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Robot capping leak  (Source: Telegraph UK)

Barack Obama   (Source: Business Week)

BP Protesters   (Source: NY Daily News)
But containment cap is only a temporary solution

After last week's disappointing endeavor with the top kill procedure, BP has placed a containment cap over the leaking well pipe on Thursday with intentions of ceasing at least 90 percent of the flow of oil into the ocean. 

With the use of robot submarines, BP was able to cut the remains of the damaged riser pipe and lower the containment cap over the leaking pipe successfully before 10 p.m. on Thursday. With the cap in place, the company plans to funnel some of the oil into a large hose that carries it from the seabed to the surface where ships will collect and remove it. 

"We do have a cap successfully in place," said Doug Suttles, BP Chief Operating Officer. "I'd like to see us capture 90 plus percent of this flow. I think that's possible with this design.

"Of course, what we have to do is work through the next 24 or 48 hours to optimize that. But that would be the goal...we want to stop this oil from spilling to the sea."

Over the last two weeks, the oil has reached the barrier islands of Alabama and Mississippi, and this morning it reached the Florida Panhandle. 

While the cap is in place, it isn't a permanent fix. According to U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, BP failed to cut the pipe on Wednesday with a precision diamond-edged cutter and instead had to go with a rougher cut with shears. Such a jagged cut means that a rubber seal will not fit as tight as they need it to be, hence, the containment cap will not hold the contents of the leak completely. The well may not be entirely sealed off until the relief well is complete in August. 

"The next 12 to 24 hours will give us an indication of how successful this attempt will be," said Tony Hayward, BP CEO. 

In addition to desperately seeking out solution after solution to this oil crisis, BP is also making a national ad campaign to tell America they're sorry for what they've done, and that they'll "make it right."  At the same time, BP protesters are launching a Seize BP campaign, and they plan to have one week of demonstrations in more than 50 U.S. cities.

"From Florida to Seattle, Washington, from Hawaii to New York, all over California and many, many states across the country, people will be taking to the streets over the next week to demand that the assets of BP be seized now," said Richard Becker, a member of the San Francisco chapter of the group. 

Protesters aren't the only ones displeased with BP's actions. President Barack Obama recently told Larry King that BP is responsible for causing the spill and for paying cleanup costs, and his "job is to make sure they're being held accountable." Obama will be returning to Louisiana Friday to examine the latest efforts. 

The White House recently gave Louisiana residents the approval to dredge up walls of sand offshore to keep oil from hitting land, as long as BP funds the project with $360 million. According to Gov. Bobby Jindal, BP hasn't given a dime to the project yet, though they claim to have established a "$360 million escrow account to fund construction of the six sections of Louisiana barrier islands." 



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Well, there's at least somethig positive here
By Pirks on 6/4/2010 11:05:24 AM , Rating: 3
After all this happened, when you see a fucking green nut tree hugger protesting against a nuclear power plant you just walk up to him/her and say "Florida oil spill" and see this green fuck to shut fuck up immediately.

That's what happens when green ecofucks rule the country. Sorry for you America.




By Digimonkey on 6/4/2010 11:16:41 AM , Rating: 4
Much like the tree huggers argument that we could be off of foreign oil if we just invest in renewable(wind, solar) energy, I don't think this argument holds any weight either. Nuclear is an answer to get rid of coal power, not oil.


RE: Well, there's at least somethig positive here
By Pirks on 6/4/2010 11:24:43 AM , Rating: 5
Good point, but oil production and import would be MUCH decreased if USA were building nuclear and investing in battery tech all these years instead of fucking with solar/wind/corn and useless shit like that


By Digimonkey on 6/4/2010 11:42:51 AM , Rating: 3
That is true, to make the electric automobile fully green and a viable option you'd need a reliable, clean and abundant energy source like nuclear.

However, until the batteries can last 300+ miles on a charge and you are able to recharge in less than 5 minutes, or easily replace your battery at stations...then there is still the question if the electric vehicle can ever fully replace normal combustion type vehicles or will just be a niche market.


RE: Well, there's at least somethig positive here
By Pirks on 6/4/2010 12:17:04 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
until the batteries can last 300+ miles on a charge
Done by Tesla Motors years ago, if US govt were wasting money not on useless solar ecowindcornshit but on battery tech research similar to what Tesla did in their roadster they could have brought the price down twofold years ago, and we'd discuss mass produced electric $20k Yaris likes by now. Even if car is charged overnight and has only 100 miles of range it's still very viable solution for HUGE amount of urban commuting people.


By Targon on 6/6/2010 7:11:14 AM , Rating: 3
Most people don't have the money to buy something that does less than the item they plan to replace it with. 300 miles would work, but the vast majority of the population can not afford a $40,000+ vehicle.

