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What's the best way to drill under water? - Novel Research

General discussions of the systemic, societal and civilisational effects of depletion.

What's the best way to drill under water? - Novel Research

Unread postby thom71gt » Tue 21 Apr 2020, 09:38:13

I am the author of a series of spy thrillers. In my latest book that I am writing, the antagonist has developed a submarine to drill and tap an oil reserve deep under the arctic ocean. Yes, I realize you can't drill from a sub, but this is fiction. Which is most realistic?

1) A Laser
2) Hydrothermal Spallation
3) Chemical Plasma
4) Something else

This story is living and breathing and can change instantly. Meaning... I don't have to use a sub. What about if I used some kind of crawling underwater rig, like on the movie "The Abyss"? Would that make it more realistic and have the ability to install some kind of Blow Out Preventor? The antagonist has unlimited funding, so they could easily bankroll something like that.

Thanks in advance.
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Re: What's the best way to drill under water? - Novel Resear

Unread postby rockdoc123 » Tue 21 Apr 2020, 11:33:34

the immediate question would be why would you want to do that? Currently, ultra-deepwater rigs can drill in water depths up to 3000 m and Total had planned to drill a well this year with the Maersk Voyager drillship in 3680 m of water depth. Based on the presence of sedimentary accumulations on ocean crust where there could be sufficient maturation of source rocks it is hard to envisage places in the world where you would need to drill in deeper water (there is no sedimentary package there, just ocean crust). As to drilling in the Arctic on marine ice that technology has been in place for decades. Back in the eighties wells were drilled in the Beaufort sea using the Molikpak a specialized drilling island that was put in place as ice froze up for the season. It drilled many wells and worked quite well the biggest risk being polar bears that were attracted to the new source of food (rig workers walking from the mess trailer to their quarters).

If you are requiring your reader to dispel all sense of reason then the question becomes why would they question you about technology when it makes no sense to drill on the seafloor in the first place (i.e. if they have no idea of the technology currently in operation how would they have an ability to question whatever fake technology you wanted to deploy?). Back in 1989 (when The Abyss was released) nobody really thought about drilling in deep (500m) let alone ultra-deep (>1000 m) of water so it wasn't an issue back then.
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Re: What's the best way to drill under water? - Novel Resear

Unread postby thom71gt » Tue 21 Apr 2020, 12:07:27

In answer to your question of "why would you want to do that?" This is a fictional spy thriller and it's the premise behind the story. A large oil deposit was found under the arctic seafloor and being that it is in an EEZ, there are four nations fighting over it and the antagonist is arranging for all of that so that he can take control over the oil source and fulfill his nefarious deeds. Not to get too much into the detail, but if he DOES in fact drill there, something else very bad will happen, as in cataclysmic, and that is what my protagonist is trying to stop. I am trying to decide if the antagonist uses some kind of fancy submarine or an underwater station like the one on the abyss. Regardless of what he uses, I want it to make "The most" sense, hence the question of what to use; lasers, plasma, etc...

You would be surprised at the comments I've had on other books that I've written where I've had to get very technical. One book had to do with Naval Warfare, specifically, submarines. A modern nuclear sub vs. an old Whisky class sub from the 40's. I interviewed multiple former submariners in order to get an accurate picture of what these subs could and could not do, proper terminology, capabilities, etc, so that I could paint a "realistic picture" of the scene. Even though 98% of the people that read the book didn't know jack squat about submarines, the ones that did, commented in their reviews their appreciation of my research.
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Re: What's the best way to drill under water? - Novel Resear

Unread postby Tanada » Tue 21 Apr 2020, 13:16:05

thom71gt wrote:In answer to your question of "why would you want to do that?" This is a fictional spy thriller and it's the premise behind the story. A large oil deposit was found under the arctic seafloor and being that it is in an EEZ, there are four nations fighting over it and the antagonist is arranging for all of that so that he can take control over the oil source and fulfill his nefarious deeds. Not to get too much into the detail, but if he DOES in fact drill there, something else very bad will happen, as in cataclysmic, and that is what my protagonist is trying to stop. I am trying to decide if the antagonist uses some kind of fancy submarine or an underwater station like the one on the abyss. Regardless of what he uses, I want it to make "The most" sense, hence the question of what to use; lasers, plasma, etc...

You would be surprised at the comments I've had on other books that I've written where I've had to get very technical. One book had to do with Naval Warfare, specifically, submarines. A modern nuclear sub vs. an old Whisky class sub from the 40's. I interviewed multiple former submariners in order to get an accurate picture of what these subs could and could not do, proper terminology, capabilities, etc, so that I could paint a "realistic picture" of the scene. Even though 98% of the people that read the book didn't know jack squat about submarines, the ones that did, commented in their reviews their appreciation of my research.


My suggestion would be convert a normal SPAR rig SPAR Rig description so that all of the quarters and facilities are in air tight chambers and then slowly flood the buoyancy tanks until it goes under just like a traditional submarine. After it is below the surface fully manned and supplied you can have a nuclear submarine tow it into the correct location and set the anchors to keep it from drifting once it is in place. Then you use some sort of docking connector/airlock so the crew can be exchanged by submarine and the supplies of food/medicine/other consumables can be replenished on a regular schedule.

