Why can't BP do better than a leaky cap?
July 2, 2010 4:20 PM   Subscribe

Why is it so impossible for BP to create a tightly sealed solution for the failed blow-out preventer in the Gulf of Mexico? Sure, there's the cap, but..

..given it's performance, I wouldn't call it anything close to an acceptable solution, especially since the real fix is at least a month away.

It would seem that a custom vessel could be retrofitted around it, sealed at the bottom with a cementing compound, and then closed at the top/fitted with a connector for piping to the ships above. I'm getting the feeling that they aren't doing this because they want to salvage the BOP for legal finger pointing. If this is true, that's pathetic.

I realize that it may seem a little late to ask this question. I haven't found a good discussion of this in the media, or here; if you've seen one, please link.
posted by hanoixan to Science & Nature (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The sea floor is basically sand. Blocking the leak will redirect pressure through the rest of the sea floor, opening up god knows how many other fissures, and possibly collapsing the whole thing into a gaping chasm that would hemmorage two billion barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico overnight.

“It means 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.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 4:29 PM on July 2, 2010 [7 favorites]

Best answer: It's a mile underwater and the oil is gushing out at 15,000 psi. There's nothing you can "just do" to fix it. It's not going to stop until the relief wells are done.
posted by thylacine at 4:41 PM on July 2, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, qxnt... and thylacine. I didn't realize the casing string beneath the BOP was so fragile. That link is one of the scariest things I've ever read.
posted by hanoixan at 5:02 PM on July 2, 2010

This is slightly off-topic, but in the movie THE ABYSS the fake company BENTHIC addresses this problem with a deep-sea oil rig in the gulf. The film is strangely apropos these days.
posted by vkxmai at 6:30 AM on July 3, 2010

As someone who has been interested in the technical side of the spill (and unhappy with the mainstream media's report of same) I recommend The Oil Drum. There are several experts, past and present oilfield workers, who regularly post and comment... you might find some good answers there.
posted by ista at 9:54 AM on July 3, 2010

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