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An environmental disaster of epic proportions....

Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,837
is looming larger and larger in the gulf, and it is going to affect every American in one way or another.

I've been watching it unfold from day one, and not knowing for sure what was left of the well head/pipe makes it tough to come up with a solution to stopping the unregulated flow of gas and oil coming from the well head, BUT....

We now have good video footage of the situation, and it seems to me that good old American ingenuity and engineering ought to be able to come up with an insertion device, that can be installed with the pass through valve open, then once inserted, spin a nut and tighten the plug into the 20" pipe, then either connect to the outlet and recover the oil/gas mixture, or simply close the valve and stop the flow.

Granted, I know nothing about hydraulic pressures a mile below the surface of the sea, but it sure seems like a heck of a better potential option than all the goofy funnels and top hats that have failed to date. At present they have a 4" pipe inserted into the 20 pipe, and are pumping up to a drill ship, capturing the oil, and flaring off the gas, but they estimate they are only capturing less than 20% of the escaping oil. Like putting a band aid on a bleeding main artery. Feeble attempt at best....

Here is a link to the footage from below the sea. <a href=""></a>

Let's get 'er done!!

Dead dolphins are just now washing up on shore in the gulf. This is just the beginning.


It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.


  • JJ_4JJ_4 Member Posts: 146
    Another idea...

    How about inserting multiple 4" lines one at a time...and then actually pump off the inserted lines to attempt to create a pressure situation where he last line or two wouln't have as much flow/pressure?  I am certainly not as qualified as you to understand flows/pressures, but like you said seems like something could be done rather than blow it up or plug it with golf balls.
  • jp_2jp_2 Member Posts: 1,935
    edited May 2010
    media frenzy galor

    the media is great at over a point of useless information....

    who here can go off shore 50 miles and stink a well in 1 mile of water and what, another 4,000 feet lower?  please I'd like to see a show of hands.  really that simple?

    how many wells are off shore in the world anyway?

    how about the weather experts that keep insisting year after year that another katrina is going to happen "next" year.

    are volunteers on the beaches cleaning up the oil with paper towels  yet?

    boy i love the news media.........

    ME surely you can figure out the pressure under a 5,280 ft water column? gives you an idea of the minimum pressure down there to cope with.
  • Paul Fredricks_3Paul Fredricks_3 Member Posts: 1,549

    I don't feel the media is over hyping this. There's a lot of oil coming out of that hole. And it's going to make a mess for a long time. And livelihoods and wildlife are going to be effected negatively.

    I'd like to know the pressure coming out as well. Though it has nothing to do with the depth. It's the pressure at the break compared to the pressure of the water around it. I get the feeling that the pressure difference can't be too huge since a 20" pipe would fill 5000 barrels in pretty short order if the pressure was high. Of course I am no expert, but I think the logic is sound.

    If I did the homework right, it 147 gallons per minute, based on 5000 barrels per day. That's a velocity of 9' per minute through a 20" pipe. Can't be too much pressure, can it?
  • NRT_RobNRT_Rob Member Posts: 1,013

    how about this. If you are going to attempt something like drilling at a mile deep, you have tested plans for what you would do in the case of a blowout at a mile deep?

    Is that too much to ask? What if it were as simple as "have a relief well already drilled, or nearly all the way completed, before you put the first well in service"?

    If it's too hard to figure out, it's too hard to do. this is negligence of epic proportions. for all 3 companies involved AND all federal oversight agencies.
    Rob Brown
    Designer for Rockport Mechanical
    in beautiful Rockport Maine.
  • jp_2jp_2 Member Posts: 1,935
    edited May 2010
    this ain't new

    seems we have been drilling in the ocean for what, 40 years?

    sounds like their fail safe failed?  we surely shouldn't fly planes, they crash and kill people all the time, all over the place.

    if my calculations are correct, that 20 inch well pipe has a head pressure minimum of 350 tons of upward force on it..

    the fail safe failed, simple as that.

    its a shame, but it won't end the world.......

    seems they were called for the end of alaska's shore line too, now the experts are surprised by the come back.
  • NRT_RobNRT_Rob Member Posts: 1,013
    way to whitewash.

    rush limbaugh is surprised by the comeback in alaska. scientists are still turning over shovelfuls of oil on the coast and wildlife is still showing signs of oil containmination in that region. and this is twenty years later.

    a plane crash is hardly the same as a massive oil spill affecting many thousands of livelihoods as well as the environment, especially in a heavily utilized and populated area like the frickin' gulf of mexico.

