Our ignorance is not so vast as our failure to use what we know.

- M. King Hubbert

Oil Slick In The Gulf Of Mexico

From Earth Observatory (NASA), May 24, 2010

NASA satellite image of oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team.

Sunlight illuminated the lingering oil slick off the Mississippi Delta on May 24, 2010. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Terra satellite captured this image the same day.

Oil smoothes the ocean surface, making the Sun's reflection brighter in some places, and reducing the scattering of sunlight in other places. As a result, the oil slick is brighter than the surrounding water in some places (image center) and darker than the surrounding water in others (image lower right). The tip of the Mississippi Delta is surrounded by muddy water that appears light tan. Bright white ribbons of oil streak across this sediment-laden water.

Tendrils of oil extend to the north and east of the main body of the slick. A small, dark plume along the edge of the slick, not far from the original location of the Deepwater Horizon rig, indicates a possible controlled burn of oil on the ocean surface.

To the west of the bird's-foot part of the delta, dark patches in the water may also be oil, but detecting a manmade oil slick in coastal areas can be even more complicated than detecting it in the open ocean.

When oil slicks are visible in satellite images, it is because they have changed how the water reflects light, either by making the Sun's reflection brighter or by dampening the scattering of sunlight, which makes the oily area darker. In coastal areas, however, similar changes in reflectivity can occur from differences in salinity (fresh versus salt water) and from naturally produced oils from plants.

Texas Governor Urges 'Good Neighbor Policy'

From Lodi News-Sentinel, August 11, 1979

Ixtoc I oil well blowout after the platform Sedco 135 burns and sinks. Src: NOAA
Ixtoc I oil well blowout after the platform Sedco 135 burns and sinks. Src: NOAA

Gov Williams Clements, founder of the company that owned the drilling rig involved in history's worst oil spill, Friday said the blow out had not hurt Texas and suggested a "good neighbor policy" with Mexico was preferable to lawsuits.

"We have in this country a very clearly stated policy of being a good neighbor with Mexico." Clements said after touring the Texas coast. "They are in a difficult time and in the spirit of being a good neighbor I think we should help them in this time of crisis because they are suffering worse than we are."

Clements said it would be "unwise, unneighborly and uncalled for" to sue Mexico for damages from the June 3 blow out of it Ixtoc I well in the Bay of Campeche, 500 miles south of the Rio Grande.

Clements said he considered damage to the Texas coast line to be slight, but stressed the oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate estimated ar 20,000 barrels per day could result in disaster for his home state.

"It's a big to-do about nothing/" Clements said. "So far we're really not hurt and I want to emphasize that. There are a lot of people out on the beaches. They're enjoying the beaches and the environment is not really suffering at this point. what has happened to date we can easily clean up."

"But, and it's a very very big 'but,' it could get much worse. The winds and currents could indeed cause a real problem here, there's no question about it."

Clements whose interest in Dallas-based SEDCO Inc. have been placed in a blind trust, said the firm collected $280 million in insurance for the loss of the 15-year-old rig, the first the company ever owned.

"I have a great affection and nostalgia for this particular offshore rig." Clements said, "It was kind of like losing an old friend."

The rig was towed from the well site and sunk in 8,000 feet of water.

"No one can really predict what's going to happen next," Clements said. "We are the victims of a catastrophe in the Bay of Campeche. And we're also the victims of circumstances in the water as to what happens next."

Scientists said predicting the movement of the oil was complicated when patches reached Texas because little was known about the complex system of currents.

Clements said his examination of Port Mansfield beach, described as the most polluted by the Mexican oil, revealed it was not as bad as it had been earlier this week.

Before touring the coast, Clements has said a timely hurricane might help the problem by blowing the pollution away from the United States. Scientists have disagreed, saying that Gulf turbulence could be the worst thing.

Informed that Gulf hurricanes traditionally blow from the east toward the mainland, Clements said he was now praying for a northern cold front rather than a storm.

Coast Guard Adm Paul Yost, who accompanied Clements, said he was authorized to spend $3 million to fight the pollution and could obtain more if necessary.

