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BP joins effort to contain future Gulf spills


HOUSTON | Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:16pm EDT

HOUSTON (Reuters) – BP Plc, which permanently sealed its ruptured Gulf of Mexico well this weekend, said on Monday it is joining the industry’s $1 billion effort to contain future subsea oil spills.

As part of its agreement to join the Marine Well Containment Company (MWCC) headed by Exxon Mobil Corp, BP will make its underwater well containment equipment available to all oil and gas companies operating in the Gulf.

Chevron Corp, ConocoPhillips, Exxon and Royal Dutch Shell Plc said in July they are developing a new, rapid-response oil spill containment system in the Gulf to help prevent another disaster like the Macondo blow-out.

“We believe the addition of our recently gained deepwater intervention experience and specialized equipment will be important to the marine well containment system,” Richard Morrison, BP vice president for Gulf of Mexico operations, said in a statement.

BP’s equipment could capture and contain oil from a potential underwater well blowout while the new system announced is under development, the British company said.

BP’s Macondo well rupture off the coast of Louisiana on April 20 caused an explosion that killed 11 workers and caused more than 4 million barrels of crude oil to spill into the Gulf.

It took the company five months to permanently kill the well, although it was capped July 15 and no oil flowed into the water since that date.

The industry’s rapid-response system, which will be available for mobilization within 24 hours, will be used on a range of equipment and in varying weather conditions and has the potential for expansion.

It will consist of specially designed subsea containment equipment connected by manifolds, jumpers and risers to capture vessels that will store and offload any spilled oil.

Existing BP equipment is being assessed for use in near-term response capability. The sponsor companies’ project team will utilize full time BP technical personnel with experience from the Gulf of Mexico response.

BP’s equipment will be operated by MWCC.

(Reporting by Anna Driver in Houston. Editing by Robert MacMillan)

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