Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Differences Between Types of Offshore Oil Platforms

The continuous need for oil in all parts of the world has motivated the development of new ways to discover and obtain it. Because large supplies of oil are often found offshore, in oceans and lakes where fault lines and specific rock formations occur, oil companies and their engineers have pioneered new ways of drilling by developing many different types of offshore oil rigs.

The first oil platform in the world was built in 1947. The Oil Rocks platform was built 25 miles off the coast of Azerbaijan in the Caspian Sea and is a functional city with a population of 5000 people. There are over 100 miles of paved streets on this, the world’s largest oil platform. There are shops, restaurants, even a library. With all workers living and working together, this engineering marvel has been in existence for 60 years.

There are basically three types of offshore platforms that have developed over the years. Concrete platform types have concrete legs made on land and towed out to see by tugboats and once in place, extend all the way to the sea floor; the platform is then simply mounted atop them. Jack up platform types have a concrete foundation on the ocean floor but sit atop metal legs that can often telescope and retract as the surface of the sea rises and falls, depending on the season and weather patterns. The last type of oil platform actually floats and is held in place by enormous sea anchors that rest on the ocean floor. These floating platforms are the largest movable structures on Earth. The Petronius platform, an oil and gas platform in the Gulf of Mexico, depending on criteria could be considered the world’s tallest structure, standing 2000 feet above the floor of the ocean. It is partially a floating structure, so the title still rests safely with more typical earthbound structures such as the Petronus Towers in Malaysia.

The drilling for oil on these rigs works much the same as their land based cousins. The largest difference between the two is the offshore rig must find a place to store the oil when it is released. The Hibernia platform, an oil and gas platform off the coast of Newfoundland, stores its precious crude in large storage tanks that fill the empty space underneath the floating oil production island. These tanks are housed beneath along with ballast to help the 1.2 million ton island stay aright.

As oil exploration continues in this century, new engineering feats will surely be performed so that all nations’ thirst for oil can be continuously quenched.

About the Author: Robert Jent is the president of Triple Diamond Energy Corp. Triple Diamond Energy specializes in acquiring the highest quality prime oil and gas properties. For more information, visit

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