• Capping a Subsea Blowout Is Not Rocket Science — Or Is It? — Andy Cuthbert

    Well intervention techniques with the highest likelihood of success, in the shortest amount of time, depend on an accurate assessment of subsea blowout conditions. Misconceptions still remain regarding the effect of the blowout plume and the ability to successfully land a capping stack on a blowing well.

    In 2010 the response to a subsea source control incident was revised in terms of the hardware used, but the need to overcome the exit velocity, resultant lift-off forces, combined buoyancy, and jet momentum effects of the blowout plume release dynamics was neglected, or otherwise unappreciated. One solution claimed the plume created “a centering force” such that when the capping stack entered the plume it was supposedly self-centered and was guided down the plume onto the wellhead.

    Recent rigorous CFD analysis of the plume force flowfield dispels this erroneous belief that the plume actually assists in the deployment process. Additionally, it was recognized that the development of a case-specific engineering model for use in a dynamic landing simulation was required for both deep water and shallow water deployment scenarios. We now appreciate that with plume exit velocities and resultant jet force effects reaching Mach speed, aerospace engineering methodology is required.

    “What is the one idea you would like the members to take away from this lecture?”

    By unraveling the complex physics of the jet forces and associated turbulence involved in a subsea blowout flowfield, an appreciation can be gleaned of the plume-affected multi-body interactions that exist during a capping operation, and the type of high fidelity, high-resolution analysis required to produce results necessary to design a successful capping stack deployment plan.

    This presentation is from the Distinguished Lecturer 2020-21 season.

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  • Capping a Subsea Blowout Is Not Rocket Science — Or Is It? — Andy Cuthbert