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Chevron eyes safety in return to U.S. gulf

May 8, 2012 at 9:18 AM

SAN RAMON, Calif., May 8 (UPI) -- Chevron said its new drilling technology will enable the company to work more safely in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Chevron announced its drillship, Pacific Santa Ana, has arrived in the Gulf of Mexico for work under a five-year contract with a subsidiary of Pacific Drilling.

"Pacific Santa Ana will enable us to demonstrate dual gradient drilling, which has the potential to change the way deepwater wells are drilled," George Kirkland, vice chairman of Chevron, said in a statement.

Chevron says dual grading drilling uses two weights of drilling fluid, letting drillers mimic natural pressures and eliminating water depth as a consideration in well design. It would also let drillers identify deep pressure changes, which could enhance the safety and efficiency of deepwater drilling.

In 2010, sea water, oil and natural gas was ejected back up to the platform, struck an ignition source and eventually caused BP's Deepwater Horizon rig to sink. Eleven rig workers died in the accident that led to one of the worst offshore oil disasters in the history of the industry. Oil explorers are returning to the Gulf of Mexico following the disaster, however.

Chevron officials said they were "bullish" about post-Deepwater Horizon prospects in the Gulf of Mexico. The company aims to begin an exploratory drilling operation in the Gulf of Mexico once additional equipment is installed and tested on Pacific Santa Ana.

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