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OTC 10891

Use of the Dual-Activity Drillship as a Field Development Tool

Johnce E. Hall, BP Amoco; Robert P. Herrmann, Consultant; Charles A. Holt and William J. Straub, BP Amoco; Rickey G.
Weber, R & D Technical

Copyright 1999, Offshore Technology Conference


technique can also be used for the placement of long
This paper was prepared for presentation at the 1999 Offshore Technology Conference held jumpers.
in Houston, Texas, 36 May 1999.
Flowlines, as well as export pipelines in deeper waters, can
This paper was selected for presentation by the OTC Program Committee following review of
information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper, as also be installed by the dual-activity drillship in pipelay mode
presented, have not been reviewed by the Offshore Technology Conference and are subject
to correction by the author(s). The material, as presented, does not necessarily reflect any
before or after drilling is completed. Using both rigs, two
position of the Offshore Technology Conference or its officers. Electronic reproduction, lines can simultaneously be laid which is an advantage for
distribution, or storage of any part of this paper for commercial purposes without the written
consent of the Offshore Technology Conference is prohibited. Permission to reproduce in print flowline sets requiring pigging loops or parallel oil and gas
is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words; illustrations may not be copied. The export lines. Burial of the lines is also achievable with the
abstract must contain conspicuous acknowledgment of where and by whom the paper was
presented. dual-activity drillship.
A conceptual timeline of how drilling and non-drilling
Abstract operations can be achieved by the dual-activity drillship is
The startup of the dual-activity drilling vessel Discoverer provided.
Enterprise in early 1999 heralds a new age for deepwater
development. For the first time a drilling vessel exists that Introduction
can perform many of the aspects of deepwater field The concept of a dual-activity drillship has been in existence
development cost effectively, including a variety of subsea since the mid-1990s. A year-long study performed by
production equipment installations and flowline/pipeline Transocean Offshore Inc. concluded that deepwater drilling
laying. This capability minimizes the barges and equipment efficiencies could be enhanced by design and construction of a
required for field development and yields schedule flexibility single drillship with dual drilling capabilities. Construction of
for the installation tasks. the first dual-activity drillship, the Discoverer Enterprise,
Aspects of the dual-activity drillship related to non-drilling began in 1997 and is scheduled for delivery in the spring of
activities are described in the paper. The second rig on the 1999. Two additional drillships, the Discoverer Spirit and the
drillship is only required part of the time to support drilling Discoverer Deep Sea, are currently under construction and are
operations. The remainder of the time can be used for other expected to be delivered in the year 2000.
field development activities. One advantage identified in association with the dual-
The subsea tree is run with the auxiliary rig while drilling activity drillship is that it has the potential to enhance offshore
with the BOP and riser with the primary rig. In addition, operations in unconventional modes. Because the auxiliary rig
subsea manifolds, umbilical pods, flowline jumpers and is out of the critical path, it can be used for operations which
supporting piles can be placed and secured with the auxiliary would not be economic if the rig spread cost were applied to
rig while drilling progresses with the primary rig. Concepts the operation. For example, the second rig is capable of being
for subsea equipment that can be installed with the dual- employed to drill a disposal well for flared gas or for
activity drill rig are presented. produced water, or the second rig can be used to pull in
Some flowline installation work can also be performed while pipelines, run production jumpers, run control lines or other
drilling is in progress. The flowline installation technique, subsea construction work. The extra rig is available for heavy
designated discrete lay and/or reverse lay, results in subsea lifts and work as a 5,000 hp ROV. In addition the
sectional flowline placements using an anchor handling vessel second rig can help eliminate shallow water flow problems or
and an ROV boat (for inspection and monitoring). This reduce external hydrates. After the BOP stack is set there is
2 J.E. HALL, R.P. HERRMANN, C.A. HOLT, W.J. STRAUB, R.G. WEBER OTC 10891

