How Does The Weight Of A Floating Oil Rig Compare To The Eiffel Tower? What is the first idea that forms in your mind after looking at the picture below?
The photograph is of an oil rig platform that floated ashore after breaking free from a ‘tow boat’ off the shore in Scotland last week. What was the first thought that arrived in your mind after viewing the picture above? Maybe there was no significant thought. On the other hand, maybe your mind is racing like mine was with follow up questions:
1) How did that get there?
2) How much fuel is still in there?
3) How much has leaked out?
4) How do you dismantle such a large object?
5) How much does the oil platform weigh?
Over the course of a week (and many news cycles), four of the five questions have partial answers. The remaining question is #4 — how is an oil rig like the drifted oil rig mentioned above properly get dismantled by crews — in a safe manner? In order to understand the process of dismantling a gigantic structure (like an oil rig), we must understand the dimensions of such a structure. Furthermore, in order to understand the dimensions of an oil rig, a metric needs to be used to compare to oil rig platform to.
How Much Does An Oil Rig Platform Weigh?
If you have been following recent news feeds, there have been various articles detailing the enormous structure that happened to float ashore. Here are a couple still frames of tweets shown below:
In the two pictures above, the size of the gigantic oil rig platform is placed into perspective by the ocean at one side of the oil rig. On the other side is the hillside. This blog post is not about the size and scale of nature (the ocean and hillside — maybe later). Returning to the oil rig platform that looks small from afar, here is a video (less than 2 minutes) to shed light on the enormous size of the rig. The video shown below is from an ‘ABC News’ article titled “Massive Oil Rig Washes Ashore in Remote Scotland“:
The video above shows an enormous oil rig floating. If you stare closely at the video, the gigantic structure slowly floats displaying the force of the waves pushing the structure in toward the shore. Stop and think for a moment of how powerful the waves must be to push a structure which weighs 17,000-tons into the shore (Source: ‘The Sun’ news). In order to drive home the point that the oil rig which washed into the shore, here are two more pictures shown below taken from the BBC article:
Eiffel Tower vs. Transocean Winner?
In order to compare the two enormous objects, the weights of the two need to be known. The Eiffel Tower is shown in an image below take from the ‘Wikipedia‘ page:
Last week it emerged that the two other tanks had been breached during the grounding and more than 12,000 gallons (56,000 litres) of diesel oil lost.
Eight experts scaled the rig at Dalmore beach on Lewis with ropes on Sunday and were able to check the two other tanks.
Six more workers are due to join them later this week.
Efforts are to be made to pump the diesel oil still in the hull, 137 tonnes, to other tanks above the waterline.
The total amount leaked thus far has been around 12,000-gallons — which is small by comparison to other blog posts regarding oil spills on this site. None the less, any oil spill is too much to have enter the environment and damage the surrounding beaches or marine life. Too many accidents like these are occurring as a result of “offshore drilling” and need more regulatory oversight.
In the excerpt above, the remaining oil in the ‘hull’ is around 137 tons.
How many gallons is contained in 137 tons of oil?
Given the results of the calculations above, the length of time needed to dismantle the oil rig that washed ashore last week. Looking at the Eiffel Tower in a picture gives me a new respect for the manufacturers of the “Transocean Winner” oil rigs. In the coming weeks, the dismantling process will be fascinating to watch. Hopefully, the news will show the various stages and continue to report about the process. Even though the dismantling process might not be “hot news” — covering the process is crucial to show the public another perspective of the oil drilling industry.
About the author:
Mike is a physical chemist by education. He works at the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department at California State University at Northridge. His duties include maintaining instrumentation along with training both faculty and students on various instruments which are used for chemistry research and teaching purposes.
This is a re-blog, and originally appeared here, being republished with kind permission by the author.