Helix Says 10-17 Days Would Be Needed to Contain a Spill

Helix Energy Solutions Group Inc. (HLX) and its partners would need as many as 17 days to contain a Gulf of Mexico oil spill, or five times quicker than the time it took BP Plc to plug a ruptured well last year.

Helix’s Q4000 ship would need about three days to arrive at the spill site, Chief Executive Officer Owen Kratz said today in an interview in Washington. A cap to contain the seabed well would arrive at the same time, he said.

“If the integrity is such that we can just shut it in then, then it will immediately be shut in and that’s the end of the problem,” he said. A well that’s significantly damaged and can’t be shut would require Helix to lower a riser, or pipe, from the Q4000 to the wellhead to capture the crude, he said.

Helix’s oil containment process, along with a system from a group led by Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), allowed the U.S. to resume drilling in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico almost a year after the BP blowout, the worst U.S. offshore spill.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, the Obama administration agency overseeing offshore drilling, approved eight companies to explore in deep waters of the Gulf.

Five companies -- Noble Energy Inc. (NBL), BHP Billiton Ltd., ATP Oil & Gas Corp., Statoil ASA (STL) and Eni SpA (ENI) -- said they will use Helix equipment in case of a spill.

Marine Well Containment Co., which is set up by Exxon, Chevron Corp. (CVX), Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) and ConocoPhillips (COP), would deploy equipment when notified by an operator, and response times would vary, Rachael Moore, an Exxon spokeswoman, said today in an e-mail.

Buyers Sought

While Kratz promotes the containment system and meets U.S. regulators, he also is seeking a buyer for the oil reserves that Houston-based Helix has in the Gulf of Mexico.

Helix has been unable to find a buyer for the business amid a drilling slump after the BP spill. The company now will focus on offering the producing part of its offshore operations, he said.

“We’re going to be looking to sell packages of producing fields,” Kratz said. “We have a number of fields that are proven and non-developed, and we’re hopeful that we can get the permits required to go ahead to put those to production, so as we get those into production, we’ll look to market them.”

Helix might be able to sell about half of proved developed producing reserves this year, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Katarzyna Klimasinska in Washington at kklimasinska@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Liebert at lliebert@bloomberg.net.

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.