The Tonka Report

Real News In A Changing World

BP Containment Dome Fails As Hydrate Ice Crystals Abort Mission

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May 8, 2010: David Wethe / Bloomberg – May 8, 2010

BP Plc said gas hydrates like ice crystals formed inside the steel chamber it’s trying to use to capture leaking oil from a Gulf of Mexico well, forcing the company to move the structure aside while working on ways to stanch the flow of crude.

The hydrates clogged the 40-foot-tall containment system, which was designed to funnel oil to an overhead drillship, Doug Suttles, BP’s chief operating officer for exploration and production, said today at a press conference in Robert, Louisiana. He said BP placed the chamber on the seafloor, about 200 meters (656 feet) away from the well’s biggest leak, and will evaluate ways to prevent hydrate slushes from forming. “I wouldn’t say it’s failed yet,” Suttles said. BP expected to deal with hydrates forming in the pipe above the containment system, which would have been broken up by sending warm water through an insulating layer, he said.

The containment system was London-based BP’s best hope for slowing the leak while the company drills a relief well aimed at relieving pressure so the flow of oil from 5,000 feet beneath the Gulf’s surface can be stopped altogether. BP has 20 experts studying the possibility of injecting pieces of rubber into the well, called a “junk shot,” to stop up the pipe. “We continue to look to see if that’s going to be a viable option,” Suttles said. He said the company wants to ensure the junk shot doesn’t make the leak worse.

Clogged Dome

Meanwhile, BP over the next 48 hours will consider ways to prevent the containment dome from clogging, such as applying heat. Hydrate gases crystallize like ice in the cold waters and high pressure deep beneath the ocean’s surface. BP engineers thought the opening atop the dome was large enough that it wouldn’t clog with hydrates, Suttles said.

BP expected the containment system, a rectangular structure with a pyramid-shaped dome on top, to capture as much as 85 percent of the flow of oil. He said the relief well is “ahead of plan,” having reached a depth of 9,000 feet. The leaking well, called Macondo, began spewing an estimated 5,000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf after an April 20 explosion on Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon rig.

The explosion and fire aboard the rig, which BP leased from Geneva-based Transocean, killed 11 workers. A bubble of methane gas that shot up the drill column and burst through several seals and barriers caused the blast, the Associated Press reported late yesterday, citing interviews with rig workers obtained by a California engineering professor.

Cause Investigated

Suttles declined to comment on the report. The U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Minerals Management Service will begin an investigation May 11 to identify the factors leading to the incident, according to a government statement issued today.

The Minerals Management Service, overseer of offshore drilling, completed inspections of all deepwater drilling rigs operating in the Gulf without identifying hazards, regional director Lars Herbst said at a press conference yesterday.

Inspectors checked test records of blowout preventers, an assembly of valves atop wells on the seafloor. The blowout preventer on the BP well failed to stop a mixture of oil and gas from ejecting unexpectedly and igniting the rig, according to Suttles. Houston-based Cameron International Corp. supplied the blowout preventer for the Deepwater Horizon. Besides possibly injecting rubber cuttings into the well, engineers are considering installing a second blowout preventer atop the first, Suttles said.

Deepest Attempt

Similar containment boxes have been used to funnel crude from leaking wells in shallow water. This is the deepest deployment of such a system, according to a fact sheet provided by BP. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry said efforts to battle the spill are the biggest she’s ever seen. Suttles said more than 8,500 responders and 4,000 volunteers are involved.

Calm seas have enabled BP to burn as much as 9,000 barrels of oil from the surface, Suttles said yesterday. The Coast Guard and BP have been skimming oil from the Gulf. Oil accounts for about 10 percent of the 45,000 barrels of oil and water skimming boats have recovered so far, Suttles said.

Controlled burns won’t be done today because of high winds, Coast Guard Petty Officer Connie Terrell said in a telephone interview. BP plans to do more skimming today and to drop additional dispersant on the oil slick, company spokesman Mark Proegler said.

Refuge Closed

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service yesterday stopped public access to Louisiana’s Chandeleur and Freemason islands, where BP and federal officials Thursday said oil from the spill first reached shore. The islands comprise the Breton National Wildlife Refuge. Barring the public will protect nesting birds and speed cleanup work, the Fish and Wildlife Service said yesterday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration yesterday widened a fisheries closure in the Gulf of Mexico, calling it necessary to reassure consumers that fish and shrimp caught in the region are safe to eat.

The Tonka Report Editor’s Note: And the oil has now reached the white sand beaches of Dauphin Island in Alabama as described in the article accompanied with videos below. Meanwhile, the U.S. Minerals Management Service will begin to investigate. As noted in the previous article on this site, the MMS exempted the BP Deep Horizon rig from any invironmental review. This disaster is catastrophic to the entire Gulf coast region that is currently unfolding. Furthermore, the video below reveals that the Bureau of Land Management of the U.S. Interior Department did a surprise inspection of the rig just two hours before the explosion… – SJH

UniversalAgentMay 05, 2010“Exclusive interview of (with) Zac Zimmerman of Zimmerman Oil reveals little-known fact that the Bureau of Land Management was doing uncharacteristic surprise inspections the day of the oil rig explosion in the gulf, and they were on THAT VERY RIG just 2 HOURS before the disaster started! Full interview on Invisible Hand Podcast #6, available at and on iTunes. Go directly here:”

AP – “A novel but risky attempt to use a 100-ton steel and concrete box to cover a deepwater oil well gushing toxic crude into the Gulf of Mexico was aborted Saturday after ice crystals encased it, an ominous development as thick blobs of tar began washing up on Alabama’s white sand beaches.”

Deep-sea ice crystals stymie Gulf oil leak fix (AP)

Link to original article below…

3 Responses

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  1. Yeah man !

    I was having a break from work ( 2 weeks vacation ) !

    Its nice to take a break and think about nothing else !


    May 10, 2010 at 7:06 am

    • And you how are you ?

      I’m starting to believe the spill to be another false flag , I will not be surprised if every attempts to stop the spill will fail !


      May 10, 2010 at 7:41 am

  2. Mr. A,

    What’s up, my friend! Hope you had a great vacation. I’m glad to see you’re back at full force after your hiatus.

    I’m moving to Chicago in 10 days so once again, I’ll be rather busy with other priorities until I can get back up and running full force myself.

    Carry the torch until I get back online because it may take me a month or so to get settled and back on track myself.

    Peace and God bless… No Fear!!

    – SJH

    Steven John Hibbs

    May 14, 2010 at 3:13 am

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