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Gulf Oil Leak Plugged? 611

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the no-harm-done-right dept.
RobHart writes "The LA Times is reporting that the Gulf oil leak appears to have been plugged by the 'top kill.' 'Thad Allen, who is coordinating the government response, says the well still has low pressure, but cement will be used to cap the well permanently as soon as the pressure hits zero.'"
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Gulf Oil Leak Plugged?

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  • by Pojut (1027544) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @11:47AM (#32362960) Homepage

    I'm glad to see that this solution seems to be working well. The aftermath, however, is going to be a freakin' political circus. I'm simultaneously excited and dreading it.

    • Re:glad to see this (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 27, 2010 @12:20PM (#32363512)

      I'm looking forward to seeing BP get raked over the coals. Bastards. The way they attempted to cover up how bad the spill is is really disgusting. See http://www.newsweek.com/2010/05/26/the-missing-oil-spill-photos.html

      • Re:glad to see this (Score:5, Interesting)

        by fustakrakich (1673220) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @12:54PM (#32364088) Journal

        This is BP's Rules, Not Ours [mediabistro.com]

        Well there you go.. BP runs the American government..

    • BP will not confirm (Score:3, Informative)

      by dk90406 (797452)
      They (BB) say they can't confirm that. They will give an updated status later today. This is from Danish TV, so no link, sorry.
  • Too early (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hatta (162192) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @11:47AM (#32362966) Journal

    This is just step one of the top kill. It's just plugged with mud, which is still streaming out of the hole. Don't start celebrating until they actually top it with concrete.

    I've got to wonder, if this does work is BP going to go ahead with their "relief well".

    • Re:Too early (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mindcontrolled (1388007) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @12:25PM (#32363614)
      For a full plug & abandon procedure, they'd not only have to pour some cement, but actually go down the bore again, pull the string, place multiple seals and cement those, so as to protect from further blowouts. That might not be possible at all here, so some basic cementing might have to suffice until the relief well is done. While this is looking good at the moment, we have just reached a temporary solution, at the time being just a temporary seal with the mud pumps holding against the reservoir pressure. We have to hope that the engineers manage to transform that into a static solution. I am pretty sure that the relief wells have to be completed - I don't see how a long term solution could be achieved without getting down to the bottom of the well otherwise. All this hugely depends on the condition of the bore - is the casing intact? Obstructions? Partial collapse?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Locutus (9039)
      if the oil flow has been plugged and only the high pressure mud is still flowing out the other end, why does it look like there's different flow materials coming from the ejected blooms? Specifically, the breaks in the bent over riser just above the BOP shows very light colored material on the left and darker material in the center and right side leaks. Shouldn't it all be the same consistency and material?

      currently, the cnn.com alt view is what shows the top of the BOP view.

      LoB
  • by swschrad (312009) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @11:48AM (#32362980) Homepage Journal

    to control the flow of nonsense over the failed well, contractors will first pump T5000 cement into his mouth under pressure, then fit ankle weights, and send him to inspect the work personally in the Gulf.

    • So you hold the CEO personally responsible for this mishap? If that's the case, then I don't think anyone gets to complain about how much money CEOs make.

      I mean, if I were the head of BP and every decision that was made pointed directly at me, then I'd for sure want a bajillion dollars a year.

      That's a lot of pressure to be under.

      I mean, what if that BP truck driver falls asleep at the wheel and kills a family of 4? That's on me, right?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Shakrai (717556) *

        That's what Officers and Directors indemnification insurance is for.....

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gmuslera (3436)
        What if that BP truck driver went into coma and went into a sleeping killing rampage that lasted a month? The original explosion could have been an accident, if well could fall into company responsibility, it could be seen as accident. But the unsucessful "solutions" till this one, and the damage that happened and will still happen for weeks or months because no appropiate measures taken aren't accidents, are company decisions, and definately responsibility too.
      • by CheshireCatCO (185193) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @12:02PM (#32363200) Homepage

        First of all, that's now that the grandparent is saying at all. The GP is talking about what the CEO is saying, not the decisions made that caused this disaster. (And he's joking, at that. That much should have been obvious.)

        So really, you're off on a tangent to grind your own ax, here.

        There's a big difference between blaming someone and actually holding them to accounts. If the BP CEO is willing to pay for the cleanup and potentially go to prison for any malfeasance, then sure, he deserves the massive salary. However, past experience shows that this never actually happens and that the CEOs get a huge salary and take none of the real consequences. It's more likely the little guys with the low salaries who get canned, fined, or jailed.

        Either way, I doubt that the GP can do anything against the CEO of BP, so again, you're sort of off on a tangent of your own making here.

