Hercules 31 to come on location at Ravva in August

Vol 10, PW 8 (10 Aug 06) Exploration & Production

Hercules Offshores 250-feet mat-supported rig Hercules 31 is expected to come on location at Ravva for operator Cairn Energy towards the end of this month.

Cairn has hired Hercules 31 for a development programme of five firm wells and two optional wells. Says a source: Only the five firm wells have been approved by the management committee.

Drilling of each well is expected to take a month. Drilling of the two optional wells will depend on results from the five firm wells.

These (five firm wells) will help the Ravva consortium maintain plateau production (50,000 b/d) for another two years, we hear. Ravva also produces 2.2m cm/d gas.

Hercules 31 has been hired at a day rate of around $110,000 and arrives to drill for Cairn from a shipyard in Singapore where she was refurbished to look new. Hercules has got a good rate from Cairn for a rig that has been mothballed for so long, says an industry source.

Cairns decision to hire Hercules 31 is a story in itself. Cairn first floated a tender for this development programme last year.

Hercules 31, formerly called Odin Spirit, was offered by a firm called Steelfab. Jindal Drilling subsidiary Discovery Hydrocarbons offered an alternative rig, Hercules 30.

Odin Spirit had been cold stacked for four years and was without a superstructure, so Cairn played safe and awarded the contract to Hercules 30. But Hercules 30 was damaged during Hurricane Katrina and withdrawn.

In the meantime, Hercules Offshore had bought Odin Spirit, began refurbishing it in Singapore, renamed it Hercules 31, and again offered it to Cairn. Doubts surfaced about the rigs readiness in time for the drilling programme and Cairn began looking at other offers.

Moves to hire an Aban Loyd rig from ONGC were aborted, forcing Cairn to again look around and eventually settle for Hercules 31 the rig it had earlier rejected but is now desperate to see on location. Cairn wanted to see Hercules 31 on location by May but given the tight rig market conditions had no choice but to wait till this month.