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Ice-Resistant Drilling Platforms

Drilling PlatformsOffshore drilling platforms re-create the land on the water. Using the same rigs as on land, the platforms are able to stabilize the equipment in turbulent seas. There are two types of offshore drilling rigs: those that can be moved from place to place, and ones that are permanently placed. Moveable rigs are often used for exploratory purposes but once large deposits of oil or gas are found, a permanent platform is built. Artificial platforms can take many forms depending on the characteristics of the well to be drilled. The subsea drilling template connects the underwater well site to the drilling platform on the surface of the water. It is placed over the well site, usually lowered into the exact position required using satellite and GPS technology. A relatively shallow hole is then dug in which the drilling template is cemented into place. The drilling template, which is secured to the sea floor and attached to the drilling platform above with cables, allows for accurate drilling to take place. However, it allows for the movement of the platform above, which will inevitably be affected by shifting wind and water currents.

The first offshore drilling rigs from the 1860s were designed to operate in very shallow water with four legged towers not unlike the ones used today. However, deeper excavations were impossible because the platforms could not go into open seas without capsizing. After the Second World War, the first offshore well platform was developed, and was erected completely out of sight from land in the Gulf of Mexico in 1947. This was a fixed platform drilling rig, which was imbedded in the sea floor with permanent foundations. Building and recovery of these types of platforms were expensive. A mobile self-elevating drilling platform was needed. In the early 1950s, R.G. Le Tourneau invented the modern offshore drilling platforms, which can be floated out to the drill site, and then converted into a stable structure by opening lattice tripod support legs down to the sea floor. In 1956, Zapata Off Shore Company of Houston, Texas bought LeTourneu’s drilling platforms and sent them off of Texas and then in the Gulf of Mexico.

The most extensive of today's natural gas and oil drilling platforms, while not altogether ocean cities, are ocean "villages." There is a North Sea oil ocean platform with 97.7 metres by 67.1 metres deck area capable of providing housing for 900 workers. The facilities for this platform include an onboard desalination plant to provide fresh water, as well as a waste treatment plant, kitchens, bakery, mess hall, and an assortment of cranes and hoists, and helicopter landing pad.

 

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