouts are relatively rare nowadays and one blowout should not shut down the otherwise safe drilling for oil and gas. On the other hand the faster we convert to other sources of energy the less likely this tragic accident will happen again.