Ingenuity Allows Signal to Straighten Rig's Legs, Saving Client Millions

Workers at Signal International used an unorthodox procedure to repair the legs of a jackup rig that were twisted and bent in the Gulf of Mexico by the wind and waves of Hurricane Rita.

The GlobalSantaFe jackup rig High Island II is expected to leave Signal's west yard on the Pascagoula River and return to the Gulf after the repairs, which included straightening the bent sections of the rig's legs rather than replacing them with new units.

"We straightened all three legs; when we finished, the legs were put within 1/16 of tolerance; that's very precise," said Ron Schnoor, senior vice president and general manager of Signal's Mississippi operations.

When Rita hit the High Island II, Schnoor said, the winds and waves twisted the three legs, causing the rig platform to list at a 5 to 10 degree angle. Two of the legs were pushed further into the sea bed.

"All three legs were bent," he said. "The company had to find a way to jack the platform down so the rig could be towed to the yard."

When the rig arrived in Pascagoula, the first step in repairing it required removing 266 feet of steel weighing 250 tons from each of the rig's 394-foot legs to get to the 100-foot damaged section.

In most cases, Schnoor said, the sections would have been scrapped and new sections built and re-attached to the legs.

Instead, the decision was made to straighten the legs -- a move, he said, that saved Houston-based GlobalSantaFe several millions of dollars on the project, which was estimated at $8 million to $10 million.

The project required removing the damaged braces and straightening the steel sections that made up the main part of the leg. A ladder on one of the legs was also repaired.

The legs were then reassembled, re-installed and realigned. Workers also repaired damage on the drilling platform, replacing damaged guides and sections of the jacks above the platform deck that were damaged during the storm.

Schnoor said Global Santa Fe officials was pleased with the project, adding, "they are a well-run company with high standards and expectations and a good record."

He said the High Island II is not the only hurricane damaged rig being repaired by Signal, adding that there are two additional projects coming to the yard. One, he said, is a rig that was damaged during Hurricane Katrina and beached on Dauphin Island.

Another rig, he said, was not damaged by the storm but was coming in to be retrofitted with equipment to make it better able to withstand storms.

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