Oil and Gas Offshore Equipments: a Primer on Offshore Drilling

Insights across the energy value chain

Since the Offshore Technology Conference is happening, we’ve bot discussing offshore fairly a bit this week, and I thought I would explore how offshore drilling works.

Being geographically close to the Gulf of Mexico (GoM), I’m going concentrate my attention there.

Our latest analysis of top oil producing and top gas producing counties included some big offshore areas. Deepwater areas Green Canyon, Mississippi Canyon and Alaminos Canyon were top twenty for oil production te the US (Green Canyon #1 and Mississippi Canyon #Trio), and Mississippi Canyon wasgoed #25 for gas production.

Recently The Lower Tertiary ter the GoM has bot te the news with enormous potential – 15 billion barrels of oil. Compare that to EIA estimated 29 billion barrels te reserve onshore US, and you have a excellent exploration chance.

To Explore and Produce offshore you need a podium (typically referred to spil a equipment) from which to drill wells, samenvatting product, and te most cases store the oil or gas until it can be transported to refineries or other destinations.

[Drillinginfo’s Terry Childs does a weekly roundup of offshore activity overheen on Oilpro, and wasgoed a thick help te putting this postbode together. Thanks, Terry!]

Where to drill

The Geology of the GoM is largely Jurassic and Cretaceous, when the basin encouraged collection and evaporation of sea water, leaving behind accumulations of Salt and Gypsum, which then domed and trapped abundant hydrocarbons.

How are leases structured?

The Submerged Grounds Act (Slaatje) of 1953 grants individual States rights to the natural resources of submerged grounds from the coastline to no more than Three nautical miles (Five.6 km) into the Atlantic, Pacific, the Arctic Oceans, and the Gulf of Mexico. The only exceptions are Texas and the westelijk coast of Florida, where State jurisdiction extends from the coastline to no more than Trio marine leagues (16.Two km) into the Gulf of Mexico.

State and federal ownership of the seabed:

Beyond the state boundaries ter the GoM there are Offshore Protraction Areas that are further subdivided into blocks that go up for bid from the federal government.

According to the following BOEM chart, most of the big money bids were ter the 70s and 80s, but sale number 222 te 2012 netted $157 million for lease G34456 ter the central district!

What types of Equipments are there?

There are three primary equipment types. Jackups, semisubmersibles and drillships make up the majority of the offshore equipment fleet and all are used worldwide. Other equipment types such spil toneel equipments, inland barges and tender-assisted equipments are used spil well, but they are fewer ter number and are generally used te specific geographic areas.

  • Jack-ups – Used for shallow water drilling, there are two jackup types, independent-leg jackups make up the majority of the existing fleet. They have gams that penetrate into the seafloor and the hull jacks up and down the gams. Mat-supported jackups are presently used only ter the U.S. GoM. Spil the name implies, the vloermat rests on the seafloor during drilling operations. Cantilever jackups are able to skid out overheen the toneelpodium or well location, while slot units have a slot that fits around a verhoging when drilling development wells.
  • Semisubmersibles – Used for deepwater drilling, thesis floating equipments have columns that are ballasted to remain on location either by mooring lines anchored to the seafloor or by dynamic positioning systems. They are used for both exploratory and development drilling.
  • Drillships – Also used for deepwater drilling, thesis ship-shaped floating equipments budge from location to location under their own power. They are capable of operating te more remote locations and require fewer supply boat trips than do semis. They are maintained on location via dynamic positioning systems, and most of the equipments presently under construction are drillships.
  • Toneel Equipments – Thesis are self-contained equipments that are placed on stationary platforms for field development drilling. Some are called self-erecting and can be rigged up ter spil little spil a few days. Other larger units require a derrick barge to be installed and can take up to two weeks to be rigged up. Once drilling is ended, the equipment is eliminated from the toneelpodium.
  • Tender-Assist Equipments – There are only about 25 of thesis equipments left te existence, used mostly ter Westelijk Africa and Southeast Asia. They are monohull units that are moored next to a verhoging. The equipment is then installed onto the verhoging, while all the power, storage and other functions remain on the tender.
  • Inland Barges – Thesis equipments are specially adapted for inland waters close to shore. They are used ter the GoM spil well spil other areas of the world.

