Saturday, June 19, 2010

The War on Afghanistan is a Profit driven "Resource War".

By: Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research,
June 17, 2010

The 2001 bombing and invasion of Afghanistan has been presented to World public opinion as a "Just War", a war directed against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, a war to eliminate "Islamic terrorism" and instate Western style democracy.

The economic dimensions of the "Global War on Terrorism" (GWOT) are rarely mentioned. The post 9/11 "counter-terrorism campaign" has served to obfuscate the real objectives of the US-NATO war.

The war on Afghanistan is part of a profit driven agenda: a war of economic conquest and plunder, "a resource war".

While Afghanistan is acknowledged as a strategic hub in Central Asia, bordering on the former Soviet Union, China and Iran, at the crossroads of pipeline routes and major oil and gas reserves, its huge mineral wealth as well as its untapped natural gas reserves have remained, until June 2010, totally unknown to the American public.

According to a joint report by the Pentagon, the US Geological Survey (USGS) and USAID, Afghanistan is now said to possess "previously unknown" and untapped mineral reserves, estimated authoritatively to be of the order of one trillion dollars (New York Times, U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan -, June 14, 2010, See also BBC, 14 June 2010).

"The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe."

An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerry's.

The vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists. The Afghan government and President Hamid Karzai were recently briefed, American officials said.

While it could take many years to develop a mining industry, the potential is so great that officials and executives in the industry believe it could attract heavy investment even before mines are profitable, providing the possibility of jobs that could distract from generations of war.

“There is stunning potential here,”
Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, said... “There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.”

The value of the newly discovered mineral deposits dwarfs the size of Afghanistan’s existing war-bedraggled economy, which is based largely on opium production and narcotics trafficking as well as aid from the United States and other industrialized countries. Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is only about $12 billion.

“This will become the backbone of the Afghan economy,” said Jalil Jumriany, an adviser to the Afghan minister of mines. (New York Times, op. cit.)

Afghanistan could become, according to The New York Times "the Saudi Arabia of lithium". "Lithium is an increasingly vital resource, used in batteries for everything from mobile phones to laptops and key to the future of the electric car." At present Chile, Australia, China and Argentina are the main suppliers of lithium to the world market. Bolivia and Chile are the countries with the largest known reserves of lithium. "The Pentagon has been conducting ground surveys in western Afghanistan. "Pentagon officials said that their initial analysis at one location in Ghazni province showed the potential for lithium deposits as large as those of Bolivia" (U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan - HERE..., June 14, 2010, see also Lithium - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

"Previously Unknown Deposits" of Minerals in Afghanistan

The Pentagon's near one trillion dollar "estimate" of previously "unknown deposits" is a useful smokescreen. The Pentagon one trillion dollar figure is more a trumped up number rather than an estimate: “We took a look at what we knew to be there, and asked what would it be worth now in terms of today’s dollars. The trillion dollar figure seemed to be newsworthy.” (The Sunday Times, London, June 15 2010, emphasis added)

Moreover, the results of a US Geological Survey study (quoted in the Pentagon memo) on Afghanistan's mineral wealth were revealed three years back, at a 2007 Conference organized by the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce. The matter of Afghanistan's mineral riches, however, was not considered newsworthy at the time.

The US Administration's acknowledgment that it first took cognizance of Afghanistan's vast mineral wealth following the release of the USGS 2007 report is an obvious red herring. Afghanistan's mineral wealth and energy resources (including natural gas) were known to both America's business elites and the US government prior to the Soviet-Afghan war (1979-1988).

Geological surveys conducted by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and early 1980s confirm the existence of vast reserves of copper (among the largest in Eurasia), iron, high grade chrome ore, uranium, beryl, barite, lead, zinc, fluorspar, bauxite, lithium, tantalum, emeralds, gold and silver.(Afghanistan, Mining Annual Review, The Mining Journal, June, 1984). These surveys suggest that the actual value of these reserves could indeed be substantially larger than the one trillion dollars "estimate" intimated by the Pentagon-USCG-USAID study.

More recently, in a 2002 report, the Kremlin confirmed what was already known: "It's no secret that Afghanistan possesses rich reserves, in particular of copper at the Aynak deposit, iron ore in Khojagek, uranium, polymetalic ore, oil and gas," (RIA Novosti, January 6, 2002):

"Afghanistan has never been anyone's colony - no foreigner had ever "dug" here before the 1950s. The Hindu Kush mountains, stretching, together with their foothills, over a vast area in Afghanistan, are where the minerals lie. Over the past 40 years, several dozen deposits have been discovered in Afghanistan, and most of these discoveries were sensational. They were kept secret, however, but even so certain facts have recently become known."

It turns out that Afghanistan possesses reserves of nonferrous and ferrous metals and precious stones, and, if exploited, they would possibly be able to cover even the earnings from the drug industry. The copper deposit in Aynak in the southern Afghan Helmand Province is said to be the largest in the Eurasian continent, and its location (40 km from Kabul) makes it cheap to develop. The iron ore deposit at Hajigak in the central Bamian Province yields ore of an extraordinarily high quality, the reserves of which are estimated to be 500m tonnes. A coal deposit has also been discovered not far from there.

Afghanistan is spoken of as a transit country for oil and gas. However, only a very few people know that Soviet specialists discovered huge gas reserves there in the 1960s and built the first gas pipeline in the country to supply gas to Uzbekistan. At that time, the Soviet Union used to receive 2.5 bn cubic metres of Afghan gas annually. During the same period, large deposits of gold, fluorite, barytes and marble onyxes that have a very rare pattern were found.

However, the pegmatite fields discovered to the east of Kabul are a real sensation. Rubies, beryllium, emeralds and kunzites and hiddenites that cannot be found anywhere else - the deposits of these precious stones stretch for hundreds of kilometres. Also, the rocks containing the rare metals beryllium, thorium, lithium and tantalum are of strategic importance (they are used in air and spacecraft construction).

The war is worth waging. ... (Olga Borisova, "Afghanistan - the Emerald Country", Karavan, Almaty, original Russian, translated by BBC News Services, Apr 26, 2002. p. 10, emphasis added.)

While public opinion was fed images of a war torn resourceless developing country, the realities are otherwise: Afghanstan is a rich country as confirmed by Soviet era geological surveys.

The issue of "previously unknown deposits" sustains a falsehood. It excludes Afghanstan's vast mineral wealth as a justifiable casus belli. It says that the Pentagon only recently became aware that Afghanistan was among the World's most wealthy mineral economies, comparable to The Democratic Republic of the Congo or former Zaire of the Mobutu era. The Soviet geopolitical reports were known. During the Cold War, all this information was known in minute detail:

... Extensive Soviet exploration produced superb geological maps and reports that listed more than 1,400 mineral outcroppings, along with about 70 commercially viable deposits ... The Soviet Union subsequently committed more than $650 million for resource exploration and development in Afghanistan, with proposed projects including an oil refinery capable of producing a half-million tons per annum, as well as a smelting complex for the Ainak deposit that was to have produced 1.5 million tons of copper per year. In the wake of the Soviet withdrawal a subsequent World Bank analysis projected that the Ainak copper production alone could eventually capture as much as 2 percent of the annual world market. The country is also blessed with massive coal deposits, one of which, the Hajigak iron deposit, in the Hindu Kush mountain range west of Kabul, is assessed as one of the largest high-grade deposits in the world. (John C. K. Daly, Analysis: Afghanistan's untapped energy, UPI Energy, October 24, 2008, emphasis added)

Afghanistan's Natural Gas

Afghanistan is a land bridge. The 2001 U.S. led invasion and occupation of Afghanistan has been analysed by critics of US foreign policy as a means to securing control over the strategic trans-Afghan transport corridor which links the Caspian sea basin to the Arabian sea.

Several trans-Afghan oil and gas pipeline projects have been contemplated including the planned $8.0 billion TAPI pipeline project (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India) of 1900 km., which would transport Turkmen natural gas across Afghanistan in what is described as a "crucial transit corridor". (See Gary Olson, Afghanistan has never been the 'good and necessary' war; it's about control of oil, The Morning Call, October 1, 2009). Military escalation under the extended Af-Pak war bears a relationship to TAPI. Turkmenistan possesses third largest natural gas reserves after Russia and Iran. Strategic control over the transport routes out of Turkmenistan have been part of Washington's agenda since the collapse of the Soviet union in 1991.

What was rarely contemplated in pipeline geopolitics, however, is that Afghanistan is not only adjacent to countries which are rich in oil and natural gas (e.g Turkmenistan), it also possesses within its territory sizeable untapped reserves of natural gas, coal and oil. Soviet estimates of the 1970s placed "Afghanistan's 'explored' (proved plus probable) gas reserves at about 5 trillion cubic feet. The Hodja-Gugerdag's initial reserves were placed at slightly more than 2 tcf." (See, The Soviet Union to retain influence in Afghanistan, Oil & Gas Journal, May 2, 1988).

The US.Energy Information Administration (EIA) acknowledged in 2008 that Afghanistan's natural gas reserves are "substantial":

"As northern Afghanistan is a 'southward extension of Central Asia's highly prolific, natural gas-prone Amu Darya Basin,' Afghanistan 'has proven, probable and possible natural gas reserves of about 5 trillion cubic feet.'" (UPI, John C.K. Daly, Analysis: Afghanistan's untapped energy, October 24, 2008)

From the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979, Washington's objective has been to sustain a geopolitical foothold in Central Asia.

