x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Historic rig enjoys a total rejig

The first rig used to drill for oil off the coast of Abu Dhabi has been rebuilt and will help boost output from some of the emirate's biggest oilfields.

The first rig used to drill for oil off the coast of Abu Dhabi has been rebuilt and will help boost output from some of the emirate's biggest oilfields.

At a ceremony on the eve of National Day, Drydocks World, the Dubai shipbuilder and marine equipment company, delivered the refurbished drilling platform to the National Drilling Company, a drilling contractor owned by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC).

"The National Drilling Company is an honoured client of Drydocks World and we are privileged to have been chosen to carry out repair works on Al Ittihad, a drilling rig that has historical significance in the UAE," said Khamis Buamim, the chairman of Drydocks.

"Our capabilities as conversion and construction experts were put to the full test by this project," he said.

The refurbished rig is well suited for operations in the shallow waters of the Gulf. It can work in up to 50 metres of water and drill more than 6,000 metres below the seabed.

Al Ittihad is a "jack-up" rig equipped with extendable steel legs that stand on the sea floor when the platform is in use. It made its operational debut in 1975, soon after its purchase by the National Oil Company, the predecessor of ADNOC.

At the time, the petroleum company established by Sheikh Zayed, the founding President of the UAE, in one of his first acts as the ruler of Abu Dhabi, had just started to explore for offshore petroleum resources.

Under Sheikh Zayed's guidance, Abu Dhabi was already a significant oil producer from onshore fields and had joined OPEC. Not coincidentally, one of several possible translations into English of the Arabic word "ittihad" is "federation".

Drydocks predicted that its "extensive upgrades" to the drilling platform originally built by Marathon LeTourneau at the Clydebank, Scotland shipyard would add 15 to 25 years to its useful life.

It will now be deployed by the Abu Dhabi Marine Operation Company (ADMA-OPCO) and the Zakum Development Company (ZADCO), the two ADNOC operating units that pump oil from offshore fields. Both are joint ventures between ADNOC and international oil companies.

Large-capacity expansion projects at offshore fields - including Umm Shaif and the Lower and Upper Zakum reservoirs, which are among the biggest in the Gulf - are part of the Abu Dhabi Government's plan to raise the emirate's oil output capacity by a quarter to 3.5 million barrels per day by 2018.

While Abu Dhabi has more than 90 per cent of the UAE's oil reserves of about 98 billion barrels, Dubai has the nation's biggest concentration of shipbuilders and marine services companies.

Companies such as Drydocks count European energy services firms with North Sea operations among their clients.

ayee@thenational.ae

tcarlisle@thenational.ae