Drilling for oil and natural gas offshore, in some instances hundreds of miles away from the nearest landmass, poses a number of different challenges over drilling onshore. The actual drilling mechanism used to delve into the sea floor is much the same as can be found on an onshore rig. However, with drilling at sea, the sea floor can sometimes be thousands of feet below sea level. Therefore, while with onshore drilling the ground provides a platform from which to drill, at sea an artificial drilling platform must be constructed.
Drilling offshore dates back as early as 1869, when one of the first patents was granted to T.F. Rowland for his offshore drilling rig design. This rig was designed to operate in very shallow water, but the anchored four legged tower bears much resemblance to modern offshore rigs. It wasn’t until after World War II that the first offshore well, completely out of sight from land, was drilled in the Gulf of Mexico in 1947. Since then, offshore production, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico, has resulted in the discovery and delivery of a great number of large natural gas deposits.
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