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Drilling Rigs Structure: A Comparison
between Onshore and Offshore Drilling Rigs
with Proposed Future Developments

Technical Report · December 2014

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King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals
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It then outlines the different types of offshore and onshore drilling rigs. . It begins by a brief history of oil well drilling operations and drilling rigs. STRUCTURE Drilling Rigs Structure A Comparison between Onshore and Offshore Drilling Rigs with Proposed Future Developments by Khaled Hussein Al-Azani 201080760—214-78 Major: Petroleum Engineering for Roger Horn Academic & Professional Communication English 214 30 November 2014 Abstract This report mainly discusses the major differences between onshore and offshore drilling rigs used in petroleum industry. These include robotics technology and improving offshore operations. Finally. proposed future developments related to drilling operations and drilling rigs are presented.

..................................................................................... 11 B................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ BACKGROUND......................................................... 12 REFERENCES............5 B...................................... 5 1...................................................... Onshore drilling rigs...... Classification based on mobility.................................................. Table of Contents INTRODUCTION.............. 4 I..................... Introducing robotics and automation into drilling operations........................ Classification based on the drilled depth................................................................ Going deeper into the ocean.............................................................. 7 2..............................................5 A................................... FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS RELATED TO DRILLING RIGS.. 13 2 ...........................11 ENDING................... Floating units......................... Bottom-supported units.......................................... Disadvantages......................... Examples and advantages......................................................................................9 A.......................................... 4 II..................................9 1..................................................... 6 1.................................... 9 2........................... 5 2............................................................................................................... ONSHORE AND OFFSHORE ROTARY DRILLING RIGS............................... 8 III............................................... Offshore drilling rigs........................................

..........................................5 Figure 2 Derrick of the drilling rig...........................11 Tables Table 1 Depth classification of land rigs....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................8 Figure 9 Jackup drilling rigs.......... 6 Figure 4 Classifications of offshore drilling rigs......................................................5 .......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... 9 Figure 12 Robotic drilling systems.............................7 Figure 6 Bottle-type submersible......................................................................................................7 Figure 5 Posted-barge submersible...................................................................6 Figure 3 Mobile drilling rigs...................................7 Figure 7 Arctic-type submersible.8 Figure 8 Inland barges submersible.....................................8 Figure 11 Drillingship............................................................8 Figure 10 Semi-submersible drilling rigs.............................................................................................................................................. List of Illustrations Figures Figure 1 Mobility classification of land rigs.............10 Figure 13 VR 500 Vertical DrillingRig (VDR)...

the first oil well was drilled in China at about 1600 years ago. However. For instance. Oil companies work hard in order to extract it from subsurface hydrocarbon reservoirs. In this me- chanism. Finally. I. para. 1). However. Furthermore. Drilling operations are per- formed with the means of drilling rigs. Its final depth was about 250 meters (m) and it was drilled using bam- boo poles with a bit at its end (“History of drilling”. 4). para. para. They are also classified based on different criteria. The report will be of direct relevance to the general public especially those who are interested in the drilling operations. a chisel bit is placed at the end of a cable that oscillates up and down with the mean of the ICE in order to make the planned hole. The operations at which oil is being extracted from these reservoirs are referred to as drilling operations. Then. n. 2005. To illustrate. represents the engine of nowadays life. the invention of the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) helped at introducing a new drill- ing mechanism called Cable-Tool Drilling (CTD) (“History of drilling”.e. 2). This evolution has been accompanied with the utilization of different tools and mechanisms. n. the first modern oil well was drilled in mid nineteenth century by the engineer Semyonov in the northeastern of Baku (“History of drill- ing”.d. n. especially oil.d. by going deeper into the ocean). p. 305). the maximum load they can handle and the ultimate depth they reach (Macini.d. it outlines compara- tive details between onshore and offshore drilling rigs.e. due to the high demand for oil. This well was followed by an evolution in the number of wells and the mechanisms used. It begins by a brief history of drilling operations and drilling rigs.INTRODUCTION Fossil fuel. a subsurface storage where oil and/or nat- ural gas accumulate). They come in different types and structures. For example. This report is limited to discussing the different types of oil well drilling rigs and outlines the dif- ferences between those that are used to drill at different locations either land or marineloca- tions. it presents the proposed devel- opments that are related to drilling rigs and drilling rigs. drilling rigs are classified based on the location they drill at. BACKGROUND Oil well drilling rigs are mechanical structures that are used to make holes in the ground in order to reach a predetermined hydrocarbon reservoir (i. by the end of the 1800s. the CTD method was not effective for many reasons and this led to . Drilling for oil has begun for thousands of years. drilling for oil becomes more challenging and oil companies are always looking for the most effective extrac- tion methods and are they moving toward the automation of the drilling operation as well as in- creasing the offshore operations by increasing the water depth where the operations take place (i.

