OSPRAG refutes well cap criticism

TheOil Spill Prevention and Response Advisory Group has refuted claims by campaigners that the new wellhead capping device it has designed for the UK won’t be strong enough in deep […]

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By Vicky Ellis

TheOil Spill Prevention and Response Advisory Group has refuted claims by campaigners that the new wellhead capping device it has designed for the UK won’t be strong enough in deep water.

Greenpeace raised questions over the capability of the new device to cope with depths over 1,800m in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.

A spokesperson for the environmental group told ELN: “Before the Deepwater Horizon blew, BP and the oil industry said ‘trust us – it’s not going to happen’. Billions of dollars worth of damage to shareholder value and the environment promptly followed. The reality is that West of Shetland, the oil companies are operating at the edge of their technology – and their capacity to respond to any blowout. Now they’re at it again – promising that the cap will work deeper than ‘currently forecasted drilling operations’ and that they’ll test it eventually. But when a blowout does happen, the marine environment will take the beating – and the taxpayer will pay the bill.”

But industry trade body Oil & Gas UK’s representative told ELN that Greenpeace’s claims were ‘complete rubbish’.

When announcing the new cap, leader of OSPRAG’s Technical Review Group Brian Kinkead said: “The OSPRAG capping device has been developed to be deployed in the widest possible range of spill scenarios, in consultation with our members who advised us how deep they are drilling.

“Its limit of a depth of 1,670m meets the requirements of current forecasted drilling operations. However, we believe that the capping device could ultimately be rated for even deeper waters and we plan to carry out this evaluation at a later date. For now, it meets the forecasted drilling requirements of our members.”

OSPRAG are further testing the cap to see if it can be rated for a depth of 10,000ft (3,048m).