You are on page 1of 1


Capping stack technology moves forward

New system aims to improve on existing blowout response equipment
Thomas Macrae BSc
L. William Abel, PE
Subsea capping with the
Abel Engineering LLP Abel LMRP capping system (ALCS).

In the wake of the Macondo incident in the

Gulf of Mexico, Montara offshore Australia,
and similar events, the industry has reacted
by providing API standards for capping stacks,
and studies such as the GIRG Capping and
Containment report have been undertaken.
To fill a need for capping technology, Abel
Engineering developed a proprietary capping
stack (ALCS) whose primary function is to
stop the flow as quickly as possible. This sys-
tem adapts a rig’s existing lower marine riser
package (LMRP); uses existing rig resources;
can be kept on location while drilling or within
a one-day delivery window; and has minimal
rig-specific equipment onboard.
A stand-alone version (ACS – Abel Capping
System) has also been developed. Either sys-
tem can be deployed in one to two days using
the rig on site. BOP normal LMRP disconnected Well capped LMRP disconnected
In addition, through hydraulic modeling, operation BOP leaking using ALCS leaving BOP cap
the Abel system is sized to the worst case in place
anticipated flow possible, which concludes
that 11-in. or 13 5/8-in. BOP through-bore system if so desired. This system, with rig • Easy to transport and no heavy lifts
is sufficient. Because of this, 18 ¾-in. BOP support, requires no more than two days to • Costs a fraction of other systems
equipment is not required hydraulically nor is cap and stop or choke back the flow. Capping • Ability to disconnect and re-enter
it necessary for re-entry to the wellbore, since stack specifications are a 15,000-psi shut-in • Saves time and reduces exposure.
the 20-in. and/or the 16-in. casings are capacity; 10,000-ft (3,048-m) water depth; The ALCS and the ACS are rated for:
likely to have been set before reach- 200,000 BOPD and/or 500 MMcf/d • 15 kpsi shut in
ing the depth where the blowout is gas flow rates (or any combination • 10,000 ft (3,000 m) water depth
New up to those flow rates); and to • 200,000 BOPD oil flow rate
Both systems are deployed
and flow on diversion for as long as • 500 MMscf/d gas rate
on drill pipe. They are light in
tools logy 21 days without fear of erosion • Any combination of oil/gas flow max
weight for easier transportation
o of the components. oil 200,000 BOPD and max gas 500
and MODU rig up as well as for
deployment in harsh conditions.
techn In operation, this capping
stack is powered from pre-
• Flow on diversion (if needed) up to 21
The idea is that the drilling vessel charged accumulators that can be days.
will be ready to accept the system recharged by an ROV; uses acoustic In today’s oil and gas business, contingency
so as to minimize time spent in rig up and as the primary operating system with ROV capping capabilities are required worldwide
testing for deployment. Running the system operated panel as secondary; has ROV or to protect the environment from the potential
on drill pipe optimizes the priority process of acoustic upper connector emergency discon- harm of a hydrocarbon release. Training and
using the rig pumping and mixing systems nect; has an on/off by rotation DP disconnect; contingency planning is an essential part of
to immediately control the well after capping. and includes chemical injection for hydrate the drilling process, and should be in place
This is accomplished much in the same man- treatment, both visual and acoustic tempera- before operations begin.
ner as conventional well control, by utilizing ture and pressure read-outs at critical points. Exposure to risk is huge and is extremely
the drill string rather than the kill line as a In this way, kill operations can be accom- expensive when things go wrong. Therefore,
pumping conduit. plished with acceptable risks after the well is the ability to minimize the exposure time of
The LMRP version, for instance, can be capped. the incident is crucial. Systems such as the
kept onboard in two 20-ft long (6-m) contain- Advantages to the Abel LMRP capping ALCS and the ACS are a fast and effective
ers. It can be deployed in the time it takes to system include: recovery tool for deepwater drilling incidents
pull the riser, plus the time required to install • Available to the rig quickly involving subsea problems with BOPs and
(12 hrs or less) the capping equipment onto • Onboard during operations (2 x 20-ft wellheads. They can easily be adopted by the
the LMRP. This system is also designed so containers) contractors at the new build stage and incor-
that it can be disconnected leaving the upper • Deployed in time it takes to pull the riser porated cost effectively into the deepwater rig
mandrel ready for a re-entry via an HP riser plus 12 hrs to install the LMRP design. • • November 2014 Offshore 3