Deep water drilling is a form of oil and gas drilling that takes place at depths of more than 500 feet. Deep water drilling is performed in the Gulf of Mexico. Currently, there are more than 600 wells located in the Gulf. With the rise in oil prices, our nation has looked to other means to increase our domestic supply. Deep water drilling is what led to the tragic events in April 2010 when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, causing the worst maritime accident in American history.
Semi-Submersible Drilling Rigs
In order to drill in deep waters, oil and gas companies use mobile offshore drilling units (MODU). One type of MODU is the semi-submersible rig. These specialized marine vessels are equipped with heavy equipment such as cranes. Semi-submersible rigs are used for drilling in waters that are deeper than 120 meters. The rigs float because these units rest on pontoons that are weighted in order to prevent the vessel from rocking back and forth with the waves. Semi-submersible rigs are sensitive to changes in load, which requires constant monitoring by maritime workers.
Drill ships are slightly different than semi-submersible rigs. Drill ships are maritime vessels that are equipped with a drilling apparatus. They are most commonly used for deep water drilling but they are sometimes employed for scientific research drilling. Scientific drilling is a way to venture below the Earth’s sediment and take samples of crust, upper mantle, and rock. Some scientific drilling can even go to depths of 3,400 meters. These are depths too dangerous for humans to venture. Likely the most advantageous aspect of drill ships is their ability to drill at depths greater than 2,500 meters. They can venture out so deep because they are not dependent on any other unit for support. The drilling apparatus is lowered from the ship down to the well. The apparatus is equipped with a blowout preventer in the event that the well ruptures.
Maritime workers who work in deep water drilling often fall victim to serious accidents or even death. If you or a family member has been seriously injured or killed during a deep water drilling accident, it is very important that you contact a highly skilled, offshore maritime injury lawyer immediately. Learn about your legal rights from an experienced offshore maritime injury attorney by filling out our free, no obligation case review form located on this website.