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Gulf spill: is the methane a bigger problem than the oil?

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posted on May, 19 2010 @ 04:38 PM
reply to post by guessing

It all depends on how fast it is released: a big "burp" of gas could be ignited by a ship moving through it.

As to how much more is needed to bleed into the atmosphere over the spill area, no one can tell untill they release the current methane levels in ppm. A lower explosive limit is 5% which translates into 50K ppm if my math is right.

posted on May, 19 2010 @ 06:43 PM
Where I am coming from is gas accumulates in pockets and someone correct me if I am wrong, like minded molecules will preferentially hang out together. Even if there is dispersement of the methane to parts per trillion, under the premise like molecules hang together, in a 'burst or 'burp' scenario that would be enough to start the ignition. With ratios 5 to 15% required. Air currents are determined by constrainsts such as barometric pressure and geological land formations. Thats why it rains in some places all the time and other places not as much.

If methane were the 'hang' somehwere in that region, where would it be?

posted on May, 19 2010 @ 06:49 PM
reply to post by guessing

Good question.

I don't know, but I'll try to dig it out. The data is out there somewhere...hmmmm......perhaps fishing maps would show likely spots as well as science sources.

I'll check and post when I can.

posted on May, 19 2010 @ 06:53 PM
maybe hurricane paths, low pressure points, elevated land masses. I will go to google Earth

posted on May, 19 2010 @ 07:08 PM
Houston would certainly not be out of the question. They are also practiced in mass evacuations. Elevation 14m Geographically speaking ideal to host an onshore methane cloud.

posted on May, 20 2010 @ 11:27 AM

Originally posted by guessing
Houston would certainly not be out of the question. They are also practiced in mass evacuations. Elevation 14m Geographically speaking ideal to host an onshore methane cloud.

Thats exactly why I am so jumpy
(and our evacs are not that smooth)
it took me 36 hours to get to austin when rita came thru
when Ike hit us a lot of people did not leave.

thats why I say we need the NOAA bouys to have methane detectors feeding real time data. It could save lives of people on the coastal areas, and people in ships


posted on May, 20 2010 @ 01:44 PM
here is a discussion on the calculated flow from the video
(I post there, too some very smart people there, too)


posted on May, 20 2010 @ 09:37 PM

Coupled hydrology and biogeochemistry of Paleocene-Eocene coal beds, northern Gulf of Mexico

Jennifer C. McIntosh et al., Dept. of Hydrology and Water Resources, and U.S. Geological Survey Adjunct Research Geologist, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA. Pages 1248-1264.

McIntosh et al. show that microbes have generated economic accumulations of coalbed methane in north-central Louisiana within the last about 50,000 years. High salinities (above about 1.7 moles/L chloride) at depth in the Gulf of Mexico inhibit microbial methane generation. Microbes consume H2 and CO2, in addition to acetate, to produce methane. Interestingly, CO2 injection into sandstone reservoirs for enhanced oil recovery in the 1980s may have stimulated methanogenesis in adjacent coalbeds. These results have important implications for CO2 sequestration in organic-rich formations, such as coalbeds, and potential generation of new energy resources.

Basically enhancing methane production since the 1980s.

posted on May, 21 2010 @ 12:36 PM
In this case , the ' base line' concentration is already elevated.

Timing is critical in dispersment. IF a low pressure system built at exactly the right time, yikes...

thanks guys... salutations.

Will watch this... hope nothing comes of it...

posted on May, 21 2010 @ 01:03 PM

Table 1. Dissolved methane concentration in parts per million (ppm) and % of total hydrocarbons as methane (in parenthesis) over depth in the brine pool and mud volcano in 1998 and 2002. [n.d. = no data, chambers were too over-pressured for sample collection; *leakage in the chamber during ascent or dilution during sample collection]. For reference, the equilibrium methane concentrations at in situ temperature (8C), pressure (65 bar for GC233; 61 bar for GB425), and salinity (seawater, 35‰, and brine, 130‰) are:GC233: 35‰=102mM CH4 and
130‰=53mM CH4 and GB425: 35‰=95mM CH4 and 130‰=50mM CH4.
Site/Date: GC233 1998 GC233 2002 GB425 1998 GB425 2002

