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DoE Posts Raw Data From Oil Spill, Coast Guard Asks For Tech Help 138

Posted by Soulskill
from the glad-to-know-you-guys-are-on-top-of-things dept.
coondoggie writes "The US Department of Energy this week opened an online portal where the public can get all the technical details it can stomach about the BP oil disaster in the Gulf. The DoE site offers online access to schematics, pressure tests, diagnostic results and other data about the malfunctioning blowout preventer and other problems in the ongoing mess. This comes alongside news that the US Coast Guard has issued a call for better specialized technology to help it respond to the ever-widening spill. The Coast Guard is looking for all manner of technology, such as advanced wireless sensors to help it track the movement and amount of oil in the Gulf, or devices that could help to contain and control the underwater leak." Reader freddled points out a story at the Guardian that illustrates how the location of an oil leak is frequently the primary factor in its perceived importance.
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DoE Posts Raw Data From Oil Spill, Coast Guard Asks For Tech Help

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  • by sconeu (64226) on Friday June 11, 2010 @02:26PM (#32539172) Homepage Journal

    Has anyone seen the new "Visit Florida" ads?

    They discuss the fact that potential tourists are worried about the Gulf spill, and then say something like ...

    "Florida has 835 miles of coastline. Northeast Florida has 221 miles of crystal clean beaches..."

    In other words, "Come to Florida! Only 3/4 of our coast is covered in oil!!!"

    • by maotx (765127) <(maotx) (at) (yahoo.com)> on Friday June 11, 2010 @02:40PM (#32539456)
      The problem with Florida isn't BP, but more likely ships illegally dumping. [cnn.com]

      "We've done a number of tarballs from Florida, Key West, Miami and so forth, none of which so far have matched the Deepwater Horizon," Gronlund said. "The tarballs that have been found on the beach in Florida are fuel oil."
      • The problem with Florida is forgetting to gzip.

      • by hey! (33014)

        Just to clarify for folks with poor reading comprehension: this just applies to the tarballs washing up on Florida beaches, which happens at a low rate all the time. It doesn't apply to the giant plumes of emulsified oil deep in the Gulf, which could not have come from ships.

        We'll be dealing with the consequences of the DWH spill for a long time, and most of them won't be visible on the beaches. We might never see the kind of obvious to the media disaster in FL that we've seen in LA.

    • by Knara (9377) on Friday June 11, 2010 @02:40PM (#32539472)
      Not all coastline is beach environment, numbnuts.
      • by Chapter80 (926879)

        Not all coastline is beach environment, numbnuts.

        Hey, a little courtesy please? I happen to have had a vasectomy earlier today and don't appreciate being lumped in with him.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by protektor (63514)

      Only a 1/4 is oil free....at the moment. I thought I read or heard somewhere that they were worried about the oil slicks/spill getting caught in some water flow thing and coming around the coast of Florida and up the Eastern Sea Board, not to mention every other country and island near there. So it may only be a limited amount of time that the beaches are clean and able to be enjoyed before most of Florida and parts of the Eastern Sea Board are a complete mess, let alone all of the Gulf of Mexico areas. Tim

    • by Tmack (593755)
      eh, northeast florida (there are more sides of florida that have beach, go look at a map) is on the atlantic, and is probably 1/4 of the total coast of florida, since the south, west and north-west sides are in the Caribbean/gulf. However, Id say from experience the gulf coast was typically less muddy and more white sand than its atlantic counterpart (which is really southern Georgia, and lots of mud from the Savannah, Altamaha and St Marys rivers) until you got down around Daytona and the cape.This ad is
  • A Reader? (Score:3, Funny)

    by malakai (136531) on Friday June 11, 2010 @02:29PM (#32539214) Journal

    How does a reader point something out when there's 1 comment on this article and it's not that "Reader"?

  • the location of an oil leak is frequently the primary factor in its perceived importance

    They gotta be shitting me? So if it's near my house or where I'm going on holiday I'll think it's more serious than if it's in some kind of bongo-bongo land that I couldn't even point to on a map - and a map of bongo-bongo land to boot!

    Awesome.

    • Yes, statistically speaking. A big oil leak sucks. A big oil leak in your back yard, or at your vaction home, sucks WAY more to you than an oil leak in a place you will never, ever visit.

      Note that an oil leak in the sahara, or the unpopulated southwest US, is far less of a big deal than an oil leak in, say, the Galapogos, or the center of New York. Different impact means different importance. Did you really give a shit about the oil leaks in the Iraqi desert, or were you mostly concerned that the soot wou

      • Sorry to self reply, I caught myself mid-click:

        By New York, I meant Manhattan. Clearly NOT the middle of New York. Not that the middle of New York wouldn't be bad, but I was trying to show how the inconveniencing of millions of people and a major financial center would be worse than an area which is exceptionally sparsely populated.

