The argument against a permanent ban on deepwater drilling is increasing day by day as the Gulf spill continues to turn from a disaster into a tragedy, but reading an article on The Oildrum raises the possibility that this could now be a battle to avoid what could become “the worst thing you can think of”.
The situation makes the Australian Government’s ‘drill baby drill’ approach to putting out new deepwater drilling tenure in Australian waters, some of it in areas so environmetnally sensitive they are being considered for marine sanctuaries, even more ludicrous.
Below is a summary quote from The Oildrum article, the link to the full article is here. I very much hope they are not right, but the observations they make are very compelling.
All of these things lead to only one place, a fully wide open well bore directly to the oil deposit…after that, it goes into the realm of “the worst things you can think of” The well may come completely apart as the inner liners fail. There is still a very long drill string in the well, that could literally come flying out…as I said…all the worst things you can think of are a possibility, but the very least damaging outcome as bad as it is, is that we are stuck with a wide open gusher blowing out 150,000 barrels a day of raw oil or more. There isn’t any “cap dome” or any other suck fixer device on earth that exists or could be built that will stop it from gushing out and doing more and more damage to the gulf. While at the same time also doing more damage to the well, making the chance of halting it with a kill from the bottom up less and less likely to work, which as it stands now?….is the only real chance we have left to stop it all.
It’s a race now…a race to drill the relief wells and take our last chance at killing this monster before the whole weakened, wore out, blown out, leaking and failing system gives up it’s last gasp in a horrific crescendo.
We are not even 2 months into it, barely half way by even optimistic estimates. The damage done by the leaked oil now is virtually immeasurable already and it will not get better, it can only get worse. No matter how much they can collect, there will still be thousands and thousands of gallons leaking out every minute, every hour of every day. We have 2 months left before the relief wells are even near in position and set up to take a kill shot and that is being optimistic as I said.
Over the next 2 months the mechanical situation also cannot improve, it can only get worse, getting better is an impossibility. While they may make some gains on collecting the leaked oil, the structural situation cannot heal itself. It will continue to erode and flow out more oil and eventually the inevitable collapse which cannot be stopped will happen. It is only a simple matter of who can “get there first”…us or the well.
We can only hope the race against that eventuality is one we can win, but my assessment I am sad to say is that we will not.
All fingers, toes and tentacles crossed for the Gulf.