Daily Archives: October 28, 2011

J Storm XVI Is 50th Jackup Commissioned At Bethlehem, Beaumont


Southern Drilling Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Marine Drilling Company, and Bethlehem Steel Corporation‘s Beaumont, Texas, shipyard, recently commissioned a 250-foot water depth mobile offshore drilling unit.

The rig was christened J Storm XVI by its sponsor Mrs. Jack K. Larsen, wife of the executive vice president of Mesa Petroleum Company. Senator John G. Tower, senior Senator from Texas, gave the keynote address at the ceremony. The multimillion-dollar rig has been under construction for nearly 10 months and, upon delivery, will begin drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico for Mesa Petroleum Company.

James C. Storm has been a long-time customer of Bethlehem Steel Corporation’s shipyard at Beaumont.

Sherman C. Perry, general manager of the shipyard, said this commissioning marks a significant milestone in the history of the shipyard. It extends to 50 the number of jackup drilling units commissioned by the Beaumont yard since it built the first 100- foot water depth jackup in 1954. The commissioning also marks the fifth rig to be delivered this year by the yard, as well as the 87th offshore rig delivered by Bethlehem yards.

The J Storm XVI is a mat-supported jackup designed for deepwell drilling operations. On location, the rig will have a total variable drilling load capacity of 4.5 million pounds and handle hook or rotary, plus setback loads of 950,000 pounds.

The rig consists of a platform measuring 176 feet by 109 feet supported by three 12-foot-diameter columns fixed to a mat that is 210 feet by 170 feet. Outfitted with deepwell drilling equipment, the rig can operate in waters of up to 250 feet while experiencing forces resulting from 70-knot winds and 35-foot-high waves. The J Storm XVI contains onboard, air-conditioned living accommodations for 48 persons. This marks the 18th time that one of the 50 Beaumont rigs was commissioned for the James C. Storm interests.

The J Storm XVI is No. 18, and the J Storm XVII No. 19 is scheduled for commissioning and delivery later this year.

Mr. Storm’s dealings with the yard follow a direct line back to 1949. Then in November 1954, the Beaumont yard delivered the Mr. Gus, the first mobile drilling platform capable of operating in 100 feet of water.

Mr. Gus was built for the C.G. Glasscock Drilling Company; Mr. Storm became a partner in that company shortly after he joined it at the close of World War II. In 1957, the Beaumont yard delivered Mr. Gus II, the prototype of the mat-supported jackup rigs built at the yard today. It was the first mobile drilling unit that could drill in up to 150 feet of water. Mr. Storm was involved with that rig also. And Mr. Gus II, after 24 years of service, is still drilling for oil and natural gas. After the Glasscock interests disposed of their drilling rigs, Mr. Storm formed Storm Drilling Company for whom the Beaumont Yard built Stormdrill I, Stormdrill II, Stormdrill III, and Stormdrill IV. Another Storm company, Southern Marine Drilling Company, ordered Stormdrill V. Subsequently Storm Drilling Company was sold.

Mr. Storm then formed Marine Drilling Company and ordered J Storm I from the Beaumont shipyard. J Storm I was initially ordered with capability to operate in 225 feet of water. Mr. Storm asked if the columns could be strengthened and lengthened. The yard added 25 feet of capability, and the rig became the prototype for B e t h l e h e m ‘ s series of 250-foot jackup rigs.

He also ordered the first jackup drilling unit capable of working in up to 375 feet of water. The yard designed this platform to utilize telescoping legs so it would be manageable under tow to different locations, yet be able to work in deeper waters. This rig, J Storm VII, was delivered in 1976. Mr. Perry, general manager of the yard since June 1, 1978, reported that Beaumont has work for the next 1H years. “We have orders for 12 offshore mobile drilling units, which will take us into 1983, and negotiations are being conducted for additional contracts.” The general manager said that the yard has delivered four jackup drilling units thus far this year, and anticipates delivery of four or possibly five more by the end of the year.

That would match or nearly match 1980, when nine drilling units were delivered. For 1978 and 1979, the yard delivered five units each year.

Contracts on hand and the customers are: Marine Drilling Company, one unit in addition to the J Storm XVI; Houtech Energy, Inc., four units; O & U Drilling Co., Inc., one unit; Griffin-Alexander Drilling Co., three units; Teledyne Movible, one unit, and Alfa Drilling, one unit.

The yard presently has more than 2,300 employees at work on the drilling units with two shifts generally being worked, and can accommodate six units under construction simultaneously.

