Stories tagged disasters

Jun
01
2010

File this under: Almost but not quite.
File this under: Almost but not quite.Courtesy 84user
Last week, BP attempted again to stop the oil flowing from the Deepwater Horizon borehole, this time through something called the "Top Kill" method. BP engineers hoped to slow the oil by pumping heavy drilling mud into the hole, and then cement everything shut. (Drilling mud is used by drilling rigs to cool the equipment, wash away bits of rock, and counteract the upward pressure of underground gas and oil.)

Things seemed to be going well—underwater fountains of mud appeared to have replaced the oil leaking from the well—and then...

BP announced on Friday that despite pumping 30,000 barrels of drilling mud into the well, the oil couldn't be stopped, and so the attempt to "top kill" the well was a failure. Nuts.

BP already has yet a new plan, which sounds kind of like one of the first plans; they're putting another cap over the leak, to contain the spill, and siphon off most of the oil.

This time, they're going to be cutting off the remains of the riser pipe and the top of the blowout preventer assembly, to have a single, clean source of the leak. Then they will be lowering the "Lower Marine Riser Package (LMRP) Cap Containment System."

The LMRP is supposed to seal around the severed pipe, and it will send the oil up a riser to another drill ship. (The operation should look something like this.)

In the meantime, BP is continuing to drill a relief well to intercept the original borehole, which should allow them to clog it up. As of Friday, the relief well was at 12,090 feet. The press release on the status of the relief well didn't say how deep it would have to be before it intercepted the original hole, however. Less than 18,000 feet, I suppose, seeing as how that was supposed to be the depth of the reservoir (I think).

Check back on Science Buzz for updates on the oil spill.