New Containment Cap Makes Offshore Drilling Safer

Published June 13, 2011

Deep sea oil production has just become much more environmentally friendly as the Helix Well Containment Group (HWCG), a cooperative of 24 oil and gas industry operators, has unveiled a new containment cap that can quickly halt an oil spill similar to the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill that afflicted the Gulf of Mexico last summer.

Quick, Effective Deployment
The new containment cap will be able to quickly and safely contain oil spurting from wellheads at up to 15,000 pounds per square inch. This follows Helix’s introduction in February 2011 of a containment cap that could quickly contain oil spurting at up to 10,000 pounds per square inch.
By comparison, oil came out of the BP Deepwater Horizon wellhead at approximately 7,000 pounds per square inch before finally being contained last summer.

The new containment cap will be deployed in North Houston and can be at the site of a deepwater Gulf of Mexico oil blowout in less than 48 hours.

With this new equipment, even a once-in-a-generation blowout like the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill will have negligible environmental impact.

“The Helix Well Containment Group … offers a well containment solution for a quick and comprehensive response in the event of a subsea spill for the protection of people, property, and the environment,” said David Coatney, managing director of HWCG.

Full Access to Wellhead
The new containment cap was designed to allow full access to the wellhead and wellbore so an operator can repair the well or address the mechanical condition of the well, all while fully containing oil escaping at up to 15,000 pounds per square inch.

In addition to the technologically advanced containment cap, HWCG has developed a well containment plan in the event of an emergency. The HWCG Deepwater Intervention Technical Committee, which includes more than 30 technical industry experts, developed a plan that identifies response protocols for projected deepwater containment scenarios.

“With mutual aid agreements executed between the Helix Well Containment Group consortium companies and more than 30 service providers, HWCG is ready to provide the primary components of a well-containment response in the unlikely event of an emergency—providing increased preparedness that enables companies to resume safe operations in the Gulf of Mexico,” Coatney said.

No Taxpayer Dollars Spent
“Offshore oil and natural gas production creates jobs, lowers consumer fuel prices, and increases government revenues,” said H. Sterling Burnett, senior fellow for the National Center for Policy Analysis.

“Helix’s technology to prevent blowouts and spills equal to or worse than the Horizon disaster has convinced this reluctant administration that it is now safe to go forward with new production. And this was all done without taxpayer dollars or subsidies,” noted Burnett.

Alyssa Carducci ([email protected]) writes from Tampa, Florida.