Depth (cm) CH4 ppm (%) CH4 ppm (%) CH4 ppm (%) CH4 ppm (%)
0 765385 (99.9) 8151 (99.9) n.d. 151440 (97.1)
23 623885 (99.9) 135996 (99.9) n.d. 539242 (96.7)
46 315908 (99.9) 599541 (99.9) n.d. 1033369 (96.4)
68 806065 (99.9) 563692 (99.8) n.d. 951999 (95.2)
91 451206 (99.9) 867947 (99.9) n.d. 943837 (96.4)
114 944533 (99.9) 817883 (99.9) n.d. 1020328 (97.6)
137 999515 (99.9) 1012613 (99.9) 916588 (98.3) 917553 (96.2)
160 979935 (99.9) 982982 (99.9) 775103 (98.3) *521317 (94.1)
182 992897 (99.9) 918422 (99.8) 868131 (98.3) 927599 (96.8)
205 784305 (99.9) *354070 (98) n.d. n.d.

...Vigorous gas discharge from the mud volcano created
walls of bubbles that emanated along fault tracks for 10’s of
meters (Joye et al., personal observation and video documentation).
The gas plume rising from the mud volcano as visualized
using CHIRP sonar (data not shown) reached >200m
above the seafloor (Joye et al., unpublished data) whereas the
sparse bubble stream at GC233 was not visible in CHIRP
traces (De Beukelaer et al., 2003). Methane-rich plumes
originating from cold seeps, such as those documented in
the Gulf of Mexico (Aharon et al., 1992a; MacDonald et al.,
2000; MacDonald et al., 2002) are common features along
continental margins across the globe (Charlou et al., 2003
and references therein). Seafloor mud volcanoes, in particular,
are likely important, but poorly constrained, sources of
methane to the overlying water column and potentially to the
atmosphere (Milkov, 2000; Dimitrov, 2002). Future studies
in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere should aim to quantify
the role of seafloor mud volcanoes in regional and global
methane budgets. Such inputs of a labile reduced carbon
source to bottom waters could fuel production by methanotrophic
bacteria, which could be an important food source
to benthic animals and water column secondary producers.

What is significant in this report is that gas columns from seeps were observed to rise over 200 meters from the seafloor as discrete columns and the data give somewhat of a baseline in amoounts of methane dissolved in the water.

It occurs to methat the disperants seem to all work on the same principle: break the oil up into smaller droplets so bacteria can eat it. Unfortunately the waste products from eating the oil seem to be ....methane.

I really, really wish someone would look at the methane load and its rate of increase.

I think they are merely changing the problem from a visible to a less visible one that will come back and bite us all.

[edit on 21-5-2010 by apacheman]

posted on May, 21 2010 @ 01:15 PM
Depth (cm) CH4 ppm (%) CH4 ppm (%) CH4 ppm (%) CH4 ppm (%)
0 765385 (99.9) 8151 (99.9) n.d. 151440 (97.1)
23 623885 (99.9) 135996 (99.9) n.d. 539242 (96.7)
46 315908 (99.9) 599541 (99.9) n.d. 1033369 (96.4)
68 806065 (99.9) 563692 (99.8) n.d. 951999 (95.2)
91 451206 (99.9) 867947 (99.9) n.d. 943837 (96.4)
114 944533 (99.9) 817883 (99.9) n.d. 1020328 (97.6)
137 999515 (99.9) 1012613 (99.9) 916588 (98.3) 917553 (96.2)
160 979935 (99.9) 982982 (99.9) 775103 (98.3) *521317 (94.1)
182 992897 (99.9) 918422 (99.8) 868131 (98.3) 927599 (96.8)

It seems "Houston, we have a problem."

* 0 765385 (99.9) 8151 (99.9) n.d. 151440 (97.1)
-is already > lower end ignition levels

It also seems it is impossible to calculate actual methane discharge, unless I am missing something....

posted on May, 21 2010 @ 04:24 PM

Besides the oil, BP said Thursday it is collecting as much as 15 million cubic feet of natural gas with the oil, an important clue in understanding the mix of fluid flowing from the well.

