Thursday, June 03, 2010

Cutting the riser (again) (liveblog)

(Yesterday's liveblog is below.)

(UPDATE 10am: For the first time all 12 live feeds are currently available through BP on this page, although not all of them appear to be working:

Have at it, blogosphere. I need to focus on making a living (there's a tip jar on the side, or better yet buy something from my shop).

(Most interesting live feeds thus far are: here and here.)

12:46: Expect to see a lot more dark oil on the surface shortly...this thing is blowing black like never before...

Another relevant comment cherry-picked from TOD:
[new] goodmanj on June 3, 2010 - 12:15pm Permalink | Subthread | Comments top

Okay, as a fluid mechanics guy, I'm watching some extreme closeups of the exit at the top of the cut riser, and I'm *fascinated*. You've got this violently turbulent mixed oil/gas flow, and every now and again you get a surge of gas coming up. You can see the white gas bubbles blast out into the water, and then I *think* you can actually see the gas react with water to form clathrate! The texture and color change suddenly, it looks like a "crust" forms on the outside of the bubble plume, and the crusty stuff rises much more slowly than the bubbles.

Another observation: we're about to start seeing a *lot* more oil at the surface of the Gulf until they get this capped. Before they cut off the riser, we were seeing highly emulsified tiny droplets coming out of the leaks -- basically the aerosol spray can effect. The orange color we saw indicates the droplets were small enough to be partially transparent. But now you can see solid oil coming out the cut end, and the plume is pitch black, meaning the droplets are much larger, and will rise to the surface a lot faster, where the TV helicopters can see it. Better get that cap on quick!

... and I just notice that the Skandi Neptune "dispersant ops" ROV has started pumping out a *lot* more dispersant. Maybe BP figured this out too.

Quick back-of-the-envelope rate calculation of flow rate. The good news is, we can now see the oil+gas coming out "pure", and don't have to worry about mixing and entrainment with water. The flow right at the exit of the riser seems to rise 1 riser diameter in about 0.5-1.0 seconds. If the riser's 21 inches in diameter, that works out to a flow of OIL + GAS of 0.15-0.3 m^3/s. If that were all oil, that'd work out to 80,000-160,000 barrels a day! Last month we talked a lot about oil/gas ratios, amount of gas dissolved in the oil, etc. The flow seems to have much less gas in it than it used to, by my eye, but it's still quite possible that half or 2/3 of this is gas. So I'd say we could be anywhere from 20,000 to 60,000 barrels a day at the moment.

Still, I did a similar calculation last month that guesstimated in the 15,000-30,000 bpd range. Lots of later calculations came out in the same ballpark. Now, I think I can safely say the flow is above that number.

12pm. Rate of flow/hour now?

11:39am: Close-up of the spewing well (video momentarily). Where are all those independent experts who originally claimed up to 100,000 barrels/day in congressional testimony, before the riser was removed?

11amET: Video and images below. Riser has finally been removed. Cut is ugly. It looks as though one interior pipe was clogged(?), possibly with "junk" from Friday (update: no, I think now that was an illusion), and they are continuing to spray carcinogenic, illegal and untested Corexit into the now simply monstrous plume, from about 100ft above. One commenter at TOD sez, "If they don't get this capped with something soon, I'll expect to be seeing oil up in Canada." It has never looked this bad, during the entire past month and a half. All eyes on BP now to follow through with its plan to siphon "the majority" of this, and on its promise to act quickly to remedy this situation they've now "succeeded" in making much worse before they can make it better....

9:31am: Man it is just pouring out of there...seen from roughly 100 feet above, where they are very clearly spraying dispersants, continuously:

9:20: Some video from an hour ago. They are currently doing an excellent job blocking any real view of the plume. Lots and lots of dispersants, looks like.

9:04am: Volcano is more like it. Jesus Christ. Someone at TOD sez:
watching this happen now, I'm having a really bad feeling about their chances of getting the LMRP cap on against this flow.

Despite the incredible skill of the operator, the ROV is flying blind, with a total blackout of oil across the lens except for the occasional glimpse of the BOP

I do wonder if maybe the kink was holding back the pressure much more than we all thought . . .

Someone else:

I think the battleship just got displaced from the cover of that bad ideas book.


7:40am ET: Here we go, finally...after much fumbling and jerry rigging all night long, apparently. The "plan" is to use the giant shear to cut the riser at the BOP, where the band saw previously got stuck less than 1/2 way through its cut (so they say). Oil is pouring out the cut and probably obscuring the vision of the (perhaps very tired) ROV operators. Looks like a goddamn inferno. This was probably the best comment at TOD, overnight, along with discussion about potentially fragile state of pipe below the BOP (as was found out when BP abandoned "junk shot" for fear of a blow-out beneath the sea bed):


Michael Smith said...

Why do you believe the Corexit to be carcinogenic?

Go here for some information:

Matt Christie said...

My understanding is there is lots of evidence Corexit is carcinogenic, Michael Smith, despite whatever the oil industry prefers to claim.

There were several links posted recently on The Oil Drum in comments, but here is another:

Matt Christie said...

Some brief discussion here:

Matt Christie said...

I've also added a link to this earlier post:

Matt Christie said...

Mind if I ask, do you work for the oil industry?

Anonymous said...

you have about the best summation and commentary...thank you so much....I find I fixate over at the oildrum otherwise I feel I would collapse in despair..I am into wildlife rescue/rehab and am helpless here.....there was a link there that cuts to the chase....beyond words.....chilling....utterly devastating to consider the suffering.... check this out...someone on the oildrum IRC sent the link.....

Anonymous said...

It appears that Michael C. Smith, above, is a known astroturf prop working for BP.

Matt Christie said...

Hm. In any case he's been repeatedly flagged and discredited at TOD: