BP Sending Massive Funnel To Contain Oil Spill

BP is in the middle of constructing has built a 100-ton concrete and steel funnel that will be placed over the Gulf of Mexico oil leak to contain it and allow the oil to be pumped onshore. The placement, which I imagine is something like an incredibly stressful large-scale version of The Claw Game, is scheduled for noon eastern today. Will it do the trick?

In the procedure, a 40ft high steel box is lowered by boatcrane into the water and secured over the leak. A procedure like this has never before been attempted at these depths. The leak is 5,000 feet below the surface

CEO Tony Hawyward said that he could not estimate when the leak will be stopped or how much it would cost. He told the BBC, “We will ultimately win it because ultimately one of the interventions to stop the leak will stop the leak.”

The spill started April 20th after an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico a Transocean, Ltd-owned and BP-leased offshore rig exploded and sank, causing a government-estimated 5,000 barrels of oil daily, about 210,000 gallons per day, to begin leaking into the waters.

Is BP doing enough? Did they do enough in advance? An article on Truthout says no, pointing to what they say is BP’s history of cheap-skate corner-cutting and pervericating that puts short-term savings in front of regulatory compliance. As they say, the past…

Before the Exxon Valdez grounding, BP’s Alyeska group claimed it had these full-time, oil spill response crews. Alyeska had hired Alaskan natives, trained them to drop from helicopters into the freezing water and set booms in case of emergency. Alyeska also certified in writing that a containment barge with equipment was within five hours sailing of any point in the Prince William Sound. Alyeska also told the state and federal government it had plenty of boom and equipment cached on Bligh Island.

But it was all a lie. On that March night in 1989 when the Exxon Valdez hit Bligh Reef in the Prince William Sound, the BP group had, in fact, not a lick of boom there. And Alyeska had fired the natives who had manned the full-time response teams, replacing them with phantom crews, lists of untrained employees with no idea how to control a spill. And that containment barge at the ready was, in fact, laid up in a drydock in Cordova, locked under ice, 12 hours away…

…is prologue:

…This just in: Becnel tells me that one of the platform workers has informed him that the BP well was apparently deeper than the 18,000 feet depth reported. BP failed to communicate that additional depth to Halliburton crews, who, therefore, poured in too small a cement cap for the additional pressure caused by the extra depth. So, it blew.

Slick Operator: The BP I’ve Known Too Well [Truthout]
Gulf of Mexico oil spill: Transocean-BP rig had safety valve problem in UK [Telegraph.co.uk]
Moment of truth for BP as engineers reach oil leak with 100-tonne dome that could finally stem ‘volcano’ of oil [Daily Mail]
BP: oil leak will be stopped, but can’t say when [AP]


Edit Your Comment

  1. dreamfish says:

    Depending on which nutjob you listen to (either Rush Limbaugh or Fox News reporters), the oil spill was deliberately engineered either by environmentalists or by the Obama administration.

    • colorisnteverything says:

      Well since Obama just recently approved more drilling, I don’t think it is Obama haha. This kind of put a hitch in the giddyup of that plan, didn’t it?

      Fox News is okay if you watch it for comedic relief.

    • catnapped says:

      It was a joint effort by ACORN, Al Gore, and George Soros (not necessarily in that order).

      Fox News said it, so it MUST be true!

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        For some of us, if Fox news says it, it’s automatically false.

    • HalOfBorg says:

      You might get Fox New commentators saying that, but not reporters. They might report that others are saying it.

      Conspiracy theory nuts everywhere. Nothing just BREAKS – has to be a plot.

      • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

        Of course it’s a plot! It’s the great Entropy Conspiracy, you know.

    • ARP says:

      In order for that to apply:

      1) Obama wanted to look like a fool by promoting offshore drilling
      2) Environmentalists wanted to destroy the gulf area ecosystems….to protect them?
      3) Environmentalists would have needed to lobby for lax regulations and/or non-enforcement (e.g. including one that would have required an expensive shut off valve) during the Bush years.
      4) Environmentalists wanted to commit an act of terrorism/murder by destroying the platform.

      Oh, the new theory is that North Korea did it with the support of Obama

      If that’s the case we can say the same for 9/11, Katrina, or any other disaster or act of terrorism under Bush was intentional in order to consolidate power or remove political adversaries.

      • ARP says:

        Oh, and to force BP not to have enough oil booms ready. Meaning BP REALLY really wanted to, but Obama said, no. And to create a number of historical explosions like Piper Alpha and others in order to provide plausible deniability for this one.

        Wow, this is getting more complex than a birther conspiracy theory.

    • diasdiem says:

      My money’s on Looten Plunder

    • leprechaunshawn says:

      Did you actually hear Rush say what you are claiming he did? Or are you getting your info from MSNBC?

      I listen to Rush on a pretty regular basis and him “blaming” Obama is him poking fun at the left wing liberal nuts who blamed George Bush for Hurricane Katrina.

    • psm321 says:

      I can’t wait for them to start saying over-regulation is to blame

    • thedude says:

      But Rick Perry (Gov. of Texas) said it was an act of God. Now I’m confused.

      • regenerator says:

        God’s an Obama-lovin’ environmentalist. Duh. Jesus, on the other hand, is still a staunch supporter of the Bush administration.

    • EnergyStarr says:

      What Rush said was satirical. At least listen to more than a 3 second audio clip before you post.

  2. Pinget says:

    This is misleading. The box was constructed on land and is being put in place.

  3. Pinget says:
    • KyleOrton says:

      Yeah. I love the enormous benevolent sea turtle overseeing operations from below.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      I love that diagram, especially the sea turtle thrown in for no apparent reason. It should have a caption like “hay guise!” or something like that.

