The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), Noble Energy, Inc. and the Helix Well Containment Group (HWCG) announced Tuesday the successful completion of a full-scale deployment of critical well control equipment to assess Noble Energy’s ability to respond to a potential subsea blowout in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.
BSEE Director James Watson confirmed that the HWCG capping stack deployed for the exercise met the pressurization requirements of the drill scenario, marking successful completion of the exercise.
The unannounced deployment drill, undertaken at the direction of BSEE, began April 30 to test the HWCG capping stack system – a 20-feet tall, 146,000-pound piece of equipment similar to the one that stopped the flow of oil from the Macondo well following the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in 2010. During this exercise, the capping stack was deployed in more than 5,000 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico. Once on site, the system was lowered to a simulated well head (a pre-set parking pile) on the ocean floor, connected to the well head, and pressurized to 8,400 pounds per square inch.
“Deployment drill exercises like this one are essential to supporting President Obama’s commitment to the safe and responsible development of offshore resources,” said Director Watson. “BSEE continually works to ensure that the oil and natural gas industry is prepared and ready to respond with the most effective equipment and response systems.”
BSEE engineers, inspectors and oil spill response specialists are evaluating the deployment operations and identifying lessons learned as the bureau continues efforts to improve safety and environmental protection across the offshore oil and natural gas industry.
“The quick and effective response to a deepwater well containment incident, demonstrated during the drill, was enabled by collaborative communication and planning between the industry and regulatory agencies with a focus on solutions-based outcomes,” said John Lewis, senior vice president of Noble Energy. “BSEE, the U.S. Coast Guard, Louisiana Offshore Coordinator’s Office and Noble Energy brought unique perspectives together in a Unified Command structure to achieve a shared goal. Through excellent coordination within the Incident Command System structure that included elevating the Source Control Chief to report directly to Unified Command, the dedication of hundreds of people and activation of the HWCG rapid response system, all objectives were met.”
“HWCG’s ability to quickly and effectively respond to a call from Noble Energy and every operator in our consortium is made possible by a combination of the mutual aid agreement committed to by each consortium member and the contracts we have in place for equipment that is staffed and working in the Gulf each day,” said Roger Scheuermann, HWCG Commercial Director. “Mutual aid enables members to draw upon the collective technical expertise, assets and resources of the group in the event of an incident. Utilizing staffed and working vessels, drilling and production equipment helps ensure there is no down time for staffing or testing equipment readiness in a crisis situation.”
In accordance with the plan, all 15 member companies were activated for this incident through the HWCG notification system.
For the safety of personnel and equipment, a Unified Command comprised of BSEE, the US Coast Guard, Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinators Office and Noble Energy decided to temporarily hold operations May 2 and 3 due to rough weather over the Gulf of Mexico. The safety of personnel remained a top priority throughout the exercise.
Since the Deepwater Horizon tragedy in 2010, BSEE has worked to implement the most aggressive and comprehensive offshore oil and gas regulatory reforms in the nation’s history. This deepwater containment drill tested one critical component of enhanced drilling safety requirements.
Press Release, May 8, 2013: Source
With the heightened expectations of stakeholders in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon incident, Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) has listened to its drilling operator clients and designed a new generation of drillship. The new 80k class, heavy duty, wide beam drillship design, HD12000, can drill up to depths of 12,000 feet.
It has greater versatility, strength and more available deck space than its predecessors and has been developed drawing on previous experience of drillships. The HD12000 has an increased beam, which allows for larger and more variable load capacity (up to 24,000 metric tonnes) and reserve buoyancy for heavy duty – with compartment arrangement improvements – as well as being able to accommodate a cylinder rig concept that could be used for bigger derrick load requirements.
The JDP put the wide beam drillship design through design review, ship motion analysis, fatigue and FE analysis. Throughout, and on a global basis, Lloyd’s Register experts in hull structures, marine, mechanical, electrical and drilling systems worked in co-operation with HHI’s lead engineers to review and give feedback on the design development.
At the closing meeting at HHI’s Ulsan shipyard, Gyung-Jin Ha, Executive Vice President, Hyundai Heavy Industries, commented: “HHI and Lloyd’s Register have strong advantages in their own specialised fields, and it is therefore desirable to share experiences with each other and have cooperation between the two companies. HHI will never stop innovating to meet new market demands.”
