High-Pressure BOP Equipment Becoming a Reality

By Trent Jacobs 2 Jul 2014

The offshore industry has taken another step toward opening up new deepwater frontiers to exploration, with the first order for a 20,000 psi blowout preventer (BOP) by Maersk Drilling from GE Oil and Gas. The BOP is expected to be delivered in the first half of 2018 and is part of a multi-year collaboration between Maersk and BP to design a new generation of offshore drilling rigs for deepwater basins dubbed “20K rigs.”

The ultimate goal is to enable the development of high-pressure and high-temperature reservoirs with pressures up to 20,000 psi and temperatures as high as 350ºF. The technical limit of most BOPs in operation today is 15,000 psi and 250ºF. However, Cameron International delivered units rated for 20,000 psi and 25,000 psi in 2012, and said more of the high-pressure units have been ordered. BP believes that with 20,000 psi BOPs and other technologies in development, it will be able to develop fields adding an additional 10 billion to 20 billion BOE across its portfolio.

“GE’s new deepwater BOP system is a key part of Maersk and BP’s strategy to safely expand offshore field development into previously unexplored areas,” said Claus Hemmingsen, CEO of Maersk Drilling. "With its redesigned components, GE’s new BOP technology addresses the needs of drilling companies for BOPs that efficiently operate at extremely high pressures.”

GE is designing, testing, and building the 20,000 psi BOP and risers at the company’s Houston Technology Center in Texas. However, the company said it is drawing on expertise from its global base experts. The new BOP will be rated for depths down to 12,500 ft and features upgraded rams designed for the higher pressures and extreme temperatures. It will also come installed with GE’s latest BOP control system and newly unveiled BOP monitoring and advisement software.

“The 20,000 psi drilling system being developed will include a number of new real-time monitoring and condition-based maintenance technologies aimed at improving uptime by reducing unplanned maintenance,” said Andrew Way, president and CEO of the drilling and surface business at GE Oil & Gas. “From higher performance mechanicals to real-time monitoring and condition-based maintenance systems, this next-generation system can make accessible new offshore drilling frontiers.” 

Trent Jacobs is a Technology Writer for the Journal of Petroleum Technology.