04 May 2010

BP Attaches Shutoff Valve to One Leaking Pipe

Oil Spill Video: Tuesday update May 4, 2010
Latest oil spill news from NOLA

News about shutoff valve and further immediate plans to slow release of oil into the Gulf

BP is dealing with three distinct leaks on the seafloor. The newly attached shutoff valve will be used to try to stop one of the three leaks -- reducing the number of leaks to only two. If that attempt is successful, the remaining leaks will be covered with containment vessels in an attempt to funnel the leaking oil upward through a conduit to ships and barges on the surface.
Even if BP is successful, Eric Smith, associate director of the Tulane Energy Institute, said the company is concerned that the drilling riser, a larger pipe that forms a sheath around the drilling pipe, might spring additional leaks after the coffer dams are installed because of all the trauma it's been through. "The concern is that that thing has been through a lot of stress," Smith said.
As long as the velocity of the oil is not too fast, Smith believes that BP will try to cut the joint where the riser pipe comes out of the failed blowout protector, and install a new blow out protector on top of the old one.

The idea is that the new blowout protector would be more stable then the containments along the crumpled riser, and could be properly shut off while the relief wells are being drilled so BP doesn't have to keep bringing oil to the surface.

Smith, who is attending the 70,000-attendee Society of Petroleum Engineers' Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, where the Deepwater Horizon accident is the subject of much chatter and speculation, said that even though BP needs only one route to the original well, the company is actually drilling two relief wells at a cost of about $100 million apiece to make sure it doesn't run into problems.

Once a relief well reaches the original well and stops the oil from flowing, Smith said BP will cap it with concrete for a long-term fix. But after the investigations reveal what cause the explosion, Smith anticipates that BP will reopen the well and resume drilling.
"They want the well sealed until they figure out what's going wrong. Once they figure it out, they'll go in and redevelop that field, because we do need the oil," Smith said. _NOLA

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