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Thread: Gulf oil leak - What to do?

  1. #61
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    Perhaps someone can help me understand this. Is there a legible phase diagram available for methane (I'm asking you mike alexander and Swift) that isn't behind a paywall? The only thing I was able to find is the CH4 melting diagram on the last page of this old document. Assuming a temperature of about 277K at the seafloor and pressure of 0.152 kbar at a depth of 1500 m, pure methane will be gaseous where it comes out of the well. If true, it makes sense to try to intercept the flow before it has a chance to contact the sea water.

    Have I misunderstood the diagram or made an error in my temperature and pressure assumptions, or does the mixture of methane and other hydrocarbons invalidate that diagram? If so, what is the effect?

    Based on what Glom wrote, it's my understanding that the containment dome was designed to inhibit hydrate formation, but it did't work as expected. So it wasn't a matter of not knowing about hydrate formation (that's been known for some time), but more with how to deal with it in this particular situation. Does the design try to minimize the amount of mixing before the oil reaches the top of the dome, or is some other mechanism used?

    Lastly, if a gushing well is plugged, and there is a considerable length of pipe below the close-off point, how much extra strength has to be built into the design to handle the momentum? I'm thinking something similar to water hammer would happen.

  2. #62
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    Some more questions occured to me. . .

    If this is a mixture of gas and oil coming out of the well, and the gas is under great pressure (how much??) in the well, then it will expand and cool where it emerges. Aside from the formation of clathrates, would some of the solids that formed in the containment dome actually be water ice? I assume that unconstrained by a dome, ice particles would simply disperse and melt again, so their formation would not be obvious.

    Also, I think I read that the well at that location is about 5500 m deep. As in my previous post, I'm wondering how much momentum there is in 5.5 km of oil moving through a pipe at 5000 barrels/day. I guess the fact that they tried to activate the blowout preventer long after the flow had started is an indication that these things are supposedly designed to handle the ensuing forces.(?)

  3. #63
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    Alarming news.

    What we are seeing now could be small compared to what may yet unfold if things break apart, as they can do under such circumstances. If this thing blew, it could be like the Yellowstone Caldera, except from below a mile of sea, with a 1/4-mile opening, with up to 150,000 psi of oil and natural gas behind it.

    That would be an extinction event.

  4. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by Argos View Post
    Alarming news indeed. I was just about to ask where does all that methane go? Does it all crystalize? Does some make its way to the surface? How real is this extinction threat? It looks like global warming is back on! Isn't it time the worlds best brains got on to this? Something like bletchly ?

  5. #65
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    This guy is pulling sensationalist numbers out of his sidetrack. Seriously, it's beyond parody. He's attempting to imply this one reservoir is about as large as all reservoirs across the planet combined.

  6. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glom View Post
    This guy is pulling sensationalist numbers out of his sidetrack. Seriously, it's beyond parody. He's attempting to imply this one reservoir is about as large as all reservoirs across the planet combined.
    when you've got a certain viewpoint that you want to get others to buy into and an international forum on which to talk about it, you might be more inclined to step over towards the more sensationalist side of things.

  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Torsten View Post
    Perhaps someone can help me understand this. Is there a legible phase diagram available for methane (I'm asking you mike alexander and Swift) that isn't behind a paywall? The only thing I was able to find is the CH4 melting diagram on the last page of this old document. Assuming a temperature of about 277K at the seafloor and pressure of 0.152 kbar at a depth of 1500 m, pure methane will be gaseous where it comes out of the well. If true, it makes sense to try to intercept the flow before it has a chance to contact the sea water.

    Have I misunderstood the diagram or made an error in my temperature and pressure assumptions, or does the mixture of methane and other hydrocarbons invalidate that diagram? If so, what is the effect?