As far as the 100 mile range, no one would be willing to buy that as their primary vehicle since they want the option to go away for the weekend, and 100 miles isn't going to cut it.


RE: Well, there's at least somethig positive here
By mino on 6/4/2010 2:44:17 PM , Rating: 1
With enough energy, US could have at least closed down those hundreds of natural gas and coal plants.

That shall be the first step. It does NOT make sense to produce hydrogen from electricity if you can just STOP PRODUCING ELECTRICITY FROM OIL and GAS and use this saved oil and natural gas for cars.

ONLY when most existing NG/oil/coal power plants are replaced, does it make sense to go electric/hydrogen/whatever route.


By mcnabney on 6/4/2010 10:47:54 PM , Rating: 5
How did that nonsense rate a 5?

Seriously! We aren't closing down coal/gas power plants anytime soon. Ideally new nuclear and renewable (mostly wind, some solar) energy production will be added to the grid to power the shift to electric vehicles. In 25 years when most cars run on Amps instead of Octanes the older fossil fuel plants will be retired - hopefully to be replaced by fusion.

The purpose of what I outlined above is to eliminate foreign energy sources (oil, NG) so that we are energy independent. Coal, which we have a load of, will support us during the transition. It is cheap to operate and is 100% domestic.


RE: Well, there's at least somethig positive here
By Jul on 6/5/10, Rating: -1
By Steve1981 on 6/5/2010 10:36:46 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
Nuclear is neither clean or abundant.


It is far cleaner than what we currently use to power this country (coal), emits no carbon in operation(unlike natural gas), and can provide baseload power (unlike solar and wind).

Uranium is abundant enough to provide the world power for hundreds if not thousands of years provided we reprocess spent fuel. Then we can move to thorium which is considerably more prevalent, not to mention the fuel cycle is cleaner.

As far as waste goes: reprocessing solves a lot of the problem in that it gets rid of the worst waste and turns it back into fuel. In terms of the actual volume of waste, it is quite small in the grand scheme of things. Facilities have been storing it on site for the last fifty years. If you dug a fifty foot hole in the ground with the area of a football field, it would be sufficient to hold all the waste we've generated so far. The cost comes from managing it. While this isn't free, again in the grand scheme of things, it is relatively inexpensive. Bluntly, its peanuts next to the money it would take to power this nation solely with wind and solar.

quote:
Also many European countries are getting rid of their nuclear programs


I'd like to see some evidence that a nation with a developed nuclear program is just giving up on it and shutting all their plants down. There have been (as per usual) delays with getting new plants online due to regulatory concerns (which increases costs significantly), but France as a simple example is still in the process of adding a new reactor at Flamenville and has plans to start construction of another ~2011/2012.


By FredEx on 6/5/2010 10:50:35 PM , Rating: 3
Have to agree with your take. Also, even if there was only 150 years of the fuel left, I'd bet we'll not be using it by then. Good ole technology will advance. 150 years ago folks didn't have a clue about nuclear.


RE: Well, there's at least somethig positive here
By Solandri on 6/5/2010 11:31:47 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
In terms of the actual volume of waste, it is quite small in the grand scheme of things.

Given current electricity consumption, to power one average American household for 30 years would require:

~4.5 tons of coal (assuming 40% efficiency and 10% transmission losses)

~40-60 sq meters of solar panels + batteries (assuming 15% average efficiency over the 30 years, and a 30 year lifespan - most panels are guaranteed for 20-25 years)

~0.5 liters of uranium (the size of a small water bottle)
~0.05 liters of uranium (the size of a shot glass) if you reprocess

Nuclear is more energy-dense by several orders of magnitude compared to the other options. The difference is so staggeringly huge that complaints about the amount of waste generated are almost laughable. Does it really make sense to manufacture ~50 sq meters of solar panels and several hundred kg of batteries which you'll trash in 30 years, just to avoid generating a water bottle-sized volume of nuclear waste?


RE: Well, there's at least somethig positive here
By ViroMan on 6/6/2010 3:25:32 AM , Rating: 3
You can reprocess nuclear fuel to quite a fine degree leaving radio active material that will only last a few centuries, rather than tens of thousands of years.

Read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breeder_reactor to understand breeder reactors.

