You have to be shitting me:
That question hangs in the air here at a BP crisis center as hundreds of engineers and scientists work to cap the undersea well that for more than three weeks has spewed oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Officials with BP and other companies involved in the effort, who discussed the plans in detail at some of the operations rooms, said the best of several options included a “junk shot,” which could be tried within the week. The method involves pumping odds and ends like plastic cubes, knotted rope, even golf balls — Titleists or whatever, BP isn’t saying — into the blowout preventer, the safety device atop the well.
They have no clue what they are doing, do they?
no, they don’t. the fact that a ‘junk shot’ (which is what i’d like an opportunity to do to the leadership of BP) hasn’t ever been tried at this depth (has it been tried at all underseas?) makes it even more fun.
hey, they said the concrete-domey-thing would work, right? hoocoodanode?
You dare question the unflinching and mighty invisible hand? The Markets, hallowed be their name, clearly want the Gulf of Mexico to become the Puddle of Oil. Speaking somewhat randomly, who can we nominate for the title Wizard of Ooze?
What happened to the giant catheter?
apparently not. But where there’s muck there’s money
Let’s stuff some trash into a high-pressure gusher.
WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?
Wait wait wait
Doesn’t that just sound exactly like the contents of the CDOs that were also pushed into the hemorrhaging economy and proved to be such winning solutions?
Of course it sounds absurd, but you can be sure they know this is a P.R. disaster and are doing everything they can think of to find a useful fix for this. Starting out with the assumption that every one working for BP is prima facia evil incompetents is not constructive. I prefer to assume that the best minds we have are doing all they can to fashion a useful response to this disaster. Feel free to make fun of them if it helps you, though.
They’re probably putting research money into designing a car engine that runs on an equal mixture of crude oil, salt water and dead animals.
What we’re seeing is the blithe ignorance that so many people have about technology: that hey, if it works it works. We are constantly caught off guard when our car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, or our toaster oven just can’t handle the toast anymore. Our electronic devices should work every minute of every day without breaking down or falling apart, right? There’s this unflinching faith that we should NEVER consider worst-case scenarios because, well, things are going so good that “worst-case” will never happen. And covering for “worst-case” always gets so expensive, and after all if “worst-case” never happens then that 250,000 bucks you won’t get back out the potential 250,000,000,000 you generate…
These BP executives all thought that all they had to do was get gov’t to sign off on more drilling, get regulators to not worry too much about safety features because after all they’ve got engineers hired to worry about that sort of thing, and then just sit there and let all that petro money come rolling in. Nothing bad could ever happen to them because They Create Their Own Reality and All Was Right In Their World.
And now that the Real World has come crashing in, they have no idea what to do other than call in the lawyers and hire more lobbyists to prevent the inevitable wave of lawsuits from dropping their incomes from seven figures to six figures.
I’ve got no bloody sympathy at all.
@tenkindsofgrumpy: I prefer to assume BP are a bunch of dickwits, and I’m pretty sure I can prove it.
No, of course they don’t know what they’re doing. They’ve never had to deal with a disaster in this deep of water before, and although they can come up with some theoretical solutions, when those don’t work or can’t be implemented, they move to try anything mode.
It’s an inherent problem with deepwater drilling: the ocean floor is about three times deeper than even saturation diving techniques allow humans to go, so when there’s a screwup, it has to be fixed by remote control devices, and they don’t work as well as hands-on techniques. The deeper the water, the more stringent the safety precautions need to be, but, obviously, that wasn’t what happened.
According to free-market glibertarian principles, if government will stay out of the way, eventually there will be enough incentives for some clever entrepreneur to find it very profitable to come up with a way to cap the well, as well as creation of a profitable market for cleaning up the oil by still more clever, hard-working entrepreneurs. Just as critically, banks and the financial sector will be able to fund these entrepreneurs will eventually be attracted to provide the financing for these other critical entrepreneurs, if only government will stay out of the financial entrepreneurs’ way and not hamstring the use of innovative methods like oil credit default swaps (or is it oil default swapping credits?) to finance the cap-and-cleanup entrepreneurs?
Leave the free market alooone, and it will solve the problem. Eventually. Some Day.
c u n d gulag
There’s a porno movie joke here. I’ll just leave it be…
John, this is too easy:
“They have no clue what they are doing, do they?”
Too bad they didn’t give even the slightest shit about making sure that adequate, functional backup systems were in place to stop this kind of thing before it happened.
