* System would compete with Exxon-led project
* Helix to use same equipment from BP oil spill
* Company interest said to be high
By Anna Driver
HOUSTON, Dec 8 Helix Energy Solutions Group Inc
(HLX.N) is putting finishing touches on a system of vessels and
equipment that could be used in a rapid response to a future
deepwater oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the company said on
Helix's system, a competitor to a project led by Exxon
Mobil Corp XOM.N> that is still in the planning stages, is
built from equipment that was used to siphon oil from the sea
floor after BP Plc's (BP.L) Macondo well ruptured on April 20.
Helix is lining up companies to sign on to the project,
likely using a retainer-like financial structure, Stephen
Powers, director of investor relations as Houston-based Helix,
"We have had very heavy interest," Powers said, but
declined to name any companies at this stage of the
negotiations. "We will have a solution up and running here in
very short order."
Earlier on Wednesday, John Crum, co-chief operating officer
for Apache Corp (APA.N) told investors at the Wells Fargo
energy conference that his company would likely take part in
Helix' spill containment system.
U.S. regulators, aiming to make drilling in the Gulf of
Mexico safer, are requiring companies to provide worst case oil
and gas flow scenarios and also asking companies if they have
access to a spill containment system, Crum said.
Helix' "Deepwater Containment System" includes vessels and
crews that currently operate in the Gulf and seabed components
that are built in advance, the company said.
The Helix system would involve placing a subsea shut-off
device, valves and pipes atop a blowout preventer or well
production equipment at the seabed. It would contain and
channel oil and gas to production and storage vessels at the
The system includes two Helix rigs that BP used to produce
or burn off about 800,000 barrels of the 4.4 million barrels of
oil that spewed from the Macondo well.
A tanker to be chartered separately would gather and store
oil that could be shipped to shore.
Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L), ConocoPhillips (COP.N)
and Chevron Corp (CVX.N) formed a nonprofit organization in
July, called the Marine Well Containment Company, to operate
and maintain their $1 billion spill containment system.
That system will consist of specially designed subsea
containment equipment connected by manifolds, jumpers and
risers to capture vessels that will store and offload any
(Reporting by Anna Driver; Additional reporting by Kristen
Hays in Houston; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)