View Full Version : Salvaging Gulf Oil from THE LEAK

Nicholas Scheuer
05-15-2010, 05:14 PM
My first employer (afte the Army) manufactured Oil and Grease Interceptors. This was an interesting segue, as I had learned how to maintain these miserable contraptions in Army kitchens.

Esentially they are large steel boxes (visualize a VW Bus) having an inlet, an outlet, and many strategically located baffles to slow the flow of waste water through the box.

OK, fast forward to the present. The US Navy has lots of large ships they are not using. Let's take one and convert the hold into a VERY large oil interceptor, having an inlet, and outlet, and many baffles to slow the flow of contaminated water.

Satellite images could be employed to guide the ships along veins rich in oil (we see the images on the evening news).

Other ships (how 'bout surplus oil tankers, eh?) could be employed to transport the seperated oil back to shore facilities for refinement. The large Interceptor Ship why not rename it USS INTERCEPTOR) would simply dump seperated sea water over the side, or more appropriately, over the transom.

This USS INTERCEPTOR might be employed as long as it takes; as long as veins of oil keep appearing on satellite image screens; I'm thinking years.

After the job is done, the ship could be kept ready for the next leak, so oil company executives would have to sit around with their heads stuck firmly up their asses trying to figure out what the F--k to do next time one of their wells leaks.

We might even have to convert several ships, and call them INTERCEPTOR-2, INTERCEPTOR-3, etc.

I haven't heard any other worthwhile ideas here, and this one would damm well work.

Moby Nick

Todd D
05-15-2010, 05:31 PM
Sounds good to me with a couple of additions.

1. The oil companies that have operating platforms in an area have to pay to convert the ships. Conversions to be done in US Navy shipyards. The government retains ownership of the ships.

2. The oil companies pay all operating and maintenance costs. Ships to be crewed by US Navy personnel.

3. Oil collected is SOLD to the oil companies at either the current per barrel cost or the cost to collect it + 25%, which ever is greater. Oil companies operating the platforms that cause spills are REQUIRED to buy the oil collected.

4. All costs to the oil companies are to be taken from profits. It will be illegal for the oil companies to adjust their prices up to cover the costs.

Nicholas Scheuer
05-15-2010, 05:33 PM
Tod illustrates why I was a Mechanical Design Engineer in Industry instead of a Biz guy.

Moby Nick

Nicholas Scheuer
05-15-2010, 05:44 PM
The only original design work that need be done here is for the intake configuration, I'm thinking an intake resembling a two-hundred-foot-wide cornhead on a combine, but able to suck fluid instead of thrash corn stalks.

SUCTION is key. Everything else was proven decades ago.

I figure I'm qualified to command one of these ships, because I learned from the founder of the company how to design them. As for handling the ship, hell, any idiot can follow a satellite image showing where the oil is.

Moby Nick

Nicholas Scheuer
05-15-2010, 06:18 PM
@00-ft-wide swath? I was clearly thinking too small!

The INTERCEPTOR would be flanked by a pair of unemployed Shrimp Trawlers stationed perhaps 500yards off Port and Starboard bows and a bit forward, each dragging the outlying ends of a polyethylene screen with weights fastened along the bottom edge (similar to a siene net, but without holes).

Oil gunk would be funneled into the 200-ft "Oil Head" where hydraulic pumps would suck the gunk up into the oily bowels of the INTERCEPTOR.

If executives at the refinery objected to handling the gunk, the US Environmental Protection Agency would simply tell them, "Deal with it, As-H-le".

Moby Nick

George Jung
05-15-2010, 07:34 PM
Scientists are finding enormous oil (http://www.nytimes.com/info/oil/?inline=nyt-classifier) plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick. The discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies/bp_plc/index.html?inline=nyt-org) have given.

from the Times

05-15-2010, 07:45 PM
It was refreshing to see Obama putting the boot into all 3 of the oil companies involved.

George Jung
05-15-2010, 07:48 PM
I agree; love it. Too bad it took this impetus to get this going.

Clan Gordon
05-16-2010, 03:30 AM
These ships already exist - no need to be invented/converted.

The drillship on the disaster site has the tanks, and the pipe handling equipment to get the oil to the surface (if it will flow).

And the idea was that the oil would then be taken to shore in a specially designed shuttle tanker (bow loading facilities, good positioning equipment). These have been used for years elswhere, but the US was about to put its first into service (in the Gulf of Mexico) so fortunately you have one standing ready.

But all useless if you cannot get the oil to flow to the surface.

05-16-2010, 04:05 AM
While no where near the scale you guys are discussing, separating the oil and water during recovery operations is nothing new.

Our operation involved one vessel with an oil skimmer on one side of the boat, and a barge on the other side, or two skimmers (port and starboard) with the barge towed aft.

The oil was is pumped from the skimmer (which uses plastic brushes to pick up the oil from the water) into the barge. Obviously a large amount of water is collected too. As the barge fills up, the water settles to the bottom of the barge, and the oil to the top. Internal pipes lead from the bottom of the barge tank, to cam-loc fitting on deck. Another pump then pulls the 'mostly' water from the barge, and discharges it ahead of the skimmer. The 'ahead' part is key, so that any oil that comes back out of the barge is reskimmed out of the water. Discharging it behind the boat would be less than ideal.



I know we love to hate the oil companies, but the people out there really have thought this stuff out, and tested it in advance. The problem here of course, is the scale. I've got no problem with requiring more boats. Heck, that means more jobs. ;)

05-16-2010, 04:24 AM
But how do you salvage the underwater plume. It is 15 -20 miles long and 5 miles wide, I read somewhere that the average thickness was 300 feet, but I cannot find the link now ( somone confirm? ). This plume is at a depth of about 3000 feet and may never reach the surface.

Nicholas Scheuer
05-16-2010, 06:47 AM
How 'bout an electric or air-powered submersible with an intake hose attached? The sub would be guided by remote control to a position inside the plum and jusy sit there sucking.

Moby Nick

Nicholas Scheuer
05-16-2010, 07:06 AM
Hey! Is this "dispersant" a good thing? Will dispersing the oil make interception and cleanup more difficult later?

Moby Nick