A plan for a rapid response system to capture and contain oil in the event of a future underwater well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico has been announced by Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell.
The four companies will form a non-profit organization, the Marine Well Containment Company, to operate and maintain the system. Other companies will be invited and encouraged to participate in this organization.
The new system will be flexible, adaptable and able to begin mobilization within 24 hours. It will be engineered to be used in depths of 10,000 feet and have initial capacity to contain 100,000 barrels per day.
The three oil giants have committed $1bn to fund the initial costs of the system, which will be tested in the gulf.
The system will include specially designed subsea containment equipment connected by manifolds, jumpers and risers to capture vessels that will store and offload the oil. Dedicated crews will ensure regular maintenance, inspection and readiness of the facilities and subsea equipment.
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% of US oil and gas production.