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Kermac16

    Between the mid ’40s and mid ’50s a variety of offshore platform designs were tried. Three basic approaches emerged: small platforms assisted by tender vessels; larger platforms that were self-contained; and mobile drilling vessels that could perform exploration work, but required a permanent platform for actu
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    Between the mid ’40s and mid ’50s a variety of offshore platform designs were tried. Three basic approaches emerged: small platforms assisted by tender vessels; larger platforms that were self-contained; and mobile drilling vessels that could perform exploration work, but required a permanent platform for actual oil production.

    On November 14, 1947 oil producer Kerr McGee made history by drilling the first production well in open water beyond sight of land. The Kermac 16, drilled 10.5 miles offshore Louisiana in 18 feet/5.5 m of water, was a small platform with tender vessels that carried much of the personnel and equipment needed for the project. The platform measured 38-ft/12m by 71-ft/22m and was supported by 16 steel piles driven 104 ft/32m into the seabed and braced by cross members. The large (48-ft by 260-ft/15m by 80m) tender barges, purchased from the U.S. Navy, were moored alongside the platform. Each could carry about 2,300 tons/2,090 tonnes. The small drill floor on the platform housed the essentials of derrick, rotary table, shale shaker, engines, and small mud tanks. The bulkier equipment, such as mud pits, pumps, fuel, dry mud, cement, pipe racks, logging equipment, crew galley and quarters, were installed on the floating barges. The barges were re-supplied using converted air-sea rescue boats, which worked better than the rented shrimp boats that had been used in the past and presaged the modern crew boats used today to support offshore activities around the globe.

    One of the advantages of this small platform design was that much of the equipment could be moved to a new location if a dry hole were drilled. Still, there were limitations. The barges were difficult to moor in heavy seas. It was also hard to transfer equipment to and from the barges in rough weather. Despite these problems, use of this design was wide spread into the early 1960s.