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News Offshore oil drilling is safe?

  1. Apr 26, 2010 #1
    You would think they could stop the oil flowing instantly after a massive explosion ripped through a rig!

    Seriously now Ivan, come on.

    Edit by Ivan: Very strange. Somehow I accidently moved this post to the wrong position. This post should be the second in this thread. the #2 post should be the first.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2010
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 26, 2010 #2

    Ivan Seeking

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    Recently we have seen a push by Obama, as well as long-time proponents, to increase offshore oil drilling. Offshore drilling is much safer than it used to be, it is argued. While that may be true, the claim falls flat considering the oil spill still in progress, in the Gulf of Mexico. This isn't making me a believer! Right now, one expert on CNN is saying that we don't know exactly how it will be stopped. It could weeks or even months! Once again, I feel we have been lied to by industry. How could they not be prepared for something like this?!?!?! After all of the years of debate and furor over safety, this is simply unbelievable.

    bilde?Site=A4&Date=20100426&Category=GREEN&ArtNo=100426035&Ref=AR&Profile=1075&MaxW=318&Border=0.jpg
    http://www.news-press.com/article/2...n-oil-spill-study-measures-to-protect-beaches

    Algae to the rescue
    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=211274
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  4. Apr 26, 2010 #3

    Ivan Seeking

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    I thought these things were supposed to have a failsafe at the source to stop the flow in the event of an emergency. So much for that promise. It doesn't work.
     
  5. Apr 26, 2010 #4

    mgb_phys

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    The problem is this is (was!) an exploration platform - it drills the initial set of holes that the production platform would later pump the oil from. They then install a whole bunch of caps/valves/safety cut-offs/etc on the sea bed where the production platform's pipes attaches to.

    It seems that when the explosion occured they were actually installing the concrete casing that the capping valves would connect to. All they can really do at this point is try and bulldoze enough rock/mud/cement over the hole to plug. Not helped by this being in seriously deep water.

    There are a lot of questions about the worker safety to be answered.
    A blowout like this shouldn't have to got to the rig and the lifeboats shouldn't have had to travel for 45mins to reach the support vessel but more details of this will probably come out eventually.
     
  6. Apr 26, 2010 #5
    Yeah, that's odd.
    Not sure of the details, but I think this rig was drilling at the time(as opposed to the drilling complete and safety valves installed)

    Then again, isn't there some type of "safety collar" that the drilling pipes slip through that could stop the flow during a drilling emergency? Maybe not, as I'm not sure what that "collar" could do.

    Hmmm... what a mess. Hope they get it stopped and learn something from this.
     
  7. Apr 26, 2010 #6
    As much as I would like to see more domestic production, this sux. If only they could contain and capture the mess. Maybe that ability should be a requirement before drilling.
     
  8. Apr 26, 2010 #7
    It is like breaking the neck off of a bottle of shaken up wine. There is a lot of pressure on that, and an explosion could rip off any fail safe devices. The only thing from my knowledge would be to tap the same hole again, or get a new hole to start relieving pressure.
     
  9. Apr 26, 2010 #8
    I second that vote!!!
     
  10. Apr 26, 2010 #9
    I don't think even 3 new holes would have any significant effect on pressure.
    These oil-bearing areas can be very wide/deep.
    A hundred? Maybe.
     
  11. Apr 26, 2010 #10
    A new hole that starts pulling oil near the busted hole will be more effective in reducing the flow of the busted hole. Combine that with closing off the open hole, and it should be pretty effective.
     
  12. Apr 26, 2010 #11
    What about the time that would take to make a new hole? A month?
     
  13. Apr 26, 2010 #12

    mgb_phys

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    It is and they can, the leak is producing about 1000 bbl/day and they have skimming capacity for about 100x that much (http://www.rigzone.com/news/article.asp?a_id=91509)
    Offshore you try and collect the oil with floating booms and then skim it off the surface and back into barges then tankers, especially with light crude. Spraying detergent makes the oil break up but it also disperses into the water where it gets into the food chain. Although the slicks on the surface look bad (and are for any sea birds) it's the best place to deal with it.

