BP and Maersk Drilling will collaborate to develop conceptual engineering designs for a new breed of advanced technology offshore drilling rigs that will unlock the next frontier of deepwater oil and gas resources. The agreement is part of BP’s Project 20K, a multi-year initiative to develop next-generation systems and tools for deepwater exploration and production that are beyond the reach of today’s technology.
BP and Maersk Drilling will collaborate on concepts for deepwater drilling rigs that can operate in high-pressure and high-temperature reservoirs up to 20,000 pounds per square inch and 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 °C).
A jointly staffed engineering team will be located in Houston, with back-office support from Maersk Drilling’s headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark. The team will perform the engineering studies required to select the optimal design of the 20K drilling rigs, riser and blowout prevention equipment. BP will then determine how best to proceed with construction.
BP anticipates that some of the technologies to be developed and deployed on the new rigs will include advanced operating systems to aid the situational awareness of the rig crew and inform decision making; real-time blow-out-preventer monitoring to continuously verify functionality of the BOP; and significantly enhanced mechanical capabilities of the BOP, rig structures and piping systems.
BP announced the launch of Project 20K in February 2012, setting out its intention to develop technologies over the next decade in four key areas:
- well design and completions;
- drilling rigs, riser and blowout prevention equipment;
- subsea production systems; and
- well intervention and containment.
BP estimates it could potentially access an additional 10-20 billion barrels of resources across its global portfolio over the next two decades with the application of Project 20K technology. These resources are inaccessible with current equipment, which has a technical limit of 15,000 psi pressure and temperatures of 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
In the Gulf of Mexico, BP expects Project 20K technology will play an important role in developing major deepwater discoveries it has made in recent years, including Kaskida and Tiber. Those discoveries are found in an emerging play known as the Paleogene, where BP holds a strong lease position. BP also sees potential applications for the technology in Egypt, Azerbaijan and other deepwater basins around the world.
In November, BP announced the first two contract awards for the project. KBR will develop program execution and management plans for Project 20K, including capital cost and schedule estimates, risk assessments and technical designs. FMC Technologies will participate in a technology development agreement, in which it will work jointly with BP to design and develop 20,000 psi rated subsea production equipment, including a subsea production tree and a subsea High Integrity Pressure Protection System.