Thunder Horse hobbled by failures

BP has announced that it plans to retrieve and rebuild all the sea-bed production equipment from its Thunder Horse field in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. A series of tests carried out over the past four months revealed metallurgical failure in components of the subsea system.


BP said the problem became evident when it conducted pre-commissioning tests by pumping water through the system to establish system integrity. The equipment passed all the normal industry standard tests and regulatory requirements. However, when the company carried out more prolonged and rigorous testing, as an additional safety precaution, a failure occurred on a subsea weld.


As a consequence of the failure, BP said it had decided to retrieve the damaged sea-bed manifold and a second manifold for further examination and onshore testing. The second manifold displayed a similar failure during testing last week.


In view of these failures, BP said it would now retrieve and replace all the subsea components it believes could be at risk. This work will be done over the course of the next year and the company said it does not expect production from Thunder Horse to begin before the middle of 2008.


It said it was too early to estimate the additional costs involved in replacing the affected systems.