Chemical tests from new oil near DeepWater Horizon site matches last year’s BP oil spill samples. (Pictures and fly over video inside)

As reported on August 20, 2011 (read previous blog, New sub sea oil plumes found near the Deepwater Horizon oil platform) the oil sheen sitting nearly on top of the Deepwater Horizon rig (the location of the last year’s catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico) is quickly expanding.

On Wings of Care, California nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of wildlife, wild habitat, and natural ecosystems, flew over the reported oil sheen and the pilot Bonny Shumaker stated that the oil “stretched for miles with one continuous sheen stretching for nearly 10 miles.” (Pictured above.  Credit: Press-Register/Jeff Dute).

To view the August 30, 2011 fly over of the oil spill (Credit: On Wings of Care) click below:

Robert Bea, an internationally prominent petroleum engineer and professor emeritus at the Berkeley campus of the University of California indicates that he feels that the primary source of the oil with the highest probability is the Macondo well/Deep Water Horizon rig.

“(It) looks suspicious. The point of surfacing about 1 mile from the well is about the point that the oil should show up, given the seafloor at 5,000 feet – natural circulation currents would cause the drift,” Bea said. “A Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) could be used to ‘back track’ the oil that is rising to the surface to determine the source. This should be a first order of business to confirm the source.”

On August 26, 2011- BP, the US Coast Guard, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, representatives from the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida as well as the GCIMT (Gulf Coast Incident Management Team) came together in New Orleans, LA to participate in a standard visual wellhead inspection via Remote Operated Vehicles of the Macondo Well (MC 252) and the relief well.

In the video- there were small, intermittent bubbles rising from cement ports at the base of the wellheads. These bubbles were determined to be nitrogen bubbles, a residual byproduct of the nitrifed foam used in setting the wells but no oil or hydrocarbons were found indicating a breach of the cement plug and/or the areas of the Macondo Well.

Yet samples of the sheen were  analyzed by Louisiana State University researchers and tests showed it was a chemical match to the 4 million+ barrels of sweet Louisiana crude that gushed from BP’s exploding well.

Scientists suggest that perhaps it was trapped within the riser pipe or the rig itself which is still sitting at the bottom of the Gulf which could result in trapped oil floating out of the wreckage.

Another option is that the bacteria degraded the oil on the seafloor and the lighter fractions were released and floated to the surface although that oil would be considerably more weathered.

Now the questions are directed towards BP once again- how much oil is trapped, why has the wreckage not been salvaged  and why has there not been a concentrated efforts on ways to clean up the ocean floor (and subsequently; add oxygen back into the dead zones?)

Copyright (c) August 31, 2011. All rights reserved.


The Discovery’s last launch will be Thursday, then it will be “shuttling” off to the Smithsonian Institution.

NASA has begun counting down to the launch of space shuttle Discovery’s final mission to the International Space Station. The 39th flight of NASA’s most flown shuttle is scheduled to last 11 days, beginning at 4:50 pm EST on Feb. 24 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Discovery should have taken off on its final voyage in November 2010. However,  fuel tank cracks kept the shuttle grounded for 4 months for repair work.

NASA’s weather forecasts expect 80 percent chance of acceptable or favorable conditions at the launch time. The 11-day final flight will involve six-member crew delivering a storage module, a science rig and spare parts to the international space station.

The crew astronauts includes Commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Steve Bowen, Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott. They will be accompanied by Robonaut 2 (R2), the first human-like android.

Bowen and Drew will conduct two spacewalks to install new components and perform maintenance. For both spacewalks, Bowen will be designated extravehicular crew member 1 (EV1), and will wear the suit bearing red stripes. Drew, who will be making his first two spacewalks on STS-133, will be extravehicular crew member 2 (EV2) and will wear the unmarked suit.

Discovery has flown more than any other shuttle with 38 flights, completed 5,247 orbits and has spent 322 days in orbit. Discovery’s current flight will be its 39th and final voyage into space before NASA retires its orbiter fleet later this year.

After the orbiter has retired, NASA will offer Discovery to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum for public display and preservation as part of the national collection.

Discovery is scheduled to land on March 7 at 11:50 am EST at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. At the time of its landing, Discovery would have traveled more than 143 million miles over the course of 26 years.

After returning from the International Space Station, Discovery will be retired and sent to a museum. Its final destination is expected to be the Smithsonian Institution.

Only three shuttle missions remain, thanks to President Obama’s hopes that private contractors will take on the duty of making of space flight possible.

Copyright (c) February 22, 2011. All rights reserved.