Thursday, July 15, 2010

Gulf Oil Update: Day 87


BP Closed all 5 Cap Valves Thursday afternoon: No oil is currently leaking from the well bore and new Cap assembly located above the level of the sea-bed during the integrity testing.

It is not clear at this time whether the well casing might be leaking below the level of the sea-bed since BP has not disclosed whether the pressure inside the well-bore is being maintained in the range necessary to prove that no leak exists anywhere in the system. This should be obvious in the next 24 hours perhaps sooner.

Retired Adm. Thad Allen indicated yesterday that the acoustic (ultrasonic) testing from several days ago did not disclose any abnormal pockets or collection of oil or methane gas outside the well bore (below the sea-bed and above the oil reservoir) in the geological formation. If true that is very good news.

--Dr. J. P. Hubert


NEWS BUlLETIN: BP Suspends Integrity Tests Wednesday PM after Obama Administration gave OK to proceed: Cap Assembly Has Leak

BP works to fix valve leak before choking oil flow

Associated Press Writers
Jul 15, 5:10 AM EDT

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- BP engineers working to choke the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico found a leak on a line attached to the side of the new well cap and were trying to fix it Thursday before attempting to stop the crude.

BP said Wednesday evening it had isolated the leak and was repairing it before moving forward. It wasn't clear how it would affect the timing of the operation, or whether oil continued to be slowly closed off into the cap.

Work started earlier Wednesday after a day-long hiatus to allay government fears that the disaster could be made worse by going forward with the tests to determine whether the temporary cap can withstand the pressure and contain the oil. It was the best hope yet of stopping the crude from streaming into the water for the first time since the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 people.

The process began with BP shutting off pipes that were funneling some of the oil to ships on the surface so the full force of the gusher went up into the cap. Then deep-sea robots began slowly closing, one at a time, three openings in the cap that let oil pass through. Ultimately, the flow of crude will be blocked entirely.

All along, engineers were watching pressure readings to learn whether the well is intact. The first two valves shut off like a light switch, while the third works more like a dimmer and takes longer to close off.

The leak was found in the line attached to the dimmer switch, but live video footage showed that oil previously spewing from other sources on the cap remained closed off.

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the Obama administration's point man on the disaster, said a committee of scientists and engineers will monitor the results and assess every six hours, and end the test after 48 hours to evaluate the findings.

"I was gung-ho for this test and I remain gung-ho for this test," he said Wednesday.

If the cap works, it will enable BP to stop the oil from gushing into the sea, either by holding all the oil inside the well machinery like a stopper or, if the pressure is too great, channeling some through lines to as many as four collection ships.

The cap - a 75-ton metal stack of lines and valves - was lowered onto the well on Monday in hopes of either bottling up the oil inside the well machinery, or capturing it and funneling it to the surface. But before BP could test the equipment, the government intervened because of concerns about whether the buildup of pressure from the gushing oil could rupture the walls of the well and make the leak worse.

"We sat long and hard about delaying the tests," Allen said. He said that the pause was necessary in the interest of the public, the environment and safety, until officials were convinced the test could go forward.

Allen said the testing will also offer insight into the other, more permanent solution to the fix: two relief wells intended to plug the gusher from deep underground. The mapping of the sea floor that was done to prepare for the well cap test and the pressure readings will also help them determine how much mud and cement will be needed to seal off the well.

Drill work was stopped on one relief well because it was not clear what effect the testing of the cap could have on it. Work on the other relief well had already been stopped according to plan. (Editor's bold emphasis throughout)

The government estimates 1.5 million to 2.5 million gallons are leaking every day.

The latest effort to control the gushing well follows a string of failed attempts by BP to contain the leak, including the use of a giant concrete-and-steel box that quickly became encased in ice-like crystals; a colossal siphon tube that trapped very little oil, and an effort to jam the well by pumping in mud and shredded rubber.

As of Wednesday, the 85th day of the disaster, between 92 million and 182 million gallons of oil had spewed into the Gulf since the rig leased by BP exploded.


Scientist Denies He Ever Predicted BP Oil Spill Would Cause Extinction Of Mankind

Gus Lubin
Jul. 12, 2010, 1:48 PM

Suddenly everyone's talking about the methane-driven oceanic eruption and mass extinction theories of Dr. Gregory Ryskin, claiming that elevated methane levels from the oil spill could cause the end of mankind.

Absent from this discussion has been Ryskin, who Northwestern University says is out of his office until September. The professor gave us the real story by email:

"I also want to emphasize that in my theory, methane hydrates (clathrates) do not play any role."

Methane hydrates are the volatile compounds that have been released in large quantities in the Gulf of Mexico. They may suffocate aquatic life or cause a pressure explosion. But they probably won't poison the atmosphere and destroy 96 percent of life on earth.

He was talking about "an extremely fast, explosive release of dissolved methane (and other dissolved gases...) that accumulated in the oceanic water masses." For more on Ryskin's methane theories, he said we should watch this video from 2007... For more See THIS... and THIS...