BSEE, Helix, and Noble test spill containment equipment

The US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has started a drill to test the deployment of Helix Well Containment Group’s capping stack system for Noble Energy Inc. in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.

BSEE Director Jim Watson said the drill started Apr. 30. The drill is a test of the Helix equipment and also a test of Noble’s ability to obtain and deploy a containment system.

The capping stack system is designed to stop the release of oil and natural gas in case a blowout preventer were to be ineffective. BSEE regulations require an operator be able to demonstrate that it has immediate access to surface and subsea containment equipment to promptly respond to a blowout or other loss of well control.

“We fully expect operators to have the plans, equipment, and capabilities in place to respond to a subsea blowout in deepwater at a moment's notice,” Watson said. “These types of exercises give us an opportunity to see how the equipment is deployed in real-world conditions and to learn lessons that can be shared across the industry.”

Helix’s capping stack is to be deployed in 5,047 ft of water, latched to a test wellhead, and pressurized, BSSE said of the drill, which is expected to take several days.

Helix is one of two consortia that provide contract access to well containment equipment to oil and gas operators. This equipment is required by BSEE for drilling with subsea blowout preventers in deepwater. The Marine Well Containment Co. successfully completed a similar deployment exercise in July 2012.

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