New vessels, rigs & upgrades

Discussions about anisotropy were not unlike those of the early 1990s, when the industry talked about it in fundamental terms, which is surprising considering the gains in measurement and processing technologies over the past decade.

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Deepwater construction vessel

Torch has signed a contract with Bender Shipbuilding & Repair of Mobile, Alabama for the construction of the M/V Midnight Warrior, a deepwater construction vessel. The Midnight Warrior will measure 336 ft by 85 ft by 21 ft. The vessel is based on a design by Guido Perla and Associates and is a current generation construction vessel equipped to provide subsea construction, offshore flowline installation, offshore umbilical installation in up to 9,000 ft water depths, with 1,500 tons of products on its reel lay system.

The Midnight Warrior will be dynamically positioned with a DP-2 Circle E rating with three - 3,000 hp azimuthing thrusters on the stern and two 2,000 hp tunnel thrusters in the bow. The vessel will also be fitted with a 19 ft by 29 ft moonpool, a helideck for a SuperPuma, one 250-ton and one 10-ton crane, 116 quarters, and a working class ROV.

The vessel will be capable of worldwide operations and be available in late 2001. The Midnight Warrior will be the first vessel of its kind to be built in the US.

Noble forms jackup joint venture

Noble is once again expanding its jackup fleet. Following the purchase of two jackups earlier this year, the company has formed a 50-50 joint venture with Crosco Integrated Drilling & Well Services to own and operate another jackup - the Panon.

The Panon is a 300-ft Levingston 111-S, slot, independent leg jackup. The new joint venture plans to mobilize the rig from its current location in the Mediterranean to the Arabian Gulf for an upgrade. The company plans to upgrade the rig from its slot configuration to a cantilevered unit. Under the joint venture, Noble will manage the upgrade, marketing, and operation of the rig, while Crosco will provide operations and technical personnel, including a significant portion of the crews. The companies plan to have the upgrade completed and ready for service early next year.

Ocean Rig signs new management deal

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After several different agreements to market the Eirik Raude and Leiv Eiriksson (the first two Bingo 9000's under construction at the Friede Goldman Halter yard in Pascagoula, Mississippi), Ocean Rig has signed on with Pride to market the rigs in Angola.
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Ocean Rig is further diversifying its management. Several months age, the company ann-ounced that in order to further consolidate the drilling industry, it was putting out the "for sale" sign. Before that in February, the company signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Sonangol EP, the state oil company of Angola, to establish a joint venture company to build, own, and market drilling rigs for ultra-deepwater operations in Angola and internationally.

The joint venture company will be owned 51% by Ocean Rig and 49% by Sonangol, once put into effect. The company planned to review alternatives for constructing new ultra-deepwater rigs and utilize the company's two baredeck Bingo 9000 hulls (Bingo 9000-3, and Bingo 9000-4) presently in the Dalian New shipyard in China. Furthermore, the company would market one of the two Bingo rigs presently under construction in the US for work in Angola in the interim.

Now, Ocean Rig has entered into an agreement with Pride Foramer to cover operations of the company's drilling rigs offshore Angola, including rigs owned by the joint venture company further diversifying the management of two rigs under construction and two hulls.

Several similar attempts were made back in 1998 to market the rigs with other companies. Ocean Rig entered a marketing agreement with Sedco Forex in March of 1998, but the deal was terminated due to conflict of interest in November of that year. That same month, the company signed a new agreement with Maritima Petroleo e Engenharia Ltda (Maritima) and Pride International (parent of the aforementioned Pride Foramer) to market the rigs off Brazil. This deal ended in arbitration with Maritima claiming breach of contract.

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The Pride Africa ultra-deepwater drillship is back at work. Following an incident in November in which a failure in the drill line occurred and left the BOP and riser lying on the seabed, the rig has been refitted with a replacement BOP, a new top drive, and new riser. The rig is under contract to Elf for work off Angola and is owned by Sonamer, a joint venture between Pride International and Sonangol, the state oil company of Angola.
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The companies have three somewhat new firms working on finding a contract for the rigs that are slated for delivery in the fourth quarter and sometime next year, respectively. But, with two premium deepwater rigs in a hot market such as Angola, plus the backing of the state oil company, compounded with the success Pride has had with getting their two drillships contracted in the area, its chances are better than ever. That is - if the company is not purchased before the rigs are completed.

Fred.Olsen buys two semisubmersibles

The sale is almost over. With high oil prices and high activity, rigs are going back to work and increasing day rates will naturally follow. As a result, it is getting close to a last chance for companies to pick up some of the older idle rigs for cheap prices. Noble has done this with two jackups and now Fred.Olsen Energy is getting in the game.

Not only did the company buy out R&B Falcon's stake in Navis, which include the Navis Explorer drillship, but the company purchased two semis - the Bill Shoemaker from Rigco and Transocean Discoverer semisubmersible from Transocean Sedco Forex.

The company bought the Bill Shoemaker, a 1,500 ft Aker H-3 design built in 1976 as an accommodation/field support rig converted into a drilling rig in 1981. Fred.Olsen paid $43,560,000 for the rig and renamed it the Bredford Dolphin.

The Transocean Discoverer is a 1,250 ft water depth capability, modified Aker H-3 design built in 1977 and converted in 1985. The rig cost for $43,270,000. Fred.Olsen will change the name of the rig to the Bulford Dolphin and market and operate the rig with its company, Dolphin drilling. The purchase was on behalf of a company nominated by Bonheur ASA/Granger Rolg ASA who actually retains ownership of the Bulford Dolphin. Fred.Olsen has a six-month option to buy the rig from the company at the purchase price plus 1% per month.

Both the Bredford Dolphin and Bulford Dolphin will enter into a pooling arrangement with another Fred.Olsen rig not under contract, the Borgsten Dolphin.

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