        • The middle of the gulf IS "exceptionally sparsely populated", Nigeria is on the west coast of Africa and has 150 million brown people living in it.
          • 150 million brown people living in it.

            Well there you go, the oil stains won't be so visible on them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Andy Dodd (701)

        The good thing about this is that it's less likely BP will be able to shirk their compensation committments or drag out the legal proceedings for eternity without massive public outrage like Exxon did.

        Prince William Sound is apparently a beautiful, natural pristine area, but Exxon was lucky - it was not highly populated and not many people visited there so they could get away with dragging out the compensation lawsuits for decades.

        The GOM is a whole different story.

    • by FooAtWFU (699187)

      Well, some people claim that they care about Environmental Issues and that this (Gulf) oil spill is the epitome of man's destruction of all that is good in the world blah blah et cetera. The outrage when it's in Nigeria, though, is strikingly muted. This demonstrates, again, how it's really the freakishly skewed perceptions of people playing politics that drive "environmentalism" as it is currently practiced, and it doesn't have much of anything to do with the real environment.

      • by AvitarX (172628)

        isn't this WAY outpacing the cumulative spilling in Nigeria (as in 2 years worth every month)?

      • by nschubach (922175)

        Well, the story isn't helping with things like:

        the public can get all the technical details it can stomach about the BP oil disaster in the Gulf

        I read that and think to myself, what if I read it all? Does that mean I'm an immoral person because I didn't stop reading and think this thing was the worst disaster in the world (making me ill)?

        • by maxume (22995)

          You need to be more arrogant, taking moral cues from the people that write /. summaries is like trying to stop your eyes burning with a nice gasoline rinse, it just doesn't make any sense.

      • by dangitman (862676) on Friday June 11, 2010 @05:53PM (#32542878)

        This demonstrates, again, how it's really the freakishly skewed perceptions of people playing politics that drive "environmentalism" as it is currently practiced, and it doesn't have much of anything to do with the real environment.

        Actually, the people who are serious about environmentalism do care when it happens in Nigeria or other "off the radar" places. They actually expend a lot of energy trying to draw people's attention to these areas.

        What you are seeing has nothing to do with environmentalism, but with the mass media, which naturally reports on things that are sensational, easy, and nearby.

        My suspicion is that if this were a story about environmentalists trying to expose an environmental disaster in Nigeria, you'd be lambasting them for focusing on such a trivial issue that's not relevant to you.

      • Environmentalists have been ranting about oil, minning, and lumber companies raping third world enviromnents and the people who live there since the early seventies, it's obvious you haven't been listening.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by raddan (519638) *
      Did you actually RTFA or are you responding to the lame editorializing? The Guardian article is quite disturbing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by psbrogna (611644)
      Hey, a little courtesy please? I happen to be Bongo-Bongoian and don't appreciate being trivialized.
    • by Altrag (195300)

      For those who didn't RTFA, they were talking in more global terms. They're talking about oil spills that ARE near someone's house, but in a country where those people have basically no recourse (Niger). The government is weak and/or corrupt and the oil companies just run as companies do -- maximize profit and only worry about the expense to others if the cost of a legal battle is high enough. In a country where there's effectively no chance of a legal battle in the first place, the rights of people livin

      • The government is weak and/or corrupt and the oil companies just run as companies do -- maximize profit

        It seems to me the way to maximize profit is to minimize losses due to spills. It would be in their best interests to prevent spills. One of the comments in the article pointed out a very interesting point. The English is horrible, which leads me to assume they are not a native speaker.

        Is it actual worth pointing out the reality that in Nigerian illegal tapping into oil pipe lines , is a major issue that leads to leaks and sometime major explosion as the very photo used in this article shows. In addition pumping stations are attack which also leads to leaks. In short he claims to care about the leaks but fails to address how they are actual caused , while his total ignorance of the massive corruption in Nigerian , that scales into tens of billions and lies behind most of the problem seen. Merely means that this article is just about attacking the oil companies and doing nothing about the problem, for let?s be clear they only make money for oil they sell , they make nothing for that which is lost. Therefore, if they are really the evil corporations some would like to believe than will do what makes money.

        • by Jawnn (445279)

          It seems to me the way to maximize profit is to minimize losses due to spills. It would be in their best interests to prevent spills.

