Deepwater Containment Drill Update, July 27, 2012
July 27, 2012
Following exercise operations briefings this morning, BSEE Director James A. Watson visited Exxon-Mobil’s Hoover Diana spar production facility in the Gulf of Mexico. While the current deepwater containment drill is testing equipment that would be deployed in the event of a loss of well control during drilling operations, BSEE is developing new regulations to enhance safety and environmental protection during production. During a recent speech at this year’s Offshore Technology Conference, Director Watson outlined the bureau’s regulatory priorities, including a proposed rule that would enhance the standards for Production Safety Systems Lifecycle Analysis. To read more about these priorities, click here.
As part of the exercise yesterday and today, BSEE inspectors oversaw and evaluated operations to charge the Subsea Accumulator Module (SAM) as workers prepared it for transit. The SAM will provide hydraulic fluid to the capping stack once the stack is in place and attached to the simulated wellhead on the seabed. Both the SAM and the capping stack are now en route to the designated test location. BSEE inspectors are aboard the two ships transporting the equipment and are evaluating each phase of the deployment operations.
Teams including BSEE engineers and oil spill response specialists are finalizing the testing procedures that will be used once the capping stack is in place; they are also reviewing final testing preparations from each section of the Unified Command (UC). The UC ensures coordination and proper communication between all parties involved in the drill and uses the expertise of each member to develop best practices and procedures. The overall goal is to help facilitate an effective response and the safety of personnel and the environment.
This exercise involves the mobilization and field deployment of the capping stack to the sea floor in approximately 7,000 feet of water, latching it to a test wellhead, and pressurizing the system. The capping stack is a critical piece of equipment that has the ability to shut off any flow of oil from a well if other shut-off systems, such as the blowout preventer (BOP) fail. Following the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, the Department of the Interior instituted reforms that required offshore operators to have the ability to deploy containment resources, such as a capping stack, in response to a blowout or other loss of well control. For more information about post-Deepwater Horizon reforms, please visit our reforms page here.
BSEE Director James A. Watson today visited Exxon Mobil’s Hoover Diana spar production facility in the Gulf of Mexico.