BP would not estimate how much oil is still evading a collection tube inserted into the larger of two breaks on the riser pipe that once connected the Macondo well to the Deepwater Horizon rig a mile above.

BP has said the larger break is believed to be gushing 85 percent of the oil escaping from the ruptured well 40 miles off the Louisiana coast.

...Though facts still are incomplete, Roger Cogdell, oil pipeline engineer with Houston-based Virtual Pipeline Sytems, said details unveiled Thursday allow some assumptions about the volume of the solution being released based on the oil-to-gas ratio, the diameter of the insertion tube, and BP's intent to capture as much oil as possible.

Cogdell, an expert in modeling the flow of oil through pipe, said it appeared two-thirds of the volume pouring from the broken pipe was oil and the other third gas, suggesting that the equivalent of 7,500 barrels of total fluid are now being siphoned by the small insertion tube.

“This is just an educated guess that they are allowing for at least 10,000 barrels a day, but the 4-inch tube wouldn't be good for anything over 20,000 a day,” Cogdell said. “If they had thought it was anything like that they would have used a bigger pipe — a 10-inch or 12-inch tube or something — if they thought it was anything of the order of magnitude some people are estimating.”

Cogdell said BP could also ascertain the amount of oil flowing out based on the amount of force it took to insert the tube into the riser.

Cogdell said estimates as high as 100,000 barrels of oil a day from some scientists were unrealistic based on production rates at deep water wells in the vicinity, which range from 15,000 to 30,000 barrels per day.

Steve Wereley, a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University who was thrust into the limelight last week after analyzing a 30-second video clip of the leaking pipe for National Public Radio, said he would likely cut in half his latest estimate of 100,000 barrels of oil a day after viewing a live video feed that was released on Thursday.

“When I did my calculation, BP had given me and the general public almost no explanation, so I had to make a number of assumptions in my analysis,” Wereley said.

Wereley, who acknowledged that he had not dealt previously with problems related to oil and gas flow, said looking at producing wells in the vicinity of the Macondo well was a good idea, but the fact that the Macondo oil is traveling a shorter distance through broken pipe suggests it could flow faster.

so if they are drawing off 2K barrels of oil and 15 million cft of gas each day, and the leak is gushing at 50K barrels a day, how much gas does that make?

An ungodly amount.

After I'm over the bummer, I'll calculate it as best I can.

posted on May, 22 2010 @ 02:53 AM
3,600,000,000 cubic feet of gas per day.
calculate 1000 barrels= 7.500,000 cubic feet gas per day.

Closest thing I can find to put it into perspective is this:

In January 1965, Teijin Company of Osaka, Japan offered the Aerostat Society enough fabric to build a 60 ft diameter balloon.
Teijin I was 60ft in diameter, stood 75ft high, with a volume of 120,000cf.

This being so lets round 120,000cf to 65 feet diameter. To somewhat simplify the math.

3,600,000,000 divided by 120,000 would give us the number of 65 ft dia balloons?

30,000 balloons per day @ 65ft dia = 1 big ballon @ 1,950,000 ft diameter per day

This equal 369.318181818 miles per day

The diameter of the Earths moon is 2160 miles

Aprrox every 7 days the amount of methane is equiv to earths moon.

Unless I am way wrong in my math which is likely, OMG thats an enormous amount of Gas. Surely I am wrong on math. Tell me I am wrong. OMG

posted on May, 22 2010 @ 12:38 PM

Methane levels may see 'runaway' rise, scientists warn

Atmospheric levels of methane, the greenhouse gas which is much more powerful than carbon dioxide, have risen significantly for the last three years running, scientists will disclose today – leading to fears that a major global-warming "feedback" is beginning to kick in.

For some time there has been concern that the vast amounts of methane, or "natural gas", locked up in the frozen tundra of the Arctic could be released as the permafrost is melted by global warming. This would give a huge further impetus to climate change, an effect sometimes referred to as "the methane time bomb".

