BP’s remarkably simple shooting from the hip, whereby it’s dropping a 100-ton containment dome on top of the gulf oil leak is truly amazing. The level of technology on hand shows just how far deepsea exploration & production has come.
The 98-ton structure has been lowered to the seabed almost 1 mile below the surface. The mission requires pinpoint accuracy in the dark and under high water pressure.
The container was suspended just over the leak while crews using remotely operated vehicles prepared the seabed, said the Unified Command centre, which is coordinating spill-fighting efforts.
“It will hover there until they are ready. They hope to lower to sea floor today, but they need to finish prepping the surface,” the centre said in an update late on Friday.
According to NPR, the containment structure was most recently reported as just 200 feet above the leak. This is the first time thus operation has performed at such a depth (5,000 feet).
Here’s how it will hopefully work:
Once lowered, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) will carefully position the dome over the end of a pipe (also called the riser) where the source of the largest leak is occurring and which is about 600 feet (183 meters) from the well head. There are several slots on the sides of the dome with sliding doors so the dome can be clamped around the broken riser. The dome will actually go into the seabed.
The ROVs are equipped with powerful lights and cameras, as well as the robotic arms they’ll use to do the positioning. Images of the process will be transmitted to computers onboard the ship, so officials can monitor what’s going on.
The goal is to create a seal between the seabed and the dome, which can be tricky.
Then, a 5,000-foot (1,524 meters) riser will be connected to the top of the containment dome, and that riser will go up to the Deepwater Enterprise.
Once sealed to the seabed, it will take a couple of days to get everything hooked up, Pack said. Then, it will take time to “get the balance of liquids right.”
When the collection process gets going, oil will fill up the dome and then under its own pressure, it will flow up the riser and be collected on the ship, where it will the oil will be separated from the water and gas and temporarily stored before being transferred back to shore.
Not bad… they’ll even be able to continue collecting oil and selling it, even though the containment dome isn’t a permanent solution.