Capping a deep water oil well

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Capping a damaged deep water well presents many challenges. The high pressure and remote environment makes it impossible for humans and difficult for robots to work in. When a deep water well is damaged, the environmental impact is significant and environmental damage rises exponentially as time progresses. The only way to minimize damage to the environment is to implement a well capping solution that is simple and easy to deploy in a timely manner.

The simplest solution is to cut off the damaged portion of the well riser and install a new riser section with a shutoff valve. Once the oil flow has been shut off, a more permanent solution such as well plugging can then be deployed.

An innovative solution uses a 50 ft capping riser that has a diameter slightly larger than the diameter of the damaged riser. The capping riser is composed of a 10 ft upper valve assembly formed from hardened steel and a 40ft lower crimping sleeve formed from a malleable alloy. The crimping sleeve is shock protected with a Kevlar lining and encased by an outer hardened sleeve assembly. The hardened sleeve assembly is encircled with shaped charge explosives.

When a deep water well is damaged, robots prepare the damaged riser by cutting off the damaged section. Next the capping riser is slipped over the damaged riser and the shaped charge is detonated. The hardened sleeve assembly contains the explosive force and directs it onto the crimping sleeve. This force tightly crimps the sleeve onto the damaged riser. The 40 ft length of the crimping sleeve distributes the crimp over a large area which increases the strength of the crimping bond. After the capping riser has been installed, the valve is closed to shut off the flow of gushing oil.


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  • Name:
    Nelson Lau
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