BSEE Director James Watson observed during the early morning hours of July 29 the successful latch-on of the capping stack from the Unified Command. Director Watson watched live video feed from the remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) that were assisting in the placement of the stack onto the wellhead.
Five hours and fifteen minutes shy of five days is the time it took to deploy and latch the capping stack onto the simulated wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico at approximately 7,000 feet water depth as part of the deepwater subsea containment system deployment drill.
The short time it took for this containment response milestone can be compared to the months that it took to build and successfully latch a capping stack onto the Macondo wellhead during the Deepwater Horizon response.
BSEE inspectors are aboard both the Laney Chouest and the Olympic Intervention IV vessels participating in the exercise. During the latch-on phase of the exercise, BSEE inspectors aboard the Laney Chouest were monitoring the deployment sequence of the heave-compensated landing system, a buoyancy system that provides controlled landing of large subsea equipment, verifying that the approved procedures were effectively followed. BSEE inspectors aboard the Olympic Intervention IV monitored the deployment of the subsea accumulator module and the ROV operations in support of the successful capping stack landing.
The exercise continued with well shut-in procedures and pressure testing to confirm that the capping stack would fully contain the well conditions outlined in the scenario.
This exercise involves the mobilization and field deployment of the capping stack to the sea floor in approximately 7,000 feet of water, latching it to a test wellhead, and pressurizing the system. The capping stack is a critical piece of equipment that has the ability to shut off any flow of oil from a well if other shut-off systems, such as the blowout preventer (BOP) fail. Following the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, the Department of the Interior instituted reforms that required offshore operators to have the ability to deploy containment resources, such as a capping stack, in response to a blowout or other loss of well control.
Press Release, July 30, 2012