Then read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Integral_Fast_Reactor to understand how to make reactors have the lower radio active slag.
quote:
The waste products of by IFR reactors either have a short halflife, which means that it quickly "burns out" and ends up relatively safe, or a long halflife, which means that they are unlikely to emit a significant amount of protons except from very large quantities. The volume of highly-radioactive waste is 1/20th the volume as compared to a light water plant of the same size. The high level waste from reprocessing is highly radioactive for only 400 years instead of 10,000 years.

quote:
In traditional water-cooled reactors the core must be maintained at a high pressure to keep the water liquid at high temperatures. In contrast, since the IFR is a liquid metal cooled reactor, the core could operate at close to ambient pressure, dramatically reducing the danger of a loss of coolant accident.

quote:
The IFR also utilizes a passively safe fuel configuration. The fuel and cladding are designed such that when they expand due to increased temperatures, more neutrons would be able to escape the core, thus reducing the rate of the fission chain reaction. At sufficiently high temperatures, this effect would stop the reactor even without external action from operators or safety systems. This was demonstrated in a series of safety tests on the prototype.


By ViroMan on 6/6/2010 3:27:21 AM , Rating: 3
Missed an important quote.

quote:
IFRs use virtually all of the energy content in the uranium fuel whereas a traditional light water reactor uses less than 1% of that energy content. This means that breeder reactors can power the energy needs of the planet for over a billion years. [7]


By The Raven on 6/4/2010 11:31:42 AM , Rating: 3
Well I think your comment shouldn't be a -1 and I anticipate the rate down at some point, so I rated it up lol.

I wish people would love Earth and make sound economic decisions concurrently, but I think alot of those 'treehuggers' who protest crap are asking for too much too soon . So I'm with them to an extent , but there are CRAZIES out there!


By MozeeToby on 6/4/2010 11:52:48 AM , Rating: 5
FYI, if you rate something up and then comment in the same article your rating goes away. You can rate or comment on an article, but you can't do both.


By The Raven on 6/7/2010 11:06:29 AM , Rating: 2
If you comment seriously to a joke then you're at risk of being rated down. But appearantly my 'lol' didn't sway the majority of readers as you got rated up lol. ;-)


RE: Well, there's at least somethig positive here
By Pirks on 6/4/2010 12:33:47 PM , Rating: 4
The problem with tree huggers is that their little brains were damaged at birth and because of this they can't understand that nuclear is the cleanest and the cheapest energy option at the same time. Nuclear is the econut's best friend if you think about it. This makes it into a real _evil_ irony.

Also everyone interested in energy generation, safety and ecology should do some research on this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sayano–Shushenskaya_Dam

This dam is getting too dam' close to yielding to the water pressure although the officials are in denial, as they were with Chernobyl. Think for a sec what would happen when this dam is cracked eventually under the pressure. There's some REAL MAJOR SHIT brewing up in Russia, and I bet you, I DOUBLE bet you all this Chernobyl shit will pale and will be washed away from people's memories after Florida and after that dam' dam will crack. Gosh I don't wanna be anywhere near that dam' place when this happens. I've read all the reports about their 2009 accident where ALL of their generators got destroyed by water and 75 people were drowned when the generators flooded, and I tell you - green ecofucks will have a LOT to bother besides nuclear, which is really fortunate for all of us, since nuclear will be definitely given a green light everywhere after such major accidents as in Florida right now and the future REAL MAJOR ONE in Sayano-Shushensk. Prepare for Chernobyl 2.0 but waaay bigger and baaaadderrrr.


RE: Well, there's at least somethig positive here
By Solandri on 6/4/2010 2:14:03 PM , Rating: 2
Historically, hydro is the most dangerous power source - hydroelectric dam failures have caused more deaths per GWhr of electricity generated than any other electrical power source. Nuclear actually has the safest record by that measure, even if you include Chernobyl (which is a poor reactor design not used in the West).


By Pirks on 6/4/2010 5:21:24 PM , Rating: 4
Even poor reactor design is not most important factor. The most important factor was that the Communist Russian Government at that time tried to hide the fact that reactor had blown up and they let people to walk on streets and go about as usual, the catastrophe was a big secret for a week or so, and it's government who sent all these poor firefighter people to extinguish the reactor fire knowing that they will all die because no one could come close to it without getting fatal dose in a few MINUTES.

There's nothing dangerous in nuclear, EVEN when the reactor is of a poor design. It's the Communist Government who makes this small scale accident into a really LARGE one by trying to hide it and pretending nothing happened.
Western countries do not have Commie Government, and they don't have idiotic reactor designs either. Lucky Western bastards :D


By Starcub on 6/4/2010 7:40:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Well I think your comment shouldn't be a -1 and I anticipate the rate down at some point, so I rated it up lol.

Don't Pirks' posts normally start out at -1? I was going to rate him up, just to see if it would be possible to '6' a post before they actually reached 6, cept when I logged on it dropped from 3 to 2 :P


By Earthmonger on 6/4/2010 11:49:03 AM , Rating: 5
That picture of the BP Protesters... I can't help having the urge to throw lit matches at them. Dunno why.