    I'm not saying end drilling. I'm saying if you're going to drill in very difficult circumstances like this that complicate any disaster response, you need better than "a" failsafe. You need plans for what to do if your fail safe fails, and what to do if THAT fail safe fails. You wouldn't be ok with a nuke just blowing up because "a" failsafe failed. this is on par with that.
    Rob Brown
    Designer for Rockport Mechanical
    in beautiful Rockport Maine.
  • jp_2jp_2 Member Posts: 1,935
    fail safe

    I'd like to know more about their fail safe.

    the fail safe devices I was involved with, would fail to safe if power, air pressure, or hydraulic pressure failed.
  • "media frenzy galor"

    What a poor defense to a worsening problem,,, give your head a shake man!
  • hot_rodhot_rod Member Posts: 14,390
    the Norwegians

    tried to warn us about deep sea drilling. I remember an article about this years ago. They were forthcoming regarding the potential problems of working that deep. They suggested nobody really has the experience or technology worked out.

    Norway seems to have the best technology, remembering they are often consulted or hired to recover sunken subs and other deep sea work.

    Maybe it's time, past time, to get some other minds working on a solution. BP seems to be to arrogant in dealing with this disaster.

    Maybe the former "first dude" an 18 year employee of BP has some insight :)

    BP didn't that used yo be presented as British Petroleum? Then it morphed into Beyond Petroleum. Maybe it should be Beyond our Potential.

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • Tom Blackwell_2Tom Blackwell_2 Member Posts: 126
    Some reported information

    It appearhe that the wellhead pressure is on the order of 8,000 psi. The BOP partially worked, but a suspected hydraulic leak depleted part of the 5,000 psi hydraulic accumulator pressure before actuation of the shear ram. The ram apparently partiallly crushed the casing, but did not seal it off. In addition, the casing folded over at the top of the blowout preventer, further choking the flow. If it were not for these two restrictions, oil/gas flow would be much worse. They are going to try to foul the interior of the BOP with elastomeric material, such as rubber chunks, in an effort to stop the flow. All of this while working with remote operated vehicles 5,000 feet down and at a temperature of 32 degrees. The casing had been cemented less than 24 hours prior to the disaster, which would have included a cement plug at the bottom to seal the well off in preparation for installing the production string (pipe conducting the oil to the top of the well) This grout plug apparently failed, allowing high pressure gas to surge upward while expanding due to the decreasing pressure. At this time the well would have been unprotected, lacking a heavy column of drilling mud to overcome the well pressure and hold back the contents. All of this from my meager understanding of the process. The media is comprised of completely non-technical types, and the information reported is sometimes way out there.
  • SteamheadSteamhead Member Posts: 14,192
    I'm voting with my wallet

    not buying BP products at all. The rest of us should do the same.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • Jean-David BeyerJean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,665
    not buying BP products at all

    While I understand your feelings, I wonder how effective you can be, even if your persuade everyone at this venue to do the same. I remember when I decided to boycott Shell Oil Company after they arranged to have Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8 other environmental activists killed by the Nigerian government. It is easy enough to never buy gasoline from Shell, but I could not even know where my heating oil, that I used in those days, was coming from. The delivery trucks were painted with the name of my heating oil company, and I did not know where they got it from.  Probably from the lowest bidder, and that probably changed from time-to-time. The stuff is fungible, just as money and other commodities are.

