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Keeping Our Fingers Crossed For the Gulf

Oli Spill Clean-upGiven the sad comedy of errors that have occurred on the BP Deep Water Horizon drilling operation in the Gulf of Mexico, a lot of people will have their collective fingers crossed this week, as the project for the permanent cap to the damaged well gets under way.  I don’t think that there is need to rehash all of the events leading up to this point, everyone directly affected by this disaster is fully aware of what has happened.  The New York times a great website detailing the repair efforts if you are interested.

“Static Kill” is the new plan to permanently plug up the well, and on the 107th day, it has hopefully put an end to what has become one of the worst ecological disasters in U.S. history.  One of the scary things about this Static Kill plan, is that part of it involves the same procedure as the “Top Kill” plan that failed back around Memorial Day.  It involved pumping the damaged well head full of heavy drilling mud (about 13 lbs. per gallon) in hopes that it will force the crude oil back down the well shaft into the reservoir.  Once the mud was pumped down the shaft, a concrete plug should permanently seal the well head.  This failed the first time because the free flowing crude oil simply blasted the drilling mud out of the well shaft – the pressure of the outflowing crude was simply too much to overcome with this method.  Now that the well has been temporally capped from above, the hope is that the new method will hold, then the permanent concrete plug can be installed.

One of the fears with the damaged well, is that there is also damage to the well shaft below the surface, and that plugging the top of the well will not permanently fix the well.  Another sub-surface blowout could happen in the future.  To address this concern, BP is actively drilling relief wells, that will intersect with the damaged well deep below the surface.  The second portion of the Static Kill plan, will use these relief wells to perform the same mud and concrete plug at the bottom of the well shaft also.  Donald Van Nieuwenhuise, director of petroleum geoscience programs at the University of Houston, has liked the plan to killing a vampire “Do I use a wooden stake or a silver bullet? Either will work”.  The Static Kill plan is like using both to make sure this monster is dead.

I will have my fingers crossed along with everyone else involved, because if this does not work, I am not sure that anyone knows what to do next.

Until next blog,


About Dave Acland

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After graduating from Coastal Carolina University with a BS in Marine Science in 1996, I started my professional career in 1997 as an aquarist at Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach, SC. This was an amazing experience, in which I gained invaluable hands on training in exhibit design and construction, as well as husbandry skills for a wide range of animals. In 2000 I started working at That Fish Place as one of the staff Marine Biologists, with the responsibility of maintaining one of the largest retail fish holding systems in the world. I presently hold the position of Director of Aquatic Science, where I oversee the operation of our 35,000 gallon retail aquarium systems, and provide technical support for our mail-order and retail store customer service staff. As an aquatic product specialist, I also provide support for our purchasing and marketing departments, as well as contribute web content and analysis. As a Hobbyist I acquired my love of aquariums from my father who was keeping a large aquarium in early 70’s, and set up my first aquarium when I was 12 years old. I have now been keeping aquariums for over 35 years, and through this time have kept more aquariums and types of fish than I can remember. I set up my first Saltwater aquarium in 1992, which led me down the path I still follow today.