Saturday, May 15, 2010

Super Tankers can Suck up Oil

That is true, according to this story from Fast Company and if so, one wonders why it hasn’t been done in the Gulf.

An excerpt.

“Underwater robots, containment domes, top hats, hot taps, junk shots ... the potential fixes to the Gulf Oil Spill sound like they come straight from a cringeworthy disaster flick (or a PR think tank). But what if the solution is right under our noses? What if it's already sitting in the Gulf? John Hofmeister, the former president of Shell Oil, and Nick Pozzi, a former pipeline engineering and operations project manager for Saudi Aramco, think it might be.

“According to Hofmeister, oil supertankers could be used to suck up massive amounts of oil--possibly millions of barrels at a time.

“In an interview with, Hofmeister explained that a little-known Saudi oil spill from an offshore platform in the early 1990s dumped more crude into the sea than any spill in U.S. history (think hundreds of millions of gallons). But the government and local press kept it quiet. And that's why one of the big fixes in the Saudi oil spill--the oil-skimming supertanker--hasn't been publicized.

"[They] figured out how to deploy supertankers that had the ability to both intake and discharge liquids in vast quantities with huge pumps," Hofmeister explained. "The supertankers could simply suck in seawater and oil simultaneously--they can hold millions of barrels--and when full, they could discharge oil at a port into tanks where they could separate oil from water. The idea is novel in that you can get massive of oil amounts quickly." Once the supertankers make it to the port, water can be treated and discharged, and oil can either be used or destroyed.”