Friday, June 25, 2010

Deepwater Oil Spill - Weather looks worse, as the solar race goes on

The weather situation in the Gulf is getting a little worse, as the National Hurricane Center has now classified the wave I have been writing about recently as Tropical Depression 1, with a second area of low pressure forming further out into the Atlantic.

Once the storms are identified this way, then the NHC begins to provide tracking information, and this is the current prediction for the storm track. I have put a red square where the Deepwater Horizon well is roughly located.

The white zone around the path shows where winds will rise to over 50 knots. At the briefing today Admiral Allen noted that when the winds are predicted to reach 40 knots in the area, then 120 hours before that occurs the rigs will be disconnected and moved to a safe area.

Also in the briefing the Admiral explained the location of the initial well and the relief well (RW) (one relative to the other) in a little more detail. Now that the initial location of the well has been established, the RW is drilling back downwards. But every so often it will stop and:
This is where they withdraw the drill pipe and put down an electrical cable into the end of the wellbore, and they put out an electrical signal, and they actually could pick up the magnetic field around the wellbore. This tells them how close they are getting.

They have made contact with this electromagnetic field. What they will do is continue to drill down in short intervals, withdraw the pipe, put that sensing device down, and slowly close on the wellbore to the point where they're ready to do the intercept drilling.

This last part takes some time, because they only do several hundred feet at a time, withdraw the drill pipe, and then put the sensor down to figure out how close they're coming. After a series of these readings, they can have a very precise idea of how close they are to the wellbore and then how to actually turn the drill in and make the intercept. But then we'll get much slower, because they have to basically drill, withdraw the drill pipe and put the sensor down.
They also have a vessel standing by that's full of mud on the top, in the event they get really close, they could potentially knick the wellbore they could actually put mud down to control any hydrocarbons that might come out.

Regarding the longer-term containment, we should by next week have the additional vessel in place to start producing off of the kill line. That's the other line that's available to bring oil to the surface. That will bring us the three production vessels and the 53,000-barrel capacity we were looking for by the end of June.
In the change to a new cap that is planned for next week, there are three different designs that are being considered for installation. The ROVs are currently hooking up the hoses to the new distribution system that will ultimately feed four risers.

The recovery operation has returned to collecting about 24 kbd:
For the first 12 hours on June 25 (midnight to noon), approximately 7,870 barrels of oil were collected and approximately 4,230 barrels of oil and 27.5 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

On June 24, total oil recovered was approx. 23,725 barrels
• approx. 15,785 barrels of oil were collected,
• approx. 7,940 barrels of oil were flared,
• and approx. 54.7 million cubic feet of natural gas were flared.

In the solar car race, the final staging stop before the final tomorrow has been reached in Normal, OK with the official times for the first two stages being posted at the race website .

The current times are (unofficially from the Michigan web site

Michigan . . .25:15 (hours and minutes)
Minnesota . . . . ..27:27
Bochum . . . . . . 27:37
Stanford . . . . . . 28:52
Missouri S&T . . 29:40
Calgary . . . . . . .30:21
Kaohsiung . . . . 32:48
New Platz . . . . . 41:37
Kentucky . . . . . 42:00

And these are the only cars to complete the third stage.

Posting will be a little shorter over the next few days as we drive East, but I will try to at least include the daily oil production, the end of the solar car race and further developments if relevant in the weather (but hopefully not for the volcano).

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