Frequently asked questions

What is the Subsea Well Response Project?

The Subsea Well Response Project (SWRP) is a non-profit joint initiative, led by technical experts and senior management from several of the world’s major oil and gas companies. Operated by Shell on behalf of the other participating companies, SWRP’s core objective was to manage the selection and design of caps and associated equipment to enhance industry capabilities to respond to well control incidents. This includes recommending a model for the international storage, maintenance and deployment of this equipment.

How is this project organised?

The companies participating in SWRP are all involved in subsea oil and gas production. Their participation represents a substantial investment (both financially and in terms of manpower) and a major commitment to work proactively and cooperatively to build on existing capabilities and develop enhanced oil spill response equipment and methods. The project builds on work concluded by IOGP’s Global Industry Response Group, but has no contractual ties to IOGP.

How can this project help mitigate future well incidents?

Incident prevention remains the main focus. However should an incident occur, then it is important to as much as reasonably possible reduce the impact of the incident. SWRP is specifically focused on reducing the impact of a well incident, in the event of one occurring. SWRP has undertaken extensive technical analysis, designed new equipment, and developed new deployment strategies, which are expected to help decrease the time it takes to stop the flow from an uncontrolled well and enhance both subsurface and surface response capabilities to reduce the environmental impact of any incident.

What is SWRP hoping to achieve?

SWRP was set up with four core tasks in mind:

  • Designing a capping toolbox to allow subsea wells to be shut in,
  • Designing a subsea incident response toolkit for the subsea injection of dispersant,
  • Assessing the need for, and feasibility of, a containment system suitable for international use, and
  • Evaluating potential approaches for equipment deployment.

We achieved the first two objectives with the March 2013 launch of four capping stack toolboxes and two subsea incident response toolkits for debris clearing and the subsea application of dispersant.

We subsequently collaborated with Oil Spill Response Ltd to provide subscribers with subsea well containment guidelines and equipment termed the ‘containment toolkit’ to enhance the industry’s capability to respond to a subsea well incident. When used in conjunction with standard available hardware, this equipment will bring hydrocarbons from a subsea wellhead in a controlled way to the surface for storage and disposal. The containment toolkit is now available for international use.

We are currently developing and testing Offset Installation Equipment for use in the event of a subsea well incident where vertical well access by vessel is not possible. The equipment is expected to be delivered in 2016.

What is SWRP’s relationship with Oil Spill Response Ltd?

SWRP is collaborating with Oil Spill Response Ltd to make the equipment available to the industry. We chose to work with OSRL owing to its extensive experience in providing oil spill response around the world. OSRL now owns the equipment and is responsible for its storage and maintenance. Oil and gas companies can gain access to the capping stack systems, SIRTS system, containment toolkit and guidelines through subscription to OSRL and supplementary agreements.

What is the expected timing of the project deliverables?

The four core project deliverables are now completed. Take a look at the timeline to find out more. SWRP is currently developing Offset Installation Equipment which should be available for industry use in 2016.

Will companies outside of the consortium be involved in, and benefit from, SWRP’s work?

SWRP’s deliverables are intended to benefit the international oil and gas industry. Companies can already gain access to the capping and dispersant equipment through membership of Oil Spill Response Ltd and a subscription to the Subsea Well Intervention Service.