There are rumours flying around about the possible premature lifting of the drilling ban in the Gulf of Mexico.
Of the 33 rigs operating in the Gulf of Mexico, the following rigs have been certified compliant in accordance with the requirements of the Bureau of Energy Management’s Notice to Lessees (BOEM NTL) 2010-N05.
Nabors MODS 200 – Platform (Murphy E&P)
Ensco 8501 – DP semisubmersible (Noble Energy)
Ensco 8500 – DP semisubmersible (Anadarko Petroleum)
Noble Danny Adkins – DP semisubmersible (Shell Offshore)
Auger – Surface Stack on Tensioned Leg Platform (Shell)
Transocean Discoverer Clear Leader – Drillship (Chevron)
Diamond Ocean Victory – Semisubmersible (ATP)
This indicates that these rigs are in compliance with all applicable regulations governing the operation and maintenance of their drilling and subsea equipment.
This isn’t to implicate that these rigs, or any other rigs necessarily, were not in compliance before the Horizon disaster, the BOEM essentially made the API Recommended Practice 53, a requirement.
Looking at section 18.10.3 of RP53 covering MAJOR INSPECTIONS, it states, “After every 3-5 years of service, the BOP stack, choke manifold, and diverter components should be disassembled and inspected in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines.” And looking at the manufacturers guidelines from the OEMs, they are just that, guidelines.
At the end of the day leaves the contractor to perform maintenance on it’s subsea equipment as needed, but regularly tested in accordance with industry requirements and standards.
The good news is that apparently some of the rigs out there have gone back to work drilling reservoir optimization (injection-type) wells, but I have yet to talk with someone who can tell me specifically who’s drilling these wells. The majority of the rigs in the Gulf are still working on getting their BOPs re-certified by the original equipment manufacturers, and the offshore E&P companies continue to work the Application for Permit to Drill process so that the paperwork is in place as soon as the moratorium is lifted. The discussion continues in the forum