available time at the auxiliary rotary table for making up and stood back with one rig while drilling hole with the other.
pipeline segments for installation on the seabed. The dual activity also permits the auxiliary rig to drill and case
The biggest advantage in using the rig for field development the top hole while running the BOP/Riser with the main rig. The
is to eliminate the need for an additional construction vessel derrick is designed to transit with two full drillpipe setbacks.
such as a derrick barge or pipelay barge. The capabilities of The drillship is outfitted with two mud systems, quarters for
the Discoverer Enterprise as a dedicated deepwater pipelay up to 200 men, and storage for 20,000 ft of riser. There is space
vessel actually exceeds that of many specialized lay barges. for staging and running subsea trees, and for the normal
By using the rig for this function, more schedule flexibility is shorebase storage and office facilities. The vessel's sleek lines
realized. It is not necessary to coordinate the arrival of a and high power enable economical moves between operating
separate construction vessel with the other field activities such areas, and the ship can carry variables for up to five wells.
as drilling or host installation. No additional mobilization of There is 100,000 bbl crude storage potential for well testing or
offshore vessels is required. The rig can even be used to drill completion.
anchor piles and install the mooring lines. The rig can lay The motion response characteristics of the drillship are
pipelines in a piecemeal manner when needed rather than in extremely good and are in fact better than those for a semi-
one operation. The rig can be used at anytime within the submersible for waves in the 9-14 second head seas.
development schedule for lay purposes or other tasks. This The design is especially suitable for field development work.
permits a more rational infrastructure development for the The stationkeeping particulars, the high hoisting capacity and the
field rather than that found when the lines have to be laid all at ability to work subsea in parallel with the drilling operation
once in a single operation. lends the opportunity to economically carry out work that would
Finally, there is the capability to increase the overall normally be done with a dedicated construction vessel.
efficiency of the operation by changing the basic culture on the
rig floor. Because of the second drilling center more focus and Dual-Activity Drilling Operations
attention will be given to planning the subsequent phases of For single exploratory wells there are three main areas where
the operation. One complete rig exists to support the other, dual activity can be carried out: running the BOP stack and
and just keeping that operation running will improve top-hole operations; make up and testing of bottom hole
organization and help eliminate the unidentified unproductive assemblies and downhole tools; and make up and running of
time that is found in analysis of the well construction process. casing. Up to the time the BOP stack is landed both rigs are
This potential savings due to better planning is real and can be 100% engaged, thus halving the time required to drill that
seen in investigation of the improvements in efficiency in section. One rig runs the BOP and riser while the other drills
batch-drill operations. A significant amount of the batch-drill the top hole and runs casing down to 20 in. One rig does all
improvements cannot be tied to the operations eliminated by tophole operations, pilot hole, drilling, tripping, running pipe
this process alone. Much of these improvements are from etc. while the other is running the BOP and riser. Once the
abolishing the need to plan between stages of the operation. wellhead running tool is released the rig moves 20 ft and the
The second rig causes better planning and coordination stack is landed.
between stages because its primary function is to carry out the At the end of the well the auxiliary rig can be used to
work for the next phase. remove the wellhead or to run abandonment gear while
simultaneously pulling the BOP stack.
The Discoverer Enterprise After the stack is landed the auxiliary rig is devoted to
The Discoverer Enterprise is an extremely large drillship preparing bottom hole assemblies and down hole tools for the
incorporating a multi-activity derrick and drillfloor. The hull is main rig. In addition to the time saved simply from moving
modeled on a standard 100,000 ton North Sea dynamically these activities out of the critical path there is the benefit of
positioned (DP) shuttle tanker outfitted with six 7,000 hp reduction of downtime from testing faulty tools. This can be
azimuthing thrusters. Total stationkeeping thrust totals 42,000 done with the auxiliary rig and allows time to troubleshoot
hp, and the variable deck load is 20,000 tons. problems that would have normally been charged against the
The large stable platform provided by this hull allows use of a spread costs. This is especially important in deepwater or in
dual capacity derrick with an 80 ft x 80 ft drill floor and a 220 ft applications requiring special tools. It is possible to build
height. The derrick is fully outfitted with two drilling packages stands outside the main rotary table with a special mouse hole
including topdrives and motion compensators. Figure 1 shows but it is difficult to test running tools in this area while the drill
the basic floor arrangement. The allowable simultaneous hook string is rotating or while tripping pipe.
loads are 2,000 kips each and the two rigs are outfitted to rack In addition to servicing downhole tools the auxiliary rig
casing in triples and drillpipe in quadruples (125 ft stands). The makes up the casing string in 125 ft stands and racks back for
dual derrick permits parallel and shared operations and places running. Time is saved in making up the shoe joints and float
many rotary table activities out of the critical path. The collars, and half of the casing joints are made-up out of the
continuous setback can feed either rotary table and allows critical path. Tubing strings, gravel pack and other special
casing, bottom hole assemblies, and running tools to be made up strings are made up by the auxiliary rig as well as drill pipe for
OTC 10891 USE OF THE DUAL-ACTIVITY DRILLSHIP AS A FIELD DEVELOPMENT TOOL 3

