MODU newbuilding slows

The construction trend is slowing down, and more money is being invested in up-grades.

Th 128695

Upgrades target deep gas and deepwater

Judy Maksoud
International Editor

The construction trend is slowing down, and more money is being invested in up-grades. Most of the money being invested in the mobile offshore drilling unit fleet has been to upgrade jackups.

Th 128695
Click here to enlarge image

Diamond Offshore's Ocean Rover, to be upgraded to a 5th generation semisubmersible, has a new cement unit installed.

The average age of the worldwide jackup fleet is 20 years. As drilling fleets get older, the need for refurbishing and enhancement has become critical. Structural and piping corrosion, wear and tear on equipment, and obsolescence create higher equipment maintenance costs and result in more downtime. So, extending the life of the rigs makes financial sense.

Th 128693
(Above) GlobalSantaFe's drillship CR Luigs will be upgraded to 10,000-ft water depth capability. (Below) The Noble Tom Jobe got a third mud pump in May 2003.
Click here to enlarge image


Th 128694
Click here to enlarge image

Drilling contractors recognize the need for capable and versatile assets, and the jackup upgrades listed in the survey show the trend toward adding cantilever reach, depth capability, and pumping capacity.

Though eight newbuild semisubmersibles are listed in the survey, there are 27 listed as upgrades. Like the jackups, the semis are aging. In fact, the age of the semisubmersible fleet now stands at 18 years. Most of the upgrades are making second- and third-generation rigs capable of drilling in deeper water.

(Background) Pride International's Amethyst 4 and Amethyst 5 semis move to the Cianbro Shipyard in Portland, Maine.

New assets

No drillships were launched in the last calendar year, and none are on the books in the near future. In fact, there are only 23 newbuilds listed in this year's mobile offshore drilling unit survey, down from 28 last year.

The newbuilds coming into the market are fewer, but better outfitted than before. Not surprisingly, most of the newbuilds listed are jackups. Survey results indicate that 14 jackups were completed this year. In the next year and a half, eight newbuilds are to be completed. Of these eight jackups, three will be built to a new design Rowan Companies introduced specifically for deep shelf drilling in the shallow water of the Gulf of Mexico.

2003 survey data

This year's survey lists 101 MODUs. An abbreviation appears in the first column following the name of the rig to indicate the vessel type: jackup (ju), semisubmersible (ss), drillship (ds), tender (t).

Of the 101 vessels listed, there are 62 jackups, 27 semisubmersibles, 10 drillships, and two tenders. The construction status of each rig is listed in a column that indicates that it has been recently completed, is under construction, or was planned between January 2002 and May of this year.

Twenty-three of the units surveyed are newbuilds: eight semisubmersibles, 14 jackups, and one tender rig. The remaining 78 units surveyed are being converted or upgraded. Of those, 48 are jackups, 19 are semisubmersibles, 10 are drillships, and one is a tender rig.

Fifty-seven of the rigs listed were upgraded or launched between January 2002 and June of 2003. Twelve are semisubmersibles, 40 are jackups, four are drillships, and one is a tender rig.

Of the remaining 44 rigs listed as "planned" or "underway" in the survey, only 23 list delivery dates. Thirteen units will be completed in 2003, seven in 2004, and two in 2005.

Each listing includes the owner of the vessel, the vessel's name if one has been assigned, the type of vessel, whether it is a newbuild or under construction (planned, underway, or recently completed), new capabilities or upgraded features if provided, the proposed completion date, and the construction yard if that information was supplied.

The information presented in this survey appears as it was submitted by the participating companies, with the exception of some rigs undergoing modification, for which information was taken from

More in Drilling & Completion