The shipyard’s principal products are offshore mobile drilling units, primarily jackups, and oil and gas production and storage facilities for offshore service. The Beaumont yard has built many ships and barges, principally for the petroleum industry, and can handle any repair, reconditioning, conversion or jumboizing of ships. It has a floating drydock with lifting capacity of 17,500 tons and extreme length of 648 feet. Its mobile floating crane has a capacity of 500 tons.


Offshore Drilling Pioneers – C. G. "Gus" Glasscock


GLASSCOCK, CHARLES GUS (1895–1965). Charles Gu s Glasscock, oilman, was born on December 16, 1895, in Leon County, Texas, the son of J. B. and Elizabeth (Armstrong) Glasscock. He attended public school at Longview and Blanco and Southwest Texas State College (now Southwest Texas State University) at San Marcos. Before World War I he and his three brothers performed as acrobats with Ringling Brothers; later they opened a vaudeville act at Madison Square Garden and performed on the big vaudeville circuits. In 1917 Glasscock married Lucille Freeman; they had two children.

After he was rejected for military service in 1917, he worked briefly in the construction and taxicab businesses, then in the Texas oilfields. In December 1919 Glasscock and his three brothers formed an oil syndicate. Not until 1927 did their well near Big Spring come in, and then Glasscock’s career began a meteoric rise. In 1939 he moved to Corpus Christi and organized his own drilling company. His first venture into tidewater drilling was a rig in Corpus Christi Bay in 1948. Dissatisfied with the cumbersome method and expense of this new facet of the oil industry, he contracted with Bethlehem Steel for a barge-rig that could be towed to a drilling site for stationary mooring. The barge was 155 feet long and 52 feet wide, with a draft of 5½ feet. The jackknife derrick was 132 feet high. The lower section of the barge could be dropped to the floor of the bay, and the upper half could be elevated on caissons above wave interference. The unit cost $700,000. Auxiliary barges carried equipment and supplies. The successful innovation resulted in the construction of fleets of similar rigs. Use of the barge-rigs revolutionized tidewater drilling, made Glasscock the biggest offshore driller in the state, and gave him national prominence. When the United States returned the tidelands of Texas to state ownership in 1953 (see TIDELANDS CONTROVERSY), new problems soon developed with deepwater drilling. Another Glasscock innovation resulted in “Mr. Gus,” a modified barge-rig equipped to drill a 15,000-foot well. Its cost exceeded $1 million. It was also a success and was soon emulated by competitors all over the world.

Glasscock also had extensive holdings in oil properties and real estate, with ranches in Texas, Montana, and Wyoming. He served on the staffs of governors Robert Kennan and Jimmie Davis of Louisiana and Governor Price Daniel, Sr., of Texas. He was a strong supporter of the University of Corpus Christi from that institution’s founding. Glasscock died on January 25, 1965, in Corpus Christi.


Joseph L. Clark, Texas Gulf Coast: Its History and Development (4 vols., New York: Lewis Historical Publishing, 1955). Corpus Christi Caller, May 8, 1962, January 26, February 2, April 5, 1965. Corpus Christi Caller-Times, October 15, 1951, January 13, 1957, January 23, 1966. Corpus Christi Times, September 12, 1962, January 25, 26, 1965. Lucille Glasscock, A Texas Wildcatter (San Antonio: Naylor, 1952).

J. E. Conner

C. G. Glasscock Drilling Company offshore mobile drilling platform "Mr. Gus II"


6 August 1957

C. G. Glasscock Drilling Company offshore mobile oil drilling platform “Mr. Gus II,” in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana, Grand Isle Block 48.

Offshore Drilling Pioneers – James C. Storm


Former oilfield roustabout, James Storm became a partner in Glasscock Drilling Company in 1942 and stayed in drilling until his death in 1991. Together with Bethlehem Steel Corp., Storm designed and supervised construction of Mr. Gus and Gus II, the first rigs able to drill in water depths of 100-ft and 150-ft respectively. From 1962 to 1968 he formed Storm Drilling and Marine Drilling.  During this period he developed and patented a slant hole rig to extend lateral reach from a drill site.  Between 1968 and 1987 he built and placed in operation seventeen mobile jack-up rigs.

Background And History of Dynamic positioning


Offshore Support Vessel Toisa Perseus with, in the background, the fifth-generation deepwater drillship Discoverer Enterprise, over the Thunder Horse Oil Field. Both are equipped with DP systems.

@drillingnet Allen Killian

Dynamic positioning is a technique of automatically maintaining the position of a floating, unanchored vessel within a specified tolerance by using generated thrust vectors to counter the forces of wind, wave, and current forces tending to move the vessel away from the desired location. Design evolution and improvements in reliability allow station keeping by dynamic positioning for extended periods. Increases in available power and advances in sophistication of control equipment allow station keeping to be maintained in increasingly severe levels of wind and wave intensity.

