Saturday, July 17, 2010

I'm Back & Updated Oil Spill News

Well I am back again.  My apologies for my abrupt departure but I had an unexpected family crisis that I needed to deal with and it took me away for a little bit.  I do have a lot of catching up to do on things as while I was "out of the loop" a lot happened.  It will take me a while to read through all that I have missed, and to find out a lot of the specific details, but for the time being until I can get caught up, I'll post about some of what I have found out. The most obvious one is the capping of the well.  This is, so far, the biggest news to date in this catastrophe and will hopefully work until the relief wells are drilled and the well shut in or closed off.

Capping the leaking Oil

It seems that the Oil Gushing into the Gulf has stopped, at least for the moment.  They were running pressure tests on this capping system to make sure that it would work, and from what I have gleaned in reading about it, low pressure would indicate leaks somewhere and a high pressure result would mean that the cap was working effectively.  

The sight that everyone has wanted to see since this all began:

After reading about the capping process at The Oil Drum, I'll quote one of their posts that explains what happened as they are much better at the details of this than I am, having missed the process at the time it happened.

So the well is currently shut-in, though the results have not been all that had been hoped for. Admiral Allen has already issued a terse comment:

"We're encouraged by this development, but this isn't over. Over the next several hours we will continue to collect data and work with the federal science team to analyze this information and perform additional seismic mapping runs in the hopes of gaining a better understanding on the condition of the well bore and options for temporary shut in of the well during a hurricane. It remains likely that we will return to the containment process using this new stacking cap connected to the risers to attempt to collect up to 80,000 barrels of oil per day until the relief well is completed."

Part of the problem, apparently, is that the well pressure has not reached the 8 - 9,000 psi level that it was hoped it would reach, but instead it is reportedto have fallen slightly shy of 7,000 psi. While this is below the expectation, it is higher than the 6,000 psi that Admiral Allen had set as the target below which they would assume a loss in integrity, and restart the flow of oil to the surface vessels.
To try and add a little context to this, at the beginning of the leak, the pressure of the oil and gas in the rock at the bottom of the well was measured at 11,900 psi. When the oil and gas fill the well that fluid column has a certain weight that balances some of the rock pressure, and the difference should be the pressure at the top of the column (which is where the BOP and stack sit). That gives the 8 – 9,000 psi range.
If the well pressure at the BOP is measured, however, at just shy of 7,000 psi then there are two possibilities. The first is that there has been so much flow of fluid out of the well that the driving pressure of the fluid in the rock has fallen by the 1,500 psi or so that brings the pressures down to those seen.
While that is a possibility, it may be unlikely because, at the time that the Top Kill was tried and as the Admiral noted just the other day, the well pressure could not be raised above 6,000 psi as they pumped in mud, even though at one stage they stopped the flow of oil out of the well.
What this could indicate is that there is a possibility of crossflow at the bottom of the well. What this means that the oil and gas that are flowing out of the reservoir into the bottom of the well, are, under the pressure in the well, now flowing into a higher reservoir of rock, now that they can't get out of the well. Depending on where that re-injection flow is, this may, or may not, suggest that the casing has lost integrity.

The Oil Drum IRC channel has also been keeping a FAQ on what has been happening over the last several days which can be found here:

It is a bit technical but full of good information.

So for the moment the well is capped.  We'll see if that changes anytime soon.  There are people who are watching the gauges to see if the pressure continues to increase of if it begins to decrease which as stated would mean that there are leaks somewhere.  Let's keep our fingers crossed that this cap holds until the relief wells can be completed.

Now while getting the well capped is a great step if it holds, this is not the end of the problems that Gulf Coast residents will be facing.  There is a lot of oil still out there and it will take a very long time to come ashore, clean it up and then there is the problem of determining exactly what kind of damage is being done beneath the surface of the water to the ecosystem.

I had also previously posted about the berms being built at the demand of Bobby Jindal and others.  At the time they were screaming loudly that the berms were needed and would protect the coast from further damage, while others stated that this idea would not work, it was a waste of time and money not to mention a waste of a finite resource that could not be replaced once used.    It seems like that is the case.

Chandeleur sand berm segment shrinking like a wool sweater in hot water!

These sad and shocking images document the waste of enormous resources and time. It’s very hard to resist the temptation to say, “I told you so.”

June 25, 2010

July 2, 2010

July 7, 2010

It is a sad thing to see, and I would hope that no one wastes time with an "I told you so",  no matter how much that might make some feel better, and instead lets try to get this turned around so that money, time and resources are not continued to be wasted on this project when the time, money & effort could be used elsewhere to make a positive impact.

More to come.......

1 comment:

  1. Glad you are back as you have become my authority on all things oil spill; I don't believe anything until I have it confirmed here.

    Crossing my fingers that the cap works and hope everything OK with you and yours.