A group of oil companies that put together a device to stop deep-water oil leaks says the equipment can now contain spills at depths of 10,000 feet, 2,000 more than before.
“This increase in our capability demonstrates our commitment to providing a comprehensive deep-water well containment system for the U.S. Gulf of Mexico,” Marine Well Containment Co. Chief Executive Officer Marty Massey said in a news release.
“Our goal is to continually advance deep-water well containment technology to keep pace with our member companies’ needs.”
The Exxon Mobil-led nonprofit said its capping stack, a 30-foot tall contraption weighing nearly 100 tons, is the centerpiece of a containment system. The capping stack can cap a well or contain the flow of oil and natural gas from a blowout. The device can handle pressures of up to 15,000 pounds per square inch.
The capping stack is also equipped with side valves so that well fluids can be redirected through flexible pipes to tankers and other vessels, if necessary.
The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management, Regulation and Enforcement has already approved Shell’s permit, which cited the well containment system, for a well in 9,800 feet of water in the Gulf.
Marine Well said an expanded containment system is on track for delivery in 2012.
The new system will be able to capture up to 100,000 barrels of fluid and 200 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.
The combined cost of both systems is estimated at around $1 billion, Exxon spokeswoman Rachel Moore said.
The system can be deployed in a matter of days.
The Deepwater Horizon, which exploded April 20, 2010, killed 11 men and spewed 4.1 million barrels of oil into the Gulf over three months.