MNI, Master Mariner

Malcolm Maclachlan



Malcol~~M~~~achl~~,ur~s ‘i:i,, , , , , bor$mDover, England in 1947 and first worked at sea attheage offourmen when he gained employment illegally on a cross,~:~, ,~,~.~, :~~,~, ; 1 , a, ~ .: , , ,i , ,., ~, ,, channel ferry through a ‘misunderstanding’ with the ship’s master. After training for three, years on the cadet ship HMS ‘Worcester’ he sailed as midshipman with the Blue Funnel Line and gained his second mate’s certificate at theage of20. Heserved as a’navigating officer with several deep sea and coast@ shipping companies, and after qualifying as a Master Mariner held command, of seven, containerships whilst still in his early thirties. He spent a year lecturing in navigation and seamanship at Leith Nautical College before joining the British drilling contractor Houlder Offshore Limited as a control room,operator/mate. He served on the semi-submersible drilling rigs ‘High Seas, Driller’ and ‘Kingsnorth UK’ in the North Sea and aboard the dynamically-positioned diving support vessel ‘Orelia’ in the Persian Gulf war zone. He has been writing and cartooning for many years and became a full-time marine writer and illustrator in 1986, when he was a casualty of the widespread cut-backs in the drilling industry caused by the slumping oil price. He has contrtbuted many articles, short stories and drawings to various marine journals and is currently writing a novel set on a North Sea rig. Married with a young family, he lives in Biggar, Scotland.



FOREWORD ......................................................................... PREFACE .............................................................................. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .......................................................
Chapter 1: The Development of Marine Rotary Drilling

7 8 9

Hand-dug wells .................................................................... Spring pole drilling ................................................................ Cable tool drilling ................... .: ............................................ Rotary drilling ..................................................................... Marine drilling .....................................................................

11 11 13 18 20

Chapter 2: Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation

25 25 The parties involved .............................................................. 27 The well owner ................................................................. 27 The operator .................................................................... 28 The drilling contractor ....... ..‘.. ............................................. 30 The drilling contract ........................................................... 31 Supply and service companies ............................................... 35 Government departments .................................................... 36 The costs of drilling offshore ................................................... 42 Well types ........................................................................... 45 Petroleuti geology ................................................................ 46 The formation of hydrocarbons ............................................. 46 Migration of hydrocarbons ................................................... 47 Reservoirs ........................................................................ 47 Anticlines ........................................................................ 47 Fault traps ....................................................................... 49 Stratigraphic traps ............................................................. , 49 Unconformity traps ............................................................ .‘. . ............. 4 9 Exploration methods ............................................. 53 Offshore surveying techniques ................................................. 53 Magnetic surveys ............................................................... 53 Gravimetric surveys ........................................................... 53 Seismic surveys ................................................................. 55 Drilling rig site surveys ...........................................................


Chapter 3: Offshore Drilling Platform Types


57 Fixed drilling platforms .......................................................... Fixed platforms with floating drilling tenders G............, .............. 59 59 Self-contained fixed platforms .............................................. 61 Mobile drilling rigs ................................................................ 63 Submersibles .................................................................... 64 Self-elevating (jack-up) platforms .......................................... 71 Semi-submersibles ............................................................. 81 Drill ships ........................................................................ 85 Barge rigs ........................................................................ 89 Chapter 4: The Offshore Rig and its Equipment 89 Basic rig components ............................................................. 89 The drill floor ................................................................... 90 The derrick ...................................................................... 92 The drawworks ................................................................. 94 The blocks, hook & drilling line ............................................ 96 The swivel, kelly & rotary hose ............................................. 99 The rotary table ................................................................ 102 The drilling fluid circulation system ..................................... 112 Drill string motion compensation ........................................... 113 Downhole bumper subs ..................................................... 114 Surface drill string motion compensators ............................... 120 The power plant ................................................................. 123 Drilling equipment .............................................................. 123 API specifications ............................................................ 123 Drilling bits .................................................................... 130 Drill pipe ....................................................................... 134 Drill collars .................................................................... . ....... 136 Stabilizers & reamers ................................................ 139 The drill string & bottom hole assembly ................................ 139 Tubular handling tools ...................................................... 143 Other drilling tools ........................... . ............................... 145 Sub-sea equipment .............................................................. 145 The temporary guide base ................... .‘:.. ........................... 146 The permanent guide base ................................................. 146 The WellheadJcasing hanger system ...................................... 148 Well control & the blow-out preventer stack ............................. 157 The marine riser ................................................................. 162 The riser tensioning system ................................................ 4
., . .


Chapter 5: Drilling Operations



Running in the hole ............. ................................................ Drilling ahead .......... .......................................................... Making a connection ........................................................... Tripping ............ ............................................................... Running & cementing casing ................................................. Directional drilling ........................ ...................................... Drilling hazards . .:.. ........ ..................................................... Stuck pipe ...................................................................... Fishing .......................................................................... Lost circulation ............................................................... Kicks & blow-outs ........... ................................................ Hydrogen sulphide ........................................................... Weather & ice ................................................................. Drilling operational sequence ................................................ Moving rig onto location & running anchors .......................... Rigging up ..................................................................... ~Running the temporary guide base ...................................... Spudding in & drilling 36” hole ........................................... Running 30” casing & landing the permanent guide base .......... Cementirig the 30” casing .................................................. Drilling 26” hole .............................................................. Running KL cementing 20” casing & running the 18V4” wellhead . Running the 1g3/4” BOP stack & the marine riser .................... Drilling 17%” hole .......................................................... Logging ......................................................................... Running & cementing 133/8” casing ...................................... Making a gyro survey ........................................................ Drilling 12%” hole .......................................................... Logging ......................................................................... Running 8~ cementing 9%” casing ......... .:. . .......................... Displacing the hole to oil base mud ...................................... Drilling 8%” hole to total depth .......................................... Coring ........................................................................... Logging ......................................................................... Running 8z cementing the 7” liner ....................................... Well testing .................................................................... Well stimulation ..............................................................

166 171 177 ~180 183 189 189 190 193 194 200 200 202 203 203 204 205 205 207 209 210 210 213 215 218 219 219 219 219 219 220 220

Plugging & suspending or abandoning the well ....................... Contingencies & weather ................................................... Chapter 6: Marine Operations Basic rig stability _ ............................................................... Displacement & the principle of flotation .............................. The centre of gravity ........................................................ The centre of buoyancy ..................................................... Reserve buoyancy ............................................................ The effect on the CG of adding, removing or shifting weights .... The righting lever ............................................................ The metacentre ............................................................... Ballasting & free surfaces .................................................. Ballasting conditions ........................................................... Rig structure & safety maintenance ........................................ Lifesaving & firefighting equipment ........................................ Work permits .................................................................... Standby boats .................................................................... Rig-moves ......................................................................... Navigation and pilotage .................................................... Towage ......................................................................... Approaching the location .................................................. Running anchors ............................................................. Anchor types .................................................................. Anchor patterns .............................................................. Pre-tensioning ................................................................. The moorings during drilling .............................................. Pulling anchors ............................................................... Dynamic positioning systems ................................................. Rig supplies ....................................................................... Helicopter operations .......................................................... Chapter 7: Rig Personnel & Training ............. Semi-submersible rig personnel .................................. Jack-up rig & drill ship personnel ........................................... Rig personnel training ......................................................... GLOSSARY OF MARINE DRILLING TERMS

227 227 228 228 228 230 230 230 230 230 234 234 236 237 238 239 240 242 243 244 245 247 250 251 252 253 253 255 259 263 2;s 265 279 280 284



it is as complex as it is fascinating. Houlder in turn claims. a book which is both readable and comprehensive. First as a cadet on the “Worcester” established at Ingress Abbey on the Thames. after so many years. the composition of the core of the earth.the privilege to witness first hand some outstanding advances in techniques and technology and yet for me at least. drilling remains something of a mystery. I have seen many changes in the industry from the period of growth in the 1970’s to our present day recession. my Grandfathers home and more recently during his time offshore with the company. who I believe to have originated the conceptual design for the famous H-3 which is illustrated on page have originated the idea of transporting a semi-submersible drilling rig on the deck of another ship. Page 39 shows the High Seas Driller being carried by this method. Houlder Marine Drilling is the offspring of the shipping company founded by my Grandfather in 1848. I conceived the idea and made the preliminary calculations while waiting in the Boardroom of the China National Oil Company in Beiching! I think overall that Houlder has traditionally prospered by innovation and of the innovative approach used for the layout and content of this book is anything to go by. so Houlder in turn had learned from the established drilling industry which in turn had learned from the Moho project. as I am sure it will do for all its readers. Chairman Houlder Offshore Limited . another shipowner. whatever their level of interest.FOREWORD Over the years. Infamous for its jargon. Interest in drilling arose in about 1973 as the result of a chance conversation with a Norwegian shipowner who introduced me to Bernard Larsen. It’is therefore a particular pleasure to discover. I have had . As much as possible was to be drilled through water. and I think that the drillship owes more to the Moho technology than to the offshore shallows of Louisiana. and which succeeds in revesling to me. it should be an outstanding success. It also gives me pleasure to think that much of the authors knowledge arises from his connection with Houlders. something of the ‘black art’ of drilling. This was to discover by drilling. Just as the author learned from Houlder.

those not fortunate enough to witness the workings of an . to the offshore job applicant. to ask a driller to explain the intricacies of his art when he is attempting to make a speedy ‘round trip’ under pressure from a cost-conscious ‘company man’. It is not always easy. and in retrospect I wish now that I had had the benefit of a book on marine drilling to guide me through my first tentative trip offshore. however. It does not pretend to be a comprehensive or learned study of the oil exploration business.questions that are inevitably asked by any curious ‘green hand’ or ‘boll weevil’ in his first wondrous weeks aboard a semi-submersible or jack-up rig. then. For any technical errors or omissions I can only apologise to~the marine drilling fraternity and ask for their forbearance. The simple aim of this book. Nor is a weary roughneck or derrickman likely to want to spend an extra half hour in the messroom after his ‘tour’ describing the arduous work he has just been doing for a whole half’s own quest offshore for the answers to a multitude of questions . In a complex engineering environment such as an offshore drilling rig only so much can be deduced from a silent observation of the strange and mysterious procedures. to those on the periphery of the offshore industry who may never have the chance to go out to a rig and see for themselves. and to the interested layman and student on the ‘beach’ the main operations of this fascinating industry. nor does it masquerade as an instructional manual of drilling technology. That is one interesting facet of marine drilling. Biggar. Scotland March 1987 . it is hoped merely to throw a little truthful light on some of the operations of an industry which all too often is portrayed by the mass media as being simply a matter of grim and grimy men heaving and slithering on a wet deck as they struggle to latch massive wrenches onto a steel pipe. but there are many more which are rarely seen by.PREFACE This book was’conceived during the . or diplomatic. offshore rig. and invariably one must repeatedly seek explanations. The drilling jig-saw puzzle can therefore take a considerable time to piece together. is to explain to the new rig hand.

a form beginning to end. and to David Gallimore of Dayton’s Publishing who had the courage to back my ide. barge operator. to Jim Langley of Brown Brothers for information about motion compensators. . and the many companies who sent me research material. and Ian Edwards. who provided many illustrations. safety officer.ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Thanks are due to Adrian Rose. Special thanks must also go to my wife Lesley for her encouragement and countless cups of coffee. for their helpful clarifications. both of Houlder Offshore. for his lucid explanation of drilling contracts. and to Gavin Strachan. marketing manager of Atlantic Drilling. . I must also acknowledge the generosity of Phillips Petroleum and BP.

man has dug holes in the earth’s crust in his search for water. so to prevent this the well had to be lined with some material such as wood or brick as it progressed downwards. The Chinese ‘drilled’ wells for brine using a percussion system in which a heavy. simpler drilling methods which led to the development of rotary drilling. These manuscripts described a method which was really only a logical development from hand-digging. Over the centuries his digging techniques have changed and become more efficient.CHAPTER 1: THE DEVELOPMENT OF MARINE ROTARY DRILLING Since his earliest days. A safer and more efficient mechanical method of digging was sought and. Rotary drilling with a land rig is a complex business. both on land and offshore. On an offshore rig it is even more involved. the digger had to load them into some sort of container which an assistant at the top of the hole then pulled out. These materials were the forerunners of what is now known as casing. Digging had to be temporarily halted for this to be done and the well-digging operation was slow and tedious. salt and other minerals. Hand-digging was slow and dangerous for the digger. HAND DUG WELLS The age-old traditional method of digging a water well by hand was for one man to pound a hole in the ground with a sharp implement like a big chisel. An appreciation of the innovative way in which oilmen have overcome their difficulties can be gained by looking first at the earlier. SPRING POLE DRILLING . chisel-shaped bit suspended from a rope was jerked up and down by relays of men bouncing on a spring-board. according to ancient Chinese manuscripts. especially as he dug through a hydrocarbon-bearing zone and oil or gas started seeping into the hole. As the hole got deeper and the cuttings started accumulating at the bottom of the hole. thus progressively pounding the hole deeper. one was in use in China as early as the 3rd Century AD. culminating in the method today known as rotary drilling which is almost universally used in oil and gas exploration. and at the same time is made hazardous by the hostile elements. The walls of the hole had a tendency to cave in as it got deeper. 11 .

before the springing pole bounced it back up. so that the bit struck with an unvarying force on each successive blow and chewed in a little deeper on each downward stroke. A large metal bit was suspended from a flexible wooden pole by a long rope and allowed to drop to the bottom of the well. The bit chewed briefly into the formation. As this happened the length of the rope would be extended a little by the ‘driller’ controlling it at the’surface. As the bit was reciprocated up and down in this manner the rope twisted slightly and varied the position of each blow on its descent. resulting in a roughly circular hole being dug. like a man stabbing with a chisel. ring pole drilling was the earliest form of mechanised drilling. .The Development of Marine Rotary Drilling A variation of this method used in Europe and America in the eighteenth century was called ‘spring pole drilling’.

and this rock oil was henceforth harvested.. If the rope broke and fell to the bottom of the well with the bit or the bailer attached. whale oil was the most commonly used fuel for lighting lamps in America and Europe. ‘rock oil’ was frequently found seeping into brine wells drilled near salt creeks. for the ‘fish’. on the other hand. CABLE TOOL’ DRILLING The early nineteenth century saw the rapid mechanisation of many industries in the western world. or ‘fishing’. the driller had to improvise a method of retrieving.The Development of Marine Rotary Drilling Large quantities of cuttings naturally collected at the bottom of the hole. called a bailer.. cased their wells with hollow bamboo sticks. the cuttings had to be removed by a self-shutting container. and about 18. Spring pole drilling was limited by the weight that the wooden pole could repeatedly lift without breaking. The value of the black oil that was often found seeping out of the ground in many places was eventually realised. However. it was to be some years before oil was specifically drilled for. and are said to have drilled to depths of more than a thousand feet by this method. When this method was eventually introduced to western countries iron bits were used. and other types of oil were not considered commercially important. In America. However. which was periodically lowered to the bottom. and at first it was regarded as no more than a nuisance. the busy whaling fleets quickly depleted the stocks of whales and it was recognised that sooner or later another source of lamp fuel would be required.50 a revolutionary new method of drilling called cable tool drilling was introduced. Norway and many other countries had large fleets of whalers._ 11 . In the early part of the nineteenth century. and of course this weight included that of the rope. and as this was almost as narrow as the bit. which got progressively longer with the depth of the well. regular. To hold back the wall of the hole. The engine was also used . reciprocating motion to a heavy metal bit on the end of a rope. Various gadgets were developed for this purpose and thus the forerunners of today’s efficient fishing tools were devised. It utilised a steam engine with a crank. Britain. drilling holes of only 2% to 4 inches (7 to 10 centimetres) in ‘diameter. as the lost equipment was termed. but there is evidence of a brine well being drilled to just over a thousand feet (305 metres) in the USA in the early 1840s. Wells were seldom more than 240 feet (75 metres) deep. and it was found to be much more efficient than the old percussion method that utilized a spring pole. giving a long. The US. this American well was ‘cased’ with lengths of wood shaped into half tubes and wrapped with twine. The Chinese.

The Development of Marine Rotary Drilling the hoist the drilling. An early cable tool rig. As the cable tool method gained wider favour. The now familiar drilling derrick. was introduced. a wide range of ingenious devices were developed to overcome problems encountered and make the job of drilling easier and safer. but tall enough to house lengths of drilling. These rigs were widely used well into the 20th century and are still found in a few places in America. could now be driven into the hole length by length as the well got deeper. so as to retain the wall and to make it easier to extract any minerals that were eventually found. replacing the old wooden sheathing. then made of wood rather than steel. 14 . just as it is today. Iron casing. and the process of drilling a well thus became much faster and more efficient and was almost completely mechanised. Much heavier bits and more robust equipment could now be used with the steam power. and wire instead of fibre rope enabled deeper wells to be drilled. bailing or fishing tools. bailing and fishing tools in and out of the well.

000 litres. however. so if the cable tool well encountered too many hitches. it was possible to drill wells by the cable tool method down to about 3000 feet (1000 metres) in favourable conditions. western Pennsylvania. and bits became larger and tougher. The most important development. As each new problem zone was encountered. and so many casing runs had to made that the bit got too small to drill with. In any event. therefore. after fifty years of continuous use and development. In those days oilmen were not blessed with the huge variety of tools that now enable them to overcome nearly every kind of downhole problem. often before reaching its target depth. which was phenomenal for those days.. and further successes with cable tool drilled wells made that state the leading oil producing area for the next fifty years. A new type of cylindrical steel casing was developed to replace the old iron type. is now famed for supervising the drilling. however. The heydey of the method. USA. but the softer rocks encountered could not withstand the spudding. as it is now known. and his was the idea to drill specifically for oil. and a correspo. between June and August 1859. One of these pioneers. Its lead stimulated the growth of the drilling industry in other areas. Poland and California. the Drake well. or 3. By the turn of the twentieth century. drilling then continued using a slightly smaller bit that could just run through it. action of the bit. the hole would have to be abandoned. successfully located an oil reservoir at a depth of only 691/z feet (21 metres). slow and inefficient.ndingly smaller bit was used to drill out the next section. a retired’railroad conductor named ‘Colonel’ Edwin L. and if caving occurred. The method was. Drake. and holes often caved in or allowed too much water to seep into them for drilling to continue. a New York lawyer named George H. When the casing reached the bottom. was the \ . Drake did not actually own the well. was the period from 1900 until the great economic depression of the 1930s and many of the best improvements came during this time. Steel derricks replaced the old timber structures. lengths of it were screwed together and lowered into the hole to seal the wall of the hole. and the worldwide drilling industry thus began. notably in Canada. so more casing was run inside the last ‘string’. Bissell owned the land it was drilled on. or jabbing. of a cable tool well at Oil Creek near Titusville. Bissell became a founder of the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company.The Development of Marine Rotary Drilling Cable tool rigs were particularly useful for drilling medium-hard rocks. but to the early pioneers of the oil industry it represented the pinnacle of drilling technology at that time. and oil flowed at a rate of about 19 barrels a day. that is considered to have founded the oil industry as we now know it. since the area had been noted for its surface seepages of oil. From the oilfields of these areas drillers took their knowledge of the newly successful cable tool drilling techniques all over the world.

and one of its several virtues is that it allows wells to be carefully planned in advance from start to finish in fields where the formation types are known. and the technology of cable tools nearly at its zenith. . the plugs were retained inside it. from 20-inch (51 cm) diameter down to 5-inch (12. Basically. one of these wells with a 24-inch (61 cm) diameter bit and. as problems in the well were encountered. could be held back. and so that the wall of the hole. By 1918 the world’s deepest well. when the cement had set. This success was further improved on when in 1910 a procedure was introduced for pumping a measured amount of liquid cement down a hole.The Development of Marine Rotary Drilling introduction of the cementing of casing. but these were drilled out when drilling resumed with a smaller bit. was also being developed. It was possible to ‘spud’. Although all the cement was expelled from the ‘shoe’ at the bottom of the casing. in which the drill bit was rotated under power on the end of a steel tube instead of being reciprocated on the end of a wire. During the 1920s a type of ‘combination rig was developed which could employ both cable tool and rotary methods at different stages of the well when it was thought profitable to do so. the same procedure is still used today in ‘cement jobs’. where it was left to set hard. thus overcoming many of the formation difficulties previously encountered. drilled by the cable tool method. It was recognised that the great disadvantage of the cable tool method was that there was no means by which a drilling fluid could be circulated so that cuttings could continuously be brought to the surface. the hard cement inside the casing was drilled out.. and by then had become the preferred method for drilling holes deeper than 4.000 feet (1. but the rotary type of rig was by this time rapidly gaining favour. Again it was found that the cement in the annulus between the casing and the hole had set hard. round its bottom end. and was pumped down the inside of the casing. if necessary.386 feet (2. the rotary system. This was first done in 1903 when some liquid cement was dumped from a bailer into a well and a string of steel casing was lowered into it. water or gasin it. spaced one above the other. and henceforth in this manner each section of casing was run into the hole and cemented to surface. Up to 1930 there were still far more active cable tool rigs than rotary rigs. or start drilling.7 cm). A volume of cement was held between two wooden plugs.219 metres). cement up to sevenseparate strings of casing. However. A few days later. and it had also anchored the casing to the wall of the hole.251 metres) deep. The cement in the annulus between the casing and the wall of the hole was found to have sealed off a zone of water in the formation. . and up the narrow annulus outside. together with any oil. and that was the situation obtaining when the pre- 16 . was 7.

The Development of Marine Rotary Driumg .

seemed to offer unlimited scope for improvement. which could. had virtually reached the limits of their technology.000 feet (609 metres) in eight hours. The deepest cable tool well ever completed was the Kesselring No. in favourable conditions. was completed with a rotary rig after several attempts to complete it with cable tools failed due to running quicksand.000 barrels of crude oil a day from a depth of a little over 1000 feet. Texas. 18 . ROTARY DRILLING Rotary drilling evolved from the carpenter’s method of boring a hole in wood with a rotating tool which itself flushed out the cuttings.050 metres) deep. cable tools were still favoured for most drilling situations.145 feet and taking over 2% years to drill. proving beyond doubt the value of rotary rigs. Cable tools. and was rotated by power transmitted by an engine on the surface. and deeper wells were required to find and exploit new oil reserves to meet the world’s revived thirst for energy. The quicksand was easily held back with casing when the rotary equipment was brought in and the well finally blew out. and they were gradually superseded by the rotary system. initially introduced for cable tool drilling. was moved up or down. drill 2. near Beaumont. In January. by a wire running over a hoisting drum called a drawworks. The ‘gusher’ blew all the drill pipe out of the 60-foot high derrick and shot more than 200 feet into the air above it. By that time the deepest well yet drilled by the rotary method was just over 10. When drilling activity resumed after the depression the industry had become leaner. Up until the end of the 19th century. The derrick. after 1930 cable tools never recovered their previous popularity. Today the cable tool method is rarely used. which could rarely drill more than 60 feet (18 metres) a day. Gas.000 feet (3. On the strength of its Spindletop success rotary drilling soon held sway in the US Gulf coastal areas and was competing strongly with the cable tool method elsewhere. the concept of rotary drilling is fundamentally unchanged. Corp.. A rotary drilling machine was patented in 1845 but the system was first used in Texas in the early 1890s in an attempt to solve the soft rock problem that had plagued cable tools there. 1 NYS Nat. was now employed as a simple crane from which a hook. suspended from a block and tackle.The Development of Marine Rotary Drilling war depression drastically reduced drilling activity all over the world. The bit was secured to the bottom of a string of steel pipes. Although the early equipment was radically different to that used today. but rotary rigs. completed in 1953 at 11. fitter and more competitive. As a result. producing 84. 1901 Anthony Lucas’s well at Spindletop.

The Development of Marine Rotary Drilling .

first made and used by Howard Hughes in 1909.The Development of Marine Rotary Drilling One of the most significant developments was the introduction of the rolling cutter bit. The first ‘offshore’ wells. and means have been evolved for altering the fluid’s chemical and physical properties as necessary during the circulation process.. On the contrary. and many of the practices now used offshore evolved only in the last twenty years. Drilling fluids have been formulated for use in every well condition. Most other items of rotary drilling equipment have also undergone great changes since the pioneering days of the method and vast amounts of money have been spent by the oil companies on developing new techniques and ideas to improve the efficiency of drilling. There have been many improvements made since then to Hughes’ original design. drilling holes in the earth’s crust might appear to be a simple job that has been made easy with modern equipment. it is only since the Second World War that marine drilling has really been in existence as an industry in its own right. where a steam-powered rotary rig was erected on a wooden. . therefore. MARINE DRILLING Although land drilling for oil has been done for well over a century. but many bits are designed to cope with a range of various rock types. Louisiana. A tool inside a borehole can only move in three fundamental directions: up. Modern metallurgy and components now ensure that bits last many times longer than in those days. determination and much technical expertise and a great deal of money. On the face of it. Fluid circulating systems now have greater capacities and can be more precisely controlled and powerfully pumped. and a well drilled in 1911 in Caddo Lake. 20 .. but his basic concept remains the same today. permitting complex tasks to be performed thousands of feet down a narrow borehole. and nowhere is this more the case than offshore. it remains a highly complex operation demanding grit. Metallurgical research has discovered ways of combatting corrosion in drilling tubulars and in withstanding the stresses that are imposed from great depths. were a shallow well drilled over the water from a pier at Santa Barbara in southern California in 1897. Bit development has recently been aimed at making the bit match the characteristics of the rock it is drilling. down and round. and there are now variations on the basic design to suit all types of formation.. however. Downhole equipment has been developed to meet every conceivable need. temperatures and pressures. bottom-supported platform.

was carried out using ordinary land drilling equipment mounted on simple. but larger and stronger platforms were later built for the deeper and less tranquil waters further offshore. At first these. the feet of the legs resting in or on the sea bed. were only used in relatively calm and shallow waters near the coast. but the designs grew steadily more sophisticated with the increasing demands of the industry for oil from deeper water. After the early makeshift barges and submersibles. evolved from floating docks that were used by the US army during the War. in fact. so it set its sights on drilling in the seas off the US Gulf states. As the US oil industry rapidly expanded following the end of the Second World War. flat-bottomed barges.5 the first well was drilled by a vessel on which a rotary rig was mounted and by 1957 a further milestone was reached when a well was dril- . Many other ‘submersibles’ were built for use in the US Gulf area. However. These platforms were. 21 . harsh environment’ units. All subsequent ‘marine’ drilling. The first floating rig was a simple barge used in 1933 to drill in the bayous of southern Louisiana. These craft. while the first ‘floater’ was a coverted US Army wartime transport barge that had a rig fitted on an overside cantilever. eventually producing units with legs 300 feet high. flat-topped. necessitating the development of special craft capable of supporting drilling equipment in a sometimes hostile environment. In 195. bottle-shaped columns fitted above pontoons which could be ballasted like those of a modem semi-submersible. and in the large-scale developments then taking place in Lake Maracaibo. like jack-up units. of which the first was built in 1954. The first seagoing ‘mobile offshore drilling unit’ of any kind was a submersible platform that drilled in a water depth of only 20 feet in 1948. this was still not high enough. The next development after submersibles came in the form of self-elevating barges that had tall legs on which the drilling platform could be jacked up to sit well clear of the water. so fixed platforms were developed that could be towed into position and sunk so that they rested squarely on the drilJing location.The Development of Marine Rotary Drilling In the 1930s techniques were introduced for drilling in the swamps of Louisiana. in Lake Erie in Canada. converted ships were used to support drilling rigs. but as exploration moved out into deeper water. The first crude ‘jack-up’ units were used initially in the shallower parts of the Gulf of Mexico and the Arabian Gulf. in Venezuela. although some of them bore little resemblance to today’s heavyduty. the direct descendants of the modern ‘semi’. which was at-first confined to swamps and lakes. these having decks supported by tubular. USA.

Bottom: A 1’ 22 .. .. mersible.The Development of Marine Rotary Drilling Mobile rigs of tw jack-up..

However. They were built with their own propulsion so that they could move themselves between locations and dispense with the need for tugs. of many different types. however. to maintain position with the aid of computer controlled thrusters that responded to the commands of position monitoring inputs and dispensed with the need for anchors. and the new designs started to utilise the canted legs that are now a common feature of many u n i t s . while dynamically-positioned semi-submersibles can now operate in 10. which could either sit on the bottom like a submersible or float like a drill ship. semi-submersibles. the systems were. much qf this work going on off California. drilling fluids and other supplies were also developed for use in remote areas far from supply bases. moving ahead. including the use of surface motion compensators. while submersibles were restricted to 90 feet. when an average of 30 drilling units were built each year-more than at any time before or since. and still are. Jack-ups with legs 600 feet long are now able to drill in 450 feet of water. About 30 of these units were built during the decade. and later.. The upward surge in the price of crude oil and the availability of offshore concessions and exploration licences from many countries prompted a frantic spate of rig-building in the 197Os. but it would look primitive alongside the sophisticated offshore drilling units operating today. In the 1960s drillships were first fitted with one of the most important developments in deep-water drilling technology: dynamic positioning (DP) systems. The ships and barges then used could only operate in a maximum depth of 600 feet. These systems enabled drillships. The 1960s saw the introduction of the first semi-submersibles. and seems likely to continue and expand as the oil price again rises.The Development of Marine Rotary Drilling led by a drill ship in 100 feet of water. This brought the world’s offshore rig fleet up to over 500 units. kept. The equipment used on these occasions was the most advanced then available.000 feet depths. the 1980s have seen a fall in the number of drilling units built. and with this increase came many improvements in equipment and operating techniques. By 1960 about 70 barges and converted ships were being used for offshore drilling. expensive and the vessels using them relatively few. Even in the Arctic wastes drilling is carried out from . The number of jack-up rigs quadrupled at the same time. Having reached a level of about 750 units of which many are surplus to requirements. along with a fall in the price of oil. Offshore technology has. Purpose-built ocean-going drillships with large storage capacities for fuel. Offshore drilling is going on in nearly every maritime area of the world.

Marine Rotary Drilling man-made islands . and fortified against the powerful natural forces within the ice cap..000 feet. Sea-bed cores have been recovered by a drill ship from a depth of 23. it only requires a stronger demand for oil at a commercially viable price to stimulate the drawing board ideas into action. . However.whose huge caissons are floated into position.000 feet and experimental well drilling has been conducted in water 13.The Development of. .. -.the latest type of submersible . the technology is available to exploit oil reserves in the deep oceans well away from continent&l shelves. ballasted and sunk. although no commercial oil drilling has yet been carried out in such depths.

such as in the Pearl River Basin in the South China Sea. With so much at stake. Once the rig has been hired and drilling has begun at a cost to the oil company of perhaps g60. (Not every offshore well is drilled by a huge multi-national like Shell or Mobil). drilling an offshore well is not simply a matter of an oil company bringing a rig onto a chosen location and starting to make a hole in the sea bed whenever and however it pleases. with’some governments. Then contracts for the supply of a drilling rig and its crew. After acquiring permission from the host government to carry out the exploratory work. and far more likelihood of it being a ‘dry hole’ than a commercial bonanza. in what part of the world it will explore. This alone can take months or. finance then has to be raised and partnerships sometimes entered into to spread the enormous costs involved. or the North Sea. the drilling rig’s operation is naturally controlled extremely rigidly by the oil companies.OOO a day. and the safety of the personnel involved and the marine environment has to be regulated by binding agreements with the oil company involved. When a promising area has been identified by surveys and an available drilling site selected. the oil company must then go through the machinery of applying for the necessary permission from the controlling government authorities to go ahead with the project. . which largely accounts for the feverish and tense atmosphere often felt onboard. particularly if strong incentives are offered from the host country. With an offshore well often costing between 510 million and f20 million to drill.CHAPTER 2: PREPARATIONS FOR AN OFFSHORE DRILLIN G OPERATION Despite the popular notion of the freedom of the high seas. on the basis of available geological evidence. When an oil company considers that money is worth spending on exploration . even years to finalise. which may take months or even years. Governments have to be sure that the project will be beneficial to their own interests as well as those of the investors. or the Davis Strait. the viability of the well programme has to be very carefully considered before large amounts of investors’ money are ploughed into the project. large amounts of money and time are spent in carefully examining the sub-sea geology of the chosen area for likely hydrocarbon-bearing locations. off Canada’s Baffin Island. One region may be more attractive than another. time is so costly and precious that not a day can be wasted on waiting for something that should have been ordered months before. and for every conceivable item of equipment or service that will be required during the programme have to be sought.and this depends largely on the current market price of crude oil-it must first decide.’ If the chances of success are calculated to be worth the risks involved.

Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation An operator’s equipment hire costs can be enormous. the drilling rig being just one of many elements in a field development programme. 26 .

Mobil and Texaco.usually the company with the largest equity ownership . since it would normally operate the well during its production phase when the exploratory drilling has been completed. then that company is known as ‘the operator’. one of the participating companies . while others split up after a while with very little drilling activity to their credit. although some majors are highly active in land drilling as well.0% 50.will be .83% 4. ownership of a well is not by a single company but by a consortium of investors which may include one or more oil companies as well as virtually any type of firm or institution with money to invest in the project. banks and other institutions may be unaware that they might in fact 1-e a part-owner of one or more wells. concern themselves mainly with offshore and overseas operations as far as drilling is concerned. virtually anyone can own an oil or gas well. and private individuals who invest money in insurance companies.Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation THE WELL OWNER Theoretically. although they have made significant contributions in the development of offshore areas such as the North Sea. A typical consortium might be composed of: Oil major ‘A’ Oil major ‘B’ Oil independent ‘C’ Power & Light company ‘D’ Textile company ‘E’ Chemical company ‘F’ Oil major ‘G’ with 16. in most cases the majority owner of an offshore well is almost always an oil company.0% 2. or one of the smaller ‘independent’ oil companies which are purely concerned with production and sale of oil or gas. refining and marketing industry. In the case where a consortium exists to finance the well. The independents. and some may stay in existence for a number of years. e THE OPERATOR If the well is owned outright by one company. However. pension funds.48% 8. About 80% of all the land wells in the US are financed by independents. which number in their thousands in the US but are relatively few in Europe. These. Exxon (or Esso)..50% 3. either one of the big ‘majors’ who have interests in virtually every sector of the oil production. which include household names such as Shell.0% Consortia often acquire rights to drill in several areas. are primarily concerned with land drilling. the remainder being paid for by the majors. In many cases offshore. . BP.89% of the equity with 14.

Exceptions do occur. Some marine drilling companies own just one elderly barge rig in the US Gulf. while others own large fleets of modern jack-ups. from a giant major to the smallest independent. Most of the operators in countries such as the US and Britain have formed associations through which their own interests can be represented in dealings with governments. The operator acquires the rights to drill on a location and holds the various licences required. especially where an oil company owns its own rigs. semi-submersibles and dynamically-positioned drillships that are scattered from the Canadian Arctic to the jungle creeks of West Africa. has about 40 members. THE DRILLING CONTRACTOR In the first half of the twentieth century it was common for oil companies to own their own rigs and to drill their own wells. but nowadays most prefer. The operator is. . Drilling contractors have the necessary men and skills. on the other hand. therefore. while others own both land rigs and offshore units. and between them they maintain a large fleet of many different types of rig that any operator. for reasons of cost-effectiveness. as well as for the protection of the environment. or he might manage some or all of them on behalf of other owners such as finance houses or shipping companies. which might include fixed platform rigs as well as floaters and jack-ups. that specialist drilling contractors do this work for them. most of whom are British subsidiaries of American oil companies. Some marine drilling contractors have their roots in the shipping industry and diversified their activities into drilling when their traditional cargo fleets dwindled in the mid-seventies. but at the same time he shoulders the huge responsibility for the safety of the hundreds of personnel who will invariably be involved. both on land and offshore.Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation designated the operator by mutual agreement. UKOOA. answerable to the government body which regulates drilling activity in the host country concerned. The drilling contractor might own the units he operates. is unlikely to have a wide range of rig types in its own fleet. Many others have graduated to the offshore sector from long-established land drilling backgrounds: In most cases the drilling contractor has no equity interest in the well but is contracted to the well operator only to drill the well to a required depth and nothing more. and a vast store of drilling experience. Some drilling contractors are active solely in marine drilling. but these are relatively uncommon. Even the largest oil company. can call on to tackle any type of drilling job. the British operators’ association.

‘I Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation . ..

When the price of oil is low. the operator then sends out the bid documents along with very detailed specifications of the type and capabilities of the rig required and the equipment to be used for the programme. On the basis of the replies from any interested contractors. he seeks tenders for the job from a number of selected marine drilling contractors. The drilling contractor is then able to assess his costs were he to take on the work. as the price of oil rises. reflected in a slump in drilling activity and the mass ‘stacking’ or laying-up of rigs. marine. is in many cases nowadays composed of agency personnel who are unlikely tube so well paid as the directly-employed staff of the drilling contractor. but more often than not. or even less. quoting a price that he thinks he can command in the prevailing industry climate. engineering and catering departments. comprising the drilling. a telex is sent to the contractors outlining the well programme and its requirements in terms of the rig and. The entire catering department. THE DRILLING CONTRACT When an operator plans to drill an offshore well. The various contractors in contention for the job make their bids for the contract and the operator evaluates all the bids on their individual economic merit. In early 1987 the break-even point for a typical modern semi-submersible’s operating costs (which exclude bank loan repayments and depreciation) was in the region of $18. his ability and integrity. . When the market is in his favour.been bought for $60 million. or he might sub-contract some of the manning out to a crewing agency where this is to his financial advantage. The specification contains numerous detailed stipulations on every matter concerning the rig and its operation. Three or four months before the well is to be ‘spudded’. contractors need to have the flexibility in their crewing arrangements to accommodate the lower hire rates that working rigs are able to command.Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation The marine drilling contractor might directly employ the entire crew of the offshore drilling unit. his safety record and the present location of his rig and the time needed to re-locate it. drilling equipment.000 a day. for example. Thus. so rig day-rates generally rise. while many rigs of this type were commanding day-rates of only $12. considering factors such as past performance of a contractor. all of which the contractor must be able to meet. and depending on market conditions he makes a bid for the contract. and semi-submersibles have in the past obtained as much as $95. at the time of writing.000. A rough guide used by some marine drilling contractors is-that they need approximately 10% of the capital cost of the rig to adequately cover all their costs. However. this might far exceed his breakeven level.000 a day when the oil price has been high. or begun. it will mean operating at a loss. about $60. when a rig has.000 a day is needed for profitability.

There will be a top rate for normal drilling operations. or else the drilling contractor sub-contracts them. the rates that the contractor will receive for each type of operation during the well programme. while items such as drilling fluid. 31 . to hire a rig that is in every other respect suitable.. but in any event. therefore. diving. fishing (or debris retrieval). might not get the contract if his safety record is less than commendable. naturally. mud logging. apart from the drilling contractor. just as he contracts the drilling contractor. amongst other things. This performs the same function as a ship’s charter party. It may not be in the best interests of the operator. of the last anchor pulled in at the previous well site. such as a strike in a supply base. The operator may directly contract these supply and service companies. laying down each party’s responsibilities. The hope of both parties. a lower-still ‘repair rate’ for periods of downtime when the contractor’s own machinery has failed. and a ‘moving rate’ for periods in transit between two wells of the same well programme. cement. or securing onboard. and directional drilling are all typical services which are commonly put out to tender. The document of hire of the rig is called the ‘drilling contract’. are invariably called upon to perform certain specialised jobs and provide special equipment of one sort or another. and who claims he can complete the well faster than all the other bidders. immediately before the transit to the new location. can be . the new operator’s responsibility normally commences at the time of ‘racking’. Running casing. cementing. a contractor who has the right type of rig lying very near to the new location. and their products and services are described in four large volumes of standard reference catalogues which run to nearly 8000 pages in all and are found in the toolpusher’s office on all rigs. There are numerous firms in the oil industry specialising in the manufacture of individual items of oilfield equipment or the provision of specialist help.Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation When a rig is being taken over by one operator after the expiry of a drilling contract with another. is that the drilling bit will be on the bottom of the hole for as much time as possible. if it is lying at an uneconomic distance from the planned drilling location. running to as much as a hundred pages or more. a ‘force majeure rate’ for situations out of the contractor’s control. It stipulates. for example. a slightly lower ‘standby rate’ for periods when drilling has to be suspended whilst waiting on equipment. fuel and water are amongst the essential supplies which must be received regularly on demand from supply bases. At the same time. the final cost will ultimately be borne by the operator. SUPPLY AND SERVICE COMPANIES In the course of any offshore drilling operation a large number of companies. inspection. Drill pipe. but it is much more detailed.

from the Commencemenr Date until termination of this C""traCf. reached. or pulling of drillstring to If a single repair period shall Last for more than effect repairs. and shall apply as specified below or elsewhere in this Contract.02 InVOiCing a) Within the first 10 days of each month CONTRACTOR shall submit an invoice to COMPANY setting out the sums due to CONTRACTOR under this Contract in respect of the work carried out during the previous Invoices for re-imbursibles shall be submitted as and when month. the slipping and cutting of drill line. ‘I his IS an exrracr. b) Standby Rate: 0s s This rate shall be payable if work shall not be capable of being carried out by reason of weather conditions. Thereafter CONTRACTOR shall be paid the Repair Rate for any unscheduled shut-down of the Unit. b) COMPANY shall pay each invoice within 30 days of the date of the invoice. changing of the mud-pump fluid-end parts. 9. If COMPANY disputes part of an invoice. The drilling contract is the legal document of hire ot a rig. repacking swivels. the relevant information is available to CONTRACTOR.01 ~11 rates given ace per 24-hour day or pro rata for part of a day to the nearest half-hour. 32 .0 COMPENSATION ilay Rates: AND REWNERATION 9.Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation 9. as defined in Clause 12 below. 15 days after the Repair Rare is applied. the portion not in dispute shall be paid within 30 days of the date of the invoice. or the failure of COMPANY to obtain such lfcences as may be required to permit CONTRACTOR to carry oat operations hereunder in the Operating Area. d) Force Majeure Rate: US $ This rate shall be payable during any period in which operations are suspended because of Force Majeure. Invoices shall be submitted to the address for COMPANY given io Clause 15 below. the failure or non-operation of COMPANY equipment. CONTRACTOR shall after that time receive only 50% of the Repair Rate.5% per mooch from the due date of payment up to the actual dare of paymenr. a) Operating and Moving Rate: us $ This rate shall be payable at all times when no other rate under this Contract applies. c) Repair Rate: us $ The first 72 hours of repair time within each calendar month shall be at Operating Rate. excepting periods for routine maintenance or lubrication of the Unit and its equipment. lack of any supplies or personnel by reason of delays in COMPANY-provided transportation. wiih interest at the rate of 1. instructions from COMPANY to cease operations hereunder. and the disputed element shall be paid over as soon as agreement is .

Because of their more arduous duties. crews often travel by fast launch since these are cheaper to hire than helicopters. might prevail according to the dictates of the market. as well as much lower. to stand by close to the rig whenever it is manned in case of an emergency requiring its evacuation. their technicians .- 33 . might be chartered for the duration of the well programme. while a vessel of 8. anchor-handlers normally command higher rates than supply boats. These are often dual-purpose ships that may become the rig’s supply boats once their anchor-laying work has finished. while others might be ‘spot chartered’ as required on a single voyage basis.400. for example.50$ while smaller vessels on supply runs could command a maximum of f2. As far as the well operator is concerned.‘service hands’ as they are called .000+ brake horse power could earn E2. In a particular week in early 1987.850 a day in the North Sea. Consequently there may be many personnel on an offshore drilling unit who are only aboard for a few days and who work for a variety of different firms. small items. The standby boat may never actually be used in earnest. but it is an unavoidable expense which must be borne nevertheless as a condition of holding a licence to explore. not necessarily all owned by the same company. while blow-out preventers are made by over thirty firms. In most areas of the world this means chartering supply boats for the heavier and bulkier cargoes.Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation supplied by more than forty manufacturers. The operator also has to have craft available to get all this equipment. -. he usually wants his boats to be reliable as well as cheap.000 bhp could earn E2. Large supply boats commanded around %2.650. and different rates again will be earned by boats in different power categories. out to the drilling unit. and the men who will use it. Charter rates fluctuate wildly from week to week according to demand and availability of vessels. In smooth-water areas. for which they need much greater power. and he would rather have an expensive boat that can stay ‘on location’ alongside a rig with essential supplies in bad weather than a cheap but unreliable boat that delays the drilling programme.are brought out to the rig to effect speedy repairs. Whenever a problem arises with the equipment supplied by one of these firms. Re-locating many mobile rigs from a previous location will involve using anchor-handling vessels. and rates much higher. the operator has to provide a safety boat in some parts of the world. Two or three supply boats. Normally one helicopter company is contracted to provide a regular flight schedule out to the unit. and helicopters for the men and the lighter. In~addition to hiring supply boats. an anchor-handler of 12. or more urgent. however. with additional flights being paid for as required when extra personnel or freight have to be transported.000-10.

Top: Casing being loaded. .Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation Rigs are constantly hungry for equipment.ttom: Some of the stock of equipment on a semi-submersible’s deck. Bo.

. and almost every sea in the world is divided by the median lines of all the bordering countries. Belgium.. -35 . On the British continental shelf all oil and gas exploration and production activity is regulated by the UK government’s Department of Energy. and from time to time a number of blocks will be put up for auction by the DEn in the hope that oil companies will make bids for the exploration and production rights on them.. 1 17’ . offshore waters in most maritime areas of the world are divided into numbered blocks. is shared between Norwdy. as well as his survey work on the area. Licences are only awarded after a thorough examination of an applicant operator’s proposed drilling programme and his ability to carry it out safely. he must usually obtain permission in the form of a licence from the government in whose waters the proposed well will be. By a United Nations convention.. . For the purpose of administration of oilfield activity and the award of licences. for example. Several fields are. The North Sea. and the other for production. West Germany. one for exploration. maritime nations have sovereignty over large offshore areas for the purposes of the development of oil and gas resources.. making thirty blocks in each one-degree by one-degree square on a chart.. The DEn grants two kinds of licence. grouped in one area spanning the median line between the British and the Norwegian sectors.. t 2 *i . Denmark. In the British sector of the North Sea these are defined by lines of latitude at ten-minute intervals and lines of longitude at twelveminute intervals.+. . 2 Part of a North Sea oilfield map.A_.. each country administering a sea area roughly in proportion to the length of its own bordering coastline. so that the government will be satisfied that he will operate safely and in the best interests of the nation and its resources. HOIland. which in this context means geophysical surveying and bottomsampling.Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS Before the operator can begin any offshore exploration. France and the United Kingdom. -b&j . which includes exploratory drilling. ..

and oil companies are normally prepared to pay whatever is necessary to obtain the right kind of reliable equipment and services to get the job done expeditiously.000 a day for 100 days or more. there are usually many other official regulations to be satisfied before he can legally bring his rig on location. While the Department of Energy is primarily concerned with the regulation of offshore exploration and production activity. Minimising the time spent from ‘spudding’ to completion of the well is usually the most important factor to any operator. whether drilling or in transit. but like fixed oil installations in others. The other is the longer time required for drilling the well. However. including seismic surveying. THE COSTS OF DRILLING OFFSHORE Drilling an offshore well can cost ten times as much as drilling a land well. therefore. Mobile offshore drilling units are. and an operator’s expenses might well run to $100. so that whatever the unit’s operational mode. and as such it has an interest in all British-flag mobile offshore drilling units. In sea areas such as the North Sea or the Canadian Arctic costs are raised due to two main factors. The American body with broadly similar official powers to the DOT is the US Coast Guard. and whether on a long ocean passage or a short shift of location on the same oilfield. It is also the examining body for British seafarers’ certificates of competency and it decides the minimum manning scale for individual rigs. wherever they are operating. which enforces US marine regulations on American-flag rigs working in US and overseas waters. equipment costs and operating costs. including the operation of fixed platforms. supply and service contracts. The DOT is reponsible for the registry and regulation of all British ships as far as their safe manning and operation is concerned. treated by government departments like ships in some respects. drilling can theoretically begin. The overall costs of any exploratory drilling venture can be grouped under three main headings: initial costs. Initial costs cover the preparatory work necessary before any drilling starts. One is the harsh operating environment. which necessitates rigs and equipment which are more robust and therefore more expensive than those needed on land and in less hostile sea areas such as the Arabian Gulf and Lake Maracaibo. .Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation Once the operator has been granted his licence to explore and has awarded his drilling. due partly to the harsh conditions and partly to the need to use special additional equipment. the safe operation of British floating vessels on the oilfields remains the province of the Department of Transport. the DOT does not make regulations governing the carriage or certification of any other personnel onboard. the vessel will always be safely manned with a properly qualified crew. and the interests of the different government bodies involved sometimes overlap. This only applies to marine crew. the purchase of a licence and the annual licence rental fee.

. Bottom: A modern semi-submersible rig moving under its own propulsion on sea trials.Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation Top: Seismic survey ships are usually small vessels but contain a great deal of sophisticated equipment.

and their own equipment costs are therefore low. However. auxiliaries and accommodation.Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation Seismic surveying is carried out by specialist companies who operate special seismic survey vessels and sophisticated equipment and employ highly trained seismologists and geologists. . vary with the length and the difficulty of the tow. As the quest for richer oil reserves pushes out the frontiers of exploration into more northerly and deeper waters. with the drilling package amounting to and third and the ancillary equipment the remainder. and oil companies often club together to pay for surveys of large areas before going their separate ways to investigate smaller concessions at their own individual expense. and payment is made on the basis of the number of ‘line miles’ of seismic shot.- .000 feet deep. He normally starts paying for its hire as soon as it has completed its previous contract with another operator. even before the drilling tools are put onboard. As already explained. unlike most oil companies which hire drilling contractors’ units and crews on a time basis. so offshore rigs are becoming more robust and sophisticated. an 38 . cost more than $110 million to build. the largest single cost to the operator is invariably that of the drilling rig. A few majors such as Shell and BP. however. rigs are normally only ordered from building yards on the basis of secure work contracts for a period of months or years ahead. which can drill holes 25. The latest semi-submersibles. . Their capital cost can be split into three main components: the basic hull. thereby saving the operator expensive but wasted drilling time. In this respect. The basic hull generally makes up half of the total cost. and the cost of relocating it is one of the major factors considered in its selection. The survey company is usually hired on an area basis. However. Whether it is hired from a contractor or owned outright. The price the survey company charges reflects not only its own costs but also the importance of its findings to the oil company in accurately determining the position of possible oil. Although it is quicker and cheaper to carry out a geophysical survey over the sea than on land. the drilling equipment and the ancillary equipment such as the power plant. if these are involved. most offshore operators hire the services of specialist contractors to carry out nearly every function onboard a drilling unit including the actual drilling operation itself. it is still very expensive. but are usually high.or gas-bearing geological structures. With such an enormous investment required. Towage costs.000 feet deep in all but the severest weather in water more than 2. still own their own rigs. these improvements are reflected in the enormous cost of a new rig. for example to investigate a particular block. these proportions vary with the degree of sophistication of the unit and the unit’s type.

For newly-completed rigs built in distant yards. usually operated by specialist Norwegian or Dutch heavy-lift shipping companies. carriage aboard special semi-submersible heavy lift ships. . is sometimes chosen in preference to prolonged. . Carriage by special ship is becoming a popular way of transporting rigs over long distances. 10 . often at considerable speed. difficult and risky ocean towage.Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation advantage of drill ships over nearly all jack-ups and most semi-submersibles is that they travel under their own power. and there are no towage costs involved..

The overall cost of hire will naturally depend on the time the drilling contractor takes to drill the well. with the overriding factor being the current price of crude oil. with the fleet’s size of about 750 units worldwide beginning to show a net loss. materials such as pipe. keeping hire rates at a ruinous low for many drilling contractors. the Arctic and many other parts of the world are . These expenses are for supply boats. not least of which. a rig of this type could be hired for less than $10. But the weather is only one of the hazards which may extend the drilling period. can.) be chartered for substantially lower rates than in previous years. anchor-handlers. well logging sometimes requires the hole to be emptied of equipment like drill pipe. sophistication and capabilities of the individual unit. fuel and water. which. and well and mud logging services. in the North Sea and other hostile areas. day-rates were generally far lower in early 1987 than rates obtaining only a year earlier for similar rigs. Day-rates for semi-submersibles peaked in the period 1980-82 with sums of over $90. Because of the worldwide slump in exploratory drilling activity caused by the low oil price. Almost none of the oil companies use their own supply boats. and a planned three-month well can easily end up taking five months or more to actually complete. The other operating costs during drilling as far as the operator is concerned are mainly the fees charged by the specialist firms for the services they provide during the drilling operation. Wells in the more placid southern half of the North Sea may only take about 65 days to drill. and payment is consequentljr charged on a pounds-per-hole basis. casing. helicopters. (in early 1987. While mud logging can be continuously carried out whilst drilling. in line with the fall in rig hire rates. such as lost and irretrievable equipment necessitating a deviated hole being drilled round the problem. while 100 or more days might be needed for a well of the same depth further north..000 being the norm for some types. and this has been put into effect. which determines demand to a large extent. There were calls for the scrapping of older rigs to relieve the over-tonnaging that had dogged the rig mark~et since the mid-seventies building boom. and numerous units of all types were stacked all over the world. The same applies to helicopters. Problems in the hole. 40 . is the weather. mud and are by no means uncommon. which in the North Sea. but by the end of 1986.Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation The hire costs of mobile offshore drilling units vary considerably with the type. and this can depend on many factors. where time spent ‘waiting on weather’ may account for a considerable part of the total cost.000 a day. Mud logging and well logging is invariably carried out by specialist companies using their own personnel and equipment.

