Trendsetter workers prepare a Marine Well Containment Co. capping stack for shipment to ASCO Shipyard in Houston, Texas. (Special to the American Press)
A graphic representation of the expanded containment system, which will be available in 2012. The expanded system design includes use of modular capture vessels, modified tankers, existing drill ships and/or extended well-test vessels. (Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Sunday, May 27, 2012 7:30 PM
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An oil spill consortium set up after the BP spill to develop methods for containing deep sea spills will do a drill with its state-of-the-art equipment this summer.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a news release the Marine Well Containment Company will see how stacking caps could be dropped over an out-of-control well and safely used to plug a blowout.
A Lake Charles company was chosen earlier this year to build and deliver components for the system.
The Marine Well Containment Co. was formed by ConocoPhillips, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Shell in the wake of the 2010 oil spill with the purpose of capturing, storing and offloading up to 100,000 barrels of fluid per day from a flowing well,
Marine Well Containment’s website said it will be required to move a capping stack from its on-shore base to the seabed of the Gulf, the Interior Department said.
Dynamic Industries Inc., DII, is doing the work for Marine Well Containment Co., a not-for-profit, independent company based in Houston that supplies well-containment equipment and technology in the Gulf of Mexico.
The system was engineered for use in water depths of up to 10,000 feet, said project manager Robert Ward of Dynamic Industries Inc.
“In the event of another oil spill, if there is a well blow out, they’ll put the capping stack over the well head and connected to that well cap there will be a riser cap coming up the marine capture vessel, and the product will be processed and shuttled to shore,” Ward said in a March interview with the American Press. “We’re building two vessels that can process 50,000 barrels each.”
In addition to the fabrication of module support frames for the process modules, DII’s Lake Charles deepwater fabrication facility was selected as the location for the installation of the MSFs and riser turret components — that’s the piece that hangs off the ship — on the system’s marine capture vessels, as well as the integration, hookup and commissioning of the MCVs.
DII has six facilities along the Gulf Coast, including the one in Lake Charles. DII specializes in interconnecting piping fabrication.
Ward said what made DII’s Lake Charles facility attractive for the project is that there are not many deepwater fabrication facilities.
“It can handle larger vessels because it has such deep water,” he said. “The billion-dollar expanded containment system will be available in 2012.”
“The frames are built in Lake Charles,” Ward said. “There are some components that will be trucked in and assembled and integrated here. We will do the commissioning and testing here as well.”
Interior officials said a second consortium developing other containment equipment, the Helix Well Containment Group, will do a similar exercise at an unspecified date.
Tougher drilling rules passed after the BP spill require oil companies to prove they can control a blowout similar to the April 20, 2010, incident at the Macondo well where 11 workers were killed in explosions that sank the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon.
Salazar said other measures put into place should prevent a blowout from occurring again, but he said making sure the industry has effective capping stacks on hand should another blowout happen is important.
“One thing Deepwater Horizon taught us is that you must always be ready to respond to the worst-case scenario,” Salazar’s statement said. “This exercise is an opportunity to deploy systems, test readiness, and train under real-time conditions.”
James Watson, the director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, said his agency has tested MWCC and capping stacks already. But he added “putting them through their paces in the deep waters of the Gulf will give us added confidence that they will be ready to go if needed.