Thule Power relocated after legal ruling

Thule drilling has succeeded in moving the jackup Thule Power from the inner anchorage of Sharjah Port to the QGM yard in the Hamriyah Free Zone.

Offshore staff

STAVANGER – Thule drilling has succeeded in moving the jackup Thule Power from the inner anchorage of Sharjah Port to the QGM yard in the Hamriyah Free Zone.

The rig had been `detained’ at the MIS yard in Port Khalid, Sharjah since March 24 by Norsk Tillitsmann/Bondholders. Due to this action, Thule says, it has been unable to complete a technical check of the rig and final commissioning, but following a ruling in its favor by the Sharjah Court on May 25, work should now resume.

Thule is a Norwegian-based company formed in 2005 to build and operate drilling rigs. In spring that year it acquired the jackup Arabdrill 19, which it re-named the Thule Power.

The company then entered an agreement with QGM for re-construction of the rig, and the following year commissioned two jackup newbuildings from the yard, both of the Friede & Goldman Super M2 design, for operations in 300 ft (91 m) water depth.

In July 2007, however, OGM closed the gates of the yard following a financial dispute with Thule, which led to legal proceedings. Later that year, Thule agreed to sell the Thule Power to a Middle East group for $185 million, transferring it to MIS’ facility in July 2008 for subsequent completion.

Thule later signed a memorandum of understanding to sell the two newbuild jackups and the 49% stake in QGM held by its subsidiary, BVI. In October 2008 the Dubai Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by QGM Group LLC against Thule’s 49% share ownership.

Last December the two rigs and the yard were sold to Royal Oyster Group of Dubai. However, there have been further complications, with Noble Denton withdrawing its services as site supervisor for Thule’s projects due to a claim for unpaid invoices.

Thule responded by questioning Noble Denton’s invoicing practices, and began a full review of the invoices it had received. Noble then presented a bankruptcy petition against Thule, which Thule in turn has challenged.

In the meantime, payments related to the sales contract for the rigs and the shares in QGM BVI have not been fulfilled, and delivery is pending a resolution with Norsk Tillitsman/Bondholders.

Work on the two newbuilding hulls remains suspended, Thule adds. Although most of the equipment has been ordered or delivered, outstanding invoices from the storage providers (where much of the equipment has been held for two years) continue to mount in value.

Currently Thule and Royal Oyster are making provisions to ship all the equipment to the QGM site.

06-12-2009

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