Oil Spill in Gulf could happen in Alaska (Valdez: home, inspection)
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It appears the current oil spill in the Gulf Of Mexico could be replicated in Alaska based on the propensity of Blow Out Preventers to fail to control blowouts. I'm watching the current news reports from Mississippi and Louisiana as well as the National reports and the reporting on the frequency of failures of blowout preventers seems to be fairly high.
A repitable company will test their BOP's regularly. Alaska is much more strict than PA in that they require weekly or bi-weekly. Also it's a requirement to show certification of inspection before a rig is allowed to go to work.
Here they test once at the start of each well. I think it's safe to say that in Alaska, failure of a BOP would be hard to come by. Failure of a Driller to recognize a kick and getting the BOP closed in time is a bigger risk. A mud engineer's job is to provide adequate drilling mud properties to eliminate any chance of a gas kick or influx into a well. A derickman's job is to mix the mud and regularly check it's weight etc to ensure things are up to snuff. But on occasion someone lag's behind and kicks do occure. Recognizing an influx or kick before it's to late, and getting the BOP closed in before the entire well unloads is the key.
The Swaco mud engineer I work with here said Swaco had personell on that platform that just blew. They lost a couple guys. It appears they had a specialty tool hanging within the BOP, and when they tried to close in on the well, the extra thick and strong pipe would not allow the shear rams to slice the pipe in two and close in on the well. Being the string was very shallow in the well, it would have more than likely blown out of the rotary table anyway.
It's a truly sad story. Nothing could be more damaging to the future of drilling anywhere in the nation, than what is happening in the gulf right now. As much as I rely on drilling to eat and pay bills, I sure as heck don't want to see an environmental hit like they are about to get down there.
It's going to be one hell of a mess. I can only hope BP get's a relief rig in there to tap in and cement the well off.
It's also sad that guys that went to work healthy...never made it home to their families. Oil can be cleaned up eventually. But loved ones lost can never be replaced.
I saw a report this morning that said they had a second rig beginning work on an interceptor well so they could pump concrete into the leaking well and shut it down. However they are saying it could take seven weeks to get that done. Apparently from the illustration they showed they drill down into the sea bed and then turn the drill string to drill sideways until they get there. Kind of like shooting a bear in the dark when all you know he's out there somewhere isn't it? The worst report I heard so far was none of the rigs out there have blow out preventers and in the last administration they weren't always required since someone was saying how safe drilling was. Can Alaska demand they be used or do the Federal Rules apply everywhere off shore?
It's a done deal that one of the outcomes of this will be stricter regulations on the installation, maintenance, and testing of BOPs. I'd be willing to bet that going forward, BOPs will be required on ANY new offshore rig falling under US jurisdiction - no exceptions. The big problem I see is that it's doubtfull that any of the foreign countries (i.e. Russians, Chinese) drilling in the gulf use BOPs, or would even give a rat's fart if they caused a spill that devastated the US coastline.
It's a done deal that one of the outcomes of this will be stricter regulations on the installation, maintenance, and testing of BOPs. I'd be willing to bet that going forward, BOPs will be required on ANY new offshore rig falling under US jurisdiction - no exceptions. The big problem I see is that it's doubtfull that any of the other countries with rigs in the gulf use BOPs, or would even care if they caused a spill that devastated the US coastline.
I find it hard to believe any drilling rig in the nation works without some sort of blow out preventer. There will never be a rig in Alaska working without one. They do things a bit different here in the lower 48 and so it may be true. Alaska doesn't have to make that demand. It's an essential part of any rig's equipment that works in Alaska, and the state has rep's that oversee testing of BOP's on a regular basis. If any of the componants fail...the rep sit's there until it's been fixed and tested...or the rig doesn't go to work until it is. They witness test pressures and times, functions etc, and cut no one any slack. It's done right or the rig doesn't work.
As a former 4 yr vet of land rigs in the 80's (floor hand - to - chain hand - to - derrickman), ny first coment to a friend was " what the hell happened to the BOP"
We had drills even back in the 80's to test them during our hitch. We treated them like queens to make sure they were at 100%.
I'm not sure if BP is going to survive this.
Offshore Drilling can be safe. The problem arises when politicians allow oil companies to write the rules in exchange for money.
This spill is truly a gigantic mess. Its going to affect so many people in so many ways for a long long time. And the wildlife will suffer immensely as well. If they can't find a way to stop the leaking it could eventually travel up the entire east coast.
Toxic residues remain to this day from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound and this spill is going to be worse in many ways.
I still get pissed off when I think about the SC court reducing the punitive damages from the Valdez spill to $500 million.
We really need to get serious about developing alternative energies. Oil is dirty. Period. What's happening in the gulf is a crying shame. Perhaps our future should look a little more like the past- where communities are stable and most goods and services are produced nearby, vs. food shipped tens of thousands of miles across the highways and oceans, and people driving nearly 100 miles roundtrip daily for work. Everything is "grow, grow, grow, profit, profit, profit, greed, greed, greed." When is enough, enough?
Everything is "grow, grow, grow, profit, profit, profit, greed, greed, greed." When is enough, enough?
A lot of the problem you describe is due to automation of everything in our daily lives. From the beginning of the Industrial Age we have pursued the ultimate goal of removing our selves from decision making. The first machines used water and steam power to perform some function faster, quicker and with less input from the operator. Today you can choose anything but think about beer which is a known here in Alaska and look at how it arrives in your hand. The vats contain a lifetime supply of beer for one or more people which is then divided up so it arrives in your possession as a six pack. You might ask why a six pack? Well it is something almost anyone can handle, it is easy to design a machine to handle six pack packing, and it takes a few minutes for even Met's friends to dispose of. It represents everything we need today it is convenient to handle, it contains enough to satisfy us, and it is the right size to be noticed. Think a single can vs the six pack. Now look at everything in that context and size it appropriately and you have today's economics. And you ask "WHEN IS IT ENOUGH"?
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