A geological phenomenon
By Dr. Joseph S. Maresca
New BP Cap Stems Oil Flow in Gulf for Now August 15, 2010
BP Engineers are running a series of tests to determine seismic activity and pressure after the successful installation of a cap stems the flow of oil in the Gulf. These pressurized tests will take some time to complete; however, small businesses along the Louisiana coastline are quietly optimistic about the possibility of returning to business at some future time. BP stock rose 7.5% today due to the good news.
The most obvious question is whether or not offshore drilling permits should commence as before the spill. The November, 2010 date has been mentioned publicly; however, a number of technical issues remain before permits could be considered.
For instance, a determination needs to be made as to which offshore drilling operations should be de-commissioned permanently due to aging equipment, gas leaks, emergency shutdowns or other critical incidents. There are patents which deal with gas leak detection. i.e.
Patent art exists for detecting an influx of gas into a marine riser of an oil rig. US Patent 5163029 was designed for this purpose. In accordance with the present invention, several methods are presented for the detection of gas into an offshore marine riser (e.g., riser gas). In a first embodiment of this invention, an acoustic transmitter is positioned on or nearby the subsea blowout preventor stack and imparts continuous low frequency waves into the annular fluid in the marine riser. These imparted waves define pressure perturbations which are received by a pressure transducer positioned on the riser at a location above the acoustic transmitter. Gas detection in the riser is then indicated by determining the rate of change of certain characteristics of the output. The output characteristics are preferably the moduli and phase angles of the acoustic fundamentals and their harmonics.
The industry itself needs to determine whether or not supplemental self-regulation is in order. There are possibilities. For instance, a consortia of companies could centralize trouble management under the umbrella of cloud computing or mega-datacenters. This action would centralize data and provide for standardized data processing and protocols. The use of artificial intelligence "Advice Giving" systems could aggregate the advice of offshore engineering experts collected by the knowledge engineer. Advanced Trouble Management Systems could be employed to rank routine engineering problems by criticality. The most critical incidents like gas leaks would be addressed first by local engineers and government policymakers.
Offshore Drilling productivity is another issue which the industry and government must address. Running the offshore drilling equipment beyond 100% capacity should be disallowed under any conditions. In addition, engineering maintenance at the offshore drilling site must be more rigorous and supplemental funds should be made available to promote the same.
There needs to be a better response to routine exigencies by employment of "Contingency Planning" and "Disaster Recovery Planning." In addition, offshore drilling companies must employ more sophisticated manned and unmanned underwater vehicles to facilitate routine maintenance and anticipatory maintenance.
The Energy Department and other federal / state agencies must investigate the feasibility of coordinating routine and unannounced tests of offshore facility operations, contingency planning and disaster recovery planning.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is a global treaty governing the offshore drilling activities. In 2002, the treaty was accepted by 138 countries including the United States. The treaty addresses environmental concerns related to offshore drilling. Major features of the Convention include navigational rights, territorial sea limits, economic jurisdiction, legal status of resources on the seabed beyond the limits of national jurisdiction, passage of ships through narrow straits, conservation and management of living marine resources, protection of the marine environment, a marine research protocol and a binding procedure for the settlement of disputes between States. All offshore drilling in the United States and elsewhere should comply with the letter of this treaty, as well as the spirit of its intended benefits to member nations.
Joseph S. Maresca Ph.D., CPA, CISA, MBA: His significant writings include over 10 copyrights in the name of the author (Joseph S. Maresca) and a patent in the earthquake sciences. He holds membership in the prestigious Delta Mu Delta National Honor Society and Sigma Beta Delta International Honor Society. In addition, he blogs and reviews many books for Basil & Spice. Visit the Joseph S. Maresca Writer's Page.
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