|Camilli, Richard; Di Iorio, Daniela; Bowen, Andrew; Reddy, Christopher M.; Techet, Alexandra H.; Yoerger, Dana R.; Whitcomb, Louis L.; Seewald, Jeffrey S.; Sylva, Sean P.; and Fenwick, Judith, Acoustic measurement of the Deepwater Horizon Macondo well flow rate, PNAS, 2011, doi:10.1073/pnas.1100385108|
On May 31, 2010, a direct acoustic measurement method was used to quantify fluid leakage rate from the Deepwater Horizon Macondo well prior to removal of its broken riser. This method utilized an acoustic imaging sonar and acoustic Doppler sonar operating onboard a remotely operated vehicle for noncontact measurement of flow cross-section and velocity from the well’s two leak sites. Over 2,500 sonar cross-sections and over 85,000 Doppler velocity measurements were recorded during the acquisition process. These data were then applied to turbulent jet and plume flow models to account for entrained water and calculate a combined hydrocarbon flow rate from the two leak sites at seafloor conditions. Based on the chemical composition of end-member samples collected from within the well, this bulk volumetric rate was then normalized to account for contributions from gases and condensates at initial leak source conditions. Results from this investigation indicate that on May 31, 2010, the well’s oil flow rate was approximately 0.10 ± 0.017 m3 s-1 at seafloor conditions, or approximately 85 ± 15 kg s-1 (7.4 ± 1.3 Gg d-1), equivalent to approximately 57,000 ± 9,800 barrels of oil per day at surface conditions. End-member chemical composition indicates that this oil release rate was accompanied by approximately an additional 24 ± 4.2 kg s-1 (2.1 ± 0.37 Gg d-1) of natural gas (methane through pentanes), yielding a total hydrocarbon release rate of 110 ± 19 kg s-1 (9.5 ± 1.6 Gg d-1).