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Not That It Would Work, But I Wonder Why

July 9th, 2010

I’m curious: in the BP oil spill, they tried plugging it with junk shots and so forth. Why wouldn’t a needle approach have worked? I assume that the problem with caps in general is that the pressure of the oil bursting forth blows off caps. But what if you made a cap in needle form, tapered at one end and with a weighted cap at the other, like a slender, 100-yard-long ice pick? The tapered end would be considerably smaller than the aperture of the well head, but the other end would fit. If that were lowered into the well, it would initially have little trouble going in because the oil coming out would gush around it; but as it descended and the thicker parts of the needle came down, the pressure from the well would have to work against the full weight of the metal in the plug, which would hopefully be heavy enough to counteract that pressure.

Not knowing anything about how these things work, I am sure there are fatal flaws in the idea. I just wonder what they might be.

Update: Seems like I wasn’t the first with the idea (by about 6 weeks). Some ideas on that page as to why it might not work–primary being obstructions.

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