Sorry, but I’m sticking with everyone at BP being prima facia evil incompetents. That was their default position before the shit finally hit the fan. Too fucking late to become concerned world citizens now.
Jrod, Slayer of Phoenix
@tenkindsofgrumpy: I prefer to assume that rainbowcorns (which are unicorns with bitchin’ rainbow based powers) will be summoned from the Candycane Dimension to use their Magic Rainbow Lovelove Beam to seal off the well, personally.
Hey, it’s all good, man. Just flow with your muse. Whatever keeps you sane in this twisted world.
“Desperate” is the word that comes to mind. No doubt, BP has in-house experts telling their execs that they are very, very, very deeply screwed. I’m thinking “take the money and run” could well be the next phase of this operation, and the Feds had better be prepared to deal with it.
I’d be lots more inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to your preferred assumption IF the “best minds” had been in charge before the accident – like some of BP’s own lower-level engineers telling ’em that removing the mud before the well was double-capped wasn’t a good idea, or proceeding despite known problems with some of the safety backup equipment, but being overruled by beancounter-production oriented types who wanted to expedite winding up the capping operation and move on as quickly as possible to the next thing.
The Tim Channel
They’ll try to nuke the thing shut before long. That, or they lose the entire Gulf oil market. How long before those folks will just have to lay a pipe out to the ditch in their backyards to get all the free petroleum products they need?
BP: It’s not a spill. It’s an opportunity for aspiring tarball prospectors as well as an open forum for any Rube Goldberg leak recovery crackpot. Don’t hate on us for creating jobs. Who needs fish anyway? We’ve always found that kind of fishy.
They are putting the tube down.
The gas is a major problem.
I am following this on The Oil Drum.
The junk shot is used to stop the gushing. The kill wells to drill take too long to just wait for them.
BP is in unknown territory. They are listening to suggestions and trying things.
Why MMS gave permission to dig a well this deep is beyond me.
The people out in the GOM are going full out.
Obama has already spoken to the cosy arrangements between big oil and gov’t.
I hope the junk helps slow down the oil.
It’s a joke. Using Titleist golf balls? They should pump Callaway or Top-Flite into the leak.
I prefer to assume Salma Hayek is going to show up tonight. So I see we both believe in fairy tales.
BP’s default position was to cut every corner they could, after repeated disasters, warnings, everything. All for just a little bit more profit. And to casually dismiss their willful neglect and prior bad conduct, and prefer to just start “looking forward” is the best recipe for this kind of epic catastrophe to be allowed again and again.
They didn’t have to. There were no consequences to not being prepared in advance and not being as close as possible to an assured response, so why give a shit until it happens?
It’s all about freedom and drill baby drill.
@Quiddity: I wonder if Titleist has already started the ad campaigns?
Cue up a couple pro golfers making dramatic shots for the win, then slide to the gushing oil well.
“When you absolutely have to get it in the hole…Titleist.”
Yeah, it’s become painfully evident over the last few weeks that there was no plan B if the blowout preventer failed to do the job. Hell, given how astoundingly (dare I say “criminally?”) lax they were with installing it, there really wasn’t a plan A, either.
And the question is, how many more potential disasters do we have sitting around offshore thanks to America’s love affair with the Gospel of Galt?
Well, to be sure, the parts of BP that sprang immediately into action like a well-oiled machine were, in point of fact, the lawyers getting everyone and everything not nailed down to sign agreements that no one knew anything and no one was to blame. The rest of the response has appeared well-oiled using a different interpretation of the term.
@Corner Stone: And I’m pretty sure willful neglect does not come close to covering their acts. If what has been reported is true, they outright lied to just about every entity they spoke with regarding this well and this equipment.
If true, they didn’t neglectfully allow this to happen, they directly caused this to happen.
@c u n d gulag:
My idea of a “junk shot” would be the launching of all BP execs into the sun. Wouldn’t solve the near-term problem, but would go a long ways towards solving the long-term one.
Don’t be ridiculous. This being a British Petroleum operation, they’re probably going to use Penfolds.
It’s exactly like the economic disaster writ against this ecological disaster.
In both cases there was no incentive to exercise prudent decision making or properly account for risk/reward.
And, IMO, at the end of the day the top level execs at BP will have served no punishment and will still be multi-multi millionaires.
Obama’s pretty desperate. He sent Dr. Chu & 5 other scientists to Houston to meet w/scientists at the Space Ctr, I think, to try & find a solution.
