American International Industries, Inc. announced that Subsea Oil Technologies, Inc., 50% owned by AMIN, has been assigned U.S. patent application number 12/822,324 entitled "Method and Apparatus for Containing an Undersea Oil and/or Gas Spill Caused by a Defective Blowout Preventer (BOP)," filed on June 24, 2010. The prosecution of the patent application at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has been entrusted to the law firm of Volpe and Koenig, P.C., which is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Mr. Dror stated, "We believe that the invention disclosed by this patent application (the "BOPstopper") is one of the first to be filed at the USPTO to specifically present possible solutions to contain oil and/or gas spills, such as the Deepwater Horizon (BP) oil spill and other spills that may occur in the future. The BOPstopper is designed to substantially isolate a defective BOP stack from the ocean by completely circumventing and encasing it. Thus, the amount of ocean that mixes with the spewing oil and/or gas is minimized."
It is universally known that offshore oil well blowouts and oil spills have occurred numerous times, including the most recent BP catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. Three of the most notable offshore blowouts are:
-- April 20, 2010: British Petroleum (BP), Gulf of Mexico. The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig experienced a blowout, explosion and fire, killing 11 people. Estimated oil released as of July 14, 2010: 5 Million barrels.
-- June 3, 1979: Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), Bahia de Campeche, Gulf of Mexico. The Sedco 135F rig was drilling the IXTOC I well when a blowout occurred and oil flowed uncontrollably for nine months until it was capped. Estimated oil released: 3.5 Million barrels.
-- April 22, 1977: Phillips Petroleum Company, Ekofisk Field, Norwegian Continental Shelf, North Sea. The Ekofisk Bravo Platform experienced a blowout which resulted in the North Sea's biggest oil spill. Estimated oil released: 202,000 barrels.
In one of several multi-step procedures disclosed by the patent application, the BOPstopper circumvents the defective BOP stack with a large, but relatively light-weight frame (i.e., a "bomb shelter-like mold") that includes a tall (e.g., 60 feet) containment assembly having a wide (e.g., 10 feet) hollow wall, and an even taller (e.g., 80 feet) valve assembly having a hollow cavity that surrounds a large diameter high pressure valve (e.g., 68-90 inches in diameter). The large diameter high pressure valve is maintained in an open position during assembly to avoid the buoyancy problems that have plagued BP's containment domes. Once the containment assembly is positioned on the ocean floor, its wide hollow wall is filled with reinforcement material (e.g., cement). The hollow cavity of the valve assembly is also filled with the reinforcement material after the valve assembly is positioned on top of the reinforced containment assembly. The enormous mass of the reinforced valve assembly causes seals between the reinforced containment assembly and the reinforced valve assembly to compress. The large diameter high pressure valve can then be closed to contain the spewing oil and/or gas. The tremendous weight of the entire reinforced structure (e.g., greater than 25,000 tons) causes the bottom of the containment assembly to form a seal with the ocean floor.
Mr. Dror further stated, "The patent application assignment agreement includes a clause for the potential to prepare and file additional continuation, divisional and/or continuation-in-part (CIP) patent applications. Since this patent application covers numerous features of containment systems (e.g., "mud flap" automation and control, pressure monitoring, heating elements, etc.), it is not possible to claim all of them in the same application. The technology surrounding BOP containment systems is in its infancy stage, and I believe that, in light of the Deepwater Horizon (BP) oil spill, there will be a major upheaval in the interest, resources and government regulations applied to advance this technology."