A. Further- more. Therefore. the limited depth of this method has led to the evolution of rotary drilling (“History of drilling”. Land rigs are also classified based on two main criteria. To heavy weight 6 km illustrate. In addition. para. 22). 305). II. 4).As a conse. 2010. 2008. there are two locations where drilling rigs are used. drilling operations were not limited to the land but they have been extended to the marine locations. 6). the first marine well was drilled in Grand fresh-water Lake in Ohio (“Offshore drilling. For instance. ONSHORE AND OFFSHORE ROTARY DRILLING RIGS As mentioned previously. Macini (2005) says that there are four Ultra-heavy weight Higher depth different depth categories for land drilling rigs. Land rigs come in different siz- es and strengths. the introduction of other mechanisms. Then the first well in a salty-water location was drilled about 120 years ago (“Off- shore drilling”. Rig Type Ultimate Drilled Depth quence. depending on rigs’ mobility.d. land rigs are divided into different categories. p. The CTD operation also needs to be paused in order to clean the cuttings (Bommer.based on this. 5). 16). para. Onshore drilling rigs These rigs represent the first development in drilling operations. For example. As shown in figure (1). Bommer (2008) refers to them as “portable hole factories” (p. as shown in table (1) (p. Bourgoyne etal. maximum drilled depth and mobility 1. para. land rigs generally look the same. However. 2010.22). n. Classification based on mobility Another feature of onshore drilling rigs is related to their transformation way.(1986) 5 . in 1891. Based this feature. Classification based on the drilled depth According to Bommer (2008). one of the criteria by which drilling rigs are classified is the location where they drill. many different types on onshore rigs are Light weight 2 km Medium weight 4 km categorized based on the ultimate depth they drill. their specific details are totally different because their sizes depend on Table (1) : Depth classification of land rigs the maximum depth they drill (p. onshore and offshore. 2.

is assem- bled at the location where the drilling will take place (Bourgoyne. offshore rigs have different classification. Millheim. jacknife and portable mast. figure (2). 1986. 2008. . To illustrate. (Bourgoyne. Conventional land rigs are the most commonly used in petroleum industry and they cannot be moved to the drill site as whole units. In contrast. B. con- ventional and mobile drilling rigs (p. figure (4). Offshore drilling rigs The other type of drilling rigs is related to those that are used to drill in the marine environments. 21).3). Chenevert & Young. p. While land rigs are classified according to their mobility and the depth they drill. Water state also plays an important role in marine rig selection and design (Bommer. the derrick of the rig. 3). 2008. there are two different types of offshore drilling rigs. 1986. Therefore. figure (3). 3). p. based on these. p. For example. mobile (movable) rigs refer to those in which the drilling systems are mounted on wheeled trucks.state that there are two different types of land rigs. and they come in two different types. 24). Bottom-Supported Units and Floating Units (Bommer. Millheim.3). Chenevert & Young. p. Bourgoyne et al (1986) state that the classification of marine rigs is based on their movability and on how deep the sea bed is (p.

these types of rigs come in two different categories. As listed in figure (4). shown in figures (7) and (8). wells drilled initially to examine the ef- fectiveness of the reservoirs) (para. jack-up rigs can operate at different sea depths and can drill different well depths. 1.e. 24-25). submersible rigs come in four different types.28). is the bottle types.e. which has been re- placed by jack ups. figure (6). On the other hand. submersible and jack ups. The first type. 2008.1 kilometers (Bommer. . jack ups are used at marine depths of 120 meters and can drill to about 9. Ac- cording to Bommer (2008). Companies use this type of rigs for different purposes. The second. is the post barges. The submersible rigs are in contact with the seabed (i. What is more. figure (5). their bases rest on the seafloor) . For instance. 6). Bottom-supported units This refers to the rigs that are on contact with the seafloor when they are placed in position. figure (9). jackups. are the arctic and inland rigs (pp. The other two types. refers to those which are supported by three or five structured columns. McLondon (2010) claims that oil companies utilize jack- up rigs for lower marine depths as well as for the explo- ratoion wells (i. which is not used anymore because of the new designs. p.

