Jack Ryan readies for work

ONE of the world’s most sophisticated deepwater drilling ships is positioned off the North West Shelf at the beginning of a nine-month stay in Australian waters.

ExxonMobil has brought the Glomar Jack Ryan to the NWS to drill the appraisal well Jansz-2 with 50-50 partner Chevron-Texaco.

The ship will remain off northern WA to drill two additional wells under rig-sharing agreements with BHPBilliton and Kerr-McGee.

Woodside Energy will then take it on a 2,300 nautical mile journey to the Great Australian Bight to drill its first well there in mid February.

The Jack Ryan, the largest and most technically advanced drilling ship to come to Australia, is just two years old and a sister ship to the CR Luigs.

Whereas older deepwater drilling ships require eight anchors to hold position, the Jack Ryan needs no mooring cables – it is dynamically positioned with differential global positioning systems and six computer-linked thrusters.

An acoustic beacon on the seabed feeds the ship’s position into computers, which calculate forces on the hull and hence direct thruster action.

“It’s pretty clever,” a BHPBilliton spokesman said.

The ship is capable of drilling in water depths greater than 3,000 metres and can vacate an area quickly, with all personnel remaining on board, should a cyclone approach.

“We just secure the well, pull the riser and run away,” the spokesman said.

The Jansz-2, 200 kilometres off the coast, is being drilled in 1350 metres of water, to a depth of 3,300 metres below sea level.

Drilling should be completed late next week.

Next January BHPBilliton will take the Jack Ryan 400 kilometres north-west of Broome to drill the Maguinnis in water 1400 metres deep, in the frontier WA 302P.

ChevronTexaco is an equal partner in this well also, as is Kerr-McGee.

The BHPBilliton spokesman said the company had a contract for the Maguinnis and two optional wells, while the Jack Ryan was in Australia.

BHPBilliton has used sister ship CR Luigs in the Gulf of Mexico, but this will be just the second time the company has used a dynamically positioned vessel off WA’s coast, the spokesman said.

In 1996, with Esso, it employed the Peregrine II for drilling in the Browse Basin, located off Exmouth.

Woodside’s Great Australian Bight well is in EPP 29 in the Duntroon Basin.

Deepwater specialist Kerr-McGee has interests in six deepwater blocks offshore WA.

The Jack Ryan has spent much of its life in the Gulf of Mexico. It was built under commission from Global-SantaFe by Harland & Wolff, Belfast.

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