NATIONAL Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) has launched its home-built semi-submersible drilling rig, Iran Alborz, at the Sadra Shipyard in Nekkairan, on the Caspian Sea coast. NIOC claimed the rig cost just $80million to build, but that, had it been built abroad, the cost could have been as high as $450million.
NIOC said the 14,000-tonne rig is the largest in the Middle East and is capable of operating in water depths to more than 1,000m (3,280ft) and able to drill to 6,000m (19,685ft) below the sea floor.
Its task will be to undertake exploratory and developmental drilling for NIOC throughout the Iranian sector of the Caspian. The company also intends to make the Alborz rig available for work outwith the Iranian sector. It will be managed by North Drilling Company, a unit of NIOC.
Iran has calculated that its part of the Caspian Sea harbours at least 32billion barrels of recoverable oil. The claim is that NIOC and its subsidiaries have made 46 finds to date with aggregate reserves in the range 17-44billion barrels of oil. Moreover, eight are said to be ready for development and an associated pipeline linking the Caspian developments to the port of Jask, on the Gulf of Oman, is planned.
In East Asia, Daewoo has successfully launched the third of five Transocean enhanced Enterprise-class ultra-deepwater drillships.
The Discoverer Inspiration is set for completion and delivery at the end of October, when it will head for the US Gulf of Mexico to take up its maiden charter – working for Chevron. This drillship will be capable of operating in water depths to 3,660m (12,000ft) and of drilling to a total depth of 12,200m (40,000ft).