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South Korea: Rowan Orders Ultra-Deepwater Drillship from HHI

Rowan Companies plc (“Rowan” or the “Company”) announced that it has exercised its option to build a fourth GustoMSC P10,000 design ultra-deepwater drillship with Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. (“HHI”) with delivery scheduled in March 2015.

The cost for this rig, including commissioning, project management and spares, but excluding capitalized interest, is estimated to be approximately $620 million. This cost compares to peer companies’ previously announced 12,000 foot capable rigs equipped with 10,000 feet of riser. Rowan plans to equip its drillships with 2,000 feet of additional riser to enable operations in water depths up to 12,000 feet upon delivery. Each drillship will also be equipped with a second BOP for minimizing non-productive time. The Company will also incur operational training and personnel ramp-up costs in readying the drillships to commence well operations. Expected costs for the additional riser, BOP and training and ramp-up costs will be approximately $75 million. Total cost for the Company’s fourth drillship will be approximately six percent higher than the Company’s first three drillships primarily due to equipment price increases and projected labor cost increases. The agreement with HHI also includes an option for a similar fifth drillship exercisable in the fourth quarter of 2012, for delivery in the third quarter of 2015.

Matt Ralls, President and Chief Executive Officer, commented, “We are very pleased to add a fourth ultra-deepwater drillship to our fleet. The recent three-year contract obtained for our first drillship, the Rowan Renaissance, and strong customer enthusiasm for Rowan’s history of operational excellence, high-specification drillship design and experienced deepwater team, reaffirms our confidence in our expansion into the ultra-deepwater market.”

The Rowan Renaissance struck steel in July 2012 and is expected to be delivered in late 2013. The second and third drillships are expected to be delivered in the second and fourth quarters of 2014, respectively.

Subsea World News – South Korea: Rowan Orders Ultra-Deepwater Drillship from HHI.

Sonardyne Supplies BOP Control System to Noble’s Drillship (USA)

Sonardyne Supplies BOP Control System to Noble’s Drillship (USA)

Sonardyne International Ltd. has been awarded a contract by Noble Corporation to supply a Wireless Acoustic Emergency BOP Control System for its new deepwater drillship. The Noble Globetrotter II is the fifth Noble new-build vessel, along with other existing rigs, to be equipped with Sonardyne’s safety critical acoustic technology, providing reliable through-water wireless communications, positioning and BOP control in an emergency situation.

The Noble Globetrotter II is of similar design to its sister vessel, the Noble Globetrotter I. The vessel is due to begin work in the Gulf of Mexico in the second half of 2013.

Noble Corporation is one of the largest offshore drilling contractors in the world and operates a worldwide fleet of 79 rigs and drillships. The Noble Globetrotter II is currently en route to the Netherlands for tower and drilling system installation and once complete, will be capable of drilling in water depths up to 10,000ft. The vessel is due to begin work in the Gulf of Mexico in the second half of 2013 on long-term contract to Shell.

In the event of loss of normal communications with a BOP stack, Sonardyne’s self-contained, high security acoustic command and control backup system is used to execute emergency shutdown and riser disconnect procedures. The digital wideband acoustic signal technology incorporated into the supplied system has been proven to offer reliable performance in a well blow-out scenario despite intense noise pollution from a ruptured wellhead that would have severely limited the performance of an analogue acoustic BOP system.

“We have previously installed Sonardyne BOP control systems on several other Noble rigs so we’re delighted to be able to continue providing them with the critical positioning and control solutions they need,” said Ted Kenny, Business Development Manager of Subsea Control Systems at Sonardyne. “As the only provider with acoustic systems that are field-proven in the immediate vicinity of a major subsea blowout, we have the technology and in-depth knowledge to support Noble as it continues with its deep water exploration activities. The redundancy of the equipment chosen for the Noble Globetrotter II means that they will be able to reliably communicate with the BOP from either the rig or remotely from a standby vessel if the need ever arises.”

Subsea World News – Sonardyne Supplies BOP Control System to Noble’s Drillship (USA).

USA: Nautronix Supplies NASeBOP for Rowan’s Two Ultra-Deepwater Drillships

Nautronix have secured an order from a major BOP supplier to supply their NASeBOP (Emergency BOP Acoustic Control System) to be installed on Rowan’s two new ultra-deepwater drillships.

Nautronix’ NASeBOP Control System provides a method of backup control of critical BOP functions in the event of failure of primary communication and control. At the heart of the system is Nautronix’ ADS² (Acoustic Digital Spread Spectrum) signalling technology. The system achieves a highly reliable communications link from a surface vessel to a subsea isolation device, such as a full BOP, or a simple isolation device such as which would be used during surface BOP drilling.

The NASeBOP subsea system consists of two Subsea Control Units (SCU) connected to remote transducers. Each SCU is capable of controlling and monitoring up to eight functions. This includes control of an Emergency Disconnect Sequence (EDS). A 10 meter cable allows remote transducers to be positioned away from the SCUs, thus reducing the risk of shading or multi path effects caused by adjacent structures or subsea objects. Two SCUs provide system redundancy as each can be used independently for control and monitoring.

Mark Patterson, CEO of Nautronix comments: “We have invested more than £1M in Research and Development over the past year with a significant amount in the area of our NASCOM product family supporting acoustic switches for BOPs. We are very pleased to have been awarded these contracts only a few weeks after the NASDrill RS925 orders for these drillships. It is a great testament to the technology, products and the investment Nautronix has made and I am delighted that such a well known and respected company such as Rowan Companies, Inc. have chosen Nautronix ADS² acoustics for their new deepwater drilling rigs. Nautronix continues to build upon our strong track record in the Acoustic BOP control system market.”

