James Cameron Asks To Dive Oil Rig Wreck, but will BP let him?

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June 18, 2010

Sunken Oil Rig Underwater

The research team led by James Cameron released their proposal to stop the flow of oil today. gCaptain was surprised to discover a few good ideas that have potential to work like inserting coil tubing to get kill mud deep within the wellbore. But the document also contains other ideas, like inserting an inflatable air bag into the wellbore, an idea that will not work in light of new information that the well might be unstable below the surface and that closing off the wellbore entirely might increase the back-pressure to a point where the well’s casing fails entirely.

But regardless of whether Cameron can stop the flow of oil, he has one promising suggesting that is well within his team’s ability and expertise. This suggestion is really an offer, an offer to dive the wreck. Page 17 of the proposal states;

Creating a definitive seafloor survey of the site, including the wreck of the Deepwater Horizon, will be a critical part of the accident investigation. Members of this group have extensive experience operating small fiberspooling ROVs inside shipwrecks hundreds of feet and several decks away from the entry point. It may be possible to recover valuable data from the Deepwater Horizon that could assist in understanding the accident. A comprehensive interior and exterior survey of the wreck should be performed as a basic part of the investigation. Our experience with wrecks is that “the steel does not lie.” Deepwater Horizon holds many answers to urgent questions.

But are they capable of surveying the damaged rig without interfering with ooil recovery operations? The proposal continues:

In addition to independent imaging and monitoring of the site, the responsible agencies should look to our group to assist with incident investigation. Phoenix has performed search and recovery operations for the US Navy under Sup/Salv. Lightstorm, working with the Russian Academy of Sciences Mir research subs, has carried out exterior and interior forensics studies at Titanic and Bismarck. (Both wrecks are at much greater depths than the blown out well.) Woods Hole has decades of experience with deep-sea surveys, bottom mosaics and marine archeology including the Titanic wreck site and Challenger debris field. There is no better capability anywhere in the world.

While photos of the damaged rig would be painful to the members of the gCaptain community most effected by the incident, we believe the information a dive on the Deepwater Horizon could provide in determining the course of events, outshadows the consequences. If this information can be used to save one life during future blowouts then gCaptain sees no reason why Cameron’s request to dive on the site should be denied.

UPDATE: gCaptain contacted the US Coast Guard to ask the following question; “Does the incident investigation team support Cameron’s request to dive the Deepwater Horizon or do they think it will it hinder current operations”. We promise to post the answer once they get back to us.

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