Semi-submersible rigs. Floating units This type of marine rigs refers to those which are not directly in contact with the sea bottom when placed in the drilling site. The first semi- submersible rig ap- peared as a conse- quence of an accident in 1960 (“Offshore drilling”. It is shown in figure (4) that there are two types of floating off- shore rigs. 2. figure (10). 2010. para. This type of rigs can drill at . 12). are those which are partially sub- merged below the water surface and are anc- hored to the seabed. semi-submersible and drillingships.

III. come in dif- ferent shapes and structures. 2008.7 km.different water depths and can drill for different well depths.000 meters and oth- ers can operate at depths of about 3. They can also drill wells of depths about 9. Karki and Shukla (2013) argue that the cost and the risk in oil industry are always increasing due to the higher demand for oil (p.000 me- ters. They can also drill wells reaching depths of 10. They can also drill at different water depths and can drill wells of different depths. FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS RELATED TO DRILLING RIGS As a result of increasing the world’s demand for oil. 2013).1 kilometers (Bommer. the Robotic Drilling System (RDS) is working on a new tool delivering technology that consist of robotics which will 9 . Therefore. p. To illustrate. Similarly. For example. A.1153). figure (11). 33). risks and costs of oil related operations is increasing with the increase of oil usage.000 meter (1 km) and some others can drill at depths of about 3. it is shown that some drillships can operate at water environ- ments of depths about 1. Examples and advantages Karki and Shukla (2015) say that the effective methods to handle the operation challenges in- clude the introduction of what they called “intelligent drilling rigs”. robotics technology is in progress and are about to be installed and it will be able to perform many tasks. Bommer (2008) shows that some semi-submersible rigs can operate at water depths ranging from 300 meter to 1. 1. smart examination and auto- operation into the oil industry (p. drillingships. For example. two development aspects related to drilling operations and drilling rigs are outlined. Therefore. oil companies always look for improving and developing the extraction methodologies especially those related to drilling operations. Furthermore. one of the developing aspects to overcome this includes introducing robot- ics and automation into the drilling operations. in the following sub-sections. Introducing robotics and automation into drilling operations As mentioned above.7 km (p. 32).

figure (13). 2014. 7). Since they operate independently (i. this rig has a new design and it contains no cables it can operate auto- matically. 12). For instance. Another example of drilling automation includes the introduction of new drilling rigs which will be more effective. the drilling operation will be safer and cost effective (Dupre. What is more. para. This system is ready to be tested in 2015 and it will be tested at offshore operations in 2017 and it can be applied to both the current and new rigs (“Odjfell drilling”. 2014. figure (12).make the drilling operations do not require any human nearby (“Odjfell drilling”. According to the video. para. Anders Royroy says that automating drilling rigs will make them personnel-free which means there will be no need for warning instruments. The advantageous feature of this rig is that it is cost-effective reduction it does not require and any crew abroad. This will also improve the hydrocarbon recovery efficiency (para. 2013.com shown a new drilling rig called VR 500 Vertical Drilling Rig (VDR). 1). the American Directional Drill company released a video on YouTube. in 2009. para. 7). do not require human nearby). .e. according to Sintef (2008).

17). for example. para. para. 2009). Dupre (2013) shows that professionals are not in line with the introduction of robotics in the operation as long as they require personnel nearby (para. only 1. petroleum industry is trying to eliminate this challenge by introducing stronger drilling rigs and systems that will be able to withstand tougher environment. there are many draw- backs of their implementation. To illustrate. (Callus. automating drilling operations and implementing robotics means less job opportunities and higher number of unemployed engineers. 2010. As an example of the risk of these environments is the BP’s Maconland well explosion in 2010 which resulted in the death of 11 people. because of the tough environments and the far location of marine operations. 10).5 km deep. Disadvantages Despite the advantages of drilling automation and robotics technology. Going deeper into the ocean The use of the offshore drilling rigs is due to the fact that a large amount of oil comes from the marine location.000 . However. Bommer (2008) says that about one-third of the global oil supply comes from offshore deposits (p. drilling at such locations is highly challenging (“Offshore drilling”. Furthermore. As a result. 18). The British Petroleum (BP). 2. The disadvantageous aspect of the VR 500 (VDR) is the limited depth they can drill (YouTube. B. is about to introduced what is called 20K which can drill at deeper environment with higher pressures of about 20. 23). To illustrate. though the depth of operation was not that high. 2012.