The Coast Guard reported that the heaviest concentration of oil remained 240 miles south of the mouth of the Rio Grande.

Src: 10 famous oil spills on Incident News (May 2010)

June 2004 issue of National Geographic covering peak oil

On June 3, 1979, the 2 mile deep exploratory well, IXTOC I, blew out in the Bahia de Campeche, 600 miles south of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico. The IXTOC I was being drilled by the SEDCO 135, a semi-submersible platform on lease to Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX). A loss of drilling mud circulation caused the blowout to occur. The oil and gas blowing out of the well ignited, causing the platform to catch fire. The burning platform collapsed into the wellhead area hindering any immediate attempts to control the blowout.

PEMEX hired blowout control experts and other spill control experts including Red Adair, Martech International of Houston, and the Mexican diving company, Daivaz. The Martech response included 50 personnel on site, the remotely operated vehicle TREC, and the submersible Pioneer I. The TREC attempted to find a safe approach to the Blowout Preventer (BOP). The approach was complicated by poor visibility and debris on the seafloor including derrick wreckage and 3000 meters of drilling pipe. Divers were eventually able to reach and activate the BOP, but the pressure of the oil and gas caused the valves to begin rupturing. The BOP was reopened to prevent destroying it. Two relief wells were drilled to relieve pressure from the well to allow response personnel to cap it. Norwegian experts were contracted to bring in skimming equipment and containment booms, and to begin cleanup of the spilled oil. The IXTOC I well continued to spill oil at a rate of 10,000 - 30,000 barrels per day until it was finally capped on March 23, 1980.

The Fire Beater

From Time Magazine, Feburary 9, 1953

Oil firefighter Myron Kinley with scars from putting out fires. Photo by Robert W. Kelly, 1953
Oil firefighter Myron Kinley with scars from putting out fires. Photo by Robert W. Kelly, 1953

On a well drilling platform, 14 miles off the Louisiana bayou shore, there was a sudden roar. Into the air shot great hissing sheets of flame. What oilmen fear worst—a well "blowout" and fire—had set aflame two of Pure Oil Co.'s gas wells.

The oilmen knew what to do. They put in a hurry call to the world's most famous oil-fire fighter, 53-year-old Myron Kinley. As marks of his calling, Kinley has a permanently crippled right leg and carries masses of scar tissue all over his body. The call found him at his Bel-Air mansion near Hollywood, where he likes to cool off in his private swimming pool between alarms. Within three hours, he hopped a plane east, carrying nothing but a change of shirt, and socks—and his enormous knowledge of fire fighting.

At the scene, he found part of the well platform a mass of wreckage. The wells' damaged "Christmas trees" (i.e., cluster of valves topping the well pipe) kept the flames close to the platform, making the area too hot to approach. Kinley borrowed a four-man Army team from Louisiana's Camp Polk, tried to shoot off the trees with 75-mm. recoilless rifles. The tree of one well was shot off. Kinley got Pure Oil's crews to weld together a 90-ft. boom of pipe tipped with a big loop and cooled by hundreds of gallons of water pumped through it. With it, he hooked off the tree of the other. The gas then shot out of the wells so fast that the flames were pushed 90 ft. above the platform, giving it a chance to cool. This week, Kinley plans to drop explosives into the wells, snuff out the fires with the blast.

Luck & Danger

Kinley, who is called the "indispensable man" of the oil industry, owes his highly profitable trade to an accidental discovery. His father made his living "shooting" oil wells (i.e., dynamiting them to loosen the oil-bearing formations). One day in 1913, when a well caught fire he discovered that a dynamite blast could snuff it out. Myron and his younger brother Floyd concentrated on oil-well fire fighting. In 1931, when Myron went to Rumania to put out a fire which had raged for two years, his fame became international.