By raumkrieger on 6/4/2010 12:12:22 PM , Rating: 2
I had the urge to take a firehose and spray them down the street, but I like your idea better.


RE: Well, there's at least somethig positive here
By JediJeb on 6/4/2010 12:22:28 PM , Rating: 5
Someone should ask them if they are going to clean up the oil they are dripping on the street or just leave more pollution behind.


By ClownPuncher on 6/4/2010 3:23:03 PM , Rating: 5
It's probably just feces, they ARE hippies.


By ekv on 6/5/2010 5:29:35 AM , Rating: 2
I was thinking along similar lines. Instead of wasting time with their little protest, why don't they go do something useful, like actually help clean-up in Louisiana, et al.


By tallcool1 on 6/4/2010 12:42:03 PM , Rating: 3
In regards to your nuclear comment. More nuclear power would do little to offset demand for oil. "Most" of your power plant generation is by coal, hydro, natural gas, and of course nuclear. There are oil fired plants (and other types such as solar, wind, etc), but the majority of all power is generated from the others I prevoiusly mentioned.

You also fail to realize that oil is used for more than just generating power.

Oil (Petrochemicals) are used in a variaty of industries and products, everything from lubrication, plastics, pharmaceuticals, food additives, adhesives, solvents, detergents, fibers, pesticides and so on.


By Pirks on 6/4/2010 12:52:39 PM , Rating: 2
I'm talking about severe decrease in oil consumption by eliminating ICE and replacing them with electric wherever possible. I know we can't just stop consuming oil completely. But if all the cars turn to electric powered by nuclear that's fucking IMMENSE boost to clean air and energy efficiency, i.e. all the stuff that ecofucks love so much.


RE: Well, there's at least somethig positive here
By walk2k on 6/4/10, Rating: -1
By Steve1981 on 6/4/2010 1:07:28 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Right, because nukes are perfectly safe too right


Done right (a biggie, I know), they're as safe as one can reasonably expect.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements...


RE: Well, there's at least somethig positive here
By Solandri on 6/4/2010 2:19:51 PM , Rating: 3
Nuclear is the safest method of generating electricity we've invented. It has the fewest number of deaths per GWhr of electricity generated. For comparison to nuclear's safety record in the U.S. (zero deaths from commercial power generation while providing ~20% of our electricity), wind farms have already had about a dozen deaths despite contributing a minuscule amount of electricity.


RE: Well, there's at least somethig positive here
By walk2k on 6/4/10, Rating: -1
By Solandri on 6/4/2010 8:50:03 PM , Rating: 3
If you want global stats, here they are:
http://gabe.web.psi.ch/pdfs/PSI_Report/ENSAD98.pdf

The most dangerous power source per amount of electricity generated is hydro. Dam failures kill a lot of people. Nuclear is actually the safest technology, slightly safer than coal and gas even including Chernobyl.

You're committing the same logical error plaguing air travel. We spend way too much time trying to make air travel safer because the accidents involve concentrated fatalities which grabs the public's attention. You're actually more likely to die on your drive to the airport. But because people like you ignore scattered deaths, you clamor for planes to be made safer even though they're not the transport vehicle which is killing the greatest share of people.


RE: Well, there's at least somethig positive here
By Nacho on 6/4/2010 11:02:49 PM , Rating: 2
There's lies, damn lies, and statistics. Everything depends on how you measure it. You could measure the number of deaths by GWhr (safe compared to others). You could also measure how long it takes to clean the area after an accident (not so safe).


By Solandri on 6/5/2010 11:40:09 PM , Rating: 2
You mean damn lies like citing a nuclear accident caused by a reactor design which was never used in the West due to its inherent dangerousness?


By PrinceGaz on 6/4/2010 1:15:16 PM , Rating: 3
I don't always agree with you, Pirks, but I'll give you a +1 there.

I do care about the environment but I'm also realistic about the best ways to satisfy our energy needs, and for me nuclear is preferable to burning fossil-fuels. The waste can be buried deep underground in ways where it poses no danger.

Would I want a nuclear power station in my backyard though? Hell, yes! It would bring lots of well paid jobs to the area improving the quality of life for everyone.


By XZerg on 6/4/2010 3:07:16 PM , Rating: 2
Pirks, damage from neither is preferable due to amount and type it causes - massive and very long lasting. So not enough to bark at them yet.

From my studying various energy producing means, most of them have some major negatives too, even the hydro, solar and wind. Just have to pick the best economical and friendlier for the scenario at hand.