The Golden Crescent Drug Trade

America's covert war, namely its support to the Mujahideen "Freedom fighters" (aka Al Qaeda) was also geared towards the development of the Golden Crescent trade in opiates, which was used by US intelligence to fund the insurgency directed against the Soviets.1

Instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war and protected by the CIA, the drug trade developed over the years into a highly lucrative multibillion undertaking. It was the cornerstone of America's covert war in the 1980s. Today, under US-NATO military occupation, the drug trade generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America's War on Terrorism, Global Research, Montreal, 2005, see also Michel Chossudovsky, Heroin is "Good for Your Health": Occupation Forces support Afghan Narcotics Trade, HERE... Global Research, April 29, 2007)

Towards an Economy of Plunder

The US media, in chorus, has upheld the "recent discovery" of Afghanistan's mineral wealth as "a solution" to the development of the country's war torn economy as well as a means to eliminating poverty. The 2001 US-NATO invasion and occupation has set the stage for their appropriation by Western mining and energy conglomerates.

The war on Afghanistan is a profit driven "resource war".

Under US and allied occupation, this mineral wealth is slated to be plundered, once the country has been pacified, by a handful of multinational mining conglomerates. According to Olga Borisova, writing in the months following the October 2001 invasion, the US-led "war on terrorism [will be transformed] into a colonial policy of influencing a fabulously wealthy country." (Borisova, op cit).

Part of the US-NATO agenda is also to eventually take possession of Afghanistan's reserves of natural gas, as well as prevent the development of competing Russian, Iranian and Chinese energy interests in Afghanistan.


1. The Golden Crescent trade in opiates constitutes, at present, the centerpiece of Afghanistan's export economy. The heroin trade, instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979 and protected by the CIA, generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year. Since the 2001 invasion, narcotics production in Afghanistan has increased more than 35 times. In 2009, opium production stood at 6900 tons, compared to less than 200 tons in 2001. In this regard, the multibillion dollar earnings resulting from the Afghan opium production largely occur outside Afghanistan. According to United Nations data, the revenues of the drug trade accruing to the local economy are of the order of 2-3 billion annually. In contrast with the Worldwide sales of heroin resultring from the trade in Afghan opiates, in excess of $200 billion. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America's War on Terrorism", Global Research, Montreal, 2005)

Extent of Biochemical and Ecological Effects of Gulf Oil Catastrophe To Date

--->Formation of underwater "plumes" of oil and water mixed.

--->Markedly increased methane concentrations (up to 10,000 times normal so far) in large underwater "plumes" which could eventually create extensive "dead-zones."

--->Decreased oxygen levels in underwater oil plumes.

--->Decreased phytoplankton "bloom."

--->Extensive Destruction of Gulf wet-lands, aquatic fish, mammals and bird life.

Putting A Lid on the Truth: Underwater Oil Plumes. The Oil Spill is far worse than the Surface Slick would suggest.

by Jim White

Global Research
, May 20, 2010

On Saturday, the New York Times brought the world’s attention to the discovery by a team of researchers on the the vessel Pelican that there are large underwater plumes of oil see THIS... emanating from the Deepwater Horizon spill. Remarkably, the response of the government to the attention focused on this discovery has been to tell the researchers to stop granting interviews with the press. At the same time, the blog on which the researchers had been providing updates has also fallen silent since Saturday. (Editor's NOTE: For background see THIS...

Pensacola television station WEAR filed a report on the oil plume and broke the news about the scientists being muzzled by the government:

Over the weekend, a research crew from the University of Southern Mississippi found evidence that there are 3 to 5 plumes… About 5 miles wide, 10 miles long and 3 hundred feet in depth.

But after giving that information to the press, the lead researcher now says he has been asked by the federal government… Which funds his research… To quit giving interviews until further testing is done.

What an interesting change of course for the government. Even the government’s website on the Deepwater Horizon response had been touting the mission of the Pelican as recently as May 6:

The university fleet research vessel Pelican, operated by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, departed Cocodrie, La., late Tuesday and arrived at the spill source on Wednesday. They will return on Sunday for more supplies, and go back to the site later that week.

The ship had been outfitted and ready to support a different NOAA-funded mission, but it was scrubbed in favor of gathering timely and much-needed data close to the oil spill source.

“This sampling mission is one of many NOAA responses to the oil spill,”
acting NOAA assistant administrator for NOAA Research Craig McLean said. “It fills an important gap in researching the interaction of spilled oil and the ocean environment. The samples will help us better understand affected ocean resources.”

“We plan to sample as close to the well head as is safe, reasonable and allowable,” said Ray Highsmith, executive director for NIUST and principal investigator for both the original and revised mission. “We then plan to travel northwestward toward our long-term study site.”
The question now becomes whether the government, in the form of NOAA (which sponsored the research) is merely asking for a pause in order to process data more fully, or if it is putting the lid on a story that shows the oil spill to be far worse than the surface slick would suggest. One way to judge the answer to that question will be to see how quickly the research team is able to find ship time for gathering more data. Here is one of the researchers, Dr. Vernon Asper, speaking with NPR on May 16 with interviewer Guy Raz (in the only post-May 15 interview I’ve been able to find for any of the researchers):

RAZ: Vernon Asper, what will you and the scientists aboard the Pelican be looking at in the coming days and weeks?

Dr. ASPER: The first thing we’re going to do is analyze our data and analyze the samples. And, of course, we’re planning our next cruises. We’re already making inquiries into finding ship time. It turns out that the limiting factor for studying this plume is the availability of research vessels.

The research fleet in the United States for academic purposes has been dwindling over the last few decades, and there just aren’t ships available. So we’re having a hard time getting access to vessels that can take us out there.

If the US government, acting through NOAA, is truly interested in understanding the extent of underwater oil plumes emanating from the Deepwater Horizon spill, then they will be able to arrange access for this team to gather more data aboard the Pelican or another research vessel very soon. On the other hand, if the desire of the government is to divert attention from what could be very disturbing results, then somehow this team just won’t be able to find ship time in the next few months. (Editor's bold emphasis throughout).

In the meantime, we have the first report of tar balls washing ashore in Key West. The material will be analyzed, and if the profile matches the material from the spill, then we will have confirmation that the oil has entered the loop current. Since we don’t see surface oil that far south, how could that oil reach Key West? Perhaps traveling as a plume under the surface?

Editor's NOTE: The following article by researcher Samantha Joye from almost 2 weeks ago provides valuable background information on the oil plumes.

Hide and seek
Gulf Oil Blog
By Samantha Joye | Published: June 6, 2010 12:17am

June 5th, 18:34. The plume was hiding. We anticipated that the flow trajectory of the oil and gas discharging from the leaking riser pipe would change after the pipe was cut but it was tough to predict which way the flow would go. We had a day and a half of ops remaining and our goal was to find the plume, revisit several stations to see how they had changed over time, and sample two control sites well away from the plume.

When we arrived back at ground zero, things had changed. The Discoverer Enterprise was sporting a methane flare. This is how drilling ships and rigs get rid of excess methane gas—they burn it.

The flare was visible from several miles away and when we were up close, about 0.75 miles away, the roar of the flame was audible. Several fire control boats were dousing the flare pipe and the area around it with water to keep it as cool as possible. The sound of the burning flame was mesmerizing and we spent some time taking in the sight.

We found the plume after about 8 (very frustrating) hours of searching for it. The weather was windy and rainy; the seas were unsettled; visibility was limited. The Discoverer Enterprise was about 1.5 miles away from us but you could barely see it through the rain. The dreary conditions mirrored how I felt after spending 8 hours trying to find something I knew was there. I thought the plume had moved to the east but it turned out that it had moved south. So much for intuition!

In the end, all was well because we found it. We wanted to have plume samples after the riser was cut so we could compare them to those collected before it was cut. We collected samples of the plume waters near the spill site and of the waters above and below the plume. Then, we moved on to re-occupy some stations we visited during our first three days of operations with the goal of determining how things had changed over a week.

We have three stations remaining to sample and will head back to Gulfport about 10PM this evening. We should be in tomorrow afternoon. During this cruise, we sampled 79 stations and conducted 89 CTD casts. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be analyzing samples, running lab experiments and pulling all the data together to see what stories they tell.

Below, I’ll do my best to answer some of the questions I have received in the past few days. The questions are in bold (I’ve shortened some of them); my answers are in regular font.

Is the oil/dispersant mixture in micellar form? Or is the oil in droplets?

The answer is both. It’s likely that some of the oil-dispersant mixture is present as micelles but there are also oil droplets in some of the samples, especially those from near the leaking riser pipe. There is a lot of light scattering in the plumes, this could be due to several factors, including the presence of oil in the water.

Re: sulfonate detergent micelles: what effect does this ionic packaging have on accessibility to the oil of bacteria doing the bioremediation?

Unfortunately, no one knows the answer to this question and it is a KEY question that we need to know the answer to.