. . . Rigs designed for the Arctic are more expensive to build than most.Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation . .

and on pressures and temperatures to be expected in other wells drilled. North Sea drilling rig wages at one time reflected the input of expertise contributed by American oilmen in the development of offshore drilling skills and techniques. and many shoreside workers would find an isolated offshore existence in these sort of conditions far from ideal. freshly laundered working clothes for every shift and a daily movie show. The wages of North Sea rig crews have fallen behind those of their American counterparts. Most of the names likely to be met with are listed below. In some areas only about one wildcat in ten is productive. For the drilling contractor. remote from any existing producing well. however. however. a geologist and a materials co-ordinator. although the crew are transported out to the rig in the helicopters paid for by the oil company. WELL TYPES To most of the personnel on an offshore drilling rig the well being drilled is simply ‘the hole’ whatever its purpose in the operator’s scheme. on top of which the oil company pays for the fuel used on its flights. their insurance and their travel to and from the base heliport. for fourteen days at a time. but by shore standards they are still high. but every well can be labelled according to its function. The drilling of a wildcat might . and have been restrained somewhat by the slumping oil price. but even the dry holes yield valuable information from core samples about the geological structures in the area. the wage bill is a major cost. Wildcat Well: An exploratory well drilled in an unproven area. clean accommodation. But virtually every company involved in the drilling business appreciates this. plus an additional hourly rate when the machines are actually in use. excluding any operator’s staff or ‘service hands’. They are normally hired for a monthly fee. On the rigs that they spend half their working lives on their only comforts are good food. and is usually prepared to reward its offshore employees accordingly. Drilling rig crew wages are normally paid by the rig owner or manager. and an operator will only be responsible for the wages of its resident supervisor and a small number of experts which may include a drilling engineer. but in recent times the American element has largely diminished to the point where only a few supervisory staff remain. it must be remembered that rig crews often do arduous and unsatisfying work in difficult conditions for twelve hours out of every twenty-four. To keep this in perspective. since a semi-submersible in drilling mode is normally ctewed by between fifty and sixty personnel.Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation indispensable. The driliing contractor also pays for his crew’s food.

Only about yields petroleum. although in the North Sea the US it is one in nine. Several appraisal wells may be drilled. the yield or there might be other units one wildcat in forty worldwide the figure is one in four and in might still not be ‘commercial’. In this case they are called ‘step-out wells’ or ‘delineation wells’. However. ‘wildcatting’ in the same area. Development Well: A well drilled after a discovery well. 43 . Oil Well: A well that produces hydrocarbons in a liquid state from an underground reservoir. If the gas is in commercial quantities it might be sold when equipment is installed for exploiting it. and usually after several appraisal wells. but are very often ‘deviated wells’. Depending on the phase of the operator’s programme. an appraisal well or a delineation well. each close to a discovery well. Step-Out Well: A well drilled close to a discovery well but in an unproven area. . Most development wells are drilled from fixed platforms built once the field has been appraised. Exploration or Exploratory Well: A well drilled in a search for a new reservoir of hydrocarbons. They may be ‘vertical wells’. Appraisal Well: A well drilled following the drilling of a discovery well in order to determine the extent of the reservoir or field. or a well drilled on an existing field to seek a new productive formation. Dry Hole: A well in which no commercially significant evidence of hydrocarbons is found. They are sometimes called ‘dusters’. Discovery Well: An exploration well that produces evidence of oil or gas in commercial quantities. so that the boundaries of the producing formation can be determined. Sometimes a well that was hoped to be an oil well yields gas instead. the step-out well might be further classified as a development well.Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation be in complete isolation from other rigs. Wells that produce ‘shows’ of uncommercial hydrocarbons are labelled ‘dry holes’ or ‘dusters’. in order to map out the outline of a new field. to commercially exploit an oil or gas field. Gas Well: A well that produces hydrocarbons in a gaseous state from an underground reservoir. It might be a wildcat well. Dry holes are usually plugged and abandoned.

Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation .

but all are natural products of the earth. Satellite Well: A well in a field that is being tapped by a production platform’s own wells. and since it is an organic substance. This process may never be completely understood. but it is thought to have been a combination of a chemical and bacteria1 action that took place millions of years ago. Most wells drilled from fixed platforms are deviated wells.Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation Infill Well: One of a number of wells drilled to fill in between established producing wells on a block or concession. Geologists and other scientists have differing theories on the precise origins of petroleum. 4s . but there is no doubt that it occurs mainl. or plugged and suspended if ‘commercial’ but not required to be completed at the time of drilling. Like coal. Stripper Well: A well in its later stages of production. since an offshore well producing as little as this would not be commercially viable.. except perhaps to sidetrack an obstacle. but which was drilled independently. organic matter must have been present during the process by which it came to accumulate in the reservoirs it is today found in. Deviated Well or Directional Well: A well drilled at an angle from the vertical. They reduce the spacing between wells in order to increase production from the reservoir. especially in sandstones. by a mobile rig and later tied in to the platform by a sub-sea production pipeline. and usually vertically. in what are termed ‘marine sedimentary rocks’. For US pricing and taxation purposes a stripper well is defined as a well producing 10 barrels per day or less. Re-Entry Well: A well that is re-entered following earlier plugging for some reason. ddlomites and limestones. They might be re-entered and production equipment installed when the price of oil~is more favourable. . when its yield is reducing. so that a reservoir is tapped at some distance horizontally from the surface location. Wells are usually plugged and abandoned if found dry. Vertical Well: A well that is drilled without intentional deviation from the vertical. In this natural state crude oil is properly known as ‘petroleum’. complex mixtures of chemical compounds called ‘hydrocarbons’ and ‘no&hydrocarbons’. The term is more usually heard onshore than offshore. PETROLEUM GEOLOGY Many types of crude oil are found in the ground in different parts of the world. petroleum is a fossil fuel.

were the dead marine organisms. The science of petroleum geology is devoted to discovering where these accumulations are likely to exist. Eventually. starved of the oxygen that was necessary for the slow decaying process to continue. or ‘migrate’. sand. impermeable rock through which it could not pass. sedimentary rocks such as limestone. As quantities of plants and animals died. sandstone and shale. although it moved perhaps only a matter of a few centimetres each year. each layer in turn becoming buried by another. an accumulation formed underground. The lowest layers of sediment gradually became compressed and heated by the enormous layers above. chalk. These deposits continued to build up over the ages. within the rock and displace any water ahead of it. bacferial action and age the organic deposits in these rocks. or plankton. 46 . rather like air trapped under a cup immersed in water. water and ice. gravel and earth was being eroded from the land by the weathering action of wind. or it arrived underneath a layer of hard. heat. Meanwhile. permeable.Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation THE FORMATION OF HYDROCARBONS In prehistoric times the earth was covered by dense vegetation and by seas that teemed with minute living organisms. This trapping. Its natural tendency was to migrate upwards through the pores of any permeable rocks. forming sedimentary deposits on the flood plains of the lower river reaches. their oxidation halted. The resulting silt flowed down the rivers to merge with the decaying plankton. it either reached the surface of the earth and seeped out of the ground. But since the oil was lighter than water it was able to move. sedimentary rock. were eventually tranformed into the substance that we now know as petroleum. but if the geological structures around the caprock were such that it could not move any further. forming a large ‘reservoir’ in the same way that a sponge can hold a reservoir of water. Sealed deep inside them. and as more and more weight was added above. Under the combined effects of pressure. layers of dead and decaying organic matter built up on the ground and on the seabed. and eventually they became so compacted that they were tranformed into soft. MIGRATION The newly-formed oil was trapped in the minute pores of the coarse-grained. fine-grained. In many cases it was possible for the petroleum to continue migrating horizontally below this ‘caprock’. of large volumes of hydrocarbons thus made possible today’s oil and gas drilling industry which searches for new energy accumulations for humanity. millions of years ago. so the petroleum was forced to seep into adjacent rocks. however. permeable. in the delta estuaries and on the sea bed of the waters beyond the coastline.

A ‘fault’ trap was thus formed. In an anticline a coarse-grained. ‘faults’. . Inside the trap. mari or salt that has folded up to form a dome or inverted bowl. ANTICLINES The most common form of trap is the ‘anticline’. The existence of a fault trap does not guarantee the existence of oil in the trap. which is a formation with an upwardly folded convex structure. This partly explains why so many ‘dry holes’ are drilled after a fault trap has been accurately located by geologists. In domes and folds the petroleum is trapped at the top of the structure. oil will lie on top of any water present. Occasionally it happened that a permeable layer moved so that it now faced and was sealed by an impermeable layer which was at a shallower depth. By far the majority of known offshore reservoirs occur in either anticlines or faults. termed ‘anticlinal traps’. Large petroleum accumulations in fault traps have been found in the Niger Delta. FAULT TRAPS Fault traps are commonly found where there are sideways displacements of great sections of subsurface rocks. which are known collectively as ‘structural traps’. Sometimes further movements of the earth’s crust allowed previously trapped oil to leak out. looking like a. hummock of sandwiched rocks lying deep underground. Examples of structural traps are ‘domes’. permeable reservoir rock is capped by a fine-grained. ‘fault traps’ and ‘stratigraphic traps’. leaving a cavity below the summit in which oil or gas can accumulate. Millions of years ago great stresses caused sections of the earth’s crust to crack. any petroleum accumulating in it being prevented from escaping by the barrier of the impermeable layer. and any gas will lie over the oil.Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation RESERVOIRS Petroleum geologists classify hydrocarbon accumulations in three types. however. the US Gulf coast and in SE Asia. and many of the reservoirs in the North Sea are in this type of trap. relatively impermeable formation such as clay. while in faults and unconformities it is trapped when an impermeable layer lies next to a permeable layer containing the petroleum. and in other cases oil never reached the trap. or ‘faulted’. and the two split. shale. porous. faces would be forced to slide across each other so that the formations lying in each face were no longer lined up with each other. ‘folds’ and ‘unconformities’.

RESERVOIRS 48 .Pr4 eparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation FAULT TRAP v ANTICLINE HYDROCARBON TOP : A fault trap. Bottom: An anticline.

but they are relatively uncommon compared with other trap types. In the early days of land exploration for oil. before the advent of marine dfilling. many more will probably be found all over the world. In an unconformity trap the reservoir rock is slanted up towards and cut off by a fine-grained. . and then exploit any reservoirs of oil or gas found. whether or not oil or gas actually exists in a particular area cannot be determined by interpreting geological maps or even by readings of the most sensitive instruments on the surface. resulting in a wedge-shaped reservoir. Unfortunately. petroleum geologists were not equipped with sophisticated surveying. and they had to rely to a great extent on ‘field maps’ to assist in the location of the right types of formation. EXPLORATION METHODS The objectives of the oil companies in their search for hydrocarbons. but if the right kind of potentially oil-bearing structure can be identified. The shape of the trap is not caused by the structure of the surrounding rock formations but only by the sedimentary process that left a void in the rock while the surrounding sediments became hard. helped to establish the ages and chronological sequence of sedimentary rocks and to determine the position of possible oil-bearing structures. as geophyisical survey techniques become more sensitive and accurate. However. devices like those used today. UNCONFORMITY TRAP Unconformities are usually regarded as stratigraphic traps but they are really structural features. whether on land or at sea. The proof of the matter can only be established then by exploratory drilling. impervious rock that lies across its end. Stratigraphic traps are harder to detect than faults or anticlines. in which rocks were collected from all parts of the area under investigation. Several important North Sea oilfields. are to locate potentially oil. to test them for hydrocarbons. and many of the discoveries in them too date have been accidental. 49 . Field mapping. migration in this instance having been downwards rather than upwards. a chance of finding oil or gas in it may exist..or gas-bearing structures such as the anticlines. In some cases the fine-grained rock sealing the wedge-shaped reservoir may actually be the source of the petroleum.Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation STRATIGRAPHIC TRAPS Stratigraphic traps are seams of oil trapped inside envelopes of impermeable sealing rock such as impervious clay or shale which prevent further migration of the oil. faults and stratigraphic traps described above. as well as the North Slope of Alaska are over unconformities.

. .Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation STRATIGRAPHIC TRAP UNCONFORMITYTRAP HYDROCARBON RESERVOIRS Top : A stratigraphic trap. Bottom: An unconformity trap. . .

and are sent to a laboratory where they are examined. such as claystone. . To aid identification by -. cores are taken by special core-drilling vessels from the sea bed in the area under investigation.- 51 . and finally the Cretaceous rock systems were laid down. and then by sedimentologists to determine their nature and that of the basin where they accumulated. through the ‘secondary’ or ‘Mesozoic’ epoch that began about 220 million years ago. Geochemists will also test the samples to determine the degree to which the organic matter inside them has been changed by the effects of pressure. Within the Mesozoic epoch. As an exploratory well gets deeper. first by palaentologists for fossils. However. although petroleum geologists have the benefit of highly sophisticated survey equipment. for example. while only one has been developed in the Carboniferous rocks of the Palaeozoic epoch and none have been found in the Cretacious. each subdivision often being associated with a particular geographical area where the rock type is found. At sea.the 600 million years or so from the ‘primary’ or ‘Palaeozoic’ epoch that followed the formation of the first life forms. heat and age. geologists have had to devise a ‘geological time scale’ against which rocks and their fossils could be compared. which is essential to the search for petroleum. so that the oldest formations are at the deepest depths and the youngest are at the sea bed. for example. shale. field mapping is still important in the search for oil. Middle and Lower Jurassic. and so on. many different formations of various types of material are encountered. sand and limestone. to the relatively modern ‘tertiary’ and ‘quaternary’ (‘Cenozoic’) epochs. To enable particular formations to be dated. In the North Sea. then the Jurassic.Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation Nowadays. Within each epoch. with the exception of the most modern formations of the Quaternary epoch. numerous fields have been discovered in Jurassic rocks. Upper. each of a distinctive colour’and sometimes mixed with other materials. (sometimes called ‘ages’ or ‘eras’) are ‘systems’ when rocks of different types were laid down. This time scale covers the periods within the great ‘epochs’ of the earth’s history that petroleum geologists are really interested in . in a particular basin it is more likely to be found in some than others. Oil and gas might be discovered in the rocks of almost any of the epochs and systems. These are further subdivided into the Upper and Lower Cretaceous. These are the rocks of the different epochs and systems which have been laid down in their chronological order. The findings of these three specialists are together used to reconstruct the history of the sedimentary basin under investigation. the Triassic.

Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation THE GEOLOGICAL TIME SCALE The geological timescale is a convenient method of dating rocks .

it is obviously not easy to obtain rock samples from deep below the sea-bed. surveys measure the effect of variations in the density of different rocks on the earth’s gravitational field. whereas oil-bearing rocks are usually non-magnetic. grading to marl and encountered by the drill bit in a depth of between 8800 and 9100 feet in the Central North Sea might be recognised as the ‘Ekofisk’ formation. However. SEISMIC SURVEYS Seismic surveying provides the petroleum geologist with accurate details about depths and extents of layers of sedimentary rock. and other means of identifying potentially petroleum-bearing structures have had to be developed. or gravimetric. and is of limited value offshore. and is by far the most widely used survey method offshore. and ‘gravimeters’ are used to measure these variations. and this is the means by which nearly all offshore drilling locations are found. Certain types of rock that contain iron are magnetic. OFFSHORE EXPLORATION TECHNIQUES Whilst on land some idea of the types of underground formations can be gained from the study of the surface geology. It was often used to good effect in the early days of North Sea exploration. so that a layer of pink and white coloured limeston~e. this method again provides no detailed information. . while the chalky white limestpne with grey marl interbeds found just beneath it might be detected as the ‘To? formation. gravimetric and seismic. One or more of these methods is invariably employed to make a detailed survey of any petroleum prospecting area before any drilling commences. Geophysical surveying applies the principles of physics to the study of geology. each layer is given a different name which is often associated with the drilling locality. This method does not provide very detailed information but it is useful for forming an overall picture of a prospecting area. GRAVIMETRIC SURVEYS Gravity.Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation the geologists on the rig and in the shore laboratories. The method is based on the principle that different rock types respond with different absorption and reflection characteristics to shock waves which are produced by an energy source . and is carried out by an aircraft carrying an instrument called a ‘magnetometer’. Subsurface rocks exert different degrees of ‘pull’ on the gravitational force at the surface. Three geophysical survey methods are used to examine formations below the sea bed: magentic. MAGNETIC SURVEYS A magnetic survey measures the effect of the magnetic properties of rocks on the earth’s magnetic field. and variations in the magnetometer readings are used to give an image of the underground layers.

while some is refracted as it enters or leaves a layer before returning to the surface. behind this. Some of the wave energy is reflected directly back to the cable from the rock layers. The energy source is usually an array of many different sized compressed-air guns that look rather like artillery shells. If the guns are all fired at the same instant they produce an extremely strong sonic pressure wave for a very short duration. These ‘sleeve exploders’ are strung out on a cable called a ‘streamer’ which is several hundred feet long and towed at a depth of several feet below the surface. each of which produces a powerful burst of acoustic or sound energy in a different frequency band to its neighbours.Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation released either just below the ground surface or just below sea level. An offshore seismic survey is made by a special seismic survey vessel towing devices capable of generating the necessary shock waves and. The ‘echoes’ sent back by the rock formations are recorded on the surface by a seismograph (an instrument which measures vibrations) and give a more detailed picture of the subsurface formations than the other geophysical surveying methods. a recording cable possibly two or three miles in length. F==-- SEISMIC SURVEY TECHNIQUE Seismic surveying employs a similar technique to echo-sounding 54 . The pressure wave travels down through the water and into the underlying sediments and rock structures thousands of feet below the sea bed.

to pinpoint the positions of potential oil-bearing structures. It is usual nowadays to survey an area and process the data in three dimensions. that all of them might be interested in. and from this interpreters build up contour maps of the structures under the sea bed. Transducers convert the pressure energy into electrical impulses and these are transmitted along wires inside the towed cable to recording instruments on the ship. and covers an area of perhaps 30 square ‘55 .is produced. ships are not normally able to carry the powerful mainframe computer equipment necessary to process 3-D data. a seismogram .Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation The recording cable is towed.just below the surface and is fitted with numerous sensitive hydrophones which detect the returning pressure waves. The time now approaches when the operator will have to move his rig in and start . like field maps. THE DRILLING RIG SITE SURVEY Apart from surveys of large areas to detect the presence of structures that might bear hydrocarbons. But even when the geological structure revealed by seismic or other survey methods looks promising. although some vessels are now able to carry out processing onboard. and they relate this to the distance from the energy source to the receiving hydrophone. However. enabling interesting ‘lines’ to be re-shot without delay. Oil companies often club together to pay for seismic surveys of a large area. Only exploratory drilling can prove whether or not the geological traps located by the surveys actually contain oil. These maps are used. This is also carried out by a seismic survey vessel. The voltages received from the numerous channels in the cable are then processed by a computer which converts them to data that can be written on magnetic tape. and 3-D processing usually has to be done ashore. an offshore operator also commissions a survey of the precise location where he intends a drilling rig to operate. there is still no certainty that oil is present. and trading of seismic information goes on to their mutual benefit. After processing the tapes. exploratory drilling.a cross-sectional view through the earth below the line of the shoot . 3-D surveying is much more expensive than conventional 2-D surveying. but the cost of the survey is normally a relatively small part of the overall exploration budget of the oil company. The instruments basically measure the time taken for each energy pulse to return. When the sea survey is complete the magnetic tapes are sent to a processing centre ashore which contains mainframe computers that can efficiently handle large amounts of data.

The drilling rig site survey reveals information on bathymetry (water depths). anchoring conditions and any problems foreseen for drilling operations. . or begun. 56 .Preparations for an Offshore Drilling Operation kilometres to encompass the scope of sea bed in which the rig’s anchors will be laid and the hole will be ‘spudded’. such as the presence of shallow gas pockets. This information helps the operator decide how and where exactly his rig should be positioned to drill down to the target formation. sea-bed features such as obstructions. the geology of the sea-bed.

The mobile units are the ‘rigs’ that do virtually all the exploratory drilling for the oil and gas industry. to build a massive fixed platform over the proposed location of an exploration well where there was a ninety percent chance that no hydrocarbons would be found in commercial quantities. These would include the water depth at the proposed location. . In general. offshore drilling platforms can be grouped under three main categories: fixed platforms with floating drilling tenders. drilled to exploit a field already discovered. but at the same time it must be of a type suitable for the nature of the operation. while development wells. Generally. the prevailing weather and sea conditions there. since each rig of a particular class may have been modified at stages in its life to fulfil different functions for different operators. 57 . Jack-up rigs can normally be hired more cheaply than floaters. so in this case a mobile rig would normally be hired do the exploratory work and a platform might be built on the location later if the well proved commercially productive. the rig he selects must be capable of doing the job efficiently and safely. Every detail of a rig’s layout and equipment is therefore closely examined before an operator awards a drilling contract. which include semi-submersibles. Whether a floater or a jack-up is used for the exploratory drilling depends mainly on the water depth. Fixed platforms are basically production units. . exploration wells are drilled by ‘floaters’.. . and many factors would be taken into account before the operator made his decision. and mobile units. are mostly drilled from fixed platforms. self-contained fixed platforms. drill ships and barges. but because most have facilities to drill development wells they are described briefly below. and unlike classes of ships. they obviously cannot be used. no two rigs of a class are usually exactly alike. or by self-elevating ‘jack-up’ rigs. It would be economic folly.CHAPTER 3: OFFSHORE DRILLING PLATFORM TYPES When an operator requires a well drilled. but if the water is not shallow enough for jack-ups to stand in. Even when a particular type of craft has been decided upon. therefore. for example. the amount of deck load intended to be carried aboard the rig. The choice would then lie between a semisubmersible or a drill ship (or barge in some areas). there still remains the question of the capabilities of individual units. and the logistic problems of keeping the unit adequately supplied from a shore base.

58 -.. ..

they can stand freely. SELF-CONTAINED FIXED PLATFORMS These are massive platforms erected on the sea-bed. therefore. A ‘catwalk’ or ‘bridge’ allows the crew to cross between the two units. but they are naturally much lighter. The drilling tender. or even taller than the concrete type. pipe racks. and accommodation for the platform crew.. derived from two basic types: tubular steel structures built on a shore construction site. mud pits. They are normally constructed on their sides in a dock and floated to the location either on a barge . After the drilling phase of the development. and reinforced concrete gravity structures of such enormous mass that. a small platform is constructed on piles driven into the sea bed over a discovered reservoir. to be used again at another platform. mud pumps. and are generally built of either steel or concrete. and a drilling derrick and drawworks are mounted on the platform. which serve as storage for oil awaiting transportation. seen in areas such as the North Sea. They are not. storage space for miscellaneous equipment.. At one time this was the most common type of offshore drilling platform. in a drydock.Offshore Drilling Platform Types. The tubular steel fixed platforms may be as tall. while power cables and hoses for fuel. with t. which most do.000 tons in air. Nigeria and Lake Maracaibo. FIXED PLATFORMS WITH FLOATING DRILLING TENDER In this type. The largest platform of the concrete gravity type reaches nearly 800 feet above the sea bed and weighs more than 600. . They are obviously unsuitable for the more hostile sea areas and would normally only be designed to operate in sheltered waters. A helicopter platform is generally also fitted on the tender. from where they are floated out to the location and pinned to the sea-bed by piles. the platform usually has remote-controlled production and pumping equipment installed. Like other gravity platforms it was built. Most gravity platforms have a ring of cylindrical concrete tanks surrounding their base. but there are relatively few remaining nowadays. once towed to the location and positioned vertically on the sea bed. which is usually a barge. especially if it is not self-propelled and requires towing. the US Gulf.he exception of its steel topside modules. water and drilling fluids are connected from the tender to the platform’s drill floor. is moored close alongside the platform and carries the power supply. and the tender departs. which is seen mainly in the Middle East. A great deal of time would otherwise be wasted in the tender disconnecting and ‘standing off’ to ride out bad weather. and towed to its location in an upright position and sunk. There are many designs.

Offshore Drilling Platform Types .

The drilling rig. and the drill crews are often hired from a drilling contractor who may also operate mobile units. or tanker-loading facilities or storage facilities exist at the location. meanwhile. which would otherwise necessitate the re-location of a mobile rig many times to drill each well vertically. but it is frequently generated by gas turbines utilising gas diverted from the production equipment. drill ships and barges.Offshore Drilling Platform Types from which they are tipped to sink vertically. MOBILE DRILLING RIGS The category of mobile rigs consists of two general types: those which rest on the sea-bed during drilling and those which float. Piling is then driven into the sea bed around the legs to pin them. although many installation managers are former shipmasters. The drilling and well control equipment and most of the drilling procedures are similar in most respects to those used on any jack-up rig. Drilling from production platforms is mostly ‘directional drilling’ (described in Chapter 5) in which the hole is deviated at a slanting angle after being made vertical for a certain distance. Including the length of the piles. can be hydraulically jacked over several feet to another ‘drilling slot’ to drill the next well in the development programme. while the bottom-supported rigs are jack-ups and submersibles. The largest fixed platforms are able to accommodate two drilling rigs as well as full production facilities and accommodation for several hundred personnel. Marine personnel involvement on fixed platforms is usually limited to sea traffic direction and co-ordination and the maintenance of lifesaving equipment.. some platforms of this type are more than 1100 feet tall to the peak of the drilling derricks. from which up to sixty directional wells might be drilled. Once on location. In many instances on platforms the rig or rigs have completed their functions and are removed. (One platform in the US Gulf has 96 drilling slots. The power generated onboard these enormous structures is often enough to supply a small city. As each well is completed on the platform it is then brought ‘on stream’. tips and sinks vertically. Electric power for the drilling equipment may be provided by conventional diesel plant. or else retained onboard for ‘workover’ (well maintenance) purposes or for use in a later stage of the dev>lopment programme. the buoyancy bottles are carefully flooded so that the steel ‘jacket’ (as the base structure is called). The group of floaters includes semi-submersibles. or using steel ‘buoyancy bottles’ attached to their legs. This enables the extremities of some fields to be exploited from one central platform. . provided sub-sea pipelines have been installed to transport the oil or gas to shore.. ‘1 .) Horizontal distances from a platform of about two miles can be reached using this technique.

.’ 62 . . .) .. .Offshore Drilling Platform Types ‘( i . ..‘. ‘. ‘.. -.

but few now remain. and today’s semi-submersibles are mostly derivatives of this later design. Not all these ‘swamp barges’ were designed to be submersible.5 feet of water. Even at such depths there are still considerable wave forces. The hulls were either ship-shaped or were a framework of large-diameter hohow piping. was supported by posts or stanchions. which is the main reason why they have been superseded by other types of rig. immediately below the derrick. called ‘milk bottles’ because of their shape. accommodation and storage facilities were mounted on a wide.Offshore Drilling Platform Types SUBMERSIBLES When drilling began in the swamps and marshes bordering the US Gulf states and in the creeks of West Africa. shallow-draught barge which was towed onto the location and ballasted down so that it sat on the bottom. From 1948 onwards a larger type of drilling platform evolved from the submersible ‘swamp barge’ in which the hulls of the vessel were ballasted and allowed to submerge and rest on the bottom. Many submersibles were built. sometimes occurs around the hulls of submersibles that could eventually upset the plat- i . or the washing away of the sea bed by underwater currents. These are still used in some parts of the world. transportation by water was the only answer. while the drilling and accommodation deck remained well clear of the water on tall pillars. and the barge was then deballasted to float it out. There was a narrow slit in the barge hull running from the centre of one end to a position just beyond the mid-point of the deck. which became known as the ‘Texas deck’. In later versions buoyant columns. They are not usually self-propelled and they are tightly restricted in the depths that they can drill in. many being able to drill whilst afloat in shallow water. while the deck. effectively becoming a ‘submersible’. the waterlogged land presented problems for the teams sent ahead of the rigs to prepare the drill sites and their access ways. but the largest examples were able to drill with their ‘Texas decks’ 25 feet clear of the sea and their pontoons resting on the botl tom in 17. flat-bottomed. mostly in the Gulf of Mexico area and Nigeria. In many cases. The well was drilled. One unit is able to drill in 100 feet of water. were fitted to provide the necessary stability when submerging or refloating. This not only permitted drilling through the hull but also allowed safe clearance during the tow-out over the wellhead equipment which was left protruding from the swamp bed. and dredgers sometimes had to be brought in to dig shallow access canals. Meanwhile the drilling rig. and ‘scouring’.

Scouring is also a problem for the type of unit that has largely replaced the submersible. These legs have ‘teeth’ notched into them and can be raised or lowered by a jacking mechanism on the deck that usually employs a hydraulic or electric rack and pinion arrangement. There have been several accidents during jack-up transits. with the legs now being supported by the floating hull rather than the hull being supported by the legs. but several hesigns incorporate legs which slant outwards at the bottom to obtain a wider standing ‘spread’ and better stability. After the well has been completed the ‘drilling package’. In its drilling mode the barge hull is raised on its legs well out of the water and serves as the drilling. the legs penetrating the sea-bed for some distance while the barge hull begins to climb up the legs. This affords better stability on some bottom soil types and reduces the danger of capsize due to scouring. On arrival at the next location the legs are jacked down until they touch the sea-bed. When the hull is high enough to be clear of the highest waves expected at the location. Divers are therefore used to reinforce the sea-bed alongside the pontoons with sand bags. They are self-contained platforms resembling a flat bottomed barge hull with three. The legs are all independently jacked. and are used for shallow-water drilling. The legs of some units are fitted with a large.Offshore Drilling Platform Types form if not controlled. giving an impression of instability. the legs are locked and remain in this position until the well has been completed. In its ‘transit condition’ the legs of a jack-up rig can usually be seen towering high above and around the drilling derrick. namely the ‘jack-up’ rig. is ‘skidded’ clear of the wellhead. The jacking continues after a test period called ‘pre-loading’. four or more vertical legs fitting through openings on the outer hull edges.. called a ‘mat’. and the barge hull is jacked down the legs until it floats freely. which includes the drill floor and the derrick. Most jack-ups have vertical legs. 64 . storage and living platform. It is thus firm and stable and experiences none of the motions due to the sea that affect floaters. but the vast majority of rig-moves are carried out in complete safety. and their position can be adjusted so that the barge stands horizontal on a sloping sea bed. The legs are jacked up at least until their bottom ends are sufficiently clear of the sea bed to permit safe clearance during the rig-move to the next location. SELF-ELEVATING (JACK-UP) PLATFORMS ‘Jack-ups’ comprise about half of all the mobile rigs in the world. Jacking continues. . flat steel frame at their lower ends.

65 .Offshore Drilling Platform Types . Cantilever jack-up rigs drill overside.

Offshore Drilling Platform Types Jack-up rigs are normally stable in their drilling mode. as the legs of modern rigs get taller the problem of structural bending stresses in them is becoming more difficult to resolve.5otn 14. For this reason some jack-ups’ legs are shortened by dismantling during long transits when there is likely to be much rolling or pitching motion. The vast majority of these are not fitted with propulsion and have to be towed or carried on special ships between locations. . An alternative to this design is for the drilling to be done through a drilling slot in the barge hull. do not operate in water more than 350 deep.m 133. but this has largely been eradicated in recent types by the fitting of large feet called ‘spud cans’ or ‘spud tanks’ at the bottom of the legs. a strong platform that supports the entire drill floor and derrick (the drilling package) is moved outboard on tracks until it is projecting over the after end of the hull. 4. which means having legs almost 600 feet tall to enable the hull to be jacked clear. The following particulars are for a typical modern jack-up unit that can drill in water of 300 feet depth. The drilling equipment and its use are described in more detail in Chapter 4 and 5. Early types were dogged by the excessive penetration by their legs of soft sea beds.30m 7. for drilling. Length overall Width overall Depth of hull Deck area Leg length Diameter of spud tank Depth of spud tank Distance from centre of fwd leg to centreline of aft legs Maximum distance of rotary centreline from stern edge 74. HOWever.50m 2590 sq.. however.82m 13. designed to withstand strong wind and wave pressures and are usually only at risk from the sea during the critical hours of the jacking phase when the hull is either just leaving or just returning to the fl. however.75m 66 . and during bad-weather transits when their low ‘freeboard’ allows water to come aboard the hull easily. Most of the 300-plus jack-up rigs worldwide.75m 86.. although there have’been some instances of rigs collapsing and sinking when a leg has either sunk into the sea bed or its steel structure has failed.0m 65.oating position. This is a ‘cantilever’ type in which.0m. They are. The deepest water normally operated in by jack-up rigs is about 400 feet.

Offshore Drilling Platform Types .

4m (300 feet) 1 7 . POWER SUPPLY: 3 x 12 cylinder supercharged diesel engines driving 3 x 600~ alternators. . (620 tons) DRAWWORKS: 2000 hp.000 psi stack (single ram) 1 x 13-5/V 10.000 psi choke manifold . total jacking capacity 9000 tonnes.000ft) JACKING SYSTEM: electro-mechanical rack and pinion type.500 tonnes 0.4m 20m lm/s 0.000 psi stack (annular) 1 x 13-5/8” 10.39 million lbs.000 psi (single ram) 1 x 10.3mls 7617m (25.8m (147ft).000 psi (annular) 1 x 21-l/4” 2.000 psi stack (double U preventer) 1.Offshore Drilling Platform Types Projection of leg below hull in normal tow Transit displacement Jacking speed Cantilever beam spacing Maximum water depth Assumed penetration of legs Air gap (between sea and underside of hull) Maximum wave height Surface current velocity Bottom current velocity Maximum drilling depth 5.56m 10. load capacity 1.Otn 14.45m/min _ 15.x 21-l/4” 2.00m 91.DERRICK: Height 44. base llm x llm (36ft x 36ft). BOP STACKS: 1 x 13-5/8” 5.600 hp ACCOMMODATION: 38 x 2-men cabins 2 x l-man cabins 1 x 3-man hospital 68 . MUD PUMPS: 2 x 1.

Offshore Drilling Platform Types Upper dec :k plan view and side profile of a cantilever jack-u . 69 ..

Offshore Drilling Platform Types Top: The hull section of a jack-up rig. . Bottom: A cantilever jack-up rig drilling through a plats form jacket.

and below this level.- 71 . and aft of that are the pipe racks. ‘Semis’ have drilled thousands of exploratory wells in virtually every sea area of the world and are used in deep and shallow waters from the Canadian Arctic to the South China Sea. . The drilling package. A semi-submersible rig anchored and ballasted down to drilling draft. The standby boat patrols inside her anchor buoy pattern. fuel oil. electrical equipment. but before transits it is skidded to the centre of the main deck. inside the hull. are large spaces for generating machinery. Because it can operate in deep or relatively shallow water it is probably the most versatile of all drilling platforms.. It can be skidded completely off the rig and onto a platform jacket so that slant drilling can be carried out from the corners of the jacket. mud tanks and mud pumps. in an ‘inner bottom’. with the apex of the triangle forming the forward end and the cantilever beams projecting over the after end. and for that reason it has become almost a hallmark of the marine drilling industry. SEMI-SUBMERSIBLES There are several claimants to the distinction of being the designer of the first semi-submersible. The accommodation block stands on the hull just aft of the forward leg. but to whoever it belongs the marine drilling industry owes a great deal. ‘drill water’. and drilling fluid or ‘mud’. Beneath the main deck. are numerous tanks for ‘pre-load water’.Offshore Drilling Platform Types This rig is roughly triangular in hull shape. There are numerous designs of jack-up in service but most follow this general pattern. which is capable of ‘slant drilling’ (see Chapter 5) is further aft on the cantilever beams which extend tom the middle of the deck. potable (drinking) water.

. The more modern designs feature a roughly rectangular working deck with two. would have better stability qualities than the conventional floating vessels. alternatively. and in 1943 a British design was patented for a salvage vessel with twin hulls and five pairs of circular columns. . terminating in underwater pontoon hulls containing large tanks for ballast. . but a few are fitted with ‘dynamic positioning’ equipment which dispenses with the need for anchors altogether. Basically the industry required a type of unit that. whilst having the ability to float and drill in the depths attainable by drill ships and barges. but they are usually assisted in this function by large struts or ‘braces’ which cross diagonally in fore-and-aft and athwartship directions. wire.Offshore Drilling Platform Types A French design for a semi-submersible warship was patented in 1937. or chain-and-wire combination cables. thereby providing an extremely stable platform for drilling from. The foremost problem in drilling in deep water from floaters is heave. In addition to providing stability. the columns also support the deck. and some of the tanks in them can be ballasted to submerge the vessel to a sufficient depth to maximise stability and minimise movement in reaction to wave forces. and this was achieved in semi-submersibles by retaining the pillar-shaped buoyant deck supports used in submersibles and by having counterbalancing pontoons at the bottom of the columns in which ballast could be kept. The column-stabilized semi-submersible. fuel and fresh water. !. Other braces cross between the columns to provide complete structural integrity.. but are sought after for drilling in deep water far beyond the reach of a jack-up rig and a conventionally moored semi. One way of minimising heave is to keep the ‘waterplane area’ of the hull to a minimum. But it was the limitation of the jack-up rig to shallower waters that led to the development in the early 1960s of a type of mobile drilling rig that could be used in deep water or. the vertical ‘up and down’ motion of a vessel as it rides the waves. resting on the bottom in shallow water. Many designs of semi have been produced in the last twenty or so years. Semis are usually moored on a location by a system of multiple anchors with chain. The columns and pontoons provide the buoyancy to keep the vessel afloat. a logical development from the column-stabilized submersible drilling platform. three or four vertical circular-sectioned columns fitted beneath the deck at each side. The DP units are more expensive both to build and operate. rather on the lines of today’s semi-submersible rigs. . and most are broadly similar in concept although perhaps widely differing in structure. fulfilled the industry’s needs.

.Offshore Drilling Platform Types Side profile of a heavy-duty semi-submersible.

.Offshore Drilling Platform Types The fore end view of a semi-submersible shows the braces which strengthen the columns and main deck. 74 .

Offshore Drilling Platform Types /-I _--_---_ I 3 4 ------L-------. . On this type of rig the derrick is aft of amidships and the pipe racks are forward of it. d I --l / r Drilling equipment is stored on pipe racks near the drill floor.

. 76 . The starboard pontoon is virtually a mirror image of the port one..Offshore Drilling Platform Types The main deck and lower hull arrangement of a modern semi-submersible. .

Lowering the derrick during transit would considerably improve stability margins. while others have become floating production systems. Some semi-submersible drilling rigs have been converted to accommodation units. 77 . An unusutil type of semi-submersible with a collapsible derrick. Semis have also been used to produce from relatively small fields in comparitively shallow waters where fixed platform costs would be uneconomic. Conventionally anchored semis often drill in 2000 or more feet of water. being used initially to drill production wells where water depths were too great for the safe erection of a fixed platform and then to provide the production facilities usually found on a fixed platform.Offshore Drilling Platform Types Semi-submersible design has been the subject of much intense engineering effort over the past two decades and the latest vessels are extremely sophisticated compared with older units. but modern DP units can work in five times this depth without moving off station more than a few yards.

4m ( 5 3 f t ) 7. Length overall Width overall Keel to main deck Pontoon length Pontoon width Pontoon depth Corner caissons (4) diameter Centre caissons (2) diameter Main deck.000 lbs capacity and a 40ft stroke are also fit‘ted. driving 4 x 600~ alternators.000 lbs capacity and a 50ft stroke. Total tensioning capacity is 800.7m ( 3 5 f t ) 72. each with 80. There is a 3000 hp drawworks driven by 3 x 940hp DC motors. Guideline tensioners with 16. 78 .Operating deckload 79. hook and swivel are each rated for a 650 ton capacity.2m x 12. The following particulars give some idea of the size and capabilities of a typical modern.100 tonnes POWER SUPPLY: 4 turbocharged diesels each providing 2714 bhp.3m ( 5 0 f t ) 21. The travelling block.862 tonnes 4.800 tonnes 3. Load capacity is 1. powering drilling equipment motors.910 tonnes 25.4m (116ft) 79. Power is converted to DC by an SCR system.0m (236ft) 63. HEAVE COMPENSATION: Motion compensators have 600.000 lbs capacity with a 20ft stroke. There are 6 riser tensioners. DRILLING EQUIPMENT: The derrick is 48.3m (260ft) 62.0m (203ft) 35. column-stabilised semi-submersible drilling rig. but most semis are about half that size. The drilling equipment and its use are described in more detail in Chapters 4 and 5.Offshore Drilling Platform Types The largest examples of this type displace in the region of 50.4m (208ft) 7.4 million lbs. Propulsion is provided by 2 x 2000 bhp motors in each pontoon.780 tonnes 22.3m (260ft) 16. with a base measuring 12.6m ( 3 8 f t ) 10.000 lbs.500 tonnes 2. length overall Main deck width Transit draft Survival draft Operating draft Air gap Transit displacement Survival displacment Operating displacement Transit deckload Survival deckload .8m (160ft) high. heavy-duty.2m (40ft x 40ft).3m ( 7 0 f t ) 13. The crown block is rated at 650 ton capacity and has 7 x 60” sheaves.000 tons fully loaded.4m ( 4 4 f t ) 15.6m (25ft) 15.6m ( 2 5 f t ) 11.

79 .Offshore Drilling Platform Types Many semi-submersible designs have been tried. this one is shaped like a cross and has five pontoons.

There are two mud pumps. The maximum water depth of 1500 feet for which the rig is designed can be increased by adding extension lengths to the anchor chains.500ft anchor chains of 3” link diameter.OOOlb weight Danforth anchors and 8 x 5.Offshore Drilling Platform Types The rotary table has a 49” opening and is driven from one 940 hp DC motor. The unit’s basic tubular outfit includes 25. It has an integral ‘pilot house’ (the equivalent of a ship’s wheelhouse) and radio room. while on the starboard side is a mud pump room and a sack store for mud-mixing materials. The BOP stack is rated for 15. They provide not only stability tanks but also storage lockers for the eight anchor cables and space for large silos containing drilling materials. The power plant in this design occupies a large compartment on the port side of the main deck. just aft of the upper accommodation deck. Immediately below the drill floor is a moonpool through which drilling equipment is run to the 80 -- . and a permanent chain chaser system is fitted to each chain. There are two diesel-powered hydraulic pedestal cranes with a 36. giving good stability and motion characteristics. There are 4 hydraulic double anchor windlasses for 8 x 40. Accommodation is provided for 96 persons. The mud ‘pits’ or tanks are just forward of the mid-point of the rig. weighing 19. There is also a 3-man hospital. The twin pontoons are roughly ship-shaped and the six caissons (or ‘columns’ or ‘legs’ as they are more often called) have a fairly fat appearance compared with those of many other types. There is also a crane with a 24. The pipe racks are situated forward of and below the level of the drill floor. their total waterplane area of only 634 square metres is such that they are somewhat transparent to the waves. The drill floor is elevated above the main deck and in this design is slightly aft of the mid-length. It has an 800 ton static load capacity. In spite of this.000 lbs maximum pressure. each with 7” liners and 1600 hp outputs. near the centre of flotation of the unit where heave is felt least.OOOft of 5” drill pipe.6m (120ft) boom and a lifting capacity of 69 tonnes at 30ft radius and 11 tonnes at 120ft. while the accommodation block is ranged along the fore end on two decks. and office and recreational space is also provided in it.5 lbs per foot. but this reduces the amount of deckload the rig is able to carry.4m (Soft) boom. in 43 x 2 man cabins and 5 x 1 man cabins which have provision for a second person if necessary.

and this extends some way aft towards the stern of the rig. This disadvantage is partially offset by the drill ship’s ability to move from one location to the next rapidly and under its own power.. This makes the rig alter its draft forward and aft considerably but this. tankers. They range in size from about 500 tons to 36. by means of computer-controlled thruster propellers. while semi-subs can drill in the most hostile environments.Offshore Drilling PIatfom Types sea bed. DRILL SHIPS Several marine drilling contractors operate drill ships as well as semis and jack-ups. while this is not always true for a semi-submersible. Because of its conventional ship-shaped hull the drill ship is more prone to movement in a seaway than the semi-submersible. can be controlled ‘blind’ from the control room situated between the forward end of the engine room and the accommodation. On the other hand. and is therefore subject to longer periods of down-time due to wind and wave action. water. harsh environment. This rig is not dynamically positioned but is typical of the latest generation of heavy-duty. For this reason drill shins . like other stability problems.000 tons. Another point in their favour is that drill ships usually have much greater storage capacity than semi-subs for fuel. and they are therefore suitable for drilling in the more remote parts of the world.000 to 10. with considerable economic advantage.000 tons deadweight.are more usually (but not always) found working in the smoother waters of the world. and is moved forward on a trackway for runningto the sea bed. although most are of about 5. Theblowout preventer stack (see Chapter 4 and 5) is housed at the after end of this opening when not in use. drilling fluids and other consumables. These vessels can therefore be used for drilling in very deep water where an anchored unit would experience problems in staying on the location. can maintain the vessel in a fixed position relative to the sea bed without the use of anchors. . many of which are converted bulk carriers. A feature of many drill ships is a dynamic positioning system which. deep water semis now in service with several contractors. such as the Arctic. where logistics are a problem. There are about 80 drill ships in service worldwide. a drill ship often requires a full ship’s complement in addition to drill crew. . general cargo ships and barges.

Offshore Drilling Platform Types .

If the ship is a conventionally moored type there will be large windlasses forward and aft for eight or ten anchor chains. power plant and tanks for fresh and drill water.Offshore Drilling Platform Types In most cases the engines are aft. and the drilling derrick is fitted over this on an elevated drill floor.I n” . Pipe racks are arranged either forward or aft on the deck and the helicopter pad is sited right aft. One of the advantages of drillships is that they can usually move between drilling locations rapidly under their own power. and even DP vessels will still have normal ships’ anchors and cables. The crew accommodation may be in a forward deckhouse or right aft above the engine room. stores. mud silos. allowing a moonpool to run through the hull at the centre of flotation. workshops. . mud pits. roughly at the mid-length. fuel and sea water ballast. The hull contains mud pumps.

DRAWWORKS: driven by two 800 hp electric motors.060 long tons 5.940 long tons 250 long tons 1..190 long tons 575 long tons 750 long tons 160 long tons 2. currents of 2 knots or significant wave heights of 12 feet. 84 . Maximum water depth for drilling: Maximum drilling depth: 75Oft 20. static hook load 825. The following particulars are for a small drill ship of this type.870 long tons 18ft loin 4. have a dieselelectric propulsion arrangement in which the diesel generators are housed forward while the electric propulsion motors are aft near the propellers. . . especially of the converted barge type.150 long tons 6 long tons 10 long tons 140 long tons 320 long tons f DERRICK: 36ft x 40ft base. Length bp Length oa Beam (moulded) Hull depth Drill floor to main deck Drill well (moonpool) Rotary kelly bushing to sea level Helicopter deck Full load displacement Light ship displacement Draft at full load Variable deck load ate this displacement Tubulars in racks Liquid mud Sack materials Drill water Potable water Fuel oil Helicopter fuel Lube oil Bulk cement Bulk mud 362ft 371ft 7oft 22ft 41ft 4ft x 22ft 47ft at 18ft 6in draft 83ft x 83ft 10. fitted with a motion compensator.oooft Intact stability adequate for llO-knot winds and 60ft waves.Offshore Drilling Platform Types Some drill ships. MUD PUMPS: Two triplex pumps each driven by two 800 hp electric motors.000 lbs. Limiting conditions for drilling are reached at windspeeds of 50 knots. purposebuilt in 1975.

capacity 22 tons at 20ft radius. CRANES: One with 8Oft boom.630 kW. Propulsion output 3. They are invariably anchored and suffer from the same limitations as drill ships in bad weather.000 psi annular BOP. ANCHORS: Eight Vicinay modified LWT type.500ft x 2-3/4” stud link chain.000 shp giving a speed of 7 knots.000 psi work- ing pressure. One emergency diesel generator of 335 kW at 480V. One 5.000 lbs weight.325 hp. PROPULSION: Two Schottel thrusters.000 kVA 6001 480V transformers to distribution boards and motor control centres. BOP STACK: One 18-3/4” stack with two double-U rams of 10.Offshore Drilling Platform Types ROTARY: 49” opening with independent electric drive from 800 hp motor. Total electrical output 4. AC distribution is by two 1. each windlass driven by 800 hp DC motor. Two tandem units each drive an 1. although not in the more hostile environments. capacity 54 tons at 25ft radius. windlass and propulsion motors. ANCHOR WINDLASSES: Two double drum chain windlasses aft (for 4 chains). . BARGE RIGS These are often very similar to drill ships in all structural respects except for the fact that they are not self-propelled and therefore have to be towed between locations. DC conversion and distribution is by six 1. One with lOOft boom. POWER SUPPLY: Five diesels each of 1. each of 33.200 amp SCR units to drilling. Nevertheless.850 kW 600V AC generator and the single unit drives a 930 kW 600V AC generator. they are used in many areas of the world. each driven by two electric motors. . one double drum and two single drum chain windlasses forward. ANCHOR CHAIN: Eight lengths each of 3.

Offshore Drilling Platform Types .

.. n- .Offshore Drilling Platform Types UJ II .

Offshore Drilling Platform Types A standby boat maintains a constant vigil near each rig or platform in the North Sea in case of 88 .

is complete. and some lifeboats. kelly. some cranes. . the drill floor. in theory. PO . the skeleton of the rotary rig. Much of this basic equipment is found on or around the centre of drilling * operations. while a roughneck working on the drill floor of a fixed platform off Northern Scotland would be equally familiar with most of the drilling equipment on an inland barge rig working in the swamps of southern Alabama. These common basic components. be that in the creeks of West Africa or in deep water amongst the icebergs off North-East Canada. THE DRILL FLOOR The drill floor. the hub of all activity on the drilling unit. central Africa. both on land and offshore. or ‘rig floor’ as it is often called. the drilling rig it supports will always be comprised of certain fundamental items of equipment that are common to every one of the thousands of rotary rigs in existence in the world.. would be quite at home with most of the equipment he found on a drill ship working in the Campos Basin off Brazil. facilitate the three main actions that are the main features of the rotary method of drilling. These are: (1) the lowering into and hoisting out of the hole of tubulars and tools. the swivel. When a power source is added to mechanise these actions. A driller. a helicopter pad. (2) the rotation of a drilling bit in the hole. But regardless of the type of drilling platform and wherever it operates.CHAPTER 4: THE OFFSHORE RIG AND ITS EQUIPMENT BASIC RIG COMPONENTS The different types of installations described in Chapter 3 from which marine drilling is conducted might outwardly appear to have little in common except for a derrick rising above each of them. It is. therefore. the drawworks and hoist system. is the work area surrounding the opening in the platform through which tools are run down to the hole being drilled in the sea bed. rotary hose and rotary table. namely the drill floor and derrick. say. and (3) the forced circulation of a fluid between the rig and the bottom of the hole. then. fresh from a land rig in. and the fluid circulation system. although in practice a great deal of ancillary equipment is necessary to make the rig work efficiently.

as well as being tethered to their Sampson posts. Facing the doghouse on the other side of the floor is a large manifold of pipes and valves fitted with handwheels which are used in controlling the flow of fluids from the well. This is because the main deck is about fifty feet above the waterline. windowed. called the ‘rotary table opening’ or just the ‘rotary’. It must. called the ‘V-door’. static crane. To the right of the doghouse is a tall gap in the wind-proof sheeting that surrounds the floor area. well above the main deck. Through this opening. a long assembly of pipes and drilling tools. The weight of the ‘casing’ that will line the hole is another important factor in the derrick design. suspended from wires in the derrick. which is connected by a dragway ramp. hang two large wrenches called ‘tongs’. As the driller looks out towards the aperture in the centre of the floor. drilling equipment is hoisted onto the floor from the main deck below.and also of withstanding a certain amount of ‘overpull’ which may have to be exerted on the string should it become stuck in the hole and need pulling free. although its perimeter area is often so cluttered with items of equipment that it looks smaller. 90 . The two sets of tongs are connected to the drawworks. In one corner of the floor stands the ‘doghouse’. is in the centre of the floor. as described in Chapter 5. steel cabin in which the driller in charge of operations on the floor controls the drilling machinery and monitors downhole conditions with an array of instruments. It must be capable of supporting the entire weight of the ‘drill string’.. it is a type of large. . to his left is a large winch called a ‘drawworks’.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment The ‘floor’ is usually about thirty or forty feet square. provides the ability to lift tools in and out of the well. These are used in the connection and disconnection of pipe and are loosely tethered to posts called ‘Sampson posts’. be capable of supporting the weight of the entire drill string when it is ‘set back’ on end inside the derrick. a small. Near it. The opening.possibly more _ than 250 tons . with the drawworks. On a semi-submersible rig in drilling condition the drill floor stands in the region of eighty feet above sea level. THE DERRICK The derrick is the tall. therefore. and all around and above the floor are the huge girders of the drilling derrick. as a long casing string may weigh even more than a drill string. In a way. and the drill floor has to be raised a further twenty-five or thirty feet above that to provide a space beneath where the blow-out preventer stack (a tall assembly of well pressure control valves) can be handled before installation on the sea bed. in addition to supporting the legs of the drilling derrick. * required for the deepest well for which the rig is designed . four-legged steel structure that.