Lloyd’s Register Drilling Integrity Services specialists in Moduspec were able to provide 25 years of valuable ‘people, systems and equipment’ insight and perspective regarding the drilling systems arrangements, when considering the operational integrity of the proposed design. At 223 metres long, 40 metres wide and 18.5 metres deep, the HD12000 drillship can probe a depth of 40,000 feet below the rotary table and is designed to accommodate the increasing complexity, pressures and sizes of drilling equipment and their handling needs. In addition, the arrangement of mud pumps and riser hold storage inside the hull envelope provides for a large free deck area for tube storage and other equipment, as well as greater flexibility and versatility of operations.
It has fully dynamic, positioning-compliant, station-keeping capabilities, with sufficient power to allow it to maintain position in emergency situations. Efficient The HD12000’s innovative hull form design is based on HHI’s longstanding and accumulated technology on merchant vessels. It enables a high transit speed of 11.5 knots (reduced form resistance with integrated thruster pod to hull) with a reported 40% less fuel consumption, enhanced sea-keeping performance (reduced roll angle by 20%), reduced interaction and thruster efficiency improvement and enhanced DP capability (reportedly 20% less fuel consumption).
A patented thruster canister design allows for in-site inspection and maintenance of the thruster without the need for docking, with reduced non-productive time.
Alan Williams, Lloyd’s Register’s Korea Marine Operations Manager, said: “Lloyd’s Register has been able to clearly demonstrate to a significant customer for drillship construction how it can support them, drawing upon the pool of expertise from across the organisation for that segment. Korea represents the technological coalface for drillship construction, gaining momentum for innovation, and we will continue to play our part. Lloyd’s Register is positioned to fully support the drilling operators and building yards through integrated marine and drilling system specialist teams, working closely with these clients to develop and offer solutions.”
The latest revision of LR’s rules for Mobile Offshore Units utilises the specialist drilling integrity capabilities of Moduspec and WEST, and will incorporate new classification notations for mobile offshore drilling units. These will be released in February.
- South Korea: STX O&S Wins Mega Project Award (worldmaritimenews.com)
- Pacific Drilling: A Growing, Well-Capitalized Offshore Drilling Company (seekingalpha.com)
OIL AND GAS industry solutions provider AGR has signed a Master Well Services Contract and a Service Order with Chevron U.S.A. Inc. (Chevron).
The announcement comes as AGR’s existing four year contract for DGD Project Management and Engineering Services moves towards a close later this year, with the testing and load-out of the world’s first Dual Gradient Drilling system for use on a deepwater drillship.
The Pacific Santa Ana drillship – owned by Pacific Drilling – will be operational for Chevron in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico this year, following the successful installation of the custom-built DGD system on the rig.
Houston-based Terry Scanlon, AGR’s Senior Vice President of the Enhanced Drilling Solutions (EDS) division (Americas), said: “Working on the deepwater DGD system’s design and manufacturing phases has been a challenging and rewarding experience alongside Chevron and the other key members of the program.
“We very much appreciate Chevron’s signing of this five year services contract that now allows us to move to offshore operational status in 2012, on this industry leading project. We are now preparing our offshore technical services team and offshore operational procedures, ready for the transition to well operations later this year.”
Under the agreement, Chevron will use AGR’s specialized technical services and the Chevron-owned DGD system as an enabling technology on complex deep-zone wells in its large deepwater Gulf of Mexico portfolio.
AGR’s Executive Vice President of the Enhanced Drilling Solutions division, David Hine, said: “The Chevron DGD development is a world’s first. We are proud to have led the engineering management phase together with Chevron and to have now secured the opportunity to deliver the Offshore Operations and Maintenance phase over the next few years.
“On the premise of improved efficiency, it is becoming increasingly apparent that DGD related services will have an important place in the future of offshore drilling for difficult deepwater and deep zone wells.”
- Pacific Santa Ana Drillship Arrives in U.S. Gulf of Mexico to Work for Chevron (mb50.wordpress.com)
Two Pre-Season Storms Eyed in Atlantic, Pacific oceans, Could Cause Damages to Gas, Oil Projects in Gulf of Mexico
Storms that enter the Gulf of Mexico could damage and halt both operations and production of natural gas and oil development projects in the area. Just this March, according to a one-year progress report on the Obama administration’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Policy, it said that the Gulf of Mexico is safely back to strong production after the much celebrated 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, otherwise known as the BP oil disaster or the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
Of the two pre-season storms spotted by the National Hurricane Center, the stronger one was found in the Pacific about 550 miles or 885 kilometers south-southwest of Acapulco, Mexico. In a weather bulletin, the center said it has a 50 per cent chance of becoming a tropical depression in the next day or two.
