Controlling BOP Downtime

By Stephen Rassenfoss 13 Feb 2014

Shell and Transocean are working on designing a more reliable control system for blowout preventers (BOPs). Their goal is “eliminating BOP control system downtime” with a 3-year project to design fault-resistant and fault-tolerant control systems that could be used to retrofit BOPs currently in use.

The outline of the partnership between the major oil company and the largest offshore driller was quietly announced during a recent Transocean investor presentation.

The motivations are a safer system that can be relied when an emergency requires the BOP to shut off the flow from a well, and more efficient drilling. Well control equipment related downtime was responsible for about half of the offshore drilling company’s total downtime in 2013.

“With Transocean, we are jointly developing an enhanced BOP control system that can be retrofitted to an existing subsea BOP so as to improve reliability and avoid BOP control system downtime,” Shell said in a statement. “Further details cannot be provided at this point in time.”

The terms of the partnership were described as “equitable funding, resource commitment, and intellectual property ownership.”

Stephen Rassenfoss is the Emerging Technology Senior Editor for the Journal of Petroleum Technology.