Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Oil Spill

Charts or Methane, sorry, today it's methane. 

The Gulf of Mexico receives the outfall of the Missisippi River, which drains a good portion of the US.  It picks up a good amount of bio-materials and dumps that into the Gulf, and has been doing that for a long time. 

One route of production of oil and methane is through decomposition of bio-materials.   So of course the Gulf has lots of oil and methane.

In a previous post I pointed out that Methane Hydrate is some very interesting stuff.   It is an ice-rock that can burn.   It is found only in high pressure and cold places, like the bottom of the ocean, deep.   Some claims have been made that the energy stored in MH is much greater than all the oil still buried in the earth, but this claim is disputed also.   Bottom line---there is lots of MH hiding in the ocean floor and, sure, in the land areas too, as over tens of millions of years, the ocean and land areas move around.   MH is very stable, it will just sit there forever, as long as the pressure and low temperature are kept up.

However, once you hit the sea floor the temperature is very cold, right around 0F.   But as you go deeper into the sea floor, the rock mass heats up the further down you go, so MH won't exist really far under the sea bed, it will instead turn back into methane gas and water.

"They" say that there is lots of methane being released with the oil, and that the methane can be very detrimental to the earth. 

The pressures involved in an oil well are in the thousands of PSI.
And Methane "kicks" are a well known and common issue involved in all oil well drilling.   Methane is usually a gas, and as a gas rises in a liquid environment, it expands as the pressure decreases (as the depth below the surface decreases)

Oil drililng is "real man" stuff.   Unfortunately "real man" stuff also attracts overly risk taking cowboy type of attitudes.   There is big money and big egos. 

Just look at some of the audacious comments by BP personnel.   They cannot even cover up their attitudes while they know that they are under the microscope.   Look at the Grand Flubber himself, who is "devastated", and "wants his life back", as he sails one of his yachts around an island in England (today) as the spill goes unabated.  I am glad he gets a chance to relax....
There are multiple players with overlapping responsibility.  There are government regulators who are too cozy with those they oversee.  It is a ripe field for growing a disaster.

All that said, there was a similar oil spill in the Gulf in 1979, caused by similar circumstances, they tried the EXACT same manuevers as they have tried on this latest spill, in the same order, and with the same results.   Bottom line here?   The gulf recovered pretty well.   The high temperatures allow biological degradation of the oil, much better than in say Alaska.

I guess this is a good time to be in the solar business, except no one except the governments appears to have the money and willingness to do projects.   And it appears that the Gov in now pumping out lots of  PV projects kind of designed so that only the biggest companies (that can provide big campaign contributions), can win.    This is creating PV panel shortages and cost increases.   Sigh---another bubble---benefiting big business and hurting small business and the small customer who has to compete with the gov for product.


  1. Solar's time will come, but right now we need thorium power.

  2. I remember your thorium post....what is stopping thorium?

  3. Exactly, bridge the gap, it is going to take us some time to get our shit together!

  4. Did you notice the multiple headlines about how Afghanistan has trillions in mineral reserves? I guess that is to keep Americans intersted in staying in that war based on greed. Other thoughts?


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