Deepwater Drilling

Definition - What does Deepwater Drilling mean?

Deepwater Drilling is the process of drilling oil wells in offshore locations, i.e., in seas or oceans up to a depth of 150 meters. It is sometimes also referred to as deep wells drilling and offshore drilling. The oil wells are drilled with the help of offshore drilling rigs such as, jackup rigs and barge rigs, which are manufactured to drill in water.

Petropedia explains Deepwater Drilling

Deepwater drilling activities are part of offshore drilling activities. Offshore drilling activities are divided into various categories based on the depth of drilling in the ocean. The drilling depths are as follows:

  1. 50 meters – normal offshore drilling
  2. 50 meter to 150 meters – Deepwater drilling
  3. 150 meters and above – Ultra Deepwater drilling

The following are various types of drilling rigs that are used during offshore drilling activities:

  • Barge rigs – These are floating offshore drilling vessels which are not self propelled. The drilling equipment rests of the barge and are mostly used in shallow water depths such as in rivers, lakes, ponds, etc.
  • Jackup Rigs – These are self elevating mobile drilling units equipped with strong structure legs which are lowered on the seafloor. These rigs are able to drill up to a depth of 400 feet to 600 feet.
  • Platform Rigs – These are immobile platform structures that remain at a specific location.
  • Semi-submersible Rigs – These rigs are floating drilling rigs that rest on pontoons and columns and can be submersed to the required depths. They operate up to the depths of 10,000 feet and are used in deepwater offshore drilling activities.
  • Drill ships – These are self propelled drilling units which are used when the drilling activities are more than 10,000 feet, i.e., for ultra deep water drilling activities.
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