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Why Capping Method Will Work and How I Know

Firstly, before we start, you need to have taken fluid mechanics. But more
importantly thermodynamics because the Bernoulli equation is derived from the
first law of thermo. I suggest you read, reread, again and again until you
understand what we are talking about here, before you start shooting out questions
about every single statement. If you lack an understanding of what I have written,
that is nobody’s fault but your own.

Let’s start off with the possibilities inside that pipe. According to my peers who have
been posting, they feel choking flow is taking place in the BOP alone, the riser
alone, or both places simultaneously. There is also a possibility that no choking flow
is taking place. So in total we have 4 possibilities inside our system.

BP has estimated 210k gal/day coming out of the BOP. The riser pipe directly above
the BOP where this fluid is flowing through is 18.625” according to Horizon 37.
Converted into meters, that is .473 meters diameter. If we use the cross sectional
area of a circle = π(r2). This is valid because coming out of the BOP, the riser is not
deformed. So what we have is π(.473/2)2 which is equal to 0.1757 m2. Going back
to convert BP’s estimate, we have 210k gal/day which using any conversion site,
you will see equals 0.009200653 m3/sec. Considering BP might be making a
massive 100% error, the new flow rate is 420k gal/day which is 0.018401307
m3/sec. Using the equation Flow rate=Velocity x Area we can deduce that the
0.0523367 m/s. With a flow rate of 420k gal/day,
velocity for 210k gal/day is
the velocity equals 0.1047314 m/s. Feel free to check my calculations, they
are without a doubt correct. Unit analysis checks out and the equation is tried and
true. Please get some sort of physical feel for what these velocities actually look like
in real life. Take a ruler out and get a feel for what this flow actually looks like
moving inside the pipe. It is between 2 and 4 inch/sec so we are talking the length
of a ruler in around 3 seconds, maximum. These velocities are important, so grasp
them now.

We will begin with a choking flow taking place only in the BOP. What does this mean
exactly you might ask? This means that the area for flow inside the BOP is so small,
that choking flow is allowed to take place due to the high pressure of the wellhead
stated by Horizon 37 and another viking. To be specific, here is the quote from
another viking directed at me, “You don't go down with a 15,000psi BOP on a
3000psi well.” So obviously this wellhead has very high pressure according to them,
probably on the order of 10,000psi since I have received no criticism when using
this number. According to their claims, the pressure directly before the BOP could
be 10,000psi. It is a feasible number according to them; don’t argue with me over
this number, I didn’t specify it. Regardless, you’ve got this 10,000psi pressure right
before the BOP. Since the BOP is choking the flow, much of the pressure remains
behind the BOP and little oil is allowed to flow through the opening. Just remember,
this opening is pretty small to induce choking, so very little oil is escaping through.
If more oil were escaping through, it would not be a choking condition, and rather, it
would follow Bernoulli. But that is irrelevant. Take a look at what is leaking through
in this scenario, somewhere between 0.0092 m3/sec and 0.0184 m3/sec. Looking at
the pressure gradient between the wellhead and the ocean hydrostatic, it is
10,000psi to 2,200psi. Now understand the implications of choking. Let’s say for
instance choking in our example choke starts when you have a 5,000psi gradient.
Keeping the wellhead constant, and changing the hydrostatic pressure until we
have a gradient of 7,800psi, has no effect on the mass flow rate meaning nothing is
changing, you are just building up pressure behind the choke. The pressure on the
other side is still equal to the hydrostatic ocean pressure, no change. What does
this mean for us? Well since we have such low flow rates, that means we have a
very low velocity to go along with it.

Now have to go back to something in physics called kinetic energy along with a law
out of thermodynamics called the first law of thermodynamics. If you do not know
what either of these state right now, without looking them up, then stop reading
now and remove yourself from engineering discussions. Remember those velocities
we were talking about above. Yeah, well those help you determine how much
kinetic energy your fluid has. The fluid in our system has to remain at constant
energy. It holds the energy in two different forms, either in velocity, or in pressure.
These two act in inverse to maintain the same amount of energy in our system. You
increase pressure, velocity drops, same vice versa. You must understand this
concept.

