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R.M.Alger

Marine Well Containment System

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ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Shell have created a system, in remarkable little time, that could prevent (or rather, limit) disasters like the BP oil spill. Its called the marine well containment system.

ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and Shell are accelerating the engineering, construction and deployment of equipment designed to improve capabilities to contain a potential future underwater blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. ExxonMobil will lead this effort on behalf of the four sponsor companies.

The new system will:

~Be flexible, adaptable and able to begin mobilization within 24 hours and fully operational within weeks.

~Be available for use on a wide range of well designs and equipment, oil and natural gas flow rates and weather conditions.

~Be engineered to be used in deepwater depths up to 10,000 feet.

~Have initial capacity to contain 100,000 barrels per day with potential for expansion.

Its primary objective is to fully contain the oil with no flow to the sea. Once constructed, the system components will be fully tested and maintained in a state of continuous operational readiness.

If that didn't do it for you, here's a graphical representation:

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Major systems for this nifty bit of enginnering include:

Subsea:

•A newly designed and fabricated subsea containment assembly will create a complete connection and seal to prevent oil from escaping into the water.

•The assembly will be equipped with a suite of adapters and connectors to interact with various interface points.

•Capture caisson assemblies will also be built for use if required to enclose a damaged connector or leak outside the well casing.

Surface:

•The system includes capture vessels that can process, store and offload the oil to shuttle tankers to take the oil to shore for further processing.

•Capture vessels may include modified tankers, existing drill ships and extended well-test vessels.

•The plan includes the construction of modular process equipment that will be installed on the capture vessels.

•The modular process equipment will connect to the riser assembly, separate oil from gas, flare the gas and safely store and offload oil to shuttle tankers.

Micheal Economides at the Energy Tribune has some wider thoughts about this new technology:

The new system....represents a significant technological breakthrough and an investment on the part of the industry’s safest producers to ensure that any future spills, no matter how unlikely, are contained before large volumes could be released into the environment.

This fast paced progress in the private sector stands in stark contrast to the snail’s pace work being done on the federal government’s side.

Over ten months into the President’s ‘six month’ deepwater drilling moratorium, the only activity we’ve seen in the Gulf is an extension of the Administration’s ban to include shallow water as well. The Interior Department has gone forward with changes to offshore regulator MMS. The new regulatory body, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEM), has drawn up plans to divide where fees and payments are processed from the actual inspectors and has talked about plans to hire new inspectors for over seven months now. Meanwhile, offshore permitting has come to a virtual standstill.

[....]

Thousands of companies in the energy sector are nearing the point of collapse after almost a year of inactivity. Seahawk Drilling, a major player in Gulf shallow water drilling, is the most high profile victim of this policy, filing for bankruptcy just last week. Houston Chronicle columnist Loren Steffy reported that the company had 11 drilling projects stalled “in various stages of the permitting process.” Now local residents and state politicians alike are using it as a rallying cry to restart the energy industry so vital to the region.

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Micheal Economides at the Energy Tribune has some wider thoughts about this new technology:
Over ten months into the President’s ‘six month’ deepwater drilling moratorium, the only activity we’ve seen in the Gulf is an extension of the Administration’s ban to include shallow water as well. The Interior Department has gone forward with changes to offshore regulator MMS. The new regulatory body, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEM), has drawn up plans to divide where fees and payments are processed from the actual inspectors and has talked about plans to hire new inspectors for over seven months now. Meanwhile, offshore permitting has come to a virtual standstill.

[....]

Thousands of companies in the energy sector are nearing the point of collapse after almost a year of inactivity. Seahawk Drilling, a major player in Gulf shallow water drilling, is the most high profile victim of this policy, filing for bankruptcy just last week. Houston Chronicle columnist Loren Steffy reported that the company had 11 drilling projects stalled “in various stages of the permitting process.” Now local residents and state politicians alike are using it as a rallying cry to restart the energy industry so vital to the region.

I just read about the collapse of California's Central Valley farming region - which in 2002 produced 25% of food consumed by Americans - due to the water shutdown imposed by environmental regulations to save some stupid fish (which of course didn't work and it wouldn't have mattered if it did.)

America is not the wealthiest country in the world. It is the brokest and most in debt. Annihilating large swaths of its productive capacity will hugely accelerate the decline at a time when the rest of the world has wised up to buying debt that they understand can never be repaid with non-inflated dollars.

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