API Standard 53 Compliance: Adding Emergency Backup Safety Systems

In the midst of progressively harsher drilling conditions, today’s O&G industry is particularly sensitive and cognizant of enhanced safety precautions. It is becoming increasingly vital that we all band together to learn from our past mistakes to continue drilling effectively – and safely – in severe conditions. 

Although proper protocols and continued training are imperative to ensure safety during potential danger, it is also paramount to utilize quality control and safety systems. Our TYPE ‘80TM line of BOP Control Systems (which boasts almost 40 years of proven performance and reliability) is definitely a viable example of the latter.   

A RICH HISTORY
While the AXON name was not introduced to the world until 2009, many of the companies that make up our product base (primarily via acquisition) have been known and trusted in the field for decades. We sometimes encounter individuals that are unaware that AXON’s TYPE ‘80™ line is the legacy of Mr. Paul Koomey’s industry-leading surface and subsea drilling innovations. Surprised? Many people often are when they discover the origins and long-standing history of our BOP control products.

 

TIMELINE FOR TYPE '80TM BOP CONTROLS

With a history beginning in the late 1970’s, it’s plausible that some readers may unknowingly have one of AXON’s Surface Control Units, Piloted Control Systems, or even MUX Systems on their rig. Through several name changes, the original TYPE ‘80™ catalog of equipment has continued to provide industry-proven drilling controls equipment worldwide.

Ever since 1979 when Mr. Koomey founded Koomey, Inc. and developed the TYPE ‘80™ line, our group has been committed to the same steadfast, customer-centric values. Several key members of our division have even been with the company since the early 1980s. This strong foundation, along with the dedicated folks that joined through the years, are the backbone behind consistently delivering the high-quality, reliable equipment that has come to be expected of the TYPE ‘80™ products. 

Before this becomes a history lesson, let me continue with the topic at hand:  How is our industry ensuring safety as we continue to access deeper waters, increasingly remote locations, and more challenging reservoirs?  

API STANDARD 53 
The American Petroleum Institute (API) has led the development of equipment and operating standards in our industry for over 85 years. These standards “represent the industry’s collective wisdom on everything from drill bits to environmental protection and embrace proven, sound engineering and operating practices and safe, interchangeable equipment and materials.”

Of the 500+ existent API Standards and Recommended Practices, some of us are now especially acquainted with API Standard 53 (API 53): Blowout Prevention Equipment Systems for Drilling Wells. API 53 officially evolved from API Recommended Practices 53 (3rd Edition) in November 2012. However, multiple global regions have been following its safety recommendations for quite some time. For example, rigs in the Gulf of Mexico have been abiding by API 53 since at least 2010. 

For this specific discussion on back-up safety systems, I’d like to highlight the following sections from API 53:  

MUX Control Systems
7.4.14.2 Autoshear shall be installed on all subsea BOP stacks.
7.4.14.4 The dedicated emergency accumulator system may be used for both the Autoshear and Deadman systems, as well as for secondary control systems.
7.4.15.2 A Deadman system shall be installed on all subsea BOP stacks.
7.4.15.4 The dedicated emergency accumulator system may be used for both the Autoshear and Deadman systems, as well as for secondary control systems (e.g. ROV or acoustic systems).**

Discrete Hydraulic Systems
7.3.18.2 Autoshear shall be installed on all subsea BOP stacks.**
7.3.18.4 The dedicated accumulator system may be used for both the Autoshear and Deadman systems, as well as for secondary control systems (e.g. ROV and acoustic systems). **
7.3.19.2 A Deadman system shall be installed on all subsea BOP stacks.
7.3.19.4 The dedicated emergency accumulator system may be used for both the Autoshear and Deadman systems, as well as for secondary control systems (e.g. ROV and acoustic systems).

**CHANGED / ADDED FROM PRIOR EDITION 

Because of AXON’s global customer base, our BOP controls team is certainly familiar with this section of API 53, as well as other domestic and international requirements. Of note is the recent release from Oil & Gas UK (OGUK).   

WLCPF GUIDELINES ISSUE 2 
In May 2014, OGUK released Issue 2 of the guidelines on BOP Operations for Offshore Wells. Created through the collaboration of Well Life Cycle Practices Forum (WLCPF) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), Issue 2 was developed partly in response to the lessons that arose from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident.  The publication aims to improve “cross industry understanding of well-related issues on the UK Continental Shelf” and includes main differences between its guidelines and API 53.   

The UK Continental Shelf region and other areas have a compliance timeline for all BOP system installations by July 2019. This greatly affects many of our customers, as it includes both existing and new well control products. 

HOW TO COMPLY 
Many operators may be scrambling to ensure they comply by the upcoming deadline stipulated in their respective areas. Others may be updating their systems for added safety precautions and competitive advantage, even if their region does not require API 53 compliance.  

For existing drilling rigs, it is obvious that implementing these upgrades is not like flipping a switch. They require intense planning, [down]time, and funds to complete a successfully compliant upgrade. Although there are multiple options available, today’s challenging O&G conditions have resulted in an increased emphasis on cost effectiveness.   

RETROFIT EXISTING SYSTEMS
Rather than purchasing a new BOP control system, retrofitting older systems tends to be a cost-effective, viable option.  For example, some manufacturers of Deadman/Autoshear (DMAS) systems modify the stack frame to add trigger valves and assemblies for system actuation. However, this method could lead to longer downtimes, as the equipment must be calibrated and measured correctly to fit the application.  

For those seeking to minimize modifications on existing equipment, another option involves utilizing products such as AXON’s TYPE ‘80™ DMAS system. These systems are engineered specifically for quick and easy installation. 

Our stainless steel DMAS system includes a mounting plate that can be welded onto the BOP stack, allowing for quick mounting of the DMAS frame in the available space. Further modification of the stack is not required because the trigger valve is compartmentalized inside the system. In addition to quick turnaround time for both delivery and installation, another benefit is the inclusion of TYPE ‘80™ SPM valves and TR™ regulators. Because these industry-standard components are commonly used on rigs worldwide, extra spares are unnecessary and maintenance can be streamlined.  

THE BOTTOM LINE
However, regardless of the chosen method for compliance, we must all remember that proper protocols and continued training are imperative to maximize safety. Although it can seem cumbersome in the beginning stages, it is great to see the global collaborative efforts to ensure our safety. Further to learning from the past, we must all ultimately watch out for each other and continue promoting safety guidelines to truly be prepared when we need it the most. 

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