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History’s Most Vigorous Methane Eruption

From a newly outraged Associated Press:

Gulf oil full of methane, adding new concerns

By MATTHEW BROWN and RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI (AP)

June 18, 2010

NEW ORLEANS — It is an overlooked danger in oil spill crisis: The crude gushing from the well contains vast amounts of natural gas that could pose a serious threat to the Gulf of Mexico’s fragile ecosystem.

The oil emanating from the seafloor contains about 40 percent methane, compared with about 5 percent found in typical oil deposits, said John Kessler, a Texas A&M University oceanographer who is studying the impact of methane from the spill.

That means huge quantities of methane have entered the Gulf, scientists say, potentially suffocating marine life and creating "dead zones" where oxygen is so depleted that nothing lives.

"This is the most vigorous methane eruption in modern human history," Kessler said.

Methane is a colorless, odorless and flammable substance that is a major component in the natural gas used to heat people’s homes. Petroleum engineers typically burn off excess gas attached to crude before the oil is shipped off to the refinery…

The dangerous gas has played an important role throughout the disaster and response. A bubble of methane is believed to have burst up from the seafloor and ignited the rig explosion. Methane crystals also clogged a four-story containment box that engineers earlier tried to place on top of the breached well.

Now it is being looked at as an environmental concern.

The small microbes that live in the sea have been feeding on the oil and natural gas in the water and are consuming larger quantities of oxygen, which they need to digest food. As they draw more oxygen from the water, it creates two problems. When oxygen levels drop low enough, the breakdown of oil grinds to a halt; and as it is depleted in the water, most life can’t be sustained.

The National Science Foundation funded research on methane in the Gulf amid concerns about the depths of the oil plume and questions what role natural gas was playing in keeping the oil below the surface, said David Garrison, a program director in the federal agency who specializes in biological oceanography.

"This has the potential to harm the ecosystem in ways that we don’t know," Garrison said. "It’s a complex problem." …

Of course, as the article notes in passing, it was the explosion of methane that killed the eleven rig workers in the first place.

But it took a threat to the ‘ecosystem’ to make the Associated Press really take notice.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, June 18th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

8 Responses to “History’s Most Vigorous Methane Eruption”

  1. proreason says:

    “History’s Most Vigorous Methane Eruption”

    I thought the article would be about Al Toad finally saying something about the BP leak.

  2. Right of the People says:

    I thought they were talking bout Barney Fwank.

    Steve, of course the AP is worried now that it’s an environmental concern. Those were just evil, non-union oil workers before.

  3. Tater Salad says:

    This is what we all deserve from a “Community Organizer” whether we voted for him or not. This is the end result of inexperience at the highest level…..OR was it? Maybe, just maybe Obama wants this oil spill to be crisis?

    President Obama addressed the nation on the Gulf oil spill, and told the American people how he has been doing all he can to “plug the damn hole” and whose behind he might kick.

    Since his strategy dealing with the spill seems lacking thus far, Redstate editor Erick Erickson has compiled a Top 10 list of things to alleviate the disaster that Obama could have done but didn’t.

    1. Accepted help from the Netherlands when they offered it shortly after the accident. The Dutch, experienced in the oil business, offered prompt help for oil skimming booms and plans to create barriers to stop the oil from infiltrating into wetland areas.

    2. Suspended the Jones Act, as President Bush did after Katrina, to allow foreign vessels into American waters to assist with recovery without having to swap ships and transfer equipment onto American flagged vessels.

    3. Suspended the Davis-Bacon prevailing wage laws, as President Bush did after Katrina, to allow rapid deployment of new workers to help with containment efforts.

    4. Suspended FEMA contracting and bidding rules, as President Bush did after Katrina, to allow a more rapid assignment of contracts to assist with the recovery effort.

    5. Allowed coastal governors to immediately begin dredging to create barrier islands.

    6. Talked to BP’s CEO to establish initial metrics for progress to gauge BP’s response so the federal government would have ascertainable metrics to determine when federal intervention was needed. Heck, he should have talked to BP’s CEO period.

    7. Not imposed a blanket deep water drilling moratorium, further crippling economies in coastal communities.

    8. Talked to experts about how to fix the problem instead of trying to figure out whose “ass to kick.”

    9. Not waited to act lest he be seen as owning the situation. Guess what? He owns it now so why is he still on the golf course?

    10. Not have wasted time trying to blame the accident on George Bush before diving in to take responsibility.

    • proreason says:

      All of these actions are based on the underlying assumption that he would have wanted to contain the spill.

      The truth is he wanted the spill to continue.

      Now the country is talking about how much it hates BP….not about the coup that is happening right in front of your face.

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      Yep, all impeachable offenses, as far as I’m concerned on the basis of “not using sound and prudent judgment to curtail or otherwise mitigate a situation that was known to be a potential disaster and economic crisis in the gulf region”.

      There are plenty of other offenses, high crimes and misdemeanors that he needs to be held accountable for….and what has me stymied is the egregiousness of his actions both individually and cumulatively. This is what has me talking to myself while walking down the street.

      Were the MSM not so complicit, we really would have “Obama’s Waterloo” here.

    • proreason says:

      Dick Morris is saying these are simply mistakes resulting from his total lack of experience at doing anything besides agitating. Dick is right about most things.

      But this time, I don’t buy it. The Moron has thousands of people at his disposal, and it is inconceivable that these rational actions would have been overlooked. Moreover, remember the total blackout on all information about the accident for about 10 days? That was because they were plotting the political strategy, not because they were planning solutions.

      This cabal isn’t interested in fixing anything. EVERY problem is simply another opportunity to increase their power and destroy something else that stands in its way.

      The Moron’s inaction is deliberate, criminal, and impeachable.


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