The one in the Atlantic, meanwhile, was 460 miles west-southwest of the Azores, with a 20 per cent probability of becoming a sub-tropical storm in the next two days.
The eastern Pacific and Atlantic hurricane seasons officially start on May 15 and June 1, respectively.
The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico flowed for three months in 2010. It is recorded as the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. The spill, which stemmed from a sea-floor oil that resulted from the explosion of Deepwater Horizon, killed 11 men and injured 17 others, including massive damage to marine and wildlife habitats and to the Gulf’s fishing and tourism industries.
- Pacific Santa Ana Drillship Arrives in U.S. Gulf of Mexico to Work for Chevron (mb50.wordpress.com)
- 1st tropical depression of Pacific season forms (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- First tropical depression forms off the coast of Mexico ahead of official start of hurricane season (mega949.com)
- First tropical depression forms off the coast of Mexico ahead of official start of hurricane season (640whlo.com)
The ratings agency added that even in the event of a shutdown of the whole Elgin field, it believes that Total is likely to retain its ‘AA’ credit rating as it has the cash resources to more than cover any associated costs.
“The Elgin leak is a surface gas leak rather than an underwater oil leak, making its potential for environmental damage far lower than in the Deepwater Horizon case,” said Fitch in a press statement Wednesday. “These sorts of accidents are often difficult to resolve and unpredictable; nonetheless, in our view the potential is low for this leak to escalate to a crisis on the scale of Deepwater Horizon. Total’s preliminary assessment suggests there has been no significant impact on the environment and the use of dispersants has not been considered.”
However, Fitch added that it had considered a “worse-than-base-case” scenario where Total may have to shut down the Elgin field to stop the gas leak. “This would imply the loss of a producing field that is worth, in net present value terms, EUR 5.7 billion [$7.6 billion] according to third-party valuations. Were the field to become permanently unusable it would cost Total EUR 2.6 billion [$3.5 billion] and the company might have to compensate its partners for the remaining EUR 3.1 billion [$4.1 billion],” Fitch said.
On Tuesday Dow Jones reported a source saying that the proximity of vessels owned by Transocean and Rowan to the Elgin platform may sway Total’s decision in hiring a firm to drill relief wells to cap the leak.
Currently, Transocean’s Sedco 714 (mid-water semisub) is drilling for Total in the North Sea, while a Rowan jack-up rig was used for drilling work at Elgin.
Total said Tuesday it is studying all options and could take time to make a decision, while dismissing reports that claimed the company had indicated it could take up to six months to drill a relief well.
“They are not details that have come from us at all,” a Total spokesperson told Rigzone Tuesday morning, explaining that the company did not yet have a timescale in place regarding the drilling of a relief well.
Meanwhile, Royal Dutch Shell reported Tuesday that it removed oil workers from two of its North Sea rigs due to the proximity to Total’s Elgin/Franklin platform.
In a statement, Shell said it had reduced personnel on its Shearwater platform and the nearby Nobel Hans Deul drilling rig. Drilling operations on the Noble Hans Deul (400′ ILC) rig, which is located offshore Scotland 138 miles east of Aberdeen, have been suspended and the wells “left in a safe state,” said Shell.
“While the move is purely precautionary and primarily driven by the prevailing weather conditions, and both facilities remain operational, it has been decided to reduce numbers to a more manageable level until the full situation surrounding the Elgin leak has been established,” said a Shell spokesperson.
Shell also reported Tuesday that it is using the downtime as an opportunity to conduct maintenance on one of its rigs.
“Further to the precautionary safety measures we took yesterday following Total’s gas leak at Elgin, we have no brought forward plans to carry out maintenance at Shearwater. This will take place from today, starting four days ahead of schedule. We are therefore shutting down production in a controlled manner,” said a Shell spokesperson.
Total reported Monday that it had evacuated the Elgin platform’s crew and reported that all 238 personnel had been accounted for.
A former engineer, Jon Mainwaring is an experienced journalist who has written about the technology, engineering and energy industries. Email Jon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- North Sea oil rig: Mystery gas leak forces workers to be evacuated amid fears of explosion (dailymail.co.uk)
- Well from hell: Gas rig abandoned in North Sea after massive leak (mirror.co.uk)
- North Sea Gas Leak May Take Months To Plug (news.sky.com)