Unmanned seabed drilling rig under study

The design of an unmanned and fully automated seabed drilling rig for ultra deepwater and arctic conditions is well under way, according to Seabed Rig AS, in a paper prepared for DOT International Asia-Pacific in Perth, Australia.

David Paganie
Managing Editor

PERTH, Australia -- The design of an unmanned and fully automated seabed drilling rig for ultra deepwater and arctic conditions is well under way, according to Seabed Rig AS, in a paper prepared for DOT International Asia-Pacific in Perth, Australia.

The rig is being designed to sit on the seafloor, thereby eliminating the need for heave compensation, dynamic positioning, drilling risers, and manned personnel. It will be connected to a surface vessel by flexible umbilical for power, communication, cement and mud flow.

The seabed rig will consist of many of the same components of a conventional drilling rig, according to the authors, but in addition it will include robots, tool magazine, and circulating and cleaning systems for water.

Phase I of the rig design concluded in August of this year. It included:
•Contingency handling
•Control system topology
•Detailed concept evaluations of the top drive, lift, pipe handler, robot, and slips function
•Design and production of the encapsulated iron rough neck
•First version of the visualizator software, including operator interface for the rough neck.

Phase 2 kicked off in September of this year and is scheduled to be completed by August 2010. It includes:
•Production of the main machines: Top drive, lift, pipe handler, robot, slips function, and tool magazine
•Assembly of the main machines, including rough neck and a pipe magazine
•The building of a water tank with a diameter of 17 m and a depth of 11 m, with a 25 m deep well below the tank
•Full scale testing of the main machines submerged in water, with tripping simulated drilling etc. into the well below the tank.

Phase 3 will include the building and testing of a complete Seabed Rig on the seabed, and the drilling and production of a 3,000-m vertical exploration well.

12/04/2008

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