Monday, June 21, 2010
Information leaking from BP is troubling experts
by Larry Geller
What started out as an individual’s comment on a website discussing the BP oil rig disaster has grown legs as BP was caught measuring the tilt of their blowout protector. They have been accused of not releasing what they know to the public.
The discussion is long (see complete article), but here’s a snippet of the individual comment. Note that this is dated about a week ago:
…they will never cap the gusher after the wellhead. They cannot...the more they try and restrict the oil gushing out the bop?...the more it will transfer to the leaks below. Just like a leaky garden hose with a nozzle on it. When you open up the nozzle?...it doesn't leak so bad, you close the nozzle?...it leaks real bad, same dynamics. It is why they sawed the riser off...or tried to anyway...but they clipped it off, to relieve pressure on the leaks "down hole". I'm sure there was a bit of panic time after they crimp/pinched off the large riser pipe and the Diamond wire saw got stuck and failed...because that crimp diverted pressure and flow to the rupture down below.
Contrary to what most of us would think as logical to stop the oil mess, actually opening up the gushing well and making it gush more became direction BP took after confirming that there was a leak. In fact if you note their actions, that should become clear. They have shifted from stopping or restricting the gusher to opening it up and catching it. This only makes sense if they want to relieve pressure at the leak hidden down below the seabed.....and that sort of leak is one of the most dangerous and potentially damaging kind of leak there could be. It is also inaccessible which compounds our problems. There is no way to stop that leak from above, all they can do is relieve the pressure on it and the only way to do that right now is to open up the nozzle above and gush more oil into the gulf and hopefully catch it, which they have done, they just neglected to tell us why, gee thanks. [BSalert.com, Just How Bad Is The Deepwater Horizon Disaster?, 6/13/2010 ]
And here is the New Orleans Times Picayune story: Oil spill containment efforts could be putting strain on damaged well (6/18/2010). A snip:
"One thing that nobody knows is the condition of the well bore .. . We don't know if the well bore has been compromised or not. One of the reasons we did not continue with top kill at higher pressures, there was a concern that if we increased the pressure too hard it might do damage to the casings and the well bore. What we didn't want was open communication of any oil from the reservoir outside the well bore that might get into the formation and work its way to the sub sea floor and then result in uncontrolled discharge at that point. That has not happened, and that's the reason they're taking such precautions and did not proceed any further with the top kill," Allen said.
"We don't know exactly the condition of the well bore .. .That's the reason we didn't go . . . to excessive pressures on the top kill and decided that we'd deal with containment and then go for the final relief well."
The scenario of oil gushing through the sea floor is considered unlikely, but not implausible. The integrity of the well has become a major topic of discussion among engineers and geologists.
"There is a very high level of concern for the integrity of the well," said Bob Bea, the University of California Berkeley engineering professor known to New Orleanians for investigating the levee failures after Katrina, who now has organized the Deepwater Horizon Study Group. Bea and other engineers say that BP hasn't released enough information publicly for people outside the company to evaluate the situation.
Bea said BP isn't sharing enough information for others to know. If there is oil and gas escaping from the sides of the well, it could erode the sediments around the well and eat away at the support for all the heavy equipment that sits above. Bea said reports that BP is using an inclinometer is significant news. "It tells me that they are also concerned," he said.
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