Tenkindsofgrumpy says: “they know this is a P.R. disaster and are doing everything they can think of to find a useful fix for this.”
Please clarify the antecedents for the “this” …are you referencing the attempts to fix the disaster or the disaster itself?
I say we airlift the slabs from Stonehenge, or maybe the idols from Easter Island, and drop them on top of the pipe. That would crush it closed or reduce the flow until something else could be done.
Hey, my motto has always been, “Never let an opportunity to make a disaster worse get by you.”
And it’s certainly no more silly than shoving golf balls in there.
@cat48: When do we expect Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck and their team of deep drillers to arrive?
Jon Stewart did a pretty great segment on this earlier this week…
The “junk shot” is pretty much the only thing that can stop it short of a relief well. It seems the BOP is still the flow restriction. If so, the size of hole to be blocked could be as small as the equivalent of 1/4″ dia to probably no bigger than 1″ dia. Of course, the “hole” is not round but jagged and comprised of several “leak paths”.
They were able to get a CT scan that suggests that the above is the case and confirmed the integrity of the body itself.
Golf balls are being considered because they are made of extremely high density rubber which can withstand the pressures but stay resilient so as to form a seal. They grind them up into random sizes because that gives them the best chance to block a hole. I honestly can’t think of a better material than ground up golf balls to do the junk shot.
The flowing well head pressure is somewhere between 5,000 psi and 11,000 psi. BP is not saying, although they should know since they were able to reprogram the BOP’s computer to get that value. When the well is shut, pressure will go to 15,000 psi or maybe a little higher. To give an idea of how much pressure that is: If the tip of your little finger produced that much pressure, you could easily hold up seven cars.
They have already deployed the manifold that will execute the shot and, if successful, start injecting first heavy mud to kill the well then cement to cap it.
In my opinion, if the “junk shot” doesn’t work, this nightmare will go on for months until the relief well is successful.
I feel free to give this guys shit for having no contingency planning, for having developed no worst-case scenarios, when they’re drilling one of the deepest wells on Earth. It was an astounding bit of hubris, shows a complete lack of imagination, and demonstrates the utter bankruptcy of short-term, greed-ruled thinking.
In other words, yeah, it’s just like the crash of the financial system.
Lee from NC
The first 6 comments made me lol. Environmental catastrophe it may be, but it’s comedy gold.
I linked to this yesterday, in this iteration as presented by Benen. But I think this at least gives an indication that we may get something fixed from other quarters.
@Corner Stone: The top executives and investors will of course face no personal real consequences. After all, only 16 workers were killed and a shitload of oil exploding into an incredibly valuable sea, so, no harm no foul, right?
Did y’all see Joshua Green’s interview with Stephen Chu? He came up with the idea that — once BP decided to listen to him — finally showed them the state of the blowout preventer. His team of “fresh eyes” (attached to major brains) from outside the industry sure can’t hurt, either. Most of all:
I know this is a silly idea, but I have been wondering what the volume of a hot air balloon is and could they put weights around the mouth of one so they could fill balloons with oil and have them float up where they could capture and harvest them? This would take a robot that could get near the hole and put the balloons in place and hold them until they are almost full before letting go. Like I said, it is silly, but it doesn’t seem so much sillier than what they are trying.
@Corner Stone: A couple of them are in their 70’s or 80’s……..I don’t think I saw the movie. If he thought they could fix it, I’m sure he would call even movie stars. TPM was right when they said it sounded like MacGeyver from SNL.
The White House have noticed BP’s staggering incompetence and they have Secretary Chu bringing in some real experts. Including himself.
I owe you a Coke, valdivia.
Hell, why not use 30 tons of D&D dice?
Bill E Pilgrim
It’s funny, but when Jon Stewart used this same gag three or four days ago I wondered if his staff reads blogs for jokes, because I had seen the same one days before on some blog somewhere…. oh right, here it is….
Blogs John reads:
American News Project
Atrios and Co.
August J. Pollak
Has anyone considered a giant tampon?
Think about it.
great minds etc.
Damn. I so wish I could laugh at this.
It’s been reported that an insurance co. has paid BP for its loss. What is the name of this insurance co?
Bill E Pilgrim
They’re going about this all wrong. Let my girlfriend take a shower in the Gulf every day and that opening will be clogged with hair within a week. I guarantee it.
@mr. whipple: Aha! This explains the Kagan nomination! She’s the commie that put free tampons in the restrooms at Harvard. She’s the only one who can fix this.
