On Energy and Geometric Progression

The following video has been labeled “The Most Important Video You’ll Ever See.” Hyperbole? It’s just a lecture on math, given by a Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Colorado-Boulder. It explains how just a 7% annual growth in energy use equals a 100% growth in 10 years. After a few decades, you’ve got a really big number. And a tremendously enormous problem. Watch and learn, please.

[H/T Peter Hufnagel]

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Trying to Save Their Skins: BP Attempts to Quarantine Risk

BP is to hive off its Gulf of Mexico oil spill operation to a separate in-house business to be run by an American in a bid to isolate the “toxic” side of the company and dilute some of the anti-British feeling aimed at chief executive Tony Hayward, the company said today.

The surprise announcement was made during a teleconference with City and Wall Street analysts in which Hayward attempted to shrug off the personal criticism saying words “could not break his bones”.

BP has faced mounting anger in the US over the accident on 20 April when the Deepwater Horizon rig blew up and sank with the loss of 11 oil workers’ lives.

The Macondo well continues to spew out oil although a containment cap was placed on top of the leak today. Hayward said it would take a further 48 hours to know whether it was successful.

Responsibility for the leaking well and the clean-up strategy will placed in the hands of Bob Dudley, one of the company’s most able directors.

Dudley, a US citizen, has been looking for a suitable role in the company since he was thrown out of Moscow in a battle with the Russian shareholders of the TNK-BP joint venture in the middle of 2008.

Hayward said the clean-up business would be run separately by Dudley with his own staff but the finances and budget would come from the main BP group. The BP chief executive said the purpose of the split was to allow Dudley to concentrate on the Gulf problem while he and other directors were not distracted from keeping the main business on track.

read more at the Guardian.

What Obama’s Speech Means for Shell in Alaska

ENN THRUSHJOSH GERSTEIN write for Politico,

What he said: While announcing that he was extending a 30-day moratorium on new offshore drilling for six months, Obama mentioned, almost in passing, that he was pausing plans for new test wells in Alaska. “We will suspend the planned exploration of two locations off the coast of Alaska,” he said before moving to discussion of other actions.

What he meant: You wouldn’t have known it from Obama’s presentation but his decision to block drilling in Alaska may be the most politically significant of any of the actions he took on Thursday.

A coalition of major environmental groups has been pressing the administration in newspaper and TV ads to halt the planned drilling by Shell near the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The groups were watching Obama closely on this. Some analysts said they had been holding back criticism of the government’s response to the Gulf spill as they awaited word from the White House about whether the drilling planned for this summer would go forward.

“The environmental groups have been saying: if Obama allows Shell to drill, we’re abandoning his presidency. But if he says no to Shell, it’s a turning point,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University who closely follows the environmental movement.

Postponing the Alaskan drilling, which can take place only over a short season each summer, buys Obama some time, but likely avoids the expense and legal battle of yanking Shell’s permits altogether. “He pauses the issue until after this election season. That will keep the environmental community at bay,” Brinkley said.

As recently as two weeks ago, Shell wrote to the Interior Department arguing that its Alaska plans should be allowed to proceed because conditions are “much different” than the deepwater drilling that led to the Gulf spill. Shell said it would be drilling not a mile underwater, but 150 feet below the water’s surface and that divers could intervene at that depth.

The company had a muted reaction to Obama’s move scuttling their drilling hopes for the year. “We respect and understand today’s decision in the context of the tragic spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but we remain confident in our drilling expertise, which is built upon a foundation of redundant safety systems and company global standards,” Shell said Thursday.

Read more at Politico,

Topkill Might Be Sorta Kinda Maybe Working? Part II Adding Junk

So it turns out that viewers at home marveling at how much ‘mud’ was spewing from the leak were right, apparently something wasn’t working. The force of the mud was not enough to bring down the well pressure, which is the bench mark that starts the application of concrete. They have resumed pumping the mud, but are now injecting junk, or ‘bridging material’ into the mix. They have also been introducing junk and various other jamming materials into the BOP hoping to lower the pressure that way.

So it sounds like BP wasn’t able to force the mud deep enough into the well to plug it, but due to risks they probably started this process with the lowest estimated pressures to keep the pipe intact. Let’s see what happens when they put some weight on the pedal.

CNN Wire Staff writes,

“This whole operation is very, very dynamic,” Doug Suttles, the company’s chief operating officer, told CNN’s “John King, USA.”

“When we did the initial pumping (Wednesday), we clearly impacted the flow of the well. We then stopped to monitor the well. Based on that, we restarted again. We didn’t think we were making enough progress after we restarted, so we stopped again.”

The light-brown material that was seen spilling out of the well throughout Thursday was the previously pumped fluid from the “top kill” procedure mixed with oil, he said.

read more at CNN