Cameron says its Mark IV blowout preventer is “future-proofed”

Cameron’s Mark IV High-Availability BOP Control System is the only blowout prevention system that features three points-of-distribution, or PODs, which significantly lessens the chance of delays in drilling in the event of a POD failure.  Credit Cameron
Cameron’s Mark IV High-Availability BOP Control System is the only blowout prevention system that features three points-of-distribution, or PODs, which significantly lessens the chance of delays in drilling in the event of a POD failure.
(Cameron)

In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010, increased regulations and heightened awareness to potential points of improvement spurred technological  innovations.

One is Cameron’s Mark IV High-Availability (HA) BOP Control System, the only blowout preventer on the market with a three-POD design.

Federal regulations now mandate that a BOP must at all times have two fully functioning PODs — or points-of-distribution — which essentially conduct all commands sent from the surface to the BOP and send all monitoring information back to the surface as well. If one POD fails, operators must transfer all control to the backup, shut down operations, seal the well, pull the 50-ton BOP off the bottom to make the necessary repairs, then lower the entire structure back to the bottom to resume operations, which can take weeks and cost millions.

By adding a third POD, which would function as the backup to the second POD if the primary fails, Cameron has increased system availability to 98 percent, a 10 percent bump over some two-POD BOP systems.

“System availability impacts our customers’ pocket,” said Justin Rounce, Cameron’s vice president of marketing and chief technology officer. “A 10 percent increase in availability is hundreds of millions of dollars a year across the fleet of BOPs.”

Work on the Mark IV HA began three years ago with six months of research, followed by two-and-a-half years of engineering. As part of that, Cameron also took the occasion to revisit the entire system, streamlining as much as possible. In the end, Rounce said, they removed half the tubing and connectors and reduced the overall weight to the point where Cameron’s three-POD system is about 26 percent lighter than two-POD BOP systems on the market.

Finally, Cameron increased the number of functions each POD can handle to 160, about a 33 percent increase over the industry norm, anticipating advances well down the road.

“We’re going to need more functions,” Rounce said. “We future-proofed the system to accommodate new technology.”

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