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Fixing the Gulf oil spill problem

  1. May 26, 2010 #1
    It seems to me that BP's first idea of putting a big funnel over the top of the leak was a good start, they just didn't expect so much methane hydrate slush to clog the funnel.

    What they need to do is to build a simple heat exchanger inside the funnel and pump warm Gulf water through it to keep the slush from forming.

    Anybody out there have any better ideas or improvements to this one?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 27, 2010 #2
    My idea was similar to that but a massive concrete block with a hollow bevel type shape in the bottom which would lead to a small cylinder and a valve on the top to attach a pumping hose. The hollow bevel would create a nice resovoir to pump oil from. The concrete could have a rubber base to create a tight seal and controlled decent to the bottom buy attaching an appropriate amount of buoys. However, I guess this type of apparatus would still be subject to those ice crystals that ruined the other attempt.

    This whole thing is really starting to bother me, its been a month and no solution. You think a huge oil company like BP would have a team of engineers and problem solvers or hire a crew that could solve this ordeal.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2010
  4. May 27, 2010 #3
    They are doing a well kill as we speak.
     
  5. May 27, 2010 #4

    stewartcs

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    They have around 20,000 people working on this project at the moment.

    CS
     
  6. May 27, 2010 #5
    This should have been solved a long time ago. It would be a simple matter to use a valve attached to a piece of pipe the right size and fit it to the pipe at the well with wedge blocks and bolts with the valve open and then once attached the valve could be closed. This type of wedge clamping is not at all uncommon in the hydraulic and high pressure steam industry.
    Since the pipe is standard sizes for well heads it seem rediculous that they don't have devices assembled and in stock for just this kind of event.
     
  7. May 27, 2010 #6

    mheslep

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    Is it also standard to pump ice?
     
  8. May 27, 2010 #7

    mheslep

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    You'd have to heat maybe a couple thousand feet of pipe/funnel, creating a water column over 20 degrees C isolated somehow from the surrounding water at 4C to avoid methane hydrates forming at that pressure. And I don't see a simple way of stopping the flow if necessary, even temporarily, without immediately creating an ice dam.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2010
  9. May 27, 2010 #8

    stewartcs

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    Have you even seen what the subsea architecture looks like? Where exactly would this device attach? The stack is currently sitting on top of the wellhead. A bent riser is sitting on top of the LMRP. If they remove any of those without killing the well it will be flowing wide open.

    CS
     
  10. May 28, 2010 #9
    I wonder if they have thought about a series of detonations? As soon as this happened I thought they should do whatever it took to stop the leak ASAP like implode the well and redrill it if necessary. I felt that they have been complacent until now.

    I don't know all the stats regarding the well, but I know they have GPS of the well. A rough example, the well is 1500 m deep. Drill many small diameter holes lined with explosive 50-100 m around the well. Use the series of detonations to implode the well hole an cover it with ruble. They can then redrill the well or drill a relief.

    I can see a new show on the History Channel, "Life after Humans"... 50 years after humans, all offshore oil rigs fall into the oceans killing 50% of the marine life and turns much the oceans blue water into a dark mix of sweet crude.

    Pretty sad.
     
  11. May 28, 2010 #10
    The "Top Kill" method they tried earlier today was precisely what you described, and it resulted (so far) in opening up more leaks from the one well (as I'd have guessed).

    Their best bet is to make a *bigger* funnel (now needed to be bigger to cover all the new leaks) and include a heat exchanger inside the funnel to prevent methane hydrate from clogging the funnel, with the heat source being the warm Gulf surface water pumped down to the heat exchanger.
     
  12. May 28, 2010 #11

    stewartcs

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    They are drilling a relief well now. As soon as it intersects the old well bore they can kill it. No need to blow it up (which may or may not work but is extremely risky).

    CS
     
  13. May 28, 2010 #12
    Does the extreme pressure somehow prevent them from using explosives in the surrounding sea-bed to collapse the well?
     
  14. May 28, 2010 #13
    I am aware of the relief well. I have not heard of ideas regarding detonations of the sub sea architecture or an implosion of the well head. What are the risks besides letting the oil leak like it has been for the last month? How long until they can utilize their heat exchanger method?

    What I am looking for a quick fix until the relief well could be drilled... detonations could have already been performed weeks ago or weeks after the accident happened.

    I wish they would release some stats on the problem (i.e. map/diagram of the well, P's, T's, and V's, effluent components, surrounding material, etc.)
     
  15. May 28, 2010 #14
    I almost feel that the extreme pressures would allow for more controlled explosions or implosion from the detonations...
     
  16. May 28, 2010 #15
    Yea shortly after I posted I read some news that top kill was going quite successful. I

    My wording was a bit off there, I didn't mean to sound doubt full of there team. My point was more of how long it had taken them to fix the problem. At first it sounds pretty simplistic but I looked into it more and became aware of the complex side of it.

    Now I am wondering about the clean up and how far it has spread. Is there an estimated clean up time? Also is there a risk of it spreading east out of the gulf and being distributed along the east coast by the gulf stream?
     
  17. May 28, 2010 #16
    If you do a Google search on "BP Spill" you can find a website where you can e-mail them with ideas. The link appears to be to Red Adair's company. Red Adair's company is the best in the business, they were the ones who were called in to put out all the oil fires that Saddam Hussein lit during the first Gulf war, and they finished well-before their schedule. (Red Adair himself was the subject of a John Wayne movie.) BP is doing things the right way, they've got the top people working the problem.
     
  18. May 29, 2010 #17
    I was wondering if they inflated some type of fluid filled balloon or a series of them down in the pipe could be done, sort or like putting a stint in an artery;

    or exploding some containers of foam (like that 'Great Stuff' expanding foam for home insulation)---that stuff expands quite a bit and sticks to anything/everything...
     
  19. May 29, 2010 #18

    stewartcs

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    Unlikely. The pressure would most likely blow it out. Plus there is the problem of getting anything into the wellbore. Until they remove the bent riser the bore is inaccessible. Removing the LMRP and either capping it or funneling it would be the best option.

    I recommend removing the LMRP all together and trying to land another one. It would be helpful if BP gave more details as to the state of the bore.

    CS
     
  20. May 30, 2010 #19
    What if you had a tapered projectile made of tungsten, about 20' long, with a diameter just slightly larger than the hole, and shot it deep down into the well with an extremely high powered rail gun.
     
  21. May 30, 2010 #20

    OmCheeto

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    I actually liked the following solution best, as a quick and dirty duct tape fix to at least contain the oil until they can shut down the well.

     
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