What the Hell is Happening with the BP Oil Gusher?

This may be a seminal moment in the history of the internet.

As government authorities and British Petroleum continue to describe the BP oil spill in limited terms. one blogger has had his eyes glued to the “Spillcam” which is giving real time images of the oil gushing from the uncapped hole in the ground and has caught what appears to be a massive increase in the amount of oil coming out of the sea floor.

It started yesterday morning:

I’ve been watching the live Spillcam, and discussing it with folks, here all day long. About 5pm last night, we all started taking note of gas bubbling out of the seabed floor. It started earlier than that, actually– see pic a few posts down. About 1am this morning, the eruptions began to increase in spew volume. At about 8am, CDT, as I watched, things started changing rapidly. Where the water around the two major gush points used to be very clear, it is now super turbid, and detritus is flying everywhere in a chaotic manner. seabed venting is obvious to see when ROV cameras pan around.

Yet-to-be-confirmed rumors are that the casing wall has finally worn through, about 300 feet below seabed, at an annulus (coupling), and the gas and oil are now finding a new way out to the seabed.

Not good news, as it will make the Top-Kill/Junk Shot nearly ineffectual… At the least, it means that more pressure and mud/cement is going to be required.

Sure enough, by early evening, things had gone from very bad, to very much worse:

UPDATE 5:45pm CDT: A brand new MAJOR eruption is happening. tune into the SpillCam at BP.com . It’s black, all you can see is a cable. It started with yet another GUSH plume/tornado.

Oh, dear– now, we can see that that is a LOT of oil– and a BLIZZARD of Hydrates..

Those hydrates are freezing when they hit the below freezing water (salt water freezes at about 28 degrees but water bubbling up from the gusher has less salt and freezes at a higher temp. Methane drops are also freezing.). It has severely hampered efforts to place any kind of dome or cap on the hole and now, that may be only a partial solution.

UPDATE 6:03pm CDT: The current eruption is way, way worse than the several that occured earlier. I think this might be a “Main Event” situation.

UPDATE 6:45pm CDT: An hour after the start of this most recent eruption, and it is still just a wall of oil, methane crystals, and gack.

WAY, WAAAY worse than the first event.

Apparently, the seabed is collapsing into a crater and oil and gas has begun leaking directly from the sea floor. At least that is one interpretation of the images captured by the blogger “Monkeyfister.” If so, this has complicated the job of shutting down this spill astronomically.

Not a word of this from authorities or BP has reached the mainstream media. The New Orleans Times-Picayune appears to be in the dark:

It remains unclear exactly how much oil has been pouring into the gulf since the spill began several days after the Deepwater Horizon rig, which BP leased from Transocean, exploded on April 20. According to official estimates, oil has been flowing from a leaking pipe a mile below the surface at a rate of about 5,000 barrels a day. However, some experts have suggested the oil could be gushing at up to five times that rate.

Landry said a panel of government and academic experts has been convened and should be able to provide a more firm estimate in the coming weeks.

On the one hand, we have evidence that the spill has gotten much worse over the last 24 hours. On the other hand, we have the government saying that a panel will convene and take a few weeks to arrive at a conclusion about how much oil is spewing from the leak into the Gulf of Mexico.

Where is the sense of urgency about this thing? Obviously, the Obama administration is downplaying the entire crisis in order to avoid any “gotchya” games by their political opponents. And with a compliant media going along with this, they will succeed in minimizing political damage from the spill – for a while.

Peter Daou writing in Huffpo:

Where is the outrage? Where are the millions marching in the streets, where is the round-the-clock roadblock coverage tracking every moment of the crisis, every effort to plug the leak, every desperate attempt to mitigate the damage?

Where is the White House? Where are Republicans? Where are Democrats? Where is the left? Where is the right? Where is the “fierce urgency of now?”

[...]

In the movies, pretend heroes like Bruce Willis and Will Smith save the planet while the whole world watches with breath and belief suspended. In real life, a global catastrophe is treated like a mere annoyance, mismanaged by a rapacious oil company, while drill-baby-drillers double down on their folly and the White House puts out defensive fact sheets about how they were on it from “day one.”

Is this really the best we can do?

America is capable of greatness — but our reaction to this unprecedented event is anything but great.

Our reaction – or lack thereof – is a direct result of partisans in both parties calling for “outrage” over something or other at regular intervals, so that the American people are now suffering from Outrage Fatigue Syndrome.

First, Mr. Daou apparently can’t grasp the fact that there is no crisis – at least as far as the Obama administration and the media is concerned. The lackadaisical response by government, and BP’s thrashing about to find a solution doesn’t fit the narrative of cool competence that the media has portrayed the administration. Cool and incompetent just doesn’t work. Ergo, despite the danger that the oil may be gushing 25,000 barrels into the Gulf of Mexico every day, thus threatening the multi-billion dollar fishing industry along the coast, the administration refuses to make a big deal out of the crisis.

Should they? Dauo thinks so:

Lawmakers can say that the law mandates BP take responsibility for clean-up and costs; federal officials can list all the things they’re doing to fix the problem; President Obama can launch as many fact-finding commissions as he sees fit. But we shouldn’t be impressed that they are doing what we elected them to do – it’s their job to deal with emergencies promptly and effectively. Far more is called for in this uniquely cataclysmic circumstance: a level of outrage, alarm, intensity and focus worthy of the size and scope of the spill.

We need, and must demand, boldness and resoluteness worthy of a planetary emergency – true leadership, rallying the nation and the world to action. Offense, not defense. We’re not getting anything close to that from Democratic leaders. And from Republicans, far less.

The classic Jo Dee Messina’s “My Give a Damn’s Busted” comes into play here. The American people have been whipsawed back and forth these past couple of years being asked to get angry at one party or the other to the point that it becomes quite easy to simply throw up your hands and retreat from the fray, preferring to concentrate on the upcoming last episode of Lost or 24, while sneaking a peak at the tabloids to see who Tiger Woods is banging these days.

The crisis may very well be every bit as bad as Daou is describing. But as long as politicians, corporate PR people, and a media fearful of attack

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