So back to our choke situation at the BOP, we’ve got this huge pressure building
behind the choke, a low flow rate through the choke and not much velocity inside
that riser above it. This means that most of the energy of the fluid is concentrated
in the pressure term; the kinetic term is very small due to the small velocity. Now
let’s say we chop the riser off and go to add another BOP on top with the rams all
shut, what happens? Hmmmm… flow stops? Correct. But you have to ask the
question, isn’t the flow already essentially stopped? Yes, look at the flow rate, it’s
essentially 0 already. If you stop that flow, you take the kinetic energy it had from
velocity, and turn it into pressure. Remember that how small our velocity is in the
riser. There isn’t much energy in the kinetic form. So when you stop the flow, that
tiny amount of energy turns to a tiny pressure increase. But hey man! Won’t it blow
up if you stop it? Sorry buddy, no way. The BOP is currently handling the pressure
regulation just fine, I mean, has it exploded yet? Obviously not. The second BOP will
only act to seal that tiny pressure increase we get from stopping flow, and there is
no doubt it can handle it. Once you have the flow stopped, the pressure will
equalize throughout the two BOP’s and you will have both sealed at 10,000psi. So
what is to say the wellhead pressure isn’t 16,000psi right now. Think about it, if that
were the case, the BOP would have blown up already, it’s spec’d for 15,000psi. So
two 15,000psi BOP’s stacked would seal this thing up if the choke is inside the first
BOP. No problems with this argument. We have no degrees of freedom and it’s
solid. You must understand our velocity data tells us that almost all of the wellhead
pressure is behind choke in this case. If this weren’t true, our velocity data would
tell us by returning a giant number.

Next, let’s go to a choke inside the riser only. If you didn’t understand the last topic
thoroughly, you are going to be confused in this section and you’ll start generating
questions that are already answered in front of your eyes. For the choke inside the
riser, you are just moving the so-called ‘clot’ up the line from the BOP to the kink in
our riser. What did we say when we had the BOP choke? Most of the pressure is
built up behind the choke because our flow data is essentially 0 along with velocity
data. That means our wellhead pressure is essentially already equalized with the
pressure inside the riser. I’m no riser expert, but if the BOP can only handle
15,000psi, I don’t think our little riser pipe can handle 10,000psi. What does that
mean? This scenario is impossible. We would have already seen the effect of this,
which is our riser in 1,000 pieces on the ocean floor. Look at our flow/velocity data.
Remember how slow it’s moving. This means all the energy is already contained in
the pressure term, meaning it’s already very close to the equalized state. If it was
going to explode, it would have. No explosion though, so cross this option out,
unfeasible.

Now let’s look at a mix of the two chokes. I saved this one for last because it takes
the most understanding and if you’ve gotten this far you have a better probability of
understanding it and not asking the stupid questions. So here we go, buckle your
seat belts, and get set to be amazed. 2 chokes in our system is very simple to
describe. Remember how we said that because the flow rate is so low, our system is
pretty much already equalized. And we said equalization happens when you have a
cap on a system. Look at the choke the riser first, it must be bad enough choke to
cause the flow rate to be almost nonexistent, our data says so. So essentially we
almost have a cap on the system at the current state meaning the pressure is
almost equalized throughout the system. If we stop the flow entirely, we only
change that kinetic energy into pressure energy, and you should be well aware by
now how small the velocity is. The second choke in our BOP doesn’t do anything it is
like adding another slightly leaking cap into our pipe. Let’s use an air compressor
for example. Let’s say I go to Mars and fabricate a pressure vessel. I put a divider
between the two halves before I seal it shut. I bring it back to Earth. The pressure
inside both halves of the vessel will remain the same because we equalized it
before we sealed up the shell. This is similar to our system, is already very close to
a state of equalized pressure/equilibrium between the two chambers. Now we are
going to prove why this is impossible scenario. Remember the scenario where we
just had a riser choke. Well the pressure built up behind the choke and blew up the
riser. Same exact situation goes for this circumstance. The riser has not blown up
yet, and it is very close to equalized with wellhead pressure, so why is it going to
blow up if it’s already 99.9% there. But what if the pressure directly below the BOP
wasn’t 10,000psi? That brings us to our next and final option.

