U.S. starts offshore spill response drill

July 25, 2012 at 7:08 AM

WASHINGTON, July 25 (UPI) -- Testing oil spill response systems in real-time scenarios showcases the priority of safety for offshore drilling operations, a U.S. official said.

The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement launched its first exercise to test a capping system designed by the non-profit Marine Well Containment Co. MWCC was set up in the wake of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Its capping system can work in water depths of 10,000 feet.

"Testing this equipment in real-time conditions and ultra-deep-water depths will help ensure that the MWCC is ready and able to respond in a moment's notice should the need arise," BSEE Director Jim Watson said in a statement.

The capping stack will deploy to waters around 7,000 feet deep during the multi-week exercise. The system is similar to the one used to kill the Macondo well on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico about five months after Deepwater Horizon platform sank.

The start of the exercise follows an announcement by the U.S. Department of Interior that millions of acres off the coast of Texas go on the auction block for oil and natural gas drillers starting in November. Similar lease sales were in December and June.

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