Iron depletion appears to be a limiting factor in growth of algae in seawater. Is it known whether this, or some other limitation, will restrict bacterial degradation of the oil?

Oddly enough, there could be a good bit of iron coming out of this leaking well. We have not measured total Fe (Iron) content but others have told me that there is a lot of iron [Fe(III)] in the water. So, iron concentrations could be elevated around the spill site.

Why can’t they implode the well like they did during the Gulf War?

That is not really an option in this situation. This reservoir is extremely methane rich and detonating a blast would lead to major destruction and destabilization of a significant area of the slope in the vicinity of MC252. In my opinion, this option is far too dangerous to be seriously considered.

How serious is the oxygen depletion problem?

Potentially, this is a very serious problem. At present, oxygen concentrations exceed 2 mg/L but if concentrations drop below that, it would spell problems for any oxygen requiring organisms. The Southwest Plume is, at a minimum, 15 miles long x 2 miles long and the plume is about 600 feet thick. Temperatures in the plume are about 8-12ºC. We do not know the absolute oil content at this time.

The plume is largely water. This is not thick oil like you see on the surface in some places, it’s diluted oil and it’s most concentrated closest to the leaking riser pipe. Unlike a natural oil seep, which is most intense on the bottom and whose signal decreases with depth above the seafloor, the plume we are studying starts 200m above the seafloor and its intensity decreases horizontally with distance away from the leaking wellhead.

The specific gravity of oil is irrelevant to this discussion. This is not oil like you buy at the auto supply store. Think of it as gas-saturated oil that has been shot out of a deep sea cannon under intense pressure – it’s like putting olive oil in a spray can, pressurizing it and pushing the spray button. What comes out when you push that button? A mist of olive oil. This well is leaking a mist of oil that is settling out in the deep sea.

How much biodegredation appears to being observed for the oil plumes?

There is a tremendous amount of oxygen consumption in the plumes. We have measured respiration rates in the plumes, above and below the plumes, and at control sites where plumes are not present. The respiration rates in the plume are at least 5-10 times higher than we see anywhere else.

Are the conditions good for the microbes that can degrade these types of hydrocarbons?

Right now, conditions seem to be ideal for microbial degradation. But we need to do additional lab experiments to figure out what is regulating microbial activity.

Are the concentrations of the hydrocarbons so great that the microbes are overwhelmed or killed?

We have not yet measured toxicity but we plan to do that when we get back to the lab at UGA.

UGA expert describes a spill like no other

By Lee Shearer
Published Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Nothing like the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has ever happened before - at least not in human history - and it will take years for scientists to understand the damage it causes, University of Georgia marine scientist Samantha Joye said Tuesday.

"It's an imbalance in the system, and that's the danger. You've pushed it to a much more unstable condition," Joye said during a news briefing in the Georgia Center for Continuing Education.

Even the unprecedented infusion of millions of gallons of oil and methane gas probably won't turn the Gulf into a completely dead zone, said Joye, who returned Sunday from a two-week ocean-going research expedition to map and analyze one of the giant plumes that have formed underwater as oil, methane gas and other chemicals spew from a broken oil well a mile below the surface.

The scientists found that oxygen is severely depleted even in water far from the spill - creating conditions close to so-called dead zones, where fish and other marine creatures can't breathe because of the lack of dissolved oxygen in the water.

Bacteria breaking down the methane and other hydrocarbon chemicals in the oil consume the oxygen, Joye explained. But a lack of other nutrients such as nitrogen will likely limit the bacteria's ability to reproduce and use up the remaining oxygen.

Oil has spread for miles along the Gulf Coast since the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon blew up April 20, killing 11 workers and causing the well to spew petroleum uncontrollably. The oil now is washing ashore, killing marine birds, mammals and other animals, and fouling beaches.

Scientists fear the ecological damage could be worse from the oil hidden underwater than the slicks of oil visible at the surface.

Researchers first discovered the plumes in early May, but federal officials only Tuesday confirmed their existence. Officials with BP, the company responsible for the spill, said last week the plumes don't exist.

The plumes are not just oil, but a mixture of oil, methane and other organic chemicals suspended in sea water.

Joye's team measured methane levels in some places at 10,000 times what normal ocean water would contain.

"I've never seen methane concentration this high anywhere in the water," she said.

The oil is likely to slosh around in the Gulf of Mexico for a long time, swirled around by ocean currents, she said.

"It's not a closed body of water, but it's an isolated body of water," she said.

Chemical dispersant's added by BP have helped keep oil underwater.

"The whole goal of adding dispersant's (in deep water) was to keep the oil under water, which seems to be working," she said.

But much would have remained underwater anyway - and some of it could stay there a long time, too, Joye said. The mixing rate - the time it takes for bottom water to reach the surface and vice versa -in the Gulf is about 175 years, she said.

Scientists don't know how the spill and the drifting plumes will affect the web of life in the ocean, said Joye. They also don't know what the effects of the chemical dispersant's, will be, though the chemicals are banned as toxic in some countries.

Joye's research team found some evidence that some kinds of life are being suppressed. Small creatures called phytoplankton, a crucial link in the oceanic food web, usually proliferate at this time of year. But the depressed oxygen levels the scientists found indicate the blooms are not happening this year, she said.

Joye, a UGA faculty member since 1997, will recommend in hearings before Congress today that a blue-ribbon National Academy of Sciences panel investigate the consequences of the spill.

An estimated 50 million gallons or more has spewed into the Gulf since the rig sank, two days after the fatal explosion. Federal officials say the oil flow could continue into the fall.

By Paul Quinlan and Josh Vorhees of Greenwire
New York Times
June 9, 2010 (posted Jun. 8)

Vast underwater concentrations of oil sprawling for miles in the Gulf of Mexico from the damaged, crude-belching BP PLC well are unprecedented in "human history" and threaten to wreak havoc on marine life, a team of scientists said today, a finding confirmed for the first time by federal officials.

Researchers aboard the F.G. Walton Smith vessel briefed reporters on a two-week cruise in which they traced an underwater oil plume 15 miles wide, 3 miles long and about 600 feet thick. The plume's core is 1,100 to 1,300 meters below the surface, they said.

"It's an infusion of oil and gas unlike anything else that has ever been seen anywhere, certainly in human history," said Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia, the expedition leader.

Bacteria are breaking down the oil's hydrocarbons in a massive, microorganism feeding frenzy that has sent oxygen levels plunging close to what is considered "dead zone" conditions, at which most marine life are smothered for a lack of dissolved oxygen.

Such low-oxygen conditions were noticed farther from the spill site, although Joye said she did not think the process would immediately produce a dead zone, since low nutrient concentrations in the water would limit the rate of the bacterial consumption.

Joye said her team also measured extremely high levels of methane, which is also spewing from the gushing BP well at up to 10,000 times background levels in Gulf waters.

"I've been working in the Gulf of Mexico for 15 years," Joye said. "I've never seen methane concentration this high anywhere in the water."

Less clear to researchers like Joye are what role the unprecedented deployment of oil-dispersing chemicals are having on the undersea gathering of oil. She said dispersant's likely played a role in keeping the oil underwater but that they are "certainly not required" to produce such an effect, given the deep-water -- as opposed to surface -- injection of oil and gas.

Also still unclear, she said, are the long-term effects of oil and dispersant use on fisheries.

"The primary producers -- the base of the food web in the ocean -- is going to be altered. There's no doubt about that," Joye said. "We have no idea what dispersant's are going to do to microorganisms. We know they are toxic to many larvae. It's impossible to know what the impacts are going to be."

A full understanding and the full impact to the Gulf's fishery may be years away, she said.
"It's a very, very complicated problem, and there are a lot of people doing fisheries work to try to get a handle on this, but it's going to be months or years probably before we realize the full consequences of this spill," Joye said.

Asked to react to BP officials earlier assertions that the Gulf of Mexico was a large enough body of water to absorb the impact of an oil spill under way, Joye bristled.

"The solution to pollution is not dilution," she said. "It's an excuse, and it's arm-waving, and it takes away from the important things that we should be thinking about," she said, such as measuring the scope of the spill and its effects.


Federal officials for the first time today confirmed the researchers' findings, although Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who is leading the federal response to the spill, questioned the use of the term "plume" to describe that underwater oil.

"The term 'plume' has been used for quite awhile, [but] I think what we are talking about are concentrations," he said. "'Cloud' is a better term."

Joye's team's results echo the findings of a University of South Florida team aboard the Weatherbird II vessel.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco said her agency had finished testing water samples collected by the USF team that confirmed the presence of the oil.

"The bottom line is, yes there is oil in the water columns," she told reporters. "That's confirmed for the sites we've done the analyses."

BP CEO Tony Hayward had disputed the presence of plumes, saying on June 6 that there was "no evidence" of their existence. BP spokesman John Pack said today they would be paying attention to the data that is coming in.

"We will obviously listen to what they have to say," Pack said.

Lubchenco said the test confirms the presence of subsurface oil, which she said federal scientists suspected was present.

Lubchenco said that oil was found in "very low concentrations" in the range of less than 0.5 parts per million. NOAA tested samples from three collection sites, confirming the presence of subsea oil 40 nautical miles northeast of the well. She said samples from a site 42 nautical miles northeast were inconclusive and that samples from a site 142 miles southeast "were not consistent with the oil spill."

