A simple explanation of the oil spill... in video form!

by JGordon on May. 03rd, 2010

Here's a video that offers a pretty straightforward explanation of how the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico happened, why it has been so difficult to deal with, and some of the plans that have been proposed to take care of it.
(Good looking out, Matt Q.)

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

bryan kennedy's picture

Wow, that's just so simple and fantastic. It's taken ME long to to understand that drilling platforms are just totally floating there. For a long while I assumed they were directly anchored to the sea floor. So how do they stay in place?

posted on Tue, 05/04/2010 - 2:56pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

I wonder if the diagram of the floating platform was a little too simple?

I might be looking at the wrong type of drilling platform, but Wikipedia's description of a "semi-submersible platform" seems to fit. According to the article, the platforms are able to move from location to location, but during drilling and production, they are "generally anchored by combinations of chain, wire rope and/or polyester rope," or they can be kept in place with dynamic positioning, where computer–controlled propellers or thrusters automatically keep the rig in position (like a drillboat, right?)

Being a Midwest boy, I've never seen one of these outside of a movie, but—potential environmental and safety issues aside—they sound kind of amazing.

posted on Tue, 05/04/2010 - 5:17pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I was listening to NPR's The Story program in the car on the way home last night, and Dick Gordon was interviewing David Morris, an emergency response consultant specializing in oil spills.

The whole program was fascinating, but I had a few "aha!" moments.

I should have known, of course, but I wasn't thinking about the fact that the oil/gas are under pressure as they spill out of the sea bed. They expand as they rise. And there's a lot of mixing energy as those bubbles of oil rise, which emulsifies water and the oil into a "mousse." Yuck.

I was also surprised to hear that, even with the highest tech skimmers and booms, mechanical methods don't contain and recover more than 10% of a large, offshore spill. Instead, chemical dispersants are used to modify surface tension (just like dishwashing liquid!) and break the oil up into fine droplets that nature (microbes) can deal with.

And I'd never considered the origins of the phrase "oil slick." Maybe I just thought it was slippery? Turns out we call it that because the oil floating on the surface of the water eliminates all the ripples. (There are still bigger waves, but no smaller ripples.) From the air, you can see the oil on the surface as a smooth and shiny area.

It's worth listening to, if you have the time.

posted on Wed, 05/05/2010 - 1:19pm
bella451001's picture

well i think as it is very dangerous so if the dome is unsuccessful then in order to save water from spoiling and the aquatic life from dying ....a bomb or someother kinda thing should be blasted there.......... i think this can be helpful

posted on Thu, 05/06/2010 - 1:53am
Hannah's picture
Hannah says:

I like your work

posted on Thu, 05/06/2010 - 2:11pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I guess this spill doesn't help with peak oil very much! I do wonder how much of our potential drillable oil this is wasting.

posted on Wed, 05/26/2010 - 9:48am

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