The Deepwater Horizon’s damaged wellhead may be on the verge of a catastrophic failure, according to an editorial that’s lately been making the rounds on the internet. On June 13, a forum post by “dougr” painted a bleak picture of the situation on “The Oil Well,” a site frequented by many professionals in the oil industry.
BP, with the help of the US government, has kept a tight lid on information regarding the catastrophe, even going so far as to restrict access to journalists and keep unauthorized aircraft away from the area. However, based on BP’s actions to control the spill, dougr believes the situation may be far worse than has been publically disclosed, and presents an ominous possibility: the pipes beneath the sea floor are broken and leaking.
If this is true, the wellhead cannot be plugged or capped from the top, and the only possible solution is clogging the well bore from the bottom via a relief well that is months away from completion. Worse still, as the oil pushes up around the damaged casing, its incredible pressure could cause massive erosion around the casing. If this surrounding layer of cement and rock is sufficiently compromised, the entire well could collapse, leaving simply a “big hole” in the sea floor through; the ensuing geyser of crude oil would dwarf the current flow from the broken wellhead.
Scary stuff. But for now it’s merely speculation. Until we learn more, all we can do is watch and wait.
Picture source: CNN