"That does not mean it doesn't have significant impact. A more complete picture will require additional information, and we're in the process of getting that," Lubchenco said.

"We remain concerned about the location of oil on the surface and under the sea," Lubchenco said. "We are attacking it aggressively to mitigate the harm and understand the impact."

Lubchenco said "there is definitely oil subsurface" and that NOAA would continue to analyze water samples as they were collected.

"We will continue to do research to understand where it is and in what concentrations and what are its impacts," she said.

Steven Lendman Asks Some Important Questions

Oval Office Duplicity: Cover for Corporate Criminality

By Stephen Lendman original HERE...

Since taking office, Obama proved himself a machine politician, not a man of the people, an earlier article explaining it this way:

He promised peace and delivered war; real health and financial reform, not same old, same old; help for millions losing jobs, homes, hope and futures, not handouts to Wall Street and other industry favorites; regulatory oversight, not the usual incestuous government-industry ties, making disasters like in the Gulf possible, and when they happen conspiring with offenders in coverup, distortion, lies, and a total disregard for the environment, wildlife, and way of life for thousands - let alone permanent damage to a vital ecosystem.

At the same time, Big Oil gets billions in subsidies, special tax breaks and other financial benefits, besides being free to operate recklessly in a regulatory-free environment. Little wonder that a disaster now threatens to become the greatest ecological one ever, gushing oil that's potentially unstoppably from multiple sea floor ruptures, worsened apparently by BP fix attempts done as PR stunts, the company and administration knowing they wouldn't work but used them anyway as a charade to fool the public.

In addition, for nearly two months, company officials:

* obstructed cleanup efforts and hasn't provided proper equipment to do it;
* suppressed vital information;
* told cleanup workers they'd be fired if spoke to the media;
* lied from day one about what happened and its severity;
* denied adequate compensation to Gulf victims;
* withheld respirators and other protective gear from cleanup workers, many now ill from flu-like symptoms, including severe headaches, dizziness, nosebleeds, chest pains, and trouble breathing that may persist, become worse and for many be long-lasting or permanent;
* ordered workers showing up with respirators and other protective gear to remove it or be fired; and
* on June 17, BP CEO Tony Haywood stonewalled the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation by refusing to provide information he knows as chief operating officer.

Yet BP got White House, cabinet, and congressional backing from the start, collaborating in a likely trillion or multi-trillion dollar crime, affecting the entire regional economy as well as the lives, health and welfare of tens of thousands of its residents, on their own and out of luck, like millions of others nationwide facing enormous hardships from job losses, home foreclosures, growing poverty, hunger, and unaffordable illnesses because of Washington's indifference during the gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression.

One of Many Disturbing Views

On June 12, assessed the crisis as follows:

"First of all....set aside all your thoughts of plugging the well and stopping it from blowing out oil using any method from the top down. Plugs, big valves to just shut it off, pinching the pipe closed, installing a new (blowout protector) or (lower marine riser package), shooting any epoxy in it, top kills with mud etc etc etc....forget that, it won't be happening....In fact, (it) actually open(s) up the well at the subsea source and allow(s) it to gush more."

"It's really an inescapable conclusion at this point (based on expert oil and gas professional opinions) that "The well bore structure is compromised 'Down hole.' That is something which is a 'Worst nightmare' conclusion to reach....It means they will never cap the gusher (at) the wellhead. They cannot (and) the more they try and restrict the oil gushing out the top, the more it will transfer to the leaks below."

"The down hole leak will undermine the foundation of the seabed in and around the well area. (In fact), we are beginning to (see) the well's total integrity beginning to fail....I am convinced (that) the entire system is accelerating and attacking more key structural areas of the well." After enough damage is done, "the casing will buckle and the (blowout preventer) will collapse the well."

BP and Washington know it but conceal it from the public and residents most affected.

At some point, "the worst things you can think of" will happen. "The well may come completely apart as the inner liners fail....the least damaging outcome (being) that we are stuck with a wide open gusher blowing out 150,000 barrels a day of raw oil or more."

The longer the oil gushes, the worse things will get, and in the end every fix tried will fail, including relief wells to relieve pressure. At that point, "the system will collapse or fail substantially....and the worst is yet to come," increasing the magnitude of the disaster "exponentially."

Response from The New York Times

The paper of record largely supported Obama's address, including his supposed humbling BP with a $20 billion escrow fund for claims, saying in an editorial headlined, "From the Oval Office" that:

"Americans have been anxiously waiting for President Obama to take full charge of the gulf oil catastrophe," and he did by "vow(ing) to 'fight this spill with everything we've got for as long as it takes' and declared that 'we will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused.' "

Agreeing that follow through is essential "with more energy and dedication than they have shown so far," and that his speech "was short on specifics and devoid of self-criticism," The Times was hopeful that "Obama was right when he predicted that in 'coming weeks and days,' up to 90 per cent of the oil leaking....will be captured and the well finally capped by this summer" - a virtual impossibility for either to happen, something the "newspaper of record" should know and report.

The Times also endorsed the Senate's "long-stalled comprehensive energy and climate bill, a necessary first step to reducing this country's dependence on fossil fuels and tackling the problem of global warming," when, in fact, it's a scheme to raise energy prices and create a huge new bubble through carbon trading derivatives speculation, and has nothing to do with the environment except increase pollution.

Yet the editorial says "Time is quickly running out for Congress to act before the midterm elections. There is no chance at all (for passage) unless Mr. Obama takes full charge of that fight as well," typical irresponsible misinformation, backing powerful corporate interests, a longstanding Times tradition, why nothing it reports can be believed in editorials or news coverage, why most of what it publishes isn't "fit to print" or read, for sure not believe.

Gulf Gas Bubble Danger Alert

On June 14, author Richard C. Hoagland, citing insider BP and US government sources, told the BBC that "a gas bubble approximately 15 - 20 miles across 10+ feet high near (BP's) well head....had formed that that it may cause a massive explosion within weeks or months."

(Editor's NOTE: I have been unable to independently verify this assertion which I encourage reader's to research further).

He said the pressure is enormous, around 100,000 pounds per square inch, so if it happens it will be an underwater volcanic eruption, creating a huge tsunami, traveling at 400 - 600 miles per hour, sinking all vessels in its path, besides causing vast shoreline damage and deaths, driving up oil prices, and spreading hazardous dispersant's and gasses well inland.

Florida, he believes, will be hardest hit, but the entire region will be affected. A mass evacuation will be ordered, affecting about 40 million people, what Jane Burgermeister reported on her birdflu.666 site, saying under "martial law:"

"The US military is preparing to 'evacuate' 40 million people in the (Gulf) region....under the pretext of toxicity, according to sources," taking them to "notorious FEMA camps, built around the country and resembling concentration camps or prisons...."

(Editor's NOTE: I do not know who the "sources" are and the veracity of this statement).

Citing sources she calls reliable, she adds that "if the seabed is fractured, then all gulf drilling will be suspended (and) will force the price of energy and gas to double worldwide within a few months." Only time will confirm if true, but already the situation is grim, with nothing in prospect for improvement, according to some reliable oil experts.

In readiness, Hoagland said the Coast Guard is calling up former officers and seamen, "offering enticements to come back into service quickly," and that "measurements at Venice and (New Iberia), LA are (already) showing health endangering levels of toxic hydrogen sulfides and benzene gasses." He believes evacuation will likely come or millions may die or suffer severe health consequences, because of toxicity in large amounts being emitted.

Again, whether or not true remains to be seen, but better to know the possibilities (even if exaggerated or proved false) than remain uninformed and unprepared for the worst. Under the best case scenario, this is an unprecedented environmental catastrophe, criminally covered up by Washington and BP.

Oval Office Cover and Capitulation to Corporate Predation

Obama's June 15 address was disingenuous, shameless, hypocritical and supportive of Big Oil interests, much like his backing for the Israeli Lobby, Wall Street bandits, Big Pharma, the insurance lobby, auto giants, agribusiness, defense contractors, and other corporate favorites, while endorsing big cuts in vital public benefits and services to show fiscal restraint.

Playing front man for BP, he didn't explain the cause or severity of the crisis in terms of its effects on the economy, ecosystem, and lives, welfare and health of Gulf state residents. Nor did he demand accountability for perhaps the greatest ever environmental crime, as a result of government-corporate complicity that neither this or any other disaster will change, and unless it does, profits will always supersede public welfare and ecological safety, externalities indifferently sacrificed without concern, no matter how severe. Obama, of course, is a front man for a human and environmentally destructive system, his pious rhetoric and brave face a shameless lie.

To a nationwide audience, he said nothing about regulatory laxity, BP's disregard for worker safety, its shoddy history of dangerous practices, the disrepair of its equipment by cutting corners on maintenance and proper controls, years of manager warnings to top officials ignored about safety concerns risking serious accidents, employees pressured to be silent, say nothing, or be fired, and the company's single-minded pursuit of bottom-line issues, everything else be damned - to such an extreme that it got former EPA debarment attorney, Jeanne Pascal, to say after investigating company practices:

"They are a recurring environmental criminal and they do not follow US health safety and environmental policy. At what point are we going to say we are not going to do business with you any more, bye? None of the other super-majors have an environmental criminal record like they do."