    Based on what Glom wrote, it's my understanding that the containment dome was designed to inhibit hydrate formation, but it did't work as expected. So it wasn't a matter of not knowing about hydrate formation (that's been known for some time), but more with how to deal with it in this particular situation. Does the design try to minimize the amount of mixing before the oil reaches the top of the dome, or is some other mechanism used?

    Lastly, if a gushing well is plugged, and there is a considerable length of pipe below the close-off point, how much extra strength has to be built into the design to handle the momentum? I'm thinking something similar to water hammer would happen.
    Look on page 16 for an example of a phase diagram.

    It would take a lot lower temperature to liquify methane, you are correct.

    Based on that diagram, at a depth of 1500m you would need to keep the mixture above about 288 kelvins to prevent hydrate formation.

    Also note that when the hydrate reverts to methane gas in water its volume increases roughly 150 times. You could get a good hammer out of that.

  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike alexander View Post
    It would take a lot lower temperature to liquify methane
    Thanks mike.

    And that diagram covers exactly the situation at the seafloor, though I was interested in the behaviour of methane in the absence of water, which you've confirmed. (I've since found similar charts here.)

    PS - forgot to put a when I asked. Don't mean to sound too demanding. . .

  9. #69
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    The flow rate may be much higher than the numbers being given by BP and the Coast Guard. Listen (hey, it's a radio report) to this.
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  10. #70
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    Nearly a month and still no fix. The possibility of spreading up the gulf coast. Why not drop millions of bell barings of all different sizes around the opening?Big heavy ones at first then reduce in size .

  11. #71
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    A Russian newspaper is apparently suggesting that BP try the Soviet Union's successful tack in arresting four natural gas leaks between 1966 and 1981: detonating a nuclear bomb at the site of the leak:

    Link----------------------- http://eastern-european-forum.blogsp...leak-nuke.html

  12. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by brianok View Post
    A Russian newspaper is apparently suggesting that BP try the Soviet Union's successful tack in arresting four natural gas leaks between 1966 and 1981: detonating a nuclear bomb at the site of the leak:

    Link----------------------- http://eastern-european-forum.blogsp...leak-nuke.html
    Sure; the blog only presents the "plus" side of the equation. Follow it's link, and you get a few more paragraphs in the article.
    the circumstances in the Gulf of Mexico are much different. [...] "The Russians were using nukes to extinguish gas well fires in natural gas fields, not sealing oil wells gushing liquid, so there are big differences, and this method has never been tested in such conditions."
    I also wonder about water depth, and depth of the field.

    That's part of the issue. Any solutions at this point are untested. An article I read said that there are currently 700 ideas under review. Yet; I keep hearing stories about people that complain that BP has not acknowledged thier solution.
    The press's fault? In part, because they love to print "whiners". But; I also think BP (or whoever is doing the evaluation) needs a little better PR in how these evaluations are turning out, and the feasibility of the suggestions.

    Then there's the prep time to carry them out.

  13. #73
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    Spragg Bags do sound like an interesting option. Can they also bring in some oil/water separators near the source of the leak and store the oil on a nearby rig? They would have to use a series of high pressure pumps in order to grab as much oil/water mixture as possible before it dispersed. The mixture could then be forced through oil/water separation devices such as the ones the US Air Force has been using here: http://www.p2pays.org/ref/07/06019.htm . The oil/water separation devices described in the link have the advantage of using gravity separation so theoretically no additional chemicals would have to be used.

    Are they any closer to making a decision to just setting off detonations?

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    Quote Originally Posted by sithum View Post
    Spragg Bags do sound like an interesting option. Can they also bring in some oil/water separators near the source of the leak and store the oil on a nearby rig? They would have to use a series of high pressure pumps in order to grab as much oil/water mixture as possible before it dispersed. The mixture could then be forced through oil/water separation devices such as the ones the US Air Force has been using here: http://www.p2pays.org/ref/07/06019.htm . The oil/water separation devices described in the link have the advantage of using gravity separation so theoretically no additional chemicals would have to be used.
    The Drillship Enterprise has separation facilities on it. It is currently recovering around 3 mbod, which is a notable proportion of the leak rate.

