You are here

The Department of Energy's Scientific Response to the Oil Spill

May 28, 2010 - 12:00am

Addthis

At the request of President Obama, Secretary Chu and the Department of Energy's National Laboratories are providing round-the-clock scientific support to help inform strategies to stop the BP oil spill.

Secretary Chu has spent several days in Houston monitoring the top kill attempt, analyzing the data as it comes in and helping to develop strategies to give it the best chances of success. In the days leading up to the "top kill" attempt, the Secretary and his team of scientists provided expert advice and technical support to test the assumptions behind BP's work and to offer analytical rigor. When diagnostic and pressure tests were conducted to inform BP's decision on whether to attempt the top kill, the Secretary and Department scientists offered their assessment of the results and as well as advice on what to do moving forward.

The Department of Energy is also offering its resources and technical assistance to the Flow Rate Technical Team led by MMS, NOAA and USCG. Additional assistance provided includes:

  • The Department's laboratories are providing on-the-ground technical, engineering and scientific support at BP's Houston Headquarters. At any given time, those labs have at least 6-8 experts on the ground supporting the response. To date, more than 150 personnel from the National Laboratories have directly supported these response efforts.
  • Experts from the National Laboratories provided diagnostics of the damaged blowout prevention equipment on the ocean floor through radiography (analysis, design and fabrication efforts) and with innovative, nonintrusive approaches for measuring pressure at various points in the system. The Department has provided BP with high-quality 2D radiography that BP personnel are saying breaks all records for deep water radiography--breaking the previous record by more than 4,000 feet.
  • The Laboratories have also provided BP with structural analysis of the failed riser. This allows various drill pipe, casing and riser scenarios to be evaluated. They also predicted the structural integrity of the riser kink under different flow scenarios and used sophisticated analysis of computer-estimated fluid flow inside the nonfunctioning apparatus.
  • The Department of Energy is supporting the National Infrastructure Simulation and Analysis Center (NISAC), which has been modeling the economic costs and societal impact of the oil spill on energy and other industries in the Gulf and along the coast to support the response efforts of the National Incident Commander and the Unified Area Command. NISAC is a modeling, simulation, and analysis center within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that leverages national expertise to address infrastructure protection.
  • Using the Interagency Modeling and Atmospheric Assessment Center (IMAAC), the Department's scientists provided smoke plume predictions for the original fire on the platform and surface-oil test burns.
  • The Department's National Labs have activated their modeling and simulation capabilities to increase the understanding of surface and subsurface dispersion of the plume.

Media contact(s):

(202) 586-4940

Addthis