Maersk to build semisubmersible for Caspian Sea program

Maersk Contractors Ltd. said Wednesday construction will begin this summer on a deepwater semisubmersible rig contracted to Exxon Azerbaijan Operating Co. LLC and Chevron Overseas Petroleum Azerbaijan Ltd. for a 3-year drilling program in the Caspian Sea starting in 2003.


Darius V. Snieckus
OGJ Online


BAKU, June 7 -- Maersk Contractors Ltd. said Wednesday construction will begin this summer on a deepwater semisubmersible rig contracted to Exxon Azerbaijan Operating Co. LLC and Chevron Overseas Petroleum Azerbaijan Ltd. for a 3-year drilling program in the Caspian Sea starting in 2003.

Work on the DSS 20-CAS-M semi, being built under contracts at Keppel FELS' Singapore yard and the Caspian Shipyard Co.'s Baku facility in Azerbaijan, will start in July and August, respectively, with delivery set for late 2003.

Keppel FELS will construct the lower pontoons, columns, and substructure, and CSC the upper hull and modules. The four column hull will be transported by barge from Singapore via the Black Sea, the Don Channel, and Volga River. It will be mated with the upper hull at Baku.

The majority of the piping, electrical, and mechanical installation, along with the fabrication and outfitting of a 130-man living quarters, will also be handled by the Baku yard of CSC, a joint venture company set up with Azerbaijan state-owned oil and gas company Socar.

"This is the largest, most ambitious, and most technologically advanced vessel to be built in the Caspian," said Maersk Commercial Director Jens Madsen. "This project will benefit Baku and Azerbaijan as it will employ and train many Azeris, as well as benefit many (local) service companies."

Maersk said the semi will be designed by Keppel FELS and Marine Structure Consultants BV. It will be capable of drilling in up to 1,000 m of water to depths of 30,000 ft, and have a variable deckload of 4,000 tonnes.

The unit's derrick, crown-mounted compensator, and traveling block are rated to 2 million lb, its drawworks at 4,000 hp, and the riser tensioner at 2 million lb. The rig will have three 7,500 psi mud pumps and well control systems incorporating a 18 3/4-in. x 15,000 psi hydraulically operated BOP, a 2-million-lb riser, and a 500 psi diverter system.

To deal with the problems of mooring mobile rigs in the Caspian, caused by undulating soft seabed formations and mud volcanoes, the Maersk semi will have an 8-point wire rope mooring system able to anchor the unit in waters of 75-500 m. Mooring spreads will be laid for waters down to 1,000 m.

Chevron will operate the rig on behalf of partners ExxonMobil, Conoco Inc., TotalFinaElf SA, and Socar.

Contact Darius V. Snieckus at dsnieckus@ogjonline.com

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