Gulf of Mexico burnt for nearly 5 hours after a gas pipeline burst

Originally published at: Gulf of Mexico burnt for nearly 5 hours after a gas pipeline burst | Boing Boing

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Actually managing to set the sea on fire is quite the fuck-up. I’m kind of impressed, in the most horrible way possible.

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‘Eye of fire’ in Mexican waters snuffed out, says national oil company

Angel Carrizales, head of Mexico’s oil safety regulator ASEA, wrote on Twitter that the incident “did not generate any spill.” He did not explain what was burning on the water’s surface.

Hmm.

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I thought when I first saw the video - it had to be fake. But I was also under the assumption it was OIL and not GAS that was ablaze.Some searches showed reputable news agencies reporting it a real Wild.

So, those boat seem silly not to get close where they can actually spray the fire - but - IIRC gas in water like that greatly lowers the density of the water. So if they went into where the water is roiling, they very well could sink.

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Yes, you might fall like a rock through the air – however, you might also be steamed to death.

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At least they managed to put this fire out. Not like the one in Turkmenistan that has been burning since 1971

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“The seas are boiling, captain. The steam is enough to kill a man.”

“You know what to do then, first mate.”

“The crab pots, sir?”

“The crab pots.”

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centralia’s got that beat by a decade.

although i guess it’s more smoldering coal than portal to hell

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If we move the goalposts to inklude smoltering, there are way older examples:

or a bit more recent:

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I think Sauron is pissed

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So how does an underwater natural gas leak ignite? My expectation would be that the gas would bubble up to the surface, and there it might get hit by lightning or catch a spark from a boat motor.

While there are some flames at the surface, in the center of the eye, it looks as though there’s fire beneath the water, too. Is that what’s actually happening? Or is that an illusion caused by reflections of the flames by the roiling hot water near the surface?

I’m also curious how it helps to pump water onto (or near) the fire. I assume the solution is to close some valves and wait for all the gas in the pipeline to be burned up.

The water-on-fire effect in Disneyland’s Fantasmic! show works essentially the same way. Natural gas (or propane?) is bubbled up from perforated pipes at the bottom of the “Rivers of America” and then ignited in a couple spots by pyrotechnic devices. To end the effect, the gas supply is shut off, and the effect tapers out as the remaining gas makes its way to the surface and burns out. Granted, the show probably uses much less gas distributed across a wider area than you’re likely to get from a broken pipeline.

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Why did they want to extinguish the fire? It didn’t seem close enough to the drilling platform to endanger it. Is the carbon dioxide from burning more hazardous to the environment than methane? Wouldn’t an explosive mixture on the surface of the water be more dangerous?

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Methane isn’t great to breathe either. Not super poisonous, but it ain’t oxygen.

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Methane is 10x more potent of a greenhouse gas than CO2. But CO2 is mostly inert and not going to catch on fire unless you use a very strong oxidizer like fluorine.

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This looks like a job for Gypsy Danger and pals.

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I assume it’s safe to say no one had this on their 2021 bingo cards.

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To burn hydrocarbons, you need oxygen…where is the oxygen coming from?

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Presumably the air as the gas reached the surface and joined the blaze.

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