      • Depends (Score:5, Insightful)

        by stomv (80392) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @12:02PM (#32363208) Homepage

        if you had a policy which ignored industry and federal and state and local standards on driver hours per week or hours per day, and it was reasonable to conclude that your policy played a role in the driver falling asleep, then yes.

        If, on the other hand, you had a policy which reinforced (or even outdid) the safety procedures, and despite quality employee and contractor screening, despite training, despite good policy, something bad still happened (individual negligence or simply bad luck), then no.

        In short, management's role is reducing the likelihood of major disasters. Did they do their job? I don't know the answer, but I suspect that the next few years will include a number of investigations to figure that out.

      • by daid303 (843777) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @12:03PM (#32363216)

        Not responsible for the mishap, responsible for the inadequate response. Keeping officials away and not trying to solve the leak *period*, but trying to solve the leak by extracting the oil.

      • by bratloaf (1287954) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @12:05PM (#32363256) Journal

        Actually - that's almost exactly it. Right there. If it is shown that this resulted from systemic faults or negligence on the part of BP management, and is something that results from decisions of the "Very High Up" - i.e. safety shortcuts, speed at the expense of safe(er) procedures, known faults with safety equipment and/or a culture of "get it done fast".

        Things that management knew about, condoned, encouraged or "looked the other way", then I believe we should hold the CEO and entire personally responsible. That is (one of the many things) that is wrong with corporate culture in the world now. All the profits and percs of a "human" and none of the responsibility. I think if the CEO and board of corporations were held personally responsible then we'd see a lot less screwing of the public. I'm all for that and the "corporate death penalty".

        If you were the CEO of said trucking company, and encouraged or looked the other way when your drivers were falsifying log books, driving extra hours, and ignoring the safety concerns of your maintenance contractor, and your tired driver plowed into a shopping mall with a tanker truck of propane because he was tired, then yes I DO hold you responsible. If that's not the case, and the guy was just an idiot or had too many tacos at lunch and got distracted, then no.

        I generally consider myself to lean libertarian - but what we have now in the US is too many cases of privatizing profits and socializing losses/screwups - and that to me is the worst of all worlds.

      • I mean, what if that BP truck driver falls asleep at the wheel and kills a family of 4? That's on me, right?

        Yes, it would be, but only if your negligent business decision made the event happen; like demanding an exceedingly long work day, crazy shift work, or revolving door employment.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by NeutronCowboy (896098)

        So you hold the CEO personally responsible for this mishap? If that's the case, then I don't think anyone gets to complain about how much money CEOs make.

        Well, uh, yes? Fact: CEO's make about a bajillion dollars a year, give or take a few million. The job is so cushy that they can run a company into the ground in 6 months, and still retire in luxury after getting fired. Right now, the risk is exclusively carried by worker bees who actually do stuff - they're the ones who get hauled in front of a jury when something goes wrong, regardless of what idiotic policies were put into place by the CEO.

        I mean, what if that BP truck driver falls asleep at the wheel and kills a family of 4? That's on me, right?

        If you put in a policy that mandates overtime, no break on overnig

    • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @11:54AM (#32363068) Homepage

      to control the flow of nonsense over the failed well, contractors will first pump T5000 cement into his mouth under pressure, then fit ankle weights, and send him to inspect the work personally in the Gulf.

      Typical. There's a flippin' crisis going on in the Gulf and the CEO is out getting fitted for his new fancy concrete shoes. What's next? Some exotic underwater hotel where he can sleep with the fishes? That is, if there are any fish left.

      :)

  • by jcwren (166164) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @11:54AM (#32363064) Homepage

    An interesting comparison between the 1979 Ixtoc oil disaster and the BP disaster. Note that indeed Transocean and Sedco merged in 1999.

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=127_1274931222 [liveleak.com]

    • by mlts (1038732) * on Thursday May 27, 2010 @12:44PM (#32363940)

      Rachael Maddow had a blurb on this yesterday. It showed how similar techniques (including "top kill") were used in attempt to plug the leak, then the leak was finally killed by another well drilled, with a devastating impact on the environment, about six months after the fact.

      What lessons can we learn from this? First and foremost, this drives the point home that one of the first priorities is that oil should be relegated to plastic making, and not an energy source.

      Nuclear technology may not be perfect, and the biggest problem with it is that it isn't goof-proof. If a group of drunk contractors pass out on the job when putting together a solar cell array, it likely won't affect much other than the head of the guy the cell array fell on. Nuclear plants need to be engineered to be as moron resistant as possible, because both Chernobyl and Three Mile Island were caused by "cockpit errors". Hopefully Gen III and Gen IV reactors will go a long way to address this.

