(8PM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)
I was listening to the Diane Rehm Show on NPR yesterday,
when I heard this Oil Rig Engineer call in
and explain a “common sense” way to put a halt to the Oil Gusher in the Gulf.
He was a shocked by BP’s incompetent, “shotgun” approach —
to contain the mess, as most of us have been.
Here’s the eye-opening clip, with my transcript of Engineer Henry’s simple advice to BP.
“Oil Rig Henry” starts his Engineering lesson, at Time Mark 40:20
My transcript of the his Engineering insights, and simple containment and shut-off recommendations, follows next:
To Norman OK
Good morning, Henry, you’re on the air.
Good morning, Diane.
One of my concerns, is what I see here,
is an appalling lack of technical expertise by British Petroleum.
And their sort of shotgun approach to try to solve this problem,
when WE as engineers, in this industry, HAVE technology,
that we know, have worked in Kuwait and the Timor Sea —
Well this is a Flow Problem to anyone, who knows anything about it.
There’s 3 breaks in the pipeline riser that’s on the floor.
There’s NO reason to be fighting 3 breaks in the pipeline,
If they cut that pipeline just 20 feet above the Blowout Preventer,
with an explosive charge, which can be done in 3 seconds —
they’ll have a nice clean cut, on top of which they can put —
a “Hydra” — it’s like a connection, that has a pad, that can clamp onto it.
They’ll now, have, one single point of oil production — that they can control!
This idea of having a “Box” or a “Tophat” is SO incongruent.
A sophomore student in engineering KNOWS that hydrates will form
at that pressure and temperature.
Send Henry to Houston !
He makes a very good point.
Let me explain. The industry is built on Pipes and Tubes.
We can handle anything that’s a cylinder.
We can’t handle boxes.
IF we got in there with what’s called
a “casing cutter” — it’s a device
that cuts a piece of pipe, in seconds!
It’s done all the time in pipelines, and well drilling, and you name it.
They CAN do this — and, have, one nice clean cut,
that’s available for any device that they want to put on top of it:
A secondary Blowout Preventer,
or even just a Valve, which can connect to the surface.
It’s really very easy!
Ok Henry, I going to put you on hold. I want to get a number from you,
and I want Neil King to talk to you, after the program. OK?
Neil King, is with the Wall Street Journal and was a guest on the show.
Here’s a pretty good animation of the rig failure, showing the fallen riser pipe, and its 3 different leaks.
It DOES really make sense to try to cap it at or near its source, like Henry said.
Here is my layman attempt to find the equipment Oil Rig Henry was talking about.
OTH 349: EVALUATION, SELECTION AND DEVELOPMENT OF SUBSEA CUTTING TECHNIQUES
Prepared by AME Limited
for the Health and Safety Executive
Casing cutters are operated from the drilling rig and run inside the oil-string on the end of a drill string. The cutter is placed at the desired depth usually at some weak point, normally where pieces of drill pipe have been joined and a set of three cutting blades are hydraulically lifted out of the blade holder. These are then rotated at at 60 – 90 rpm by a drive at the surface via the drill string. The upper curved cutting edges of the blades which are billets of steel dressed with tungsten carbide inserts and crushed tungsten carbide particles make the cut. […]
The cutting blades function in a similar fashion to a lathe and mill away the casings (and any grout between casings) until the cut is complete. The blade holder is held centrally by a free wheeling stabilizer located above the holder and the blades are set up in such a way so as to permit maximum penetration with least torque.
A hydraulic pressure reduction signal is used by some types of tool to indicate when the blades have fully extended. Provided the correct size of cutter has been selected this indicates that the casing string has been severed. The cut casing string is held in position by heavy duty spiders, slips and safety clamps on the surface whilst the blades are hinged back into the holder and the cutter withdrawn. The casing string may then be lifted by a casing spear, a holder containing rams which are driven out into the inner casing wall and which grip the string as it is raised. Modern equipment has the spear equipment combined with the casing cutter to allow the casing string to be cut and lifted in one deployment.
Hydra-Stroke® Bumper Sub
The Hydra-Stroke Bumper Sub is a key drillstem component for deepwater drilling operations where drillstring oscillation can be a problem. This tool provides six feet of reliable telescopic movement without placing any limitations on drillstring torque capacity, tensile strength or hydraulic capability. The Hydra-Stroke Bumper Sub is fully balanced to the annulus and the mud pumps, making it completely reliable at any depth and in any drilling environment.
Features and Benefits
Delivers up to six feet of stroke to compensate for drillstring oscillation in offshore operations
Temperature rated to 500 degrees F
Seals rated to 20,000 psi differential
Circulation rated to 10,000 psi
Closed drive system to prevent ingress of wellbore fluid into the drive section, improving reliability
Fully balanced feature to eliminate pump-open effect caused by internal pressure
If I can find it, WHY can’t BP Engineers?
Could it be they’d rather “salvage” the crude, than Cap it?
If you had a garden hose with 3 different major tears in it, would you keep trying to use boxes and duct tape to patch each leak? Wouldn’t it make much more sense to try Stop the gushing Water, upstream, at its Source?
If Engineer Henry, could fix it, Why can’t BP?
Update Note 2:
Many thanks to Fishgrease (on dkos)
for pointing out:
There IS no 20 feet above the blowout preventer.
Perhaps if BP was more forthcoming with public disclosures like this, Engineers like Henry wouldn’t propose solutions, will little chance of working. And Bloggers such as myself would not, repeat those proposed solutions.
My apologies for promoting any sort of false hope, that this oil gusher will end anytime soon. I wish BP luck in whatever solutions they are pursuing.
The “plan” from the BP response site, in detail
Top kill procedure (pdf, 11KB)
FACT SHEET: TOP KILL PROCEDURE
BP is preparing to begin its attempt to stop the flow of oil from the Deepwater Horizon well site using a “top kill” procedure that basically chokes off the flow of hydrocarbons in the well. The procedure begins with the “junk shot” that is a scientifically-designed recipe of various materials that will create a plug in the blow out preventer and choke off the flow of hydrocarbons. Heavy drilling mud is next pumped in to kill the well then followed with cement to permanently plug the well.
The materials used, in a “junk shot” will include well-known materials such as pieces of tires, golf balls, pieces of rope, etc. Each of these has been proven to fill various sized spaces in the blowout preventer until the flow is stopped. While there is no known perfect “recipe,” a number of combinations of materials will be used. This procedure will be pursued until it is successful or deemed to be ineffective.
It seems they have “some confidence” in the residual strength of the BOP, to “act like a dam” full of junk, and stop the flow. Let’s hope this works.
Note: my goal with this diary, is to spur Engineers, to put their best ideas forward. When was the last time, the News Media actually interviewed any Engineers, either from BP or Academia?
Thanks all for reading, and your comments.