HOUSTON– The Helix Well Containment Group (HWCG) has announced that W&T Offshore, Inc. and Stone Energy Corporation have joined the organization, increasing its membership to 22 deepwater oil and gas operators. HWCG is a consortium of deepwater operators in the Gulf of Mexico who have come together with the common goal of quickly responding to a subsea spill to protect employees, communities and the environment.
“The Helix Well Containment Group has invested in the best available technology, engineering and minds, and applied the most important lessons learned from the past to create a comprehensive well containment response system ready to be activated immediately in the event of a deepwater spill,” said John Weust, chairman of HWCG Steering Committee. “Representing two-thirds of the deepwater operators in the Gulf of Mexico and approximately half of all deepwater oil and gas production in the Gulf, we further expand our technical expertise and resources with the addition of W&T Offshore and Stone Energy.”
HWCG has signed an agreement with Helix Energy Solutions Group, which will provide the primary components of the well containment response system. Building upon Helix-owned equipment effectively used in the Deepwater Horizon response, the system is currently capable of facilitating control and containment of spills in water depths down to 5,600 ft. In the coming weeks, the system will substantially increase its containment capacity, expanding its capabilities to water depths down to 8,000 ft and capture and processing capabilities of 55,000 bbl of oil per day and 95 MMcf of gas per day.
Recently, the Department of the Interior approved three deepwater drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico for HWCG members Noble Energy, BHP Billiton and ATP Oil & Gas Corporation. “We are encouraged by the Department of the Interior’s recent permit approvals, and we are eager to continue to work with the government to safely and responsibly develop our domestic deepwater energy resources,” said Roger Scheuermann, commercial director of HWCG.
The HWCG completed its first comprehensive, day-long tabletop exercise designed to increase members’coordination and preparedness in the event of a subsea spill. The first of multiple exercises, the exercise included 180 participants from HWCG member companies and service providers and simulated the implementation of the group’s Well Containment Plan to assure rapid response and containment of a deepwater oil spill.
“Development of the HWCG Well Containment Plan has been a collaborative effort of our Deepwater Intervention Technical Committee (DITC), which is made up of some of the industry’s brightest and most experienced deepwater personnel,” said Tim Sargent, chair of the HWCG Technical Committee. A second tabletop exercise is planned for March 31, 2011.