Position is usually defined in terms of percent of water depth. Percent of water depth is the horizontal positional error divided by the water depth multiplied by 100, Position error, expressed in percent of water depth, is preferred because it defines the position and it is also related to the stress level in the riser or drill pipe. Generally, accuracies of the positioning system itself are about 1 percent and positioning to an accuracy of 1 percent or less is possible only in calm water and wind.

Five percent represents a common maximum permissible error with respect to permissible stress levels in the tubulars running from the ship to the ocean floor. At 5 percent of water depth, the angle off verticle of the drill pipe would be 3 degrees, a very small angle. At 10 percent of water depth, most drill strings would become bent or damaged. With significant wave action and vessel motion due to wave, the string may be lost.

Increasing water depth makes the task of dynamic positioning much easier because the same percent of water depth permits more movement in deeper water. For instance, given a 5 percent accuracy requirement a nearly impossible accuracy requirement of 5 feet is set up for 100 feet of water. Similarly, with the same 5 percent requirement applied to 1,000 feet of water an off-the-hole allowance of 50 feet is given, a much more reasonable tolerance. For 10,000 feet of water, the allowable radius of surface movement is a generous 500 feet.

This desirable feature of deeper water, however, is partially offset by some of the difficulties found in position determination in deep water.

Mohoie Tests

The first dynamic positioning involved a feasibility study and test for the now defunct Project Mohoie in March and April, 1961. In tests, the barge Cuss I was maintained on location by 4 harbormaster units controlled essentially by manual control from visual interpretation of position reference displays. The 4 harbormaster units were attached to the 4 corners of the vessel. Position was indicated by radar reflecting surface buoys and sonar signals from a ring of subsurface buoys anchored at a relatively shallow depth in the very deep 12,000 feet of water off La ¡olla, California and Guadeloupe Island, Mexico.

The Mohole tests were successful in that they did show that dynamic positioning could be effective in recovering drilled cores from such deep water depths. Difficulties encountered in both position determination and automatic operation of the positioning equipment (thrusters) pointed out the need and direction for further improvement in these areas. The great water depth of the tests, 12,000 feet, in most respects was an advantage. It allowed an operating radius of 600 feet at the 5 percent of water depth limit.

Core Boat Eureka

Figure 1-97 shows the first fully successful dynamically positioned vessel, the M/V Eureka, developed by Shell Oil Company. This small 36 ft. x 136 ft. core boat was originally designed to be manually operated, but early demonstration of the difficulty of manually coordinating the two 200 horsepower steera-ble thrusters resulted in a fully automatic, nonredundant, closed loop control system. The Eureka first began operating in May 1961. Separate analog controllers were used for each of the three degrees of freedom of motion—surge, sway, and yaw. Standard startup procedures were used for optimizing rate, proportional band, and reset settings for each of the three controllers.

The Eureka was a successful vessel, having drilled core holes in as little as 30 feet and as deep as 4,500 feet of water. Drilling has been performed with winds up to 40 mph and 20 foot swells. As many as 14 core boles have been drilled in one day.

Caidrilt I

The Caldrill I was the second dynamically positioned vessel. Figures 1-98 and 1-99 show the vessel at dock and also drilling while dynamically positioned. The Caldrill 1,176 ft. long and 33 ft. in beam, was powered by four fully steerable 300 horsepower

Fig. 1-97 Core boat Eureka
  1. 1 -99 Caldrill I drilling with dynamic positioning. (Courtesy ofCaldrill)
  2. 1 -99 Caldrill I drilling with dynamic positioning. (Courtesy ofCaldrill)
  3. The vessel was equipped to drill 6,000 feet with 4V2 inch drill pipe. The Caldrill I has operated in 25 foot swells off Nova Scotia and has maintained position in the face of wind gusts up to 60 mph and ocean currents of 3 knots. The vessel is still in service and has operated in the oceans of the world.

For reliability for live well operations, the Caldrill I has four 300 horsepower thrusters with two separate dynamic positioning systems. The thrusters on both the Caldrill I and the Eureka are open propeller type and retracting. Two taut line systems 011 the Caldrill I provide position sensing.

Other Ships

The French vessel La Terebel made its debut in December 1964. This vessel was 85 meters long, 12 meters in beam (278 ft, by 39 ft.) with two 300 horsepower azimuthing thrusters. The thrusters were directly driven by diesel engines.

In 1967, the Mission Capistrano, under U.S. Navy contract to Hudson Laboratory, was used for anti-submarine warfare work. The Mission Capistrano had two 1,000 horsepower azimuthing thrusters. The position computation system was made by General Motors AC Division.


