A methane explosion, resulting in the deaths of eleven individuals, caused the accident that occurred on the BP Horizon deep well. The oil plume rising from the ocean floor is emitting large amounts of methane into the ocean as well. What is now coming to light, but has been known by BP and the government since drilling first began, that this was a high risk well project. It has been determined that the well lies within a huge methane reservoir that makes drilling there highly dangerous. The methane bubble found under the well is 15-20 miles across and tens of feet high according to geologists from the University of South Florida. The reason BP is trying to place two relief wells is not to stop the flow of oil, but to capture it. The rate of oil coming out of the well has increased because pressure from methane gas has accelerated its flow. BP can’t cap the well because the pressure at the base of the well head is at 100,000 psi. The blowback safety device at the well head can only handle 1000 psi. There was no way BP could have ever capped this well. I now understand why they will not try to use conventional explosives to cap the well. The explosives would ignite the methane under the sea floor and cause a catastrophic disaster. The fear is that such a release of methane could release a toxic cloud into the atmosphere and severely affect shoreline populations. An explosion would also sink ships and oil structures in the vicinity and create a tsunami which would hit local areas. We can speculate that the reason BP was quick to roll over for Obama’s request for $20 billion is that they know it’s going to only get worse. EPA has already measured higher levels of poisonous gasses coming from the well. Their recent numbers show hydrogen sulfide at 1,000 parts per billion well above the normal 5 to ppb found normally. High levels of benzene have been found surrounding the well area as well. According to AP marine life have been fleeing the area in order to survive. It’s not just the oil in the water, but methane, and benzene are forcing them to leave. BP was irresponsible for even attempting to drill a well within such a volatile area. Besides having the deaths of eleven individuals on their hands, they now have an entire eco-system’s death to be held accountable for.
Photo: Methane Bubbles Photo Courtesy: NC Times