Marine Well Containment Company (MWCC) announced today that Mobile, Ala. has been selected as the shorebase location to house the well containment company’s subsea umbilicals, risers and flowlines (SURF) equipment.
MWCC’s SURF equipment is an integral part of the company’s expanded containment system (ECS) that will enhance the company’s well containment capabilities in the deepwater U.S. Gulf of Mexico. MWCC will utilize the facilities and services of Technip USA and Core Industries to store, maintain and test the equipment.
Technip USA, a leader in subsea project management, engineering and construction for the energy industry, and Core Industries, a multi-faceted firm with vast industry knowledge and close proximity to the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, are well equipped to provide MWCC’s required services. MWCC is confident in its decision to partner with these companies as together they offer significant storage, maintenance, testing and deployment capabilities, as well as expertise, which are essential to achieving MWCC’s mission.
“Should our SURF equipment be needed to respond to a well control incident in the deepwater U.S. Gulf of Mexico, we know that we have the right support in place to respond safely and effectively,” said MWCC CEO, Marty Massey. “MWCC is committed to serving the U.S. Gulf and is proud to be a part of the Mobile community.”
The selection of Mobile for its SURF shorebase also allowed MWCC to tap into the skilled and industry-experienced workforce of Alabama to achieve its mission to be continuously ready to respond to a deepwater well control incident in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. The company will soon be transporting all of its SURF equipment to the Mobile shorebase where it will be properly stored and maintained at all times.
MWCC’s expanded system is scheduled for delivery starting later this year, and will further advance the company’s deepwater well containment technology and capabilities. The ECS will be able to cap and flow a well in up to 10,000 feet and will have the capacity to contain up to 100,000 barrels of liquid per day.
Drydocks World has signed a contract with Singapore based AET, for two Tanker-to-Modular Capture Vessel (MCV) conversion projects. AET is converting these vessels as part of the Marine Well Containment Company’s (MWCC) well containment system.
MWCC is a not-for-profit, stand-alone organization with 10 member companies ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Shell, BP, Apache Anadarko, BHP Billiton, Statoil and Hess. The conversion will be implemented at the Drydocks World – Dubai facility.
The conversion shall allow the tankers to continue to operate normally as tanker in the US Gulf of Mexico, with capability to be deployed as MCV within shortest possible time. The first vessel is expected to arrive at the yard in December 2011 and the second vessel in February 2012. Each project will be completed within a period of nine months. Each vessel will handle about 100,000 barrels of liquid and about 200 million standard cubic feet of gas per day. The MCVs are capable of operating at depths of 10,000 feet.
The vessels will be equipped with new state-of-the-art containment system provided by Marine Well Containment Company. Conversion scope includes installation of 4 off power generators, 4 off retractable type azimuth thrusters one tunnel thruster, Dynamic Positioning, Pipe racks on deck and supports for Process Module, Flare tower, turret etc..
“We are extremely happy to sign this prestigious Contract with AET, a well-known global service provider, as part of our well-articulated strategy of building our presence in the oil, gas and energy industries. We already have an established reputation and strong expertise in carrying out sophisticated vessel conversion projects for world-leading companies. Our thrust on expanding our knowledge base and creating a technology-driven state-of-the-art facility has borne fruit and we are able to effectively serve the industry,” said Khamis Juma Buamim, Chairman of Drydocks World.
Cameron Wallace, left, and Eric Poller, a subsea engineer for Helix Well Ops, look at a new oil spill-containment system developed by Houston’s Helix Energy Solutions. (Michael Paulsen/Houston Chronicle)
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement gave the permit to Murphy Exploration & Production Co., allowing the firm to drill a sidetrack well at its Thunder Hawk field about 150 miles southeast of New Orleans.
Other companies have successfully submitted oil spill response plans that would rely on the capping stack developed by Helix Well Containment Group or a separate system devised by the Marine Well Containment Co. But Murphy is the first firm to win regulators’ sign off for an emergency response plan involving Helix’s full flowback system.
The cap-and-flow system caps the well and contains any additional flowing oil in case it is out of control. The entire system involves a capping stack installed on the well head and a flowback system designed to direct the crude to vessels floating overhead.
Although some wells require only the containment system, the cap-and-flow equipment is geared toward operations with higher pressure. Regulators say the cap-and-flow program can help maintain the integrity of an underwater well in cases where the capping stack alone might not do the trick.
The Helix cap-and-flow system is capable of sending 55,000 barrels of oil and 95 million cubic feet of gas per day to the floating ships.
Separately, Helix is asking the Obama administration for a license to provide its containment equipment in case of a spill from offshore drilling in Cuban waters. The Spanish company Repsol is set to begin drilling a deep-water exploratory well north of the island nation — just 50 miles from south Florida — in December or January.
Helix spokesman Cameron Wallace said the ultimate scope of services that would be offered is still under consideration “and no firm commitments have yet been made.”
