An exciting first year for Maersk Viking

It’s been a few months since the last update from Maersk Viking, and we’ve been busy! As you may remember we last reported in at departure from Korea in February 2014 and during the Shellback Equator Ceremony in the Indian Ocean in March. A lot has happened since then.


The Viking departed Samsung Heavy Industries on the 24th of February 2014 bound for the US Gulf of Mexico. There were planned stop overs in Singapore and Walvis Bay for crew change and one final stop in Curacao before entering US waters.

The voyage was a smooth sail, with Maersk Viking behaving very well and maintaining good speed with very acceptable fuel consumption. We maintained a faster than average speed than what was expected.

Maersk Viking arrived in Curacao late April for a crew change, a Safety Leadership conference with our client, and the final preparations before leaving for the US Gulf. The stay in Curacao was used to solve some equipment issues and finish outstanding tasks from the shipyard before we proceeded for load out and acceptance test with ExxonMobil in the US Gulf of Mexico.

After completing the various outstanding tasks in Curacao, the Viking departed end of May 2014 for a load out position off Grand Isle, Port Fourchon in Louisiana. Here we had planned a huge load out of all ExxonMobil’s equipment, bulks, and also taking service personnel on board. This task took about 10 days in total. During this busy period the vessel successfully passed two very thorough inspections by the United States Coast Guard and BSEE (Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement). After passing these inspections the Viking was ready to proceed to the acceptance test location on the Outer Continental Shelf at Walker Ridge in the Gulf.


In mid June 2014 the acceptance test commenced offshore. During this test Maersk Drilling had to prove that all systems were fully operational and capable as per the building specification. This was basically a simulated drilling situation to come as close as possible to a real well being drilled. This included latching on to a dummy well head with the BOP and performing routine operations. Simultaneously with the acceptance test, preparations for the first well to be drilled was carried out. This included a substantial amount of client upgrades for the work ahead of us.

After three weeks of acceptance testing the Maersk Viking was accepted by the client ExxonMobil and commenced operation on the 9th of July 2014 on the ExxonMobil Julia Project at Walker Ridge.

The maiden well for the Viking wasn’t just any well. This was one of the longest to be drilled ever in the US Gulf of Mexico and with one of the longest and heaviest casing strings to be set, so there was no doubt we were in for a challenging start. As one of the clients’ supervisors said; “this is probably the most challenging well in my 35-year offshore career”.

On Thursday the 4th of December, just before midnight, the BOP was parked back on the beams marking the end of the first well for Maersk Viking. Looking back on the 149 days spent drilling the first well, our crew has been successful, with excellent safety performance, close to one hundred percent uptime, with all the equipment operating at a high level of reliability. This excellent performance straight out of the yard position put Maersk Viking at the very top of the Maersk Drilling rig ranking!

At the time of writing this, the crews have just finished the in between well work scope. This involves maintenance on drilling, general technical, marine, and well control equipment which isn’t possible to access during normal operations. The maintenance period was planned to the shortest extent possible, 10 days less than our competitors, creating value for our client. All this was required to be done before the Viking can move on to the next well at the Julia field. Simultaneously, a lot of work is being carried out in preparation for the completions work that will have to be done on the wells at a later stage.

Best regards from Maersk Viking.

OIM / Christian S. Johnsen

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