    Quote Originally Posted by sithum View Post
    Are they any closer to making a decision to just setting off detonations?
    The position has not changed. No-one is going to blow up the well reeeel good. It is a retarded idea. Everyone drop it and going back to watching a Michael Bay film.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glom View Post
    The position has not changed. No-one is going to blow up the well reeeel good. It is a retarded idea. Everyone drop it and going back to watching a Michael Bay film.
    Are you trying to tell me they aren't going to nuke it? I'm shocked, shocked, to hear that.

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  16. #76
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    observing the plume suggests to me that at least a barrel per second is escaping . Thats 84 thoousand barrels a day! Could be a lot more barrels a second than that.
    Nukeing or a lot of dynamite seems a good idea to me.

    If i remember correctly theres 50 million recoverable barrels down that well. At this rate it will be empty in 2 years.
    Nuke it. Now.

  17. #77
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    couldn't they airlift the statue of liberty to the site and then drop it head first so that the arm goes in and plugs the hole?
    ................................

  18. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boratssister View Post
    observing the plume suggests to me that at least a barrel per second is escaping . Thats 84 thoousand barrels a day! Could be a lot more barrels a second than that.
    Nukeing or a lot of dynamite seems a good idea to me.

    If i remember correctly theres 50 million recoverable barrels down that well. At this rate it will be empty in 2 years.
    Nuke it. Now.
    An excellent satire on the ignorant comment we see across the media.

  19. #79
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    From MSNBC: Rachael Maddow's commentary "The more spills change, the more things stay the same". Compares the Ixtoc well in Mexico to the current oil spill.

    Sounds eerily familiar if you ask me.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHmhxpQEGPo

  20. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boratssister View Post
    observing the plume suggests to me that at least a barrel per second is escaping . Thats 84 thoousand barrels a day! Could be a lot more barrels a second than that.
    Nukeing or a lot of dynamite seems a good idea to me.

    If i remember correctly theres 50 million recoverable barrels down that well. At this rate it will be empty in 2 years.
    Nuke it. Now.
    a lot of what you see coming out of the pipe isn't oil. there is a lot of natural gas coming out, too.

  21. #81
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    The natural gas is also worrisome, as much of it is dissolving in the seawater. There is some worry that its oxidation will deoxygenate some areas of the Gulf to the point of creating dead zones.
    Information about American English usage here and here. Floating point issues? Please read this before posting.

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  22. #82
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    i sat in on a conference with NOAA and other officals,
    they were discussing the nuclear option.

    apparently the russians have actually developed special "tools" that are designed to stop such leaks.
    since russia is one of the largest oil procucers in the world, thay have also done more deep sea oil drilling than any other nation on earth, and have also had more oil leaks than any other nation in the world.

    apparently, they have had no less than 5 oil leaks with 2 in deeper water than the leak in the Gulf. all have been pinched off with the use of this specialized nuclear tool.

    the detonation actually pinches off the well by collapasing the strata ontop of the well..
    they have had 100% success with one needing 2 denotations to seal the leak..

    the US admiral and military directors are not interested in the nuclear option, however, apparently there are conventional explosives that could do the job.

    the contention is not wheather or not it will work, because it absolutly will work, rather that if the leak is sealed in such a manner, it makes it expensive to drill in the same spot again... BP is contesting the destruction of its leaking Deepwater Horizon well with explosives..

    <sigh> (money vs nature)
    Last edited by sabianq; 2010-May-30 at 02:10 PM.

