Friday, March 1, 2013

Goodbye, Shell - and - Hello, ConocoPhillips

Xiang Yun Kou in Resurrection Bay - image by Jackie Wild
The wounded warriors of Shell's dismal 2012 Alaska Arctic drilling fiasco are exiting Alaska waters and the Western Hemisphere, not to be back here soon.

The Kulluk is being towed to Dutch Harbor, where a very large dry tow vessel will take it aboard for the long, late winter trip to Asia.

The Noble Discoverer will be taken aboard the large dry tow vessel, Xiang Yun Kou, within a few days. The latter ship arrived in Resurrection Bay Thursday:
[T]o get the drillship from point A in Alaska to point B in Korea, the immense vessel Xiang Yun Kou pulled into the waters near Seward Thursday to dry-haul the Noble Discoverer to its Asian destination.  
But the Discoverer won’t be leaving right away. On Thursday morning, Coast Guard spokeswoman Ensign Victoria Swinghamer said the plan to raise the Noble Discoverer wouldn’t occur “for a few more days.”  
The Coast Guard also planned to inspect the Xiang Yun Kou upon its arrival to ensure it would be prepared for its long trip across the Pacific with the Noble Discoverer atop its 583-foot-long, 141-foot-wide cargo deck. The Coast Guard cutter Mustang hovered near the Chinese ship on Thursday, along with the tug Junior.
Here's a look at the Xiang in its submerged state, ready to take on a load:

Here it is, loaded with a rig that is probably in much better shape than the Noble Discoverer:

Since the beginning of Shell's disastrous 2012 misadventures, the company has been criticized for using used up equipment.  And its sole piece of brand new equipment - the Arctic tug, Aiviq, failed at least as spectacularly as did the foreign firm's rust buckets.

The other major oil giant getting ready to drill off our state's North Slope is ConocoPhillips.  They are having a giant, state-of-the-art Arctic rig being built right now:
Keppel Offshore & Marine Technology Centre (KOMtech) and ConocoPhillips are jointly designing a first-of-its-kind “ice-worthy” jackup to operate in the Arctic seas.  
The jackup will have dual cantilevers to optimize drilling operations within a limited time frame. It will be capable of operating in a self-sustained manner for 14 days and be equipped with a hull designed for towing in ice. The rig also will be able to resist the impacts from multi-year ice floes and ridges, as well as withstand a certain level of ice thickness.  
“The features of this jackup rig make it a cost-effective and promising drilling solution for the Arctic offshore,” Dr Foo Kok Seng, KOMtech director, said. “We believe that this joint project will achieve significant breakthroughs in offshore Arctic drilling.” The project is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.
Here is an artist's conception of the finished rig, the Gemini:

Shell isn't quite out of Alaska yet, but let's continue to hope that nobody gets hurt.


Steven J Heimel said...

I have to admit I really enjoy this technology. I used to get totally wowed when I would go to the Offshore Technology trade show every year in Houston. I am afraid I have to agree with you about the rust buckets.

Bill said...

The Aiviq is now docked in Seward leaving the 3 Foss tugs towing the Kulluk into several approaching gales on the way to Dutch Harbor

Philip Munger said...


What is the third Foss tug?


I didn't start paying close attention to Shell's plan until late July, when I realized the Arctic Challenger was part of their plan. I was on a tug that towed it from Seattle to Barrow in 1982, and even then the barge was ungainly, leaky and thought to be a "bad luck barge."

Anonymous said...

The rig that ConocoPhillips wants to take to Alaska is being built in Singapore, yes. Not at Kepple but at the Jurong shipyard.

Noble Corp. awarded them a contract to buid the JU3000N jack-up rig for which ConocoPhillips has a min. 1 year contract for operations offshore Alaska. Delivery is expected late Q4 2013; base dayrate: $235.000.