Smarter drilling for deepwater recovery
2018 was a great year for cash flow and profits of oil and gas operators. Despite the continued volatility in oil and gas prices, recent capital investment approvals suggest that we have reached a level where offshore projects are becoming viable again, especially for deepwater recovery. In the drilling contractor segment we are receiving signals that activity, in both the jack-up and floater markets, is slowly starting to pick up, as evidenced by the Mærsk Deliverer’s recent contract in Timor-Leste and the Maersk Convincer’s long-term contract in Brunei.
By Jacob Taylor, Head of Asia/Pacific, Commercial, Maersk Drilling
The Mærsk Deliverer will start exploration drilling next month for Eni in new waters, namely a part of the Joint Petroleum Development Area that is now fully under Timor-Leste jurisdiction following the treaty between Timor-Leste and Australia. This is great news for the people of Timor-Leste who have ambitions of becoming sizeable players in the oil and gas industry.
Even though capital is making its way back into our industry, offshore projects are now competing for funds against nimble onshore producers and the progressive renewables sector. To keep pace, offshore operators have continued to focus on cost reduction. But although substantial cost reductions have been realized in recent years, forward-thinkers must recognise that a significant share of these cost cuttings will probably not be sustainable in the long term. That is why Maersk Drilling is establishing partnerships with like-minded operators in order to produce permanent productivity gains across the value chain by combining technological and commercial innovation.
For instance, the Mærsk Deliverer established a long-term free-placement agreement with Weatherford in 2017 for the installation of a Managed Pressure Drilling (MPD) package on the rig. Historically, upgrading a floater with a MPD system has been an expensive and time-consuming exercise, and the cost of upgrades and operations is deemed to be a major reason why MPD technology is still not widely used on floaters. However, in the case of Mærsk Deliverer, an innovative approach to the task meant that we were able to deliver and install the MPD parts and software while the rig was completing its first campaign after reactivation.
The result is a semi-sub rig that now has the capacity to leverage resources not used in conventional drilling to drill wells that were once deemed “undrillable” while also benefitting from the improvements in safety which MPD technology brings. In its first campaign after being upgraded with MPD, the Mærsk Deliverer successfully deployed pressurized mud cap drilling (PCMD) at 2,855m depth offshore Malaysia, setting a record for the deepest water deployment of PCMD in the industry to date.
In addition to the technological advancements, commercial innovation is helping us transform our business. Maersk Drilling recently established a partnership with Seapulse wherein the parties will work closely together in a global 12-well drilling programme. Maersk Drilling will deliver fully integrated well services for all 12 wells – taking share in the commercial upside of the programme while simultaneously mitigating the operator’s cost risk.
In that way, operators and drilling contractors can cooperate in new ways that make projects more manageable and predictable by removing waste from the process and targeting potential pain points in collaboration. Ultimately, this kind of smarter drilling and partnering may turn out to be key to enable new projects.
Maersk Drilling designs, develops and operates a global fleet of 23 advanced drilling rigs, including drillships, semi-submersibles and high-end jack-ups, using cutting-edge technology and know-how. We build our service around our highly skilled and committed workforce, our state of the art rigs and our 40 years of experience with providing safe, efficient and consistent drilling services in the most challenging environments.