      This is not to say that other energy sources are not relevant, but until fusion gets able to be used on a production basis (as in multi-gigawatt reactors), the only real solution for dense areas without access to large amount of real estate is nuclear breeder reactors.

      Of course, there are other ways to help with energy. I've seen some research on generators which turn water into hydrogen and pass the stuff down a pipeline to an electricity generation station nearby a metropolitan area where it is burned. This minimizes energy loss over long distances as opposed to power lines.

      In any case, this BP disaster just further reinforces the point of getting off of oil and onto other energy sources.

  • by tedgyz (515156) * on Thursday May 27, 2010 @11:55AM (#32363078) Homepage

    Why didn't they just call the Little Dutch Boy?

  • Victory for Obama! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @12:03PM (#32363220) Homepage
    Whew...I was getting worried about this one. But, it looks like we can chalk up another victory for Obama and his environmental record. This incident should put a stop to offshore drilling, which is good. The price of gasoline should go up to eight dollars a gallon, that should keep people from wasting it.
    • Well here in the UK petrol/gasoline is 1.20 GBP / litre, there are 3.79 litres to 1 US gallon = 4.55 GBP / gallon, x 1.45 (pounds to dollars) and we're at $6.60 /US gallon in my local gas station, so I don't see $8 / gallon so far off, that's only about another 18% rise.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Idarubicin (579475)

      The price of gasoline should go up to eight dollars a gallon, that should keep people from wasting it.

      It might do, at that.

      The current price for unleaded gasoline in Germany is about 1.40 euros per liter [aaireland.ie], and it was up to 1.57 euros in the summer of 2008. That makes the current price about $6.60 US per gallon, and the peak just over $9 per gallon.

      Because of these horrendous fuel prices, the German people suffer terribly. They are forced to drive tiny, ugly, uncomfortable econoboxes with weak, underp

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday May 27, 2010 @12:07PM (#32363308)

    Sometimes we need to toughen up those pansy-ass dolphins, birds, and turtles. If we hadn't cuddled them for so long they wouldn't be going extinct. Adversity breeds strength.

    And the same goes for you, Pandas. You're next! Oh, you'll be mating up a storm when we finish.

  • by Gooseygoose (722201) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @12:28PM (#32363664)
    Pretty good stuff over at The Oil Drum on this...they just said they have two unconfirmed reports that cementing will start within hours on their twitter feed- http://twitter.com/theoildrum [twitter.com]

    latest "live" thread with great insights in the comments: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6515 [theoildrum.com]

    Relevant links to top kill procedure (scroll to comments in each, they're very good.)

    Deepwater Oil Spill - Permissions and Concerns about Top Kill http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6513 [theoildrum.com]

    Deep Water Spill - Waiting for Top Kill (more updated tech) http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6509 [theoildrum.com]

    The Gulf Deepwater Oil Spill - the Top Kill Attempt (the technical aspect of what just happened) http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6505 [theoildrum.com]

    The Gulf Deepwater Oil Spill, barriers, flow rates, and top kill http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6501 [theoildrum.com]

    Hope you find this informative...

  • Not so bad (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Animats (122034) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @12:30PM (#32363706) Homepage

    Now it's plugged with mud. With the flow much reduced, concrete can be put in.

    One hurricane season and the mess will be gone. 8 to 14 hurricanes [rigzone.com] are expected in the Atlantic region by the end of the year.

    Relief wells will be drilled; after all, there's definitely oil down there. The reservoir will be pumped out.

    Everybody will be a lot more serious about blowout preventers.

    More equipment for dealing with such problems will be on standby in some Gulf port for decades to come.

    No big deal.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jeff4747 (256583)

      Relief wells will be drilled; after all, there's definitely oil down there. The reservoir will be pumped out.

      Relief wells can't be used to get oil. The relief wells are used to "bottom kill" the well, which is still necessary - "top kill" is just a band-aid. The last step in said "bottom kill" is to pump concrete into the relief well, and it's really, really hard to pump oil out through concrete.

      That being said, we can be pretty sure that a new production well will be drilled somewhere nearby.

  • by RobertLTux (260313) <robert AT laurencemartin DOT org> on Thursday May 27, 2010 @01:41PM (#32364854)

    The US needs to basically say "If you have the needed stuff and can give us a plan you get to keep any oil you recover" and then cut the spill area into grid squares and say okay you say you can clean XK gallons so you can use these grid squares and you have these squares ect.

    BP of course can buy the oil from the various folks at whatever price or maybe have their own folks scooping up oil.

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