I will agree that pumping is not necessary, and will speculate that they are pumping. I hope i'm getting it right.
This is the situation that i believe, maybe is, appears to be, could be, the situation with BP and the siphoning pipe. I have to speculate because BP is not telling nor i have been able to find a source of what exactly this type of siphoning is. If anyone has any reliable information about what that siphoning process consists of i would appreciate if it could be posted if possible.
Let's assume that the oil inside the pipe can reach the tanker by it's own buoyancy. [ —— a the tendency of a body to float or to rise when submerged in a fluid b: the power of a fluid to exert an upward force on a body placed in it; also : the upward force exerted —— ]
The top end of the pipe is connected to the bottom of the tanker, through the hull, to a container full of water that, being heavier, would seep down into the pipe as the oil seeps up into the tanker container.
The lower end the siphon pipe is also open so the oil can get in the siphon as it gushes out of the broken well pipe. The other reason for this side to be open is so the water displaced by the lighter oil as it goes up the pipe can get out.
I'm hoping we're assuming that it works!* Great! No pump!
*I cannot consider potential benefits nor difficulties that may exist in this example since i'm no expert. I'll list, as an aid, other factors that may be involved: the expansion and degassing due to depressurizing of the oil; the "micro-encapsulated bits of oil surrounded by seawater" that polymerase suggested in the post above; "different densities and temperature will stratify in layers beneath the surface" as MacBozo points out; differences in salinity in the sea water surface compared to the deep ocean floor that influence vertical displacement in the siphon; others(?)….
However… since both sides of the siphoning pipe are open the level of water inside the tanker can only reach the level of its floating line. This means you can't fill the container with oil any higher than that floating line…
Originally Posted By: polymerase
If there is a pump involved in what BP is doing it is only to get it off one collection boat and over to another.[source]
We pump the oil out of the container into a "collection boat". That's it. I'm not sure if from time to time adding more water will or will not be necessary to maintain the flow of oil coming up(?).
Well,… i would believe that if I were going to have to use a pump i might as well attach the pump to a interchange tank on the same pipe and transfer the oil directly to the "collection boat". and let water into the pipe. It's easier and cheaper.
Better still, pump up with that same pipe, all the the oil that you can, even if part of it is water, you can separate the gasses, oil, and water on the tanker or in the collection platform even better. It's an active faster method instead of a passive siphon while an emergency is raging.
I'm not sure if all that's convenient technically but…
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