16 May 2010

BP Reports Siphon Tube Stopping Most of Oil Spill Now

Update:
The tool [siphon tube] was reinserted Sunday morning and "It's working as planned," Wells said.

Both oil and natural gas are being pumped to the surface; the natural gas is being burned off while the oil is stored on a vessel, said Wells, who spoke at a news conference in Houston.
Wells said the insertion tool is extracting "some" of the flow from the leaking pipe.
"We will continue to increase the amount" of oil being extracted, but will do so slowly, Wells said. "It will take a little time.

"We will do everything we can to capture as much as possible," he said. He had no estimate on how much of the leaking oil is being captured by the tool.

The amount of oil and gas being pumped to the surface will be increased slowly. Wells said it has to be increased slowly or there is a danger the tool will take in seawater.

Ultimately, the plan is for BP to kill the well after the flow of oil can be slowed and encase the wellhead in concrete, Wells said. _NOLA
BP said early Sunday afternoon that the mile-long tube is working, drawing most of the leaking oil to the tanker from the Gulf seafloor.

...BP spokesman Mark Proegler said the contraption was hooked up successfully and sucking most of the oil from the leak. Engineers remotely guiding robot submersibles had worked since Friday to place the tube into a 21-inch pipe nearly a mile below the sea.

...A relief well, considered the permanent solution the leak, is still being drilled and is months away from completion. _NOLA
The siphon tube was initially filled with pressurised nitrogen gas, which was slowly released from the upper end of the tube -- allowing the oil to be pulled to the surface for storage in a tanker, and storage barges. This was necessary to keep cold seawater from entering th pipe and creating methane hydrate ice crystals -- which would clog the pipe if allowed to enter.

As long as the recovery effort can continue removing most of the oil spill directly to the surface storage vessels, surface remediation should be somewhat easier in the long run. Even so, the next logical step might seem to be the double assault on the blowout preventer (BOP) -- the (1) "junk shot" of rubber junk and matting into the pipe below the BOP, followed by a (2) "top kill" rapid injection of concrete into the top of the pipe above the BOP.

The problem with that approach is that if it goes wrong, it could create an even worse leak than BP and the Coast Guard were dealing with at the beginning.

So, there will be an extended observation period of about 2 weeks, perhaps, while officials at the scene determine whether the siphon tube is successful enough to forgo any other assaults on the leak until the relief wells come in -- between 6 and 10 weeks from now.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been reading you since this oil spill started and I do think BP is going about this bass ackwards.

They did have the technology to cap the small spill at the end of the riser.

Now they have inserted the straw at the other location.

Why didn't they do that on the riser on top of the BOP in the first place?

Pressures too high perhaps?

If so are they not just increasing the pressure when they plan to do this ' junk shot'?

Sunday, 16 May, 2010  
Blogger al fin said...

The blowout preventer is partially working. They are afraid to do anything that might open the spigot completely.

It would be great to have a live webcam shot of both leaks along with real-time pressure readings at all pertinent points.

My instinct would have been to go for the blowout preventer, get the readings, then do the junk shot / top kill. Go to the source and stop it.

But that would be the risky approach, even if it had the best potential to stop the leak early before a lot of oil had gotten out.

I think BP knows that they got caught with their pants down here, and is trying to avoid taking any more risks now than they have to.

Sunday, 16 May, 2010  
Blogger portland_allan said...

Interesting that they have the capability to separate and burn off the natural gas as it comes up the siphon pipe. I don't know anything about pumping an oil well, but what they are doing sounds like it takes a gentle touch. I gotta think there are limits on how big a natural gas burp they can handle as they burn it off. I bet they are letting oil come up the siphon pipe ever so gently so as not to get too big a burp.

I wonder if they watched the pressures at the BOP as they used the siphon (and pushed back on the siphon) and noted that the leak didn't worsen. Perhaps now they feel confident to try more risky measures at the well head.

Sunday, 16 May, 2010  

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