Naked Science Forum

General Science => General Science => Topic started by: arumalpra on 01/03/2014 16:49:52

Title: Would freezing the water around a leaking oil well prevent oil spills?
Post by: arumalpra on 01/03/2014 16:49:52
We all can remember the disaster faced when deep horizon rig exploded. Leaked thousands of thousands of barrel of oil.

This idea to stop leak came to mind.

We could have lowered metal structure to the well head and freeze water surrounding. Then it will create thick ice layer and seal the leak. Metal structure is to keep the ice in the bottom of the see.

Any idea?
Title: Re: Facing disaster like deep horizon oil rig explosion
Post by: CliffordK on 01/03/2014 18:21:46
It might help.  They are trying to build an underground "ice wall" around the Fukushima nuclear plant. 

The problem with the Deepwater Horizon was that there was a lot of oil coming up, and under significant pressure.  They tried putting boxes around it to stop the leaks by capturing the oil.  One of their problems was that the methane in the oil reacted with the water to form ice-like methane hydrates.  These hydrates, however did nothing to stop the leak, but clogged up all of their equipment that was exposed to both water and oil/methane.

I fear that it would be difficult to get a good seal with a similar ice box.  Perhaps one could get a seal with a box full of puddy, but the pressure might blow it out.  One might try a "matryoshka doll" type containment with each layer of containment giving partial containment and building on previous layers.

I believe the ultimate solution was to simply unbolt the old pipe, and bolt a new quick-connect connector and pipe in place.  Why it took months to disconnect the broken pipes and reconnect new pipes is beyond me.

If they had a similar modular quick-connect on top of the blowout-preventer as part of the normal piping, then perhaps the flow could have been stemmed in a couple of days.

One thing they need to do is practice BEFORE the blowout.  Obviously it is difficult to simulate crude oil contamination without actually blowing out a well.  However, they could take a large water jet put a mile below the surface and remotely disconnect and reconnect pipes to it. 

I would have also designed a diversion valve and blowout preventer just below the drilling platform so that in the case of a blowout, all of the oil and gas would not spill onto the platform causing an uncontrollable fire, but would have been diverted to sea away from the platform, causing somewhat of a spill, but a safer and easier to contain spill, and hopefully no loss of life.