Onshore and Offshore Drilling: Key Differences
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Onshore and Offshore Drilling: Key Differences

By Energy CIO Insights | Thursday, February 18, 2021

One of the most significant distinctions between onshore and offshore drilling is the rigging machinery used on its own.

FREMONT, CA: Onshore drilling accounts for half of the world's crude oil supply. This is perhaps unsurprising considering how much more work and expenditure to be made to set up an offshore facility. That is why it is so exciting for investors to see new onshore technologies being pursued for production. That said, offshore production has steadily accounted for about 30 percent of global annual output for several years now, which is by no means a small amount. This percentage will almost definitely be decreased in the coming years, as established oil reserves are diminishing and firms are forced to look to less accessible environments (offshore sites) for production.

The Equipment Used

One of the most significant distinctions between onshore and offshore drilling is the rigging machinery used on its own. The tools used to support the drilling rig. The configuration is relatively easy in onshore environments, and the rig can be set up to sustain itself. In other words, it does not need anchoring to hold it at its position. Offshore drilling, on the other hand, brings with it a host of factors in this field. Once they have reached the spot they want to do well; the drillers do not want to switch from that spot.

How, then, can one make sure they are not floating away? And how can one support the drilling equipment? Offshore drilling requires either anchoring aids connecting the human-made drilling platform to the ocean bed or a way of holding a position in deeper waters where anchoring is not feasible. Several different types of offshore rigs fulfill these requirements, ranging from fully anchored fixed platforms in shallower operations to purpose-built drills that hold their positions by complex positioning.

Cost

There are also things at stake when it comes to the costs involved. Not least of which is the scale of the drilling project. For example, a sizeable onshore drilling operation would invariably cost more than a small offshore process. In general, however, land rigs tend to be cheaper than their offshore counterparts. Although onshore rigs typically cost tens of millions of dollars (and that's for larger onshore rigs), offshore rigs will cost hundreds of millions of dollars. This is by no means an insignificant price gap. The other side of this is that offshore continues to offer longer-term opportunities; the market is less volatile than onshore drilling.

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