Blast on Gulf of Mexico oil rig may have killed 11
Gulf Coast oil spill could eclipse Exxon Valdez
In Florida we had been considering opening up local waters to offshore drilling to alleviate some of our budget problems yet this almost immediately killed the idea for the foreseeable future. Additionally, the beaches of the Panhandle of Florida that might be affected are among the best in the world and a disaster there will put the state in even worse financial shape.
quote:I've been posting on the oil spill over at DKos for days now. Bottom line: It's much worse than they say, has been for days, nothing will work stopping it for (my estimate) 7 months to a year.
One poster asked (he or she thought naively) why the seafloor equipment couldn't be fail-safe. Here's my answer:
If it's naive, then it's the same naive question the top top tippity top experts are asking right now!
The BOP in place is supposed to be 100% fail-safe! I mean, NO FUCKING WAY it can fail! I'm serious about that -- or I was. That deep-subsea BOP itself cost more than most entire land-based drilling rigs.
And when I say fail-safe, what I mean is, well, how often do you hear about an elevator in a tall building plummeting all the way to the bottom? I suppose it happens, but because it's just about the scariest fucking thing anybody can think of, they have many levels of safeguards (mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, magic) to make sure it doesn't happen. When an elevator gets stuck, it's usually one of these safeguards engaging when it's not supposed to. They do that and that's fine. But they never don't engage when they're supposed to!
Same thing with a blowout a mile deep in the ocean. Scariest fucking thing, drilling-wise, we can think of. The first step listed in "What To Do If You Have An Uncontrolled Deep-Subsea Blowout" is:
1. Don't have a motherfucking uncontrolled deep-subsea blowout.
The second step is:
2. Really! Don't!
In order to seriously answer your question, I have to guess. My guess is that everything was somehow "pinned open". Sometimes, the manufacturers of BOPs and other equipment have ways you can defeat the automatic fail-safe portions of the contraption, for testing and repair and stuff. NONE of this should be available to the operator and NONE of it should be available once the unit is installed in the afformentioned mile-deep of goddam ocean.
None of that matters. What matters is that this deep-subsea BOP has failed. To me, and a lot of other knowledgable people who up until now were in favor of deep-sea exploration, this is a finality. This is THE game changer. No further advances in sub-dea technology will change my mind. Deep sub-sea is done. Over. No more! Fucking forget about it!
Not only do we not allow U.S. companies to do it, if Cuba or any other country tries to do it in waters that could potentially pollute our shorelines and wetlands, it's an act of war. We send a cruise missle and blow their rig out of the water before they can spud. So much for the argument that if we don't do it, somebody else will. Nobody does it. Ever.
I'm still in favor of shallower stuff. Say, less than 1000 ft. Certainly less than 500 ft.
I also predicted the spill would get much worse and probably was already.
Interestingly... and frighteningly, I just got an email from a buddy who's an actual expert with sub-sea stuff. My guess was that the blind rams had actuated, smashing the pipe, just not enough to form a perfect seal. I guessed this because the amount leaking is nowhere near what we saw when the rig was burning. He says he doesn't think so. He thinks all the rams and shears are WFO. He thinks the kinks in the pipe are the only thing choking the flow. If he's right about that (I now believe he is) then the flow will wash out those kinks and the flow will increase... by a lot. The metal the pipe is made of is soft and is not meant to be a control surface... not meant to be a washable area.
I think that 1000 BOPD leakage could easily become 3000 BOPD, fairly quickly. Maybe more. If those kinks in that soft pipe are the only thing holding it back, then not only will that happen, it must happen.
And now... today... they're estimating 5000 BOPD!
Hate it when I'm right.
More of my Oil Leak/Spill posts:
One person was asking if there's a chance the underwater dome idea would work.
I've taken a pencil to the hydraulics involved, and depending upon the weight of the oil and the gaseous content of the product, they're going to have to have bigger and/or a lot more hoses to the surface, or it's not going to work very well at all. They'll get some product, but I think that system is going to be overwhelmed quickly.
Here's a point that's been made before: why are they just now building these big domes? They're cheap. All the physics involved are simple on-a-napkin stuff.
My guess is that they know goddam well it's not going to work for shit. That, and they've got three points of leakage that they know about. A dome large enough to cover all three is fully unthinkable. So you've got three of these huge, heavy domes, with miles of associated denisty-neutral hoses, anchors, cables... fuck! Lot of gear to have sloshing about while you're trying to drill an intercept in the same sector.
Here's the truth: they don't like the idea any more than I do. They don't like the burning idea, spreading chemicals, miles of isolation boom... it's all crap and THEY KNOW IT! This oil is coming ashore! All this stuff is maybe a 10% solution. It's for show, as much as any other real purpose. They need to seem busy with stuff that can be shown on the news while they attempt the near-impossible task of intersecting a wellbore thousands of feet below the ocean floor, which by-the-way is already 5000ft. down there with 2224 psig of external pressure ABOVE the 5000 psig or more that's in the pipe you're trying to intersect!
Here's the real showstopper: THEY'RE NOT CERTAIN THEY CAN STOP THIS WELL! EVER! AT ALL!
So then I looked at the numbers a little closer
I was in error.
My initial pencil calcs didn't take into account that this is light crude, and that there's 2224 psig of hydrostatic at the dome.
As the product approaches the surface through the hoses, pipe, whatever, 2 things will happen:
1. Really small gas bubbles will become really big gas bubbles.
2. Light hydrocarbon components that are liquid at the dome on the sea-floor, will become gaseous as they rise and experience the drop in pressure.
Within 500 ft. of the ocean surface, the velocities will become unmanageable -- damned violent! There's no hose or pipe outside of a permanent installation that could handle the forces involved.
So, prediction: The Underwater Dome Idea won't be implemented. They'll announce that within a week.