Ultra Deep Water

Definition - What does Ultra Deep Water mean?

Ultra Deep Water refers to the offshore oil and gas exploration and production activities that take place or are about to take place at depths of more than 1500 meters. It is a part of offshore drilling process and thus considered to be a relative term with respect to deep water drilling. However, deep water drilling activities take place at depths of 500 meters and above and sometimes because of the challenges that drilling organizations have to face at such depths, deep water drilling is treated same as ultradeep water drilling.

Petropedia explains Ultra Deep Water

Deep water drilling is a process of oil and gas exploration and production business. Any offshore activities that take place beyond 500 meters are considered to be deep water drilling activities. Since the organization has to face many challenges in terms of technology, lack of infrastructure, lack of experienced man power to perform operations at such great depths, ultra deep water drilling is at times also considered same as deep water drilling. However, the fact is ultra-deep water activities take place even at much deeper depths, more than 1500 meters and faces even more challenges. There are very few organizations that perform E&P operations at such great depths.

In order to perform E&P operations on ultra-deep water or deep water, special type of offshore rigs are used. These are completely different from Jackup rigs, barge rigs, or any other type of offshore rig which are used for below 500 meter water depths. These are:

  • Semi-Submersible Anchored / Moored rigs – These rigs are floating rigs that have pontoons and columns. They are submerged in water to certain depths and can be anchored into a position or can utilize dynamic positioning (DP) systems to keep the rig over the well. These rigs are useful for operations of up to 3000 m water depths.
  • Drill Ships – These are Dynamically Positioned Vessels for deep water drilling. They are self-propelled offshore drilling rigs and can work beyond the depths of 3000 m.

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