Essar Wildcat â€کarrested' in Singapore port by Norscot

Vol 12, PW 8 (04 Sep 08) Exploration & Production

Essar semi-submersible Essar Wildcat was â€کarrested’ in Singapore port last week in a case filed through local courts to recover past dues, according to Norwegian service provider Norscot Oil and Gas managing director Ola Peter Tollefsen.

The rig was â€کarrested’ on August 27, following a complaint filed in the Singapore courts by Norscot Oil and Gas over outstanding payment claims. Essar Wildcat is in Singapore since July 4 to repair her 15,000-psi Blow Out Preventor, which sprung a leak while the rig was drilling for GSPC at eastern offshore block KG-OSN-2001/3.

Norscot was operating and maintaining Wildcat until July 5 when Essar cancelled the contract. Tollefsen said the rig was “arrestedâ€‌ to recover money owed by Essar.

“We are owed crew salaries for five months,â€‌ said Tollefsen. “We’ve been paying from our pocket, expecting Essar to reimburse us but they never did despite several reminders and personal visits.

â€‌ So Tollefsen said he went to court. “The legal process was initiated when we learned Essar planned to sneak Wildcat out of Singapore back to India where they could manipulate things in their favour.

â€‌ Tollefsen said Essar owes Norscot $10m. “We are their biggest creditor.

There are many others to whom they owe money, such as the contractor who rented out buses to transport crew to the rig.â€‌ After Norscot’s legal action, we hear, “many other creditors are jumping on the bandwagon for recovery of dues.

â€‌ Tollefsen said Essar will have to provide a bank guarantee of $10m to get the rig released from the Norscot-initiated â€کarrest’ in Singapore. The dispute was heightened after Essar “unilaterallyâ€‌ cancelled Norscot’s O&M contract for Wildcat, we hear.

“They’re supposed to give us 14 days notice and then another 30 days time in which we can rectify our lapses, but they just cancelled the contract,â€‌ Tollefsen said. “After this they fraudulently tried to cash our $200,000 bank guarantee through the High Court at London, but we explained our position and the court stopped them.

â€‌ Contacted by PETROWATCH, Essar did not return several calls seeking comment.