In August 1968 the Glomar Challenger appeared, 400 ft. long by 65 ft. beam, displacing 10,500 long tons (Figure 1-100). The Challenger had two main screws with 2,250 horsepower each and was powered by three GE 752, 750 horsepower DC traction motors. Four tunnel thrusters were each powered by 750 horsepower traction motors to provide 3,000 horsepower for thwart-ships thrust. The Challenger has used two acoustic positioning systems—a phase comparison system, and a time of arrival system, Position computation was provided by a General Motors AC division system.

Saipem II, Pelican, Sedco 445

In 1971 and 1972, three major drillships having an obviously similar mission but showing distinct differences in design

Fig. 1-100 Glomar Challenger. (Courtesy of Globe! Marine)

philosophy were brought into existence. These ships were the Sedco 445, the Pelican, and the Saipem II dynamically positioned ships (Figures 1-101,1-102, and 1-103). It is interesting to note in Figure 1-104 that each ship has about 14,000 tons displacement, each is between 400 and 500 ft. long, and each ship is about 70 ft. beam. Cruising speed on all three vessels is about 14 knots. However, the similarities end here. Saipem II uses 4 Voith-Schneider omni-directional thrusters, the Pelican uses five 1,500 horsepower fixed tunnel thrusters and 2 main screws all with controllable pitch (CP), and the Sedco 445 uses nine 800 horsepower fixed thrusters with kort nozzles and a reversing, variable rpm fixed propeller drive on the thrusters and 2 main screws.

Specific references to design characteristics and operating experience of these vessels may be found in OTC (Offshore Technology Conference) papers beginning with 1970.


Gulf index still shows oil permits behind


By Debbie Glover
St. Tammany News

Before oil spill, deep water drilling permits were being issued at a rate of an average of 7 per month. Today, only 4 are being issued on average a month.

Things are not much better for shallow water permits. While an average of 7.3 permits are being issued a month, about 14.7 permits per months were issued before the oil spill.

In addition, the number of days it is taking for a plan to be approved is now 115, compared to the historical average of 61 days. All deep-water plans that include any type of drilling activity must now undergo an environmental assessment process; for those plans requiring them in 2011, the average approval time is 235 days, significantly higher than the overall average approval time. Additionally, in 2011, 37 percent of plans submitted to BOEMRE are being approved, or about half of the historical 73.4 percent approval rate. At a St. Tammany West Chamber of Commerce meeting earlier this year, Sam Giberga, senior vice president and general counsel of Hornbeck Offshore Service said the typical cost of a well is $120 million. The success rates of wells is about 15 percent. “You’ve got to drill a lot wells to get oil,” said Giberga.

“Companies are dying every day,” he said. “Each barrel of oil that is used has to be replaced and it is getting harder and more expensive to replace it.” Giberga said that from the first leasing of the territory to a working, producing drilling rig is about five years. Plans must be approved, testing and explorations are done long before the rig is built. Therefore, even though the statistics that are released show a permit has been issued, this does not mean a rig will suddenly appear and produce oil.

In fact, some of those permits that have been given since the moratorium was declared over last October are permits that are being re-issued from last year, not new wells that can drill that day and oil will flow. Since last October, only four drilling plans have been approved. There is a backlog of plans pending approval for both deepwater and shallow water in exploration and development.

With the new regulations that have been issued by the executive branch, new sources of conflict are arising because of environment assessments that are now required for all permits, spurring environmental groups for the first time regarding drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

There is a lot of confusion over the new regulations. “There exists now a cloud over the industry. Do we need to rebuild existing structure? What kinds of adjustment must be made? Other questions entering the minds of the industry are what’s coming into the future?” asked Giberga. When so much capital is needed prior to realizing any return, companies are asking if it’s worth it.

The lack of drilling is also affecting other industries. “Shutting down rigs has caused a ripple effect,” said Giberga. “There is a web of infrastructure that depends upon this industry, and if the assets leave, they won’t be coming back… There is a direct threat to companies and the country at large.”

Sadly, many states around the country still don’t understand the plight of the industry in the Gulf. For one thing, Giberga confirmed that it is true that other countries are drilling in areas of the Gulf not regulated by the United States. In other words, drills from Mexico, Venezeula and other countries can drill in other parts of the Gulf and could cause a spill due to lack of safety or poor decisions that would still effect the United States’ coastlines, not to mention the economy.

The affects of the new regulations on permits and plans and the long range energy economy will be seen for many years to come. Meanwhile, the permits are being approved—very slowly.


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