June 14, 2016

In early March, a brand new drilling program was begun off the coast of Uruguay, 250-nautical miles off shore, from Montevideo, in Block 14. Coordinated by Total E&P Uruguay on behalf of the national oil gas company ANCAP, this operation involved three BOURBON vessels in a new area of exploration, at depths of over 3,400 m.

Preliminary seismic conducted in 2015 by Total revealed the potential for a reservoir in an area where water depth is reaching 3,400 meters. Consequently, the company organized an exploration program in order to evaluate the potential and contents of the reservoir, a bright spot in the current stagnant market. It’s a drilling project located in the so-called ultra-deep zone, and made remarkable by the area it is located in. Indeed, the weather and sea conditions here are difficult and place constraints on the drilling equipment, which can involve long stand-by periods. There are strong currents on the surface, but along the entire length of the water column as well. The program is expected to last between 45 and over 120 days.

An outstanding contract in a new area of operation at depth of over 3,400 m

Armed with its experience in deepwater offshore, as well as its active presence in the region through its location in Brazil, BOURBON answered the call of this new challenge alongside Total, a longstanding partner. The PSVs Bourbon Sapphire & Bourbon Rainbow and the MPSV Bourbon Emerald are working alongside the Maersk Venturer, a very deep water drilling vessel.


a rare challenge

The Bourbon Rainbow and Bourbon Sapphire are performing supply missions. They are carrying deck equipment, drilling products and passengers - crew changes - between the port of Montevideo and the site. The Bourbon Sapphire is also equipped with last generation equipment for oil recovery operations as back-up of the the Bourbon Emerald. The MPSV Bourbon Emerald, positioned on stand-by alongside the Maersk Venturer, is carrying out ROV support operations and in case of emergency oil anti-pollution operations. "Some operations, like installing a BOP or lowering risers, are carried out with the help of the onboard ROV and drillship's ROV." explains Christophe Doré, captain of the Bourbon Emerald. "The vessel is tracking the installed ROV up to 4,000 m water depth. There are very few ROVs capable of going so deep." adds Chief Mate Thibault Marion.

After 3 weeks of operations, the teams are preparing again for difficult weather conditions, with the forecast calling for a 8 m swell. It’s not enough to discourage the crews, very happy to be involved in this outstanding contract.

Bourbon behind the scenes