Why geography and climate variation impact offshore drilling

Market Realist

Must-know: An investor's guide to off-shore driller Noble Corp. (Part 4 of 9)

(Continued from Part 3)

Where offshore drilling is located

The majority of offshore operations around the world occur in six key locations—the Gulf of Mexico, the Brazilian Coast, the West Coast of Africa, the North Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Asia-Pacific region. As the chart below shows, water depths differ from region to region, and different rig types are suited to different water depths.

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How ocean depth affects rig preference

At depths of up to 400 feet, Jackups are the preferred rig type, making them particularly suitable for Asia-Pacific, Mexico, the Persian Gulf, and the North Sea. For depths greater than 400 feet, the preferred rig types are semi-submersibles and drillships, but their popularity depends on region.

Colder climates versus warmer climates

Harsh-environment semi-submersibles are the preferred choice in the North Sea’s deeper waters, since they’re stabler and more suited to colder temperatures than comparable drillships. In warmer climates like the Gulf of Mexico, West Africa, and Brazil, standard drillships and semi-submersibles are acceptable because of the calmer waters and the lack of demand for winterized equipment.

How has Noble positioned its fleet? 

Noble has distributed rigs efficiently. As shown in Noble’s presentation at the Wells Fargo Securities Energy Symposium, the company has strategically placed semi-submersibles and drillships in key deepwater and ultra-deepwater locations—the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Brazil, the North Sea, and the Asia-Pacific Region. Jackups were also placed strategically in the Persian Gulf, Southeast Asia, West Africa, the North Sea, and within Mexican waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

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