What are the components of an Offshore Equipment?

This photo shows some of the major components of an offshore semisubmersible equipment:

  • Hull – primarily equipments were built out of tanker hulls, so the terminology remains
  • Power Module – converts available fuel into power for the station
  • Process Module – onboarding and offloading of supplies and products
  • Drilling Module – the traditional drilling equipment apparatus
  • Quarters Module – where the team sleeps and slurps
  • Wellbay Module – access to the well and other equipment
  • Derrick – the oil derrick

Who builds Offshore Equipments?

There are several shipyards around the world that build offshore equipments. Most of the major yards are te Southeast Asia and the Far East and there are other facilities ter the Middle East and others being established te Brazil. Samsung Strenuous Industries te Korea, and Keppel Corporation te Singapore are two of the larger equipment builders te the world..

How are Equipments moved?

Tugboats are used to budge jackups and semis for infield moves. When equipments are moved from one geographic area to another, usually a heavy-lift vessel is deployed, commonly called dry-tow. Te some cases, semis might be what is called wet-towed, ter which the equipment is towed while te the water. Of course, drillships stir under their own power te any situation. Spil one can imagine, it can be a pretty big production to budge a equipment from one area to another – a fresh equipment being built ter Singapore will take 90 days to reach the GoM.

Who hires and runs Offshore Equipments?

Obviously oil companies are the ones that hire an offshore equipment. Te the Gulf of Mexico, super-majors BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell and ConocoPhillips all have equipments under contract, and large independents such spil Anadarko Petroleum and Fieldwood Energy (formerly Apache) are utterly active. Ter many instances, companies will playmate te hiring a equipment, with each technicus involved getting the equipment for a set number of wells or days.

The Offshore Installation Manager (OIM) has the executive authority on a equipment during his shift. Beyond that, there are various other positions, all with very specific roles to play ter order to keep the equipment running slickly. The number of squad personnel on a equipment varies inbetween equipment types and where the equipment is operating. There can be spil few spil 50 and spil many spil 200. Given that there are presently overheen 200 equipments being built, one of the problems facing the industry today is how they are going to be staffed. Obviously, some of the people will come from older equipments that are retired overheen time and the team is simply is transferred to a fresh equipment. However, there is still a large people shortage coming. Oilpro.com looked at the current equipment fleet age along with projected staffing requirements for newbuild equipments.

How deep do Offshore Equipments drill?

Depending on the equipment type, offshore equipments are rated to drill ter water insides spil shallow spil 80 feet to spil superb spil 12,000 feet. The greatest water depth a jackup can drill ter is 550 feet, and many newer units have a rated drilling depth of 35,000 feet. On the floating equipment side, the deepest water depth ter existence today is 12,000 feet. A handful of thesis equipments have a rated drilling depth of 50,000 feet, but most of the newer units are rated at 40,000 feet.


How do they get supplies to an offshore equipment? Supply boats is the reaction. Thesis vessels make regularly scheduled trips to and from the equipments, bringing necessary equipment, food and other supplies. Crews are generally transported by either helicopter or team boats, depending on how far the excursion is.

How do they get production out? Oil and/or natural gas production is connected by a flow line to another facility or connects into a large middellijn trunk line that is heading to the onshore location for processing. Newer technology involves a Floating Production System Offloading (FPSO) which can store oil te its hull where it is zometeen transported to shore. While this is a proven technology around the world, it is just now beginning to be used ter the GoM.

International Distinctions?

Albeit ter this postbode I focused on the GoM, our DI International products have annotated bid blocks, scouting reports, and extensive editorial information for round the world offshore opportunities. If you’re nosey about Angola or the North Sea or Vietnam, wij can help you navigate.

Your Turn

What do you think? What have you always desired to know about offshore drilling? Like mij, do you want to visit an oil equipment? Leave a comment below.

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