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Now two years beyond Macondo, BP steps into its latest deepwater operations with a renewed focus on safety and well-control response.
As part of its presence at the Offshore Technology Conference, held in Houston, April 30- May 3, BP provided a close look at its latest technology designed and dedicated to provide a global response to future well-control events.
“In fall 2011, we took a hard look at whether we wanted to be in deepwater,” said Richard Morrison, vice president and head of global deepwater response, BP. “We decided we did, but only with an intensified focus on risk management.”
It has been two years since the tragic blowout on Macondo took 11 lives and put both the local environment and the major operator at grave risk. “We’ll never forget it,” Morrison said.
To move forward from this incident, BP set out to redefine the way it viewed risk. In 2011, the company focused on consolidating its efforts in this direction namely by creating an entirely new department, Safety & Operational Risk whose goal is to focus solely on identifying and mitigating risk.
“We’re looking at risk much differently than we did two years ago,” he emphasized.
BP is in the process of commissioning its Global Deepwater Well Cap and Tooling Package at ASCO’s yard in South Houston. The system is fully air-deployable made ready for global response.
The company is ramping up deepwater activity and is operating in the U.S. GOM, Brazil, North Sea, offshore Azerbaijan, Egypt and Angola. It plans to expand its operations in the near future to areas offshore Trinidad and Tobago, North Africa, Namibia, India, Australia, and Asia-Pacific.
The goal would be a capping system that would never be deployed; although, the company committed to putting a plan in place if a rapid response is needed for a well-control event in any of areas of operation.
The system along with the company’s newly enhanced deepwater response arm is derived from unique knowledge and experience across five key areas. “The first key area is prevention and drilling safety, which is where we are spending most of our time,” he explained.
Containment is second, of which the capping tool is one thing the company has devised as part of its response plan. Relief wells, spill response and crisis management all fall in behind these. “Crisis management and decision making are the glue that holds these areas together,” Morrison stated.
BP’s well cap was developed over a 10-month period and commenced in late 2010. The company leveraged its expertise and experience advanced during the response to the Deepwater Horizon accident.
“Many of the engineers in the initial response were moved onto this project,” he said. While the company’s own design is providing peace of mind for its deepwater activity, it is not the only capping stack it has access to.
The company has lent support to several other initiatives including the Marine Well Containment Co. in the U.S. GOM, Oil Spill Response and Advisory Group in the U.K. North Sea, and the Subsea Well Response Project that is also designed for global response (available in the fourth quarter this year).
The system’s main components include a capping stack with both upper and lower sections comprised of simple and proven technology with the tree, gate valves, and connectors rated to 15,000 psi. It also contains a dispersant distribution system, ROV tooling package with saws and torque tools, pipe grapple and debris removal tools.
|BP built the lower marine riser package (LMRP) so that it can be hooked directly to the wellhead or to the BOP, which is preferred. (Photo courtesy of BP)|
The capping tool is designed to operate in up to 10,000 ft of water and fits a 5-1/8-in. wellbore. BP has invested $50 million in developing the system.
The capping tool, which will be based in Houston for the foreseeable future is ready to mobilize at any time 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is available for all regions where the company operates, and it consists of approximately 50 lifts and 35 trailer loads.
The heaviest lift is about 70 metric tons with the total system weighing about 500 metric tons. The system is deployed using five Antonov AN-124 and two Boeing B747-200 or -400 heavy-lift aircraft. The target deployment time for the system is 10 days from its Houston warehouse to the receiving region.
The system, housed at the Asco warehouse, is under a service-and-maintenance, long-term preservation plan, which will provide quarterly service intervals with an annual pressure-test regime.
Although the lessons were hard learned, BP is actively working to minimize the risk in its future deepwater endeavors. “Our mission is to share what we have learned and to show what are doing about it,” Morrison emphasized.
Contact the author, Tayvis Dunnahoe, at firstname.lastname@example.org.