      • K-Bo says:

        I keep looking at it and thinking it’s there to show scale or something, but that would mean one huge turtle or one tiny oil leak.

  4. Commenter24 says:

    It seems like it’s going to be incredibly difficult for them to put this thing in place. They are attaching a 100 ton box to the end of a mile long cable and they are trying to place it over a relatively small hole in the ocean floor. Unless they are attaching some sort of thruster or the like to the box, I don’t see how it’s not going to get “blown” around by the underwater currents. Getting this thing built and onto a boat was probably by far the easiest part. I imagine there is a decent chance they never get it into place.

    • ThaKoolAidKid says:

      Aquaman is a contractor for the oil companies now, he’ll get it done.

    • KyleOrton says:

      Please see Pinget’s link above you that references submarines and Hiram the Sea Turtle God of the Gulf. Without them it’s essentially undersea plinko.

      • Commenter24 says:

        I LOVE Plinko. Maybe they should hire Bob Barker to consult for them; after so many years on the Price is Right he’s got to be a god at Plinko.

  5. thisistobehelpful says:

    Really they need to just park a damn submarine over the whole and call it a day.

  6. ThaKoolAidKid says:

    Anyone buying BP stock at the moment? It’s down quite a few dollars and you know with summer coming prices will get jacked up.

    BTW, it’s been reported on multiple sites that there are three leaks. This ‘container’ will simple cover one of them, allowing BP to capture the oil for them to sell back to us. The other two leaks, well who knows how they’ll fix that.

    • Kid Awesome says:

      One leak is already fixed (they replaced a control valve to do so). This will actually cover the other two.

      • r01984 says:

        They were making 3 of these.
        The 1st one is done and is will be placed on the largest leak.
        The 2nd one will go out next.

        Since they already stopped the 3rd leak they don’t need the 3rd one.

  7. Kid Awesome says:

    It’s already done and in route to be put in place.

    It will only allow them to contain the oil, the true fix won’t arrive until the are done drilling a new line.

  8. idiosynch says:


    Pretty good article about BP and how we got to where we are.

  9. xguile says:

    Now I’m in the mood for a chocolate funnel cake.

  10. failurate says:

    Can’t we just send a Dutch kid down there to stick his thumb in it?

  11. tkmluv says:

    That is 5,000 barrels/day not 5,000 gallons. 5,000 barrels/day is equal to 210,000 gallons/day

  12. johnva says:

    Just wanted to say I really liked the Claw Game analogy.

  13. ALP5050 says:

    The correct amount of oil spilling into the gulf is 5,000 barrels a day, not gallons, as stated above.

  14. Julia789 says:

    They really should have had one of these giant boxes on standby for any leaks that happen. Instead of waiting a while to construct one from scratch while the leak goes on for days.

    • r01984 says:

      They should also have a 2nd BOP on the rig.

      There are a lot of things they could do differently and I hope our lawmakers get real strick on the equipment required to drill.

      • DeltaTee says:

        How much are you willing to pay in rising gas prices to offset these new regulations?

        • Julia789 says:

          Having just one of these big boxes hanging out in a cheap shipyard or storage location in case of a disaster probably wouldn’t make too much of a dent in their profits.

          If it is a cost problem, various companies could chip in to have one on standby for all to use. Or heck, BP could build one, store it, and sell it to a competitor if a disaster struck them before their own company. As long as one is ready it seems like it would be a good back-up.

          I’m sure these boxes are not a cure-all in all situations, perhaps depending on the ocean floor layout (like if it’s solid rock at an angle or something, the box would not stay on it.) But it seems like a smart thing to have on hand in case it does happen.

    • ARP says:

      They also should have had more oil booms and an better designed automatic shutoff valve. However, historical enforcment and rulemaking in these areas has been lax for ideological reasons and influence reasons.

    • mandys08 says:

      the box was specifically engineerd for this water depth and location. my belief is that it is not “one size fits all”. they have also never used this type of solution before in water this deep, it is experimental so probably why they don’t keep them around, its the first. it has only been tested in more shallow waters.
      its not like keeping band-aids in the bathroom

  15. Student Boy says:

    I’m surprised nobody has blamed the obvious culprit: Crab People

  16. Pinget says:

    The answer to the question in the OP is NO. BP knew the blowout preventer had a problem five years ago. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/7683245/Gulf-of-Mexico-oil-spill-Transocean-BP-rig-had-safety-valve-problem-in-UK.html

  17. dolemite says:

    I’m kind of wondering about how they will be able to handle this. So a “boat crane” will lower this. It already weighs 100 tons. at 5,000 feet, I believe they said the pressure was 1 ton per cubic inch? So…what will the weight of a small building that weighs 100 tons be at 5,000 feet?

    • Pinget says:

      They drilled this thing in the first place. They can handle it.

    • Veeber says:

      Pressure is not equivalent to weight. If I stick you in a pool you do not weight more than out of the water, except for maybe your clothes getting soaked.

  18. Tvhargon says:

    210,000 gallons per day, not total. Every single day there’s that much.

  19. scoccaro says:

    soooo who’s down for sushi?

  20. Economists Do It With Models says:

    So basically what you’re saying is that the oil spill is being handled by MacGyver and the Professor from Gilligan’s Island.

  21. Mecharine says:

    Ironically, the price of a barrel of crude oil is now at 76 USD per barrel.

  22. MedicallyNeedy says:

    Sink a daisy cutter and be done with it

  23. PhiTauBill says:

    I wonder if folks will remember this incident a year from now when the next Golden Poo is awarded. The timing of this oil leak is quite like an Oscar hopeful releasing a film in January.

  24. devilsadvocate says:

    it seems like they are more concerned about recovering as much of the oil as possible so they can still sell it than they are about putting the most ecologically friendly solution into place as quickly as possible