Friday, June 4, 2010

Disaster in the Gulf

UPDATE: I have learned that the Top Kill is not really an option.  Apparently, the angle that the Blowout Preventer (BOP) is sitting suggests that the casing the BOP is connected to might be damaged.  If the flow of oil was stopped at the riser and the casing failed, the oil would start flowing outside the casing, causing the sea floor to erode and leaving no method of slowing down the oil until the relief wells stopped the flow (think 50 foot hole in the ocean floor spewing oil).  Obviously this is an unacceptable risk. 

However, the top of my device could be connected to a riser like the current device and doesn't necessarily have to cap the well.  I have submitted this idea to BP and my congressman but I haven't heard anything back.

As I said in my first post, politics might come later.  Well, as I'm sure everyone is aware, a consequence of our oil addiction is playing out off the coast of Louisiana.  I have been glued to the pictures from the ROVs as they try to stop or at least slow down the oil spewing out of the broken well.  And as a tinkerer, I am astounded that the best that BP can come up with is an upside down bucket with a pipe sticking out of the top.  It obviously isn't doing much to stop the oil so in order to feel like I can do something about it, I started drawing in CAD and here is what I came up with:

My idea is to use the flange from the cut off riser pipe as the bearing surface for a series of hydraulically operated clamps around the base of bucket.  Inside the bucket is a tapered pipe that would go inside the cut off riser and as the clamps pressed down, this taper would jam into the riser pipe.  On top of this device would be a valve that could be slowly closed, at least enough to allow the "Top Kill" a chance at shutting down the flow. 

On a similar note, yesterday I watched them trying to get the LMRP ready for this current attempt.  For two hours, the ROVs f#!ked around with the hoses for what I assumed was the dispersant.  Don't they have any kind of automatic hose reels, jeez....