Physics professor Michio Kaku has some bad news: oil could gush from the leaking BP deepwater well for years.
After six methods for stopping the leak failed, BP is now trying a seventh method: “cut and cap.” Underwater robots are attempting to trim the pipe connected to the blowout preventer — and depending on how well the cut is made, either a “top hat” or “top cap” will be lowered from the surface which would then transport the spewing oil to a drilling ship.
The “cut and cap” method has several drawbacks. A perfect seal is thought to be almost impossible and some amount of oil will continue to leak into the Gulf. And the cap will have to be completely removed during inclement weather. The Gulf hurricane season began June 1, and it’s expected to be the worst year since 2005.
If this seventh attempt fails, the next option will be to wait on one of two relief wells to intercept and block the original well. This is considered the best hope for permanently stopping the flow, but those wells won’t be in place until August at the soonest. Some predict that it could take until Christmas.
But Kaku thinks that even those predictions could be too optimistic.
“You would have to win the lottery to get on the first try an exact, an exact meeting at the bottom of the well in order to pump cement to shut it off,” Kaku told NBC’s Matt Lauer Wednesday.
If the attempt fails, the drill will be reversed, the hole will be filled with cement and they will try again.
“You have to do this over and over again until you get it just right,” Kaku said. “It takes many tries. So August is optimistic.”
“So this could be spewing oil for months. Could it last for a year?” asked Lauer.
“It could last for years, plural. Okay? If everything fails and all these different kinds of relief wells don’t work, it could be spewing stuff into the Gulf until we have dead zones, entire dead zones in the Gulf. For years,” Kaku said.
This video is from NBC’s Today Show, broadcast June 2, 2010.