The Marine Well Containment Company today announced the completion and availability of an initial well containment response system that will provide rapid containment response capabilities in the event of a potential future underwater well control incident in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.
According to the American Petroleum Institute that means that "the U.S. oil and natural gas industry has completed the final requirement necessary to return to production in the Gulf."
Set up in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Marine Well Containment Company is a not-for-profit, independent organization founded by ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Shell to provide rapid response equipment to contain a potential future underwater well control incident in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.
The initial response system includes a subsea capping stack with the ability to shut in oil flow or to flow the oil via flexible pipes and risers to surface vessels . The system also includes subsea dispersant injection equipment, manifolds and, through mutual aid among members, capture vessels to provide surface processing and storage. The company has consulted with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) to ensure the system is designed to meet the government's requirements as outlined in NTL No. 2010-N10.
ExxonMobil, in partnership with Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Shell, continues to lead the development of additional system components to expand the initial system's capabilities, with completion of the expanded system set for 2012.
The interim system can operate in water depths up to 8,000 feet and has storage and processing capacity for up to 60,000 barrels per day of liquids. The capping stack has a maximum operating pressure of 15,000 pounds per square inch. The equipment is located on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Membership in the Marine Well
The company has appointed Marty Massey as chief executive officer. Formerly U.S. joint interest manager for ExxonMobil Production Company, Mr. Massey will lead the management team and operations of the Marine Well Containment Company, with headquarters in Houston.
"The Marine Well Containment Company has successfully developed a solution for rapid well containment response," he said today. "This milestone fulfills a commitment set forth by the four sponsor companies to deliver a rapid containment response capability within the first six months of launching the marine well containment project."
Dan Smallwood, formerly operations manager of Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana for ConocoPhillips, has been named chief operating officer for the company. Astley Blair, formerly division finance officer for Chevron Global Supply and Trading, has been appointed as chief financial officer. Charles Miller, formerly vice president production, Shell Brazil Ltda., has been named chief technology officer. Carmine Dulisse, formerly security and emergency preparedness and response manager, ExxonMobil Development Company, has been named health, safety, and environment officer.
Massey announced that the company is working with Gulf of Mexico operators to encourage their participation. In addition to the founding companies, BP is also a member.
Commenting on the announcement of the availability of the initial system, Jack Gerard, president and CEO of API. said: "The readiness of the Marine Well Containment Company and the systems necessary to respond to a deepwater drilling incident, show this industry has met every requirement for resuming operations in the Gulf and is ready to get back to work providing the energy this country needs.
API says that earlier this month, in a letter to oil and natural gas company CEO's, BOEMRE Director Michael Bromwich wrote: "The most critical missing piece in the process of approving applications for permits to drill in deep water is the demonstration of well control and subsea containment capability." As recently as five days ago, during a speech in Houston, Bromwich indicated that offshore production could move forward, once containment technologies were in place, saying, "This containment issue, which has attracted a great deal of attention in recent weeks, is the principal issue that has delayed our ability to issue deep water permits ... and I am confident that this capacity will be demonstrated soon."
"Every day that goes by without production in the Gulf, means that a U.S. worker sits onshore, while workers in other countries produce the resources we will use here at home," said Mr, Gerard. "And, as the millions of oil and natural gas industry workers watch as their industry waits for Washington to decide their fate, millions of workers whose jobs are supported by the U.S. energy industry wonder when the impacts will roll through the U.S. economy."
February 17, 2011