Transocean says rig wellhead passed tests ahead of Gulf blast

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Transocean, which owns the BP-leased offshore rig that has gushed oil into the Gulf of Mexico, said Friday that special valves to prevent blow-outs passed tests just before the accident.

"The deepwater BOP (blow-out preventer) was tested, every week for function and every other week for pressure containment capability," said Steven Newman, chief executive of the Swiss-incorporated, Houston-headquartered firm.

"The pressure containment was tested and it passed those tests on April 10. The function of the BOP was tested on April 17 and passed those tests as well," he told a conference call.

The Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20, claiming the lives of 11 workers and unleashing an environmental mess spilling millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf.

Wellhead's are equipped with blow-out preventers to ensure that crews can shut a well's flow if necessary.

"It is clear that the BOP was unable to shut up the well. Until we recover the BOP, we won't know what debris is in it or what type of damage occurred," Newman said.

"The BOP is designed to function under certain conditions. And it appeared that certain conditions ... were not met on April 20," he added.

Newman also dismissed rumours that the battery had died on the control system of one of the two blow-out preventers, stating that "the battery within the part was measured twice and exceeded ... minimum voltage."

He said that the rig continued to be monitored for any leakage, of which there was no sign.

While there was no plans to recover the rig, he said that the company "will need to go down and inspect the fuel tanks. If there is fuel, we will need to recover it."

© 2010 AFP

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