Maersk Deepwater Advanced Drill ships are purpose-built for safe operations under extreme conditions. The 228-metre long drillships can operate at water depths up to 3,650 m (12,000 ft) and can drill wells more than 12,000 m (40,000 ft) deep. With their advanced positioning control systems, the ships automatically maintain a fixed position in severe weather conditions with waves up to 11 metres high and wind speeds up to 26 metres per second. Special attention has been paid to onboard safety. Both XLE rigs and drillships are operated by relatively small crews, with a high degree of automation that ensures safe operation and consistent performance.
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Using these rigs and drillships, it is possible to drill down and then sideways to hit an oil-bearing layer just a few metres thick, under several kilometres of water. Maersk Oil has become a leader in the industry in terms of long-range horizontal well drilling, with the capability to reach oilfields over 10km away from the wellhead. Maersk Oil was the first oil company to use horizontal drilling technology in the North Sea and has become an expert in developing wells with patterns of closely spaced horizontal well lines that allow more gas and oil to be recovered.
Extracting and processing it
Oil wells need to be kept under continuous pressure to ensure they constantly produce oil. The most common method of doing this is to pump water or gas into the surrounding layers of rock through nearby wells. More than 300,000 barrels of oil and more than 500,000 barrels of water are pumped up from North Sea oil fields every day. At the same time, 800,000 barrels of water are pumped back down.