the main rig or for inspection. can be put to good use for delicate hingeover operations or for
When used for field development the dual-activity rig emergency laydown or recovery operations.
becomes even more efficient. After landing the BOP stack the Dynamic Derrick. The Dual Derrick on the Discoverer
ship can be moved so that adjacent wells can be drilled by the Enterprise is rated at 2 million lb each hook (simultaneous)
auxiliary rig. The offset required to reach a new well is well while suffering 40 kt winds and 18 ft significant sea acting 30
within the riser angle limit. Up to nine additional top holes off the bow. A hook load of 1,800 kips on one rig
can be drilled and cased through the auxiliary rotary table simultaneous to 1,400 kips on the other rig can be maintained
while the main rig is drilling out under the 17-1/2 in. top hole while in 60 kt winds and a 25 ft significant sea acting 30 off
in the first well. The BOP can then be moved to the next well the bow. The dynamic capacity of the derrick allows
without pulling to the surface, and the pressure section of the emergency operations in rough weather. Typical lay barge
wells can be drilled batch style. towers have reduced sea state and subsequent motion
While drilling through the BOP the second rig can be used resistance capacity and are thus required to cease operations
to rig up and run the production trees. The well is secured, more often.
the BOP released and the rig positioned to land the tree. The
stack can be moved to another well or set atop a horizontal Dual Pipelay. Both rigs are rated to 2 million lb and can be
tree for completion. In any case the tree is safely run without used to simultaneously lay two lines. The rotary tables are 40
having to trip the BOP. In the event the tree does not test, it is ft apart and provide good separation between lines. As
not necessary to double trip the stack to retrieve the tree. illustrated in Figure 3 the rig can change heading 45 about
the neutral point and still achieve adequate separation between
Construction Vessel Capabilities pipelines. When 45 from square the pipelines are only 11 ft
As a construction vessel the Discoverer Enterprise compares closer together which is insignificant in deep water. The
favorably to typical dedicated deepwater construction barges. ability to make a 45 heading change coupled with the very
The capacities of the derrick (used as a J-lay tower for good motion characteristics permit the dual lay operation even
pipeline installation), stationkeeping, and sea bed survey in winter.
equipment on the Discoverer Enterprise surpass those found
on the current fleet of deepwater construction vessels. Stationkeeping Power. The Discoverer Enterprise is outfitted
Moreover, the dual derrick allows two pipelines to be laid with six 7,000 hp thrusters and designed to stay on location
simultaneously without a significant increase in spread costs. during a 50 year Gulf of Mexico hurricane. The thrusters can
