Oil and gas platforms, also known as offshore drilling rigs, are designed to extract, store, and process petroleum and natural gas found beneath the ocean floor. These platforms come in various types, including fixed, spar type, semi-submersible, among others.
The majority of oil rigs are situated in the Gulf of Mexico, owned by the US government, followed by the Persian Gulf and the Far East.
With ongoing advancements in both the energy sector and maritime engineering, these structures are constructed to endure the most challenging conditions while minimizing their environmental impact. Equipped with cutting-edge technologies to enhance productivity, they play a crucial role in meeting global oil demands.
To accommodate the workforce overseeing operations, most platforms provide basic amenities, as workers reside on these structures. Given the potential for disastrous consequences to marine and human life in the event of accidents, these facilities incorporate world-class security systems designed to detect any potential leakages.
5 Biggest Oil Rigs Platforms in the World
The five biggest oil rigs platforms in the world are:
- Berkut Oil Rig: Located off the Russian Pacific coast near the island of Sakhalin, it is the largest oil platform in the world, weighing approximately 200,000 tons and situated 35 meters deep from the seafloor. It has an estimated maximum oil extraction capacity of 4.5 million tons.
- Petronius: Located in the Gulf of Mexico about 130 miles southeast of New Orleans, Louisiana, it is the sixth-largest offshore oil platform in the world. It is operated by Chevron Corporation and has a pinnacle height of 640 meters.
- Olympus: Located in the Gulf of Mexico, it is the second-largest oil platform in the world. It has a combined deck area of 342,000 square feet and has produced over 700 million barrels of oil since its inception in 2014.
- Baldpate Compliant Tower: Located in the Gulf of Mexico, it is the third-largest oil platform in the world. It has a pinnacle height of 581.5 meters and was built in 1998.
- Bullwinkle Platform: Located in the Gulf of Mexico, it is the fourth-largest oil platform in the world. It has a pinnacle height of 529 meters and was built in 1989
1. Berkut Oil Rig
The Berkut oil rig is the largest oil platform in the world, located off the Russian Pacific coast near the island of Sakhalin. It weighs approximately 200,000 tons and is situated 35 meters deep from the seafloor.
The platform is designed to withstand subarctic conditions, including 60-foot waves and temperatures as low as -44 degrees Celsius. Its gravity-based structure (GBS) is fixed to the seabed, providing stability and durability in extreme weather and environmental challenges.
The Berkut platform was constructed to tap the vast Arkutun-Dagi oil reserves and was one of the most expensive and challenging projects undertaken by Japan, India, and Russia. It has an estimated maximum oil extraction capacity of 4.5 million tons and is the first ExxonMobil operated platform with friction pendulum bearing isolators to make it more seismically stable.
2. The Petronius oil platform
The Petronius oil platform is a deepwater compliant tower located in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 210 km southeast of New Orleans, Louisiana. It is operated by Chevron Corporation and Marathon Oil. The platform is situated in the Petronius field, which was discovered in 1995 and is located in Viosca Knoll blocks 742 and 786, with a water depth of 1,766 feet.
The compliant tower design of the platform is 640 meters (2,100 feet) high to the tip of the flare boom from the sea floor, making it the sixth-largest offshore oil platform in the world. The field has estimated recoverable reserves of 80 million to 100 million barrels of oil.
The platform has a multi-deck topside and is designed to exploit the Petronius field, named after the Roman writer Petronius. It has been in operation since the early 2000s and is a significant asset in the Gulf of Mexico’s oil production.
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3. The Olympus tension leg platform (TLP)
The Olympus tension leg platform (TLP) is a significant offshore structure located in the Gulf of Mexico. It is Shell’s seventh floating deep-water platform, specially designed to operate in about 914 meters (3,000 feet) of water.
The platform is a part of the Mars B Project, which aimed to extend the production life of the deep-water oilfield to 2050 and beyond. The Olympus platform has a processing capacity of 100,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), featuring 24 well slots, a drilling rig, and a helipad. It is 406 feet tall, weighs more than 120,000 tons, and has a combined deck area of 342,000 square feet.
The TLP is moored about 130 miles south of New Orleans and is designed to extract oil from the Mississippi Canyon blocks. The platform is a remarkable engineering feat, accommodating 192 people and withstanding the challenging environmental conditions of the Gulf of Mexico, including hurricanes.
The Olympus platform has been a significant addition to Shell’s deep-water portfolio, contributing to the region’s oil and gas production.
4. The Baldpate
The Baldpate compliant tower is an offshore oil platform located in Garden Banks Block 260 in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 120 miles off the coast of Louisiana. It is owned and operated by Hess Corporation. The platform is a freestanding compliant tower, making it more flexible than traditional fixed truss towers.
It is designed to move up to 10 feet laterally during severe storm conditions, and its compliance is achieved through the use of axial tubes affixed to its legs and an articulation point approximately 500 feet above the seafloor. The tower is 579.7 meters (1,902 feet) tall, with the tip of the flare boom extending to this height above the seafloor, making it the second tallest structure built in water after the Petronius oil platform.
The platform was constructed in several pieces and is a significant engineering achievement, representing one of the tallest free-standing structures in the world. The Baldpate platform is designed for oil production and is a notable addition to the offshore oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico.
5. The Bullwinkle platform
The Bullwinkle platform, located in the Green Canyon area of the Gulf of Mexico, is a significant offshore oil platform. It is a pile-supported fixed steel oil platform, standing at a height of 1,736 feet (529 meters) and weighing 77,000 tons.
The platform was installed in 1988 and is the largest steel offshore platform in the world. It is situated in 1,353 feet of water and is operated by QuarterNorth Energy, LLC. The platform was constructed by Shell and is a notable engineering feat, being the third tallest freestanding structure built in water at the time of its construction.
The Bullwinkle platform has played a key role in the development of Shell Midstream’s infrastructure and has been a significant asset in the Gulf of Mexico’s oil production. The platform is currently planned for decommissioning, with ownership taken over by Superior Energy Services in 2010.