New Vessels, Rigs, and Upgrades

Discoverer Deep Seas completes testing

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Judy Maksoud

Discoverer Deep Seas completes testing

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Transocean Sedco Forex's new ultra-deepwater drillship Discoverer Deep Seas.
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Transocean Sedco Forex's new ultra-deepwater drillship Discoverer Deep Seas completed acceptance testing in February and began a five-year contract valued at approximately $374 million for Chevron U.S.A. Production Company in the US Gulf of Mexico.

The Discoverer Deep Seas is the third Discoverer Enterprise-class drillship to join the Transocean Sedco Forex fleet. It was preceded by the Discoverer Enterprise, delivered to BP in December 1999, and the Discoverer Spirit, delivered to Unocal in September 2000. These drillships are designed to drill in water depths of up to 10,000 ft and are fitted with Transocean's patented dual activity drilling process, which places two complete drilling systems within one derrick and improves deepwater well construction efficiency.

Cajun Express contract modified

Transocean Sedco Forex Inc. reached an agreement with Marathon Oil Company to modify the existing drilling contract for the ultra-deepwater semisubmersible rig Cajun Express. One result of this agreement is that the delivery date has been extended. Another is that the contract period for the rig has been reduced from 36 to 18 months. This amendment drops projected revenues for the contract period from $214.6 million to $106.2 million. The rig is a semisubmersible rated for up to 8,500 ft water depth. The rig is undergoing sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico. The new contract calls for delivery of the Cajun Express to Marathon on or before June 30.

Petrobras gets a floating producer

Petrobras' new floating storage and offloading (FSO) ship, P-38, is in transit to Brazil. The FSO along with the production platform P-40 constituted the first of four production system modules of the Marlim Sul field in the Campos Basin, but that could change with the sinking of the P-36 production semi on Roncador.

This first module on Marlim Sul was scheduled to start production by July and to reach full production by November. Estimates were for the field to reach full production of 360,000 b/d in 2007. Oil from the P-40 platform was scheduled to be treated and transported to the FSO P-38, from which it will be exported through shuttle ships. Associated gas was to be handled at P-40 and compressed to the Namorado-1 platform, an integration point in the submarine gas pipeline network of Campos Basin.

J. Ray McDermott gets deepwater spar project

McDermott International subsidiary J. Ray McDermott, Inc. was awarded a turnkey engineer-procure-construct-install contract in March. The contract calls for a spar platform for the Medusa Field Development Project, a deepwater development for Murphy Oil Corp. in the Gulf of Mexico. The firm's subsidiary, SparTEC, Inc., will be general contractor and overall project manager for the design engineering, procurement, fabrication, installation, and commissioning of the Medusa offshore production facility, which will be located in 2,223 ft water depth in Mississippi Canyon Block 582.

SparTEC will draw from the parent company to meet this contract. J. Ray McDermott Engineering LLC will be responsible for the detailed engineering of the platform's hull, mooring, and topsides. The firm's Jebel Ali fabrication yard in the United Arab Emirates will fabricate the spar hull. J. Ray McDermott's TNG facility in Veracruz will prefabricate topsides into subassemblies in Mexico.

Assembly and outfitting will take place at the Harbor Island Fabrication yard near Corpus Christi, Texas. Mentor Subsea Technology Services, Inc., a unit of J. Ray McDermott, will handle design and procurement of the platform's production risers. J. Ray McDermott will be responsible for offshore installation, hookup and commissioning.

Scientific organization gets new drilling vessel

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A silhouette of the JOIDES Resol-ution superimposed on the silhouette of the new drilling vessel to be built by the IODP.
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The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), an international scientific research group, is building what it believes to be the largest scientific research vessel in the world to carry out investigation of the earth system using multiple drilling platforms and new technologies. The organization calls its science plan "the most ambitious program of ocean drilling and exploration ever conceived."

A new vessel will enable the organization to carry out its plan. It will be able to perform deeper drilling than the Ocean Drilling Program's current ship, the JOIDES Resolution. It will also be able to operate safely in shallower and environmentally sensitive areas than the present vessel.

The existing vessel, JOIDES Resolution is 143 meters long and can work in up to 6 km water depth, with a gross tonnage of 9,719. By comparison, the upgraded drillship will be 192 meters long and will have a gross tonnage of 57,500 tons. The latter will be capable of riserless drilling at 7,000 meters and will have onboard laboratories and storage facilities.

Construction was scheduled to begin in a Japanese shipyard in March, with plans to launch the hull in January 2002. The cost of the upgrade is approximately $500 million. The ship will be the most sophisticated vessel of its type in the world.

Chevron awards contract for third compliant tower

Chevron has been awarded a contract to build the third compliant guyed tower in the world and the first one to be used outside the US Gulf of Mexico. The tower is expected to be erected on the Benguela-Belize field in Angola Block 14, offshore West Africa.

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