Procon's Rubicon modular rig mounted on Norske Shell's Draugen platform, where it drilled a record-breaking well last year.
In July, the Rubicon 2000 modular drilling rig was due to start well intervention operations on the Snorre TLP (tension leg platform). For the rig owner, Procon Drilling Services AS, the contract represents a breakthrough for the modular rig concept.
Rubicon's contract period on Snorre is for one year, with two one-year options. The value of the fixed period is about NKr 110 million. Procon, part of the Prosafe group, it is the incumbent drilling contractor for the TLP's fixed rig, and has a three-year drilling contract on the Snorre B platform, which goes into effect in summer 2001.
The Rubicon rig fulfills all NPD and HSE requirements, allowing it to work in both the Norwegian and the UK offshore sectors.
The rig has a wide range of applications, including underbalanced drilling and coiled tubing operations. It is designed for ease of movement and assembly/dismantling. No lift weighs more than 24 tons, well within the range of a platform crane, and the entire package is moved by supply boat. The weight and size of the package varies according to application. For full drilling operations, it weighs 2,000 tons, but for workovers, the weight is only 1,000 tons. The set-up of the rig is adjusted according to the available space and if necessary parts of the rig can be modified. Features of the rig include the following:
- The unit skid base can be adjusted to different skidding beam sizes.
- The mast is of a telescopic design (it is installed horizontally, and telescoped out once it has been raised to a vertical position).
- All tubular handling is remotely operated.
- The well control system consists of standard equipment and is designed to meet all requirements during drilling and snubbing.
- Power is supplied by two separate diesel hydraulic generators.
The modular rig concept offers a cost-effective alternative to operators who do not foresee the need for a permanent platform rig, or where a high cost would be involved in upgrading an old rig, or - as the Snorre contract shows - where there is a temporary requirement for a second rig. To some extent, operators are accepting the idea that permanent rigs are not the only option. But in shallower water depths, there is competition from jackup rigs, especially when rig market rates are low.
Procon is performing engineering for a second modular rig and says it will be ready to build it when demand justifies it.