Updated! Who Designed the New BP Containment Cap?

According to University of California Professor of Engineering Robert Bea, the cap being used by BP, which has, at least for now, stopped the gushing of oil into the GOM, could well be the design of an anonymous mystery plumber.

UPDATE: 7/18/10

Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse in The Great Orange and Patrick Jonsson in The Christian Science Monitor report that the anonymous plumber has come forward and identified himself.  He is Joe Caldart, a 40-ish married father of five with 3 hound dogs living in St. Francis, Kansas — just a regular blue collar guy who has made quite a contribution.  I find this to be quite wonderful!  (And please check out the Three Stooges videos downstream in comments.  I ROFLMAO-ed without stop.  Either BP should give royalties to the 3 Stooges, or the stooges should pay BP for PR (provided they donate all proceeds to the many places which deserve financial compensation).  

***end update.


Reporting in Yahoo News on Friday, June 16, Brett Michael Dykes states:

…the model of the well cap now in place didn’t exist in the earlier stages of the spill saga. But what’s more noteworthy than the timing issue is the likelihood that the device owes its origin to the same authority that any homeowner turns to in order to get a leak plugged: a professional plumber.

More below…

That … is the theory that the Christian Science Monitor’s Patrik Jonsson has floated – and the recent sequence of events leading to the plugging of the leak make it seem plausible.

Jonsson reports that six weeks ago, University of California, Berkeley, engineering professor Robert Bea received a late-night call from an anonymous plumber. According to Bea – who had formerly worked as an oil-industry executive before his present gig as an academically backed manager of engineering crises – the “mystery plumber” reached out to him because he had an idea for how to plug BP’s busted well in the Gulf. The plumber provided Bea with sketches of a containment cap that upgraded some of the design flaws in the cap the oil company deployed in its unsuccessful bid to plug the leak several weeks ago.


Bea passed the plumber’s sketches on to a contact at the Coast Guard, and to a panel of experts who were evaluating proposed schemes to repair the leak submitted by the general public. Jonsson writes that when Bea first got a glimpse of the containment cap that has stopped the flow of oil into the Gulf, he noticed striking similarities to the designs dreamed up by the plumber.

“The idea was using the top flange on the blowout preventer as an attachment point and then employing an internal seal against that flange surface,” Bea told Jonsson. “You can kind of see how a plumber thinks this way. That’s how they have to plumb homes for sewage.”

But BP spokesman Mark Salt, maintaining proper professional caution and noncommitment:

told Jonsson that he presently has “no way of finding out” if the well-capping crew used any of the mystery plumber’s ideas. Salt added that there’s “a good chance that this was already being designed” when Bea handed over the sketches.

Still, there’s one way that BP’s containment officials can be sure if they followed the plumber’s blueprint: When he submits his three-figure-an-hour bill.

Robert Bea is a well respected expert, the CSM is a reliable news source, and BP seems to be playing it’s usual role, beyond that, I cannot judge the accuracy of this.  I do, however, find it quite interesting.

Read the Yahoo article here.


Skip to comment form

  1. This is Part 1.  I’ll post Part 2 below and go look up to whom I must give a hat tip over at TOD!

  2. h/t XuxaFan at TOD: Thanks, XF!

  3. And on The Oil Drum.

    I used to work for the water department in high school and college.  

    Back when I suggested it they couldn’t remove the bolts on the flange.  There was also concern about the pressure down hole.

    Once they got the bolts removed, it would be easy to attach to the flange.

    Don’t know exactly how they did it, but I am glad they did.

    And all of sudden, pressure down hole was not a problem either.  Except maybe it is.

Comments have been disabled.