Posts Tagged ‘oil’
Oh no! There goes the Gulf of Mexico. Go, go, Oilzilla… The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico reminds me of that Blue Oyster Cult classic with a little twist. If you do a little research with a search engine you can find information about a similar oil spill that occurred off the coast of Mexico in 1979. This drilling platform Ixtoc was owned by Pemex, an oil company owned by the Mexican government. This drilling platform was only in 200 ft of water. The accident followed the same script as the Deep Water Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. The Ixtoc platform encountered drilling mud being pushed up by natural gas after the drill had penetrated the oil reservoir deep in the earth. The crew attempted to activate the blow out preventer. It failed and a mixture oil and natural gas came up through drill pipe. The natural gas was ignited by a spark and the platform exploded and sunk.
The Ixtoc engineers employed the same techniques tried by BP. They lowered a capture dome, and pumped mud into the wellhead.They also tried a junk shot consisting of lead balls. All these techniques ultimately failed. It wasn’t until 10 months later that a relief well was drilled and the engineers were able to plug the initial failed wellhead. Keep in mind that this well was only 200 feet of water as opposed to 5000 feet, yet took 10 months to regain control of the runaway wellhead.
Adding insult to injury after recovering a small amount of the oil. Pemex only paid for the clean up of the coastal areas of the United States that were affected. Pemex ignored all claims filed against it by claiming sovereign immunity, which essentially means the ‘king’ or ‘queen’ can do no wrong.
If you take into consideration that the deepest that a man can dive in standard scuba equipment is about 190 ft. At that depth there are problems with nitrogen narcosis and lighter gases boiling out of the blood resulting in the bends. At 5000 ft the task becomes pretty much impossible for man to work. If you take into account the lack of light at this depth and the pollution spewing from the wellhead the only way to to work at this depth is with a robotic submersible that is controlled from the surface. This makes for slow and tedious work with unproven and complex equipment.
This all means that we can pretty much look forward to Oilzilla running amok for at least another year. Perhaps the people that live along the Gulf of Mexico should invite the executive board of BP for a nice little swim along one of their fouled beaches. They want need suntan lotion it is already in the water.
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