Table 1 sets out a comparison between the Discoverer keep station with a 60 kt wind directly on the beam and while
Enterprise and a typical deepwater J-lay barge. Figure 2 only running at 80% capacity. The azimuthing thrusters can
illustrates the difference in size between the same two vessels. develop 1,200 kips thrust. This compares to up to 800 kips of
thrust potential from the most powerful J-lay barges. The
Tower. drillship power generation is 52,000 hp continuous and
Hook Load. Large lifting capacities are required to J-lay capable of 70,000 hp instantaneous. This increased
pipe in deepwater. Flow assurance often demands heavy pipe- stationkeeping allows the drillship to work year round and add
in-pipe insulation systems, and project economics may not to the enhancement of schedule flexibility.
allow export line wall thicknesses that can withstand the
collapse pressure acting on an evacuated line. Wet pipe Pipehandling Machines. The Discoverer Enterprise is
weights can be as high as 180 lb/ft and, coupled with the equipped with two vertical pipehandling machines. Each unit
tension requirements and dynamic loading, can result in tower is capable of working either rotary table or any setback and
loads up to 1,500 kips. According to Albaugh (Ref. 1) typical provides backup. The pipe handlers are designed to handle
capacities of existing J-lay barges run between 150 kips and 138 ft stands of 3-1/2 in. - 20 in. pipe and can pick up a 125 ft
792 kips. This compares to the twin hookload capacity of stand of 9-1/2 in. drill collars (27,000 lb). The machines are
2,000 kips for the Discoverer Enterprise. There are two designed to set and align threaded pipe for makeup and are
hoisting drawworks in the dual derrick. Each is fully outfitted computer controlled. The pipehandlers can be commanded to
and rated for 2 million lb hookload. The normal rig landing center the pipe in the rotary and align to vertical. The rig is
string is 6-5/8 in. 27.7 lb S drill pipe rated at 1 million lb. For outfitted with all manner of power slips and casing elevators
larger loads the riser can be used. The 2 million lb hookload is to run the pipe.
simultaneous and can be achieved by both drawworks at the
same time. This is useful for emergency recovery or for Special Operations.
operation in 10,000 ft of water. Subsea Power. There are four 2,200 hp high pressure mud
Motion Compensation. The drilling rig has two 1,000 kip pumps on the Discoverer Enterprise which can deliver 8,000
motion compensators and can in fact provide a constant hydraulic hp @ 7,500 psi to seabed machinery. This enables
tension at levels higher than that of the ultimate lifting the rig to power seabed winches, trenching machinery or other
capacity of typical lay barge towers. The two compensators equipment that heretofore were limited by the hydraulic power
4 J.E. HALL, R.P. HERRMANN, C.A. HOLT, W.J. STRAUB, R.G. WEBER OTC 10891