So why did Obama provide BP cover from day one, and in his 18 minute nationwide address? Why hasn't he held a corporate scofflaw accountable, run the cleanup from the start, demand BP provide full information on the problem and cooperate with Washington in charge or face criminal prosecution, huge fines, and nationalization? Why hasn't the public been fully informed? Why do the administration, its officials, the Congress and Coast Guard work for BP instead of the other way around?

Why has he unquestioningly accepted all BP pronouncements on faith, including deliberately falsifying gush estimates - first, 1,000 barrels a day, then 5,000, then 25,000 - 40,000, and now 30,000 - 60,000 when reliable evaluations are double these numbers or higher and explain a problem that may turn the entire gulf and beyond into dead zones, as well as contaminate the entire Atlantic coast and waters well beyond?

Why hasn't he explained Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen's offhand comment that most oil isn't flowing up BP's pipe but is "in communication" with the sea floor and surrounding formations, meaning it's gushing from multiple ruptures, perhaps more to come because of the enormous pressure eroding the well's walls? Why hasn't he announced that perhaps nothing can stop them short of technologies that don't exist, other than perhaps a nuclear option that might fail and magnify the problem as well as irradiate the Gulf and regional shorelines?

Why did he said nothing about noxious air and toxic rain if one or more hurricanes hit the Gulf? Why isn't he warning residents and providing help in case of the worst? Why doesn't he use the military for cleanup, restoration and other aid, and bring home US forces from Iraq and Afghanistan to do it?

Why does he repeat BP's lies, censor the media, conspire to destroy evidence, and keep the public in the dark when they have every right to know anytime, let alone when there's an unprecedented disaster affecting this and other nations?

Why hasn't his Justice Department indicted BP officials, ordered their arrest, and imprisoned them where they belong? Why did he deliver shameless boilerplate to a nationwide TV audience, instead of a detailed action plan, with facts and hard numbers, including seizing BP's assets, mandating all be used to cover recovery and restoration costs, even if it bankrupts the company? Why hasn't BP, and perhaps the entire industry been nationalized - one responsible for global environmental disasters, mostly where victims aren't compensated and get shot if they complain?

After a choreographed White House meeting with top BP officials, why did he let them off easy with a bogus $20 billion escrow fund, amounting to two quarters of dividends, affecting only company shareholders, that's way less than needed to compensate affected residents, who'll be trashed in deference to Big Oil interests? Why did he appoint Kenneth Feinberg as overseer, a notorious Washington fixer who'll protect BP and the administration, not affected Gulf residents?

Why didn't he announce a complete halt to offshore drilling, especially in dangerous deep waters? Why didn't he (belatedly) order immediate environmental impact studies on all current and future drilling operations as well as mandated safety regulations, placing worker and ecological issues above bottom line ones?

Why isn't he our president, instead of BP's front man, stooge, shill, willing agent, betrayer of the public trust, like he's been in all ways since taking office? When will the public realize they've been fooled again, scammed, betrayed, Obama no different from the rest, and, in fact, worse, by fiddling, lying, obfuscating, and concealing the truth while America and other nations face a potentially catastrophic disaster? When will they understand that only grassroots activism brings change when it's determined enough to demand nothing less - and what better time to try than now?


Mr. Lendman's many assertions require further study and must be independently verified but I applaud his effort to arrive at the truth.

--Dr. J. P. Hubert

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sea Creatures Flee Oil Spill, Gather Near Shore


June 17, 2010 "AP" -- GULF SHORES, Ala. — Dolphins and sharks are showing up in surprisingly shallow water just off the Florida coast. Mullets, crabs, rays and small fish congregate by the thousands off an Alabama pier. Birds covered in oil are crawling deep into marshes, never to be seen again.

Marine scientists studying the effects of the BP disaster are seeing some strange — and troubling — phenomena.

Fish and other wildlife are fleeing the oil out in the Gulf and clustering in cleaner waters along the coast. But that is not the hopeful sign it might appear to be, researchers say.

The animals' presence close to shore means their usual habitat is badly polluted, and the crowding could result in mass die-offs as fish run out of oxygen. Also, the animals could easily get devoured by predators.

"A parallel would be: Why are the wildlife running to the edge of a forest on fire? There will be a lot of fish, sharks, turtles trying to get out of this water they detect is not suitable," said Larry Crowder, a Duke University marine biologist.

The nearly two-month-old oil spill has created an environmental catastrophe unparalleled in U.S. history as tens of millions of gallons of have spewed into the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. Scientists are seeing some unusual things as they try to understand the effects on thousands of species of marine life.

Day by day, scientists in boats tally up dead birds, sea turtles and other animals, but the toll is surprisingly small given the size of the disaster. The latest figures show that 783 birds, 353 turtles and 41 mammals have died — numbers that pale in comparison to what happened after the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska in 1989, when 250,000 birds and 2,800 otters are believed to have died.

Researchers say there are several reasons for the relatively small death toll: The vast nature of the spill means scientists are able to locate only a small fraction of the dead animals. Many will never be found after sinking to the bottom of the sea or getting scavenged by other marine life. And large numbers of birds are meeting their deaths deep in the Louisiana marshes where they seek refuge from the onslaught of oil.

"That is their understanding of how to protect themselves," said Doug Zimmer, spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

For nearly four hours Monday, a three-person crew with Greenpeace cruised past delicate islands and mangrove-dotted inlets in Barataria Bay off southern Louisiana. They saw dolphins by the dozen frolicking in the oily sheen and oil-tinged pelicans feeding their young. But they spotted no dead animals.

"I think part of the reason why we're not seeing more yet is that the impacts of this crisis are really just beginning," Greenpeace marine biologist John Hocevar said.

As for the fish, locals are seeing large schools hanging around piers where fishing has been banned; apparently the fish feel safer now that they are not being disturbed by fishermen.

Also, researchers believe fish are swimming closer to shore because the water is cleaner and more abundant in oxygen. Father out in the Gulf, researchers say, the spill is not only tainting the water with oil but also depleting oxygen levels.

A similar scenario occurs during "dead zone" periods — the time during summer months when oxygen becomes so depleted that fish race toward shore in large numbers. Sometimes, so many fish gather close to the shoreline off Mobile that locals rush to the beach with tubs and nets to reap the harvest.

But this latest shore migration could prove deadly.

First, more oil could eventually wash ashore and overwhelm the fish. They could also become trapped between the slick and the beach, leading to increased competition for oxygen in the water and causing them to die as they run out of air.

"Their ability to avoid it may be limited in the long term, especially if in near-shore refuges they're crowding in close to shore, and oil continues to come in. At some point they'll get trapped," Crowder said. "It could lead to die-offs."

The fish could also fall victim to predators such as sharks and seabirds. Already there have been increased shark sightings in shallow waters along the Gulf Coast.

The counting of dead wildlife in the Gulf is more than an academic exercise; the deaths will help determine how much BP pays in damages.

Roger Helm, chief of the Fish and Wildlife Service's contaminants division, said the government expects a battle with BP over the extent of the damage and has every incentive to be scientifically credible.

"Both sides go to their own corner and interpret the data the way they want," Helm said. "This is a legal process, and if we can't get an agreement we'll end up in court."

Is the BP Gusher Unstoppable?

By Julia Whitty
Mother Jones
Wed Jun. 16, 2010 2:26 PM PDT

Sharon Astyk at ScienceBlogs points the way to a seriously scary comment thread at The Oil Drum HERE..., a sounding board for, among others, many petroleum geologists and oil professionals. The comment in question is from a seemingly very knowledgable "dougr." Some of it follows verbatim below. I've highlighted the parts that frightened me the most and left me wondering: Is this why Obama's praying?

You can read the comment in its entirety HERE..., complete with useful links, as well as all the comments (some of which dissent from dougr's claims) made in response. Sharon notes, to the inevitable question of why pass along an anonymous comment: "This one passes my smell test, which is usually pretty good - that doesn't mean I claim commenter Doug R is right - it means I think his information is interesting enough to be worth exposing to a wider audience for clarification or correction." As the Oil Drum staff explains to it's own readers regarding this post: "Were the US government and BP more forthcoming with information and details, the situation would not be giving rise to so much speculation about what is actually going on in the Gulf. This should be run more like Mission Control at NASA than an exclusive country club function--it is a public matter--transparency, now!"

Amen. Meanwhile, judge for yourself:

"All the actions and few tid bits of information all lead to one inescapable conclusion. The well pipes below the sea floor are broken and leaking. Now you have some real data of how BP's actions are evidence of that, as well as some murky statement from 'BP officials' confirming the same."

"To those of us outside the real inside loop, yet still fairly knowledgeable, [the failure of Top Kill] was a major confirmation of what many feared. That the system below the sea floor has serious failures of varying magnitude in the complicated chain, and it is breaking down and it will continue to."

"What does this mean?"

"It means they will never cap the gusher after the wellhead. They cannot...the more they try and restrict the oil gushing out the bop?...the more it will transfer to the leaks below. Just like a leaky garden hose with a nozzle on it. When you open up the nozzle? doesn't leak so bad, you close the nozzle? leaks real bad, same dynamics. It is why they sawed the riser off...or tried to anyway...but they clipped it off, to relieve pressure on the leaks 'down hole'. I'm sure there was a bit of panic time after they crimp/pinched off the large riser pipe and the Diamond wire saw got stuck and failed...because that crimp diverted pressure and flow to the rupture down below." MORE...

