IODP Management International (IODP-MI) has successfully secured funding to support feasibility studies and planning of ultra-deepwater dual-gradient drilling, utilizing the AGR Drilling Services riserless mud-recovery system. The awarded funds come from the DeepStar Consortium, a deepwater industry group that supports deepwater technology development projects, and leverages the industry's financial and technical resources. The winning project, a collaborative effort, will investigate modification of existing commercial technology to allow deep-hole drilling (greater than 2,000 meters, or 6,561 feet) in ultra-deep water.

"This approach represents a major advance," explains IODP-MI engineering manager Greg Myers, who heads the project. "It eliminates mud and cuttings discharges at the seafloor and provides a cost-saving mud-control technique in the top hole section of ultra-deepwater wells. It also will grant access to areas of scientific exploration previously beyond our reach."

According to Myers, the next step of the initiative will be to prepare an at-sea demonstration of the technology in the Gulf of Mexico. The JOIDES Resolution, the riserless drilling vessel dedicated to IODP research through support from the U.S. National Science Foundation, is the most likely platform to be chosen for this engineering initiative.

The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) is an international marine-research drilling program dedicated to advancing scientific understanding of Earth by drilling, sampling and monitoring sub-seafloor environments. Currently, 21 countries support and participate in IODP research activities. For further information, visit