available from the ROV. One such application is the burial of considered as more time available to the auxiliary rotary table
pipelines. No equipment of such capacity is normally for construction activities. Figure 5 is the perfect well
provided on pipelay barges. schedule filtered for all tasks involving the auxiliary rotary
Lift and Pull. Utilizing both drawworks allows one to lift a table and the mouse hole. The schedule has been further
pipeline and the other to pull in the pipeline. This helps in enhanced by making two tasks to start as late as possible. This
executing pipeline deflection and connection operations. enables the available auxiliary rotary table time to be arranged
Torque. The rig can apply and hold torque to the pipeline in two continuous blocks and yet not affect the overall drilling
when landing the second end. This enables the rig to steer the and completion time. The schedule also shows the slack time
pipeline to a desired lay direction or to land the pipeline base where neither the auxiliary rotary table nor the mouse hole is
in the correct vertical hub orientation. being used. The first large block occurs between the 17-1/2 in.
Ability to Drill or Pile Pipeline Bases. The drillship is well section and running 9-5/8 in. pipe. There are 7.15 days shown
suited to drill in piles for supporting pipeline bases or where no auxiliary rotary table or mouse hole activity is
manifolds. By offsetting the rig and allowing the riser to take scheduled. The second period is after landing the subsea tree
a small angle the second rig can drill piles while the primary and comprises almost 14 days. Thus, without reference to the
rig is drilling through the BOP. In 7,000 ft of water these piles well operation, there are 21 days available out of the 37 in two
can be as far away as 250 ft from the BOP stack. By drilling large blocks. There are smaller segments of available
off-line, only the material cost of the pile adds cost to the auxiliary rotary table time earlier on which make up the two
project. days needed for the 65% claim.
ROV and Survey. The drillship is equipped with two full There are two types of field development work identified as
ROV spreads including crews. Positioning reference systems candidates for installation with the drillship while drilling.
include twin DGPS, short baseline, long baseline, and Installing sea bed equipment such as trees, manifold bases,
combined ultra-short/long baseline acoustic systems. jumpers, and support piles comprise one group. These tasks
are normal drill rig activities and are done at the auxiliary
Timing with Drilling Operations rotary table without interference to the normal drilling
The Discoverer Enterprise is actually a triple-activity rig for operations at the main rotary table. The second group includes
floor operations. There are two fully functional rotary tables pipeline construction and involves welding on the rig floor.
and drawworks rigged up in the dual derrick, plus there is a This type of work should be undertaken during the first of the
mechanized mousehole (smart mousehole) that, while using time blocks, while drilling the well, rather than during the well
the aft pipe handler, can make up and break down bottom hole completion phase when the well is live.
assemblies and make up and rack casing and completion
strings. A more accurate description of the drillship is a dual Drillfloor Welding. The drillfloor is classified as a Zone II
activity unit for below water operations and triple-activity unit hazardous area. As such welding is allowed if contained in an
for drillfloor operations. As such the second rotary is area positively ventilated with air from outside the hazardous
available whenever there is no need for dual in-water zone. This is the setup which allows use of direct current (DC)
operations. This is a substantial amount of time and includes drilling motors and the other rig floor electric equipment on
all time after landing the BOP stack up until the tree is moved the drillfloor. Additionally it is desired to keep hot welding
to the center of the auxiliary rotary table for rigging up, and material from falling into the moonpool and to isolate the
includes the time from when the tree running string is retrieved welding flash from the adjacent drilling crew. The rotary
up until abandonment. This is roughly 80% of the entire time tables are 40 ft apart. Had this separation distance been 50 ft
on location. The mousehole operation does however, require then welding could be undertaken without the need for the
use of one of the pipehandling machines and will interfere with positive ventilation. To positively ventilate and to keep the
the auxiliary rig operations when the second pipehandler is flash off the drill crew a small house will enclose the pipe
needed. To be conservative it is assumed that the mousehole while welding. This house is equipped with supply fans that
time interferes 100% with non-drilling construction activities. are ducted to take air from a safe area. The roof and fore and
This brings the available time for these operations to 65% of aft walls of the house open up to allow the pipe to be picked
the location time. up and set in position as seen in Figure 6. While aligning the
Figure 4 depicts a detailed schedule for a theoretical pipe the house is closed and the ventilation is started. The
deepwater well with no trouble time, a perfect well. The house can be as large as 10 ft x 15 ft, and will have a floor to
drilling and completion time is 37 days. This is a challenging keep sparks and molten metal from falling into the moonpool.
schedule for planning concurrent field construction activities.
In reality the perfect well gives the most pessimistic template Subsea Equipment Installation with Dual-Activity
for structuring the simultaneous operations. The auxiliary Drillship
rotary table operations are a fixed set of tasks and are not The subsea installation most evident for the offline rotary table
subject to changes owing to drilling problems. Thus, if the is installation of the subsea tree. While the BOP is down and
program is delayed, then the extra drilling time can be drilling operations are being conducted with the main rig, the
OTC 10891 USE OF THE DUAL-ACTIVITY DRILLSHIP AS A FIELD DEVELOPMENT TOOL 5

