Helix Well Cap Arrival at Ingleside, Texas Shorebase
Designed for subsea oil spill containment the Helix Fast Response System (HFRS) Well Cap consists of an 18-3/4″ –10ksi H4 hydraulic wellhead connector and a 13-5/8″-10ksi dual ram block with an 18-3/4″-10ksi H-4 mandrel profile up. The connector can be changed out to any other type of connectors via the use of adapters. The cap has a 13-5/8″ bore and side outlets 4-1/16″-10K BX-155. All functions on the Well Cap will be ROV operable. Two 3-3/16″ vents relieve high pressure and/or flow rate.
Helix Well Cap Being Loaded Out at Ingleside, Texas Shorebase
Helix Well Cap Being Loaded Out at Ingleside, Texas Shorebase (2)
Helix Well Cap Being Loaded Out at Ingleside, Texas Shorebase (3)
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Brazil’s state controlled oil company, Petrobras, announces that on Sunday afternoon, April 8, a subsea inspection discovered seepage of oil coming from its Roncador oil field’s seabed in Campos basin.
The inspection was carried out using a Remotely Operate Vehicle (ROV), at the field located approximately 120 km off the coast of from the coast of São Tomé Cape, Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil, near the Chevron operated Frade field where two seeps – one in November, 2011 and the second in early March, 2012, occurred.
According to the Brazilian National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels (ANP), the ROV was submerged approximately 500 meters to the East from the Frade field border line, where it collected oil samples which should help with identifying the source of the leak.
So far, no oil slick can be seen on the surface of the sea.
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By JENNIFER KAY, Associated Press – 2 days ago
MIAMI (AP) — If a future oil spill in the Caribbean Sea threatens American shores, a new federal plan obtained by The Associated Press would hinge on cooperation from neighboring foreign governments. Now that Cuba is the neighbor drilling for oil, cooperation is hard to guarantee.
The International Offshore Response Plan draws on lessons from the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and was created to stop offshore oil spills as close to their source as possible, even in foreign waters. The plan dated Jan. 30 has not been released publicly. The AP obtained a copy through a Freedom of Information Act request.
After crude oil stained Gulf Coast beaches, state and federal officials are eager to head off even the perception of oil spreading toward the coral reefs, beaches and fishing that generate tens of billions of tourist dollars for Florida alone.
The plan comes as Spanish oil company Repsol YPF conducts exploratory drilling in Cuban waters and the Bahamas considers similar development for next year. Complicating any oil spill response in the Florida Straits, though, is the half-century of tension between the U.S. and its communist neighbor 90 miles south of Florida.
Under the plan dated Jan. 30, the Coast Guard’s Miami-based 7th District would take the lead in responding to a spill affecting U.S. waters, which includes Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The district’s operations cover 15,000 miles of coastline and share borders with 34 foreign countries and territories.
Repsol’s operations in Cuban waters are not subject to U.S. authority, but the company allowed U.S. officials to inspect its rig and review its own oil spill response plan.
“We’ve demonstrated already and we continue to demonstrate that we’re a safe, responsible operator doing all in its power to carry out a transparent and safe operation,” Respol spokesman Kristian Rix said Thursday.
Rix declined to elaborate on the company’s response plans, but he did say two minor recommendations made by U.S. officials inspecting the rig were immediately put in place.
If an oil spill began in Cuban waters, Cuba would be responsible for any spill cleanup and efforts to prevent damage to the U.S., but the Coast Guard would respond as close as possible.
Though a 50-year-old embargo bars most American companies from conducting business with Cuba and limits communication between the two governments, the Coast Guard and private response teams have licenses from the U.S. government to work with Cuba and its partners if a disaster arises.
The U.S. and Cuba have joined Mexico, the Bahamas and Jamaica since November in multilateral discussions about how the countries would notify each other about offshore drilling problems, said Capt. John Slaughter, chief of planning, readiness, and response for the 7th District.
He said channels do exist for U.S. and Cuban officials to communicate about spills, including the Caribbean Island Oil Pollution Response and Cooperation Plan. That’s a nonbinding agreement, though, so the Coast Guard has begun training crews already monitoring the Cuban coastline for drug and migrant smuggling to keep an eye out for problems on the Repsol rig.
William Reilly, co-chairman of the national commission on the Deepwater Horizon spill and head of the EPA during President George H.W. Bush, said the Coast Guard generated goodwill in Cuba by notifying its government of potential risks to the island during the 2010 spill.
It would be hard for the Cuban government to keep any spill secret if Repsol and other private companies were responding, Slaughter said.
“Even if we assume the darkest of dark and that the Cuban government wouldn’t notify us, we’d hear through industry chatter and talk. If the companies were notified, I’m quite confident we would get a phone call before they fly out their assets,” he said.
Funding for a U.S. response to a foreign spill would come from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund managed by the Coast Guard. As of Feb. 29, that fund contained $2.4 billion.
