n. (context oil industry English) a device that sits at the surface interface of an oil well, that prevents a blowout from occurring, by closing the orifice allowing material to flow from the oil reservoir out through the shaft.
A blowout preventer (BOP) is a large, specialized valve or similar mechanical device, used to seal, control and monitor oil and gas wells to prevent blowout, the uncontrolled release of crude oil and/or natural gas from well. They are usually installed redundantly in stacks.
Blowout preventers were developed to cope with extreme erratic pressures and uncontrolled flow ( formation kick) emanating from a well reservoir during drilling. Kicks can lead to a potentially catastrophic event known as a blowout. In addition to controlling the downhole (occurring in the drilled hole) pressure and the flow of oil and gas, blowout preventers are intended to prevent tubing (e.g. drill pipe and well casing), tools and drilling fluid from being blown out of the wellbore (also known as bore hole, the hole leading to the reservoir) when a blowout threatens. Blowout preventers are critical to the safety of crew, rig (the equipment system used to drill a wellbore) and environment, and to the monitoring and maintenance of well integrity; thus blowout preventers are intended to provide fail-safety to the systems that include them.
The term BOP (pronounced B-O-P, not "bop") is used in oilfield vernacular to refer to blowout preventers. The abbreviated term preventer, usually prefaced by a type (e.g. ram preventer), is used to refer to a single blowout preventer unit. A blowout preventer may also simply be referred to by its type (e.g. ram).
The terms blowout preventer, blowout preventer stack and blowout preventer system are commonly used interchangeably and in a general manner to describe an assembly of several stacked blowout preventers of varying type and function, as well as auxiliary components. A typical subsea deepwater blowout preventer system includes components such as electrical and hydraulic lines, control pods, hydraulic accumulators, test valve, kill and choke lines and valves, riser joint, hydraulic connectors, and a support frame.
Two categories of blowout preventer are most prevalent: ram and annular. BOP stacks frequently utilize both types, typically with at least one annular BOP stacked above several ram BOPs.
(A related valve, called an inside blowout preventer, internal blowout preventer, or IBOP, is positioned within, and restricts flow up, the drillpipe. This article does not address inside blowout preventer use.)
Blowout preventers are used on land wells, offshore rigs, and subsea wells. Land and subsea BOPs are secured to the top of the wellbore, known as the wellhead. BOPs on offshore rigs are mounted below the rig deck. Subsea BOPs are connected to the offshore rig above by a drilling riser that provides a continuous pathway for the drill string and fluids emanating from the wellbore. In effect, a riser extends the wellbore to the rig.