Thursday, June 24, 2010

BP / Gulf Oil Spill - Any Backup Containment Devices Ready?

We've got a couple of questions for BP and Coast Guard, given yesterday's troubling incident with the LMRP and the significantly increased flow from the well ever since they cut off the damaged riser pipe:
  • If the LMRP should break down, gunk up, or otherwise fail, is there a backup LMRP ready and waiting to be immediately deployed?
  • If the well casing fails beneath the seafloor - it's been under a steady high-pressure, high-temperature sandblasting since April 20, and the BOP is reportedly leaning slightly to one side - much of the leaking oil would likely bypass the BOP entirely, possibly raising the flow rate to BP's worst-case scenario estimate of 100,000 barrels per day. In that event, we'd need to immediately deploy a large containment device similar to the "dome" that was initally tried and quickly failed. Something we can lower over the entire BOP and onto the seafloor surrounding the well. Has such a device been designed and built, in case it's needed? If not, why not? It's imprudent to just hope the casing will hang on until a relief well is successful, and it could take weeks to build and test a backup containment device. Let's get to work on that ASAP if we haven't already.
Unless we're willing to risk weeks of uncontrolled flow at 2.5-4.2 million gallons per day.

3 comments:

  1. I've been thinking a brand new BOP & bring the old BOP up to the surface for evidence in culpable criminal neglicence.A Brand new BOP with automatic shut-off & remote control only costs $500,000.The lifetime of the well is 30 years,thereby making that a good investment and GUARANTEE no further blow-outs.

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  2. If I had to bet on it I would say the answer is no. They have proved they don't have a replacement containment cap because they had to fix the only cap they have. They could have a duplicate cap, and just lower it down first, take the one cap off and then the other on immediately, instead of an 12 hour switch. They (bp/government/coast guard) are making the most rudimentary planning mistakes, or lack of planning mistakes maybe I should say.

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  3. Johnnie50 - I don't think the cost of a new BOP is holding them back since the cleanup is costing at least $2 million per day. I think the problem is cutting off the existing BOP and installing a new one one at 5000' with a high-pressure stream of oil and gas rocketing out of the well. Plus the fact that BP has estimated if the BOP is removed the spill rate could go as high as 4.2 million gallons (100,000 barrels) per day. I think they don't want to risk that, and they don't want to add any strain on the well casing below the BOP - if we lost that casing, then this spill could get much worse.

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