Norway unveils well capping system

17 March 2013 – The first of four well containment systems that are to be deployed around the world to combat offshore blowouts was unveiled on Friday at a base in Stavanger, Norway.

The equipment has been developed by Oil Spill Response Ltd (OSRL) under a joint industry project  to improve the response capability for subsea well incidents in the wake of the Macondo blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010.

The lack of a suitable system to cap the well led to substantial delays while one was built to tackle the incident at the BP-operated field, which resulted in a blast on the Deepwater Horizon rig that left 11 workers dead and spewed millions of barrels of oil into the US Gulf.

The newly delivered subsea well intervention system includes four capping stacks to shut in an uncontrolled subsea well and two hardware kits to clear debris and apply subsea dispersant at a wellhead, creating safer surface working conditions and enhancing bio-degradation.

The first of the units, able to be deployed in a water depth of up to 3000 metres and control flow pressures of up 15,000 psi, is now available for use by the industry from the Stavanger base after it was inaugurated by Norway’s Petroleum & Energy Minister Ola Borten Moe.

The remaining three systems are to be delivered in the second and third quarters for regional bases in Brazil, South Africa and Singapore.

Major oil companies including ExxonMobil, BP, Petrobras, Statoil and Total have participated in the Subsea Well Response Project, which has collaborated with OSRL to develop the equipment.

Project manager Keith Lewis said the initial delivery was “a major milestone for technical capping capabilities, but also for industry collaboration”.

“Working together and sharing resources across the industry has strengthened our knowledge and the technology on offer. This co-operation will continue to be the most effective path in our ongoing commitment to enhance drilling safety,” he added.
*Steve Marshall, Upstreamonline

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