these environments are highly challenging and require the introduction of new drilling systems to overcome these challenges. 28. due to the challenges in the drilling operations. Callus (2012) says that there are some new technology features that are on their way to be applied in the offshore operations including supercomputers. Finally. it would solve many challenges that represent obstacles to the hydrocarbon extraction operations.284 . para. 2. 16). though it will reduce the job opportunities for engineers. 2012. Moreover. para.000 to 18. If this robotics system applied.4 km (Callus.This is a great step because the current offshore drilling rigs operate at pressures ranging from 13. Furthermore. ENDING As has been shown.000 psi and the deepest offshore rig in 2010 was the Perdido platform at the Gulf of Mexico which operates at water depth of 2.pound per square inches (psi) and higher temperatures (Callus. Automating drilling operations will be effective method to overcome the risk and high costs of drilling operations. 30). 2012. there are many proposed methods to reduce these challenges. sen- sors… etc (para. although large amounts of oil that come from the marine deposits. “Offshore drilling”. para. I would recommend the petroleum industry should apply the robotics systems to the drilling operations even though the job opportunities will be reduced. 2010. 29). new materials.

(2008). (2012. 2014. pp.no/news-/odfjell-drilling-becomes- a-major-shareholder-in-in-robotic-drilling-systems-as--rds-- Offshore drilling: History and overview. p. pp. K..d. fromhttp://www. Retrieved November 4. 21-35).com/news/oil_gas/a/123099/is_automated_ drilling _ the_industrys_ future History of Drilling. A primer of oilwell drilling: A basic text of oil and gas drilling (7th ed. Applied drilling engineering (1st ed. REFERENCES American Directional Drill VR500 Vertical Drilling Rig [Motion picture]. (2013.. Types of offshore oil rigs. from http://www. (2010. Italy: Universit à degli Studi di Bologna.rigzone.rds. R. Callus. 2014. from http://www. April 4).theglobeandmail. McLendon. Retrieved September 16. Offshore oil rigs drilling deeper than ever. United States of America: YouTube. Chenevert. Drilling rigs and technologies. 2014. R. F.com/offshore-drilling-history-and-overview/ . May 19). P. Richardson. Bourgoyne.com/report-on-business/industry-news/energy- and-resources/offshore-oil-rigs-drilling-deeper-than-ever/article4481035/ Dupre. A. Bologna.com/ our-offer/history-of-drilling/ Macini. January 1). (2005). 2014. Bommer.rigsinternational. P. Texas: Society of petroleum engineers.. from http://www.. Retrieved November 12. 3). (1986). 1. from http://www. In Encyclopedia of hydrocarbons (Vol. A. 15- 16.mnn. Retrieved September 28. 305-306). & Young. (n.offshoreenergytoday. Retrieved November 3. August 14). January 25). Austin: University of Texas at Austin. Millheim. 2014.com/earth-matters/energy/stories/types-of-offshore-oil-rig Odfjell drilling becomes a major shareholder in robotic drilling systems AS (RDS).. Is automated drilling the industry's future? Retrieved November 3. (2014. 2014. from http://www. (2010. M.). (2008).

from http://ieeexplore.org/xpl/articleDetails. Retrieved November 3.sciencedaily. H. (2008. (2013). January 1).com/releases/2007 /12/071221230852. RetrievedNovember 3. Shukla. 1153.jsp?arnumber=6618077 SINTEF. A review of robotics in onshore oil-gas industry. ScienceDaily. A. & Karki..htm 14 View publication stats . International Conference on Mechatronics and Automation. Robots Taking Over The Job On Offshore Oil Drilling Platforms. 2014. 2014 from www.ieee.