BSEE, Noble Energy, HWCG Complete Containment Exercise Successfully

Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

The Department of the Interior's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), Noble Energy, Inc. and the Helix Well Containment Group (HWCG) announced Tuesday the successful completion of a full-scale deployment of critical well control equipment to assess Noble Energy's ability to respond to a potential subsea blowout in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. BSEE Director James Watson confirmed that the HWCG capping stack deployed for the exercise met the pressurization requirements of the drill scenario, marking successful completion of the exercise.

The unannounced deployment drill, undertaken at the direction of BSEE, began April 30 to test the HWCG capping stack system – a 20-feet tall, 146,000-pound piece of equipment similar to the one that stopped the flow of oil from the Macondo well following the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill in 2010. During this exercise, the capping stack was deployed in more than 5,000 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico. Once on site, the system was lowered to a simulated well head (a pre-set parking pile) on the ocean floor, connected to the well head, and pressurized to 8,400 pounds per square inch.

"Deployment drill exercises like this one are essential to supporting President Obama's commitment to the safe and responsible development of offshore resources," said Director Watson. "BSEE continually works to ensure that the oil and natural gas industry is prepared and ready to respond with the most effective equipment and response systems."

BSEE engineers, inspectors and oil spill response specialists are evaluating the deployment operations and identifying lessons learned as the bureau continues efforts to improve safety and environmental protection across the offshore oil and natural gas industry.

"The quick and effective response to a deepwater well containment incident, demonstrated during the drill, was enabled by collaborative communication and planning between the industry and regulatory agencies with a focus on solutions-based outcomes," said John Lewis, senior vice president of Noble Energy. "BSEE, the U.S. Coast Guard, Louisiana Offshore Coordinator's Office and Noble Energy brought unique perspectives together in a Unified Command structure to achieve a shared goal. Through excellent coordination within the Incident Command System structure that included elevating the Source Control Chief to report directly to Unified Command, the dedication of hundreds of people and activation of the HWCG rapid response system, all objectives were met."

"HWCG's ability to quickly and effectively respond to a call from Noble Energy and every operator in our consortium is made possible by a combination of the mutual aid agreement committed to by each consortium member and the contracts we have in place for equipment that is staffed and working in the Gulf each day," said Roger Scheuermann, HWCG Commercial Director. "Mutual aid enables members to draw upon the collective technical expertise, assets and resources of the group in the event of an incident. Utilizing staffed and working vessels, drilling and production equipment helps ensure there is no down time for staffing or testing equipment readiness in a crisis situation."

In accordance with the plan, all 15 member companies were activated for this incident through the HWCG notification system.  

For the safety of personnel and equipment, a Unified Command comprised of BSEE, the US Coast Guard, Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinators Office and Noble Energy decided to temporarily hold operations May 2 and 3 due to rough weather over the Gulf of Mexico. The safety of personnel remained a top priority throughout the exercise.  

Since the Deepwater Horizon tragedy in 2010, BSEE has worked to implement the most aggressive and comprehensive offshore oil and gas regulatory reforms in the nation's history. This deepwater containment drill tested one critical component of enhanced drilling safety requirements.

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Generated by readers, the comments included herein do not reflect the views and opinions of Rigzone. All comments are subject to editorial review. Off-topic, inappropriate or insulting comments will be removed.
Peter Marks | May. 7, 2013
I think there will be later than 2018 that natural gas is brought on shore and a liquefied natural gas plant is constructed to bring natural gas to the European Union (EU) is constructed because the EU and all those involved in the drilling dont have the large amount of money needed to bring the project to fruition. The EU wants the natural gas and has spent too much money trying to save the banking system in Cyprus, which has failed. Sixty percent of the money the banks held for depositors was seized by the Cypriot banks and those who have money in the Cypriot banks are limited as to how much they may withdraw. The EU isnt lending or giving any more money to the Cypriot banks and the ability of the Cypriot banks to continue to operate is in question. Due to the fact the EU needs natural gas the EU may decide to pool money from all EU countries and help get the natural gas, but there may not be enough Eurodollars to do so which would cause a delay which may last years beyond 2018. It would be very wise to stay informed as to the status of the EU funds and the funds of companies involved in the extraction of the natural gas, being Nobel Energy, Delek Energy, and Avnor Oil Exploration for were any one of them or all of them to give a hint the the project will be delayed its time to sell any stock one may own in any company involved in the extraction of the natural gas. Were any of the companies to state they are stepping up production thats a signal the project will continue and will meet the goal of 2018 to be operational and then it will be time to buy more stock in any company involved in the extraction of natural gas in the Mediterranean off Cyprus. This is a unique situation as the EU needs natural gas and they arent going to be securing any from Russia, so Cypress is the only place where they can get it, only if theres enough money available to do so well before 2018. Were the project to stay on target and be completed by 2018 and one to own stock in any company involved in the extraction of natural gas off Cyprus the opportunity make a very large profit.

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