Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Macondo to undergo standard abandonment process

Nothing has been typical with BP PLC’s deepwater Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico since an Apr. 20 blowout caused an explosion and fire on Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible, killing 11 people. The rig sank on Apr. 22, and the well was responsible for a massive oil spill.

Yet eventually, the well will be abandoned according to typical industry practice. BP and its partners will plug and abandon Macondo on Mississippi Canyon Block 252 with nothing left to see, marking a drastic change from months of live video feeds provided publicly via remotely operated vehicles.

The well has been shut in since July 15, and BP engineers plan to swap the Deepwater Horizon blowout preventer with another BOP before completing a relief well, now expected scheduled for after Labor Day. Industry routinely puts on and takes off BOPs.

Kent Wells, BP senior vice-president of exploration and drilling, said industry has very clearly defined regulations and procedures on how to abandon a well.

“There’s a very sophisticated procedure we’ll go through before the well is ultimately abandoned,” Wells said. “But, of course, it will have been killed and cemented…well in advance of that. But, those will be the final steps we’ll take. That will be very much routine, like we do any well when we plug and abandon it.”

The exception being that the Deepwater Horizon BOP, once removed, will be the subject of investigation.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Study examines majors, contractors dialogue on health

Major oil companies proactively protect their workers from epidemics, but the same cannot be said about all their contractors and subcontractors, concludes a study from management consulting firm Booze & Co. and the Global Business Coalition on HIV/Aids, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

The Booz-GBC study, released Aug. 18, said oil companies are extend health programs to contractors in areas where health programs are established and well structured. Yet, nearly 25% of oil contractors surveyed said they had not discussed HIV, TB, or malaria with their clients.

“Oil companies are ahead of the curve in developing HIV and malaria programs, but the contractor community has not been as active,” said Jake Leslie Melville, Booz partner and an author of the study. “Further, our survey found that the subcontractor community is the most poorly served in terms of disease prevention and management programs, yet it is this community that is at the greatest risk.”

The study’s findings focused on less developed regions such as West Africa and Asia where HIV, TB, and malaria can pose a risk to workers and their productivity. Oil and gas operations are expected to increase in these regions in coming years.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Texas Railroad Commission questions post-spill federal action

The Texas Railroad Commission unanimously passed a resolution serving notice to the US government to cease and desist mandates that the TRC sees as being beyond the scope of the federal government.

The resolution says the TRC “opposes all proposals from the present administration and from Congress that may usurp the rights of the states to regulate and manage oil and natural gas exploration and production within their sovereign borders.”

The TRC will send the resolution will be sent to President Barack Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden, and various congressional leaders as well as to the governor of each state.

Commissioner Elizabeth Jones pushed for the TRC resolution. Since the Apr. 20 blowout of the Macondo well on Mississippi Canyon Block 252 off Louisiana, Jones has criticized a moratorium on new deepwater drilling and also opposes suggestions for stricter federal offshore drilling regulations.

The resolution specifically mentioned provisions in the recently passed Blowout Prevention Act of 2010 and the Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act, both passed by the House of Representatives and in the Senate’s Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Company Accountability Act of 2010.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Helix Q4000 is a key player in oil spill response

The Helix Q4000 multiservice vessel certainly has laid its claim to fame during the highly publicized oil spill response and containment efforts involving BP PLC’s Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana.

The Q4000 has performed numerous roles since the Apr. 20 blowout of the deepwater well. Cranes on the Q4000 lowered equipment to the seabed in 5,000 ft of water. The vessel also served as a receiving platform for oil and gas diverted from the spill, and was home to the equipment that then flared that oil and gas. It’s also been used to inject heavy drilling mud into the Macondo during the top kill and now the static kill efforts.

When BP pumped cement into the Macondo well from the top, the Q4000 was involved. Owned by Helix Energy Solutions Group, the Q4000 was commissioned in 1999 by Cal Dive International and built at Keppel AmFELS shipyard in Brownsville, Tex.

The Q4000 is built on a semisubmersible design featuring a large deck space that enables various tasks, including subsea completion, decommissioning, and handling coiled tubing.

For now at least, the Q4000 has become a household word for anyone closely following the oil spill response efforts. That’s pretty remarkable publicity for an oil service vessel.

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