BP displays new Gulf of Mexico safety system

BP put its enhanced well monitoring capabilities in the Gulf of Mexico on display Tuesday to demonstrate the extra layers of safety the company put in place following the 2010 oil spill at its Macondo well.

The British oil giant took a small group of reporters on a tour of the state-of-the-art well monitoring facility at its West Houston campus where it analyzes and responds to around-the-clock well data beamed from its nine rigs stationed in the Gulf. The tour comes two weeks before a civil trial is set to begin over the 2010 disaster, which killed eleven workers and was the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

In 2011, BP opened the monitoring facility, where  a team of 30 specialists, housed in a glass room, are dedicated to monitoring what happens inside its wells that are being drilled in the Gulf.

A $3 million training facility also opened last May in a nearby building. There, well-site leaders go through enhanced training in drilling operations. The room is retrofitted with valves, control panels, blowout preventer dials and a simulator that includes a drilling supervisor’s chair.

“We want to be the Harvard of well control,” said Mark Venettozzi, a BP global training manger.

The civil trial is set to begin Feb. 25 in federal court in New Orleans. The 2010 disaster led BP to make major changes in how it prepares for and prevents disasters.

The company could face billions of dollars in civil penalties arising from the accident.

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Read ongoing FuelFix coverage of the legal trials surrounding the Gulf of Mexico oil spill:

BP suspended from new federal contracts (Feb. 5)
BP completes $2.4B sale of Texas City refinery (Feb. 1)
Guilty: BP admits to causing deaths in spill disaster (Jan. 29)
Some parties appeal spill settlement ruling (Jan. 25)
BP, Justice Department say Gulf plea deal fair and appropriate (Jan. 16)
Judge gets sentence recommendation for BP (Jan. 14)
Rig victim’s widow says Gulf disaster caused ‘inferno of grief’ (Jan. 11)
Transocean to pay government $1.4B to settle fed’s spill claims (Jan. 3)