MWCC tests interim deepwater containment system

By Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, Feb. 17 --The Marine Well Containment Company (MWCC) announced it completed and tested an initial well containment response system available for a well control incident in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. 

The interim system can operate in 8,000 ft of water and has processing capacity of 60,000 b/d of liquids. The capping stack has a maximum operating pressure of 15,000 psi. The final expanded system will be capable of operating in 10,000 ft of water with capacity to process up to 100,000 b/d of liquids.

MWCC spokesmen estimate the interim system could be fully deployed in 2-3 weeks if all parts of the available system were needed. They said deployment would start within 24 hr of an incident.

The system was developed after the April 2010 blowout of the deepwater Macondo well operated by BP PLC off Louisiana. The blowout caused an explosion and fire on TransOcean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible that killed 11 crew members. A massive oil spill resulted.

The interim system involves a subsea capping stack that can shut in oil flow or divert leaking oil via flexible pipes and risers to surface vessels. The system also includes subsea dispersant injection equipment, hydraulic manifolds, and vessels for surface processing and storage. The equipment is stored in Texas and Louisiana.

Officials with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE) witnessed a test of the interim system in Houston on Feb. 16. Previously, MWCC had done its own testing during several days before inviting BOEMRE to observe the test.

MWCC is developing an expanded system, which is expected to be completed in 2012. BOEMRE is reviewing the information that it gathered after watching the Feb. 16 test. MWCC spokesmen believe they successfully provided all the information and equipment that the government agency requested.

ExxonMobil, Corp., in partnership with Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips, and Royal Dutch Shell PLC are the original sponsors of MWCC. BP later joined the consortium (OGJ, Sept. 20, 2011, Newsletter).

Marty Massey, MMCC chief executive officer, said the interim system “fulfills a commitment set forth by the four sponsor companies to deliver a rapid containment response capability within the first 6 months of launching the marine well containment project.”

Membership in MWCC is open to all companies operating in the US gulf. Members will have access to the initial well containment response system and to the expanded system upon completion of its construction. Nonmembers also will have access to the systems through a service agreement and fee.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.



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