The Offshore Rig and its Equipment --! I I DRILL FLOOR LAYOUT me position ofthe rathole may wry depending cm what power vJ01. are installed. Top: The drill floor layout typical of most rigs._ 01 . Bottom: The driller must have a clear view of the floor operations from the dog house.. .

built for different purposes. Another type. which stands at the driller’s left as he faces the drill floor from the doghouse. this type of derrick is still capable of withstanding enormous loads. and over 300 feet above the keels of its hulls. would make its peak in the region of 240 feet above sea level in the semi-submersible’s drilling condition. (Handling stands of three joints rather than single joints speeds up drilling operations considerably). and several-heavy duty units have a derrick load capacity of 1. as these motions obviously put great stresses on the structure. can be pulled out of the hole and ‘racked back’ standing on end in.OOO. found on some offshore rigs but more usually on land rigs. the ‘wireline’ (although this can be confused with another type of . and in drilling regions such as the Gulf of Mexico. This type is properly called a ‘mast’ and is narrower and appears less sturdy than the usual offshore derrick. which. The derrick must therefore be capable of withstanding the maximum anticipated windload when the whole drill string . is collapsible. THE DRAWWORKS The drawworks. The likely roll. can slant to enable a special type of drilling to be done at an angle to the vertical. A large semi-sub’s drawworks of about 3000 hp capacity is likely to be electrically powered. to allow easy removal when necessary.wireline which is important in drilling operations). The machine weighs close to 40 tons and its hoisting ’ 92 .is.000 feet of drill pipe and collars . since the hoist equipment has to be suspended from the top.perhaps 15. or. A rig might be contracted to work almost anywhere in the world. in addition to some overpull. or more than 625 tons. pitch and heave movements of floating rigs are also taken into account when derricks are designed. racked back inside it. added to the height of the drill floor above the sea. One type. employing three 940 hp DC motors and rated for the weight of drill string or casing required for the deepest hole drilled.400. The derrick therefore might be 160 feet high. or about 450 tons. In spite of its ability to telescope or j ack-knife. The derricks on many modern floaters and jack-ups are actually rated for a static hook load of over 1 .OOO side of it. the South China Sea and the North Sea. This requires a total height of almost twice the length of a stand. There are several different types of derrick. screwed together to make a ‘stand’ of approximately 90 feet in length. winds of more than 100 mph are not unknown.000 lbs. some* times. fitted to a few jackups. This is described in Chapter 5.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment The derrick is roughly square in section and of such a height that three lengths or ‘joints’ of drill pipe. is a large mechanical or electrically driven winch around the drum of which is wound a thick wire called the ‘drilling line’.

The drawworks is to the left. -- . the V-door to the right.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment A derrickman’s view of the drill floor. .

On some rigs. fitted on shafts projecting through each side. Some older rigs have mechanical drawworks powered by chain drives from engines. This can swivel. Both the blocks and the hook are rated for a maximum lift of about 650 tons in heavy-duty semis. however. and on its lower end is suspended by a handle called a ‘bail’ a very large hook weighing nearly 4 tons. The uppermost block is fixed at the peak of the derrick and is known as the ‘crown block’. which is a general-purpose rope used for lifting heavy loads in and around the derrick. of lengths of drill pipe and other tubulars.elling block of a large rig weighs about 10 tons. but these are being superseded by the electric type. 94 “‘- . to assist in reducing the momentum of heavy loads. THE BLOCKS. Some newer rigs have electromagnetic drawworks brakes in addition. Some drawworks have other sets of catheads for handling a fibre rope called a ‘catline’. HOOK Bz DRILLING LINE The drilling line that the drawworks moves is rove through a massive blockand-tackle. or ‘make-up’ and ‘breakout’. or what would be called in merchant ships ‘drum-ends’. while the other tong is connected to the drawworks near the break-out cathead by a wire. In most newer rigs. and its body contains a hydraulic dampening device to minimise jarring which could damage the threaded connections of pipe suspended from it. The cathead nearest the driller is termed the ‘make-up cathead’ or ‘spinning cathead’ and the one on the far side of the housing is called the ‘breakout cathead’. A chain leads from the drawworks mechanism near the make-up cathead to the end of one of the tong handles. The internal workings are enclosed in a steel housing and outside this are two ‘catheads’. while the lower one moves up or down and is termed the ‘travelling block’. The drawworks has internal drive shafts with drive chains and clutches and these are geared for changes in speed and direction. system suspended from the top of the derrick. Powerful brake systems are necessary to control the heavy loads the drawworks handles and in addition to the main mechanical band brakes there is also a back-up hydraulic (or ‘hydromatic’) or electric brake. These are small winch barrels which can be operated independently of the main drive and they are used in the connection and disconnection. small pneumaticallydriven winches called ‘air tuggers’ do this job.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment drum is about five feet in diameter. the hook forms an integral part of the travelling block. all of which are controlled by the driller. or purchase. The tra.

The Offshore Rig and its Equipment The sheaves in the blocks are 60 inches in diameter and accept drilling line a little over 1% inches in diameter. and so on round the purchase system. There are manyvariations in this practice of ‘slipping and cutting’. and the surplus length of the fastline on the drawworks end can then be cut off. Just above the deadline anchor there is a ‘tension load sensor’ attached to the drilling line. back to the crown block. The work done by the drilling line is measured daily in terms of the tonmiles which are performed during the various drilling operations. is known as the ‘deadline’. but on every rotary rig it is regularly done to maximise the life of the drilling line. A single part of this~ size of wire rope could not take a strain of 650 tons. when a certain number of ton-miles have been worked. until the required number of lines are strung for the weight to be handled. . fresh line is slipped off the storage drum and pulled through the deadline anchor. depending on the rating of the hoist components. where it is firmly clamped. between the anchor and the crown block. When perhaps 20. Beyond the anchor the surplus line is left wound on the storage reel on which it was delivered from its manufacturers. The drilling line is a specially-made wire rope of a diameter that varies between 1 and 1-X inches. a rig operator will spend more money on drilling line than he probably will on drill pipe.. Instead it is led down to and wound round an anchoring device on the side of the drill floor opposite the drawworks. It runs up to one of the sheaves in the crown block and then passes down to the travelling block. . . This part of the drilling line. This measures the strain being taken by the deadline. Over the years. but when wound over seven sheaves in the crown block and six in the travelling block a ‘mechanical advantage’ is developed which greatly reduces the power required to lift heavy loads. this can obviously involve an enormous amount of wear and tear. and the driller can continuously read the weight on a ‘weight indicator’ gauge in the doghouse. and this is connected to and wound round the drum of the drawworks. Rigs with less lift capacity might have fewer sheaves in their blocks. Its hauling part is called the ‘fastline’. therefore.000 feet of drill pipe and tools have to be run in and pulled out of the hole at fairly frequent intervals. This is because it will eventually be pulled off the reel and used as parts of the rope wear down in the blocks. At regular intervals. The parts of the drilling line which have suffered most co’ntact with the block sheaves and the drawworks drum can then be shifted so that they no longer chafe. after all. The end has to be fixed somewhere. but it is not made fast to either of the blocks as it would be on a ship’s purchase.

allows its free rotation. In spite of its name the swivel does not actually rotate but it suspends the whole weight of the drill string and. The rotary hose is a flexible pipe that carries the drilling fluid under high pressure up from puinps called ‘mud pumps’. something like the one suspending the hook from the travelling block. the rotary hose is given regular pressure tests.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment RIG HOISTSYSTEM The hoist components of any rotary rig. the required pressure for efficient drilling could not be maintained. rigid ‘gooseneck’ pipe fitted through the top centre of the swivel a leak-proof entry point to the inside of the drill string is provided for the ‘drilling fluid’ that has to be pumped down the hole. Like all components of the circulating system which are subjected to high working pressures. If it leaked. THE SWIVEL. or ‘bail’. KELLY & ROTARY HOUSE The swivel hangs from the hook on the travelling block by a thick steel looped handle. The hose curves down from the top of a rigid ‘stand pipe’ erected at the side of the derrick. which are housed on the main deck level. so that it can reach the swivel gooseneck when this is either at its highest or its lowest drilling position. This is channeled into the gooseneck by the ‘rotary hose’. Through a curved. . so the swivel will be lowered or raised by the hoist system above it. by means of internal bearings. As the drill string is lowered or raised in the hole.

called either the ‘kelly bushing’ or the ‘drive bushing’. or sometimes square-sectioned hollow pipe usually either40. . The kelly is free to slide up or down through the kelly bushing allowing the drill string to be simultaneously rotated and lowered or raised. driving the kelly bushing and the kelly round with it. through which the kelly is fitted.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment Suspended from the swivel is a long steel tube called the ‘kelly’. In this-way the bit it able to drill a hole. 97 . Its purpose is to transmit torque to the drill string from the power-driven rotating device in the drill floor. 46 or 54 feet long (40 feet being the most commonly used length). called the ‘rotary table’.. This. This rotation is achieved by means of a bushing.a power source. The kelly bushing fits in turn by means of either four pins or else a square base into the ‘master bushing’ (sometimes called the ‘rotary bushing’) which sits in the wide opening of the rotary table. through which the kelly fits closely.I ! 4perr Left: Hexagonal and square kellys. If the drill string with a drilling bit on its end is attached to the kelly.. the bit will also rotate. - “&wIWp. the master bushing turns. When rotary drive is applied by. is a hexagonal.. Right: The swivel suspends the kelly and simultaneously allows it to turn.

98 -. The kelly can then be reconnected to it and well control operations can be effected. but the kelly can not. Bottom: The corresponding types of master bushings. These ‘kelly cocks’ allow local control of drilling fluid to protect the swivel. At both the top and the bottom of the kelly. The saver sub can easily be replaced. A similar but portable valve called the ‘drill pipe safety valve’ is kept handy on the drill floor for quick insertion into the string below the kelly should any sign of backflow from the well oFcur.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment Top: Pin and ware drive roller kelly bushings. This is a short threaded pipe fitted onto the end of the kelly so that the kelly’s threads are saved from wear. The lower end of the kelly is connected to the upper end of the drill string by a tubular tool called a ‘kelly saver sub’. while at the same time preventing fluid loss when disconnecting the kelly. standpipe and mud pumps against well pressure._. . between it and the swivel and drill string respectively. a valve is installed to serve as a type of manual blowout preventer.

If the table were uncovered it would look like a large rectangular steel box with a drive shaft emerging from one end. to the drill string and the bit. drill floor. Top: Th . On older rigs the rotary table might be powered from the drawworks by a chain and sprocket drive. accommodates the kelly bushing. which is level with the Bottc 3131:: The moving parts inside it must be kept well lubricated.e only part of the rotary table normally seen is its top. is a well-oiled geared drive mechanism with bearings on which a cast steel turntable revolves. but on most modern offshore units it is electrically driven by an independent tiotor. The motor’s power provides the torque that is transmitted. via the master bushing. kelly bushing and kelly.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment THE ROTARY TABLE The rotary table is fitted below the level of the drill floor deck and only the opening in its top is normally visible at the centre of the floor. 99 . Inside the box. which weighs about 11 tons. Into this turntable fits the master bushing which. in turn.

heavy duty rig’s table might have a 49%” opening in which the master bushing is turned at a maximum of about 325 rpm provided by a 940 hp DC motor. their load capacity and the maximum allowable rotation speed. . Otherwise the entire rotary would need to be removed during certain operations. and this in fact happens on some rigs. A typical deepwater.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment Rotary tables are rated according to the size of their opening. Kelly (Square or Hexagonal) Pin Drive The two usual arrangements of kelly and bushings. and is able to support a static load of 800 tons. The table opening is made so wide to allow large-diameter pipe and sub-sea equipment to be ‘run’ from the drill floor. Square Drive .. .

101 . LEFT \* ) #A \ HANDLE THANDLE PIN W/COl-ER PIN & WASHER SLIP SEGMENT’ LEFT ’ r:’ ‘SLIP SEGMENT / HINGE PIN W/COlTER PIN Rotary Slip Parts RETAINING RING Rotary slips get pleanty of wear and tear and have to be carefully maintained. LIP SEGMENT HANDLE’ &. but various types and sizes are used for different grades of pipe.. or else fibre mats are used for a foothold.. These are tapered steel wedges which are inserted by hand and jam the drill pipe firmly in the rotary while lifting appliances called ‘elevators’ are disconnected or connected. The area around the rotary table sometimes gets extremely mucky and slippery from wet drilling mud. The individual wedges are connected by hinges so that they can wrap around the pipe to provide friction over as much area as possible.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment When pipe is being run in or pulled out of the hole the ‘bowl’ of the master bushing in the rotary table also accommodates devices called ‘slips’. . so it usually has a non-skid surface. In depth they are a little over a foot long.

which should not be exceeded. and a bit drilling constantly under a heavy load generates very high temperatures which can adversely affect its performance. The heavier the fluid is made. which also ‘oils’ the cutting teeth as they chip away at the rock. (4) to help maintain the maximum drilling rate comptable with safety. oil or water under pressure in the formation can be prevented from making an unplanned entry into the hole. oil or water from the formations being drilled through. and no more. Just as pressure increases with depth. or more viscous... The heavier and thicker. -. 102 . or ‘sloughing’. and it helps to preserve the well of the hole intact. of too much liquid from the drilling fluid into the formation. and the faster it circulates. Ideally the filter cake should not be so thick as to obstruct the passage of the drilling tools through the hole. This happens as some of the liquid in the mud escapes by filtering off into porous formations in the wall. Formation pressures increase with the depth of the hole. To do this the drilling fluid must be of such a ‘weight’.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment THE DRILLING FLUID CIRCULATION SYSTEM Unlike its predecessors. however. are: (1) to exert a pressure on the formation being drilled through. or density. the more able it is to carry cuttings. (3) to remove drill cuttings from the bottom of the hole and from the cutting surfaces of the bit and carry them up to the surface for examination and disposal. the drilling fluid is. but drilling progress is hampered by over-heavy mud. that it will only just prevent the entry into the hole of gas. or ‘drilling mud’ as it is commonly known. (2) to prevent the wall of the hole from caving in. There is an optimum viscosity. and creating a blockage. This pressure must be slightly higher than the formation pressure so that any gas. the safer the well might be. (5) to lubricate and cool the bit. or filtration. Much of this heat can be absorbed from the bit by the drilling fluid. so does the downhole temperature. This is achieved by the pressure of the column of drilling mud acting against the wall of the hole and coating it with a layer of strained solids called ‘filter cake’ or ‘mud cake’. the rotary method of drilling depends on the circulation of a special fluid down to the bottom of the hole and back up to the drilling unit for a number of important purposes. The main functions of this drilling fluid. so drilling mud is carefully ‘weighted’ with special ingredients so that the ‘hydrostatic head’ of the mud column just overbalances the expected ‘bottom hole pressure’. but at the same time it should not be so thin as to allow the exit.

This is important to enable downhole conditions to be monitored continuously with instruments on the surface. so they must be reliable. The pumps must therefore be extremely robust and capable not . and then become fluid again when circulation is resumed. and they cannot be allowed to all fall back and clog the bottom of the hole if the mud pumps stop. and one of their own highly trained ‘mud engineers’ stays onboard to organise it. finally flowing up through a large pipe connecting the rig and the sea bed to be retrieved on the rig. The fluid then goes through the flexible rotary hose into the swivel. but this is determined mainly by the characteristics expected to be found downhole. There it picks up drilled cuttings and is forced to return to the rig through the annulus between the drill pipe and the surrounding casing. However. pressures. but sometimes diesel oil. (7) to have properties of electrical conductivity or resistivity that will assist in obtaining ‘electric logs’. temperatures and many other factors are all planned for. Usually a specialist ‘mud company’ is engaged to devise the whole mud programme for the well. but there is always a danger that the formation pressure might exceed that of the drilling fluid column. of which there will usually be two. depths. All these functions of the drilling fluid are enabled by highly complex mixtures of minerals and chemicals that are added to a base ingredient which is usually water. The operator who has hired the rig has the final choice of circulating system used during the well programme. Certain special ingredients ensure that this happens. and down through the hollow kelly and drill string to the bottom of the hole where it is expelled at high velocity through nozzles in the drill bit. A different formulation of ‘mud’ is made up for each stage of a well. so that the different formation types. These are usually reciprocating. the other might be able to cope alone in some conditions. gear driven. and sometimes three aboard a large rig.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment (6) to keep cuttings in suspension when circulation is stopped for any reason. certain basic components are common to all systems. If one pump were to stop for any reason. To hold them in suspension the drilling fluid must be formulated so that it stiffens or ‘gels’ when at rest. It is essential that a smooth flow of cuttings is returned to the surface. The heart of any drilling fluid circulation system are the mud pumps (sometimes called ‘slush pumps’). l The breakdown of the mud pumps during drilling could have serious consequences. positive displacement pumps that force the drilling fluid at high ‘pressure up to the standpipe in the corner of the derrick. dual piston.

000 feet and more.3000 psi. but also of handling abrasive.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment DRILLING FLUID CIRCULATION SYSTEM The drilling fluid circulation system. so it needs constant purification. The same mud is circulated repeatedly. sand-laden fluids without ill effect. Each pump is charged. by smaller centrifugal pumps and is driven by two electric motors mounted on the pump. and usually a drill crew member called the ‘derrickman’is allotted this duty. Large mud pumps each of 1600 input horsepower are commonly used on the more sophisticated rigs that can drill the deeper wells of 25. only of prolonged service under heavy loads. or ‘primed’. Maintaining the mud pumps in good order is a responsible job. . He is often helped by the ‘assistant driller’. Their pistons work in seven-inch cylinder liners at 120 strokes per minute and they can pump nearly 800 gallons of drilling fluid a minute at pressures in the region of 2500 .

If this is not done the cuttings will be returned to the bottom of the hole when the fluid is recirculated and they will be reground. The liquid eventually gets recycled. In addition the cuttings must not be allowed to accumulate in the fluid. keeping the machine working efficiently without getting clogged up. where they are removed for dumping overside or. ‘ins . When normal drilling is in progress and the shale shaker is in operation. and on its correct treatment on its return to the rig before it is pumped back down the hole. slowing down the progress of the bit. one of the roughnecks is normally assigned the duties of ‘shaker hand’. while the rock cuttings gather at the lower end of the sloping shaker. One of the most important stages in this treatment is the removal of the cuttings brought up to surface.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment Mud pumps are the heart of the circulation system. removal by barge. in some drilling areas. The mesh of the screen allows the smaller particles to fall through along with the liquid component of the mud. and they are poured onto a mechanically vibrated screen called a ‘shale shaker’. The efficient progress of the drilling programme depends to a great extent on the use of the right drilling fluid for the formation being drilled through. since they would adversely affect its carefully designed properties and harm machinery and drilling tools: The cuttings travel with the returning mud through a pipe on the rig called the ‘flow line’ or ‘mud return line’. but it traps the larger rock fragments.

Other machines called a ‘mud cleaner’ and a ‘centrifuge’ are then used to separate the very fine drilled solids from the expensive solid constituents of the mud. The temperature at the bottom of the hole is high. as well as extremely noisy.. From the shaker the strained fluid is fed through a sequence of other machines which remove the finer particles. while the ‘desilter’ removes siltsized particles that not only cause wear in machinery but also increase the weight of the mud to the detriment of drilling rates.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment A double deck shale shaker can cope with more solid material than a single deck machine. Apart from corrosive oxygen. it could eventually lead to a dangerous situation called a ‘blow-out’. It is therefore removed in a ‘de-gasser’. . If this ‘gas-cut mud’ is recycled down the hole. making the mud warm and the shaker room steamy. The ‘desander’ traps grains of sand and other abrasive cuttings that can damage the mud pumps and the insides of drilling tubulars and drill bits.I 106 . One more item of equipment completes the separation p!ocess before the fluid is finally ready for pumping back down the hole. or when a sticky type of clay is drilled. so the cuttings are hot. which sometimes happens when the rig is lying at an angle which restricts the flow of fluid. the returning mud often carries small bubbles of entrained ‘formation gas’ with it. which are then returned to the clean fluid before it is passed to a receiving tank for settling. which often incorporates a vacuum pump or else a pump that throws the liquid mud into a tank at such high speed that any gas gets separated from it and vented off.

Top: A desander. . . Both are essential components of an efficient drilling fluid circulation system. Bottom: A desilter.

..The Offshore Rig and its Equipment . 108 .

of the mud. ‘drilling fluid’ simply means semi-liquid. Fresh water. or density. of coure.34 pounds per gallon) to more than 20 lbs/gal when very heavy ‘additives’ are used. but the large volumes of fresh water. Suspended in each pit from an overhead beam is a long shaft with an electrically driven propeller on its end. and these can all give extremely fast drilling rates. the lightest mud possible in the prevailing well conditions is used. and they look like dense grey soups. drilling mud is a very complex liquid. to meet the different conditions in the hole. Most drilling muds are basically colloidal suspensions of clays in a liquid base. There are usually four or five mud pits grouped near the mud pumps in a large. gas or foam (which is a combination of liquid and air) might be used. However. that are required for mixing mud. but they can have a wide range of chemical and physical properties which are carefully adjusted by the mud engineer.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment When the drilling mud has passed through all these machines it is collected in a receiving tank called a ‘mud pit’. have to be brought out by supply boat. or ‘drill water’ as it is called in this case. in many cases to increase the -weight. greyish-brown ‘mud’. but other fluids may be used in special situations where the use of tnud is undesirable. so that the weight of the fluid will be kept uniform throughout the tank. In the majority of cases. In most cases offshore the drilling fluid is a liquid. These ‘agitators’ are used to prevent the mud from settling out. in general. He has a small laboratory near the mud room and he monitors the returning mud for changes in its properties such as gel strength. they require a lot of special compressing equipment. the mud is water-based. Despite its name. and limited quantities of fresh water can be distilled from it by special machinery. salt water or sea water might be used. With the derrickman’s help he then treats the mud in the pits by mixing various additives to alter its chemical and physical characteristics. according to the mud programme formulation. cavernous space on the deck below the drill floor called the ‘mud room’. Certain salts or other solids may be added to the drill water for different ’ purposes when the mud is being made up. . and in most cases offshore. be readily pumped aboard an offshore rig. There it can be treated as required before being transferred back to a suction pit to await recirculation down the hole. and it can range from the density of fresh water (8. Air. or ‘mud man’ as he is often called onboard. fluid loss and viscosity. The mud weight has to be continually monitored and altered to control the various formation pressures encountered in the different layers drilled through. However. that might retard the bit’s penetration rate or otherwise adversely affect drilling performance. Sea water can.

The Offshore Rig and its Equipment lank lepth I Clockwise Rotation 1 . 110 .75 x lmpellkr E$a~eter Irecomyendedl 1 An agitator prevents mud from settling out in the pits.

Large quantities of barite (sometimes spelt baryte or barytes) are stored in dry powder form on offshore rigs in special tanks called ‘P’ tanks. Under certain conditions an oil base mud is preferable to a water base mud. low toxicity oil base muds are now used. for a given volume.. drives the powder into a mixing hopper in the mud room. such as high bottom hole temperatures or a tendency of the drill pipe to stick to the wall of the hole. Handling pipe spewing water base mud (during an operation called a ‘wet trip’) makes drill crews dirty and wet. so they are normally compensated for having to use it.3. or where the special properties of oil base muds are necessary to overcome a particular problem. again transported out to the rig and pumped aboard by supply boat. often providing a pressure of about 120 psi. . This means that.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment The usual material used for weighing up mud is barite (barium sulphate).2 . a fine greyish-white mineral powder which has a specific gravity of 4. From there it can be added to the liquid base in a measured quantity to the directions of the mud engineer. When some barite is required for mixing. In this case diesel oil is usually used. In some areas.4.- 111 . The denrickman mixes additives with drilling mud. it is a little over four times as heavy as fresh water. The mud engineer tells him what treatmc :nt the mud needs to restore its proper characteristics. the derrickman opens certain valves and the rig’s compressed air system. but diesel oil base mud is doubly unpleasant as it can cause skin complaints. including the North Sea. perhaps due to the sensitivity of a formation to water.

DRILL STRING MOTION COMPENSATION To do its job. a further fundamental item of equipment has to be used. But because a semi-submersible or a drill ship or floating drilling barge heaves up and down with the surface of the sea. with a consequent slowing of the drilling operation. which makes a ‘floater’s’ drill string rise and fall. This was a problem that the pioneer offshore drillers recognised from the earliest days of deep water drilling. or ‘slip joints’ as they are sometimes called. were also used in the drill string. The systems now used are known as ‘motion compensators’. Even if the vertical movement were only slight and the driller attempted to keep the bit steady on the bottom by raising and lowering the hoist. ‘lime muds’ and ‘gyp muds’. just above the heavy ‘drill collars’ that were placed between the drill pipe and the bit. the drilling bit must be permanently on the bottom of the hole with a constant weight applied to it while it rotates. so that as the vessel moved up and down more line would run on or off the drawworks drum as required.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment Other types of mud might also be used from time to time. However. With a drill floor and derrick. such as ‘lignosulfonate muds’. but systems were surprisingly not developed to effectively combat it until the 1960s. Bumper subs. . a hoist system and a rotary in which a drilling string is turning with drilling mud flowing inside it. Early systems of vertical motion compensation involved the use of a tor~ que converter in the hoist mechanism. some means has to be provided to prevent the bit from intermittently lifting off the bottom and landing heavily down on it as each passing wave moves the vessel vertically. but it is a frequent problem in areas such as the North Sea or the South China Sea where high swell waves are frequent. but to compensate for the motion of the sea. This rig might work effectively on land. each having its own peculiar properties and uses for overcoming formation problems. and ‘surface motion compensators’. the result would be that the weight of the bit was constantly varying. This might not be necessary in the US Gulf swamps where there is little water motion. 112 . although within each system there are many variations in design from the different manufacturers. the basic rotary rig is complete. There are two main methods of motion compensation in use on drilling rigs: ‘downhole bumper subs’. these are not so commonly used offshore as water and oil base muds.

as the vessel moved. unless the bit needs to be pulled for some reason at the same time. But if the heave becomes greater than five feet and only one bumper sub is in the string. the bumper sub can reach the limit of its stroke. the driller has to be careful to lower the hoist far enough to allow the bumper subs enough play to do their job. will cause a serious loss of drilling time. in 1970. resulting in damaging compression of the drill pipe above it and too much weight being put on the bit. Then. If the drilling rate is slower than expected on the other hand. one bumper sub in the string might be enough. . If a heave of less than five feet is being experienced.- 113 . the combined use of torque converters and bumper subs for vertical motion compensation was replaced by total dependence on bumper subs. The driller adjusts the hoist to give just the right amounts of ‘weight on bit’ and tension in the string. downhole bumper subs are still used in many cases. and with a diamond-studded bit or core head. one manufacturer began te&ng a surface motion compensator in the hoisting assembly just below the travelling block. Above it the drill pipe is supported in tension from the rig. This position is the point of ‘zero weight’ in the drill string. This was a hydraulic/pneumatic cylinder arrangement that ‘stroked’. usually having a five-foot stroke. But if the ‘rate of penetration’ of the bit is fast. DOWNHOLE BUMPER SUBS A bumper sub acts in a similar way to a car’s shock absorber. one bumper sub in the string might be enough. and below it the drill collars and other components of the bottom hole assembly are in compression and are applying weight to the bit. However. which can result in the bit jumping off bottom if the vessel heaves upwards on a wave. This unit was the forerunner of today’s surface motion compensators that are now used by most deepwater rigs. It is basically a cylinder filled with a compressible fluid. or ‘drill off’.This.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment As floating drilling vessels evolved. with a subsequent severe jarring on the bottom as it descends again. the drill string has to be pulled out of the hole and more bumper subs added until the amount of heave can be conIf a heave of less than five feet is being experienced. This can cause not only leaking seals on the bumper sub but also broken teeth in the bit. of course. or reciprocated. serious and expensive damage can occur. and one or more of them can be inserted in the ‘bottom hole assembly’ just above the drill collars to compensate for the vessel’s vertical movement. the drill string has to be pulled out of the hole and more bumper subs added until the amount of heave can be contained by the combined stroke lengths of the series of bumper subs. the bumper sub can close up. But if the heave becomes greater than five feet and only one bumper sub is in the string. Another difficulty is that as the bit cuts deeper into the formation.

but both work on the same basic principle. The fluid acts on the pistons. This can be adjusted to support only as much of the drill string’s total weight as is necessary to. Compressed fluid is fed from a resevoir to cylinders in which pistons operate. SURFACE DRILL STRING MOTION COMPENSATORS The surface drill string motion compensator fitted to the modern rig does the same job as downhole bumper subs. There are ttvo systems of surface compensation of this kind in general use on offshore drilling rigs: ‘travelling block compensators’ and ‘crown block compensators’. It consists of a pneumatic or a pneumatic/hydraulic cylinder and piston arrangement fitted at some point in the hoist system inside the derrick. and the piston rods lift a proportion of the weight of the &ill string which is dependent on the fluid pressure. but more efficiently.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment These disadvantages are overcome through the use of surface motion compensation.leave the .

raising or lowering the drill string to maintain a nearly constant weight on the bit.500. but in practice drilling is often suspended long before the maximum stroke has been reached. This system has the advantage of all the pipework being rigid and thus not so liable to failure as the flexible lines on the travelling block system. and the crown block is moved up or down on the lower ends of the compensator piston rods with each heave of the vessel. The difference between travelling block and crown block compensators lies mainly in the positioning of the compensator cylinders. The stroke of each cylinder is usually in the region of 20-25 feet.ooO lb capacity travelling block motion compensator. and this dictates the total amount of heave which the compensator can absorb while the rig is still drilling.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment desired weight on the bit. . A 1. This entails having flexible pipe to carry the fluid from the pressurised reservoir bottles on the deck below to the moving cylinders. so the compensator pistons ‘stroke’. In the travelling block system the cylinders are attached to the travelling block which moves up and down within the derrick on vertical rails. As the rig moves up and down. In the crown block system the cylinders are fixed at the top of the derrick above the crown block.

.000 lb. The piston rod extends upwards from the cylinder and has on its upper end a large sheave through which chains are rove. Both are available with strokes of either 20 or 25 feet. the maximum load of which is 600. These hang down on either side of the cylinder and support the crown block which moves up and down as the piston strokes with vessel movement. keeping the drill string steady.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment Another type of crown block compensator uses a single cylinder fixed between beams lying across a platform (called the ‘water table’) near the top of the derrick. This type of assembly has a maximum load of 800. A travelling block compensator slides up and down on rails in the derrick as the rig heaves.000 lb compared with the same maker’s travelling block compensator.

The Offshore Rig and its Equipment







The Offshore Rig and its Equipment

A crown block compensator is fixed at the water table underneath the A-frame.










The crown block compensator system.

The Offshore Rig and its Equipment Each of the manufacturers incorporates variations in the basic design of the compensator systems. The fluid in the reservoir bottles in some types is compressed air which is passed to an accumulator in which pneumatic pressure is converted to hydraulic pressure, oil then being forced into the compensator cylinders to act on the pistons. However, another design employs pneumatic pressure throughout the entire system. There are also types of travelling block compensator which employ only one cylinder (called simplex compensators), but as this is a more complicated system, double, or duplex, cylinders are more common. There is no doubt that surface motion compensators play a major role in marine drilling, many operations of which would be much more difficult without them. They allow the driller to vary the weight on the bit by simply adjusting the air pressure, which is important when formations of frequently varying characteristics are being encountered, or when ‘coring’ (removing rock core samples from the hole) or ‘turbo-drilling’ with a special fluid-driven bit. Surface compensators also increase the service life and penetration of bits, and save tripping time to effect repairs to bumper subs and change damaged bits. Initial ‘spudding-in’ of the hole is easier, and landing the ‘blow-out preventer stack’ on the ‘wellhead’ (see Chapter 5) with part of its weight taken by the drill string motion compensator is made less potentially hazardous than by allowing all of the stack’s weight to be taken by the riser tensioning system. ‘Fishing’ for lost or stuck pipe is also safer and easier, since the fishing tool can be more precisely controlled in its descent to contact with the ‘fish’, and ‘milling’, or grinding of debris or pipe is made easier in bad weather.

THE POWER PLANT On most offshore drilling rigs the mud pumps, the rotary table and drawworks are all powered by direct-current (DC) electric motors. A source of DC power is therefore required, and this is provided on the latest semi-submersibles by a set of four large 1Zcylinder diesel engines which each develop in teh region of 3,000 brake horse power. On this type of unit the engines are not housed in the bottom of the hulls, where a ship’s engines would be, but in a machine room on main deck level. ’ Each engine drives a shaft-mounted 600-volt alternator which generates the AC power which is used for most services around the rig. Some of this alternating current, however, is fed to silicon-controlled rectifiers (SCRs) which convert the AC to DC. This is then fed to the motors on the drawworks, rotary table and mud pumps as required.











The power generation system on a semi-submersible. Most modem rigs use silicon-controlled rectifiers for AC-to-DC conversion.

The Offshore Rig and its Equipment

If the drilling rig is a self-propelled type, DC currrent is more than likely also used to power the large electric motors that drive its propellers and, possibly, its anchor windlasses. This current also comes from the SCR bays. On a semi-submersible there are usually two motors to each of the two propellors, and these are driven through reduction gearboxes, situated with the motors in the pontoon hulls. In addition to the main engines there is also an emergency diesel generator housed in a separate space. This cuts in automatically should there be a complete failure of the main generating plant, and provides temporary services while repairs are effected. It is not powerful enough, however, for normal drilling to continue and only supplies essential emergency services.


In addition the rig will have its own sets of tongs. but in a development well they should be known from previous wells drilled. slips and elevators for these tubulars. In the early days of rotary drilling it was never certain that components would mate uniformly. drill collars. A deep water semi-submersible might be equipped with 25. the job of maintaining the power plant belongs to a team of mechanics. tongs. All this equipment is made to what are called ‘API specifications’. slips and elevators for handling this pipe as well as slips and elevators for handling and running casing. motormen and electricians led by a chief mechanic. and casing handling and running tools. and the API is now universally recognised as the leading industry authority in this field. But since a bit-change can pnly be made if the entire drill string is pulled out of the hole and then run back in . During the drilling of a well many bits of several different types are used. formation types encountered and their hardness. DRILLING BITS The spearhead of the rotary drilling system is the drilling bit. but in general a bit is required that will give a . These engineers also maintain~mush~of the drilling equipment whose servicing is beyond the ability of the drill crews.a long operation called a ‘round trip’ . each 31 feet long but of various standard diameters (perhaps 91/z”. When drilling a wildcat well the formations may not be known until cuttings return at the shale shaker. DRILLING EQUIPMENT Every MODU (mobile offshore drilling unit) carries its own basic outfit of drilling equipment which generally comprises drill pipe.. API SPECIFICATIONS The vast majority of all tubular drilling equipment. Good bit selection is a compromise of many factors. The industry set up the Institute to standardise as inuch equipment as possible.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment As on a large ship. 8” and 6V2”). to do much of the maintenance work on the machinery they use. depending on factors such as well depth. 123 . however. and much other oilfield equipment besides. and are brought out to the rig when required. is nowadays manufactured to the standards of the American Petroleum Institute .the API.then it is most important that a: durable bit of the correct type for the formations to be drilled are selected before running in the hole. and much confusion and lost time resulted. Items such as drilling bits and casing which are specified by the operator for the well programme are normally supplied by him. Drill crews are expected.000 feet of five-inch diameter drill pipe in addition to fifty or sixty drill collars. heavy-wall drill pipe. and the occurrence of drilling problems.

The Offshore Rig and its Equipment 124 .. .

drilling soft formations. in the underside. The nozzles’ gauge can be altered to give different velocities and hydraulic horsepowers. The three cones are mounted on bearings which extend from the bit body. but modern technology has improved both its cutting surfaces and its bearings. and therefore on its total cost. the apex of each cone pointing in towards the centre of the lower end of the bit. In some cases the apexes of the cones do not point exactly to the centre of rotation of the bit body but are all slightly offset. and at the top of this are screw threads for attachment of the bit to the ‘bottom hole assembly’ of the drill string. Nowadays these bits are made to API specifications in diameters from 3 . Obviously then. through which the drilling fluid is expelled at high velocity. are one or more nozzles called ‘jet nozzles’. so ‘tungsten carbide insert bits’ are much more expensive than steel-toothed bits. Each standard size is made in a range of types for drilling different types of formation ranging from the softer sandy shales. Many types of bit are manufactured. and the bearings that the cutters turn on. For harder formations the degree oft offset is reduced or eliminated so that the bit is more truly rolling. the teeth on each cone fit neatly between the teeth on the adjacent cones. and this produces a crushing action which is more effective on this type of rock. and between the cones. As the cones turn. and within that size range no less than twenty-five standard sizes. so that the three cones all turn smoothly withoht jamming. tearing action which is useful for. The centre of the bit body has a hollow channel. are available.a two cone model . The cutting elements are rows of teeth on the surfaces of steel cones which Howard Hughes in 1909. as well as some non-standard sizes. which produces a gouging. but the ‘rolling cutter rock bit’ is regarded as the basic type and the most popular. clays and salts . the rotating cutters. 125 . The design of the rolling cutter rock bit has hardly changed since the original conception and introduction of the first bit if this type ../4” to 26”. Tungsten carbide is a costly mineral almost as hard as diamond. It has three main components: the bit body. the choice of bit has a significant effect on the time taken to drill the well. but the jet of fluid must in any event be capable of keeping the bottom of the hole free of cuttings and of creating enough turbulence around the bit to keep the rolling cutters clean.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment good rate of penetration (or ‘ROP’) and drill for a long time without wearing down or getting narrower in gauge (which can cause sticking problems for the next bit used). The teeth are either milled from~the steel of the cone itself or they are made individually from very hard tungsten carbide and inserted into small recesses made in the cones.

.. abrasive quartzite and granite.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment through lime and dolomite to hard quartzitic sands. narrow teeth.-. Bit Assembly Nu. Bits have to be tremendously robust . CARBIDE TOOTH SIT with Sealed Journal Bearings Compact Land Outer End ofToat Inner End ofToat STEEL TOOTH BIT with Sealed Journal Bearings __ Bear F l a n k Front Flank ROCK BIT ELEMENTS Special Metal = Inlays O-ring Seal ‘7 Im Marking on Top of Shank Rit _.I Lubricant Reservoir Cap Rock bit components. For harder formations on the other hand. The size and thickness of the various bit compenents varies with the hardness of the formation intended to be drilled.. allowing more space for long. For the softer formations a lighter bit weight is required so smaller bearings and thinner shells are used.__ Sire -. more robust bodies with heavier bearings and stubbier teeth are necessary. ’ Shank Bit Type -. that require a heavy ‘weight on bit’ to be applied by the driller.

SOFT FORMATION CONE DESIGN OFFSET .- 127 .The Offshore Rig and its Equipment Top: steel tooth and tungsten carbide insert rock bits. Bottom: Bit cones are designed to rotate on different axes.

The size. Like other gems. Where extra-long bit life is required and where a scraping action would be more efficient than a cutting action. but the bit manufacturers generally try to ensure that all components have similar lifespans. diamond bits are used which have numerous industrial diamonds set in a rigid body. This is forced out of holes made in the central area of the cutting face and passes between the diamonds and the formation. Needless to say. but their costs have to be balanced against their efficiency in terms of feet drilled per hour. improved metallurgy and tooth design means that tungsten carbide bits can be used on any type of formation. a rounder shape is used for harder formations while a more tapered. Because of this the shape of the matrix crown is very important to the bit’s performance. and the stones used in diamond bits vary from one carat to l/20 carat in weight. While the bit is drilling through hard rock many stones will probably be lost from the matrix. For his part. There are no moving parts since the complete matrix crown with its inset diamonds does the same job as the cones of a rolling cutter bit. the largest stones being used for soft formations while smaller stones are intended for the harder rocks. A diamond bit has three main parts: a shank. and the diamonds. the driller endeavours to put the correct weight on the bit and adjust the speed of rotation correctly.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment Tungsten carbide insert bits were originally designed purely to cope with very hard formations that made the life of a steel toothed bit uneconomically short. diamond bits are extremely expensive. Generally. as both these factors also affect bit life. which are set into the crown. some may be able to drill hundreds of feet. conical shape is used for soft and medium-hard rocks. as well as erosion from drilling fluid passing through at high velocity. however. Nowadays. type and number of diamonds used in a bit varies with the formation type the bit is intended for. the weight of industrial diamonds is measured in carats. This fits into the bowl of the rotary table and grips the bit in specially made recesses while 128 . The matrix is made from tungsten carbide to resist the heavy abrasion it suffers. while others last for just a few feet which may take many hours to cut through. but those that remain are recovered and inserted in another bit by the manufacturers. a matrix crown. In addition he must be careful not to damage the bit when running into or pulling out of the hole and to this end a plate called a ‘bit breaker’ is used in the removal or connection of the bit with the bottom hole assembly. Eventually components such as the teeth or the bearings will deteriorate and need replacement. and small variations in the shape of the tungsten carbide inserts can accommodate a wide range of hardnesses. Of the several bits that are likely to be used in the well.

Should it be discovered on pulling out that the bit has some part broken off. the assembly is revolved.- 129 . The diamonds can de replaced in the matrix.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment Natural Diamond Bit Primary Fluid Courses Polycrystalline Diamond Compact Bit Carbide Studs Crowfoot Ports ’ Diamond Pads with Diamonds / Fluid Courses with-I%* ycr yrialiinr Converging/Diverging Diamond Cutting NOZZkS ElWVXlt3 Standard Gage I Carbide Inserts Shank -Breaker Slot API Connection Diamond bit components. incurring much lost time and expense. Just as a shipowner’s aim is to have his . a fishing operation will normally have to follow.

since narrower diameter pipe weighs less per foot and would therefore impose less stress on the derrick and hoist equipment than the same length of wider pipe. It is therefore one of the most important items of rotary drilling equipment. A typical outfit for a modern semi-submersible might be 25. Drill pipe of various API standard diameters is commonly used. and pipe is also graded according to weight and quality of steel. DRILL PIPE Drill pipe is used to transmit rotary torque from the rotary table down to the drill bit.3W’. Rigs are rated according to the maximum depth to which they can drill. based on the length of drill pipe they carry. Fishing is explained in Chapter 5. Standard diameters in use offshore are 23/s”. with 5” being the most widely Gsed on floaters.000 feet of 5” Grade S135 drill pipe weighing 19. 4”. vessel carrying cargo between ports for the maximum possible time. 4%” and 5”.51 lbs/ft. 2’/8”. it is expensive and forms a large part of the total capital investment of’the drilling contractor.- . so the well operator wants the drilling bit on the bottom for the maximum possible time. and because of the high standards to which it is manufactured for its relatively short but stressful life. and to provide a passage for drilling fluid to the bottom of the hole. and time spent fishing for ‘junk’ is naturally abhorred. 1. and when comparing rigs it is necessary for a client to know what size the rating was based on.o .The Offshore Rig and its Equipment Bit breakers are used to umcrew bits without damaging them.

Great care is taken not to damage threads when making or breaking connections. Before use.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment Pin and box drill pipe tool joints are standard in the industry high pressure.- 131 . and if this is not spotted it can eventually cause a connection to fail. _ . Thread protectors made of rubber or rubber-like material are always screwed on to the tool joints when moving and racking pipe. threads are normally cleaned and inspected. and frequent inspections are made for signs of erosion-caused by leaking tool joints and other stresses that weaken the pipe or tool joints. and a special zincbased thread compound is applied to the pipe.

Some of the tensile load is therefore removed from the top of the string at this time. too rigid a drill stem would get stuck in the hole.5 feet. However. so it is vital that only pipe in top condition is used down the hole. it must be pliable. They are able to withstand high torsional and tensile stresses. The tube section is always manufactured as a unit. and have ‘shoulders’ under which elevators can be attached for lifting.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment There are three ranges of length under API standards: 18 to 22 feet.. and should not be allowed to compress and buckle.5 and 20 feet. . One tool joint has an internal or ‘female’ thread. During drilling the bit rests on the bottom and weight is applied to it by the drill collars which make up part of the ‘bottom hole assembly’. In a crooked hole the pipe may not be able to rotate freely and there may be a tendency for it to break or twist off. or torque. tongs being used on the tool joints to apply the necessary torque. or metal erosion from leaking drilling fluid under 132 . The thread of the tool joint is often the first part to fail. When two joints are connected. due to ‘washing out’. 27 to 30 feet and 38 to 45 feet. imparted to the drill pipe by the rotary table and the kelly is another stress which every joint of drill pipe must be capable of enduring. since the weight of the rest of the string is below this part. If a ‘drill stem’ (as the string of drill pipe is correctly known) could be seen rotating in a hole. while the other has an internal or ‘male’ thread. the pin is screwed into the box. This is desirable because the drill pipe must be able to follow the meanderings of the bit as it heads towards the target location. called a ‘box’. but when the string is pulled out of the hole the tension again comes on the top joints. Three joints of 31-foot pipe. drill pipe must be capable of withstanding great vertical forces in the hole. wide section at each end called a ‘tool joint’. In addition to these standard lengths there are also short ‘pup joints’ which are used to make up a required length of drill string. 1. Each joint of drill pipe is basically a tube with a short. the pipe should be kept permanently in tension by the drill collars at the bottom of the string. but offshore the most common lengths in use are 31 and 4. These come in lengths such as 5. The ‘wall thickness’ of all these joints is about %a”. or two joints of 45foot pipe are usually ‘made-up’ to form ‘stands’ that cut down the handling time when running in or pulling out of the hole. necessitating a long and costly fishing operation. it would appear to bend in many places. 10. The powerful twisting force. At the same time. called a ‘pin’. Because of this variation in tensile loading. however. Any joint of drill pipe must be expected to occasionally support the entire weight of the drill string when this is hanging from the hook with the bit offbottom. At this time the string is held in tension with the greatest tension at its top. and the tool joints are welded on afterwards.

The Offshore Rig and its Equipment Heavy wall drill pipe is distinguishable from ordinary drill pipe by its thickened centre portion Heavy drill pipe. that of heavy-weight pipe of the same diameter could be 48 lbs/ft. is also carried by all offshore rigs as an intermediate weight grade of tubular that can be used in the transitional area between the pliable drill stem and the heavier and stiffer drill collars in the bottom hole assembly. and up to thirty in directional wells. and while the weight of a particular grade of ordinary 5” drill pipe might be 19. such as where helicopters have to be used to transport the pipe and where extra pipe has to be carried to extend the depth capacity of the rig.” 133 . A further type of drill pipe is made from aluminium. It is more expensive than steel drill pipe but has applications where its light weight is an advantage. called ‘heavy-weight’ or ‘heavy-wate drill pipe’ (HWDP). but is not commonly used offshore and not accepted as API standard. The wall thickness is usually about one inch.5 ‘lbs/ft. . Fifteen or twenty joints of HWDP might be used in vertical holes.

are used to connect collars of different sizes. and therefore straight. since the wall of the pipe is thick enough to absorb most of the knocks it receives. Enough collars are used to give the required amount of load on the bit plus the additional weight required to keep the drill pipe in tension. the latter type reducing the tendency for the assembly to become stuck in the hole by having less surface area in contact with its wall. and cross-over subs. each two connected collars presenting a smooth surface across their connection. forming the stiffest part of the drill string. and the whole assembly of connected collars might extend for several hundred feet above the bit. This helps to keep the drill pipe in tension. drill collars are the heaviest drill string components. Drill collars are usually of uniform diameter throughout their length and are either smooth-sided or spiral-grooved.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment DRILL COLLARS With’ a wall thickness of about two inches. and reduces the chance of the pipe buckling. which have different gauge threads at each end. The ends are without bulbous tool joints however. Flush-walled and spiral drill collars are both commonly used. and a number of them are always used in the bottom hole assembly to add extra weight and stiffness above the drill bit. There is an internal channel for the passage of drilling fluid. although the collars themselves bend when put in compression. 134 . Connections of collars are made and broken with tongs. and box and pin threaded connections at the ends l&e those of drill pipe.

‘.q 135 .The Offshore Rig and its Equ@men& Top: Drill collars stacked on the pipe racks. Bottom: Spiral collars are easily discernible on the left from the top of the derrick.

. They are positioned in the assembly at strategic points and they both have functions in straight-hole and directional drilling.and the same care and attention is given to their maintenance and handling. The weight of an 8” collar might typically be 160 lbs/ft..The Offshore Rig and its Equipment Drill collars are manufactured to API specifications in a variety of weights for a range of widths varying from 2 7/8” to 12” in outside diameter. STABILIZERS & REAMERS Depending on the company man’s requirements. Stabilizers may rigid or rotating spiral sleeves 136 . various special tools may be used with the collars in the bottom hole assembly. including lubrication and the use of thread protectors. the joint being 31 feet in length. Stabilizers and reamers are hollow-bore tubular tools that have fin-like blades mounted on sleeves on their bodies that contact the wall of the hole some distance above the bit. Some stabilizers have spiral blades while others have vertical straight blades. and the blades may be either non-rotating or rotating with the drill string. Collars are subject to the same sort of stresses as drill pipe.

A- T COLLARS COMPRESSING BIT BOTTOM HOLE ASSEMBLY Drill string components. Heavy collars are always placed just above the bit.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment ROTARY TABLE \ * DRILL STEM DRILL STRING ’ COLLARS TENSIONING DRILL STEM NEUTRAL POINT (ZERO WEIGHT) . 137 .

In the left background the kelly stands in the rathole.- . 1 3 8 . On the right is the choke and kill manifold.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment An elevator latched onto a stand of pipe in the rotary.

such as when deviation from the vertical has to be kept to a minimum. most of them having some sort of locking gate arrangement in their body into which the tubular can be inserted. is together termed the ‘bottom hole assembly’ while the entire assembly. Two basic manual examples will be found hanging by wires from the derrick near the rotary. collars. The order in which the ‘BHA’ is made up is normally laid down by the company man to suit the formation it is designed to drill through. ‘Tongs’ are basically large wrenches for applying torque to pipe. these are the makeup and break-out tongs used in making and breaking connections of drill l . some manually operated and others hydraulically or pneumatically operated. There are different types and sizes of elevator for each kind of tubular. The string of drill collars. Stabilizers have a limited amount of reaming ability. BOTTOM HOLE ASSEMBLY AND DRILL STEM The connected lengths of drill pipe that are run into the hole are collectively called the ‘drill string’. It is designed to enlarge a hole already drilled bye a bit positioned below it. Again there are numerous patterns of tong. although the wall contact area is not as great as that of proper stabilizers. ‘Elevators’ are collar-like gripping devices used for lifting tubulars by their ends. and one or more may be used in the string. especially in hard rock and where the bit is experiencing hole tightness. A reamer is somewhat similar to a stabilizer but has rolling cutters instead of blades. One or more are often used. casing and other tubulars less arduous. reamers. but they are not so suitable for hard formations. stabilizers. THE DRILL STRING. and the drill bit. although often this term is applied to include the drill collars as well. to stiffen the assembly when required. thus keeping it as near vertical as possible and reducing unintentional angle changes. usually below the drill collars. While it is performing its reaming function the reamer also acts as a stabilizer. They hang from long steel bars called ‘links’ that are suspended by loop-shaped ‘bails’ attached to the hook/swivel unit. other subsidiary items. At other times stabilizers may be inserted at some point in the drill string to provide a fulcrum on which the drill bit can pivot to provide a build-up of angle in a required direction and to a required degree. TUBULAR HANDLING TOOLS On any rig’s drill floor will be found a variety of tools that make the work of handling drill pipe. from the bit to the swivel. heavy-wall drill pipe. is correctly termed the ‘drill stem’.The Off’shore Rig and its Equipment The purpose of a stabilizer is to guide the drill bit and force it to rotate in the centre of the hole.

a spinning chain is thrown around the tubular to be made up or broken out on many rigs. 140 . At the other end of the spectrum. these are dangerous and are outlawed in some oilfields. However. and sometimes machines such as an %on roughneck’ are used to dispense with most of the manual involvement. . pipe in association with the make-up and break-out catheads on the drawworks. power-driven tongs are usually used for torquing-up heavier tubulars. to start the turning process before the tongs are applied.. Larger.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment A manual tong. Two of these hang from the derrick by wires so that they can quickly be swung round and latched onto tubulars when required to make or break a connection. .

-- 141 .The Offshore Rig and its Equipment . Top: A hydraulic torque wrench can grip upper and lower parts of a connection and apply preset torque to make or break it. Below: The machine can move towards the rotary table when required.

The Offshore Rig and its Equipment . Top: A hydralulic spinning wrench can reduce drill crew fatigue and improve efficient :y. 142 . Bottom: An ‘iron roughneck’ saves manual work. ..

