Good news from the Gulf

Bruce Thompson
The oil leak could be over sooner than the prophets of doom proclaimed. Here is the latest from Fox News

...The dropping of the box is just one of many strategies being pursued to stave off a widespread environmental disaster. BP is drilling sideways into the blown-out well in hopes of plugging it from the bottom. Also, oil company engineers are examining whether the leak could be shut off by sealing it from the top instead.

The technique, called a "top kill," would use a tube to shoot mud and concrete directly into the well's blowout preventer, BP spokesman Bill Salvin said. The process would take two to three weeks, compared with the two to three months needed to drill a relief well.

Actually the estimate of the time it would take to effect a "top kill" seems overly conservative. One counterintuitive benefit of the leak through the blowout preventer is that is provides a path for the displacement of the incompressible liquids in the well. Pumping "mud and concrete" into the well will cause the mud and water slurry to sink as their density is greater than the oil. The oil continues to leak out as it is displaced by the mud. Eventually, the mud fully replaces the oil restoring the interior of the well to something quite close to the status quo ante. The flow of oil will be stopped. The blowout preventer can be safely removed for inspection and the well closed in.

As to the oil sheen, I would again recommend having boats approach the edge of the slick and using the oxygen from an oxy-acetylene welding torch, shoot a stream of pure oxygen over the slick. The excess oxygen will speed up the oxidation process and poof you've got hot carbon dioxide and water. The heat from the flame will hopefully raise the surrounding oil above the flash point and you have instant saganaki. Be sure to say "Opa!". 


The oil leak could be over sooner than the prophets of doom proclaimed. Here is the latest from Fox News

...The dropping of the box is just one of many strategies being pursued to stave off a widespread environmental disaster. BP is drilling sideways into the blown-out well in hopes of plugging it from the bottom. Also, oil company engineers are examining whether the leak could be shut off by sealing it from the top instead.

The technique, called a "top kill," would use a tube to shoot mud and concrete directly into the well's blowout preventer, BP spokesman Bill Salvin said. The process would take two to three weeks, compared with the two to three months needed to drill a relief well.

Actually the estimate of the time it would take to effect a "top kill" seems overly conservative. One counterintuitive benefit of the leak through the blowout preventer is that is provides a path for the displacement of the incompressible liquids in the well. Pumping "mud and concrete" into the well will cause the mud and water slurry to sink as their density is greater than the oil. The oil continues to leak out as it is displaced by the mud. Eventually, the mud fully replaces the oil restoring the interior of the well to something quite close to the status quo ante. The flow of oil will be stopped. The blowout preventer can be safely removed for inspection and the well closed in.

As to the oil sheen, I would again recommend having boats approach the edge of the slick and using the oxygen from an oxy-acetylene welding torch, shoot a stream of pure oxygen over the slick. The excess oxygen will speed up the oxidation process and poof you've got hot carbon dioxide and water. The heat from the flame will hopefully raise the surrounding oil above the flash point and you have instant saganaki. Be sure to say "Opa!".