Testing and Maintenance

MWCC performs regular, comprehensive maintenance and testing of its equipment, as well as training of response personnel, to ensure the Containment System remains in an operable state.

In 2014, MWCC conducted two System Integration Tests (SIT) with the Eagle Texas and Eagle Louisiana at the MCV Shore Base in order to verify overall system functionality of the Modular Capture Vessels (MCVs) and topside processing equipment. Each of the SITs consisted of 24 hour operations over a course of seven to nine days in which response personnel, including the Reservist Response Team, MWCC and AET, simulated response operations for a flowing well to test the MCV and topside processing equipment. The functional testing under various operating modes, safety and emergency systems testing, and start-up/shut-down testing performed as expected. The SITs effectively validated the ability of the vessels, topside processing equipment and response personnel to safely and effectively respond to a well control incident. In addition, MWCC successfully conducted two-week sea trials with each of the MCVs, in coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard, to test the speed, maneuverability, equipment and safety features of the vessels.

MWCC has in place long-term preservation and maintenance programs for all components of the Containment System. One such example is MWCC’s topside processing equipment, which is stored in a “warm stacked” mode with electricity, instrument air and controls systems connected and functional, allowing personnel to regularly test (and train on) the controls, instrumentation and function valves. In addition, extensive visual and physical inspections and tests are performed each month on both the topside and subsea equipment to ensure each component works effectively if deployed in a response.

These extensive tests, maintenance and preservation processes and protocols ensure the Containment System is in a ready-to-deploy state.


Demonstration

In summer 2012, at the request of the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), Marine Well Containment Company (MWCC) initiated mobilization of its Interim Containment System, including the physical deployment of the 15k psi Capping Stack (single ram), the centerpiece of the system.

The capping stack was loaded onto the Laney Chouest at the Houston ship channel and deployed to a simulated well in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. Once offshore, the capping stack was lowered approximately 6,900 ft. on a wire and latched to a simulated wellhead, where all necessary functions were completed and pressure testing confirmed the ability to control a well.

The mobilization, function and pressure testing performed as expected and mobilization was within the anticipated timeline. The capping stack and ancillary equipment were then transported back to shore for refurbishment.

BSEE inspectors and engineers monitored the demonstration from MWCC headquarters, Unified Command (UC) and the two vessels transporting the equipment offshore. Throughout the demonstration, the BSEE Director met with MWCC and Shell to witness the various phases of system deployment, and participated in daily UC briefings with the Department of the Interior.

Through this demonstration, MWCC effectively validated the ability to safely and effectively respond to a well control incident in the deepwater U.S. Gulf of Mexico. The success of the demonstration is the result of a strong collaboration that began in 2010 between government and industry, particularly MWCC members.