Oil platform in the Black Sea

Keppel FELS, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Keppel Offshore & Marine, has signed a contract with Ukraine’s Naftogaz for construction of two semi-submersible drilling rigs for operations in the Black Sea.

This follows an announcement on the 21 November from Naftogaz regarding the selection of Keppel FELS for execution of the $1.2bn contract.

The rigs incorporate the DSS 38U design that has been jointly developed and owned by Keppel’s Deepwater Technology Group and Marine Structure Consultants.

The key features of the rigs include double-skin columns to provide additional protection to machinery spaces in the event of a ship collision, a separate blow-out preventer and ‘Christmas Tree’ used to control the flow of oil or gas out of the well. A compact pipe handling system will enable efficient drilling.

Equipped with a 2000kips drilling derrick suitable for drilling up to depths of 30,000ft, the design has been customised to suit the Black Sea’s harsh weather conditions, including extreme freezing temperatures, storms with strong winds and heavy seas.

The rigs will use durable grades of steel with increased thickness and have winterisation features, such as machinery cladding, advanced heating systems to prevent equipment and pipes freezing and enhanced air conditioning for living quarters.

Keppel FELS managing director and Keppel Offshore & Marine managing director for offshore business, Wong Kok Seng, said that the company, which has in the past built two jackup rigs for the Black Sea, knows the specifications required for rigs to work in such weather conditions.

"We have a suite of proprietary semi-submersible designs capable of operating in all frontiers. Coupled with our experience in building harsh environment rigs and the strong partnership we have built up with Naftogaz, we are confident of delivering robust, high-quality rigs that will excel in operations in the Black Sea," added Seng.

Naftogaz chairman, Evgen Bakulin, said the new rigs form part of the programme to modernise their exploration and production facilities.

"This will allow us to reach a new level of shelf development in the Black and Azov Seas, rapidly boost our oil and gas production and reduce our imports of natural gas," Bakulin said.

"The DSS 38U design is for us a new generation and cost effective rig with high specifications. We look forward to continuing this win-win partnership with Keppel as we grow our offshore capabilities."

Image: Naftogaz expects the two new rigs to expedite the company’s exploration and development of the Black Sea and Sea of Azov shelves. Pictured: Naftogaz platform in Black Sea. Photo courtesy of Naftogaz of Ukraine.