Deepwater Horizon (Updated)


This afternoon when I was waiting for the flight from St. Louis to New York City, CNN live reported BP was working on the  Top Kill job, which started from 1PM local time today. Live videos showed the crude plume was rolling up underwater. The oil spill onshore is worse and worse. The anchor Anderson Cooper sampled a bottle of water-oil emulsion, which is similar to the oil sample I have ever seen in our lab. At that time, I was thinking perhaps Dr. Yongfu Wu, a research professor in our group, have some ideas on how to treat the emulsion. Several months ago, he proposed a method to separate oil from the emulsion with lower cost. Of course, for the oil spill in gulf of Mexico, the most important thing is to recover the oil from the contaminated area, and reduce the damage to the environment, instead of the original target of enhanced oil recovery during hydrocarbon production. In addition, I read some useful materials about the ongoing story as shown in the two links below.

1. Oil Spill

Some oil spill events from Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It is the first time for me to read the summary by Associated Press. I think it is a good summary about the oil spill for today (maybe every day).

2. Control Mechanisms

BP Briefs US Government on Initial Perspectives of Deepwater Horizon Investigation – Focus is on Seven Control Mechanisms

The following seven processes, systems or equipments should have prevented the accident (1 through 5) or reduced the impact of the oil spill (6 and 7).

1. The cement that seals the reservoir from the well;

2. The casing system, which seals the well bore;

3. The pressure tests to confirm the well is sealed;

4. The execution of procedures to detect and control hydrocarbons in the well, including the use of the BOP;

5. The BOP Emergency Disconnect System, which can be activated by pushing a button at multiple locations on the rig;

6. The automatic closure of the BOP after its connection is lost with the rig;

7. Features in the BOP to allow Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) to close the BOP and thereby seal the well at the seabed after a blow out.

The first three made me think of the cumbersome calculation of well design. I am not familiar with the industrial design. I guess they should have some special program to do the calculation in fields. One step of the calculation needs try and error method. Usually three trials should be okay. But in fields, decision making is extremely important, which related to people’s lives and wealthy. The incident has caused billions of dollars of loss for BP and US. The effects of ecological disaster will last more than decades. Now the easing offshore drilling policy seems to be tough again. And the oil industry got another hit, much heavier than President Obama’s bias on fossil energy industry. Petroleum engineers have to worry about the future of the industry.

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One Response to Deepwater Horizon (Updated)

  1. The Destructionist says:

    In light of the BP oil calamity it’s quite obvious that something must be done, and fast, if we are to save our world from corporations that would prefer to place huge profits above that of our environmental and financial welfare.

    As large corporations gobble up smaller corporations in an attempt to seize an even bigger piece of the global economic pie, it seems that businesses have been allowed to grow, unfettered, into unwieldy corporate behemoths (a.k.a., British Petroleum) with little, if any, regulations regarding their obligations to national sovereignties or allegiances.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I believe that if a corporation begins its “life” in a particular country, than it has an obligation to that country and its people: due in part to the patronage of its citizens throughout the years in helping that corporation to grow. When I hear about American businesses pulling up stakes and moving to other countries in lieu of cheaper labor and supplies elsewhere, I feel both embarrassed and betrayed. (They would be nothing if it weren’t for people like you and me. After all, we purchased their services, time and time again, fostering them constantly by giving them the opportunity to flourish. Our final reward for all our efforts? Millions of fellow Americans out of work, all desperately hoping that their unemployment benefits never run out.)

    I agree that the bad news is not just happening here in America, but around the globe. I blame that on the evolution of the business model: over the years, it has been compressed into a precise science in an effort to squeeze every last drop of profit out of the proverbial “bottom-line.” I began to notice the change in the late 1970’s when I was in my teens. Back then, it was a different world for me and I didn’t seem to care too much. Today however, it is a different story.

    What can we collectively do as Americans?

    Contact your representatives in the House and Senate. Let them know that

    big business should be regulated and ask them to enact laws to:

    1.Ensure that all corporations “born” within the United States deter from any and all actions that would adversely affect our country;

    2.Place high tariffs on imports from American businesses that move their bases of operations (not to mention our jobs) to other regions of the world;

    3.Work to limit their corporate power and influence in Washington D.C. by passing laws whereby politicians, found to have ties with said corporations or corporate lobbyists resign.

    4.Endeavor to ban all corporate favors and corporate lobbyists from Washington D.C.

    Essentially, it’s up to us to fashion our own future. If we don’t, rest assured that someone, or some corporation will.

    •(I know that BP was not born and reared here in the United States. I was merely using it as a reference as to what corporations are capable of doing if left to their own devices.)

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