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Old 05-24-2010, 09:05 AM   #21
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Is it the high pressure that prevents BP from just sticking some expanding thing into the pipe? Can't they put in a bigger straw?
I've wondered the same thing. Why can't they lower another pipe to draw off more of the oil coming out? Or one that has the ability to expand similar to the boom on an in air refueler to plug the hole or at least slow down the flow.
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Old 05-24-2010, 09:37 AM   #22
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I've wondered the same thing. Why can't they lower another pipe to draw off more of the oil coming out? Or one that has the ability to expand similar to the boom on an in air refueler to plug the hole or at least slow down the flow.
it would surprise many the amount of time, work and engineering needed to do the simplest tasks.

for those in california, i love to share the photo below.

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Old 05-24-2010, 09:49 AM   #23
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I've wondered the same thing. Why can't they lower another pipe to draw off more of the oil coming out?.
Among other issues, I imagine trying to insert a wet noodle's free end into a horizontal straw while holding said noodle with on hand. Oh and someone is blowing air through the straw. Too bad I'm not good at graphics.
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Old 05-24-2010, 09:56 AM   #24
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Among other issues, I imagine trying to insert a wet noodle's free end into a horizontal straw while holding said noodle with on hand. Oh and someone is blowing air through the straw. Too bad I'm not good at graphics.
I understand that. My thoughts are if they were able to do it with a 6" pipe and lower the flow pressure by siphoning the oil off, it should be easier to lower a pipe of even the same diameter into the hole than it was for the first pipe.
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Old 05-24-2010, 10:17 AM   #25
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Pure guess on my part, it likely that the end of the pipe in the ocean bottom is pretty well mangled, think of a well chewed pencil or gnawed straw end.

Somewhere this morning I read some posting from folks who are looking at cameras of the the oil leak. Said something about the subsurface collapsing. And the camera getting blinded by the spew. From other cameras saw more spews coming from the ocean floor. If that is the case, BP needs to find a way to get to some contiguous undamaged pipe and either crimp it or some way get inside and plug it.

A monumental task.

Having spent a few years (long ago)working the marine environment I do feel their pain. Hey but there are folks getting really big bucks with expertise in the field and real time information, to solve the problem.

With the noodle analogy was trying to make light of an extremely difficult task.
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Old 05-24-2010, 10:41 AM   #26
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Live video link from the ROV monitoring the damaged riser
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Old 05-24-2010, 10:51 AM   #27
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I'm no engineer, but one thing that I've wondered is just how much pressure the oil spewing from the pipe must be exerting to overcome the pressure of one mile of ocean water pushing against it. It seems to me the force of the oil coming out of the break must be huge and this, along with the other complicating factors involved in working deep underwater, presents a huge obstacle to plugging the leak.
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Old 05-24-2010, 10:52 AM   #28
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I had 'heard' previously that one of the dangers is that the pipe is already damaged, and if any attempt to stop the flow results in damaging what is left of the pipe, you could have a completely uncontrolled release of oil rather than the partial release they have now.
My 'pure guess' is that anything that just 'caps' the flow will result in so much added pressure to the pipe that they are sure it will completely collapse. Thus plugging it with mud, then concrete will allow them for form a plug 10s of feet (or more?).
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Old 05-24-2010, 12:54 PM   #29
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I imagine trying to insert a wet noodle's free end into a horizontal straw while holding said noodle with one hand.
This has always worked for me.
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Old 05-24-2010, 01:11 PM   #30
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I'm no engineer, but one thing that I've wondered is just how much pressure the oil spewing from the pipe must be exerting to overcome the pressure of one mile of ocean water pushing against it. It seems to me the force of the oil coming out of the break must be huge and this, along with the other complicating factors involved in working deep underwater, presents a huge obstacle to plugging the leak.
a reasonable estimate is to assume the reservoir is "normally pressured." a reasonable assumption for the density of seawater is 0.465 psi/ft. Assuming the source of the leak is at the bottom of the well, ~18,000' + 5000' (sea). That is a bottom hole pressure of 10700 psi (+/-). So...let's take that up to the seafloor. A good assumption for the specific gravity of oil is 0.8. Making the density 0.346 psi/ft. Assuming the well is full of oil, that gives 6250 psi of hydrostatic head of the oil. 10700 psi - 6250 psi = 4450 psi of pressure at the sea floor. Notice how many times I said assume? I know nothing about this reservoir, but this should be a good starting point for understanding the pressure. I get the feeling that the reservoir is over-pressured, or coming from another part of the well.

