The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC; Yasuhiro Kato, president) is pleased to announce the shakedown cruise schedule for the Chikyu, its deep-sea drilling vessel, for the year beginning August, 2006. The Chikyu will conduct test drilling off the Shimokita Peninsula in August and September of 2006, followed by drilling off the coasts of Kenya and Australia, in the continuing series of tests JAMSTEC has been carrying out since July 2005, in preparation for the 2007 autumn, launch of the Chikyu's international operations for the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP). The details of the schedule for operational tests from August 2006, through August 2007, which has been worked out in coordination with related institutions, are provided below.
1. Test drilling east offing of the Shimokita Peninsula
The Chikyu will sail from Hachinohe in Aomori Prefecture, Japan, on August 7 2006, for test drilling to a depth of 2,200 meters beneath the ocean floor at a site east offing of the Shimokita Peninsula. The water depth in the drill site is about 1,200 m (See Map). During this cruise, in addition to carrying out the Chikyu's first implementation of riser drilling, JAMSTEC will complete the five remaining system integration tests in preparation for international operations. In addition to testing the Chikyu's systems, this shakedown cruise will be an opportunity for training personnel in operating them.
. System integration tests (SIT)
1. Running the riser and blow-out preventer (BOP)
2. Testing the emergency disconnect sequence (EDS) for the riser and BOP
3. Inserting the casing pipe and cementing
4. Test operation of the Chikyu's three core sampling systems
5. Testing the wireline logging system (which measures formation properties.)
. Major training evolutions
1. Tests of and training in logistics for personnel and supplies by helicopter and supply boat
2. Examination of the treatment systems for cuttings and waste mud
3. Testing and optimization of shipboard and land-based safety and security systems
4. Optimizing procedures for core sample processing and for quality control on core samples
5. Building onboard procedures such as those for processing wireline logging data.
. Schedule (subject to delays due to rough weather and other factors)
Mid August: Casing pipe insertion and cementing tests
Mid to late August: Running the riser and BOP
Late August: EDS tests for the riser and BOP
Early September: Test operation of the Chikyu's three core sampling systems
Mid to late September: Tests of wireline logging and system performance
Late September: Reach drilled depth of 2,200 meters below the sea floor
2. Planned cruises after the test drilling east of the Shimokita Peninsula
Subsequent shakedown cruises for the operational testing period lasting until August 2007, are being planned in cooperation with other institutions to enable Chikyu personnel to master as much drilling technology as possible. To build a large body of deep-sea drilling technology and transfer that technology to Japan, JAMSTEC will carry out a drilling contract received from Woodside Energy Ltd., an Australian resource developer, through the Norwegian drilling contractor Seadrill Offshore AS.
. Schedule: November 2006 through August 2007
The cruises will begin after the completion of test drilling off the Shimokita Peninsula. The Chikyu will return to port in Japan in time for the launch of its international operations in the fall of 2007.
. Drill sites and depths (subject to change)
(1) Offshore of Kenya: Drilling depth of 2,500 m at water depth of 2,200 m
(2) Offshore of Kenya: Drilling depth of 3,900 m at water depth of 2,200 m
(3) Offshore of northwestern Australia: Drilling depth of 3,400 m at water depth of 1,000 m
(4) Offshore of southern Australia: Drilling depth of 4,400 m at water depth of 1,500 m.
. Distinctive features of the drill sites and their significance in the Chikyu's testing and training program
These cruises are planned to build up knowledge of drilling techniques in a variety of geological conditions. The operations planned for these cruises will keep the Chikyu on track to complete its deep-sea scientific drilling mission; these ongoing sea trials will permit the Chikyu to implement riser drilling in international operations smoothly. The operation planned for offshore of Kenya will entail riser drilling at great water depth in a region with strong currents, and drilling through a variety of geological formations, including clastic and carbonate rocks. The work offshore of Australia will entail riser drilling at great water depth and drilling through carbonate rock, mudstone, sandstone, pycroclastic rock, and other geological formations. The experience gained through work at these sites will build the mastery of drilling techniques necessary to carry out the Chikyu's mission.