By Hector Igbikiowubo
WASHINGTON, D.C.â€” INTERNATIONAL oil exploration and production companies, including Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell, hasÂ initiated plans to build and deploy a rapid response system that would be available to capture and contain oil in the event of a potential future underwater well blowout in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Â
To underscore their commitment to the new spill containment system, the companies had committed $1 billion to fund the initial costs.
A statement released by the consortium, said the new system will be flexible, adaptable and able to begin mobilization within 24 hours, adding that it could be used on a wide range of well designs and equipment, oil and natural gas flow rates and weather conditions.
The new system will be engineered to be used in deepwater depths up to 10,000 feet and have initial capacity to contain 100,000 barrels per day with potential for expansion.
It added that additional operational and maintenance costs for the subsea and modular processing equipment would incorporate contracts with existing operating vessels in the Gulf of Mexico and any potential new vessels that might be constructed.
The consortium said the system offered key advantages to the current response equipment in that it would be pre_engineered, constructed, tested and ready for rapid deployment in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. It is being developed by a team of marine, subsea and construction engineers from the four companies.
It was learnt that the system would include specially designed subsea containment equipment connected by manifolds, jumpers and risers to capture vessels that would store and offload the oil. Dedicated crews will ensure regular maintenance, inspection and readiness of the facilities and subsea equipment.
The four companies are expected to form a non_profit organization, the Marine Well Containment Company, to operate and maintain this system, while other companies would be invited and encouraged to participate in the organization.
Work on the new containment system is being accelerated to enhance deepwater safety and environmental protection in the Gulf of Mexico, which accounts for 30 percent of U.S. oil and gas production and supports more than 170,000 American jobs.
The sponsor companies are expected to proceed with the engineering, procurement and construction of equipment and vessels for the system, while ExxonMobil will lead this effort on behalf of the four sponsor companies.
The companies have reviewed the system with key officials in the federal Administration and Congress and will conduct briefings with other key stakeholders..
Chevron: Chairman and chief executive officer of Chevron, John Watson, said: â€œChevron knows that it can only operate with the publicâ€™s confidence that the energy we need will be produced safely and reliably.
We are committed to advancing safe operations through enhanced prevention, better well containment and intervention and improved spill response. This new system significantly enhances the industryâ€™s ability to effectively respond to any unforeseen incidents.â€
ConocoPhillips: ConocoPhillips chairman and chief executive officer, Jim Mulva, said: â€œThe oil and gas industry has long been recognized as a technological leader, and the American public expects us to improve our ability to respond immediately to offshore incidents
The creation and development of this sophisticated system will greatly enhance industryâ€™s ability to ensure a quick and effective response.â€
ExxonMobil: Chairman and chief executive officer of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson, said: â€œIf we all do our jobs properly, this system will never be used.
The extensive experience of industry shows that when the focus remains on safe operations and risk management, tragic incidents like the one we are witnessing in the Gulf of Mexico today should not occur.â€
Shell: President, Shell Oil Company, Marvin Odum, said: â€œAs an industry, we must rebuild trust with the American people in order to demonstrate that we can produce energy in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.
Beyond Shellâ€™s absolute commitment to oil spill prevention and robust well designs, additional safeguards must be strengthened across the industry to develop the capacity to quickly respond and resolve a deepwater well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, regardless of how unlikely it is that this situation will reoccur.â€