Drillships are exactly what the name says; maritime vessels that have customised drilling equipment and gear. Deep offshore operations during exploratory phases call for drilling vessels so that the task at hand can literally be achieved. Typically, offshore drilling of new oil and/gas wells or for scientific drilling operations are prime examples of when drillships are maximally worked with. Other popular needs for such vessels are quite varied and as follows:
Maintenance – Beneficially, drillships’ usefulness lies in its ability to act as a platform in executing maintenance or completion of a well.
Skill Specialty – Maintenance work requires confidence in knowledge as well as technical skill and includes for example casing and tubing installation.
Design and layout of these modernised drill vessels often adhere to the desires and requirements of the oil production itself or the investors of the project / operation. If there is no need or want for a company to design its own original vessel used for drilling , then it may also be a customised tanker hull geared with a high-powered positioning set-up enabling steadiness and bearings over the well.
Robust and powerful vessels as such are independent (unlike semi-submersibles) and highly advantageous in their ability to drill in water-deep and challenging conditions reaching above 2500m under the ocean…and even for the powerful “robots” that they are it’s pretty incredible what the drilling machines overcome and achieve at the end of the day. Today modern drilling vessels, unlike the Cuss 1 – the first ever drillship invented – are seen more so than ever before time efficient, as they sail the seas at prime and intelligent speeds.
This year the number of drillships globally will reach to just over 80 which pretty much means that since 2009 the worldly fleet of such specialised ships have doubled. It is not just the dramatic increase in number that is if significance, but also that the vast technology heavily influencing the way we live, work, and socialise that is also advancing these ships in their ability to help with scientific operations ranging from academic research to drilling in the ice. The more tolerance for domestic exploratory drilling (like in the U.S) the stronger the efforts become in developing drilling equipment and methodologies.
Let me try and describe to you how drilling vessels perform: in order to perform drilling, the marine riser on the vessel which has a blowout preventer at the end of it, is lowered all the way down to the bottom of the ocean where the blowout preventer connects to the wellhead.