By Reclaimer77 on 6/5/2010 1:17:08 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with your OP (never thought I would be saying that), but most of the oil we drill doesn't go to energy production. So oil and nuclear aren't exactly mutually exclusive.

However if it puts a frown on a green nut tree hugger, I'm all for it.


By FaceMaster on 6/6/2010 7:20:57 AM , Rating: 2
No, dude... WIND POWER is the answer, mannn...


difficulty or money?
By hughlle on 6/4/2010 11:13:58 AM , Rating: 2
most of BO's attempts have involved methods of sealing but still removing oil to the surface. is it not possible for them to just cut their losses for now and just put a solid clamped lid or such on the now cut pipe? or is there a pressure/difficulty factor i don't know of?

just looks from my naive view that BP are trying to resolve the situation, but only while they can still make money from the thing (while i can appreciate them wanting this money considering how much this is costing them, it's costing us a lot more in environmental terms)




RE: difficulty or money?
By chmilz on 6/4/2010 11:19:24 AM , Rating: 3
I know little about this sort of stuff, but I had the same thoughts. Was there a good reason they couldn't just bomb the well shut right from the beginning?

I figured they could, but that would mean no more oil for months.

I also figure that at some point, the criminal investigation will reveal that BP's methods to close the well are actually to keep the well open for extraction purposes instead of permanently sealing it.


RE: difficulty or money?
By MozeeToby on 6/4/2010 12:03:17 PM , Rating: 5
From what I understand, BP has basically been doing things in the order that they've been ready to attempt with slight changes if the solution has the potential to make things worse.

The containment dome was basically a lot of welding and a crane. The tube was some quick engineering and a tanker ship. The top kill (which would have closed the well) was a much bigger effort than most people realize (manufacturing the mud, getting the pumps and equipment on the necessary ships and getting the ships into position) and also had the potential of causing additional ruptures. The cutting part of the procedure they just did actually increased the flow by 25-75%, if the cap hadn't worked it would have made the problem worse.

Eventually, the permanent solution will be a 'bottom kill' which is basically just like a top kill except that it is performed from the bottom of the well via the relief wells. Injecting the mud from the bottom allows the entire well (~5000ft) to fill with mud and the pressure of the mud over such a height will be enough to contain the oil and allow them to pump in concrete, permanently sealing the well.

Incidentally, In many other countries, the relief wells must be drilled before the reservoir is breached so that if something goes wrong the leak can be stopped immediately.


RE: difficulty or money?
By geddarkstorm on 6/4/2010 12:33:35 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed, having a small relief well for backup should have always been standard practice, and I hope they do that from now on.


RE: difficulty or money?
By weskurtz0081 on 6/4/2010 1:30:34 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know about that, then you are likely doubling the cost of drilling a well.


RE: difficulty or money?
By geddarkstorm on 6/4/2010 2:43:01 PM , Rating: 2
They don't make enough profit already? Or, put another way, is the cost of having relief wells going to be greater than the cost of the cleanup and all this running around this disaster has caused, to say nothing of the bad PR?


RE: difficulty or money?
By Solandri on 6/4/2010 3:37:01 PM , Rating: 2
http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/06mexic...
http://www.ne.anl.gov/facilities/lal/laser_drillin...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_well#Cost

There are about 4000 offshore oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico. Drilling one costs about $4.5 million for shallow water up to about $100 million for deep water.

http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/energy/20...

That article says about 130 deepwater wells were drilled in 2007 vs 17 in 1997, and about 1/3rd of the deepwater rigs are active in the Gulf of Mexico. So figure 40 per year for the last 10 years = 400 wells = 10% deepwater.

Figure requiring a relief well be drilled simultaneously would double the cost per well. So add up for all the wells in the GOM and you're talking 3600*$4.5 million + 400*$100 million = $56.2 billion in additional costs if this requirement had been in place since the beginning.

As best as I can tell, this type of catastrophic blowout has only happened twice in the GOM - the Ixtoc blowout in 1979, and the current one. So requiring a relief well works out to paying $23 billion in insurance per major incident. (Note that the 4000 figure is for active, producing wells. No telling how many wells came up dry or were insufficiently productive and abandoned. So the cost would likely be higher.) For reference, cleaning up after the Exxon Valdez spill was estimated at $2.5, with an aggregate cost including economic losses of about $7 billion.

Figure the economic impact in the Gulf would be a lot bigger than in Alaska, and it looks kinda borderline whether it'd be worth it.


RE: difficulty or money?
By weskurtz0081 on 6/4/2010 4:17:09 PM , Rating: 3
You think oil companies would just take that out of profits? Ummm, probably not. The more likely scenario would be that consumer prices increase by that additional amount.


