Thursday, August 12, 2010

Geological Movie Review of Armageddon - Part 4

0:11:53 - Now we get to the meat of the movie with Bruce, Ben, and Liv. Here we have a supposed drilling genius who owns a company currently drilling in the South China Sea. Not much science in this part but there is a couple of things. As of the time of the movie, the South China Sea was actively producing about 1.3 million barrels of oil a day, which means that this place was pretty active in the oil business. So it was a good start to place the oil drilling platform here. Also the natural gas in the region is even more abundant, showing that gas pockets would be more than likely found while drilling for the oil (GlobalSecurity). 
In the movie, it is claimed that there was 180 feet "chewed" over night. The rate at which it is possible to drill is primarily based on the material being drilled through, the drill bits, and the type of drill being used. The fastest that I have found is a drilling rate of about 100 ft/hr through shale with a hammer style drill bit (WorldOil), getting up to possibly 180 ft/hr (World Oil). But most estimates seem to average around 20 ft/hr. So depending on what the rock they were drilling through was, the drilling of 180ft overnight is plausible. Though, likely the rock material that was being drilled through was a combination of shales, cherts, and limestones. A mixture of both hard and softer rocks. So to drill 180 feet overnight, we assume that the "night" consisted of 8pm to 6am, a total of 10 hours. 180 feet over 10 hours means 18 ft/hr, which is easily within range of our 20 ft/hr average.
The main problem that had happened while they were drilling, and the reason that Bruce was so mad, is that the release valve was stuck on the one drill bit. This is the main reason that it was shut down. This valve is called a blowout preventer (BOP), which keeps things like what happened in the movie from happening in the first place (Schlumberger). A blowout is when the drill bit comes in contact with a pressurized pocket of gas forcing the drill bit back up and possibly producing an uncontrolled stream of oil/fluid ( This is bad, and can produce an oil spill like what is seen in the movie. So it seems that their knowledge of drilling in the movie far outranks their knowledge of science.

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