Major, major props to the NY Times reporter who wrote this line (from the link in John’s post):
Somebody snuck an “Alien” homage past their editor!
Would you recommend this robot have Sad Clown Face or Happy Clown Face makeup applied?
How about putting the balloon into the pipe and inflating it?
I guess a device like a big cum-a-long would not work, or does not exist?
Drop a hydraulic winch down on either side and ratchet it closed, pinching the pipe shut. Isn’t that the essential use of a blowout preventer?
I’m just curious they don’t have mobile replacement blowout preventers.
@bumblebums: Apparently, they are still working on the giant catheter.
[you have a naughty mind. :-)]
From prior experiences, I’d suggest either human hair, which is an excellent clogging agent, or Barbie dolls, which may not totally stop the leak, but will significantly decrease the flow rate.
Jrod, Slayer of Phoenix
Can’t we just put a little Dutch boy into a diving suit and have him plug it with his finger?
The Party of No is certainly clogging up the passage of legislation rather effectively . . . .
Obviously, not everyone working at BP is an evil incompetent. In fact, the evidence so far is prety conclusive that BP has been very successful at insuring that no one who is both evil and incompetent works in higher management at that corporation. They are very careful to keep their Evil Division (headed by the Senior VP for Evil), rigidly separate from their Incompetence Division.
The Evil Division is in charge of both overall strategy in general, and government relations in particular. In that latter capacity, they are the folks who have succeeded so brilliantly at maintaining a regulatory environment allowing privatization of the profits and socialization of the risks. These folks are obviously quite competent. We see their piece de resistance on display now, as we contemplate the fact that BP was allowed to engage in the novel and high risk engineering venture of extracting oil from such depths, without having in place before the event, actual working solutions for the high cost things that could go wrong.
The success of their Evil Division at avoiding regulatory oversight, and socializing all the risk, is what allowed them to entrust the task of engineering responses to anything that could go wrong, to their Incompetence Division. Had they been so neglectful of profit maximization as to have put competent people to the task of projecting what high cost risks were likely, and devising actual effective ways to prevent, or failing that, ameliorate, such events, that would have added unnecessary costs to their operations, and might have kept them from riskier, but profitable, specific ventures, until and unless these could be done safely.
And so we had BOPs with dead batteries. I imagine that dead batteries are cheaper to maintain than batteries that actually hold juice, so “Yay!” for the planning brilliance of the BP Evil team, and “Double Yay!” for the execution by their Incompetence experts. And so we had a containment dome hastily cobbled together after the fact that failed to allow for the novel conditions of depth and mehtane clathrates that form at that depth. This might look like failure to the superficial, but it actuall denmonstrates BP’s competence at avoiding having people on the payroll who know what they’re doing. So now we are discussing whether hay or golf balls are the least laughable magic solution to the resulting mess. Brilliant, all around.
I have every bit as much faith as you that the best minds are working for BP on a solution to the mess they find themselves in. It’s just that I can see that the mess that BP is in is quite different than the mess that the public is in resulting from this leak. They have socialized the risks quite successfully, anything they’re spending at this point is purely for PR goodwill, so they don’t really have a problem with this disaster worsening. Escaped crude is not their mess. Their mess is purely the PR problem. No doubt they have their finest minds on the problem of dealing with that PR problem.
But the physical mess, the environmental disaster, well, that’s our problem, not theirs. BP is obviously not set up to address physical problems with any competence or diligence. We made that possible by not overseeing their operations, by not requiring them to have the capacity to deal with the risky possible physical consequences before licensing them to tap the profits. That negligence let this problem get beyond the stage, the preventive stage, at which you could expect even a corporation that had competent engineering to deal with it.
The problem obviously needs to be nationalized. But we can’t do that because of the religious faith that you, and way too many of the electorate, believe in, the supposedly unparalleled competence of the corporation. Any entity that can make billions at anything has thereby proven, to the the utter satisfaction of this religion, their unquestionable competence at that enterprise. The problem, as we see in this case, is that this faith is so ingrained in our culture, that it has destroyed the conditions that might make it actually work. We have so much faith in private enterprise, that we let it hire out our lawmakers and then write our laws. But the clear result of that practice, is that the surest path to profitability quickly becomes, not competence at real world physical processes, but competence at getting laws written that allow easy profits without all the skullsweat and expense needed to build a better mousetrap.