RE: difficulty or money?
By geddarkstorm on 6/4/2010 12:31:41 PM , Rating: 3
This was not a production well in the first place, but only exploratory. So they weren't going to be using it to make money for a long time to come. Money, as in making it off the oil of this will, is NOT the issue.

They DID try to cap the well, that was one of their first moves, however the mixing of the oil and cold sea water created methane hydrates which buoyed up the cap and prevented them from sealing the well. I can't believe people have forgotten that attempt already, which was immediately after their robots failed to get the BOP repaired.

Blowing the well up would also not likely work, and they'd have to use nothing less than a nuclear bomb to do it. Way too many risks to just magnify the problem rather than fixing it. Right now there's only one point of leaking, one spot to deal with, with a whole BOP apparatus already in place to work with.


RE: difficulty or money?
By menace on 6/4/2010 1:36:33 PM , Rating: 2
I recall the attempt that the methane hydrates botched up was not attempting to cap the well but was effectively a funnel to collect the rising oil and pump the oil up through a riser to collect into a tanker. The frozen hydrates clogged opening to the riser.


RE: difficulty or money?
By alanore on 6/4/2010 12:34:11 PM , Rating: 2
As soon as they relalised that the blow out preventer (BOP) was non-functional, it should have triggered automatically during the orginal explosion, then the well was no longer useable.

The explosion method, according to the Russians, was quite sucessful, but it requires a hole to be drilled in the proximity to the well, and a big explosion to collaspse the well, It would probably require a nuclear explosion. The worse case scenario would be repuring the the well bore and knocking the BOP the well head. Its sort of an extreme measures last resort.


RE: difficulty or money?
By Solandri on 6/4/2010 2:26:52 PM , Rating: 4
This correct. You can't have a production well without a functional BOP. The moment it failed, the well was a write-off and could never be used for production. I suppose theoretically when they get the relief wells finished and fill the bore with mud, you could swap out the BOP for a functioning one (government regulators would never allow it, but just saying in theory you could). But the prolonged period of high-velocity flow has done unknown damage to the casing and cement around the bore, so there's unknown risks associated with that. This well is dead, and if BP wants to tap this oil reservoir they've known from the beginning that they would have to drill a new well.


RE: difficulty or money?
By weskurtz0081 on 6/4/2010 11:47:37 AM , Rating: 1
From what I have read, they are concerned the pressure will blow it out further down, making it more difficult to deal with. So, this way, the pressure won't build up allowing it to just flow out naturally, until they can get it sealed well below the surface.


RE: difficulty or money?
By hughlle on 6/4/2010 12:13:24 PM , Rating: 2
surely if that were the case, then the whole oil field and drilling location etc would have been a bad idea from the start? what does the blowout preventor from being that much more secure, why if that was shut off correctly would it not have ruptured somewhere from the pressure in the same way. it just don't seem right! :P


RE: difficulty or money?
By weskurtz0081 on 6/4/10, Rating: -1
RE: difficulty or money?
By GreenEnvt on 6/4/2010 11:50:59 AM , Rating: 2
I had thought of this too.
I thought of a big on/off valve, they lower it down in the "open" position, slide it over the pipe. Weld it in place, then close it.

The main issue I think with any sort of solid cap is the immense pressure the oil is under. It makes getting anything to seal quite difficult.


RE: difficulty or money?
By Mclendo06 on 6/4/2010 1:14:19 PM , Rating: 2
A lot of people lose sight of the fact that at the well head on the ocean floor, the pressure is about 150 atmospheres. It's a difficulty thing. While I'm not a petroleum or ocean engineer, it's obvious that such high pressure creates a bunch of design challenges with regards to any possible solution. Imagine you are a plumber, and someone wants you to cap a bent, jagged, unthreaded pipe that has a high flowrate of water coming out of it, and you can only use robots (no direct access to the pipe) and you can't shut off the water flow, and it takes you half a day to get anything to or from the pipe. This is in addition to the whole 150 atmospheres thing. Obviously not an easy task...

Proceeds from the oil they could hope to obtain from the well at this point are basically inconsequential compared to the liabilities and stained public image they face because of the leak. Financially speaking, it is absolutely in their favor to stop the leak at the cost of obtaining oil from the well. I think it just happens to be that it is easier to remove oil from the well/leak than it is to plug/cap the leak.

I must say though, I'm very disappointed in this whole situation. To have a non-functioning fail-safe (the blowout preventer) is inexcusable. Regardless of whether the fundamental cause was engineering or procedural, this should never have turned into the human and environmental disaster that it is, and I can only hope that lessons have been and will be learned from it so that it doesn't happen again.


