Friday, July 16, 2010

A Whale Beached and a Capping Stack

[Night Operations on the Gulf - click to enlarge]

Port Townsend, today.
Well the good news is, the modified "capping stack" has been successfully holding pressure within the runaway well; the bad news is, that the m/v A Whale proved to be the wrong tool for sea surface oil skimming and recovery.

As I've stated previously, my temporary departure from "track one" is due in part to the abysmal coverage by the Great American News Machine of what is taking place in the Gulf of Mexico, and my love of geology - an unfulfilled college major.

The M/V A Whale Beached

It is official, as I predicted, the m/v A Whale is no longer considered a viable oil skimming vessel.

"After an extended trial period during which the supertanker skimming vessel “A Whale” was given an opportunity to demonstrate its capability to remove oil in open seas of the Gulf of Mexico, Federal On-Scene Coordinator Admiral Paul Zukunft announced
that it will not be deployed as a part of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill response."

The m/v A Whale is the wrong tool for the job. She was converted from a Very Large Crude Carrier to an Oil Bulk Ore carrier and at more than 1000 feet long, 198 feet wide, is simply too massive and unwieldy.

The intake slots are too narrow, arranged along the bows. This requires an almost impossible task of trimming ballast to keep the slots at an ever-changing water level. With a vessel this size, the ballast cannot be nimble - that's the only word I can come up with - to quickly respond as seawater is sloshing inboard.

The narrow design of the slots grabbed my attention the very first time I laid eyes on the vessel. The narrow opening means that any wake bigger than that of a passing Canada goose, will seal the slot or open the slot above water level as the wave crest passes.

In testing, she gulped down more water than oil.

Nevertheless, we stand and salute Mr. Nobu Su, CEO of TMT for expending money, time, and effort out of pocket, to at least try to provide a valuable asset. I'm sure TMT gathered a ton of data, and perhaps with tweaking and design modifications, a monster skimmer could yet evolve.

It would be really neat if a design could evolve whereby the vessel would do it's normal routine, but have the ability to quickly "reconfigure"- removable panels for example - to respond to oil spills anywhere in the world on short notice.

The Capping Stack

One has only to scan through reader "comments" on various newspaper web sites, and letters to the editor, to get a sense of antagonism and frustration, wondering "Why hasn't this hole been plugged" and "Why wasn't this new cap in place two months ago?"

My short answer is, the Great American News Machine has been a dismal failure at keeping the public informed. And because of the medias lack of "due diligence," unreasonable criticism has been projected to the Administration and BP for not "responding in a speedy and timely manner" to the leak.

As it turns out, design work on the capping stack installed two days ago, began two months ago, at about the same time as the original containment vessel quickly failed.. (See "M/V Joe Griffin and the Magic Box.")

The fixture represents a collaborative effort by many companies, fast tracking the design, manufacture, testing and delivery of the enhanced capping stack. (If I left anyone out, please let me know.)

The capping stack was under construction the last two months in Berwick, Louisiana, by Cameron International Corporation. Cameron also manufactured the original Blow Out Protector on Macondo 252.

Transocean Limited, supplied parts for the stack, 18 feet tall and weighing 75 tons. It contains large hydraulic rams or valves like those used in blowout preventers. These are the valves that were closed last night (July 15th) stopping the geyser of oil. [Yellow on diagram]

[click to enlarge]
Worley-Parsons Limited of Australia, designed the fitting connecting the valve stack to Macondo's original blowout preventer, and Oil States Industries Inc., a unit of Houston-based Oil States International Incorporated, fabricated the fitting. [Red on diagram]

[click to enlarge]
The new capping stack underwent rigorous testing on land before being deployed to the Deepwater Horizon Site. The [Green] connector was the tool used to lower the components from the well deck of the "Discoverer Inspiration."

As you are aware, pressure testing of the blown well bore is being conducted. Work on the relief wells has resumed. With its integrity in question, Macondo 252 will be filled with concrete and abandoned.

See also:
A Whale Demystified

1 Comments - Click here:

Lesley said...

Remarkable! The author truly knows how to put an intelligent article together with specific details written coherently,clearly outlined and finely researched. Well Done! L

Post a Comment

"Comment" is for sharing information related to this article. "Anonymous" comments are not published.