The “flow team” of the US Geological Survey estimates that 2,900 cubit feet of methane gas is being released into the gulf waters with every barrel of oil. The constant flow of 20,000 barrels of crude oil would place the total daily amount of methane at roughly 5.8 million cubic feet.
Methane gas depletes the natural oxygen levels found in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico which are crucial for the survival of plankton and other sea creatures in the natural food chain. The high concentration of methane is now threatening to suffocate the seafood population.
The US Geological Survey team estimates that since the April 20th accident on the Deepwater Horizon oil platform that 4.5 billion cubic feet of methane has already been released but the total amount could be as high as 9 billion cubic feet.
Methane is released from the well through the partially capped rising pipe at the bottom of the gulf because of insufficient cementing bond logs that would seal the head of the well.
BP has been accused of cutting corners during the drilling process by not applying the cementing bond log as well as an insufficient use of centralizers.
Scientists are now increasingly worried about the long term effect on maritime life and how long it will take the environment to heal naturally before the habitat restores itself. This is the first time that the lasting negative effects of methane gas have been brought to the attention of the US Government.
The focus has always been on the cleanup of the oil spill for which no solution is available immediately but is clearly visible on the shores of the Gulf States. The methane gas problem was put on the backburner initially because it is invisible to the naked eye.
That may change very soon as scientists fear that the methane gas spill has far more repercussions on local maritime life than the oil spill.
Written by Nick Doms © 2010, all rights reserved