/
Insight

PEMEX Drilling Rig Requirements

Wed, 01/25/2012 - 14:38

To unify the basic criteria on the design, age, and capacity of drilling rigs operating in Mexican waters, Pemex developed a list of requirements that rigs owned by private contractors as well as Pemex-owned rigs must comply with. These requirements include technical specifications for both the semi-submersible drilling platforms and the jack-up drilling platforms.

Semi-submersible drilling platforms are floating platforms that remain permanently positioned with anchors or dynamic positioning, which is a method of keeping a vessel stationary through the use of thrusters, propulsion units controlled by a computer. These platforms are used for drilling in water depths greater than 100m. Pemex’s technical specifications for semi-submersible platforms are as follows: a drilling tower with a minimum height of 48.77m, a minimum capacity to support 604,638.45kg, a universal crown of 500 tonnes, six pulleys with a diameter of 152cm each, wire slots of 3.49cm or 3.81cm and a rotating table of 120.65cm.

Jack-up drilling platforms are positioned on the seabed on three or four legs, and are used for the drilling of wells in water depths of less than 100m. Pemex’s technical specifications for jack-up platforms are as follows: a drilling tower with a minimum height of 44.8m, a minimum capacity to support 498,951.61kg, a universal crown of 500 tonnes, seven pulleys with a diameter of 127cm each, wire slots of 3.49cm or 3.81cm and a rotating table of 95.25cm.

In addition, both semi-submersible platforms and jack- up platforms must comply with several specific safety requirements, including an evacuation, rescue and escape systems, gas and fire detection systems, as well as environmental protection requirements, including the proper disposal of toxic waste. For both types of platforms, drilling towers or masts must undergo a complete visual inspection every six months by a specialized staff member and undergo full maintenance service every five years.

In 2010, following the moratorium on offshore drilling in the US, demand in the global rig market started to decline. Pemex saw this as an opportunity to increase the standards it set for rigs as specified in its tenders, stipulating that any rigs used on its projects must be less than 10 years old. The company also capped its day rates for rigs, in order to take advantage of the oversupply of drilling rigs to the market. However, this strategy failed, as companies took their rigs to more attractive markets and Pemex did not manage to get the rigs it needed for its 2010 development plan. As a result, in 2011, the company relaxed these restrictions on its tenders. In March 2012, there were 67 rigs in Mexican waters. Pemex says that during the course of 2012, it will try to tender more rigs to cope with its drilling programme for the year, but mentioned that in 2011, it had to void a number of tenders simply because there were no bidders to fill its requirements for rigs.