Responsible business progress


Maersk Endurer retires after 31 years

In 2015, Maersk Drilling decided to decommission its oldest jack-up rig Maersk Endurer from the fleet and recycle it with Zhoushan Changhong International Ship Recycling in China.

Maersk Endurer was built in Japan in 1984 and had operated mainly in the Southern hemisphere under the name of JFP Eleven until 1996, when Maersk Drilling purchased the rig from JFP Energy.

“We purchased the rig against a 4.2 years contract with Shell for the development of the Shearwater HP/HT gas field in the UK. At the time, the JFP Eleven was stacked in Punta Arenas in Southern Chile. We transported the rig to Brownsville in Texas where it underwent an extensive upgrade and refurbishment. Following that we moved the rig to Invergordon in Scotland before it was ready to commence the contract with Shell UK.,” remembers Erik Schou, Senior Commercial Advisor at Maersk Drilling, and continues:

“After completing the Shearwater field development in the Central UK sector of the North Sea, the Maersk Endurer performed various work for Shell in the UK sector including the installation of the Skiff platform. After that the Maersk Endurer had a short contract with Maersk Oil in Denmark before it went back to Shell for further drilling on the Shearwater field. With no further suitable opportunities in the North Sea, the Maersk Endurer was in 2014 moved to Egypt for a contract with Petrobel through Egyptian Drilling Company (EDC). Following some extensions, this contract was completed in 2011 and the rig went to Abu Qir in Egypt for a 30-day yard stay.”

After that, Maersk Endurer was transported to Cameroon where it ended its drilling career in early 2015 having completed a two-year contract with Addax. In mid-2015, Maersk Drilling decided to decommission Maersk Endurer from the fleet and recycle it in China – its final destination.

Responsible recycling

To make sure that Maersk Endurer would be decommissioned in the safest and most responsible way with minimal environmental impact, Zhoushan Changhong International Ship Recycling in China was chosen for the task. "We chose this option because we consider it to be the safest and most cost-effective approach, with the lowest environmental risks,” explains Morten Pilnov, Head of Global Sales at Maersk Drilling.

Zhoushan Changhong International Ship Recycling is a state-of-the-art rig recycling facility, and the facility complies with the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships and the European Union Ship Recycling Regulation. Maersk Drilling furthermore engaged Sea2Cradle to carry out inspections and supervise the entire process.

"For many years, the Maersk Group has been working with selected ship recycling facilities in China in order to ensure clean and safe dismantling in modern industrial structures. We welcome that Maersk Drilling has also decided to work with partners in China for the proper end-of-life management of Maersk Endurer. We believe that the combination of using one of the world's biggest and advanced ship recycling facilities and having the process monitored by external experts is a best practice example. For the expected phase out of oil rigs we ask owners to follow this example rather than selling their old structures to beaching yards which can neither guarantee the workers' safety nor adequate environmental protection," comments Patrizia Heidegger, Executive Director of NGO Shipbreaking.

Old rigs in danger zone

The global oil market continues to struggle under significant structural challenges. The oil price is dropping and there is an oversupply of drilling units.  As the global oil market weakens, offshore drillers are responding with a high level of scrapping activity. 

In 2015, offshore drilling companies have retired 27 floaters and 11 jack-up rigs. The majority of retirements in 2015 have been over 30 years old and since a significant part of the global rig fleet remains over 30 years old, further scrapping activity is likely over the coming years. 

98% of Maersk Endurer expected to be recycled

By the end of 2015, the greater part of the structure of Maersk Endurer had been cleaned and dismantled. Sea2Cradle's managing director, Tom Peter Blankestijn, reports that 98% of Maersk Endurer is expected to be recycled by April 2016.

Maersk Drilling hired Sea2Cradle as the company's eyes and ears at Zhoushan Changhong International Ship Recycling facilities in China during the recycling of Maersk Endurer. Blankestijn, provides a look into the challenging task of dismantling and recycling a rig like Maersk Endurer.

What does Sea2Cradle do?

Sea2Cradle provides a hassle-free way for ship owners to handle the recycling of their vessels differently. From making a ship recycling plan and finding a buyer, to supervising the dismantling and recycling at the demolition yard. Sea2Cradle ensures that the entire process meets the highest standards of Health, Safety and Environment. Zero pollution, zero incidents, zero accidents.

Is dismantling a jack-up rig like Maersk Endurer a common task for your company?

Yes, for the greater part, this is routine business for us. A traditional merchant ship and a jack-up rig have a lot in common. In both cases, large amounts of steel and hazardous materials must be recycled.

Have you encountered any challenges?

One of the main challenges during a recycling process is the preparation, which includes inspecting and surveying the rig before arrival to map the hazardous materials and possible issues that can challenge a safe recycling process.

Pre-cleaning is also very challenging in terms of safe handling of asbestos and other hazardous materials as well as the removal of oil, sludge and slops.

In addition, safeguarding preventive measures such as oil booms, constant water pressure on firefighting systems, safe access and escape routes, safety lines, the use of safety belts, hard hats, boots and other protective equipment can challenge a safe recycling process.

Which parts are reused as scrap metal and which parts are resold?

Occasionally auxiliary machinery is being resold for further use. This can be generators, pumps or electrical appliances such as complete switchboards. The seller might also decide to keep part of the equipment himself and arrangements in the contract guides us to keep track of this equipment, store it and arrange for transportation. Typically, about 95%-98% of a ship or rig is reused and a greater part of that is scrap metal.

How did companies traditionally dismantle rigs?

Not many rigs were dismantled in the past. Most of the companies were pushing to get the maximum lifetime out of their units. If they did decide to dispose of a rig, they usually either had it dismantled locally or on a beach if possible. No structural planning or procedures were followed to guarantee anything resembling the health, safety and environmental standards required today.

What do you think will happen in the future?

With the oil price as low as in 2015 and an oversupply of old drilling rigs, we expect that many more rigs will be decommissioned in the future. Not only will a growing number of jack-up rigs go for demolition, but the floating drilling units will also be phased out in greater numbers. 

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