Sunday, May 30, 2010
In the event of failure, BP's further options also involve risks.Of course, even as we board the LRMP FAILboat, we've got differing interpretations of what the LRMP is supposed to accomplish. The Houston Chronicle reporters quoted above, being from the Oil Patch, presumably have good sources and know what they're talking about. But here's London's Financial Times:
The company also is drilling two relief wells to intercept the one that blew out, but that process could take another two months.
The company said Friday it has stopped drilling one of those wells so that its blowout preventer, or BOP, can be prepared for a later procedure if the top kill fails.
The backup plan would involve placing the new blowout preventer on the failed one that now sits on top of the Macondo well.
Because that would require cutting the damaged riser pipe that once linked the blown-out well to the surface, BP first would attach a device called a lower marine riser package cap. The LMRP cap would help control the flow of oil, which BP expects to increase by 5 percent to 15 percent if the riser is cut.
“We wanted to be fully prepared if top kill didn't work to be able to move straight to the LMRP cap and then follow that with the BOP on BOP option,” Suttles said. “We don't want any unnecessary delays.”
In the event of failure, BP's further options also involve risks.The FT reporters quoted, being from the London, where BP's world headquarters are located, presumably have good sources and know what they're talking about. But they mention a surface ship, and Houston does not. The captured oil could, of course, be resold.
The first would be a new cap to put on top of the BOP to capture most of the oil and allow it to be to collected by a ship on the surface. This would involve cutting away the broken pipe emerging from the top of the BOP to expose what is known as the lower marine riser package (LMRP), so that the cap could be fitted.
The cap is already in place on the sea bed and could be deployed in three to five days after being given the go-ahead.
The danger is that when the broken pipe is cut away, it will remove one of the obstructions preventing oil escaping and the leak will become even stronger.
A similar risk accompanies the next plan, which would be to drop a new blow-out preventer on top of the failed one and then close it off, as the original BOP should have closed.
Again, this would require cutting away some of the pipe at the top of the old blow-out preventer, risking a faster release of oil.
Just seems, to this media critic, odd. But it's also of a piece with all the confusion about when pumping operations start and stop, and their success or failure. Recall that, to this day, we've got no authoritative estimate of flow rate. And yet, there's massive computer modeling being done at the behest of the unified command, and flow rate(s) have to be parameters for the modeling! We've got video of everything, but the video timecodes are all screwed up, and there's no archive available -- and whatever the government owns, people should be able to see ("most transparent government in history," and all).
Is it that BP's public relations people aren't controlling the story? Or is it that confusion, obfuscation, and disinformation are their method for controlling the story?
NOTE Meanwhile -- and it sure is odd that the "kill shot" operation would conclude on Memorial Day weekend, isn't it -- The Oil Drum gives the state of play:
What I believe is going on is that BP is running a series of "junk shots" with the Nat Lab "junk"*, and after they run one they fill the well with mud to see if it has changed anything. To date, while there are changes (you stop doing this when there aren't) they haven't been enough. But after each time that they fill the well with mud, they switch the pumps off while they go and regroup. That allows the gas and oil to push the mud back out of the way (one of these tries, perhaps, it won't and we will know that it has worked).Why, again, aren't actual, paid journalists from our famously free press not watching the cams? In other protracted disaster stories -- Apollo 13 and the Iranian Hostage Crisis come to mind, along with Hollywood paparizzi -- we had exactly that level of coverage. An intern could do it, for free, or a stringer, for what, $20K? But the press isn't watching the cams! That, to me, is almost the oddest part of this whole story.
NOTE * The National Laboraties did some analytical work to optimize the sizes and shapes of the junk.