DELIVERY of the new-build Saipem semi-submersible drilling rig Scarabeo 9 has been further delayed, and the unit is not expected to arrive in Cuban waters to start drilling until the middle of this year.
Acccording to a source at the Keppel FELS yard in Singapore, there are issues linked to the builder of the rig’s hull – China’s Yantai CIMC Raffles yard.
When under tow in October to Singapore for completion, Saipem discovered that the Scarabeo 9 had a water leak that required repair.
Moreover, the rig was listing to one side because of water from the deck not draining overboard, but instead pouring into tanks within the hull.
Scarabeo 9 is said to embody the latest technology available for deepwater drilling operations, and is capable of drilling in water depths to 3,600m (11,800ft).
When delivered to Cuba, the Repsol-led consortium that includes Statoil of Norway and ONGC Videsh of India, will use the Scarabeo 9 to pioneer deepwater exploration.
Spanish group Repsol has two wells scheduled for drilling off Cuba’s north-west coast.
The rig will go on to drill one or two wells for Petronas with Gazprom, and then to ONGC Videsh to drill on its concession.
Meanwhile, Florida Republican Congressman Vern Buchanan has introduced a bill that seeks to stop the Cuban exploration effort, which is just 80km off the coast of the Sunshine State.
“Cuba’s plan to drill for oil in its sovereign waters off the Florida Keys poses a serious threat to our tourism industry and our environment,” said Buchanan.
The Buchanan measure is redolent of American hatred of the Cuban communist regime and would, if passed, enable the US Secretary of the Interior to deny drilling leases to companies involved with countries facing trade sanctions.
Buchanan said the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the US sector of Gulf of Mexico had demonstrated that “an oil spill can devastate a regional economy and impose serious long-term environmental damage to precious natural resources”. He went on to add that Cuba lacked the resources to prevent an offshore oil spill.
Buchanan first raised the issue in October last year when it had emerged that Cuba was intent on deepwater offshore drilling.
Another company to order new drillship tonnage is Atwood Oceanics.
Daewoo is to construct an ultra-deepwater unit to be named the Atwood Advantage.
The ship is expected to be delivered by September 30, 2013, at a total cost, including project management, drilling and handling tools, of approximately $600million.
The vessel will be a DP-3 dynamically positioned, dual derrick ultra-deepwater drillship, rated to operate in water depths to 3,650m (12,000ft). Upon delivery, the Atwood Advantage will become the 15th mobile offshore drilling unit owned by Atwood.