    The reports are that a well head was in place but was damaged in the blast, they have ROVs trying to close it.
    If that doesn't work you can pour concrete and try and block it - that makes it a bit of a pain to reopen the well - especially in water this deep.
     
  14. Apr 26, 2010 #13

    russ_watters

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    Since this is an unreferenced claim of fact, to avoid this whole thread just being a strawman-based rant of you against an imaginary opponent, please cite the source of your claim. Who told you "these things were supposed to have a failsafe..." Who do you think lied to you? What, exactly was the lie?

    Now we can probably work around that, because lies or not, it appears obvious that your point is that these things should be failsafe. So lets go with that - no lies, just your opinion.

    Ivan, your opinion is just absurd. It is the same card-stacking propaganda technique so-called "environmentalists" use to (successfully) torpedo nuclear power. Here's how it works:

    -First, you set an absurdly high bar as your criterion for dividing "good" and "bad". In this case, absolute perfection is "safe" and anything less than absolute perfection is "unsafe".
    -Next, when the thing you are attacking fails to live up to the absurd criteria, you claim it is now by definition "bad". (unsafe)

    So no, Ivan, it is not anywhere close to reasonable to demand absolute perfection from the oil industry regarding spills. "Reasonable" is to do a cost-benefit analysis of an industry's safety and determine from that what a reasonable failure rate should be. With the type of accident we're dealing with here, can you think of another case of this happening? I can't. That make for an extremely high level of reliability. If once every decade or two, we get a spill like this, that is a reasonable cost for such a critical driver of modern life. What is that, spam? It's completely irrelevant to this thread.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2010
  15. Apr 26, 2010 #14

    russ_watters

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    For some perspective on the magnitude of this disaster, USA Today's article says it is spilling about 42,000 gallons a day. According to wiki, the Exxon Valdez, in 1984, spilled at least 10.8 million. The Valdez is perhaps the most famous, which is why it is cited in some of the articles about this. So anyway, if it keeps going at close to current rate for a total of a month, it'll spill about 1/8th what the Valdez did.

    ...and the Exxon Valdez doesn't make the list of the 10 largest in history, coming in 33rd at 1/4 the requirement to make the list: http://envirowonk.com/content/view/68/1/ So based on that, it looks like we get an average of about one such spill worldwide every year - not from drilling, specifically, but from the oil industry in general.
     
  16. Apr 26, 2010 #15
    A data point is not a trend, Ivan. There were multiple car accidents today throughout the country, but I thought by now that auto makers told us for years cars were safe!!
     
  17. Apr 27, 2010 #16
    At this rate it will take around 8 1/2 mo to equal Valdez. But, who/what really lives in Valdez? Not much.

    This has more of an impact because of the abundance of habitation available to impact. Once it hits the coastline (subtracting media hype) I suspect it will be more of a mess.

    I want offshore drilling but the loss of life and the mess is really f'd up.
     
  18. Apr 27, 2010 #17

    russ_watters

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  19. Apr 27, 2010 #18
    Lol well, Valdez isn't a place, it's the ships name. So that tid bit is wrong. Next up is that you assume that somehow the Valdez oil spill wasn't damaging to the wildlife... wrong again, the Valdez incident is often cited as one of the worst ecological disasters in USA history...

    EDIT:
    Saw russ posted on the next page.
     
  20. Apr 27, 2010 #19
    LOL, I realized that this morning. That's what I get for posting late after a few. I should have a breathalizer on my keyboard. doh

    zomgwtf, Valdez is a place.
     
  21. Apr 27, 2010 #20

    mheslep

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    Photo of a deep water robot arm attempting to activate the blow-out preventer at the Deepwater Horizon well head site. Note the depth.

    4551846015_412a4c11c3.jpg

    DH BOP here, apparently prior to installation.
    4552485336_8b468e3864.jpg

    Random BOP. Must be 500 tons. I'm baffled as to how these things are positioned and installed in miles deep water.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 17, 2017
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