News blog

Deepwater Horizon spill update

Oil is continuing to leak from the scene of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig accident.

A new dome is being is being developed to trap the oil at the site of the leak for pumping to the surface, says NOAA:

The alternative is called a “top hat”. This structure plans to use warm water and methanol going down the riser to help prevent ice crystals from forming.

BP has also resumed use of dispersant chemicals at the source of the leak, in addition to their use on surface oil slicks:

“We are continuing to deploy dispersant at the seabed. It seems to be having a significant impact,” says BP CEO Tony Hayward (AFP).

AP says plans are being drawn up to split up federal oil regulator the Minerals Management Service, which it says is sometimes seen as being too “cozy with the oil and natural gas industry”:

An administration official who asked not to be identified because the plan is not yet public said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will urge that Congress approve splitting the Minerals Management Service in two. One agency would be charged with inspecting oil rigs, investigating oil companies and enforcing safety regulations, while the other would oversee leases for drilling and collection of billions of dollars in royalties.

Richard Dukas, head of Dukas Public Relations, told Reuters that Transocean, the company that owned and operated the drilling rig at the centre of the accident, should reconsider their apparent strategy of keeping tight lipped:

“You can get eviscerated in the court of public opinion just as easily as you can get eviscerated in a court of law. Sometimes if your reputation and your image have taken such a huge beating, I feel you have an obligation to your shareholders and your employees to defend yourself.”

Daily Telegraph columnist Tracy Corrigan sees bad times ahead for BP:

Like the banks, oil companies face a painful reassessment of the risks we have rather unthinkingly allowed them to run. It shouldn’t take a disaster to tell us that things are more likely to go wrong at the cutting edge of technology. But BP may turn out to be the oil sector’s Goldman Sachs: it wasn’t doing anything the others weren’t doing, but it will carry the can.

Past coverage

Giant dome fails to fix Deepwater Horizon oil disaster – 10 May

Oil spill science: The mission begins – 10 May

Deepwater Horizon spill updates – 7 May

Deepwater Horizon spill updates – 6 May

Deepwater Horizon spill round-up – 4 May

Ecologists brace for oil spill damage – 3 May

Oil ‘coming ashore’ from Deepwater Horizon spill – 30 April

Gulf of Mexico oil leak worse than thought – 29 April

Oil spill endangers fragile marshland – 27 April

Deepwater Horizon oil leak still unplugged – 26 April

Race on to contain oil slick after rig accident – 23 April

Oil spill science: The jellyfish graveyard – 11 May


  1. Report this comment

    Yuri Terceros said:

    I know the best specialists from BP and other companies are working on this, but, just in case, here goes an idea regarding the (still) failed oil-collecting dome.

    The problem of hydrate formation is unavoidable considering the low temperatures of water at that depth and the quantity of natural gas present in the gas-oil mix. So, removing the hydrates from the dome will probably only lead to further formation of such hydrates, assuming that the combination of temperature and pressure remains the same. However, the hydrates do not form instantly. Rather, they appear gradually as the gas gets further from the pipe opening and cools down as a result of the surrounding cold water.

    What you might try to do, is to considerably reduce the distance between the opening from which the oil is flowing, and the opening by which the oil shall be sucked. I understand there is an opening on top of the dome, that was to be used to connect a flex pipeline once the dome is in place and oil is flowing out of this opening. If you try and lower a flex pipe with such a diameter that will allow this flex pipe to be inserted through the opening on top of the dome, then you will probably be able to get this flex pipe through the accumulated hydrates also. If this flex pipe is filled with a non-freezing liquid, then you will be able to keep the internal walls of the pipe free of hydrates until the moment when you start sucking oil with this pipe. The best way to keep this pipe filled with the non-freezing liquid until the moment you need to open it, could be by the use of a cap that can be removed by applying certain pressure to the liquid contained in the pipe (applying pressure until the cap “pops out”) . The opening of the flex pipe should be placed directly above the oil leak, and as close as possible to the leak itself, in order to avoid sucking oil hydrates that will be forming in the water.

    The pipe shall also have a sealing ring attached to it, but secured some feet above the full height of the dome, so that this sealing ring can be used to secure the pipe to the dome and seal the space between the pipe and the dome opening, once the flex pipe is in place and operational.

    This should have almost the same result as was originally intended, except that the diameter of the flex pipe might have to be smaller in the length that will be inside the dome, but that should not have a big effect on the flow rate, considering the small lenght with a lesser diameter.

    You might still have the problem of hydrates formation inside the flex pipe, once the oil is flowing into it, because the pressure-temperature conditions might again be the same at some point of the flex pipe. In this case, the only solution might be to inject some hydrates-inhibitor solution (methanol) inside the flow of oil, right at the intake of the flex pipe.

  2. Report this comment

    ghhillbilly said:

    seems to me this oil leak is pathectic the pipe is only 20 inches in inside dia.

    i was thinking it was a whole lot bigger.with deepwater robots they could possibly stop this oil gusher i think fairly easy compared to what they are trying.a twenty inch pipe may have a whole lot of pressure but thier experts already know how much.i think all they would have to do is take a steel plate and wedge it in the pipe to cut the flow of the oil coming out if need be cut a hole in the pipe with a saw or underwater machine and slip a metal plate in the cut much like mining for gold. this it not rocket science just plain old common sense.people better speak up soon or we may not have any gulf to fish in or eat from plus the wildlife they are killing each day. please comment i want to hear from you citizens please speak up this is our south they are killing.

    best regards gary

  3. Report this comment

    Sunflower Pipes said:

    The argument that allowed BP to drill in the gulf was that The Company would act in its own best interest according to its own profit motive. They then pointed out that they have some of the best scientists, engineers and oil rig experts in world, Therefore they would be able to drill safely at depths that far exceeded any than had been attempted before. This argument proved to be false. As a country we need responsible government regulation. Companies rise and fall and their only constant function is to make as much money as they can. By design companies have no responsibility to humanity, society , loyalty or the future any more than it serves its own interest. In order for this country to prosper in the future and pay off the national dept, we need to audit our relationship with every huge cooperation and make sure those relationships are responsible and fair.

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