BP Now Resorts to ‘Junk Shot’ Cannons Filled With Golfballs
May 15, 2010
(ChattahBox)—As the sunken Deepwater Horizon oil rig spews out an estimated 25,000 barrels of oil per day, or more, into the Gulf of Mexico, BP Oil is fast running out of ideas to cap the disastrous leak. After a giant containment dome failed. And a smaller “top hat” and insertion tube are unlikely to work either, BP officials have now reverted to clogging up the massive underwater leak with golf balls, bits of plastic and copper wiring. The procedure is referred to, as a “junk shot” and may be the last best hope to stop the unabated gushing of crude oil into the sensitive ecosystems of the Gulf coast.
The “junk shot” or as BP officials prefer, “bridging agent,” is a commonly-used method to plug up leaks above ground. But according to a piece in The NY Times, the Deepwater Horizon well, at 5,000 feet under water, presents serious challenges:
“Officials with BP and other companies involved in the effort, who discussed the plans in detail at some of the operations rooms, said the best of several options included a “junk shot,” which could be tried within the week. The method involves pumping odds and ends like plastic cubes, knotted rope, even golf balls — Titleists or whatever, BP isn’t saying — into the blowout preventer, the safety device atop the well.”
“As Rube Goldberg as it sounds, the basic techniques are straightforward and have been used successfully on out-of-control wells around the world. “The problem here is they all have to be executed 5,000 feet under the water,” said Pat Campbell, a well-control expert who is working with BP on the project.”
The junk shot attempt will be carried out by remotely activated submarines, with robotic arms. The operation is coordinated above ground on ships and at a distant BP command center in Houston:
“As with all the other efforts to stop or contain the leak, the underwater work would be done by robotic submersibles. They are operated by pilots aboard surface ships above the well, but the work is coordinated in a darkened room in the Houston center, one wall of which is taken up by live video from the craft.”