Spillcam continues the SAW horror show. Below you can see remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) sawing away at the pipe in the start of the next attempt to stop the leak, known as a LMRP, or Lower Marine Riser Package.
Imagine trying to operate a circular saw. Imagine trying to operate a circular saw in 40° water. Imagine trying to operate a circular saw underwater with 160 times greater water pressure than the surface. Imagine trying to operate a circular saw underwater in the dark except for a flashlight. Imagine trying to operate a circular saw with mechanical arms. Imagine trying to operate a circular saw with mechanical arms a mile under the sea with a flashlight and 1 billion viewers watching your every move.
Imagine trying to operate a mechanical arm at 2300 PSI with a flashlight over a 5 story Rube Goldberg structure and you drop your saw...
The government and now BP are admitting the oil leak might not be stopped until August. At that time the relief wells are scheduled to be completed. We've mentioned previously that the relief wells are the most promising solution. Meanwhile NOAA is predicting one of the most active hurricane seasons on record. They expect 8-14 hurricanes with 3-7 being category 3 or higher with a total of up to 23 named storms this summer.
Yobie Benjamin wrote a technical article of the procedure, this time with heavy emphasis on being a mile under the sea, where no human would withstand the water pressure.
There are a lot of calls to nuke the well. Once again folks, this is just not the same situation and one must grasp that dealing with water pressure is not the same thing as operating on land with different pressures.
The new cap will be pumping methanol, in an attempt to stop the crystallization of gas, or methyl hydrates, which formed, clogged and floated the previous attempt. Crystallized methyl hydrates are glorified frozen gas. Yet another example of what happens to organic materials a mile under the cold ocean, gas crystallizes and blocks the flow.
The closest thing to this disaster is the Ixtoc I oil spill, which happened in the gulf of Mexico in 1979. That was the 2nd world oil disaster in history but realize this. It was only 160 feet underwater. The drill depth was 11,800 feet and the spill was 140 million gallons. It took 10 months to cap that well and was solved with relief wells.
Realize what is going on with this slow dribble of facts and bad news. The government and BP are slowly preparing the public for the worse. BP and our government are not jerking the band-aid off but doing a slow peel away as if somehow the pain is less. The oil spill will flow unabated for months. That's not on purpose (beyond the idiocy that created this mess in the first place). That's just the fact there is no good solution when you have a massive oil gusher a mile under the sea.
This isn't to negate the current attempts, pray they work, or to cease demanding more engineers than lawyers, managers and politicians be architecting further solutions.
With the top estimates of the spill rate, the Deepwater Horizon disaster will assuredly be larger than the 1979 Ixtoc I Gulf of Mexico disaster. The drill depth for this disaster is 18,000 feet and the underwater depth is 5000 feet. The two relief wells are at 12,100 feet and 8,600 feet respectively, but realize after the drilling there is much more work required.
Think underwater engineering. Around the Internets I see over and over people not realizing a mile under the sea is an entirely different world. Think of doing open heart surgery on the moon or while a 10,000 lb. rock is on your head and you might get an idea.
Consider this post the oil open thread.
Update: To watch all of the spillcams complete with crappy Microsoft Media plug in, go to this link.