Recent offshore lease sales in Canada have made available the opportunity to explore for oil and gas in the Polar Arctic regions of the Beaufort Sea. BP Exploration Operating Company Limited (BP) was awarded Exploration Licenses 449, 451, and 453 in 2008. The focus of this paper is upon selection of an Offshore Arctic Drilling System for Exploration Licenses 451 and 453 as, BP formed a Joint Venture in 2010 with Exploration License 449 where operatorship was designated to another company.

Due to the wide range of ice conditions and water depths in the lease areas, determining the most capable Offshore Arctic Drilling System is a complex undertaking. Detailed are the considerations and methodologies utilized to recognize and quantify the key challenges involved. Once identified, these challenges were divided into discreet elements so as to progress multiple solutions in parallel in order to determine the true limits of opportunities to provide for a safe and efficient drilling program.

Rapid progress was obtained through extensive collaborative engagement with Drilling Contractors, Vessel Operators (including Ice Breaking, Anchor Handling, and Supply Vessel), Remote Imaging Service Providers (Satellite and Autonomous Vehicles), Numerical Modeling Specialists, Vessel Designers (Naval Architects and Marine Engineers), Equipment Manufacturers (Dynamic Positioning Systems, Mooring Systems, Thrusters), Drilling Subject Matter Experts, and recognized individual Arctic Experts.

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