Blowout Preventers, Blowout Prevention, BOP Stack and Well Control
What are Blowout Preventers?
A Blowout Preventer or "BOP" are large valves that can quickly seal off (at the surface wellhead) an oil or gas well that is being drilled or worked over.
During oil and natural gas well drilling, the BOP valve immediately closes if overpressure from an underground zone causes formation fluids (oil and natural gas) to enter the wellbore and threaten the safety of the workers on the rig or the rig itself. By closing the BOP valve (via hydraulic actuators), the drilling crew can prevent explosive pressure release from the well, and once again control the downhole pressure of the well. BOP valves can be opened again once downhole pressure is under control. The BOP valve is located within the "BOP Stack."
Blowout Preventers have helped eliminate deaths, injuries and environmental disasters associated with oil well "gushers."
What is Blowout Prevention?
Blowout prevention is an oil and gas technology that use Blowout Preventers to prevent an oil or gas well from blowout.
What is a BOP Stack?
A "BOP Stack" is a set or group of "blowout preventers" that are found on every oil and natural gas drilling rig as well as the the oil and/or natural gas well. The BOP Stack controls the pressure within the the oil and/or natural gas well. The BOP stack is typically located below the rig floor and after the drilling rig is removed, is at the top of the well, frequently referred to as the "Christmas tree."
What is Oil Well Control?
Oil Well Control is the management of the hazardous effects of unexpected high pressures on the surface equipment of drilling rigs when exploring and drilling for oil and/or natural gas.
Drilling fluid is used when drilling a new oil/natural gas well and provides an amount of well control.
Inadequate measures to provide for effective oil well control, can result in an oil well blowout, and cause serious damage, injury, or death, as in the case of British Petroleum's (BP) Deepwater Horizon catastrophe which occurred on April 20, 2010. BP's failure to maintain sufficient Oil Well Control on the drilling rig caused the oil well blowout which caused an explosion and fire and the deaths of 11 of the drilling rigs employees, and the worst environmental disaster of all time.
Oil Well Control includes the monitoring of the well's pressures and the proper safe-operating procedures for operating the well site equipment - which can vary widely from well-to-well depending on "bottom hole reservoir pressures."
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