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Oil Spill -- Non-Legal Issues
Old 06-16-2010, 02:23 PM   #1
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Oil Spill -- Non-Legal Issues

Since the oil spill thread has gotten wrapped up in legal stuff, here's a thread for engineering aspects and clean-up issues.

The robots are a lot more active today:

bp feeds

I haven't heard anything about putting a new top-hat thingie on -- what's the status of that?
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Old 06-16-2010, 02:33 PM   #2
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I know that the best minds and BP are still looking at solutions, but I'm curious as to why something like this wouldn't work.


That is, you shove a tapered pipe into the leaking pipe. I realize you've got to push it in pretty hard, but there should be ways to do that.
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Old 06-16-2010, 03:56 PM   #3
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one, the receiving pipe is not perfectly circular.

second, there is a fair amount of pressure (And therefore force coming out of the pipe).

third, oil is like carbonated soda. under pressure, gas is held in solution. each fluid system has it's own unique pressure at which gas begins to be liberated, like popping open a can of pop. the problem being, chemical injection is needed to prevent hydrates in the presence of methane, water and cool temps. albeit, a simple fix with a chem inj line.

fourth, how rigid would that pipe need to be? 5000' of pipe, currents exerting forces in various directions. high chance of buckling the pipe...although, the weight of the pipe itself could be suffecient.

my brother in law had a good idea. he said to stick a tampon down the well. i told him not to give up his day job.

The stuck pipe across the BOP's is the big issue. If that wasn't there, they could go into bottom and circulate up mud and kill this thing. coming over it was the best idea.

I don't know why they don't get on it with a frac boat , bullhead some heavy weight brine or water based mud, close vents and pump like hell. even put two boats out there if you could. once they got the well moving the other way, if they could, they could pump viscous plugs, carbonate plugs or cement. even if you cemented up the entire wellbore, bop and "riser," you'd be better off than you are now. just a crazy thought...that's my crazy solution.
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Old 06-16-2010, 06:36 PM   #4
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I'm thinking just 10 feet or so of rigid pipe. When you push it in, you're not constraining the oil flow at all, then you attach stuff. But it's just an intellectual exercise, I understand that there are many complicated issues that I'm not aware of.

I'm sure that there's something that would work, but I realize they can't just try a bunch of things without looking like bumbling idiots.
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Old 06-16-2010, 08:09 PM   #5
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I'm thinking just 10 feet or so of rigid pipe. When you push it in, you're not constraining the oil flow at all, then you attach stuff. But it's just an intellectual exercise, I understand that there are many complicated issues that I'm not aware of.

I'm sure that there's something that would work, but I realize they can't just try a bunch of things without looking like bumbling idiots.
Ok, T-al, taking your idea a step further (we'll split the royalties )

20' of HEAVY wall alloy pipe, machined with a slight taper and sharpened, induction-hardened gripping ribs to bite into the well riser pipe. This pipe could be larger than the riser pipe if flow is an issue, just step the diameter down. Maybe add a drive collar or a set of draw-bolts to help the robots pull it down securely in place. Put a bolting flange or a coupling on the other end. Once the pipe was in place and re-directing the flow have the robots weld it securely in place. Then attach to the flanged end and start pumping (up or down depending on what you are trying to accomplish.)
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Old 06-17-2010, 05:42 AM   #6
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I say nuke it. It worked for the Russians.

Gulf Oil Spill | Nuclear Weapons | Russia | Mediaite
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Old 06-17-2010, 01:48 PM   #7
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OK, Western, we'll meet in New Orleans and take a boat out to the site and get this plan started.

The other idea that sounds appealing is to crush the pipe somewhere. Do it with something like a reverse jaws of life, with explosives involved.
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Old 06-17-2010, 02:30 PM   #8
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I'm thinking of something like the expandable drain cleaner. Once inside the pipe, you inflate the collar until it seals.

Amazon.com: G.T. Water Products H34 Drain King Unclog Hose…


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Old 06-17-2010, 02:55 PM   #9
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How about pipe of smaller diameter than the riser with a series of inflatable devices to fill the annulus. Drop it in 100 ft or so to get plenty of traction against the shear force of the flowing oil. (I saw a similar idea that some student came up with which might be fine. I'm talking about serious gear here to handle the pressure. The glands they use for large hydraulic cylinders for elevators and that heavy industrial machinery could handle the pressure.

once you get a feed pipe in you start dropping steel balls in, appropriately sized not to just be carried up by the drag forces. The idea here is not to plug the well but rather to create a decent pressure drop in the riser to reduce the flow. I know this is the same general idea as the top kill but using steel balls lets you take advantage of their extra weight and the density of the column of balls.

Another though is to use the formation of methane hydrates to block the flow. Pump liquid nitrogen 100 feet down into the well to create a freeze plug then use the temporary reduction in flow to pile enough mud on top to overcome the well pressure.

Just throwing out ideas...
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Old 06-17-2010, 03:12 PM   #10
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I'm thinking of something like the expandable drain cleaner. One inside the pipe, you inflate the collar until it seals.

Amazon.com: G.T. Water Products H34 Drain King Unclog Hose…


I'm guessing that the pressure is so great, that the inflated dohickey will just slide out. But what if you drilled some holes in the side of the pipe, insert the dohickey, put bolts into the holes, then inflate.
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Old 06-17-2010, 03:16 PM   #11
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OK, Western, we'll meet in New Orleans and take a boat out to the site and get this plan started.