Gulf oil full of methane, adding new concerns

Associated Press Writers Matthew Brown And Ramit Plushnick-masti,
– 2 hrs 29 mins ago

NEW ORLEANS – It is an overlooked danger in oil spill crisis: The crude gushing from the well contains vast amounts of natural gas that could pose a serious threat to the Gulf of Mexico's fragile ecosystem.

The oil emanating from the seafloor contains about 40 percent methane, compared with about 5 percent found in typical oil deposits, said John Kessler, a Texas A&M University oceanographer who is studying the impact of methane from the spill.

That means huge quantities of methane have entered the Gulf, scientists say, potentially suffocating marine life and creating "dead zones" where oxygen is so depleted that nothing lives.

"This is the most vigorous methane eruption in modern human history," Kessler said.

Methane is a colorless, odorless and flammable substance that is a major component in the natural gas used to heat people's homes. Petroleum engineers typically burn off excess gas attached to crude before the oil is shipped off to the refinery. That's exactly what BP has done as it has captured more than 7.5 million gallons of crude from the breached well.

A BP spokesman said the company was burning about 30 million cubic feet of natural gas daily from the source of the leak, adding up to about 450 million cubic feet since the containment effort started 15 days ago. That's enough gas to heat about 450,000 homes for four days.

But that figure does not account for gas that eluded containment efforts and wound up in the water, leaving behind huge amounts of methane.

BP PLC said a containment cap sitting over the leaking well funneled about 619,500 gallons of oil to a drillship waiting on the ocean surface on Wednesday. Meanwhile, a specialized flare siphoning oil and gas from a stack of pipes on the seafloor burned roughly 161,700 gallons.

Thursday was focused on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers chastised BP CEO Tony Hayward.

Testifying as oil still surged into the Gulf at between 1.47 million and 2.52 million gallons a day, coating more coastal land and marshes, Hayward declared "I am so devastated with this accident," "deeply sorry" and "so distraught."

But he also said he was out of the loop on decisions at the well and disclaimed knowledge of any of the myriad problems on and under the Deepwater Horizon rig before the deadly explosion. BP was leasing the rig the Deepwater Horizon that exploded April 20, killing 11 workers and triggering the environmental disaster.

"BP blew it," said Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., chairman of the House investigations panel that held the hearing. "You cut corners to save money and time."As for the methane, scientists are still trying to measure how much has escaped into the water and how it may damage the Gulf and it creatures.

The dangerous gas has played an important role throughout the disaster and response. A bubble of methane is believed to have burst up from the seafloor and ignited the rig explosion. Methane crystals also clogged a four-story containment box that engineers earlier tried to place on top of the breached well.

Now it is being looked at as an environmental concern.

The small microbes that live in the sea have been feeding on the oil and natural gas in the water and are consuming larger quantities of oxygen, which they need to digest food. As they draw more oxygen from the water, it creates two problems. When oxygen levels drop low enough, the breakdown of oil grinds to a halt; and as it is depleted in the water, most life can't be sustained.

The National Science Foundation funded research on methane in the Gulf amid concerns about the depths of the oil plume and questions what role natural gas was playing in keeping the oil below the surface, said David Garrison, a program director in the federal agency who specializes in biological oceanography.

"This has the potential to harm the ecosystem in ways that we don't know," Garrison said. "It's a complex problem."

In early June, a research team led by Samantha Joye of the Institute of Undersea Research and Technology at the University of Georgia investigated a 15-mile-long plume drifting southwest from the leak site. They said they found methane concentrations up to 10,000 times higher than normal, and oxygen levels depleted by 40 percent or more.

The scientists found that some parts of the plume had oxygen concentrations just shy of the level that tips ocean waters into the category of "dead zone" — a region uninhabitable to fish, crabs, shrimp and other marine creatures.

Kessler has encountered similar findings. Since he began his on-site research on Saturday, he said he has already found oxygen depletions of between 2 percent and 30 percent in waters 1,000 feet deep.

Shallow waters are normally more susceptible to oxygen depletion. Because it is being found in such deep waters, both Kessler and Joye do not know what is causing the depletion and what the impact could be in the long- or short-term.

In an e-mail, Joye called her findings "the most bizarre looking oxygen profiles I have ever seen anywhere."
Representatives of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration acknowledged that so much methane in the water could draw down oxygen levels and slow the breakdown of oil in the Gulf, but cautioned that research was still under way to understand the ramifications.

"We haven't seen any long-term changes or trends at this point," said Robert Haddad, chief of the agency's assessment and restoration division.

Haddad said early efforts to monitor the spill had focused largely on the more toxic components of oil. However, as new data comes in, he said NOAA and other federal agencies will get a more accurate read on methane concentrations and the effects.

"The question is what's going on in the deeper, colder parts of the ocean," he said. "Are the (methane) concentrations going to overcome the amount of available oxygen? We want to make sure we're not overloading the system." BP spokesman Mark Proegler disputed Joye's suggestion that the Gulf's deep waters contain large amounts of methane, noting that water samples taken by BP and federal agencies have shown minimal underwater oil outside the spill's vicinity.

"The gas that escapes, what we don't flare, goes up to the surface and is gone," he said.

Steven DiMarco, an oceanographer at Texas A&M University who has studied a long-known "dead zone" in the Gulf, said one example of marine life that could be affected by low oxygen levels in deeper waters would be giant squid — the food of choice for the endangered sperm whale population. Squid live primarily in deep water, and would be disrupted by lower oxygen levels, DiMarco said.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Gulf News; From Bad to Worse

By: Rob Kall - Writer
For OpEdNews:
June 17, 2010

Sit down. Get ready. Your life has begun to change. It will never be the same again. This gulf disaster is changing everything. Call your legislators. Tell them that they are now on notice. There are the constituents and there are planet killing corporations, ready to wipe out life on the planet for a profit. Those legislators have to choose whose side they are on. No more bullshit. No more lobbyists getting favors. This is not life or death.

Here's the latest report I just received from my contact inside BP:
Ok, here's the deal.

Size of reservoir - estimated by BP and its partner, Andarko to be between 2.5B and 10B bbl. (that's 100,000,000,000 gallons and 400,000,000,000 gallons).

(Editor's NOTE: I have been unable to varify how large the BP Gulf Oil [Macondo Well] deposit was thought to be. An estimate I found was a total of roughly 1 billion barrels or 40+ billion gallons. To date, somewhere between 150 and 200 million gallons have been released from the well. That means at least another 500 million barrels [roughly 20 billion gallons] at a minimum are yet to be released from the well unless it can somehow be capped. It is vital that the public be informed about the truth of whether the well casing has been breached and the estimated size of the original oil deposit).

Yes - all of those numbers are BILLIONS.

BP has admitted in at least 3 interviews that the well casing is compromised (broken). So, when they tried the Top Kill - and then the Junk Shot - the stuff shot out the sides and didn't go much down the hole. A REAL top kill should just take a few hours - or it's not going to ever work.

The casing was undoubtedly broken apart by the natural gas 'explosion' at the bottom of the well, which was the result of methane coming out of solution (ie. the methane hydrates melting and expanding dramatically). Much like when your washer's water line has air in it and you shut off the valve and the line 'hammers', the well 'hammered' when the BOP shut (the guess is 80%), and the dramatic upshot in pressure, as well as the acoustic shockwave, broke the casing.

The Question of the Day is: Did the explosion rupture the casing for its entire length?

If that is so, then a relief well will be unable to plug the hole. TEN relief wells would be unable to plug the hole.

The consensus seems to be, among oil people I've spoken with, that this is exactly the case.

If that's so, then the well will run until Obama nukes it. That is the only thing that could close it. (Editor's NOTE: That is the current position of Matt Simmons who to date has been extremely prescient in his predictions markedly exceeding the accuracy of BP and the Obama administration).

If they can't plug it via the relief wells, and if they don't nuke it (it can't be conventional explosives, for a few reasons), then about 1/2 of the oil and gas will run out. That would be 50 BILLION to 200 BILLION gallons of oil, over a 10 year period. Although, like the interest you pay on a house note, the biggest part would be up-front.

Another report I discovered yesterday, can't remember where, is that there is so much methane coming out of the gulf gusher that it equals what New York City produces in a day. That methane is 25 to 100 times more deleterious than CO2 as a greenhouse gas aggravating global warming.

We need to start thinking about a black gulf that is dead, that oil and other toxins are leaking to other oceans. What will our world, our nation, the human race, life on this planet look like if all the seas die?

We need to start thinking really hard about re-localization, transition towns-- the kinds of things Bill McKibben, Lester R. Brown and Rob Hopkins have been writing about. Plant a vegetable garden in your back yard, in a local garden, on your balcony. Connect with a local food coop or CSA (community supported agriculture.) The world is going to change.

