Sunday, May 30, 2010

Gulf Spill: The Final Solution

BP has determined that if we just ignore it for 7 years, the reservoir will likely empty out, at which point the leak will stop. "It will take 7 years for the oil deposit below the Deepwater Horizon well to empty if left alone."

The "Top Kill" effort has officially failed. Progress on the relief wells continues, but the expected date for those to be in place is described in numerous articles as August, with some saying "at least" August. There is apparently one more strategy in line to be tried, though I haven't seen a nice catchy name for it yet. It involves cutting the bent and broken riser off of the top of the blowout preventer, then capping the open end. This is by no means an assured path to success, and over the short term, is actually likely to make things worse to much worse.

The riser is bent and kinked directly above the BOP, and the constrictions in the pipe caused by these twists is most likely restricting the flow. Cutting the riser off of the BOP will remove the restriction, allowing the flow to erupt at full force. Obama and BP are describing this as "open-heart surgery."

I just wish I was more confident this operation was being carried out by surgeons with at least a middle-school education, and with more than pointed sticks and knapped stone tools. I'm not.

Followup: Pharyngula has an excellent suggestion on how to hit BP, its executives, and every other driller in the Gulf where it'll hurt them most... if they haven't been behaving.

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