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June 2 (Bloomberg) -- BP Plc’s failure since April to plug a Gulf of Mexico oil leak have prompted forecasts the crude may continue gushing into December in what President Barack Obama has called the greatest environmental disaster in U.S. history.
BP’s attempts so far to cap the well and plug the leak on the seabed a mile below the surface haven’t worked, while the start of the Atlantic hurricane season this week indicates storms in the Gulf may disrupt other efforts.
“The worst-case scenario is Christmas time,” Dan Pickering, the head of research at energy investor Tudor Pick
Physics professor Michio Kaku has some bad news. Oil could continue to gush from the leaking BP deepwater well for years
Ending the year with a still-gushing well would mean about 4 million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf, based on the government’s current estimate of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels leaking a day. That would wipe out marine life deep at sea near the leak and elsewhere in the Gulf, and along hundreds of miles of coastline, said Harry Roberts, a professor of Coastal Studies at Louisiana State University.
So much crude pouring into the ocean may alter the chemistry of the sea, with unforeseeable results, said Mak Saito, an Associate Scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.
A. Find a suitable ship or pontoon of considerable size with (an) open compartment(s), flatten its top and turn it upside down before sinking it.
B. Make a hole in the bottom and weld a horizontal pipe on it.
C. Make a shut-off at the pipe that can be controlled from the surface.
D. Connect a hose to the shut-off with a total length of about 1700 m, which is sufficient to reach the tanker on the surface.
E. Connect the end of the pipe to the oil-tanker.
F. Dump the upside down ship or pontoon over the leaking oil wells.
Physics professor Michio Kaku has some bad news. Oil could continue to gush from the leaking BP deepwater well for years.
After six methods for stopping the leak failed, BP is now trying a seventh method: "cut and cap." Underwater robots are attempting to cut the pipe connected to the blowout preventer. BP wants a diamond wire cutter to leave a smooth surface on the pipe cut. Depending on how well the cut is made, either a "top hat" or "top cap" will be lowered from the surface which will transport the spewing oil to a drilling ship.
The "cut and cap" method has several drawbacks. A perfect seal is thought to be almost impossible and some amount of oil will continue to leak into the Gulf. And the cap will have to be completely removed during inclement weather. Hurricane season started June 1 and it's expected to be the worst year since 2005.
If this seventh attempt fails, the next option will be to wait on one of two relief wells to intercept and block the original well. This is considered the best hope for permanently stopping the flow. Those wells won't be in place until August at the soonest. Some predict that it could take until Christmas.
But Kaku thinks that even those predictions could be too optimistic.
"You would have to win the lottery to get on the first try an exact, an exact meeting at the bottom of the well in order to pump cement to shut it off," Kaku told NBC's Matt Lauer Wednesday.
If the attempt fails, the drill will be reversed, the hole will be filled with cement and they will try again.
"You have to do this over and over again until you get it just right. It takes many tries. So August is optimistic," said Kaku.
"So this could be spewing oil for months. Could it last for a year?" asked Lauer.
"It could last for years, plural. Okay? If everything fails and all these different kinds of relief wells don't work, it could be spewing stuff into the Gulf until we have dead zones, entire dead zones in the Gulf. For years," Kaku explained.