The Nautronix system offered is the only system in the world that is fully compliant with API 16D and 17E standards and all test ports are testable to full operating depth (4000msw/5800psi)

The two NASeBOP systems will be delivered in 2013.

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Is the Industry Ready to Drill in the Arctic? Stena Drillmax Ice Nears Delivery

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By Alexander Wardwell, Det Norske Veritas

Scheduled for delivery in March 2012, the most recent addition to Stena Drilling’s fleet will be the industry’s first ice class +1A1 dual-mast ultra deepwater drillship for arctic conditions. But is the industry ready for offshore arctic drilling?

Based in part on Stena’s proven DrillMAX design, the new drillship, now under construction at Samsung Heavy Industries in South Korea, represents the company’s most ambitious project to date. According to Tom Welo, Managing Director of Stena Drilling, the project was conceived to meet the evolving demands of the industry. “Increased global demand for oil has encouraged energy companies to focus more on exploration,” he says. “And since many of the most promising fields are increasingly found in deepwater and harsh environments, including the arctic, we saw an opportunity to build a drillship to reflect the market.”

Tom Welo Stena Drilling

Tom Welo, Managing Director, Stena Drilling. Photo: Alexander Wardwell

Welo acknowledges that DrillMAX ICE represents a significant investment for the company and so far, the drillship has not secured a contract. “Any newbuilding project built on spec is a risk, but in our view, the greater risk would be to sit still,” he says. “We anticipate continued growth in this segment, and want to strengthen our position as a leading provider of drilling units equipped to operate in harsh environments.”

Flexible operational profile
At present, Stena Drilling operates four semisubmersible drilling platforms and three drillships. While these units have been active all over the world, including the North Sea, US Gulf of Mexico, South East Asia, Mediterranean, Caribbean, South America, North America & Greenland: Atlantic Front, Australia, North Africa and West Africa, the company has earned a strong position as a leading provider of drilling services in harsh environments. While similar to the company’s existing fleet of drillships, the design of DrillMAX ICE has been optimised for ultra deepwater arctic operations.

However, Welo is quick to note that once completed, the unit will be suitable for any job. “While we expect the vessel will be active in the polar region, the design doesn’t limit the drillship to waters above the Arctic Circle,” he says. “Rather, it expands the vessel’s operating parameters to almost any depth or environment.” Welo adds that the new drillship is capable of operating in water depths up to 10,000 feet.

Managing risks in the Arctic
The unit has been optimised for Arctic conditions. Six ice-classed 5.5MW azimuth thrusters, providing maximum manoeuvrability, propel the ice-strengthened hull. Below deck escapeways port and starboard side connect the aft engine rooms with FWD accommodation. Designated moon pools port and starboard allow for installation of two separate ROV systems. Anti-icing equipment protects the unit’s anchors, deck piping, lifeboat escape exits, scuppers and drains while enhanced de-icing machines keeps decks, gangways, and handrails clear. Steam heating coils warm the ballast tanks and drill water tanks and windwalls and cladding offer enhanced protection to the drill floor and dual mast derrick. “Most accidents and near-misses are related to human error, so we have worked hard to ensure the safety and comfort of our crew.”

In total, costs related to adapting the DrillMAX unit for Arctic conditions are calculated somewhere between USD 220 to 240 million. “We did consider adding icebreaking capabilities, but were concerned that the moon pool would collect ice and the cost would be prohibitive,” says Welo. “Instead, when operating in the Arctic, the drillship will have an escort of OSVs to help manage the ice.”

A relative threat
Operating in icy seas and low temperatures, which can drop to –20°C degrees in the Arctic in summer, is challenging, but Welo notes that different environments have different threats. “Operating in the North Sea is complicated by frequent storms and heavy seas and as we saw with Hurricane Katrina, the Gulf of Mexico is hardly a benign environment,” he says. “Icebergs and extreme cold certainly represent a risk in the Arctic, but there is less of a threat from heavy seas and large waves.” Still, Welo adds, DrillMAX ICE can survive waves as high as 30 metres.

While the drillships hull form is based on Stena’s proven DrillMAX design, some topside modifications were included. The drillship is likely to operate in the environmentally sensitive Arctic region, so space was created on deck for an extra six-RAM BOP, providing critical redundancy. “The additional BOP will also help us avoid delays between drilling projects related to the BOP workovers and maintenance.”

Proven concept
While there have been drilling operators active above the Arctic Circle for decades, most notably in the North Sea and the Barents Sea, energy companies have approached exploration in the region with some caution. To help generate more confidence in the Stena DrillMAX ICE concept, the company has worked with a broad range of key suppliers, with extensive experience in harsh environments.

DNV

For example, the drillship is equipped with DP3 station-keeping and related automation systems provided by Kongsberg for operating in ice conditions, knuckleboom deck cranes rated for -30°C conditions, and six-RAM BOPs provided by Cameron. The company conducted extensive Ice Model Testing, and worked closely with DNV to achieve ICE 10 Certification, among other notations. “Stena and DNV have worked together for decades,” says Welo. “Like Stena, DNV has extensive experience in the North Sea managing risk in harsh environments. DNV were thus natural choice to class the unit.”

With the build going well at Samsung Heavy Industries, Welo is looking forward to welcoming DrillMAX ICE into the Stena fleet. In the meantime, he says the company is in dialogue with a number of energy companies that have expressed interest in the concept. “I am confident we will secure a charter soon,” he says. “After all, DrillMAX ICE is coming out of the yard during a time when energy companies are expanding their deep and ultra deepwater exploration programmes. With this unit, we can offer the flexibility to go anywhere.”

Republished with permission, (c) 2011 Det Norske Veritas

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