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Wall anchors, concrete bolts or clinical stents all use some mechanism to expand to contact a tube wall. This provides friction to old. If covered appropriately it could also be used to seal the hole. More details at http://bit.ly/leak-fix-diy
Detail on Oil Well wall anchor / stent [martyvis, May 31 2010]
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||On the other hand, they've got to do this stuff 1000 metres
under water with oil gushing out. I figure that's why they've
gone for the simple options like "drop something on it" or,
more recently "drop something in it".
||I agree about the 1500m distance and the pressure and the water. I guess in favour of my idea is that they seem to have robots doing a lot of this already. A friend a mine drives a laser-guided under-road boring tool (for putting conduits in) and faces similar issues with remote controlling machines.
||You'd think something like this would work. Once the bent section of riser is cut off, even with drill pipe in it, it should be possible to fix an open valve either to the outside, to the BOP structure, or to the inside with an annular expansion ring as you suggest (going around the drill pipe), and then cut off the flow sufficiently to allow filling of the casing with mud, thus making the top kill method practical. So I don't see the logic of diverting the flow to the surface, as BP wants to do, which just invites a hurricane to bear down on collection ship.
||If the broken pipe is sticking up, how about making a giant
version of those "chinese finger traps"? Then it should be
possible to create a gigantic and bouyant replica finger to
put in the other end and pull.
||I think BP has used the Chinese finger trap on Obama. They told him the well was plugged, he took complete responsibility, and then they said, ah, no...sorry.