I have great faith in the ability of crony capitalism to privatize the profits while socializing the risks. Precisely because of that faith, I have a deep and profound skepticism of the ability of crony capitalism to solve any real-world problem.
Just Some Fuckhead
@Starfish: The hot air balloon idea . . .
Use the balloon as bladder of sorts. Gas pockets would not have to break the balloon, just expand it.
Hmmm. It think the idea is not completely crazy.
Davis X. Machina
Nah. It’s BP — they’ll use cut balls, shagged from water hazards.
Lower cost that way.
Comment on al dot com [Alabama]:
I was watching Fox report last night and they said the oil companies don’t have any idea how to stop this leak and it is possible the well will only stop leaking when the oil is depleted.
Give Fox credit for that statement. It sounds really honest to me.
It should say: “I think” your idea is not crazy at all.
Davis X. Machina
After the All-Star break you can usually pick them up cheap from teams out of contention.
Fixing problems with garbage?
It’s been done.
I’m out of jokes. This disaster has been going on for weeks and they’ve accomplished nothing. Not. One. Thing. Hey, they eliminated some schemes. Yahoo. Somebody upthread used “hubris” and I think this event should be the first definition of the word that schoolchildren learns for the word from this day forth.
Almost lost in all the failures are the worker deaths and injuries. Three corporations are complicit in their deaths, along with the “regulators” who signed off on their drilling plan. Meantime there’s a certain coal company who are happy as hell to be off the front pages as they damage-control the deaths for which they’re responsible.
As for the poor gulf residents–human and animal and plant, alike–they’ll be marginalized soon enough, regardless of the decades of impact they’ll be living with.
At Texas City, BP killed nearly a dozen employees of the company I worked for at the time. To hell with BP, Transocean, Halliburton and Cameron. Crush them all under a giant boulder.
Well as the article pointed out, the “junk shot” is only one option being considered. From The Oildrum:
@Linda Featheringill: Calculate the amount that the gas will expand as it travels to the surface.
no John, they don’t have a clue… and from the sounds of the article, the “junk shot” is a “solution” that they’ve used many times before in land wells, and haven’t really bothered to figure out something a bit more sophisticated than clogging up a leaking pipe with bits of wire and junk… with billions and billions of $$ in profits, who needs R&D for coming up with technology to fix a problem you’ve never encountered when you’ve got a perfectly good box of junk to cram in the hole — there are bonuses to pay goddammit.
It didn’t sound like that article was written with Obama’s A-team on the scene… or else they’ve been completely shut out by the BP assholes.
and who cares what brand of golf balls are shot into the abyss, or that the BP assholes trying to figure out how to pull their heads out of their asses so they can get to fixing the pipe have to stand in line for food??? Why do our “reporters” think that that kind of nonsensical trivia is relevant to fixing the spill???
@Zuzu’s Petals: thought that one failed as well as the larger containment box.
Entirely no longer funny but I’ll take the coping mechanism that keeps me upright and taking nourishment. Because as soon as the Junk Shot blows up, we’ll be looking at the Golf of Mexico.
Oh, and @Glen Tomkins? The silent mark of respect I was making wasn’t work so well over the tuubz, so consider it vocalized.
Interesting spelling choice. Anyway, I’d guess the problem would be that you are dealing with thousands of feet of compromised pipe on the sea floor, which could give way at another point under the increased pressure. A BOP is at the wellhead.
@AhabTRuler: My rough figure is that 1L of gas at 1500m equals 150L at the surface.
From a commen on theoildrum.com
I haven’t heard anyone else doubt the effectiveness of the planned relief wells. Anyone have any knowledge about this?
ok, new plan, we can’t do anything with the oil, so our plan is to negotiate with Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine over the name “black sea”. once this situation gets a new name, and the media adopt the name change, we think the american people will like the idea better.
we also plan a huge public relations and tourism campaign centered around bringing a black sea vacation at a world famous black sea resort within reach.
The NYT has a good graphic that shows how this would work.
I at first assumed that they were going to pump junk down the well, against the force of the oil, which seemed crazy. However, they can inject the junk at the base of the blow out preventer and let the oil force it upward. If the partially deployed rams that were supposed to crush or shear the pipe have created places where the junk could get hung up, yea it might work.
The force of the oil would be jamming the stuff in place.
I hadn’t heard that. Google doesn’t show anything saying that … do you have a link?
I think anyone with half a brain hopes that they can plug this thing and as quickly as possible.