RE: difficulty or money?
By hughlle on 6/4/2010 2:17:24 PM , Rating: 2
that was the idea behind cutting it off though. once off, they had a *clean* pipe to start work on as opposed to the bent ruptured plumbers pipe. how hard can it be to put a big ass jam lid on top and clamp the f****** s*** out of it :)


RE: difficulty or money?
By menace on 6/4/2010 1:38:59 PM , Rating: 2
Did you even bother to read the article

quote:
According to U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, BP failed to cut the pipe on Wednesday with a precision diamond-edged cutter and instead had to go with a rougher cut with shears. Such a jagged cut means that a rubber seal will not fit as tight as they need it to be, hence, the containment cap will not hold the contents of the leak completely.


If the diamond saw succeeded they may have been able to completely seal the pipe.


RE: difficulty or money?
By Solandri on 6/4/2010 2:50:54 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
is it not possible for them to just cut their losses for now and just put a solid clamped lid or such on the now cut pipe? or is there a pressure/difficulty factor i don't know of?

Water pressure at that depth is about 2500 psi. The oil is under about 2 miles of rock, which is adding about 10,000 psi of pressure, so the oil itself is at about 12,000 psi. If you subtract the weight of the oil column inside the well and the water pressure above it, the oil is coming out of the BOP at about 3500 psi relative to the surrounding water.

The pipe above the BOP has an internal diameter of 20 inches. That means it has a surface area of 314 square inches. If you capped it, the oil would be putting about 550 tons of pressure on your cap.

So you can't just put a little flip lid on top of the thing and close it. Not only does the closing valve have to withstand 550 tons, so does the weld you use to attach it. The BOP itself (this one has 5 valves I believe to cut off the flow, which all failed in this case) is not just the little piece of structure you see in the ROV video feeds. It's a 2-story steel monstrosity weighing 450 tons.

And as mentioned above, the well was a write-off the moment the BOP failed. This will never become a production well. It is fated is to be filled and sealed with concrete.


The balance...
By quiksilvr on 6/4/2010 11:16:05 AM , Rating: 4
As much as I am thoroughly annoyed by these environmental fundamentalists, I am also annoyed by idiots that drill in areas and don't take the necessary precautions and essentially dents the shoreline's ecosystem.

It's all about balance. When both ends collide we essentially get a necessary balance (albeit an annoying one).




RE: The balance...
By Dorkyman on 6/4/2010 11:37:23 AM , Rating: 4
Perhaps the only real necessary change to standard operating procedure is to have a backup blowout preventer required for all new wells, one using an entirely different means of communication so that it could still be controlled even if regular mechanisms failed. Wasn't there something in the news about such a device, already in use elsewhere, that was controlled ACOUSTICALLY?

As an aside, the Messiah in the White House is an embarrassment, making the damage from the blowout far worse than it could have been by dithering and delaying for weeks. Takeaway message, based on the past 18 months of his presidency: Wonks don't make good presidents.

Second takeaway: People who know how to eloquently spin the truth to suit their mindset don't make good presidents.


RE: The balance...
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 6/4/10, Rating: -1
RE: The balance...
By MozeeToby on 6/4/2010 12:17:55 PM , Rating: 3
The BPO failed to completely close in this case so having it automatically move into place wouldn't have done much. It would have reduced the severity of the initial spill (when it was leaking 200,000 barrels a day) but you'd still have the same situation you have now.

The correct change that needs to be made, and is enforced by other countries, is to have the relief well drilled before the reservoir is breached. If something goes horribly wrong like this did you bring in the mud and the pumps and kill the well the 100% surefire way. The leak would have lasted a couple days, a week at most and we'd be in cleanup and containment mode by now.

Personally, I don't see any problem with the way BP has handled the spill since it happened, with the exception of stupid statements made by their CEO and others. People want the problem to be solved immediately but don't understand just how difficult of a problem it is to solve, especially without taking risks that could make the problem worse than it is now.


RE: The balance...
By JediJeb on 6/4/2010 12:30:20 PM , Rating: 2
I guess a question I have is does the US actually have a say in what regulations are enforced on the BPO if this well is in international waters? They can force the cleanup once the oil moves into US controlled waters but who has the authority in the international zones?


RE: The balance...
By MrTeal on 6/4/2010 1:12:00 PM , Rating: 2
Do you have a (reputable) source that the well was leaking 200,000 barrels at any point during this spill?


RE: The balance...
By DigitalFreak on 6/4/10, Rating: 0
RE: The balance...
By Solandri on 6/4/2010 3:48:44 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Perhaps the only real necessary change to standard operating procedure is to have a backup blowout preventer required for all new wells,

The BOP doesn't have a single shearing ram to cut off the flow. Typically they have 4 or more. I believe this one has 5. The BOP essentially has its own backup, and backup for the backup, and 1-3 more backups after that. For the BOP to fail, all the rams have to fail. Which inexplicably is what happened in this case.

