Here's a thought experiment:
Cost of one (1) acoustic switch to turn off oil well in case of an accident: $500,000.
Cost of cleanup of entire Gulf of Mexico and related shorelines: $???,000,000.
Where do you think the money will come from to pay for this disaster's cleanup? Because, BP, like all of those other charitable, philanthropic and eco-friendly oil companies, would NEVER think of raising prices to cover their own azzes in this.
But, over here, well... it was deemed too expensive by BP.
Do a google search for 'acoustic switch' or 'lax offshore drilling regulatory oversight'. I can't be responsible if you start punching your computer monitor.
speechless. 500K is too much money?? thats a joke. This is a criminal act
"Friends don't let friends roll around in trash cans" - OSO Steve
"When a drill rig is drilling a well, there is always a device called a BOP, (Blow out Preventor) on the seabed on top of the well. This is a large unit weighting tens of tons that is a safety device to close in the well if there is a problem. It is connected to the drill rig control systems, especially the emergency systems. If there is a rig emergency, or if someone hits an emergency shut down button on the drill rig, then the BOP will close and lock in the pressure in the well. In this way the oil or gas is not allowed to release. The valves on the BOP are controlled by hydraulic fluid under pressure. Part of it design is that loss of pressure will automatically close the valves and shut in the well.
An acoustic switch is like a remote closure device for wells being drilled. If it cannot be commanded to close from the rig, then they can trigger the acoustic switch from the surface which sends a signal to the BOP as a low frequency sound frequency to close. The cost of an acoustic switch is in the order of US$500,000.
In the case of the recent rig fire in Gulf of Mexico, it appears that the collapse of the riser structure from the seabed to the rig crimped shut the hydraulic lines to the BOP and so it did not close as it should have. They tried to close it manually with an ROV but were not able to. Possibly there was a drill pipe joint right in the point in the BOP where it would normally cut through the drill pipe to seal the well.
That being the case, it is unlikely an acoustic switch would have made any difference. In fact, there has to my knowledge never been in instance where an acoutic switch has been used to shut a well. It has always been shut successfully by the rig systems before that became necessary.
The reason that it has never been made mandatory in US rigs is that the oil lobby in US is very powerfull, and they have lobbyed that it is not necessary. There are arguments both ways, but it comes down to cost, and the fact that US oil industry routinely makes dollars more important than lives or the environment, despite the great things they say about health, safety and environment. Governments such as Norway are far more genuine in their concern and protection in these matters."
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