May 8th, 2010
03:33 PM ET

Effort to place dome over oil well dealt setback, BP says

[Update 3:58 p.m.] Read the full CNN.com story

[Posted 3:33 p.m.] The effort to place a containment dome over a gushing wellhead was dealt a setback when a large volume of hydrates - crystals formed when gas combines with water - accumulated inside of the vessel, BP's chief operating officer said Saturday.

The dome was moved off to the side of the wellhead and is resting on the seabed while crews work to overcome the challenge, Doug Settles said.

Suttles said the gas hydrates are lighter than water, and as a result, made the dome buoyant. The crystals also blocked the top of the dome, which would prevent oil from being funneled to a drill ship.

"What we had to do was pick the dome back up, set it over to the side while we evaluate what options we have to actually try to prevent the hydrate formation or find some other method to try to capture the flow," Suttles said.

He said two options officials are looking at are heating the dome or adding ethanol to dissolve the hydrates.

soundoff (211 Responses)
  1. Sandra Mulkey

    Is it possible to attach the piping to the dome before it is lowered so that the oil could start being collected as soon as the dome starts to cover the area where the oil is coming from? Of course the other end of the pipe would have be connected to the collection container at the other end of the pipe. Wouldn't this eliminate the crystal build up problem?

    May 10, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sandra Mulkey

    Is it possible to attach the piping to the dome before it is lowered so that the oil could start being collected as soon as the dome starts to cover the area where the oil is coming from? Of course the other end of the pipe would have be connected to the collection container at the top end of the pipe. Wouldn't this eliminate the crystal build up problem?

    May 10, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. andy millar

    I JUST COMPLETED AN EXPERIMENT THAT REALLY DOES WORK ON AN OIL SPILL. HOPE THIS IS THE RIGHT PLACE TO SEND THIS . I TOOK A 5 GALLON PLASTIC PAIL, AND PUT IN 1 GALLON RAINWATER. NEXT, I ADDED 1/2 QUART USED 10W30 MOTOR OIL. THEN, I GROUND UP ABOUT A GOOD HANDFULL OF 2 INCH WHITE STYROFOAM. PLACED IT ON THE OIL. RESULTS WERE IMMEDIATE. THE OIL AND STYROFOAM PARTICLES CLUMPED TOGETHER. ITOOK A SMALL WOODEN SKIMMER AND EASILY STARTED TO REMOVE ABOUT 98 PERCENT OF ALL OIL SLICK. ICOULD SEE THE CLEAR WATER PRETTY AMAZING. COULD SOMEBODY PASS THIS ON? THANX ANDY MILLAR

    May 10, 2010 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Selim Shaker

    The BOP is the last line of defense against Blowout
    Drilling Hazards caused by Geopressure Compartmentalization
    Exploring for hydrocarbon in deep water since the early 1970s has considerably changed the seismic acquisition, drilling and production practices. It requires floating drilling rigs rather than the fixed jack ups which were and still used since the late 1940s on the shelf.
    The most common drilling challenges in the deep water were limited to Loss of Circulation (LOC) and Shallow Water Flow (SWF). The LOC and SWF can cause drilling hurdles, high cost of testing a prospect and sometimes lead to the abandonment of the well.
    The decade from 1969 to 1979 witnessed three massive spills from offshore oil wells around the world: the IXTOC 1 spill off Mexico in 1979, the Ekofisk spill in the North Sea in 1977, and the 1969 spill off the coast of Santa Barbara. On April 20, 2010, a loss of well control occurred and resulted in an explosion and fire on the Mobile Offshore Drilling Unit Deepwater Horizon. Eleven lives were lost in this incident, the rig subsequently sank, and the resulting release of oil has been declared a spill of national significance with oil threatening sensitive coastlines and resources in the Gulf of Mexico. High pressure hydrocarbon reservoir is the expected main cause of this tragedy.
    The behavior of the subsurface geopressure profile is driven by water depth, sedimentation rate, lithology, stratigrhy, structural setting, and stresses. Stress reduction due to subsea water depth is the main cause of the narrow drilling tolerance window (DTW) in deep water. This leads to a limited maneuver to control the formation pressure using the mud weight pressure. Mud pressure is the first line of defense to combat bore- hole’s flow, well kicks, gas infusion, and blowout. Blowout Preventer (BOP) is built and designed, as the last line of defensive, to control an unexpected pressure surge.
    There are many schools of thoughts explaining the causes of abnormal pressures and the techniques to detect pressures changes in subsurface. The pore pressure progresses with depth. In the deep water there are four zones. They are from the top to the bottom: the shallow free flow, hydrodynamic, transition, and geopressured zones. Each zone is characterized by a pressure gradient dictated by lithology and stress. Some of the troubles in the upper two zones are SWF and the presence of hydrates. Riseless drilling was developed to tolerate the mud pressure that need to stay within the DTW and reduce the number of casing seats to reach an exploration objectives.
    In the lower two zones pressure exponentially accelerates in the shale (seals) and become hydrostatic in the sand beds (Reservoirs). The excess pressure created by compartmentalization between the shale and sand usually amplified by the presence of hydrocarbon. Drilling the interface between shale seal and pay sand is the most drilling trouble free zone. Hard kicks, mud cuts, well flow, blowouts are common at this seal-reservoir boundary and well prognoses should account for that.
    Before drilling, seismic velocity, offset wells and modeling are used to predicting pore- pressure. While drilling calibration of the model should be perform. Failure to incorporate the geological setting, structural pattern, and the expected hydrocarbon column height can lead to faltering well prognoses and lead to unforeseen events.

