As an engineer who lived in Houston for eighteen years I am fascinated with the engineering problem BP is facing. Its not my field but I guess that the pressure from the well and the buoyancy of the oil is enough to float the 100 ton structure. They probably are concerned with the riser integrity, too. If they stop one leak the pressure might cause a leak to open elsewhere on the riser.
It bothers me that they did not make the hole at the top of the structure big enough with a reducer they could slide over. It is interesting that the riser pipe has not clogged up yet.
As a farmer who is intimately familiar with frozen pipes, I can see why they are trying to jump start the flow. Once you get it flowing, friction should keep it from clogging but the calculations are probably pretty dicey when you are under 5000 feet of water. I suppose they tried getting one of those remote operated vehicles to stick its arm down the hole and keep the hole clean till the flow gets started. They must be pretty close to the right size opening on the structure.
AP – A novel but risky attempt to use a 100-ton steel-and-concrete box to cover a deepwater oil well gushing toxic crude into the Gulf of Mexico was aborted Saturday after ice crystals encased it, an ominous development as thick blobs of tar began washing up on Alabama’s white sand beaches.
Deep-sea ice crystals stymie Gulf oil leak fix (AP)
Sun, 09 May 2010 02:02:44 GMT