What is Deepwater Drilling? Deepwater drilling is the process of digging deep wells to drill oil. Deepwater drilling was not a technologically and financially feasible solution, but in recent times, more companies are seeing the economic benefits of deepwater drilling. Currently, there are over 3,400 deepwater wells in the Gulf of Mexico.
To find oil deposits, exploratory drilling has to be carried out else the seabed will be full of massive wells with nothing in them. And this can lead to damage to the earth’s crust leading to other environmental problems. A mobile drilling platform is sent out first to explore a site. Exploratory drilling typically requires four temporary wells to obtain core samples. Detection of petroleum during drilling signals the end of the drilling process. Samples are then taken to perform tests to ensure that the oil quality and quantity are sufficient to allow further actions to continue on that site.
After determining the quality and quantity of petroleum deposits, a production well is drilled. An average well is expected to last between 10 to 20 years before it is no longer termed profitable. In addition to being built with the long-term in mind, production platforms should be able to withstand severe weather conditions considering that they are fixed to the ocean floor using concrete or metal foundations.
Another interesting aspect of deepwater oil drilling is directional drilling. Not all drilling wells go straight down. Directional drilling enables oil platforms to sink wells into the ocean floor at an angle to reach petroleum deposits that are miles away.
There are two main types of drilling rigs: the semi-submersible drilling rigs and drillships.
Types of Deepwater Drilling Facilities
The types of deepwater drilling facilities that exist are:
- Fixed Platform: A fixed platform consists of a tall, steel structure supporting a deck. It is one of the most expensive platforms to build because it is anchored to the seafloor and can reach up to 1,600 feet.
- Compliant Tower Platform: is a type of fixed platform because it is also anchored to the seafloor and has a workplace above the water surface. The difference is that the tower of a complaint platform is taller and narrower. It can also reach a depth of 3,000 feet.
- Semii-Submersible Platform: This platform is bulky and floats above the surface. However, the wellhead is on the seafloor. Extra precautions have to be taken to prevent leaks. They can reach a depth of 6,560 feet.
- Jack-Up Rig: It is a mobile unit with a floating hull that is moveable. At the desired location, the legs are lowered to the seafloor and locked in place while the platform rises to the surface.
- Subsea System: These are wellheads that are directly on the seafloor and extract oil straight from the ground. There are pipes attached that can siphon the oil to platform rigs and overhead ships. It is a popular choice for companies.
- Spar Platform: A spar platform uses a large cylinder to a floating deck from the seafloor. Averagely, 90% of a spar platform is underwater. With new technology, they can reach 11,500 feet below the surface.
- Tension-Leg Platform: This platform has a floating structure, held by tendons reaching the seafloor. Used for drilling smaller deposits in narrow areas. They are also a low-cost way of getting oil, making them a favorite for companies. They can reach 3,940 feet below the surface.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
Deepwater oil drilling has been in existence for a long time and shows no sign of going out of fashion. However, no one is ignorant of how potentially dangerous the oil and gas industry is, and that is why companies engage in extensive training for their employees. Globat Skills is a training school that teaches companies and individuals on how to prevent risks on the job.