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BSEE oversees two capping stack drills in the Gulf of Mexico

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Oilfield Technology,

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has announced the successful completion of two Gulf of Mexico equipment deployment drills to evaluate the oil and gas industry’s preparedness to respond to a subsea blowout.

BSEE oversees two capping stack drills in the Gulf of Mexico

Each of the drills lasted between three and five days and were mobilised by Beacon Offshore Energy (BOE) and Chevron, along with their mutual aid partners to deploy, and install equipment to cap a blowout in deep water off the coast of Louisiana, US.

During the two unannounced drills, BSEE required BOE and Chevron to deploy a capping stack from their respective storage locations near Houston and Corpus Christi, Texas, US, to separate areas in the Gulf of Mexico, ranging from approximately 70 to 140 miles from shore. Once on-site, each operator lowered a capping stack onto a simulated well head on the ocean floor in about 6000 ft of water, connected the capping stack to the wellhead, and pressurised the system to 12 500 psi to simulate well pressure.

Kevin M. Sligh Sr, BSEE Director, said: “We are committed to ensuring the offshore oil and gas industry maintains the highest level of preparedness. The initial results from these drills were successful, and we will evaluate lessons learned as we continually work to enhance safety in offshore operations.”

A capping stack is a critical piece of source control equipment designed to shut off any oil flow from a well if other systems fail, such as the blowout preventer. Since the initial drill in 2012, experienced personnel in both industry and government sectors have turned over. Also, the consortiums that provided contract access to the well containment systems have expanded their equipment inventories and updated internal procedures. As a result, in December 2022, Sligh directed the bureau to initiate two drills in 2023 to verify the industry’s readiness to deploy these assets quickly.

BSEE engineers, inspectors, and preparedness analysts were onsite throughout the two separate multi-day drills, monitoring industry inspections and tests before the capping stacks journeyed offshore. While aboard the transit vessels, they evaluated the procedures first-hand as operators lowered the capping stacks to the seabed.?

While initial observations indicate the drills met BSEE requirements for deploying source control equipment, BSEE will evaluate all aspects and results of the drills and make recommendations in a formal report later this year.

Eric Miller, BSEE Oil Spill Preparedness Division Chief, commented: “This is a remarkable achievement and a milestone for containment response. These types of drills reinforce government and industry efforts and capabilities to address and control oil flow from a damaged subsea well.”

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Gulf of Mexico upstream news Offshore news Subsea news Oil & gas news