A ‘spider’ is a large ring-shaped block with gripping surfaces on its inside circumference. sometimes called a ‘spinnerhawk’ (although this is actually a trade name) is also sometimes used to spin up drill pipe without the use of chains. Many other ingenious handling devices that are designed to make the drill crew’s life easier are made by oilfield equipment manufacturers. Their use is described in Chapter 5. hinged segments that are inserted by hand between the rotary master bushing and a tubular in order to temporarily suspend a string in the rotary when the hoist is disconnected. move pipe between the rotary and setback during tripping. coring and many other functions. while others are manual.. and some trade names have won so much popularity with drilling personnel that they are even used to describe the products of other makers. too many and varied to be described in a book of this scope. guide the kelly in and out of the rathole and guide and stabilize casing and marine riser. while other spiders serve as a housing for inserted slips when running tubing or drill pipe. Riser spiders have large internal clamps that grip the marine riser before it is lowered through the rotary (see Chapter 5). Slips are wedge-shaped. stabilize pipe when stabbing and making up or breaking connections. The basic equipment briefly described above is tried and tested. is used on a drill floor and elsewhere on the rig at different times during the well programme. however. 143 . fishing. and there is a trend towards the complete automation of the roughnecks’ and derrickman’s job. even though it is commonly known as ‘Koomey fluid’. The drill floors of modern offshore rigs are equipped with large and powerful telescoping arms that can guide tubulars through the V-door and into the mousehole. Oilfield equipment manufacturers make numerous designs of tpols for drilling.. Thus a rig’s BOP hydraulic fluid may not be made by Koomey. downhole surveying. and the vast majority of rigs will be using it for many years to come. the ‘drift indicator’ commonly known to the drill . steel. Inc. A power-driven pipe spinner. OTHER DRILLING EQUIPMENT A vast range of other implements. cementing. Some spiders are used in place of slips when running largediameter pipe like casing and riser. The larger types are often hydraulically or pneumatically operated.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment A ‘kelly spinner’ is a power-driven device installed above the kelly cock and below the swivel to enable the kelly to be connected and disconnected quickly without the use of chains or tongs. logging.

TORQUE ARRESTOR REDUCTION ’ / RING GEAR I LOWER BEARING MOTOR SHAF CLUTCH / PINION GEAR’ -SUB SHAFT . Bottom: A hand-operated spider for casing.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment crew as a ‘Totco’ might in fact be made by a firm other than Totco and the ‘iron roughneck’ could be another maker’s version of Varco’s well known hydraulic spinning and torque wrench. Spiders are mechanical slips. Top: A motorised kelly spinner. tubing and drill pipe. . MOTOR \ UPPER BEARING.

The unit alone usually weighs about four tons. The prongs dig into the sea bed and the compartments can be loaded with weighting materials. THE TEMPORARY GUIDE BASE After the drilling unit’s anchors have been deployed on the new location the first item lowered is the temporary guide base (the TGB). On the underside of the frame four spikes project to dig into the sea bed and firmly anchor the unit. The procedure of running this equipment is described in Chapter 5. . The TGB is a circular. A special tool for releasing the TGB when it is in position is fitted to the drill pipe string. octagonal or square. barite or other heavy materials before being lowered to the sea bed on the end of a string of drill pipe. but it is heavily weighted with bags of cement. This serves as a foundation for all the other sub-sea equipment that will follow. A temporary guide base with its running tool. and as an anchorage for the guideline cables on which that equipment will be run down to the sea-bed. and this connects with a slot in the steel guidebase frame. while the individual items are described below. and their connection at the sea-bed is remotely controlled from the drill floor with the help of underwater TV cameras. flat. or starting to drill an offshore well. steel frame of about 100 square feet in area which has compartments in which ballast materials can be placed.The Offshore Rig a& its SUB-SEA EQUIPMENT & THE MARINE RISER Equipment Spudding. is slower and more complex from a floater than from a jack-up rig or fixed platform because various items of guiding and well-control equipment first have to be positioned on the sea-bed. These large pieces of hardware are lowered through the moonpool of a semi-submersible or drillship.

and is designed to connect with the BOP stack which is later run above it.. about 3 tons in weight and square in shape. 146 . The wellhead/ casing hanger locates through the holes in the two guide bases and fits into the top of the conductor casing after this has been run. The amount of tension required on the guide lines is simply set by adjusting the air pressure.. The guide line tensioners are large cylinders. cyl’indrical device housing several internal fittings called ‘casing hangers’ that are designed to suspend the required number and sizes of casing and tubing strings that will be used in the well.downhole operations will be conducted through this aperture. There are also two smaller lines for running TV cameras down for monitoring operations from the doghouse on the drill floor. It projects above the PGB. The posts are used to locate the stack. The PGB serves as a landing seat for the wellhead and as a guide for drilling tools and the blowout preventer stack which is eventually located above the wellhead.the permanent guide base . and when it has been landed these are tensioned up and used for guiding other items of equipment down to their locations above the TGB. its Equipment Four wires are attached to the edges of the TGB.will fit. THE PERMANENT GUIDE BASE The permanent guide base (PGB) is another heavy steel frame. and there is a funnel-shaped projection around the aperture on its underside that inserts into the TGB’s funnel-shaped top aperture and ensures an accurate fit. THE WELLHEAD/CASLNG HANGER SYSTEM The wellhead is a large. The drill bit will commence drilling and all subsequent . that has a wide central aperture and a tall post on each corner through which the four guidelines run. .The Offshore Rig and. The PGB is run down the guide lines to connect with the TGB. installed in the cellar deck on the rig. that contain pistons which.are positioned by air pressure. which has arrangments to accept them within its own frame. In the centre of the TGB frame is a wide circular aperture with a funnel shape projecting above it into which the bottom of another frame .

The Offshore Rig and its Equipment .w 147 .

If the formation pressure were allowed to exceed that of the mud column. The drilling mud forms the first line of defence against kicks and blowouts. . in a great gush which envelops the rig.000 psi. which can easily happen when there is live electrical and hot mechanical equipment working nearby. it is an enormously expensive precision tool that can withstand pressures of up to 15. When a kick or blow-out threatens the rig and the BOP controls are operated. with an attendant risk of serious loss of life. the well should theoretically be safe. When this happens. Blow-outs have been responsible for some major catastrophes in the drilling business.and if it is not quickly brought under control it can lead to an extremely serious situation called a ‘blow-out’. Through the middle of the BOP stack is a hole wide enough for large drilling tools to pass up and down during the course of normal operations. which perhaps cost more than $100 million. The width of the opening is determined to some extent by the stage at which the stack is intended to be first used in the well programme. large and powerful devices are closed together to seal off the hole and 148 . If the gas is allowed to ignite. and last. along with the drill string which has a tendency in that situation to behave rather like a lot of spaghetti instead of strong steel pipe. the entire column of mud is expelled with great force from the hole. can be completely destroyed. line of defence is the blow-out preventer stack. high-pressure valves which is fitted on the top of the wellhead in a vertical tier and which can be controlled remotely from any of several positions on the drilling unit. however.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment WELL CONTROL & THE BLOW-OUT PREVENTER STACK If the drilling fluid. The second. and although they are much more rare nowadays than in the past. oil or sea water. but this can obviously not be used until wide-diameter bits have drilled 36” and 26” hole (see Chapter 5). This situation is known as a ‘kick’. Because of the intricacy of its numerous working parts a dedicated ‘sub-sea engineer’ is employed by the drilling contractor to maintain it and its control system in top condition. and often a mixture of these. Although outwardly the BOP stack on a deep-water floater appears fairly unremarkable. well fluids would enter the hole and start forcing the mud out of it.- . An 18%” stack is quite a popular size. This is a collection of large. For all these reasons every possible step is taken to prevent kicks and blowouts from occurring. or ‘mud’. is maintained at the correct weight to overcome every different formation pressure encountered. they always attract unwelcome publicity that can give the wrong impression of the industry as being one surrounded by constant danger and unsafe practices. the entire rig and its equipment. This is followed out of the hole by either gas.

. .The Offshore Rig and its Equipment .


t h[rough it 152 . The working action of a spherical BOP as pipe is ‘stripped’. or pulled out. Shut-off sea/-no drill pipe.I The Offshore Rig and its Equipment C/osing action begins. Seal around drill pipe. .

one above the other. called the packing unit. sealing tightly around the tubular running through it. so that there is complete back-up. completely blocking the space. sometimes. This can seal off the annulus between the preventer housing and any type of tubular that happens to be inside it. or ‘redundancy’ of these vital elements. or annular. The topmost preventer in the stack looks like a large steel pot from the outside and is called the ‘annular preventer’ or. or. . the rubber-like material is forced to expand in towards the centre of the hole. iower Housing A spherical. It can also seal off the hole completely if there is nothing inside running through the preventer at the time.. 151 . Inside the cylindrical steel body of the annular preventer is a large ring of steel-reinforced rubber or similar material. On high-pressure sub-sea stacks there are often two annular preventers. and different types of preventer are incorporated in the stack for use in every different situation. . Arrairgements have to be made for sealing the hole either when drill pipe is in it. if no tubular is present. or when it is empty. Below this are pistons which are moved upwards by the forced entry of hydraulic fluid into small ports. BOP. As the pistons push the packing unit upwards.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment prevent the passage of well fluids up to the rig. the ‘bag preventer’ or ‘spherical preventer’. .

Several sets of rams are incorporated in any stack . thus preventing well fluids from passing up the annulus. When there is pipe in the hole the pipe rams are able to seal tightly round it.also work under hydraulic pressure. Cylinder head I &&n assembly Wear ram shafl seal A ram-type BOP. One of the sets of rams. and very often four sets of ‘ramtype preventers’. These . which forces large steel rams to slide together horizontally to provide a seal. called the ‘blind rams’ has flat faces that butt tightly together when there is no tubular in the hole. and these have a vertical semi-circular channel in their ends of the same diameter as that of the drill pipe being used on the rig at the time.aff seal I -. but normally the same size is used for the duration of the well programme. Roundhead ram shait R a m s.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment Below the annular preventers are three. Another set is called the ‘pipe rams’. The stack has to be brought to the surface and the pipe rams changed whenever a different size of pipe is going to be used.

such as in the toolpusher’s office and at the forward lifeboat station. The controls for all the preventers are in the doghouse. shear right through any drill pipe that is in the hole. While the preventers stop the surge of well fluids up to the rig. has sharp blades that can. and if they were not enough.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment Another type. if necessary. . usually the top set beneath the annulars. with the shear rams being operated only in the last resort. with miniature replica panels usually at two other places on the rig. Normally the annular preventers alone would be used to attempt to control the well pressure. the pipe rams would be used. bubbles of gas which are responsible for kicks (and ultimately blow-outs) can be circulated out of the drilling fluid system through narrow pipe connected to the side of a cylindrical device called a ‘drilling spool’ at the base of the tier of Semicirl Xhr top SUPPOrt pIat suppon plate Shear rams closed These shear rams are designed to cut pipe with 3000 psi hydraulic pressure applied.


On the other side of the spool from the choke line is a ‘fill line’ and this enables heavy drilling fluid to be pumped into the well to quell.single and double . Both lines are often duplicated for full redundancy. and it therefore has to be handled very carefully when being lowered into position from the deck of the . To allow for maximum safety coverage. rig where it is assembled and tested. or ‘kill’ a kick. or ‘stack’.. and the entire unit may weigh nearly 200 tons in air. the size of the hole through the BOP stack can not be varied. The complete tier. manufacturers often offer two types of stack systems . This pipe is called the ‘choke line’ and it is connected to a large manifold of valves on the drill floor called the ‘choke manifold’.which can be used . It can cost several million dollars to renew.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment preventers. The choke and kill manifold is installed at the side of the drill floor where it can be operated automatically or manually. of preventers is encased in a large frame twenty or more feet high. so it dictates the stage at which the stack can first be used in the well programme. As previously mentioned.

The pods. on the other hand. . 18% inch high-pressure BOP stack. THE MARINE RISER 2 Types BOP stacks: single & double (dual) single: high pressure ( 15000 18 3/4" double (dual): has in real tow BOPs 1st one (surface string low pressure (abt. 200 large size 21 1/4" (use 2nd one: 13%" size of the high p Some form of conduit has to be set up between a drilling vessel and the well so that tools can be easily run down to the hole and so that drilling mud can circulate back from the hole to the rig. A dual stack system._) 1. If the hydraulic control system fails. The upper part of a large. It is then replaced with a 13%” size stack of high pressure rating for use until completion of the well. which are the most frequently used on large floating units. This is wound off a large reel in the cellar deck by the moonpool. one being a reserve unit. It provides a connection for the control ‘pods’ which contain the numerous actuators that work the hydraulic BOP valves. followed by 20-inch and 133/s-inch. The BOP stack is part of the rig’s standard equipment and is not supplied by the operator like other sub-sea items are. and a large device called the ‘riser flex joint’ or ‘ball joint’. generally have an 18% inch aperture and are rated for maximum well pressures of 15. The ‘marine riser’ performs this job and is one of the most important elements of any floating drilling operation. on most of the larger and newer rigs only a single stack system is used. If this size of stack was set in position at the beginning of drilling (‘spudding in’). employs two BOPs. an emergency acoustic control system employing transponders mounted on the stack can be operated remotely from the surface. so the two stack system may be the only option on some units. The first sizes of casing used to line holes drilled in deep offshore wells are 30-inch.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment at different stages. and every time some device had to be run into the hole the stack would have to be ‘pulled’. An 18% inch high pressure stack can therefore only be used after the 20-inch casing has been set. However.57 . . This provides a flexible connection between the top of the BOP stack and the lower end of the marine riser which is attached to it. can be detached from the lower section in an emergency once the well has been shut in. and this can be used following the running of 30-inch conductor casing until the 13%” wide string of casing known as the ‘surface string’ is set. which is often called the ‘lower riser package’. Single stack systems. large tools and casing could not pass through it. which on the outside look like small boxes.000 psi. Also on the lower riser package are mounted accumulator bottles which contain supplies of hydraulic fluid for immediate use in an emergency. One has a 21%” wide aperture but a low pressure rating of only about 2090 psi. Usually there are two pods. contain a mass of delicate control equipment which is connected to the surface control panels by a thick rubber hose containing scores of electrical wires.

The Offshore Rig and its Equipment Top and bottom: Joints of marine riser take up a lot of space. 158 . These are on drill ships. but must be carefully stowed on floaters.

A special riser spider is used to support the riser when this is being done. tide and current forces that act on it. which is static in relation to it. On a BOP stack with an 1g3/4” aperture. and because of the strength of the wave. often called the ‘ball joint’. rigid pipes called ‘choke and kill lines’. wide-bore pipes whose ends are connected so that they form a tightly sealed and smooth passage from the point of suspension beneath the rotary table to the BOP stack on the sea-bed. . which allows a certain amount of horizontal play in this part of the riser in response to wave action. just above the connection with the BOP stack. The joints must be of sufficient diameter to allow free passage of the largest downhole items that will be run. a 20” OD riser would probably be connected. This is achieved by the insertion of a ‘telescopic slip-joint’ near the top of the riser. the riser must be strong and well-designed. such as casing and casing hangers. whereas the top connection. Running down the outside of the entire length of the riser are two narrow. It must also be capable of withstanding great external pressures should the drilling fluid completely escape from it for any reason. On some very deep water rigs the riser is fitted with a second ball-joint in the surface wave area beneath the slip joint’. The Offshore Rig and its Equipment Because of its great length. especially at its couplings. The standard riser joint is 40 feet long. some means of allowing free vertical movement has to be incorporated into the system. is moving in relation to this. this having approximately the same internal diameter as the BOP aperture. at the rig. At the bottom of the riser. just below its connection with the underside of the drill floor. It is therefore a very expensive part of the rig equipment which has to be safeguarded by very carefuluse. As the vessel heaves up and down in the seaway the upper part of the slip joint moves inside the lower part.‘ lC9 .. but pup joints of shorter lengths are also used to make up the exact distance between the top of the stack and the underside of the rig. is the ‘riser flex joint’. which makes it very heavy when it is full of mud. Because the sea-bed connection at the BOP is rigid when the riser is set up. These connect with the BOP stack and are used in well pressure control operations.. Viewed from the deck of the rig at the moonpool it may thus appear that the lower part of the riser is moving. The marine riser is composed of a series of long. Each joint is ‘stabbed’ into the one below it and secured by special connectors which tie the two flanged ends together as it is run to the sea bed through the rotary. . whereas in fact it is the other way round.

Bottom: Choke and kill lines run along the outside of each joint of riser. At the same time the short length of 30-inch conductor pipe that is the first casing string run might not i60 ” -‘. the rig’s BOP stack can not be used at the initial stages of drilling as its aperture is too small for very large bits to enter. However.’ . there are certain circumstances when this is not practicable.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment TELESCOPIC JOINT MARlNE JOINT RISER MARINE RISER CONNECTOR Left: Marine riser system components. If shallow gas exists in formations just under the sea-bed. Although in most cases the BOP is run together with the marine riser. there is a risk of this gas blowing out unless sufficient equipment can be installed to contain its pressure. Right top: Flanged riser couplings.

a pipe called a ‘diverter’ is installed at the top of the riser. where ignition would be possible. Various measuring devices. A hydraulic latch. so that the position of the rig can be adjusted to minimise stresses on it. is used to connect the riser system to the conductor housing . or pin connector. and the riser is connected not to the BOP stack but directly to the conductor casing by means of a ‘pin connector’.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment be capable of withstanding the pressure of the shallow gas. To avoid the risk of the gas blowing out through the drill floor. The diverter leads from the riser to both outboard sides of the rig. when drilling without BOPs through shallow gas sands. Pin connectors and diverters are often used in the North Sea and other drilling areas where shallow gas is frequently encountered. including hydro-acoustic beacons. are used to monitor the angle the riser makes with the vertical. and has valves so that any gas coming out of it can be fed to the downwind side. In most deep-water situations the riser will not make a perfectly straight. vertical line from the rig to the . even if a largeaperture BOP stack could be installed above it.

.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment sea-bed but will curve somewhat with the forces acting on it. 162 . and the angle and azimuith readings obtained from their pulses is recorded on a visual display in the control room... These wires are often called ‘Rucker wires’. and some means of supporting it therefore has to be employed. with no means of support other than its connection with the vessel. . The lower part of the riser is supported by tensioner wires in the moonpool. there is a risk of the riser collapsing due to the weights and environmental forces acting on it. however. and sometimes to the BOP stack. The beacons are attached to the riser. THE RISER TENSIONING SYSTEM In water depths of up to about 200 feet the whole marine riser can be freestanding. In deeper water.

part of the riser. They have a stroke which is less than the maximum allowable heave by an amount determined by the mechanical advantage of the purchase system. The riser support wires are connected to the upper end of the lower. The cylinders are usually arranged in pairs diagonally opposite each other. To dampen their action the pistons are balanced with high pressure air to absorb energy on one side. . Thus a 20-foot heave could be translated to a 5-foot movement of the pistons. and compressed hydraulic fluid on the low pressure side. On the ends of the pistons are large sheaves forming part of a purchase arrangement through which the tensioning wires are rove. just below the slip joint.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment The usual means is by a system of wires held in tension in a similar way to the drill string motion compensator system described earlier in this chapter. rigid. when the pistons move the wires in the purchase move.HYDRAULIC CUSHION ‘TIE DOWN II 1 1 TO RISER A/R BANK The riser tensioner system. STAINLESS STEEL ROD GLAND BEARING AND SEAL VALVE I. so that an even tension is maintained on all wires. and compressed air is fed from a bank of reservoir bottles to tall cylinders in which pistons operate.

for example.The Offshore Rig and its Equipment The amount of tension required on the lines and the number of lines connected will depend on factors including the total length of riser deployed and the density of the drilling fluid inside it. In fact the upper part and the rig is moving while the lower riser is steady. Heavier mud therefore has to be used. / I 164 -w .000 lbs on them. Each of ten ‘rucker wires’. and this increases the strain on the riser. As drilling progresses the hole gets deeper and downhole pressures get higher. as the tensioner wires are sometimes called might. This is compensated by attaching more tensioner wires and by gradually increasing the air pressure in the tensioner cylinders. / From the side of the moonpool it often appears that the lower part of the riser is heaving. have a tension of 22.

The usual pattern is that under the supervision of the senior toolpusher (and at night the junior toolpusher or ‘tourpusher’). electrician and motorman also have to maintain the power supply that is essential to keep the rotary rig functioning. . two crews. each comprising a driller and about five men. marine drilling is a twenty-fourhours-a-day. could be costing an operator anything from $10. Specialists like directional drillers. each work a daily twelve hour shift on the drill floor and associated areas. While the driller physically controls the drilling from his control panel in the doghouse. the company man has to see that the drilling programme is carried out efficiently.. He therefore has an enormous responsibility.lhrl . Through the toolpusher he sees to it that everyone onboard is attuned to the fact that in Ihe drilling business time equates directly to money. with authority and remuneration to match. goes. both for the operator’s pocket and the contractor’s reputation.000 a day just to hire. Even Christmas day is a normal working day on most floaters which.and hazard. seven-days-a-week operation that may continue for anything from a few weeks to several months before ‘total depth’ (TD) is reached and the well can be ‘completed’ or ‘plugged and abandoned’. Because of the nature of the procedures and the heavy and powerful equipment used there are inevitably some accidents. quite apart from the other well costs he incurs. casing crews and technicians from any of the drilling equipment manufacturers are flown out to the rig whenever they are required. to the requirements of the operator who is paying for the well.000 to $95.* .CHAPTER5 DRILLINGOPERATIONS Because of the enormous costs involved. and many other people in various background workplaces around the rig similarly make an essential contribution to the drilling operation which is focussed on the drill floor. The assistant driller. derrickman and three roughnecks forming the drill crew are helped as and when required by three general purpose ‘roustabouts’ and their foreman. who is normally the crane operator. Apart from these secondary jobs the mechanic. while a rig mechanic and an electrician remain on call to effect emergency repairs to drill floor and mud room equipment that the drill crew itself cannot cope with. and a new hand aboard a rig soon becomes aware that what the company man says. The actual drilling is done by drill crews who work ‘back to back’. Many rig operations therefore tend to be carried out at an extremely fast pace which does not always appear compatible with complete safety. but most rig crews are generally highly trained through long and repeated practice of their own . it should be remembered. and the less time wasted the better. with the minimum of delay .

RUNNING IN THE HOLE When the entire drill string is to be run into the hole it will normally already be standing inside the derrick structure in several orderly rows in the ‘setback’ area to one side of the V-door. and this is how it was ‘racked back’ in the fingers. some of the physical manoeuvres on the drill floor. then. 166 .Drilling Operations specialised tasks and through their training courses. When it was last pulled out of the hole the string was disconnected not in single joints. might seem almost automatic and mechanical. To the casual onlooker. but in ‘stands’ of three joints (or sometimes two) with the male threaded ‘pin’ ends lowest. such as making connections of drill pipe.

stabilizers. jars. who works leaning out from the adjacent monkeyboard with a harness round his midriff. to the backs of the slips before they insert them. and can sometimes cause the steel of the slips to fuse to the rotary bowl. and lowered through the rotary by elevators which hang by links from the hook/block assembly. heavy-wall drill pipe and any other components included in the carefully designed BHA that will make the next section of hole are in turn pasted with thread compound and screwed togther. The kelly. The bit. the swivel simply has to be picked up by its bail and fitted into the hook. . But first the drill string has to be ‘run in the hole’. the appropriate type of elevators are fitted by the derrickman round the shoulders of the upper tool joint of the stand to be lowered. the kelly cock and the kelly bushing attached to it. usually by a pneumatic pipe spinner. the drawworks brake is applied and slips are inserted. with the swivel. or ‘made up’. each stand making 90 feet or thereabouts in length. which might be of the manual type or else pneumatically operated. or a spider is used to provide a holding grip while the next joint is connected. The weight of the entire string could be more than 200 tons.. where the top ends of all the stands have been pulled into slots between the fingers by the derrickman. The connection is then spun up. which is a deep tubular storage recess that projects down beneath the drill floor. and the stand is released from the fingerboard. and a stand of two 45-foot joints is called a ‘double’. perhaps a thousand or more feet of heavy tools. collars.Drilling Operations A three-joint stand of any 31. has meanwhile been stored in the ‘rat hole’. the kelly spinner. or zinc-based thread compound. is first made up as it is passed item by item through the rotary table opening.or 30-foot tubular is called a ‘treble’ (or ‘thribble’ an an American rig). so that to reconnect the assembly for drilling. The hoist lifts the stand a little while the roughnecks on the floor ninety feet below guide its lower end over to the rotary and stab it into the tool joint box of the tubular held there in the slips. while the lower end of the kelly (which is protected with the kelly saver sub) has to be screwed into the topmost joint of drill pipe. As each item is lowered through the rotary by the hoist. TO the BHA the stands of drill pipe that comprise the drill stem are then connected stand by stand. subs. This length reaches to the ‘fingerboard’ high above the drill floor. Finally the correct torque is applied to the connection by tongs. but on some rigs by a spinning chain which is thrown around the stabbed pipe and pulled off again by the make-up or spinning cathead._) 167 . so the roughnecks apply ‘dope’. Again. and these are lowered through the rotary opening. The bottom hole assembly (the BHA). The rotary hose is still attached to the swivel.

Drilling Operations Slips are inserted manually around a tubular to grip it in the rotary during the making or break@of a connection. or hold the joint firm while the connection is tightened. since the break-out tong on’ this occasion is only meant to ‘back up’. The break-out tong is secured round the lower of the two tool joints. There is also a snub line leading from the make-up tong arm to a Sampson post on its own side. The end of its arm is attached by a wire to the break-out cathead shaft on the drawworks. The arm of the break-out tong tends to turn clockwise when the chain is pulled. but this wire remains slack during the make-up operation. but this remains . The make-up tong meanwhile is applied to th& top joint and the end of its arm is connected with the makeup cathead shaft-on the drawworks by a chain which is wound tight to torqueup the connection. so a wire called a ‘snub line’ which is secured to a nearby ‘Sampson post’ on that side is permanently fixed to the break-out tong to prevent it from turning round.

Having tightened the connection to the correct torque. Also connected to the end of the make-up tong arm is a torque gauge with a transmission line leading to the doghouse. . the slips are removed and the stand is lowered ninety feet into the rotary until the tool joint of the uppermost joint of pipe is two or three feet outside the rotary. and the elevators are released to pick up the next stand. which may number more than two hundred in a deep well. yet rig operators and oil companies are constantly seeking ways of reducing the connection time to save costs. The driller is thus able to read what torque is being applied to the connection as he controls the make-up cathead. The complete cycle of operations for each connection takes only a few minutes.Drilling Operations slack during making-up. the joint is torqued-up by the make-up tong chain. The break-out tong is prevented from turning round by a snubline. This process is repeated for each of the stands. The drawworks brake is again applied. the weight of the complete string is taken by the hoist. USE OF MAKE-UP TONG During make-up. the slips are inserted between the rotary bowl and the pipe to grip it.

Drilling Operations When the last stand of drill pipe is in the slips. A roughneck stationed at the shale shaker announces ‘returns at the shaker’ and the driller starts the rotary turning and eases the drawworks brake off to lower the bit to the bottom of the hole. When it touches bottom. 170 . with the swivel. and he lowers the kelly until the kelly bushing engages with the rotary master bushing. kelly spinner. is lifted out of the rat hole and screwed into the drill pipe by the pneumatically operated kelly spinner. kelly bushing and saver sub attached. finally getting torqued-up by t’ongs. kelly cock.. the kelly. . The driller starts the mud pumps to begin circulating drilling fluid through the string to the bottom of the hole. ‘drilling ahead’ commences.

If the kelly is the usual forty-foot length. . mud pump pressure. From the doghouse control panel the driller monitors numerous data feedbacks. the driller makes fine adjustments to the mud pump pressure and. . Depending on the hardness of the rock and the rate of penetration (the ‘ROP’). and various other gauge readings on the doghouse control panel have simultaneously to be monitored.- 171 .rotary revolutions. rotary torque and mud pit volume and others. drilling ahead like this may continue for anything from fifteen minutes to several hours before most of the kelly has been lowered through the rotary. As the bit chews into the rock the hoist has to be lowered inch by inch to maintain the proper weight. and uses the weight indicator and the hoist controls to put the correct weight on the bit.Drilling Operations DRILLING AHEAD With the bit now making hole. about thirty feet of it can be ‘drilled down’ before a new joint of pipe will have to be inserted in the string. pump strokes per minute. That operation is called ‘making a connection’.. including return mud flow.

172 . where it now stands ready in the ‘mouse hole’ near the rotary table. and the weight of the drill string is eased off the hoist. .Drilling Operations MAKING A CONNECTION When most of the kelly’s length has descended through the rotary table the kelly is pulled back up until the first tool joint of drill pipe shows two or three feet above the table. The connection between the kelly saver sub and the drill pipe is then loosened with tongs and unscrewed totally by the powered kelly spinner. A single joint of drill pipe will previously have been hoisted from the pipe racks on the main deck up the dragway ramp to the drill floor. like the rat hole but a little shorter. The threaded pin end of the kelly saver sub is inserted into the top end of the mousehole joint and the driller Tubulars are positioned by crane on the V-door dragway ready for hauling up to the drill floor by air tuggers. The roughnecks insert the slips into the annulus between the drill pipe and the rotary bushing.. This is another tubular recess.

pulling the attached new joint of pipe out of the mousehole.Drilling Operations activates the kelly spinner to spin up the connection. and drilling resumes. When a connection has to be made. The mud pumps are restarted. Then the driller lifts up the kelly. is detached and lifted out of the rotary. The roughnecks then attach the two sets of manual tongs to the kelly and the drill pipe and tighten the connection to the correct torque. Here the roughnecks are’about to break the connection. the bit is then lowered to the bottom. and the new joint is lowered through the rotary until the kelly bushing again engages with the master bushing. the whole operation having taken only a few short minutes. and the roughnecks guide its lower end over to the rotary where they stab and make up the connection in the usual way with the tongs. 171 . The driller then raises the hoist a little to allow the roughnecks to withdraw the slips. complete with kelly bushing. the kelly.

Left: The kelly is lifted from the rotary. Right: The connection is loosened with the tongs. . Centre: The slips are inserted.Making a mousehole connection.

. .

Centre: The connection is torqued-up by the make-up tong. Right: The new joint of pipe is lifted from the mousehole. Left: The kelly saver sub is stabbed into the new joint of drill pipe.Making a mousehole connection. .

to which the rotary hose is still attached. The kelly is first pulled up and the slips are inserted around the drill pipe in the rotary bowl. where it is left complete with the kelly spinner. while the make-up tong holds the lower tool joint firm with its snub line preventing it from swinging round anti-clockwise. which pulls in an anti-clockwise direction. may last uninterrupted. Sooner or later. depending on the hardness of the formation.Drilling Operations TRIPPING The period of ‘drilling ahead’. however. kelly cock. SAMPSON POST . kelly bushing and the swivel. is used to loosen the connection. for several days or just a few hours. The break-out tong loosens pipe during tripping-out while a snub line prevents the make-up tong from turning. so it is now. the bit will need replacing. and the kelly is lifted into the rat hole. To break the connection the roles of the two sets of manual tongs are reversed from the make-up situation. The entire drill string then has to be pulled out of the hole and unscrewed stand by stand. the old bit changed for a new one. or ‘making hole’ as it is called on American rigs.applied to the top tool joint. and the string made up again and run back in. ‘Making a round trip’ is a long and tedious operation that might take a drill crew their entire twelve-hour tour if the hole is deep and they have come ‘on tour’ just at the wrong time. .. Its chain hangs slack meanwhile. The connection between the drill pipe and the kelly is then loosened and broken. The break-out tong with its wire. apart from making connections.

Drilling Operations The connection is broken and spun loose and the pipe elevators are lowered and attached to the shoulders of the tool joint projecting from the rotary table. guide the lower end of the stand towards the set-back area where the driller sets it down. and guides it into oneof the slots in the fingerboard. He leans out and catches hold of the top’of the stand of pipe as it comes near the monkeyboard. The derrickman unlatches the pipe from the elevator and the procedure is repeated for the next stand of pipe. and the slips are again inserted. making sure that the pipe will be racked in the correct order._ 178 7’ . . This would be particularly unpleasant for the roughnecks when oil base mud was being used were it not for the help of the racking arm. meanwhile. meanwhile. The stand of pipe is hoisted out of the hole until the tool joint of the next stand is in the correct position for unscrewing. has climbed to the monkeyboard and has put on his harness. The roughnecks on the floor below. The derrickman. A ‘wet trip’.

Drilling Operations The driller has to be careful not to pull pipe up too quickly and cause ‘swabbing’.. The driller lowers the kelly into the rathole. the new bit is lubricated and made up to the collar and the whole procedure reversed until the drill string is once more assembled and drilling ahead can be resumed. and he also has to ensure that the volume of pipe that has been removed from the hole is replaced with the same volume of. When all the drill string except for the last drill collar and the bit has been racked back. The bit is inserted into the bit breaker and the break-out tongs are applied to loosen its connection with the collar. or a suction effect on the formation that could introduce well fluids into the hole. This is pumped through the fill line and the trip tank (or ‘possum belly’) level gauge on the drill floor will tell the driller whether there is any net increase in the tank level.properly weighted mud. The bit can then be removed from the breaker and examined for wear. 170 . The bit is unscrewed by hand and the drill collar is lifted off. the bit’is lifted clear and the bit breaker designed to fit it is placed in the rotary. which could be the first indication of a kick. .

namely 3t)“. and each joint. .Drilling Operations RUNNING & CEMENTING CASING The large diameter hole which is drilled to start a well has to be lined as soon as possible with steel casing. arranged and marked on the pipe racks. The short. 133/a”. This prevents the wall of the hole from caving in. has to be extremely strong to withstand high well formation pressures as well as compressive and tensile stresses. topmost string of casing also provides a firm base and an anchorage for the BOP stack and for the longer strings of narrower casing which will be run later to line the lower sections of the hole. or drilling mud escaping from the hole into the surrounding formations. which on average measures 42 feet in length. and stops sea water entering. or ‘sloughing’. Casing is designated by its outside diameter. 103/4” and g5/a”. Casing has to be carefully landed. 20”.

especially exploration wells. A thin cement ‘slurry’ is pumped down into the casing pipe and a rubber plug is set on top of it. forcing the cement down the inside of the open-ended casing and up the annulus between the casing and the hole wall. SEA BED $OUTER CONDUCTOR 6 INNERCONDUCTOR & A TYPICAL NORTH SEA CASING DESIGN A typical casing design for a North Sea well drilled from a floater. Jack-ups employ a ‘foundation pile’ which. but pumped from below. which then acts as a piston inside a cylinder. The conductor. pumping is stopped and the well is left standing for several hours for the cement to set hard. This period is known as ‘waiting on cement’ (WOC) and gives the drill crew an opportunity to do repair and maintenance jobs around the rig. and all other casing driven in to connect the sea bed with the rig. .Drilling Operations In shallow development wells the first. may be cased to a depth of 1000 feet or more before drilling starts in the next section of the well. Drilling fluid is then pumped down on top of the plug. The cement is not poured in from above. but deeper wells. is firmly anchored by filling the annulus between the casing and the wall of the hole with cement. or ‘outer conductor’ string of 30” casing may be run to a depth of only about 150 feet. When the rubber plug reaches the shoe at the bottom of the casing string.- 181 .

a further string of 7” production casing or a ‘liner’ is cemented at or near the bottom of the hole. If test cores or other indications look encouraging.Drilling Operations JOB IN PROGRESS JOB COMPLETED A simplified cementing system. a 17?‘? bit to fit through the 20” inner conductor. a 12%” bit to fit thiough 133/a” surface string. and an 8V2” bit to fit through the 9%~” intermediate casing. 182 --’ . and various tests are conducted on the formations in the hope that well fluids can be persuaded to flow up to the rig. Narrow gauge ‘tubing’ may then be run down from the surface inside the casing and liner to channel the fluids up to the test equipment. Most cement jobs employ ingenious tools for pumping the cement by stages to ensure complete penetration round the annulus. Drilling is then resumed with a smaller bit: a 26” bit to fit through the 30” outer conductor casing.

Directional drilling can be employed for a number of purposes. or almost vertically. In most cases from a floater it is to sidetrack an obstacle. This type of drilling is done routinely from fixed platforms. techniques and equipment. This might be.Drilling Operations DIRECTIONAL DRILLING Most offshore wells drilled by mobile rigs are drilled vertically. thirty or even sixty development wells from mobile rigs and then tie them in by pipelines would be inordinately expensive. A floater or jack-up rig might be used to drill an isolated satellite well that could be tied in with sea-bed production pipe to the central platform. Numerous directional holes are therefore usually drilled from fixed production/drilling platforms to tap the fields around them. but often it is necessary to drill directionally. . But to reach the horizontal extremities of a surrounding oilfield is more difficult. and the techniques then employed are basically the same as those used when a floater has to drill directionally for some reason. Directional drilling required special skills. or to by-pass an obstacle blocking the path of the vertical well. When a platform is installed to exploit an offshore discovery. or to drill a relief well into a well that has suffered a blow-out. or at an angle to the vertical. some of the development wells drilled from it will be vertical. or nearly so. but to drill the required twenty. and very often it is done on a floater under the guidance of a highly trained and skilled directional driller who will be specially hired by the operator. for example. to penetrate a reservoir at a certain angle to take advantage of natural formations.

one a turbine. the other a positive-displacement motor. depending on the characteristics of the hole required.. Most frequently offshore a ‘downhole drilling motor’ is used in conjunction with a ‘bent sub’. Interestingly. both of which force the drill bit to turn without any rotation of the drill string being needed. the rotary is normally kept turning slowly whilst the ‘mud motor’ or ‘turbo-drill’ are being used in order to prevent any sticking of the drill pipe to the wall of the hole. Any of a variety of drilling tools could be used from this point. Some of a directional driller’s tools. . However. the Russians are reckoned to be the most common users of mud motors. tapered steel wedge called a ‘whipstock’ is set on the bottom to start the hole in the desired direction._ 184 . but in some cases a long. The downhole drilling motor converts the hydraulic energy of the mud stream in the drill pipe into mechanical energy to turn the bit. Right: A drilling turbine in three sections. Left: A mud motor. Two types of motor are used.Drilling Operations Normally a directional well is drilled vertically for a short initial distance which is cased before deviation is begun from the ‘kick-off point’.

allowing the bit to travel on past it and make the ‘pilot hole’ for the deviation.Drilling Operations A whipstock can veer a bit away from the vertical and make it drill a window through casing.- 1 8 5 .vertical as the bit drills downwards. following its withdrawal. to check the course of the hole from time to time. and the motorised bit makes the new directional hole unaided. . then unlatches automatically. This long tool is attached to and carried down to the bottom of the hole by the drill string. The tapered shape of a whipstock is designed to force the bit away from the. Special direction-seeking instruments are incorporated in the bottom hole assembly to orientate the whipstock in the desired direction and later. Once this has been done the whipstock can be recovered.

. so special non-magnetic collars. These are shiny. t Top: A monel. while ‘packed hole assemblies’ that effectively fill the space created by the bit ensure that the BHA stays rigid and straight. If magnetic survey instruments are used. _. Frequent surveys are made with the magnetic or gyroscopic compass-like instruments. Bottom: This gyro instrument package has an outside diameter of only 2% inches. Where there is room in the hole. or non-magnetic drill collar. and the bit can be steered with amazing precision to its target or round an obstacle. like stainless steel. . stabilizers are used to provide a pivot at the desired point. 186 . sometimes called ‘monels’ are used. .Drilling Operations The correct make up of the bottom hole assembly is most important. and numerous variations can be employed to either make the bit maintain direction or build up angle as required. the drill collars that they are run inside can not be made of magnetic material.

Left: A gyro survey instrument.Drilling Operations There is a wide range of survey tools on the oilfield equipment market. One such instrument commonly used to check the drift of vertical holes offshore is called a ‘Totco’ after the name of its manufacturer. 10-l . This is attached to and retrieved by a thin wire called a ‘sand line’ which runs down through the drill string. many of them employing a technique in which a miniature compass card looking rather like a small fairground rifle target is fitted to and punched by a narrow projectile which is dropped down the hole. and from the card the angle of inclination and the direction of the bit’s path can be read. . Right: A measurement-while-drilling (MWD) tool sends pulses back to the rig through drilling mud..

therefore. called ‘slant drilling’. the target area for the bit is usually at the base of the blowing well just above the penetrated reservoir. Once back on the jack-up the drilling package can drill overside in the normal manner from its cantilever beams. Here the derrick is slanted to an angle of about 30 degrees. 188‘ . is done by a small number of specially-equipped jack-up rigs. and some of the names of these drillers are almost legendary in the industry.Drilling Operations Once the bit is on its deviated path. and to correct the course where necessary. which may be 30 or 40 degrees or more. Another type of direction drilling. the directional tools may only be needed occasionally to correct large deviations from the desired course of the well. Slant drilling might be useful. the build-up of angle continues towards the desired maximum. When the blowing well is finally penetrated. On completion of the first wells. Piloting a wandering drilling bit towards a narrow hole thousands of feet down and to one side is a technical operation that calls for the highest degree of skill and experience. the rate of build-up of angle being about 2 or 2% degrees per 100 feet. This allows greater angles to be ultimately obtained and enables deviated wells to be drilled in relatively shallow depths. Once the desired angle is obtained it is usually maintained steady until the well is completed. and ‘skids’ its whole drilling package onto the jacket. This is because of the slower drilling rate and the time required to make surveys of the course of the well. the drilling package can be skidded around to another corner on the jacket to drill other slanted wells. The cost of drilling a directional well from a mobile unit or a platform is normally greater than that of drilling a vertical well of the same hole depth. Alternatively. the jack-up rig is positioned close alongside the new platform’s basic structure. as this allows a ‘stiff’ assembly to be used which results in faster drilling. large quantities of heavilyweighted drilling fluid are pumped down the relief well to kill the flow in the main well. and drilling begins from a location a thousand or more feet away horizontally on the surface. through a corner of which drilling then takes place. so that the hole is deviated from the surface and not after some depth of vertical hole has been drilled. When directional holes are drilled to relieve wells blowing out. So that the slanted well is begun from the position of what will eventually be a production platform. in exploiting a wide reservoir lying under shallow water with the minimum number of platforms being built. or ‘jacket’. and can also be straightened up to drill vertical wells before finally being skidded back over to the jack-up rig.

STUCK PIPE If the hydrostatic pressure in the column of drilling fiuid. or mud cake. offshore wells proceed from spudding to completion without hitches of one sort or another to disrupt the programme. or mud. The timescale required for drilling a typical directional well from a semi-submersible is outlined in the final section of this chapter. . and operators invariably make allowances in their timescales for ‘contingencies’. r’on . The most common hindrances to offshore drilling operations are ‘stuck pipe’. if any. there may be a-tendency for the drill string to be drawn into the side of the hole and stick. > About 30% additional time is required on average for a directional hole. and the occurrence of a dangerous gas called hydrogen sulphide.. or even during the few minutes it takes to make a connec. is greater than that of surrounding formations. DRILLING HAZARDS Few.L This MWD log shows the decrease in weight on the bit as a result of sharp dog legs in its path. This happens especially wheer_re there is a large build-up of filter cake. More serious but fortunately less frequent are conditions known as ‘lost circulation’. and when rotation of the drill string has been stopped for some reason. ‘fishing’ operations and having to ‘wait on weather’. This might be during a mechanical breakdown or the taking of a directional survey. on a porous formation wall. ‘kicks’ and ‘blowouts’.

The driller can exert a certain amount of ‘overpull’ on the string with the hoist. and he can activate the ‘jars’ if there are any incorporated in the drill string. This can tell the driller whether the extra pull and torque he is applying to the drill string is affecting the part of the string opposite the instrument. broken bit cones. the device is moved up the inside of the string until the first free point above the sticking area is identified. and drill collars with spiral grooves are often employed in place of smooth-sided collars.Drilling Operations Con. in a deviated hole. and allowing this to soak into the mud cake while pulling and ‘jarring’ on the string from above. old packers or anything that will impede the progress 190 -. or unscrewed. the point of sticking can be determined by a small instrument called a ‘free point indicator’ that is run down the inside of the drill pipe. and starting at the bit. Other causes of sticking may be jamming of the drill collars in grooves. either in rotation or vertically. and very often they will be effective and the string will come free. a section of casing. worn in the bends on a broken part such as a cone. Jars. Stabilizers are used in the drill string to keep the tubular part of the string away from the wall of the hole. or uncleared cuttings. The fluid itself is made as light as possible while at the same time slightly overbalancing the formation pressure. or ‘bumper jars’. The surface area in contact with the wall of the hole is less on spiral-grooved collars than it is on the smooth-sided type. . by rotation of the drill string at the rotary table. a broken tubular.. Attempts can then be made to recover the stuck part of the string still inside the hole using special ‘fishing’ techniques. an item lost down the hole through the rotary aperture.. In an attempt to avoid stuck pipe the drill string is kept moving for as much of the time as possible. If these methods are unsuccessful. This part can then be pulled out of the hole. and the grooves allow better circulation of the drilling fluid to lubricate the sides of the hole. called ‘key-seats’. The instrument is then withdrawn and in its place a small explosive charge is lowered to a position inside the first tool joint estimated to be above the free point. When the charge is fired electronically from the surface the threads of the joint should loosen enough for the free section of the string to be ‘backed off’. and the bit grinding trying to work underneath a mound of sloughing. work by releasing stored energy when they are either compressed or tensioned. or caving-in of the walls. Sometimes stuck pipe can be freed by quickly ‘spotting’ a slug of pumped oil down the inside of the drill pipe and up the annulus to the sticking point. FISHING Fishing might be attempted to recover a length of stuck pipe. and various additives can be used to make the mud cake less viscous.

Cutters can slip over drill pipe or tubing and remove whole sections. Small fragments of metal debris. or ‘bumper jars’ can be used to exert a very heavy or very light jolt to a stuck item. . fishing A wide range of ingenious tools have been developed through long experience of generations of drillers to loosen and retrieve fishes. Jars. Undrillable items are termed ‘junk’. or metal tools that have been dropped through the rotary might be removed with a powerful magnet. and a ‘fishing string’ can be specially made up to position these just above the fish. while an object that a operation is aimed at connecting to is called a ‘fish’.Drilling Operations of the bit. such as broken bit cones. An overshot can latch onto the top of broken pipe.

Some small items of junk may simply be milled and left embedded in the wall of hole.gulw PM Connrction a n d With Fl~Mng Neck J u n k M/l/ Round NQII Mill With Reguler Wlfh Regular P/n Conn. such as stuck pipe. which grips pipe on the outside. Larger fishes. if they are not likely to impede drilling. Fishing is expensive ‘downtime’ as far as an operator is concerned. Sidetracking is a technique used to by-pass an obstacle that might involve milling through a section of casing. Trying to engage a small. are gripped by an ‘overshot’. at the very worst. and drillers take every precaution to avoid having to do it. or by a ‘tap’ or ‘spear’ which screws its tapered end into the open end of a pipe and grips it from inside. Small milled fragments can then be washed up into the interior barrel of a ‘junk basket’ which has a grinding shoe on its lower end. and drilling ‘directionally’ round the fish. . because it is often more economical to simply back off and ‘sidetrack’ the fish. An explanation of directional drilling is given in the previous section in this chapter. Round Nose Mlfl WNh Regular Pin Connection Taper M/II WIkh R.Drilling Operations Mills of many different shapes can grind down drillable items such as pieces of cement. or. or slip over. packers. irregularly shaped piece of broken metal that is out of sight thousands of feet down a narrow hole is extremely difficult and often unsuccessful._ 192 . ‘Rotary shoes’ of many types can ‘wash over’. sealing the casing below the kick-off point with cement. a fish and grind an annulus outside it. freeing it from the wall of the hole or the casing in which it is jammed. Nowadays less time is spent fishing than formerly. and other items that cannot otherwise be fished out. but if the fish cannot be gripped it might mean having to deviate the well round it. having to abandon the well completely. especially in deep wells.ellon a n d Pin C o n n e c t i o n a n d With Fishing N e c k With Flrhln# Neck A range of mills for grinding down hole debris.

is encountered and there is a pressure drop.Drilling Operations BASKET BODY CATCHERS A junk basket collects fragments of debris such as broken bit teeth. LOST CIRCULATION When more mud is circulated down the drill pipe than returns through the flowline. or mud. must be maintained at a pressure which will contain the pressure of any fluids present in the formation . a situation called ‘lost circulation’ exists. The drilling fluid. When a very porous formation.what is termed the ‘formfttion pressure’. deeper part of the hole that has a higher formation pressure. the build-up of sealing filter cake on the wall of the hole may not prevent the escape of the drilling fluid into the formation. This may happen particularly when the mud has been weighted up to exert an over-pressure on another. or rock such as limestone that contains cavities. Apart from being costly in terms of lost mud and time. 193 . or fissured rock. it can also be dangerous because it makes well control difficult and can quickly use stocks of mud which are necessary for full control.

Drilling may then become impossible. If mud of too low a density. or a string of casing may have to be run to seal off the formation before drilling can be resumed and the mud weighted up again to deal with the lower. a salt water kick or an oil kick. more mud must be added to the hole to maintain enough hydrostatic pressure to over-balance the greatest formation pressure in the hole. If the high-pressure zone takes charge. If the pumping rate has not increased and the trip tank level does not fall but rises. there could be a ‘kick’ which. if not controlled. and this volume has to be replaced to maintain the hydrostatic head. line increases even though the pumping rate has not increased. it signifies to the driller that a kick is probably occurring. caused by the formation pressure encountered by the bit exceeding the hydrostatic pressure exerted by the column of drilling fluid. depending on the particular well fluid entering the hole. olive stones. or if the drill crew fail to keep the hole full of mud when tripping out. but all types of kick are dangerous and have to be guarded against. Pulling the drill pipe too fast when the bottom hole assembly is so tight in the hole that it acts like a piston and ‘swabs’ or sucks at the formation is a frequent cause of wells flowing unintentionally. high-pressure formation. If the LCM does not stem the flow into the weak formation. KICKS & BLOW-OUTS A kick is a sudden surge of drilling fluid up the annulus. A kick might be a gas kick. but even so. ground walnut shells. The driller has to guard against all these possibilities and he has a range of warning devices 194 . a kick can occur. or ‘weight’ is used. and it becomes difficult to continue logging the well by normal mud-logging techniques. Heavy materials called ‘lost circulation materials’ (LCM) that plug the pores or fissures of the formation are added to the drilling fluid to control fluid losses when they occur. Theoretically.Drilling Operations As the mud escapes into the formation circulation reduces or ceases. oyster shells. if the returning flow rate through the flow-. evidenced to the driller by the level in the trip tank falling. blocking them against the exit of the mud. coconut fibres and many others materials can be used as LCM. Mica. and quantities of these are kept handy in the sack room or mud room for mixing with mud in an emergency. cellophane flakes. cementing the fissures may be required. a kick may be happening. as drill pipe is pulled. The extra heavy mud containing them is pumped on its normal circulation path down the hole and deposits the LCM in the pores and fissures. could eventually lead to a full scale ‘blow-out’.. the mud level in the trip tank should fall by an amount equal to the volume of withdrawn pipe. Similarly.

Drilling Operations

available to him including a simple board and pointer gauge on the drill floor that shows the level in the trip tank. One sign of an impending kick is a ‘drilling break’ in which the bit suddenly starts cutting much faster than before, indicating that it has entered a softer formation that might contain well fluids. These can exist at almost any Ievel, but the deeper they are, the greater the pressure at which they will be released from the formation. Gas bubbling from the formation and rising in the returning drilling fluid can also warn of a kick, although lightly ‘gas-cut’ mud is commonly dealt with simply by removing the small gas bubbles in the degasser installed near the shale shaker. Gas kicks are the most difficult to contain, since gas that is compressed into a small volume at the bottom of the hole expands rapidly and greatly as it rises to the rig. As it does so it pushes drilling fluid from the hole, causing a rise in the pit level. With less weight of drilling fluid in the hole, there is less hydrostatic head to contain any further gas bubbles, and the passage of these is made even easier. The situation can get steadily and quickly worse if the first kick is not effectively dealt with, the ultimate consequence being a blow-out. Well fluids entering the hole are not always dangerous, and the driller’s, toolpusher’s and company man’s combined experience will dictate whether or not the quantities involved can be tolerated. Raising the mud weight to combat a kick, or taking other preventive measures, may only slow drilling down unnecessarily, so the situation is usually very closely monitored before any radical decisions are made. Drilling with a lower mud weight actually improves penetration rates, since the lower mud pressure allows the rock to break away under the impact of the bit teeth more easily, so the decision to weight up the mud cannot be taken lightly. However, if the correct decisions are not taken, the consequences could be calamitous. A blowout is an uncontrolled escape from the well of formation fluids either gas, salt water or oil, or a combination of these. Because of the everpresent risk of gas being ignited a’s it envelops a rig, blow-outs are potentially the most dangerous and disastrous hazard facing a drilling rig, either offshore or on land. Numerous rigs have been destroyed over the years and many lives lost as a consequence of wells blowing wild, although fortunately this happens much more rarely now than in the past, when a ‘gusher’ such as the one at Spindletop was often considered a sure sign of success for the drilling venture.


Drilling Operations

Blowout fires like this are rare, but could easily happen if safety awareness was not uppermost in the minds of offshore personnel.

The danger is increased offshore by the difficulties imposed by the sea in preventing blowouts and in escaping from a blazing drilling rig or platform when well control is lost. The cost of regaining control is often very high and a great deal of oil and gas may be wasted before the well is successfully capped, with serious sea pollution being likely. A rig costing a hundred million dollars to build, quite apart from the equipment installed on it, can quickly be turned into a twisted and charred heap of scrap by a blow-out, and a floater or jack-up may even sink, or a platform collapse as a result of one. Not surprisingly, therefore, a great deal of effort goes into well safety measures, and preventive equipment costing many millions of dollars is installed in the knowledge and hope that it may never be used in earnest. A blow-out can develop relatively slowly as a result of a kick not being properly dealt with, or, if the formation pressure is much greater than that expected, it can happen so quickly that there is no time for preventive measures .


Drilling Operations













BOP stacks can be arranged in different configuration. Most offshore stacks are of this type.

