Building an ultra‐deepwater (UDW) drilling rig that incorporates the latest technology while meeting internal requirements, client specifications, and budget constraints, can be a daunting challenge. Doing so in a post‐Macondo environment with a shortage of qualified personnel to man the rig adds even more obstacles to overcome. Ensuring that a variety of rig systems supplied by different vendors will be integrated into a workable rig that is properly maintained is another task for the drilling contractor.

Rowan Companies, Inc. is building 3 UDW drillships in Hyundai's shipyard in Ulsan, Korea. The rigs will incorporate the latest in offshore drilling technology including dual, fully redundant BOPs and BOP control systems, heave compensating drawworks, knuckle boom cranes, and other innovations. They will be capable of drilling at 12, 000 feet with a maximum hookload capacity of 1250 tons and a variable deck load of 20,000 tons.

This paper attempts to demonstrate how implementing a risk management plan during the design and construction of such rigs can help reduce risks associated with major accidents and downtime. This can be accomplished by applying the results of the risk assessments into training of personnel, updating of operational procedures, updating of maintenance procedures, modifying designs, changing control systems and re-programming software.

This paper presents the results of a risk management plan as it was applied to 17 different rig systems:

  • Active Heave Drawworks

  • Anticollision System

  • Bilge & Ballast Systems

  • BOP Handling System

  • Cooling Water Systems

  • Cyberbase and Drilling Control Network System

  • Firefighting Systems

  • Fire and Gas Detection System

  • Iron Roughneck

  • Knuckle Boom Cranes

  • Pipe Handling System

  • Riser Handling System

  • TDX 1250 Top Drive

  • Thruster System

  • Water Tight Integrity

  • Well Control System ‐ Subsea Systems

  • Well Control System – Topsides Systems

The risk management plan was implemented in the form of individual risk assessments focused on each of the above mentioned systems utilizing primarily the failure modes, effects, and criticality analysis(FMECA) methodology. It can be quite surprising to evaluate the results of these sessions and realize how powerful these tools can be and how effective they can be in identifying potential faults and weaknesses in the systems. The end result of the risk management plan was a rig that is better integrated, operated by crews that are more familiar with the systems they will man, and functioning in an environment that will reduce accidents and downtime.

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