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Oil Companies Hope Proposal Will Save Deepwater Drilling

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Four major oil companies said on Feb. 17 they are ready to deploy an interim system to cap future leaks in deepwater oil wells, paving the way for deepwater activity to resume. The system was created by the Marine Well Containment Co., a consortium formed by ExxonMobil, Shell, ConocoPhillips and Chevron after the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement required that such a system be in place before it issues any new deepwater drilling permits in the Gulf of Mexico. The new device, made by Trendsetter Engineering, Houston, includes a subsea capping stack with the ability to either shut in oil or flow the oil through flexible pipes and risers to surface vessels. The system also includes subsea dispersant-injection equipment and manifolds. The device could capture up to 60,000 bpd of oil in 8,000 ft of water and operate under 15,000 psi. The company is working on a larger system, which it says will contain up to 100,000 bpd and be ready in 2012.

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