In the aftermath of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, there is a plan to build and deploy a rapid response system that will be available to capture and contain oil in the event of any potential underwater well blowout.
The new system, unveiled by Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell will be flexible, adaptable and able to mobilize within 24 hours and work with a wide range of well designs and equipment, oil and natural gas flow rates and weather conditions. The new system will be able to work in deepwater depths up to 10,000 feet and have initial capacity to contain 100,000 barrels per day with potential for expansion.[private]
“If we all do our jobs properly, this system will never be used,” said Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobil’s chairman and chief executive. “The extensive experience of industry shows that when the focus remains on safe operations and risk management, tragic incidents like the one we are witnessing in the Gulf of Mexico today should not occur.”
The companies committed $1 billion to fund the initial costs of the system. Additional operational and maintenance costs for the subsea and modular processing equipment, contracts with existing operating vessels in the Gulf of Mexico and any potential new vessels that may result will increase this cost commitment.
The advantage to this system is it will be pre-engineered, constructed, tested and ready for rapid deployment in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. In the spirit of cooperation, the four companies led by a team of marine, subsea and construction engineers will develop the system.
The system will include specially designed subsea containment equipment connected by manifolds, jumpers and risers to capture vessels that will store and offload the oil. Dedicated crews will ensure regular maintenance, inspection and readiness of the facilities and subsea equipment.
“The creation and development of this sophisticated system will greatly enhance industry’s ability to ensure a quick and effective response,” said Jim Mulva, ConocoPhillips chairman and chief executive.
“This new system significantly enhances the industry’s ability to effectively respond to any unforeseen incidents,” said John Watson, chairman and chief executive of Chevron.
The four companies will form a non-profit organization, the Marine Well Containment Company, to operate and maintain this system. Other companies will also get an invitation to participate in this organization.
The companies are accelerating the work on the containment system so they show they are responding to the need for greater deepwater safety and environmental protection in the Gulf of Mexico, which accounts for 30 percent of U.S. oil and gas production and supports more than 170,000 jobs.
The sponsor companies will proceed immediately with the engineering, procurement and construction of equipment and vessels for the system.
The companies are also actively involved in significant industry efforts to improve prevention, well intervention and spill response. This includes rig inspections and implementation of new requirements on blowout preventer certification and well design. The industry has proactively formed several multi-disciplinary task forces to further develop improved prevention, containment and recovery plans.
“As an industry, we must rebuild trust with the American people in order to demonstrate that we can produce energy in a safe and environmentally responsible manner,” said Marvin Odum, president, Shell Oil Company.[/private]