Every new fire was a new problem. In Rumania, the caved-in well had made a crater 250 ft. wide and 65 ft. deep filled with small ground fires and a tangled web of melted pipeline. It took Kinley six months to lick the fire. In Oklahoma, when his leg was caught in some machinery and broken, Kinley got it set in a cast, went back to direct the fire fighting from horseback. In Venezuela, when shifting winds blew the fire on to him, he spent five weeks on his stomach in a hospital recuperating. In Texas, in 1938, he saw a blast of well gas kill his brother Floyd. But the dangerous game held a lure that Myron could not resist.

Two years ago, flying 7,500 miles in 60 hours, he landed in Iran for perhaps his toughest job. An Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. well was burning at the bottom of a cup-like rim of hills which held in the heat until the temperature registered 250° even some distance away. He showed Anglo-Iranian's crews how to rig up a bulldozer with asbestos-lined iron shields, got them to lay a 22-mile pipeline to the nearest river to pump in water to the work. Under the spray, he used the armored bulldozer to shove dynamite in an oil barrel close to the well, eleven days later dropped another loaded barrel from a loft. crane, and put out the fire with the two blasts.

Personal Demon

Hardworking, hard-cussing Kinley, a Californian by birth, has put out 300 fires, has few rivals (many other fire fighters have been killed). He is wealthy enough to retire on his fire fighting earnings (an estimated $100,000 a year), plus royalties on oilfield tools, sold by a company he owns in Houston. But Kinley, who regards fire as a personal demon always scheming to outwit him, can never resist the next jangle of the long-distance fire bell. Says he: "I guess I'll retire when they carry me out."

Myron Kinley standing in front of a oil fire.

Src: Wikipedia (May 2010)

Myron M. Kinley was the first pioneer in fighting oil well fires. He was born in Santa Barbara, California in 1898 and died May 12, 1978.

During Myron’s life he developed many patents and designs for the tools and techniques of oil firefighting. He also trained others in their use, including legendary Red Adair, Boots Hansen and Coots Mathews (Boots & Coots). Virtually every organization in the oil well firefighting business today can trace its roots back to Myron Kinley and the MM Kinley Company.

Wanted: Oil Spill Technician

From Louisiana Workforce Commission, May 31, 2010

Oil spill diver
Oil spill diver

Job Information

  • Job Order Number: 355672
  • Job Title: Oil Spill Technician
  • Occupation: Hazardous Materials Removal Workers
  • Job Duration: Over 150 Days
  • Type of Job: Regular
  • Full or Part Time: Full Time (30 Hours or More)
  • Special Category: Deepwater Horizon Project
  • Job Position(s): 50
  • Date Job Order Created/Updated: 05/31/2010
  • Last Day Job Order Available Online: 09/01/2010

Employer Information

  • Employer Name: Not Available
  • Company Website: Not Available
  • Principal Industry (NAICS): Remediation Services (562910)
  • No. of Employees (Company Size): 50-99
  • Type of Employer: Private Sector

Job Requirements

  • Minimum Age: 18
  • Test Requirement: Employer will perform testing
  • Description of testing performed: Hazwoper testing.
  • Hiring Requirements: Drug Testing/Screening, Motor Vehicle Record Check
  • Minimum Education Level: No Minimum Education Requirement
  • Minimum Experience: 0 months
  • Driver's License Certification Requirement: Yes, Operator License
  • Job Skills: View Employer Skill Requirements

Compensation and Hours

  • Salary Range: $9.00 - $12.00 Hour
  • Pay Comments: DOE (Depends on Experience)
  • Hours per Week: 0
  • Shift: Not Applicable
  • Benefits: 401K - Dental - Holidays - Life Insurance - Medical - Other - Sick Leave - Vacation

Work Site Information

  • City, State, Zip, and Country: New Iberia, LA 70560 US
  • Public Transportation Accessible: No
  • Worksite Industry (NAICS): Other Foundation, Structure, and Buildin (238190)

Job Description

Identify, remove, pack, transport, or dispose of hazardous materials as identified within the local area connected with an oil spill incident, contaminated soil, etc. Specialized training and certification in hazardous materials handling and Safe Gulf are generally required. May operate earth-moving equipment or trucks.


