Meet the Maersk Intrepid. It's the first in a series of four "ultra harsh environment XL enhanced jack-up" rigs being rolled out by Maersk, the Danish business conglomerate, through 2016—to be deployed for year-round drilling in the ultra-harsh, but oil-rich, North Sea.
Before last month, when the Intrepid was born, the world's largest jack-up drill rig was the Maersk Innovator.
The Intrepid's legs are just five feet longer than those of the Innovator and its twin rig, the Inspirer, which were built in 2003 and 2004.
Here's another look at the Innovator:
First, a bit of background. A jack-up rig is a mobile drilling unit anchored to and elevated above the ocean floor by extendable legs. The Intrepid is the largest rig of this type ever built. It was built—by Keppel FELS in Singapore—in two parts that will be joined, afloat, at sea. It, and the other three jack-ups in its class, can be used in waters up to 500 feet deep. It can drill wells 40,000 feet deep. Its legs are 678 feet long.
Maersk Drilling, which had its best year ever in 2013, is spending $2.6 billion on these four rigs. Keppel FELS is expected to complete construction of the next one in October of this year, and the third is due in February 2015. The fourth one will be built in South Korea in 2016. Each is designed to withstand the rough waters of the Norwegian sector of the North Sea, where Maersk and other companies have been investing heavily in oil production—and where 80-foot-tall "freak" waves have been recorded.