OSRL Rolls Out New Subsea Well Capping Technology

Oil Spill Response Limited’s (OSRL) latest development in subsea well capping technology, Offset Installation Equipment (OIE), has been officially launched from the equipment’s new home base in Trieste, Italy.

The event, which featured figures from across the offshore industry, represented the culmination of six years work between members of the Subsea Well Intervention Project (SWRP), OSRL and oil and gas engineering specialists, Saipem.

Designed specifically for scenarios where direct vertical access to a wellhead is not possible, the new OIE enables well capping or related equipment to be installed at a safe distance from an incident for the first time, OSRL explained.

OIE is now available to existing OSRL members through a Subsea Well Intervention Services (SWIS) supplementary agreement and current OIE members include BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Petrobras, Shell, Statoil and Total – all of which represent the founding members of SWRP.

The OIE’s arrival is an industry first and coincides with the final phase of SWRP, following completion of the related capping and containment projects, as OSRL’s chief executive, Robert Limb, explains: “For us, and all those involved in SWRP, the launch of the OIE is final piece of the puzzle and the culmination of a lot of hard work. Since the formation of the project in 2011, we had one core objective; to design and build a comprehensive range of well capping solutions, with the flexibility to meet the current and future requirements of the industry. With the arrival of OIE here in Italy, that objective is met.”

SWRP Project Lead, Eli Bøhnsdalen, commented: “OIE has the potential to make a huge difference in the time it takes to cap a well or stop a critical blowout and has never been attempted before. With that in mind, it is with great pride that I’m able to say the equipment is now available to the industry. Saipem, which has been responsible for the design, fabrication and testing, will now be responsible for the OIE’s ongoing storage and maintenance, from its base here, in Trieste. Saipem’s extensive experience working with equipment designed for harsh environments, remote areas and deepwater means that the OIE couldn’t be in safer hands.”

Stefano Porcari, COO of Saipem’s E&C offshore division, added: “Working on such a pioneering and prestigious project involved Saipem’s know-how from various technological centres and represented a unique opportunity to test Saipem expertise in technology and innovation. OIE marks an unprecedented solution for use in the event of a subsea well incident, where vertical well access by vessel is not possible. Having actively participated in this project constitutes a remarkable achievement of which we are proud.”

OIE equipment can be deployed up to 500 metres from an incident site and is suitable for use at a working depth of 75 to 600 metres. OIE is also fully compatible with OSRL’s capping equipment, creating an end-to-end capping and containment solution suitable for almost all subsea scenarios.

In line with OSRL’s approach, each member organisation will be provided with training to enable their own experienced personnel to understand the capabilities of the system and operate the OIE during an incident. Following the end of SWRP, the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP) through the Well Experts Committee (WEC) will work with OSRL to ensure that all stakeholders gain awareness of OIE’s capabilities as part of the process of promoting the adoption of good practice worldwide.

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