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I had 'heard' previously that one of the dangers is that the pipe is already damaged, and if any attempt to stop the flow results in damaging what is left of the pipe, you could have a completely uncontrolled release of oil rather than the partial release they have now.
My 'pure guess' is that anything that just 'caps' the flow will result in so much added pressure to the pipe that they are sure it will completely collapse. Thus plugging it with mud, then concrete will allow them for form a plug 10s of feet (or more?).
concrete plugs can be 100's or 1000's of feet (and redundant). i'm a little rusty on MMS regs, but i recall cement plugs having to be 200-500' when abandoning wells. The problem with just cement plugs is the gas will slowly make stringers through the cement while curing, causing it be non-sealing.
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Old 05-24-2010, 01:17 PM   #31
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They should just stick my dad's old Oldsmobile station wagon down there. The way that thing guzzled down the oil, 5000 barrels a day should be no problem.
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Old 05-24-2010, 05:54 PM   #32
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BP has a monumental engineering task ahead of them to get this well to stop leaking prior to getting the horizontal intersecting line in place and killing it with cement. I'd give them about a 50-50 chance on this top kill method to the BOP working and even worse odds on the so called junk shot. I think they are trying everything they can think of but quite frankly this is a scenerio that should never had happened, so they are kind of scratching their collective asses on what to do. A real black eye for BP as well as the oil industry.
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Old 05-24-2010, 07:07 PM   #33
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This has always worked for me.
And what about your partner ??
Or should I even ask ?
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Old 05-24-2010, 07:09 PM   #34
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If BP really did have to pay for all the damages, for a complete cleanup, and all the lost income for companies, wouldn't it bankrupt them? Think of all the lost hotel business, secondary effects (hotel workers get laid off, etc.).
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Old 05-25-2010, 07:25 AM   #35
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BP has a monumental engineering task ahead of them to get this well to stop leaking prior to getting the horizontal intersecting line in place and killing it with cement. I'd give them about a 50-50 chance on this top kill method to the BOP working and even worse odds on the so called junk shot. I think they are trying everything they can think of but quite frankly this is a scenerio that should never had happened, so they are kind of scratching their collective asses on what to do. A real black eye for BP as well as the oil industry.
I hadn't heard anything about a top kill. I actually think the junk shot has a good chance, if they can get the new pod connected. One thing I don't understand, is how they will connect up to the choke or kill line?

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If BP really did have to pay for all the damages, for a complete cleanup, and all the lost income for companies, wouldn't it bankrupt them? Think of all the lost hotel business, secondary effects (hotel workers get laid off, etc.).
While there would be quite a few claims, the reality is, most of the "hotel" business down in plaquimines parish is from oil workers. While the media may be painting it as this huge sport fishing club med, the bottom line is, most people would rather stay in new orleans and drive 1 or 1.5 hrs down to venice or lafourche parish. I know of three "hotels" in venice that have come back since katrina. none of them nice enough for me not to make the 90 min or so drive back to the west bank of new orleans. of course, I haven't been down to plaquimines or lafourche in about a year...
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Old 05-25-2010, 05:42 PM   #36
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Geez, I was just commenting on some of the news coverage I heard. I don't think NPR was getting their info only from oil company employees. And I heard reports of singular bird occurrences.



That is still a very imprecise measure. I don't doubt that one could still find damage at the Valdez area, but animals/plants are living there, right?




What's the solution? If we stop drilling and mining, the rest of the world will continue and we have no assurance that they will regulate/enforce the risks any better than we do. How is China doing with regulations and enforcement on mercury and other coal pollutants?



