BP plugs oil leak with a tube, but it's not a solution

BP sticks a tube in the oil leak, but the company is still under pressure to find a permanent solution.
Written by Boonsri Dickinson, Contributing Editor

After failed attempts of clogging the oil leak, BP has sent robots to insert a mile-long tube into damaged oil pipe on the ocean floor. It's like putting a straw in a big container.

BP managed to pull off the complex operation. So when natural gas was coming out of the tube at the ocean surface, BP breathed in a sigh of relief as the technique seemed to be working as planned. While the tube was temporarily dislodged, they were able to reinsert it.

Overnight the Riser Insertion Tube Tool was successfully tested and inserted into the leaking riser, capturing some amounts of oil and gas. The oil was stored on board the Discoverer Enterprise drill ship 5,000 feet above on the water's surface, and natural gas was burned through a flare system on board the ship. [BP]

This helps to contain the flow, but ultimately BP wants to shut off the oil from the well.

Government officials agree, noting this is "not a solution to the problem and it is not yet clear how successful it may be", according to the The BBC.

President Obama seems to be loosing his patience with BP. He has hand picked a group of scientists known for their stellar creative solving problem abilities. The five man team of nuclear experts visited the crisis center, where they brainstormed and came up with a really good idea. (We have no further details on what the good idea is though).

The dream team will continue to work with the company's scientists until they reach a solution. Richard Garwin, the scientist known for developing the first hydrogen bomb, is among the experts.

Speaking of bombs, the Russians used to nuke natural gas leaks. The Russians detonated nuclear bombs to stop four natural gas leaks that occurred between 1966 to 1981. But that's far different than oil wells spewing oil.

BP engineers are betting on golf balls and rubber to clog the oil spill. It sounds creative, but seems complicated to execute so deep in the ocean.

BP was last night trying to position a "top hat" containment device – intended to slow the flow of oil – while still working on its final "top-kill" solution which involves filling the well with old golf balls and pieces of car tyre, followed by mud and then cement, in an attempt to absorb and then stop the flow. [The Telegraph]

Image via BBC from BP

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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