BSEE to test MWCC capping stack in the Gulf of Mexico
WASHINGTON—The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has initiated the first ever drill designed to test the capping stack built by the Marine Well Containment Company (MWCC) to the ultra-deep seabed of the Gulf of Mexico in an effort to exercise the oil and gas industry’s response to a potential subsea blowout.
The multi-week exercise, launched at 8:10 am CDT on Tuesday and employing the MWCC, is part of a series of planned and unannounced exercises and inspections conducted by BSEE to ensure the industry’s ability to meet the conditions of their oil spill response plans and effectively respond to a potential spill.
“This exercise will help further enhance industry’s preparedness by deploying one important component of their well control capabilities to the sea floor,” said BSEE Director Jim Watson. “Testing this equipment in real-time conditions and ultra-deep water depths will help ensure that the MWCC is ready and able to respond in a moment’s notice should the need arise.”
The exercise will involve the mobilization and field deployment of the capping stack to the sea floor in approximately 7,000 feet of water, latching it to a test wellhead, and pressurizing the system. The exercise is also designed to test an operator’s ability to obtain and schedule the deployment of the supporting systems necessary for successful containment – including debris removal equipment and other oil collection devices. The MWCC capping stack is similar to the one that was used to stop the flow of oil from the Deepwater Horizon well.
BSEE inspectors, engineers, and spill response experts will be embedded in various locations throughout the exercise, including in the command center and on the vessel deploying the capping stack, to oversee the mobilization, deployment, and associated tests of the system. BSEE experts will oversee the capping stack being lowered to the seafloor by wire, a technique that offers the potential to be significantly faster than the deployment via pipe that occurred during the Deepwater Horizon response.
Over the course of the exercise, BSEE will provide public updates at: http://www.bsee.gov.