Changing the landscape of BOP testing ///

The Macondo incident focused international attention on well safety and the important role blowout preventers (BOP) play in offshore drilling operations. In most cases, the BOP is comprised of a redundant stack of valves used to control and monitor operations. A choke manifold is part of the control system and responds automatically to an unforeseen event (kick) to lower pressure in the wellhead. When properly installed and maintained, the BOP and choke manifold effectively manage extreme and varied pressures by controlling flow. The system ensures well integrity and the safety of the offshore crew and the surrounding environment. In the Gulf of Mexico (GoM), the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) requires the BOP and choke manifold to be inspected and pressure tested every 14 days during drilling operations. When using a standard analog pressure testing system, drilling operations are shut-down for approximately 24-48 hr. The analog pressure sensor plots data on a paper chart which is then subjectively assessed by rig-site personnel, Fig. 1. If a test fails, the crew is responsible for determining the root-cause of non-compliance. To meet the strict BSEE testing and maintenance requirements, many operators hire a team of pressure testing experts.

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