Speculation is BP used the wrong type of BOP whose shearing rams weren't rated to cut through the thickness of steel used for this well. We will know for sure when this is all over and done, and they recover the BOP for forensic examination.

quote:
one using an entirely different means of communication so that it could still be controlled even if regular mechanisms failed. Wasn't there something in the news about such a device, already in use elsewhere, that was controlled ACOUSTICALLY?

Having one shearing ram controlled acoustically wouldn't have helped since they couldn't get the existing ones to work even when they sent ROVs down to activate the rams manually. All that would've happened is they would've sent the acoustic signal to activate the ram, and nothing would have happened. (That's not to say they're a bad idea; just that it wouldn't have helped in this case.)


RE: The balance...
By foolsgambit11 on 6/4/2010 8:02:21 PM , Rating: 2
If neither wonks nor eloquent people make good presidents, then W. should have been the best president we've ever had. The truth is that it probably doesn't matter who is in office, the extreme right/left will hate them for some reason.

Here's a thought experiment. Imagine Hillary Clinton had won the Democratic primaries and the national election (pretty much a given that a Dem was going to win the election, especially after the economic meltdown). Would she have prevented this? What would she have done that would have improved the response to this disaster? Maybe she would have taken Cuba's or Venezuela's help when they offered it. But your basic complaint would be the same - the President is a failure. If, by some miracle, McCain had won, what would he have done (assuming the stress of the job didn't kill him, putting Palin in office)? Maybe you'd have a few miles of barrier islands in place, but that's it. And I mean a few. But you'd be equivocating, saying there's nothing more that could be done. But in all of these cases, you'd be looking at the same basic timeline at the bottom of the ocean, maybe with a day's difference one way or the other, and maybe without a public camera.

The truth is the American people (the ones who aren't already biased one way or another) imagine the President has a lot more power than he really has. Like the power to control nature. That's not power. That's a superpower.


Correction to the Article
By clovell on 6/4/2010 12:49:50 PM , Rating: 5
The White House recently gave Louisiana officials permission to dredge up sand walls offshore, ALTHOUGH those officials had already begun construction on the sand walls a week prior, criticizing the delay in the White House response to their request for permission.




It makes me sick . . .
By blueboy09 on 6/6/2010 10:08:13 PM , Rating: 2
That BP still hasn't got a slightest clue about what to do with damn well. BP is sitting in this, and you would think that because their losing their "precious oil" they would find a solution and fast. On one side of their mouths they say they're taking the initiative, saying will get it done quickly, but the other side of their mouths they're saying well it's a slow progress, probably not done till August. This country has some the world's greatest minds, and yet they play stupid by fudging the numbers of how much oil going out and saying that they have the public's ideas in mind. What the hell ever! They've got their heads so far up their asses, no wonder they can't see right to cut on those pipes! - BLUEBOY




By callmeroy on 6/7/2010 9:01:34 AM , Rating: 2
...everyone knows the truth but no one really talks about it.

After all the debates for years and years now and countless news article, web site forum post or blog ...the the cold hard fact is there is really only *ONE* reason why oil is both going to remain our main energy source for a very long time and why it has lasted as long as it has thus far.....$$$MONEY$$$.

Governments will tell you that's a BS excuse....but then would YOU be apt to badmouth someone who kept your savings account maxed out month after month?

There's far too much money in oil....not only invested in it, but in the profits.

We have the technology folks...in fact we have HAD the technology for many years now to replace vast %'s of our reliance on oil with other energy sources...but its the money that makes the progress slow.

And btw can tree hugger types move on from the Wind and solar debates? sometimes I wonder if the people preaching about those technologies (esp wind) grasp how INefficient they are?

Nuclear is where we should be now, fusion is where we need to go tomorrow.




Useless
By rburnham on 6/7/2010 10:55:44 AM , Rating: 2
Aren't there better ways of getting things done rather than protesting?

Not sure why the president needs to be down there. I know presidents are expected to show up at disaster areas for moral support, but it just seems like a waste of time.




By vertigo1 on 6/5/2010 6:47:44 AM , Rating: 1
Politics and green arguments aside... most of our modern day products require **plastics** which are produced from crude oil, any kind of polymers and textiles usually involve a derivative of crude oil of some kind. We will never see the end of oil drilling unless we all go back to wood and metal for everything....

Bitching and angry rants rarely help anything, this was an accident that was unexpected, it's just unfortunate the spill is so difficult to fix.




LOL
By gescom on 6/4/10, Rating: -1
"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan














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