While prevention of any spill through appropriate project planning, design, implementation and leadership is one of ConocoPhillips’ primary objectives, we currently have plans and an organization in place that we believe can effectively respond to incidents affecting our operation. We’re also working with others in our industry to develop new spill response strategies.
In July 2010, ConocoPhillips along with ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell founded the Marine Well Containment Company (MWCC), an independent company that provides well containment equipment and technology in the deepwater U.S. Gulf of Mexico.
As a leader in deepwater well containment technology and deployment, the MWCCs mission is to be continuously ready to respond to a deepwater well control incident in the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, in February 2011, MWCCs interim containment system became available for use in the Gulf of Mexico. MWCC is currently developing an expanded containment system which further increases capacity. Engineering and procurement are well advanced, and fabrication has been initiated on all key components; the expanded containment system will be available for use in 2013.
In addition, ConocoPhillips along with 8 other international energy companies formed another nonprofit initiative, the Subsea Well Response Project (SWRP), to assess and design equipment, develop operational plans to build on existing capabilities and enhance the ability of the international oil industry to respond to a subsea well-control incident in global waters.
The project aligned with Oil Spill Response Limited to operate the equipment from four shore bases located in Norway, Singapore, Brazil and South Africa. SWRP is working to make the four capping stacks and two dispersant/site clearing toolboxes available in 2013, and the containment concept is targeted for 2014.
To help improve drilling safety, ConocoPhillips is working with an oilfield service company to create a new downhole tool used in the well called an in-line casing packer. This device would provide a mechanical seal in the empty space of a well casing during the vital cementing process, thus eliminating a potential leak path that exists before new cement has had time to fully harden. This will help to eliminate the potential for hydrocarbon migration and thus ensure a well’s mechanical integrity.