Oil firms to build $1bn rapid response system for Gulf spills

21 July 2010 23:43  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Four large oil companies have committed $1bn (€780m) to build a rapid response system to deal with future deepwater oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, the companies said on Wednesday.

Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell and ConocoPhillips said the system could be used in depths up to 10,000 feet (3,050 metres) and would have an initial capacity to contain 100,000 bbl/day of oil, with potential for expansion.

“As an industry, we must rebuild trust with the American people in order to demonstrate that we can produce energy in a safe and environmentally responsible manner,” said Shell president Marvin Odum.

The system would have the flexibility to be used on a wide range of well designs and equipment and would be able to begin mobilisation within 24 hours of an incident.

The $1bn cost commitment would likely be increased by operational and maintenance costs for processing equipment, as well as contracts with vessels in the Gulf region for potential siphoning purposes, the companies said.

The system was being designed by a team of marine, subsea and construction engineers from the four companies.

Deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico accounts for 30% of US oil and gas production, according to the companies.

Following the 20 April explosion of the Deepwater Horizon offshore rig, BP officials have thus far been unable to siphon more than 30,000 bbl/day of oil with current equipment. Moreover, little to no oil was siphoned until late May.

US officials have estimated the leak at between 35,000-60,000 bbl/day.

($1 = €0.78)

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By: Ben DuBose
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