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Seabed Oil Drilling Rig

Werner Seabed Rig for the Kara Sea

Sea Bed Oil Drilling System - capable of drilling at any depth, in ice waters of the Arctic, and capable of drilling up to three times as fast as the current drilling systems

The Seabed Located Drilling Rig; a 'Pioneer Project' sponsored by the ITF, representing 14 Offshore Operating Companies. The new Seabed Drilling Rig (SDR) is simpler and considerably more economic than previous attempts at re-locating a land rig subsea; The Rig Support Vessel (RSV) is significantly smaller and more economic to operate.The paper describes the SDR design and benefits: " There are no rigid risers between SDR and RSV. " The SDR is very insensitive to weather and the RSV can 'roam' considerably off location. " The SDR is modular and can be deployed through a normal moon pool in the RSV " The SDR uses standard drilling procedures and jointed tubulars " The main control of mud flows and pressures and ECD is at the seabed. " This SDR technology leapfrogs the riserless drilling projects, but applies some of the useful lessons learnt. " The projected costs, per well drilled, compare favourably with floating drilling in as little as 1,000ft (300m) of water and do not increase significantly with water depth. " Reductions in current well construction costs of up to 30% appear feasible in 3,500ft (1,100m) water depth. " Reductions in current well construction costs in excess of 30% appear feasible in 7,500ft (2,300m) water depth. " Locating the Rig on the seabed apparently offers the best technical and economic solution for drilling in 10,000ft (3,000m) " Because of its low depth sensitivity, this technology can be reasonably extended to 20,000ft (6,000m) water depth. The step change in economics is due to a new method of handling all tubulars and tubular assemblies, plus a new mud control unit, combined with the Continuous Circulation System, (presented in OTC paper 14269 in 2002). The SDR, RSV and components are protected by a series of worldwide patent applications dating back to October 1995 and held by Coupler Developments Ltd. and Maris TDM Ltd.

Application: Total costs, per well drilled, compete favourably with floating drilling in shallow waters and do not increase dramatically with water depth; This technology could eventually replace all 'floating drilling' rigs. The extent of automation and the new tubular handling system could economically applied to 'bottom supported' rigs and to conventional land rigs.

Results, Observations, and Conclusions: The Feasibility Study, carried out for ITF Pioneer Projects and also supported by a DTI 'Smart Award', so far indicates that there are no apparent show stoppers. The Detail Design Phase is planned for 2003/2004 with a prototype operating in late 2005/2006.

Significance of Subject Matter: Escalating drilling costs with water depth, plus an increasing need to explore for hydrocarbon in deeper waters, require a step change in drilling method and equipment. This Seabed Drilling Rig provides a practical and economic solution for reducing well construction costs in all water depths beyond the reach of 'bottom supported' offshore rigs. Additionally this technology can be extended to explore the half of the World's surface that is beneath 10,000ftopf water and is currently out of technical or economic reach.