tree is brought to the secondary rotary table and rigged up for that calculated from the trajectory analysis. An ROV follows
running. Horizontal trees are run to the sea bed on drillpipe the tree to give both a visual and acoustic picture of the
and landed without having to pull the BOP to the rig floor. situation.
Vertical trees can likewise be run by the auxiliary rig with a
separate riser system. The second rig also provides the Other Subsea Equipment. Besides the tree there is other
opportunity to carry out activities not normally considered subsea equipment that can be deployed with the offline rotary
possible due to the cost of the operation spread. The rig can table and help reduce the field development costs. Figure 7
be used to run pipeline bases and to pull in the pipeline. illustrates a typical deepwater subsea setup.
Heavy gear can be moved subsea, and the mud pumps can Pipeline Manifold Base. Often a base is deployed as an
provide hydraulics for seabed work such as trenching or anchor for pipeline termination or as a tie-in point for the tree
pipeline pull-in. The offline rig can run tree jumpers, pipeline jumper and the main production flowline or simply to function
jumpers and manifolds all while the main rig is drilling as a subsea manifold. As such this base requires a foundation
through the BOP. that can support the weight of the base and piping and take
side loading from pipeline pull-ins or from pipelay initiation.
Subsea Tree. Normally the subsea tree is run after securing The offline rotary table can be employed to install both the
the well and pulling the BOP stack. The stack or high pressure foundation pile and the manifold base while conducting
riser is then rerun and landed on the tree. Deepwater tripping normal operations with the main rig. This is best done during
of the BOP and riser is time-consuming and comprises a the early part of drilling a well, when there is some short slack
significant percent of the well completion costs. Often most of in the auxiliary rotary table use and when still rigged up for
the tree preparation work commences only after rigging down drilling in top hole casing. Deploying the pile can be
from pulling the BOP and the moonpool area under the rotary temporarily interrupted at any time except after its drilling has
table becomes free. To pull the stack, rig up and run the tree, commenced. There is a means to hang the pipe string on the
and then rerun and test the BOP takes a minimum of 10 days spider beams under the auxiliary rig and skid it out of the way.
in deepwater. This does not account for the risk of failure of When the auxiliary rotary table again becomes available the
the BOP or high pressure lines to test once the riser system is string can be skidded back into position, and the operation can
re-deployed. be restarted. Drilling piles is a function for which the rig is
The dual-activity rig runs the tree on drillpipe while the specifically specialized, and it is especially economical when
BOP stack is on the wellhead. Care and planning are this can be done offline to the main operation. The costs for
necessary to execute this maneuver without problems caused this are reduced to that of the hardware with the rig spread
by interference with the drilling riser. First, it is required that costs going against the well.
the tree, tree running tool or other bottom string equipment be The moonpool of the Discoverer Enterprise is 60 ft x 30 ft
provided with fenders or rails to keep that part of the tree and there is a clear height of 50 ft under the substructure. This
susceptible to hang up off of the marine riser. The fenders allows manifolds of up to 25 ft x 35 ft to be easily run from the
themselves need to be smooth and snag free. Second, the aft station. Again planning is required to minimize the risk of
drillship has to be oriented so that the second string is pushed interference with the deployed riser.
away from the marine riser. This is accomplished by first Tree Jumper. Once the manifold base is set and the tree is
acquiring a current profile and then calculating the trajectory landed, it is possible to run the flowline jumper from the tree
of the second string as it runs to the bottom. If the to the base with the auxiliary rig. Measurements are made by
displacement for all positions and all times is less than 40 ft, the shipboard ROV and the jumper fabricated onboard.
the rotary table separation, then the heading for best vessel Jumpers less than 60 ft in length can be assembled on the pipe
motion can be maintained. If the displacement is more than rack and run directly through the moonpool. Jumpers over 60
the rotary table separation and would lead to interference with ft but less than 125 ft in length can be assembled in one piece
the marine riser, then it is necessary to orient the relative and passed over the ship side for keelhauling to the running
position between the running string and the riser by changing string of the auxiliary rotary table. Jumpers longer than 125 ft
heading so that the displacement, whatever it is, runs away must be assembled vertically in the moonpool under the
from the riser. In the rare event where the displacement is auxiliary rotary table and then rotated 90 when clear of the
more than 40 ft and cuts through an arc greater than 180 hull. The jumper can be tested once it is installed.
(when viewed from above), then it is necessary to also offset Pipeline Jumpers. In addition to the tree jumpers the
the vessel, increase the riser angle at the BOP, and increase the pipeline jumpers shown in Figure 7 can be run if the pipeline
separation between the two strings. It is also possible that a landing skids are in place or if there is another pipeline
series of heading changes are necessary as the trajectory shifts manifold base nearby. Even after the rig has moved off
due to increasing hanging weight and alterations in current. location the pipeline jumpers can continue to be fabricated on
Finally the position of the bottom of the string is continuously the drillship and passed to a separate installation vessel. This
monitored while lowering. A bottom string transponder gives saves on handling costs and, once set up, provides a very
the absolute position of the tree and is used to check against economical means for jumper fabrication. Most importantly,
6 J.E. HALL, R.P. HERRMANN, C.A. HOLT, W.J. STRAUB, R.G. WEBER OTC 10891

