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BP has almost stopped the flow of oil, will finish a permanent relief well in a couple months

With over 5,000 barrels of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico every day after the oil well leak on April 20, eight senators are contemplating pressing criminal and civil charges against BP. In the mean time, BP is scrambling to find solutions to what could be considered one of the worst oil spills in U.S. history.

BP Plc., Transocean Ltd., and Halliburton Co. attended two separate hearings in Washington D.C. on May 11 and another on May 12. Congress questioned the events that led to the leak and what actions BP is taking to repair the well that killed 11 people, put many fisherman out of work, and caused the spread of oil to surrounding waters threatening wildlife (which prompted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association to increase the ban of fishing area in the Gulf from seven percent to 19 percent). 

"We've seen the most catastrophic possibilities and it seems to me like they're flailing around going from one thing to another not really knowing what in fact is necessary to stop this, short of that relief well that will just take way too long," said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ).

BP first tried to funnel the oil to ships using a 98-tonne "top hat" dome on the seabed floor, and due to large hydrate volumes, the dome clogged. More recently, a smaller, one mile long funnel was set in its place was will collect some of the oil approximately 5,000 feet below the surface. A heavy mud mixture will be pumped into the well's blowout preventer in preparation for cement to seal the well permanently. In addition, as Menendez stated above, BP plans to drill a relief well that could take as long as 80 days to construct. 

BP's latest efforts include the riser insertion tube tool (RITT) containment system, and according to BP's official website, it was "put into place in the end of the leaking riser" and "is operational." This tool is collecting 2,000 barrels a day, and produced oil is being stored in ships above surface. The senators question BP's "proven technology and equipment" during this time.

"While I always hope for the best, this is looking like really out-of-control bad," said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL).

While BP's new developments will help clear some of the damage, new problems arise with problems concerning where the oil will travel to next. Considering BP's history with oil-related accidents, these eight senators will surely ride the company's coattails through the rest of this investigation and certainly through a criminal trial.

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RE: Or not.
By Solandri on 5/20/2010 6:01:16 AM , Rating: 2
I'll add that the 50,000-100,000 barrels/day figures come from the same calculation. But they erred in that they used the diameter of the pipe where the oil was leaking out of (about 20 inches). They made the assumption that the pipe was this diameter all the way down. In fact, this pipe has very little to do with the flowrate. It's just the pipe sitting atop the BOP. The actual drill pipe becomes smaller in diameter as you go further down, with it becoming about 7-10 inches in diameter at the bottom. Half the diameter is 1/4 the cross sectional area, ergo 100k barrels/day becomes 25k barrels/day.

The 70,000 barrels/day figure comes from a professor who did particle velocity measurements of the oil in the video. I can't say for sure why there's such a large disparity between this method and the pressure method. But BP said that the light sweet crude you get from fields in this area have a lot of gas in them which can bubble and expand in volume once it hits the (relatively) lower pressure water. Like soda fizzing as it exits the bottle. That explanation sounds plausible.

RE: Or not.
By The0ne on 5/20/2010 12:50:09 PM , Rating: 2
I wasn't even aware BP had share their videos to anyone to save them face from people doing calculations and getting better estimates of the leakage :D

But yes, 5000 is a joke to begin with :) They really only need to provide the video, as it appears they have base on your comments. Both calculations are MOST likely missing some variables that have not been taken into account, such as your example for the professor's calculation.

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