Subsea equipment such as the drilling riser and the subsea Blow-Out Preventer (BOP) are mandatory in traditional systems used in deep sea drilling for ocean floor research and petroleum wellbore construction. The drilling riser is the vertical steel pipe that transfers and guides the drill column and attached drilling bit into a wellbore at the sea bottom. The BOP is used to protect the wellbore against uncontrolled well pressures during the offshore drilling operation. Presently, there is a high level of drilling activity worldwide and in particular in deeper and ultra-deeper waters. This shift in depth necessitates not only faster drilling systems but drilling rigs upgraded with a capacity to drill in the deep water. In this scenario, two general drilling systems are today considered as alternatives: the traditional system with the subsea BOP and the alternate system with the surface BOP. In the present paper, the two systems are initially described in detail, and a numerical simulation in time domain to estimate the system behavior is presented. Simulations of a floating drilling rig coupled with the subsea and surface BOP in waves and current are carried out for a comparison between the two methods. Results are shown for riser and BOP displacements. Critical riser issues for the systems are discussed, comparing results from both drilling system calculations. Conclusions are addressed showing advantages and disadvantages of each drilling system, and indicating how to correct the problems detected on each system.

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