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CNSOPB Permits Resumption of Drilling with Conditions

Source: www.gulfoilandgas.com 6/22/2016, Location: North America

The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) permitted Shell Canada to resume drilling with restrictions at its Cheshire L-97 exploration well.

Drilling was halted on March 5th after an operations incident on the Stena IceMAX drillship. After securing the exploration well with two barriers and successfully disconnecting to ride out heavy weather, the riser was accidentally dropped to the seafloor.

No one was injured and no well fluids or synthetic oil-based drilling fluids were spilled to the environment.

The CNSOPB review confirmed that the crew of the Stena IceMAX appropriately prepared for heavy weather in the days leading up to the incident on March 5th by suspending drilling, installing two barriers to secure the well (a downhole plug and the closing of the Blowout Preventer, BOP), and displacing drilling fluids in the riser to sea water. When vessel motion exceeded the operational limits, the decision was made to disconnect and ride out the weather with the riser attached to the vessel through the tensioner riser system, a standard procedure. To maximize the distance between the bottom of the riser and the BOP so as to protect the integrity of the well, the tensioner system holding the riser was fully retracted.

The key factors in the cause of the incident were the heave of the vessel andthe inability of the riser tensioner system to compensate for the difference in the movement between the riser and the vessel with the tensioner system in a fully retracted position and with the Riser Anti-Recoil System (RARS) inactive.

For the past three months the CNSOPB has thoroughly reviewed the incident and investigation report. It engaged independent, outside, world-class expertise in deep-water drilling to provide additional oversight. Aberdeen Drilling Management (ADM) worked with the CNSOPB in the review of the incident, the work procedures, the investigation report and an assurance plan that CNSOPB required from Shell Canada, to determine whether drilling can be safely resumed, and, if so, under what conditions.

“This has been a rigorous and exhaustive review of the incident,” says CNSOPB CEO Stuart Pinks. “We are satisfied that the cause of the incident has been properly determined and that appropriate corrective actions have been taken so that drilling may resume safely. As an additional safeguard, the CNSOPB has introduced a condition further tightening operating limits under which drilling may occur.”

Until such time as the CNSOPB completes further reviews, Shell Canada is required to lower its well disconnect criteria on the Stena IceMax based on vessel heave of five metres. The previous criteria was eight metres.



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