Rapid CUBE is designed to be the last line of defence in the event that an uncontrolled escape of hydrocarbons from a well, known as a blowout, can't be halted using standard emergency systems. Rapid CUBE is like an underwater extractor equipped with a compact liquid/gas separator. It's the only system of its kind in terms of its ability to speed up the salvage operation. Its trump card is the separator: positioned directly above the leak in a rig, it can capture hydrocarbons and rapidly separate gas from liquids without coming into contact with the wild well. Installed above this, an Electric Submersible Pump (ESP) facilitates the rise to the surface – via the drilling rods – of the collected oil, together with seawater pulled along by the hydrocarbon stream. To reduce the risk of blockages forming caused by gas hydrates, the CUBE separates gases underwater via special valves and expels them into the sea.
Incidents should never occur, but Rapid CUBE is always ready to intervene if required: it blocks the unforeseen escape of crude oil from an operational well owing to malfunction, human error or other unexpected events. When working offshore, safety is a fundamental requirement because the consequences of a blowout can be very serious for both the environment and those working on the platform. Owing to its extremely rapid operation, the CUBE is effective at stopping any oil spillages into the sea, limiting the impact of the release promptly and regaining control of the well using other methods, such as by establishing one or more relief wells.
The Rapid CUBE design is based on lessons learned from significant past incidents, specifically addressing the known weak points of open systems. At the same time, the equipment is simple and robust, flexible and swift to respond, even at great depth. It can be sent by plane anywhere in the world in just a few days. The system, which can be powered by Power Buoy, was developed in just 11 months from the initial concept, and has been based at the Gela logistics centre since 2015, ready to respond in the event of a blowout.
Rapid CUBE technology and innovation
From the start, Rapid Cube was designed to achieve the utmost efficiency and speed of response in all our upstream offshore operations. Its compact size means it can easily be deployed in any operational situation, providing an additional guarantee for the environmental sustainability of our operations.
By reducing the consequences of a subsea well blowout, Rapid CUBE makes an effective contribution to protecting the environment from the effects of an oil-well incident. This is particularly important given the spread of the offshore sector, especially in contexts where a swift emergency response cannot always be guaranteed.