An oil rig represents a machine for on-land or offshore oil digging. Oil rigs used on land are also called drilling rigs, while those used offshore are known as oil platforms.
A drilling rig is an apparatus that creates shafts in the ground (which are typically called boreholes). There are several types of drilling rigs, ranging from massive structures fitted with equipment to dig in water, oil or natural gas extraction wells, to smaller machines that can be maneuvered by a single person.
Oil platforms are often referred to as offshore oil rigs, even if they do not house a drilling rig. The term rig therefore lends itself to any kind equipment that is used to penetrate the Earth's crust. Companies serving the petroleum drilling industry usually offer various types of drilling rigs for sale.
Drilling rigs are generally only used to create wells, after which more compact, service rigs are brought to exploit those wells. This allows for the use of the same machine to drill multiple wells in an oil field. By contrast, an offshore oil rig will incorporate facilities to drill wells, extract the oil, as well as temporarily store it until it can be picked up by a vessel and transported ashore.
Oil platforms can be either fixed to the ocean floor or may float, depending on circumstances. There are, however, multiple types of oil platforms, some of which count among the largest movable man-made structures in the world.
Fixed platforms are large constructions, made of steel and concrete, and able to house both crew quarters and production facilities. They are usually used in waters of up to 1,700 feet. Compliant towers are flexible rig structures that can be used in water depths of up to 3.000 feet, while semi-submersible platforms are not fixed, but anchored to the seabed by a combination of chains and ropes.
Jack-up mobile drilling units are used in water depths of up to 400 feet, can be moved around as well as secured to the ocean floor using their deployabale legs. Drillships are vessels that have been featured with drilling machines, and are used mostly for the exploratory drilling of new wells. Tension-leg platforms are floating oil rigs that are tied to the ocean floor in a manner which does not allow for vertical movement and can be used in water depths of up to 6,000 feet.
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