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New base and equipment advances industry spill response

In the latest offshoot of IOGP’s Global Industry Response Group (GIRG), innovative Offset Installation Equipment (OIE) is now available to the upstream industry from a new base in Trieste, Italy.

IOGP Executive Director Gordon Ballard was on hand for the base inauguration and equipment launch on 6 March.

He was one of several key figures from across the offshore industry on hand to mark the culmination of six years’ work among members of the Subsea Well Intervention Project (SWRP – a GIRG initiative), OSRL and upstream engineering specialists, Saipem.

Designed specifically for scenarios where direct vertical access to a well-head is impossible, the new OIE enables well capping or related equipment to be rapidly installed at a safe distance from an incident. In this way, the OIE is an unprecedented technical advance in well capping.

OIE equipment can be deployed up to 500 metres from an incident site and in depths ranging from 75 to 600 metres.

IOGP, through the Well Expert Committee, will work with OSRL to ensure that all stakeholders become aware of OIE’s capabilities.

In his talk at the Trieste event, Gordon provided the background to GIRG, which IOGP established in 2010 in response to deepwater incidents. Quoting from James Joyce – one of the city’s most famous residents – Gordon said “’To learn one must be humble. But life is a great teacher,’ and so GIRG humbly sought guidance and knowledge from national and international regulators and other industry associations – and from operators with their real life, front-line experience.”

Gordon went on to point out that the GIRG team consisted of more than 100 technical experts and senior managers – many of whom worked full time on the project for nine months. The total cost of all that time and expertise donated by IOGP member companies came to tens of millions of dollars. “And we’re convinced that it was worth every pound, real, krone, euro and dollar,” he told the Trieste audience.

Focusing on the response elements of GIRG, which led to the creation of SWRP, Gordon said “it transformed our industry’s global ability to intervene in deepwater emergencies wherever they might happen.” He also cited the importance of the mutual aid network that was additionally created as part of the GIRG impetus.

Gordon then reminded participants that progress made in safety and the environment – “the sort of innovation we’re celebrating today”– is not enough to safeguard the upstream oil and gas industry’s future. Faith in what we do has been undermined, he said, by concerns about global warming and climate change that have become enshrined almost as religious principles, or “matters of faith, and faith is something that’s difficult to argue with. But we must in order to retain our social licence to operate”

Gordon concluded with another Joycean quote: “’I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day…’

“What we’re establishing here today – including a resolve to rebuild faith in what we do – will help to determine the future of our oil and gas industry,” Gordon said.

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