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The Offshore Frontier

Life extension for mobile offshore unites: How old is too old?

By Gerhard Ersdal, Arne Kvitrud, Petroleum Safety Authority Norway; Wayne Jones, Malcolm Birkinshaw, UK Health and Safety Executive Editor’s note: This article is the second in a series of articles that will focus on the critical issue of asset integrity. The International Regulators Forum kicked off the series in the May/June 2008 issue, presenting findings from a three-year inspection programme. In this issue, UK’s HSE and PSA Norway detail how they are approaching the evaluation of offshore units operated beyond their original design life. In upcoming issues, Australia’s National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority and the Netherlands’ State Supervision of Mines will provide their perspectives on how industry can improve asset integrity. A large number of mobile units in the North ...

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Modular MDDM top drive designed to cut time for change outs, slash failures

In 2005, Transocean went in search of a “next-generation top drive” that could significantly improve operational performance to meet customer demands. Specifications required for this new-generation design were tough, including a 99.9% uptime on an annual basis. Out of several ideas proposed by different equipment manufacturers, Aker Solutions’ MDDM (modular direct drilling machine) was selected. According to Aker, the MDDM’s increased performance would enable Transocean to drill wells up to 50,000 ft, with an overall design philosophy of reducing the total cost of ownership of a derrick drilling machine. A contract was signed by October 2005, initiating a development phase with the two companies collaborating on the design and field-testing of the new top drive. Transocean provided background data based ...

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API RP 2SK: Stationkeeping: an emerging practice for moored MODUs in GOM hurricanes

By David Petruska, GoM SPU Riser Technical Authority, BP America Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODUs) in the Gulf of Mexico are a critical part of the infrastructure required for oil and gas E&P. Industry standards that allow safe and economic operations are important to the industry, community and regulatory authorities. Much work has been done since the events of the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons to better understand the causes of moored MODU failures and learn from them. This knowledge has resulted in changes to the industry standards. API RP 2SK 3rd Edition establishes a minimum acceptable design code for mooring systems. RP 2SK requires a mobile mooring, like that on a MODU, be designed to a 5-year return period ...

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Australia is at forefront of biofouling issue, but this environmental challenge may soon go global

By Linda Hsieh, assistant managing editor A critical issue is emerging on the environmental front that could result in serious consequences for drilling contractors and their operations: biofouling. Sometimes called “invisible pollution,” biofouling occurs when organisms attach to a surface – such as the hull of a ship – and get introduced into foreign ecosystems as the vessel moves to new places. These invasive species can then impact local marine environments and species. Considering the nature of drilling rigs and how they’re used – they often sit at one site for five months or even five years before picking up to move elsewhere – it’s no surprise local organisms will grab on and settle in. As the importance of environment ...

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PV Drilling building new rigs as it eyes Vietnams expanding E&P market, exploration successes

By Linda Hsieh, assistant managing editor Vietnam-based PV Drilling is gearing up to be a serious offshore player – just in time, since Vietnam is gearing up for some serious offshore drilling. Just six years ago, PV Drilling – or Petrovietnam Drilling and Well Services Corp – was a company providing small-scale services such as drilling tool rental and oil spill response. By March 2007, it had taken delivery of its first jackup rig – not only the first offshore rig for PV Drilling but also the first ever offshore rig for any Vietnam-based drilling contractor. Since then, the company has ordered two more jackups from the Keppel FELS shipyard in Singapore. Both are scheduled for delivery in 2009. “It’s ...

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Gulf of Thailand drilling/completion both high tech and high volume, with HSE as core value

By Mike Killalea, Editor & Publisher Drilling in the Gulf of Thailand (GOT) is not only high-volume work, but presents considerable technical drilling-and-completion challenges. Chevron, the major operator in the GOT, drills some 40% of its global footage there – that’s right, 40%. In 2007, that constituted 3.7 million ft and 310 wells, and the previous year, 4.4 million ft. Chevron’s preeminence in the region more than doubled following the 2005 merger with Unocal. Chevron’s drilling program will extend through the next decade and beyond, explained Mike Haas, drilling & completions manager for the Asia South Business Unit, Chevron Thailand Exploration and Production Ltd. “It’s good for us because it allows us to contract long term,” he said, “and it ...

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Lifting Safety: Inexperienced employees, deepwater/subsea projects push lifting challenges to new

“The challenges have shifted,” said Mike Brasic, who retired from BP in May 2008 as lifting adviser and as HSE manager for BP Sakhalin. First, there’s the people problem. “The level of experience among employees has gone down as the level of activity has gone up. That’s presenting challenges with competency that the industry must address.” Second, the move into deepwater and subsea operations has brought its own set of technological and safety challenges – including lifting challenges. “It’s a new phase to the lifting game,” he said. Lifting performance Mr Brasic believes the industry has seen a decrease in lifting fatalities and serious incidents in recent years, and several factors have contributed to that. “There’s more focus on near-miss ...

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Case study: HPHT infill well drilled successfully in highly depleted reservoir on UKCS field

By L. Fambon, G. Joffroy, TOTAL E&P UK Drilling infill wells on HPHT fields after a significant depletion has occurred represents a difficult challenge. It requires drilling from a cap rock remaining at or close to virgin pressure into a reservoir in which pore and fracture pressures have largely decreased due to production. No mud-weight window exists anymore at the transition between cap rock and reservoir. The difficulty is further increased by uncertainties in the pressure profile along the well path, the rock mechanics and their change generated by the high and rapid depletion, and also by depth uncertainty on the top reservoir. For this reason, most HPHT fields are developed by drilling all wells before a pre-defined limit of ...

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Seadrill confident in growth, believes modern fleet will pay off, says CEO Thorkildsen

By Jeremy Cresswell, contributing editor In Q2 2008, Seadrill landed one of the most spectacular contracts ever awarded in offshore drilling. The client is Petrobras, the revenue potential is $4.1 billion across 18 rig years, and the rigs to be used comprise a trio of sixth-generation semisubmersibles currently in build. Moreover, strategically, Brazil is set to become one of the most important areas of operation for this Bermuda-registered group whose fleet numbers 43 semi-submersibles, jack-ups and tender rigs, including the many new units on order but not options held at the time of writing. Seadrill is one of the fastest-growing, and may in fact be the fastest-growing, company of any engaged in offshore drilling. Of the 43 rigs, 25 are ...

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Exploration on the Atlantic Frontier has been hit-and-miss, but hope lingers for breakthrough

By Jeremy Cresswell, contributing editor As IADC members know all too well, patience is a prerequisite for success in the petroleum industry; it’s a basic fact. But some energy provinces take a lot more figuring out than others before the door to the prize is unlocked. A prime example is surely the Europe Union portion of the Atlantic Frontier, that is, the waters west of France, Ireland, Portugal and Scotland. While a number of promising finds have been made, especially west of Shetland – with three sizable developments producing successfully – and Irish results tantalise, the Bay of Biscay and Iberian waters have yet to yield a meaningful prize. Take the French sector. Thirty years ago, high hopes on France’s ...

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