Subsea Oil Recovery System Information
BP is working to deploy a subsea oil recovery system over the largest leak source in the Transocean Deepwater Horizon Rig that it hopes will capture up to 85% of the oil rising from the sea floor following the sinking of Deepwater Horizon on 22 April. This will mark the first time such a system will be used at this water depth (5,000 feet / 1,524 m).
The system is designed to collect hydrocarbons from the well and pump them to a tanker at the surface, where they will be stored and shipped ashore. This effort is one of several BP is attempting to mitigate the leakage or the effects of the leakage at the source (including the application of underwater dispersants) prior to being able to shutting off the flow. _GCC
Efforts to shut off the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico continue on several fronts: 1. Engineers would still like to engage the malfunctioning in-place blowout preventer (BOP). 2. A subsea recovery system is being constructed and will be lowered over the leak as described below 3. A relief well is being drilled which will allow control access to the original well. The relief well will take between 6 weeks and 3 months to complete. While these efforts are going on, the well is leaking between 5,000 and 25,000 barrels per day of light crude daily. Surface efforts to limit and mitigate the environmental impact of the surface slick are ongoing and intensive.
From the May 3 control center factsheet:
The Subsea Oil Recovery System is a large structure that can be placed over the largest leak source in the Transocean Deepwater Horizon Rig. The system is designed to collect hydrocarbons from the well and pump them to a tanker at the surface, where they will be stored and safely shipped ashore. Weather permitting, deployment of the system is planned within the next six to eight days.
How it works:
The system is made up of a 125-ton, 14’ x 24’ x 40’ structure that will be set on top of the largest leak source. This leak is located at the end of the riser, about 600 feet from the wellhead.
Equipment at the top of the system is connected to a 5,000 foot riser that will convey the hydrocarbons to the surface ship, the Deepwater Enterprise.
Once in place, oil will flow up into the containment system’s dome to the surface ship.
Once on the surface ship, the hydrocarbons will be processed and oil will be separated from water and gas. The oil will then be temporarily stored before being offloaded and shipped to a designated oil terminal onshore.
The Deepwater Enterprise is capable of processing 15,000 barrels of oil per day and storing 139,000 barrels.
A support barge will also be deployed with a capacity to store 137,000 barrels of oil.
This system could collect as much as 85% of oil rising from the seafloor.
How it was developed
This is the first time this system will be used at this water depth.
To develop the system, BP quickly located existing structures that had previously been used as coffer dams in shallow water recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina.
After Katrina, these structures were lowered over damaged wellheads to allow divers to repair wellheads.
BP engineers have worked closely with the firm Wild Well Controls, Inc. to convert these structures for use in deep waters.
Be sure to check in to the Command Center Website for the latest information.
NOAA Deepwater Horizon Incident Response page updated
Unique insight into oil well drilling procedures involved from a mining instructor and researcher
An interesting historical look at an earlier Gulf oil spill, Ixtoc I
A short analysis of Ixtoc I and a quick summary of events and ongoing mitigation efforts
The Deepwater Horizon explosion, fire, and spill will be studied for many years. Deep water oil drilling is being pushed to the limits of technology, and much can be learned from this tragic incident.
Faux environmentalists within and without the US government, will opportunistically swarm over this tragedy in an attempt to shut down all offshore drilling. That would be a huge mistake, and precisely the wrong response. Instead, we must understand that we are working up the learning curve for safe operations at extreme depths and pressures -- both pressures from the sea mass and pressures involved in deposits of compressed hydrocarbon gases and liquids as they ascend from depth.
More advanced human civilisations need subsea oil, gas, and methane clathrate deposits as they are transitioning to safe nuclear and other viable clean and "renewable" energies. Do not write off undersea oil exploration and production.
Labels: Oil Spills