By Linda Hsieh, managing editor
Noble Corp inaugurated the Noble Globetrotter I ultra-deepwater drillship at Huisman’s new production hall in Schiedam, the Netherlands, on 1 October. The drillship, which was designed around Huisman’s multipurpose tower (MPT), is on schedule to be delivered later this year. It will then mobilize to the US Gulf of Mexico under a 10-year contract with Shell.
The MPT, which is also featured on Noble’s Bully rigs, is a compact box-type drilling tower replacing the conventional derrick. It uses two revolving carousels, each with two pipe rackers, to allow the racking of 35,000 ft of tubulars to support both a drilling side and a construction side, where tubulars can be prepared. This system of hoisting/handling leaves the drill floor open, providing better visibility for the driller and better movement for the crews, according to Noble and Huisman.
Further, the engine room is placed forward, underneath the accommodations, freeing up space in the aft. Riser is stored below deck, and it’s a flat deck essentially from the accommodations to the stern of the ship.
“It’s a much cleaner layout. Walking across the drill floor, there’s nothing overhead. You can reach straight into the center of the rotary with a crane, which is spectacular from a drilling operational perspective,” said David Williams, Noble chairman, president and CEO. “We think it provides a lot of features that will improve safety and operational efficiency.”
The MPT also allows the Globetrotter I to be a smaller-sized vessel (620-ft length) than many other ultra-deepwater drillships, although it can still drill in up to 10,000 ft of water and wells up to 40,000 ft deep. “We’re not giving up any operational capability over much larger vessels,” Mr Williams said, adding that the installation of a heave-compensated crane means there’s a third load path – besides the construction and drilling sides of the MPT – for handling trees or umbilicals.
The Globetrotter I had its hull built by Korea-based STX Offshore & Shipbuilding at its new yard in Dalian, China, then sailed under its own power to Huisman’s quay in the Netherlands, arriving on 19 July this year. Huisman, which was responsible for the design and construction of the drilling equipment as well as the vessel concept design, installed the MPT on the rig on 6 August.
“For us this is a new market. It took us 10 years to find the right combination of people who were willing to take a step-change in technology,” said Joop Roodenburg, Huisman CEO. “We know it’s very difficult to do new things. That’s why it took a long time to get everybody aligned.”
The top section of the MPT can be lifted off with a crane so the vessel can sail through the Panama Canal, Suez Canal and the Bosphorus, Mr Roodenburg explained.
Besides the MPT, the drillship features DP3 stationkeeping capabilities, active heave-compensated dual drum drawworks, 2.4 million lbs of hookload and 2 million lbs of variable deck load. A low elevated drill floor – 5 meters above the main deck – draws the centers of gravity down and reduces sideways motions on the drill floor.
The rig will be equipped with a 18 ¾-in. 15,000-psi six-ram Shaffer NXT BOP system, although Mr Williams and Mr Roodenburg emphasize that the rig has enough deck space to accommodate a backup BOP stack. The decision to build in that redundancy would lie with Shell, however.
“We will continue to explore with Shell what their BOP requirements are going forward. The only rig so far that we have agreed to put second BOPs on are the first of the Hyundai ships,” Mr Williams said, referring to the four ultra-deepwater drillships that Noble has ordered with Hyundai Heavy Industries this year. The first of these four drillships is expected to be delivered in 2013 and has a Letter of Intent in place with Shell for a five and a half-year drilling contract.
A second Globetrotter-class rig is also under construction with STX at its Dalian yard. As with Globetrotter I, the Globetrotter II will then be mobilized to Huisman in the Netherlands for installation and commissioning of the topside equipment. Globetrotter II also has a 10-year contract in place with Shell, and delivery is slated for 2013.