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What is BOP Testing? Blowout Preventer Testing Explained

Blowout preventer testing is critical to ensure that your blowout preventer is functioning correctly, so that site workers can remain safe and so that valuable machinery isn’t damaged by a possible blowout. If regular testing isn’t performed, there would be no way of knowing whether or not you can count on your blowout preventer if there were to be an actual emergency at your oil and gas drilling location. This discussion will center on the extreme importance of testing your blowout preventer, as well as the consequences of failing to do so.

What is a Blowout Preventer?

A blowout preventer is a really large valve which has been specially designed for a specific purpose, and which is mounted on top of the well while drilling is in progress. The valve can be closed during an emergency to stop the flow of oil or gas and limit the potential for damage, especially the damage caused by a full-blown blowout. That makes a blowout prevent the most important piece of safety equipment on any drilling site, because it prevents the uncontrolled flow of formation fluids which might occur during completion operations and during normal drilling.

When normal drilling is in progress, mud gets pumped down the drill string so as to keep the bit cooled and lubricated, and also to provide an equalizing pressure down in the well. If the hydrostatic pressure in the well should fall below the pressure of the formation, it can trigger a kick which allows gas, oil, or other fluids to enter the bore of the well.

When such a kick occurs, the combustible hydrocarbons will be forced up through the well bore to the ground surface, where they could possibly ignite and completely blow out the well. That’s where the BOP comes in – it has the capability of controlling this kind of flow by actually sealing off the well bore.

How Does a Blowout Preventer Work?

Blowout preventers work by controlling pressure in the drilled hole, as well as the flow of oil and gas. This allows them to prevent tubing tools and drilling fluid from being expelled out the well bore when conditions approximating a blowout are in effect. There are two types of blowout preventers which are popularly used on oil and gas drilling sites, those being ram BOP’s and annular BOP’s.

It’s actually fairly common for both types to be used on the same site, very often with a single annular BOP stacked above a number of ram BOP’s. They are used as often on land wells as they are on offshore rigs and subsea wells, and are generally secured to the top of a wellbore. On offshore rigs, the BOP is generally mounted at a location below the rig deck, and subsea BOP’s will generally be connected to an offshore rig by using a drilling riser. 

This provides a pathway for the continuous drill string as well as the fluids coming directly from the well bore. When the blowout preventer doesn’t function as it should, it’s entirely possible that a spectacular blowout might occur such as the one which happened on the infamous Deepwater Horizon blowout. When this offshore rig exploded in 2010, a raging inferno developed on the rig and millions of gallons of oil were pumped into the Gulf of Mexico before it was finally contained 87 days later.

Why is a Blowout Preventer Used?

A blowout preventer is used to shut off the valve beneath oil drilling machinery, so as to prevent any liquid from reaching the surface during a kick or any kind of dangerous explosion. When working with cooling mud and other substances which might potentially trigger a break in the flow of extraction, it’s necessary to have some type of containment system which can be maintained during operations. 

An annular blowout preventer is a mechanism which closes the space around a drill pipe diameter, and controls airflow for the mud without disturbing any other elements of the system. This annular BOP will always sit on top of the BOP stack so as to provide an airtight option for controlling flow. The ram BOP also has a role in preventing unwanted materials from exploding, and it’s very common to have several ram BOP’s in place so that maximum safety can be ensured.

The main control unit on a blowout preventer is called the accumulator, and it’s responsible for controlling all systems which are interconnected, so as to prevent emergencies. An accumulator will generally have enough power to keep BOP units functioning when other systems fail, so the accumulator is generally mounted on top of the BOP stack. In short, a blowout preventer is used so that an oil and gas drilling site can have the highest level of protection for workers on site, and for the valuable equipment which could be damaged in event of a catastrophic blowout.

What to Do When a Blowout Preventer Fails?

You can’t afford to have any kind of blowout catastrophe occur at your oil and gas drilling site, and that means you simply must have a functioning blowout preventer in place on your stack. Simply having the blowout preventer in place is not enough however, because you also have to be sure that it’s functioning correctly, and if it isn’t, you could have a major problem.

To be sure that your BOP system is functioning perfectly, contact Wagner Energy Services, LLC so that our highly trained specialists can test your blowout preventer system. We will thoroughly examine your blowout preventer to make sure that all parts are functioning as intended, and that there are no signs of wear and tear which might cause a malfunction.

When the safety of your workers is at stake, as well as the preservation of super expensive drilling equipment, you simply can’t afford to take a chance on having a malfunctioning blowout preventer. If your operation is anywhere in the area of Ohio, Pennsylvania, or West Virginia, contact Wagner Energy Services, one of the region’s top oil field service companies, so that we can provide you with peace of mind, knowing that your blowout preventer is in perfect operating condition.