Mexican Semi-Submersible Rigs for Deep and Ultra-Deepwater

Wed, 01/25/2012 - 15:38

With the growth of Mexico’s oil industry in the 1950s came an increase in the demand for proper equipment and services. Since its establishment in 1960, Grupo R has dedicated itself to providing efficient services for Mexico’s energy and industrial sectors. Through its collaboration with both Pemex and the Federal Electricity Commision (CFE), Grupo R has contributed actively to the development of Mexico’s oil industry by providing onshore and offshore drilling and completion services for oil wells, offshore construction and maintenance, engineering and construction services, transportation services and oil production services. In addition, Grupo R also offers engineering, civil work and construction services for industrial plants, as well as relocation services for onshore drilling equipment. As of early-2012, Javier Castaño was Commercial Director of Grupo R’s Offshore Division and Andrés Dorantes was the Commercial Director of the Drilling and Transportation Division.

Based in Mexico City, Grupo R is owned by José Ramiro Garza Cantú and José Ramiro Vargas, also known as “the Garza family”. The company is composed of eleven subsidiaries and four joint venture companies including Mantenimiento Marino de Mexico, T3 Energy Services, Proyectos Ebramex y Minantrico and Servicios Multiples de Burgos.

Within Grupo R, the subsidiaries that stand out in the industry for their efforts in innovation are Marine Drilling Grupo R, Grupo R Marine Exploration (also known by its acronym Gremsa), and Industrial Perforadora de Campeche (Industrial Drilling Campeche (IPC)). Marine Drilling Grupo R operates the sixth-generation semi-submersible drilling platform, La Muralla IV; Gremsa operates the Centenario semi-submersible drilling platform; and IPC has drilled and completed oil wells offshore and onshore since 1987. In addition, the Multiple Services Burgos (MSB) division of Grupo R is dedicated to developing infrastructure for gas fields located specifically in the Burgos Basin, the largest gas-producing field in Mexico.

Grupo R first dove into the development of specialized rigs for deepwater and ultra-deepwater drilling—from 500m to 1,500m from the surface of the ocean to the ocean bed—around 2007. According to Marco Antonio Moreno González, Grupo R’s Director of Drilling Operations, it was the acquisition of the Bicentenario semi-submersible drilling platform in 2011 that will help Mexico make the leap to deepwater and ultra-deepwater areas. This notion is aligned with Pemex’s belief that the exploitation of Mexico’s untouched deepwater resources will help reverse the country’s declining oil production.



Grupo R acquired this deepwater semi-submersible platform in 2008 through a US$584 million loan provided by BBVA and WestLB. Constructed by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, this platform is designed to operate at a water depth of 3,048m and drill to depths of 10,668m. La Muralla III was chartered through one of Grupo R’s offshore drilling subsidiaries, Industrial Perforadora de Campeche.


Pemex contracted the Bicentenario rig in July 2011 for a five-year time period. It is a sixth-generation semi-submersible platform for deepwater and ultra- deepwater drilling, and will drill the Talipau-1 well located in the Gulf of Mexico. Constructed by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, the Bicentenario rig has capacity to drill to a 5,000m depth. It is 138m tall, weighs 58,000 tonnes and has eight engines that allow it to remobilize independently. In addition, the Bicentenario platform can accommodate up to 160 people at a time.


The Centenario platform can carry over 325,000 bbl and was acquired with an initial US$50 million investment. This rig can operate in 3,000m water depth and drill 10,000m under the seabed in moderate environments, such as those present in the Gulf of Mexico, East Africa and some Brazilian areas. The Centenario is property of Grupo R’s subsidiary Grupo R Exploración Marina (Gremsa). Friede & Goldman Lt. designed the rig and Gremsa used it to drill the Nen-1 well 113 km northeast of Coatzacoalcos in Veracruz. The well proved the existence of a large natural gas deposit and the real potential for deepwater drilling in the area.


This sixth-generation semi-submersible platform has the capacity to operate in water depths just over 3,000m, and can drill up to 10,000m under the seabed. La Muralla IV platform’s construction began back in 2009 and the rig is designed to have the same characteristics as the Bicentenario drilling platform.