Next MTS lunch to address emergency response capability in Gulf of Mexico

Organisations and Associations - February 7, 2012

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The next MTS Houston Section luncheon will be held on February 23, 2012 and will feature a presentation by Kurt Hurzeler, Helix ESG on The Development of an Emergency Response Capabilities Initiative in the Gulf of Mexico.

Is the offshore oil and gas industry ready and prepared to handle another major offshore disaster of the magnitude of Macondo? As the Macondo well gradually came under control in August 2010, discussions regarding future response requirements were taking place within the industry.

Four major oil companies had announced a billion-dollar initiative. BP was actively refining the lessons learned from the Macondo response and identifying key components used in that response, and Helix was assessing the role of its assets and the potential for a first response role in the future.

As the various response plans took shape, the viability of smaller independent oil companies in the new regulatory environment became an issue. The magnitude of the Macondo incident in terms of scope of personnel, equipment and financial outlay far exceeded the resources of smaller operators.

HELIX ESG began response planning based on current assets, reviewing the modifications that would be required to speed up deployment, and determining what certified equipment would need to be installed to replace temporary components used on vessels during a response.

This equipment initiative required funding and industry support. An alliance of independent operators was formed to ensure that Gulf of Mexico operators would be able to obtain drilling permits and respond effectively to a major subsea well malfunction should one occur.

An independent group of operators led by Noble Energy and Anadarko agreed to form a not-for-profit organization under the auspices of the existing Clean Gulf entity. The Helix Well Containment Group (HWCG) response was based on using the full infrastructure available in the Gulf of Mexico and mutual cooperation between companies, thus allowing personnel, equipment and planning to be shared.

The starting point was that Macondo had defined response requirements. The resources used for Macondo were already in existence and being used to support day-to-day operations in the Gulf of Mexico. It was determined that this operating equipment, available in the open market, was the most reliable equipment to use in a response.

This was refined into a philosophy based on commercially self sustained equipment and personnel, extended mutual cooperation, a uniform well-containment plan, standard well evaluation tools for permitting, and an inventory of commonly held shared equipment for emergency use.

The Helix Fast Response System provides the core assets required for a rapid and effective response. These assets are combine with the processes, procedures, planning and shared infrastructure of the member operators and select regional service providers. This initiative will allow large and small operators in the deep water arena to continue operations with the confidence that an emergency of the magniture of the Deepwater Horizon event can be effectively controlled.

Kurt Hurzeler was raised in Houston where he discovered fishing, sailing, water skiing, football and girls. After five years of studying English and Russian literature with a minor in economics at the University of Texas, he discovered the offshore oil industry in the Gulf of Mexico. Motivated by debt and the desire to travel without joining the military he worked in the drilling fluid services segment for 12 1/2 years internationally. He eventually returned to the US to allow his son and daughter to complete university and after seven years with Schlumberger Oilfield services, shifted focus from integrated project management to the Helix Well Ops business unit focused on intervention and well decommissioning. Kurt has 34 years in the oil service industry, the last twenty of which have been applied to the Gulf of Mexico and western hemisphere markets.

Attending the luncheon

The luncheon will be held at the Pelazzio, 12121 Westheimer, Houston 77077. Register online at The cost is $30 for MTS members and $40 for non members with payment in advance. Lunch sign in begins at 11:30 am the day of the event and meetings conclude at 1:00 pm.

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