this gives the flexibility to cope with the inevitable changes simultaneously for two lines, or with one rotary table in
that come up in any short field construction period. dedicated lay mode and the other rotary table in a discrete lay
mode. The most efficient use of the drillship is in a dedicated
Flowline/Pipeline Installation with Dual-Activity Rig dual lay mode. The rotary table separation of 40 ft gives
Three methods of pipelaying are considered viable for field sufficient clearance to run two lines simultaneously. The
development using the drillship: discrete lay, reverse lay and hoisting capacity for both rigs are identical (2 million lb), and
dedicated lay. the structure is designed to take maximum loads
simultaneously. The vessel would normally lay the pipeline
Discrete Lay. This method utilizes the second rotary table on transverse to the hull centerline (sideways). In the event of
the drillship to construct flowline segments while the primary bad weather the rig can change heading 45 without danger
rotary table is performing the drilling and completions of the two pipes interfering. Possibly up to 60 can be
operations. Figure 8 illustrates the concept. Pipeline segments realized without problems. The Discoverer Enterprise is much
less than the water depth are made up in the auxiliary rotary larger than a typical deepwater J-lay barge and has superior
table. First-end and second-end skids are made up at the stationkeeping capability. As such the downtime for weather
extremities of the segment. The completed flowline segments should be significantly less.
are transferred to an anchor handling vessel (AHV) which During times when simultaneous lay is not possible, say with
transports and installs the segments. Subsea jumpers connect separated risers or single flowlines, it is possible to engage the
the segments to form the completed flowline. second rotary table in the discrete mode or in helping the
Disadvantages of this method are the additional cost of the single lay rotary table by making up 160 ft-180 ft stands.
jumpers and the limitation of the segment length to the water Risers can be run discretely or in the normal forward lay. The
depth. Obviously this is not a useful method in shallow water. two 1 million lb motion compensators can be of benefit in
The hanging loads are quite large and, for lengths greater than emergency recovery operations. Use of the drilling riser as a
6,000 ft, the weights approach the limit for standard AHVs. running string allows a 2 million lb lift load.
The advantages are great. Most of the spread costs is Dual lay of risers to a floating production facility is unlikely
charged to the drilling operation and this results in an owing to separation requirements of riser strings near the
economic means to install a flowline, and the flowline is seabed. Nonetheless the second rotary table can be put to
installed when needed rather than at the convenience of the lay good use while laying a single riser with the other rotary table.
barge. In the case where the wells are separated by distances For example, both rigs may be used for dual lay up to the time
less than the water depth then this method becomes very that the single riser lay operation begins. From that point
economical when the wells are daisy-chained together by onward the second rotary table pays out the second riser with a
flowlines. The lines can be laid while drilling and no extra dummy line (drill pipe). Upon connecting the first riser the
jumper cost is suffered. second is hauled in and its lay recommenced.
During the period when the first rotary table is free, it can be
Reverse Lay. This is another method where pipe is laid from usefully employed making up pipe segments for the discrete
the auxiliary rotary table while drilling. The reverse lay lay. Pipe segments are passed to an adequately equipped AHV
method uses the AHV to pull pipe away from the rig while which in turn steams to the line under construction and lays
being assembled. Pipe lengths up to three times the water that section. Alternatively the idle rotary table can be used to
depth can be assembled, thereby eliminating one or two make up 180 ft stands (from two 90 ft sections) and pass the
pipeline jumpers. To lay the tree end it is necessary to offset longer stand vertically to the second rotary table using one of
the rig in the direction of the lay and take a larger horizontal the rig floor pipehandlers. Savings would result from faster
pull. running (180 ft joints vs. a standard quad joint length of 165
It is possible to run an even longer segment by combining ft) and from lower onshore fabrication costs (90 ft joints vs.
the reverse lay with bottom tow. In this case the AHV pulls 165 ft joints).
the pipeline along the seabed while being made up by the
second rotary table. Figures 9 and 10 illustrate the reverse lay Burial. The high pressure mud pumps used to power seabed
concept. equipment can also be utilized to bury flowlines, thus
improving their ability to maintain transported fluid heat where
Dedicated Lay. The dedicated lay technique uses the dual- flow assurance is a concern. A drill string can be run to the
activity drillship to install a flowline or pipeline in a bottom by each rotary table and the pump hydraulics can be
continuous manner, as does a pipeline lay barge. Both the used to jet the pipe. The jets at the bottom of the string are
primary and secondary rotary tables can be used oriented to keep the drill pipe pressed against the flowline.
simultaneously to construct and install dual lines. The The drillship can travel along the flowline at up to 4-5 kts
dedicated lay method assumes the rig is used strictly for during this operation. An ROV maintains position just ahead
pipelaying operations, with no drilling or completions of the forward string and above the unburied pipeline for
operations being performed. Dedicated lay can be applied inspection purposes. The drillship keeps station off the ROV
OTC 10891 USE OF THE DUAL-ACTIVITY DRILLSHIP AS A FIELD DEVELOPMENT TOOL 7

