A new ship type has been created as a consequence of the Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The Marine Well Containment Company (MWCC), an independent organisation put together by major oil companies to develop and maintain a well containment system, has had two modular capture vessels (MCV) created out of existing aframax-size tankers, each with a liquid storage capacity of 700,000 oil barrels (bbls).

In the event of a well blowout, a ‘cap’ mechanism, capable of handling up to 100,000 bbl/day of liquid and up to 200 million standard cubic feet per day of gas (scf/day), would be placed over the well and redirect flow to the MCVs above through flexible pipes and risers. Modular processing equipment on the MCVs would then separate liquids from gas and safely store the liquids until their transfer by shuttle tanker to shore processing facilities.

Using expanded flowlines, the MCVs could be positioned up to a mile away from the wellhead to help decrease congestion on the surface. In addition, the loading turrets of the MCVs can be disconnected quickly if the vessels have to be moved away from the site. JS

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