Jackup drilling rig upgrade

A multidisciplinary project team worked across Houlder’s offices and the Able shipyard, Hartlepool on the Ensco 70 jackup drilling rig upgrade.

In order to meet the demands of present day drilling programmes, the 1981 built Ensco 70 jack up drilling rig required a substantial upgrade. Houlder engineers designed major modifications to the power system, drilling mud systems, rig safety equipment and many smaller work packages. Houlder then procured equipment, supervised prefabrication and supervised the installation work at the Able Shipyard.

Significant upgrades included:

  • The rig power system capacity was increased by over 35% with the installation of a new Caterpillar 1525kW diesel generator set and associated switchboards, transformer and distribution equipment. The cooling system was modified for the new generator and additional ventilation was installed.
  • The drilling mud system was upgraded by installing dedicated oil based mud tanks and an additional water based reserve tank. This more than doubled the liquid mud capacity. Houlder designed and installed the pumps, piping, ventilation and electrical work in addition to the structural modifications.
  • The port crane was replaced with a new Liebherr MTC 1900-6D 60T crane, for which Houlder was also accountable for the prefabrication and installation of a new pedestal.
  • New davits and platforms were fabricated and installed to accommodate new lifeboats.
  • Leg well reinforcement were designed and installed.
  • The cover plates on 54 gearboxes in the leg jacking system were replaced.

A significant amount of steelwork was also replaced during the work. Houlder supervised all site works including the work of subcontractors such as MC Ware Mechanical, EOS, CO-AT Marine and Project Scaffold.

Specific features of the jackup drilling rig upgrade project included

  • Turnkey delivery reducing client risk
  • Supervision of up to 255 workers on site
  • On site structural and pipework draughting.
  • On site project cost control
  • On site Safety Advisors
  • 24/7 operations
  • Over 230,000 man hours worked with zero lost time incidents
  • Successful completion to time and budget

The E70 jack up drilling rig project is the third multimillion pound contract Houlder has delivered for Ensco following similar successful upgrades of the E71 and E72 jackup drilling rig upgrades.


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