We need to take a Apollo, moon landing technology approach to what is happening in the gulf. We need big ideas and solutions because there are other deep water wells out there waiting to become catastrophes. Joe Trippi said it well, responding to Obama's speech Tuesday night:

The president could have told the American people that it is clear that we had the technology to drill a hole in the ocean floor 1 mile beneath the surface.
Then, he should have leveled with us and said that it is just as unclear, right now, how we can put the technology in place to shut it down quickly after the tragic explosion. Just as we were able to bring Apollo 13 back to earth safely, we will shut this well down, the president could have assured us.

We need to take a WWII approach to low tech temporary interventions, like building 10,000 skimmers that can be rigged to existing boats. We need to figure out ways to use trawlers to drag booms that absorb oil through those massive curtains of oil, so they can be cleaned up deep in the ocean.

Obama still does not get the immensity of the problem. He needs to imagine 1.25 to 5 BILLION barrels-- 50 billion to 210 billion gallons of oil-- spewing into the gulf rounding the keys, despoiling the Caribbean, riding the Gulf Current up the eastern seaboard, jumping over to Europe....

Forget about Iraq and Afghanistan and the hundreds of other military bases we have. We need to apply all our military resources to the massive disaster we have at home.

Tell the bastards in the military industrial medical complex that there's a new way they're going to have to make money-- healing the gulf, healing the gulf workers, preventing our oil plague from killing the planet.

My source tells me that BP has underground resources of 500 billion barrels of oil-- at $70 a barrel that's $35 Trillion dollars

(Editor's NOTE: Expert estimates are that the total global oil deposit reserve is currently slightly less than 1 trillion barrels. I do not believe that any single oil company has anywhere near half of that quantity but this claim needs to be further investigated).

Other oil companies have similar holdings. We need to start talking about tapping them for a trillion dollar budget, not a piddling $20 billion escrow account. Don't get me wrong. That account was a first step.

But we need Boeing and Raytheon and General Motors and Ford and our biggest most advanced companies focused on what is happening in the gulf. We need to get ideas and suggestions cranked up even more. Humanity has incredible wisdom and creativity. We need to tap it and work it, like never before, fast and furious.

We need-- Obama needs-- to face the reality that fishing and shrimping in the Gulf and probably Florida are over for years to come. Eating ocean fish may soon be over.

Obama needs to call a meeting of world leaders to face this INTERNATIONAL crisis.

Obama needs to, and I've said it before, fire the advisers who let him get this far doing so little, addressing this in so many wrong ways. This IS like a war, but secrecy is not called for, necessary or appropriate. We are all in this together. The enemy is the oil and maybe the corporations, and for them transparency is their enemy.

Obama needs to rise a lot higher and find his higher self and become a true visionary leader. That probably means cutting the tethers held by the political hacks who he has surrounded himself with. We need a great president NOW, not some compromising, making deals with corporations manager. I believe Obama has it in him, but he must throw off the slugs and maggots and reptiles and leeches who are bringing him down. He needs to think of his wife and children and the rest of us, not corporations.

We may need to totally revamp the military. We need people like Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré of the Army who was appointed to oversee the Katrina recovery.

The hotter water caused by the black and red coloration will lead to more violent weather and hurricane activity. The release of billions of gallons of methane will speed global warming and exacerbate climate change.

I told a friend about this last night. He said, "so, the house my sister and her husband just bought for $1.2 million on the west coast of Florida might drop in value?"

Ouch. You betcha.

There is talk of the US government taking over BP. Since it's an international company, that may not be possible, but certainly, BP's assets in the US are takable. Surely BP has broken any agreement to operate responsibly.

And then there's that matter of criminality-- 11 dead, millions damaged. Why didn't our hapless incompetent in the justice department AG Eric Holder arrest the BP execs after they left the meeting with Obama. Maybe that would be premature, but it should be in the works.

And let's not forget all those British pensioners who are not going to be getting their dividend checks for the rest of the year. Maybe ALL investors will learn not to invest in criminal, anti life, anti-earth, ant-human corporations anymore.

It is likely that a number of the previously endangered species in the gulf will die off.

The sequellae of this disaster are just beginning to become visible on the horizon. The Christian Right has been praying for the end times. Who knew that the beast would be BP and the American addiction to oil?


Many of this man's suggestions are worthy of consideration and further study. I share his level of concern and suggest that every reader carry out their own personal research while informing interested internet sites/bloggers.

--Dr. J. P. Hubert

Rep. Kucinich To Congress: What If The BP Gusher Is Unstoppable?Submitted by Chip on Thu, 2010-06-17 21:04

Was Israel Ever Legitimate?

by Jeff Gates ·
April 3, 2010

The history of Israel as a geopolitical fraud will fill entire libraries as those defrauded marvel at how so few deceived so many for so long. Those duped include many naive Jews who—even now—identify their interests with this extremist enclave.

Israeli leaders are wrong to worry about “de-legitimization.” They are right to fear that a long-deceived public is fast realizing that Israel’s founding was key to an ongoing deception.

The Invention of the Jewish People did not begin with Shlomo Sand’s 2009 bestseller by that title. There was no Exile says this Jewish scholar. Nor was there an Exodus. So how could there be a Return, the core premise of Israeli statehood?

(Editor's NOTE: There was in fact an Exodus of ancient Hebrew people from their bondage in Egypt documented in both Sacred Scripture and other secular sources. It has no relationship however to the modern country of Israel which is in fact a Zionist apartheid state not a democracy. Israel is not a theocratic state based upon ancient [pre-Christian] Judaism as Evangelical Dispensationalist's appear to contend).

If this patch of Palestinian land never rightly belonged to a mythical Jewish People, what then for the legitimacy of the “Jewish homeland.” And for that depiction by British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour in his November 1917 letter to Lord Rothschild? (Editor's NOTE: same point as above. The reality is that modern Israel is based upon Jewish nationalism [radical Zionism] is anti-democratic and consistently violates the so-called Judeo-Christian (Golden-rule) ethic. It bares no relationship whatsoever to the ancient Hebrew people who once populated the land of Palestine. The very fact that it engaged in ethnic cleansing of indigenous people in order to establish itself demonstrates that it has no moral claim to the land).

Were Christians likewise seduced by Sunday school teachings reliant on the phony findings of Biblical archeologist William Albright? Shlomo Sand chronicles how in the 1920s Albright interpreted every excavation in Palestine to “reaffirm the Old Testament and thereby the New.”

(Editor's NOTE: This author obviously has a bone to pick with Christianity. The point made here is irrelevant to his basic argument).

In 1948, President Harry Truman, a Christian Zionist, was advised by Secretary of State George Marshall not to recognize this enclave as a state. This WWII general assured Truman that he would vote against him—and did.

That military tradition resurfaced in January 2010 when General David Petraeus dispatched a team to brief Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the perils that Israel still poses to U.S. national security. Mullen was reportedly shocked. See: The Petraeus Briefing HERE...

He should not have been surprised. Such insights are hardly new. More than six decades ago the Joint Chiefs of Staff cautioned Truman about the “fanatical concepts of the Jewish leaders” and their plans for “Jewish military and economic hegemony over the entire Middle East.”

In December 1948, Albert Einstein and 27 prominent Jews urged us “not to support this latest manifestation of fascism.” They warned that a “Leader State” was the goal of the “terrorist party” that has governed Israel over all but a handful of the past 62 years.

The Joint Chiefs foresaw the “Zionist strategy will seek to involve [the U.S.] in a continuously widening and deepening series of operations intended to secure maximum Jewish objectives.” Soon after Truman recognized Israel, his presidential campaign train was “refueled” by Zionist Jews with $400,000 in contributions ($3.6 million in 2010 dollars). Soon thereafter, Israel betrayed the U.S. by allying with the British and the French to invade Egypt.

Though London and Paris soon abandoned the operation, months more were required to dissuade Tel Aviv from pursuing their expansionist agenda then—as now—for Greater Israel.

Outraged by Israeli duplicity, Eisenhower sought help to rein them in. He soon found that even then (as now) the Israel lobby dominated Congress. Thus the former Supreme Allied Commander appeared on television with an appeal directly to the American people. Then—unlike now—a U.S. Commander in Chief threatened to reduce assistance to Israel.

To revamp Israel’s tattered image, New York public relations expert Edward Gottlieb retained novelist Leon Uris to write Exodus. Jewish Zionists have routinely proven themselves skilled storytellers and masterful mythmakers.

This 1958 bestseller was translated into dozens of languages and quickly made into a movie for the 1960 Christmas season starring Paul Newman and featuring Peter Lawford, brother-in-law of the just-elected President John F. Kennedy. See: Time for an American Intifada? HERE...

The Myth of a Loyal Ally

Phil Tourney survived the June 8, 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty that left 34Americans dead and 175 wounded. The region-wide dynamics accompanying that provocative Six-Day land grab guaranteed the conflicts that remain so perilous to U.S. national security.

It was during this Israeli operation that Tourney gave a one-fingered salute to armed Israeli troops as they hovered in helicopters over the USS Liberty while preparing to rappel to the deck and, he surmises, kill the survivors and sink the ship.

Just then the captain aboard a nearby U.S. carrier scrambled jets to assist a vessel under attack by an “ally.” When Israeli intelligence intercepted the transmission, the helicopters fled only to have President Lyndon Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara recall our fighters.