    So do I add BP to my boycott list. No Shell. No BP. Who is a good gasoline supplier? I used Hess for a while, but they closed the only convenient gas station near me. I have been going Lukoil, that I believe is Russian, but I know nothing about their environmental safety records.
  • NRT_RobNRT_Rob Member Posts: 1,013
    not that simple

    I don't think BP is especially culpable here. Other companies do deepwater drilling as well. None of them know how to stop this kind of a problem.
    Rob Brown
    Designer for Rockport Mechanical
    in beautiful Rockport Maine.
  • Ex Maine DougEx Maine Doug Member Posts: 162
    BP is especially culpable

    They are the overall managing entity.  They accepted pumping mud out to lower the mud column for the third cement plug to save time later thus reducing the balancing pressure.  They had lost comms with one of the BOP control pods and decided to continue.  The BOP had weak batteries. They had no plan to deal with a BOP failure.  BOP tests fail yet drillers assume they will work when needed.

    They had evidence that the BOP may have been damaged but decided to proceed.  Given that this was their deepest well into a very high pressure oil find, they should have exercised better than standard precautions and practices.

    BP is the oil outfit with the highest fines for poor safety and operating procedures. It sounds like they got themselves into it again.
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,837
    More troubling evidence...

    The video I posted above is the smallest leak. There is new video coming out now showing a major leak coming from the BOP that can't simply be plugged with a screw compression type of plug. As I suspected, the situation is much worse than initially shown on their videos.

    Now the experts are recanting on their estimate of how many bbls per day are leaking from it. I can't phathom how they would estimate the size of the leak from only having reviewed video footage anyway...

    Best do something quick before the slick reaches the Lower Loop current, because if it does, it will potentially move up to the East coast fisheries, wild life sanctuaries/beaches/wetlands.

    I'm thinking maybe shaped explosives to pinch the well off might be a better idea at this point in time...


    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Jean-David BeyerJean-David Beyer Member Posts: 2,665
    Other companies do deepwater drilling

    Maybe they should stop all deep water drilling. If accidents can occur, and if they have no effective way to deal with them, it seems irresponsible to continue. I do not think we can continue to privatize the profits, and stick the taxpayer with the costs of the accidents.
  • Bob KnebelBob Knebel Member Posts: 26
    edited May 2010
    Seriously Technical Discussion Links

    Like Mark E. I have been following this Fiasco since early on. I gave up on trying to understand anything from the "normal" media. I ran across this technical discussion that is up to 8 pages long now ..... . Page 8 is very informative and scary.

    I follow this technical thread late at night since I can't sleep anyhow. Some service calls are way-tougher than others and this one is a Real Bear : ( .

    Deep and seriously-complicated mechanical stuff that can only be handled by robots .... I think I am beginning to understand what happened as a result of a string of bad decisions and how tricky this is going to be to stop.

    Other decent sources of oil-bizz info are at:

    & .

    I sure wonder how many millions of gallons of crude are lurking under the Gulf and where all that crude will travel over the next 6 months thanks to the not-so-enviro-friendly dispersants being applied by the 100's of thousands of gallons.
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,148
    For your consideration

    Tom Friedman's column in today's NY Times:

    I'm willing to pay more for gasoline if it went to what he suggests. And I also think that we should have done this years ago.
    Retired and loving it.
  • TonySTonyS Member Posts: 849
    Your right JD

    Im tired of hearing what went wrong! Anything can go wrong! What can you do to stop it after it goes wrong is the question. Nothing, we have a front row seat to possibly the largest disaster ever.
  • TonySTonyS Member Posts: 849
    JP you have got to be kidding

    Airplanes have a finite amount of people on board, all well aware of the risk.

    The Exxon valdez had a finite amount of oil.

    This is a catastrophe of major proportions, Thousands and thousands of people are going to lose their jobs including the waitresses that serve your seafood. This is a foreign oil company drilling in our waters with total disregard for our ecology. They should be hung up and shot.

    It very well may end the world as you know it!
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,837
    Thanks Bob...

    quite informative an enlightening links there.

    Tell Dale I said hey, and wish I'd had more time to spend bending ears with him and your excellent crew. Hope the show was good for you and yours.

