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Drilling Rig

What Does Drilling Rig Mean?

A drilling rig is an integrated machine used to drill oil, gas, or water wells beneath the earth’s surface. The rig is fully equipped with components such as derricks, drill bits, drill string, mud pumps, mud tanks, and power generation equipment - everything necessary to bore a pilot hole into the earth's crust.

Safeopedia Explains Drilling Rig

Drilling rigs are configured for the product they will drill for and the environment in which they will operate. Offshore drilling rigs include living quarters, helipads, and auxiliary equipment, allowing workers to remain on the rig for a few weeks at a time.

Drilling rigs usually operate in remote locations, which are often risky for their operators. Employers must provide rig workers with adequate training, personal protective equipment, and personal fall arrest systems (PFAS) to ensure their safety on the job.

Safety Hazards on Drilling Rigs

Drilling rigs are huge structures that house various types of equipment and machinery. While this enables rigs to function as intended, it also carries a number of safety hazards that must be identified and controlled to prevent injury and damage to property.

Some of the major hazards associated with drilling rigs include:

  • Transportation - travel to and from the rig poses a risk to the workers, whether it's driving on long stretches of road or riding in helicopters to reach offshore facilities
  • Moving equipment - the moving parts of heavy machinery carries a risk of pinching, crushing, or loss of limb
  • Fire and explosions - the presence of oil and gas makes ignition a pressing concern on rigs
  • Falls - accessing some of the equipment on a rig requires employees to work at heights
  • Confined spaces - these atmospheres in these spaces may be oxygen deficient or contain flammable or hazardous substances

Types of Drilling Rigs

Different types of rigs used in the oil and gas industry include:

  • Land rigs - Rotary drilling rigs that can perform at maximum operating depth.
  • Submersible drilling barges - Used mainly for inland water drilling at depths of less than 20 feet and without any severe waves. These rigs are assembled on the barge, towed to the location, and sunk by flooding. Once the work is completed, water is pumped out of the barge and the unit can be moved to the next location.
  • Jack-up rigs - Used for water drilling at depths under 350 feet. They are supported at the bottom by metallic legs that are lowered to the bottom at the desired location. The platform is raised above the waves using hydraulic jacks.
  • Semisubmersible rigs - Rigs that employ huge engines to position themselves over the bore. Since they are expensive, they are used in very deep waters where resting on the bottom is not possible.
  • Drillships - Ships with rig equipment and an anchoring system mounted on the central turret. The ship can rotate using thrusters to face the direction of incoming waves to help dampen their motion.
  • Platform rigs - Self-contained rigs with all components situated on the platform, including living quarters.

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