This is because methane (CH4) is even more effective at retaining the Sun's heat in the atmosphere than CO2, the main focus of international climate concern for the last two decades. Over a relatively short period, such as 20 years, CH4 has a global warming potential more than 60 times as powerful as CO2, although it decays more quickly.

Now comes the first news that levels of methane in the atmosphere, which began rising in 2007 when an unprecedented heatwave in the Arctic caused a record shrinking of the sea ice, have continued to rise significantly through 2008 and 2009.

Although researchers cannot yet be certain, and there may be non-threatening explanations, there is a fear that rising temperatures may have started to activate the positive feedback mechanism. This would see higher atmospheric levels of the gas producing more warming, which in turn would release more methane, which would produce even further warming, and so on into an uncontrollable "runaway" warming effect. This is believed to have happened at the end of the last Ice Age, causing a very rapid temperature rise in a matter of decades.

The new figures will be revealed this morning at a major two-day conference on greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, taking place at the Royal Society in London. They will be disclosed in a presentation by Professor Euan Nisbet, of Royal Holloway College of the University of London, and Dr Ed Dlugokencky of the Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, which is run by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Both men are leading experts on CH4 in the atmosphere, and Dr Dlugokencky in particular, who is in charge of NOAA's global network of methane monitoring stations, is sometimes referred to as "the keeper of the world's methane". In a presentation on "Global atmospheric methane in 2010: budget, changes and dangers", the two scientists will reveal that, after a decade of near-zero growth, "globally averaged atmospheric methane increased by [approximately] 7ppb (parts per billion) per year during 2007 and 2008."

They go on: "During the first half of 2009, globally averaged atmospheric CH4 was [approximately] 7ppb greater than it was in 2008, suggesting that the increase will continue in 2009. There is the potential for increased CH4 emissions from strong positive climate feedbacks in the Arctic where there are unstable stores of carbon in permafrost ... so the causes of these recent increases must be understood."

Professor Nisbet said at the weekend that the new figures did not necessarily mark a new excursion from the trend. "It may just be a couple of years of high growth, and it may drop back to what it was," he said. "But there is a concern that things are beginning to change towards renewed growth from feedbacks."

This article was published back on the 22nd of February.

Looks like the methane in the atmosphere will be increasing this year and next at a minimum, so we can expect heat waves and more violent weather as an effect of the spill.


Just freaking great.

The time bomb's fuse has grown shorter, thanks to BP.

posted on May, 22 2010 @ 01:53 PM

Oxygen levels in some areas have dropped 30 percent, and should continue to drop, Joye said.

"It could take years, possibly decades, for the system to recover from an infusion of this quantity of oil and gas," Joye said. "We've never seen anything like this before. It's impossible to fathom the impact."

How much gas is being released?

A BP executive stated that they were removing 3000:1 gas to oil at the well before the explosion. (thats 3000 cubic feet of gas for every barrel of oil) The amount of oil leaking into the gulf is 25,000 to 70,000 barrels. a 3000:1 ratio would mean 75 - 210 million cubic feet of gas per day being released.

There is 5.64 cubic feet of gas per barrel.

That would mean there is 13.3 to 37.2 million "barrels" of gas being released each day.

(note: this is at standard atmospheric temp and pressure. At the ocean floor and 2,400 pounds per square inch, this gas is compressed by a factor of of over 1000 and will expand as it rises. So, in the video coming out of the pipe it looks like 75,000 to 210,000 barrels of gas per day. you see, what happens when methane is released into the gulf? It goes into solution. There, in the deep ocean, it oxidizes, stripping the ocean of oxygen and forming carbon dioxide and water.

This report, contracted by MMS, and titled: "Deepwater Program: Understanding the Processes that Maintain the Oxygen Levels in the Deep Gulf of Mexico" was contracted to see what the effects of deepwater drilling would be on the oxygen content of the gulf.

They found that there are three regions of oxygen in the gulf, the oxygen- upper waters from 0-200 meters down, the oxygen minimum zone from 300-700 meters down, and the relatively dense, oxygen rich deep water brought by currents at a depth of 800-1500 meters. it looks kind of like this, with the oxygen level going up again at deeper levels.

