The following is an excerpt from Christopher Helman | July 18, 2012 | Forbes.com |
(This article appears in the August 6, 2012 issue of Forbes Magazine.)
Norway’s national oil company is betting $20 billion that the future of the energy business lies under the U.S. They’re not alone.
Out the helicopter window, as the muddy waters dumping out of the Mississippi River give way to the deeper and deeper blue of the Gulf of Mexico, the oil and gas gear gets bigger and bigger. Shallow jack-up rigs evolve into spars and tension-leg platforms. Finally, 150 miles out, we descend on the 330-foot-tall, 60,000-ton semisubmersible drill ship Maersk Developer, leased and operated by my host, the Norwegian oil giant Statoil.
The Developer is sitting in 3,100 feet of water, its roaring diesel engines turning a drill bit 16,000 feet below the seafloor. The target is a prospect called Kilchurn, 25,000 feet down. In June Statoil completed the Kilchurn well at a cost of some $120 million but was keeping mum on the results.
The Developer rig is similar to Transocean’s ill-fated Deepwater Horizon. As a semisubmersible it is basically a superstructure sitting on top of two cigar-shaped submarine hulls that are equipped with four dynamically positioned thrusters to keep the rig nearly stationary, even in stormy seas.
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