IMPORTANT NOTICE TO JOB SEEKERS: This job posting has NOT yet been verified as an authorized contracted service in connection with the oil spill effort. Applying for this position may not result in a job offer.

Special Skills (degrees, certifications, software, etc.)

  • Following Certifications required: Hazwoper 24 Hour or Hazwoper 40 Hour Courses (Optional)
  • TWIC Card

Important Message

To discuss oil spill-related damage claims, including loss of income, call BP's toll-free hotline at 1-800-440-0858.

Skin Of Evil

From Utterly Star Trek Review, August 30, 2008

Tasha Yar and Armus
Tasha Yar and Armus

This episode is a mixture of the surprisingly well done and the completely bloody awful. As anyone reading this knows (and if they don't where the hell have you been for the last 21 years!) this is the episode in which Lt. Tasha Yar is brutally killed by a shitty blobby black oil slick thingy.

Armus itself (the black oil thingy) is rather badly realised – when it moves it looks like very bad early CG or a dreadfully awful bit of hand animation. In fact, you will be pig sick of the "effects shot" of it absorbing/leaving the shuttlecraft by the end of the episode. The idea, however, of a literal "skin of evil" that is abandoned on a planet so that the race that left it there are no longer afflicted by those emotions and behaviours is a good one. During one of the conversations you get between it and Troi you realise that this thing takes a sadistic pleasure in inflicting pain. And the only two good bits in the episode are the actual death of Yar (rather suddenly quite near the start – if you were expecting something big deal don't – it's very sudden and actually rather well done. In fact, it is so sudden if you did not know she was going to die you probably expected her to be bought back from the dead before the end). I also liked the scene where Riker was absorbed into the oil slick, and indeed the moment where he is spat out – that is actually quite scary.

However, the resolution, that Troi bores the energy out of it, enabling her to be beamed away (okay, that's not what they actually say happens, but it is how it comes across on screen) is bad, and the final, mawkish scene on the holodeck is enough to make one sick, as Tasha says goodbye to all of her mates. Cue vomit!

So, a surprising episode. Surprisingly bad for a show where a cast member is killed. There will not be many more of these, and the others are done much better!

Adair Winning Battle Against Piper Alpha

From The Glasgow Herald, July 22, 1988

Adair, in a July 10, 1988 photo, fighting a fire on the oil platform Piper Alpha, seen burning in the background, off the coast of Scotland.
Adair, in a July 10, 1988 photo, fighting a fire on the oil platform Piper Alpha, seen burning in the background, off the coast of Scotland.

Red Adair was last night well on the way to putting out the fires on the wrecked Piper Alpha platform in the North Sea.

The Texan troubleshooter said his team had managed to cap one well, adding: "Everything is going good out here, we got to three more today."

Describing conditions as "perfect -- the sea was just like a lake", he added: "We are gradually getting rid of most of the danger.

"We don't know how long it will take to get the other fires under control. I wish we knew the answer, but we don't. We have got more room to get into the other wells and the three wells that are burning are coming under control.

"There is one that flares up every so often, but we are going to work on that tomorrow if we can."

In relation to other oil incidents he had worked on, he rated Pipe Alpha "as one of the worst I have ever seen.

"It is dangerous, but it is our job. We take care of it and everybody looks after each other. One guy has smashed a finger, that's about all."

Adair praised the work done by the support rig MSV Tharos and added: "We are way ahead of schedule because we have this vehicle with us. This vessel is giving us all the support we need. I think we are about a month or two ahead of schedule."

Adair and his men spent most of the day pumping cement into well P47 to plug it.

"We have been taking burnt valves off and then installing new valves and new equipment. In this way we can get our pumps on, pump fluid into the wells and kill them," he said.

So far three shiploads of debris have been removed from the platform.

Piper Alpha

Src: Wikipedia (May 2010)

Piper Alpha was a North Sea oil production platform operated by Occidental Petroleum (Caledonia) Ltd. The platform began production in 1976, first as an oil platform and then later converted to gas production. An explosion and resulting fire destroyed it on July 6, 1988, killing 167 men, with only 59 survivors. The death toll includes 2 crewmen of a rescue vessel. Total insured loss was about £1.7 billion (US$ 3.4 billion). To date it is the world's worst offshore oil disaster in terms both of lives lost and impact to industry. At the time of the disaster the platform accounted for around 10% of the oil and gas production from the North Sea.


