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You are on page 1of 5

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.

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

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.

the riser or a choking in riser and BOP.

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.

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