Friday, June 11, 2010

Could A Sleeve Hold The Oil?

(This expands on an earlier post)

Imagine a back-yard swimming pool of strong, flexible mylar plastic, 100 feet across, a mile deep, and upside down over the oil leak.

What is the worst that can happen?

Weighted down at the edges, touching the bottom, it could hold the oil. It could hold 40 million cubic feet of oil until BP finds ships to off-load it. That's 310 million gallons, almost 6 million barrels of oil. Once the sleeve gets full, slip another one in place. The oil would not be under pressure, just contained.

Touching the bottom, the sleeve would limit submarine access to the wellhead. But that would last only until the relief wells succeed. Then the wellhead could be repaired.

If submarines still must tinker with the wellhead, if the present pipe that is pulling a fraction of the oil up into tankers must stay in place, then why not make a 1000 foot wide skirt that can float a hundred feet above the ocean floor and capture oil as it rises from the work site below?

Open wide at the bottom, this "range hood" above the robot submarines could funnel escaping oil upward into a containment sleeve.

Could BP tankers ship the oil away fast enough if it all came directly to the surface?

What is the worst that could happen?

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