UK debuts new well capping device

Today, at the SPE Offshore Europe 2011 conference in Aberdeen, Britain Energy Minister, Charles Hendry MP, announced that a new piece of equipment said to be the key to the U.K.’s oil spill response capabilities is tested and available for deployment.

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- The U.K. government will later Tuesday reveal a device designed to cap an underwater oil well in the event of a major incident so as to minimize environmental damage, the Oil Spill Prevention and Response Advisory Group said.

The device was designed in response to BP PLC’s (BP) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. The cap works by shutting in and holding pressure on an uncontrolled well and uses a choke and a series of valves to stop the flow of oil into the water.

The device can be deployed in water as deep as 10,000 feet and was designed specifically for use in wells in the U.K. continental shelf.

“The successful completion and availability of this cap marks a significant step forward in industry preparedness and significantly bolsters our capability to deal with a major loss of well control,” said James House, chair of the Oil Spill Prevention and Response Advisory Group.

The device allows a quick response and is essential for minimizing potential pollution in the water, even though the U.K hasn’t had a major loss of well control in 20 years of offshore operations, House said.

-By Jenny Gross, Dow Jones Newswires