Excellent point. Looking glass half-full, I'm actually surprised at just how rare these disasters are. What % of the world is run on drilled oil? Yet, these disasters are (fortunately) big news instead of every day occurrences.

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Sorry if I'm strident. But we in Alaska have been living with the consequences of the oil spill in PWS for over 20 years and it gets really old.
Yes, some animals and plants are living in PWS, but fewer and of less varieties than before, and many with elevated levels of toxins in their bodies. The point I was trying to make was that to someone who had never seen PWS before the spill and had no education about the critters that were there before, it would appear just fine now from a distance. But ask the herring fishermen, the orca biologists, the birders, the local people.
To a blind man, a blank wall is as beautiful as a Van Gogh painting. Most people are blind now to what beauty and abundance nature is capable of, because we live in areas that have already been trashed by those before us.
I don't claim to have a perfect solution. But I do know that a system that allows BP (and others) to consistently and repeatedly screw up by carelessness is a broken system. It's just now coming out how this well was not capped properly. They have no reason to be careful. The punishment they will get is less than the cost of doing it properly. And engineers usually have no concept of biology and the destruction they will cause. "I see some wildlife so things must be all right now!"
Exxon trashed our Sound and they have prospered since.
Would you let a brain surgeon operate on you without washing his hands first? And yet we let a few people/corporations prosper by taking unnecessary risks and poisoning our world. It is the tragedy of the commons, and a lack of regulation and oversight, and consequences that are not sufficient to punish the perps.
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Old 05-25-2010, 08:22 PM   #37
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Looks like we may be able to see live video of the BP "top kill" attempt tentatively scheduled for tomorrow:

BP will continue live video feed during 'top kill' attempt - CNN.com
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Old 05-26-2010, 08:18 AM   #38
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But I do know that a system that allows BP (and others) to consistently and repeatedly screw up by carelessness is a broken system. It's just now coming out how this well was not capped properly. They have no reason to be careful. The punishment they will get is less than the cost of doing it properly.
I agree that the punishment needs to be great enough to keep plenty of pressure on them to prevent/contain major problems. In a competitive environment, it's tough if your competition is cutting a few corners (and gets away with the ticking time bomb for a long time), so your profits look bad in comparison so that encourages you to cut a few corners, etc. It can be (coldly) looked at as the cost of doing business - so we need to be sure the costs are high so that there is financial incentive to protect against these problems.


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Would you let a brain surgeon operate on you without washing his hands first? And yet we let a few people/corporations prosper by taking unnecessary risks and poisoning our world. It is the tragedy of the commons, and a lack of regulation and oversight, and consequences that are not sufficient to punish the perps.
From what I understand, hospitals have that exact problem. Simple sanitary measures are not followed and people die. It is a tough problem, regulation is imperfect, we don't seem to have enough direct consequences to drive proper behaviors. It seems to be a tough nut to crack in all walks of life.


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Sorry if I'm strident. But we in Alaska have been living with the consequences of the oil spill in PWS for over 20 years and it gets really old.
Yes, some animals and plants are living in PWS, but fewer and of less varieties than before, and many with elevated levels of toxins in their bodies. The point I was trying to make was that to someone who had never seen PWS before the spill and had no education about the critters that were there before, it would appear just fine now from a distance.
OK, all I'm trying to do is gain perspective. I am certainly aware of the beauty, importance, and delicacy of nature. But w/o some real world measures we lose perspective. It's like some 'greenies' that fight wind farms over bird kills, but don't factor in the bird kills from coal mining, pollution, etc. The emotional side maybe helps get people excited and drawn to action, but we need to use some measurements to drive actions, or those actions are likely to be counter-productive. I'm trying to get some sense of how these disasters compare to the day-to-day coal operations. How much environmental damage per mega-BTU? That probably sounds cold to some, but it is how you have to look at it to make progress and good decisions.