They found that the majority of dissolved oxygen in the deep water gulf is due to current inflow, which then circulates within the depths of the gulf, since the exit at the Florida keys is so shallow.

"For deeper waters, the major source is transport of relatively dense, oxygen-rich water masses through the Yucatan Channel into the Gulf interior"

The study goes on to say that,

The Gulf of Mexico Basin is in no danger of becoming anoxic due either to natural processes, oil and gas production, or other anthropogenic effects. Decreased oxygen levels, however, could occur in localized areas.

In this they are talking about NORMAL oil production occurrences. they are also only looking at oxygen depletion caused by the long-term breakdown of oil.

More on the MMS study

This study by MMS on the effect of oxygen depletion on the gulf of mexico is woefully inadequate. When they say that a "catastrophic oil spill" in the gulf would not lead to a "significant alteration of the oxygen supply", they underestimated the amount of hydrocarbons leaked into the gulf by a factor of 26. (see below)

In the event of analysis of the potential effect on the gulf oxygen contents they only look at the effects of oxygen depletion caused by oil decomposition.

They estimate that:

Catastrophic oil spills can introduce hydrocarbons at 2-3 times the rate of natural seeps, but such an input will not significantly alter the oxygen supply. There may be local effects from anthropogenic discharges, but the oxygen database is not adequate to assess them.

so, they say that the most catastrophic discharge will only be 2-3 times the natural seeps. Let's check that with reality. . .why don't we. . .

They say the natural seeps produce 140,000 +/- 60,000 Metric Tonnes of hydrocarbons per year. They say a "catastrophic" leak will produce 2-3 times that amount per year.

1 barrel of oil per day = 50 Tonnes of oil per year (approx)
current oil outflow is between 25,000 and 70,000 barrels per day

This equals 1.25 to 3.5 MILLION tonnes of oil per year.

at this rate, in the last 21 days between 71,918 and 201,370 metric tonnes of oil have ALREADY been released.


But what about the gases? the study says that the release above was hydrocarbons, not just oil.

from above:

That would mean there is 75 to 210 million cubic feet of gas being released each day


there are 44,872 cubic feet of natural gas in one metric ton of gas.

that means 1,671 to 4,680 metric tons of gas released each day.

how does that compare with 140,000 +/- 60,000 metric tons of hydrocarbons per year???

609,900 to 1,710,000 metric tons of gas per year


1,250,000 to 3,500,000 metric tons of oil per year


woefully inadequate = the definition of MMS

additional comment on the study:

when they say:

Complete oxidation of the U.S. Gulf oil and gas reserves, which are on the order of 10 billion barrels, would consume

posted on May, 23 2010 @ 08:38 AM

Originally posted by IgnoranceIsntBlisss

Originally posted by apacheman

The first fact is that the seafloor continuously leaks methane, the same thing we burn as natural gas. Some comes from serpentinization and some from the action of microbes. As the bubbles rise, the gas dissolves into the deep seawater, where oxygen and microbes in the water consume it.

Bingo. The seas also leak millions of gallons of oil a year, and have been forever. SO maybe people might settle down about this so-called apocalypse? Not a chance, everyone drinks the coolaid.

No, according to Oil Industry reps, the seas leak oil all the time. Why do we distrust scientists on Global Warming, and suddenly, accept this "known fact" when it saves a lot of money for a large industry?

Maybe there is good science on it -- but right now, it seems a little too pat an answer for me. Since any oil leak in deep ocean water is going to be 95% under the surface -- the oil can show up anywhere. So BP keeps all the scientists away from the gusher, and claim it's 5,000 barrels a day, and of course, the Media and Government won't disagree -- because after all, who do they work for? I'd say it's probably closer to 300,000 barrels or more a day + methane gas, and it will be picked up by the fast gulf stream and loop current and all the "tar balls" and such that show up from here to Norway, will just be an unexplained mystery.

