Source: Helix Well Containment Group
The Helix Well Containment Group (HWCG) brought together more than 225 technical professionals from the oil and gas industry for a comprehensive, day-long tabletop exercise designed to increase members’ coordination and preparedness in the event of a subsea well containment incident.
HWCG is a consortium of 23 deepwater operators in the Gulf of Mexico who have come together with the common goal of expanding capabilities to quickly and comprehensively respond to such an incident to protect employees, communities and the environment.
“While we do not anticipate an incident, we are committed to maximum preparedness to ensure rapid response and containment of a deepwater oil spill. Collaboration is critical to our readiness, and that is why the Helix Well Containment Group has conducted two tabletop exercises in the past three weeks,” said Roger Scheuermann, commercial director for HWCG. HWCG is planning to conduct a third tabletop exercise in late May.
With guidance from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, the group developed the HWCG Well Containment Plan, a comprehensive and detailed technical plan that clearly identifies response protocols for foreseeable deepwater containment scenarios.
“Bringing together the industry’s brightest and most experienced deepwater personnel, this drill tested our ability to activate the HWCG Well Containment Plan,” said Tim Sargent, chair of the HWCG Technical Committee. “As a result of these drills, we can expedite our decision-making process and optimize the utilization of our plan.”
The day-long drill included representatives from HWCG’s 23 member companies and 30 service providers, and government officials. It included a review of the capabilities of the HWCG member companies and contractors who provide essential services as outlined in the Well Containment Plan.
HWCG has signed an agreement with Helix Energy Solutions Group (NYSE:HLX), which will provide the primary components of the well containment response system. Building upon Helix-owned equipment effectively used in the Deepwater Horizon response, the system is currently capable of facilitating control and containment of spills in water depths up to 5,600 feet and features a 10,000 psig capping stack. By April 8, the system will substantially increase its containment capacity, expanding its capabilities to water depths up to 8,000 feet and capture and processing capabilities of 55,000 barrels of oil per day and 95 million cubic feet of gas per day. In the coming weeks, HWCG will also add a 15,000 psig capping stack. Full operational capability for water depths of up to 10,000 feet is anticipated mid-summer 2011.
Recently, the U.S. Department of the Interior approved four deepwater drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico for HWCG members Noble Energy, BHP Billiton, ATP Oil & Gas Corporation and Statoil Gulf of Mexico LLC (Statoil USA E&P, Inc.). This week, HWCG also increased its membership to 23 deepwater oil and gas operators.