Drilling Operations There are several reasons why a kick might not be ‘killed’, allowing a blow-out to happen. If the BOP stack is not installed at the time, or if one stack is being changed for another, or if the controls are operated incorrectly, it might not be possible to prevent a blow-out. Even if the BOPs have all been closed, the well might still flow up the outside of the casing of this is not properly cemented, or if there are cracks in the formations around the cement. High fluid pressures at the bbttom of a well can actually break rock open and make a path to the sea-bed outside the well. This type of blow-out is especially difficult to deal with, and can reduce the stability of a drill ship or semi-submersible if gas is bubbling into and reducing the density of the sea water underneath it. Theoretically this alone could be enough to sink the drilling unit.

The first indication of a kick is usually an increase in the mud level in the pits, but an increase in flow may be apparent before this. The normal practice is for the driller to stop the mud pumps temporarily, thereby stopping circulation. If mud returns continue with the pumps stopped, then the well can be assumed to be flowing. The driller then pulls the kelly up and closes the BOPs around the drill pipe, while the toolpusher and company man are called to the drill floor. Over a period of minutes they watch how the pressures and volumes of mud change, and they calculate the weight of mud needed to stop the flow. This ‘kill weight’, which is made by adding heavy substances such as barite to the mud, should be enough to just over-balance the formation pressure, and with the correct weight of mud and the correct procedures, the kick can usually be killed.

Kick-killing procedures usually involve balancing the bottom hole pressure with the kill mud so that no more formation fluids can enter, while keeping one or more BOPs closed to protect the rig, and circulating the pressurised fluid out of the system. There are several methods of doing this, the one used depending on the particular circumstances of the kick. The weighted mud might first be pumped down the hole to displace the overpressured well fluid, or the kick might first be circulated out and the heavy mud then pumped in, or both might b$ done at the same time. To maintain a backpressure in the hole the driller adjusts the choke on the choke manifold to reduce the orifice that the returning mud flows through. As the weight of the mud is increased and the difference between the formation pressure and the hydrostatic head pressure decreases, the choke is widened until the two pressures are evenly balanced and the choke is completely open. The well is then ‘killed’ and the BOPs can be opened and drilling can be resumed with caution.


Drilling Operations





The diverter allows a floater to safely vent off shallow gas from either side without shutting in the well.

Drilling Operations HYDROGEN SULPHIDE Hydrogen sulphide, or H$3 or ‘sour gas’ as it is often known, is a colourless, toxic, highly flammable, heavier-than-air gas that is one of the most dangerous of the various well fluids that may be encountered in drilling. A mixture one part of H2S to 1000 of air is fatal to man, but in spite of its pungent, offensive ‘rotten eggs’ smell at lower and less dangerous levels of concentration, it deadens the sense of smell and is not detectable in more dangerous volumes, which can lead to a false sense of security. Continuous exposure to concentrations of only 400 parts per million can be fatal over a period of minutes, and a very brief exposure to it at full toxicity can cause rapid death, so strict precautions are therefore taken against the chance of rig crews being exposed to it in wells where it is likely. Aside from its other unpleasant qualities, H2S is also very corrosive, and the mud used in the hole has to be specially treated to resist its damaging effects. All the drilling equipment used, including the blow-out preventers, mud pumps and tubulars, has to be of a quality sufficient to withstand the corrosion so that no single component will fail in service due to corrosion. Very detailed instructions are given to crew members about their actions in H*S situations, and when the well is predicted to yield sour gas, orders are generally given for the removal of all facial hair. This enables tight-fitting gas masks to be worn in an emergency, and all hands are issued with one of these sets. HIS gas detectors are fitted in the shale shaker and drill floor areas, the alarms being monitored on the drill floor and in the control room. As soon as the presence of H2S is suspected, tests are made on the atmosphere with a portable gas detector, with the tester himself wearing a,self-contained breathing apparatus set. Far from being a waste product that has to be got rid of, H2S is in fact a valuable constituent of crude oils and is essential for the production in the refinery of sulphur. It is, therefore, an unpleasant fact of drilling life that has to be put up with, just as bad weather sometimes is. WEATHER & ICE After a sustained period of strong winds, large swell waves are created which cause a floating rig to heave up and down. Moderate heaves are accommodated by the telescoping action of the riser slip joint, but when the rig heaves to the limit of the stroke of the slip joint assembly, drilling has to stop and a period of ‘waiting on weather’ (WOW) commences. There is little that can be done about this and the two drill crews usually take advantage of the break from routine to do maintenance on their equipment. Downtime due to weather is commonplace in areas like the North Sea and Arctic and during



In the most severe weather conditions. The upper part of the drill string can then be pulled. where the marrying of the upper and lower packages is achieved with the aid of hydro-acoustic transponder locating signals. This ‘hanging off operation involves pulling up the drill string inside the last string of casing and hanging it off on . the rig has to detach itself from the wellhead. but it rarely affects units working in enclosed seas where large swells do not have room to build up. A special tool with a non-return valve prevents any flow up the inside of the drill pipe.Drilling Operations the local hurricane seasons in many other parts of the world. Then a blow-out preventer can be closed and the lower marine riser package can be detached from the rest of the BOP stack. and sometimes packers are set to seal the annulus. On stacks with guide lines this means having to cut the lines or disconnect them by some other means. having first displaced the drilling mud from the marine riser with sea water. but is left~suspended well clear of the sea bed while the unit rides out the storm. when there is a danger of overstressing of the marine riser. In this case. The riser does not have to be pulled back to the rig. Many drill ships and the few dynamically positioned semis that commonly drill deep water wells use stacks without guide lines. specially .a special tool that is lowered down inside. unlatching is more simple.

the wellhead and BOP stack are not installed on the seabed as with semi-submersibles and drillships.0 10..5 18. To protect the stack from the bottom of deepdrafted bergs. but it is vital to preserve the BOP stack and the well that it caps. special holes are often dug in the sea bed before drilling operations commence.0 1.0 3..5 6.0 1.5 1. leaving the BOP stack standing on the sea bed.0 5. which are the most expensive of any offshore. depending on factors such as the type of rig. however.5 20. are common to all rig types.0 1.0 1. the main operations in drilling a typical offshore well (if there is such a thing) can perhaps best be illustrated with the aid of a hypothetical exploration well programme for a semi-submersible operating in the central part of the North Sea.0 1. . This obviously affects the order of running of these and other items of equipment.0 21. run anchors & rig up on location Drill 36” hole to 160’ below sea bed Run & cement 30” casing Drill 26” hole to 1500’ true vertical depth Run & cement 20” casing Run B-3/4" BOP &riser Drill 17%” hole to 7003’ TVD (7219’ measured depth) Run electric logs Run &cement 13-3/s” casing Run gyro survey Days 2.5 1. etc. When collision cannot be avoided. This increases the costs of Arctic drilling ventures.0 Cumulative days 2. and sometimes even a massive berg can be steered clear by the supply boats. On fixed platforms and jack-up rigs.5 17.5 7.__ . Because of these variations. for example. the rig has to unlatch.0 4. Many other procedures. These units use supply boats and helicopters to scout for approaching bergs or growlers. The main features of the well programme and the timescale involved are as follows: Operation Move rig.0 * . but on the cellar deck of the rig.0 1. and it is to be tested for production if any hydrocarbons show in core samples.Drilling Operations Unlatching also has to be planned for by floaters working in Arctic regions where icebergs frequently threaten collisions with drilling rigs. the presence of shallow gas pockets. Total depth for this well is to be 14. DRILLING OPERATIONAL SEQUENCE From one rig to another there will always be differences in the drillingprocedures used and the sequence in which equipment is run. the water depth. the operator’s standard practice.200 feet.

so the entire drill string is normally laid down for the transit and mud pits emptied. where it is hoped to penetrate a reservoir. just as in surfaces navigation. very precise final ‘surface location’ co-ordinates are measured with satellite navigation equipment from 40 passes of a navigational satellite. as well as approximately the same weight of mud. and every deviation must be carefully planned and charted. and an accurate starting position must therefore be known.0 The well is planned to be deviated at 3500’ TVD.0 20. The path is not a straight vertical line. . could seriously diminish the amount of stability the rig has during the critical phases of deballasting and ballasting. This information is vital in determining how the drilling bit must travel to reach the ‘target location’ more than 14. The operational sequence is described m more detail below. Two hundred tons of drill pipe stood in the derrick setback.000 feet down. however.0 2.0 2.5 40. which usually have to be ‘rigged down’. moved on trucks or caterpillar tracked vehicles between locations and then re-assembled. MOVING RI. Drill pipe. When anchors have been set and the rig is ready to begin drilling operations. RIGGING UP This basically involves preparing the rig for drilling. will have to be brought up to the drill floor from the pipe racks where it is stowed during the rig-move.0 0.5 67.5 97.0 3.0 44. Offshore rigs are kept in more of a state of preparedness for drilling than are land rigs.G ONTO LOCATION & RUNNING ANCHORS Rig-moves and anchoring operations are described in Chapter 6. . but the rig should be ready for work almost as soon as the anchoring operations are complete.0 2. On a semi-submersible most of the drilling equipment is ready for working at any time at short notice. A tolerance of 20 metres from the desired location is allowed by the operator.Drilling Operations Drill 12-r/+” hole to 12150’ TVD (12636’ MD) Run electric logs Run & cement 9%” casing Displace hole to oil base mud Drill & core 8%~” hole to Total Depth (14203 TVD = 14686 MD) Run electric logs Run & cement 7” liner Test well (3 zones) Plug & suspend well Allowance for contingencies&waiting on weather 19.5 69.0 28. in the 17%” hole section. or dismantled.0 44.5 100.0 42. and fresh mud will have to be mixed.5 121. Many other small jobs have ot be done.0 3. and the rig must be proved to be within this radius.5 20.5 64.

204 .Drilling Operations RUNNING THE TEMPORARY GUIDE BASE (TGB) The temporary guide base. When this has been done the four guide lines and two TV camera lines are tensioned up from the rig and the underwater TV camera is deployed to monitor further operations from the doghouse. The end of the drill string is fitted with a special running tool that releases the guide base when it is in position. the heavy steel frame that will serve as the foun* dation for other sub-sea equipment is first weighted up with bags of cement ~ or barite and lowered to the sea bed on the end of a string of drill pipe.

Sea water is initially used as the circulation fluid through the drill string. Every thirty feet an ‘inclination survey’ is made to ensure that the hole is vertical. a 36” diameter bit called a ‘hole opener’ is lowered to the sea bed inside a ‘utility guide frame’ that runs down the four guide lines. or caving-in. SPUDDING IN & DRILLING 36” HOLE TO 160’ BSB After the TGB has been positioned. in this particular well drilling stops at 160’ below the sea bed (BSB). After the hole has been drilled it is normally filled with a mixture of water and bentonite to make a thick gel substance to prevent ‘sloughing’. A relatively short section of hole is now drilled with the hole opener. With the permanent guide base installed on its top it also serves as the landing base for the blow-out preventer (BOP) which will be run later. is next run into the 36” hole to prevent sloughing. sometimes called the ‘outer conductor’. 2lx .Drilling Operations The hole opener is steered down to the temporary guide base by a utility guide frame. RUNNING 30” CASING & LANDING THE PERMANENT GUIDE BASE U--W 30” conductor casing. This large bit enters the central aperture in the TGB and the guide frame automatically detaches itself. and this returns with the drilling bit’s cuttings to the sea bed where the cuttings are deposited. . The hole opener is then pulled out of the hole and back up to the rig. and filling.

3: Diverter. 2: Riser and guideline tensioners.Drilling Operations The complete drilling rig. 1: Motion compensator. 8: Wellhead and guide bases. 5: Riser connectors. 4: Riser tensioner. 7: B O P stack. 206 -’ . 6: Lower marine riser package.

and ‘scratchers’ might also be fitted. is lowered on a special running tool to the sea bed. and they have their own special equipment. Each joint of casing is ‘stabbed’ into the next lower one just before this enters the hole. which will be 20” wide. This is the first of several ‘cement jobs’ that will be performed during the course of the well programme. CEMENTING THE 30” CASING Now the casing has to be anchored to the wall of the hole. As each joint is required for running it has to be hauled up the ramp from the pipe racks and through the V-door onto the drill floor. The cement is then left a few hours to set (called ‘waiting on cement’). with a special ‘stinger string’ through. A team of ‘casing hands’ contracted by the operator is flown out to the fig for this and all subsequent casing jobs. These are pronged devices that stick out from the joints and contact the wall of the hole to remove mud cake and improve the cement bond. The guide lines running through the four posts on the PGB guide it into position and it slots into the TGB’s aperture with a funnel-shapped bottom projection that guarantees an accurate fit. However. Before the last joint of 30” casing is run. Sometimes .: Drilling Operations. such as power tongs for connecting the joints of casing. Cement is pumped through this at high pressure until returns are seen by the TV camera coming out on the sea bed. The PGB. their cementing is less complex. This will provide an anchorage for the next string of casing. The casing is brought out by supply boat some days before the anticipated running operation and the joints are laid on the pipe racks for inspection and numbering. are fitted round the joints as they are run. where the thread protectors are removed. ‘intermediate’ and ‘oil’ strings. the threads lubricated and special casing elevators are attached to lift the joints into the rotary opening. Again the utility guide frame is fitted. ‘Centralisers’. leaving about five feet of casing protruding above it. Centralisers and scratchers are sometimes collectively referred to as ‘jewellery’. as the two conductor strings (30” and 20”) are short compared with the ‘surface’. with the casing suspended from its aperture. which keep the casing string in the middle of the hole and allow a more even distribution of cement. The first joint run is the round-ended ‘float shoe’ that will be at the bottom of the string.. the permanent guide base (PGB) is attached to its top. one of the casing hands guiding the pipe from the ‘stabbing board’ erected about 20 feet above the drill floor. after which the permanent base for the main drilling operations should have been established on the sea bed.which cement will be pumped extending it to the ‘shoe’ at the bottom of the casing.. this time to hold the shoe as it travels down to teh aperture in the TGB. although a good bond must still be achieved: A drill string is run into the 30” casing.



Dmig OjMmatiOM cement will not have completely surrounded the casing all the way to the sea bed, and a ‘top cement job’ has to be performed from the outside. The need for this is verified by making up a string of five-inch drill pipe with a few joints of 3%” drill pipe on its end to make a nozzle, and ‘washing down’ the top of the cement outside the 30” casing between the casing and the PGB frame with sea water. This operation is monitored by a TV camera carried by the drilling rig’s remote operated vehicle, which is unmanned and controlled from the surface by an ROV ‘pilot’. In this case the cement has reached almost to the sea-bed so a ‘top job’ is not required.

An ROV enters the water. These hesemachines machinesare aremade madein inaawide widevariety varietvof of shapes shauesand andsizes, sizes.few few of them if any looking anything like conventional submarines.


A hole now has to be drilled for the ‘inner conductor’ casing, which is 20” in diameter. This will actually require a hole 26” wide, and a 26” bit of a type appropriate for the nature of the formation is selected. The bit is again guided down to the top of the PGB by the utility guide frame, and once again the circulating fluid is discharged onto the sea bed, since no riser has yet been run to enable it to return to the rig. For, about a day and a half the 26” bit drills to a true vertical depth of 1500 feet, which might not equate with the measured depth (MD) if the hole deviates from the vertical at all. Later sections of the well will be made to deviate, but this particular section is not. To make sure it stays vertical, inclination surveys are made every 200 feet.



Drilling Operations The prevent ‘sloughing’ (caving-in) the hole is filled with a gel-water fluid which is pumped down through the drill string. Following this, the bit is pulled back to the drilling unit. Five and a half days of the well programme have now elapsed. The BOP stack used by this rig has an 183/4” aperture, so it cannot yet be used for controlling any downhole pressures. In some drilling areas surface gas pockets are a problem, and in this situation the marine riser could now be run with a device called a ‘pin connector’ which attaches with hydraulically-locked pins to the outside of the conductor housing. At the top of the riser a T-shaped pipe called a ‘diverter’ channels any gas that flows out to the lee side of the rig. Shallow gas is not a problem in this area, however, and the pin connector does not need to be run. RUNNING & CEMENTING 20” CASING, & RUNNING THE 183/k” WELLHEAD The shoe at the bottom of the 20” inner conductor casing is guided into the aperture in the PGB by automatically-detaching arms on the utility guide frame, as with the 30” outer conductor. 1500’ of 20” casing are run, to the top end of which is attached the wellhead, a long, cylindrical device with internal fittings called casing hangars that suspend the various sizes of casing and tubing strings that will be run during the remainder of the well programme. The upper end of the wellhead, which has an internal hole diameter of 183?&” in this case, is designed to closely latch onto the 18%‘4” BOP stack when this is run, making a gas-tight connection. The wellhead is run with the last joint of the 20” inner conductor casing, after which the casing is cemented into the hole through the stringer string, with cement returns again being discharged to the sea bed. RUNNING THE 183/i" BOP STACK & THE MARINE RISER When the inner conductor casing string and wellhead have been set and cemented, the BOP stack, in this case a 15,000 psi stack with an 183/4” aperture, is run attached to the lower end of the 21”-bore marine riser. This will act as a conduit for tools and for drilling fluid and cuttings returning from the well. Each joint of riser, including standard 40-foot joints and shorter pupjoints, is taken in turn from the pipe deck and hoisted up to,. the drill floor where it is fed into the 49%” opening where the rotary table master bushing is normally located. The heavy BOP stack, located on its test stump just forward of the moonpool in the cellar deck, has been re-assembled following maintenance by the sub-sea engineer and tested to its working pressure. It is now lifted off the test stump and hoisted over the moonpool by an overhead



Drilling Operations

A quick welding job is done in this rig’s cellar deck before the stack can be deployed. Lost time costs a lot of money, so delays are minimised.

beam trolIey arrangement. Sitting in the moonpool on the ‘spider beams’ the stack isconnected to the ball joint and the bottom joint of riser, and is then lowered by the hoist as each additional joint of riser is connected on the drill floor. The stack weighs in the region of 190 tons in air and is worth several million dollars, so its descent is very carefully controlled, with the toolpusher usually in attendance. (Stacks have been known to be dropped to the sea bed rather than lowered).


Drilling Operations As the stack nears the wellhead it becomes liable to damage by landing heavily or bumping, since the rig will be heaving up and down to some degree if there is the slightest sea running. As the final joints of riser are added on the drill floor, therefore, the riser tensioner wires are connected just below the slip joint, and part of the load is transferred to them. A proportion of the total load is thus taken by the rig’s surface motion compensator system while the remainder is held by the riser tensioning wires, enabling the stack to be landed with the minimum of jarring.

A BOP stackwith lower marine riser package connected runs down the gui de linesand enters the water. Ttme choke and kill lines are clearly visible.

The BOP stack is latched onto a special connector on the wellhead, which both supports it and provides a gas-tight seal. After it has been landed, all subsequent strings of tubulars and casing will run through the N3/4” apertures in both the stack and the wellhead. Once the stack is in position on the wellhead it is hydraulically pressure-tested to ensure a good seal.


.. .*

Drilling Operations

At the top of the riser, above its telescopic slip joint and underneath the drill floor, a diverter is fitted. This is a large housing in which an emergency sealing device can shut off the vertical 21”.wide access to the drill floor and divert well fluids to either a narrow flowline outlet or a vent line outlet. The vertical access can be sealed around the kelly, drill pipe or casing that happens to be running through it when it is closed, so it is really a form on annular blow-out preventer. Drilling fluid returning form the well normally passes out through the flowline to the shale shaker, and this is the same line through which mud is delivered from the fill-up line when the drill string is being tripped out of the hole. If any gas flows up the riser, the vertical access is sealed at the top and the flowline is closed, thus diverting the gas to the vent line. From there it can be directed~ by an automatic deflector to pass overboard on either the port or starboard side, depending which is downwind. All the controls for the diverter are in the doghouse.
DRILLING 17%” HOLE TO, 7003’ TVD (7219’ MD)

The cement-filled shoe of the 20” casing is next drilled out with a 17%” bit, after which a 17%” hole is drilled to a vertical depth, in this well’s case, of 7003’. However, not the entire distance is drilled vertically. At 3500 feet TVD there is a ‘kick-off point’ where the drill bit will be deviated by directional drilling techniques. By the time the bit arrives at a level 7003’ directly below the sea bed it will actually have travelled 7219’ along the hole. This is termed the ‘measured depth’. (Directional drilling is explained more fully in a preceding section of this chapter.) From the kick-off point drilling is done by means of a bit rotated by a downhole drilling motor or ‘mud motor’, and a device called an ‘MWD tool’ is incorporated in the drill string. This ‘measurement while drilling’ tool enables directional surveys to be made and their results transmitted to the surface by pulses that travel up through the drilling fluid. A digital readout in the doghouse tells the driller the angle and direction that the bottom hole assembly is taking and he can adjust it accordingly by varying the weight on the bit or the mud pump pressure. This hole section shoufd take about 10 days to drill, or longer if downhole difficulties arise. Gumbo,.a type of sticky clay that tends to clog equipment both downhole and in the shaleshakers, is a problem here, but the mud is specially conditioned and its flow rate increased to combat it. About 1100 gallons a minute of mud weighing around 9 ppg (pounds per gallon) are pumped by the two mud pumps. Due to the sticky clay, ‘swabbing’ is also a problem when the drill string is pulled out of the hole. If the string is pulled
. . 112 ”

214 -- . anchor.Drilling Operations Hole deviation equipment for ‘kicking off’: whipstock. packer and mills.

Before logs can be run. This is installed at the far end of the rig in line with the V-door. The amount of slurry required is very carefully calculated from a knowledge of the width and depth of the hole and the size of the casing. checked and lubricated. He monitors the amount of swabbing and fill-up by watching the level of mud in the ‘possum belly’ or ‘trip tank’. each employing special instruments which are attached to the wireline. and to allow the mud to be ‘conditioned’. . so that the long wireline that runs off its storage reel can pass directly up to the drill floor where it enters the rotary. The plant cons&s basically of a large mixing hopper and water pipes leading to a powerful pump which delivers the mixed cement slurry to a cementing head on the drill floor where it enters the casing. called the ‘cement unit’. mud must be circulated through the well to remove any cuttings. filling it with mud as he does SO through the fill-up line. This is lowered to the bottom of the hole and then brought slowly back up. sonic and radioactivity logging. The contracted cementing company maintains a powerful cement mixing and pumping plant onboard. and this firm is not usually changed by a new operator. which could lead to formation seawater or other fluids in the formation bursting into the hole. LOGGING When 7003’ TVD has been reached the well is logged with electric and sonic wireline logging devices to determine conditions in the hole before running casing. Well logging is done by expert technicians employed by a specialist company which maintains a permanent wireline logging unit onboard. the devices ‘reading’ different types of data as they pass each formation and recording the data on electrocardiogram graphs which can be interpreted by the geologist and drilling engineer. since the pipe left will displace less volume. such as electric. There are many different techniques of well logging. A ‘kick’ of this sort has to be avoided. While this is being done casing running equipment is brought onto the drill floor. and the driller keeps the level constant by adding mud as required. however. Normally as the drill pipe is withdrawn the mud level should fall. and various additives are mixed with it to a precise formulation that is monitored by sophisticated equipment. so the driller is careful to withdraw the string slowly.000 feet of 13%” ‘surface string’ casing is now run and cemented to seal the wall of the hole so far drilled.DriWng Operations too fast it tends to suck the wall of the hole inwards. RUNNING & CEMENTING 133/s” CASING About 7.

Drilling Operations TUBING PROFILE ChLIPER CASING PROFllf CALIPER CASING MINIMUW l. 216 .CALIPER Remaining WI ThiCknes Caliper logs measure. internal diameters and profiles to detect damaged areas.O.

These are caliper tools. Caliper There is a vast range of downhole logging devices on the market. D. -./ Drilling Operations @a-Log Tubing Profile Caliper Da-Log Casing Profile Caliper lx-Log Minimum 1.* 217 .

Drilling fluid is then pumped down at high pressure by the mud pumps.Drilling Operations The company man usually supervises the cement job. At a predetermined moment. In one of the most simple methods a lower plug travels ahead of the pumped cement. The back-pressure on the mud pump then rises. however. However. pushing the top plug and the cement below it down. this does not prevent the cement from escaping. the cement pump is stopped and a top plug is released above the last of the cement. this being drilled out at the start of drilling of the next hole section. therefore. The cement continues flowing out through the valve in the shoe until the top plug lands on the bottom plug. It is vital to do a good ‘job’ the first time. some of which are quite complex. they all have the same objective: to allow cement to be pumped from the bottom of the casing string into. which is extremely noisy and dusty. Pumping the cement at high pressure from the surface continues and this plug eventually seats on the casing shoe. Since it is difficult to know exactly what is happening to the cement inside the casing at any given moment during the cement job. as continued pumping ruptures a seal in the shoe. has to be done rapidly and without hitches if the cement is not to start setting before pumping is complete.and up the annulus between the casing and the wall of the hole. while the cementer operates the pumping machinery and the bargemaster controls the valves through which the dry cement powder is delivered to the jet mixing hopper from the rig’s ‘P’~ tanks. The cement then starts flowing out through a non-return valve and passing up the annulus between the casing and the wall of the hole. MAKING A GYRO SURVEY A ‘gyro survey’ is now made by a wireline-run instrument to check the inclination and direction of the deviated hole at a specific depth. . movable plugs are usually used to contain the cement as it travels down to the bottom of the casing. However. In an uncased hole a magnetic survey could be made with ‘single shot’ or ‘multi shot’ tools. which is termed ‘bumping the plug’. There are many variations in the downhole equipment used for cementing and the procedures in their operation. and some way of expelling the bulk of it has to be used. After a ‘waiting on cement’ (WOC) setting period of several hours the casing is pressure-tested. too much cement must not be left to set inside the casing. Basically. pushing any drilling fluid ahead of it out of the casing like a piston. In most systems a certain amount of cement is left to set inside the bottom of the casing above the shoe. The whole operation. unable to travel any further. indicating that all the cements has been expelled from inside the casing’. as a lot of time can be expended if a remedial ‘squeeze job’ has to be done later to fill up unfilled spaces.

/ Drilling Operations the information being recorded on film discs which are read at the surface. It has to be used because the shale formations that will next be drilled through have a tendency to slough. a small compass card. DISPLACING THE HOLE TO OIL BASE MUD The water base mud is now replaced by oil base mud which is either mixed in the mud pits from diesel oil kept in one of the rig’s pontoon tanks or else is pumped aboard ready-mixed from a su@ply boat. This is the longest period of drilling planned. as in the 17%” hole. used in gyro surveying.ensors in the instrument cause a transmitter to send pulses up through the mud to the rig. Oil base mud might also be used if the formations were sensitive to water. RUNNING & CEMENTING 9%” CASING This is done as with the 133/a” casing. as the steel casing would cause errors in readings. when . or cave in. As with magnetic survey tools. a camera and film discs are included.150 feet has been reached mud is circulated down the hole to clean out any cuttings. DRILLING 12%” HOLE The cement shoe of the 13%” casing is now drilled out with a 12%” bit and directional drilling continues with the mud motor for approximately 19 days to a depth of 12150’. DRILLING 8V’z” HOLE TO TOTAL DEPTH 8%” bits are now used to drill to total depth (TD) of 14. This casing string is sometimes termed the ‘intermediate string’. both single shot and multi-shot instruments are. with a pressure test following the cementing.200’. The well is still controlled by the weight of the drilling mud. and any formation fluids present in the pay zones will not be able to flow until special casing called ‘liner’ has been set through the zones and has been ‘perforated’ to allow access for the fluids to . however. Electric logs are then run. but there is not a ‘gusher’ like there would have been in the old cable tool wells. a battery pack. or in formations where there was a tendency for drill pipe to stick due to differential pressures. Magnetic survey tools can not be used here. This involves only a brief pause in drilling. in which a gyroscope. giving a digital readout of angle and azimuth in the doghouse: When TD is reached the ‘pay zone’ or zones should have been penetrated. Tool designs vary but often employ a cylinder only about two inches wide. LOGGING When 12. and the mud is conditioned to restore its quality. with water base mud. Measurementwhile-drilling (MWD) devices are used every 500’ during this final phase of drilling to determine the accuracy of the bit’s travel as it nears its target.

so that the barrels embed in the adjacent formation. where it will go to a core laboratory for analysis. The core looks and feels like nothing more than a cylinder of ordinary grey or brown rock. Another method of coring is sometimes used in exploration wells. Otherwise the well would have been plugged and suspended. LOGGING Following coring the well is again cleaned out by circulating and there is a three-day period of well logging of various kinds to determine hole and formation conditions. which would take abbut another six days. but it may contain vital clues as to what hydrocarbons lie in the formations beyond the wall of the hole. as initial lab analysis of the first 60-foot core sent to town indicates that the well is worth testing.zones. CORING A ‘core barrel’ with a ‘coring bit’ at its lower end is now fitted to the bottom of the drill string and approximately 760 feet of core samples are removed from the formation at a rate of 6 to 8 feet an hour. nobody is usually allowed to keep any of the core. assisted by the mud loggers.~ 220 . . In spite of souvenir-hunters’ requests. This involves the firing of small core barrels horizontally from a cylindrical tool called a ‘core gun’ at selected depths. The core barrel is made up in 30 foot sections to a total length of 90 feet and lowered into the rotary opening on the end of a drill string which is rotated in the normal way. called ‘sidewall coring’. carefully removes the thin. But this liner will not necessarily be run unless the results of a ‘coring’ programme yield encouraging results.Drilling Operations the rig. the coring bit has a cylindrical matrix with a wide central aperture through which the core passes to the barrel interior. The cutting surface of the matrix is studded with a large number of industrial diamonds which are of a type and arrangement to suit the formations in the pay. The barrels are attached to the gun by steel cables and when the gun is withdrawn they pull samples of the formation out with them. cylindrical core sample from the core barrel and after making his own tests packs it in long tubular boxes for transporting by helicopter ashore. These will go ashore for laboratory analysis and will largely determine whether or not the test programme will be run. Unlike a rock bit. The geologist. as it is obviously of possible value to a rival operator. and in what quantities they exist. This particular period of coring runs its full course for a further four days..

Right: Diamond coring bits for medium-hard and hard dense formations.Drilling Operations Coring equipment: Left: Conventional and wireline core barrels. .

For this specialised operation a contracted well test crew comes out to the rig with a great deal of test equipment that they set up on the deck. When it. If a string of narrow tubing is now run down through this packer with special valves that allow the controlled entry of well fluids. Instead it is suspended from the bottom of the deepest string of casing run (the 9%” in this case) by means of a liner ‘hanger’. At the same time. allowing analysts to later determine what pressure variations occurred at different 222 . This is one of the operations in the period of ‘well testing’._ . Perforating of these zones is done by electronically firing a cylindrical ‘gun’ that is lowered by wireline into the desired zone. the rig and all ships in the close vicinity have to go into a state of ‘radio silence’ when all radio-frequency equipment that might affect the firing mechanism is electrically isolated. each separated by a packer. . a clock mechanism starts a graph in the tool which records the pressures experienced against a timescale. This liner looks much like any other type of casing. The liner is cemented at the same time as it is run. and subsequent production testing may take approximately two weeks. but it does not run all the way from the well bottom to the sea bed like ordinary casing. WELL TESTING Perforating the liner in three zones. a ‘drill stem test tool’ (DST tool) is run on the end of a string of drill pipe to TD.lands on the bottom a packer installed in the string at a level above the test zones automatically seals against the wall of the hole and valves open to allow well fluids access to the drill string. allowing access for the formation fluids to the string of test tubing that has been run in. These shoot horizontally through the liner and the cement behind it and penetrate the wall of the hole. and a packer or plug is set at its top to isolate the test zones inside it from the cased hole above. During the firing. In another type of well test. it has to be perforated. while pressure vessels and tanks to contain the well fluids are connected to pipework on deck and pressure tested. the operator has decided to run a 7-inch liner in which test equipment can be installed to allow well fluids to flow to surface under contra. The target pay zones are sealed off by the liner and by the packers in between each zone so that fluids from one zone will npt leak into another. Flare booms are swung out from the sides of the rig and burners are installed on their ends. it will be possible to channel pressurized well fluids to surface under control. But to allow the fluids access to the inside of the liner. perhaps more. During this period no radio communications are possible with the outside world. where it fires either steel bullets or explosive charges of high-pressure gas.Drilling Operations RUNNING & CEMENTING THE 7” LINER Core analysis having yielded ‘shows’ of hydrocarbons in the pay zone formations.

Pressure-c operated well-testing equipment is run down the hole on a string of drill pipe. full bore PCT test system. Typicar slew? valve PC T test system. . Internal valves can 1 be opened and closed as required from the surface.Drilling Operations . Typica.

This takes up a lot of space. and special ships are sometimes used to test wells drilled from small platforms. .Drilling Operations A typical offshore well-testing layout on a floater.

there are two methods by which flow can be encouraged. especially if unburnt oil drips from the end of the burner. allowing the fluids to flow more freely. Sometimes mixtures of water and alcohol. Along with the liquid. These are called ‘well stimulation’ techniques. when the job of the drilling rig is not to -. carefully calculated pressure that might be as much as 15. sand is pumped down. Fracturing involves splitting the formation rock by pumping a liquid down the hole at a very high. and they are often employed during ‘workovers’. hold or ‘prop’ open the cracks. Acidizing the formation eats away any soluble material clogging the pores of the producing formation rock. or by ships designed specially for the job. There is a chance of some oil pollution. It is a hard but accepted fact of life in the drilling industry that only about one wildcat well in ten flows ‘commercially’. . and is sometimes used in conjunction with fracturing. In case the drips of oil go unnoticed in darkness. requiring a lot of special equipment and materials to be brought out. opening it up. It is done by pumping a mixture of water and hydrochloric or other acid down the well. the solids. The heat from the flare can be intense.v 225 . Both these methods are sometimes used to stimulate a new well to flow. so a water spray ‘deluge’ system that protects the sides of the rig is activated by the ballast pumps during flaring-off. and this works into the fissures in the rock. flaring-off is not allowed to start until daylight in some regions. depending on the nature of the formation. so the chances are that the hole will be dry and will have to be plugged and abandoned. oil or gas will hopefully enter the test string of narrow tubing that is run down through the packers and will travel up to the test equipment on deck and out of the end of the flare boom where it will be ignited. The two methods normally used for well stimulation are ‘fracturing’ and ‘acidizing’. The packer meanwhile seals off the test zones from the drilling fluid which is pressurizing the annulus higher up. After perforating. so the rig standby vessel is made ready for pollution control duties. However. When the liquid pressure is relieved. or foam or nitrogen gas may be injected. in which towed boards together with a special dispersant chemical will break up any oil on the water surface. WELL STIMULATION Stimulation of offshore wells can be done either from the rig. if hydrocarbons are known to be in the formations but seem reluctant to emerge. called ‘proppants’. of other liquids and solids may be used.000 psi. or blends. allowing any well fluids inside to flow.Drilling Operations stages during the test.

drill a new well but to ‘overhaul’ an existing well and restore or improve its productivity. This does not mean a bonanza. however. neither method of stimulation is employed. which is a wildcat exploration well.Drilling Operations A successful well test? Gas bums from the flare boom of a semi-submersible rig. In this particular well. however. 226 .

If the well does not flow. This might be years from the drilling of the first expioratory wells. The operator of this particular well has allowed more than 20 days for ‘contingencies’. and these are often used offshore. so that each of the three zones can produce independently of the others. CONTINGENCIES & WEATHER As described in the ‘Drilling Hazards’ section earlier in this chapter. Alternatively. and this figure might be increased in the winter. This and other marine and associated operations are described in the next chapter. it will probably be abandoned. One period of operations when delays might occur is during the anchoring of the rig at the location. The alternative to cutting the casing is blasting it free with explosives. as much casing as possible will be removed from the well. or an ROV or a small submersible are deployed to inspect it. Since it is very expensive and can be used again.Drilling Operations PLUGGING & SUSPENDING OR ABANDONING THE WELL If well-testing proves the reservoir productive to a profitable degree. or if it flows at an unprofitable rate. either on the sea-bed from where it will be tied in to a nearby platform. so the rig’s divers. Later a production wellhead will be installed. 227 . When the casing has been freed the wellhead can be salavaged along with the two guide bases. production tubing will have to be run from the sea bed through the packer separating each producing zone. depending on the operator’s or his consortium partners’ plans. Under some countries’ regulations the sea bed must be left absolutely clear of debris. sometimes making a video film of the area. equipment may get stuck in the hole. which involves using a tool called a ‘casing cutter’ to mill each string free below the wellhead. . or on the platform itself if this is erected over the well. very few wells are drilled exactly to schedule offshore. and large seas and swells that produce big heaves can mean periods of ‘waiting on weather’. if production equipment is to be installed straight away. Machinery may break down. This is called a ‘multiple zone completion’. the swell will normally be plugged and suspended to await development of the field at a later date. leaving the sea-bed in a clean condition. which involves sealing it with a cement plug and removing all wellhead equipment.

or when a semi-submersible is being ballasted or de-ballasted through its critical phase of draft. or ‘bosun’. who are often ‘signed on’ as the certified mates of the vessel. He is on call 24 hours a day. ‘228” . DISPLACEMENT AND THE PRINCIPLE OF FLOTATION One of the most fundamental principles of stability is that a floating vessel of any kind displaces its own mass. and if the theory of torque (or forces and levers) as applied to tongs or the rotary table can be understood. is therefore equal to that of the volume of water occupied by its underwater structure. fundamentally. which can cause impressions of instability. If the draft at which the unit floats is increased. As such. and to assist him he has a deck foreman. if the unit displaces 20. RIG STABILITY Rig crewmen other than the bargemaster and the control room operators are not normally required to have a knowledge of the principles which govern the behaviour of their rig in the water. Its displa‘cement. are also part of the marine crew. and their primaryfunction is to monitor and control the stability of the drilling unit.000 tonnes. a seagoing vessel. or weight. marine operations during the drilling programme are in the charge of the bargemaster or barge captain.000 cubic metres of fresh water. then its own weight will be 20. However. On some rigs there may also be a ‘barge engineer’ who deputises for the bargemaster at night. an appreciation of the rudiments of stability can be useful to a toolpusher or a driller when a heavy item such as a BOP stack is being handled. then the displacement will also increase. understanding stability should not be a problem.0 (i. While drilling operations on a floater are conducted by the drillers and drill crews under the leadership of the senior toolpusher. It therefore requires a small corps of professional seamen to monitor and control its stability and to provide the marine support services that are essential to the efficient working of the drilling department. the rig is subject to the same elemental forces and the same scientific laws governing its flotation and stability as every other vessel on the high seas. The control room operators. or true weight.e. the mobile drilling unit that provides the platform for the drilling rig and its equipment is.CHAPTER 6: MARINE OPERATIONS Regardless of its unconventional shape. and one or more seamen. For example. which has a specific gravity of 1. of the liquid in which it floats. Ship or rig stability is basically applied mechanics. a density of 1 metric tonne per cubic metre).

. 229 ...Marine Operations .. ~ .’ ‘). ” : Semi-submersibles are designed for steadiness even in the roughest seas.-.:.‘? _: ..

and this force is said to act vertically downwards through a point termed the ‘centre of gravity’ (the CG). the CG will be relatively high. THE CENTRE OF BUOYANCY For a vessel to float in water it must receive an upthrust force equal to its displacement. and any addition or removal of loads also causes the CG to move in a definite direction. the centre of gravity will be relatively low.e. and the drilling unit’s draft will alter accordingly. The position of the CG will depend on the distribution of weights about the rig. as when operating with ballast tanks mostly full. and it is reckoned to act vertically upwards through a point called the ‘centre of buoyancy’ (the CB). When the rig is at rest and lying upright in the water. and if it is too low it will also result in an unsatisfactory condition called ‘stiffness’. the hull sinks down to displace the same volume as it would in calm water. From its . or displacement. If most of the weight is low in the structure. heeled or trimmed) away from the vertical. perhaps by a supply boat. If an empty compartment is punctured and flooded below the waterline. Every vessel must have some reserve buoyancy. the lines drawn upwards through the CB and downwards through the CG are coincident.Marine Operations THE CENTRE OF GRAVITY The weight. The buoyancy force will still act vertically upwards through the CB. RESERVE BUOYANCY The volume of all the watertight spaces above the waterline that are permanently sealed and occupied by air are collectively known as the rig’s ‘reserve buoyancy’. as when large waves are supporting its ends but not its middle. as when there is a large deck load and the drill string is set back in the derrick. just as the air in spaces in the hull. the forecastle and the afterpart of a drill ship does. If there were no watertight spaces above the normal waterline the vessel could be overwhelmed by the sea. but if there is a lot of weight high up. its underwater shape will obviously change somewhat. The air held in the watertight compartments inside the columns of a semi-submersible forms reserve buoyancy. THE EFFECT ON THE CG OF ADDING. of the rig is due to the force of gravity acting on its mass. This upthrust is called ‘buoyancy’. but the position of the CB will move to a new point at the geometrical centre of the new underwater shape. If the vessel is inclined (i. If the CG is allowed to get too high the unit will become unstable. which is at the geometrical centre of the underwater portion. by altering the distribution of loads on the rig. REMOVING OR MOVING WEIGHTS The position of the centre of gravity is changed. the volume of buoyancy that it lost to the sea is then made up by some of the reserve buoyancy. either intentionally or otherwise.

then the unit’s CG. upwards. the drilling unit’s CG would move away from its original position. and directly away from the position formerly occupied by a removed (or ‘backloaded’) weight. a considerable distance. will move in a line parallel to that line of movement. a large weight moved a great distance from the rig’s CG has more effect on stability than a light weight moved close to the CG. then. .e. backloaded or moved.* 231 . If a weight is shifted from one position to another on the rig. which may be many feet below the main deck. i. initial position the CC always moves directly towards a loaded weight. In the same way. that a heavy force applied to a long tong handle results in more torque than a light force applied to a short tong handle. whereas ten tons of drill water transferred from one tank to another near the CG would not cause much change in trim or heel.Marine Operations . such as from the drill floor to the pipe racks. Thus if the BOP stack was run from the moonpool and landed on the sea bed. and on the distance at which this action took place from the CG. WEIGHT lATERTIGHT FLAT I + VOLUME OF DISPLACEMENT BUOYANCY I - A semi-submersible’s centres of gravity and buoyancy normally lie somewhere beneath the main deck. A heavy weight lifted by a crane and moved a short distance across the deck could have the same effect on the movement of the CG as a lighter weight moved from one end of the deck to the other. The amount of the CG’s movement within the drilling rig will depend on the weight of the object loaded.

Even the tension in each anchor chain must be taken into account. Wherever the new position of the CG finally is after these weight distribution changes have been made. If the tensions are not correctly balanced. as can a strong wind and icing-up of the rig structure in cold weather.000 tons. However. THE RIGHTING LEVER If the position of the unit’s CG is altered by a change in the distribution of loads. if the unit is heeled not by adding. and the evenness of distribution of the weights around the decks.Marine Operations Loading and shifting weights on the rig affects the positions of both the centre of gravity and the centre of buoyancy. remov- 232 . is important to the maintenance of a sufficient and safe ‘margin of stability’. perhaps amounting to as much as 15. then the rig will heel or trim until the underwater shape has altered enough for the lines drawn up through the CB and down through the CG are once again coincident. on the drill floor and in the pontoons or hull. since this acts just like a weight at each point of pull on the deck or columns. the weight of the rig will still act vertically down through that position. they can create an angle of heel. Virtually everything that can be moved on a floater affects the resultant position of its centre of gravity.

In stability diagrams the righting lever is normally represented as a line joining points G and Z.. the more the inclination of the rig to right itself. 7 RIGHTING MOMENT THE CG MUST ALWAYS BE BELOW M FOR POSITIVE STABILITY When the rig is inclined by an external force a righting lever is set up which tends to restore it to its original position. When this value. and a ‘lever’ effect is introduced which will tend to right the unit until the two lines are again coincident. and control room operators on drilling rigs have these diagrams available in their units’ stability manuals. The amount of leverage is measured by the horizontal distance separating the vertical lines of buoyancy and gravity. 233 . This is really a sort of rotary torque being applied to the whole rig. . then the position of the CG will not change. GZ. and this is called the ‘righting lever’ or ‘righting arm’. I . The righting force being exerted on the righting lever is the rig’s own weight. The vertical lines of force through the CG and CB will not now be coincident. in tons. Just as a long tong handle can exert more leverage than a short one. and the CB moves towards the new geometrical centre of that shape.e. its displacement.Marine Operations ing or shifting weights but by some external force such as the wind or waves. As the unit heels to this external force its underwater shape alters. The values of righting levers for different angles of heel can be plotted on graphs for any kind of vessel. i. is multiplied by the length of the righting lever. the longer the righting lever. the result is the value of the ‘righting moment’.

Where there have to be free surfaces. a weight added at a high level or removed from a low point will reduce the GM. If the CG is ever allowed to coincide with or rise above the metacentre. most of the time. so that the metacentric height has a ‘positive’ value. This is one of the factors to be considered in stability calculations when large loads are suspended from the crown block. however. a dangerous unstable condition will exist that could lead to the unit’s capsize. tilting it either forward or aft. Even the drilling fluid in the mud pits has a detrimental effect on stability for this reason.Marine Operations THE METACENTRE When a drilling rig is heeled over. ballast is pumped in or out or transferred between tanks to adjust the position of the CG as items are loaded. can be altered. and this fact is important during ballasting or de-ballasting operations. so that there is either a zero or negative metacentric height. These tanks will probably therefore be left ‘slack’. This is done to restrict the movement of free liquids onboard. then the CC must always be below the metacentre. i. the drilling unit’s CG moves towards the point of suspension. since these are furthest from the CG and therefore have the most ‘moment’ effect. BALLASTING & FREE SURFACES The CR0 checks the distribution of weights onboard and makes daily calculations to ascertain the unit’s metacentric height. and for heeling it to either port or starboard. If the unit is to be stable. For any particular draft at which the unit floats the position of the metacentre is fixed. while a weight added at a low point or removed from a high level will increase it. since any liquid ‘free surface’. The distance between the centre of gravity (G) and the metacentre (M) at any given time is termed the metacentre height (often called ‘the GM’) and this is very important to stability.e. whereas the height of the CG. and mud is therefore usually dumped before a rigmove. not towards the actual object suspended. backloaded or moved. usually the ones at the far ends of the pontoons of a semi-submersible. Some ballast tanks. the point where the two lines meet is termed the ‘transverse metacentre’ (M). most ballast tanks are kept either ‘pressed up’ or as empty as possible. they are best confined to narrow or short tanks. are used for trimming the unit. From the control room. has the effect of moving the CG of a vessel upwards and reducing its metacentric height. In general. There is much more loss of stability during the filling of a 234 . if the vertical line representing the force of buoyancy is drawn up through the CB to meet the unit’s vertical centreline. such as the crown of the derrick or the end of a crane jib. Generally. When a weight is suspended from a high point. it must be remembered. especially if in a wide or long tank. or only partially full.

This requires the careful checking of all the weights onboard at any given time. the drill string run or pulled out of the hole. measured in terms of .Marine Operations Minimising free surfaces is important when rigs have to operate in rough seas. the drilling draft must be kept constant. and on the other hand in carrying the same amount of water in the small compartments of a refrigerator ice tray. In preparation for a semi-submersible’s rig-move from one drilling location to another. almost all the ballast is pumped out from the pontoon and column tanks so that the rig lifts up to float at a level about the top of the pontoons. which reduces water resistance and weight and increases speed. however. or transferred between tanks. large tank than there is during the adding of the same volume of water to be divided between several smaller tanks. In the routine operations of a floating drilling unit there are numerous situations that call for ballast to be pumped in or out. During the de-ballasting operation the amount of stability. In general. This can be shown simply by cornparing on the one hand the difficulties in carrying a breakfast tray with half an inch of water lying on it. As the mud pits are filled and emptied. supplies loaded or backloaded. so the unit’s load displacement must not exceed the tonnage applicable to this draft. adjustments to the trim or heel of teh rig will have to be made. or casing run.

Survival draft is a compromise between having sufficient draft for the extra margin of stability needed in very bad weather. Vents. Because of the design of their sub-structures. but not so little air gap beneath the main deck of the unit that there is a danger of seas coming aboard. and there is consequently a large and safe margin of stability when this draft is finally reached. where the anchor chains are stowed. which takes several hours. and these have to be maintained 236 . which might be 65 or 70 feet on a large rig. causing the unit to eventually capsize. can start flooding through their top entrances below the windlasses. causing the unit to incline and to sink lower in the water. If a semi is damaged and lists or trims badly. relatively ship-shaped hulls. Because of the changed underwater shape at transit draft the metacentre is very high in relation to the CG. ‘transit’. ‘survival’ (or ‘storm’) and ‘damage’. semi-submersibles at transit draft are unable to take severe punishment from very rough seas. and if necessary they are ballasted down to survival draft during a rig-move storm. or both) is caused that the top of one of the columns becomes submerged. Normally. and this calls for careful planning and execution of the tank ballasting sequence. A damage condition exists when a watertight compartment is accidentally flooded. it is important to have as little free surface as possible. Often a draft of 50 feet is chosen to be used when winds of about hurricane force are expected. to a transit draft of between 20 and 25 feet involves pumping out several thousand tons of ballast. or. when the rig’s ‘waterplane’ shape is changing from being a number of small circles (the column sections) to two or more wide and long.Marine Operations the metacentric height (the GM). ballast can be removed from the low side. BALLASTING CONDITIONS There are four ballasting conditions for which a semi-submersible drilling rig is normally prepared: ‘drilling’. semi-submersibles are designed so that the flooding of any single watertight compartment should not cause a capsize. watertight doors and other openings are closed to slow down the flooding process where possible. passes through a critical phase when it is severely reduced. the situation becomes much more serious because the chain lockers. Going from drilling draft. it can be pumped into spaces on the high side. which is repeated in reverse during ballasting-down at the new location. of this is impossible. This occurs just as the waterline reaches the bottom of the columns. During this phase. If so much inclination (either list or trim. however. allowing the unit to become very ‘tender’ and susceptible to somewhat unpredictable ‘flopping’ movements.

.y ~. in efficient working condition. even being periodically dry-docked. :. . At transit draft then pontoons of a semi-submersible are awash. .(‘.... It is safer and easier to tow the rig like this than when it is ballasted down to a deeper draft.~. and it therefore has to be maintained much like any ship.: ::.. RIG STRUCTUliJl AND SAFETY MAINTENANCE A mobile offshore drilling unit is similar to a ship in many aspects of its construction as well as its stability. and this work is very often undertaken on their behalf by a ‘classifica- ... . which is another function of the marine crew.. . The transport depart: ments of most flag states certify the construction of drilling rigs and lay down rules for the maintenance and inspection of their structure and safety equipment..

that the unit is structurally sound and seaworthy. and large quantities of paint are used to preserve the steelwork from the hostile elements. amongst others. testing the fire pump. and they are self-righting in case of capsize. Det norske Veritas or the American Bureau of Shipping. surveyors from the classification society and from the flag state’s shipping department will closely examine the rig and issue certificates attesting to its safety of construction and equipment. distress rockets and flares form the main lifesaving appliances. smoke floats. The lifesaving and firefighting equipment on a drilling rig is much like that on any large ship. . Routine maintenance work is usually the job of the marine and engineering departments under the bargemaster and chief mechanic. and often a programme of ‘planned maintenance’ and inspection is followed throughout the rig’s life. water sprinkler and deluge systems. Most -. With proper weight distribution essential. The lifeboats are totally enclosed and self-propelled. lifejackets. Aside from this. inflatable liferafts. halon and CO1 gas extinguishing systems and other firefighting equipment such as fire extinguishers and foam monitors. Drilling rigs. Lifeboats.. It involves amongst other things periodically running lifeboat engines. Hull compartments have to be checked for watertightness and frequent tank soundings are taken by CROs to ascertain whether any spaces are leaking.~ Marine Operations tion society’ such as Lloyd’s Register. Periodically. Structural members such as cross braces can develop cracks due to the great strains imposed by heavy seas and by the deck load distribution. and visual inspections are made by the marine crew in areas known to be prone to damage. like ships. to ensure. This is partly to satisfy the rig’s insurers. lifebelts. the unit has to be kept from rusting. are ‘classed’ by these classification societies when they are built and their ongoing maintenance has to comply with the classification society’s rigorous standards for a unit to remain ‘in class’. the CROs aso make ‘torsion checks’ when they calculate the rig stability. One aspect that the surveyors are always interested in is the maintenance of the lifesaving appliances and firefighting equipment. They are normally made of fibre glass and powerful water spray nozzles fitted outside their cabins enable them to remain surrounded by burning oil for several minutes without harm to their occupants. with enough capacity in the boats for at least twice the total complement. 238 . LIFESAVING & FIREFIGHTING EQUIPMENT The upkeep of safety~equipment is the responsibility of both the marine and engineering departments. that each quarter of the rig’s structure is bearing no more than its due share of the total load.

