Friday, June 11, 2010

Why can BP only capture part of the oil leak?

I've just spoken to BP UK office about the Deepwater oilspill.

They are now capturing about 15,000 barrels of oil a day, and flaring (idiots) 16,000,000 cu ft of gas. Oil is leaking around the riser pipe - they do not know how much, but they are capturing maybe 30-50% of the leak.

The next step is to activate a second riser (the one that was used in the failed attempt to top-kill the leak) and capture yet more of the oil.

The limiting factor is the capacity of the ship at the surface to process the oil, i.e. separate the oil from the gas. It has 2 processors, but there are not that many mobile processors around.

If they had more processors, they would be able to increase the flow.

Which takes us back to the central failure of unpreparedness: If (and it is a big if) deep water drilling continues, there has to be rescue technology at hand ready to deal with a blow out.

There is a BP film here which gives a bit of insight on what is going on. The film shows calm waters in the Gulf of Mexico. Extreme weather would move the surface ship, and break the riser pipe all over again.

If this blowout had happened in the planned oil fields near the Malvinas, this kind of operation would be 100x more difficult, if not impossible, because of the mad weather they get there 24/7.

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