Please acknowledge however, that we already have heard that there are some issues with the design of the equipment that was supposed to function to stop a blow out. Ultimately, though a number of contractors and different companies may be implicated, on a very just straight oversight issue, BP is highly implicated as being either unbelievable reckless, or incompetent, or both…
Believe me, I have no ease saying that. I live 2 1/2 miles from one of their refineries on the West coast of WA State and I pray like hell that despite a recent record of numerous fatal accidents and fines, that they are less incompetent than they seem and that our community is safe being here.
Again, I wish them every drop of luck in the world without any reservation but its completely foolish to say we should not express our anger and complete frustration at a company with zillions of dollars to do it right with only the best and brightest — and get instead the management of this unhappy outcome that looks more like someone in a Klown Kar came up with it.
Personally, I believe that once this thing is resolved, the country should insist that every executive from CEO down at BP be fired.
@Linda Featheringill: Most of the other comments I have read there seem to indicate that the relief wells will work, but that it will take time (~2 months).
That Chu interview is astounding.
So if the junk shot works it will be the administration, government and its pointy-headed scientists who saved the day.
@Zuzu’s Petals: I found this BBC article that was from earlier this week… the top hat’s down on the floor … waiting… was supposed to be tried by end of week… so I guess there’s still the possibility that it might work… the cynic in me says they’ve tried and failed… too much silence in the “news” about it, and much more talk of the “junk shot”…
Wow! Unbelievably excellent comment…
Thanks but I am in so much pain reading it that I can barely stand it…
Well, just a quick look at another comment from TOD:
Thanks for the link. From what I can tell, the BBC piece is pretty much saying the same thing, that they are considering the riser insertion pipe as well as the top hat.
NOLA.com: First attempt to stop oil with insertion tube has failed, according to Salazar
I left out a bit that is needed to make my conclusion make sense- that if the junk shot works it will be Chu/government/Obama that saved the day.
What Chu’s gamma ray imaging of the blow out preventer showed was the that the BOP had worked partially , leaving a number of small irregularly shaped complicated pathways for the oil to follow (I don’t remember where I read this). Thus the possibility that junk might clog them.
@Zuzu’s Petals: plus, it doesn’t seem like they are too worried about permanently stopping the leak as they are about salvaging what oil they can from the leak…
I personally think the focus should be on stopping the leak as soon as possible and focusing energies on the freaking clean up, not on figuring out a way to maximize their profits from this disaster…
Interestingly, I have never seen it spelled differently. But Wiki says it is really “come”.
For once I was not playing into the urbandictionary drinking game of pr0n references.
Of course, in TX we usually just ask our buddy for his cum-a-long, and don’t put the request in writing. Incredibly useful, they are.
Regarding the placement – if the BOP is still somewhat intact on top of the pipe then why not drop this down right under it.
Thank you. I was having a real mental block imagining how we could apply persistent pressure to hold a junk shot in place against the force of flowing liquid.
It makes the idea of some amalgam combo clogging the hole a little less desperate.
I say we drop a garbage truck on top of the pipe. Then use it’s hydraulic press to pinch off the pipe.
@Davis X. Machina: I’m intrigued by your offer. His ERA seems more like “blowout inducer”. But I would still like to subscribe to your newsletter.
So you are saying that gay sex in Texas is kinda of like a liberal judicial philosophy?
@AhabTRuler: Gay sex in TX will have the popos arresting you, post haste.
So we use code like, “Hey Billy Jeff. Can I borrow your cum-a-long tonight from 9 to about 2?”
And everyone understands I need to use a tool with powerful leverage to satisfy a desire to move two objects closer together.
licensed to kill time
I don’t know, mainlining junk into the pipe sounds kinda risky. Next thing you know the pipe will be holding up liquor stores to get it’s next fix.
Thanks for the link. Looks like they’re reconfiguring and trying again…
What I wonder about – per a TOD comment – is the result of all that gas being brought to the surface along with the oil. What is the danger quotient?
Sorry, exactly how do you get that from the article you linked to?
Even ROCKMAN seems to think it is significant. I suppose it all depends on the volume and pressure at the outlet, and whether those amounts are within the drillship’s capacity to contain, separate and flare-off.
I think that they are grasping at straws, NPI. If they try the junk shot, the biggest question is what happens when the pressure starts to build in the BOP. Will it hold or will it blow out someplace new? The nightmare scenario (and, yes, it could get worse) is still unchecked flow from the wellhead.