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • NRT_RobNRT_Rob Member Posts: 1,013
    I'm with you dan

    and I think we need to stop trying to make oil cheap, slow down exploration, and allow energy prices to rise.

    my reading indicates we could do massive scale PV power generation at less than 0.25/kwh, plus costs associated with energy storage/transmission. those second options are not trivial but a "race to the moon" style national program could solve them fairly quickly. not to get rid of ALL risky and dirty sources... but completely eliminating the need for any MORE of them, and reducing their usage moving forward.

    0.25/KWH isn't too much for power, IMHO. cheap enough to use, expensive enough to make it worth conserving.
    Rob Brown
    Designer for Rockport Mechanical
    in beautiful Rockport Maine.
  • Using some common sense.....

    I believe we are, as a country, simply reaping the rewards for having no energy policy since the Carter Administration.  Before we even look at ideas such as a carbon tax, people and businesses could just make sound investments in efficiency improvements that would probably result in massive savings in energy use and reduce the cost of living.  We have all seen here on the Wall the huge amount of low hanging fruit when it comes to fuel savings in steam and hot water heating.  These are upgrades that have paybacks that can be counted in days or weeks, not years.  I believe similiar savings are available in electricity with very fast payback.  I suspect that if we completed all the upgrades that would produce paybacks of 7 years or less, we would cut our energy consumption as a nation by at least 1/3.   It seems that any attempt at innovation or implementation of techonnogy that would save energy has been frowned upon by our country's leadership for the past 30 years.   "Buy more spend more" so we can keep the economy going has been the motto.   What we are seeing now in the Energy Industry is just another reflection of what has happened in the housing industry, the encouragement of unsustainable and risky practices.
    The Steam Whisperer (Formerly Boilerpro)

    Chicago's Steam Heating Expert

    Noisy Radiators are a Cry for Help
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,148
    edited May 2010
    Retired and loving it.
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,837

    Both links are the same.

    FWIW, I have always said, that if you really want people to be green, grab them by their purse/wallet. THAT will get their attention. They want to hang on to THEIR green...

    This has been proven locally with water, and energy. So much to the point that the Denver Water department ended up having to raise their rates (which were too low anyway) because people quit wasting the water.

    Remember when gasoline hit $4.00 per gallon? you get get an SUV for NOTHING. Now that fuel is cheap again, people can afford it, and conservation is not in the front of their minds.

    Been that way since time first started.

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • D107D107 Member Posts: 1,724
    Ocean Therapy Solutions/Costner

    Stranger than fiction, BP is giving Kevin Costner's company Ocean Therapy Solutions an audition on the oil cleanup. According to today's NY Post, The Louisiana-based firm has developed centrifuges that can rapidly separate oil from contaminated seawater. (The paper couldn't help making allusions to his failed 'Water World' movie.)

    On the other end of the spectrum is collecting human hair to filter out the oil.

     But all this is moot if they can't plug the leak.
  • Dave Yates (GrandPAH)Dave Yates (GrandPAH) Member Posts: 281
    Drill, Baby, Drill

    Hardly. From where I sit it's a two-fold mantra that's all-too-slowly catching on:

    Shine, Baby, Shine (solar)

    Blow, Baby, Blow (wind)

    Disappointing not seeing more about both renewables during this crisis. Give both the same level of financial freebies the Government gives to the fossil fuel industries - that's all I ask. Wish Friedman had hammered renewables home. Wish Obama would issue a Kennedy-like to-the-moon challenge to embrace renewables. A chicken in every pot? No, a solar cell on every roof!

    What happened to the guy who was on the rig & spoke out about the short-cuts taken? The guy who stated BP officials insisted they ignore the shredded rubber and forego other safety issues to speed up the drilling process. Seems he fell off the earth after that interview.

    Then there's the comedy of errors (except - they are not comical) that rest snugly under the COO of BP who stated "We planned for the worst and hoped for the best" (really?): improperly wired safety valve; dead battery on the safety valve; hydraulic fluid they knew had leaked out of the safety valve; and failure to follow required testing protocall for the safety valve.   

