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  • Extending the operational window during Gulf of Mexico Loop currents


    S. Mitchell, M. Reel, R. Littleton, R. Cody and H. Stallings

    Drilling in deep water presents unique challenges. This is especially true in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) where loop currents can exceed three knots. When operating from a floating drilling rig in 3,000-ft water depths or deeper, these currents place a great deal of stress on the riser, wellhead and subsea BOP/ wellhead systems, and also challenge the vessel’s ability to maintain position over the well. On these rigs, the riser is held at two points: at the vessel and at the sea floor. The riser is attached at the surface by means of a ball joint assembly. The ball joint assembly is connected to motion compensators to maintain tension in the riser assembly. The riser column is secured to the sea floor assembly by means of a flex joint. Both the flex joint and ball joint provide a means for the riser to flex and absorb the movement and loads placed upon it in the course of drilling the well.

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