A geologist’s opinion: Probable cause, and current concerns of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster

Probable Cause and Scenario that led to the oil disaster in The Gulf of Mexico, when Offshore Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig, owned by Trans Ocean Ltd., and contracted to BP, explodes burns and sinks. Do not let this happen in Santa Barbara. One oil disaster there is big enough. Stop the drilling for oil into the 3000 mile Santa Barbara Fault Zone. By geologist Chris Landau.

Sad Day for Earth Day, today April 22, 2010 on The Gulf Coast.

People die. The environment suffers and everybody loses. When will it end?

Well completed to 18000 feet. Crew stopped drilling to put in steel casing and run e-logs. The well sides are kept from caving in, during this operation by the weight of the drilling mud sitting in the well. The gigantic mud pumps are usually shut down during this period while casing is being inserted or e-logs are being run.

Maybe there would have been time to run e-logs by either Halliburton or Schlumberger or another company. This involves running a sophisticated sensing instrument down the hole to confirm the geology, the geologists have logged over the last month or so and to confirm the oil and gas horizons. There could be as many as 30 different layers of oil or gas for a well of this depth. Some would have salt water with the oil and gas and some would be free of salt water or be called “dry.” They are the most profitable.

Anyway, during this stage, no fresh mud is being circulated to check the mud weight to see if it was sufficient to keep the pressurized oil and gas down below in the formation. Inserting the steel casing could also have caused mixing and lowered the density or specific gravity of the drilling mud. They might have been using 18 pound mud or higher to keep the oil and gas from blowing out. The longer the time delay from completion of the well to completion of the casing, the more the mud turns into froth, that is, it becomes aerated with gas and oil that is bubbling up from below. It becomes like a smoothie and no longer like honey. The viscosity drops and the gas and oil in the drilling mud lower the density of the mud. The drilling mud then becomes too light to hold the highly pressurized gas down. A blow out occurs. There were probably no bellows or non functional bellows inserted to shut the well down in a blowout or the crew would have not had the chance to do so.

The drilling geological logs will tell the story. They are e-mailed continually to an on shore office every few hours while drilling takes place. As the well was completed, the full geology logs would already be onshore.

BP geologists and engineers would have those logs. They will tell how often the geologists and mud men called to weight up the mud. They will also tell by the units of gas released at each producing horizon, how much gas there was. And when drilling finally stopped, did they circulate the mud with their pumps long enough to remove the air, before they pulled the drill pipes out to begin e-logs and final casing.

Alternative theories would be that somebody was welding near the open hole or somebody was smoking near the open hole once drilling was complete or that the fire started elsewhere first but from the survivor’s comments, it sounded like it was a blowout.

What Needs To Be Done.

Oil and gas is still being blown out of the broken casing from the oil well. This needs to be stopped. It is a dangerous job and will require men and woman of steel and plenty of courage. It must be done soon as the oil slick will get larger each day and weather conditions might change to prevent a rapid cleanup. The oil will then reach the beaches and create a larger environmental disaster.

Looking Forward

Legislate for the oil companies to put 25% of their profits into solar, wind, wave and hydroelectricity so they can also be part of the solution and morph their companies into green companies. I am sure that they would be happy to make a decent profit while diversifying their business model. That they might begin to be liked may or may not interest them. But it would be good for PR. Once they get into the green business, they might even like it. The world will also give them more leeway. Legislate for the oil companies to go green for their benefit and ours. The sooner, the better. Change is hard but necessary.

Chris Landau (geologist)


chrislandau at yahoo dot com


The short bio of Chris Landau is: He was born in South Africa in 1958, and later became a citizen of the United States. He is interested in astronomy, meteorology, geology and biology. He has given two peer-reviewed papers for professional geologist organizations. I ran across Chris Landau when researching earthquake facts. I found an informative article published by him on-line about fault zones. Based on our previous exchange, he sent this new opinion piece over to onthewilderside today.

Here is the full bio that Chris Landau sent over:

I was born in South Africa in 1958. I came to the USA with my wife and three daughters in 2003. We became US citizens in 2009 and 2010. My wife Susan is a Special Education English Teacher. She also has a bachelor’s degree in Micro anatomy and biochemistry. I have two daughters at university and one at school. I am very lucky to be surrounded by such talented woman. They all love creative writing, poetry and cats.

I am a vegetarian and enjoy growing trees, vegetables and plants from seed.

My interests lie in astronomy, meteorology, geology and biology.

In astronomy I am interested in dimensions, the speed of electromagnetic radiation in different density conditions, redshift, magnetism associated with rings of planets and stars, black holes and contracting galaxies and the expansion and contraction of the universe.

In meteorology, my interests lie in long-range hourly weather timing predictions through tidal forces for both convectional and cyclonic rainfall.

In geology, my interests are in the inorganic origin of oil, gas and coal, under reducing conditions, through hydrogen sulfide and water acting on carbon dioxide and calcareous formations. My chemical and thermodynamic equations to prove how this occurred have been published.

As a geologist, I delivered two peer reviewed presentations to prove the theory, one to the Association of Engineering and Environmental Geologists in 2008 (AEG). See http://www.aegweb.org/files/public/abstracts.pdf, page 17.
The other was to The American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) in October 2009. See http://www.aipg.org/Meetings/2009%20Annual%20Meeting/2009proceedings.pdf, page 94.

These publications include methods of carbon capture that help generate new energy and make carbon dioxide a reusable resource.

My other interests are in large-scale earthquake fault lines and the interaction between continental drift and past big meteorite impacts and the unrecognized planetary impact sites.

I enjoy growing my own vegetable and fruit crops and hope to be self-sufficient one day.
I hope that the world will one day all be vegetarians. I believe we can only truly respect our selves and the other animals if we do not see them as a food source. No human being likes the thought of being eaten by animals. Let us all stop raising domestic animals for food.

I would like to see the oil, gas and coal being recycled daily, so no carbon dioxide or other pollutants are released into the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide can be reduced back to methane under reducing conditions.
Solar power should be stepped up in a huge way to create clean renewable energy for the world. Desalination of seawater by solar power is the long-term solution to our water needs and our food production. Education to limit global population growth is vital to have sustainable resources for the world and its animals. I hope one day to see the end of war as a profitable business.

I hope to provide solutions in a practical and academic fashion. I look forward to mutually beneficial relationships that exploit neither party.

Chris Landau

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