Cromarty Firth

Jack-up drilling contractor Prospector Offshore Drilling has taken delivery of its first jack-up drilling rig, Prospector 1, in the Cromarty Firth, Scotland.

The rig, which represents an investment of more than $200m, is the first of six rigs ordered by the company with an estimated total project cost of about £750m.

The new jack-up rig has been built by Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Offshore at construction shipyard in Dalian, China, and features fully-automated drilling systems.

According to the company, the rig’s platform at 231ft by 250ft is the size of four Olympic swimming pools and has a height of almost 775ft, when fully jacked-up.

Prior to being jacked-up in the Cromarty Firth the rig – which has been transported on Dockwise’s heavy lift vessel, the Talisman – will be floated off the vessel in the next two to three days.

For the next four weeks, Prospector 1 will be in the deepwater port while its 140-strong crew continues an intensive training programme and later on it will travel to the central North Sea to commence operations for Total E&P UK.

With a capability to operate in nominal water depths of up to 400ft, the rig is equipped to drill wells to a depth of 35,000ft in high pressure and high temperature environments and offers improved safety and working conditions for offshore crews.

Prospector Offshore Drilling European operations director Darren Sutherland said the company aims to deliver safe and modern drilling capacity for the upstream E&P industry globally.

"The rig represents the next generation of technology for the oil industry. The cyber drilling technology creates significant efficiency and safety benefits for operators," Sutherland added.

Prospector 5 is due to arrive in the North Sea next summer and is also being built in China by Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding.

Image: Entrance to the Cromarty Firth from seaward, with oil rigs behind. Photo courtesy of Andrewrpalmer.