Back during the Cold War there was a novel with the tile "Cold Is The Sea" Amazon Cold Is The Sea that was based on the USSR placing missile silos in the central Arctic Sea Ice that were supplied by submarine. There have also been several TV series like The Man from Atlantis and Seaquest that had underwater bases that only contacted the outside world through submarine visits.
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Re: What's the best way to drill under water? - Novel Resear

Unread postby rockdoc123 » Tue 21 Apr 2020, 14:30:06

You would be surprised at the comments I've had on other books that I've written where I've had to get very technical. One book had to do with Naval Warfare, specifically, submarines. A modern nuclear sub vs. an old Whisky class sub from the 40's. I interviewed multiple former submariners in order to get an accurate picture of what these subs could and could not do, proper terminology, capabilities, etc, so that I could paint a "realistic picture" of the scene. Even though 98% of the people that read the book didn't know jack squat about submarines, the ones that did, commented in their reviews their appreciation of my research.


so you are saying that your readers dispel all sense of reality as it applies to actual drilling capabilities which mean there would never be any reason to try to drill from a subsea setup given all the oil can currently be accessed from SPARS, Semi-subs, Floaters etc. but they want you to be scientifically and technically accurate with respect to using an ancient submarine to do something impossible? Maybe I'm wrong but writers like Cussler who continually come up with some crazy new technology that puts the world at risk do not have the problem of asking the reader to ignore what the current science is. When the Abys was written there was no technology for drilling in deep water so whatever they came up with was acceptable, that is no longer the case.

I, of course, am not a writer and have no idea what sells to the masses.
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Re: What's the best way to drill under water? - Novel Resear

Unread postby thom71gt » Tue 21 Apr 2020, 17:26:52

they want you to be scientifically and technically accurate with respect to using an ancient submarine to do something impossible?


You're getting stories crossed. The Whisky Class sub was in another book, a totally different story. I was simply stating that my readers that were familiar with them appreciated the research that I did in that case.

In this case, the antagonist doesn't want anyone knowing that they're drilling, so anything on the surface that can be seen by satellite is out of the question. With respect to readers wanting things to be scientifically or technically accurate, take a look at many of the things in Star Trek. Even though the technology to do many of the things didn't exist then, or even today, it was still based on real science and theory. Warp drive technology, transporters. There was a Swedish team of scientists that actually were able to transport 1 molecule from one point to another a few years ago.

I just want it to be somewhat believable. I don't want someone with knowledge of the industry to read it and think, "Ah, that's total B.S. This idiot has completely lost me on this."

So, back to my original question. Best thing to drill with underwater at 13,000 ft? Laser, Plasma or something else?
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Re: What's the best way to drill under water? - Novel Resear

Unread postby rockdoc123 » Tue 21 Apr 2020, 19:02:02

I just want it to be somewhat believable. I don't want someone with knowledge of the industry to read it and think, "Ah, that's total B.S.


here's the problem

1. how exactly can this be done without anyone knowing it? You realize there is nearly 100% earth coverage by satellites 24/7. In the few hours where a particular area might be without coverage what could you get done? It takes days to rig up a normal onshore rig and it takes weeks to tow and set up a rig in the ocean.
2. how do you keep this secret for the amount of time needed? You couldn't possibly make something like this close to being somehow economic unless you are offtaking hundreds of thousands of bbls/day and have reserves in the order of 500 MMB to 1 GBbl so you are talking about having an operation undiscovered for something like a minimum of 5 years.
3. if this is disputed waters as you suggest there is no way in and out, any traffic on the surface would be noted immediately and ongoing sonar arrays would detect transport, construction and production noises on the seafloor. Disputed waters are generally well patroled as is evidenced from the continual warnings flying back and forth between China, Phillipines, Malaysia and Vietnam.

But yeah, lets magically transport a magical underwater facility that magically makes no noise or footprint while being setup and then magically keep it secret for a half decade. At that point using a magical laser (for what purpose I have no idea given it's not like you need a star wars system to make a hole) doesn't seem like a huge magical leap. :roll:

BTW I'm someone with 30+ years of hands-on knowledge of the industry. But once again, can't speak for your readership. My suggestion is just to give up on the idea of being able to convince oil and gas folks not to say "total B.S" . Even with films where the premise is completely historical and all the technology is pretty close industry folks tend to tear apart all the things that the film screwed up. Case in point being the film Deepwater Horizon.
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Re: What's the best way to drill under water? - Novel Resear

Unread postby thom71gt » Wed 22 Apr 2020, 09:15:05

Just forget it. This is a fictional story and you're not helping. I'll look for my information somewhere else.
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Re: What's the best way to drill under water? - Novel Resear

Unread postby rockdoc123 » Wed 22 Apr 2020, 09:40:34

well good luck....the best fiction has some basis in fact though, that is one thing I do know about literature.
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