Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Blowout preventers and their cutting power being reviewed

The failed Deepwater Horizon blowout preventer is being examined at a NASA laboratory in New Orleans, National Incident Commander and retired US Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said. Basically, the BOP is a large valve at the top of the well designed to close in an emergency.

A number of government agencies are investigating why the Deepwater Horizon BOP failed, contributing to a fatal accident and a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP PLC, which operates Macondo, issued recommendations on BOP design and assurance measures in BP's own investigation report.

The Macondo well was drilled by Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible on which 11 crew members died.

Separately, National Oilwell Varco has developed a new blade design for shear rams within the BOP stack. National Oilwell Varco says its new shear ram system is intended to cut through the thickest joints of drill pipe.

BP’s BOP recommendations primarily involve BP establishing minimum levels of redundancy and reliability for its BOP systems. BP also would require drilling contractors to implement an auditable risk management process to ensure BOP systems are operated above minimum levels. The oil company likely will strengthen its minimum requirements for contractors’ BOP testing and emergency systems.

Safety regulators worldwide are reviewing deepwater drilling policies, including BOP regulations.

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