Soon thereafter, Israeli torpedo boats pulled alongside the USS Liberty to inquire if those aboard needed assistance. Those same boats had just blown a hole in the hull, killing 25 Americans. Israeli machine-gunners had then strafed stretcher-bearers, firemen, life rafts and even the fire hoses—all clear war crimes. Only then did this ally display the chutzpah to ask if our servicemen required assistance.

Had that notorious land grab failed to advance the narrative of Israel as the victim, what might be the condition of U.S. national security today? Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently conceded the duplicity that continues to typify this “special relationship.”

As he confessed: “Our policy on Jerusalem is the same policy followed by all Israeli governments for 42 years, and it has not changed. As far as we are concerned, building in Jerusalem is the same as building in Tel Aviv.”
In other words, the 1967 war was neither defensive nor preemptive but an outright taking of land that, one year later, Tel Aviv acknowledged as precisely what concerned the Pentagon 62 years ago.

In effect, Netanyahu confirmed that this relationship reflects multi-decade premeditation. The U.S. has since discredited itself by protecting this “ally” from the rule of law for its taking and brutal occupation of land that rightly belongs to others.

Even now, few know that Mathilde Krim, a former Irgun operative, was “servicing” our Commander-in-Chief in the White House the night the 1967 war began. Her husband, Arthur, then chaired the finance committee for the Democratic National Committee.

Even now, few Americans know the role in that cover-up played by Admiral John McCain, Jr. Or the role still played in this sordid history by his son, Republican Senator John McCain III. See: McCain Family Secret HERE...

Are those who champion this “state” the same belief-makers responsible for the myth of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction? Iraqi meetings in Prague? Iraqi mobile biological weapons laboratories? High-level Iraqi contacts with Al Qaeda? Iraqi yellowcake uranium from Niger?

Was any of that intelligence legitimate? Whose interests were served by deceiving the U.S. to wage war in the Middle East? By the Suez Crisis? By the Six-Day War? By covering up the attack on the USS Liberty?

Adhering to an Enemy?

How are U.S. interests served by treating Israel as a legitimate state? When was Israeli behavior anything other than duplicitous? At what point do we concede the common source of the storylines foisted on an imperiled global public?

Who created the narrative that saw us segue seamlessly from a global Cold War to a global War on Terrorism? Remember the promise of a post-Cold War “peace dividend”? Who induced the U.S. to wage a war whose costs could total $3 trillion, including $700 billion in interest?

Why is debt always the prize? At the end of WWII, the U.S. was home to 50% of the world’s productive power. Were we induced to hollow out our economy by the same consensus-shapers that induced us to wage war in the Middle East?

Do these devastating dynamics trace to a common source?

Who benefits from the “Islamo” fascist narrative? Whose storyline—really—is The Clash of Civilizations? Who has long spied on the U.S. and routinely transferred to other nations our most sensitive defense technologies?

Who had the means, motive, opportunity and, importantly, the stable nation state intelligence required to perpetrate such a debilitating fraud from inside the U.S. government? And from inside other governments that joined the “coalition of the willing”?

If not Israel and its supporters—who? In effect, are those now advocating an “unbreakable bond” with Israel giving aid and comfort to an enemy within?

Israel is right to worry. It was never legitimate. As both an enabler and a target of this fraud, the U.S. has an obligation to concede its source—and to secure the weapons of mass destruction now under the control of this enclave.

Map of Israeli-Palestinian Land Through Time 1947-2007
Submitted by Chip on Thu, 2010-06-17 18:47

BP Admits That - If It Tries to Cap the Leak - the Whole Well May Blow

By: Washington's Blog original HERE...
Tuesday, June 15, 2010

As I previously noted, oil industry expert Rob Cavner said that BP must "keep the well flowing to minimize oil and gas going out into the formation on the side":

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

This has just been confirmed by BP.

Specifically, BP's Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles told CNN last Thursday that BP's data indicates that BP can't cap the leaking oil, or it might cause the well casing to blow out:

Suttles denies that there is evidence that the well casing has already blown out beneath the sea floor.

But many experts - including experts working for BP - say that there is damage beneath the sea floor. Indeed, Matt Simmons told Bloomberg today that America's top research vessel - the Thomas Jefferson - found that the well casing is gone, and can no longer even be seen on the sea floor, having been destroyed.

Gulf Oil Disaster: A Transatlantic Pollution Catastrophe Looms

by Finian Cunningham
Global Research, May 21, 2010

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster threatening to wipe out tourism and fishing industries and countless numbers of marine wildlife habitats along the entire US southeast coast could be just the prelude to a much greater transatlantic pollution catastrophe.

The furthest eastern state of Florida – 600 miles from the Deepwater Horizon spill site off Louisiana – is next at risk to devastating pollution as a result of giant undersea oil plumes being swept up by fast-moving Caribbean currents known as the Gulf Loop. But US government officials are now warning neigbouring countries to also prepare for contamination. Indeed, the US state department has taken the highly unusual step of contacting the Cuban government to warn it of the pollution risk.

With efforts to curtail the flow of oil gushing from the seabed well by British Petroleum proving ineffective a month after the explosion on an exploratory rig, it is feared by several marine scientists and engineers based in the region that the spill could reach up to a total of six million barrels of crude oil equivalent – 25 times greater than the 1989 Exxon Valdez incident off Alaska, which up to this was considered one of the worst human-made environmental disasters.

With up to 70,000 barrels of oil spewing into the Caribbean every day, there are well-founded fears that the Gulf Loop will pass on its contamination load to the Gulf Stream which, in turn, pours into the North Atlantic. If this happens then the countries of Western Europe that are bathed by this giant oceanic current will also suffer the hydrocarbon toxic fallout from the Deepwater Horizon, scientists say. The multibillion-dollar damage to communities, industries and the incalculable ecological cost might then be multiplied to trillions.

And the full extent of this transatlantic catastrophe does not even stop there. In the South Atlantic, the offshore territories off West Africa – including those of Ghana, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone – have in recent years become major players in global oil exploration. Since discoveries of huge undersea oil reserves in 2007 off Ghana, in particular, international oil companies, including Exxon and Russian and Chinese state-owned firms, have been flocking to the West African country eager to exploit its newfound natural wealth. More than 50 international oil companies are vying for this equatorial oil bounty, according to the Ghanaian energy ministry.

One of Ghana’s major offshore oil prizes is the Jubilee Field, which is estimated to contain reserves equivalent to 1.8 billion barrels (1,800 million barrels). Production from oilrigs off this former British colony is scheduled to begin later this year – for the first time.

Of concern is that Transocean – the operator and owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig contracted by BP – is also the major operator in Ghana’s nascent offshore industry. The New York and Zurich-listed company is the world’s biggest such operator, with over 300 rigs worldwide, according to its website. The company views West Africa as one of its growth areas. [1]

It is now well documented in the case of the Gulf oil spill, which resulted from an explosion on 20 April on Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon rig claiming the lives of 11 workers, that the disaster stemmed from negligence in safety standards and procedures carried out by Transocean. The two main safety shortcomings were the faulty method by which the rig tried to shut off the exploratory wellhead and the failure of a blow-out valve to activate in order to seal the resulting gusher. Not only that, but these systemic dangers in the company’s drilling operations were highlighted over several years by independent engineers and consultants. Both US government officials and the oil industry ignored the warnings, evidently in a rush to maximise profits. [2]

This revolving door relationship between the US government and the oil industry whereby a blind eye was turned on safety regulations, in particular those of Transocean, raise deeply troubling concerns about the risk of an equally disastrous oil spill in the newly opened West African offshore fields.

Sam Danse, who is Oxfam’s country director for Ghana, told BBC World Service (19 May) that he fears international oil companies are using their colossal economic strength to ride roughshod over West African government officials and safety regulations. He cited Transocean in particular with regard to Ghana.

Transocean’s annual profits of over $4 billion is more than a quarter of Ghana’s gross domestic product and approximately the same as the country’s total debt. That is a lot of leverage on a government of a poor country desperate to get its oil industry up and running as quickly as possible. As Danse pointed out: “If that’s what this company got away with with American industry regulators, what can it get away with those in Ghana?”To make matters worse, Ghana has already an unenviable reputation for endemic government corruption. The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business (2010) ranks the country 92nd out of a total of 183. Ordinary Ghanaians often complain that their government ministries are “in the pockets” of foreign investors. Former British deputy high commissioner Craig Murray, who fell foul of his own government in the late 1990s for blowing the whistle on bribery and fraud involving British companies in Ghana, says that the country’s energy sector is particularly prone to corruption.

“The truth is that sadly there was a major increase in corruption in Ghana especially in 2007 and 2008. That was a major reason why the Ghanaian people voted to change their government. But so far there is little indication that the new government has done much to root out the corruption,” says Murray.

If the level of corruption that has been shown in the Gulf of Mexico oil industry is replicated in West Africa’s inexperienced offshore enterprises, then this opens up the possibility of a ticking bomb for a similar oil spill disaster occurring in the South Atlantic. Given that this oceanic region off West Africa drives major ocean currents back to the Americas in a manner countercyclical to the Gulf Stream in the North Atlantic [3] this opens up an appalling vista of a transatlantic triangular catastrophe in oil pollution.