Source control workshop brings together global experts

Article published in the Regulator | Issue 2: 2019

To coincide with the 2019 Spillcon conference, NOPSEMA in conjunction with the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) and the International Offshore Production Regulators (IOPER), hosted a workshop on subsea well source control preparedness and response, specifically focussing on the delivery and installation of a capping stack.

The workshop was built off a series of global source control programs preparing for potential loss of well control events. Over 120 participants attended from seven countries, representing drilling and completions managers and engineers, emergency and oil spill response professionals, well containment equipment suppliers and well control specialist organisations, source control consortium coordinators, and employees from various local, regional and international offshore oil and gas regulators. Industry learnings and developments that have been taken in response to the Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 was the overarching theme of presentations delivered throughout the day by speakers collectively representing over 265 years in various segments of the subsea and offshore oil and gas business sector.

International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP) Well Expert Subcommittee Chair, Chris Carstens outlined the newly launched IOGP global standard for source control and Brett Morry the Global Technical Director at Trendsetter Engineering presented the various designs and well containment toolkits. In terms of technical developments, Boots and Coots (Halliburton's) Global Engineering and Technology Manager, Mr Andy Cuthbert discussed enhancements made to equipment and installation analysis tools and the importance of companies maintaining qualified personnel. Oil Spill Response Limited SWIS Engineering Manager, Mr Andy Myers, provided insight into the contingency planning progress companies have made in relation to source control since the Montara and Macondo incidents. On behalf of the International Offshore Petroleum Environmental Regulators (IOPER), NOPSEMA’s Head of Division, Cameron Grebe discussed IOPER’s priority initiative areas for source control including preparation and actual response. This was followed by an interactive capping stack deployment simulation, presented by Brett Morry and Thomas Selbekk, Vice President for well control and blowout support at Add Energy Group.

The Technical Solutions Manager of Oceaneering Australia, explored the requirements to activate, mobile and deploy equipment, while the Managing Director of Global Trade and Transport Solutions Inc, David Pulk explored considerations for designing and implementing transport solutions of capping stack and well containment equipment from source location to deployment locations.

The workshop concluded with a panel session to provide a platform for attendees to reflect on the day and ask speakers any outstanding questions, while the main goals of this workshop were to recognise that responding to an emergency subsea well source control incident involves much more than delivering a capping stack. Preparedness involves having the right equipment, and sufficient numbers of experienced and trained people available, as well as having a clear set of response plans in place that have been physically tested in practice drills. The industry currently has in place the equipment, and the logistics to respond to an incident but it is important that robust and effective response plans are in place to ensure that risks are reduced as much as practicable.

To date, there has been no globally consistent approach to developing a response timeline that addresses all the personnel, equipment and vessel requirements for a subsea well source control incident. A key outcome stemming from the workshop will be the extension of the IOGP source control planning tool specifically, in the development of a response time model. This will provide a common approach for identifying required tasks and estimating timeframes for deploying a capping stack. After a draft of this tool has been developed, NOPSEMA will seek industry feedback, before releasing a final version that all interested parties may examine for their proposed response timeline estimates for any region in the world.

For more details around the outputs of the source control workshop, or for questions regarding the report, email communications@nopsema.gov.au.