Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Jack Up Rigs and Trends

If one thing is true, the Port of Browsnville is a major area for refurbishing shallow-water jack up rigs. What;s a jack-up rig? Well as the picture above suggests, there are usually three giant legs that are all the way up when pulled out to sea, and then they set the legs down on the sea floor and litterally jack the rig up like 40 feet in the air. Then the workers can set drilling pipe into the ground with that fourth "tree" looking thing, with is called a winch tower or Christmas Tree. Photo credits go to Michael Martin of Canada regarding his pictures here, including the "Nabors 659" being towed out by Crosby Towing Service on March 8, 2007.

Inland jack-up rigs are quite smaller and deepwater rigs (over 1,000 feet of ocean depth) are monsterously huge, costing billions of dollars such as Thunderhorse. These concepts are useful because we've gotten a very strong signal that they're going to turn our area into an oil Boom Town. Here's another photo by Mr. Martin of all the big offshore and puny inshore rigs down by Amfels in Brownsville.

So what's the deal? Today's Houston Chronicle predicts massive increases in marine oil and gas exploration, perhaps because of a rah-rah Bush attitude. Other financial and oil and gas experts are not so quick, including this article that says that many of the oil and gas rigs are disappearing overseas because of lower costs and higher daily lease contracting rates, so there are few rigs to really do anything meaningful as far as "saving" us from imported oil. [Editor's note: the second article can be seen as extremely gloomy - basically, we're screwed, so don't hurt yourself.]

As we roll into hurricane season this June I'll be with you, watching like a hawk.


Anonymous said...


Am I incorrect that none of the offshore drilling equipment will be seen from the shore? That it is all miles out to sea?

Exactly what is your objection to offshore drilling?

We can't complain about "Big Oil" profits (actually average around only 8%)and whine about our dependance on the ME for oil when we refuse to allow drilling here in the states. Alternative fuels aren't a reality at present. We complain about that also, but then complain when the President promotes ethanol expansion.

We have to be willing to undergo some sacrifices.

I'm not trying to be glib, but would really like to know why folks are objecting to offshore drilling.

Felicity (SPI frequent vacationer and fellow nature lover)

Sam said...

Oh, sorry I missed this commentary here but in the past four months we've been concerned about drilling in the Laguna Madre, a shallow inshore bay literally behind my house. Somebody said they saw a Jack Up Rig in the bay and called. I was trying to explain what one was in this post.

I have to agree that I'd rather have drilling 10 miles out to sea in the federal waters, and not in my backyard. A few of the rigs can be seen from land but do not concern me as much as in the shallow estuary waters.

You're right I wasn't very clear about that. I'm pro-oil. Just not in the bay.

Anonymous said...

I see. And fully understand your objection. You didn't move to the island to have a drilling rig as the view outside your window. Bummer.

We live in suberbia outside Dallas in a typical middle-class neighborhood community. Imagine our surprise to see a rig literally spring up 2 blocks away in what used to be a small pasture for horses. They're scouting for natural gas. It doesn't bother us (amazingly compact and quiet), but I feel for the houses next to it. There's also an elementary school right across the street from the rig.

Last week we received a large envelope from a gas company soliciting permission to drill for gas under our home. Supposedly, we'd never know they were there. They dig sideways from a distance (I suspect from the new aforementioned site) and so deep down that it would escape all notice. I'm not sure exactly what it all means yet.

Thanks for your response to my inquiry.

Have a great day at the beach, you lucky people.