position.

Conclusion
Dual-activity drillships are unique in that they are capable of
performing multiple functions in association with field
development. In the past, some of these functions have
required mobilization and demobilization of one or more
additional large construction vessels for completion.
Implementation of the same vessel that performs well drilling
and completion operations for other activities such as subsea
equipment installation, central production facilities
installation, and flowline/pipeline construction results in
overall project cost savings. Further, potential downtime and
resultant cost occurring when one vessel waits for the other to
complete their activities is negated. Finally, unexpected delays
occurring from one field development operation do not result
in downtime and associated cost since the dual-activity
drillship can perform tasks as assigned.

The drillship Discoverer Enterprise has been featured in this


paper because of its first of a kind status. Future launchings
of additional dual-activity drillships will allow the practice of
single vessel usage for multiple field development tasks to
become more prevalent. This capability is especially timely in
light of reduced oil prices from recent years, making vessel
utilization and cost reduction prime factors in the ability to
develop new fields economically.

Acknowledgements
The authors would like to acknowledge Transocean Offshore
Inc. for their consideration and assistance in developing dual-
activity drilling rig information, Mr. Andrew Macfarlane of
H.O. Mohr & Associates, Inc. for his assistance in developing
graphics associated with dual-activity drillship utilization
concepts and Ms. Peggy Reyna of Aker Engineering, Inc. for
cleanup and handling of this manuscript.

References
1. Albaugh, E. Kurt: Offshore Pipeline Installation and Burial
Contractors and Vessels, Offshore (June 1998).
8 J.E. HALL, R.P. HERRMANN, C.A. HOLT, W.J. STRAUB, R.G. WEBER OTC 10891

Table 1
Comparison of Enterprise Capabilities with Typical Pipe J-Lay Barge

Characteristic J-Lay Barge Enterprise


Design Load for J-Lay (kips) 775-2,000 (1) 2,000 x 2
Capacity for Heave Compensation No Yes (2)
Design Load for Pipe Abandonment/Recovery (kips) 775-1,210 (1) 2,000
Ability to Allow Pipe-in-Pipe Installation Yes Yes
Vessel Total Thruster Capacity (kips) Less than 800 (1) 1,200 (3)
Number of Vertical Pipe Handlers 1 2
Capacity of Quarters (# of persons) 200+ 200
Maximum Number of Pipes that Can Be Laid at a Time 1 2

NOTES:

1. Maximum capacity currently anticipated after upgrade or construction.


2. Heave-compensated design load is 1,000 kips.
3. Vessel has continuous 52,000 horsepower capacity.

Fi g u r e No 1
En t e r p r i s e Du a l Ac t i vi t y Fl o o r La yo u t
OTC 10891 USE OF THE DUAL-ACTIVITY DRILLSHIP AS A FIELD DEVELOPMENT TOOL 9

Fi g u r e No 2
Ve s s e l Si ze Co m p a r i s o n
En t e r p r i s e vs Typ i c a l La y B a r g e

4 5 Ve s s e l H e a d i n g Sq u a r e He a d i n g

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OTC 10891 USE OF THE DUAL-ACTIVITY DRILLSHIP AS A FIELD DEVELOPMENT TOOL 13

Fi g u r e N o 6
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Fi g u r e No 7
Typ i c a l De e p w a t e r La yo u t
14 J.E. HALL, R.P. HERRMANN, C.A. HOLT, W.J. STRAUB, R.G. WEBER OTC 10891

Fi g u r e No 8
Du a l Ac t i vi t y Ri g La y M e t h od s
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OTC 10891 USE OF THE DUAL-ACTIVITY DRILLSHIP AS A FIELD DEVELOPMENT TOOL 15

Fi g u r e No 10
Du a l Ac t i vi t y Ri g La y M e t h o d s
La y-Aw a y & B o t t o m To w