Is there finally hope for the Gulf? Think “Whale Shark”, that skimmer feeder, swimming the oceans of the world, gathering up plankton. A barge manufacturer thinks he has the answer, so he has come up with the latest solution “Big Gulp”. The picture below shows how it works.
It’s just an offshore barge, with a collection skimmer all across the bow. Pushed through the oil with an offshore tugboat. The decanting part, oil separation, is done inside, with multiple settling tanks. Oil floats on water, remember that part from science class? You did take science, they do still offer it, don’t they?
The 300 foot long barge Big Gulp heading out, being pushed by an offshore tugboat, through oceans of oil floating on the water. Offshore barges have no engines, which is what makes them ideal for this decanting work.
Basically Big Gulp does it’s work by sucking in oil and water through the bow, into decanting tanks, allows the water to settle to the bottom, where it gets pumped overboard — Simple separation science.
NOW THAT THE EPA’s 15 ppm DISCHARGE WATER STUPIDITY was done away with.
The barge builder has plans for several more “Big Gulp” barges to be built, he is currently working on “Little Gulp” for shallower water use.
Read the story of American ingenuity and inventiveness, something total missing from the drones inside places like the EPA.
Story from news site Fox8 News:
Deepwater Horizon Site– Fifty miles offshore, a skimmer the size of a football field satisfies its healthy appetite.
“The Big Gulp,” as BP has nicknamed it, is the brainchild of Lee Dragna, the president of LAD Services, a Morgan City barge builder.
“They give us the coordinates of where they saw (the oil) in the morning and we go chase it down,” Dragna said.
His invention had a surprising genesis. His 10 year old son, who wanted to go fishing again, started pestering Dragna to “fix the spill.”
“He told me, ‘Daddy, you can fix anything.’ I said, ‘son, I can’t fix this one. I’m sorry.’”
Dragna explains that, after a his son moped around for a couple of days, “I said, ‘okay, I’ll work on it.’”
His solution came to him rather easily.
“Once I started putting pencil to paper, it really wasn’t that hard,” Dragna said.
He teamed up with James Cashman, who runs a worldwide fleet of barges..
“Don’t ask me how he did it because there’s 50,000 people trying to get in to see (BP) each day and Lee managed to get through there,” Cashman said.
BP turned out to be a phone call away for Dragna, who called the company hotline.
Judi Paul, one of the BP executives in charge of vetting ideas, was rotating back to the Houston headquarters, when an engineer asked her to check into an idea that had peaked his interest.
“The idea did look good on paper,” Paul said. “But at the same time, we can’t bring out every idea that looks good on paper. We need ideas that are going to add real value to the mission.”
BP agree to test the barge, but with a huge catch: Dragna and Cashman would have to foot the cost of converting the first one on their own dime.
“Oh, there was a huge risk,” Cashman said. “We had millions at risk.”
Dragna, who says, in business, he always looks at the bad first before looking at the good, saw “too much good in it.”
BP set a requirement for the test, which the Big Gulp easily exceeded.
Paul says the barge worked, “much more quickly than we anticipated it would.”
Since then, BP has paid for seven more barges, three Big Gulps and four smaller barges, dubbed “Little Gulps.
In a storyline featuring one failure after another, the company is anxious to show off this asset, which now collects up to 210,000 gallons of oil per day.
“In my opinion, this has been one of the biggest success stories we’ve had, yet the least publicized,” Paul said.
A tug boat guides the barges-turned-skimmers into a patch of oil, often near the spill site itself.
Oil enters the skimmers through a big mouth cut into the bow of the barge, building up against a bulkhead and finally spilling over into a holding tank.
From there, oil is pumped into two holding tanks, where gravity separates the oil from the heavier water. Crew members open a valve, sending clean water back into the gulf, while capturing a mix that is 98 percent oil.
The barges, while larger than the fleet of skimmers at work on the spill, can also turn on a dime.
They can work in shallow water, only a few feet, or because of their bulk, in seas up to six feet.
“We try to stay out here to be the last ones,” Dragna said.
The Deepwater Horizon blowout caught government and industry flatfooted, exposing the need for more equipment to be perhaps be stationed permanently.
Dragna and Cashman have big plans for the Big Gulp once BP finally contains this spill.
“We’re thinking about teaming up and creating this kind of international response for the oil companies,” Cashman said.