Noble leads in hurricane preparedness

Noble Drilling's Mark Burns, vice president and division manager, told reporters Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2007, about the company's program for hurricane preparedness and its specific preparations for Hurricane Dean.

Judy Maksoud
International Editor

SUGAR LAND, Texas -- Noble Drilling's Mark Burns, vice president and division manager, told reporters Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2007, about the company's program for hurricane preparedness and its specific preparations for Hurricane Dean.

Gene House, vice president and division manager of the Mexico division, commented by mobile phone from Ciudad del Carmen, Mexico, on the company's activities in the Bay of Campeche, where Noble has several working rigs. "We have eight rigs active in Mexico right now," House said, "seven of them in this area."

The company has evacuated 685 people including Pemex and service company personnel from its jackup rigs working on the Cantarell field, House said, noting that the evacuation was carried out without injury or serious incident.

Because Hurricane Dean's path traversed the Yucatan peninsula, the hurricane will likely enter the Bay of Campeche as a Category 1. "Damage to the rigs should be pretty light," House said.

Partial evacuations were carried out on some of the Noble vessels in the US Gulf of Mexico as well, resulting in about 700 people being removed from offshore rigs.
The company completely evacuated only one rig, the Noble Clyde Boudreaux semisubmersible. According to Burns, this rig was the only Noble asset in the US GoM that was close to the projected path of the storm.

Workers likely will return to the semi beginning Thursday, Aug. 23, and the rig should be back in full operation in about 10 days, Noble says.

Noble is confident of its evacuation plans because it has invested significant effort in building them, Burns said. The company also has taken the lead in preparing its fleet for severe weather. "We were the first drilling contractor to announce a drilling upgrade program," he said.

Noble has increased the mooring systems of its semisubmersible fleet significantly, according to Burns. TheNoble Clyde Boudreaux, for example, now has more than 30 mi (48 km) of wire and chain in its mooring system.

Yard availability has limited Noble's upgrade program to about one semi every six months, Burns said, but the plan is to ensure that all of the company's assets meet the new operating standards as soon as possible. Three of the company's semisubmersibles are fully upgraded to the new standards, and one is in the yard. The other two semi upgrades have been scheduled. "We will be finished by the spring of 2008," Burns said.

8/21/2007

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