The plan covers many lessons learned from the 2010 spill, like maintaining a roster of “vessels of opportunity” for hire and making sure the ships that are skimming and burning oil offshore can store or treat oily water for extended periods of time. Other tactics, like laying boom, have been adapted for the strong Gulf Stream current flowing through the Florida Straits.
What the plan doesn’t cover is the research on how an oil spill might behave in the straits, said Florida International University professor John Proni, who’s leading a group of university and federal researchers studying U.S. readiness for oil spills.
Among the unknowns are the effect of dispersants on corals and mangroves, how oil travels in the major currents, the toxicity of Cuban and how to determine whether oil washing ashore in the U.S. came from Cuba.
“My view is that the Coast Guard has developed a good plan but it’s based on existing information,” so it’s incomplete, he said.
Former Amoco Oil Latin America president Jorge Pinon, now an oil expert at the University of Texas, said the Coast Guard had a solid plan.
He cautioned against recent congressional legislation introduced by one of South Florida’s three Cuban-American representatives to curtail drilling off Cuba by sanctioning those who help them do it. The bill is sponsored by Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami.
Instead, Pinon said the U.S. needs to formalize agreements with Cuba about who would be in command if an oil well blew, because the U.S. has more resources available.
“The issue is not to stop the spill from reaching Florida waters, the issue is capping the well and shutting it down,” Pinon said. “We can play defense all we want, but we don’t want to play defense, we want to play offense, we want to cap the well.”
Reilly said the U.S. still needs to issue permits for equipment in the U.S. that would be needed if a Cuban well blew, Reilly said. For example, if a blowout occurred, the company would have to get a capping stack from Scotland, which could take up to a week.
“We know from Macondo that a great deal can happen in a week,” Reilly said. “I’ve been very concerned about getting the sanctions interpreted in a way that permits us to exercise some common sense.”
Copyright © 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
MEXICO CITY – Mexico‘s state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, is ready to drill in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico near the maritime border with the U.S., its head of production said Tuesday.
Pemex has in place high-tech drilling platforms, safety systems and membership in a well-containment group as part of redundant measures to prevent and control an oil leak, Carlos Morales Gil said at a news conference.
Pemex has complied with the requirements of Mexico’s watchdog National Hydrocarbons Commission, or CNH, he added.
“Yes, we’re going to Perdido this year, in a few months,” Morales said, referring to the hydrocarbon formation already being drilled on the U.S. side. “And, yes, we are in compliance with all of the requirements.”
The CNH chief, Juan Carlos Zepeda, said recently that he didn’t think Pemex was prepared for the challenges of drilling deep-water wells–those at depths exceeding 6,000 feet. Zepeda had said that Pemex wasn’t in compliance with the CNH because the oil company hadn’t yet been accepted into a well-containment group.
Zepeda’s warnings followed the Deepwater Horizon blowout, which killed 11 workers in April 2010 and caused the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Pemex had its own blowout in the shallow waters of the Gulf in 1979 that spilled oil for months and fouled beaches in Texas.
Morales said Tuesday that Pemex has detailed seismic information of the Perdido area where it plans to drill, and that the oil monopoly has been training its own people and contracting international crews.
Furthermore, Pemex has received word that it is being accepted into the Helix Well Containment Group, he said, a U.S. consortium that inherited and improved some of the equipment used to cap the Deepwater Horizon spill.
Pemex is leasing three of the current generation of drilling platforms, according to Morales, with multiple safety systems. In the event of a blowout or leaking well, Pemex could drill a relief well relatively quickly because it has the three high-tech platforms in the Gulf and could move one or more.
On Monday, Pemex said it had a net loss of 23.8 billion pesos ($1.7 billion) in the fourth quarter as it paid more to the federal government in taxes and royalties than a year earlier, and had foreign exchange losses as a result of a weaker Mexican peso.
Pemex said sales in the final quarter of the year rose 22.5% from the fourth quarter of 2010 to MXN420.3 billion, thanks to higher world oil prices. The higher crude prices–$104.40 per barrel compared with $70.80 a year ago–were partially offset by lower export volume, which fell 10.5% to 1.339 million barrels a day, Pemex said in a filing with the local stock exchange.
Oil and gas exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico will some day return to pre-BP spill levels, the president of Chevron North America Exploration and Production Company, Gary Luquette said Thursday.
But the rigorous permitting, safety and verification requirements imposed after the April 2010 BP disaster are here to stay, Gary Luquette said during an interview with The Daily Advertiser before the Greater Lafayette Chamber of Commerce annual banquet, where he was keynote speaker.
“It’s a new normal,” Luquette said.
The industry hasn’t found its stride since the Deepwater Horizon platform operated by BP off the coast of Louisiana exploded and sunk, creating the largest oil spill in U.S. history.
That disaster, which killed 11 workers, led the federal government to impose a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling that was followed by more stringent permitting and safety regulations.
“I think activity levels can and will return to pre-Macondo (spill) levels,” he said. “The effort and rigor in getting permits approved won’t return.”