Marine Operations Helicopter landings and take-offs can be hazardous. but circular capsules are used on some rigs. There are gas. Every working or living space in a drilling rig has a suitable type of fire . Foam monitors are installed around the helideck perimeter and a crewman stands by in a firesuit. and drilling contractors and platform operators have devised systems of ‘work permits’ to ensure that the correct procedures are followed in dangerous situations. designs are conventionally boat-shaped. WORK PERMITS Many of the routine operations carried out aboard an offshore drilling rig or platform pose risks to the health and safety of the personnel concerned. . The firefighting equipment usually consists of a high-pressure fire main with hydrants and hoses through which sea water is pumped by a powerful fire pump which can be backed up if necessary by the ballast pumps. extinguisher located nearby.” 239 . while machinery spaces are covered by halon and carbon-dioxide systems. flame and smoke detectors in all appropriate places and accommodation spaces are fitted with water sprinklers.

and would have to have a watchman in attendance. STANDBY BOATS Not every maritime nation with offshore drilling activity requires the use of standby boats. so the atmosphere in the work area has to be tested with an analysing instrument before a permit can be obtained. flaring-off and the inspection of enclosed spaces to be done only if conditions are safe. especially in rough weather. One other condition of having a permit to work overside would be that the rig standby vessel was stationed close to the drilling unit with its emergency crew closed up for immediate action. which Many of the older standby boats are converted side trawlers. grinding. an electrician who wants to work on high voltage equipment has to apply for an ‘electrical work permit’. Their good sea-keeping characteristics make them ideal for this job. three types of permit are in general use on semis and jack-up drilling units in the North Sea. A ‘hot work/entry permit’ allows jobs such as welding. be connected to the rig by a safety harness and line. The standby boat. and a job which involves a crewman being suspended overside requires an ‘overside work permit’. Similarly. A typical job of this sort might be repairing a TV camera on its guide lines in the moonpool. oxy-acetylene burning. but in the British and other sectors of the North Sea they are mandatory whenever an installation is manned. 240 -- .Marine Operations Although different flag states and different companies may have their own systems. Obviously a drill crew would not be allowed to ‘slip and cut’ the drilling line if gas was present in pockets near the drawworks or elsewhere on the drill floor. The permit holder would have to wear a life-vest.

They all carry fast inflatable boats. Most of the ships used for these duties in the British sector are converted middle-water trawlers that switched to standby work when they were no longer able to fish profitably on their traditional grounds. has to stay within five miles of the location. Some semi-submersibles weighing.Marine Operations must be able to accommodate the entire complement of the installation. are now moved over long distances on the strengthened decks of special semi-submersible ships adapted to lift very heavy weights. is the passage of a mobile offshore drilling unit from one location to another. Drill ships invariably shift location under their own propulasion. allowing the rig to float &er it and be positioned. or even with the drilling rig being carried onboard another vessel. which is often a converted tanker which has had extra reserve buoyancy tanks fitted. or which might only be used for making small adjustments of position at the location. and the ship is then de-ballasted and lifts the r&clear of the water. more than 20. marine and aeronautical VHF radios and anti-pollution equipment. and at this time the marine department comes into its own. using their thrusters to assist the towing vessel. and on some voyages two or three jack-up rigs have been carried as one cargo.000 tons have been carried in this manner. Semi-submersibles are usually fitted with thrusters which may be powerful enough for normal propulsion. usually from their building yards in the Far East to delivery locations in the West. RIG-MOVES A transit. The transit may be made under the rig’s own motive power. however. most semis shift location under tow. In this way. and their crew are trained in rescue techniques which they practice frequently in ‘man overboard drills’ using a dummy launched from the rig or platform. The carrying ship. . Transits between locations fall into this category. while most jack-up rigs are not self-propelled and have to be towed. A small number of Norwegian and Dutch shipping companies in particular have made this a specialization. and whenever required has to put its rescue crew on alert and come in to ‘close standby’. An increasing number of drilling units. and these are explained in the next section. but the newer vessels are purpose-built. first submerges its main deck. or ‘rig-move’ as it is commonly known. especially jack-ups. under tow from one or more tugs. Regardless of the power of their thrusters. speeds approaching those of conventiona ships are possible on some types in fair weather. The only situation when a standby boat might not be legally required to be in attendance is when the rig is not engaged in either exploration or production.

Then the legs are jacked up and the tow can begin.d 242 . and the legs must be raised well clear of the sea bed. as described in Chapter 3. A semi-submersible’s transit normally requires the platform to be de-ballasted so that only the pontoons are in the water. This reduces the vessel’s weight and the amount of resistance from the sea. and increases the transil speed.Marine Operations Before the rig-move of a jack-up. . which could cause serious damage. meanwhile. the barge hull is jacked down its legs until it is afloat. It also reduces slamming of the waves on the horizontal and diagonal braces that support the deck and columns. A drill ship proceeds from one location to another much like any other conventional ship on a voyage. has to be floated for a transit. some vessels making speeds of 15 or more knots. A jack-up rig’s hull.

Loran-C or Omega may also be used for long-distance hauls where the Decca Navigator system is of limited use. radio direction-finder and Decca Navigator. A semi-submersible’s navigation equipment. a drilling rig is navigated like any conventional ship. The weather is very carefully watched. professional towmasters are often hired from specialist marine consultancy firms to oversee the towage and mooring operations. the legs may be left intact but specially strengthened for the voyage. radar. and often a special weather forecasting service for the oil industry is employed to give prognoses for the route ahead. on a self-propelled semi-submersi-’ ble or a drill ship. the bargemaster is always legally in command. Although the bargemaster or the contractor’s marine superintendent may supervise the tow and subsequent anchoring operation. Care is always taken to secure all movable equipment before any transit. is able to steer either by a conventional wheel and rudder arrangement. or by independent i43 . However. with its propulsion assisting the tug. Alternatively. and navigation and stability are closely monitored throughout the operation. Satellite navigators. whether it is a local location shift on the same field or a long ocean passage. the rig and the towing vessel each regularly fix their positions and compare results before making any necessary adjustment in course or speed. like that of most other coastal’vessels.Marine Operations Jack-ups can normally only make transits in good weather conditions due to their vulnerability to storm damage. normally includes gyro and magnetic compasses. NAVIGATION & PILOTAGE During the transit. echosounder. or other marine personnel being enlisted for watchkeeping duties in the pilot house. No standby vessel is normally in attendance during the transit. performs exactly the same functions. As the tow progresses. This equipment is housed in the pilot house which. and transits are not usually begun during bad weather conditions when towage may be difficult and there is a risk of the tow parting and the rig running aground or getting out of control. The rig. and in some cases their legs have to be cut and sections stowed on deck to avoid over-stressing when rolling or pitching. although perhaps not as spacious or sophisticated as a large merchant ship’s bridge. although helicopters are still usually able to fly on and off the rig for normal crewchange or emergency purposes. This applies particularly in the case of a jack-up rig which often has no qualified bargemaster in its crew. the the bargemaster in command and the control room operators (who are often signed on as the mates). Any type of rig’s transit through a coastal region normally has to be approved by the local authorities.

Although the tugs are in control of the rig’s movement. they work under the directions of the drilling rig’s bargemaster. one pulls a chain/wire towline from each pontoon. These vessels are hired by the well operator and may later be used in a supply role when the rig is drilling. made by throttling or by varying the pitch of thruster blades. A TYPICAL RIG TOWAGE ARRANGEMENT A typical one-tug towing arrangement for a semi-submersible. 3. or the towmaster if there is one.Marine Operations adjustment of the power in each thruster. TOWAGE The tow is normally made by one or two multi-purpose anchor-handling/tug/ supply boats (AHTSVs) of adequate power measured in terms of ‘bollard pull’ as well as in engine horse power. When two tugs are used.44 .

it might become necessary to submerge the unit to survival draft. and sophisticated electronic position monitoring equipment.radius from the surface location might be allowed. However. (It is int~eresting to note that a tenth of a second of latitude equates approximately to only ten feet). discussing difficulties that may arise with the operation such as the close proximity of other rigs’ moorings or of an oil or gas pipeline or a telecommunications cable. who may in some cases be a hired consultant. is usually hired together with an operating technician for the duration of the operations.Marine Operations / ) Semi-submersibles are usually connected to the tug by a chain-and-wire bridle arrangement. The operator’s marine representative generally liaises with the drilling contractor’s marine staff on the matter of the mooring plan. so quite often the location position is determined by highly accurate electronic navigational equipment. As little as twenty metres. especially at deep-water locations. The length of the towline is extended as speed is gathered. either attached at the forward ends of the pontoons or at the main deck level on the forward columns. and shortened towards the end of the voyage. etc. APPROACHING THE LOCATION The well location. As well as a geographical fix. Very little positioning toler%nce is normally permitted by an operator in any direction from the planned location. the survey ship or a supply boat will lay a pattern of buoys to mark the location and anchor positions. The operator’s marine representative. accompanies the rig during the rig-move and the mooring operation to ensure that the client’s requirements are met. Sometimes. when the rig’s lower structure is taking a pounding from the sea. This is a permanent fixture on the rig and can be recovered in the event of a breakage with a wire connected to an air tugger winch. location co-ordinates are also determined in I j I . plotted on location co-rdinates measured to within one tenth of a second. is selected by the well operator on the basis of the findings of geophysical surveys made well before the rig-move. including a satellite navigator receiver. with the bargemaster and tugmaster remaining in constant communication about this and other aspects of the tow. In heavy weather during the transit. but it slows down progress drastically and would normally only be done if an alteration of course is not a better option. in areas of frequent bad weather or strong tides there is always a possibility that these will not float over their intended positions. and the precise intended position of each of a semi-submersible’s anchors. This can usually be done in a matter of an hour or so. both of latitude and longitude.

and precisely where to place the rig and each-of its acnhors. and the towmaster must allow for chnages in them during the several hours’ duration of the operation. of course. whether such precision of positioning can be maintained throughout the well programme. It is doubtful. but this will have been thoroughly investigated before hiring them. 246 . of course. The engine power and manoeuvrability of the tug and anchor handling vessels also has to be considered. current and tidal flow all play a critical part in the morring operation. but these parameters demonstrate the stringent requirements that operators expect to be met by a marine drilling contractor. except perhaps by a jack-up rig. since a floater is constantly moving in response to the forces of wind and tide. as this must take account of the prevailing weather conditions at the location for the period during which the rig is expected to be anchored so that drilling. helicopter and boat operations and any flaring off of gas can all be done safely. The final heading of the rig is also very important.Marine Operations metres and hundredths of a metre by a system known as the UTM system. Factors such as wind. The towmaster needs to know exactly what line to approach on.

making due allowance for the amount of drift caused by the wind. Number 4). which is named Number 5. The dropped anchor’s chain is paid out at a controlled speed. are like a ship’s propeller at the after end of each pontoon. In the case where the wind is from the port side of the location. the after weather anchor is dropped by the rig (in the case where the wind is from the port side. 247 . in the case of a twin-pontoon design of semi. before arriving on the location. When the wind is from the starboard side. As soon as this is reached.Marine Operations : The final approach to the location. which. as indicated either by bearings of the buoy pattern or by the electronic navigation equipment. while the towing vessel attempts to prevent the rig from drifting downwind too much. Number 5. the rig meanwhile slowly approaching the drop position. and while the majority of the anchors will be carried out from the rig and then dropped by the AHVs. but the rig is slowed down using its own proptilsion rather than by either of these anchors. therefore. A semi-submersible’s anchors are normally numbered clockwise. and final preparations are made for running the other anchors. which may be about five miles from the point where the tow is shortened up. Number 4 will be dropped first. or approximately eight cables (0. or where the wind is from the starboard side. with the forward anchor on the starboard side being Number 1.. the approach heading will be along the line of the port aft anchor. this anchor is dropped by therig itself as it passes over the anchor’s sea-bed position. so the rig will run on for this distance. . The anchor is ‘walked out’ slowly under windlass control to a position about 100 feet above the sea-bed. a pennant buoy attached to the first anchor is dropped in the water. is normally made under tow with assistance from the rig’s own thrusters. A typical length of chain deployed on locations in the central North Sea would be 3800-4000 feet. Another anchor is normally passed by a rig crane to an attendant anchorhandling vessel just before the first anchor is dropped. the towing vessel meanwhile pulling the rig steadily towards the drilling location and controlling the heading. The rig therefore approaches the anchorage from windward along teh bearing of intended deployment of this anchor. The aftermost anchor on the weather side is normally the first to be deployed.8 nautical miles). RUNNING ANCHORS About a mile from the first anchor drop position. On arrival at the intended location the towing vessel and the dropped after weather side anchor together keep the rig more or less on the location while fine adjustments are made to the rig position and heading.

Marine Operations .

T O ensure accurate positioning of the anchors. Usually a ‘chain chaser system’ is employed by rigs to help anchor handling vessels run and recover their anchors. the AHV heaving the anchor close up to her stern roller and the&acking back about ten feet. About twice the water depth is paid but on the anchor chain. and the tension on the anchor pennant is transferred from the pelican hook to the winch. A large steel ring called a ‘chasing collar’ encircles the rig’s anchor chain close to the anchor and in its stowed position is suspended from the deck of the rig by a heavy ‘chaser pennant’. This pennant is passed to the AHV. When the anchor is to be recovered. When the anchor pennant is first lowered to the AHV by the rig crane it is secured on a large device on the deck called a ‘pelican hook’. -. so that very precise courses can be maintained by the vessels when steaming out to the drop point. When the correct length of chain is out according to the anchoring plan. ready for connection to the anchors when these are eventually passed to the vessel from the rig. the boat can lower the anchor to the sea bed. it is normal practice for each AHV to load the required amount of equipment for the number of anchors she will be required to run before running operations actually commence.. _ 249 .(. A sufficient length of wire pennants. which can then pull the rig’s anchor away from its bolster stowage position towards the vessel’s stern roller and carry the anchor out to the dropping position. She then lines up on the heading given by the rig towmaster and steams quickly out on this heading while the chain is paid steadily out over the rig’s windlass to keep it as straight as possible. the windlass brake is applied and the AHV connects the buoy to the pennant and lowers the anchor to the sea bed. The anchor can then be lifted by the AHV while the rig hauls in the chain. to reach from a surface buoy to the sea bed can then be spooled onto each boat’s wind drum. The AHV’s crew then secure the connected lengths of pennants that are wound on the winch drum to the anchor pennant. meanwhile steaming ahead to maintain tension on the chain. transferring its weight to the pennants on the boat. and the crane’s hook is released from the pennant. the AHV picks up the buoy and the chaser pennant and drags the chasing collar along the chain until the collar slips round the anchor shank. To save time.. and the pennant is racked on the rig. When the required amount of chain is out from the rig. With the anchor on the bottom the buoy is released and the AHV comes in to the rig with the cQllar sliding round the chain. while the rig pays out the anchor chain. When the AHV is ready the rig lowers its anchor from its bolster. . with a marker buoy being attached to the chaser for later recovery. .Marine Operations . special laser guidance equipment is sometimes set up on the pilot house top and on the decks of the AHVs. together with shackles.

Run breast anchors (Nos. Add back-up anchors (‘piggy backs’) to main anchors where required. are equipped with one set of anchors and chains when they are built and these are not normally changed. tandem anchor. The length and weight of the chain paid out is an important factor in the holding ability of the system. there are several different designs of anchor in common use offshore. There is instead a long. 3. that is. On the top of the shank is the anchor shackle to which the chain cables is attached. The usual types of anchors found on semi-submersibles are called ‘stockless’. 8). The weight of an anchor for a large ‘semi’ would be in the region of 30. These are hinged so that they can swivel about 30 to 50 degrees and dig into the sea bed when a strain is exerted on the end of the shank. . is another shackle for connecting the pennants that secure the surface buoy or to attach a secondary.Marine Operations With the rig held roughly in position on the. straight ‘shank’. 250 . 3. Release towing vessel from tow bridle. like ships. one on either side of the shank. 2. and at the lower end. the weather bow anchor and the second stern anchor are normally run. Different anchors are suited to different sea-bed conditions. Thereafter procedures vary according to individual operators’ practices. run weather bow anchor (No. preferably simultaneously by two AHVs. location by the tug and the weather after anchor. 7. each having its own benefits and drawbacks. and 7). with the wind on the starboard side. but drilling rigs. on the head. 4. as is the amount of tension put on the chain once it is laid. Run second bow anchor (No. although the chains might be lengthened for a deep water drilling contract.6. and its ‘holding power’ about eight times that weight.i On arrival at location. Pre-tension (see below). 4). ANCHOR TYPES As with all marine equipment. 5). 1) and second stern anchor (No. 6. might be as follows:1. Some types have a stabilizing bar fitted through the head so that the anchor is prevented from turning on its side. 5. at the lower end of which is a ‘head’ with two ‘flukes’.2.000 lbs or 13 tons. Drop first anchor (No. which would stop the flukes from embedding. they do not have the long upper horizontal bar that characterizes the ‘Admiralty pattern’ or ‘common’ anchor. but a typical sequence.

The pattern used depends on the type of rig. One of the most common arrangements on a rectangular-decked ‘semi’ is for eight anchors (two from each corner of the deck) to be laid with 45 degrees bet- Some popular anchor patterns. all of which are designed to maintain the unit within a tolerable lateral distance of the location. Many factors influence the operator’s choice of mooring design. its structural shape and the number of anchors and chains or wires fitted. and on location considerations such as the strength of currents and tides and the existence of pipelines and other moorings. -.Marine Operations ANCHOR PATTERNS There are several geometrical arrangements of anchor chains which can be used for mooring a drilling rig.* 3:1 .

and the rig is within the limits of tolerance set for the location. Left: A semi-submersible’s corner-mounted mooring windlass for two chains. they are then slackened off to a working pre-tension suitable for the depth of water. Another popular ‘spread’ employs angles of 27r/2 degrees and 6214~ degrees between the heading and Numbers 1 and 2 anchors respectively. too little tension will give elasticity which may allow unacceptable movement of the marine riser when this is connected. A high working tension will keep movement around the well location to a minimum. in order not to overstress them. with an attendant risk of an anchor breaking out of its bed in bad weather. Right: The two anchor chains are guided through fairleaders just above the bolsters at the base of the columns.e main anchors.I Marine Operations ween each. the rig is ballasted down and the anchors bedded in firmly by tensioning up each chain to a ‘proving load’. this pattern being mirrored on both sides and at each end. -. If the chains all hold with the proof load applied to the satisfaction of the marine representative. 5% of the water depth is considered the maximum offset from the vertical for the marine riser and the ball joint. the forward starboard (or Number 1) anchor being laid 221/2 degrees to starboard of the rig’s heading. Pulling from this point they are less likely to pull the rig over. This is held for about ten minutes and is witnessed by the operator’s marine representative. but will result in stiffness of the mooring system._. . back-up anchors called ‘piggy-backs’ may have to be laid in tandem with th. On the other hand. usually a number of backup anchors are kept available on the AHVs during the mooring operation. PRE-TENSIONING When all the anchors have been deployed in their correct positions. Normally. Should the proving tension be insufficient to prevent the anchors dragging.

such as when the BOP stack is being ‘pulled’. which then ‘chases out’ to the anchor with the chasing collar. If no buoy has been used. The AHV lifts the anchor close up to her stern roller while the rig starts heaving the chain in. and the anchor is broken out of the ground.6 & 7) are usually pulled before the towing vessel. The pennant wires are then connected to the winch wire which the boat hauls on. the anchors are pulled and the transit is made to the next location. PULLING ANCHORS’ At the completion of the well programme. The boat then passes the chaser pennant back to the rig where it is secured on deck. Once that happens. On occasions. They therefore need continually monitoring in case any of the chains near its maximum pre-tension or breaks out. This is done by slacking down the chains on one side and heaving in those on the other.Marine Operations THE MOORINGS DURING DRILLING The anchor chain tensions are constantly changing as wind. resulting in several chain failures and the rig bearing down over the lee side chains. a chain reaction sometimes occurs as intolerable strains come on the other weather-side anchors. When the BOP stack is again being connected. which may be used initially to . Load cells are generally fitted at each windlass. Chain tensions are normally read every four hours.. The anchor handling vessel approaches the buoy of the first anchor and lassoes it. the bargemaster has to move the rig slightly off location to avoid damage to the well head in the event of the stack being dropped. as well as in the local windlass control cab. When there is still about 200 feet of chain out from the rig the AHV slacks off her winch drum. The chain tension on all anchors is first slackened off a little and the rig is de-ballasted to its transit draft. connects it to her winch wire and hauls it in over her stern roller. 253 .3. tides and currents exert forces on the rig. and remote read-outs of the chain tension are usually available in the control room and the pilot house. the chaser pennant is passed to the AHV. and the rig continues to haul the anchor in until it is bolstered. the AHV manoeuvring in to the rig with it. or hourly or constantly during bad weather. although in good conditions they may be recovered at the same time as the main anchors. allowing the eye of the anchor pennant to engage in the boat’s pelican hook. the rig is moved back onto location in the same way. the breast anchors (Numbers 2. until the required distance of offset has been moved. Once all the piggy-backs are home. which takes several hours. Any piggy-backs deployed are normally recovered first.

’ .Marine Operations @ Crane passes chaser pennant to boat. 254 -‘. Rig heaves chain in. Boat chases out to anchor. @ Boat heaves anchor to stern roller. @ Anchor bolstered. Pulling anchors. Boat passes chaser pennant back to rig and moves to next anchor to be pulled. Boat carries anchor to rig. This is usually easier and quicker than laying them.

:. cables or anchors. is connected to the towing bridle. if not all DP vessels. and to enable them to drill in deep water where anchors could not be used.~ ~.//(.. . However. DYNAMIC POSITIONING SYSTEMS _. ‘automatically’ meaning in this case without manual inputs to control corrective manoeuvres. on a fixed platform or on the land.~ $? . computers and thrusters was therefore introduced.> ‘~I~ . The tow can then begin.. This is achieved by feeding computers on the vessel with information about its heading (obtained from gyro-compasses) and about the position relative to one or more fixed points. The computers rapidly calculate the amounts of thrust required to correct deviation from the intended position and generate control signals to individual thrusters sited on the vessel’s hull.. By measuring the angle of the wire from the vertical a reasonably accurate position could be maintained. as well as a small number of supply boats and coring vessels.. Full redundancy. ‘: ‘~ :. ~ . if the equipment failed and the vessel moved very far off location. the towing vessel meanwhile preventing the rig from falling back over the wellhead. the reference point on the sea-bed being a clump weight suspended from the vessel’s side by a tautly tensioned are fitted to some deep water drilling units. ~. ‘i :* To avoid having to use an anchor spread. . “. . ‘DP’ is also widely used by diving support vessels. with serious implications for the well programme’s time and costs.:: . .!:I. but for operations in deep water. . and very expensive.~ + ‘~:. and this is the norm today. . are deployed by the DP vessel on the sea bed to transmit Some early DP systems used only a bare minimum of thrusters and a single analogue computer. Small transpon- . Modern DP e’quipment is highly sophisticated.. .~. including some semi-submersibles as well as many drill ships. and finally the lee stem anchor is recovered. recover some of these anchors. hydro-acoustic position reference systems are used in addition. either on the seabed. These operate without physical connection with the sea bed and are not therefore so liable to physically break like taut wires. . This enables forward. Taut wire devices are still used by most.jz ‘. or beacons.-I_. 5. >#:p. It was first introduced in the early 1960s as a result of the demand for drilling in deeper water where anchoring was difficult or even impossible. The purpose of a DP system is to automatically hold a vessel in a desired position without the use of physical restraints such as ropes.~. The bow anchors and the weather stern anchor are then recovered. backward and swivelling movements of the vessel to be made. and ders. or the duplicating of all essential system components such as measuring devices.:._ . serious damage to or complete failure of the marine riser and drill string could result. dynamic positioning . virtually eliminating any ahead/astern surge or sideways sway.

This is similar to the rig positioning equipment sometimes used on arrival at a drilling location. are dpeloyed by the DP vessel on the sea bed to transmit a signal which is detected in hydrophones mounted on the vessel’s underwater structure and then passed to the computers for resolving into two positional co-ordinates. A dynamically-positioned rig is equipped with computer-controlled thrusters which are constantly working to maintain station over the well. 256 .and acoustic transponders in certain circumstances employs pre-positioned radio transmitters mounted on some fixed structure to transmit signals to receiving antennae on the drilling vessel.Marine Operations ders. or beacons. A third system used in conjunction with taut wires. the range and bearing of the fixed structure being measured and fed into the computers. This system could obviously not be used where there is no fixed reference point within its range. but is normally available as a back-up to the other two systems.

257 ..Marine Operations TRA”Sa WNDER The DP system aboard a semi-submersible rig. . Its high installation and operation cost makes it one of the factors which an operator has to weigh against using a conventionally-moored rig.

DP is as effective in 20. This is the one major disadvantage of a DP system. they have to be weighed against the increased cost of hiring a DP rig. Another advantage for a well operator is that anchor handling vessels do not have to be hired. The system can be put into operation in a matter of an hour or less after arrival at a drilling location. which is more for the benefit of a drill ship than a semi-submersible. the initial cost of the system far exceeding that of a conventional eight-point anchor arrangement. and setting up again in DP normally takes only half an hour or so..’ DP rigs therefore command considerably higher day-rates than other rigs. With boats working a conventional spread of eight anchors the total time spent anchor-handling during a well programme may run to 2-3 days. where there are difficult sea-bed conditions and bad weather. However. obviously affect the cost of the well programme. DP therefore cur- 258 _ . which has to be generated in addition to the power required for drilling equipment and other services.Marine Operations Most DP vessels nowadays also have sensors that measure wind direction and speed which the computers take into account before determining the amount of corrective thrust required. A short shift of position can be made in DP. their hulls being more responsive to heavy seas and swells than those of semisubmersibles. where hanging off and unlatching may be necessary at short notice to move clear of an approaching berg. or. The final advantage. It has been said that a DP system represents about 20-25% of the total cost of a DP rig. or about 4-5 times the cost of a spread anchor system. there is also the cost of running sufficient machinery to have power to operate the thrusters. mainly in time.. These are essential in drill ships for the reduction of movement in a seaway. They also need skilled DP operators to monitor and operate the sophisticated control equipment and take speedy remedial action should a fault develop. These considerable savings. This is particularly important on rigs that are operating in iceberg areas. is that DP permits easy and frequent changes of heading. The most obvious advantage of DP in a drilling operation is that the vessel is not restricted in its operating depth except by the limitations of the drilling equipment. and when the well has been completed the vessel can move off location in even less time than it took to set up in DP.000 feet of water as it is in 200 feet. but it takes only a matter of minutes to come out of DP for a conventional shift. . compared with the eight hours or more that is often necessary for running a spread of anchors. even weeks. with its full duplication. On top of the capital cost of the equipment.

Their crews who handle the numerous containers. a steady stream of supply boats will keep it stocked with the numerous goods it needs to drill the well and feed its crew. . bentonite and cement. Supply boats can often accommodate up to twelve passengers. and the rig storeman tallies each loaded and backloaded cargo. and personnel transfers are normally made between the boat and the rig by a ‘personnel basket’ which is a circular platform with netting fixed between its perimeter and the lifting bridle. from the deck of a semi-submersible a supply boat looks small and vulnerable to the sea. . Loading and discharging (‘backloading’) the boats is the job of the roustabouts under the leadership of the crane operator and the direction of hte bargemaster. while deck cargo is lifted off by the rig’s cranes. It is done at night as well as day. then backing in and running sternlines out.Marine Operations rently has only limited demand in marine drilling for special operations such as drilling in very deep water or in ice regions. Baggage is placed inside the netting. slings of casing and drill pipe and a wide variety of other cargo on the boats’ afterdecks often have to work waist-deep in water which pours over the stern and bulwarks and rushes dangerously up and down the deck. oil base mud. or alternatively dropping anchors. barite. Every item has to be manifested for customs purposes. while the passengers. mud hoses. stand round the edge of the basket gripping the netting as the crane hoists them overside. skips. Even though some of them are quite large ships by some standards. in which case the injured crewman is brought aboard the rig for treatment by the medic. Below its upper deck a supply boat normally has a number of tanks for carrying the bulk powders and liquids required for drilling operations: water. wearing lifevests. The more modern boats with powerful engines and side thrusters are able to stay on location without the use of mooring lines. These fluids are pumped up to the rig through flexible ‘bulk hoses’ which are lowered down to the boat. fuel oil. and a select few have DP equipment. base oil. running sternlines up to the rig’s deck and maintaining tension on them with their engines. and usually in as bad a state of weather as the master of the supply boat considers is pru- Older and less powerful supply boats often tie up to the rig they are working. Accidents occur. RIG SUPPLIES From the time the unit is anchored on its drilling location until it has completed the well programme and once more pulls anchors.

Marine Operations 260 .

4 Top and bottom: Supply boats operate in all weathers and have to be handled with skill.Marine Operations ‘L‘. 261 . “&&‘... -.

262 . Food and small items of equipment comes out in containers which can be left onboard until emptied. . The boats encircle a threatening berg with a buoyant fibre rope and deviate the berg’s course with sustained use of engine power.Marine Operations Deep-drilling rigs with seventy or more crew call for frequent stores deliveries. Supply boats attending drilling units in Arctic regions sometimes have an unusual extra duty: steering icebergs out of the way of rigs.

3. In the North Sea and many other drilling areas the most popular type is the Sikorsky S-61-N. Thick netting helps helicopters to stay on the helideck. twin rotor. Helicopter Landing Officer (the HLO) who might be the bargemaster.500 of these aircraft employed by the oil industry around the world. 47. and their baggage has to be removed from or loaded into the aircraft’s hold space. There are estimated to be about 2. netting and fire appliances. the vast majority of rig crews travel to work by helicopter. A wide range of aircraft types is used for offshore flights.000 Ibs fully loaded. and that there is a protective-suited crewman standing by with a foam monitor while the aircraft is on deck.000 lbs Boeing-Vertol Chinook to the 4-seat. half of which are in the USA. . The HLO’s duties include ensuring that the helideck is clear for landing and is equipped with all the necessary lights. This aircraft is a Super Puma. The loading of passengers and freight from a rig in the North Sea is the responsibility of the. the deck foreman or some other person appointed by the Offshore Installation Manager (the OIM). which can carry 24 passengers and weighs over 20. where the small. vertical tail rotor is a danger.350 lbs Bell Jet Ranger. from the 44-seat. Passengers have to be prevented from walking near the tail of the helicopter.Marine Operations HELICOPTER OPERATIONS Although fast crewboats are used for personnel transport in some smoothwater regions of the world.

barometric pressure. offshore helicopters are about ten times as fast a supply boats. Helicopter passengers travel wearing rubberised ‘survival suits’ which are designed to retain body warmth in the event of ditching. with extra flights as required by the well operator. who sometimes might require some urgently needed item of drilling equipment transported rapidly.Marine Operations White the aircraft is empty it may require refuelling. Communications with helicopters as they approach or leave a rig are maintained by the radio operator. The procedures for evacuating a ditched helicopter have to be learnt by all offshore workers at special courses. and this is done using carefully inspected. the amount of roll. These and other matters relating to rig personnel are described in the next Chapter. who passes details to the pilot of wind speed and direction. Full tanks are brought out by supply boat when required and the empty ones taken back into ‘town’ for replenishing. air temperature. pitch and heave. At speeds of about 120 mph. For a 75man semi-submersible working in the North Sea there might be three scheduled flights a week for regular crew-changes. the sea state and cloud coverage. the unit’s heading. 264 . clean Jet A-l aviation spirit from ‘helifuel’ tanks carried by the rig.

. a small number of personnel employed by the well operator and several ‘service hands’ who carry out specialised contracted work onboard such as diving. Apart from this permanent manpower.CHAPTER 7: RIG PERSONNEL & TRAINING The full complement of a mobile offshore drilling unit normally comprises the drilling contractor’s own rig crew. .. OIL COMPANY PERSONNEL: DRILLING CONTRACTOR’S CREW: l Operator’s Representative 2 Geologists Drilling Engineer Materials Co-ordinator Senior Toolpusher/OIM Junior Toolpusher Bargemaster Chief Mechanic 2 Radio Operators Medic/Clerk Chief Steward Chief Cook Night Cook 5 Stewards 2 Control Room Operators Storeman Sub-seaEngineer 2 Drillers 2 Assistant Drillers (A/D) 2 Derrickmen 6 Floormen (Roughnecks) 6 Roustabouts 2 Crane Operators Deck Foreman (Bosun) Maintenance Roustabout (AB) 2 Electricians . so the ‘personnel onboard’ figure tallied by the medic/clerk is constantly changing. other temporary personnel often travel out to a rig for a few days to do a special job or to make an inspection of one sort or another. The crew list below gives some idea of the numbers of personnel that might typically be found aboard a semi-submersible rig drilling in the North Sea. cementing and mud logging.


and has an office with accommodation attached aboard the rig. working in close liaison with the senior toolpusher. or more on larger rigs. he sometimes needs the technical assistance of an engineer trained in mechanics and hydraulics. as he is normally called aboard the rig. The geologist examines cuttings returned from the well and sends samples to the shore laboratory for analysis. He may be directly employed by the operator. He dictates when supply boats are to be brought alongside. with many years of oilfield experience at all levels. the total ‘POB’ may be as low as 40. Every morning the company man is in contact with the operator to pass a verbal report of operational progress and to receive instructions. is the operating company’s on-site superviser who oversees the entire well operation on their behalf. The jobs of the personnel in the normal complement listed above are described below: OPERATOR’S REPRESENTATIVE: The ‘company man’. depending on the operations. only a handful of maintenance personnel might remain onboard. and much else besides. During a rig-move. DRILLING ENGINEER: The company man is usually an experienced tool- pusher who has supervised many drilling operations. and if the rig is ‘stacked’. GEOLOGISTS: Oil companies normally directly employ their own geologists. . works in a small office or ‘shack’. He . He is on call 24 hours a day. one or more of whom might be onboard for the duration of the drilling and well testing period. and a drilling engineer may therefore be carried for some drilling operations.Rig Personnel & Training Instrument Technician 2 Mechanics 2 Motormen Welder OTHER CONTRACTOR’S PERSONNEL: Mud Engineer Cementer 4 Mud Loggers Diving Supervisor 3 ROV Pilot-Technicians 64 TOTAL COMPLEMENT: The total figure of 64 is often increased to around 80. but is often a self-employed consultant. what tools are to be used down the hole. who is hired through an agency. However.

He is on call 24 hours a day although he normally works a regular day-shift from 0600 to 1800. but not all. 268 . MATERIALS CO-ORDINATOR: The logistics of supplying the many needs of an offshore rig are complex..Rig Personnel & Training The company man makes the onboard decisions on behalf of the operator. oil companies employ a materials co-ordinator to keep a tally of their equipment and organise supplies. liaising with the materials base ashore. If he is also the OIM his responsibilities are wider. He is responsible for the safety and welfare of the drilling department personnel. and some. -. The ‘matsman’ works to the company man’s instructions and in liaison with the rig storeman. He is a source of much useful information for the new rig hand who is confronted by a lot of strange equipment. He may also be the appointed Offshore Installation Manager (see below) under British government regulations. and for the safety of drilling and related practices on the installation.. SENIOR TOOLPUSHER: The senior ‘pusher’ is the supervisor in charge of the drilling department. and is responsible to the company’s drilling superintendent for the day-to-day drilling operations on the rig. and does offshore tours of duty of either 7 or 14 days (or up to 28 days if the vessel is on an overseas location).

Operators are normally former merchant ship radio officers and are kept busy sending reports of the well’s progress to ‘town’ and receiving numerous instruction messages daily. for stability and ballast control. including some drilling equipment. Any Gross Tons Upon Oceans Licence (usually called an Unlimited Master’s Licence) or a Master of Column Stabilized Drilling Rig Licence (Industrial Master’s Licence). When a helicopter is sceduled. He is usually an experienced merchant ship engineer and has team of mechanics.‘. they pass rig weather information and liaise with the aircraft during its flight. On some rigs he may also be the legally-appointed OIM (see below) but if the senior toolpusher is charged with this responsibility the bargemaster is responsible to him for all marine matters affecting the barge. He is responsible for ensuring that there are the required number of marine crew aboard to satisfy manning regulations. facsimile and helicopter communication equipment usually being installed. although he must have undergone a training course. which necessitates long training and experience in merchant ships. and not necessarily in any previous marine role. or night toolpusher. On a jack-up rig the chief mechanic may also be the jacking engineer.Rig Personnel & Training JUNIOR TOOLPUSHER: Night operations.. for assisting the toolpusher in safety matters. On a British self-propelled mobile rig the bargemaster must be qualified as a Deck Officer Class 1 (Master Mariner).:>. telex.. RADIO OPERATORS: A rig’s radio room is much like that Gf a large mer- chant ship. and for the operation of bulk cargo storage and delivery systems.former certificate the American bargemaster or barge captain must be experienced aboard large merchant ships. BARGEMASTER: The bargemaster is the legal master of the drilling vessel . with satellite communications. but for the latter qualification he need only have served in drilling rigs. from 1800 to 0600.. is normally an experienced driller. like the senior toolpusher. 360 . On an American rig he must have either a Master. . for loading and backloading supply vessels. As well as power-generating machinery the engineering department has much other plant to look after.. who. who ensures that all rig machinery functions and is maintained properly.. MF and VHF radio telephones. He may alternatively be known as the ‘tourpusher’ (‘tour’ being pronounced ‘tower’). electricians and motormen to assist him. -. and is in charge of the marine department onboard. are nor- mally under the supervision of the junior. To obtain the . CHIEF MECHANIC: The engineering department is under the supervision of a qualified 1st Class Engineer.

270 . and organises accommodation arrangements. such as compiling crew and passenger lists.Rig Personnel & Training The radio room on a rig is much like that of any large modern ship MEDIC/CLERK: In the busy heavy engineering environment of a drilling rig there are inevitably accidents to personnel and a qualified nurse is therefore employed to treat minor injuries. While he is not treating patients the medic also does routine rig office paperwork. More serious cases are sent ashore or to a large production platform by ‘Medevac’ helicopter.

STOREMAN: A rig must carry numerous spare items of equipment for dril- ling. engineering. especially when supplies may be delayed due to bad weather. fire and gas alarms. watertight doors and bilge alarms. -. The chief steward.Rig Personnel & Training CHIEF STEWARD: Catering for sixty or more personnel calls for careful stores planning. with a steward operating the laundry service.- 271 . although managing the catering department is normally a full-time task. They work in a galley which is mechanised as far as possible. when bread is baked. engine alarms. STEWARDS: Rig catering staff keep accommodation and messrooms habit- i. like that aboard any large ship. electrical and marine uses. may double as the chief cook in some companies. or may work through an offshore crewing agency. Jack-up rigs do not need a sub-sea engineer. are washed at the end of each tour. COOKS: There are usually two cooks. the other on ! nights. and the documentation of stores and equipment loaded or backloaded by supply boat is done by the storeman. and keep track of weights loaded and backloaded and quantities of bulk materials used daily. . as they do not use the same sea-bed devices as floaters. There is usually a galley steward to assist the duty cook. able and assist in the galley and elsewhere to the chief steward’s requirements. CONTROL ROOM OPERATORS: The ballast control room of a semi-sub- mersible IS normally manned by qualified mariners who monitor the rig’s stability and operate pumps to trim the rig or adjust its draught. The whole shift’s working clothes. The CROs also monitor marine traffic. Bargemasters are usually promoted from the rank of CR0 .‘which get extremely dirty on a rig. SUB-SEA ENGINEER: The BOP stack and its remote controls are main- tained and tested by the sub-sea engineer. He is also responsible for running the other items of sub-sea equipment. who is a specialist in hydrauliic engineering and control systems and often has a marine engineering background. He works in the rig store and around the decks where he tallies equipment. or ‘camp boss’ as he is known on some rigs. one on a day shift. The catering staff may be directly employed by the drilling contractor.

but several years’ experience is necessary at all levels in the drill crew. 272 . He operates the hoist. rotary and mud circulation equipment from a small control &bin known as the dog house. DRILLERS: The driller is the supervisor of the drill crew and is responsible for conducting drilling operations from the drill floor.Rig Personnel & Training The sub-sea engineer can be asked to work long hours when the BOP stack has to be brought to the surface for repair. and operates the BOP controls in an emergency. Sometimes a specialist ‘directional driller’ may be brought out to advise the company man during directional drilling operations. No formal qualifications are usually required to become a driller other than the industry’s own certification in subjects like well pressure control.

For twelve hours a day each of the two drillers is at the drawworks brake in the doghouse. His work is physically demanding.. who leans out from a small platform called the monkeyboard that projects high over the drill floor. like that of the floormen. He is usually responsible along with the derrickman for the maintenance of the mud pumps and other circulation system equipment. DERRICKMEN: The top ends of stands of drill pipe are manipulated into or out of the set-backs by the derrickman. . . relieving him on the drawworks brake at times.v 273 . and supervising jobs around the rig that the driller cannot attend to. . When not ‘tripping’ the derrickman is responsible for maintaining the mud pits and mixing mud to the specifications of the mud engineer.Rig Personnel & Training ASSISTANT DRILLERS: The A/D assists and understudies the driller.

wash down the decks. paint. but to become a toolpusher. A roustabout might be called upon to relieve a roughneck on the drill floor for a meal break.. or drive the sack room fork lift truck. are the hands who do the hard physical work of running in and pulling out tools from the rotary on the drill floor. Their job. is usually the most physically demanding and dirty of any on the rig. handle pipe being loaded from a boat. rig floor experience is necessary. as the floormen are usually called. .Rig Personnel & Training FLOORMEN: The ‘roughnecks’. One of the roustabouts ‘jobs’ is marking conductor casing ready for running in the right sequence. although they mainly work in the drilling and marine departments. ROUSTABOUTS: The roustabouts are general purpose hands who may be called upon to do almost any type of manual work aboard the rig. 274 . Most roustabouts aspire to jobs on the drill floor.. and the derrickman’s.

Rig Personnel & Training CRANE OPERATORS: The crane operator not only drives the cranes but is also usually foreman of the roustabout squad. including items like the weight indicator. ballast tank gauges and sub-sea TV cameras are maintained by the instrument technician. . whether in the form of a new ladder. the installation of a new piping system or the replacement of worn out deck grating. responsible for minor repairs and maintenance and for making routine checks on machinery.gas alarms. He has a workshop on the main deck but can often be found in the control room or engine room. which on a semi-submersible in its drilling mode might only consist of one other seaman to comply with government regulations. They are responsible for maintaining the main engines (usually diesels) in smooth working order. from the main SCR power distribution system to the galley toaster. fire and. checks lubricating oil consumption and records engine data. ELECTRICIANS: The rig electrician is normally kept busy repairing the numerous items of electrical equipment onboard. perhaps at night and in driving snow. MOTORMEN: The motorman is the shift mechanic’s assistant.” 775 . or ‘bosun’. INSTRUMENT TECHNICIAN: The numerous control and measurement devices aboard a rig. WELDER: There are always modifications and repairs being made to the steelwork of a rig. as well as drilling machinery. DECK FOREMAN & MAINTENANCE ROUSTABOUT: The deck fore- man. air compressors. MECHANICS: The rig mechanics are the equivalent of a merchant ship’s engineers. On long ocean passages the deck crew would be increased to meet a minimum regulatory manning scale. heating equipment and many other auxiliaries. and hes has to be expert a judging when to land expensive equip ment on the heaving deck of a supply boat 70 feet or more below his crane cab. He must be familiar with every item that might be required to be lifted up from the main deck to the drill floor. is the experienced seaman in charge of the marine deck crew. and most come from merchant navy backgrounds. Amongst other jobs he tests bilge alarms. On a DP rig there may be a specialist DP technician in addition. The welder is in constant demand by all departments and keeps welding equipment stationed at handy positions around the rig as well as in his welding shop.

Rig Personnel & Training .

pressurized by a mixture of oxygen and helium. or a squad of saturation divers who live for limited periods in saturation chambers. MUD LOGGERS: The mud loggers monitor the mud circulating back from the bottom of the hole with special equipment installed in a portable logging shack. DIVING TEAM: If underwater work is required by the well programme it may be done using a hired remote-controlled or remote-operated vehicle (an RCV or ROV).. or well casing or some special tool may have tb be run in the hole. some part of the rig may be use for a mandatory periodic survey. and periodically he may . shore-based personnel will have to come out to the rig for short periods. and service technicians. analyses it on its return from the hole and treats it with additives to change its physical or chemical properties as appropriate for the particular formation being drilled through. overhaul or inspection. and their plant remains permanently onboard the rig. Cementing is a service carried out by a specialist firm contracted to the operator. The ‘rig superintendent’ oversees the day-to-day management of the rig from his office in ‘town’. If hydrocarbons show in the mud. Diving is normally contracted out to specialist firms who install their plant on the main deck over a small moonpool. He supervises the mixing of mud. and accommodation must be made available for them.Rig Personnel & Training MUD ENGINEER: The ‘mud man’. as the mud engineer is usually called.. The temporary personnel may therefore include casing hands. WIRELINE OPERATORS: The wireline equipment on which logging devices are run down the hole is owned by a specialist contractor but the wireline winch unit is permanently installed on the rig. and to maintain the equipment in between jobs. 277 . they can determine the depth at which they exist by means of recording instruments. CEMENTER: The cementer’s job is to operate the powerful cement pump- ing machinery during ‘cement jobs’. OTHER VISITING PERSONNEL: Frequently when the rig is on location. The mud engineer is normally employed by the same specialist firm contracted to the operator that supplies the mud. Certain shore-based employees of the rig operator may also appear onboard from time to time.. which has been carefully formulated to keep the well safe from kicks and blowouts at all times and to maximise drilling efficiency. Items of equipment may need repair. is responsible for carrying out the well operator’s mud programme. government inspectors and surveyors. The wireline company’s technicians operate the equipment during logging runs. a small manned submersible.

and he may attend a rig-move from one location’ to another. The ‘base safety officer’ ensures that company and government safety regulations are being compiled with onboard the units in the contractor’s fleet. He keeps accident statistics and often issues safety bulletins. want to inspect the rig to ensure that efficient onboard management is being carried out. The netting in the background is beneath the rig’s moonpool. the towing operation. . when he might assist the bargemaster with anchor retrieval. The ‘marine superintendent’ is the rig operator’s marine department head and the company’s nautical advisor. and periodically makes an offshore inspection. and subsequent anchor running.Rig Personnel & Training Divers descend to their working depth in a presswised bell.

He is also charged with ensuring that all operations and the use of equipment are undertaken by. keeping the landing area clear. Rigs drilling on many overseas locations do not require installation managers unless stipulated by local regulations. and transfer of responsibility is made. On a mobile rig. the other is when an emergency situation arises that endangers the seaworthiness of the rig..h&r Section 4. It is left to the installation’s operator to decide which person should be appointed to this important position. there 279 . there will usually be provisions for the transfer of OIM’s powers and responsibilities to the bargemaster in two sets of circumstances. In this case the bargemaster formally advises the OIM that he considers drilling should be stopped. One is when drilling operations have been completed and anchors can be pulled . for the duration of the emergency. who is required on self-propelled rigs. either the senior toolpusher or the senior member of the marine department (the bargemaster) will normally be OIM. and the entire catering and roustabout squad may be recruited in the host country* HELICOPTER LANDING OFFICER @LO): An HLO is required on all British offshore drilling rigs under government regulations to take responsibility for the control of all helicopter operations affecting the rig. and large fixed platforms will normally have a person onboard whose duties are solely those of the OIM. the deck foreman or some other responsible person appointed by the OIM. health and welfare of all personnel on or working in connection with it during offshore operations.Rig Personnel & Tr&@ THE OFFSHORE INSTALLATION MANAGER (OIM): l. In many drilling areas. The OIM is legally responsible to the government’s energy minister for the safe operation of the installation. JACK-UP RIG AND DRILL SHIP PERSONNEL The crew of a jack-up is not usually very different to that of a semi-submersible. manning fire-fighting appliances and. a suitably qualified person. In the case where the senior toolpusher~ is appointed as OIM. a British rig must have an Offshore Installation Manager. and for the safety. however. of the Mineral Workings (Offshore Installations) Act 1974. These include refuelling. Instead of a other words when the rig is temporarily to become a ‘ship’. usually. acting as despatcher for freight. with an entry in the official log books. The HLO may be the bargemaster. or under the supervision of. controlling the movement of personnel on the helideck. local labour is hired to perform drill crew jobs up to the level of derrickman.

for example. The centre runs some thirty courses in all. although the OIM may still be the senior toolpusher. The ship’s master is in command. and marine crew have to possess certificates of competency to hold certain positions such as master. mate and AB. The Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Board has many years of experience in fire-fighting. drilling and oil production training. Virtually every British and many foreign oilmen working in the North Sea have completed one or more fire courses at the Montrose centre. fires involving hazardous substances and helic6pter fire-fighting. though he need not necessarily be a qualified mariner. Most of the personnel on a semi-submersible. for example. and if the vessel is dynamically positioned she will have a team of DP operators who double as navigational mates. Also at Montrose is the OPITB’s Drilling and Production Technology Training Centre. Training courses for offshore personnel are offered by many institutions and Britain such as nautical and technical colleges. The jacking machinery is normally operated by the chief mechanic. will be found on a jack-up rig. needs a certificate to prove that he has attended a course in well pressure control. all the courses being developed in consultation with the offshore industry. and operates a fire training centre at Montrose in eastern Scotland on behalf of 13 major offshore operating companies involved in the North Sea. but there are also organisations that cater specifically for the needs of the marine drilling industry. Instruction is given by experienced professional firemen. although certain personnel will have to be qualified in their own special fields. with the exception of the sub-sea engineer. Completion of an Offshore Survival Course and an Offshore Basic Fire Course are the usual basic requirements in the British sector of the North Sea. and trainees on the basic fire course are put through four rigorous days of exhausting exercises which bring them into close contact with real fires of major proportions. ranging from the basic training course to more advanced tuition in. where experienced oilmen teach raw recruits to the indus- 280 -- . Drill ships have a larger marine crew than semi-submersibles. A driller.Rig Personnel & Training may be a ‘barge operator’ to attend to marine affairs. RIG PERSONNEL TRAINING The oil companies operating in the North Sea and in many other parts of the world usually insist that all personnel travelling out to their installations or the rigs in their hire have a minimum standard of certified safety training.

Rig Personnel & Training Offshore personnel training at a special centre in Norway. .

and it has an enviable world-wide reputation. which provides the severest test of students’ stomachs and nerves. handle and survive in the types of enclosed lifeboats that all offshore installations are now equipped with. This is in preparation for the fourth and final day. Although marine crew such as bargemasters and control room operators normally hold merchant navy master’s and mate’s certificates of competency 282 . resuscitation and first aid. but on the second run is capsized so that students have to swim out through their allotted exits. gas or water kicks. There are lectures on various aspects of survival including physiology.5 different safety courses for the offshore oil industry. and for most North Sea hands the memory of their survival and helicopter underwater escape course is long and vivid.Rig Personnel & Training try the basic rig floor skills. The final session of the course is an abandonment exercise in which students jump into the environmental tank which is transformed into a dark. At Montrose the Centre has a complete drilling rig erected over a 3000 foot training well. and a second 2000 foot well is used for wireline training operations. as well as running advanced courses in subjects like well pressure control for drillers and toolpushers. rain-lashed and wind-swept cold ‘North Sea’ with the aid of ‘special effects’ including a powerful wind generator. On the 4day offshore survival course. then boarded. the fishing fleet and aviation. The simulator is first immersed upright. The Offshore Survival Centre run by Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon’s Institute of Technology commands equal status in the eyes of offshore workers with the Montrose facilities. has to undergo the helicopter escape training. including non-swimmers. At Aberdeen the DPTI’C maintains an advanced drill floor simulator where trainees can gain experience in handling drilling problems such as deviated holes. The centre runs 1. as well as for the Merchant Navy. and those who fail to follow the precise commands of the instructors the first time the mock-up helicopter fuselage is immersed in its tank have to repeat the exercise until they perform it correctly. survival suits. which encompasses helicopter escape training. and the trainees are then introduced to the difficulties of wearing a cumbersome survival suit in the water during a ‘wet drill’ in a special environmental tank. A liferaft has to be righted. and the trainees experience a little of the discomforts of these craft in realistic conditions. Every student. students learn first how to launch. stuck pipe and oil.

pose a threat of fire from themselves. .Rig Personnel 8~ Training before they are appointed to a drilling rig. Drill crews are frequently exercised in operating the BOP controls so that the closure of the preventers can always be effected in the fastest possible time should this become necessary. Musters and drills are normally carried out weekly. In addition there are numerous courses for individual crew members who need special training appropriate for their job. For this reason. and lifeboat drills are usually held together with the fire drills. Another training course often attended by rig personnel is a first aid course run by the various ambulance associations. which is somewhat different in theory to monohull ship stability. and crews sometimes practice handling stretcher cases at the same time. sometimes during the night as well as in daytime. although the DP training may be done at the system manufacturer’s plant in some cases. onboard fire-fighting training is given great importance. they may have to undergo special training in the operation of dynamic positioning equipment or in semi-submersible stability. There may be some instruction on first aid or resuscitation techniques given during either of these drills by the rig medic. everyone aboard a rig is expected to know how to operate the rig’s survival craft. This type of training is given at certain nautical colleges. 283 . if not controlled properly. and this is particularly true aboard a drilling rig where routinely conducted operations can. such as the Offshore Installation Manager’s course and the Helicopter Landing Officer’s course. Similarly. The most serious risk facing almost any vessel at sea is that of fire.

