Thursday, June 17, 2010

Semi-Submersible Drilling Rigs

I'm used to aircraft, not seacraft. But these semi-submersible drilling rigs are spectacular.

These are all photos of the Thunder Horse, a BP (75%) and ExxonMobil (25%) joint venture drilling rig also in the Gulf of Mexico, about 150 miles southeast of New Orleans.

Imagine the payload of a ship designed to carry it. Imagine loading it. I couldn't see how they did it ... until I read "[The Blue Marlin] can ballast itself so that the central section is well under water, the semi-sub is then floated across it and the ballast pumped out to lift the rig clear of the water." I would love to see that!



Imagine the fuel used just to light them.



Here's a photo of the Thunder Horse listing after Hurricane Dennis in 2005. It wasn't hurricane damage that caused this, not directly, but "an incorrectly plumbed 6-inch length of pipe [that] allowed water to flow freely among several ballast tanks." I bet there was some finger-pointing going on there too.


________
Photos from OilRigPhotos.com, except for listing rig from Wikipedia.

5 comments:

Tree said...

Bix, i love your blog. You are a super nerd (i mean that as a compliment) and you always post the coolest sh*t! Thank you!

Perovskia said...

Very spectacular. I would love to see that done in person. I think I would just be in awe....

Dr. Mel said...

I heard a story on MSNBC the other night--an interview w/ an oil industry whistle-blower (can't recall the name) who was discussing all the design flaws & shortcuts BP has taken (and some other companies too) with these giant rigs. It was shocking the way they pinch pennies on these things. The fellow was saying that a number of the rigs (he mentioned Thunder Horse among them)are seriously flawed, just disasters waiting to happen. And on *that* cheery note...!

Bix said...

When I worked in the aircraft industry, someone in the shop would damage a part, drop a tool on it or something. But the part, small and insignificant as it seems, may have cost $100,000 to make. Word would come back to engineering, "Can we still use the part?" Engineering, "No." Management, "But it cost to much to scrap!" And the politics would begin...

This is true about anything, though. You will always, always make a choice between cost and safety. It's where you draw the line.

Dr. Mel said...

You know, I've been gone from Fanatic Cook too long--I had no idea you'd started another blog on one of my favorite topics, Paleo Vegetarian! How inspiring! And it was there that I discovered that you have a deep past in which you were in aerospace engineering! You are really a multidimensional person. At any rate, when I read the aerospace bit in your profile on Paleo, then it hit me why you'd be fascinated by the oil rigs! They are impressive & gigantic, rather like the scale of space ships from the old Star Wars movies!
Yes, cost vs. safety. Interesting insight on your part. Tragic results at times, as we all know. As a scientist/engineer, it must have been very frustrating to you.