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The rigs of the future

Today, there about 500 offshore oil and gas rigs operating worldwide. The majority of oil rigs in shallower waters are operated by fixed or jack-up rigs, while those operating in waters deeper than 500ft tend to be floating or subsea rigs. In shallow waters fixed or jack-up rigs are standard, while those operating in waters deeper than 500ft tend to be floating or sub-sea rigs.

Traditionally, drilling into the earth’s surface is a very energy, labour and capital-intensive activity. However, this is beginning to change. Just as on land, on-site self-generation based on wind or solar to power rigs is beginning to take off. Whereas, a typical North Sea or Gulf of Mexico rig currently operates with between 50 to 200 people according to size of rig, these numbers are set to fall with the application of artificial intelligence (AI) as rigs in deep waters become the preserve of AI- enabled robots controlled by humans sited in onshore control centres. Offshore rigs currently cost on average around US$650m which is up to 20 times more than the average cost of land rigs but the ‘industrialisation’ of rig design and production could bring down costs in coming years.

New technologies are on the horizon for rigs

The 2014 oil price collapse shocked the industry into retrenchment of capital expenditure, exploration and operating costs. On the positive side, however, the industry was forced into examining the new technologies coming on stream including internet of things (IOT) connected devices, cloud computing, standardisation and modularisation, 3D printing and now artificial intelligence and automation to embed further cost cuts and productivity increases as offshore exploration and production increases and orientates towards gas. Read more https://issuu.com/the-eic/docs/energy_focus_spring_2019_issuu_fina/26

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