Submitted by Cristina Millan on November 12, 2007.
Most people’s idea of a drill rig is that of the giant off-shore oil platform we are used to seeing in movies and in the media. The ANDRILL rig is nothing like that… This one is small, at least as rigs go, and can be put up and taken down in just a few days with a small crew. It is pretty compact and maneuverable, which were the main specifications when it was commissioned. It can be moved easily from one place to another, and is transported on skis almost everywhere within the continent, on roads that are groomed by bulldozers on the sea ice and on top of the ice shelves.
Andrill rig being pulled from Scott Base to this year’s location on the sea ice (Photo by Johno Leitch)
Even though the rig is quite light, it can drill holes that are up to 2 km deep. Last year it sat on top of an ice shelf that was 100 meters thick (and melted a hole through that ice with a hot water system), went down through 900 meters of seawater, and then drilled into the seafloor down to 1280 meters. This year the rig is on a 7-meter thick layer of sea ice that lies atop about 400 meters of the Ross Sea, and then we are expecting to drill to 1000 meters below the seafloor.
The shroud is a pretty clever way to keep the hydraulics from freezing and the drillers at a comfortable temperature
Under the white tent (above) there is the rig tower and the rig floor, where all rig operations take place under the direction of a bunch of kiwis (affectionate term for New Zealanders). During the night shift, brilliant cartoonist and master driller Malcolm ‘Tubs’ MacDonald commands the rig floor; he is in charge of operating the rig. The rest of the night crew are Conrad Rains, the night shift engineer and ANDRILL veteran from last year who has learned to make coffee strong enough to keep us going for the 12 hour shift; driller Ira Leech, our ‘unofficial’ photo-shoot model and the man of a million facial expressions; driller Darryl Faneslow, who is teaching us the thousand and one uses of the word ‘lovely’, and driller Willy ‘the kid’ Buchanan, who just turned 21 but has already been working 3 years on one of those off-shore oil rigs.
The night shift crew from left: Conrad, Darryl, Will, Ira and Tubs
Being at the drill floor can be quite intense, as when we had mud ‘flying’ out of the pipes (below) or when they are bringing up core, but there are also quiet times, mainly during the coring phase (when the bit is actually drilling down the hole). Coring times depend on how deep the drill bit is but also on how hard the material is that is being cored. Sometimes it takes 45 minutes to an hour to core a 6-meter length and other times it may take 2-3 hours for the same length.
Core barrels are being brought up
Will sometimes takes a nap when he is not needed to pump drilling fluids to the rig
I would like to point out that there are a total of 30 people working at the ANDRILL drill site this year, either as drillers, drill site and/or drill camp support personnel, or as scientists, and that this project would not work without all these people’s 24/7 efforts.
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Tuesday, 13 November 2007 07:19
ANDRILL: Meet the night drilling crewWritten by ANDRILL Team
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Comment Link Wednesday, 08 December 2010 13:32 posted by Dr.Majilan
Comment Link Tuesday, 30 November 1999 00:00 posted by Jackileen Rains
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