Thursday, August 26, 2010

BP's Oil Top Hat Has Failed?

Reports are breaking that BP’s latest attempt to staunch the flow of oil from one of the leaks from their disaster using the “Top Hat” dome has been beset by technical difficulties.

(Port Fourchon, LA) -- A small containment dome won't begin trapping oil from a massive leak in the Gulf of Mexico until at least next week.
Oil giant BP had said the dome could start sucking crude from the massive well leak today, but a fresh set of complications forced them to push that date back.
The dome is designed to pump oil from the leak to a vessel on the surface.

Don't know if this is a strong newsource

"Probably toward the end of next week is when we will start to move it and put it over the leak," BP spokesman Jon Pack said. "So nothing particularly noteworthy is happening with that right now."

Reuters is

Two stories right there. One says they tried and had some problems, and the BP executive seems to be saying “meh nothing to see here nothing happening except the earth is hemorrhaging petroleum into a vital ecosystem, we'll try the Top Hat thingy whenever, now move along folks although we said the Top Hat had thingy had a chance, we were actually just blowing smoke up your behind.

How tragic is this. I can literally go in my way back machine and post a comment from our resident expert Fishgrease who I at the time named Nostrakossack. The tragedy is this information can not be unknown to the people in charge of slowing the flow before a relief well can be drilled.

In 5000 feet of water, it's cold. The dome they're going to put over the biggest leak this week will work. The pipe to the surface won't. All oil contains paraffins and asphaltenes. Both the cold water surrounding the pipe and the gas expanding as it surfaces (basic refigeration) will cause paraffins to accumulate on the pipe walls. The asphaltenes will form a matrix within the paraffin. The result? A 5000 ft. candle, tough as nails. That's not even considering methane hydrates (like dry ice but with methane instead of CO2) which form, seemingly when they'll do the most harm.
In a production scenario, you would have additives pumped in at the bottom and the pipe would be heat-traced and insulated.
I think they're just going to use bare pipe.
Could work. I doubt it.
You don't have those problems in 1000 ft. of water.

Kossack Fishgrease is a hero at least here.

Update: So how come its difficult to get "heat" down to the source of the leak the well head which is at 5000 feet below the surface. I mean they get the product up somehow right?

Bro Fishgrease can you answer please.

You've a right to be a little confused about that. It's a good question.

Cooling takes place wherever there's a drop in gas pressure. In an air conditioner, the compressor pumps the coolant medium up in pressure, then sends it to wider pipe (or through an orifice). Gas expanding loses heat energy so it cools.

In normal production, that pressure drop takes place on the surface in a line heater. The product goes in, is heated by pre-heat coils, goes through the choke (pressure drop), then through more heating coils and then on to a separator. So it maintains it's pressure all the way up the production riser, and so it's heat also. Well like this flows pretty warm under pressure. They still have to heat trace some of them because of paraffins, just not much.

With the leak, they're taking the pressure drop right at the BOP and the broken riser pipe. And it's a hell of a pressure drop too. Couple thousand psig easy. 200x the cooling in an air conditioner (just guessing there, but it's a lot more cooling). There's no way to apply external heat there, like we did with the line heater at the surface.

They can inject methanol and that'll cure the hydrate ice (may take a lot of methanol), but with paraffins, you gotta have heat. Paraffins laugh at methanol.

Maybe it’s time to break out the adults and the adult decisions. This thing is going to leak for at least another 75 days until the relief well is completed, and that’s if they hit the relief well on the first few attempts unlike their experience in Australia . It’s going to leak at a rate of 1.1 million gallons of oil per day , and the executives at BP are unprepared to make the decision or probably even ask for the help needed to do anything about it.

It is time to remove responsibility but not liability from BP.

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