Methane in Gulf "astonishingly high": U.S. scientist
(Reuters) - As much as 1 million times the normal level of methane gas has been found in some regions near the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, enough to potentially deplete oxygen and create a dead zone, U.S. scientists said on Tuesday.
Texas A&M University oceanography professor John Kessler, just back from a 10-day research expedition near the BP Plc oil spill in the gulf, says methane gas levels in some areas are "astonishingly high."
Kessler's crew took measurements of both surface and deep water within a 5-mile (8 kilometer) radius of BP's broken wellhead.
"There is an incredible amount of methane in there," Kessler told reporters in a telephone briefing.
In some areas, the crew of 12 scientists found concentrations that were 100,000 times higher than normal.
"We saw them approach a million times above background concentrations" in some areas, Kessler said.
The scientists were looking for signs that the methane gas had depleted levels of oxygen dissolved in the water needed to sustain marine life.
"At some locations, we saw depletions of up to 30 percent of oxygen based on its natural concentration in the waters. At other places, we saw no depletion of oxygen in the waters. We need to determine why that is," he told the briefing.
Methane occurs naturally in sea water, but high concentrations can encourage the growth of microbes that gobble up oxygen needed by marine life.
Kessler said oxygen depletions have not reached a critical level yet, but the oil is still spilling into the Gulf, now at a rate of as much as 60,000 barrels a day, according to U.S. government estimates.
"What is it going to look like two months down the road, six months down the road, two years down the road?" he asked.
Methane, a natural gas, dissolves in seawater and some scientists think measuring methane could give a more accurate picture of the extent of the oil spill.
Kessler said his team has taken those measurements, and is hoping to have an estimate soon.
"Give us about a week and we should have some preliminary numbers on that," he said.
(Editing by Maggie Fox)4. Finally the incredible Mr. Soros who sponsors with 40 mio a think-tank which pumps out all the pathetic ideas we hear from the White House. I am afraid both puppets of Rothschild are wrong as you can not live beyond your means for a long time that has never worked at any point in history. Austerity and contraction is the only way to go but where is no way that the thieve club keeps stealing money from the mainstreet where both gentlemen participate in the little cabal clawing back that money or rather assets might bring down debt just as one option.
As German chancellor Angela Merkel prepares to take her austerity message to the G20 in Toronto this weekend, the head of the European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet has held her up as an example to the rest of the euro zone.
ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet said the euro guarantees price stability for its members.
Merkel’s actions will boost confidence among households, investors and companies and will help consolidate the recovery, Trichet said in an interview with Italy's La Repubblica.
That view is at odds with what George Soros said Wednesday, when the legendary investor told an audience in Berlin that the euro is a flawed construct.
"By insisting on pro-cyclical policies, Germany is endangering the European Union," Soros warned. "I realize that this is a grave accusation, but I am afraid it is justified."
Trichet dismissed this, saying the euro [EUR=X 1.2335 0.0011 (+0.09%) ] was a very credible currency that has kept its value from its debut and has guaranteed price stability for 11 and a half years, with an annual average inflation of 1.98 percent in the euro-zone in that period.
"A currency that guarantees such stable prices, it's of value in the eyes of domestic and international investors" Trichet told the Italian paper.
The single European currency fell against the dollar since worries over certain euro zone countries' ability to pay their debt begun.
On Wednesday, Soros said that "by cutting its budget deficit and resisting a rise in wages to compensate for the decline in the purchasing power of the euro, Germany is actually making it more difficult for the other countries to regain competitiveness."
Merkel defended her actions over the weekend, saying they will prevend future crises.
But Trichet does not believe that austerity measures being put in place by European governments will cause deflation.
Some of the more bearish investors are betting that cuts in government spending across the European Union will add to deflationary pressures at a time when consumers and businesses are de-leveraging.
Growth will fall sharply, with private sector deflation pushing yields on 10-year bonds down to 2 percent, triggering a new wave of quantitative easing, Bob Janjuah, chief markets strategist at RBS told CNBC earlier this month.
"I don't think that such risks could materialize," said Trichet, adding that inflation expectations were well anchored. "As regards the economy, the idea that austerity measures could trigger stagnation is incorrect."
Reforming the real economy in each country in the euro zone is what is needed, according to Trichet.
"We ask all governments to be determined to carry out structural reforms to increase the potential growth," he said. "I insist on the need to boost work productivity: in the medium- and long-term, growth depends right on this."