The Gulf is dead and it is the fault of these greedy companies that have had an "opt in" regulation plan since 2002 -- just like the Wall Street financial banks who opted in to regulations they ignored. This is what happens when government works for industry -- we've got nothing but regulators rubber stamping whatever these industries wanted to do, and no penalties. Then when things inevitably go bad -- they point to the regulators approval. Oh, and of course we've got "torte reform" to limit damages.

The 3-way argument between Haliburton, BP and the drilling outfit, is just a show to make it look like an investigation -- we can laugh and cry a bit, but they will all make money on the insurance and the pennies on the dollar they pay for cleanup -- which doesn't work. The dispersants only make things look better and kill anything alive that comes in contact with them -- also making it take much longer for the Oil to be converted by organisms because the Oxygen will be absorbed by decaying bacteria and sea life.

We'l see on a couple years who is right -- but that will be a dead ocean and an eco-disaster that will be a huge mystery to BP, the Government and people who always seem to see things the way of the Robber Barons.

posted on May, 24 2010 @ 05:24 AM
Large school of fish,disoriented, gasping for air. Could be the methane/sulphur.

posted on May, 24 2010 @ 10:07 AM
The only BRIGHT SIDE to this, vs the INSIDE job that was 9/11:

>> Nobody is going to believe that TAR and dead fish showing up down stream of this event are NOT related to the Oil Gusher.

>> We won't have to wait-n-see "the jury is still out" -- "nobody could have expected" and "there is disagreement -- let's wait for a consensus..." -- Enough Conservatives are going to have their tail in the fire that the cries of "but government involvement is Socialism" will be drowned out. If these Gulf States don't wake up to the concept of the "Collective Good" then there is no hope for them.

>> People will know that we did it to ourselves and that all the "coincidences" are not just bad luck.

I hope this is a social tipping point and not an Eco-tipping point but I'm very afraid that we are going to wise up too late. The mouthpieces for the Economic Royalists whined and cried during the 1970's about: removing phosphates from detergents, banning DDT, removing CFCs from spray cans and AC units, improving gas mileage in cars, removing lead from gasoline.

The economic disasters never materialized, because ALL the companies were required to remove those dangerous products. So we no longer had foamy rivers, dead eagles, a growing ozone hole (it will take 100 years to see the results), and people dropping dead from lead in their lungs. But we never did do very well with the gas mileage -- and what happened? Foreign automakers ate the lunch of the once dominate US automotive industry and we lost jobs.

Almost all of the anti-global warming and anti-efficiency nonsense that we've been fed is about profits. Green initiatives would give us jobs -- and we would not be facing the dying gulf if we had followed Jimmy Carter's initiative to reduce the use of oil back in the late 1970's. This is 100% the fault of the Conservative movement -- or whatever you would like to call this group of Robber Barons who talk about the Economy in terms of GDP, but not in terms of what working people's lives are actually like.

posted on May, 24 2010 @ 03:48 PM

Mon May 24 09:50:45 2010 Pacific Time

UC Santa Barbara Scientist Proposes Novel Method to Quantify Gulf Oil Spill

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., May 24 (AScribe Newswire) -- While the world has reacted with shock and anger to the massive amounts of oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the Deepwater Horizon platform blowout, a UC Santa Barbara scientist has proposed that methane gas dissolved into the waters of the Gulf holds the key to calculating the magnitude of the spill.

David Valentine, a professor of earth science at UCSB and the author of several authoritative studies about the behavior of oil and methane in the ocean, was asked by editors of the journal Nature to write an essay for its Opinion section about how to determine the magnitude of the spill. Valentine's report was published online by Nature on Sunday and will appear in the May 27 print issue.

In his essay, entitled "Measure Methane to Quantify the Oil Spill," Valentine says that the usual methods of measuring the magnitude of an oil spill are of limited use in the current situation. He suggests an innovative way that might be more effective: quantifying the leaked methane gas now dissolved in the water. Methane is an especially potent greenhouse gas and has been the focus of numerous studies in past decades, but has never been considered as a means for determining the magnitude of a deep oil spill.