The other idea that sounds appealing is to crush the pipe somewhere. Do it with something like a reverse jaws of life, with explosives involved.
T-al, since budgets are tight maybe we can bunk at W2R's place...

Another benefit from the insert-a-pipe idea is that the new pipe could be pre-ported with a high-pressure valve to allow injection of mud, foam, politicians, etc. to plug the leak.

A simple hydraulic press with a big enough throw to go around the pipe (assuming it is accessible) could crimp it flat- think toothpaste tube. Move down, crimp again. Do this in several places so that you aren't relying on a single crimp to hold back the pressure. If you can't develop sufficient force with cantilevered open jaws, do an over-the-top bridge press; the robots could assemble the one open side.
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Old 06-17-2010, 03:26 PM   #12
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A simple hydraulic press with a big enough throw to go around the pipe (assuming it is accessible) could crimp it flat- think toothpaste tube. Move down, crimp again. Do this in several places so that you aren't relying on a single crimp to hold back the pressure. If you can't develop sufficient force with cantilevered open jaws, do an over-the-top bridge press; the robots could assemble the one open side.
If I'm not mistake, that is exactly what the BOP is designed to do. But teh pipe is too thick for the BOP's rams. Putting more powerful rams would probably work but you'd need to get the BOP out of the way first.

I do like your idea of pumping politician down to plug the pipe but I don't think that would work. They are known to be gas bags and would likely only compound the problem.
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Old 06-17-2010, 03:31 PM   #13
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don't forget that there is pipe stuck across the bop's (at least last i heard) that is preventing access to the well. in addition, you wouldn't have re-invent the wheel here. the oil industry already has a similar piece of harware. it's called a packer (picture here). you would also be dealing with 10-15 Mbbl/day flowing out while running the packer down and you would have to stop every 90' to connect on another 90' section of pipe.

this is the second time i have heard about the steel balls idea. also from someone in the aerospace industry. if the resistance to flow was greater, that would cause more leaking out the vents. the same thing can be achieved without the steel balls by using a choke at surface.

an interesting piece of production and reservoir engineering. say you have bunch of round balls with diameter x. if those round balls were to be stacked/sorted in the most efficient manner, the porosity (pore volume/bulk volume) would be ~46%. now, say you have a bunch of balls with diameter 2x, stacked/sorted the same way as the first. the porosity would be ~46%. thanks to a great french "sanitation" engineer with the last name Darcy, we were given various properties, the most important to our discussion being permeability (the ability of fluids to mobilize from pore space to pore space). while ball w/ diameter x's porosity = ball w/ diameter 2x's porosity, this is not true for permeability. in general, ball w/ diameter x's permeability < ball w/ diameter 2x's permeability. but, it gets more complicated than that...the point being, one would need smaller ball sizes to create larger pressure drops. but, as i said earlier, using a choke would do effectively the same thing, except you can open a choke back up. with the balls, you would have to figure out how to get rid of them.

the ice plug is a good idea. i thought they should have done that when they were trying the top kill. a little seawater and a little methane. it couldn't have hurt to pump a little to try it out. they still can't get down pass the bop's.

but the mud...they would need much more than 100' of hydrostatic head to kill this bad boy. mud is kind of a misnomer, it's a solids laden, power law (non-newtonian) fluid. if you stop pumping, you loose your solids (typically barite) and weight. then there is the problem of the pipe across the bop's.

again, if the obstruction wasn't in the bop's, snubbing into the well to bottom and circulating around heavy weight kill fluid would be ideal.

jmo...
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Old 06-17-2010, 03:42 PM   #14
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in case you are interested in what the BOP's look like. at least 40 or so feet tall.

SSBOP.JPG
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Old 06-17-2010, 05:43 PM   #15
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I think the issues involved are way more complicated than most people realize. Such as putting a cork in it could cause way more problems than we have now. I'm sure some of the best engineering minds in the world are looking at this problem.
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Old 06-17-2010, 06:13 PM   #16
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I'm sure some of the best engineering minds in the world are looking at this problem.
Why, thank you frayne....
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Old 06-17-2010, 06:33 PM   #17
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Problem solved...
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Old 06-17-2010, 08:39 PM   #18
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Don't know if its true but I have been hearing that they drilled so deep they hit a batholith and the pressure is so high it blew through all the safety measures and the well casing deeper down. That is why there are fissures on the floor of the ocean leaking too. If this is true using a nuclear device may be the only option to stop that kind of pressure. The risk is with the nuclear device and all that pressure below they could fracture the crust and the leak could get even worse.
This may be why they haven't capped it, cause it would just blow again.
Plus they want the oil, so all their solutions will have them collecting the oil.
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Old 06-17-2010, 09:03 PM   #19
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Don't know if its true but I have been hearing that they drilled so deep they hit a batholith and the pressure is so high it blew through all the safety measures and the well casing deeper down. That is why there are fissures on the floor of the ocean leaking too. If this is true using a nuclear device may be the only option to stop that kind of pressure. The risk is with the nuclear device and all that pressure below they could fracture the crust and the leak could get even worse.
This may be why they haven't capped it, cause it would just blow again.
Plus they want the oil, so all their solutions will have them collecting the oil.
is this a joke? is this from some movie?
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Old 06-17-2010, 09:34 PM   #20
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is this a joke? is this from some movie?
No joke, hope its not true but it makes sense with the oil leaking from fissures nearby.

Here is a link http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540...82386#37582386
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