Containment system soon in operation

OE Staff

January 9, 2013

deepwater permits
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Figure 1. Permits in deepwater numbered 76 by end-2012, enabled by the MWCC system. Source: MWCC.

In the wake of Macondo, something was needed to lower the risk of recurrence. BP had shown that, given enough time, a system to contain such a well-control incident could be built. Despite the delay, BP eventually did come up with a solution. The Marine Well Containment Company (MWCC) was formed to more carefully create a containment system in the US Gulf of Mexico.

The company has been providing an interim containment system consisting of MWCC-owned and maintained equipment along with access to mutual-aid vessels and equipment. A final version is well along in testing and construction; the last major system test was in mid- and late 2012.

mwccFigure 2. The expanded MWCC containment system should be ready in 2013. Source: MWCC.

The interim system can cap wells at 8000ft depths and flow 60,000b/d. The final system expands to 10,000ft depths and 100,000b/d. MWCC is working with regulators from the US Bureau of Safety Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) to ensure all expectations were met and that the new system would safeguard operations in the Gulf of Mexico, allowing new permits to be issued.

The interim version has been cited in 76 deepwater permits as of year-end 2012 (Figure 1). It is scheduled for completion this year (Figure 2). While it is intended for use primarily by its members (currently 10), non-members – and there have been a few – may also use it under certain conditions. The system is housed at an ASCO warehouse along the Houston ship channel. Other components are stored at vendor facilities elsewhere in Houston and in Port Fourchon, Louisiana.