January 29, 2018

Maersk Discoverer moved the boundaries for drilling in shallow waters when successful drilling operations commenced in 285 meters water depth off the coast of Egypt in the Mediterranean Sea. This is the shallowest water drilling operation in Dynamic Positioning mode ever conducted for both Maersk Drilling and for client BP, and constitutes another operational highlight for Maersk Drilling.
“Well done to everyone involved with this operation,” says Angela Durkin, COO of Maersk Drilling. “This is another example of achieving operational excellence by working together across departments within Maersk Drilling.”
In 2015, BP asked Maersk Drilling if it was possible for Maersk Discoverer to drill a well in only 408 meter water depth. Normally, Maersk Drilling’s Deepwater D rigs are designed to operate in water depths as shallow as 460 meters and as deep as 3050 meters in Dynamic Positioning mode.
The gain for the client was that it would save costs and rig time associated with mooring. After a suitable risk assessment, the well was safely and efficiently drilled, completing the 408 meter operation.
After this success, BP returned with an even greater challenge: Drill a well in 285 meter water depth in Dynamic Positioning mode.
“Initially, it seemed too great a challenge,” says Allan McColl, Rig Leader on Maersk Discoverer. “It was paramount that we ensured safe operations, even in such shallow waters.”
To assess the risk of the operation, McColl and his local Cairo rig team enlisted the support of Technical Organisation. “After working closely with our Technical Organisation, we were able to return to the customer with the good news that we could in fact drill the well.”
Dynamic Positioning has not always been the best of the most economical option. Mooring lines were usually a better option for shallow water or for operation that did not require frequent relocation of the vessel. La Jolla, off the coast of California, was the first well to be drilled in DP mode by the ship CUSS 1 in 1961. La Jolla was drilled in 2,110ft of water, the CUSS 1 crew manually maintaining a position within a radius of 180 meters. Shallow waters and short risers require the vessel to maintain position accurately.
Maersk discoverer built by Keppel Offshore & Marine in Singapore in 1989, is capable to drill in 10,000 ft of water. In May, 2015, the semi-submersible completed the deepest well ever drilled offshore Egypt.