The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) recently completed an unannounced oil spill drill to assess Stone Energy Corporation’s ability to respond to a hypothetical blowout experienced by one of its deepwater exploratory wells in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. The table-top exercise examined Stone Energy’s ability to mobilize the proper subsea containment/intervention equipment. BSEE expects to issue a final evaluation when it completes an analysis of all documentation.
Stone Energy, Lafayette, LA, is an independent oil and gas exploration and production company, with primary activities in the Gulf of Mexico, with additional activity in Louisiana, the Rocky Mountains and Appalachia.
The drill is the first such exercise since the reorganization of the former Minerals Management Service was completed on Oct. 1.
“The Unannounced Spill Drill Program provides an effective tool that helps us ensure operators are appropriately trained in effective containment deployment and that the necessary equipment and resources are truly in place to implement the approved response plan,” said BSEE Director James Watson. “This program is one of many diverse activities we employ within our agency to ensure operators are able to fully execute their oil spill response plans.”
The Unannounced Spill Drill Program, initiated in 1989, tests an operator’s ability to notify the appropriate entities and personnel in the event of a spill, including federal regulatory agencies, affected state and local agencies, internal response coordinators, and response contractors, and to take appropriate action to implement their response plan. If the decisions made during the drill do not align with the approved oil spill response plan, it provides an opportunity to determine what needs to change in the response process.
An operator is selected for an unannounced drill based on how many oil producing facilities it operates, how much oil it produces, and where that oil is produced in proximity to sensitive areas. A simulated spill scenario is developed based on the operator’s current activities. Simulated weather conditions provided to the operator during the drill are used to produce a hypothetical trajectory of the spill.
December 27, 2011