Reliance loses patience with Discoverer 534

Vol 13, PW 22 (22 Apr 10) Exploration & Production

Reliance has grown tired of repeated equipment failures aboard Transocean-owned deepwater drillship Discoverer 534 and has released the rig three months ahead of schedule.

Service providers tell this report Discoverer-534 is undergoing repairs offshore Vizag, even though its Reliance contract ends in July. Problems began on February 20, says a source, just three days after Discoverer-534 moved to location AJ-9A on the 10,755-sq km offshore West Bengal block NEC-25 to spud a well in 295 metres water depth.

“The trouble started with a power blackout,” says a source. “When the power returned the dynamic positioning system (which keeps the drillship steady without an anchor) went out of control and the rig began drifting because its thrusters weren’t working.

” At first, the problems seemed temporary, and the rig was brought under control. But the thrusters continued to malfunction and on one occasion Discoverer 534 drifted a considerable distance, damaging some onboard machinery.

Multiple attempts were made to repair the rig, but Reliance eventually decided it could not wait any longer and released the rig. This decision was understandable, says an observer, as Reliance had to pay standby charges to allied service providers for the 30 days the rig was under repair between January 1 and March 31.

“This must have been a neat packet,” he says, explaining that Reliance had originally hired the rig at $250,000/day in December 2007 and that rates for allied services would be similarly high. Discoverer 534 had successfully drilled well AJ-6 at the same block in 350 metres water depth before reaching AJ-9A.

Discoverer 534 has been a very lucky rig for Reliance. She was first hired by Reliance in 2002 for its maiden venture into the exploration business at eastern offshore block KG-DWN-98/3, and struck gas at her very first well, continuing with a string of significant discoveries, clubbed together as the D6 fields, which now produce over 60m cm/d of gas (D1 and D3 fields) and 22,000 b/d of oil (MA field).

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