Switching off the engines

Maersk Invincible is not only the world’s largest jack-up drilling rig, but also the first to be run entirely on power supplied from shore. The rig, which has the flexibility to adapt to different tasks, is hard at work for AkerBP in the North Sea on a five-year contract.

Maersk Invincible
Maersk Invincible is hard at work for AkerBP in the North Sea on a five-year contract. Photo: Maersk Drilling

The XLE jack-ups

  • The XLEs are the world’s largest jack-up rigs and are designed for year-round operation in the harsh environments of the North Sea, in water depths of up to 150 m (492 ft)
  • Uptime and drilling efficiency are maximised through dual pipe handling. While one string is working in the well centre, a second string of casing, drill pipe or bottom hole assembly can be assembled/disassembled and stored in the set-back-area, ready for subsequent transfer for use in the well centre, thereby reducing non-productive time
  • The drill floor features Multi Machine Control – a fully remotely operated pipe handling system allowing all standard operations such as stand building and tripping to be conducted without personnel on the drill floor, thereby ensuring a high level of consistency across crews and improved efficiency

The diesel engines on Maersk Invincible are switched off.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t working – in fact, far from it. The world’s largest jack-up drilling rig has started a five-year contract in the North Sea with AkerBP and is running entirely on hydroelectric power from the shore.

At 3.00pm on Sunday 28 May, Maersk Invincible became the world's first harsh environment jack-up drilling rig to operate entirely on shore power, supplied through a 294km cable from Lista in Norway. This means reduced emissions along with cost savings for customer AkerBP in terms of fuel and maintenance.

"The testing and commissioning of the high voltage shore-power installation has been thorough," says Christian Adamsen, Technical Section Leader on board. "Maersk Invincible is now a hydropower rig.”

Lower emissions

Maersk Invincible has been tailored specifically to meet the customer’s needs on a five-year contract on the Valhall complex in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea, and has the flexibility to adapt to different tasks. The unique power system is possible because the functionality was built-in from the start - the electrical power system was designed and prepared to be able to receive power from shore.

AkerBP will use shore power for all the drilling rigs in the Valhall complex in a pioneering project that is being supported by a grant of up to NOK 42 million from the Norwegian business sector’s NOx fund.

It is estimated that switching to shore power will save 28,285 tonnes of diesel, 89,602 tonnes of CO2 and 1.3m kg of NOx.

“This is a pioneer project for AkerBP. By electrifying the drilling rigs, we are significantly cutting local CO2 emissions and NOx emissions. This is in line with our strategy of developing solutions that help reduce the environmental impact of our activities," says Per Mikal Hauge, Managing Director of Aker BP.

A better place to work

At 11,000 volts, the high voltage shore-power supply is capable of supplying up to 10 megawatts, corresponding to the ­consumption of up to 20,000 households. It will significantly cut local CO2 emissions and NOx emissions.

"We are pleased that we have been able to implement this innovation successfully in collaboration with our client and together become first movers in introducing shore power operation on jack-up drilling rigs," says Peder Norborg, Head of the XLE Newbuilding Project. “It is Maersk Drilling’s ambition to conduct environmentally responsible operations, and it is our belief that this ensures a sound and viable business for the future.”

Another benefit of shore-power is a much quieter work environment for the crew, since the diesel engines were one of the main sources of noise.

"This will not only reduce emissions from the rig, but also reduce the cost and time associated with maintenance on diesel engines and generators and give a better working environment in the engine rooms,” says Maersk Drilling’s Adamsen.