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I don't claim to have a perfect solution.
It is tough - this world is certainly going to seek out energy to increase/maintain our standard of living. As T-Al mentioned, it's crazy to expect we can do that without mishap, without consequences. If we hadn't started using petroleum oil (with all its problems) in the 1800's, the whales would probably be extinct today. As attractive as renewables might appear, we just can't get the energy we feel we need from them anytime soon (search "Without the Hot Air" for more). As I said above, regulation is imperfect, and often counter-productive. But I do think we need to do something to make the costs hit those responsible, and to have some kind of containment methodology in place and keep it in perspective. It wouldn't be right to slap fines on oil companies and not the coal companies if coal is actually doing more damage on average (which I don't know- just throwing the concept out there).

-ERD50
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Old 05-26-2010, 10:10 AM   #39
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Sorry if I'm strident. But we in Alaska have been living with the consequences of the oil spill in PWS for over 20 years and it gets really old.
Yes, some animals and plants are living in PWS, but fewer and of less varieties than before, and many with elevated levels of toxins in their bodies. The point I was trying to make was that to someone who had never seen PWS before the spill and had no education about the critters that were there before, it would appear just fine now from a distance. But ask the herring fishermen, the orca biologists, the birders, the local people.
To a blind man, a blank wall is as beautiful as a Van Gogh painting. Most people are blind now to what beauty and abundance nature is capable of, because we live in areas that have already been trashed by those before us.
I don't claim to have a perfect solution. But I do know that a system that allows BP (and others) to consistently and repeatedly screw up by carelessness is a broken system. It's just now coming out how this well was not capped properly. They have no reason to be careful. The punishment they will get is less than the cost of doing it properly. And engineers usually have no concept of biology and the destruction they will cause. "I see some wildlife so things must be all right now!"
Exxon trashed our Sound and they have prospered since.
Would you let a brain surgeon operate on you without washing his hands first? And yet we let a few people/corporations prosper by taking unnecessary risks and poisoning our world. It is the tragedy of the commons, and a lack of regulation and oversight, and consequences that are not sufficient to punish the perps.

First, I am not saying that the disasters were not very tragic... but...

Someone who says that "the punishment they will get is less than the cost of doing it properly" is no thinking properly IMO...

How much does it cost to drive a ship properly Not anywhere near as much as they paid for clean up, lawsuits and such...

How much does it cost to cap a well properly Not anywhere near as much as losing 11 lives, losing a floating drilling rig, all the millions they are spending every day and all the billions that will probably eventually pay in the end...

There is NO WAY that the cost of the punishment is 'less than the cost of doing it properly'....

Now, if you said... they are not paying nearly as much as they should for the damage they caused... well, that is a statement of opininon and can be defended much better...


The problem is the same at most companies.... there are budget pressures on mid to low level managers... and THEY decide to cut a corner to save a bit on their budget... because they get away with it over and over... and as long as the rig does not blow up on you... who cares...

I remember the saying of someone who worked in a plant.... "They will swallow a camel but gag on a knat"...

BP is now swallowing the camel...
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Old 05-26-2010, 11:15 AM   #40
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Someone who says that "the punishment they will get is less than the cost of doing it properly" is no thinking properly IMO...

How much does it cost to drive a ship properly

How much does it cost to cap a well properly
True, but I think it gets twisted when applied to a singular case (and I think you address that later in your post).

It isn't the added cost of a more secure capping procedure for that well that is the issue, it is the cost of capping every single well they drill (or make sure that NO captain is piloting improperly at ANY time on ANY tanker). Obviously, they don't know ahead of time which will be the problem, so the more secure procedures need to apply across the board. How many wells have been drilled w/o incident?

And this isn't defending them in any way. I do feel that when there is the potential for such extraordinary damage, that extraordinary measures, and extraordinary (multiple) back up plans need to be in place, and tested routinely.

I think it helps to personalize the issue (for illustration) to put the finger-pointing in perspective - consider this: Did everyone on this forum have their brakes inspected today (and every day) by a certified mechanic? Probably not, but if they fail a life close to us could be lost. But we take our chances, thinking that they 'seem' OK, and they were OK when they were last checked, etc... The cost of failure is very high indeed, yet we don't take extraordinary measures to prevent a problem.

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