03 June 2010

BP Faces Rapidly Evolving Situation in Undersea Efforts

Update #4: 22:30 EDT Alright, then. A fairly turbulent landing for LLMRP cap #2 onto the gushing riser stub. This graphic illustrates how the procedure was supposed to go. The valve on top of the LMRP cap has been wide open, allowing oil to flow straight through. The new riser itself was full of N2 gas, and would be backed off very slowly to allow oil to pass up the riser. It appeared as if the actual landing was very similar to the prescribed procedure.
Now we wait to see if a good upward flow gets established in the riser. If so, the ROVs will close the relief valve on the top of the LMRP cap.
Update #3: 21:00 EDT it looks as if the #2 LMRP cap has been activated with its methanol and warm water flow, and is being lowered toward the leaking riser stub. It is a remarkable sight, particularly from multiple simultaneously dynamic perspectives.
Update #2: The timeline for placing the LMRP cap has been set back to sometime in the next 24 to 48 hours. BP wants to have plenty of time to prepare the riser stub and flange for optimal cap application. Being forced to use the giant shears instead of the diamond wire saw, to complete the cut, means that some extra work will be needed to create a metallic surface that will lend to long term effective containment of hydrocarbon flows.

"Heading Out" has published a revealing technical analysis -- with great graphics -- explaining much of what happened around the time of the blowout. This type of in-depth analysis of the event is mandatory to understand how the blowout occurred, and and what must be done to minimise the chances of another such event.

Update #1: BP was successful in cutting the riser from the BOP using the giant shears. Oil is presently flowing briskly through the single remaining opening just above the BOP / Riser connection flange. For the ROV camera junkies, use this link for all feeds.

For multiple simultaneous feeds (but not all), go here.
Another multi-feed site with larger screen sizes
Same as above with small screen size

The LMRP cap #2 is being slowly moved into position by surface crane. It should be a matter of hours before knowing how successful this attempt will be.


The image above portrays some of the newest plans by BP to mitigate the ongoing oil spill. Technical problems continue to plague all efforts to contain the gush of hydrocarbon from beneath the seafloor. The diamond wire saw first became dulled, then was trapped in the cut riser. BP was forced to abandon the diamond wire saw and to attempt to cut the riser with a giant shears.

Shears will leave a rough, out of round finish, so the grommeted LMRP cannot be used. The #2 LMRP cap which fits completely around the riser stub and flange will be used instead. Do not confuse the current plan #2 LMRP cap with the old discarded "top hat" approach -- despite the fact that CNN and other "journalists" are making that mistake. Further plans to reduce the oil spill are pictured above.

Meanwhile, President Obama is striking another vicious blow deep into the Gulf economy with his arbitrary 6 month drilling moratorium. Although some companies are attempting to put a good face on Obama's ill considered dictate, informed observers understand that Obama's grandstanding will cost the Gulf economy additional billions of dollars on top of the economic problems from the oil spill.

Washington DC can always be counted on for disastrous knee-jerk reactions to problems -- almost inevitably making the problems worse.

Clumps of oil have washed up on scattered beaches across Louisiana, into Mississippi and Alabama. The Florida panhandle is bracing for incursions of oil clumps and sheen. Fortunately, such oil clumps have been rather easily cleaned from beaches, and almost all retrieved "oiled" animals have been "de-oiled" and rejuvenated by rescue workers.

To this point, although absolute hydrocarbon spill quantity has been greater from the Macondo bore, there is yet no valid comparison to the Exxon Valdez disaster in terms of impact on wildlife. The reasons for that include the high volume of gas, the lighter grade of crude leading to high evaporation, the position of the leak 5,000 ft deep and 50 miles off the nearest land, and the warm fertile waters of the Gulf -- among other reasons.

This is the discouraging time in an ongoing disaster when most people tend to throw up their arms and scream at the nearest convenient scapegoat. More intelligent and competent people, on the other hand, become more intent to solve the ongoing problem. Assigning blame and extracting compensation will certainly occur -- with a vengeance. But far more important at this time is for competent persons to rise to the enormous challenge that is unfolding.

TheOilDrum.com has some good articles by "Heading Out" on this topic. Some of the discussion in comments after the articles is fairly informed, providing good information and links. Most of the discussion in comments is pure crap, including an inordinate amount of peak oil religious superstition. But then, sifting through the crap to find the gold is one of life's necessary tasks.

A good place for multiple undersea video streams is DeepwaterBP


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