Too funny. I hope I didn’t sound to critical.
As to the placement, I thought you were talking about trying the manuever higher up along the pipe.
@licensed to kill time: The pipe is just the tool baby. Next we’re going to be pimpin’ out the pipe to all comers who want to hook up and get a little something sweet and crude.
It’s not my problem if her BP daddy didn’t raise her right.
Can we just go ahead and change the name now to the Golf of Mexico?
@AhabTRuler: Good. I am happy to hear that the relief wells should actually work.
Taking a couple of months to accomplish the task is new to me but if it takes that long, so be it.
So we are probably looking at about four months of Vesuvius-in-the-Gulf. Sigh.
@Zuzu’s Petals: Please be critical. I got nothing else.
Agreed about the capacity/design at the surface.
And yes, it seems most ideas are stopgaps until the relief well can be completed and kill the well. And if it isn’t killed, you’re right…evidently the worst-case scenario is years of leaks.
Well, I meant the spelling thing. I give full deference to Texas-talk.
Sadly, we already have a brand for the new tourism. Like Crater of Diamonds State Park, only it’s collect your own hydrocarbons!
The inability to simply close the hole makes me wonder if we’ll see the following headline some day: Internal Memos Reveal BP Rejected Methods to Stop Flow Out of Desire to Preserve Future Access to Oil. It’s a little like asking the banks who created the financial disaster to fix the system: sure they want to clean up the mess, but are they willing to sacrifice future profits to do it?
“To drill a well in the ultra-deepwater it’s not uncommon to spend $1 million a day, and you might be on location for 150 days,” said Art Schroeder, a technology expert for the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America, a public-private nonprofit group that promotes unconventional oil extraction and was created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. “If you have to spend $150 million, you want to make sure you are placing the well in the right location.”
That’s a lot of money, and if BP is thinking longterm, one wonders I’d they don’t view getting Deep Horizon running again using “safe, state of the art technology” as their best bet for rehabilitating their image down the road. If they simply sealed the hole, they’d probably never get another chance. If, on the other hand, they drill a new hole that allows them to divert the gushing oil from the current well, it’s hard to imagine them sealing the new one shut.
so what to do until it is fixed? any suggestions for all that oil?
maybe flush it out of the Gulf via the Gulfstream? that might help. lol
@Zuzu’s Petals: what do you think it means that they’re trying to extract the oil out of the well instead of trying to stop the flow, which is what the article I linked to stated? Do you seriously think they’re not going to sell any oil that they retrieve?
Someone is trying to salvage a bit of profit, or at least offset the amount of previous profit $$ they have to cough up, by using the oil from the well as a “cost containment” device. Which is why their efforts so far have been aimed at preserving as much of the pipeline infrastructure as they can… also their efforts at drilling a “relief” tap to divert the pressure is meant so they can continue oil extraction at a later, less publicly embarrassing time.
@Owenz: The techniques involved aren’t that straightforward. The existing borehole will be reentered and then permanently plugged, as will be the lateral excursions from the relief wells. It has been speculated that the initial vertical boreholes from the relief wells might then be used for extraction, but what of it? America has made no indications that it will change it’s oil consuming habits because of this accident, thus attempts to make oil extraction safer will occur, but so will deep water drilling.
@sukabi: The value of the recovered oil versus the overall costs (plus the bad PR) of the containment and cleanup efforts make such comparisons ludicrous. If BP executives could close the well by taking a “junk shot” themselves, they would have done it yesterday by this point.
Selling a few million dollars in weathered oil isn’t really going to recoup much in this situation.
@AhabTRuler: their main concern is preserving their ability to extract the oil at a later date, and to do that they’ve got to maintain as much of the current pipeline as possible… that seems to be their focus….
Every day I become more convinced that my original idea to blow up the pipe is the best possible solution (until a relief well is drilled). If we can put all this stuff in the pipe, we could put a tactical nuke in there…. between the explosion and the high pressure, that’d have to seal the well.
@sukabi: You do realize that NOAA, Coast Guard, Interior, etc are calling the shots on this as much as BP, right? Drilling that well wasn’t cheap (tens of millions of dollars), but roughly the cost of each hour that goes by without stopping the leak.
Too bad that Tiger Woods’ game is off. Otherwise, he could probably hit just the shot to land a golf ball into the blowout preventer.
@Brachiator: Ewww. That was a little subpar for you.
@Zach: It’s the only way to be sure.
