Industry outlines Norwegian-based subsea well response effort

Paula Dittrick
OGJ Senior Staff Writer

HOUSTON, May 20 -- A group of oil companies announced the formation of the Subsea Well Response Project (SWRP), which will be based in Stavanger, Norway, to develop response systems for subsea well-control incidents.

Companies involved are BG Group, BP PLC, Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil Corp., Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Statoil, and Total SA.

SWRP work complements the oil spill work undertaken in the US by Marine Well Containment Co., and in the UK via the Oil Spill Prevention & Response Advisory Group, organizers said.

Another US effort is the Helix Well Containment Group (HWCG). Industry has formed various consortiums following the 2010 deepwater Macondo well blowout and massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Since the Macondo blowout, companies wanting to drill wells in the deep water are required to outline their plans to handle any potential loss-of-well-control issues as part of their application for a drilling permit filed with regulators.

Separately, Petroleos Mexicanos has contacted both MWCC and HWCG to discuss possibly getting access to US industry’s well containment equipment in case of accidents in Mexico’s deep water, said Kurt Hurzeler, well operations US commercial manager for Helix Energy Solutions.

Hurzeler spoke May 19 at a Mayer Brown global energy conference in Houston.

“Mexico’s deepwater drilling still is in the early stages,” Hurzeler said. He said similar oil spill response equipment questions also could arise regarding drilling off Cuba.

“How we share assets with other countries has not been addressed yet,” Hurzeler said.

SWRP plans
Shell is operator of SWRP, which was formed based on the recommendations of the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers’ (OGP) Global Industry Response Group.

The SWRP project team will:

• Design a capping system with a range of equipment to allow wells to be shut in.

• Design additional hardware for the subsea injection of dispersant.

• Assess the need for and feasibility of a containment system for shared use.

Keith Lewis, former vice-president of front-end studies for Shell in the Americas, was named SWRP manager.

“Designing systems that can be deployed effectively in different regions of the world is an immense challenge but member companies have assigned leading specialists to the task,” Lewis said.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.



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