Thursday, June 17, 2010

What if it can't be stopped?

I hear it is possible the well could collapse completely, then the leak would be unstoppable and the very worse case would be realized- about 150,000 barrels a day indefinitely. I hope it isn't true.

1 comment:

  1. Not indefinitely. The reservoir contains roughly 2.1-3.6 billion barrels depending on who you believe. That oil will run out eventually. And the well collapsing is only part of the equation that would result in a massive apocalyptic oil spill scenario (if we're not already there). You see, what we appear to be witnessing here is a downhole leak, a rupture of support structures way, way, WAY down inside the well itself that is causing oil to exit the well not just vertically at the wellhead in the seabed, but horizontally at the point of the downhole leak. The inevitable collapse of the blowout preventer and wellhead will only hasten the detrimental effects the downhole leak is having on the the integrity of the seabed because any disruption to the flow of oil upwards will simply be redirected through the existing downhole breach - blasting away at the rock and silt that make up the first few miles of the bottom of the ocean. What we're looking at here is a situation that could very well lead to the collapse of up to 3 miles of seabed around the main wellhead, and that's going to spill way more than 150,000 barrels a day. Imagine a cloud of dusty smoke plummeting downwards through the murky waters as a large concentric ring of rock collapses into itself, and simultaneously an equally huge cloud of oil blooms upwards, almost changing places with where the seabed used to be, consuming everything in its path and providing the ocean's currents an endless supply of toxic death to begin cycling into the world's bodies of saltwater. We could see a complete reservoir bleed-out in weeks if such an event were to occur, and then the real nightmare would begin. Worst part is, despite BP and the feds doing all they can to prevent scientists like myself from gathering information, figuring out what's going on, and presenting solutions - however radical - to try and grapple with an already dangerous and challenging ecological disaster, there's enough scant info out there to suggest the downhole leak is more than a theory but an actuality, and if that's the case, we can't fix it. It can't be fixed. It's more than a matter of coming up with an unprecedented contingency operation - it ain't physically possible, we're talking 95,000 psi at the wellhead and much scarier than that (if you can imagine such a thing) down in the well. From the moment that blowout set fire to the Deepwater Horizon rig, there was no controlled burning, dispersing, centrifuging, top killing, or otherwise syphoning this oil spill away. The whole time it's just been doin its thing, and we have to stand by and watch. I believe the empirical evidence we have tells us just this... and it is indeed very frightening. I don't know what we're going to do, but history tells me the government and a corporation aren't going to be able to fix this even if I - or the many other scientists and engineers out there getting involved in this crisis - could come up with a viable solution. Anyway, you're right on the money with the blog name - fuck BP.