‘Silver lining’ for Namdock

Welcome exercise

29 July 2020 | Infrastructure

Quintin Simon; Namdock; “We are currently preparing the rig for stacking…”

Walvis Bay

The towering 350 foot Valaris 109 shallow water jack-up rig from Angola etched against the Walvis Bay skyline, is noticeable from a few kilometres away.

Unfortunately its legs have been misidentified as 5G towers, raising concerns in the Walvis Bay community.

“Namdock would like to reassure the community that we are in no way involved in 5G technology in any manner or form. We are currently preparing the rig for stacking – an exercise that is conducted when a drilling rig completes a job and is withdrawn from operation for a designated period of time,” said Namdock marketing manager Quintin Simon.

According to him, the stacking process is “a silver lining in these uncertain times” of economic hardship.

Several employees who have been on board for the past three months and have been checked and cleared by Walvis Bay port heath authorities, as well as and local contractors, will be kept busy ensuring that the preservation process goes seamlessly.

The Valaris 109 is due to be reactivated in approximately 8 months’ time.

“Following her reactivation, there will be substantial work required. At that point, this will have a massively positive financial impact - both for Namdock and for the community as a whole,” said Simon.

He explained that owing to Covid-19 and its associated travel restrictions and lockdowns, there is a decrease in oil demand, which resulted in the cancellation of many oil exploration and drilling projects.

“Oil rigs and drill ships however are high-investment, high-tech vessels that are expensive to operate, whether they are actively drilling or not. For this reason, the Valaris 109 rig will be stacked and preserved until the global economy improves.”

How it works

As the name implies, the jack-up rig works on a jacking system, using its three main legs to lift the operational deck above the water and pinning her legs (or “spud cans” as they are typically referred to) into the ground, providing stability despite lateral forces when deployed into ocean-bed systems.

As a rule, jack-up rigs are not self-propelled and rely on tugs or heavy lift ships for transportation. Other rigs are built more like vessels and are moored with anchors, using dynamic positioning (DP), to automatically maintain the vessel's position and heading by using its own propellers and thrusters.

When rigs or vessels are stacked, the degree of stacking normally depends on how ready and prepared the owner wants the rig to be when or if it needs to start drilling again.

“There are two options available: cold-stacking or warm-stacking. Warm-stacking means that although the rig is deployable, it is not currently operational. While the daily costs may be reduced, they are essentially comparable to those in drilling mode, because a crew must be present to ensure the rig’s preservation and preventative maintenance schedules are followed, so that if a drilling contract becomes available, the rig can be mobilised at short notice,” Simon explained.

Cold-stacking is also sometimes called “mothballing” because the rig is boarded up and completely inactive. Mothballed rigs are therefore shut down entirely and stored in a shipyard, harbour, or in an assigned offshore area. The crews are either reduced entirely, or else a skeleton crew might continue, greatly lowering the cost of maintenance.

Cold-stacking involves preservation of equipment on board to assure that the asset does not deteriorate beyond its current condition. In this particular case, the Valaris 109 rig will be cold-stacked to reduce costs.
Prior to undergoing cold-stacking, all equipment on board will be tested and preserved by processes identified by the client. After completion, the crew will leave, and the vessel will be dormant until reactivated.

Generally, before cold-stacking, Namdock undertakes essential steps to protect the rig’s or vessel’s facilities and equipment, including applying protective coatings to combat corrosion, filling engines with protective fluids, and installing dehumidifiers; because, unlike warm-stacked rigs, cold-stacked rigs or vessels may be out of service for protracted periods of time.

“The key reason we offer these preservation options to clients is that when the reactivation is required, we are close at hand, together with Namport, as the preferred service provider to undertake the task,” Simon concluded.

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