Methane constitutes approximately 40 percent of the leakage at the sea floor. This compound has been implicated in causing the initial blowout, and was also the reason the initial containment dome failed. Valentine suggests capitalizing on the high methane content of the oil to determine total oil release. "Unlike oil, methane dissolves uniformly in water and can be tracked down-current from the leak source," Valentine says. "If we can add up all the methane, we've got a reasonable estimate on the oil spilled."

Valentine issues a call for action by saying that "while researchers are already measuring methane in some Gulf water samples, a larger-scale project is required to map the methane plumes in real time, so that this opportunity is not lost."

The platform explosion on April 20 was caused by an eruption of pressurized methane from a BP well almost one mile deep in the Gulf of Mexico. The methane eruption caused a series of blasts, sinking the rig and causing massive amounts of oil to spill.

"In what is likely to be the worst oil spill in U.S. history," Valentine says, "the need for a more accurate way to estimate the spill's magnitude is clear. This number is not only useful for comparing spills, but also for tracking dispersed oil, assessing the efficacy of containment measures, and for assessing liability."

Based on official flow estimates, Valentine calculates that approximately 7,500 tons of methane were released into the Gulf of Mexico in the first 27 days of the spill - enough to triple the methane concentrations in a water parcel of 7,500 cubic kilometers. "If we conducted a dedicated sampling expedition, I expect we could account for much of the methane and place a reasonable lower limit on the total oil release," he says, adding that there are still plenty of challenges, most notably locating and defining all major plumes before they disperse.

"The first research ship on the scene has made great efforts to document the spill," Valentine says. "But a larger community effort is needed." He suggests tracking water flow in June, followed by a comprehensive two-vessel expedition "to ensure the plumes are quantified as comprehensively as possible."

In conclusion, Valentine says: "Capitalizing on this idea requires immediate action. I am calling for a concerted community effort, with appropriate commitment from the U.S. government, the trustees of the Deepwater Horizon incident, or BP. The likely rewards far exceed the cost."

1 MMSCF of natural gas = 172.3 barrels of crude oil equivalent
= 365 x 1,000,000 scf

1 million cu.ft. of natural gas = 18.91 tons liquid
= 1598.69 cu.ft.liquid

1 of natural gas = 1000 BTU = 252 kilocalories

1 m.ton of coal = 4.879 barrels of crude oil equivalent

1 m.ton of lignite = 2.053 barrels of crude oil equivalent

1 ltr of fuel oil 1500 sec = 38.9 cubic feet of natural gas

1 kg of LPG = 47.0 cubic feet of natural gas

1 normal cu.m. per day (Nm3/d) = 37.33 standard cu.ft. per day (SCFD) [flow rate of gas]

1 ton of LNG = 1.14 1.4 x 103 normal cu.m.natural
(LNG conversions) gas (Nm3)
= 52.3 x 103 standard cubic feet natural gas

(SCF) = 55.0 x 109 joules (HHV)

I just got off the phone with David Valentine and he stated that the 7,500 tons figure for the amount of methane released so far is based on unrealistically low assumptions. He further stated that a more realistic low-end estimate is at a minimum at least twice that amount: 15,000 tons of methane, or ~7- 8 billion cubic feet of methane, so far.

He had to run before he could give me a high-end estimate.

Is it any wonder the fish are gasping for breath?

[edit on 24-5-2010 by apacheman]

posted on May, 25 2010 @ 03:52 PM

The hazardous effects of the plume are two-fold. Joye said the oil itself can prove toxic to fish swimming in the sea, while vast amount of oxygen are also being sucked from the water by microbes that eat oil. Dispersants used to fight the oil are also food for the microbes, speeding up the oxygen depletion.

"So, first you have oily water that may be toxic to certain organisms and also the oxygen issue, so there are two problems here," said Joye, who's working with a group of scientists who discovered the underwater plumes in a recent boat expedition to the Gulf. "This can interrupt the food chain at the lowest level, and will trickle up and certainly impact organisms higher. Whales, dolphins and tuna all depend on lower depths to survive."

She said it could take years or even decades for the ecosystem to recover.

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