    More than 36,000 wells drilled in the Gulf. Our oil addiction will continue to haunt us well into the future.
  • DanHolohanDanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 15,148

    Just fixed that link, and I agree with you.  
    Retired and loving it.
  • Duncan_2Duncan_2 Member Posts: 174
    Maybe there's an up side...

    Clamshell hinges on clams harvested from the Gulf won't squeak when you open them.
  • Ex Maine DougEx Maine Doug Member Posts: 162
    edited May 2010
    PV production- what timing eh?

    San Francisco, CA, March 26, 2010

    "BP Solar today announced it has taken another significant step to provide its customers with cost competitive solar energy products and services by shifting its remaining in-house manufacturing to its low cost joint ventures and regional supply partners. As a result of this decision, the company has ceased silicon casting, wafering, and cell manufacturing at its Frederick, MD facility effective today. Approximately 320 positions will be eliminated out of 430 positions at the Frederick location. BP Solar will maintain its US presence in sales and marketing, research and technology, project development, as well as key business support activities."
  • hot_rodhot_rod Member Posts: 14,390
    I agree with the upgrade

    There is plenty of interest in building new, well insulated homes and building, that's great. But the larger energy savings would come from retro-fitting the huge old energy hogs. With new construction down, every contractor, GC and other, should be pushing energy upgrades for exisiting buildings and customers.

    Everything from energy audits to basic weatherstrip upgrades for low dollar improvements.

    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    The magic is in hydronics, and hydronics is in me
  • D107D107 Member Posts: 1,724
    LEED problems/'Green' Buildings

    Re: green buildlings, I know Wallies have gone over the problems with LEED-certified buildings, as discussed in this recent Times article.
  • Sal SantamauraSal Santamaura Member Posts: 319
    What happened to the guy?

    "What happened to the guy who was on the rig & spoke out about the short-cuts taken? The guy who stated BP officials insisted they ignore the shredded rubber and forego other safety issues to speed up the drilling process. Seems he fell off the earth after that interview."

    The media are corporate owned.  Those corporations get their revenue from other corporations, for example BP.  The real surprise is that his interview made it to air in the first place!
  • Bob KnebelBob Knebel Member Posts: 26
    Excellent Summary & Comments

    Here is another excellent link relating to what happened and some comments from pros in the off-shore oil drilling bizz. Wow .... What a story ... Bad well design from the get-go and plenty of mistakes were made along the way. Seems to me that BP, TO, and other prime players really screwed the pooch on this wildcat well.
  • Mark EathertonMark Eatherton Member Posts: 5,837
    Captivating video feeds...

    The guys running the R.O.V.'s are some amazing people doing some amazing tasks...

    Check out this video feed.

    Best of luck to the crews who will attempt to stop the flow tomorrow. It is either going to get drastically better, or worse...

    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • GordanGordan Member Posts: 891
    Maybe they could use hair to clog up the well?

    Works for all sorts of pipes.
  • Rich Kontny_3Rich Kontny_3 Member Posts: 562
    A Problem

    A problem is only a problem until it is solved. Unfortunately the oil industry has never come up against a problem quite as difficult as this. I am sure that BP and all parties involved have the best minds possible working on this gigantic catastrophe

    The blame game that is going on is totally useless at this time. The focus needs to be on stopping the leak ASAP. Blame can wait till the well is capped. Then conclusions can be made along with major changes in how this oil is taken from the earth.

    I agree with the more expensive cost along with better safeguards. I also agree with Dan's statement about "green" it is indeed the green in the wallet or lack there of that motivates energy conservation. The current movement of less regulation and less taxes complicates matters. The political liability that the president has does indeed play into the decisions that are being made which most likely is not a good thing.

    None of us who work with the pressures we do can fully appreciate what BP and associates are up against. We can only hope and pray that they stumble on to a solution quickly.

    Rich Kontny
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