New Vessels, Rigs, and Upgrades

July 1, 2000
Following behind Rowan and Chiles Offshore, who recently ordered newbuild, high specification jackups, Maersk has placed an order with Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea for the world's largest and most advanced harsh environment jackup.

Third newbuild jackup under way

Following behind Rowan and Chiles Offshore, who recently ordered newbuild, high specification jackups, Maersk has placed an order with Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea for the world's largest and most advanced harsh environment jackup. The new rig will have 205 meters of leg, allowing it to operate in water depths up to 150 meters in harsh environment conditions, as well as having double the variable load capacity and drilling envelope of conventional jackups. The company expects that the new rig will have an increased drilling efficiency - 20-25% compared to similar rigs.

Furthermore, the new rig will be able to drill subsea wells, in addition to traditional surface completed wells, and be equipped for zero discharge with the capability for cuttings re-injection. Delivery is planned for the summer of 2002.

Drillship fleet emerging

The expansion of the global deepwater drilling fleet continues. Several new deepwater drillships have hit the water and start drilling or are on their way to their first jobs:

  • Transocean Sedco Forex's second dual derrick, dual activity deepwater drillship is gearing up for its first job for Unocal's Spirit Energy 76 in the Gulf of Mexico deepwater. The Discoverer Spirit, outfitted for 10,000 ft water depth operation, is presently in the Aker Gulf Marine yard in Ingleside, Texas and will sail out for commissioning and sea trials by completing abandonment of the Bowshock project in Garden banks 460 next month. Spirit Energy plans to target the ultra-deepwater subsalt/Foldbelt Trend with the new rig, and initially will drill the Dana Point prospect in Walker Ridge 678. Later, the company plans to use the rigs on a prospect in water depths reaching 9,800 ft, which may be a new record at the time. Spirit Energy holds a five-year contract on the vessel, with five one-year options. The rate is $210,000/day.
  • The Navis Explorer I has been delivered 14 days ahead of contracted delivery. The unit is built for 10,000 ft water depth operation in all offshore areas, including the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. The vessel features a unique three moonpool design to provide more stable motion characteristics. Navis has entered into drilling contracts with BP Amoco, Arco, and Petrobras for operations in Brazil and Trinidad in up to 2,700 meters water depths. The contract is estimated to last one year. The rig was jointly owned by Navis (61.4%) and R&B Falcon (38.6%), however Fred.Olsen Energy has purchased R&B Falcon's share and will assume the management contract on the vessel.
  • Sonamer, the joint venture between Pride International and Sonangol, has begun drilling with their second Gusto 10000 design drillships. The Pride Angola has commenced operations for TotalFinaElf offshore Angola. The rig began work by re-entering the Jacinto-1 well in the prolific Block 17. The rig is outfitted for 6,000 ft water depths, but is capable of drilling in up to 10,000 ft. TotalFinaElf has the initial contract on the rig for three years.
  • Saipem also delivered the Saipem 10000 drillship. The rig is equipped to drill in water depths exceeding 10,000 ft. The 10000 was built at the Samsung Heavy Industries - Koje Yard in South Korea. Eni-Agip has the initial five-year contract on the rig and it will begin drilling the first well in the Southern Adriatic Sea in water depths of 1,200 meters. After this well, the rig will move to Gabon to drill the first well in one of two ultra-deepwater tracts owned by the Vanco Gabon Group and operated by TotalFina Elf.
  • Furthermore, the West Navion drillship, owned by Smedvig, which is presently drilling for Statoil off Norway, will drill the first offshore well off West Greenland in several years. The rig will be targeting the hottest prospect in the area, the Fylla license, operated by Statoil. Drilling was planned to commence some time back, but was delayed due to the construction of the rig.

Talks seek to resolve drillship BOP problem

While Transocean Sedco Forex readies its second of the dual activity ultra-deepwater drillships, its inaugural rig, the Discoverer Enterprise is undergoing some problems. The company received a "notice of default" from the operator BP Amoco pertaining to the five-year contract on the rig. The notice was reportedly issued in response to incidents of non-production time resulting from equipment problems, specifically the BOP. The rig is still under contract and is on standby at Mississippi Canyon Block 822 in the Gulf of Mexico. Transocean Sedco Forex has disputed that it is in "default" and is meeting and working with the operator to resolve the problem.

Ocean Rig for sale

Ocean Rig has decided that it will help out its shareholders and the industry by "actively seeking to participate in the ongoing restructuring and consolidation of the drilling industry." The company said it planned to sell the company, sell one or more of the Bingo rigs, or both in a package deal if the price is right. The company has hired the brokers Pareto Fonds to assist in the sale.

The four Bingo rigs are located at the Friede Goldman Halter yard in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Two of the units have only been outfitted to baredeck hull status, while the other two are still under construction and have undergone delays. The company said that the first rig, the Leiv Eiriksson (formerly Bingo 9000-1), will be delivered in the fourth quarter, while delivery of the second rig, the Eirik Raude (Bingo 9000-2) is still undetermined, but is expected to be some time later.