In summary of those 3 scenarios at 10,000psi, 2 are impossible, and 1 is feasible,


but does not prohibit capping the system with a second BOP. Actually it would be
quite easy because our flow rate is so low.

Lastly I want to cover, a possibility of the pressure being lower than 10,000psi right
below the BOP. Let’s just pick an arbitrary number, like 2,600psi. Obviously choked
flow does not exist for all wellhead pressure values. It doesn’t matter that we chose
for our arbitrary value, all that matters is we are reducing it to a pressure that is
below the choked flow pressure, since we already did that analysis above, no
reason to repeat the same proof. Let’s look at the first scenario with the choke
inside the BOP. Well now the choke is gone, no more, we have normal flow
described by Bernoulli. So what is going on in our BOP? Ok, it goes something like
this, the fluid flows into the BOP at a pressure of P1 and velocity V1, there is a slight
squeeze in the BOP where pressure decreases to P2 and velocity increases to V2.
After the slight squeeze, up at the beginning of the riser, we have P3 and V3.
Frankly, the squeeze doesn’t make a difference because this operation is at steady
state and min=mout , Vin= Vout

There is no choking operation going on, so there is no accumulation of pressure.


What goes in at the bottom of the BOP comes out at the top. Energy is traded off in
this example between pressure and velocity. Coming out of the well, it has a
majority of pressure energy with some kinetic. Going through the slight squeeze, we
have the kinetic energy increasing and the pressure energy decreasing the same
amount. After the squeeze the pressure energy increases again and kinetic energy
decreases. All we care about is what the energy distribution looks like by the time it
gets to the riser. Since it is conserved in the flow process, the total is the same
throughout the BOP, you are not adding work anywhere in the BOP so you must
have constant energy. So look at the energy distribution in the riser, what does it
look like? How much kinetic energy do you have? Very little is the answer, because
our velocity data says so. Even at 420k gal/day, the kinetic energy is nearly non-
existent. So if there is hardly any kinetic energy, where is all the energy? Pressure.
How do we know this pressure isn’t going to burst the riser? Well the riser hasn’t
burst yet, so it is not going to when you stop the flow. Do the pressure drop
calculation in the pipe due to velocity from Bernoulli. ρ v22 You will see the
pressure drop is very small, on the order of 1 to 4 Pa. Our riser can handle 1 to 4 Pa
guaranteed. On a side note, we know that the pressure gradient is very small in this
situation because a higher pressure gradient would mean higher velocity/flow rate
and we do not have that. If you cannot understand how pressure gradients are
related to energy minimization, then you’re going to have to take thermo. The
pressure gradient is a driving force, the higher the driving force, the faster the rate
of transfer. Our rate of transfer is small, very small, remember our good friend the
velocity, he isn’t very big.
Since the other two options of riser choking and a combo of riser/BOP choking is
impossible, there is no need to show what happens if we eliminate them. When they
are eliminated, the system is free of choking and follows the exact same
explanation as above.

This conclusively proves that capping the well with a second BOP will work in the
case that wellhead pressure is very high/choking in the BOP.

It disproves the possibility combination of high wellhead pressure and choking in


the riser or a choking in riser and BOP.

This conclusively proves that capping the riser with capping/crimping/clotting is


possible if the pressure below the BOP isn’t as high as previously thought.

So in the end, we you have 2 options to choose from to describe our system, either
we have high pressure and a choke in the BOP, or we have low pressure. In both of
these cases, it is safe to remove the riser because the flow rate out of the BOP is so
low. If you are going to go down the path of saying that the flow rate BP has
estimated is incorrect, then you are challenging them not me. As you see, I’ve done
the calculations for a circumstance where BP was off by 100%, and still, the velocity
is miniscule. You’re going to have to prove we have something on the order of
maybe 4mil gal/day to show a velocity of just 1m/s. If you think BP was off by over
3.75mil gal/day, you’re posing a direct challenge to their intelligence, which will
required some explanation as to why you feel BP is so stupid.