Oil and gas rigs refer to platforms used to extract and explore natural gas and petroleum from beneath the earth. Rigs can drill in deep and shallow waters. The tower-like, large structures can be fixed on the land or ocean floor, or vessels and platforms can be installed to float.
The rigs are equipped with various advanced machines and equipment to break through the earth’s surface to extract hydrocarbons. As soon as the gas and oil are extracted, they’re transported to the processing facilities to be refined before being sold.
With so many types of oil rigs widely available in the market, it can be difficult to understand which solution will best suit your project. CNPS is here to help. We’ve narrowed down the different types with simple descriptions to help you make an informed choice. For more information, feel free to connect with our experts, who can help you streamline the best oil and gas solutions for your facility.
Common Oil Rig Types
Floating, onshore, and offshore rigs are the main types, but oil and gas rigs come in all sizes and shapes. Many factors influence the rig construction and design, as variations are expected in weather, sea level, and the desire for mobility.
Offshore rigs are one of the most common types of rigs and are located in the ocean. They’re useful in many different depths but are most efficient when used in deep water.
Onshore rigs are sited on land and can drill in zones that are closer to the shore. They can be found in several environments, such as swamps, deserts, and tundra. They’re relatively less expensive to build and operate and often used in shallow waters. However, since they’re not as mobile, bad weather can affect them.
As one of the most portable rigs, floating rigs are primarily used to drill in areas that are offshore and too deep for conventional rigs to function. Here are some main types of rigs used by the oil and gas industry.
Drillships are a faster alternative to semi-submersibles and are used in areas that may be too deep or too remote for conventional rigs to operate. When semis take over two months to reach a new location, drillships can do the task in less than three weeks. They boast a bulky drilling tower that goes above the ship and drills in water up to 3,200 meters in depth.
Semi-submersibles are one of the most stable rigs used for drilling parts where the ocean bed is too soft to hold the traditional rigs. The large metal frame of these rigs is situated on the floor and is partially submerged in the water, allowing it to remain stationary, even in less-than-ideal conditions.
TLPs are huge floating structures used in the oil and gas industry for offshore drilling. The self-contained production and drilling platform is supported by three or more pillars or ocean floor attached ‘legs.’
Tugboats are used to tow tension-leg platforms to the final destination. When they reach the spot, the tugboat releases an anchor to pull the buoyant hull down to the sea floor. The mooring system then holds it in place.
Jack-up rigs work best for shallow wells. They typically stand on three or four legs anchored to the ocean floor and can move the legs up or down as water levels change. Technologically advanced jack-up rigs can drill depths of up to 400 feet today, which is a depth now deemed shallow in the industry.
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