  23. #83
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    Just a comment on the so-called volume of this leaked; estimated at between 5,000 barrels / day (210,000 US gallons) and 20,000 barrels / day (840,000 US gallons), depending on your source.
    I run a small water system for a town of 500 people. I had a leak in a mobile home park that, once repaired, worked out to 135,000 liters/day or 35,714 US gallons. This was observed on the park's water meter.
    The leak was finally isolated to a 3/4" underground plastic water line to a mobile home. Surprisingly, the mobile home still had water; albeit at a reduced pressure. Static pressure in the mobile home park water line is 55 PSI.
    If the Gulf oil leak is approx. 480 atmospheres (7,200 PSI) and is supposedly leaking 210,000 US gallons/day and we divide that figure by my 35,714 US gallons/day, we get a figure of 5.88. Are we to believe that my little trailer park leak at 55 PSI is 1/6th the size of the Gulf oil leak???? Do they assume we are all mentally deficient??

    Further, let's calculate relative volume; using the formula Pi x radius squared = area of a circle
    Firstly, 11.5 x 11.5 x 3.14 = 415.3 square inches for the area of a 21" pipe (BP's)
    .375 x .375 x 3.14 = .44 square inches for the area of a 3/4" pipe (mine)
    415.3 divided by .44 = 944 meaning that a foot of their pipe has 944 times the volume of my pipe.
    Assuming we have equal pressures (which we don't, not by a long shot) my leak of 35,714 x 944 = 33,714,016 US gallons/day
    Assuming only 25% of the leak is oil and not water, sand or methane, 33,714,016 US gallons divided by four = 8,428,504 US gallons/day.
    After 40 days this would be 337,140,160 US gallons.

    Well???

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    hey! watch out there, BP says "no independant analysis on the leak" you could get into trouble for spouting off facts there...

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    My suggestion: MacGuyver. Duct Tape. Paperclip. Done.

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    Well........ IF ...... If they succeed in plugging the well head, there is still a hell of a lot of oil to deal with.

    Here's a scenario: Class 5 hurricane moves over the north western gulf/ FLA panhandle, 25 foot storm surge and severe surf agitates and picks up the oil and moves it inland . Maybe it helps clean the estuary, but.... the oil is going to go somewhere. Nothing is easy.

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    I'm really quite stunned by how bad this disaster is. Are there any case studies on that much oil free in a large body of water? What is the worst case? What happens if it streams into the atlantic? Are there any models for storm surges or strong currents taking this stuff up the coast?

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    I've been wondering about the upcoming hurricane season, myself.

    Actually, I have worked out from some questions she asked that my sister was talking about this to some other people in relation to things which happened when we were kids. In what we think might have been about 1985, we went on a family camping trip to what was probably Leo Carillo Beach in California. We couldn't go in the water, because there was tar washing up from the offshore drilling. More details than that about the drilling part, I cannot recall, though I can tell you that Mom had bought our tent at Sears when our old one fell apart as we were putting it up. There have been environmental problems from offshore drilling for a long, long time, but I don't think any of them have ever been this serious. I'm not sure anyone even imagined one this serious.
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    As a side note ( and please don't think I'm being partisan - this isn't a political issue but one of PR) - I would FIRE Obama's PR manager. He should have had video and press coverage of him on a ship, in the gulf, observing, making statements ON THE WATER weeks ago.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LotusExcelle View Post
    I'm really quite stunned by how bad this disaster is. Are there any case studies on that much oil free in a large body of water? What is the worst case? What happens if it streams into the atlantic? Are there any models for storm surges or strong currents taking this stuff up the coast?
    well, there was a similar case to this in the Gulf in 1979 off the coast of Mexico. a well caught fire and oil spewed from an open well for 9 months until a relief well was drilled.
    of course, this one was in shallower water- Rachel Maddow said 250 feet deep, Wikipedia says 150 feet- but i don't know how much that affects things.

    here is a link to Rachel Maddow talking about it and comparing it to the current situation:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHmhxpQEGPo

    it was called the Ixtoc oil well.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ixtoc_I_oil_spill
    that page says that 3 million barrels reached the Texas coast (a couple of paragraphs after it says 71,500 barrels..) and it doesn't say anything about any lasting repercussions.

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