The unique drilling system on the Lotos Petrobaltic ship - see it up close -
The unique drilling system on the Lotos Petrobaltic ship - see it up close
Date of publication: 07.04.2023

Lotos Petrobaltic has new possibilities. The company's ship Sylur has been equipped with a state-of-the-art drilling rig, which broadens the prospects of using the vessel and increases the range of operations in which the company can engage.

The white and orange ship Sylur looks a bit different recently. Until now, there was a large working deck behind the white superstructure. Now a large part of it is occupied by devices that are part of a modern drilling system, and a 23-meter white and yellow tower rises above the deck. Thanks to them, Sylur has new, unique in our region abilities.

– This is a drilling rig that is used for geotechnical research. It was designed and made in Singapore by Armada Rig Builders. There are only 11 pieces of this device in the world, of which ours is the newest – describes Paweł Sokólski, Head of Geotechnical Section at Lotos Petrobaltic. Sokólski supervised the project from the very beginning, from the design and selection of materials, and thus building the supply chain. He admits that it was a big professional challenge. – It's a really modern system. It was built by practitioners who drilled for Western companies, where they saw some kind of solutions, which they then used in this system. Automation is so standardized that it is very easy to repair everything or replace individual components. It is a low-maintenance device.

The drilling rig Sylur is now equipped with has capabilities that no ship in Poland has, and which may turn out to be very desirable in the face of the development of the Polish offshore sector. It allows you to perform geotechnical research up to more than 100 meters below the seabed. They are an indispensable element of all types of offshore investments – from pipelines and submarine cables, through mining platforms, to offshore wind farms.

– For research into offshore wind farms, drilling to a depth of 70-80 meters is sufficient. Of course, the technology of building offshore wind farms is more and more modern, each new turbine may be larger and may require deeper drilling. We are prepared for that – Sokólski assures.

Interestingly, the rig is designed in such a way that it can be easily assembled and installed on another vessel.

The entire system was designed and built in Singapore by Armada Rig Builders. The equipment was packed into 16 containers (thirteen of them were 40-foot containers) and loaded on an ocean-going vessel that arrived in Gdańsk. Then the elements were transported to the Safe shipyard and assembled there jointly by shipyard workers, employees of Lotos Petrobaltic and experts from Singapore, based on a design made by a Polish design office. The operation was supervised by as many as three classifiers, including the Polish Register of Shipping.

The most striking element of the new drilling rig is the 23-metre-high steel tower installed on board the Sylur. During the strength tests, it easily withstood hanging on the hook over 46 tons. Containers with all kinds of equipment, including power supply for the drilling rig, were also installed on the ship. There is also a place for a driller's cabin, from which the entire drilling process is operated, as well as for spare parts or bags with a substance used as a mud.

At the tower itself there is a drilling rig, and at its end a drilling tool – a drill bit.

– Then we tighten the weights, the drill string and connect it to the drive head. We have an automated feeder for drill pipes, which is already a requirement in some waters – describes Paweł Sokólski. He points out that the automation of this system is very important, because thanks to it, employees operating the drilling rig have as little contact as possible with equipment that can cause personal injury.

The drilling itself, as to be expected with machines of this size, is a complicated process. Each operation also requires appropriate personnel and skills.

After installation at the Safe shipyard, the new drilling rig has already undergone advanced tests in the Baltic Sea, where every aspect of its operation was checked in various conditions. After a short stay in Poland, Sylur sailed to Lithuanian waters, where it performs the first contracted works.

The Sylur is a DP2 Platform Supply Vessel. The ship was used by Lotos Petrobaltic primarily to operate mining platforms, but it is also increasingly used in the construction of wind farms. The ship was built in 2003 in a shipyard in Norway, but in 2018 it was thoroughly rebuilt and modernized.

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