In July 2012, at the direction of the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, MWCC initiated mobilization of its containment system, including a physical deployment of the capping stack, the centerpiece of the system. The MWCC capping stack, which stands roughly 30 feet tall including the necessary lifting gear and weighs about 100 tons, was transported from the ASCO facility in Houston to the Greensport dock, roughly one mile away, for pre-deployment testing.
MWCC Operations Superintendent Chip Ledbetter provided BSEE Director James Watson and BSEE Lead Inspector Kelly Bouzigard with an overview of the capping stack during pre-deployment testing at Greensport in Houston.
The MWCC capping stack was prepared for pre-deployment testing at the Houston ship channel prior to deployment.
The “Big John” crane, with lift capacity of 500 tons, was used to lift the MWCC capping stack onto the Laney Chouest at the Houston ship channel.
The MWCC capping stack was lowered onto a shipping stand on the Laney Chouest before undergoing a simulated deployment and then sea fastening for departure offshore.
After the MWCC capping stack was lowered onto the Laney Chouest, a simulated deployment was performed, using the A-frame to lower the capping stack just above the water.
The Laney Chouest, transporting the MWCC capping stack, departed for the simulated well in the deepwater U.S. Gulf of Mexico.
After arriving at the simulated well at Walker Ridge 536 in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Shell prepared the MWCC capping stack to be lowered to the simulated wellhead.
The MWCC capping stack was launched off the Laney Chouest using the A-frame and began its descent 6,900 ft. where it would be latched to the simulated wellhead.
Buoys were used to hold the weight of MWCC’s capping stack so that it would smoothly land, regardless of sea conditions.
The MWCC capping stack approached the simulated wellhead approximately 6,900 ft. below the water’s surface.
The MWCC capping stack landed and latched on the simulated wellhead, approximately 6,900 feet below the water’s surface. Pressure testing confirmed the capping stack’s ability to control a well.
Once the simulated well was successfully shut in, the MWCC capping stack was prepared for retrieval. A spreader bar was attached and used to raise the capping stack back onto the Laney Chouest.
The MWCC capping stack was raised back onto the Laney Chouest where it was sea fastened onto the shipping stand, and the vessel departed for Greensport.
The MWCC capping stack was transported back to ASCO where it will be stored and maintained in a ready state should it ever be needed.