Tuesday, 25 January 2011

BP Oil Cap Working, but Large Amounts of Oil Still Spewing into Gulf

The news for the Gulf of Mexico, its residents and BP was mixed over the weekend. The latest attempt to partially cap the oil geyser at the bottom of the Gulf was successful in recent days and BP and the government believe that they are now collecting the majority of the oil that is coming out of the damaged wellhead. That fact, of course, is still in dispute based upon independent scientists' estimates of the amount of oil that is coming out of the pipe. The live video feed from BP shows large amounts of crude still spewing around the new cap, but the company claims that it is gathering over 200,000 gallons of crude per day through the cap.

The drama at the bottom of the ocean is unfolding as massive oil slicks have already soiled fragile marshlands and beaches in Louisiana. Now the oil is headed east and has already made landfall in Pensacola, FL. A large sheen was spotted about 150 miles off the coast of Tampa on Florida's west coast and it is believed that much of the west coast of Florida is in danger of being hit with oil as the slicks and the plumes continue to head east with the currents and the winds.

Even as there is some progress reported on the seabed, officials have been quick to point out that it will likely be into the fall before oil is no longer actively leaking from the seafloor of the Gulf of Mexico. Relief wells are currently being drilled which might be able to intersect the damaged well head by sometime in August, but even then there will likely be residual spillage to be contained with other measures.

On the surface, it is likely that the oil is going to overwhelm any conventional means of containing it. Officials have abandoned the idea of trying to protect the beaches, as the surf makes it impossible and they are ultimately easier to clean up than inland waterways.