    May 12, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Robert W. Sieg

    Okay everyone,

    I heard about the idea of tires and golf balls and honestly had some ideas I hope could help BP stop this problem early.

    If they take a smaller pipe and insert it into the pipe that is leaking.
    Then pump objects into the pipe.(it is actually going deeper into the well not just in the pipe)
    This is a very good idea but one problem is if it doesn't plug so I thought of putting hooks on the objects so as they pass towards the hole and start to push through they stick together like Velcro or thistles. I would suggest rubber odd shapes with many little hooks of steel about the tensil strength of those little springs that are very tough steel.
    (you know how hard it is to get thistles out of clothes)
    They have a good idea I just hope they can insert a smaller pipe into that pipe.

    To Anderson: it's not a bad idea if it works.

    I do not know all the variables but think it is a good idea.
    Please get this into the right hands to stop this problem.

    Thanks
    Robert

    PS I thought i'd at least post this because I feel so bad about this problem and if there is any chance to help it is worth trying.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:07 am | Report abuse |
  6. BP

    We thank you all for your input, however, as of right now we are only looking at ways in which we are able to still make money off of this well.

    May 14, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. CHRISTOPHER MODRUSON

    TRY STUFFING THE OIL EXECUTIVES AND BANKSTERS THEMSELVES INTO THE PIPE EN MASSE UNTIL IT STOPS!
    FIRST UP, BUSH & CHENEY.
    TAKE A DEEP BREATH, NOW BOYS; THIS WON'T HURT A BIT.

    May 14, 2010 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. John Brown

    Commenting on the Oil Spill. Looks like they would have a robotic JAWS of Life down there and just pinch the pipe off in couple of places? They have them for high pressure refrigerant lines.

    May 26, 2010 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
  9. Fran Thomas-Mother of inventions

    Jorma-Most interesting remarks, but aren't we trying to cap the opening, not get oil? My suggestion-Remember Me BP-Just how large an opening is this.? Suggestion-Drop a small stainless steel pipe into the opening that has a wide lip at the top-Then drop a larger stainless steel pipe over the small one. THEN drop the strongest MAGNETIC WEIGHT on top. This will pull the small pipe up as the larger one holds the MAGNET in place.

    May 30, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Fran Thomas-Mother of inventions

    Rethinking my small pipe. Let it be like an upside down glass inserted into the larger pipe. Then as the oil pushes up it will push the pipe up to the MAGNET and the Magnet will be pulled down more strongerly. The thicker outside pipe will be supporting the MAGNET.

    May 31, 2010 at 2:03 am | Report abuse |
  11. TIM PLUMLEY

    Do the persons in charge of the BP problems have a web site to get IDEAS from some of the people online are very good at helping solving these types of things,JUST ASK US!

    May 31, 2010 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • jerry k indiana

      after hearing the testimonial today i think its clear that the u.s. just as guility as B.P as you know the U.S issued the license for the deep well, while knowing their bad saftey record.

      June 17, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
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