“We believe that it is important to make proven solutions, similar to our Helix Fast Response System, available for any drilling project that could potentially impact the nation’s coastlines,” Wallace said. “Helix’s goal is to make some of these spill containment technologies available while fully complying with federal trade regulations.”
- Helix seeks to provide capping stack in case of Cuba drill accident (mb50.wordpress.com)
- UK: Well Enhancer Helps in Testing of Well Cap Deployment (mb50.wordpress.com)
- USA: HWCG Chooses Sonardyne Acoustics for New GoM Well Containment Response System (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Helix: An Introduction to Well Intervention (gcaptain.com)
- Re-inventing subsea intervention to keep economics above water (mb50.wordpress.com)
By News Desk on May 9, 2011 8:51 AM
For more than 50 years, Cuba and the US have been at loggerheads over just about everything. But now, as Platts’ Leslie Moore Mirra spells out in this week’s Platts Oilgram News column “New Frontiers,” it is the threat of an oil spill from drilling in Cuban waters that may lead the two sides to begin talking about at least one area of common interest.
Could the prospect of a foul oil spill between the US and Cuba bring the two together?
The US Treasury Department in late April granted a special license to the International Association of Drilling Contractors that would permit Cubans to attend a conference hosted by a US-based organization in Trinidad–a request that was months in the making and on which the IADC spent about $50,000 worth of “time and talent” trying to make happen, the group’s director Lee Hunt said last week in an interview.
As Cuba nudges closer to deepwater oil exploration in its Gulf of Mexico waters some 50 miles from Florida shores, concerns are growing as to whether the island nation would be prepared to handle an oil spill.
As soon as the Saipem-manufactured Scarabeo rig arrives for Repsol’s deepwater exploration venture in Cuba waters, a number of political reactions will be generated, said Cuba energy consultant Jorge Pinon.
But others are skeptical that there will be much change at all. “We need to engage the Cubans but we can’t,” said Brian Petty, a senior vice president for government affairs at IADC.
Cuba is seen as holding rigorous oil spill standards modeled after the UK and Norway, but observers are also making noises that Cuba ought to be a party to the broad “MexUS” agreement.
The agreement followed the 1979 Ixtoc oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the result of which tarred both the Texas and Mexican coastlines. In the months-long oil spill, hundreds of aerial missions dropped a chemical dispersant over the Gulf of Mexico.
MexUS establishes standard operational procedures “to coordinate bilateral responses to pollution incidents that occur in, or threaten, coastal waters or areas of the border zones between Mexico and the US and that could affect or threaten the marine environment of both parties,” according to a copy of the MexUS agreement posted on the US Environmental Protection Agency‘s website.
While heavy on organizational flow charts, MexUS does articulate a joint response plan in the case of a Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
For example, “response operations will be coordinated when both countries agree. Response objectives are to prevent, control, mitigate or eliminate the threat of an incident, to minimize adverse effects to the marine environment and to protect public health and welfare,” the plan says.
In case of a spill, the two countries would form a joint task force responsible for decisions.
Despite the document’s formality and flow charts, some wonder if it would actually impose the structure or put up the money necessary for a cleanup.
“On paper, it looks to be an effective regime but to be honest in practice I can’t tell if there are serious problems with it,” said Richard McLaughin, who oversees marine policy and law at the Harte Research Institute’s Gulf of Mexico studies. Is MexUS “effective or window-dressing, no one knows,” McLaughlin said. “You have to see how it’s implemented on the ground,” he said.
Another line of inquiry that McLaughlin wants to probe is whether it might not be time to update the agreement and incorporate private entities such as the Marine Well Containment Company and the Helix Energy Solutions Group, both of which aim to provide quick emergency access to containment equipment used in the Macondo oil spill. But Charlie Engelmann, a spokesman for ExxonMobil, said that for now MWCC “is designed to respond to an incident in the US Gulf of Mexico.”
The US Coast Guard’s Corpus Christi, Texas, unit, which would respond to a Gulf oil spill, was not available for comment.
Further complicating the Gulf of Mexico picture could be the Bahamas, now emerging as a potential oil explorer, Petty said. As they gear up and offer offshore resources near Florida waters “it’s going to set Ileana Ros’ hair on fire,” Petty said of Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
She has introduced legislation aimed at halting Cuba oil exploration near Florida waters.
Given righteous Cuban-Americans firmly opposed to the end of the US embargo on Cuba, some doubt that even the administration of President Barack Obama will move to embrace Cuba into a MexUS protocol. “You have some strong headwinds against doing anything,” Petty said. “It’s tough…it’s the power of a political community that’s wealthy and influential and votes,” Petty said.
For now, however, the IADC seems pleased with a small opening provided by the administration’s allowing a Cuba environmental official to attend the IADC’s environmental meeting later this week in Trinidad. “We’re hoping others will come,” Petty said, adding that the US license granted would allow other Cubans to attend, too.–Leslie Moore Mira in New York