But, I’m curious. Let’s say a nuke turns the sand to glass there and seals the hole. What does that do to the ecosystem?
Yes, let’s make the Gulf of Mexico radioactive.
@Corner Stone: I looked into that a bit. The deepest US nuclear test was a 30kt blast at 2,000 feet. I presume we wouldn’t need that sort of yield. That blast was in very deep water off of the California coast… so we’d get all of the energy going to the surface instead of half of it since this would be at the sea floor.
There was minimal surface radiation in that test, so I think we’d be fine generally. I’m assuming we’d test fish for a while out of paranoia, but apparently the Gulf is pretty much dead that close to the Mississippi River.
The real issue is that, although it seems like it will likely stop the leak, failure could make the leak much worse since the well is partially occluded right now. Just because it sounds absurd and dangerous is why no one will talk about it, I think. Because, you know, dropping a hat on it and filling it with old tires are much more reasonable solutions.
Subpar. Heh. At least I avoided a bogey.
@Brachiator: Thank goodness you got that one. I hate being underused straightman.
Yeah, I can see how that can be a bit of an albatross.
I think I’ll stop now.
@Derek: The danger from radioactivity would be minimal. Here’s the summary report from WIGWAM – http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA995030&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf – no dead fish.
First of all, the separating and cleaning process in a situation like this is not highly cost-effective.
Second, as pointed out here and in almost every article linked here, this is a stopgap measure until the well can be permanently stopped. And the point of THAT is to stop the well.
Third…did you miss all the stories about the initial attempts to close the well?
Your original claim was that they were focusing more on preserving the oil than stopping the leak, which is demonstrably false…and to put it bluntly, just plain stupid.
This was awesome.
What pipeline? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. The only pipes that are down there are the well casing, which will be written off with the well, and the drill string and riser pieces, which are trashed because of the accident and sand erosion. There is nothing to maintain.
@AhabTRuler. I’m not suggesting the process is simple or that drilling will or even should stop. What I’m suggesting is that BP may have motivations beyond simply stopping the flow. Obviously, I’m just speculating here, but given BP’s absolute control over the information about the leak, I find it hard to feel certain that BP’s suggested methods represent every possible option. Again, I’m not necessarily talking about BP trying to hold onto Deep Horizon just to make money. Rather, I’m suggesting that BP may have long term motives that center on creating a “silver lining” out of Deep Horizon from a PR perspective that could incentivizes “salvaging” Deep Horizon instead of simply shutting off the flow.
I find it’s constructive to think of BP employees and execs as itinerant mass murderers taking a break from killing nurses and co-eds for a couple years to build some cash reserves to buy a new box van, duct tape, and some knives.
You may think it’s counterproductive to think of them that way, but I find that if I do, it gives me pretty good cues on what type of regulation they need, how much we should trust them, and what the rotten polluting fuckers deserve to get for raping the planet for the last 60 years.
But you know, that’s just me. If you prefer to think of them as the best and brightest and having your best interests at heart, go for it. I’m sure it can’t hurt anything to trust BP, right?
Since this is a combined effort between BP and several federal agencies, it’s a little hard to imagine that the govt is going to let them ignore legitimate options in favor of more profitable ones. Not to mention the fact that no one in this very public debate seems to have come up with better options that what are being tried or at least discussed.
Every option includes the end result of sealing the well. I can think of no plausible scenario that wouldn’t allow BP to come back and drill another well at some point. So what? It would still be a new well with all the attendant expense.
And by the way, the Deepwater (not “Deep”) Horizon is the name of the rig. The well is typically referred to as the Macondo well, being located in the Macondo prospect in Block 252 of the Mississippi Canyon.
@Brachiator: Poor old worthless me is the only friend I ever made.
@someguy: Sometimes I think I’m pretty angry and disillusioned.
Then you and mclaren come along and remind me I’m a middle class suburban douchebag.
@Zuzu’s Petals: Heh, the post that I neglected to submit reproduced yours almost exactly.
I would only add that I can foresee leases suspended or canceled pending reevaluation of safety rules & regs; it is quite clear that technology has far outpaced the existing set.
Hopefully, this will focus people’s attention on how precarious our energy supplies are, as well as our environment. I fear, however, that the window for less painful options has passed.
Agreed. Except I thought your other comment addressed his question very well…I felt a little redundant in fact.
And Glen Tomkins @ 61, the WAS an awesome post.
@Tokyokie: That’s a good one!
Where is Red Adair when we need him?