Mike Ault's thoughts on various topics, Oracle related and not. Note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are not contributing to the overall theme of the BLOG or are insulting or demeaning to anyone. The posts on this blog are provided “as is” with no warranties and confer no rights. The opinions expressed on this site are mine and mine alone, and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.

Thursday, June 03, 2010


Hopefully the latest attempt by BP to stop the Deepwater oil-leak will be successful. Of course now all the armchair quarterbacks will jump in with what they should have done, could have done or would have done had they been in charge.

In that line of thought I have just one question, why didn't they do the simplest things first? Putting the whole profit thing aside, the best thing to do was cap the well, kill it if needs be, to stop the oil. They have shown they have the technology to snap those huge pipes like twigs if they wish using huge hydraulic shears. SO obviously they have the technology to crimp them as well. Look at the following simple diagram:

Why didn't they do a progressive large set of crimps leading to the end of the pipe where they completely close the pipe? Then they could have gone back with the top-kill process and plugged the well with concrete. Face-it, had they broken the pipe trying it, we would not have been any worse off than we are now. As far as the smaller leaks in the pipe, there has been a wonderful technology used in damage control kits on Navy ships for years called band-it clamps. Essentially it is a large steel frame, sized to fit the pipe, that uses steel backed rubber mats and toggle bolts to allow you to place the clamp around the pipe, lock the toggle bolts in place and then slide the clamp over the leak and then tighten the bolts. A simple elegant and fast way to stop pipe leaks. It seems that this type of procedure could have been done in days, not weeks.

As far as this top-hat, funnel, whatever contraption, why not add some type of rubber skirt and band-clamp at the bottom to allow making a tighter seal to the sheared off pipe when they get it in place? And why do they think a pipe that is (at least it looks to be) only a quarter of the diameter of the leaking pipe going to handle all of the flow? I guess that falls into the category of things that make you say what?

What about good old fashioned gate or ball valves to close off the pipe every couple of hundred feet? Especially one right on top of the blow-out preventor? How about some good old low-tech to back up the often-failing high-tech?

As far as the top-kill: You would think all those brilliant chemists would have come up with something better than concrete. How about a high density foam that reacts with either water or oil (or both!) to form a fast, leak-tight plug?

Anyway, I guess I have arm-chair quarterbacked enough for now.

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