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Lloyds List: BP and Shell sign up to riserless drilling tests

Published: Oct 10, 2006

ABILITY Group has launched a NKr79m ($12m) joint industry project with BP and Shell to test riserless drilling systems in deepwaters, writes Martyn Wingrove.

The company intends to perform a test on its latest riserless mud recovery system in water depths of up to 1,500 m on a BP or Shell well next year.

The technology, developed by subsidiary AGR Subsea, has already been proved to work in other petroleum provinces including the North Sea, off Sakhalin Island and in the Barents Sea.

BP has also been using it in the Caspian Sea to a point where the technology is becoming a commercial success. Now the Ability Group wants to extend its water depth range.

‘Riserless mud recovery has been successfully used around the world in waters up to 400 m deep,’ said Roger Stave, president of AGR Subsea in Houston.

‘This project is pushing the boundaries once more,’ he added.

The technology provides a means of recirculating and re-using drilling fluids while drilling the top sections of a well.

The benefits come from a reduction in the operating time of drilling rigs, which at day rates of more than $300,000 for most semi- submersibles, can be considerable.

There are also benefits from reducing the environmental impact of drilling operations as it limits discharges to the sea.

The system has been used on 25 wells so far, 20 of these in the Caspian with BP, said a spokesman.

It has also been used with the Transocean Legend semi-submersible rig on wildcat exploration wells off northern Sakhalin for a BP-Rosneft joint venture.

Statoil has used the system in the Barents Sea. 

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