One of several valves installed at the wellhead to prevent the escape of pressure either in the annular space between the casing and drill pipe or in open hole (i.e., hole with no drill pipe) during drilling completion operations.
Blowout preventers on land rigs are located beneath the rig at the land’s surface; on jackup or platform rigs, at the water’s surface; and on floating offshore rigs, on the seafloor.
A large valve at the top of a well that may be closed if the drilling crew loses control of formation fluids.
By closing this valve (usually operated remotely via hydraulic actuators), the drilling crew usually regains control of the reservoir, and procedures can then be initiated to increase the mud density until it is possible to open the bop and retain pressure control of the formation.
Bops come in a variety of styles, sizes and pressure ratings.
Some can effectively close over an open wellbore, some are designed to seal around tubular components in the well (drillpipe, casing or tubing) and others are fitted with hardened steel shearing surfaces that can actually cut through drillpipe.
Since bops are critically important to the safety of the crew, the rig and the wellbore itself, bops are inspected, tested and refurbished at regular intervals determined by a combination of risk assessment, local practice, well type and legal requirements.
Bop tests vary from daily function testing on critical wells to monthly or less frequent testing on wells thought to have low probability of well control problems.