There was a diary up a full 3 hours ago that speculated that the dome designed to help plug the disasterous BP oil leak had failed. The diarist had issues of confidentiality of sources however, as of about 10 minutes ago it is official.
According to Doug Suttles BP Director of Operations the containment dome did not work because of gas hydrate crystal formation which apparently caused two problems with the apparatus. the crystals changed the boyancy of the device, and the crystals caused the plumbing for funneling the oil up to the capture ships to fail.
The BP flack has mentioned several avenues to fix these problems, from heating the apparatus to several other "industry specific" techniques they will try and employ.
As of now the dome has been lifted off the source of the leak and placed on the sea floor. Improvements to diary to come.
Update thanks to commenter Davidkc and zenbassonLink to a story about the containment dome
Officials for BP on Saturday encountered a significant setback in their efforts to attach a containment dome over a leaking well on the seabed of the Gulf of Mexico, forcing them to move the dome aside while they evaluate find another method to cap the crude oil flowing into the Gulf since April 20.
Officials discovered that gas hydrates had turned into ice-like crystals and built up inside the 100-ton metal container, preventing the dome from being effective. They lifted the dome off the well and placed it on the seabed...snip
"I wouldn’t say it has failed yet," Doug Suttles, BP’s chief operating officer, said at a news conference in Louisiana, "what we attempted to do last night hasn’t worked."
Update from commenter Empty Vessel who remembered this comment from Kossack Fishgrease who im just gonna call NostraKossack
It's not the positioning or any of that that's a problem.
In 5000 feet of water, it's cold. The dome they're going to put over the biggest leak this week will work. The pipe to the surface won't. All oil contains paraffins and asphaltenes. Both the cold water surrounding the pipe and the gas expanding as it surfaces (basic refigeration) will cause paraffins to accumulate on the pipe walls. The asphaltenes will form a matrix within the paraffin. The result? A 5000 ft. candle, tough as nails. That's not even considering methane hydrates (like dry ice but with methane instead of CO2) which form, seemingly when they'll do the most harm.
In a production scenario, you would have additives pumped in at the bottom and the pipe would be heat-traced and insulated.
I think they're just going to use bare pipe.
Could work. I doubt it.
You don't have those problems in 1000 ft. of water.
Updates from comments the commenter knows who he is and why I'm not telling. There have been a couple of mentions on CNN that the plan is to somehow heat the water surrounding the plumbing to the surface or the box itself as I heard the BP Vice President state in the press conference.
Two options officials are looking at are heating the dome or adding ethanol to dissolve the hydrates, he said.
The move to try to cap oil leaking from the sunken Deepwater Horizon rig started early Friday. The technique has never been tried at such a depth and there are no guarantees it will work, said BP, which holds the license for the well.
"It's a technology first," BP CEO Tony Hayward told CNN's David Mattingly Friday. "It works in 3 [hundred] to 400 feet of water. But the pressures and temperatures are very different here. So we cannot be confident that it will work."
The arduous process takes time, Hayward said.
"We are proceeding with a lot of caution to make sure that we don't make what was a clearly bad situation worse," he said. "This needs to be done with a great deal of care and attention."
Our kossack answers,
They cant put a heating system inside because the methane is extremely flammable and might blow up the box. The hot water running down the length of the 5000 foot tube connecting the box to the ship isn't enough to keep crystals from forming in the entire pipe and clogging the whole thing up. Furthermore, if crystals form, the pipe busts...
Its not going to work. Too many bugs to sort out, and on top of that, the box itself is crystalized to all hell.
Update from Billerco 3:05 pst
Noted environmental attorney Stuart H. Smith of Smith Stag Law Firm, New Orleans, Louisiana released the following statement:
"We have been advised through a confidential reliable source, as yet unconfirmed by BP or a second source, that the cofferdam operation, which British Petroleum hoped to seal the DEEPHORIZON well, has failed. Presumably, BP and government officials will address this at the 2 p.m. CST press conference called to discuss status of Cofferdam operations.
"It is our understanding BP may proceed with a "TOP-KILL" to the well, as its next attempt, from the Gulf surface. This involves pumping rubber trash down the pipe and then cementing to try to get a new well plug. This is a very dangerous operation because if it fails, there will be nothing to impede flow of oil from the well, which BP has admitted could reach 60,000 barrels a day.
"Top Kill" appears to be BP's plan C for any hope of a quick fix. I popped around and got an explanation of the plan.
It’s been a lot of fun doing this work," Michael Byrd, a manager at the Houston spill headquarters said in an interview yesterday. "I wish it was under different circumstances."
Crisis-room engineers aren’t pinning all their hopes on the dome. They’re working on a variety of methods to stop the oil leak at its source. One project includes injecting substances into the blowout preventer, a piece of equipment mounted over the well that is supposed to seal it during a surge of pressure known in the industry as a blowout.
The blowout preventer failed in the April 20 explosion on the Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon rig, leased by BP to drill a well off the Louisiana coast. The well began gushing oil into the Gulf after the burning rig sank two days later.
BP calls its blowout plan "top kill." The idea would be to block the oil from rising and direct it back into the well, Fryar said. Scientists and engineers working on the project were even considering untried methods such as injecting golf balls and other debris into the blowout preventer to gum it up, he said
There have been more than a few comments in thread with the suggestion that nuclear energy be used in order to fix this problem. That has got to be one of the craziest ideas I think i've ever heard. First and foremost we can do no more additional harm. The possibility of opening additional ruptures and any number of unintended consequences aside THE WELL HEAD IS 5000 FEET BELOW THE SURFACE OF THE OCEAN. The video below is from the atomic test called Baker which was detonated 90 feet below the surface. There was a test Charlie scheduled, but they cancelled it, The navy couldnt decontaminate its ships from Baker.
Update: From commenter Tyto Alba
Skytruth puts the size of this disaster at much larger than the official 5000 barrels a day.
The leak is continuing unabated, at a rate we calculate to be about 1.1 million gallons (26,500 barrels) per day - five times higher than the last official estimate (5,000 barrels per day) the Coast Guard made, before they quit making estimates a few days ago, admitting they had no accurate way to estimate the spill rate.
Oh my dear god in heaven.
I know the media isnt asking these questions, you get these kinds of things only from the Daily Kos.