GLOSSARY OF MARINE DRILLING TERMS Few other industries have developed a terminology as colourful as that of the drilling industry. Marine drilling terms have largely evolved from the language of American oilmen with inputs from the nautical and engineering professions, and the ‘green hand’ or ‘boll weevil’ invariably finds many of the words used offshore strange to say the least. This glossary is by no means exhaustive, but contains many of the terms most frequently heard offshore. -AA.B.: Abbreviation for Able Seaman. A member of the marine crew aboard

drill ships and many semi-submersibles. He might be called a ‘maintenance roustabout’ in some companies.
ABANDON A WELL, TO: To abandon operations on a well because it is

proved incapable of producing profitability, or because of obstacles that have arisen during its drilling. Before abandoning, as much casing as possible is normally retrieved and cement plugs are set to prevent leakage of fluids from one formation to another inside the well. Finally the well is plugged near the surface with cement, the wellhead removed and the sea bed left clear of debris and obstructions.
ACCOMMODATION BLOCK: The quarters deckhouse on a rig. It also

provides office space as well as storage, catering and recreational areas, which often include a cinema and gymnasium.
ACCUMULATORS: Large steel bottles used to store hydraulic fluid under

high pressure from compressed nitrogen or air, for hydraulically operating the blowout preventer in an emergency. Other types hold compressed air.
ACIDIZING: A well stimulation process in which a mixture of water and

hydrochloric or other acid is applied to the wall of the hole to dissolve material obstructing the flow of hydrocarbons into it from the producing formation.
ACOUSTIC TRANSPONDER: An underwater electronic device which

emits sound waves so that its position can be determined from receiving equipment on the surface. Transponders are attached to the marine riser and BOP stack so that their positions in relation to the drilling unit can be monitored from the surface. They are also used in dynamic positioning systems for the DP vessel to reference on and in guidelineless drilling for guiding subsea tools to their sea-bed positions. Sub-sea BOP stacks often have emergency acoustic controls in addition to hydraulic controls. ...


Glossary of Marine Drilling terms ACTIVE PIT: The mud pit in which mud that is mixed, treated, conditioned

and ready for use is stored. Mud returning from the shale shaker is passed into this pit after being cleaned.
A-FRAME: The peak of a drilling derrick’s structure, above the crown

block. It is shaped like the letter ‘A’.
AGITATOR: A paddle suspended in a mud pit by a shaft from an overhead

electric motor. It is rotated to stir the mud and prevent it from settling out.
AIR DRILLING: A drilling method that employs compressed air as the dril-

ling fluid instead of a liquid.
AIR GAP: The height above the sea surface of the underside of a drilling rig

or production platform.
AIR TUGGER: A small, pneumatically-driven winch used for general pur-

pose hoisting. There are tuggers on the drill floor, in the cellar deck by the moonpool, near the towing bridles and in several other places around a rig.
ANALYSIS, CORE: See core analysis. ANALYSIS, MUD: See ,mud analysis. ANCHOR: A heavy hooked appliance used with chain cable, or sometimes

wire or a combination of chain and wire, to secure semi-submersibles, drilling barges and some drillships to the sea-bed. A ‘spread’ or pattern of eight or ten anchors is usually laid symmetrically from the rig with the assistance of anchor-handling vessels. Jack-ups are equipped with anchors like most other seagoing vessels, but are not moored on location with them. Also a device for securing the deadline to the drill floor. See ‘deadline anchor’.
ANCHOR BUOYS: Floating buoys attached to a rig’s anchors by pennants,

used to mark the positions where the anchors were laid for identification and , to facilitate rapid anchor retrieval.
ANCHOR CHAIN: Heavy linked chain connecting a vessel to its anchors. A

typical semi-submersible might have eight anchors, each fitted with 4.500 feet of 3 inch chain cable, the inboard ends of which are secured in chain lockers inthe rig’s vertical columns. The diameter refers not to the width across the links but to the width of the steel bar forming the links.

Glossary of Marine Drilling terms ANCHOR CHAIN TENSION: The amount of strain an anchor chain regis-

ters, measured in tonnes, tons or kips (1 kip = 100,000 lbs). Chains are liable to over-stress in bad weather, strong tidal streams or fast currents, and are monitored regularly by rig watchkeeping personnel.
ANCHOR DRESSING: The operation of attaching back-up appliances, such

as a piggy-back, to an anchor to increase its holding efficiency.
ANCHOR-HANDLING VESSEL: A ship specially designed for laying and

retrieving rig moorings, equipped with large winches and special equipment for connecting and disconnecting heavy anchors and chains. The engines of the most modem AHVs produce more than 14,000 bhp. Anchor-handlers often double as supply vessel and/or tugs.
ANCHOR PATTERN: The geometrical spread of anchors laid from a mobile

drilling unit. Any of several different patterns may be selected to suit conditions at the location or the type of unit.
ANCHOR PILE: A long pile set into the sea bed for the purpose of tethering

a floating drilling unit. Piles are sometimes,used in situations where conventional anchors can not be used.
ANCHOR-SETTING: The laying of anchors from a mobile drilling unit.

This is a complex procedure which may take many hours or even days.
ANNULAR PREVENTER: A device in a BOP stack that can seal around

irregular-shaped objects, such as drill pipe, that pass through it. It is activated by hydraulic compression of a reinforced rubber or rubber-like packing element,
ANNULUS or ANNULAR SPACE: The space surrounding any tubular sus-

pended in the hole. During drilling the circulation lfuid flows up the annulus between the drillpipe and the wall of the hole, or, when the well is cased, between the drillpipe and the casing. During a casing cement job a cement slurry is pumped from the bottom of the casing up the annulus between the casing and the wall of the wellbore.
ANTICLINE: A type of hydrocarbon reservoir in which impkrmeable, fine

grained formation rocks have folded upwards to form a convex shape over porous, permeable reservoir rock. This is the most common type of oil or gas trap.
A.P.I.: The American Petroleum Institute, the organisation responsible for

setting the majority of the standards used worldwide in the drilling industry. .._,


GLOSSY of Marine Drttttng terms APPRAISAL WELL: A well drilled following the drilling of a discovery

well, to determine the extent of the oil or gas field.
ASSISTANT DRILLER: The member of the drill crew ranking below driller

but above derrickman, whose duties are to understudy the driller and relieve him at the drilling controls in the doghouse when required, and to supervise jobs around the rig on behalf of the driller. Abbreviated A/D.
AUTOMATIC CATHEAD: The drawworks mechanism to which the make-

up chain and break-out line are attached.

-BBACK-LOAD: Cargo sent in to a supply base from a rig. It may include rub-

bish skips, empty containers, surplus casing, damaged equipment, etc.
BACK-LOADING: The operation of loading a supply boat from a rig for its

return journey to the supply base. This is done by crane and, if bulk cargo is involved, with bulk hoses.
BACK-OFF, TO: To unscrew one threaded joint of pipe from another. In

fishing operations explosive charges are sometimes set off against stuck tubulars to loosen the joint threads so that the upper joint can be backed off.
BACK-UP: To hold one joint of pipe firm while another is being screwed

into or out of it.
BACK-UP POST: The Sampson post to which the snub line of the back-up

tong is attached.
BACK-UP TONG: A mechanical wrench suspended from the derrick by a

wire and used to hold the box, or lower, end of a joint of tubular firm while the pin, or upper, end is unscrewed from it or screwed into it. When making a connection the break-out tong backs-up the pipe, and when breaking a connection the make-up tong holds it firm.
BAG PREVENTER: An alternative name for the annular blow-out pre-

venter, q.v.
BAIL: A thick steel loop-shaped handle fitted to the top of the swivel for

attaching it to the hook. Bails are also found on the end of elevator links.

Glossary of Marine Drilling terms BALLAST: Seawater loaded into special tanks to add weight to a vessel for

stability purposes. Semi-submersibles are ballasted down to the draught that gives optimum stability compatible with safe wave clearance during drilling, and are de-ballasted during transit from one location to another to reduce weight and the water resistance of the hull. A large ‘semi’ might have capacity for more than 12,000 tons of sea water ballast.
BALLASTING: The operation of adding ballast to a drilling unit to increase

its displacement and lower it in the water. The opposite of ballasting is deballasting, q.v.
BALLAST PUMPS: Powerful pumps used for pumping ballast into, out of or

between ballast tanks for stability purposes. They are usually remotely operated from the control room of a semi-submersible. Their capacity may be as much as 600 tons per hour.
BALL-JOINT: A flexible, pressure-tight device installed at the lower end of

a marine riser, just above its connection with the BOP stack, to allow a limited amount of horizontal movement of the drilling unit. Sometimes called the ‘marine riser flex joint’, or simply the ‘flex joint’. In some riser systems a second ball joint is used at the top of the riser.
BARGE: A term sometimes used to describe a mobile offshore drilling unit

of any type. More properly applied to a flat bottomed non-self-propelled vessel.
BARGE CAPTAIN: The American name sometimes used for a bargemas-

BARGE ENGINEER: The crewman in charge, or alternatively second-in-

command, of marine operations on some drilling units. In units where a bargemaster is required, the barge engineer may be the bargemaster’s deputy. The name is something of a misnomer as the barge engineer is usually a deck department seaman.
BARGE OPERATOR: The crewman in charge of marine operations on a

jack-up rig. He is sometimes the only trained seaman in the crew of that typ’e of rig.
BARGEMASTER: The mariner in charge of the marine department on a

semi-submersible drilling rig and the legal master of the vessel. British-flag rigs must have a qualified master mariner as master. On some foreign rigs the bargemaster, or ‘barge captain’ or ‘barge engineer’ as he may be known,


Glossary of Marine Drilling terms

is sometimes a member of some other discipline (e.g. the drill crew), who has gained a restricted licence to hold this position.
BARGE RIG: A drilling rig on a non-self-propelled barge. Commonly used

in shallow water regions such as the US Gulf, West Africa and Lake Maracaibo.
BARITE, BARYTE or BARYTES: Barium sulphate, a mineral used to

increase the weight of drilling mud. Its specific gravity is approximately 4.2, i.e. barite is 4.2 times as heavy as fresh water. Quantities of barite are transported to rigs by supply boats in bulk powder form and stored in special ‘P’ tanks until required for mixing with water or oil and other additives to make mud.
BARREL: A unit of volume measurement widely used in the petroleum

industry. 1 barrel (1 bbl) = 42 US gallons = 35 Imperial gallons approx. = 159 litres approx. 1 cubic metre = 6.2897 barrels.
BEAM: The travsverse width of a vessel. BENTONITE: A type of grey clay that swells when wet and which is a major

component of drilling muds, providing the ability to hold solids in suspension. Like barite it is stored aboard rigs in fine bulk powder form in special ‘P’ tanks. Often called ‘gel’ because of its gelling property.
BENT SUB: A bent tubular tool used in directional drilling that allows the

drill string to bend so as to build up the desired angle.
B.H.A.: Abbreviation for bottom hole assembly, q.v. BILGE PUMPS: Pumps for expelling accumulated water from the bilge

spaces of rigs and other vessels. Usually remotely operated from the rig’s ballast control room.
BILGES: Void spaces under machinery, etc. where waste water and oil can

BIT: The cutting device used to drill a well. Rotary bits are attached to teh

bottom of a drill string which is rotated mechanically. They have nozzles through which the circulating fluid is expelled at high velocity. There are many types of bit for different geological structures, each type being manufactured in a range of diameters. -..,


is suspended from the crown block by the drilling line. and the travelling block. BLOCK (MECHANICAL): An assembly of rope sheaves fixed in a frame. There are two main blocks in a drilling rig hoist: the crown block is fixed at the top of the derrick. BLOCK GUIDE: A vertical steel trackway inside the derrick up and down which the travelling block moves during hoisting or lowering. occurring when the formation pressure exceeds the hydrostatic pressure of the column of drilling fluid. (See ‘shear rams’). In the North Sea a block is defined for numbering purposes as a unit ten minutes of latitude by twelve minutes of longitude. Sometimes combined blind/shear rams are fitted. 290 .Glossary of Marine Drilling terms BIT BALLING: The clogging of a bit’s component parts with drilled material. The continental shelves of many countries are divided into regular-shaped blocks. BLOW-OUT: A sudden. so that the pin. BIT WEIGHT: The downward force applied to a bit when drilling. Abbreviated WOB (for ‘weight on bit’). tool joints of both the bit and the drill collar above the bit can be fitted to it. thus preventing the passage of fluids upwards from the hole. or male. BLIND RAMS: Rams in the blowout preventer whose ends fit tightly together in order to seal off the space below. gas. violent and uncontrolled flow of oil. A pilot flame is kept burning at its end to ignite and thus dispose of any gas encountered. the exploration and production rights in which are bid for by competing oil companies. Bit breakers are made to fit individual types of bit. drilling fluid or water from a well. Balling sometimes happens when drilling soft clay. to which the hook is connected. BIT SUB: A drilling tubular that has both ends internally. BLOCK (CONCESSION): A sea area lessed off or licenced for drilling. and it may be prevented by foam additives in the drilling fluid. . or female. threaded. BLOOEY LINE: A gas diverter pipe leading overside that is fitted to a drilling unit when air drilling is in progress. BIT BREAKER: A heavy plate which fits in the rotary table opening and holds the drill bit firmly to enable it to be unscrewed from the bottom hole assembly.

Different types of preventer are assembled in a blow-out preventer (BOP) stack. q.might have a bollard pull of 150 tons. Usually referred to on the rig as ‘the BOP’. In addition to the bit. B. anchor-handler or supply boat. BLOW-OUT PREVENTER STACK: A series of blow-out preventers arranged in a vertical tier and installed above the wellhead to control downhole pressures. BOLLARD PULL: A measure of the towing or dragging capability of a ship.Glossary of Marine DriIhg terms BLOW-OUT PREVENTER: A device to control formation pressures in a well by sealing the annulus around the drill pipe when pipe is suspended in the hole. BOTTOM HOLE ASSEMBLY: The assembly of heavy drilling tools made up in the lower part of the drill string to put weight on the bit and keep the drill ~pipe above in tension.v. liquor is not permitted aboard them. especially a tug. q*v.O. BOTTOM HOLE: The deepest part of a well being drilled. BOLSTER: A protective steel frame fitted round a. the equivalent British term being a ‘green hand’. The BOP stacks of floaters are placed on the sea bed. the ‘BHA’ normally 291 . BOLL WEEVIL: An American term for an inexperienced oilfield hand. or alternatively by sealing across the entire hole if no pipe is in it. BOND.l’. or simply as ‘the stack’. BLOW-OUT PREVENTER DRILL: A training exercise regularly given to a drill crew in the operation of well-control equipment and techniques. while those of jack-ups and fixed platforms are installed on the rig or platform. i. Sometimes also called a ‘bronc’. or BONDED STORES: Duty-free goods such as cigarettes and _~ tobacco~which are obtainable on some rigs when customs regulations permit. Purpose-built anchor-handlers. Another type can shear the drill pipe passing through the preventer. Offshore installations are generally ‘dry’.e. column of a semi-sub- mersible just below a fairleader so that an anchor can be racked or ‘bolstered’~without damaging the column. or the BOP stack. The weight in air of the BOP stack may be nearly two hundred tons a&its cost may be of the order of several million dollars.~: Abbreviation for a blow-out preventer.

as recorded on surface instruments. Athwartships-running braces may be called ‘cross-braces’. heavy weight drill pipe and assorted other tools. BOTTOM HOLE PRESSURE: The pressure in a well at a point adjacent to the producing formation. BRAKE: A device in the drawworks controlling movement of the hoist and its load. announced by the ‘shaker hand’ as ‘returns at the shaker’. BOTTOM HOLE TEMPERATURE: The temperature in the hole at the bit. BREAK-OUT CATHEAD: The cathead on the furthest side of the drawworks from the doghouse. The opposite of making-up. as recorded on surface instruments. hydraulic and electric or electro-magnetic brakes. including band. They may run either horizontally or diagonally. BOTTOMS UP: The point in the circulation process when the drilling fluid has reached the shale shaker on its return from the bottom of the hole. Handling single joints of 31-foot pipe is easier and safer than handling ‘stands’ of three joints as is normally done when actually drilling. BOX GIRDER: A structural strengthening member of some types of rig.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms includes drill collars. comprising a hollow box-section framework built around the perimeter of the main deck. reamers. . into which the ‘male’ end (the ‘pin’) is inserted and torqued-up when making a connection. . It contains working spaces and storerooms. BREAKING-DOWN: The operation of unscrewing a string of drill pipe joint by joint and laying the joints down singly on the pipe rack. BOWL: The ring inside the rotary master bushing in which the slips are set. BRACES: Tubular girders acting like struts to support the main structural components of a semi-submersible rig. BREAKING-OUT: The operation of unscrewing one stand of drill pipe from another when pulling out of the hole. using the break-out tong. There are normally several types of brake fitted to a drawworks. BOX: The internally-threaded ‘female’ end of a joint of drill pipe. stabilizers. either when the well is completed or prior to running casing.

Accommodation rigs are sometimes moored near to platforms under construction and a bridge is erected for personnel to cross by. BRIDGE (BETWEEN RIG & PLATFORM): A gangway between a plat- form and a rig or other vessel moored close to it. as opposed to being mixed onboard from dry powder and liquids. water. making it impossible to shut in the well. BROACHING: The term used when formation fluids break through to the surface around or away from the casing. fracturing. Afterwards they can be retrieved. when breaking a connection. BUCK UP. BRIDGE (DOWNHOLE): An obstruction in the hole usually caused by the wall of the hole caving in or by the entry of a large boulder form the wall. BRIDGE PLUG: A short cylindrical tool which can be set inside casing to provide a pressure-tight seal to isolate a zone. BULK HOSE: A stout but flexible rubber hose passed from a rig to a supply boat to enable fuel. Its arm is connected to the drawworks by a wire break-out line. and for backing up the lower joint when making a connection. Used more on land rigs than offshore rigs. TO: The American term used for tightening pipe to its correct torque (‘torquing-up’).. or drilled through. terms BREAK-OUT TONG: A large mechanical steel wrench suspended by a wire from the derrick and used to loosen the ‘male’ (‘pin’) end of a’ joint of pipe from the ‘female’ (‘box’) end. BRING IN A WELL: The operation of completing an oil or gas well and brin- gin it on line for production purposes.. BULLET PERFORATOR: A perforating gun that is lowered into a well and fires steel bullets through the casing or liner. and it is also tethered to a Sampson post. dry bulk powder or other fluids to be loaded or back-loaded. This is done during well testing . BUG BLOWER: A large fan used to keep insects away from the drill floor where these are a nuisance. plugging and abandoning or when testing an upper or lower zone. BULK MUD: Drilling mud which may be brought out to a rig in ready-mixed liquid form. .Glossary of Marine Drilling. Bridge plugs are set when squeeze cementing. 341 . It is used in conjunction with the make-up tong.

80. 183 metres or approximately one tenth of a nautical mile. or the amount of weight loss owing to immersion in water. . thus ensuring that the maximum volume of cement has been expelled into the annulus. CAISSON: A vertical column. -cCABLE: A unit of nautical measurement. In addition to providing a slip joint in the drill string it can be used as a bumper jar to free a stuck string. CALIPER LOG: A well logging device used~ to measure the diameter of the hole. BUMPER JAR: A tubular tool incorporated in a drill string that can be compressed or tensioned to actuate a jarring action when the string is stuck and has to be released. or leg. It is about 30 feet long. Bumper jars are often used in fishing operations. 100 fathoms. 200 yards. BUOY: A floating device deployed by an anchor vessel to mark the position of a rig’s anchors. BUOYANCY: The upthrust of water on a vessel’s hull. ’ CALCIUM CARBONATE: A drilling fluid weighting agent with a specific gravity of about 2. BUNKERS: Engine fuel oil stored in special tanks aboard a mobile drilling unit and other vessels. equivalent to 600 feet. or to indicate the position of a location when the rig is approaching it. supporting the main deck of a semisubmersible rig. has a stroke of about 5 feet and is sometimes known as a ‘slack joint’. BUMPER SUB: A type of tubular motion compensator incorporated in the drill string of some floaters to eliminate bit movement caused by the vessel’s heave.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms in order to provide access to the well for fluids lying in formations behind the casing. BUMPING THE PLUG: The operationof pumping cement down inside teasing between two plugs and landing the top plug above the bottom plug.

CASING CUTTER: A milling tool used to detach strings of casing from the hole when plugging and abandoning a well or when ‘patching’ damaged casing. CASING PROGRAMME: The well operator’s plan for running each string . CASING PATCH: A device that can be lowered into the hole to repair dmaaged casing or to join two detached strings of casing. different strings of casing are suspended.GlossWy of Marine Drilling terms CAMERA. CASING HANDS: A team of specialists who are contracted to run well casing. Strings of casing that can not be cut are sometimes blasted free with explosives . . . CASED HOLE: A drilled hole in which steel casing has been set.. CASING HANGERS: Devices inside a wellhead on which the top ends of the . CASING ELEVATOR: A handling device that is attached to a lugged collar around the end of a joint of casing when running it in the hole. They are not permanent members of a rig’s complement. The widest casing fits on the lowest hangar. CASING: Steel pipe set in the hole as drilling progresses to line its wall. TV: A remote-controlled television camera run down to a wellhead on guidelines to monitor sea-bed operations from a rig. CASING SCRAPER: A downhole tool used to clean and smooth the inside of casing. They are removed when teh casing is run. CAP ROCK: Impermeable rock overlying an oil or gas reservoir that tends to prevent migration of fluids from the reservoir. CANTILEVER-TYPE JACK-UP: A jack-up drilling unit in which the dr& ling package can be moved on beams to a position overhanging the water at its side. The elevator is suspended from the hook/travelling block assembly by links. preventing caving-in and to provide a passage to the surface for drilling fluid and for hydrocarbons if the well is proved productive. CASING PROTECTOR: A short threaded rubber or plastic ring fitted on the ends of joints of casing during transport and storage to protect the threads from damage and dirt. of casing to be used in the well.

CAVE-IN: A collapse of the wall of the hole. On a semi-submersible the cellar deck provides a sheltered working area around the moonpool. Its hauling part is taken to a cathead. On modern floaters which are fitted with air tuggers the ‘automatic catheads’ fitted on the shafting near the catheads are used for pulling the make-up and break-out tong lines. If there is insufficient catenary the anchor is liable to break out of the holding ground. Much of the anchor chain or wire’s length is therefore laid along the sea bed before it curves up to the rig. can occur during a blow-out. Also a narrow walkway between a barge and a platform. A minor cave-in is termed ‘sloughing’ (pronounced ‘sluffing’). CATHEAD: A small spool-shaped drum on the side of the drawworks. . or ‘crater’. CATLINE: A general purpose fibre rope which is reeved through a sheave in a high part of the derrick of some rigs. CATCHING SAMPLES: The action of obtaining samples of the drilling fluid for analysis as it emerges from the hole through the flowline. and the blowout preventer stack is housed there when not positioned at the wellhead. CATWALK: A narrow ramp leading from the pipe racks to the base of the V-door on the drill floor. Sometimes termed mezzanine deck. CELLAR DECK: An enclosed area on the main deck below the drill floor. Tubulars ready for use are laid here by the roustabouts and crane operator. used for lifting heavy items such as drill pipe in and about the derrick. or between two parts of a vessel. q. A major cave-in..v. 296 .Glossary of Marine Drilling terms CASING SHOE: An alternative name for a guide shoe or float shoe. It is usually replaced by air tuggers on modern offshore rigs. CEMENT: Portland cement in which casing is set after running. CATENARY: The natural curve adopted by an anchor chain deployed from a rig to the seti bed. CASING STRING: The total length of casing run into a well. On a jack-up unit the BOP stack and wellhead are permanently housed in the cellar deck. It is normally stored in powder form aboard a rig in silos called ‘P’ tanks. around which one end of a catline is wound during general purpose lifting operations on the drill floor of some rigs. CASING TONG: A special power tong used for making up and breaking out joints of casing.

l CHANGING RAMS: Rams in blowout preventers have to be changed when drill pipe is going to be used that is of a diameter different to that previously used. since this is what it does in effect. CEMENT JOB: The operation of pumping cement down the hole to set cas- ing inplace. Chemical accelerators and retarders and reducing solid materials are common additives. pumping equipment. CENTRALIZER: A device with bowed strips of metal running vertically between two collars.& to alter its properties. This allows more even distribution of cement. desilter and mud cleaner. CENTRE OF GRAVITY: The point through which the resultant of the forces of gravity on a rig (or any other body) is said to act vertically downwards. fitted round a joint of casing to contact the wall of the hole and keep the casing centralized. Sometimes called a barite recovery centrifuge. . CENTRIFUGE: A machine incorporated in most drilling fluid circulation systems to remove fine solid particles from the mud after it has passed through the desander. It lies at the geometrical centre of the underwater shape. and usually they are in the corner columns of a semisubmersible or at the bow and stern of a drill ship. A remedial cement job to fill up holes is called a ‘squeeze job’. On a semi-submersible or drillship this necessitates the stack being brought to the surface for the modification to be made by the sub-sea engineer. CENTRE OF BUOYANCY: The point through which the resultant of the forces of buoyancy on a floating vessel is said to act vertically upwards. There is a locker ofr each of the anchors.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms CEMENT ADDITIVES: Materials mixed with cement during a cement j. CHAIN LOCKER: A deep compartment aboard a rig or drill ship in which anchor chain is housed when not deployed on the sea bed. this force being equal to teh weight of the rig or body. weight CEMENTER: The contracted hand who operates and maintains the cement CEMENT HEAD: A cap fitted on the upper end of a casing string or on the top of a string of drill pipe on the drill floor that allows the introduction of cement under pressure during a ‘cement job’.

CIRCULATING BOTTOMS UP: The oderation of pumping drilling fluid from the mud pits through the drill string to the bottom of the hole and back through the annulus to the rig while drilling is temporarily suspended. pipes and fittings installed on a wellhead after completion of drilling to control the flow of oil and gas from the casing. The oil company which is the well operator is usually the charterer of vessels used during the well programme. which can then be lifted. During anchor setting operations the collar is manipulated by an anchor handling vessel to stretch out the chain. CHOKE LINE: A line connected to the BOP stack. When retrieving anchors the anchor is ‘chased out’ from the rig by the boat working the collar along the chain until it eventually snags on the anchor. CHASING COLLAR: A large steel ring attached to a chaser pennant and through which a rig’s anchor chain runs. The equivalent document for the hire of a rig is a drilling contract. rotary hose and swivel. etc. standby vessel. stand pipe. On a semi-sub or drill ship the choke line runs up the marine riser to the choke and kill manifold on the drill floor. See ‘chasing collar’. CHASER SYSTEM: A system involving a chasing collar and chaser pen- nants which is commonly used by anchor handling vessels to assist in the retrieval of a rig’s anchors.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms CHARTER: The document of hire of a ship such as a supply boat. anchor handler. valves and chokes installed on the drill floor for controlling downhole formation pressures in emergencies such as kicks and blowouts. CHOKE: A device with a fixed or variable aperture installed in a flowline for releasing the flow of well fluids under controlled pressure. CHOKE AND KILL MANIFOLD: A large assembly of pipes. Charters may be for a single voyage or for a specified length of time. CHARTERER: The person or company who hires a vessel. into the drill string and 298 . This is done to clear cuttings from the bottom of the hole. used to direct and con- trol the flow of well fluids from the annulus. CHRISTMAS TREE: A high pressure assembly of valves. CIRCULATION: The passage of drilling fluid from the suction pit through the mud pumps.

COME OUT OF THE HOLE. COLUMN-STABILIZED SEMI-SUBMERSIBLE: A semi-submersible ves- sel the stability of which is governed by the level at which its columns are immersed in water. one-off system like the rig crew. DRILL: See drill collar. The company man. MOTION: See &x&ion compensator.known as ‘tripping’. The British classification society is Lloyd’s Register. COLLAR. ready for production. Semi- submersibles may have four or more columns.Glossary of Marine Drihg terms down to the bottom of the well where it emerges in jets through the bit. TO: To install in a well. CLASSIFICATION SOCIETY: An independent body whose purpose is to assess vessels for the adequacy of their strength and seaworthiness. ‘-799 . Most company men work a one-on. COMPLETE A WELL. but ships are not necessarily classed by their own flag state’s society. logging. etc. COMPRESSOR: Machinery for compressing fluids. tubing and packers. Most major maritime nations have their own societies. or before coring. It can take a drill crew several hours. From there it returns to the pits via the annulus and mud cleaning equipment. running casing. COMPENSATOR. This is necessary when the bit needs changing. ballast. directs all downhole and associated operations and is on call 24 hours a day. having finished drilling ind h ewe testing. Rigs employ large vol- umes of compressed air for machinery control purposes and the compressors are in constant use. in consultation with his colleagues in ‘town’. and its American equivalent is the American Bureau of Shipping. COMPANY MAN: The name generally used for the operator’s representa- tive onboard a rig whose job is to supervise the well programme. usually cylindrical and containing storage. downhole equipment such as a liner. reserve buoyancy and working spaces. COLUMN: A vertical caisson or leg supporting a drilling platform. Another type of semi-submersible is a heavy lift vessel which looks like a conventional ship but which can submerge its mid-body. and is. TO: To pull the drill pipe out of the drilled hole. He is often a selfemployed consultant.

CONDUCTOR PIPE: A string of large-diameter pipe installed between the cellar deck of a bottom-supported drilling unit. MAKING A: The operation of joining a new length of drill pipe to the drill string as drilling progresses. and the hole. It serves as a conduit for drilling tools and the returning drilling fluid. power plant 300 . 20” conductor. CONTROL POD: An underwater housing containing actuators and valves for the BOP hydraulics. CONTROL ROOM: The compartment aboard a rig from where various vital functions are controlled. including ballasting and stability. CONTROL PANELS. such as a jack-up. BOP: Systems of controls that can be operated manually or remotely to direct hydraulic fluid to the BOPs. Mud is often conditioned by the mud engineer and derrickman while circulating through the mud system. Most maritime nations regulate the oil and gas activity on their continental shelves. performed by the drill crew. There is usually a panel in the doghouse. and other panels of controls are placed at convenient remote locations for actuating the valves at the primary control panel. in the toolpusher’s office and on deck near one of the lifeboats. CONTROL PANEL: The driller’s console in the dog house from where drilling machinery is controlled. 30” conductor and an inner. to serve as a base for wellhead equipment and to convey the drilling fluid up to the marine riser. CONNECTION. fitted to the BOP stack and connected to the rig by a thick rubber hose enclosing numerous control lines.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms CONDITIONING MUD: The treatment of drilling mud with special additives to give it certain desirable properties or to restore it to its full efficiency. CONTRACT DEPTH: The depth of hole which a drilling contractor has agreed to drill. and as a base for the BOP stack which is installed above it. CONDIJCTOR CASING: A short string of large-diameter casing which is run by a floater to keep the top of the hole open and prevent sloughing. Deep well casing programmes may call for two conductor casing strings: an outer. A valve panel is normally at the hydraulic power source. CONTINENTAL SHELF: The part of the seabed skirting a continent or island that is’ an extension of the land mass and is relatively shallow compared with the sea bed beyond. .

permeability. CORE BARREL: A cylindrical barrel. CORE: A sample drilled out of the bottom of the well in a solid cylindrical block and retrieved for examination and analysis. in the case of sidewall coring. engines. fire and gas alarms. anchor tensions. CORE ANALYSIS: An examination of a core to determine various proper- ties of the formation from which it came. hoisting. Coring bits often employ diamond cutting elements. CONTROL ROOM OPERATOR: The watch-keeping crewman on a semi- submersible who monitors and controls stability and ballast. As the bit is rotated. CRANES: Rigs employ long-jibbed pedestal cranes for general purpose . This can cause a bottom-supported drilling unit to collapse and sink. that is run at the bottom of the drill string in place of the normal bottom hole assembly in order to remove a core. CORING BIT: A bit with a wide central aperture surrounded by a ring of cutting elements set into a matrix. lithology and likely productivity. CRATER.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms operation and fire and gas alarm monitoring. including porosity. CORROSION CAP: A cap placed on a suspended well which may be reentered in the future. made up in 30-foot lengths to a total of 60. fluid content. oil and water. CORING: The removal of a core by rotating the core barrel and coring bit at the bottom of the hole. or. TO: To cave in. by the retrieval of several small barrels fired into the adjacent formation by a gun. etc. 301 . geological age. the cut core passes up through the middle of the bit into the core barrel above. casing has to be lifted from pipe racks to the drill floor and anchorhandling equipment is passed to boats by the cranes. Usually the CR0 is a certified merchant marine deck officer. Cores obtained from rigs are sent ashore to core laboraties. Supplies such as drill pipe and containers have to be lifted off supply boats. In a violent blowout the surface around a well can fall into a large hole blown in the sea bed by the force of escaping mud. They are in daily use on the rig at all times of the day and night.90 or 120 feet and fitted to a special coring bit. gas.

DEADLINE ANCHOR: A device fixed to the structure of the rig on or &ar the drill floor around which the deadline is wound and secured. fast vessel used in some smooth-water drilling locations such as the Arabian and US Gulfs to transport offshore rig crews from the shore. or ‘standing’ part of the drilling line opposite the fastline.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms CREW-BOAT: A small. CUTTINGS: Fragments of rock which are chewed out of the formation by the bit and brought up to surface by the drilling fluid. 302 . but this is not commonly used offshore. CROSS-BRACES: Large-diameter support pipes or struts running across the underside of some types of semi-submersible. while on overseas locations 28 days is the norm. where it is held in tension by the deadline anchor. -DDAILY DRILLING REPORT: An IADC standard format log of daily drilling operations completed by the drillers at the end of their daily tour. CROSS-OVER SUB: A tubular tool with box and pin threads of different diameters so that it can be used to provide the connection between two strings of different gauge pipe. An alternative type of payment is by footage drilled. DEADLINE: The fixed. CROWN BLOCK: The large block fixed at the top of the derrick from which the travelling block and hook are suspended by means of the drilling line. It runs from the crown block to a point on or near the drill floor deck. and from drilling draft to survival draft at the onset of very severe weather. DE-BALLASTING: The operation of pumping out seawater ballast from the ballast tanks of a vessel. CREW-CHANGE: The relief of one crew by another after a period of offshore duty. Most rig crews in the North Sea work fourteen days offshore before being relieved. bracing the columns apart. Semi-submersibles are de-ballasted from drilling draft to transit draft before a rig-move. DAY RATE: The agreed daily hire payment made by the well operator to the drilling contractor.

commonly called. DESANDER: A device situated near the shale shaker for removing small sol- ids from the returning drilling fluid. Usually a qualified able seaman. DEGASSER: A device for removing entrained gas from drilling fluid. Glossary of Marine Dri&ng. the bosun. Some rigs have a much larger deck area than others and are therefore more attractive for certain operators’ purposes. in which case they are called masts. when he physically manipulates the tope ends of pipe out of or into the finger board.g. His other responsibilities include conditioning mud to the directions of the mud engineer. DERRICKMAN: The drill crew hand whose work station is in the derrick during tripping. DECKLOAD CAPACITY: The weight of equipment and stores able to be carried by a drilling rig. cleaning out the mud pits and maintaining the mud pumps. A typical large semi-submersible’s derrick might be 160 feet high. Some types are able to carry much more deckload than others. He works from the monkeyboard wearing a safety harness. It may be a vacuum or may use fluid flow through an orifice to ~achieve separation of the gas. km DECK AREA: The area on a drilling platform available to carry equipment and stores. e. DESILTER: A device for removing silt from the drilling fluid. DEVELOPMENT DRILLING: A programme of drilling to exploit a field that has been discovered by exploratory drilling. this being one of the advantages of a drill ship over a semi-submersible.” 303 . whereas ‘derrick’ refers to the more permanent type of structure.. . situated near the desander. DECK FOREMAN: The supervisor of a rig’s deck crew. with a 40-foot square base.. . DERRICK: The tall girdered tower erected over the drill floor that supports the hoist and the drill string and other tubulars that are run into the hole. DECOMPRESSION CHAMBER: A module in the diving spread in which a diver can undergo decompression after a period ‘in saturation’. Land rig derricks are usually portable. ‘. It is usually carried out from a fixed platform using some vertical and many deviated wells.. for conversion to production units.

DISPLACEMENT: The weight of water displaced by a vessel.v. ‘gyro surveys’. 304 . DISCOVERY WELL: An exploratory well that produces evidence of oil or gas in commercial quantities.g. DISPLACING THE HOLE: Forcing one drilling fluid down the hole to displace another. DEVIATION SURVEY: A survey carried out with downhole instruments to measure the angle and azimuth of deviation of the hole from the vertical.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms DEVELOPMENT WELL: A well drilled following the drilling of a discovery well to exploit an oil or gas reservoir. DIRECTIONAL DRILLING: A drilling operation performed with special downhole tools to deviate the hole from the vertical. . q. Wells that produce ‘shows’ of uncommercial hydrocarbons are termed ‘dry holes’ or ‘dusters’. DIRECTIONAL HOLE: A well drilled at an angle from the vertical for one of a number of reasons. See ‘directional drilling’. either where an obstruction has been encountered in the straight hole and has to be sidetracked. Light displacement is the weight of the vessel as built but without any additional load. It is usually drilled from a fixed platform.e. Special diamond bits are also used for coring. These surveys are usually either ‘magnetic surveys’ or. DIFFERENTIAL WALL STICKING: Sticking of the drill string to the wall of the hole when the permeability of the formation causes fluid filtration and a consequent low pressure zone which sucks the pipe into the side. e. DEVIATED HOLE: An alternative name for a direction hole. where steel casing has been set. DIAMOND BIT: A drilling bit that has a matrix head into which small industrial diamonds are set. the actual weight of the vessel in the water. or where a number of wells spaced out in a field are drilled from one central location. i. and load displacement is its weight when at its deepests permissible draft. which is usually a fixed platform. DIRECTIONAL DRILLER: A specialist in the techniques of directional drilling who may be called out to a rig to advise the company man when the hole is deviated. when changing the fluid from water base mud to oil base mud.

at the end of which they are decompressed gradually in special decompression chambers. a winch unit. DIVERTER: A T-shaped pipe attached to the top of the marine riser that closes the vertical passage and directs the flow of well fluids away from the rig floor and overside. For saturation diving the spread generally includes a diving bell. _ . fishing.. are pressurised with a mixture of oxygen and helium and live in pressurised accommodation for periods of up to 15 days. interconnected by narrow airtight passageways. or ballast water is held. DOG HOUSE: The small cabin in a corner of the drill floor in which the dril- ler operates the drilling controls. A bell is part of the diving spread carried by floaters when saturation diving is required by the operator._ i. Sometimes called a”mud motor’ or ‘turbo drill’. under which fuel and water may be stored in reserved compartments. DIVING SPREAD: When divers are required onboard for the well prog- ramme.. Saturation divers. who work from a diving bell at great depths. DOUBLE BOTTOM: A false bottom in a vessel. DOWN-TIME: A period of operational delay during which the rig is techni- cally off hire and not earning money from the operator. DOWNHOLE DRILLING MOTOR: A tubular tool that converts the hyd- raulic power in a stream of drilling fluid into rotary power. DOUBLE: Two joints of drill pipe. is usually set up around a special small moonpool on the main deck of a rig.Glossary of Marine Fhi&g terms DIVER: A technician trained to work underwater from an offshore m&alla- tion. that can be run into the hole. collectively termed the diving spread. DOWNHOLE TOOLS: Any item of equipment for drilling. casing or tubing connected together. Drilling rigs sometimes carry a diving spread and a squad of divers who carry out repairs. a dive control cabin and chambers for living and for decompression. . etc. maintenance and inspections on sub-sea equipment. DIVING BELL: A pressurised capsule in which divers can be transported to their underwater working area. so as to turn a bit. DOPE: A zinc-based compound applied to the threads of drilling tubulars before use to lubricate and protect them. their equipment.

DRILL BIT: See bit. are used when magnetic survey tools are to be run. several of which are placed at the bottom of the drill string just above the bit to add weight to the bit and stiffen the bottom hole assembly. This may give advance warning of a kick. It may be known by various other names. Also termed ‘making hole’. DRILLING AHEAD: A period of normal drilling. sometimes called ‘monels’. DRILL CREW: The team comprising the driller. . who together perform the drilling operations on the drill floor and elsewhere on the rig. DRILL COLLAR: A length of steel pipe much heavier than the drill pipe. ‘306 - . DRILLER: The supervisor of the drill crew who controls drilling operations from the dog house. DRIFT: A device that can be run through the middle of tubular5 to check the unformity of their inside diameters. in which a drilling contractor agrees to drill a well for an operator under certain stipulated conditions. such as ‘Totco’ or an inclinometer.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms DRAWWORKS: The large winch situated on the drill floor. assistant driller. DRILLING BREAK: A sudden increase in the rate of penetration of the bit when it enters a zone of softer material in the formation. DRILLING CONTRACT: The document of hire of a mobile offshore drilling unit. DRILLING CONTRACTOR: The operator of a drilling rig and the employer of its crew. DRILL FLOOR: The area beneath the derrick in the centre of which is the rotary table and from which drilling operations are conducted. derrickman and floormen or roughnecks. which controls the movement of the hoist and around which the fastline part of the drilling line is wound. when the bit is cutting into the formation. Sometimes called the rig floor. DRIFT INDICATOR: A downhole survey tool that measures the angle of inclination and the direction of travel of a bit. Non-magnetic drill collars.

DRILLING LINE: The stout wire rope reeved from the storage drum. DRILL STEM: The assembly of drill pipe that runs from the kelly to the top end of the bottom hole assembly. at which a semi-submersible. . plastering the wall of the well. usually steel. DRILLING MUD: A liquid drilling fluid composed of colloidal clays mixed with water or oil and a variety of chemical additives. the retrieval of cuttings. while the platform on which the rig stands should be referred to as the ‘barge’. 1A7 . drill ship or drilling barge floats in its drilling mode. Usually referred to as ‘mud’. her machinery and equip- ment used for drilling a well. For a large semi-submersible this may be 65 or 70 feet. DRILLING DISPLACEMENT: The weight of water displaced by a floater at its drilling draught. Strictly. measured from the keel upwards to the waterline. equal to the weight of the vessel and everything on it at that time. and it may be moored with an anchor spread or dynamically positioned. DRILLING DRAUGHT: The depth of water. ‘unit’ or ‘vessel’. gas and foam can also be used as a drilling fluid. the term should only apply to the drilling plant onboard. ‘platform’. through the deadline anchor. up through the blocks of the hoist and down to the drawworks drum. DRILLING FLUID: The fluid circulated down the well and back up to the rig for a number of important purposes including the containment of formation pressure.. Sea ‘drilling fluid’. bit lubrication and cooling.. DRILLING RIG: In offshore jargon. on the end of which the bottom hole assembly a’nd the drill bit are suspended. any vessel. although air. providing ~a well data source. DRILL PIPE: Connected lengths of tubing. DRILLING DEPTH: The depth to which a drilling contractor has agreed to drill a well for an operator. DRILLING ENGINEER: A trained engineer who advises the company man on technical aspects of the drilling operation.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms DRILLING CAPACITY: The maximum depth for which a rig is designed and equipped to drill. It may be pur- pose-built or converted from another type of ship. DRILL SHIP: A ship employed as a platform for a drilling rig.

drill pipe. attached to the hooMtravelling block assembly by two long links.g. ELECTRIC WELL LOG: A recording by downhole wireline instruments of certain electrical characteristics of the formations drilled through. Rigs have large holding tanks for storing drill water which is brought out by supply boat. DRY HOLE: A well in which no commercially significant evidence of hydrocarbons is found. ELEVATOR: A latching device. or the well may be completed or plugged and abandoned. each pair being winched by a common windlass.for casing. ELECTRICAL WOtiK PERMIT: A written authority given by the OIM to an electrician to perform high voltage electrical repairs or maintenance.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms DRILL STEM TEST: A test. which is placed around the end of a tubular joint when running into or pulling out of the hole. These are identified with their locations and depths and used for estimating the amount of well liquids they contain. Drilling may continue after the test period to explore deeper zones. -EEIGHT POINT MOORING SYSTEM: A mooring arrangement fitted to many semi-submersible rigs in which eight anchors are used. Two anchors can be deployed from each corner of the deck. for mixing mud. DYNAMIC POSITIONING: An automatic station-keeping system for drilling and other vessels in which thrusters are activated on the commands of computers which monitor the vessel’s position in relation to fixed reference points on the sea bed or elsewhere. DRILL WATER: Non-potable fresh water. usually run over a period of several days. . DUSTER: A dry hole. usually used in large quantities for drilling operations. to determine whether commercial quantities of oil or gas are in the formations drilled through. There are special elevators. DRILL STRING: The assembly of drill pipe and other tools that runs from the kelly down to the bit. drill collars and tubing. e. depending on the findings.

v. There may be several separate reservoirs at different depths in the same field. e. FILTER CAKE or FILTRATE CAKE: Mud solids deposited on the perme- able wall of a hole by filtration of the drilling fluid. This is done to minimise the risk of blowout or caving. when tripping out of the hole. so that the fluid level in the hole is kep topped up. EXPLOITATION WELL: A name somtimes used for a development well. etc. FIRE PUMP: A high-velocity sea water pump specially reserved for firefighting.g. Limited emergency power can be obtained from it. -._. to allow the pumping of drilling fluid into the hole while pulling the drill string from it. -FFAIRLEADER or FAIRLEAD: A roller over which the direction of an anchor chain or wire is changed. FIELD: The area over an oil or gas reservoir on which drilling and associated operations take place. either via or below the flow line.. the Forties field. It may be drilled in a totally new exploration area. Also called mud cake. in which case it is termed a ‘wildcat’ well. or it may be drilled to find a new producing formation in an existing field. FILLING THE HOLE: Pumping drilling fluid into the hole via the fill-up line as drillpipe is pulled out. FILL-UP LINE: A line connected to the diverter at the top of the riser.Glossary of Marine Dri@ng b&Z EMERGENCY GENERATOR: An independent power plant housed sepa- rately to the main power generation machinery that is set to start automatically on the failure of the main engines. Each field is given a name by its operator. m4 . the Brae field. q.lled approximately half way up the derrick into which the derrickman slots drill pipe and collars. EXPLORATION WELL: A well drilled to find a new reservoir of oil or gas. Semi-submersibles have fairleaders on their columns over which the anchor chains pass between the windlass and the anchor. ‘> FINGER BOARD: A rack of ‘fingers’ insl.

It prevents drilling fluid from back-flowing upwards inside the casing when this is being run. and spears. FLARING-OFF: The burning of any well hydrocarbons emitting from a flare boom. FISH: Any item that becomes accidentally lost or stuck down the hole and which must be retrieved before normal drilling can resume. sometimes. reducing the strain on the rig. Sometimes called the ‘riser flex joint’ or the ‘flexible riser joint’. Known usually as a ‘roughneck’ or. These include overshots. FLOAT COLLAR: A cylindrical steel collar containing a non-return valve. thus allowing the casing to ‘float’ down and thereby decreasing the load on the hook.v. It is attached to the bottom of the casing string and is used to ‘float’ the casing into the hole.v. 310 . heavy cylindrical steel section of casing with a rounded bottom and containing a non-return valve. as a ‘rotary helper’. FLARE: A naked flame emitted from a flare boom burner during well-testing or when disposing of unusable gas from a completed well.) but also guides the bottom of the easing in the same way that a guide shoe does. FISHING: A downhole operation to retrieve a fish such as stuck pipe. often in conjunction with a boat drill. It functidns in the same way as a float collar (q. inserted into the casing string one or two joints above the guide shoe or float shoe. q. The non-return valve also allows the cement to be pumped down through the casing but prevents its return inside it.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms FIRE DRILL: A crew fire-fighting exercise. FLARE BOOMS: Long booms attached to each side of a rig on the ends of which burners are fitted for burning well hydrocarbons emitted during welltesting. which are male-ended devices which penetrate the end. FLEX JOINT: An alternative name for a ball joint. FISHING TOOLS: Special devices for retrieving fishes from the hole. FLOAT SHOE: A short. which are female-ended devices that fit over a fish. routinely carried out at weekly or other intervals. FLOORMAN: A member of the drill crew whose work station is on the drill floor and who performs most of the manual tasks in drill floor operations.

q. 311 . -G’GAS: In a drilling context. GEOLOGRAPH: A patented device which automatically records the rate of penetration and depth during drilling operations. Bentonite is usually commonly known as ‘gel’ aboard a rig because of this property. GEOLOGIST: The scientist often carried on a drilling unit whose ~job is to obtain and interpret data concerning the geological strata drilled through. Drilling terms FLOW LINE: A line fitted to the diverter at the top of the marine riser through which drilling fluid returning from the well flows to the shale shaker. recorded at the level of the formation. GAS ALARM: An alarm on the rig activated by gas. GEL: A gelatinous substance formed by some types of drilling fluid when not circulating. Each formation is known by a different identifying name in oilfields. the latter two being fire-extinguishing gases. carbon dioxide (COz) and halon. e. Each diesel engine on a rig is usually connected to an AC generator.v. giving it a characteristic fluffy texture. FORMATION: A geological bed or deposit containing mostly the same min- erals throughout. The usual methods of testing are a drill stem test and perforating. FOUNDATIONPILE: An alternative name for outer conductor casing. The gas is removed in the de-gasser. Sometimes called the mud return line. GENERATOR: A machine coupled to a main engine fore generating electri- cal energy. hydrogen sulphide (H2S).g. GAS CAP: The free gas that lies above an oil reservoir in a formation. and there is an independent emergency generator in ajddition.Glossary of Marine. FORMATION TESTING: The testing of a formation to determine its poten- tial productivity before installing production tubing at the bottom of the well. On a rig there might be several gas alarms. This is desirable so that the cuttings can be held in suspension in the mud if circulation ceases for some reason. the vapour state of well hydrocarbons. GAS-CUT MUD: Mud containing bubbles of formation gas. FORMATION PRESSURE: The pressure in the hole exerted by formation fluids when the well is shut in. for well gas.

a raw recruit to the offshore industry. The concrete. A hole through the shoe allows drilling fluid to pass upwards as it is being lowered and allows cement to pass out during the cementing operation.e. GUIDE SHOE: A short. GREEN HAND: A new member of a rig crew. GUIDE BASE: A heavy steel frame placed on the sea bed to guide tools into the hole and serve as a foundation for other equipment such as the wellhead and the BOP stack. HANGER: A circular device inside the wellhead assembly on which a number of strings of casing of different diameters can be suspended. It is fitted at the bottom of the casing string and prevents the casing from snagging on any projections in the hole as it is being run in. GUSHER: An uncontrolled escape of oil from the hole. The first oil gusher was from the famous Spindletop well. to allow the entry of formation fluids to the well. -HH#: Hydrogen sulphide gas. is later drilled out. down which the derrickman can slide in an emergency such as a blowout.v. Termed a ‘boll weevil’ or ‘weevil’ on American rigs. This is a process often used in well testing. ~ HAND: Any individual amongst the personnel aboard a drilling unit. that tends to clog equipment. HALON: A fire extinguishing gas used on rigs. 312 . cylindrical steel section of casing which has a rounded bottom and is filled with concrete. q. heavy.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms GERONIMO LINE: A speed-controlled escape line rigged from the monkey board to the drill floor on some rigs. a blowout. GUMBO: A sticky type of clay. GOING INTO THE HOLE: Running drilling equipment into the hole. sometimes encountered during drilling in certain areas. i. The ‘temporary guide base’ is run before the ‘permanent guide base’. GUN PERFORATING: The firing of steel projectiles through casing or liner set through a producing zone.

Sometimes known as heavy-wate drill pipe and abbreviated HWDP. or by a device attached to the hoist in the derrick.O. HEAVE PERIOD: The time taken for one complete cycle of heaving motion of a vessel.Glossary of Marine Drilling terns HANGING OFF: The operation of landing the drill string in the wellhead with a special tool and unlatching the lower marine riser package from the BOP stack so that the drilling rig can be moved quickly off location. which is called a ‘list’. when an iceberg is threatening to collide with a rig. for example. 313. is painted with non-slip material and is covered with tautly-stretched rope netting to aid the landing of wheeled helicopters in strong winds. Small heel angles are sometimes intentionally given to drilling vessels in order to assist drill floor operations such as running in or pulling out of the hole.L. HEAVE COMPENSATOR: Also called a motion compensator.v. q. H. A typical heave period for one type of rig in fairly calm water might be 7 or 8 seconds. This is an emergency measure that may have to be adopted. The ability of a semi- submersible to continue to drill in bad weather is often determined by the amount of heave. e. Not a permanent inclination. A device which allows the drill string to remain relativelymotionless while the vessel supporting it is heaving up and down. HEEL: An angle of inclination from the vertical assumed temporarily by a vessel for some reason. A large ‘H’ in an aiming circle is painted on it and fire appliances are kept nearby.: Helicopter Landing Officer. . wind or wave pressure. HELIDECK: The helicopter landing area on a rig. Heave compensation can be made either with bumper subs installed in the drill string. This is slightly cambered . or draining mud pits. HEAVE: The vertical motion of a vessel in a seaway. and in large swells 11 or 12 seconds. HEAVY WALL DRILL PIPE: A type of drill pipe with thicker and heavier steel than normal that provides intermediate weight heavier than that of drill pipe but less than that of drill collars. for drainage purposes. HELICOPTER LANDING OFFICER (HLO): A crewman appointed by the OIM of a British rig to take certain specified responsibilities for the safe operation of helicopters and the safe conduct of personnel on and around the helideck.g.

v. increasing the bit diameter as it starts drilling. HOOK LOAD: The weight suspended from the hook at any given moment. HOOK: A large hooked device with a closing mechanism that hangs from the travelling block and from which the swivel and elevator links are suspended. On some types. -II. HOT WORK PERMIT: A permit obtained from the OIM to carry out specified operations such as welding or burning on a rig after tests have been made for the presence of gas in the work area.W.C. drilling fluid circulation pressure swings swivelling cutter arms outward.D. HYDROSTATIC HEAD: The pressure exerted by the weight of a’column of liquid at rest. HYDROGEN SULPHIDE: A type of toxic gas emitted by hydrocarbons and occasionally encountered during drilling. HYDROCARBONS: Organic compounds of hydrogen and carbon molecules which may be gaseous or solid. Also known as sour gas because of its ‘rotten eggs’ smell.. When running the drill string into the hole the hook load will be more than when the bit is on the bottom and drilling. A name often used to describe oil and gas. q. Hoppers are used for mixing cement and for mixing drilling mud.P..: Heavy wall or heavy wate drill pipe. necessitating the removal of all facial hair by rig crewman. since some of the weight of the drill collars is allowed to compress the bit as it turns. Some types of hook are combined as aunit with the travelling block. making natural gas or oil. It is most dangerous when its presence cannot be smelt and specia breathing apparatus has to be available when it is likely to be met.D.A.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms HOLE: The usual name used on a rig for the well or wellbore. HOLE OPENER: A large-diameter bit used to make the initial entry into the seabed when spudding in. 314 -.: The International Association of Drilling Contractors. H. considered in terms of its height.solids are fed into a pipe carry- ing liquids during mixing operations. HOPPER: A large funnel through which bulk. .