          Not quite. Again, preventing spills is important only insofar as it affects operations (delays the completion of a well and thus prevents the expensive rig from moving on to it's next job) or, in extreme cases, renders significant amount of product unrecoverable. Spilled oil, even a lot of it, does not present enough of a cost to warrant the expense of buying the hardware and implementing the procedures that would prevent those spills. Which is the whole point of TFA. The people of Niger are just fucked, ye

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 11, 2010 @02:43PM (#32539520)

    Do you know what the amount of pressure was from the leak when BP's 3 failsafe's failed? 20k+ psi. The NOAA has that info; at least they did yesterday.
    Crude is extracted at +/-1,500 psi, so they were drilling deep enough to hit magma pockets (I forget the proper nomenclature for those types of pockets).
    Only Russia has successfully drilled that deep...but they weren't dumb enough to try that kind of depth under the pressure and weight of the freakin' ocean.
    20,000+ psi will destroy anything man can make to "plug" the leak. Is our only option nuking it?
    If so, even if they do angle drill and drop a nuke, what if it cracks the strata further?

    IMHO this will help to shuttle in that BS carbon tax. The longer the leak remains, the more damage, the more "reason" for the aforementioned tax. ...But, of course, this is conspiracy stuff. :)

    • by psbrogna (611644) on Friday June 11, 2010 @03:27PM (#32540284)
      20 kpsi is not that big a deal. Equipment happens to be manufactured right here on Earth with ratings in that ball park (c.f. http://www.highpressure.com/valves_fittings.asp?ID=10&ptype=v&section=2 [highpressure.com]). Your allegation about 20 kpsi destroying anything man can make is an inaccurate and overly-dramatic one.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by gedw99 (1597337)

        True about valves being designed for 20 K psi being available.

        However there are all the other aspects of the architecture of the systems down there that have to deal with 20 K psi. So many other bits of hardware have to be able to handle these pressures too.
        Together they make for a very risky architecture because when something goes wrong we are at natures mercy.

        Lets take an look at this another way. When we design an aeroplane we design in a Safety Factor. That means that everything is over designed to wha

      • by Sepultura (150245)

        20k PSI is doable with small areas for pressure build-up. But when you have large areas, you have a lot of pressure over that area which makes it difficult to contain.

        For example, I've read that the well head is either 21" or 22" in diameter. That gives slightly less than 1400 sq inches to slightly over 1500 square inches for the area at the outlet of the pipe. At 20,000 psi that equates to 29 or 30 million pounds of pressure. There's no way to make a cap that can withstand that pressure. And even if y

        • by maxume (22995)

          The pressure under the BOP is closer to 4500 psi (the reservoir is not at 20,000 psi, and the 18,000 foot column of oil contributes a decent pressure drop). The pressure above the BOP is probably less than 3,000 psi (according to figures released by the government, the data is linked from the DoE site).

          So you are off by a factor of at least 20x there. Then, your arithmetic is faulty, a 21 inch pipe has a surface area of about 415 square inches, not 1500 (pipe sizes are diameters, it looks like you used the

      • Especially since BP was able to pump mud down there with enough force to push the oil back into the ground. Of course, this top-kill didn't work but it still puts the lie to your contention that these pressures are unworkable for human technology.

    • If so, even if they do angle drill and drop a nuke, what if it cracks the strata further?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crack_in_the_World [wikipedia.org]

      Hollywood always seems to be a step ahead of current events . . .

    • by abner23 (724467)
      Yep. And aren't salt domes kinda, um, brittle? Wonder what a leftover Cold War nuke'll do to it...
    • I tried. I really did try to bite my tongue and not respond, but you just have no idea what you are talking about here. You sound like one of the technical writers for 24.

      Onshore or offshore, wells have been drilled and are producing from reservoirs with pressures far greater than 20kpsi. Industry is moving towards wells with pressures greater than 35kpsi. I am not sure where the 1500 psi number comes from, but that is far below what even depleted wells are at. Maybe you mean the differential pressure fro
    • by MaWeiTao (908546)

      A direct injection engine in your every day sedan can spray fuel at well over 20,000 psi. That pressure isn't some insurmountable force for which we have no recourse to handle.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)
      How is this modded interesting? It's a load of crap! The Russians aren't the only ones who have drilled that deep, BP aren't the only ones who have done it in that deep ocean, and there's several rigs from the other majors like Chevron The Cajun Express which are in deeper water and deeper wells than the BP rig which fell over and they are all working just fine. BP just happens to run the only rig that has catastrophically failed forcing a lot of things that have never been tried before in that environment
  • ...is let the president know of our support for Clean Energy:

    http://my.barackobama.com/CleanEnergy-auto [barackobama.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I like how completely ambiguous this page is. It would be substantially more effective to vote in favor of a one child policy. At least that has a transparent metric for success.

      Ethanol and traditional photo-voltaics are as dirty, if not dirtier than oil respectively because of inefficiency and heavy metals.

      I am in support of clean energy if we are talking about building some gigantic nuclear power plants next to major population centers to decrease transmission inefficiencies.

      Unfortunately, as the BO web

    • I like the picture of all the eyesore windmills standing above the tree - because that's what it would take, everywhere, in order to adopt wind power as our primary generation method.

