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BP's heavily contaminated oil - how will it be processed ?

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posted on Jun, 9 2010 @ 09:12 PM
We've all been intensely focused lately on the environmental disaster currently unfolding caused by the massive amounts of crude oil spewing from the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico ... and with good cause as there seems to be no ready solution in sight by which to contain it.

However, I was just thinking about an other angle that so far seems to have gone unremarked and unconsidered.
Namely, how is the oil being 'captured' by BP's top hat system planning to be processed and/or disposed off ? We're talking potential mega-barrels that will over the next 90 days (BP's estimate before the oil flow is stemmed by relief wells) be siphoned up to a surface container ship.

BP are giving us current estimates of approximately 10,000 barrels per day being recovered .

BP recovered 10,500 barrels on June 5 and 6,077 in the previous 24-hour period ending at midnight June 4. The oil is piped to a vessel at the surface with capacity to handle 15,000 barrels a day.

Source: Bloomberg

Now, if this estimate of approximate 10,000 barrels is the maximum that can physically be siphoned off per day, then a quick calculation gives us a total figure of 900,000 barrels (10,000 x 90) siphoned off in that 90 day period. This is a huge amount of oil that will need to be stored.

To put it into perspective, the smallest commercial oil tankers, the Panamax class, can hold a maximum of 500,000 barrels ... therefore 2 of these tankers would be needed.
The next size up is the Aframax class of tankers that hold up to 750,000 barrels ... followed by the Suezmax class of tanker that can hold up to 1 million barrels.
So BP will end up storing tanker filling amounts of siphoned up oil.

Under normal oil pumping operations, the crude oil is relatively clean, pure and largely uncontaminated.
But the oil being captured and siphoned up for storage is nowhere near in pristine condition. Rather it's now a mixture of crude oil thats very badly contaminated with sea water, dispersant chemicals and other contaminants.

We now get to my question:

Does anyone know how BP plan to process this degraded quality oil ? I assume that their normal refinery methods were not designed to handle incredible quantities of badly contaminated crude oil and would not be capable of processing it without major structural and operational modifications.
What alternative processing methods would be available to BP to cope with this unforeseen scenario of suddenly finding themselves with so much contaminated oil ?

posted on Jun, 9 2010 @ 10:15 PM
Hmmmmm .... this thread has seen no responses and is already half-way down page 2 !!

Does this indicate that no one has any ideas or worse yet, don't really care about the contaminated oil and what happens to it as long as it's removed from the Gulf of Mexico waters ?

Personally, I have to admit I never even considered the follow up to removing the contaminated oil or how it will be disposed of by BP.

So very interesting and thought provoking question that you've raised here.
Something we all should give some thought to and not remain fixated on just the oil spewing out.

S & F for you

posted on Jun, 10 2010 @ 04:12 AM
And now the threads almost ready to fall of the end of page 4 ... and only one response so far ... WOW

Guess the Gulf oil spill must be becoming old news ... BP will be very happy to know that interest is starting to wane.

posted on Jun, 10 2010 @ 07:16 AM
Probably use some method such as steam to seperate water from the crude,I am sure they have many processes

posted on Jun, 10 2010 @ 07:44 AM
I would guess that vast quantities of seawater could be removed just by pumping it out from the bottom of the storage vessels tanks, the denser sea water would over time naturally settle out. After that the remaining crude/water mix could be passed through a centrifugal water separator. Similar to a marine engines water separator in operating principal just on a larger scale.

What remained I'd imagine would be capable of being dealt with under normal refining processes. Worst case, they'd have to do some extra time in the centrifuges.

posted on Jun, 10 2010 @ 07:50 AM
Where is this crude being stored? What-if one of the containment vessels were somehow hit by lightning? Actually I think they have that fire under control by now ...haven't heard much about it anymore. I can't elaborate sorry.

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