Luquette said that’s a good thing for Louisiana and the industry. The BP disaster tainted the entire industry.
Tighter permitting, regulations and oversight will help the industry rebuild public trust, he said.
The “new normal” may be too costly for some of the small independent companies to survive, Luquette said.
“In the end,” he said, “the standards are going up. It’s your responsibility to enact them.”
The Gulf of Mexico is still a major source of oil and natural gas and Chevron maintains a presence there, in deepwater and shallow water, said Luquette, a 1978 civil engineering graduate of UL Lafayette.
More than half of the company’s 2012 budget is allocated to Gulf of Mexico activity. Today, Chevron has 10 rigs operating in shallow water, he said.
Lafayette plays an important role in the industry with numerous supply and service companies operating here.
Chevron alone has 300 workers in its Lafayette office and another 300 or so working offshore out of the Lafayette office, Luquette said.
President Obama said last week in his State of the Union address that he wants to end “subsidies” to the oil and gas industry which makes billions of dollars in profits. Luquette said the energy industry creates jobs and creates wealth for the federal government.
In 2011, the oil and gas industry paid $86 million a day to the federal government in royalties, rents and tax revenue, he said. The industry also employs more than nine million either directly or indirectly.
The industry doesn’t need bailouts and such, just a level-playing field, the same so-called subsidies and breaks the federal government provides other U.S. industries and those from foreign nations, Luquette said.
- Drilling ban had ‘hidden victims’ (mb50.wordpress.com)
by Clif Burns
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing yesterday, reported here by the Oil & Gas Journal, on the possible impact of exploratory oil drilling by non-U.S. companies in Cuban territorial waters in the Gulf of Mexico. Michael R. Bromwich, Director of the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (“BSEE”) tried to assure the Committee that U.S. companies could respond quickly to an oil spill in Cuban waters notwithstanding the U.S. embargo on Cuba.
He said that the US Departments of Commerce and the Treasury have a long-standing practice of providing licenses to address environmental challenges in Cuban waters, and that DOC’s Bureau of Industry and Security has issued a number of them for booms, skimmers, dispersants, pumps, and other equipment and supplies to minimize environmental damage from a spill. “I believe the Commerce and Treasury departments would move quickly to approve more licenses if needed,” he said.
Not all witnesses before the Committee shared Bromwich’s rosy view of our ability to respond to a Cuban spill:
Paul A. Schuler, president of Clean Caribbean & Americas, an international spill response cooperative operating in the region, said only three US companies have such licenses that must be renewed every 1-2 years. “It needs to be handled in advance, and not as an ad hoc action as part of a response to an oil spill,” Schuler said. “Others would have to go through the entire licensing process, and my experience has been that it has not been quick.”
I suspect that exporters with experience obtaining licenses from BIS and OFAC might also share Schuler’s scepticism about whether the agencies could move quickly on licenses by U.S. companies to provide clean-up services in Cuban waters (which would require an OFAC license) and export equipment to be used in that clean-up effort (which would require a BIS license).
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While now facing greater scrutiny from regulators, contractors in the oil-service industry have considerable liability protection to fight the citations and any subsequent fines, legal experts say. They also have enough market muscle to strengthen liability protection in their contracts with oil companies.
Previously, U.S. regulators have held the rig operator responsible for whatever happens under its watch. The operator hired contractors, who perform drilling, seismic or cementing operations and whose contracts protected them from any liability.
That was upended by the Deepwater Horizon mishap in April 2010, which resulted in 11 deaths, the biggest accidental marine oil spill in history, and tens of billions of dollars in costs. BP said blame also falls on Halliburton, which was in charge of cementing the failed well shut, and Transocean, the drilling contractor that owned the Deepwater Horizon rig. U.S. investigations have widely cast the blame among all three companies.
The citations, issued Wednesday, set a precedent for holding contractors at least partially responsible for such accidents, and may increase the contractors’ exposure to civil suits from anyone claiming damages from the spill, analysts said.
The contractors have pledged to fight the accusations. Halliburton said that it is fully protected against penalties and losses from the Deepwater Horizon incident by its contract with BP. Transocean also said it intends to appeal.
However, if the courts determine that the government has the right to issue a citation to oil-service contractors, there is no contract that will protect them from the fine, according to Larry Nettles, an environmental attorney with Vinson & Elkins, a Houston law firm. “In most jurisdictions the courts do not allow indemnification for fines and penalties, because it defeats the purpose,” which is to punish bad behavior, Mr. Nettles said.
Still the industry is expected to bulk up its contracts even more in the wake of the regulators’ action, legal experts say, to get as much liability protection as possible. The contractors currently have considerable bargaining power to win such new concessions from rig operators on contract protection. Relatively high oil prices have led to a shortage of drilling crews and have put oilfield services at a premium, giving the contractors the upper hand in negotiations.
“When oil prices are high and there’s lots of activity, service contractors can drive a very hard bargain,” said Owen Anderson, a professor of law specializing in energy at the University of Oklahoma.
(c) 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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