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Friday, April 30, 2010

Proactive Fix For Deep Sea Oil Platform Blowouts

If off-shore oil platform developers were required to pre-install a permanent emergency oil blowout collection tent at each wellhead, the disaster unfolding in the gulf of mexico would never have happened.  

The above diagram shows the tent as deployed after a blowout.  Before a blowout the tent would lay flat on the ocean floor in the ready.  When a blowout occurs at the well head (A), a winch (or air filled ballast) (B) pulls the tent up into position over the well head (A).  The tent (C) is composed of an inverted V shaped rigid "tent pole" (D) hinged at pivot points (E) anchored at sea floor.  Once deployed, the tent presents as an inverted pyramid that catches the oil (G) as it rises (oil is lighter than water).  A ten inch hose (H) is lifted from the apex of the tent to the surface of the ocean by buoys (I) along at intervals along its length.  The hose terminates at the surface where a tanker is positioned to pump the oil into its hold until such a time as the well head can be sealed.

Using another approach, the rigid poles are replaced by buoys lifting the apex of the tent.  Four guy lines anchor the tent's corners to the ocean floor.  This option allows for a larger tent and might prove easier to install and deploy.

The entire contraption could also be prebuilt, pre-packaged, and deployed from a GPS guided barge or ship – dropping four anchors or concrete standards at equal radius from the well head and then deploying the collection tent and pumping hose remotely via at-depth gas filled buoys or mechanical winch.

Randall Reetz

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