  • Rubber duckies (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Rubber duckies with GPS tracking built-in. Wherever the oil is going, the ducks will go too.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by oldspewey (1303305)
      Not unless you build special duckies that are suspended at 50m, 100m, 150m, 200m, etc. all the way down to 1500m below the surface. This spill is manifesting itself in 3 dimensions.
      • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

        That shouldn't really be a problem. Your average highschool physics student would probably be up to the task.

        The hard part I guess would be making the devices radiate their position efficiently from those depths.

  • Any chance to expose the pillaging of Africa is a good thing IMHO. Such a tragedy, does anyone care? Not many where I live. Now I know that not everyone can account for what happens on the other side of the world, but I mention the Niger Delta, the DRC, the current state of Somalia and their civil war, Sudan, Egypt's relationship with Israel, anything from Africa.. and watch the eyes glaze over. I usually just take it as a chance to tell someone, an opportunity. If we ever want to be a truly global communit

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by e2d2 (115622)

      JFC, how am I offtopic _this_ time? The summary posted an article about the Niger Delta.

      • by nschubach (922175)

        Spammers and keywords would be my guess.

      • by bhiestand (157373)

        JFC, how am I offtopic _this_ time? The summary posted an article about the Niger Delta.

        I think Slashdot did something goofy here if you posted in an article about the Niger Delta. Your comment is now under "DoE Posts Raw Data from Oil Spill".

        This actually happened to me once... I made an offhand comment in someone's journal entry, and the journal entry ended up as a frontpage story on slashdot. I had a VERY early first post and looked like a bit of an ass in my comment :(

  • What's this government for, of, and by the people coming to? How dare they solicit our help... Tax us to death and hire the usual incompetent rubes to mismanage, misdirect and overpay the contractors like usual. Kennedy was just saying those things so he could distract us from the real problems of the time.
    • by Chapter80 (926879)

      This should have happened on about day 2, not on day 50 (or whatever we're up to now).

      Unfortunately, we've had no leadership on this matter. Just a politician trying to act like a thug and put his foot to the throat of BP and kick someone's ass. As much as I like Obama, I think he missed a chance to shine on this one!

      He could have organized a multi-faceted team to gather leaders from industry, government, and military, and had organized committees focused on a) stopping the leak, b) preventing it from hi

  • the glad-to-know-you-guys-are-on-top-of-things dept.

    Are they on top of this like oil on water?

  • While they tried to block the flow of oil by shoving mud and other stuff down the tube, is there are a reason why they couldn't use some variant of expandable foam to seal the pipe?

    By that I mean, shove a smaller diameter pipe down the main pipe, say to a depth of 500', then inject the expandable foam into the main pipe to seal it?

    Yes, I am aware, as James Cameron remarked, one has to worry about the oil bursting out somewhere else, but is my above question even feasible?

    • Expanding foam expands because the gas that is inside the foam is at higher pressure than the atmosphere, and is trying to escape. This equation changes greatly when instead of atmospheric pressure (~14 PSI) you are talking about 5,000 feet of water (2,165 PSI)

    • The mud (mostly a bentonite clay slurry, with other minerals to add density) offered a means to *seal* the leak. The purpose is to fill the hole with a column heavy enough to cancel the pressure. It also lets you know if there is a leak somewhere down the tube if you lose too much of it. From what I heard, they found out that somewhere (I think 1000 ft down, but that's just from memory), they were losing a lot of mud.... it would only be an estimate from what they guess they were losing through the riser

  • I'm still wondering why can't they make a mile long plastic tube (tough nylon mesh fabric coated with oil proof material) that's wider than the BOP at the bottom end. Lower it down from a tanker to the BOP, use the robots to wrap it around the bottom of the BOP so it's encased and then the oil will be contained and it could be pumped out at the surface. Oil is less dense than water so it should rise up the tube to the tanker. You don't even have to care about a poor seal at the bottom where the end is wr
    • by Trepidity (597)

      Some version of that is what some of the dome-with-pipes attempts were, but the pipe ended up being clogged up by slushy hydrate ice, among other problems.

  • yeah, i guess i can fire up the bluegene for this...but just this once!
    and you so totally owe me a beer.

  • The drill depth was never attempted before by BP, and now from what I have heard from inside sources, the drill depth has produced pressures beyond the technical resources of _any_ of our science at the well head to contain it. All three safety measures failed at the well head.

    These pressures were not expected and where a surprise and unfortunately the equipment cannot handle it.

    So, it isn't that anyone is stupid, it simply cannot be stopped using any known engineering science.

    Interestingly enough, our Rus

  • kiloseven.blogspot.com recalls two successful self-sealing subterrene nukes detonated in Mississippi only 187 miles from Leak Zero, Now, if we could onlytest it on BP headquarters first...

"Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." -- Hannah Arendt.

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