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Transocean also reports that its
Discoverer Clear Leader and Discoverer Inspiration
drillships are working for Chevron in the
Gulf with contracts that run to October 2018
and March 2020, respectively.
Pacific Drilling reports that its Pacific
Santa Ana and Pacific Sharav drillships are
continuing their work in the GoM for Chevron under contracts that end in May 2017
and September 2019, respectively.
Atwood Oceanics says its Atwood Advantage drillship is operating under a contract
for Noble Energy that lasts until August
2017, while its Atwood Condor semisubmersible is operating under a contract for Shell
Offshore Inc. that will be completed this
But while some parts of the Gulf remain
active, the downturn continues to impact
the industry on other fronts. Noble Corp.
recently announced that it had reached an
agreement with its client, Freeport-McMoRan Oil & Gas LLC (FMOG), and FMOG’s
parent company, Freeport-McMoRan Inc.
(Freeport), in connection with the drilling
contracts for the drillships Noble Sam Croft
and Noble Tom Madden, which were scheduled to terminate in July and November
2017, respectively. In March, it had been
reported that the ultra-deepwater drillship
Noble Tom Madden would return to work for
Freeport in the GoM after it had been laid-up earlier this year.
Pursuant to the agreement, the contracts
will be terminated, with operations ceasing
as soon as practicable, and Freeport will
make a payment to Noble of $540 million.
In addition, Noble can receive additional
contingent payments from Freeport of $25
million and $50 million, respectively, depending upon the average price of oil over a
12-month period. Noble also expects to realize over $100 million in direct cost savings as
a result of the contract terminations through
crew reductions and stacking procedures.
Freeport recently announced a restructuring of its oil and gas business, which
is operated through FMOG. As disclosed
in Freeport’s public filings, FMOG has
substantial debt and has been negatively
impacted by the crash in oil prices. Noble
Corp. officials say that the agreement will
enable it to secure the economic benefit of
these contracts by accelerating their value
and removing counterparty risk and potential downtime exposure.
Well control rule
In mid-April, the Bureau of Safety and
Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) issued
the long-awaited (and controversial) final
well control regulations. Specifically, the fi-
nal rule addresses the full range of systems
and equipment related to well control opera-
tions, with a focus on BOP requirements,
well design, well control casing, cementing,
real-time monitoring, and subsea contain-
ment. BSEE says that the measures are
designed to improve equipment reliability,
especially for BOP and blowout prevention
According to the BSEE, the rule requires
operability of equipment through rigorous
testing and provides for the continuous
oversight of operations, all with the goal of
improving the reliability of equipment and
systems to protect workers’ lives and the environment from the potentially devastating
effects of blowouts and offshore oil spills.
The regulations combine prescriptive and
performance-based measures to ensure that
oil and gas companies and offshore rig operators are cultivating a greater culture of
safety that minimizes risk.
Key features of the rule include requirements for BOPs, double shear rams, third-party reviews of equipment, real-time
monitoring data, safe drilling margins, centralizers, inspection intervals, and other
reforms related to well design and control,
casing, cementing, and subsea containment.
BSEE officials say that the regulations
build upon findings and recommendations
from several investigations and reports
concerning the root causes of the Macondo
well incident, and consultation with industry
groups, equipment manufacturers, federal
agencies, academia, and environmental organizations.
Most of the requirements do not become
effective until three months after publication
of the final rule. Several requirements have
The drillship Noble Don Taylor is currently working for Shell under a contract that will run until
February 2019. (Photo courtesy Noble Corp.)