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Underwater Wellhead History and Gulf Oil Spill “Infographics”

Posted by innovativeip on July 30, 2010

Today’s Patent of the Day is U.S. Patent no. 3,099,316, issued July 30, 1963, entitled “Underwater Wellhead Apparatus and Method” and assigned to Shell Oil.

Today's Patent of the Day

 Given the Gulf oil spill tragedy, I find it particularly interesting to look back at this piece of history of underwater rigs, and tools for their operation and control.  This patent seems to be directed toward the robotic, above-water control of wellhead components.  At almost 50 years of age, the technology is likely archaic.

However advanced, today’s underwater wellhead technology, as operated by BP, obviously failed.  Recently released “infographics” report that as of July 27, 2010, about 35 million gallons of spilled oil has been skimmed, and over 11 million gallons of oil has been subject to “controlled” surface burning.  Some estimates report that between 100 and 200 million gallons were spilled, but apparently, the true total is yet to be known, as is the long term extent of damage and environmental impact.  More spill data is available at

Today’s Patent of the Day is available at  Usually, I close with “Enjoy”, however given today’s topical focus, I find it more appropriate to close with, Let’s Learn!


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