Plugging the Deepwater Horizon Leak

This is a crude block diagram of a clamp on apparatus that could be used to block most of the flow from the Deepwater Horizon riser pipe leaking in the Gulf.

The clamp-on apparatus is extremely simplified for this rushed drawing. It would be relatively “easy” to make a mid-sized machine shop and laser cutting shop.

This would require one of the “circular saws” the robotic subs are currently using to cut up pipes to cut the slot in the outer diameter of the pipe.

Actuating the various screws to complete the plug operation could be done by robotic sub or dedicated undersea electric motor or pneumatic tool driven by compressors on the surface…. I’d defer to deep-sea equipment specialists for the selection.

The shaped plug plates can be laser cut and laminated to any thickness.

A 2″ drilled hole on the “bottom” of the pipe diameter as depicted would allow for greater support for a 2″ steel bar spanning the entire diameter and mechanically support the plates and protect them from bending. This bar can be cam-shaped (crude cam) so that the “P” shaped plates can be pushed forward toward the well (vs the surface) for a better seal.

This can be made in a few days in a mid-sized shop.


tblock diagram of riser pipe plug process

External apparatus clamped to outside diameter of riser pipe

I’ll post a little detail on the clamp on rig later. I’m just trying to get the idea out that there’s a not-so-complex apparatus that can be made and put on the riser. Anything… Anything to decrease the effective diameter and the flow rate of crude into the gulf.

A slot is cut in outside diameter wide enough for steel plates insertion

screw mechanism drives overlapping plug plates into pipe bore

The steel plates inserted overlapping each other are shaped like the letter “P” so that they can be moved to block more of the diameter.
There is a risk of bending, even if they are thick. There are ways to deal with this rather simply though.

My point is that it’s not brain surgery. And yes, there are all kinds of challenges operating at this depth, but the robotic subs are already cutting pipes with a circular saw down there. This is big, fairly crude steel gizmo construction. Crystallized methane hydrates won’t be a factor if the pipe is plugged.

Screw mechanism spreads plug plates to block nearly entire diameter of riser pipe

This entry was posted in deepwater horizon oil leak solutions, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Plugging the Deepwater Horizon Leak

  1. bob says:

    ok the first two drawings are out of order…. But the idea remains the same.
    Cut plate steel, shafts, pipes, and large diameter machine screws, pivot points…
    Rubber lamination on the face of the plug pieces can help seal it off.

    Not meant to be an absolutely perfect seal, but restrict flow enough to buy time for the relief wells to work…

    Can be completely encased in concrete under one of the “top hats” or domes if flow is slowed down sufficiently.

  2. larry says:

    Hello; this is a great idea, I was out this morning and was thinking about what can I do and came up with some thing like that but I’m not as knowlegdable like you are. My idea was to send a none man mini sub (2) that can work together with a steel pipe cut into two parts At the top of the steel pipe that is cut in half sealed at the top like a compression fitting . thats conected to large high pressure hose that runs to ships that can house the oil. The clamp or the steel silender fits over the top of what is left and bolts a round it and if there’s a elbow put some strap around it to secure it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *