The world's seismic fleet has received a substantial boost in the past few months. PGS, CGG, and Geco-Prakla each delivered their latest, state-of-the-art vessels.
- PGS christened the new Ramform Vanguard in Bergen, Norway. This is the company's sixth vessel in the series based on the Ramform design and the last of the current construction program. The Vanguard is acquiring 3D seismic off Norway in ten-streamer mode, at the present.
- CGG launched the CGG Alizé in Brest, France. The Alizé is capable of towing up to 16 streamers with a total length of 100 km. The vessel is now operating in the North Sea.
- Geco-Prakla christened the Geco Eagle in Bergen, Norway, The Eagle is the first of a new generation of integrated seismic recording vessels. The vessel is equipped with 20 towing points and up to 120 km of seismic streamer. This is double the capacity of any other seismic vessel in the world's fleet. The vessel is currently acquiring seismic for Amerada Hess and partners in the Campos and Santos basins offshore Brazil.
- Also, newcomer Aker Geo recently signed a five-year frame agreement for seismic processing with UK-based Ensign Geophysics. Aker Geo will employ their first vessel, the Aker Amadeus, currently under construction and expected for delivery this month. The Amadeus will be equipped with eight streamers.
Pride and Sonangol name Pride Africa
The fourth new drillship is about to enter the deepwater game. Pride International and Sonangol, the Angolan state oil company, under a joint-venture company called Sonamer, held the naming ceremony for the first of its new deepwater drillships, the Pride Africa. The ceremony was held at the Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in Ulsan, South Korea, where the Pride Africa and its sister vessel, Pride Angola, are currently under-going the final stages of construction. The Pride Africa is expected to enter operation in the next few months following its second sea trial, while the Pride Angola will begin work in the fourth quarter. Both vessels will work for Elf Exploration Angola offshore Angola under multiple-year contracts.
The Pride Africa and Pride Angola are designed for 10,000 ft water depth, however the Pride Africa will only be equipped to around 6,500 ft as to Elf's specifications. Pride and Sonangol are currently negotiating with Elf for full 10,000-ft capacity for the Pride Angola. Cost is estimated to be about $230 million each upon completion and final outfitting.
The Pride Africa drillship represents the fourth addition to the new deepwater drillship fleet. The vessel follows R&B Falcon's Deepwater Pathfinder, currently drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, Deepwater Frontier, currently drilling off New Zealand, and the Deepwater Millennium. The Deepwater Millennium was delivered last month to Statoil, three months ahead of schedule and under budget.
On another note, Pride has completed the financing arrangements for both the construction and mortgage period financing relating to the construction of two of its Amethyst class semisubmersibles. The vessels' funding, in the aggregate of $300 million, is guaranteed by the United States Maritime Administration and will be amortized over a period of 12 years, beginning eight months after the delivery date of each rig. The rigs, Amethyst 4 and Amethyst 5, are estimated to cost about $340 million. Both rigs are currently under construction at the TDI-Halter yard in Pascagoula, Mississippi.
Bideford Dolphin battle continues
Following almost two years of delays, Saga may be finally putting an end to its contract with Fred Olsen Energy for the Bideford Dolphin semisubmersible. On behalf of the PL 089 and Snorre licensees, Saga notified Fred Olsen that the contract for the rig will be cancelled if the rig is not operational according to contract and positioned on the field by May 19.
Saga originally notified Fred Olsen of the possibility of cancellation in January. At that time, Fred Olsen contended that Saga could not legally terminate the contract. Fred Olsen has stated that its views on the subject remain unchanged following this recent notification.
Saga also contends that a number of acceptance tests still remain to be carried out with a satisfactory result before the rig can be regarded as operational. The company also has stated that a full 48-hour coordination test of the RamRig still needs to be completed and that they have still not been given a satisfactory explanation of the reason for the incident in April with RamRig, which damaged drilling equipment and riser.
Fred Olsen said the rig is undergoing testing as instructed by Saga and that latest information from the rig supports a positive result. The rig was originally scheduled for delivery in July of 1997. Fred Olsen contends that most of the delay has been caused by changes initiated by Saga. The May 19 deadline had not passed at press time.
TDI-Halter delivers two converted jackups
TDI-Halter has completed the major conversions and upgrades of the Pride Texas and Pride Kansas jackups from mat slots to mat cantilevers.
The Pride Texas was upgraded to handle a 1,400,000 lb hookload at 45 ft cantilevered position in 300 ft water depths and can moved up to 12 ft off centerline port to starboard. The mat was also significantly increased in size and modified in order to accommodate the new cantilever system and enable the rig to work against fixed platforms in deepwater. The Pride Texas is the only 300 ft water depth mat supported rig operating as a cantilever drilling unit.
The Pride Kansas also received a similar conversion. The rig is designed for a 1,400,000 lb hookload at 45 ft cantilevered position in 250 ft water depth. The Pride Kansas currently is working for Chevron on a four-year contract in Mobile Bay.
Coflexip launches purpose-built vessel
Coflexip Stena Offshore has launched its new dynamically positioned purpose-built vessel, the Normand Pioneer. The vessel is designed for easy transformation between a trenching vessel and a flexible pipe or umbilical installation vessel.
The Normand Pioneer measures 95 meters long by 24 meters wide with 27,800 hp aboard. It is the most powerful towing vessel built to date. The unit is equipped with two moonpools. The aft moonpool is designed for pipelaying and the forward moonpool is dedicated to work class or observation remotely operated vehicles. The vessel also features a 1,000-sq-meter work deck that allows for transport of cargo up to 2,500 tons.
The Normand Pioneer can be transformed from trenching to installation operations by removing the A-frame and adding a carousel and Vertical Lay System. The Normand Pioneer has been chartered for a five-year period by Ranger Oil for work on the Kyle Field.