There are numerous independents in the USA.. 315 .. INSTRUMENT TECHNICIAN: The specialist aboard a rig whose duties are to maintain and repair the numerous measurement and control devices onboard. as opposed to the oil majors who are involved in refining. The well operator may be either an independent or a major. usually of 20” diameter. . q. but comparatively few in Britain and elsewhere.: Internal diameter(e.g. transportation and marketing as well as production. -JJACKET: A structure made from tubular pipe fixed to the sea-bed to sup- port a platform.tions and sunk into position.v. An alternative method to gun perforating. INCLINOMETER: A downhole survey tool used to measure the angle and direction of the bit’s inclination from the vertical. JACK-UP RIG: A self-elevating mobile offshore drilling platform.D. used in deep wells which are begun with 30” outer conductor casing. replacing the usual tongs and dispensing with much of the manual involvement. JET BIT: A drilling bit with nozzles through which drilling fluid is expelled at high pressure. IRON ROUGHNECK: A trade name commonly used for a large drill floor machine that is able to make or break drilling tubular connections using pneumatic or hydraulic power. INNER CONDUCTOR: A string of casing. an oil company that has interests only in the sphere of oil production. Jars are often used in fishing operations and may be incorporated in a bottom hole assem/ bly as a precaution. JAR: A downhole tubular tool that can release stored compressive or tensile energy when desired so as to impart a shock to the drill string.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms I. of casing). JET PERFORATING: A well testing operation in which a charge of high explosives is used to burn a hole through the tubing or casing. INDEPENDENT: In the oil industry. . It may be known by vari= ous other names. Production platform jackets are usually towed out to loca.

It transmits torque from the rotary table to the drill string and is able to move vertically. TO: To abandon a well because of difficulties in retrieving a fish from it. JOINT: A single length of drill pipe or other type of tubular. reamer cutters. JEWELLERY: Devices such as scratchers and centralisers that are attached to joints of casing before they are run. thfough which a powerful stream of fluidis pumped. items dropped through the rotary. through which the kelly fits closely. that engages with the master bushing of the rotary table so that rotary torque can be transmitted to the kelly while simultaneously allowing the kelly to move up or down. has box and pin threaded ends and is most either 40. -KKELLY: A long steel pipe. permitting the gradual lowering of the bit. JUNK BASKET: A retrieving tool run in the hole during fishing operations or to remove milled or drilled plugs. This might consist of rock bit cones. It is hollow. KELLY SPINNER: A pneumatically powered tool fitted at the top of a kelly to enable fast kelly cqnnections to be made and for rotating drill pipe slowly. cement. KELLY BUSHING: A sliding device. is run inside the lower end of the conductor as it is lowered into the sea bed. or sometimes square cross iection. KELLY COCK: A valve installed between the swivel and the kelly to relieve the swivel and rotary hose from fluid pressure when necessary. suspended from the swivel and connected to the drill pipe. collapsed pipe.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms JETTING: A method of making hole for conductor casing in which a string of pipe. . usually with a hexagonal. JUNK A WELL. . etc. or because of the expense incurred in doing so. JUNK: Metal debris lost down the hole. JETTING SYSTEM: A high pressure water system fitted to the legs of a jack-up rig for use in freeing the legs from the sea-bed before jacking ‘up when leaving the location. packers or other junk. allowing the passage of drilling fluid for circulation purposes.46 or 54 feet long.

TO: To prevent a threatened blowout from a well by subdu- ing well pressure. This is done when changing to a different size of pipe or when the well is completed and the rig is about to make a transit to a new location. in most cases involving the pumping of heavier than normal drilling fluid through the BOPs. On a semi-submersible or a drill ship the kill line runs down the side of the marine riser. or 100. KIP: An American unit commonly used in the offshore drilling industry meaning a kilo-pound. BOP hydraulic fluid is called ‘Koomey fluid’.000 pounds weight. -LLAP: A point in a cased hole where the top of a liner overlaps the bottom of the lowest casing string.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms KEYSEAT: A slot worn on the high side of a deviated hole when the rotating drill pipe makes a sharp angle change. Anchor tensions are frequently measured in kips. -. or to connect any subsea item of equipment to another. KICK: An unexpected flow of formation fluids into the wellbore. LATCH ON: To attach elevators to a joint of pipe. KICK-OFF POINT: The depth at which the deviation of a hole is begun. LEG: A vertical column or girdered structure on a drilling platform that sup- ports its deck. KILL A WELL. LAYING DOWN: The operation of unscrewing pipe into single joints and laying them down on the pipe rack. The keyseat prevents drill collars from passing through the hole when the string is pulled and has to be reamed out.% 3. KOOMEY UNIT: A trade name often applied to a BOP control unit of any make. KILL LINE: A high pressure line attached to the BOP stack through which heavy drilling fluid can be pumped into the hole to kill a well. Most semi-submersibles have fixed circular column-type legs.17 . KICK-OFF: The action of starting to deviate a hole from the vertical by directional drilling techniques. Several alternative methods are available for the driller to use.

often in conjunction with a fire drill. LOG: A systematic and permanent record of data. others obtained when required. A supply boat is said to be ‘on location’ when she is on station at or near the rig. usually serving as the ‘oil string’. machinery logs. . LIFEBOAT DRILL: A crew survival training exercise held at frequent inter- vals. q. with- out her most of her equipment.: The overall length of a vessel. It is evidenced by lack of returns of drilling fluid and stopped by the pumping downhole of lost circulation materials. meaning her extreme length. by bad weight distribution or by a flooded compartment. LIFERAFTS: Automatically inflating rafts that are carried in addition to the lifeboats. LIST: A permanent inclination of a vessel. fissures or permeability. On a drilling rig many dif- ferent types of log are obtained including well logs. LOCATION: The place at which a well is to be drilled. etc. and usually referring to the area immediately around it. q. caused. ballast. LOGGER: A mud logger.v. Some types are almost circular in shape. LOGGING SHACK: A portable cabin in which mud logging instruments are installed and the loggers work. They are normally diesel-engined and totally enclosed. This may be due to caverns. etc. LOST CIRCULATION: The loss of quantities of drilling fluid into a forma- tion. for example.A. LIGHTSHIP WEIGHT: The displacement of a drilling vessel as built. LINER: A string of narrow casing which is set inside the bottom of the lowest string of well casing and runs to the bottom of the well.v. Some are continuous recordings.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms while jack-ups usually have open-girdered legs edged with teeth by which they are jacked up or down. mud logs. Tubing can be installed in this to extract well fluids. The geographical position of drilling locations are measured very precisely by electronic equipment. stores. LENGTH O. LIFEBOATS: Survival craft carried by all offshore drilling installations.

The kelly is often made up into the new joint while this is standing in the mousehole. MAKING A CONNECTION. q. . etc. sections of riser and the riser slip joint. onto another. This is done when the kelly has travelled down through the rotary table almost as far as it will go. added to drilling fluids or cement slurries to help. etc. MAKE-UP: The act of screwing one joint of pipe. and a snub-line tethers it to a Sampson post. mica.Glossary of k&wine Drill&g tLOST CIRCULATION MATERIALS: Material such as walnut shells. It is also used to back-up the lower joint when a connection is being loosened by the break-out tong. The arm of the make-up tong is connected to the drawworks by a chain. an annular blow-out preventer. where the main diesel engines of a rig are located. MACHINE ROOM: The engine room.: The operation of screwing a new joint of drill pipe onto the top end of the drill string. stem the loss of drilling fluid into a formation. all of which can be detached from the rest of the BOP stack in an emergency to allow the drilling unit to move off location whilst leaving the well secure. hydraulic accumulators. MAKE-UP TONG: A large mechanical steel wrench suspended by a wire from the derrick and used to tighten the ‘male’ (‘pin’) end of a joint of pipe when this has been stabbed and spun up inside the ‘female’ (‘box’) end of another pipe. olive stones. L. LOWER MARINE RISER PACKAGE: An assembly comprising the flex or ball joint. MAKE-UP CHAIN: The chain connecting the arm of the make-up tong with the automatic cathead. LOST TIME ACCIDENT: An accident in which a period of working time is lost by a rig crewman.A. It is tensioned to provide the torque for tightening a connection.. and the joint is then stabbed into the drill string in the rotary.: A lost time accident.v. MAKE-UP CATHEAD: The cathead on the doghouse side of the draw- works.T. A torque gauge is fitted to its end.

and then returning it to the hole. MATSMAN: A common abbreviation used for the materials co-ordinator. On the drill floor there is a choke manifold for the control of fluids returning from the well. and perform boat operations.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms MAKING A ROUND TRIP: The long operation of pulling the drill string completely out of the hole for some reason. q. MARINE RISER: The large-diameter pipe connecting the BOPstack to the drill floor of a semi-submersible or drill ship. usually using a dummy thrown overboard from a rig. Some oil companies keep a materials co-ordinator aboard during the period of hire. CROs. which is the total actual length of a . under the direction of the bargemaster. through which the drill string passes to the well and through which returns of drilling fluid pass from the well to the rig. Also called ‘drilling ahead’. See ‘choke and kill manifold’. MATERIALS CO-ORDINATOR: A person responsible for the movement and supply of equipment and stores needed for a well programme. MAKING HOLE: Rotating the drill bit and deepening the hole. such as changing the bit.: Measured depth. barge engineer or barge operator.v. MARINE SUPERINTENDENT: The rig operator’s staff member responsi- ble for the day-to-day maintenance of all marine equipment aboard the fleet’s units. MAN OVERBOARD DRILL: A recovery exercise. MEASURED DEPTH: Measured depth. MANIFOLD: A control point in a piping system at which flow can be directed in a number of ways. radio operators and sometimes the medic are also marine crew.D. performed periodically with the rig standby vessel to the operator’s requirements. while others leave this work to the company man. attend to marine work such as the maintenance of lifesaving and fire appliances. MARINE CREW: The mariners aboard a rig who. MANIFEST: A list of cargo loaded or backloaded by supply boat or helicop- ter. M. It can take eight hours or more in a deep well.

q. MEASUREMENT WHILE DRILLING: A technique of logging certain information about downhole conditions through sensors in the bottom hole assembly. MEZZANINE DECK: A name sometimes used to describe the cellar deck beneath the drill floor. Semi-submersibles. Abbreviated to MWD. although aboard a rig they may be called upon to repair items of drilling machinery in addition to the main diesel engines. MOBILE OFFSHORE DRILLING UNIT: A marine drilling platform which us capable of being moved from one location to another. whereas fixed platforms do not. or 321 . Mills are made in many shapes and either fit on the end of a drill string or are incorporated within it like a reamer.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms drilled hole taking account of every deviation from the vertical. MILLING: Using a mill to grind down metal debris in the hole.: A mobile offshore drilling unit. MONEL: A type of non-magnetic drill collar. Many mechanics are former marine engineers.ack-ups. Information is then sent to measuring devices and a digital display on the drilling rig by means of pulses transmitted by telemetry through the mud. MOONPOOL: The void space cut in the deck of a semi-submersible. remove sec- tions of casing when sidetracking. or for reaming out tight spots in the hole. like a diving board. He usually doubles as a clerk. drill ships and drilling barges all come into this category. It is often used in directional drilling to measure angles of inclination and direction. q.v. from which the derrickman manipulates the top ends of stands of drill pipe when making a trip. sharp and very hard cutting head used for milling. MEDIC: A qualified nurse who is on call 24 hours a day for treating minor injuries. ’ MONKEY BOARD: A narrow platform.O. This requires rotary drilling to be stopped only for a short period. M. Abbreviated MODU. j. The board can move up or down to reach pipe of different heights.D. MECHANIC or RIG MECHANIC: A crewman whose job is to maintain the rig’s machinery in good running order. MILL: A special tool with a rough. and does not interrupt drilling at all if a downhole motor is being used.U.v.

MUD CAKE: See filter cake. MUD ENGINEER: The contracted specialist who supervises the correct mixing and conditioning of mud. MUD ADDITIVES: Chemicals mixed with mud to alter its chemical or physical properties. Desilter cones are mounted over a motorised shaker screen which removes drilled solids.. in which he tests mud samples. also used to describe the area of the cellar deck immediately round the void. MORNING REPORT: The company man’s report sent to ‘town’ at or about 0600 daily. MUD MAN: The commonly used term for the mud engineer. 322 . . MUD CLEANER: A machine used in the drilling fluid treatment process to remove solids from returning mud and conserve barite and fluid. This is called making a ‘mousehole connection’. detailing all rig operations during the last 24 hours. MUD: Liquid drilling fluid circulated down the hole and back to the rig. The joint is made up to the kelly while in the mousehole. MUD LABORATORY: The mud engineer’s ‘office’. Often called the ‘mud man’. MOTORMAN: The mechanic’s assistant responsible for keeping the engine log. and for other minor engine room and associated work. A mechanic on an American rig is usually termed a ‘motorman’. then pulled out. Commonly. while the barite and liquid component of the mud is returned to the circulating system. records of lubricants used. if wrongly. which is open to the water and through which sub-sea equipment is run. A small moonpool is also used for running diving equipment. MUD BUCKET: A cylinder fitted round a connection on the drill floor to save mud from being spilled when the connection is broken.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms inside a drillship. whiih is usually supplied by his company. MOUSEHOLE: A deep tube suspended below the drill floor from which a single joint of drill pipe can be taken when making a connection. transferred to the rotary and made up to the drill string.

g. MUD LOGGING: A continuous logging process carried out by mud loggers in which the presence of any hydrocarbons in the drilling fluid is recorded on a graph. but small percentages of several other gases are present in natural gas.‘Sometimes called a ‘monel’. who no-maily works the night tour from 18. There are usually two or three main mud pumps. e. frequently. NON-MAGNETIC DRILL COLLAR: A type of drill collar used in the bot- tom hole assembly when magnetic survey tools are going to be run. NIGHT PUSHER: The junior toolpusher. MUD ROOM: A large internal space where mud pits and..00 hours to 06. Loggers are sometimes qualified geologists. as well as contaminants such as hydrogen sulphide (sour gas) and water vapour. MUD PITS: Large holding tanks for drilling fluids. Mud loggers constantly monitor this equipment in the logging shack.~” ‘~~~. -NNATURAL GAS: Hydrocarbons occurring naturally in a gaseous form in a well. through which mud is strained under vibration to remove cuttings. Sometimes called the ‘tourpusher’. MUD SCREEN: A screen on the shale shaker. Drilling tubulars are usually referred to by their outside diameter. MULTIPLE ZONE COMPLETION: A method used to complete a well so that production can be obtained simultaneously from two or more formations at different depths.~ Glossary of Marine Drilling tern MUD LOGGER: A trained analyst who records well log data using machin- ery installed in the logging shack. Methane is the main constituent.00 hours. 9%” drill collar.D. 5” drill pipe. -.: Outside diameter. mud pumps and other associated equipment are installed. MUD PUMP: A large reciprocating pump for forcing drilling fluid through the circulation system. -oO. 137 . grouped together in the mud room.

Its male counterpart is a spear. OPEN HOLE: A well in which no casing has yet been set. q. usually 30” bore. to determine quantities of consumables onboard and the general condition of the unit.I. so casing is set soon after each section of hole has been drilled. the wireline operator. OVERSHOT: A ‘female’ ended downhole tool used in fishing operations for lost or stuck pipe..M. This is undesirable if there is a likelihood of pressurised hydrocarbons entering it. OIL ZONE: A formation which a hole has penetrated from which oil may be produced. and in directional drilling and for freeing stuck pipe. ‘surface conductor’.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms OFFHIRE SURVEY: An independent survey of a drilling rig made at the end of a hire period when quantities of consumables remaining onboard are checked. OPERATOR: The company to whom a rig is contracted to drill a well.v. which is used as the foundation string in deep wells. health and welfare of all persons on or about a British offshore installation while drilling or production is in progress. as well as structural damage to the unit. OIL BASE MUD: Mud mixed using a base of diesel oil instead of water. and which is either the sole financier ?f the project or the representative of a consortium of partner companies. The name ‘operator’ is also given to the person who operates a unit of machinery offshore. OFFSHORE INSTALLATION MANAGER: The person appointed under the Mineral Workings (Offshore Installations) Act 1971 to be legally responsible for the safety.v. The oil zone usually lies under the gas zone and over the water zone in a reservoir. deep high-temperature holes and salt formations. e. O. etc.g.:.. OUTER CONDUCTOR: A short string of wide-gauge casing. . Offshore Installation Manager. when it is lowered over the end of the fish to obtain a grip. OIL SAND: Sandstone containing oil in its pores. hire period. ONHIRE SURVEY: An independent survey of a drilling rig made at the start of a. It is useful when drilling shales. Also called the . OVERSIDE WORK PERMIT: A work permit issued by the OIM to a person 324 . q.

Glossary of Marine Drilling terms performing work outboard of the rig structure. usually square and with four corner posts. The guidelines run through the corner posts. Packers generally have a hole through their stems for circulating drillig fluid or for running wireline tools. PENETRATION. that has previously been set through a formation expected to produce. PERFORATE. expressed in feet per hour. The standby vessel is called to close standby at such times and a lifevest and safety harness has to be worn by the permit holder. PERMEABILITY: The ability of hydrocarbons to flow through the pores of a rock. PENNANT: A length of strong wire rope with eyes at its ends for making connections. alter- natively a formation which is already producing. and they may have box and pin connections for the attachment of other tools. SYSTEM: The public address system by which announcements are nor- mally made aboard a rig. PAY SAND: The zone which is the target area of the drilling operation. PELICAN HOOK: A device used by anchor handling vessels to secure a rig’s anchor chain temporarily on the after deck while connections or disconnections of attachments are made. e. and its surrounding cement. PERMANENT GUIDE BASE: A steel frame. and these are used to locate the BOP stack when it is run. . Abbreviated to ‘ROP’. liner or open hole and made to expand flexible rings at its circumference in order to isolate a section of the hole. when there is a possibility of falling into the sea. . The gun firing the bullets is fired electrically from the surface. RATE OF: The rate at which the drill bit is cutting through the formation. -PP.A. Many different designs are made for a variety of uses. for well testing purposes. that is lowered onto the temporary guide base following the running of the outer conductor casing to serve as the foundation for the wellhead and BOP stack. TO: To fire steel projectiles through casing or liner. PACKER: A tubular sealing device that can be lowered into the casing. used for a variety of purposes in anchor-handling.g. Many pennants of different lengths and load capacities are used in an anchor-handling operation.

and the sea-bed is left clear of debris. PIPE SPINNER: A hydraulic wrench used in place of a spinning chain to spin up a connection prior to torquing-up. PLUG: A device inserted into a drilled hole to block the passage of fluids. Pin connectors are used when shallow gas pockets might be encountered. PLUG & ABANDON. PIGGY BACK: A back-up anchor used in tandem with a main anchor when the main anchor is unable to hold the required chain pre-tension on its own. PITCH: The forward-and-backward oscillating motion of a vessel in a seaway. PLATFORM: The name sometimes used to describe a mobile drilling unit on which a drilling rig is erected. PIN CONNECTOR: A pressure-sealed device used to connect the marine riser to the wellhead when drilling through large diameter conductor casing that prevents the use of a blow-out preventer stack. POD: A sub-sea container. together with the wellhead and sub-sea equipment. Dry holes are usually plugged and abandoned. TO: To seal the top of a well with a cement plug and abandon it. or other substances. Plugs may be made of rubber. casing and tubing. mounted on the BOP stack. PITS: Large tanks in which drilling fluid is held prior to pumping down the well by the mud pumps. PIPE RACK: A row of spaced parallel beams on the deck of a rig. usually found at the forward end near the centreline. on which drilling tubulars are laid down for storage. As much casing as possible is retrieved.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms PETROLEUM: Hydrocarbon oil or gas obtained from the earth’s subsurface rocks. PIPE: Oilfieid tubulars such as drill pipe. They are usually sited near the mud pumps. cement. collars. and some can be drilled out or retrieved when no longer required. that houses control . PILOT HOUSE: The wheelhouse and navigation centre of a rig. ._ 326 . particularly in a head sea. Also the term used commonly offshore to describe a self-contained fixed production platform. Piggy backs are usually lighter than main anchors.

After a test period of several hours the air gap at each leg. Two pods are usually fitted for full redundancy. water and drilling fluids. which is the oper- ation of withdrawing the entire drill string from the well bore for some purpose. at the lower end of its col- umns. POWER SWIVEL: A type of drilling swivel that is turned by electric or pneumatic power and replaces the rotary table. BOPs and associated drilling fluid circulating equipment are frequently pressure tested. Pm-LOAD: A load placed on a jack-up rig before it is jacked fully up to its working air gap. after which it is jacked to the desired air gap. pre-load tanks in the hull are filled with sea water to achieve even total weight distribution on the legs. to test the penetration of individual legs. such as changing the bit. ing is camed out before slacking back to a working tension. of power on a rig. which is a tall and narrow cylindrical tank holding drilling fluid and used for determining whether formation fluids are entering the wellbore during the tripping operation.O. is adjusted so that the rig is standing level. PONTOON: A hull of a semi-submersible rig. It is sometimes used for light drilling operations.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms valves and actuators for operating the BOP hydraulics. q. which may have changed during this time. kelly and circulating swivel.H. or whether drilling fluid is being lost into the formation. P. master bushing. There may be two or more pontoons. each connected by a flexible hose to controls on the drillinge rig. Pre-tension prov‘.v. PRE-TENSION: The load which a rig’s anchor chain has been proved to withstand without breaking the anchor out of the ground. depending on the rig’s design. POSSUM BELLY: The naine often given to the trip tank. PRESSURE TEST: A test performed on an item of equipment that is designed to withstand high pressures from fluids. PREVENTER: A blowout preventer.: Abbreviation used for pulling out of the hole. With the rig at about 5 feet air gap. fuel. which provides buoyancy as well as space for ballast. especially as the hole gets deeper. PRIME MOVER: One of the main engines which are the sour&. 327 .O.

RADIOACTIVE WELL LOG: A record of the radioactive characteristics of a formation measured by wireline logging equipment that is lowered into the hole. rick as they are pulled out of the hole during tripping.S. P. such as drill pipe or marine riser. designed chiefly for production. TO: To withdraw the drill string completely from the hole for some purpose. RACK PIPE. such as for changing the bit.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms PRODUCTION: The process of bringing hydrocarbons to the surface from a sub-surface reservoir for onward transport to the refinery ashore. PRODUCTION PLATFORM: A platform. PRODUCTION WELL: A well from which oil or gas is produced. used to make up a required total length in a string. In a diesel-electric rig the diesel engines are on the main deck level and the electric motors that drive the propeller shafts are in the propulsion rooms. It is usually in the pontoons. TO: To stand pipe back on end in the setbacks inside the der. -RRACKING ARM: A large hydraulically controlled telescopic arm used on the drill floor for moving. 328 .per square inch: the unit of pressure normally used in drilling. barite or bentonite is stored in bulk on a drilling unit.: Pounds. PROPULSION ROOMS: Compartments in the pontoons of a semi-submer- sible rig in which propulsion machinery is housed. On a semi-submersible the ‘P’ tanks are usually in several of the columns. PULL OUT OF THE HOLE. bilge and other pumps are sited. PUP JOINT: A short joint of any kind of tubular. RADIO ROOM: The communications centre aboard an offshore drilling unit.L. although development drilling may take place from it. guiding and stabilizing pipe of various diameters. ‘P’ TANK: A silo in which powdered drilling material such as cement. PUMP ROOM: The compartment in a semi-submersible rig in which the bal- last. which may be either fixed or floating.

when’preparations are made for the rig-move to the next location. RIG SUPERINTENDENT: The drilling contractor’s staff member who is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the drilling unit. kelly bushing. If the cutters revolve the tool is called a roller reamer. Usually known as an ROV.Glossary of Marine Dri&mg b&g RAM: A closing and sealing device in a BOP stack. The rams are activated by hydraulic pressure when a blow-out is threatened. He 329 . RIG: Strictly speaking. RIG FLOOR: An alternative name often used for the drill floor. maintained by air compressors and used for many purposes around the rig. RIG AIR: The rig’s compressed air supply. RESERVOIR: A subsurface formation in which the pores of the rocks hold hydrocarbons. stabilizing the bit. straightening the hole where doglegs occur. i. and in directional drilling. It is used for smoothing and enlarging the wall of the hole. REAMER: A downhole tool sometimes included in the bottom hole assem- bly.V. REAMING: The operation of enlarging the hole by re-drilling it with a reamer. the derrick and drilling equipment that are mounted on a platform such as semi-submersible. REVERSE CIRCULATION: The circulation of the drilling fluid in the oppo- site direction to the normal way. and can be locked shut.C. In practice. This is sometimes done to alleviate problems in the hole. down the annulus around the drill pipe and up through the centre of the drill pipe.v. into which the kelly. q.e. etc. R.: Abbreviation for remote-controlled vehicle. TO: To dismantle and secure certain items of equipment following completion of a well. which is a pilotless submersible deployed from a rig to perform subsurface tasks. kelly cock. looking like a drill collar with short fins on which there are cutters. RAT HOLE: A tube recessed below the drill floor. the drilling unit itself is commonly referred to as ‘the rig’. RIG DOWN. kelly spinner and swivel are temporarily placed when ‘tripping’ is in progress. however. drill ship.

RIG UP. RISER ANGLE: The angle from the vertical made by the riser.v. R. RISER TENSIONER: The system of wires. RISER TENSION: The amount of tcnsile. the tension is increased.Glossary ofMarine Drilling terms usually works from the office in ‘town’ and maintains regular contact with the toolpusher or OIM on the rig. but different types have their own motion characteristics. the normal method of drilling an offshore well. Two or three degrees of roll from the vertical would be considered unusually large on some types of semi-submersible. operated by pneumatics and hydraulics. casing.H. TO: To prepare a drilling unit and its equipment for the start of dril- ling following a rig-move to a new location.I. particu- larly in a beam sea. ROTARY BUSHING: A circular steel cup-shaped lining that fits into therot- ary table and into which the kelly bushing is inserted during drilling. He may be called the ‘drilling superintendent’ in some companies. are guided to the well and up which the drilling fluid returns from the well to the rig. Drill ships are more susceptible to rolling than semi-submersibles are. usually measured in pounds. RISER: The steel conduit connecting a floating drilling rig with the wel- lhead. Properly termed the ‘marine riser’.load. although some companies employ rig superintendents onboard their rigs. ROTARY DRILLING: Drilling with a bit which is rotated while a force is applied above it. It also serves as the running string for the BOP stack. ROLL: The side-to-side oscillating motion of a vessel in a seaway.: The usual abbreviation for running in the hole. set on the riser tensioner wires by adjusting the tensioner air pressure. Also called the master bushing. sheaves and cylinders. slips can be wedged into the space between the rotary bushing and drill pipe running through the rotary. When the kelly bushing is removed. It is usually monitored by acoustic transponders which send signals to instruments on the rig. down which all drilling tools. The rotary . RISER FLEX JOINT: The ball joint. As the hole gets deeper and heavier mud is used. etc. This must be within a certain tolerance to avoid damage to the riser. q. that maintain a constant tension on the riser support wires to avoid the riser’s collapse.

Also called a floorman or rotary helper. which is a small remote-controlled submersible sometimes deployed for sub-sea tasks such as repairs or inspections to underwater equipment. preparing loads for boats. RUN INTO THE HOLE. etc. The ROV often has mechanical arms which can perform most of the functions of a human diver. such as making and breaking connections. RUCKER WIRES: A name sometimes used for the riser tensioning wires. All downhole tools. e. through which drilling fluid enters the drill string. casing. etc. .Glossary of Marine Drilling terms drive may be applied by the rotary table or by a downhole drilling motor. ROUGHNECK: A member of the drill crew who performs manual tasks on the drill floor. barite and bentonite. This is usually done by contracted specialist casing hands. TO: To lower steel casing into the well joint by joint to line it. RUN CASING. ROTARY HOSE: A flexible hose that connects the top end of the stand pipe with the gooseneck connection at the swivel. ROUND TRIP. TO: To lower the drill &ring into the hole. and then running it back in. such as changing the bit. ROUSTABOUT: A general-purpose hand who may be called upon to carry out virtually any manual task aboard the rig for either the drilling or marine departments..V.g. -sSACK: A measure of volume often used in the drilling industry for dry powders such as cement. This can take many hours in a deep well. etc. A sack of cement measures one . Usually abbreviated RIH. standing in for roughnecks during meal breaks.: Abbreviation for a remotely operated vehicle. ROTARY TABLE: The underdeck housing for the mechanism in the centre of the drill floor that drives the kelly and turns the drill string and bit. R. painting or washing down. laying down drill pipe.O. MAKING A: Pulling the entire drill string out of the hole for some purpose. 331 . ROTARY HELPER: A name sometimes used (particularly on American rigs) for a roughneck or floorman. are run through its opening. racking pipe back.

SAFETY OFFICER: A member of a rig crew appointed to be responsible for convening safety meetings and for implementing improvements in rig safety.* 332 .5 sacks of barite to a ton. A sack of barite weighs about 100 lb. There are 39 sacks of bentonite to a ton. SACK ROOM: The compartment where the bagged and drummed con- stituents and additives required for mixing the drilling mud are stored. SAFETY AWARD: An award is given by some drilling contractors to the crews of their rigs in recognition of passing a certain number of days without a lost-time accident.v. used for positioning the rig on the location and for navigation during ocean transits. SAND LINE: A long. . and there are 22. The minutes of the safety meeting are then discussed by the safety committee at their own meeting. SATCOMS: A satellite communications system installed on a rig to enable a speedier flow of messages to and from shore bases than by conventional radio-telephone or telex. The safety officer is often the bargemaster. usually close by the mud pumps. SAND TRAPS: Tanks in the drilling fluid circulation system in which the fluid is recovered after passing through the shale shaker. SATNAV: Satellite navigation equipment.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms cubic foot and weighs 94 lb. SATELLITE WELL: A well drilled i:dependently of a platform by a mobile unit but tied in to the platform foi prpduction purposes by a sea-bed pipeline. q. SAFETY COMMITTEE: A committee formed on a rig for the purpose of monitoring and improving the standard of safety awareness amongst its crew. Recognised by a large dome housing a dish aerial. narrow diameter wire line kept on the drill floor for downhole jobs such as retrieving the ‘Totco’ tool. Most platform wells are directionally drilled form the platform. All British-registered vessels must have a safety officer amongst the crew. Sacks is often abbreviated ‘sx’. SAFETY MEETING: A regular meeting held by sections of a rig crew to dis- cuss aspects of safety in their work area or elsewhere onboard.

SHOW: A trace of oil or gas found in cuttings. when they are out of the hole temporarily. samples or a core recovered from the well.# 333 .Glossary of Marine Drilling terms equipment SCHLUMBERGER: The name given to the wireline logging installed on a rig that is often owned by a company of the same name. TO: To divert the drill bit round an obstruction in the well. or for some other purpose. This is done using directional drilling techniques and tools such as a whipstock. Their top ends are racked back between fingers. SETBACKS: The areas inside the derrick adjacent to the V-door where drill string tubulars are ‘set back’. Schiumberger was a French scientist who first developed the technique of electric wireline logging. by flooding certain compartments. . such as stuck pipe. to scrape of excess filter cake and to improve the chances of a good bond when cement is pumped into the annulus. See also ‘column stabilized semi-submersible’. SHALE: The type of rock most frequently encountered during offshore dril- ling. either to give a degree of stability not attainable in conventional monohull vessels. SHALE SHAKER: The vibrating screens across which the drilling fluid returning from the hole is poured to strain off the liquid and deposit the solid particles. SCRATCHER: A multi-pronged device fitted round a joint of casing to make contact with the wall of the hole. or stood on end. SIDETRACK. can be increased to submerge much of its structure. composed of small silt and clay particles. such as to float another vessel onto its deck. . . SEMI-SUBMERSIBLE: A type of vessel the draught of which. SETTING CASING: The operation of running casing and then fixing it in place by pumping cement into the annulus between it and the surrounding wall of the hole. SHOCK ABSORBER: A tubular tool used in the drill string to absorb shocks and vibration and thereby extend the life of the bit and minimise damage to the drill string. but most semi-submersible rigs drill whilst floating. The hull or hulls may be designed to rest on the sea-bed in certain conditions.

with consequent risk of overstressing.g. Different types of slips are used for drill pipe. SLIP JOINT: A telescopic joint inserted near the top of the marine riser to absorb the vertical motion of the drilling unit when heaving up and down in a seaway. SLIPS: Tapered steel wedges that are inserted between the rotary bowl and a tubular joint to grip the string temporarily. SLICKER SUIT: A suit of waterproof overalls worn by drill crews when making a ‘wet trip’ or when washing down. SLURRY: A semi-liquid mixture of cement powder and water that is pumped up into the annulus between the casing and the wall of the hole so that it can harden and fix the casing in place.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms SINGLE ZONE COMPLETION: A simply type of well completion in which packers do not separate producing SLUSH PUMP: An alternative name for a mud pump. e. collars and casing. so that the sheaves are not always in contact with the same parts of the line. SLANT DRILLING: A technique of drilling directionally from a jack-up rig in which the drilling derrick is tilted to an angle of about 30 degrees from the vertical. . SKIDDING REAMS: Rails along which the drilling package of a cantilevertype jack-up rig into its drilling position.g unit with hydraulically-operated rams that moves the drilling package of a cantilever-type jack-up rig along the skidding beams. SLUG PIT: The small mud pit where heavy mud for slugging is k. SLUG: A quantity of heavy drilling fluid that is pumped into the top of a joint of drill pipe before it is disconnected so that it will not be full of fluid when the connection is broken. while it is disconnected from the hoist when making a connection. The wedges are hinged so that they effectively wrap around the tubular to provide a grip around its circumference. TO: To move the drilling line over the sheaves of the hoist a certain distance and cut off a length of the line. SKIDDING UNIT: A thrustin. SLIP & CUT.

SPIDER BEAMS: Movable steel beams in the moonpool of a floater which can be positioned beneath the BOP stack to support it during the attachment of riser or during overhaul or repairs. It is clay- based and normally contains a bentonite gelling agent to prevent sloughing in the conductor hole. SPUD MUD: Mud specially mixed for the spudding-in operation. SPOTTING: Pumping a slug of oil down through a stuck drill string and up its annulus to the position where it is stuck against a formation. It is the male counterpart to the overshot. TO: To commence drilling a well with a hole opener. TO: To insert the pin end of one pipe into the box end of another . STABBING BOARD: A movable platform 20 to 40 feet above the drill floor 335’ . SPEAR: A fishing tool which‘stabs the end of a joint of pipe that has been lost or stuck in the hole. to arrest their tendancy to turn round when they are acting as the back-up tong. q. SPUD CANS: Tanks on the bottom ends of the legs of a jack-up rig which ‘spud’. Each joint of riser is passed through the spider and is clamped tightly by arms or a hydraulic device while the next joint is connected. SPINNER HAWK: An alternative name for the pipe spinner. SPINNING CATHEAD: A name sometimes used for the make-up cathead. STAB.~ sometimes freeing the pipe.SNUB LINES: Wires connecting the arms~ of each set’of man& tongs to Sampson posts at either side of the rotary table. They are filled with sea water. The oil then soaks into the filter cake. SPUD IN.v. SPIDER: A circular steel frame which is positioned round the rotary opening when the marine riser or other tubulars are being run to act in the same way as a set of slips. which goes over the end of the fish. or penetrate into the sea-bed at the start of the jacking-up operation. when making a connection. SPINNING CHAIN or LINE: A chain used to start the operation of screwing two joints of drill pipe together on some rigs. .

‘Cold stacking’ is mothballing. One or more stabilizers may be used in directional drilling when they are positioned to act as a fulcrum about which the assembly turns. or in case of a man-overbaord situation or oil pollution. Under British regulations boats must remain within 5 miles of the installation. 336 . The older standby boats in use in the North Sea are mainly converted trawlers. when equipment is demobilized and the crew taken off. STAND: Three or sometimes two joints of pipe screwed together for easier and faster handling on the drill floor.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms on which a casing hand stands to guide one joint of casing into another in the rotary. STAND PIPE: A tall._. STABILIZER: A downhole tool used for stiffening the bottom hole assem- bly and for keeping the bit central in the bottom of the hole and drilling vertically. It looks like a drill collar but has short fins that contact the wall of the hole. STOREMAN: The rig crewman who maintains and distributes the stock of .. STANDBY BOAT: A ship whose duty is to stand by near the location of a manned offshore installation in case of an emergency necessitating evacuation. suspended between its top and the swivel. but newer vessels are purpose-built. rigid pipe in the side of the derrick that carries drilling fluid up from the mud pumps and feeds it into the rotary hose that 1. both are measured in terms of transverse and longitudinal metacentric height. They carry fast inflatable rescue boats and radio equipment for liaising with helicopters and have emergency accommodatio~n for the entire rig complement. STABILITY: The ability of a vessel to recover equilibrium when it is moved from the upright by external or internal forces. STACK. TO: To lay-up a drilling unit between contracts. STEP-OUT WELL: A well drilled close to a discovery well but in an unproven area. so that the boundaries of the producing formation can be determined. In ‘warm stacking’ a small maintenance crew keeps the rig ready for quick mobilization. usually because of lack of work. STACK: The name commonly used offshore for the blow-out preventer stack. The stability characteristics of semi-submersibles and monohulls are quite different but.

He needs particularly a knowledge of hydraulics. TO: To reeve the drilling line through the blocks of the hoist. STUMP TEST: A pressure test performed on the BOP stack when it is on the test stump in the cellar deck of a semi-submersible.v. This might be different to the target location to which the drilling bit is directed. SURVIVAL DRAUGHT: The draught at which a semi-submersible rig is -. is jammed in the hole after efforts have been made to pull it out. or may be multi-purpose. SUB-SEA ENGINEER: The rig crew-man on a floater responsible for the maintenance and running of the BOP stack and other items of sea-bed equipment such as guide bases. q. doubling as an anchor-handler and/or tug SURFACE LOCATION: The exact geographical position on which a drilling unit is lo?ated. especially if the well is a directional well. pin connector and wellhead. STUCK IN THE HOLE: The condition when drill pipe or some other tool or casing. etc. It may be designed solely for supply work.. STRING UP. STORM DRAUGHT: Survival draught.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms spare equipment and parts held onboard for the drilling and other departments. Short for ‘sub-assembly’. SUPPLY BOAT: A vessel which carries oilfield equipment from shore bases to rigs on location. aq7 . SURVEY: A downhole examination normally carried out by wireline tools to determine hole conditions such as bottom hole temperature and pressure or the direction and angle of inclination made by the hole. SUB: A short adaptor with different-threaded ends used to connect two items of downhole equipment which would otherwise not mate. STORM AIR GAP: The distance between the sea surface and the underside of a semi-submersible when it is floating at its storm or survival draught.. SUBMERSIBLE: A type of drilling platform which is designed to be floated to its location and then sunk so that its bottom rests on the sea-bed. securing one end at the dead line anchor and winding the other end onto the drawworks drum.

In a deviated or directional hole this might be different to the surface location of the drilling rig. such as a loo-knot wind.v.v. engines. to guide tools into the hole. accommodation. Sometimes termed a ‘drilling template’.D. and to provide an anchorage for the guide lines down which those tools and equipment are run. SURVIVAL SUIT: A special suit of thermally protective overalls worn by all helicopter passengers flying to offshore installations in cold-water areas such as the North Sea. q. TELESCOPIC JOINT: An alternative name for the riser slip joint. 338 . either accidentally or on purpose. It is usually a compromise between having sufficient air gap and sufficient immersion of the pontoons and columns for adequate stability. TARGET LOCATION: The exact geographical position of the target to which the drilling bit is directed as it drills. sea bed at the start of an offshore drilling operation to serve as a foundation . SWIVEL: The device which hangs from the hook below the travelling block that permits free rotation of the kelly whilst at the same time admitting drilling fluid to it from the rotary hose. SWABBING: The action of creating a suction at the sides of a hole. -TTAG LINE: A line attached to a load being lifted by a crane so that the load can be safely manoeuvered when over the deck.for subsequently deployed sub-sea equipment. T.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms designed to be floated in severe weather conditions. creating a kick. drill pipe. q. swabbing can occur beneath it which may induce well fluids out of the formations. TEMPORARY GUIDE BASE: A heavy steel frame which is lowered to the . etc.: Total depth. If the bit or drill string is pulled out too quickly. TENDER: A mobile barge which is moored alongside some types of fixed drilling platform to carry the drilling fluid circulation system. SWAMP BARGE: A type of flat-bottomed barge used for supporting a dril- ling rig and accommodation in swampy or shallow-water areas such as in West Africa and the US Gulf.

THRIBBLE BOARD: An American name for the monkeyboard which projects from the derrick at the height of a thribble. to protect their threads. to obtain a purchase on it after it has been stabbed into the box of another joint. etc. In addition to their main propellers. When the well is a tight hole it may mean that it holds promise of being productive. THRUSTERS: Propellers fitted on a vessel for manoeuvring purposes rather than for propulsion. but this is never certain. TEST STUMP: A short post fitted to the cellar deck on which the BOP stack can be pressure tested before use. casing. THROW THE CHAIN. tightening the connection. which is a stand of three single joints of drilling tubulars. The cathead then pulls the chain off the joint. TIGHT HOLE: A security condition imposed by an operator when any information about the well operations is restricted in circulation.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms TENDER. many drill ships have thrusters which are operated by the dynamic positioning system. TONG LINE: A line attache’d to the handle of a tong for applying leverage when making a connection. TO: To throw the spinning chain up around the pin end of a joint of pipe. TENSIONER. THREAD PROTECTOR: Caps screwed on the ends of tubulars such as drill pipe. TO: To make a bid for a drilling contract. while the break-out line connects the breakout tong to a drawworks cathead. or a stand of three connected joints. q. THRIBBLE: The American name for a ‘treble’. Two sets of tongs. . RISER: See riser tensioner.v.. TONGS: Large steel wrenches suspended from the derrick by wires that are used to tighten or loosen connections of drilling tubulars. while semi-submersibles usually have thrusters at the after end of their pontoons. *The back-up line connects the back-up (or make-up) tong to a fixed post. Tight spots are removed during a wiper trip. etc. TIGHT SPOT: A point in the hole at which the bit encounters difficulty in drilling or wiping.

but this depends on company policy. Pronounced ‘tower’ in the oil industry. TOOL JOINT: A short section of special steel pipe welded around each end of a joint of drill pipe to provide a means of connection and lifting. TORQUE: The turning moment of a force applied to a shaft. The applied force in pounds multiplied by the lever length in feet gives the torque in foot-pounds. The tool joint on the lower end. TO: To tighten a connection of two joints to the correct torque with the aid of tongs. responsible to the rig (or drilling) superintendent for the day-to-day operations on the unit and for carrying out the operator’s well programme as directed by the company man. TOOLPUSHER. The ‘pusher’ may also be the Offshore Installation Manager on a British rig. are used for drill pipe. usually of 12 hours duration on a rig. TORQUE INDICATOR: A gauge attached to the end of the make-up tong arm and with a remote read-out in the doghouse. a joint of drill pipe being made up to another. On some American rigs the toolpusher may be known as the drilling foreman or the rig superintendent. There are shoulders on the tool joints for the elevators to grip when lifting. 340 . e. in the American fashion.g. and is read at the surface after the tool’s withdrawal by the sand line.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms the back-up (or make-up) and break-out tongs. TOTAL DEPTH: The final depth attained by a well at the completion of drilling. of the joint below when making a connection. the ‘pin’. has a male thread which is inserted into the female thread at the upper end. the ‘box’. TOUR: A work shift. and there may be sets of power tongs in addition. TORQUE-UP. TOTAL VERTICAL DEPTH: See true vertical depth. so that the correct make-up torque can be applied to the tong. TOTCO: A downhole survey tool run down the inside of the drill string to determini the angle and direction of the bit’s inclination from the vertical at any instant: A small compass card is punched on the tool’s arrival at the bit. SENIOR: The supervisor of the drilling department on a rig. Special tongs are used for casing.

TUBING: Narrow-bore pipe which is run do&n through casing into a liner to serve as a channel for oil or gas after well test’s have found evidence of hydrocarbons. Usually. q. TRIP GAS: Gas which comes up from the hole when a trip is being made. for speed of handling. casing or tubing. Measured depth (MD) may be considerably longer. TRAVELLING BLOCK: The lower. AIR: See air tugger. TOWMASTER: The person (usually a master mariner) who takes charge of a rig-move from one location to another when towing vessels are employed. which is suspended by the drilling line from the upper.e. TRANSIT: The passage of a rig from one location to another.. without taking account of any angle of deviation. i. about 20 feet on a large unit.g. TUBULARS: Any oilfield pipe.v. however. He may be an employee of the drilling contractor or a specialist hired from a marine consultancy firm. so that speed is maximised. Pronounced ‘towerpusher’.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms TOURPUSHER: An alternative name sometimes used for the junior or night toolpusher. the difference between the rig’s forward draught and her after draught. drill pipe. Although it is often enough to activate the gas ~alarms it is rarely very much in volume. taken to mean the angle the rig is lying at with respect to the waterline. TRANSIT DRAUGHT: The draught of water drawn by a rig during her trasnit. TREBLE: Three joints of drill pipe made up to make a stand of approximately 90 or 93 feet. The waterline of a semi-submersible at transit draught is usually in the area of the top of the pontoons. e. TRIM: Strictly. movable. TRIPPING: Making a round trip.- 341 . or crown block. Normally this would be the lightest draught attainable. . TUGGER. block of the hoist. TRUE VERTICAL DEPTH: The depth of a hole measured in a vertical line from the surface to the bit. collars.

from which a dragway ramp leads down to the pipe rack. -uU.C. gas. This might be done to provide extra clearance for running casing so as to obtain adequate annular space for cementing.: The usual abbreviation for true vertical depth or total vertical depth. turbine or turbo-drill. UMBILICAL: A flexible hose providing services to an underwater’installa- tion or person. etc. T.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms TURBINE DRILLING: A method of rotary drilling in which the drill bit is rotated by a downhole drilling motor. ROVs are often operated by means of umbilicals. TRUBO-DRILL: A type of combined drill bit and downhole drilling motor used for turbine.: The United Kingdom Offshore Operators Association. -vVARIABLE DECK LOAD: The weight of non-permanent equipment.K. stores. It provides a forum for discussion of technical and administrative matters and also consults with the UK government on these and other matters. an organisation representing the interests of a group of about 40 operators of offshore licences for production of oil and gas from the UK Continental Shelf.V. Dril- .O. that a rig B able to carry when drilling. V-DOOR: An opening in the drill floor windwall on the side opposite the drawworks. just above it that is operated by the hydraulic force of the drilling fluid. V.O. hydraulics. while a pod umbilical carries the numerous control lines that actuate the BOP.or turbo-drilling.D.: The vertical centre of gravity of the rig. Sometimes called ‘turbo-drilling’. ballast. hot water. on the ends of pivoting arms that can expand from the sides of the tool to open up a previously drilled hole. etc.or to a diving bell and contains pipes carrying air.. which must be at a certain distance below the metacentre for positive stability. One of these prepares safety training guidelines. UKOOA has many technical committees aimed at ensuring the safety of offshore workers and the environment. etc.A. A diver’s umbilical connects him to a surface vessel . UNDERREAMER: A downhole tool with rock bit cones.G. or ‘mud motor’.

Glossary of Marine Drilling terms ling equipment is dragged up the ramp and through the V-door to the drill floor. WASH OUT. or of compensator or tensioner pistons. leakage. A deflector channels the gas to either the port or starboard side. Washing out of damaged tool joints may occur through. WATCH STANDER: The name used in some drilling companies for the control room operator or the crewman whose job is to monitor the ballast. WAITING ON WEATHER: A period of downtime when drilling cannot continue because of the sea state. . TO: To run a fishing tool. whichever is downwind. This is the type most frequently drilled from a mobile unit. VENT: When loading bulk cargo into ‘P’ tanks. WALKAROUND: The platform approximately half way up the derrick. No downhole work is done during this time. over a fish SO that the tool can be rotated to cut the fish free. usually with a mill-type edge. 343 . VENT LINE: A line fitted to the diverter at the top of the marine riser through which gas can be vented safely to atmosphere. WASH OVER. the lines are first blown through by the supply boat’s pumps to establish that they are clear. TO: To erode a metal object such as a drilling tubular joint or a valve by the action of fluid pressure. -wWAITING ON CEMENT: A period of several hours that must elapse after a cement job to allow the cement to set. at the height of the monkeyboard. WATER TABLE: The frame near the top of the derrick in which the crown block is supported. High seas may cause excessive movement of the riser slip-joint. controls. the sight of dust venting from an open overside valve proving this to the bargemaster and supply boat captain. VERTICAL WELL: An undeviated well. while directional or deviated wells are commonly drilled from fixed platforms. which is normally enclosed by wind-resistant sheeting.

WEEVIL: An American name for a new hand or ‘green hand’ on a rig. WELLHEAD: A cylindrical device placed at the top of the hole by a floater in which casing hangers are fitted and sealed and to which wellcontrol equipment can be attached during drilling and during subsequent production. WELLBORE: The hole made by the drill bit. The BOP stack and. these include electric.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms WATERTIGHT DOOR: A door fitted with securing devices which make it effectively watertight. WELL: The completed hole made by the drill bit. WELL STIMULATION: Any of several methods employed to increase flow 3 4 4 . short for ‘boll weevil’. Mobile rigs have many of these and they should normally be kept closed except for access. which is continuous. .. the Christmas tree are attached to the wellhead.. . In addition to mud logging. WEATHER WINDOW: A period between spells of bad weather when a weather-dependent operation such as a rig-move or mooring operation might be carried out. the travelling block and the weight on the bit. radioactive and sonic logging techniques. Jackup rigs and platforms install their wellheads on their decks. This information comes from a tension sensor at the deadline anchor. WEAR BUSHING: A ring-shaped device fitted inside the wellhead to pro- tect the top of the casing from abrasion by the drill bit as it enteres or leaves the well. WEIGHT INDICATOR: A gauge in the doghouse which tells the driller the weight suspended from. WATER TOWER: A retractable cylinder or frame containing deep well pumps and pipes that is lowered from a jack-up rig into the sea so that suction for engine cooling water and the fire main can be obtained. WELL LOGGING: Any of various downhole methods used for the purpose of gaining information about formations drilled through. later. Usually referred to as ‘the hole’. when the well is fitted with production equipment. WELL COMPLETION: The final phase of operations after total depth has been reached.

. made by running a rotating bit up and down the hole. W. WINDWALL: Sheeting erected round an exposed work area such as the drill floor or monkeyboard. going over any tight spots repeatedly until the wellbore is smooth. They are used in directional drilling. WIRELINE: A long.: The normal abbreviation for ‘waiting on cement’.O. WHIPSTOCK: A downhole tool used to deflect a bit out of its original course and set it in a desired direction towards a predetermined target. on worldwide average. A variety of devices for measuring downhole conditions can be attached to the wireline. WILDCAT: An exploration well drilled in an unproved area. becomes a discovery well. since only about one wildcat in forty.C.Glossary of Marine Drill& terms of hydrocarbons from a well. WIPER TRIP: An operation to remove filter cake from the wall of the hole. q. WILDCATTING: Drilling wildcat wells. WINDLASS: A large winch for winding anchor chain in or out. WORKOVER: An operation in which a rig is employed to restore or improve production from a completed well. WET TRIP: A ‘trip’ when mud flows out of the joints of drill pipe every time a connection is broken. . Sometimes called an anchor winch. narrow wire wound on a storage drum on the drilling rig and used for well logging. running casing. etc. to condition the hole. WELL STIMULATION VESSEL: A specially-designed ship which can be brought to a location to carry out well stimulation. These include acidizing and fracturing. WORKING TENSION: The tension to which anchor chains are initially slackened off to following pre-tensioning tests. This is more likely to be the employment of a rig when the oil price is high. It is normally done during drilling and before logging. far from any existing producing well. Sometimes also the name given to the drilling line on some American rigs.v. in straightening crooked holes and in sidetracking junk left in a hole.

.Glossary of Marine Drilling terms WORK PERMIT: A written authorization to perform potentially hazardous work such as welding.: Normal abbreviation for waiting on weather. flame cutting. W.O. electrical or overside work. issued by the OIM or person ultimately responsible for safety. Wiltshire . Printed and bound in Great Britain by Redwood Books. Trowbridge.W.

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