By Jaime Holguin, from CBS News, August 8, 2004

Red Adair in his trademark red coveralls.

Oil field firefighter Paul N. "Red" Adair, who was instrumental in capping Kuwaiti oil wells set ablaze by Iraq and was immortalized by John Wayne in a movie based on his life, has died at the age of 89.

Adair, who boasted that none of his employees ever suffered a serious injury fighting hundreds of dangerous well fires around the world, died Saturday of natural causes at a Houston hospital, his daughter, Robyn Adair, told The Associated Press.

Adair revolutionized the science of snuffing and controlling wells spewing high-pressure jets of oil and gas, using explosives, water cannons, bulldozers, drilling mud and concrete.

"It scares you: all the noise, the rattling, the shaking," Adair once said, describing a blowout. "But the look on everybody's face when you're finished and packing, it's the best smile in the world; and there's nobody hurt, and the well's under control."

His daring and his reputation for having never met a blowout he couldn't cap earned him the nickname "Hellfighter." That inspired the title of the 1968 John Wayne movie based on his life, "The Hellfighters."

"That's one of the best honors in the world: To have The Duke play you in a movie," Adair said.

He founded Red Adair Co. Inc. in 1959 and is credited with battling more than 2,000 land and offshore oil well fires, including the hundreds of wells set afire when the Iraqi army retreated from Kuwait during the Gulf War in 1991.

He proudly spent his 76th birthday in Kuwait clad in his trademark red overalls, swinging valves into place atop out-of-control wells.

"Retire? I don't know what that word means," he told reporters at the time. "As long as a man is able to work and he's productive out there and he feels good — keep at it. I've got too many of my friends that retired and went home and got on a rocking chair, and about a year and a half later, I'm always going to the cemetery."

Adair, who finally did retire in 1994 and sold his company, was instrumental in expediting the shipment of crucial supplies and equipment to Kuwait by testifying before the Gulf Pollution Task Force and meeting with then-President George H.W. Bush about the logistics of the firefighting operation.

Adair's teams were among the first of 27 teams from 16 countries that spent eight months capping 732 Kuwaiti wells. Thanks in part to his expertise, an operation expected to last three to five years was completed in nine months, saving millions of barrels of oil and stopping an intercontinental air pollution disaster.

However, he said government red tape hindered the process.

"It's ridiculous. I've been doing this for 50 years and I've never been in a situation like this before in my life where it goes through so many changes of command to get the equipment we need," said Adair. "You need one man at the top so if I say I need 19 bulldozers ... I get 19 bulldozers."

His death-defying feats included battling the July 1988 explosion of the Piper Alpha platform that killed 167 men in the stormy North Sea, 120 miles off the coast of Scotland.

Adair, who never showed fear in life, joked in 1991 that the hereafter would be no different.

"I've done made a deal with the devil," Adair said. "He said he's going to give me an air-conditioned place when I go down there, if I go there, so I won't put all the fires out."

OPEC Oil Embargo, 1973

Hubbert's Pimple

Crude: The Incredible Journey Of Oil

By Richard Smith

Scrub to 3:33 for working audio

La Meute by Robert Doisneau, 1959

Fires Of Kuwait

By David Douglas, Narrated by Rip Torn

Shot on location in Kuwait after the country's liberation in 1991, Fires of Kuwait is an eloquent visual testimony to the remarkable resourcefulness and heroism of the men and women who extinguished and controlled over 600 burning and gushing oil wells sabotaged by retreating Iraqi troops in the aftermath of the Gulf War. Following a number of teams as they attack and extinguish oil well fires using different techniques, the film takes the audience to the very centre of blazing fields of oil fires, shoulder-to-shoulder with the fire fighters.


A black oil infected host infecting another personnel of the oil rig, from the science fiction television series "The X-Files".