Seep found near BP’s blown out oil well



Today, this is all over the press. From AP:

A federal official says scientists are concerned about a seep and possible methane near BP’s busted oil well in the Gulf of Mexico

Both could be signs there are leaks in the well that’s been capped off for three days.

The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Sunday because an announcement about the next steps had not been made yet.

The official is familiar with the spill oversight but would not clarify what is seeping near the well. The official says BP is not complying with the government’s demand for more monitoring.

The Oil Drum has the letter that Admiral Allen wrote to the BP brass:

Dear Mr. Dudley,

My letter to you on July 16, 2010 extended the Well Integrity Test period contingent upon the completion of seismic surveys, robust monitoring for indications of leakage, and acoustic testing by the NOAA vessel PISCES in the immediate vicinity of the well head. Given the current observations from the test, including the detected seep a distance from the well and undetermined anomalies at the well head, monitoring of the seabed is of paramount importance during the test period. As a continued condition of the test, you are required to provide as a top priority access and coordination for the monitoring systems, which include seismic and sonar surface ships and subsea ROV and acoustic systems. When seeps are detected, you are directed to marshal resources, quickly investigate, and report findings to the government in no more than four hours. I direct you to provide me a written procedure for opening the choke valve as quickly as possible without damaging the well should hydrocarbon seepage near the well head be confirmed.

As the National Incident Commander, I must remain abreast of the status of your source control efforts. Now that source control has evolved into a period beyond the expected 48 hour interval of the Well Integrity Test, I am requiring that you provide me a written update within 24 hours of your intentions going forward. I remain concerned that all potential options to eliminate the discharge of oil be pursued with utmost speed until I can be assured that no additional oil will spill from the Macondo Well.

You may use your letter of 9 July as a basis for your update. Specifically, you must provide me your latest containment plan and schedule in the event that the Well Integrity Test is suspended, the status and completion timelines for all containment options currently under development, and details of any other viable source control options including hydraulic control that you are

considering. You should highlight any points at which progress along one option will be impacted by resource trade-offs to achieve progress along another option. Include options for and impacts of continued twice-a day seismic testing versus once a day testing.

As you develop the plans above, note that the primary method of securing the source is the relief well and this effort takes precedence. Therefore, I direct you to provide a detailed plan for the final stages of the relief well that specifically addresses the interaction of this schedule and any other activity that may potentially delay relief well completion.

Have your representative provide results on the monitoring efforts and source control requirements described above during today’s BP and Government Science Team call at 8:00 PM CDT.



Now, I am puzzled. That gas and oil is seeping form the floor seems to be nothing new, judging from the news that has been out there for some time. For example, Alexander Higgins’ blog wrote on 28.06.2010:

There seems to be a great deal of skepticism over the possibility that cracks in the well casing and rock formation surrounding the BP Gulf Oil spill could lead to oil leaking from cracks in the seafloor.

However the chronology of the IXTOC blowout reveals that and underground blowout caused oil to leak from cracks in the seafloor.

Some experts deny that there are even cracks in the rocks surrounding the leaking oil well even though MMS documents show that BP has reports a series of cracks in the well casing and surrounding rock formation as far back as February.

Other experts contend that you can’t have cracks in the seafloor of the Gulf of Mexico because the entire seabed is a layer of silt that has the consistency of pudding.

The facts are that there  BP has reports cracks in the sea floor and well casing and that there have been a series of well control events or blowouts that have occurred during the drilling of of the Macondo oil well that is now leaking millions of gallons of oil every day into the Gulf of Mexico.

The first report of cracks in the both rocks surrounding the well and in the well itself in February was only the first in a series of “well control events” or blowouts.

It seems that the United States research ship Thomas Jefferson has collected data and compiled a graph to document where oil is seeping (see more at blog

In other words, the information that gas and oil may be leaking around the well is nothing new, it has been around for quite some time now, nevertheless, BP was allowed to proceed with its ‘fix’, possibly making the situation worse.


WSJ: Libya Oil Chief Urges Stake in BP

Flag of Libya

Flag of Libya

Is Libya interested in buying at least part of BP or some of its shares? The Wall Street Journal has the following story:

DUBAI—Libya should buy a strategic stake in BP PLC to take advantage of its weak share price following the giant oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the country’s top oil official told Zawya Dow Jones.

Shokri Ghanem, chairman of Libya’s National Oil Co. said he will recommend buying a stake in BP to the Libyan Investment Authority, or LIA, the North African state’s sovereign wealth fund.

