British oil company BP announced July 15 that it was able to deploy a containment system over a broken riser on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, temporarily stopping an oil leak that started in April.
Supermajors Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Shell announced they committed $1 billion to build a deep-water containment system that could capture as much as 100,000 barrels of oil per day.
The sinking of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico sparked concerns about oil exploration in deep water. The four energy companies said their planned containment system would work in water depths up to 10,000 feet, roughly twice the depth of the Gulf of Mexico disaster.
"If we all do our jobs properly, this system will never be used," said Exxon Mobil Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson in a statement.
The planned system will be designed for deployment within 24 hours of a major spill.
"This new system significantly enhances the industry's ability to effectively respond to any unforeseen incidents," said John Watson, chairman and chief executive officer of Chevron.
The four companies added that they were setting up a non-profit organization called Marine Well Containment Co. to operate and maintain the containment system.