API Launches New Standard for Subsea Capping Stacks

The American Petroleum Institute published new guidelines Tuesday for the design, manufacture and use of subsea capping stacks, equipment designed as part of industry’s emergency preparedness in the event of a spill at a wellhead on the ocean floor.

“Enhanced industry standards are an essential piece of our collaboration with regulators to make offshore oil and gas development safer than ever before,” said API Director of Standards David Miller. “These guidelines will further strengthen subsea spill response capabilities as part of industry’s commitment to continuous improvement in safety.”

API’s Recommended Practice for Subsea Capping Stacks, known as RP 17W, applies to the installation of new subsea capping stacks and can serve as a guide to improving existing equipment. It can aid during the design and manufacturing process and in developing instructions for preservation, transportation, maintenance, testing and operations.

The document also provides guidelines for the deployment, well shut-in and recovery of a subsea capping stack.

RP 17W is an industry response to the post-Macondo joint industry task force (JITF) recommendations to enhance subsea well control and containment. This JITF and others focused on equipment, operating practices and spill response were essential elements of industry’s comprehensive effort to examine every aspect of its offshore safety systems.

Other new or revised API standards responding to the recommendations of the JITFs include:

  • Standard 65-2, Isolating Potential Flow Zones During Well Construction
  • Standard 53, Blowout Prevention Equipment Systems for Drilling Wells
  • Recommended Practice 96, Deepwater Well Design and Construction
  • Recommended Practice 98, Selection of Personal Protective Equipment
  • Recommended Practice 17H, Remotely Operated Tools and Interfaces on Subsea Production Systems
  • Bulletin 97, Well Construction Interface Document Guidelines


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