New BP Insertion Tube Isn't Working → Washingtons Blog
New BP Insertion Tube Isn't Working - Washingtons Blog

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New BP Insertion Tube Isn't Working

BP's new insertion tube inside the leaking oil pipe - unfortunately - isn't doing very much.

Specifically, the Miami Herald points out that - according to the Coast Guard - the spill is getting worse in spite of the insertion tube:

The massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill is growing despite British Petroleum's effort to siphon some of the spewing crude from its ruptured deepwater well, the U.S. Coast Guard official leading the cleanup warned Tuesday.

BP doubled its estimate of the amount of crude being captured by a mile-long recovery tube to 2,000 barrels per day - but what percentage of the spill that is remains uncertain. BP has said it thinks that 5,000 barrels of crude a day are leaking from the well, but a video made public Tuesday after the tube was placed inside the broken pipe showed clouds of crude oil still billowing into the sea.

Another video provided the first public view of a second leak much nearer the runaway well's failed blowout preventer spewing oil, too. A BP robot took that video on Saturday and Sunday.

The Coast Guard commandant, Adm. Thad Allen, said that despite the siphoning, the spilled oil is spreading and now stretches from western Louisiana to Florida's Key West. The extent of the spill was straining even the substantial resources deployed for one of the worst ecological disasters in recent history, he said.

Kevin Grandia explains:

Two new videos have surface showing footage of the BP oil leak at the source 5,000 feet down at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

These new video are important because they show footage (if the time stamp on the video of May 17th is correct) taken after the oil company responsible for stopping the leak - British Petroleum (BP) - had inserted a tube into the leaking pipe in an attempt to siphon off some of the oil and pump it up to an awaiting ship on the surface.

Looking at this video there remains serious question about the exact amount of oil that is actually flowing from the burst pipe as well as how much is being captured by the inserted siphon:


Another video has also been released showing the leak from the riser that is described on US Senator Bill Nelson's website as video footage of the plume "after the intervention" - you can clearly see in the video a large kink in the riser that is spewing oil. The first half of this video is marked May 15th - the day before the insertion tube was placed in the leaking pipe.

The video then switches (at about the 2 min. 30 sec. mark) to a close of shot of the leak time stamped the next day, May 16th after the insertion tube was put in place:

Compare this to similar footage posted last week:

Indeed, BP either doesn't know or won't tell how much oil is leaking. As the Miami Herald notes:

Under sharp questioning from Nelson and other lawmakers, Lamar McKay, the head of BP America, said the company was focused on sealing off the spill but couldn't offer estimates of how much oil was flowing into the ocean.

And see this. BP has refused to let independent scientists inspect the site so that they could estimate the rate of the oil leak.

BP's next plan is to try to seal the leak using heavy drilling fluids and then cement:

BP likely will try to shut down the well completely late this week using a technique called “top kill,” BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles said at a news conference Monday.

The process involves pumping heavy drilling fluids through two 3-inch lines into the blowout preventer that sits on top of the Macondo wellhead a mile underwater. This would first restrict the flow of oil from the well, which then could be sealed permanently with cement.


  1. It is interesting to note that the Obama campaign in 2008 recieved more political contribution from BP than they have given to any other campaign in over 20 years. It is also interesting to note that his administration simply waived the environmental process for this BP rig, very shortly after taking office in 2009.

    I understand that environmental process frequently take way too long and they need to be streamlined, but they have their place. Why would they simply waive the deal?

    One of the major lesons we should take from this is to ask why we are making oil explorers drill so far out in the first place. There are tens of millions of proven reserves much closer inland in shallower waters, where the drilling is FAR less of a hazardous process, but we as a nation have blocked off the ability of companies to extract that oil. Why?

    Forcing companies to drill in such deep water is inherently more hazardous than in shallower areas. Let us get serious about energy independence and unlock the proven reserves in the safer waters. The problem with "foreign oil" as they say is the word "foreign" not "oil".

    Even Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace (he left the organization years ago after it became less about the environment and more about leftism) who is one of the pre-eminent thinkers on ecology today is on board with it.

    The worst possible scenario from this is for people who dont understand why companies are having to drill so far out in the first place, while our proven reserves lie unused in safer waters, to try to use this accident as some kind of justification to further commit energy suicide nationally by restricting oil extraction domstically even further than it is already.

  2. The insertion tube is a PR move, and nothing more than a band aid on a severed artery. BP is moving heaven and earth to spin and lie and cover up the real truth, which is that the well will spew at a tremendous rate unabated for months and months, while they dangle one fig leaf after another and stymie efforts to get the true story out. The casing is very likely broken way way below the surface of the ocean floor and the rock is fractured too, so the relief well is going to have to be very very deep indeed if they think they can salvage the hole.

    Thanks for the good informative collection of stories and analysis.


  3. Patrick Moore is just another paid lobbyist, using his past credentials to aid his job. (from prwatch iirc)

    I think in the future the whole BP circus will be held up as some sort of golden standard for the PR industry. Their job of controlling the message is really quite outstanding and hits all of the bullet-points you could imagine PR training tells them are important. By making sure they were in charge they can completely control everything we hear, I bet that's the first, second, and third bullet point.

    The straw in the fountain was just the latest in the long string of failed 'efforts'. None of them were ever expected to work - they don't even need to work. So long as BP are 'working as hard as they can', then what more can anyone demand of them? See how easy it is?

  4. Boy.. an awful lottsa amnals musta been dying to make al that fossil fuel 'mkay. stop spill'n.

  5. BP has refused to let independent scientists inspect the site so that they could estimate the rate of the oil leak.

    what do you mean by refused? they have no more rights - only duties by now. this is a national emergency for you 'merkans - a real security issue, no bogus terrists, the army should move in and take over. Geez - try to refuse to pay taxes and . . .

  6. If BP knew what they were doing, they would not have placed an ad in Britian's Daily Mail asking for suggestions on how to PLUG THE LEAK. My suggestion was to plug the leak with Hayward's ass.

  7. On May 18, after much browbeating for the past three weeks over the oil well damage cover-up; BP finally released video of the “only source” of the Gulf oil spill at the wellhead preventer.
    The new video itself demonstrates misrepresentation and deception of the reported three leaks. The only video of the wellhead preventer is set in small frame and labeled as a riser leak and the riser which is lying on its side is alluded to be the “source of oil” with a recovery boom attached. This is gravely laughable, the 18 inch riser pipe is shown with a ¾ inch tube “siphon” that is red hot and could not possible be used to transfer a large quantity of oil and gas a mile up to a ship! The inset video of the smaller third leak is alluded to be coming from the preventer after the “siphon” cut down on the flow. This is outrageous! The video is careful not to show the base of the wellhead and it may be ruptured and be leaking also. This new evidence from the main wellhead leak has pushed the oil gusher to an estimated 95,000 barrels a day, a far cry from BPs 5,000 barrels a day estimate. It is amazing that BP has managed to pull off this media charade for a month now with no questions asked by the mass media.

  8. well you will not print what I have to add on the size of pipe and the flow. I can only conclude you are just another propragandist so I will no longer sign up for your feed.


→ Thank you for contributing to the conversation by commenting. We try to read all of the comments (but don't always have the time).

→ If you write a long comment, please use paragraph breaks. Otherwise, no one will read it. Many people still won't read it, so shorter is usually better (but it's your choice).

→ The following types of comments will be deleted if we happen to see them:

-- Comments that criticize any class of people as a whole, especially when based on an attribute they don't have control over

-- Comments that explicitly call for violence

→ Because we do not read all of the comments, I am not responsible for any unlawful or distasteful comments.