“BP is interesting now with the price lower by half and I still have trust in BP, I will recommend it to the LIA,” Mr. Ghanem said in a telephone interview Monday. “It’s a good opportunity for bargain hunters,” he added.

Mr. Ghanem’s remarks follow local press speculation that oil-rich Middle East investors are considering a strategic investment in BP as it continues to battle the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill, now in its 76th day, ranks among the largest in U.S. history and has hurt the region’s fishing and tourism industries.

“We are not selling any assets right now but we do wish to sell $10 billion of noncore upstream assets over the next 12 months; if people want to buy BP shares we always welcome new shareholders,” said John Pack, a London-based spokesperson for BP.

However, Mr. Ghanem’s recommendation does not mean that Libya’s sovereign wealth fund will actually buy any BP shares. From Yahoo! News:

“I think that BP shares are good value for bargain hunters,” Shokri Ghanem, chairman of Libya’s National Oil Corporation, said in a telephone interview.

He declined to comment when asked if he would recommend that the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), a Libyan sovereign wealth fund, buy BP shares. He added he did not know if the LIA would be buying shares and that he would not be part of any decision it made to do so.

“I am not part of the decision-making process on investments by Libya,” he said.

Two new Natural Gas Fields discovered in Iran

natural gas flare

Image source: Fars News

From Farsnews:

Two new gas fields discovered in the Persian Gulf and Khorasan

Fars News Agency: The Ministry of Petroleum discovered two new gas fields in the Persian Gulf and Razavi Khorasan with reported reserves of 700 billion cubic meters and 62.5 billion cubic meters in situ.

According to a report of Fars News economic correspondent, Masoud Mirkazemi told reporters minutes ago: A new gas field was discovered, located 30 km southeast of Kish, with name Foruz and reserves of 700 billion cubic meters in situ.
According to him, this gas field in area 21 in 28 will after development have a daily production of 70 million cubic meters of gas, which is as much as the two phases of South Pars.
The Ministry of Petroleum also discovered a new gas field with reserves of gas in Razavi Khorasan with 62.5 billion cubic meters in situ which can produce 4 million cubic meters a day after the development, Mirkazemi said.
Additional news will be given subsequently.

The Kish gas field discovery seems to be in addition to what already was discovered previously with a size of 1560 billion cubic meters, whereas the Razavi Khorasan seems bo be an entirely new one.

Spanish Judge Opens Criminal Investigation against Repsol

Oil Platform at Tarragona

Image Source: El Pais

Do you remember  hearing about oil spills in the Mediterranean off the coast of Spain in 2009? I don’t. If it was in the news, I must have missed it. El Pais writes today:

A court in Tarragona has opened the door for criminal prosecution against Repsol for at least two oil spills off-shore opposite the Ebro delta (Tarragona), about 40 kilometers off the Catalonian coast. The spills, that the oil company didn’t indicate to the authorities, happened in May and June 2009 during performing prospection task intended to determine the viability of two patches of submarine oil difficult to access.

The Ministry of Developement detected the spills in July of last year and the prosecutors opened an official investigation the following month, which completed appreciating evidence of a felony against the environment, according to the complaint that the judge received last week.

Read full story at El Pais (Spanish)

There was indeed something about the accident in the (Spanish) press in 2009. Also from El Pais:

After three days of willful silence, Repsol admitted yesterday its responsibility for the oil spills that its North-American subcontractor Pride kept secret from the Ministry of Developement at least two occasions in May and June. The oil company notified the Merchant Marine in a brief letter delivered 13:54 yesterday, according to the archives of that body. In the message, Repsol is asking to be included in the disciplinary proceedings because of “contractual obligations” towards Pride, which it hired to perform tasks of exploring the coast of Tarragona.

Read the full story at El Pais (Spanish)

Note: Pride is probably referring to Pride International, Inc., which is headquartered in Houston, Texas. Repsol is a Spanish oil company, the 15th largest petroleum refiner worldwide.

The oil patch data is also interesting, especially the depth:

– Name: Montanazo D-5 y Lubina-1.

– Distance from coast: 40 kilometres.

– Estimated lifetime: From 5 to 7 years.

– Expected to be operational: 2014

– Depth: 2.354 and 2.439 meters (update: this is the total depth, of which 736 m are water).

– Estimated production: Between 3,800 and 3,700 barrels of crude daily.

– Operator: Repsol (75%), Cepsa (7,3%) and others.

– Investment: 135 million euros.

2,400 meters? That’s even deeper than the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico – the one that is still gushing after 70 something days. Looks like the countries bordering the Mediterranean have been lucky (this time).

Update: The 2,400m is the total depth, with 736m of water, according to Repsol.