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A new generation of innovative drilling rigs 
 
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Maersk Drilling has embarked on an extensive newbuilding programme, and right now three of the world’s largest jack-up drilling rigs are being built in Singapore.

Costing a total of close to USD 2 billion the three ‘XL Enhanced’ rigs have been designed for use in the ultra-harsh environment of the North Sea.

Before designing the new rigs Maersk Drilling asked customers and crews what it would take to create a genuine next generation.

The result will be a family of rigs that include more automation and sophisticated technology than ever before – innovations that will boost uptime and improve safety, thanks to a reduced need for manual work on the platform.

Innovation on a grand scale

Some 30,000 tons of high-quality steel from Japan and Germany are needed to build each rig. And the hulls are enormous – measuring approximately 89 x 105 x 12 metres with the legs being more than 200 metres long.

Because the hulls are so big, they have to be built in two parts, to then be floated out to sea separately and joined while afloat.

The first of the three rigs should be finished in April 2014, with the other two planned for completion in October 2014 and February 2015. Long term contracts have already been signed for all three rigs.

Improved uptime and safety

New or improved features include:

  • Dual pipe handling to maximise uptime and drilling efficiency. While one string is working in the well bore, a second string can be built or disassembled at the other work station. This significantly improves operational efficiency.
  • An automated and remote-operated pipe handling system allows all standard operations, such as stand building and tripping, to be conducted without personnel on the drill floor, ensuring a high level of consistency, as well as improved safety and efficiency.
  • The XL Enhanced rigs have a rated drilling depth of 12,000 meters and are designed for year-round operations in the harsh environment of the North Sea, handling water depths up to 150m.
  • Each rig can accommodate 150 people in one-man cabins, versus the current 120 maximum in two-man cabins. The rigs will also provide a cinema, gym, game room and internet cafes.