Exxon Leads Oil Companies to Design Spill Containment

Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell Plc plan to build and deploy a $1 billion rapid-response system to capture and contain oil in the event of a future underwater well blowout.

The four companies will contribute $250 million each toward the creation of a non-profit organization, the Marine Well Containment Co., that will create and manage containment equipment and responses in the Gulf of Mexico, Alan Jeffers, an Exxon spokesman, said today in a phone interview.

“Exxon Mobil is taking the lead on the engineering construction phase, but the plan is to set up a non-profit organization that will ultimately manage this,” Jeffers said. “It’s still in the development stages, but we’re going to ask others to join and those who choose not to join can have access to the equipment via commercial arrangements.”

BP Plc, which has been struggling to contain an underwater oil gusher after a Gulf rig exploded in April, wasn’t listed as a participant.

“Our focus right now is the response to the current situation,” Scott Dean, a BP spokesman, said in a phone interview. “We’ve said from early on that there will be lessons learned from this incident and we’re sure that changes will be made in the industry.”

As part of the new initiative led by Exxon, the biggest U.S. oil company, equipment will be designed for several scenarios up to 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) in depth specific to conditions in the Gulf. The system will be able to mobilize within 24 hours and have initial capacity to contain 100,000 barrels a day, according to an e-mailed statement.

Additional costs for equipment, contracts and new vessels may increase the $1 billion commitment, according to the statement. The companies said in the statement that they have reviewed the system with Congress.

To contact the reporter on this story: Allison Bennett in New York at abennett23@bloomberg.net

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